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JANUARY 1, 1846.
ESSAYS ON SUBJECTS CONNECTED WITH THE REFORMATION
PURITAN VERACITY. No. I.
For the history of the Reformation in England, we depend so much on the testimony of writers, who may be considered as belonging, or more or less attached to the puritan party, or who obtained their information from persons of that sect, that it is of the utmost importance to inquire whether there was anything in their notions respecting truth, which ought to throw suspicion on any of their statements.
The question is one which does not require much research or argument. There is something very frank (one is almost inclined to say honest) in the avowals, either direct or indirect, which various puritans have left on record, that it was considered not only allowable, but meritorious, to tell lies for the sake of the good cause in which they were engaged, and for the benefit of those who were fellow-helpers in it. It is not merely that the charitable partizan looked with compassion on the weak brother who denied his faith under the fear of cruel torments, or stood by with pitying and loving connivance while he told a lie as to some matter of fact, to save his own life, or lives dearer than his own. It is, that they did not hesitate, without any such urgent temptation, and with great deliberation and solemnity, to state what they knew to be false; and that the manner in which such falsehoods were avowed by those who told them, and recorded by their friends and admirers, is sufficient evidence that such a practice was not considered discreditable. This will be best proved and illustrated by a few facts, which require no further general introduction that what has been already given ; and it is hoped that the reader will understand, that in thus bringing them forward the object is, not to criminate any person or class of persons; but to inquire how far we may
Vol. XXIX.-January, 1846.