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  • ATTRIBUTES OF LOVE - 3 - D,
    CHARLES FINNEY SYS. THEOLOGY

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    14. Veracity is another attribute of benevolence.

    Veracity, as an attribute of benevolence, is that quality that adheres to truth. In the very act of becoming benevolent, the mind embraces truth, or the reality of things. Then veracity must be one of the qualities of benevolence. Veracity is truthfulness. It is the conformity of the will to the reality of things. Truth in statement is conformity of statement to the reality of things. Truth in action is action conformed to the nature and relations of things. Truthfulness is a disposition to conform to the reality of things. It is willingness in accordance with the reality of things. It is willing the right end by the right means. It is willing the intrinsically valuable as an end, and the relatively valuable as a means. In short, It is the willing of everything according to the reality or facts in the case.

    Veracity, then, must be an attribute of benevolence. It is, like all the attributes, only benevolence viewed in a certain aspect or relation. It cannot be distinguished from benevolence, for it is not distinct from it, but only a phase or form of benevolence. The universe is so constituted that if every thing proceeded and were conducted, and willed according to its nature and relations, the highest possible good must result. Veracity seeks the good as an end, and truth as a means to secure this end. It wills the good, and that it shall be secured only by means of truth. It wills truth in the end, and truth in the means. The end is truly valuable, and chosen for that reason. The means are truth, and truth is the only appropriate or possible means.

    Truthfulness of heart begets, of course, a state of the sensibility which we call the love of truth. It is a feeling of pleasure that spontaneously arises in the sensibility of one whose heart is truthful, in contemplating truth; this feeling is not virtue, it is rather a part of the reward of truthfulness of heart.

    Veracity, as a phenomenon of the will, is also often called, and properly called, a love of the truth. It is a willing in accordance with objective truth. This is virtue, and is an attribute of benevolence. Veracity, as an attribute of the divine benevolence, is the condition of confidence in God as a moral governor. Both the physical and moral laws of the universe evince, and are instances and illustrations of the truthfulness of God. Falsehood, in the sense of lying, is naturally regarded by a moral agent with disapproval, disgust, and abhorrence. Veracity is as necessarily regarded by him with approval, and, if the will be benevolent, with pleasure. We necessarily take pleasure in contemplating objective truth, as it lies in idea on the field of consciousness. We also take pleasure in the perception and contemplation of truthfulness, in the concrete realization of the idea of truth. Veracity is morally beautiful. We are pleased with it just as we are with natural beauty, by a law of necessity, when the necessary conditions are fulfilled. This attribute of benevolence secures it against every attempt to promote the ultimate good of being by means of falsehood. True benevolence will no more, can no more, resort to falsehood as a means of promoting good, than it can contradict or deny itself. The intelligence affirms, that the highest ultimate good can be secured only by a strict adherence to truth. The mind cannot be satisfied with anything else. Indeed, to suppose the contrary is to suppose a contradiction. It is the same absurdity as to suppose, that the highest good could be secured only by the violation and setting aside of the nature and relations of things. Since the intellect affirms this unalterable relation of truth to the highest ultimate good, benevolence, or that attribute of benevolence which we denominate veracity or love of the truth, can no more consent to falsehood, than it can consent to relinquish the highest good of being as an end. Therefore, every resort to falsehood every pious fraud, falsely so called, presents only a specious but real instance of selfishness. A moral agent cannot lie for God; that is, he cannot tell a sinful falsehood, thinking and intending thereby to please God. He knows, by intuition, that God cannot be pleased or truly served by a resort to lying. There is a great difference between concealing or withholding the truth for benevolent purposes, and telling a willful falsehood. An innocent, persecuted and pursued man, has taken shelter under my roof from one who pursued him to shed his blood. His pursuer comes and inquires after him. I am not under obligation to declare to him the fact that he is in my house. I may, and indeed ought to withhold the truth in this instance, for the wretch has no right to know it. The public and highest good demands that he should not know it. He only desires to know it for selfish and bloody purposes. But in this case I should not feel or judge myself at liberty to state a known falsehood. I could not think that this would ultimately conduce to the highest good. The person might go away deceived, or under the impression that his victim was not there. But he could not accuse me of telling him a lie. He might have drawn his own inference from my refusing to give the desired information. But even to secure my own life or the life of my friend, I am not at liberty to tell a lie. If it be said that lying implies telling a falsehood for selfish purposes, and that, therefore, it is not lying to tell a falsehood for benevolent purposes, I reply, that our nature is such that we can no more state a willful falsehood with a benevolent intention, than we can commit a sin with a benevolent intention. We necessarily regard falsehood as inconsistent with the highest good of being, just as we regard sin as inconsistent with the highest good of being, or just as we regard holiness and truthfulness as the indispensable condition of the highest good of being. The correlation of the will and the intellect forbids the mistake that willful falsehood is, or can be, the means or condition of the highest good. Universal veracity, then, will always characterize a truly benevolent man. While he is truly benevolent, he is, he must be, faithful, truthful. So far as his knowledge goes, his statements may be depended upon with as much safety as the statements of an angel. Veracity is necessarily an attribute of benevolence in all beings. No liar has, or can have, a particle of true virtue or benevolence in him.

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