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COMMANDMENT IX.


Evan. Well, then I pray you consider, that in the ninth commandment there is a

negative part expressed in these words: "Thou shalt not bear false witness against

thy neighbour"; that is, thou shalt not think or speak anything contrary to truth, or

that may tend to the hurt or hindrance either of thine own or thy neighbour's good

name. And an affirmative part included in these words: "But thou shalt by all

good means seek to maintain them both, according to truth and a good

conscience."


Neo. Well, sir, I pray you, begin with the negative part; and first tell us what is

forbidden in this commandment, in respect of our own good name.


Evan. That we may not be guilty of bearing false witness against ourselves, either

by overvaluing or undervaluing ourselves, in this commandment is forbidden too

high a conceit or esteem of ourselves, (Luke 18:9-11); and so also is too mean a

conceit, in underweening the good things that are in ourselves, (Exo 4:10,13); and

so also is the procuring of ourselves an evil name, by walking indiscreetly and

offensively, (Rom 2:24); and so also is the unjust accusing of ourselves, when

we, in a way of proud humility, say, "We have no grace, no wit, no wealth," &c.

(Prov 13:7); and so also is the excusing of our faults by way of lying, (Lev

19:11).


Neo. And what is forbidden in this commandment, in respect to our neighbour's

good name?


Evan. That we may not be guilty of bearing false witness against any other man,

in this commandment is forbidden contemning or thinking basely of others, (2

Sam 6:16); and so also is wrongful suspicion, or evil surmising, (2 Sam 10:3); and

so also is rash, uncharitable, unjust judging and condemning of others, (Matt 7:1);

and so also is foolish admiring of others, (Acts 12:22); and so also is the unjust

reviving the memory of our neighbour's crimes, which were in tract of time

forgotten, (Prov 17:9); and so also is the forbearing to speak in the cause and for

the credit of our neighbours, (Prov 31:8,9): and so also are all flattering speeches,

(Job 32:21,22): and so also is tale- bearing, backbiting, and slanderous speeches,

(Lev 19:16, Prov 20:19); and so also is listening to tale-bearers, (Prov 26:20,

25:23); and so also is falsely charging some ill upon another before some

magistrate, or in some open court, (Amos 7:10, Acts 25:2).


Neo. I pray you, sir, proceed to the affirmative part of this commandment, and

first tell us what the Lord requires of us for the maintenance of our own good

name.


Evan. For the maintenance of our own good name, the Lord in this

commandment requires a right judgment of ourselves, (2 Cor 13:5); with a love

to, and care of our own good name, (Prov 22:1).


Neo. And what does the Lord in this commandment require of us for the

maintenance of our neighbour's good name?


Evan. For the maintenance of our neighbour's good name, in this commandment

is required a charitable opinion and estimation of others, (1 Cor 13:7); and so also

is a desire of, and rejoicing in the good name of others, (Rom 1:8, Gal 1:24); and

so also is sorrowing and grieving for their infirmities, (Psa 119:136); and so also is

the covering of others' infirmities in love, (Prov 17:9, 1 Peter 4:8); and so also is

the hoping and judging the best of others, (1 Cor 13:5-7); and so is the

admonishing of others before we bewray their faults, (Prov 25:9); and so also is

speaking of the truth from our heart simply and plainly, upon any just occasion,

(Psa 15:2, Zech 7:16); and so also is the giving of sound and seasonable reproofs

for known faults, in love and with wisdom, (Lev 19:17); and so also is the

praising and commending of those that do well, (Rev 2:23); and so also is the

defending of the good name of others, if need so require. And thus have I also

endeavoured to satisfy your desires concerning the ninth commandment: and

now, neighbour Nomologista, I pray you, tell me whether you think you keep it

perfectly or not.


Nom. The truth is, sir, I did conceive that nothing tended to the breaking of this

commandment, but falsely charging some ill upon another before some

magistrate, or in some open court of justice: and that, thank God, I am not guilty

of.


Evan. Though you have not been guilty of that, yet, if you have contemned or

thought too basely of any person, or have had wrongful suspicions, or evil

surmisings concerning them, or have rashly and unjustly judged and condemned

them, or if you have foolishly admired them, or unjustly revived the memory of

any forgotten crime, or have given them any flattering speeches, or have been a

tale-bearer, or a backbiter, or a slanderer, or a listener to tale-bearers, you have

borne false witness against your neighbour, and so have been guilty of the breach

of this commandment.


Or if you have not had a charitable opinion of others, or have not desired and

rejoiced in the good name of others, or have not sorrowed and grieved for their

sinful infirmities, or have not covered them in love, or have not hoped and judged

the best of them, or have not admonished them before you had discovered their

faults to others, or have not given to others sound and seasonable reproof, or

have not praised them that do well, then have you also been guilty of false

witness-bearing against your neighbour, and so have transgressed this

commandment. And though you never have done any of these things, and it is

strange if you have not, yet if you have had too high a conceit of yourself, or

have after a proud humble manner unjustly accused yourself, or have procured

yourself an evil name, by walking indiscreetly and offensively, or have excused

any fault by way of lying, then have you borne false witness against yourself, and

thereby have transgressed this commandment.


Neo. I beseech you, sir, proceed to speak of the last commandment as you have

done of the rest.



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