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words, it is well: but for the most part they refuse conviction, and often persist to maintain their own error, even almost against their own consciences. In short, it appears to me, that a man who dares frequently to assert doubtful matters with the most positive air of assurance, has not so much tenderness about his heart, and such a religious fear of lying, as a good christian ought to have.

There are others again that affect to tell you nothing that is common, but would always surprize the company with strange things and prodigies, and all this out of the pride of their hearts, and an ambition to have their own stories applauded and admired by all that hear them. This sort of affectation oftentimes betrays a person into falsehood, and secretly and insensibly allures him to say things that are neither credible nor true. Sailors and travellers should set a special guard upon themselves in this respect.

There are a third sort of talkers, that when they discourse of common things, are ever expressing them in exalted and superlative language. If they speak of any thing small, it is prodigiously small; if they speak of any thing great, it is incomparably great. If they name a man of wisdom, he is the wisest man in the world; or a woman of piety, she is the only saint in the nation. An imprudent man with them is the greatest fool in nature; and a little disappointing accident in life, is an intolerable vexation. If they happen to hear a good sermon, the preacher was inspired, not an angel could exceed him: If it was a mean discourse, the wretch had not a grain of sense and learning. Every opinion they hold is divine and fundamental: All their own sentiments, even in lesser matters, are the very sense of Christ and his apostles, and all that oppose them are guilty of heresy or nonsense. Now persons who have accustomed their tongues to this language in common discourse, seem to want that due caution which the strict rules of godliness may seem to require, and make a little too free with truth.. Either their thoughts are very injudicious, if they can believe what they say; or if they do not believe it, they should make their words agree better with their thoughts.

But besides the approaches to falsehood in this manner of conversation, there is something in it that is very vain, and almost ridiculous. Methinks such an extravagant talker is something like a man that walks upon stilts through the open street, or like one who wears a coat much longer than his neighbours; and how tall soever they may think themselves, the world will be ready to call one of them a child, and the other an idiot.

Objection. But are there not a multitude of such expressions in scripture in the books of Job, and the Psalms, and the Prophets, wherein even the more plain or common occurrences of

life are dressed up in very magnificent language, and in expressions that far exceed the truth of things? Does not David, in his elegy upon Saul and Jonathan, say, they were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions? 2 Sam. i. 23. And even in St. John's history of the life and death of Christ, does he not suppose, that if all things which Jesus did were written, even the world itself could not contain the books? John xxi. 25.

Answer. It is the natural language of poetry and prophecy, and the custom of the eastern nations, to express things in a lofty and sublime manner; so that there is no danger of being deceived by that language, when a prophet or a poet indulges such figures of speech. Now the books of Job and Psalms, and David's elegy, are so many Hebrew poems. The business of oratory is a-kin to verse, and sometimes requires a figurative style. But in familiar language and common discourse, it is not the custom of mankind to use such extravagance of expression: The hearer is many times ready to be led into a mistake thereby, because he supposes the speaker to mean plainly what he says. And I would not willingly indulge a habit of expressing my thoughts in such a manner in common conversation, as should deceive my hearers, to humour a silly affectation.

As for the figure which St. John uses to represent the variety of useful things which were said and done by our Saviour, it is such as can lead no man into a mistake, for none can believe it to be understood in a literal sense. Besides, if one would indulge the most superlative expressions and boldest figures that human language can furnish one with, to set out the honours of any person on earth, there can be no such proper or deserving subject as Jesus Christ our Lord.

III. The third rule to preserve veracity is this, practise nothing which you are ashamed of. Do nothing that you need be afraid of the ear of the world: Walk carefully in the ways of virtue and duty: Fulfil your obligations to God and man to the utmost of your power: Venture upon no practice that needs a cover, a disguise, or an excuse; and then you will not be so often under the temptation of lying.

Let children remember this, and have a care of disobeying God, or their parents, even when they are alone; lest they be tempted to excuse their faults by lying, which indeed does but enlarge and double them, rather than diminish and excuse them. Let servants take notice of this, and pay all due honour and faithful obedience to their masters and governors? or else the devil, and their own corrupt hearts, will frequently join together and help them to lie for the cover of their guilt. Let every one that hears this discourse watch over all their actions, and confine them within the rules of religion; otherwise their practice, which will

not bear the light, will put them under a temptation to hide it behind a refuge of lies.

And under this head I might particularly give this advice. Do not affect a cunning way of life. Do not aim at the character af a subtle and crafty man. Be not fond of being let into secrets, nor of engaging in intrigues of any sort. There are some tempers of mankind that are naturally addicted to craft, and are ever seeking to outwit their neighbours: they seldom live upon the square, or walk onward in an open path; but are still doubling, and turning, and traversing their course. They take a special pleasure in managing all their affairs with art and subtilty, and call it necessary prudence. But if you would shew your selves tender of the truth, and preserve it, let your course of life: be bold, and free, and open. There is much prudence to be used in our daily conduct, without this crafty humour. The integrity of a man will preserve him, and keep his tongue from falsehood; whereas a man who is much engaged in crafty designs, will now and then be tempted to intrench upon truth, and come near the brink of lying, to carry on and cover all his secret purposes.

Methinks I could pity rather than envy the high station of courtiers. How often they are constrained to put on disguise, to colour or to conceal their real designs! How near they walk to the borders of falsehood, and tread hourly upon the very edge of a lie! David, the man after God's own heart, while he kept his father's sheep, was more secure from this temptation; but when he became a courtier and a king, he was often exposed, and therefore he begs earnestly, that God would remove from him the way of lying; Ps. cxix. 29. He had felt the mischievous influence of this snare, and dreaded the pernicious power of it. To be ever practising the politician at home and abroad, is a constant snare to sincerity; and to live as a spy in a foreign court, may be a post of service to our own nation; but it is exceeding dangerous to virtue and truth.

IV. Have a care of indulging any violent passion, for that will tempt the tongue to fly out in extravagance of expression, and out-run the settled judgment of the mind. Whether it be grief or impatience, or anger and resentment, it will engage the soul to form ideas far above and beyond the truth of things, and often arm the tongue with unruly expressions, even beyond the sentiments of the heart. Strife and contention, and noisy quarrels are very dangerous enemies to truth.

And upon this account, above all things, I would warn young christians to avoid the excessive zeal of a party-spirit in the lesser differences of religion. There has been often a great deal of darkness, and fire, of rage, and deceit, and falsehood in such sort of quarrels as these. Men of natural warmth, animated by an

honest zeal for God and religion, taking it into their head, that every doctrine besides their own is damnable heresy, and all forms of worship different from their own, are superstitious or schismatical, and abominable in the sight of God; they have, under the influence of these principles, kindled their passions to a flame and to secure the reputation of their own party, or vindicate all their principles and practices, they have made shameful inroads upon truth, even in relating matters of fact; and as Dr. Tillotson well expresses it, that the zealots of all parties have got a scurvy trick of lying for the truth; though he confesses he has never observed any that would be so very fond of a false report, or hug and caress a lie as the papists have done. And I wish no protestant had ever followed their example.

I should proceed now to lay down rules how persons may best preserve their faithfulness to vows or engagements of any kind. But this may be reserved to the next discourse.


Christian Morality, viz. Truth, Sincerity, &c.

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Christian Morality, viz. Truth, Sincerity, &c.

PHILIP. iv. 8.-Whatsoever things are true,think on these things.

WHEN we are ever so well informed in the nature of our duty, we still want arguments to make our consciences feel the obligation. Flesh and blood are frail and sinful; grace is fecble and imperfect in the present state; temptations surround us in this lower world, and are ever ready to allure or affright us from the paths of holiness: we have need therefore of powerful motives to enforce every duty upon our practice.

In the first discourse on this subject, we have heard the nature and extent of that truth or sincerity which the gospel requires. In the second we have considered what obligations are discovered by the light of nature to be faithful, upright and constant in our words and our ways; and what additional motives the religion of Christ has furnished us with, to practise the same virtues; and may the good spirit of God make our souls feel the power of them! But nature is dark, as well as feeble. We are unskilful in the matters of holiness, and know not how to secure our virtue, and to guard ourselves from temptation to the contrary vice, unless we are informed by particular directions. I begun this work at the end of the last discourse. And as truth was divided into three parts, viz. veracity, faithfulness, and constancy; so I proposed to give special rules for the preservation of each of them.

The directions to preserve our veracity, were these:

1. Bewell persuaded in your minds, that a known and wilful lie is utterly unlawful: Let your heart be established in this doctrine; for a slight conviction may be easily overcome by some advantageous circumstances, and the temptation will soon prevail. -2. Be sober, modest, and cautious in the manner of your speech, and do not allow yourself in those ways of expression which border upon lying; for if you often accustom your tongue to venture near a lie, you will be in danger sometimes of falling into it.-3. Take care to do nothing that you need to be ashamed of, that so you may not be under the temptation of a lie to cover or excuse it.-4. Watch against the violence of any passion; for this will sorely endanger the veracity of your lips. Passion will VOL. I. X

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