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could he have kept himself honest, could he have left off his former vicinus Courses, he might have lived unknown and secure there many Years: But, not being able to delift from his former Pranks, though in a differene Branch, he was there apprehended for Horse-stealing, and the Fact being proved upon him, was condemned and executed at York Gallows.
We have now shewn fufficiently, in our Opinion, the fatal Consequences of breaking the Eighth Commandment; and as to the happy Effects of observing it, or, in other Words, of Common Honesty, surely every one must be sensible of them; as cono tinual Danger, constant Fears, and perpetual Remorse of Conscience, must be the inseparable Artendants upon Robbery and Theft ; so, undifturbed Peace of Mind, quier Sleeps, and a happy Security, are the never failing Recompence of an uprighe Life, and juft Dealings : Sufficient Inducements surely, to any reasonable Man, to prefer che latrer to the former, were even the Rewards and Punishments of a Future State out of the Question.
CHA P. IX. of the good and bad Consequences of the
Observance, or Non-Observance of the
T Hou shalt not bear false Witness against thy Neigh
I bour. As express, and easy to be understood, as the Words of this Ninth Commandment are, to our eternal Shame be it spoken, we believe, there is not a Country in the Universe, where it is so often literally broken, as in Great Britain ; and this
is one of the hopeful Fruirs of our numerous penal Laws, and high Duties; together with the great Rewards given on the Conviction of certain Offenders, and the unnaccountable Lenity of our Laws, to such as are forsworn, even though their Evidence, if taken, tended to take away Life : But,, leaving this Point for the present, let us now proceed to consider the Extent of this Law, which we shall find, like all the others, to be of a far greacer Latitude than most of us are aware of, or, at least, than most of us are willing to remember.
In effeat. were we to keep this Law concinually before our Eyes, what would become of all the polite Tea Tables and Allembles in this overgrown City ? Take away Scandal and Detraction, and we strike the greater half of the Fair Sex, with the numerous Society of Beaux and Petit Maitres, quite dumb. It it nevertheless certainly true, that all Lying, even though it mould affe&t no one, is forbid by this Commandment, and much more all Lying that may injure our Neighbour. Bur not only all actual Lying is hereby forbidden, but all Concealment of any Truths, the revealing of which may be serviceable, or beneficial, ro our Neighbour, or the Publick ; as also all Forgery of Hands, Seals, or Writings ; all Proneness to judge uncharitably, and all propagacing of evil Reports upon Hearíay, even though they should happen to be true. Under this Head likewise are comprehended all Equivocations, or designedly expressing ourselves in fuch a manner, that our Words may be understood two Ways, to the end they may be taken in the worft Senle ; as also every ironical Commendation, which we intended should be interpreted the contrary Way; as when we say of any one, Oh! he's a mighty honeft Fellow truly! Meaning, at the same time, he is a great Rogue. But of all Violations of this Law, undoubtedly
the Breach of it in the literal Sense, namely, the bearing FALSE WITNESS against our Neighbour, or the procuring others so to do, with all Forgeries of Hands, Seals, or Writings ; as also all Impoftures, or personating others, with Intent to wrong or fupplane them, all Concealments of Trusts, or being any ways accessary, thereto, is the most heinous. And the Reason of this is evident, because this is a complicated Sin, and not only a Breach of this Law, but also of some other, and frequently of no less than three. For Instance, he that bears false Witness against his Neighbour in a Court of Juftice, in a Cafe that may affect his Life, is at once guilty of contravening the Third, Sixth, and Ninth Commandments; and if it be in a Cause that will touch his Efate also, he is likewise a Transgressor of che Eighth.
Nay, it may so happen, that such a one may be ! guilty of the Breach of no less than Five at once ; as supposing any one hould be so hardened falfly to swear High Treason against a Parent, in which Case he would be an Offender againft the Fifth Commandment, as well as the Third, Sixth, Eighth, and Ninth. And of this dreadful complicatedi Crime, in our Opinion, is every Man guilty, who rakes a filthy Bribe to vote for any one, that he has Reason to suppose will be she trusty Drudge of a profligare Minister. Nay, the Corrupter, as well: as the Corrupied, are equally guilty in this case : How then must it make every serious Person Thudder with Horror, when he considers there is but too much Ground for believing this sin, chongh of so black a Dye, is very common in this profligate Nation!
But because it hall not be said we affere any thing without proving it, and because we think it of the highest Importance, to set chis Point in a strong Light, we shall beg. Leave to enlarge a litle
- upon this Head, fo that every one, who will not purpoiciy shut his Eyes against the Truth, may be fully convinced thereof. In the first place, as both the Elector and the Elected disclaim all Corruption directly or indirectly, upon Oath, it will not surely be denied, that if they either bribe or are bribed, they are thereby forsworn, which is a downright literal Breach of the Third and Ninth Commandments. As little furely will it be disowned, that a Man ftands in the fame Degree of Obligation to his Mother-Country as to his natural Pa. rent: This is so true, that if, by any Accident, our Duty to the one, should become incompatible with ogr Duty to the other, our Country is certainly to have the Preference ; it will follow then of course, from this, that if a Person so elected, should give a Vore, rending to betray, plunder, and oppress. the Public, and to undermine the Constirution, he would be equally guilty, at least intentionally, of breaking the Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth, as if he were to rob, and lay violent Hands upon his own Mother.
To return from whence we have digressed: Our Readers are now fully apprized of the great Latitude of this Law; whereby they may be enabled to judge whether they have themselves always walked lo circumspectly as that they have not, at any time, or in any manner, transgressed it, in which Case, we think, they are very happy : Bui we are afraid very few, if they search to the Borrom, will be able truly to say this. In effect, where is the Man or Woman, who can lafely affirm, they never belied any one in their Lives? If such there be, we are very well assured, we must neither look for them at Court, nor amongit the Great, Gay, or Polite : We must not expect to find them at any Tea Table, or Assembly; and almost equally in vain will it be to seek them at the Change, or among any ot che.topping Dealers in the City.
To as little Purpose also would it be to enquire after them amongst any numerous Companies or Bodies Corporate, for which Reason, we doubt, they are not to be found in any of our Universities, nor do we think it very likely to meet with them in any populous Towns: In short, if any such Rarities there be, we believe they must be ihe Inhabitants of some lone Cortage, as a good Distance from any Market Town, , equally Strangers to Scandal, Party-Divisions, or any of the modish Vices and Refinements of the present Age.
However, be that as it will, we shall now proceed to give fome Instances of the terrible Consequences of transgressing this Law ; though considering the Nature of such Offences, and the almost impenetrable Secresy wherewith Perjury may be committed, one would be surprized any Person Thould be detected therein.
The first Example we shall cite, shall be that remarkable one of ihe wicked Ahab, and his more abominable Wife Jezebel. This wretched King of Israel, having taken a Fancy to the Vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, because it lay contiguous to bis Palace, and was convenient to make a KitchenGarden, would tain have had it of him, in exchange for another, or else have bought it for the Value in Money; bur Naboth, it seems, would not be perswaded, on any Terms, to fell his Birthright, or part with his ancient Patrimony ; which Ahab so much resented, that he fickened for very Vexation, and would eac no Victuals. His hopeful Wife Jezebel, being informed hereof, and having learned from him the Cause of bis Dirpleasure, immediately comforts him with these Words: Doft thou now govern the Kingdom of Israel ? Arise, and eat Bread, and let thine Heart be merry: I will give thee the Vineyard of Naboth the Jezrcelite.