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door,” so often as we thus deviate from the straightforward path of christian honesty and plain dealing. Called upon even as we are in our every-day conversation with the world to speak the truth, a lie is not to be defended. It is against the holy and positive law of the most high God to say that which is not true, even though it be to save oneself from blame or punishment, or even to screen a comrade or a friend. In the latter case we may be said to add unto our fault, becoming thereby partakers in other men's sins; and evidently proving that we had rather let “iniquity abound,” and wickedness go on unreproved and unchecked, than observe and give that unbiassed testimony to the truth, which the laws of God and man alike prescribe, and by which alone the bonds of social order, of public security, and private confidence between man and man, can be preserved and strengthened. And not to run into the prolonged detail of the
ways in which the simple rules of “ speaking the truth,” and of acting truly, may be violated, it may be sufficient to observe, that whenever we act, or speak otherwise than we would have others act, or speak towards us under like circumstances, we are guilty not only of infringing upon, and breaking the social compact, but are likewise guilty of forgetfulness of God's all-searching knowledge, and do in effect despise and make slight of that word from on high, which prescribes truth in all our words, and uprightness in all our actions; which hath said, “ He that speaketh lies shall perish.”? And be it further and particularly noted, that every time in the which we design to deceive or defraud our neighbour, thinking to obtain some worldly profit, some praise, some gain, some temporal advantage thereby, we do every such time make a fearful approach to that sin, in the actual commission of which Ananias and Sapphira were struck with death. The alteration of times, and the more prosperous circumstances (as to worldly matters) of the Christian Church, render it improbable that we can now ever fall into the actual sin, and the deadly presumption of so tempting, as did this wretched couple, “ the Spirit of the Lord.” Nevertheless we may and do 'tempt the Spirit of the Lord,” as often as we commit sin, lie and swear and defraud, cheat and deceive, trusting for our security and success to the ignorance or the easiness, the blindness or indolence of our fellow creatures; forgetting, as we are told in Ecclesiasticus," that the eyes of the Lord are ten thousand times brighter than the sun, beholding all the ways of men, and considering the most secret parts.
8 Prov. xix. 9.
Destruction, indeed, may not come upon us so swift and instantaneous, as did the lightning vengeance of the Lord upon the guilty heads of Ananias and Sapphira; yet, brethren, remember we, that there is a record, an imperishable record kept, and a book written, which no man can blot or falsify, and wherein is noted and preserved every idle and wicked word spoken, every lying affirmation, and every utterance of the tongue which hesitates not at the attempt to deceive. Therefore, though the lover and speaker of a lie, and the coward practiser of the equivocating word, may escape detection and disgrace in this world, yet what hath he whereof to boast ? And where is his security against the day when the secrets of the heart shall be laid open in the presence of his once deluded fellow creatures - in the presence
9 Eccles. xxiji. 19.
of men and angels ? Surely his guilt shall then be made manifest : he shall not then escape, neither shall his fault be any longer hid, or go unpunished. For in the great and coming day of judgment, “ God,” as we are most credibly certified, “ shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”i O how solemn and awful are these words ! and how awakening ought to be the consideration—the consideration and reflection that “there is nothing secret, that shall not be made manifest ; neither anything hid, that shall not be known, and come abroad !"! Our fellow men we may oft times and successfully deceive ; but besides men of imperfect vision and understanding like ourselves, we have, my brethren, to do with a God "unto whom all hearts are open, and from whom no secrets are hid;" and therefore, however, with apparent ease and present safe result, we may practise deceit and fraud, equivocation and lying in the world, God we cannot deceive; and he hath made known to us his determination of making“ manifest even the counsels of the heart," and of “ rendering to every man” according to his words, and “ according to his works." This is the great and profitable truth
1 Eccles. xii. 14.