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I am resolved by the grace of God, always to make my tongue and heart go together, so as never to speak with the one, what I do not think in the other.
As my happiness consisteth in nearness and vicinity, so doth my holiness in likeness and conformity to the chiefest good, I am so much the better, as I am the liker the best; and so much the holier, as I am more conformable to the holiest, or rather to him who is holiness itself. Now, one 164great title which the Most High is pleased to give himself, and by which he is pleased to reveal himself to us, is, the God of truth: so that I shall be so much the liker to the God of truth, by how much I am the more constant to the truth of God. And, the further I deviate from this, the nearer I approach to the nature of the devil, who ‘is the father of lies,’181181 John, viii. 44. and liars too. And hence it is, that of all the sins the men of fashion are guilty of, they can least endure to be charged with lying. To give a man the lie, or to say, You lie, is looked upon as the greatest affront that can be put upon them. And why so? But only because this sin of lying makes them so like their father the devil, that a man had almost as well call them devils, as liars: and therefore to avoid the scandal and reproach, as well as the dangerous malignity of this damnable sin, I am resolved, by the blessing of God, always to tune my tongue in unison to my heart, so as never to speak any thing, but what I think really to be true. So that, if ever I speak what is not true, it shall not be the error of my will, but of my understanding.
I know lies are commonly distinguished into officious, pernicious, and jocose: and some may fancy some of them more tolerable than others. But, for my own part, I think they are all pernicious, and therefore, not to be jested withal, nor indulged upon any pretence or colour whatsoever. Not as if it was a sin, not to speak exactly as a thing is in itself, or as it seems to me in its literal meaning, without some liberty granted to rhetorical tropes and figures; (for so the Scripture itself 165would be chargeable with lies; many things being contained in it, which are not true in a literal sense;) but, I must so use rhetorical, as not to abuse my Christian liberty; and, therefore, never to make use of hyperboles, ironies, or other tropes and figures, to deceive or impose upon my auditors, but only for the better adorning, illustrating, or confirming the matter.
But, there is another sort of lies most men are apt to fall into, and they are promissory lies; to avoid which, I am resolved never to promise any thing with my mouth, but what I intend to perform in my heart; and never to intend to perform any thing, but what I am sure I can perform. For, this is the cause and occasion of most promissory lies, that we promise that absolutely, which we should promise only conditionally. For, though I may intend to do as I say now, yet there are a thousand weighty things may intervene, which may turn the balance of my intentions, or otherwise hinder the performance of my promise. So that, unless I be absolutely sure I can do a thing, I must never absolutely promise to do it; and, therefore, in all such promises, shall still put in God willing, or by the help of God, at the same time lifting up my heart to God, lest I take his name in vain.166
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