In any of the cases I here bring forward as illustrations, as helps to your self-examination, I am not supposing that there is any tangible, positive, wilful deceit in your heart, or that you deliberately contemplate any very serious injury being inflicted on the persons whose conversations and actions you misrepresent. On the contrary, I know that you are not thus hardened in sin. With regard, however, to the deceit not assuming any tangible form in your own eyes, you ought to remember the solemn words, “Thou, O God I seest me;” and what is sin in his eyes can only fail to be so in ours from the neglect of strict self-examination and prayer that the Spirit of the Lord may search the very depths of the heart. Sins of ignorance seem to assume even a deeper dye than others, when the ignorance only arises from wilful neglect of the means of knowledge so abundantly and freely bestowed. When you once begin in right earnest to try to speak the truth from your heart, in the smallest as well as in the greatest things, you will be surprised to find how difficult it is. Carelessness, false shame, a desire for admiration, a vanity that leads you to disclaim any interest in that which you cannot obtain,—these are all temptations that beset your path, and ought to terrify you against adding the chains of habit to so many other difficulties.
There is one more point of view in which I wish you to consider this subject; that, namely, of “honesty being the best policy.” There is no falsehood that is not found out in the end, and so turned to the shame of the person who is guilty of it. You may perpetually dread, even at present, the eye of the discriminating observer; she can see through you, even at the very moment of your committal of sin; she quickly discovers that it is your habit to depreciate people or things, only because you are not in your turn valued by them, or because you cannot obtain them; she can see, in a few minutes’ conversation, that it is your habit to say that you are admired and loved, that your society is eagerly sought for by such and such people, whether it be the case or not. Quick observers discover in a first interview what others will not fail to discover after a time.