Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series I/Volume III/Moral Treatises of St. Augustin/On Lying/Section 35

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35. Moreover what is written “Thou wilt destroy all that speak leasing:”[1] one saith that no lie is here excepted, but all condemned. Another saith: Yea verily: but they who speak leasing from the heart, as we disputed above; for that man speaketh truth in his heart, who hateth the necessity of lying, which he understands as a penalty of the moral life. Another saith: All indeed will God destroy who speak leasing, but not all leasing: for there is some leasing which the Prophet was at that time insinuating, in which none is spared; that is, if refusing to confess each one his sins, he defend them rather, and will not do penance,[2] so that not content to work iniquity, he must needs wish to be thought just, and succumb not to the medicine of confession: as the very distinction of the words may seem to intimate no other, “Thou hatest all that work iniquity;”[3] but wilt not destroy them if upon repenting they speak the truth in confession, that by doing that truth they may come to the light; as is said in the Gospel according to John, “But be that doeth truth cometh unto the light.[4] Thou wilt destroy all who” not only work what Thou hatest, but also “speak leasing;”[5] in holding out before them false righteousness, and not confessing their sins in penitence.


  1. Ps. v. 6
  2. Agere pœnitentiam
  3. Ps. v. 5
  4. John iii. 21
  5. Ps. v. 6, 7