5. We must not allow the leniency with which, according to the views here presented, we are to regard the violations of truth by young persons, while their mental faculties and their powers of discrimination are yet imperfectly developed, to lead us to lower the standard of right in their minds, so as to allow them to imbibe the idea that we think that falsehood is, after all, no great sin, and still less, to suppose that we consider it sometimes, in extreme cases, allowable. We may, indeed, say, “The truth is not to be spoken at all times,” but to make the aphorism complete we must add, that falsehood is to be spoken never. There is no other possible ground for absolute confidence in the word of any man except the conviction that his principle is, that it is never, under any circumstances, or to accomplish any purpose whatever, right for him to falsify it.
A different opinion, I am aware, prevails very extensively among mankind, and especially among the continental nations of Europe, where it seems to be very generally believed that in those cases in which falsehood will on the whole be conducive of greater good than the truth it is allowable to employ it. But it is easy to see that, so far as we know that those around us hold to this philosophy, all reasonable ground for confidence in their statements is taken away; for we never can know, in respect to any statement which they make, that the case is not one of those in which, for reasons not manifest to us, they think it is expedient—that is, conducive in some way to good—to state what is not true.
While, therefore, we must allow children a reasonable time to bring their minds to a full sense of the obligation of making their words always conform to what is true, instead of shaping them so as best to attain their purposes for the time being—which is the course to which their earliest natural instincts prompt them—and must deal gently and leniently with their incipient failures, we must do all in our power to bring them forward as fast as possible to the adoption of the very highest standard as their rule of duty in this respect; inculcating it upon them, by example as well as by precept, that we can not innocently, under any circumstances, to escape any evil, or to gain any end, falsify our word. For there is no evil so great, and no end to be attained so valuable, as to justify the adoption of a principle which destroys all foundation for confidence between man and man.
JUDGMENT AND REASONING.