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thing from him, but to helpe him in his neede, and to defende and augment his ryches and commodities.
THE EYGHT SERMON.
Thou shalt beare no false wytnesse agaynste thy neyghbour.
YE haue hearde how ye ought to vnderstande the seuenth precepte, by the whiche ye haue learned, that by no meanes we shoulde take awaye our neyghbours goodes agaynst his wyll. And when he committeth any thyng to our custodye, (eyther wyllyngly or constrayned by necessitie), then it is oure dutie to kepe, and saue the same, as we woulde do in case it were oure owne. And forasmuche as our riches standeth not onelye in possession of landes, tenementes, cattell or money, but also in our good name, fame and estimation, (whiche farre passeth al gold syluer and precious stones,) therfore foloweth this commaundement. Thou shalte beare no false witnes agaynst thy neyghbour. For this commaundement teacheth vs, howe we shoulde behaue oureselues, in defendyng oure neyghbours good name, that we dishonest hym not wyth lyes, false accusations, or witnesse bearyng, that we
slaunder him not, but studie to defende, increase and maintayne hys good name and fame, euen so as we would wyshe other men to do towarde vs. And here you shall dylygently marke and bear away, how excellent a treasure it is to haue a good name. For Salomon sayeth. A good name is better then muche riches, and Pro. xxvi. more precious then balme or other straung oyntementes. And forasmuche as God so ernestlye forbiddeth other men, to hurt our good reporte and estymatyon, whiche menne haue conceyued of vs, it muste needes folowe, that muche more he forbyddeth oureselues, to do that hurt to oure selues, whiche he chargeth other not once to offer vnto vs, but he requireth of vs, that we with all diligence should studye to get vs a good name, and to kepe the same vnspotted and vndefiled. This we shall do, yf we applye our mindes to true vertue and vnfayned religion, that our lyfe may be found fawteles, and men maye haue no matier against vs, wherwith they maye wourthely charge vs. For it is not sufficient, only to abstein from syn, but we must also auoid all occasyon of the same, and as saynte Paule counselleth vs, we must refrayne from all outwarde apperaunce of euyll. Wherfore good 1 Thes. v. children liue vertuously, kepe Gods commaundementes, obey your parentes and elders, that you may be wel spoken of, and be taken for honest persons: for this doeth not onelye please God, but also is verye profitable for
you. For this is the high wai that shal brynge you to riches, honor and promotion, to haue a good report and credit amonge youre neyghbours, and in no wise folowe you not the example of some lyght and shameles vnthriftes whiche care not what men saye of theym, and passe not yf all men speake euyll by them. For they be ashamed of no kynde of myschiefe. But such God wyll punyshe and commonly they shall haue an euell ende. But ye good children, shall endeuour your selfes, to preserue both youre owne good name and youre neghbours
also, and to beware that ye beare no false witnes agaynst other men, that is to say,
diffame not them or impaire their good name by your lyes and slaunders. For this worde, wytnes, in this place betokeneth all that thing which is spoken of our neyghbours, when they go to law, or contende aboute any matier. As when one doth arrest an other, and sayeth. I lent this felowe so muche monie, and now he denyeth the same. any third parson come in, and saye I was present, and did see when this man lent him this summe of
monye, (wheras he saw no suche thinge in deade) then this false witnesse doth to his neyghboure double iniurye. For first he causeth that his neyghboure is compelled to pay that monye, whiche he neuer borowed. Secondarily he causeth him to lese his good name and credit, and to be called a shameles lyer, insomuche that euery man wyl poynt at him when he goeth in the streates, and saye. Lo yonder goeth that vnfaythfull person, whiche boroweth monye of his neighboure, and denied thesame. The whiche thing when it chaunceth, the partie of whome this euel brute is sprede, is vndone in this world, and suffereth greater damage by the losse of his name, then yf he shoulde lese al his riches. Wherfore it is not without a cause, that God so ernestlye forbyddeth vs to beare false witnes. For as by trew witnes bearyng, discorde, strife and contention is ended, both in the lawe and out of the lawe, so by false testimonies, strife, discorde and variaunce is sowen and scatered, and wrong thereby greatly mainteined. Wherfore God in this commaundemente forbyddeth vs, that with lies we slaundre not our neyghboure, that we gyue no occasion to hatred, dyscorde or debate, but that we studye to speake the truthe, and (asmuche as it shall lie in vs) to reconcyle men together. For this is an excellent vertue, which highly pleaseth God. For Christ saith in the gospel. Blessed are they that make peace, for they shall be called the
childerne of God. Wherfore good children, beware chiefly, that you be no liers, nor false witnes berers, but for any occasion you spare not to speake the trueth at all tymes and places, and specyally when you be brought for witnesses into commen courtes or open iudgementes. For God hymselfe hath ordeyned lawes, courtes and officers, to defende the good, and to punyshe the euel, without the whiche, there can be no peace or quietnes in this worlde. They be the succour and sanctuarie of fatherles and motherles children, of widowes and of all oppressed persons. And he that shoulde go about to ouerturne this commen refuge of all persons that suffre wrong, it can not otherwayes be, but he muste nedes synne against the ordinance of God, and greuously hurt hys neyghboure. But no man doth peruerte and ouerturne iustyce, courtes, and iudgementes, more, then a false wytnes, wherfore this is a very heynous synne before God. For a false wytnes doth forsweare himselfe againste the seconde commaundement, he doth as much as lieth in him to ouerturne and destroye courtes and iudgements, founded and establyshed by God, he despiseth and deceueth the iudge, he hurteth hys neyghbor both in his name and goods, he stoppeth the peace, frendshyp and agremente, the whiche shoulde haue ben made betwene the parties by the iudges trewe iudgement, he mainteineth wrong, and continueth hathred, debate and contention, of the whiche foloweth brawlyng, fyghtyng and oftentymes manslaughter. The whiche heynous synnes God wil not suffer to escape vnscourged, but horribly will punishe theim. Wherfore let euery man auoyde false witnes bearyng, as they would flye the plage or poyson. By this commaundemente also God wythdraweth vs, from all euel suspicions, that we thynke not euel of our neyghbor, nether expounde his wordes or deades to the wourst, that we suspecte hym not without a cause nor vtter to other our suspicions conceyued against any
man, as long as we knowe not certaynly the truth. For they which groundyng themselues vpon suspicions, do rayse euel tales or vntrue brutes against their neighboure, they do beare false witnes against hym, and do more hurte then open lyers. For they that lye openly, or that in the face of the courte beare false witnes against a man, may be accused and punyshed for theyr offence. But men can not so easely auoyde the venomie of suche persons, whiche secretly by poysened wordes, or other meanes, causeth his neyghboure to be suspected. For they so secretly handle the matier, that they bryng their neighboure in slaunder, and yet they wyl not be knowne that it commeth by theim. And this is no small offense, contrarie to thys eight commaundement. Wherfore vtterly exchewe this vice, and be not suspicious of your neighbours, takynge all thynges that you heare or see in theim to the worste, but rather to the beste. For this
is the nature and propertie of Christen charitie as saynct 1 Cor. xiii. Paule saieth. Charitie thinketh none euel. And for the
better vnderstanding of this commaundement good chil-
good thynge doth aryse. For when mens synnes be published and spread abrode, many therby take occasion of synne, and thinke on this fashion. Yf thys and that man haue donne thys thynge, why may not I do it also, seyng it is a faute commenlye