Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series I/Volume III/Moral Treatises of St. Augustin/Against Lying/Section 29
29. Because, therefore, lying heretics find not in the books of the New Testament any precedents of lying which are meet to be imitated, they esteem themselves to be most copious in their disputation wherein they opine that it is right to lie, when from the old prophetical books, because it doth not appear therein, save to the few who understand, to what must be referred the significative sayings and doings which as such be true, they seem to themselves to find out and allege many that be lies. But desiring to have, wherewith they may defend themselves, precedents of deceit seemingly meet to be imitated, they deceive themselves, and “their iniquity lieth unto itself.” Those persons, however, of whom it is not there to be believed that they wished to prophesy, if in doing or saying they feigned aught with will of deceiving, however it may be that from the very things also which they did or said somewhat prophetical may be shapen out, being by His omnipotence afore deposited therein as a seed and pre-disposed, Who knoweth how to turn to good account even the ill-deeds of men, yet as far as regards the persons themselves, without doubt they lied. But they ought not to be esteemed meet for imitation simply for that they are found in those books which are deservedly called holy and divine: for those books contain the record of both the ill deeds and the good deeds of men; the one to be eschewed, the other to be followed after: and some are so put, that upon them is also sentence passed; some, with no judgment there expressed, are left permitted for us to judge of: because it was meet that we should not only be nourished by that which is plain, but exercised by that which is obscure.
- Ps. 26 (Heb. xxvii), 12. “Mentitur eorum iniquitas sibi.” LXX. ἐψεύσατο ἡ ἀδικία ἑαυτῇ. Heb. and E.V. “And such as breathe out cruelty.”