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be endeavouring to return, and will peep out and betray herself one time or other. Therefore, if any man think it convenient to seem good, let him be so indeed, and then his goodness will appear to every body's satisfaction; so that, upon all accounts, sincerity is true wisdom. Particularly as to the affairs of this world, integrity hath many advantages over all the fine and artificial ways of dissimulation and deceit; it is much the plainer and easier, much the safer and more secure way of dealing in the world; it has less of trouble and difficulty, of entanglement and perplexity, of danger and hazard in it; it is the shortest and nearest way to our end, carrying us thither in a straight line, and will hold out and last longest. The arts of deceit and cunning do continually grow weaker, and less effectual and serviceable to them that use them; whereas integrity gains strength by use; and the more and longer any man practiseth it, the greater service it does him, by confirming his reputation, and encouraging those with whom he hath to do to repose the greatest trust and confidence in him, which is an unspeakable advantage in the business and affairs of life.
Truth is always consistent with itself, and needs nothing to help it out; it is always near at hand, and sits upon our lips, and is ready to drop out before we are aware; whereas a lie is troublesome, and sets a man's invention upon the rack, and one trick needs a great many more to make it good. It is like building upon a false foundation, which continually stands in need of props to shore it up, and proves at last more chargeable than to have raised a substantial building at first upon a true and solid foundation; for sin
cerity is firm and substantial, and there is nothing hollow or unsound in it, and because it is plain and open, fears no discovery; of which the crafty man is always in danger; and when he thinks he walks in the dark, all his pretences are so transparent, that he that runs may read them. He is the last man that finds himself to be found out; and whilst he takes it for granted that he makes fools of others, he renders himself ridiculous.
Add to all this that sincerity is the most compendious wisdom, and an excellent instrument for the speedy despatch of business ; it creates confidence in those we have to deal with, saves the labour of many inquiries, and brings things to an issue in few words ; it is like travelling in a plain beaten road, which commonly brings a man sooner to his journey's end than by-ways, in which men often lose themselves. In a word, whatsoever convenience may be thought to be in falsehood and dissimulation, it is soon over ; but the inconvenience of it is perpetual, because it brings a man under an everlasting jealousy and suspicion, so that he is not believed when he speaks truth, nor trusted perhaps when he means honestly. When a man has once forfeited the reputation of his integrity, he is set fast, and nothing will then serve his turn, neither truth nor falsehood.
And I have often thought that God hath, in his great wisdom, hid from men of false and dishonest minds the wonderful advantages of truth and integrity to the prosperity even of our worldly affairs. These men are so blinded by their covetousness and ambition, that they cannot look beyond a present advantage, nor forbear to seize upon it, though by ways never so indirect; they cannot see so far as to the remote consequences of a steady integrity, and the vast benefit and advantages which it will bring a man'at last. Were but this sort of men wise and clear-sighted enough to discern this, they would be honest out of very knavery, not out of any love to honesty and virtue, but with a crafty design to promote and advance more effectually their own interests; and therefore the justice of the divine providence hath hid this truest point of wisdom from their eyes, that bad men might not be upon equal terms with the just and upright, and serve their own wicked designs by honest and lawful means.
Indeed, if a man were only to deal in the world for a day, and should never have occasion to converse more with mankind, never inore need their good opinion or good word, it were then no great matter (speaking as to the concernments of this world) if a man spend his reputation all at once, and ventured it at one throw : but if he be to continue in the world, and would have the advantage of conversation whilst he is in it, let him make use of truth and sincerity in all his words and actions; for nothing but this will last and hold out to the end; all other arts will fail, but truth and integrity will carry a man through, and bear him out to the last.
Virtue and Vice declared by the general Vote of
God hath shown us what is good by the general vole and consent of mankind. Not that all mankind do agree concerning virtue and vice; but that as to
the greater duties of piety, justice, mercy, and the like, the exceptions are but few in comparison, and not enough to infringe a general consent. And of this I shall offer to you this threefold evidence:
1. That these virtues are generally praised and held in esteem by mankind, and the contrary vices generally reproved and evil spoken of. Now, to praise anything, is to give testimony to the goodness of it; and to censure anything, is to declare that we believe it to be evil. And if we consult the history of all ages, we shall find that the things which are generally praised in the lives of men, and recommended to the imitation of posterity, are piety and devotion, gratitude and justice, humanity and charity; and that the contrary to these are marked with ignominy and reproach: the former are commended even in enemies, and the latter are branded even by those who had a kindness for the persons that were guilty of them; so constant hath mankind always been in the commendation of virtue, and the censure of vice. Nay, we find not only those who are virtuous themselves giving their testimony and applause to virtue, but even those who are vicious; not out of love to goodness, but from the conviction of their own minds, and from a secret reverence they bear to the common consent and opinion of mankind. And this is a great testimony, because it is the testimony of an enemy, extorted by the mere light and force of truth.
And, on the contrary, nothing is more ordinary than for vice to reprove sin, and to hear men condemn the like or the same things in others which they allow in themselves. And this is a clear evidence that vice is generally condemned by mankind; that many men
condemn it in themselves; and those who are so kind as to spare themselves, are very quick-sighted to spy a fault in anybody else, and will censure a bad action done by another, with as much freedom and impartiality as the most virtuous man in the world.
And to this consent of mankind about virtue and vice the Scripture frequently appeals. As when it commands us to “provide things honest in the sight of all men; and by well-doing to put to silence the ignorance of foolish men;" intimating that there are some things so confessedly good, and owned to be such by so general a vote of mankind, that the worst of men have not the face to open their mouths against them. And it is made the character of a virtuous action if it be lovely and commendable, and of good report; Philip. iv. 8, “ Whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, if there be any praise, make account of these things;" intimating to us, that mankind do generally concur in the praise and commendation of what is virtuous.
2. Men do generally glory and stand upon their innocency when they do virtuously, but are ashamed and out of countenance when they do the contrary. Now, glory and shame are nothing else but an appeal to the judgment of others concerning the good or evil of our actions. There are, indeed, some such monsters as are impudent in their impieties, but these are but few in comparison. Generally, mankind is modest; the greatest part of those who do evil are apt to blush at their own faults, and to confess them in their countenance, which is an acknowledgment that they are not only guilty to themselves that they have done