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ON THE COMMANDMENTS.
§ 10. NINTH COMMANDMENT. What is the ninth Commandment ?
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. What member of the body is this commandment intended to
restrain? The tongue, which is too apt to offend.
I am “ to keep my tongue from evil-speaking, lying, and slandering.” Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.
Ps. xxxiv. 13. I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I
will keep my mouth with a bridle. Ps. xxxix. 1. Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my
lips. Ps. cxli. 3. If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not
his tongue, this man's religion is vain. James i. 26. The tongue' is a little member, and boasteth great things: and the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: it defileth the whole body, and it is set on fire of hell. The tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.
James iii. 548. What do you mean by bearing false witness against your
neighbour ? Unjustly accusing any one, whether on oath or other. wise. If a false witness rise up against any man, to testify against
him that which is wrong; the judges shall make diligent inquisition; and if the witness be a false witness, then shall ye do unto him as he had thought to have done unto his
brother. Deut. xix. 16—19. A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh
lies shall perish. Prov. xix. 5. 9. A man that beareth false witness against his neighbour is a
maul, and a sword, and a sharp arrow. Prov. xxv. 18. Neither accuse any falsely. Luke üii. 14. Naboth was put to death by false witnesses. 1 Kings xxi. 10–13. False witnesses were employed by the chief priests, that Jesus
might be put to death. Matt. xxvi. 60. Blasphemers, and false accusers, are in the black list of the sins
of the last times. 2 Tim. iii. 2. | What does this commandment forbid ?
1. It forbids evil speaking.
Evil speaking consists in relating things to our neighbour's prejudice, when the making them known cannot answer any good purpose. The facts stated may be true, but Christian charity should induce us to hide them.*
The Scriptures place this sin in the company of the worst of wicked actions. Thou shalt not go up and down as a tale-bearer among thy
people. Lev. xix. 16. Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle ? He that speaketh
the truth in his heart, he that backbiteth not with his tongue,
nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour. Ps, xv. 1-3 Out of the heart proceed false witness, blasphemies. Matt.
xv. 19. Backbiters and inventors of all evil things, (Rom. i. 30,) and Revilers are ranked with those who shall not inherit the kingdom
of God. 1 Cor. vi. 10, Let all evil speaking be put away from you. Eph. iv. 31. Speak evil of no man. T'it. iii. 2. Speak not evil one of another, brethren. James iv. 11. Lay aside all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and evil
speakings. 1 Pet. ii. 1. 2. It forbids lying.
Lying is inventing falsehoods, or reporting things without sufficient evidence of their truth, whatever motive we may have in so doing. It is speaking untruths with an intent to deceive, or designedly conveying in any way an impression different from the truth.
* Further: speaking or intimating things to any person's disadvantagez though they be true, is seldom innocent. For it usually proceeds from bad principles : revenge, envy, malice, pride, censoriousness; unfair zeal for some private or party interest: or at best, from a desire of appearing to know more than others, or mere impertinent fondness of talking. Now these are wretched motives for publishing what will be hurtful to one of our brethren. Sometimes, indeed, bad characters and bad actions, ought to be known : but much oftener not, or not to all the world, or not by our means.--Secker's Lectures, p. 238.
† It must now be observed further, that though undoubtedly those false. hoods are the worst, which hurt others the most directly, yet falsehoods in general are hurtful and wrong. And therefore lying ; all use either of words or actions of known settled import, with purpose to deceive, is unlawful. And those offences of this kind, which may seem the most harm less, have yet commonly great evil them. Lying destroys the very end of speech, and leads us into perpetual mistakes, by the very means which God intended should lead us into truth. It puts an end to all the pleasure, all the benefit, all the safety of conversation. Nobody can know on what or whom to depend. For if one person may lie, why not another? And at this rate, no justice can be done, no wickedness be prevented or punished, no business go forward. All these mischiefs will equally follow, whether untruths be told in a gross barefaced manner, or disguised under equivocations, quibbles, and evasions. The sin there fore is as great in one case as the other.
And it is so great in both, that no sufficient excuses can ever be made for it in either, though several are often pleaded.- 1bid. p. 240.
The propensity of lying shows itself so early, that children go
astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies. They endea
vour to deceive before they are able to speak. Ps. lviii. 3. Thou shalt not raise a false report. Exod. xxiii. 1. Neither lie one to another. Lev. xix. 11. He that worketh deceit shall not dwell within my house; he
that telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight. Ps. ci. 7. I hate and abhor lying ; but thy law do I love. Ps. cxix. 163. Deliver my soul, Ő Lord, from lying lips, and from a deceitful
tongue. Ps. cxx. 2. These things doth the Lord hate, yea, they are an abomination
unto him;-a lying tongue-an heart that deviseth wicked abominationsa false witness that speaketh lies. Prov. vi.
16-19. The lip of truth shall be established for ever: but a lying tongue
is but for a moment. Prov. xii. 19. Lying lips are abomination to the Lord: but they that deal
truly are his delight. Prov. xii. 22. The Jews were guilty of transgressing and lying against the
Lord, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of false
hood. Isa. lix. 13. Swearing and lying were among the sins, which should cause
the land to mourn. Hos. iv, 2. The inhabitants have spoken lies, and their tongue is deceitful
in their mouth, therefore will í make thee sick in smiting
thee. Mic. vi. 12, 13. These are the things that ye shall do, speak ye every man the
truth to his neighbour. Žech. vii. 16. Ye are of your father the devil. When he speaketh a lie, he
speaketh of his own; for he is a liar and the father of it.
John viii. 44. Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead for telling lies." Acts
v. 3. 10. Speaking the truth in love, putting away lying, speak every
man truth with his neighbour. Eph. iv. 15. 25. Lie not one to another. Col. iii. 9. The law is made for liars, for perjured persons, &c. 1 Tim.
i. 9, 10. All liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with
fire and brimstone. Rev. xxi. S. There shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, nei
ther whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie. Rev.
xxi. 27. Without it-whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. Rev. xxii. 15. 2. It forbids slandering,
Slandering is lying and evil speaking joined together : and the common practice of mending the stories that we hear of others' characters, by making additions to them, is slander. *
•We all think it an injury, in the tenderest part, when bad impressions are made on others concerning us; and therefore should conscientiously avoid doing the same injury to others: making them designedly, without a cause, is inexcusable wickedness. And even where we intend no harm, Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I cut off. Ps.
ci. 5. He that uttereth a slander is a fool. Prov. x. 18. Angels bring not railing accusation against them (dignities) be
fore the Lord. 2 Pet. ii. 11. Michael, the archangel, durst not bring against him (Satan) a
railing accusation; but said, The Lord rebuke thee.' Jude 9. Avoid tale-bearing, and never show a readiness to beov lieve evil of others, or in any way encourage persons tov speak evil of others. How long will ye judge unjustly? Ps.lxxxii. 2. The north wind driveth away rain : so doth an angry counte
nance a backbiting tongue. Prov. xxv. 23. Charity envieth not, believeth all things, hopeth all things.
1 Cor. xiii. 4—7. Not rendering railing for railing, but contrariwise, blessing
For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile.
1 Pet. iii. 9, 10. Much mischief and unhappiness are occasioned by the breach of this commandment. Tale-bearers, liars, and slanderers, bring great trouble upon individuals, and frequently cause divisions in families, and amongst friends. Be careful how, and to whom, you repeat what you may hear. Never speak without consideration, but ask yourself, if what you are going to say is likely to do any one v an injury. If you find it is, repress it. Be not great talkers, remember In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin. Prov. x. 19.
And not only restrain your lips, but keep your heart diligently; for out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh. Do not harbour any prejudices in your mind,
we may do a great deal. Whatever hurts, in any respect, the reputation of persons, always gives them great pain, and often doth them great prejudice, even in their most important concerns. For indeed almost every thing in this world depends on character. And when once that hath suffered an imputation ; for the most part, neither the persons calumniated, be they ever so innocent, can recover it completely by their own endeavours, nor the persons who have wronged them, be they ever so desirous, re. store it fully to its former state: though certainly they, who rob others of their good name, or even without design asperse it, are full as much bound to make restitution for that, as for any other damage which they
But were they not to hurt at all the person against whom they speak, still they hurt themselves, and lessen the power of doing good in the world; they often hurt their innocent fainilies by the provocations which they gave; they grieve their friends ; they set a mischievous ex aniple in society; and, if they profess any religion, bring a dreadful reToach upon it, by a temper and behaviour so justly liateful to mankind. Secker's Lectures, p. 239.
but try to think well of every one, on whose character you cannot positively decide. Judge of others with candour.
Be tender of your neighbour's reputation, and be not slow
secutors, and slanderers, and to turn their hearts.
ON THE COMMANDMENTS.
$ 11. TENTH COMMANDMENT. What is the tenth Commandment ?
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his servant, nor his maid, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is his. What does this commandment forbid ?
It forbids us coveting or desiring other men's goods, that is, their property of whatever kind. Thus it condemns all improper desires of the heart. All the other commandments, in spirit, forbid the evil desires and thoughts of the heart, but this, in the very letter of it. Covetousness is called idolatry because it draws the heart from God, and induces men to place their dependence on something else than his favour for their happiness. Nothing can be more injurious to spirituality of mind than the indulgence of this sin. It was by this commandment St. Paul was convinced that he was a sinner. I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not
covet. Rom. vii. 7. The covetous, whom the Lord abhorreth. Ps. x. 3. He that hateth covetousness, shall prolong his days. Prov.
xxviii. 16. For the iniquity of his covetousness was I wroth. Isa. lvii. 17. They covet fields, and take them by violence; and houses, and
take them away. Mic. ii. 2. Wo to him that coveteth an evil covetousness. Hab. ii. 9. Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth,—for where your
treasure is, there will your heart be also. Ye cannot serve
God and mammon. Matt. vi. 19-24.