« AnteriorContinuar »
purchase. It is objected, that in so doing he deceived his father. Say rather that he interposed at the proper time to correct his father's error, who had been led by an unreasonable fondness to prefer Esau. So Joseph, Gen. xlii. 7, &c. who according to the common definition must have been guilty of habitual falsehood, inasmuch as he deviated from the truth in numberless instances, with the express purpose of deceiving his brethren ; not however to their injury, but to their exceeding advantage. The Hebrew midwives, Exod. i. 19, &c. whose conduct received the approbation of God himself; for in deceiving Pharaoh, they were so far from doing him any injury, that they preserved him from the commission of a crime. Moses, Exod. iii. who by the express command of God asked permission for the Israelites to go three days' journey into the wilderness under the pretext of sacrificing to the Lord; his purpose being to impose on Pharaoh by alleging a false reason for their departure, or at least by substituting a secondary for the principal motive. The whole Israelitish people, who, by divine command likewise, borrowed from the Egyptians jewels of gold and silver, and raiment, doubtless under a promise of restoring them, though with the secret purpose of deception ; for by what obligation were they bound to keep faith with the enemies of God, the transgressors of the laws of hospitality, and the usurpers, for so long a period, of the property of those who now despoiled them? Rahab, whose magnanimous falsehood, recorded Josh. ii. 4, 5. was no breach of duty, inasmuch as she only deceived those whom God willed to be deceived, though her own countrymen and magistrates, and preserved those whom God willed to be preserved ; rightly preferring religious to civil obligations. Ehud, who deceived Eglon in two several instances, Judges iii. 19, 20. and that justifiably, considering that he was dealing with an enemy, and that he acted under the command of God himself. Jael, by whose enticements Sisera perished, Judges iv. 18, 19. although he was less her personal enemy than the enemy of God. Junius, indeed, considers this as a pious fraud, not as a falsehood; which is a distinction without a difference.* Jonathan, who was prevailed upon to assign a fictitious reason for the absence of David, 1 Sam. xx. 6, 28. thinking it better to preserve the life of the innocent, than to abet his father in an act of cruelty; and considering that the duties of charity were better fulfilled by favouring the escape of a friend under wrongful accusation, though at the expense of veracity, than by disclosing the truth unnecessarily in obedience to the commands of a parent, for the purpose
of aiding in the commission of a crime. All these, with numberless other saints, are by a more careful inquiry into the nature of truth rescued, as it were, from the new limbus patrumt to which the vulgar definition had consigned them.
* Dissimualvit enim, sed sine mendacio, et pia fraude intercepit Jahel hostem Domini, quam rem Spiritus Sanctus probat, infra cap. v, 4.' Junjus in loc. † This appears to be a favourite allusion with Milton.
All these, upwhirl'd aloft,
The Paradise of Fools. Paradise Lost. III, 493. • That mysterious iniquity, provoked and troubled at the first entrance of reformation, sought out new Limboes and new Hells wherein they might include our books also within the number of their damned.' Areopagitica
Under falsehood is included false witness; which is forbidden Exod. xx. 16. thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.' xxiii. 1. put not thine hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness.' It is again prohibited Deut. xix. 16, &c. under a most severe penalty ; 'if a false witness rise up against any man ..... then shall ye do unto him as he had thought to have done unto his brother. Prov. xix. 5. 6a false witness shall not be unpunished. xxv. 18. 'a man that beareth false witness against his neighbour is a maul, and a sword, and a sharp arrow.'
The other virtue included in a regard to the good name of our neighbour, whether present or absent, is candour ; whereby we cheerfully acknowledge the gifts of God in our neighbour, and interpret all his words and actions in a favourable sense. Matt. vii. 1. * judge not, that ye be not judged.' Candour, however, is usually spoken of under the general name of charity or love. 1 Cor. xiii. 5, 6. charity thinketh no evil
rejoiceth in the truth ; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things.' Prov. x. 12. .
love covereth all sins. xvii. 9. · he that covereth a transgression seeketh love. The same virtue appears also to be described under the name of equity or moderation. . Philipp. iv. 5. let your moderation be known unto all men ; the Lord is at hand.' Eccles. x. 4. 'yielding pacifieth great offences.'
Opposed to this is, first, evil surmising. 1 Sam. i. 14. how long wilt thou be drunken ? xxii. 8. that
Prose Works, I. 295. To which may be added Apology for Smectymnuus, Ibid. 262. Te Deum has a smatch in it of limbus patrum ; as if Christ bad not opened the kingdom of heaven,' before he had overcome the sharpness of death.'
all of you have conspired against me.
2 Sam. x. 3. hath not David sent his servants unto thee to search the city ?- Acts xxvij. 4. “when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand—' 1 Tim. vi. 4. whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings—
Secondly, a prying into the faults of others, and a precipitancy in passing judgment upon them.. Matt. vii. 3. 'why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye?'
Thirdly, tale-bearing. Exod. xxiii. 1. thou shalt not raise a false report.' 1 Sam. xxiv. 9. “wherefore hearest thou men's words, saying, Behold David seeketh thy hurt ?' Prov. xviii. 8. the words of a talebearer are as wounds. See also xxvi. 22. xx. 19. ' he that goeth about as a tale-bearer revealeth secrets.? xxvi. 20. where there is no tale-bearer, strife ceaseth. Rom. i. 29, 30. • whisperers, backbiters.' 1 Tim. v. 13. • tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.'
Fourthly, calumny, which consists in a malicious construction of the motives of others. 1 Sam. xxii. 9. • I saw the son of Jesse,' &c. Psal. cxix. 69. the proud have forged a lie against me. Matt. xxvi. 61. * this fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God.' Luke xi. 53, 54. Ólaying wait for him, and seeking to catch something out of his mouth, that they might accuse him.' xix. 8. if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation. Acts ii. 13–15. • these men are full of new wine.'
Fifthly, evil speaking and slandering. Lev. xix. 16. thou shalt not go up and down as a tale-bearer among thy people. Job v. 21. thou shalt be hid
from the scourge of the tongue.' Psal. xxxiv. 13.
keep thy tongue from evil. lii. 2. thy tongue deviseth mischiefs.' lix. 8. . behold, they belch out with their mouth. lxiv. 3, &c. who whet their tongue
like a sword-' cix. 2. 6 the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of the deceitful are opened against me'. cxx. 2. deliver my soul, O Jehovah, from lying lips, and from a deceitful tongue.' cxl. 3. they have sharpened their tongues like a serpent.? Prov. x. 18. he that uttereth a slander is a fool.' Eccles. x. 20. curse not the king, no not in thy thought, and curse not the rich in thy bed-chamber; for a bird of the air shall carry the voice. Jer. ix. 3, &c. they bend their tongues like their bow for lies.' Matt. xii. 34. how can ye, being evil, speak good things ? Col. iii. 8. . but now ye, put off all these .... blasphemy.'
Sixthly, contumely and personal abuse. 22. whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council ; but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.' Seventhly, litigiousness. Prov. xxv. 8—10.
go not forth hastily to strive- Matt. v. 40. if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.' 1 Cor. vi. 7. “ there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another; why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded ?
Opposed to candour, on the other side, are, first, flattery. Job xxxii. 21, 22. let me not, I pray you, accept any man's person, neither let me give flattering titles unto man.' Psal. xii. 3. Jehovah shall cut off all flattering lips. Prov. xxvi. 28. “a flat