’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.’
[Footnote 1: This sermon ‘on Sincerity,’ from John i. 47, is the last Tillotson preached. He preached it in 1694, on the 29th of July, and died, in that year, on the 24th of November, at the age of 64. John Tillotson was the son of a Yorkshire clothier, and was made Archbishop of Canterbury in 1691, on the deprivation of William Sancroft for his refusal to take the oaths to William and Mary.]
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No. 104. Friday, June 29, 1711. Steele.
Qualis equos Threissa fatigat
It would be a noble Improvement, or rather a Recovery of what we call good Breeding, if nothing were to pass amongst us for agreeable which was the least Transgression against that Rule of Life called Decorum, or a Regard to Decency. This would command the Respect of Mankind, because it carries in it Deference to their good Opinion, as Humility lodged in a worthy Mind is always attended with a certain Homage, which no haughty Soul, with all the Arts imaginable, will ever be able to purchase. Tully says, Virtue and Decency are so nearly related, that it is difficult to separate them from each other but in our Imagination. As the Beauty of the Body always accompanies the Health of it, so certainly is Decency concomitant to Virtue: As Beauty of Body, with an agreeable Carriage, pleases the Eye, and that Pleasure consists in that we observe all the Parts with a certain Elegance are proportioned to each other; so does Decency of Behaviour which appears in our Lives obtain the Approbation of all with whom we converse, from the Order, Consistency, and Moderation of our Words and Actions. This flows from the Reverence we bear towards every good Man, and to the World in general; for to be negligent of what any one thinks of you, does not only shew you arrogant but abandoned. In all these Considerations we are to distinguish how one Virtue differs from another; As it is the Part of Justice never to do Violence, it is of Modesty never to commit Offence. In this last Particular lies the whole Force of what is called Decency; to this purpose that excellent Moralist above-mentioned talks of Decency; but this Quality is more easily comprehended by an ordinary Capacity, than expressed with all his Eloquence. This Decency of Behaviour is generally transgressed among all Orders of Men; nay, the very Women, tho’