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I am by no means sure that themselves believe the very opinions which they preach and labor to make others adopt? Their passions which shape their doctrines, and their interest to make this and that opinion current, render it impossible to discover their real sentiments. Can any man expect good faith from the leaders of a party? I acknowledge that I did not always remove, to my own satisfaction, all the difficulties which embarrassed me, and with which the philosophers were so often filling my ears. But being at length resolved to come to a decision on subjects of which human reason is so little the master, and finding impenetrable mysteries and insolvable objections on all sides, I adopted on each question that opinion which appeared to me the best founded and the most worthy of credit, without poring over objections which I could not solve, but which are rebutted by other objections in the opposing system no less strong. The result of my painful researches was pretty much what I have described in the Profession de Foi du Vicaire Savoyard."

This beautifully written creed, the result of Rousseau's maturest deliberations, and which he seems to have thought the most free from objections, and of course the most worthy of universal acceptance, was at once rejected by all parties. The philosophers could not approve of it, because it was too religious; the friends of revelation rejected it, be cause it conceded too much to the arguments of infidels; and devout believers in Christianity were shocked to find nothing in it but natural religion. Hence the book was condemned by all parties; and the parliament of Paris ordered the arrest of the author, that they might treat him with the utmost rigor of the law.

But he made his escape out of the kingdom, wending his way towards Switzerland. The Genevans refused to open their gates to him. Bern would not long harbor

him, and he took refuge in Neufchatel. There he attended the Protestant church, and partook of its sacraments, until his enemies in France and Geneva found means to excite the populace against him. Though protected by the King of Prussia, who was sovereign of the country, he found his situation unsafe in Neufchatel, and again he sought refuge in Bern; but he was driven from that canton by force in the winter of 1765. He then fled to Strasburg, and thence to Paris, where he met with the celebrated David Hume, who conducted him safely to England. In this latter country he composed his Confessions, or autobiography, embracing all the minute events of his life prior to the year 1765. He however soon became dissatisfied with England, and having fallen out with his friend Hume, he returned to Paris in 1767, and from that time onward he received protection from various individuals in France. After several years spent in comparative tranquillity, he died suddenly at Ermenonville, the country seat of the Marquis de Girardin, in the year 1778, aged sixty six. His remains were removed from Ermenonville in 1791, by order of the National Assembly of France, and were deposited with those of Voltaire in the Pantheon at Paris.

The works of this fascinating writer, which have been published collectively, in ten, in twenty seven, in thirty three, and in thirty eight volumes, according to the different edi. tions, were much read during the latter half of the eighteenth century; and they probably contributed more than the writings of any other man to spread among the higher classes of society all over Europe that species of adulterated Christianity which overlooks the peculiar doctrines of the Gospel, and accounts all reli gious creeds as of little importance, and considers morality, with some deference for the Deity, as all that is essential in religion.


WHAT a happy world would this be, if every one spoke truth with his neighbor! Iniquity could have no concealment-guilt no protection-suspicion, distrust, no exist ence! But it can not be. We must live in a lying world. Lies are the first outbreaks of human depravity, and out they will flow while such is the character of man. But the evil may be mitigated by diffusing throughout the community definite views of the law of veracity. Mul titudes are ignorant of what a lie is. They can not tell whether all falsehoods are lies, nor whether all lies are sinful. They have less distinct and correct views of the nature and boundaries of the law of veracity than of any other part of the moral code. Whether they are bound under all circumstances to speak the truth; and if not, when it is right and when wrong to speak falsehood, are questions on which they have no settled convictions. We trust it will be some service to society if we can succeed in relieving this department of morals from confusion and uncertainty. Our plan will be

to state

1. What lying is not. 2. What lying is.

tion. They are free from an essential element of lies, an intention to deceive. We may also state that to be true which is contrary to fact, without lying, for we may ourselves be deceived by the false statements of others.

Nor are all intentional deceptions lies. Every lie is an attempt to deceive, but every attempt to deceive is not a lie. Repairing and painting an old house, that it may appear to be new, is an act of deception, but not a lie. If the owner has no intention, other than to make his residence more pleasant and respectable, the deception is entirely harmless and innocent. The same may be said of innumerable acts of de ception. Stratagems of war are not lies. When a person pursued by an enemy flies in a direction contrary to that which he intends to take, and when out of sight changes his course in order to elude pursuit, he deceives his pursuer, but does not lie to him. Nor is his conduct rep rehensible. point, as the lawyers say, in the Bible, Josh. viii, 2, where God instructed Joshua to take the city of Ai, not by a lie, but an ambush which effectually deceived the in

3. What the moral nature of ly. habitants. ing is.

4. Certain practical lessons.

I. We shall carefully distinguish a lie from things that are often confounded with it.

An untruth is not necessarily a lie. All lies are falsehoods, but all falsehoods are not lies. We do not say of a work of acknowledged fiction, that it is a collection of lies, although many, possibly all its statements, may be untrue. Such, probably, are some of the parables of our Savior, which were not founded on any actual events, but invented by him for the purposes of instruc

We have a case in

Nor is it a correct definition to say, that a lie is an attempt to deceive with a bad intention. Deceptions are often practiced with crimi. nal intentions, in violation not of the ninth commandment, but of other precepts of the Decalogue. Getting a ship insured which we have se cret information is lost, is a criminal deception, a fraudulent act, but not a lie. It is a violation both of the eighth and of the tenth com mandments. To train a damaged or refractory horse for market with the design of deceiving buyers, and to place goods in a shop in a posi

tion to conceal their defects of qual ity or color, and tempt customers to buy them at an exorbitant price, are acts of the same character, deceptions, not lies, breaches of the eighth rather than the ninth commandment. Nor are all lies breaches of promise. A breach of promise is a lie, but a lie is not necessarily a breach of promise. When a person denies his age, or declares himself to be rich when he is poor, he lies, but breaks no promise. The supposi tion that whenever we make a declaration we virtually promise to speak the truth, is adopted to establish this definition; but the fact is, that the lie in the case of a false declaration consists in that declaration, and not in breaking an engagement to make a true declaration.

II. We shall state what a lie is. A lie is an attempt to deceive a person by the use of language.

By language we mean words, spoken, written, or printed, and their substitutes, as the signs used by the deaf and dumb. When one is ask ed the way to a certain place, if, instead of speaking, he points with his finger to a particular road, he uses the language of signs, a substitute for words, and if he points intentionally in a wrong direction, he tells lie. Attempts to deceive by other means than language are not lies. When a physician deceives a patient, by mingling an offensive medicine in his food, he is not guilty of lying. It was not a lie in Dr. Samuel Johnson to have a secret chamber, unknown to his servant, to which he retired whenever he wish ed to avoid interruption by company. It was an honorable expedient of a conscientious man, wishing not to offend his friends by refusing to see them, and not to wound the moral sense of his servant by teaching him the fashionable falsehood, "my master is not at home."

The following considerations are offered in evidence of the correctness of this definition. Vol. I.


The prohibition of lying in the Decalogue is a prohibition of false testimony against others, an act which can be done by the use of language only. Attempts to injure a neighbor by other modes of deception, are not forbidden by this but by other precepts. The clerk who embezzles the property of his employer, is guilty of breaking the eighth commandment, Thou shalt not steal, but he is not guilty of lying. He deceives his employer culpably, but not by a false declaration.


In perfect keeping with the terms of the ninth commandment, we find that the Bible (except where "lying" is used figuratively) invariably speaks of language as if it were the sole instrument of lying, and assigns other names to other modes of unlawful deception. They "go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies." "Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord." "Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips that they speak no guile." "Putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor." These allusions to language as the instrument of lying, might be explained by the fact that language is the main instrument, were there any intimations that we can lie in any other way. But there are none. This is hardly consistent with the notion that lies may be uttered and are constantly uttered by other means. The Bible also recognizes a distinction between dealing falsely and lying. Lev. xix, 11, it is said: "Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie one to another." Perhaps these several expressions are not used with the precision of a modern code of laws, yet neither are they used with the looseness of popular discourse.

The Bible speaks of lying as invariably sinful, but this is true only of attempts to deceive by language. It is not wrong to conceal, by dress or other means, personal deformities which would give pain to us,

and to others if known, and a knowledge of which can be of service to no one. A deception accomplished in this way, without language, may be wrong, and is wrong when it springs from a bad motive. Whoever should conceal personal deformities for the sake of gaining the hand of another in marriage, would be blameworthy in proportion to the wrong which he is conscious of intending to inflict on the other party. But the deception itself does not necessarily involve a bad motive. On the other hand, lying is invariably spoken of in the Scriptures as wrong. No exceptions are noticed. All lying is to be put away. Every man is to speak truth with his neighbor. With this description our definition is in entire harmony. While it is lawful to deceive others by various ways and means, it will appear in the sequel, that to deceive men by the use of language is never right, and is constantly mentioned with reprobation by the sacred wri


There is a palpable and radical. distinction between deceiving others by language and deceiving them by other means. A physician may properly deceive an unmanageable patient by giving him a medicine covertly. But can he honestly deceive him by declaring that the cup which contains the medicine does not contain it? Suppose he is called to a man who he knows is strongly prejudiced against calomel, and who, as he believes, needs that article to subdue his disease. He may innocently administer the medicine secretly in his ordinary food; it may even be his duty to do it; while it would be wrong to carry on the deception by saying that the medicine thus prepared contains no calomel, or that he has no intention of giving him any. Every one perceives there is a difference in these modes of deception. In both cases the good of the patient is intended. The motive of the deception, what

ever may be the means of effecting it, is the recovery of the patient. But yet in one case the physician keeps within the bounds of rectitude, in the other he oversteps them. The difference, we apprehend, lies in the fact, that deception by language is a breach of veracity, which other deceptions are not. In one case the author of the deception falsifies his word, in the other he does not. In one case he impairs confidence in himself as a man of truth, and weakens his own respect and that of others for the law of veracity; in the other his patient can only be vexed with him-perhaps he will soon be pleased.

We may see this more clearly in the light of several other examples.

To resume a former illustration, a person escaping from his enemies, if he knows a place of security at the north, may direct his course to the south, for the sake of covering his intention, and effecting his es cape by deceiving his pursuers. But if on the way he meets a person whom he dares not trust, and tells him he is going to another place than that which he has in view, he resorts for safety to a mode of deception, which if it is lawful, differs entirely from a mere stratagem.

Take another example. A woman in infirm health urges her husband to go with her to the Springs. He is perhaps extremely reluctant to go. His business, or his natural aversion to traveling, may render the proposal of his wife very unwelcome to him. But still his desire to gratify her, or sense of duty to her, may very properly lead him to conceal his own feelings, and to take the excursion apparently with perfect wil lingness and pleasure. By this course he promotes his own happiness without diminishing that of his wife by manifesting his real feelings. This is gentlemanly, kind and Christian. But if instead of merely appearing to be pleased with the journey, he deceives her by say

ing falsely that he wishes to go on his own as well as on her account, does not every one see that the character of the transaction is changed? By deceiving her through the readiness with which he assents to her wishes, and the cheerfulness of his manner, he is not guilty of falsify ing his word. Could she read his heart, she would admire and love him the more, instead of losing her confidence in him. But deceiving her by a false declaration, is an act which would impair her respect for him, were it known to her; and which actually impairs his own respect for the truth.

As another example, suppose A. insults B. The anger of B. is excited, and struggles to vent itself in abusive epithets, or it may be in blows. He however restrains himself; represses his feelings; hides them in his own bosom, so that to all beholders he appears, as he means to appear, perfectly calm and meek. All are deceived. But is he guilty of a lie? He intentionally practices a deception, but his conduct is commendable. For an angry person to deny that he is angry, is a breach of faith; whereas, to deceive others by suppressing the passion, is a violation neither of the law of veracity nor of any other law.

The distinction which is here insisted on, is universally recognized by unsophisticated minds. Such acts, as picking a man's pockets, are known as lies only in the definitions of learned men. The common people call these things thefts or frauds, not lies. Dextrously thrusting one's hand into another person's pocket, without his discovering it, is an act of deception. But what if it is done merely in sport? Then it is simply a piece of impertinence. What if it is done to steal? Then it is a breach of the law, "Thou shalt not steal." So it is spoken of and treated by common men. They never think of calling it a lie.

No definition besides ours, fur

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nishes a practical criterion by which to determine whether a given act is a lie or not. We instantly see what a lie is, in the light of this definition-"an attempt to deceive by the use of language.' We can not confound the act with any other. We are not at a moment's loss in deciding what our duty is-unless indeed it is sometimes right to lie, a question which belongs to another part of this essay. Every false declaration is a lie, unless notice of the falsehood is given at the time; or every false declaration with an intention to deceive is a lie. And lies may be uttered by words, spoken, written, or printed, and by any other language, and by language only. As to other modes of deception, they are not forbidden by the divine law, although they may not be resorted to for unlawful ends.

Now if we compare this definition of lying with others, we shall find a reason for our preference in the doubt and perplexity in which they leave the mind as to the precise bounds of obligation. "Falsehood," says Milton," is incurred when any one from a dishonest motive either perverts the truth, or utters what is false, to one to whom it is his duty to speak the truth." This definition recognizes language as the sole instrument of lying; but besides being in direct contradiction to the precept, "putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor," that is, with every other person, it embarrasses the mind with two dif ficult inquiries, what motive to lie is honest and what dishonest; and who has a right, and who has not, to know the truth. Thus too, if we adopt the common definition, "a lie is an attempt to deceive," we are at once embarrassed by the manifest lawfulness of many deceptions. We find that we have not even a general rule of duty on the subject. The definition most frequently found in the dictionaries—“ a lie is a criminal falsehood"-approximates closely to

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