[圣咏集] 5:7 说谎不实的人，你全予以消除；奸诈好杀的人，上主一律厌恶。
[圣咏集] 101:7 诡诈欺骗的人，不得住在我的宫内，说谎不实的人，不得在我眼前存在。
训道篇 1:9 往昔所有，将会再有；昔日所行，将会再行；太阳之下决无新事。
THE EIGHTH COMMANDMENT : "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour"
Importance Of Instruction On This Commandment
The great utility, nay the necessity, of carefully explaining this Commandment, and of emphasising itsobligation, we learn from these words of St. James: If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man;and again, The tongue is indeed a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold how small a fire, what a greatwood it kindleth; and so on, to the same effect.
From these words we learn two truths. The first is that sins of the tongue are very prevalent, which is confirmedby these words of the Prophet: Every man is a liar, so that it would almost seem as if this were the only sinwhich extends to all mankind. The other truth is that the tongue is the source of innumerable evils. Through thefault of the evil-speaker are often lost the property, the reputation, the life, and the salvation of the Injuredperson, or of him who inflicts the injury. The injured person, unable to bear patiently the contumely, avenges itwithout restraint. The offender, on the other hand, deterred by a perverse shame and a false idea of what iscalled honour, cannot be induced to make reparation to him whom he has offended.
This Commandment Should Call Forth Our Gratitude
Hence the faithful are to be exhorted to thank God as much as they can for having given this salutaryCommandment, not to bear false witness, which not only forbids us to injure others, but which also, if dulyobserved, prevents others from injuring us.
Two Parts Of This Commandment
In its explanation we shall proceed as we have done with regard to the others, pointing out that in it arecontained two laws. The first forbids us to bear false witness. The other commands us to lay aside alldissimulation and deceit, and to measure our words and actions by the standard of truth, a duty of which theApostle admonishes the Ephesians in these words: Doing the truth in charity, let us grow up in all things in him.
Negative Part Of This Commandment
With regard to the prohibitory part of this Commandment, although by false testimony is understood whateveris positively but falsely affirmed of anyone, be it for or against him, be it in a public court or elsewhere; yet theCommandment specially prohibits that species of false testimony which is given on oath in a court of justice.
For a witness swears by the Deity, because the words of a man thus giving evidence and using the divine name,have very great weight and possess the strongest claim to credit. Such testimony, therefore, because it isdangerous, is specially prohibited; for even the judge himself cannot reject the testimony of sworn witnesses,unless they be excluded by exceptions made in the law, or unless their dishonesty and malice are notorious. Thisis especially true since it is commanded by divine authority that in the mouth of two or three every word shallstand.
"Against Thy Neighbour"
In order that the faithful may have a clear comprehension of this Commandment it should be explained who isour neighbour, against whom it is unlawful to bear false witness. According to the interpretation of Christ theLord, our neighbour is he who needs our assistance, whether bound to us by ties of kindred or not, whether afellow-citizen or a stranger, a friend or an enemy.' It is wrong to think that one may give false evidence againstan enemy, since by the command of God and of our Lord we are bound to love him.
Moreover, as every man is bound to love himself, and is thus, in some sense, his own neighbour, it is unlawfulfor anyone to bear false witness against himself. He who does so brands himself with infamy and disgrace, andinjures both himself and the Church of which he is a member, much as the suicide, by his act, does a wrong tothe state. This is the doctrine of St. Augustine, who says: To those who do not understand (the precept)properly, it might seem lawful to give false testimony against one's self, because the words "against thyneighbour" are subjoined in the Commandment. But let no one who bears false testimony against himself thinkthat he has not violated this Commandment, for the standard of loving our neighbour is the love which wecherish towards ourselves.
False Testimony In Favour Of A Neighbour Is Also Forbidden
But if we are forbidden to injure our neighbour by false testimony, let it not be inferred that the contrary islawful, and that we may help by perjury those who are bound to us by ties of kinship or religion. It is neverallowed to have recourse to lies or deception, much less to perjury. Hence St. Augustine in his book toCrescentius On Lying teaches from the words of the Apostle that a lie, although uttered in false praise ofanyone, is to be numbered among false testimonies. Treating of that passage, Yea, and we are found falsewitnesses of God, because we have given testimony against God, that he hath raised up Christ whom he hathnot raised, if the dead rise not again, he says: The Apostle calls it false testimony to utter a lie with regard toChrist, even though it should seem to redound to His praise.
It also not infrequently happens, that by favouring one party we injure the other. False testimony is certainly theoccasion of misleading the judge, who, yielding to such evidence, is sometimes obliged to decide againstjustice, to the injury of the innocent.
Sometimes, too, it happens that the successful party, who by means of perjured witnesses, has gained his caseand escaped with impunity, exulting in his iniquitous victory, soon becomes accustomed to the work ofcorrupting and suborning false witnesses, by whose aid he hopes to obtain whatever he wishes.To the witness himself it must be most grievous that his falsehood and perjury are known to him whom he hasaided and abetted by his perjury; whilst encouraged by the success that follows his crime, he becomes every daymore accustomed to wickedness and audacity.
"Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness"
All Falsehoods In Lawsuits Are Forbidden
This precept then prohibits deceit, lying and perjury on the part of witnesses. The same prohibition extends alsoto plaintiffs, defendants, promoters, representatives, procurators and advocates; in a word, to all who take anypart in lawsuits.
False Testimony Out Of Court Is Forbidden
Finally, God prohibits all testimony which may inflict injury or injustice, whether it be a matter of legalevidence or not. In the passage of Leviticus where the Commandments are repeated, we read: Thou shalt notsteal; thou shalt not lie; neither shall any man deceive his neighbour.' To none, therefore can it be a matter ofdoubt, that this Commandment condemns lies of every sort, as these words of David explicitly declare: Thouwilt destroy all that speak a lie.
This Commandment Forbids Detraction
This Commandment forbids not only false testimony, but also the detestable vice and practice of detraction, -- apestilence, which is the source of innumerable and calamitous evils. This vicious habit of secretly reviling andcalumniating character is frequently reprobated in the Sacred Scriptures. With him, says David, I would not eat;and St. James: Detract not one another, my brethren.
Holy Writ abounds not only with precepts on the subject, but also with examples which reveal the enormity ofthe crime. Aman, by a crime of his own invention, had so incensed Assuerus against the Jews that he orderedthe destruction of the entire race. Sacred history contains many other examples of the same kind, which priestsshould recall in order to deter the people from such iniquity.
Various Kinds Of Detraction
But, to understand well the nature of this sin of detraction, we must know that reputation is injured not only bycalumniating the character, but also by exaggerating the faults of others. He who gives publicity to the secret sinof any man, in an unnecessary place or time, or before persons who have no right to know, is also rightlyregarded as a detractor and evil-speaker, if his revelation seriously injures the other's reputation.
But of all sorts of calumnies the worst is that which is directed against Catholic doctrine and its teachers.
Persons who extol the propagators of error and of unsound doctrine are guilty of a like crime.
Nor are those to be dissociated from the ranks of evil-speakers, or from their guilt, who, instead of reproving,lend a willing ear and a cheerful assent to the calumniator and reviler. As we read in St. Jerome and St. Bernard,it is not so easy to decide which is more guilty, the detractor, or the listener; for if there were no listeners, therewould be no detractors.
To the same category belong those who cunningly foment divisions and excite quarrels; who feel a malignantpleasure in sowing discord, dissevering by fiction and falsehood the closest friendships and the dearest socialties, impelling to endless hatred and deadly combat the fondest friends. Of such pestilent characters the Lordexpresses His detestation in these words: Thou shalt not be a detractor nor a whisperer among the people. Ofthis description were many of the advisers of Saul, who strove to alienate the king's affection from David and toarouse his enmity against him.
This Commandment Forbids Flattery
Among the transgressors of this Commandment are to be numbered those fawners and sycophants who, byflattery and insincere praise, gain the hearing and good will of those whose favour, money, and honours theyseek, calling good evil, and evil good, as the Prophet says. Such characters David admonishes us to repel andbanish from our society. The just man, he says, shall correct me in mercy, and shall reprove me; but let not theoil of the sinner fatten my head. This class of persons do not, it is true, speak ill of their neighbour; but theygreatly injure him, since by praising his sins they cause him to continue in vice to the end of his life.
Of this species of flattery the most pernicious is that which proposes to itself for object the injury and the ruin ofothers. Thus Saul, when he sought to expose David to the sword and fury of the Philistines, in order to bringabout his death, addressed him in these soothing words: Behold my eldest daughter Merob, her will I give theeto wife: only be a valiant man and fight the battles of the Lord. In the same way the Jews thus insidiouslyaddressed our Lord: Master, we know that thou art a true speaker, and teachest the way of God in truth.
Still more pernicious is the language addressed sometimes by friends and relations to a person suffering with amortal disease, and on the point of death, when they assure him that there is no danger of dying, telling him tobe of good spirits, dissuading him from confession, as though the very thought should fill him with melancholy,and finally withdrawing his attention from all care and thought of the dangers which beset him in the lastperilous hour.
This Commandment Forbids Lies Of All Kinds
In a word, lies of every sort are prohibited, especially those that cause grave injury to anyone, while mostimpious of all is a lie uttered against or regarding religion.
God is also grievously offended by those attacks and slanders which are termed lampoons, and other
defamatory publications of this kind.
To deceive by a jocose or officious lie, even though it helps or harms no one, is, notwithstanding, altogetherunworthy; for thus the Apostle admonishes us: Putting away lying, speak ye the truth. This practice begets astrong tendency to frequent and serious lying, and from jocose lying men contract the habit of lying, lose allreputation for truth, and ultimately find it necessary, in order to gain belief, to have recourse to continualswearing.
This Commandment Forbids Hypocrisy
Finally, the first part of this Commandment prohibits dissimulation. It is sinful not only to speak, but to actdeceitfully. Actions, as well as words, are signs of what is in our mind; and hence our Lord, rebuking thePharisees, frequently calls them hypocrites. So, far with regard to the negative, which is the first part of thisCommandment.
Positive Part of this Commandment
Judges Must Pass Sentence According To Law And Justice
We now come to explain what the Lord commands in the second part. Its nature and purpose require that trialsbe conducted on principles of strict justice and according to law. It requires that no one usurp judicial powers orauthority, for, as the Apostle writes, it were unjust to judge another man's servant.
Again it requires that no one pass sentence without a sufficient knowledge of the case. This was the sin of thepriests and scribes who passed judgment on St. Stephen. The magistrates of Philippi furnish another example.They have beaten us publicly, says the Apostle, uncondemned, men that are Romans, and have cast us intoprison; and now do they thrust us out privately.
This Commandment also requires that the innocent be not condemned, nor the guilty acquitted; and that (thedecision) be not influenced by money, or favour, hatred or love. For so Moses admonished the elders whom hehad constituted judges of the people: Judge that which is just, whether he be one of your country or a stranger.There shall be no difference of persons, you shall hear the little as well as the great; neither shall you respectany man's person, because it is the judgment of God.
Witnesses Must Give Testimony Truthfully
With regard to an accused person who is conscious of his own guilt, God commands him to confess the truth, ifhe is interrogated judicially. By that confession he, in some sort, bears witness to, and proclaims the praise andglory of God; and of this we have a proof in these words of Josue, when exhorting Achan to confess the truth:My son, give glory to the Lord the God of Israel.
But as this Commandment chiefly concerns witnesses, the pastor should give them special attention. The spiritof the precept not only prohibits false testimony, but also commands the truth to be told. In human affairs, tobear testimony to the truth is a matter of the highest importance, because there are innumerable things of whichwe must be ignorant unless we arrive at a knowledge of them on the faith of witnesses. In matters with whichwe are not personally acquainted and which we need to know, there is nothing so important as true evidence.
Hence the words of St. Augustine: He who conceals the truth and he who utters falsehood are both guilty; theone, because he is unwilling to render a service; the other, because he has the will to do an injury.
We are not, however, at all times, obliged to disclose the truth; but when, in a court of justice, a witness islegally interrogated by the judge, he is emphatically bound to tell the whole truth. Here, however, witnessesshould be most circumspect, lest, trusting too much to memory, they affirm for certain what they have not fullyascertained.
Lawyers And Plaintiffs Must Be Guided By Love Of Justice
Attorneys and counsel, plaintiffs and prosecutors, remain still to be treated of. The two former should not refuseto contribute their services and legal assistance, when the necessities of others call for their aid. They shoulddeal generously with the poor. They should not defend an unjust cause, prolong lawsuits by trickery, norencourage them for the sake of gain. As to remuneration for their services and labours, let them be guided bythe principles of justice and of equity.
Plaintiffs and prosecutors, on their side, are to be warned not to be led by the influence of love, or hatred, or anyother undue motive into exposing anyone to danger through unjust charges:
All Must Speak Truthfully And With Charity
To all conscientious persons is addressed the divine command that in all their intercourse with society, in everyconversation, they should speak the truth at all times from the sincerity of their hearts; that they should utternothing injurious to the reputation of another, not even of those by whom they know they have been injured andpersecuted. For they should always remember that between them and others there exists such a close socialbond that they are all members of the same body.
Inducements To Truthfulness
In order that the faithful may be more disposed to avoid the vice of lying, the pastor should place before themthe extreme lowness and disgrace of this sin. In the Sacred Scriptures the devil is called the father of lies; for as,he stood not in the truth, he is a liar and the father thereof.
To banish so great a sin, (the pastor) should add the mischievous consequences of lying; but since they areinnumerable, he must be content with pointing out the chief kinds of these evils and calamities.
In the first place, he should show how grievously lies and deceit offend God and how deeply they are hated byGod. This he should prove from the words of Solomon: Six things there are which the Lord hateth, and theseventh his soul detesteth: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devisethwicked plots, feet that are swift to run into mischief, a deceitful witness that uttereth lies, etc. Who, then, canprotect or save from severest chastisements the man who is thus the object of God's special hate?
Again, what more wicked, what more base than, as St. James says, with the same tongue, by which we blessGod and the Father, to curse men, who are made after the image and likeness of God, so that out of the samefountain flows sweet and bitter water. The tongue, which was before employed in giving praise and glory toGod, afterwards, as far as it is able, by lying treats Him with ignominy and dishonour. Hence liars are excludedfrom a participation in the bliss of heaven. To David asking, Lord! who shall dwell in thy tabernacle? the HolySpirit answers: He that speaketh truth in his heart, who hath not used deceit in his tongue.
Lying is also attended with this very great evil that it is an almost incurable disease. For since the guilt of thecalumniator cannot be pardoned, unless satisfaction be made to the calumniated person, and since, as we havealready observed, this duty is difficult for those who are deterred from its performance by false shame and afoolish idea of dignity, we cannot doubt that he who continues in this sin is destined to the unendingpunishments of hell. Let no one indulge the hope of obtaining the pardon of his calumnies or detractions, untilhe has repaired the injury which they have inflicted on the honour or fame of another, whether this was done ina court of justice, or in private and familiar conversation.
But the evil consequences of lying are widespread and extend to society at large. By duplicity and lying, goodfaith and truth, which form the closest links of human society, are dissolved, confusion ensues, and men seem todiffer in nothing from demons.
How To Avoid Lying
The pastor should also teach that loquacity is to be avoided. By avoiding loquacity other evils will be obviated,and a great preventive opposed to lying, from which loquacious persons can scarcely abstain.
Excuses for Lying Refuted
The Plea Of Prudence
There are those who seek to justify their duplicity either by the unimportance of what they say, or by theexample of the worldly wise who, they claim, lie at the proper time. The pastor should correct such erroneousideas by answering what is most true, namely, that the wisdom of the flesh is death. He should exhort hislisteners in all their difficulties and dangers to trust in God, not in the artifice of lying; for those who haverecourse to subterfuge, plainly show that they trust more to their own prudence than to the providence of God.
The Plea Of Revenge
Those who lay the blame of their own falsehood on others, who first deceived them by lies, are to be taught theunlawfulness of avenging their own wrongs, and that evil is not to be rendered for evil, but rather that evil is tobe overcome by good. Even if it were lawful to return evil for evil, it would not be to our interest to harmourselves in order to get revenge. The man who seeks revenge by uttering falsehood inflicts very serious injuryon himself.
The Pleas Of Frailty, Habit, And Bad Example
Those who plead human frailty are to be taught that it is a duty of religion to implore the divine assistance, andnot to yield to human infirmity.
Those who excuse themselves by habit are to be admonished to endeavour to acquire the contrary habit ofspeaking the truth; particularly as those who sin habitually are more guilty than others.
There are some who adduce in their own justification the example of others, who, they contend, constantlyindulge in falsehood and perjury. Such persons should be undeceived by reminding them that bad men are notto be imitated, but reproved and corrected; and that, when we ourselves are addicted to the same vice, ouradmonitions have less influence in reprehending and correcting it in others.
The Pleas Of Convenience, Amusement, And Advantage
With regard to those who defend their conduct by saying that to speak the truth is often attended withinconvenience, priests should answer that (such an excuse) is an accusation, not a defence, since it is the duty ofa Christian to suffer any inconvenience rather than utter a falsehood.
There remain two other classes of persons who seek to justify lying: those who say that they tell lies for the sakeof amusement, and those who plead motives of interest, claiming that without recourse to lies, they can neitherbuy nor sell to advantage. The pastor should endeavour to reform both these kinds of liars. He should correctthe former by showing how strong a habit of sinning is contracted by their practice, and by strongly impressingupon them the truth that for every idle word they shall render an account. As for the second class, he shouldupbraid them with greater severity, because their very excuse is a most serious accusation against themselves,since they show thereby that they yield no faith or confidence to these words of God: Seek first the kingdom ofGod and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you.