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ture is too well understood, and too generally detested, to need any comment.
7. In alleging, to support a doctrine, or a cause, arguments, which in our own view are unsound; or alleging those, which hade some degree of soundness and weight, as having more weight thar we believe; or alleging them with more confidence, -than we really experience in our minds.
Veracily, as it respects arguments, demands, that we allege such, as in our view are really sound; that we attribute to them exactly the weight, which we believe them to possess; and that we advance them with expressions of no more confidence in them, than we actually feel. No reason can be alleged, why we may wilfully deceive in our Arguments, any more than in our Declarations; or why Sophistry is less guilty, than what is appropriately called Lying. The conduct in both cases is the same; viz, a wilful deception. The design is the same. The mischiefs, also, are as great in the former case, and often greater, than in the latter. Nor can any reason be alleged, to prove the
of the same nature is the concealment of such arguments, as we possess, when the support of truth and justice demands them, or the overthrow of falsehood and injustice.
8. In Promise-breaking.
A promise is an engagement to do, or abstain from, something, either absolutely, or conditionally. When this engagement is made to God, it is termed a Vow; when to our fellow-men, a Promise. The laws of morality, which regulate both, are in substance the same. When a promise is made absolutely, or when the conditions, on which it is made, are performed, we are bound to fulfil it, exactly, according to its tenour. Nor can we be released from this obligation, unless the performance is either impossible, or unlawful; or unless by the consent of him, to whom the promise is made. In every other case, the violation of the promise is a lie ; at least as criminal, base, and detestable, as any other.
Our obligations to Veracity are greatly enhanced by an Oath : one of the most solemn and affecting transactions, in which man is ever concerned. In this transaction, God, our Creator, Judge,
and Rewarder; God, who requireth truth in the inward parts ; God, who seeth not as man seeth, but who looketh on the heart ; is invoked as an awful Witness of the manner, in which we speak. If we speak truth ; we declare our hope of His Mercy: if we speak falsely, we imprecate His Vengeance. What rational being, hitherto ignorant of the perjuries, which deform this guilty world, could believe, that any man, thus situated, would fail to speak truth with the deepest solicitude, and the most perfect exactness! Yet perjury is in the list of human crimes; and forms no inconsiderable part of that dreadful Catalogue.
The guilt of every species of lying, when perpetrated under the solemnities of an oath, is enhanced by these considerations. The sin in almost all cases is more deliberately committed. The person, to whom an oath is administered, has every opportunity, which he can wish, for summoning up to the view of his mind every motive to the performance of his duty, and every inducement to abstain from falsehood. These inducements, also, are the strongest conceivable. God in a peculiar manner is present to his thoughts : the God of Truth, who has declared, that all liars shall have their part in the lake, which burneth with fire and brimstone. His soul is put at hazard on his utterance of truth, or falsehood. If he speaks falsehood, he voluntarily consigns himself to perdition. If he is guilty of perjury, he is ruined, also, for this world. The stain is too deep, ever to be wiped away. At the same time, he does what is in his power to cut up confidence by the roots. An oath for confirmation, says Sl. Paul, is to men the end of all controversy. Heb. vi. 16. If the confidence, reposed in an oath, could be reposed no more; human disputes must either be unsettled, or terminated by the strength of the arm: and to this end he, who perjures himself, does all in his power to conduct them.
At the same time, it is ever to be remembered, that God Himself has been pleased, on various occasions, to confirm his own word by an oath. In this manner he has testified 10 us, that, in his view, an oath adds a peculiar sanction to that, which has been said even by Himself. Universally, he, who utters a falsehood under this solemn obligation to speak truth, sins against
all the motives, which can be conceived to influence him to the performance of his duty..
The Causes of Lying, the second thing proposed in the scheme of ibis Discourse, are, generally, all the Temptations, which men feel to this unhappy practice. Men utter falsehood, extensively, for the acquisition of wealth, honour, power, and pleasure; to advance the purposes of party ; to ensure success in a controversy; to gain a favourite point; to mortify a rival, or an enemy; and for innumerable other purposes. In the discourse, which I delivered on the subject of Frauds, practised on our fellow-men, numerous specimens of this nature were either allud. ed to, or expressly mentioned. Similar specimens, perhaps equally numerous, are attendant upon the eager pursuit of all those worldly gratifications, which men ardently covet. I know of no case, in which Lying more abounds, than that of vehement party contention. Universally, men, embarked in unworthy designs, as I shall have occasion to mention more particularly hereafter, find falsehood exceedingly convenient, if not indispensable to their success. Depraved as mankind are, a bad cause cannot be carried on with success, without the aid either of falsehood, or the sword.
All these are immediate Causes of Lying. Those, to which I have originally referred, are more remote. They are such, as subvert the original tendency to speak Truth, which we regularly find in the earliest ages of life. The influence of these causes is peculiarly exerted upon the minds of such as are young; and they are led into habits of Lying, before they are capable of understanding either their guilt, or their danger. These causes are principally the following.
1. Children are often taught to lie by Example.
Few persons of adult years are, perhaps, sufficiently sensible how soon children begin to understand the nature of those things, which they see, and hear; especially the nature of human conduct. From this, as well as from other causes, it frequently happens, that many things are done, and said, before very young children, which would not be said, or done, if it were well understood, that the children would clearly comprehend, and regu
larly copy, them. By this misapprehension the members of inany a fa:nily, and unhappily the parents also, are often induced to make their children witnesses of palpable falsehoods, when, bad as themselves are, they would not corrupt their children in this manner, were they aware, that their conduct would thus be. come the means of corruption. Often, these falsehoods are uttered in earnest : often, they are uttered in jest. In both cases their influence is alike pernicious.
The power of all example is great; especially of evil example; but, perhaps, in no case greater than in that of falsehood. Here, the falsehood is brought home to the child with an influence wholly peculiar. It is uttered by those, whom he loves ; by those whom he venerates ; by those, of whom he has never formed a disadvantageous suspicion. It is calmly and coolly told to others in his presence, without a doubt, expressed, of its recuitude; and is, at times, accompanied by a direct explanation of the advantages, which are hoped from it. At other times, it is uttered in the zeal of dispute, and the warmth of passion. At other times, a multitude of falsehoods are combined together in a marvellous story, and, in many families, such stories form no small part of the domestic conversation. At other times still, and instances innumerable, the private history of persons, and families in the neighbourhood, furnishes an almost endless tissue of interwoven truth and falsehood; and constitutes the chief entertainment of the house. Families, composed of sprightly members, make, also, innumerable assertions in jest, which are untrue ; which the child, who hears them, perceives to be untrue ; and for the falsehood of which he does not perceive the sport to yield any justification.
All these, even very young children will usually discern to be falsehoods. No person can wonder, that they should be induced to adopt this conduct, when he remembers, that it is set before them, continually, in so many modes, by those who are so much the objects of affection and reverence. That children derive this turpitude in very many instances, originally, and chiefly, from such an example, they themselves abundantly prove. The reason, which they almost always give, and first give, for
the commission of this crime, is, that others have done the same thing.
In multiplied instances, falsehoods are directly told to children, particularly very young children, to persuade them to acquiesce cheerfully, in things, which are disagreeable. Children, like older persons, have many wishes, the gratification of which is, in their view, important to their happiness; but which others know to be fraught with danger and mischief. To persuade them
. quietly to give up such gratifications, Parents, and others, frequently adopt the easy and convenient method of deceiving them. Thus parents, who wish to go abroad, and to persuade their young children to remain at home, often declare, that they are going out, to return immediately: while the children clearly discern, that the declaration is false. When parents, also, or others, are abroad, whose absence is very painful to children ; servants, and others to quiet them, declare, often, that the parents are returning ; are in sight; or will return within a very short time. To persuade them to take medicines, the children are assured, that they are sweet and pleasant; when, in truth, they are bitter and loathsome. To conceal from them designs also, and facts, which it is undesirable that they should know, many artful and insidious declarations are made to them ; which, together with all those mentioned above, the children, in spite of the address, employed to prevent it, discern to be false. Thus, to quiet them for a moment, they are often taught to become liars through life.
In a similar manner, children are deceived, and corrupted, by false promises. They are sick; are reluctant to take medicines, are peevish, and fretful; are wished by their parents to make little efforts to display their talents, and accomplishments, for the entertainment of visitors, and the gratification also of parental pride. To overcome their reluctance to these efforts, soothe their sufferings, and to quiet their fretfulness, they are promised money; new clothes; the possession of toys, and privileges ; and, particularly, the privilege of going abroad. But the performance of such promises will usually occasion either trouble or expense. Very often, therefore, they are not performed. In this