But Peter said: Ananias, why hath Satan tempted thy heart,
that thou shouldst lie to the Holy Ghost, and by fraud keep part
of the price of the land?--Act. 5, 3

THE EIGHTH COMMANDMENT: Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

And if I shall say that I know Him not, I shall be like to you, a liar.-- JOHN viii. 55.

The words of today's Gospel were spoken by our Lord in Jerusalem, perhaps in the Temple, during the feast of Tabernacles, about seven months before His death. Disputes concerning His divine mission were at this time forced upon Him by the doctors of the Law. To the saving words which Jesus spoke to them they not only returned unbelief and opposition, but actual abuse and blasphemy, saying He was a Samaritan and had a devil. But the Saviour replied to their wicked accusations by telling them that He had not a devil, that He knew His Father whom they knew not; that He honored His Father, while they had dishonored Him; that He spoke the truth, but they were given to lies.

We all feel a just indignation at the insincerity and dishonesty of those Jewish doctors; we feel, as our Saviour said, that they were liars. There is scarcely anything more abominable in our eyes than a liar, a perverter of the truth; and yet how prevalent is this vice! Falsehood and dissimulation are met with on all hands, are often condoned as things of little moment, and sometimes even praised as accomplishments and signs of special mental endowments and versatility. Let us consider, however, the gravity of this vice of lying.

I. The nature of a lie. 1. A lie is the assertion of what one does not believe, or the denial of what one does believe; in other words, it is the expression, in words or signs, of that which is contrary to one's mind. 2. Lies are of various kinds: jocose, officious, and malicious. 3. A jocose lie is one that is told with the intention of pleasing or amusing. Such lies are only venial sins, and are lies only in name, if told in such a way as to make it plain that they are not to be taken seriously. 4. An officious lie is one that is told with the intention of helping one's self or another, without hurting anyone. Lies of this kind are not permissible, for it is not lawful to do evil that good may result (Rom. iii. 8). 5. A malicious lie is one that is told with the intention of injuring others. The gravity of such lies is according to the injury actually done, but is greatest when the lie is told in a trial under oath against one's neighbor. In this last case a lie has the additional malice of perjury and sacrilege, and is more harmful than any private untruth. 6. A sacrilegious lie is one told to the Holy Ghost in confession.

II. The malice of a lie. i. Every real lie is a sin, mortal or venial, according to its nature, (a) because it is forbidden by God; (b) because it perverts the faculty given us by God of communicating our thoughts to others; it is an abuse of the wonderful gift of speech; (c) because it is contrary to God Himself, who is truth, and is an imitation of the devil, the father of lies (John viii. 44) ; (d) because it is an injury against our fellow man whom it leads into error; (e) because it is an injury to society, since the public welfare demands that we be able to rely on men's words. What the counterfeiter and forger do, the liar does in his measure. 2. An indication of the baseness of lying is found in the fact that all right-thinking men have ever regarded it as cowardly and dishonorable. 3. It is, therefore, never lawful to tell a lie for any purpose whatever; but we may conceal the truth, if there be a just reason for doing so, that is when there is the duty of guarding the reputation of another, of preventing great evils, or of keeping a secret confidentially committed to us. 4. One is not allowed to conceal the truth, however, when his neighbor has the right to know it, e.g., when put under oath in trials, or when another's advantage requires that the truth be made known.

EXHORTATION, 1. In order to avoid the vice of lying, (a) let us be careful in small matters regarding the truth; (b) let us avoid all unnecessary loquacity; (c) let us always remember that insincerity is hateful both to God and man (Ecclus. vii. 14; Wis. i. li; Prov. xii. 22; Ecclus. xx. 26). 2. Parents should train their children to be scrupulously truthful.

Catechism of the Council of Trent, Part III

To all conscientious persons is addressed the divine command that in all their intercourse with society, in every conversation, they should speak the truth at all times from the sincerity of their hearts; that they should utter nothing injurious to the character of another, not even of those by whom they know they have been injured and persecuted. For they should always remember that between them and others there exists such a close social bond that they are all members of the same body.


In order that the faithful may be more disposed to avoid the vice of lying, the pastor will place before them the extreme lowness and disgrace and turpitude 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."(1)

But to banish from amongst the faithful so great a sin, the pastor will add the mischievous consequences of which this vice is the source. These consequences are without number; and the pastor, therefore, must be content with pointing out the chief kinds of evil and calamity that are caused by lying.

In the first place, he will inform them how grievously lies offend God and how deeply a liar is hated by God. "Six things there are," says Solomon, "which the Lord hateth, and the seventh his soul detesteth: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that deviseth wicked plots, feet that are swift to run into mischief, a deceitful witness that uttereth lies, etc." (2) Who, then, can protect 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 bless God and the Father, to curse men, who are made after the likeness of God," so that "out of the same fountain flows sweet and bitter water."(3) The tongue, which was before employed in giving praise and glory to God, afterwards, as far as it is able, by lying treats the Author of truth with ignominy and dishonor. Hence, liars are excluded from a participation in the bliss of heaven. To David asking, "Lord! who shall, dwell in thy tabernacle?" the Holy Spirit answers: "He that speaketh truth in his heart, who hath not used deceit in his tongue." (4) Lying is also attended with this very great evil that it is an almost incurable disease. For since the guilt of the calumniator cannot be pardoned, unless satisfaction be made to the calumniated person, and since as we have already observed, this duty is difficult for those who are deterred from its performance by false shame and a foolish idea of dignity, it follows that he who continues in this sin perseveres in a course which must ultimately lead to the unending punishments of hell. Let no one indulge the delusive hope of obtaining the pardon of his calumnies or detractions, until he has repaired the injury which they have inflicted, whether this was done in a 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 good faith and truth, which form the closest links of human society, are dissolved, confusion ensues, and men seem to differ in nothing from demons.

The pastor will also teach that loquacity is to be avoided. By avoiding loquacity the other evils of the tongue will be obviated, and a preventive opposed to lying, from which loquacious persons can scarcely abstain.


There are those who seek to justify their duplicity either by the unimportance of what they say, or by the example of the worldly wise who, they claim, lie at the proper time. The pastor will correct such erroneous ideas by answering that "the wisdom of the flesh is death."(5) He will exhort his people in all their difficulties and dangers to trust in God, not in the artifice of lying; for those who have recourse to subterfuge, plainly show that they trust more to their own prudence than to the providence of God.

Those who lay the blame of their own falsehood on others, who first deceived them by lies, are to be taught the unlawfulness of avenging their own wrongs, and that evil is not to be rendered for evil, but rather that evil is to be overcome by good." Even if it were lawful to return evil for evil, it would not be to our interest to harm ourselves in order to get revenge. The man who seeks revenge by uttering falsehood inflicts very serious injury on himself.

Those who plead human frailty are to be taught that it is a duty of religion to implore the Divine assistance, and not to yield to human infirmity.

Those who, in excuse of their guilt, allege habit are to be admonished to endeavor to acquire the contrary habit of speaking the truth; particularly as evil habit, far from extenuating, is an aggravation of guilt.

There are some who adduce in their own justification the example of others, who, they contend, constantly indulge in falsehood and perjury. Such persons are to be reminded that bad men are not to be imitated, but reproved and corrected; and that, when we ourselves are addicted to the same vice, our admonitions have less influence in reprehending and correcting it in others.

With regard to those who defend their conduct by saying that to speak the truth is often attended with inconvenience, the pastor will answer that such an excuse is an accusation, not a defense, since it is the duty of a Christian to suffer any inconvenience rather than utter a falsehood.

There remain two other classes of persons who seek to justify a departure from truth, those who say that they tell lies for the sake of amusement, and those who plead motives of interest, claiming that without recourse to lies, they can neither buy nor sell to advantage. The pastor should endeavor to reform both these kinds of liars. He will correct the former by showing how strong a habit of sinning is contracted by their practice, and by strongly impressing upon them the truth that "for every idle word that men shall speak, they shall render an account in the day of Judgment." (7) As for the second class, he will upbraid 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 our Lord: "Seek first the kingdom of God and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you."(8)

Sermon: Lying, Calumny and Detraction
by the Rev. Francis M. Harvey

The tongue is a fire a world of iniquity.--The tongue is placed among our members, which defilefh the whole body, and setteth on fire the wheel of our nativity, being set on fire by hell.--JAMES iii. 6.

St. James, in his admirable Epistle, gives us a graphic sketch of the good and the evil that flow from the power of speech. He reminds us how glorious is this gift in itself, how noble and ennobling, and also how dread an evil it becomes through misuse. "By it," he says, "we bless God the Father; and by it we curse men who are made after the likeness of God."

The evils that spring from a misuse of the gift of speech are many and various. We will confine ourselves to those against the Eighth Commandment, by which are forbidden all untruthfulness, insincerity, calumny and detraction.


Lying is well called the monster evil; monstrous in extent, for it is the most prevalent of sins, monstrous in its result, for it is a direct attack upon God Himself, who is called Truth, and it is ruinous to a man's character and to his soul.

We must not deceive ourselves in regard to this vice. Any variation from the truth, or what we honestly believe to be the truth, is a lie, and is branded by the Almighty with the penalty attached to that sin, "Yes, I told a lie, but there was no harm in it." There is no such lie. Its essence is harmful, for it is contrary to God; it is, as the philosophers tell us, by its very nature the great "utterly evil" thing. A "white" lie is a whitewashed lie; its true color is necessarily black. Any word or act of ours that intentionally deceives one who has a right to know the truth is a lie, and any euphemistic expression we may attach to it, such as "white," "harmless," or "jocose," but serves to cheat us as to its true nature, and does not remove a jot of guilt from our souls. We say to children they must not tell "stories"; we should forbid them to lie. A story is something pleasant, attractive; to give its name to a thing so black and ugly as lying is in itself a lie. The Sacred Scripture uses no euphemism. Falsehoods and lies are the names used, even the milder term "untruth" does not appear. We should imitate the Word of God in our speech and call these ugly things by their ugly names.

A common form of lie is that of excuse, a combination of cowardice and folly; cowardice in that the liar fears the consequence of some act or word--which may in itself have been justifiable; folly in that he prefers to offend Almighty God rather than one of His creatures. This form of lying is recognized as the weapon of the weak, but woe to those who encourage or develop this habit in weaklings, who terrify children into the use of falsehood and subterfuge, who make a lie the only refuge from punishment of those under their charge.

Pride, too, is prolific of lies. The silly exaggeration, the pose, the ambiguous way of narrating certain of our adventures, or our actions, spring from pride, a wish to show off. Pride itself is a lie. The father of lies became such because of his pride; and the man who makes pride a dominant trait of his character is a living lie.

Lies told in jest, to raise a laugh, or to cause astonishment, is another division of this subject. Often these are not lies at all, for they do not really deceive; or at least do not deceive those who have a right to certain information. Hence they are in no way sins. But so subtly does this poison of the serpent-- the father of lies--permeate all forms of insincerity, that jocose lying is often attended with sin. The jest that holds a brother up to ridicule, that injures the reverence due to authority, that arouses anger and feelings of revenge, that induces rash swearing, or in any way dims the brightness of the golden chain of Christian fellowship is a sin against charity, and possibly against justice. To tell a jocose lie that causes terror or alarm, that puts one to serious inconvenience, or in any way pains or wounds another must be placed in the same category. Then, too, there is always the danger of acquiring the habit of lying. He who lies constantly in jest will very soon lie in earnest. The bloom is too easily rubbed from the fair fruit of honesty for us to trifle with it in any way. There are many other methods of amusing our friends, and displaying our superior wit or superabundant humor, without risking the wounding of our fellows, or the warping of our characters in the direction of sin.

The most heinous form of lying is that expressed in the wording of the Eighth Commandment, bearing false witness, or perjury. The man who enters a court of justice, and, after solemnly taking God to witness that his words are absolute truth, falsely swears away the life or character of another, or in any way defeats the end of justice, is guilty of a sin before which ordinary crime pales. He has committed a blasphemy in invoking the God of truth to father a lie; he has sinned against justice in blackening the character of his neighbor; he has added to his calumnies a publicity of scandal that it could scarcely otherwise acquire. Truly does the Scripture say that "a man that beareth false witness against his neighbor is like a dart and a sword and a sharp arrow."

There are lies acted as well as lies spoken. The man or woman who preserves a pious exterior that their neighbors may deem them especially virtuous may be acting a lie. The look of seraphic innocence that brightens the face of the culprit when his wrong-doing is discovered, and the wrong-doer is unknown, is an acted lie. The silence that closes the lips of the guilty one when another is charged with his sin is also an offense against God's command. Any deception, in a word, that misleads, or is intended to mislead those who have a right to certain knowledge, is a lie, be that deception a word, a look, a posture, or mere silence.

A form of lying that receives little condemnation from us, yet which is most pernicious, is flattery. Its purpose is usually the gaming of some advantage--generally popularity. It is a network of lies; words, looks and actions in subtle combination. It is most dangerous to those who receive it, and deadly to those who practice it.

Glance for a moment at the plain truthfulness and sincerity of our Divine Model, whose followers we claim to be. Note His absolute truth in all the relations of His mortal life. During His stay upon earth He came in contact with all sorts and conditions of men. With the Pharisees, who have their following today in a large body of apparently very good people; strict church-goers; occasional recipients of the Sacraments; ornaments--more or less--of Christian society. He met those who philosophized about religion; who dabbled in the latest thought of the day on doctrine and on ethics. He conversed with the self-opinionated lawyers; with the talented young man who looked upon himself as a genius; with the half-cynical, wholly curious host who narrowly watched and freely criticized His actions at table. The impulsively pious, too, came to Him. They whose religion was a sentimental one, an affair of the emotions, wherein self-denial had no place. Yet He was the same, absolutely the same to all. The philosophers, doctors, Pharisees met the same, clear, unwavering sincerity and truth that showed mercy to the Magdalen, and gently plucked the stones from the hands of the executioners of the woman taken in adultery. But to them the truth was not merciful, for it was true--sincere. He brought their shallow hypocrisy, baseness, chicanery, pride and self-complacency into the sunlight of His uncompromising truthfulness, and, pointing to their lying words and fraudulent acts, said, "O ye hypocrites." He never closed His eyes to the real state of those He met: was never blinded by their learning or authoritative position; was never biased by a wish for popularity nor permitted truth to stand in abeyance that He might win followers to His cause.

He bluntly told the multitude who followed Him with words of praise for His teaching that they had come to Him not for the word of life, but for food--because He had worked a miracle on the loaves and fishes. To the flattering young man who approached Him with expressions of regard saying, "Good Master," He did not return the pleased salutation expected, but answered, "Why call you me good?" as if to say, "You are not honoring the goodness of my divine nature, or my teaching, but are trying to natter me." He would not stoop to flatter others; He severely rejected flattery when offered to Himself--and all because it is a lie. He insisted that what was in the mind and heart of those who came to Him be displayed in the speech and in the actions. Such is our model on this point of truthfulness.

Lying is a sin against society and an offense against God. It attacks the very foundations of society. Men can live together and make progress only so long as they can trust one another. Civilization is based on mutual dependence, and mutual dependence without mutual confidence is unthinkable. The more flagrant violators of this trust--the criminal class-- society puts behind prison bars. Nor does society fail to punish the liar. He who is forever making lying excuses, who is ever ready with a denial or a plausible explanation when detected in or accused of -wrong-doing, soon finds himself charged with things of which he is innocent, and his denials and excuses rejected. He has destroyed the confidence which his fellows should be able to place in his word. The "romancer" and the chronic exaggerator soon find even their lightest word, their most moderate statement disregarded and themselves treated with contempt more or less lightly veiled. He who pretends to virtue or to cleverness which he does not possess, receives no credit for those qualities to which he may justly lay claim, while he is cut off from improvement by his pretense to perfection.

Lying is an offense against God, for it attacks His very nature, truth. It is hard for us to have a realizing sense of this attribute of the divine, but consider it in the Person of our Saviour, and you will gain some idea of its nature.

When we say that Christ is true we mean that He is absolutely and unchangeably the same. Everything may change and shift and alter, but the Son of God knows no shadow of change. Very clearly does St. John bring out this fact. Looking at the judgment in vision, he beholds in the Judge the Master whose best beloved he was. He had laid his head upon that breast, he had looked into those eyes, and been greeted by the tender smile of welcome from those lips. The great Judge is, he knows, his friend. Yet on beholding Him, St. John "fell at his feet as though dead!" Why? Because St. John knew that the Saviour's warm, personal love for him did not alter one iota the piercing truth of His judgment and His penalties. St. John knew that the sentence passed upon his life and upon his acts would be in absolute accord with that life and those acts. He would be accepted into eternal life because he had fitted himself for that acceptance; he would be cast into outer darkness had he failed in this regard. In the judgment the Saviour's truth is dominant. He will separate the good from the wicked. Why? Because He hates the wicked and loves the good ? By no means; but because the wicked are wicked and the good are good, and because He Himself is true. He will mete out punishment to the sinner. Why? Because sin by its very nature demands punishment--holds the punishment within itself-- and because Christ is true. He would not be God if He were otherwise. In Him there is no alteration nor shadow of change.

This is what we mean when we say that our Lord is true; that He is the truth. He sees things exactly as they are, and represents and judges them exactly as they are. It is His very essence so to do. And when we claim to be Christians, followers of Christ, we claim first of all to be true and truthful--to see life and its events exactly as they are, and to report them exactly as we see them. Lying, insincerity, subterfuge, exaggeration, are of the devil. The great warfare is between truth and falsehood, between God and the devil, and if we claim to be soldiers of Jesus Christ we should not array ourselves in the armor of the father of lies.


If lying in itself is so hateful to God, how much more hateful must slander be, slander which violates truth, justice and charity. How God regards it is shown very clearly in the Book of Numbers, where we read that when the Israelites were advancing toward the Promised Land, Miriam, the sister of Moses, and Aaron, her brother, went about the camp calumniating Moses, because they were averse to the latter's wife. Almighty God stopped the onward progress of the people, summoned the culprits before His presence, upbraided them, and then withdrew the pillar of cloud, leaving Miriam covered with leprosy. Could God have shown His detestation of a sin more plainly? Because of this slander He had stopped the progress of the chosen people toward the Land of Promise, withdrew the guiding cloud, and stricken the guilty one with the most loathsome of all diseases. His detestation of this sin is no less now than it was then. The soul that is guilty of this offense is stopped on its way to heaven, the guiding of God's grace is removed from it, and a moral leprosy descends upon it. Like leprosy, slander is a loathsome thing, shunned and hated by all who are themselves sound. The habitual slanderer finds himself shunned and avoided, for the cry of his spiritual uncleanness rings in his every word.

A peculiarity of the slanderous story is that no one owns it. It is like the little stone spoken of in the Scriptures, "cut without hands out of the mountain," which smote the goodly statue of gold and iron and clay and laid it low. Slander, like the "little stone," came into being "without hands," but every hand is outstretched to give it momentum in its onward course, while each disowns the destruction wrought when the fair character lies in ruins.

In England there used to be a game played called "scandal." The company sat in a circle. One whispered some story-- generally a bit of gossip--to his neighbor, who in turn repeated it to the one next to him, and so on to the end. The amusement--and, as a rule, the astonishment--came when the story told by the first was compared with that received by the last. Truly an instructive game.

The consequence of calumny on its victim is incalculable. How many a man has lost his position, his reputation, and his honor because of the false accusation of some slanderous tongue! Who will repair this injury? The thief may reform, may labor honestly and gain enough to pay back what he has stolen, may face his judge on the last day with his debt canceled. But how will the slanderer restore the reputation he has filched? His retraction will not be believed, and will not reach all the places whither his calumny has penetrated. He owes a debt which he can never pay: a debt which he contracted without any gain to himself. Truly has the poet said:

"Who steals my purse, steals trash; But he who filches from me my good name, Robs me of that, which not enriches him, And makes me poor indeed."

How severe, then, must be the judgment against the calumniator! All the suffering he has caused--the bitterness of soul, the privation, aye, perhaps the sin and consequent eternal destruction he has brought upon his victim--he must bear before the throne of God, unpaid, uncanceled. Surely "they who do such things are worthy of death."


Detraction is a more insidious as it is a more common form of this sin against justice. Detraction is the telling of the fault of our neighbor to another who knew nothing of it, or the remaining silent when our neighbor's honor is attacked and we could defend him, or at least mention extenuating circumstances.

The one who is guilty of detraction usually defends himself by asserting that he is speaking the truth. This is far from being an extenuating circumstance. The injury done is often all the greater because of the whole or partial truth of the statement. When a man is forced to admit that the charge is substantially true, what hope has he of establishing his injured reputation? He who has suffered from slander can at least gain the championship and the sympathy of some few who have heard the charge, but the victim of detraction is forced to hang his head in shame, or to bear with what silent fortitude he can the cold looks and harsh criticisms that are meted out to him.

They who appeared against our Lord at His trial are known as the false witnesses, yet their testimony was in part true. They said, "We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands." What He really said was, "If you destroy this temple (the temple of His body), in three days I will raise it up." Strange that the professed enemies of Christ should find so many disciples among those who claim to be followers of the Incarnate Charity.

There are many self-styled "honest" people, who make a virtue not only of their ill-temper, but of their habit of repeating stories derogatory to the characters of their neighbors. They say that they "believe in plain speaking," "always tell honestly what they know," regard as hypocrites those who condone or pass over in silence the faults of others. What a rock of scandal must the Saviour be to such? When the woman taken in adultery had been driven into His presence by her "honest" accusers. He did not bend His ear greedily to hear the details of her guilt, but silently bowing His head, that He might not witness her confusion, bade the innocent among her accusers cast the first stone. When we are tempted to hurl the stone of gossip or detraction, let us pause and give ear to the Saviour's voice--sounding now as then--which bids us look into our hearts and our own lives, and to refrain from reproach until we can find them stainless.

Remember, too, there is a detraction of action as well as of word. The quietly appreciative smile, the silent head-shake, when some brother's good name is assailed, is but a more cowardly way of spreading the damning story. We can at least show our disapproval of the sin of detraction that is enacted before us. We would feel called upon to check some ribald or obscene exhibition that took place in our presence, on the ground that all immodesty is offensive to God: but He who proclaimed the Sixth Commandment proclaimed also the Eighth, and the thunders of Sinai echoed for one as for the other. His condemnation rings in no unmistakable terms. "Thou shalt not be a detractor nor a whisperer among my people." "Be not called a whisperer, and be not taken in thy tongue and confounded, for confusion and repentance is upon a thief, and an evil mark of disgrace upon the double tongued, but to the whisperer hatred, enmity and reproach." "The talebearer shall defile his own soul, and shall be hated by all, and he that shall abide with him shall be hateful; but the silent and wise man shall be honored."


We must take to heart the lesson that there is no limit to the harm an unbridled tongue can do--no limit to the good a tongue restrained to the government of the Saviour can accomplish. The lie, the calumny, the detraction, have left deep and wide the marks of destruction on human society; defiling minds, ruining characters, driving off social and domestic peace, transforming blessings into curses, "working havoc in the temple of Christ into which we all have been built." As we contemplate the scene of misery and wretchedness wrought by the abuse of the glorious gift of speech, the lying word, the veiled innuendo, the bitter calumny that takes a fair name and fouls it in the mire of falsehood, do we not realize the truth of the description in St. James: "The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity; so is the tongue among our members that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the wheel of our nativity, and is set on fire by hell."

God grant that we can look at this dark scene with feelings only of horror and condemnation; that not one of us must needs say with deep contrition of heart, "I, too, have had part in this accursed thing; I, too, have defiled and marred my soul by my evil words."

We must realize this, one and all, that our speech is a mighty power for good or ill and treat it accordingly. We should bridle our tongue, but nowhere does it need more careful watching than in the things that pertain to the divine virtue of truthfulness. In the words of a noted writer on this subject, "Most of us have never thought of estimating the power of anything so common and familiar as speech. But the mightiest forces that actuate the world are those that are unobserved just because they are common and familiar." The crash of the thunder fills us with dread, though the storm after all strike but a chimney or a tree. The earthquake is a cause of fear, though it pass off in harmless rumblings. But the breath of air, which no one notes, taint it and the whole world reeks with pestilence; remove it, and every living thing will perish. The sun which rises daily to run its course gives life and growth to plant and animal, and the slow current which sweeps over the Pacific, bearing with it a genial warmth, tempers our air, and makes the land by the western sea a garden of the earth. So it is with our speech. It is as common as the air we breathe, as the sunshine we welcome, as the water that washes our shores; but it is mighty in its operation; it is universal. It never sleeps. God's work or else the devil's work it is forever doing and It is our business to see, as far as possible, that the work is God's work. We may claim no peculiar right to advise our friends. But whether you are always blotting out the line that marks off right from wrong in matters of speech; whether you are ever ready to excuse the convenient lie, whether the calumniator, or the talker whose conversation is punctuated with tittle-tattle can count on your ready smile and listening ear, whether you are ever ready to turn others toward gossip and frivolity, makes a greater difference than you can compute--a difference as between life and death. Oh, that our dear Lord, who willed to be called the "Word," because He was the revealer of God to man, would teach us to follow Him, as in all things so in that. It is in our power to reveal God's faith and God's truth and God's justice which our fidelity and God's grace has erected in our hearts; and woe to us if we do not reveal it; woe to us if we do not keep in mind the solemn warning: "By thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned."

1. John viii. 44.
2. Prov. vi. 16. etc.
3. James iii. 9, 11
4. Ps. xiv. I, 3.
5. Rom. vii. 6.
6. Rom. xii. 17, 21.
7. Matt. xii. 36.
8. Matt. vi. 33.

(Music: If you Love Me by Tomas Tallis (16th Century)
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