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ever David was threatened by any danger, he immediately employed a falsehood which served his turn; though not incapable of generosity, he deceived enemies and friends indifferently, and there is probably no record of treachery and lying consistently pursued which surpasses in baseness his affair with his faithful servant Uriah the Hittite. It is true that his conduct towards Uriah was condemned ; “ the thing that David had done displeased the Lord."? But it is significant that Yahveh himself occasionally had recourse to deceit for the purpose of carrying out his plans. In order to ruin Ahab he commissioned a lying spirit to deceive his prophets ; 8 and once he threatened to use deception as a means of taking revenge upon idolaters. But to bear false witness against a neighbour was strictly prohibited ;6 the false witness should suffer the punishment which he was minded to bring upon the person whom he calumniated. In Ecclesiasticus lying is severely censured : -“A lie is a foul blot in a man, yet it is continually in the mouth of the untaught. A thief is better than a man that is accustomed to lie : but they both shall have destruction to heritage. The disposition of a liar is dishonourable, and his shame is ever with him."? “Lying lips are abomination to the Lord : but they that deal truly are his delight.” According to the Talmud, “ four shall not enter Paradise : the scoffer, the liar, the hypocrite, and the slanderer.”9 Only for the sake of peace, and especially domestic peace, may a man tell a lie without sinning; 10 but he who changes his word commits as heavy a sin as he who worships idols. 11 The duty of truthfulness was particularly emphasised by the Essenes. 2 He who entered their sect had to pledge himself always to love

Cf. Kuenen, Religion of Israel, i. 9 Deutsch, Literary Remains, p. 57. 327 ; McCurdie, loc. cit.


10 Hershon, Treasures of the Talmud,
2 Samuel, xi. 27 ; xii. I sqq. p. 69 sq.
i Kings, xxii. 20 $99.

11 Sanhedrin, fol. 92 A, quoted by 4 Ezekiel, xiv. 7 sqq. Cf. Spencer, Montefiore, Hibbert Lectures on the Principles of Ethics, i. 402.






Religion of the Ancient Hebrews, p. 5 Deuteronomy, v. 20. 6 Ibid. xix. 16 399.

12 Philo Judæus, Quod liber sit 7 Eulesiasticus, xx. 24 Sqr.

quisque virtuti studet, p. 877 (Opera, 8 Proverbs, xii. 22.

ii. 458)



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truth and strive to reclaim all liars. “They are eminent for fidelity,” says Josephus. “Whatsoever they say also is firmer than an oath ; but swearing is avoided by them,

; and they esteem it worse than perjury; for they say that he who cannot be believed without [swearing by] God is already condemned.” ?

“Speak every man truth with his neighbour, from early times regarded as one of the most imperative of Christian maxims. According to St. Augustine, a lie is not permissible even when told with a view to saving the life of a neighbour ; “since by lying eternal life is lost, never for any man's temporal life must a lie be told.”5 Yet all lies are not equally sinful ; the degree of sinfulness depends on the mind of the liar and on the nature of the subject on which the lie is told. This became the authorised doctrine of the Church. Thomas Aquinas says that, although lying is always sinful, it is not a mortal sin if the end intended be not contrary to charity, “as appears in a jocose lie, that is intended to create some slight amusement, and in an officious lie, in which is intended even the advantage of our neighbour.”8 Yet from early times we meet within the Christian Church a much less rigorous doctrine, which soon came to exercise a more powerful influence on the practice and feelings of men than did St. Augustine's uncompromising love of truth. The Greek Fathers maintained that an untruth is not a lie when there is a “just cause





Josephus, De bello Judaico, ii. 8. 7. 2 lbid. ii. 8. 6. 3 Ephesians, iv. 25.

4 Gass, Geschichte der christlichen Ethik, i. 90.

• St. Augustine, De mendacio, 6 (Migne, Patrologia cursus, xl. 494

Idem, Enchiridion, 18 (Migne, op. cit. xl. 240); Idem, De mendacio, 21 (Migne, xl. 516). For St. Augustine's views on lying see also his treatise Contra mendacium, addressed to Consentius (Migne, xl. 517 399.), and Bindemann, Der heilige Augustinus, ii. 465 599.

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7 Gratian, Decretum, ii. 22. 2. 12,

Catechism of the Council of Trent, iii. 9. 23.

8 Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologica, ii.-ii. 110. 3 sq.

St. Augustine says (De mendacio, 2 [Migne, op. cit. xl. 487 sq.); Questiones in Genesim, 145, ad Gen. xliv. 15 (Migne, xxxiv. 587]) that jokes which“ bear with them in the tone of voice, and in the very mood of the joker a most evident indication that he means no deceit,” are not accounted lies, though the thing he uiters be not true. This statement is also incorporated in Gratian's Decretum (ii. 22. 2. 18).


for it; and as a just cause they regarded not only selfdefence, but also zeal for God's honour. This zeal, together with an indiscriminate devotion to the Church, led to those “pious frauds,” those innumerable falsifications of documents, inventions of legends, and forgeries of every description, which made the Catholic Church a veritable seat of lying, and most seriously impaired the sense of truth in the minds of Christians.? By a fiction Papacy, as a divine institution, was traced back to the age of the Apostles, and in virtue of another fiction Constantine was alleged to have abdicated his imperial authority in Italy in favour of the successor of St. Peter. The Bishop of Rome assumed the privilege of disengaging men from their oaths and promises. An oath which was contrary to the good of the Church was declared not to be binding. The theory was laid down that, as faith was not to be kept with a tyrant, pirate, or robber, who kills the body, it was still less to be kept with an heretic, who kills the soul.S Private protestations were thought sufficient to relieve men in conscience from being bound by a solemn treaty or from the duty of speaking the truth ; and an equivocation, or play upon words in which one sense is taken by the speaker and another sense intended by him for the hearer, was in some cases held permissible. According to Alfonso de' Liguori—who lived in the eighteenth century and was beatified in the nineteenth, and whose writings were declared by high authority not to contain a word that could be justly found fault with,?

Gass, op. cit. i. 91, 92, 236 sqq. Thought, p. 249. Newman, Apologia pro vita sua, Gregory IX. Decretales, ii. 24. 27. P. 349 sq

5 Simancas, De catholicis institutio. von Mosheim, Institutes of Eccle- nibus, xlvi. 52 sq. p. 365 sq. siastical History, i. 275. Middleton, Alagona, Compendium manualis Free Inquiry into the Miraculous D. Navarri, xii. 88, p. 94 sq. :-“Fur, Powers, which are supposed to have qui est furatus aliquid, si interrogetur a subsisted in the Christian Church, judice non competenti, vel non juridice, passim. Lecky, Rise and Influence of an sit furatus tale quid, potest secura Rationalism in Europe, i. 396 sqq. conscientia respondere simpliciter, non Gass, op. cit. i. 91, 235. von Eicken, sum furatus, intelligendo intra se in tali System der mittelalterlichen Weltan- die, vel anno.” See also Kames, op. schauung, pp. 654-656, 663.

cit. iv, 158 sq. von Eicken, op. cit. p. 656. Poole, 7 Meyrick, Moral and Devotional Illustrations of the History of Medieval Theology of the Church of Rome, i. 3.





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there are three sorts of equivocation which may be employed for a good reason, even with the addition of a solemn oath. We are allowed to use ambiguously words having two senses, as the word volo, which means both to " wish” and to “fly"; sentences bearing two main meanings, as “This book is Peter's,” which may mean either that the book belongs to Peter or that Peter is the author of it ; words having two senses, one more common than the other or one literal and the other metaphorical—for instance, if a man is asked about something which it is in his interest to conceal, he may answer, "No, I say,” that is “I say the word no.'

‘ As for mental restrictions, again, such as are “purely mental,” and on that account cannot in any manner be discovered by other persons, are not permissible ; but we may, for a good reason, make use of a “non-pure mental restriction,” which, in the nature of things, is discoverable, although it is not discovered by the person with whom we are dealing.” Thus it would be wrong secretly to insert the word “no” in an affirmative oath without any external sign ; but it would not be wrong to insert it in a whispering voice or under the cover of a cough. The “good reason” for which equivocations and non-pure mental restrictions may be employed is defined as “ any honest object, such as keeping our goods spiritual or temporal.”3 In support of this casuistry it is uniformly said by Catholic apologists that each man has a right to act upon the defensive, that he has a right to keep guard over the knowledge which he possesses in the same way as he may defend his goods; and as for there being any deceit in the matter—why, soldiers use stratagems in war, and opponents use feints in fencing. 4

Adherence to truth and especially perfect fidelity to a promise were strongly insisted upon by the code of Chivalry. However exacting or absurd the vow might


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1 Alfonso de' Liguori, Theologia moralis, iii. 151, vol. i. 249.

9 Ibid. iji. 152, vol. i. 249. 3 Ibid. iii. 151, vol. i. 249.

* Meyrick, op. cit. i. 25.

5 Book of the Ordre of Chrualry, foll. 18 b, 31 b, 34 b. Robertson, His. tory of the Reign of Charles V. i. 84.

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be, a knight was compelled to perform it in all the strictness of the letter. A man frequently promised to grant whatever another should ask, and he would have lost the honour of his knighthood if he had declined from his word. We are told by Lancelot du Lac that when King Artus had given his word to a knight to make him a present of his wife, he would neither listen to the lamentations of the unfortunate woman, nor to any representations which could be made him ; he replied that a king must not go from his word, and the queen was accordingly delivered to the knight. The knights taken in war were readily allowed liberty for the time they asked, on their word of honour that they would return of their own accord, whenever it should be required. So great, it is said, was the knight's respect for an oath, a promise, or a vow, that when they lay under any of these restrictions, they appeared everywhere with little chains attached to their arms or habits to show all the world that they were slaves to their word ; nor were these chains taken off till their promise had been performed, which sometimes extended to a term of four or five years. It cannot be expected, of course, that reality should have always come up to the ideal. In the thirteenth century the Count of Champagne declared that he confided more in the lowest of his subjects than in his knights. Moreover, the knightly duty of sincerity seems to have gone little beyond the formal fulfilment of an engagement.

“ The age of Chivalry was an age of chicane, and fraud, and trickery, which were not least conspicuous among the knightly classes.” 6 It is signifi

. cant that the English law of the thirteenth century, though quite willing to admit in vague phrase that no one should be suffered to gain anything by fraud, was inclined to hold that a man has himself to thank if he is misled by deceit, the king's court generally providing no remedy for him who to

Sainte-Palaye, Mémoires sur l'ancienne
chevalerie, i. 76 sq.

1 Mills, History of Chivalry, p. 152.
2 Lancelot du Lac, vol. ii. fol. 2 a.
3 Sainte-Palaye, op. cit. i. 135.

4 lbid. i. 236 sq.

5 Ibid. ii. 47. Cf. Kames, op. cit. iv, 157

6 Pike, History of Crime in England, i. 283.

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