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No. 352 [from The Spectator]
by [?]

Truth is always consistent with it self, 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 Lye 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 shoar it up, and proves at last more chargeable, than to have raised a substantial Building at first upon a true and solid Foundation; for Sincerity is firm and substantial, and there is nothing hollow and 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 dispatch of Business; it creates Confidence in those we have to deal with, saves the Labour of many Enquiries, 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 Journeys End than By-ways, in which Men often lose themselves. In a word, whatsoever Convenience may be thought to be in Falshood and Dissimulation, it is soon over; but the Inconvenience of it is perpetual, because it brings a Man under an everlasting Jealousie and Suspicion, so that he is not believed when he speaks Truth, nor trusted when perhaps he means honestly. When a Man hath once forfeited the Reputation of his Integrity, he is set fast, and nothing will then serve his turn, neither Truth nor Falshood.

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, tho 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 more need their good Opinion or good Word, it were then no great Matter (speaking as to the Concernments of this World) if a Man spent 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.


[Footnote 1: Archbishop Tilotson’s Sermons, Vol. II., Sermon I (folio edition). Italics in first issue.]