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On Lying

40. Now the things which are to be kept safe for sanctity's xix. sake are these: pudicity of body, and chastity of soul1, and1 amm* verity of doctrine. Pudicity of body, without consent and permission of the soul, doth no man violate. For, whatever against our will and without our empowering the same is by greater force done upon our body, is no lewdness. Howbeit, of permitting there may be some reason, but of consenting, none. For we consent, when we approve and wish: but we permit even not willing, because of some greater turpitude to be eschewed. Consent, truly, to corporal lewdness violates also chastity of mind. For the mind's* chastity consists in'animi a good will and sincere love, which is not corrupted, unless when we love and desire that which Truth teaches ought not to be loved and desired. We have therefore to guard the sincerity of love toward God and our neighbour; for in this is chastity of mind sanctified: and we must endeavour with all the strength in our power, and with pious supplication, that, when the pudicity of our body is sought to be violated, not even that outermost sense of the soul3, which is3 animas entangled with the flesh, may be touched with any delight; but if it cannot this, at least the mind and thought* in not* mentis consenting may have its chastity preserved entire. Now what we have to guard in chastity of minds, is, as pertainings animi to the love of our neighbour, innocence and benevolence; as pertaining to the love of God, piety. Innocence is that we hurt no man; benevolence, that we also do good to whom we can; piety, that we worship God. But as for verity of doctrine, of religion and piety, that is not violated unless by a lie; whereas the highest and inmost Verity Itself, Whose that doctrine is, can in no wise be violated: which Truth to attain unto, and in It on every wise to remain, and to It thoroughly to cleave, will not be permitted, but when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal

422 A harmless lie to save chastity not condemned.

Db shall have put on immortality. But, because all piety in this Dacio. life is practice by which we tend to that life, which practice hath a guidance afforded unto it from that doctrine, 1 signa- which in human words and signs' of corporal sacraments doth insinuate and intimate Truth herself: for this cause this also, which by lying is possible to be corrupted, is most of all to be kept incorrupt; that so, if ought in that chastity of mind be violated, it may have that wherefrom it may be repaired. For once corrupt authority of doctrine, and there can be none either course or recourse to chastity of mind.

41. There resulteth then from all these this sentence, that a lie which doth not violate the doctrine of piety, nor piety itself, nor innocence, nor benevolence, may on behalf of pudicity of body be admitted. And yet if any man should propose to himself so to love truth, not only that which consists in contemplation, but also in uttering the true thing, which each in its own kind of things is true, and no otherwise to bring forth with the mouth of the body his thought than in the mind it is conceived and beheld; so that he should prize the beauty of truth-telling honesty, not only above gold and silver and jewels and pleasant lands, but above this temporal life itself altogether and every good thing of the body, I know not whether any could wisely say that that man errs. And if he should prefer this and prize it more than all that himself hath of such things; rightly also would he prefer it to the temporal things of other men, whom by his innocence and benevolence he was bound to keep and to help. For he would love perfect faith, not only of believing aright those things which by an excellent authority and worthy of faith should to himself be spoken, but also of faithfully uttering what himself should judge right to be spoken, and should speak. For faith hath its name in the Latin tongue, from that the thing is done which is said*: and thus it is manifest that one doth not exhibit when telling a lie. And even if this faith be less violated, when one lies in such sort that ho is believed to no inconvenience and no pernicious hurt, with added intention moreover of guarding either one's life or corporal purity; yet violated it is, and a thing is violated which ought to be kept safe in chastity

• ' Fides, quia fit quod dicitur.'

Yet truth has the claim of depending on our own act. 423

and sanctity of mind. Whence we are constrained, not by De opinion of men, which for the most part is in error, but by DTM^o truth itself, truth which is eminent above all, and alone is most invincible, to prefer even to purity of body, perfect faith. For chastity of mind is, love well ordered, which does not place the greater below the smaller: Now it is less, whatever in the body than whatever in the mind can be violated. For assuredly when for corporal chastencss a man tells a lie, he sees indeed that his body is threatened with corruption, not from his own, but from another's lust, but is cautious lest by permitting at least, he be a party. That permission, however, where is it but in the mind? So then, even corporal chasteness cannot be corrupted but in the mind; which not consenting nor permitting, it can by no means be rightly said that corporal chasteness is violated, whatever in the body be perpetrated by another's lust. Whence it is gathered, that much more must the chastity of the mind be preserved in the mind, in the which is the guardianship of the pudicity of the body. Wherefore, what in us lies, both the one and the other must by holy manners and conversation be walled and hedged round, lest from another quarter it be violated. But when both cannot be, which is to be slighted in comparison of which, who doth not see? when he seeth which to which is to be preferred, the mind to the body, or the body to the mind; and which is more to be shunned among sins, the permitting of another's deed, or the committing of the deed thyself.

42. It clearly appears then, all being discussed, that those xxi. testimonies of Scripture have none other meaning than that we must never at all tSll a lie: seeing that not any examples of lies, worthy of imitation, are found in the manners and actions of the Saints, as regards those Scriptures which are referred to no figurative signification, such as is the history in the Acts of the Apostles. - For all those sayings of our Lord in the Gospel, which to more ignorant minds seem lies, are figurative significations. And as to what the Apostle says: I am made all things to all men, that I might gain l Cor.9, all; the right understanding is, that he did this not by lying,22but by sympathy; so that he dealt with them in liberating them with so great charity, as if he were himself in that evil

4'24 All kinds of lying wrong, but some worse than others. De from which he wished to make them whole. There must

MENDACIO

therefore be no lying in the doctrine of piety: it is a heinous

wickedness, and the first sort of detestable lie. There must be no lying of the second sort; because no man must have a wrong done to him. There must be no lying of the third sort; because we are not to consult any man's good to the injury of another. There must be no lying of the fourth sort, that is, for the lust of lying, which of itself is vicious. There must be no lying of the fifth sort, because not even the truth itself is to be uttered with the aim of men-pleasing, how much less a lie, which of itself, as a lie, is a foul thing? There must be no lying of the sixth sort; for it is not right that even the truth of testimony be corrupted for any man's temporal convenience and safety. But unlo eternal salvation none is to be led by aid of a lie. For not by the ill manners of them that convert him is he to be converted to good manners: because if it is meet to be done towards him, himself also ought when converted to do it toward others; and so is he converted not to good, but to ill manners, seeing that is held out to be imitated by him when converted, which was done unto him in converting him. Neither in the seventh sort must there be any lying; for it is meet that not any man's commodity or temporal welfare be preferred to the perfecting of faith. Not even if any man is so ill moved by our right deeds as to become worse in his mind, and far more remote from piety, are right deeds therefore to be foregone: since what we are chiefly to hold is that whereunto we ought to call and invite them whom as our own selves we love; and with most courageous mind we must 2Cor.2,drink in that apostolic sentence: To some we are a savour of life unlo life, to others a savour of death unto death; and who is sufficient for these things? Nor in the eighth sort must there be lying: because both among good things chastity of mind is greater than pudicity of body; and among evil things, that which ourselves do, than that which we suffer to be done. In these eight kinds, however, a man sins less when he tells a lie, in proportion as he emerges to the eighth: more, in proportion as he diverges to the first. But whoso shall think there is any sort of lie that is not sin, will deceive himself foully, while he deems himself honest as a deceiver of other men.

False reasons of those who say it may he a sin not to lie. 425

43. So great blindness, moreover, hath occupied men's De minds, that to them it is too little if we pronounce some lies DACio. not to be sins; but they must needs pronounce it to be sin in some things if we refuse to lie: and to such a pass have they been brought by defending lying, that even that first kind which is of all the most abominably wicked they pronounce to have been used by the Apostle Paul. For in the Epistle to the Galatians, written as it was, like the rest, for doctrine of religion and piety, they say that he has told a lie, in the passage where he says concerning Peter and Barnabas, When I saw that they walked not uprightly ac- Gal. 2, cording to the truth of the Gospel. For, while they wish to14defend Peter from error, and from that pravity of way into which he had fallen; the very way of religion in which is salvation for all men, they by breaking and mincing the authority of the Scriptures do endeavour themselves to overthrow. In which they do not see that it is not only lying, but perjury that lhey lay to the charge of the Apostle in the very doctrine of piety, that is, in an Epistle in which he preaches the Gospel; seeing that he there saith, before he relates that matter, What I write unto you, behold, before Gal. 1, God, I lie not. But it is time that we set bounds to this disputation: in the consideration and treatment whereof altogether there is nothing more meet to be, before all else, borne in mind and made our prayer, than that which the same Apostle saith: God is faithful, Who will not suffer you to be 1 Cor. templed above that ye are able to bear, but will with the' temptation make also a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.