« EdellinenJatka »
we may go, truth, righteousness, peaceableness, faith, hope—the hope that maketh not ashamed ! So far, then, of the whole armour of a Christian warrior. But, as my text will shew, it is chiefly of one part that I would speak this morning. It would be impossible in one sermon to discuss every portion of it. Enough if today we fix our thoughts for a few minutes on one, and that not the least essential piece in the divine armour, the girdle—enough, if when we quit the church this morning, we quit it with some good resolves to look well in future to this particular part of our array—if we go home convinced perhaps more deeply than we had been before, of the infinite importance of truth—truth in our words and truth in our actions. And first of truth in our words—of speaking the truth and nothing but the truth always. That this should be our aim and habit, none will dispute. Even were nothing said about it in the Bible, we should still maintain it to be our duty, to speak the truth. Nations who never heard of Christianity have recognized the same duty; have by a kind of moral instinct honoured and inculcated truth. Of the three things which the Persians of old, ignorant as they were of the true God, thought most necessary to teach their children, this was one—to speak the truth. Then how much more should we honour, and teach our children to honour truth, who besides the same inward sense to guide us, which the heathen had, have over and above the express law of our God on the matter. For we must indeed have read our Bible to little purport if we have not learnt from it that God abhorreth falsehood ; that among those who most offend Him, whom He will assuredly purge out of His kingdom, and assign them their place with the lost and miserable, are in a class already marked out by themselves-All liarswhosoever loveth and maketh a lie !
And yet, brethren, while we allow this, what is our practice ? Is lying that uncommon offence which we might think it would be among Christians ? Is there that general abhorrence of all false and deceitful ways which is commanded us ?
Indeed I fear there is not. It is sad to notice how little we are restrained either by our conscience, or by God's Word from this sin of untruthfulness-sad to notice even in religious persons—even in those who are in advance of their brethren in many practices of godliness—who have on many parts of God's armour-are sober, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of faith and good works, the absence of the girdle—an indifference to strict truth.
And when I say this, I am not asserting that good and religious people are guilty of direct lying. Few of us, I hope, are chargeable with this—few of us who would not feel deep shame and confusion of face at uttering a bare falsehood.
But there is a kind of indirect half-lie, about which we are not so scrupulous. A man who would be infinitely indignant at being charged with lying, will so speak, as to convey, purposely, a wrong impression to his hearers' He will hide back part of the truth, only say so much as
is calculated to mislead, to leave on the mind a belief different to what would have been left had the whole truth been spoken. But what is this but lying? How does it differ from that sin of Ananias and Sapphira recorded in the Acts of the Apostles for our warning P Neither of those unhappy people told a direct lie. The one brought a certain part of the money for which he had sold a possession, and laid it at the Apostles' feet, saying nothing, but simply placing it before them, as though it were the whole sum realized by the sale of the land. The other, the wife, when questioned by St. Peter —Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much 3 said, yea, for so much l—She might have thought to cloke the falsehood by saying within herself, “well it was for so much, and so much more.” But neither in actual words lied. The lie they told was hid—the one by his action, the other by her words, studied to leave a wrong impression upon the Apostles. They lied not unto men, but unto God | Their punishment, their awful and instant punishment shews us how God regards untruthfulness—shews us that in His sight, the half-indirect lie, is as criminal as the bare-faced falsehood. Can we think of it and not be afraid? For which of us has not been as guilty as they? Which of us has not now on his conscience that he has kept back, again and again, part of the truth? has lied, if not in a way that man could discover and take hold of, yet surely unto God—in His sight Who searches the heart, and from Whom no secrets are hid P
But the truth may be transgressed—and often is transgressed by men's actions, as well as by their speech. Let us consider how this may be—what it is to act untruly.
It is, as regards ourselves, to pretend to be what we are not more religious, more honest, more brave, more just, more charitable than we really are. It is to flatter —to give good words with our mouths, which in our heart we disallow to seem to go with a person, when we are opposed to him—to pretend to approve when we disapprove. All such conduct is untruthful. Whenever we so act we are to be blamed. We are departing from the simplicity of Christ—we are incurring the reproach so often denounced by Him against those who wear a double face— Woe unto you hypocrites !
And now to sum up what has been said, with a word of practical exhortation.
I have spoken, brethren, of the importance of strict truth-truth in words and truth in deeds. I have tried to shew how indispensable it is to the Christian's character, that which keeps all his armour together and in its right place—the very girdle of his reins.
I may now, I trust, with the more force, and with ready acceptance of the words on your part, press home the Apostle's admonition in the text-Stand therefore having your loins girt about with truth!
If you care to be respected by your fellow men, if you value self-respect, if you would preserve an open brow, and a frank manly bearing; if go where you will you would have your word at once taken, and be known for a man who may be trusted, one whose lips are untainted by guile; who for no consideration would stoop to ignoble
practices then observe this short rule of speaking and acting nothing but the truth.
Well I know there are temptations to the contrary, well I know that a lie, or half a lie will often seem the readiest way to reach our end-well I know that it requires strength greater than our own, boldly at all times to speak the truth.
But believe me, brethren, no end is worth attaining which is to be reached by our departing one jot or tittle from the truth. The loss to our inward character, the self-degradation caused by untruthfulness is ill made up to us by any present gain that a lie may seem to promise.
And then for strength—for boldness to speak ever and do ever the true thing—may we not reckon on God's all powerful aid ? He Who is the God of truth-He Who requires truth in all who come to Him-in all who aspire to ascend into His Holy Hill-will not be wanting to us in our efforts to do the thing that pleases Him. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. We have but to ask and He will give us of His Spirit. He will give us in a degree, and according to our need, that brave, heart, and that fearless tongue, which He gave of old unto His servants, and which enabled them to stand before their persecutors, and with all boldness to speak His Word.
Therefore, brethren, be we also bold in our God, to speak and do always what is true. He is on our side in the endeavour. Pleasant it is to Him when putting away lying, and all approach to lying—all deceit and fraud out of our lips, we speak every man truth with his neighbour.
Pleasant to Him most of all, when that true speech