ON AVOIDING ALL MANNER OF LIES
Consider first, in what manner the vice of lying is everywhere condemned in the word of God. Our Saviour tells us, John viii. 44, that ‘the devil is a liar, and the father of lies;’ and Apoc. xxi. 6, that ‘all liars shall have their portion in the pool burning with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.’ and the Holy Ghost assures us by the mouth of the wise man, Prov. vi. 16, 17, that ‘the Lord hateth the lying tongue;’ and ch. xiv. 22, that ‘lying lips are a great abomination to the Lord;’ and ch. xiii. 5, that ‘the just shall hate a lying word;’ and Wisd. i. 11, that ‘the mouth that lieth killeth the soul;’ and Ecclus. xx. 27, that even ‘a thief is better than a man that is always lying; but that both of them shall inherit destruction;’ and xx. 26, that ‘a lie is a foul blot on a man,’ and xx. 28, that ‘the manners of lying men are without honour,’ and that ‘their confusion is with them without ceasing;’ besides many other texts against lies and liars. O let us fly and detest this evil, which is thus frequently condemned by the Spirit of God, as hateful to him, and pernicious to our souls!
Consider 2ndly, that the reason why lies are so hateful to God is, because God is essentially truth, and therefore as all lies are opposite to truth, they are all opposite to God, and cannot but offend him. Every known untruth, by reason of this opposition to the God of truth, is essentially evil, and ought not to be committed for any consideration whatever. God himself cannot dispense with any one, or give him a licence to tell a lie, no more than he himself can lie. Some lies indeed are more heinous than others; either because they more directly strike at revealed truths, or tend to degrade God and religion; or because of the injury they do to our neighbours, either in soul or body, goods or good name; and all these are mortal sins; but there are no lies whatsoever, not even such as are told in jest, or such as are officious, or for excuse, but what are essentially sinful, and therefore ought not to be committed, not even for saving the whole world; because evil is not to be committed that good may come of it. Besides, what good can be expected from turning one’s back upon truth, and sheltering one’s self in a lie? O! let us rather die than thus offend the God of truth.
Consider 3rdly, that it is a dangerous thing for any Christian to make slight of telling a lie, though it were only a lie of vanity or for an excuse, and without any design to prejudice one’s neighbour. But it is still more dangerous to indulge one’s self in a habit or custom of telling this kind of lies. For it is no small evil wilfully to dishonour the sovereign truth at any time, and to lead one’s neighbour into error, by obtruding falsehood upon him for truth; but it is a very great evil to make nothing of entertaining a habit of wilfully offending God by such lies, and this upon a notion that if one can but escape hell, it matters not how much one otherwise offends him. For how can such a habit as this be consistent with loving God above all things? Or how can there be any security for a soul that treats her God in this slighting manner? Oh, no! let us not deceive ourselves; God is not to be mocked. Those that make slight of a habit of lies, can never be friends of the God of truth, nor reasonable expect to be eternally with him.
Conclude never to tell a known lie upon any account whatsoever, much less, for avoiding a little anger, or any other slight occasion. Nothing can justify a lie, not even the saving one’s life by it, because it is an offence to God, who ought not to be offended, even to save the world.