The Virtues Which have Truthfulness for Their Basis
Ephesians 4:25
Why putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another.

The quality of truthfulness, or of allegiance to truth, in the character, extends far beyond the point of scrupulously avoiding untrue statements. A person may never tell what would usually be called a falsehood, and yet may have a thoroughly insincere, hypocritical, or artificial character.

1. And may I not mention first, as worthy of being in general avoided, the quality of dissimulation, or the concealment of our real opinions, which has been contrasted with simulation, or the pretending to be, or to think, something other than the reality. It has been laid to the charge of Cromwell that he was a dissembler, who allowed others to interpret his silence as they would, and then surprised them by acting otherwise than they expected. His most favourable biographers have defended him on the ground that he told no lies, and that being in the midst of dangerous plotters, he was unable to save himself or his cause in any other way. I will not dispute the justice of the defence, but I notice the instance as showing how men confound dissembling with falsehood, and therefore how these must border on one another; and as showing also that a high religionist like Cromwell, by his dissembling, gave colour to the charge that his religion was insincere.

2. Next to dissimulation I mention "pretence," which implies an intentional concealment of the reality by something false or feigned offered to the inspection of others. Thus a merchant who has no capital makes a false impression on others in regard to his pecuniary ability, that he may obtain a loan of money; or a sciolist pretends to have learning, when he is ignorant; or a libertine to be moral when he is immoral; or a hypocrite in religion to be a believer or a good man when he is neither.

3. There is a less obvious kind of pretence into which we are all apt to fall, which, however, cannot stand on its defence, when tried by the laws of truth. It is what is called "cant"; a word which denotes the aping of others in expressions of feeling and opinion, by the use of set, stereotyped words which pass current in a certain circle of religion, fashion, or taste.

4. We mention next, as closely bordering on the vice of character already named, "insincerity," especially in professions of regard and in the bestowment of praise. When a person puts on the semblance of friendship for another, expressing it in warm terms to his face, while he laughs at him behind his back, we call this hypocrisy of a black dye. But some insincere ways of making another believe that you are his friend are not so obviously wicked as this. You thus present yourself to others as ready to do for them what is beyond your intention, and when the test comes and you fail, they are wounded, and feel that they have been falsely dealt with. Most of such insincere professions are the refuges of selfishness ashamed to come to the light and putting on the forms of goodwill.

5. We pass on next to the faults of character opposed to "simplicity." This word denoted at first the quality of being unfolded, as contrasted with that which was folded together, and so simplicity in a moral sense and duplicity are moral opposites. But the word has a wide application; when used in reference to taste it denotes the avoidance of the artificial, the overwrought, the overloaded with ornament, the pretentious. When used in reference to our purposes it denotes that two motives, as self-interest and goodwill, are not mixed in producing the same act, or that we aim at truth rather than at impression. As a moral quality it denotes the absence of guile, a character without artifice.

6. Another and a kindred fault opposed to a spirit of truthfulness is inaccuracy in representation and reports.

7. Another of the truthful virtues is "candour," which partakes of the nature also of justice. It admits the weight of what makes against ourselves and confesses this with readiness. It acknowledges mistakes out of a spirit of fairness. In argument it gives an impartial view of the reasons urged by the opposite side.

(T. D. Woolsey.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.

WEB: Therefore, putting away falsehood, speak truth each one with his neighbor. For we are members of one another.

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