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uninterrupted series of art, and management, to ensure the submission of its subjects. Of this management, deceit is not merely the chief, but in a sense the only, means. All tyrants lie; and lie unceasingly. All their subordinate agents are abandoned liars. Were the tyrant himself, and the instruments of his tyranny, to lay aside their deception, the tyranny would tumble to the ground. If the Rulers of a nation, possessing liberty, were invariably to utter truth; it would be impossible that the Government should not be well administered. Should such rulers form evil designs against public or private happiness; an honest disclosure of their purposes would defeat them of course. This every ruler, who forms such designs, knows perfectly well; and, therefore, he artfully misrepresents, or studiously conceals, them. But no design of any extent can be executed without a disclosure to all those, who are necessarily employed in the execution. Were these men of integrity, they would disclose it, of course, to the public. Such men, therefore, are never voluntarily employed by rulers to accomplish evil designs. Men of falsehood are invariably sought for such purposes, and invariably employed in accomplishing them. The person, who has not read political history with an eye to this subject, is an incompetent judge of the immense extent, to which falsehood is employed for the purposes of oppression, and of the innumerable forms, in which it has been played off upon the unhappy race of men, for their destruction. Art and trick, pretence and sophistry, false declarations and false promises, have ever been a more formidable host of enemies to public liberty, safety, and happiness, than the sword and the musket, the dungeon and the gibbet. Falsehood has ever been the mine, by which the enemies of freedom have blown up her citadel, and buried her votaries in the ruins. Falsehood ruined the freedom of Greece and Rome; and overturned all the Republics of Modern Europe. Without this terrible engine, the Romish Hierarchy would never have raised its head to Heaven; nor trodden down in the dust the suffering nations of men. Without this tremendous assistant, the French Republic would never have sprung into existence; nor offered up half Europe as an holocaust to
the powers of darkness. Banish falsehood from the world; and you will redeem it from three-fourths of its sins, and from almost all its sufferings. Nations have, in most cases, eagerly watched against the intrusions of power, and the establishment of internal force. So far they have acted wisely. But, without the aid of falsehood, no force, beside that of a foreign conquerer, ever destroyed public liberty. Against this enemy they ought to watch with the eyes of Argus; a creeping, serpentine enemy; advancing silently, and imperceptibly; equally unseen, and unsuspected. If they were willing to become wise by the miserable experience of those, who have gone before them; they would know, that their supreme danger lies here; that every ruler who flatters them, that every demagogue, is a liar; that he deceives them for his own advantage, not for theirs; for the overthrow of their liberty, not for its establishment; for the ruin of their interests, not for their peace, prosperity, or safety. If a ruler hearken to lies, says Solomon, all his servants are wicked. Judgment, saith the prophet Isaiah, is turned away backward; and Justice standeth afar off. What was the source of these calamities 2 Let the prophet himself answer. Truth is fallen in the streets, and therefore Equity cannot enter. It is the Glorious Character of Him, whose Dominion is as the light of the morning, of a morning without clouds, and as the clear shining of the sun after rain upon the tender herb of the field, that He shall judge the people with Truth. It is a divine characteristic of the Infinite Ruler, that his paths are Mercy and Truth. Such must be the character of earthly Rulers, if they would be Ministers of God, for good; or if their subjects are to be either safe, or happy. But we need not appeal to a numerous train of Scriptural texts for instruction on this subject. In the 144th Psalm there is the strongest, and perhaps the most comprehensive, exhibition of its importance, which can be found even in the Scriptural pages, and which ever will be found in the language of men. In this portion of the sacred canon, David, contemplating the wars, in which he had been, and more probably those, in which he was at that very time, engaged; remembering the usual care, and
good providence, of God, exercised towards him in his contests with his enemies; and feeling, that this was amply sufficient for his safety, and success, in every case of hostility, waged by open force ; breaks out in a joyful song of exultation for these blessings, as already partly received, and as partly secured to him for the time to come. Blessed be Jehov Ah, my strength, who teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight : My goodness, and my fortress, my high tower, and my deliverer, my shield, and he, in whom I trust; who subdueth my people under me. After some short reflections on the humble, and undeserving, character of man, naturally excited by the contemplation of these mercies, he turns his eye to the state of his own kingdom, probably convulsed at that time by the rebellion of Absalom; a rebellion, generated, and supported, by falsehood; he exclaims, Bow thy heavens, O Jehovah, and come down; touch the mountains, and they shall smoke : cast forth lightning, and scatter them : shoot out thine arrows, and destroy them : send thine hand from above : rid me, and deliver me, out of great waters, from the hand of strange children; whose mouth speaketh vanity, (that is, lies,) and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood. To this great man, the ordinary blessings of God’s providence to him and his people appeared a defence amply sufficient, and sources of victory sure and abundant, against the violence of war, and enemies in arms. But, when he came to consider the danger, which threatened his government, and nation, from the insidious attacks of deception, he felt, that a new, and singular, interference of God was necessary for the deliverance of himself, and his people. Then it became necessary, that God should bow the heavens, and come down; that he should set the mountains on fire; that he should cast forth his "lightning, to scatter, and shoot out his arrows, to destroy these children of falsehood. Such in his view was the danger to the people of Israel from the deceptions, practised upon them, that nothing less than these wonderful exertions of Divine Power would insure their safety. At the same time, he informs us in the strongest terms, that a deliverance from this terrible kind of warfare, from the spirit which generated it, and from the persons by whom it was carried on, was indispensable to the internal prosperity of the nation, both moral and secular. Rid me, he exclaims again, and deliver me from the hand of strange children, whose mouth speaketh ties, and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood: that our sons may be as plants, grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner-stones, polished after the similitude of a palace; that our garners may be full, affording all manner of store; that our sheep may bring forth thousands and ten thousands in our streets ; that our owen may be strong to labour; that there be no breaking in, nor going out ; that there be no complaining in our streets. Happy, he subjoins, is that people, that is in such a case : yea, happy is that people, whose God is Jehovah. These are blessings, which cannot be found in a nation, among whom falsehood prevails. There, men will not labour to produce them: there, God will not give them. They are blessings, which Truth leads in her train; blessings, which God showers upon a people, who love truth. But at the approach of falsehood they shrink, languish, and expire. All this, it is to be remembered, was written by David; one of the greatest and wisest men, whom the world has ever seen. He knew by experience every danger from war; from open enemies, embodied in powerful armies. By the same experience he was perfectly acquainted, also, with the evils, which spring from falsehood. The evils of the latter class he perceived, by actual trial, to be immensely greater than those of the former. In these observations he has barely told us what passed under his own eye, and constituted his own case. Nay more, he has told all this directly to his Maker; and in a Psalm, addressed directly to him, has poured forth the praises, which he esteemed due, and prayed for the assistance, which he deemed necessary. In these circumstances, the sincerity of the suppliant cannot be questioned. But it is further to be remembered, that this Psalm was dictated by the Inspiration of God. It is all, therefore, exactly just, and true. Nothing is diminished: nothing is exaggerated. Falsehood is just so much more dangerous, in the ordinary circumstances of mankind, than war; its evils are just so much more terrible; and peculiar interpositions of God, to deliver mankind from their efficacy, are in this very manner indispensable.
Truth, also, is accompanied, and followed, by all these blessings: blessings which, fairly understood, involve the whole prosperity of a people. At the same time, falsehood either prevents, or destroys, them all: or, in other words, ruins the nation in which it prevails. 3. Falsehood is equally pernicious to the Private interests of mankind. A great proportion of all their miscarriages in the pursuit of happiness are suffered by mankind from Intentional Misinformation only. A man is falsely informed of the state of the markets; and conveys his property to a ruinous sale. He wishes to employ an agent, to manage his business; to instruct his children; or to plead his cause. He wishes to employ a physician, to attend his family in cases of sickness; or a clergyman to preach for himself, and his neighbours. The character of each of those men is represented to him falsely. Of consequence, his business is mismanaged; his children are half-taught; his cause is lost by ignorance, or treachery; his family are hastened to the grave by an empiric; and himself, and his neighbours, by false exhibitions of the Gospel, are led to perdition. The beggar cheats him by a false tale of woe. The false friend betrays his interests, and his secrets. A false witness swears away his rights: and a false judge perverts the law to his ruin. A flatterer deceives him into fatal apprehensions concerning his own excellencies. A censurer breaks his spirits by unfounded, and malignant, representations of his defects: and a sophist cheats him out of truth, virtue, and heaven. The frauds, practised on our fellow-men, which were either recited, or alluded to, in a preceding discourse on that subject, are all perpetrated by the instrumentality of falsehood. This Harpy seizes on every human enjoyment, and on every human interest; destroys whatever is in her power; and pollutes, and distresses, wherever she is unable to destroy. 4. Equally pernicious is Falsehood to the Personal interests of the Liar himself. The importance of this truth will appear in the following particulars.
In the First Place. Lying is always followed by Reproaches of Conscience.