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another, Luke xix. 8.; forges writs, Psal. cxix. 69.; or fuborns false witnesses, Acts vi. 13.
3. By the defender, when he denies a just charge, being called to a free confession, Proy. xxvii. 13.
And seeing judges are set to judge for the Lord, this must be reckoned a lying to the Lord.
4. By the witnesses, and that when they either conceal the truth, not discovering freely and fully what they know, or when they tell any thing that is not truth, Lev. v. 1. Prov. xix. 9. And thus people may prejudice truth, when they keep up what might make the truth appear, and the cause go right in judgment.
5. Lastly, By the pleaders, while they appear for an unjust cause to bear down truth and justice, Acts xxiv. 2. &c.
Secondly, Extrajudicially, in common conversation and otherwise. Wheresoever we go, we should carry truth along with us; but out of judgment truth is often prejudiced; and that these three ways.
1. By unfaithfulness in conversation, when people flip the bond of their word, and make nothing of breaking lawful promises, Rom. i. 31. A man ought to value his word highly, as a man, and much more as a Christian. That is a fad complaint, “ There is no truth in the land," Hof. iv. 1.; when men do with their promises as an ape with its collar, flipping it on and off as it fees meet.
2. By undue silence. Strange is the disorder that sin has brought into the world; as in the tongue, which is often going when it should be quiet, and often quiet when it should speak. Our tongues are our glory; but they are often found wrapt up in a dark cloud of filence, when they should be shining forth. Truth is prejudiced by silence, when the honour of God, or the good of our neighbour, either in the way of justice or charity, calls for the discovery of it. Thus men sin against God, the truth, and their neighbour, when they hold their peace, (1.) When iniquity calls for a reproof from them. (2.) When it calls for a complaint to, or giving information thereof, unto others, Lev. v. 1. Deut. xü. 8. God has given men a tongue as a banner to be displayed for him. To run away then with flying colours, in such a case, is very dishonourable to God, and dangerous to ourselves, Mark viii. 38. It is most injurious to our neighbour, whom we think so to gratify, being a snare to his soul, Lev. xix. 17.;
and to ourselves, by involving us in their guilt, Eph. V. 7. 11.
3. By undue speaking. The world is a world of iniquity, and several ways speaks to the prejudice of truth. Truth may be prejudiced thus,
(1.) By speaking it unseasonably. Truth hath suffered much prejudice by the unseasonable venting of it: therefore people must take heed, not only what but when they speak; for there is a time to keep silence, and a time to speak, Eccl. iii. 7. “ A fool uttereth all his mind; but a wife man keepeth it in till afterwards," Prov. xxix. 11.
(2.) By speaking truth maliciously, as Doeg did. It was both unfeasonable, while Saul was in a rage against David, 1 Sam. xxi. 8, 9.; and malicious, Psal. lii. 2, 3. This is the way how the devil speaks truth ; as he stirred up the damsel poffeffed with
a spirit of divination, to cry concerning Paul and Silas, “ These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation," Acts xvi. 16, 17.; and this very maliciously, as the context shews.
(3.) By perverting of truth to a wrong meaning, as the false witnesses did against Christ, Matth. xxvi. 60, 61. What he spoke of his body, they turned it to the temple of Jerusalem. So it is not enough that we speak truth, but it must be feasonable and charitable too.
4. By equivocal expressions to the prejudice of truth or justice ; in which the fenfe goes doubtfully, either true or false. Of the fame nature are mental reservations. Thus Ifaac finned in denying his wife, and calling her his sister, Gen. xxvi. 7; 9. They are indeed lies, an untruth, fpoken with an intention to deceive; for words must be taken àccording to the common use of them, and answers are under: stood as given according to the question. The devil, who is the father of lies, brought this manner of speaking into the world, Gen. iii. 5. and that way he was wont to deliver his oracles; for he never speaks truth, but either maliciously or equivocally, as he moved the false prophets to speak in the affair of Ahab's going up to Ramoth-Gilead, 1 Kings xxii. 6, 12.
5. Lastly, By lies, Eph. iv. 25. Lying is prejudicial to truth, as darknefs to light, and is from the devil. But observe some speeches that are like lies, but are not fo.
(1.) Figurative speeches, though not literally true, are not VOL. III. No. 24.
lies, as Christ's calling himself a vine, John'xv. 1. Of this fort are' allegories and fables, fuch as Jotham’s parable, Judg. ix. 8.; parables, Luke xvi.; hyperbolic speeches, John xxii. ult. ; ironical speeches, Gen. iii. 22. 1 Kings xviii. 27. In the former the sense and meaning of them is agreeable to truth, and fables and parables are a sort of speech by pictures. In ironies the gesture readily explains the meaning, 1 Kings xxii. 15.
(2.) The telling a part of the truth, and concealing another part of it, when there is no obligation on us from the honour of God or our neighbour to discover it, is not lying, 1 Sam. xvi. 2. ; for though we are never to tell but the truth, yet we are not always obliged to tell all the truth.
(3.) Speeches according to present intention, without prejudicing further liberty, as when one at table refuses such a thing, yet changes his mind, and takes it, or on importunity yields, as Gen. xix. 2, 3. 2 Cor. i. 17.
Lastly, Threatenings not executed when the condition understood is done, and promises not fulfilled when the condition is not performed. Now, these being set aside, consider,
1. Sometimes, though the words agree with the mind of the speaker, yet not with the thing itself. This is called a material lie, or an untruth, and is sinful, as disagreeing with the truth, Ifa. lix. 13.
2. If the words agree not with the mind of the speaker, that is a formal lie, the tongue speaking contrary to what the mind thinks. Lies are of four forts.
1. Jesting lies; that is, when a person speaks that which is contrary to the known truth, in a jesting or ludicrous way; and embellishes his discourse with his own fi&tions, designing thereby to impose on others. This they are guilty of who invent false news, or tell stories for truth, which they know to be false, by way of amusement. Hofea complains of this practice, chap. vii. 3. “ They make the king glad with their wickedness, and the princes with their lies.”
2. Officious lies; that is, when one speaks that which is contrary to truth, and the dictates of his conscience, to do good to himself or others thereby, or with a design to cover a fault, or excuse ourselves or others, Job xiii. 7. “ Will ye speak wickedly for God? and talk deceitfully for him?". Rom. üi. 8.
3. Pernicious lies ; that is, when a person raises and spreads a false report with a design to do mischief to another. This is a complicated crime, and the worst species of this sin, a thing which is an abomination to the Lord, Prov. vi. 17.
4. Rafh lies; that is, when a person uttereth that which is false through surprise, inadvertency, and customary looseness, as in the case of the tidings brought to David, that Absalom had sain all the king's sons at the entertainment he had provided for them at Baal-hazor, 2 Sam. xiii. 30.
Concerning all these species of lying, we may say, that God is a 'God of truth, but the devil the father of lies, who • incites men to imitate him in this ancient hellish trade, by which he destroyed the founders of the human race; that the word of God expressly condemns every kind of untruth; and that people should never reckon that a small thing which will land the transgressors in hell, Rev. xxi. 8.
II. This command forbids whatsoever is injurious to our own good name. We ought all to be very careful of our reputation, and not to bear false witnefs for or against ourfelves. Now, people may be guilty of the breach of this command with respect to themselves,
1. In their hearts, either by thinking too meanly of themselves, or too highly. Though people can never be too humble, yet they may be too blind to what God has done for them; and there may be a great deal of bastard self-denial, which hinders men to be thankful to God, and useful to others, as in the case of Moses, Exod. iv. 10.--14. But the most dangerous extreme is thinking too highly of ourfelves, Rom. xii. 16. This is a moft dangerous piece of false witness, which the false heart gives in favour of self.
2. In their actions, when people either do evil, or that which at least is evil-like. When Eli's fons lost their tenderness, and gave themselves to debauchery, they lost their good name. An unsavoury report followed their vicious and base life, 1 Sam. ii. 24. And there are such things as are of evil report, suspicious practices, evil-like things, that though they be not the worst of things, yet they make way for them; by these, perfons throw away their good name, Prov. v 8, 9.; and witness against themselves, that they are untender and vicious persons, in a near disposition to the greatest evil. 3. In words. And thus men may be guilty by,
(1.) Bearing witness, against themselves unnecessarily, without a due call, discovering their own secret faults and infirmities, especially to those who have no true sense of piety, but are ready to improve the same to the reproach of them, or of religion, or both, Prov. xxy. 9, 10. ^ Debate thy cause with thy neighbour himself; and discover not a fecret to another : lest he that heareth it put thee to fhame, and thine infamy turn not away.”
(2.) Bearing false witness against ourselves, as accusing ourselves unjustly, denying the gifts and graces of God in us, as Job says, chap. xxvii. 5, 6. God forbid that I should justify you: till I die, I will not remove my integrity from me. My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go : my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live.” Pride often puts people on this, that they may appear the more humble. But humility never teaches men to rob God of his praise, or to lie against the truth. Lying against our minds can never be good, though it seem to humble us.
(3.) Bearing false witness for ourselves. Thus people are guilty, upon being duly called to confess their fins, they deny them, hide them, and, over the belly of their conscience, cause their tongues witness for them, Prov. xxviii. 13. “ He that covereth his sins shall not prosper : but whoso confefseth and forfaketh them shall have mercy. It is sad witnesling when the conscience within tells people they are lying.
Of this fort is vain-glorious boasting and bragging. There are some, who, when they speak of themselves, are sure to speak very big, as the Pharisee did, Luke xviii. 11.
A man or woman that is a boaster, will be found to be a liar ordinarily. They will boast of what they have not, or of doing what they never did, Prov. xxv. 14. “ Whoso boasteth of a falfe gift, is like clouds and wind without rain." Yea, some will accuse themselves of wickedness which they did not commit, for the pleasure that they take in boasting of mis, chief. And where the man has any ground to walk on in his boasting, he is a liar in magnifying it, as was the case of the Pharisee, Luke xviii, 12. It is one of the baseft offices for a man to trumpet his own praise: It is a great evidence there is little in him, that he makes so much noise with it, Such are in the black roll, 2 Tim, iii. 2.
III. I come now to consider this command as it forbids what is injurious to our neighbour and his good name. We