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This fabject muft clofe. Those perfons who will not believe and be directed by Chrift and his apostles, it would be the most prefumptive arrogance in me, to fuppofe any thing I could fay, would produce reformation. I warmly recommend my text to all for their ferious confideration and amendment; if this proves ineffectual, my feeble endeavours cannot avail. "But above all things, my brethren, fwear not, neither by "heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath, but "let your yea, be yea, and your nay, nay; left you fall into " condemnation.”

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SERMON XV.

The Nature and Evil of Lying.

Ephe. iv. 25. Wherefore putting away lying, fpeak every man truth with his neighbour; for we are members one of another.

PERHAPS no virtue in the whole fyftem of morality has bad greater encomiums beftowed upon it, than the speaking of truth; and none with stricter juftice has been fubjected to ignominy, difgrace and contempt, more than the oppofite vice. For lying, however much it may be practised in the world, is reckoned a very bafe and difbonorable fin, even by the most of finners themfelves. Its odious and deteftable evil feems to be impreffed upon the minds of men even by the light of nature. The deluded Mahometans, whatever indulgence they grant to other vices, hold this in the utmost abhorrence. They often reproach the chriftians with it; and if any thing wearing the complexion of falsehood be attributed to them, they very pertly reply, "Do you think me a "chriftian?" What a fore reflection is this upon our holy

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eligion-But whatever may be the wicked, deceitful and abominable conduct of fome, who bear the chriftian name, it is an abfolute certainty that christianity every where reprobates this vice, and stamps it with marks of the utmost bafenefs and abhorrence. Many heathen nations have enacted laws, with the fevereft punishments against this inftance of criminality. Many of their laws were formed to enjoin upon parents the importance of educating their children in speaking the truth. Truth comprehends in it a multitude of the cardinal virtues, such as juftice, honefty, fincerity, integrity, good.

nefs, love of the happiness of fociety, &c. So lying involves in it a train of the contrary vices, injuftice, difhonefty, meanness, dishonor, hatred of mankind, and almost every thing injurious to eommunities, and all focial intercourfe.

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Nothing strange then that the apolle under the influence of divine infpiration, fhould warn chriftians against the latter, and zealously exhort them to the practice of the former, as he does "Wherefore putting-away lying, in the words of our text. "fpeak every man the truth with his neighbour; for we are "members one of another." The word neighbour here must' be taken in the enlarged latitude explained by our Lord, extending to the whole family of mankind, every individual of every tribe, nation or language with whom we have any intercourfe, communication or dealings. The words exprefly contain in them three things, an injunction to fpeak the truth, a command to avoid falfchood, and a reafon enforcing the propriety of thus conducting ourselves in all our converfa tion with our fellow men. To this method your attention is invited in the enfuing difcourfe. Wherefore we shall endeavour,

Firft, to enquire, what it is to fpeak the truth. "Speak every man the truth with his neighbour."

Secondly, what lying is-and the evil of it. "Put away *lying."

Thirdly, give fome reafons and directions against this fin of lying, and in favour of speaking the truth. "For we are

"members one of another."

First, we shall briefly enquire what it is to fpeak the truth, "Speak every man the truth with his neighbour."

Truth contains in its nature an intrinfic beauty, fomething excellent, amiable and praife worthy, independent of all laws and external rules, therefore ought to be admired, loved, and practised for its own fake. On the other hand, a lye comprehends in its very nature moral turpitude and baseness, and therefore ought to be avoided for its odioufnefs, and abhorred' for its own vileness. But it is not my purpose to treat either of this virtue or vice in an abstract or metaphyfical way. This would not, in my apprehenfion tend much to the edification of a common christian affembly. Neither would it be proper for me to follow the writers of moral fyftems upon this fubject, and explain to you what they mean by logical and phyfical as diftinguished from moral truth. Phylical truth is nothing but expreffing the reality of the existence of things as they stand in our conceptions, or in the view of our judgments. Logical truth is the agreement of our words with the reality of things, whatever may be the intention of mind. A perfon may speak that which is true, when he does not intend it. His declaration is verified in fact. His words and the reality of the thing perfectly correfpond, yet thro' ignorance or wil fulness he had a purpose to deceive. But moral truth is that

which is recommended in our text and claims our confideration at this time.

Moral truth is the agreement of our words and minds. And when our expreffions are adapted to inform those with whom we fpeak, with a real intention of communicating to them the knowledge of things as they are in our own minds, without any defign to deceive, this is moral truth. The words, mind and intention of the heart, when they all correfpond, the perfon can never be faid to lye; even, tho' in this, he may fpeak that which is not true. He may honeftly commit a mistake, utter an error, and not be guilty of falfehood. It may be faid fuch a perfon ought to have been better informed before he fpoke; this is readily granted, yet he delivers what he conceives and believes to be true, and has no defign of deception, therefore he does not lye. Perhaps, it may be a fin in him not to have his understanding better enlightened, but while his words agree to his mind and judgment, however mistaken or erroneous he may be, he has not committed the fin of lying. There are many who are filed heretics, who teach doctrines that are not true, yet they are never denomi. nated liars. Thro' the imperfection of human nature, in our daily converfa with men, we are often retailing matters which are unfoun ed, but we believe them to be true and have no intention of deceit, therefore all that can be faid in thofe cafes, we were mifinformed or mistaken. Truth is a declaration of things as they really exift as far as we know and under fland, with a fincere purpose of heart to give just information to thofe with whom we converse. We often speak of matters we do not perfectly understand, and it is duty to do fo; but when we communicate the knowledge we have, that is all that is requi red of us in the maintaining of truth. When we fay, we think, believe, or judge a thing to be fuch, all we do in this cafe is delivering our own thoughts, opinions, or judgment, and whe

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