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CHAPTER XIII.: of truth and falsehood. - John Robinson, The Works of John Robinson, vol. 1 
The Works of John Robinson, Pastor of the Pilgrim Fathers, with a Memoir and Annotations by Robert Ashton, 3 vols (London: John Snow, 1851). Vol. 1.
Part of: The Works of John Robinson, Pastor of the Pilgrim Fathers, with a Memoir and Annotations by Robert Ashton, 3 vols.
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of truth and falsehood.
Truth is either natural or moral. Natural truth stands first in the conveniency and agreement of the notions of the mind with the thing conceived;† and secondly, of the means of manifesting it (especially, speech) with the thing to be manifested. Moral truth stands in the conveniency and agreement of a person with himself; namely of his heart with his tongue, and speech. The same consideration is to be had of truths contrary, in its kind; which is falsehood. Whereupon also it comes, that a man may sin, and speak falsely, not only in speaking that which he knows or may know to be false, for what end soever he speak it, yea, though it be, that he may not deceive:‡ but also in speaking that which is true, in itself, if he know it not, that he might or so as he may deceive by it.
All truth, by whomsoever spoken, is of God,* and of his Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, in some its manner and degree of working. John xv. 26. Whereupon it followeth, that nothing true in right reason, and sound philosophy, is, or can be false in divinity. The truth in the inferior faculty is subordinate to that in the superior, in all things, and comes short of it in many things; but can in nothing be contrary unto it, seeing God, and his Spirit's work, cannot be contrary to himself. I add, though the truth be uttered by the devil himself, yet is it originally of God. John viii. 44. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of himself; but when he speaks the truth, he speaks of God; who so far useth or rather abuseth him, as to utter, and profess that which he hateth.
We ought to reverence excellent men, but the truth more, as Dionysius said of Nepos† and Aristotle of Plato,‡ and Socrates. And good reason, seeing a main cause of our reverencing of men is their knowledge, and profession of the truth. No prescription, say the lawyers, lies against the king: say we, with the Father, against the truth:§ which, by the verdict of a great king himself, and his nobles with him, Ezra iv. 19, is greater than the king; no space of time, no patronage of person, no privilege of place; from which, blind or simple custom, commonly, getting footing and growing into use by succession, is brought to cope with truth itself; and that, the most violently, where the persons are the most brutish, and godless. But our Lord Christ called himself truth, not custom: neither is falsehood, error or heresy convinced by novelty, but by truth. This truth is always the same whilst the God of truth is in heaven, what entertainment soever it find with men, upon earth: it is always praiseworthy, though no man praise it;|| and hath no reason, or just cause to be ashamed, though it often goes with a scratched face. They that fight against it are like the floods beating upon the strong rocks, which are so much the more miserably dashed in pieces, by how much they are the more violently carried. Though fire and sword assault it, yet will it not be killed, or die: and though by violence it be buried quick, yet will it rise again; and if not before, yet when all flesh shall rise again; and when truth, which was first, and before falsehood and error, shall be last, and abide for ever.
We must love, and attain to the knowledge of the truth in ourselves, first; lest we be clouds without rain, promising that to others, which we ourselves want; and must in our places, afterwards make manifestation and profession of it; and not be like the grave, insatiable in receiving in, and barren in returning anything back, but must be always ready, as we see hope of doing good, to propagate it; like the philosopher, who being found fault with for disputing with all that he met with, wished that the brute beasts also could understand him, that he might impart something even to them; yea in our kind, like God himself, that “gives wisdom to all that asks it of him,” James i. 5, and to Christ the Lord, that word of God, and true light, “which enlightens every one that comes into the world,” John i. 9: and sometimes, even, when we see no hope of doing good, if duty bind us, though hope fail us; that so the non-proficients may have cause rather to complain of themselves, for not learning, than of us, for not manifesting the truth unto them.* And, albeit, all truth is not to be spoken at all times: “A fool uttereth all his mind; but a wise man keep's it in for afterwards,” Prov. xxix. 11, yet nothing not true at any time, or for any cause. He that hath but a right philosophical spirit, and is but morally honest, would rather suffer many deaths, than call a pin, a point, or speak the least thing against his understanding or persuasion.
A man in pleading for the truth may show his judgment and understanding best, in the matter; but his grace and godliness, in the manner, when he handles a good cause well, and the Lord's cause after the Lord's manner. Sometimes men pretend God's truth, and zeal for it, when indeed they make their pleas for truth serve only for hackneys, for their lusts to ride on whither they would have them: sometimes men seriously intend truth, and yet mingle both with their good intention, and, it may be, true assertion also, such their personal corruptions, and distempers, as Christ loseth more by their inordinateness that way, than he gains, both by their sound knowledge and fervent zeal of and for his truth.
The most account a lie more shameful, than sinful: and therefore make it a matter of great disgrace, to take the lie, especially in the hearing of others; and yet make it no matter of conscience to make the lie before God, and his angels. Ah, foolish people, thus to honour yourselves, and other vile men, your likes, more than God himself, and the angels with him; and withal, base in your pride, who will rather bear the lie at your own mouth, than at another's ! When a man speaks against his knowledge, his own heart tells his tongue it lieth; which to put up quietly, argues both a graceless and an abject spirit. Whereas, both grace and true courage also may be shown in bearing the lie at another's mouth, by overcoming such indignation and anger rising thereat, as is harder to conquer than a city.
“The devil is the father of lies,” John viii. 44, which whilst they, in the womb of whose heart he begets them, impute to other and better causes moving them thereunto; they are, but like harlots, who for their credit's sake, father their bastards upon honest men. Many things even good, may occasion lying, as all good, may do all evil, but nothing can bring it forth, and cause it, save the womb of our own corrupt heart impregnated by the devil. Now if, both by the law of God and light of nature, it be an abominable confusion, for “a woman to lie down before a beast,” Lev. xviii. 23, what is it for man or woman to prostitute themselves to Satan for the gendering of so misshapen a monster, as a lie is ? And very rightly is a lie called monstrous, considering both the devil's kinds, of which it comes, and also the disproportion in it, often between the speech, and the thing spoken; and always between the tongue, arid heart of the speaker. Neither doth the goodness of the meaning, though never so good, excuse the evil of the doing, when, as a lie, is told. He that tells a lie for God, is an acceptor of persons, and God will surely reprove him, saith Job. Job xiii. 6. And no marvel. “Since his own heart condemns him, God which is greater than his heart, and knoweth all things, will condemn him much more.” 1 John iii. 20; Rom. iii. 7. And if a lie told, that through it the truth of God may more abound to his glory, procure just condemnation; what may they expect that use to lie for meaner, though good ends ? He that tells a lie for a good end, puts the devil into God's service, which neither his truth needs, nor his holiness will endure; hut he that tells a lie for an evil purpose, as the most do to cover preceding evils, which they are more ashamed to confess, than to practise, helps therein the devil in his own business. But “whosoever loves, and makes a lie, hath no right to the tree of life, nor shall enter the gates into the holy city, but shall remain without, with dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters,” Rev. xxii. 14, 15: we see with whom the Lord ranks liars, what reckoning soever the world makes of them, or they of themselves.
He that tells one lie is, not only, the more prone to tell another, and so a third, which is common to all evil doers, hut, for the most part, necessitated so to do for the covering of the former; as beggars cover one patch with another; and that, a lesser with a greater, and often a simple lie with a false oath, as was Peter's case. Besides, he that is once taken in a manifest lie will hardly escape suspicion when he speaks the truth, that I may not say, with one, that he deserves not to be trusted, no, not in that wherein he desires you would not trust him. Neither doth he wrong himself alone, for aftertime, but others also, who speak the truth.* By some lying, others when they speak truly, are not credited:† especially such as have any conformity with them in other things; that is oft seen in effect, which is said of the host, that being once deceived by one that held his hat before his eyes, when he gave thanks, at meat, would never trust any afterwards that used that fashion.