Images de page

Wherefore, good children, beware chiefly that you be no liars, nor false witness bearers, but for any occasion you spare not to speak the truth at all times and places, and specially when you be brought for witnesses into common courts or open judgments. For God himself hath ordained laws, courts, and officers, to defend the good and to punish the evil: without the which, there can be no peace or quietness in this world. They be the succour and sanctuary of fatherless and motherless children, of widows, and of all oppressed persons. And he, that should go about to overturn this common refuge of all persons, that suffer wrong, it can no other ways be, but he must needs sin against the ordinance of God, and grievously hurt his neighbour. But no man doth pervert and overturn justice, courts, and judgments, more than a false witness: wherefore this is a very heinous sin before God. For a false witness doth forswear himself against the Second Commandment: he doth as much as lieth in him to overturn and destroy courts and judgments, founded and established by God; he despiseth and deceiveth the judge; he hurteth his neighbour both in his name and goods; he stoppeth the peace, friendship, and agreement, the which should have been made between the parties by the judge's true judgment; he maintaineth wrong, and continueth hatred, debate, and contention, of the which followeth brawling, fighting, and oftentimes manslaughter. The which heinous sins God will not suffer to escape unscourged, but

horribly will punish them. Wherefore let every man avoid false witness bearing, as they would fire, the plague, or poison.

By this Commandment also God withdraweth us from all evil suspicions, that we think no evil of our neighbour, neither expound his words or deeds to the worst, that we suspect him not without a cause, nor utter to others our suspicions conceived against any man, as long as we know not certainly the truth. For they, which, grounding themselves upon suspicions, do raise evil tales or untrue bruits against their neighbour, they do bear false witness against him, and do more hurt than open liars: for they that lie openly, or that in the face of court bear false witness against a man, may be accused and punished for their offence; but men cannot so easily avoid the venom of such persons, which secretly, by poisoned words, or other means, cause their neighbour to be suspected. For they so secretly handle the matter, that they bring their neighbour into slander, and yet they will not be known, that it cometh by them. And this is no small offence, contrary to this Eighth Commandment. Wherefore utterly eschew this vice, and be not suspicious of your neighbours, taking all things that you hear or see in them to the worst, but rather to the best.....

Now to make a brief rehearsal of such things, as have been spoken heretofore. You shall understand, good children, that by this Eighth Commandment are forbidden all lies, frauds, and all

may be hurted, or by the which strife and contention may be provoked or continued, whether it be in courts of law, or out of courts. Hereby also we be commanded not to be suspicious, nor to expound our neighbour's words or deeds to the worst, nor maliciously to blow abroad their faults, or in telling of them to make them worse than they be in deed, but we ought always to set our minds on such things as pertain to the glory of God, and profit of our neighbour: and in all places to speak well and charitably of every man. We must also maintain unity, peace, and concord, take all things to the best, bear with our neighbour's frailty, and hide his faults, when we can. not amend them. This is the true meaning of this precept. Wherefore, good children, when you shall be demanded, How understand you the Eighth Commandment? you shall answer, We ought to fear and love our Lord God above all things, and for his sake to abstain from all lying, backbiting, slandering, and ill reporting, by the which our neighbour's good name, fame and credit may be impeached or decayed, and rather to excuse, hide, or gently to interpret another man's fault, than maliciously to make the worst of the same, and with the loud trump of the tongue to blast it abroad, to the knowledge of all the town or place wherein we dwell.


Master. How may that Commandment be kept, of bearing false witness?

Scholar. If we neither ourselves speak any false or vain lie; nor allow it in others, either by speech or silence, or by our present company. But we ought always to maintain truth, as place and time serveth.


Master. What is the Ninth Commandment? Scholar. " Thou shalt bear no false witness against thy neighbour."

Mast. What is the meaning of this Commandment?

Scho, That we break not our oath or faith. And in this law we are forbidden, not only open and manifest perjuries, but also wholly all lying, slanders, back bitings, and evil speakings, whereby our neighbour may take loss or harm, or lose his good name and estimation. For one example containeth a general doctrine. Yea, and we ought neither ourselves at any time to speak any false or untrue thing, nor with our words, writing, silence, presence, or secret assent in holding our peace, once allow the same in other. But we

truth, ever to rest upon truth, to bring forth all things diligently into the light of truth, as place, time, or necessity shall require; finally, ever ready to take upon us the defence of truth, and by all means to maintain and uphold it.

Mast. For satisfying of this law is not enough to bridle our tongue and pen?

Scho. By the same reason that I have before said, when he forbiddeth evil speaking, he therewith also forbiddeth sinister suspicions and wrongful misdeemings. For this Lawmaker hath ever chief respect to the affections of the heart. This law therefore forbiddeth us to be inclined so much as to think evil of our neighbours, much less to defame them. Yea, it commandeth us to be of such gentle sincerity and indifferency toward { them, as to endeavour, so far as truth may suffer, to think well of them, and to our uttermost power to preserve their estimation untouched.

Mast. What is the reason why the Lord in his law doth term the corrupt affections of the heart by the names of the most heinous offences? For he comprehendeth wrath and hatred under the name of manslaughter; all wantonness and unclean thoughts, under the name of adultery; and unjust coveting, under the name of theft.

Scho. Lest we (as the nature of man is) should wink at the ungodly affections of the heart, as things of small weight, therefore the Lord setteth them out by their true names, according as he measureth them by the rule of his own righteousFor our Saviour, the best interpreter of


« PrécédentContinuer »