The Character of an Honest Man

Samuel Hayward and Samuel Pike

From The Spiritual Companion, or the Professing Christian Tried at the Bar of God’s Word, by Samuel Pike and Samuel Hayward.

He looks not to what he might do, but what he should. Justice is his first guide; the second law of his actions is expedience. He had rather complain than offend; and hates sin more for the indignity of it, than the danger; his simple uprightness works in him that confidence which oft times wrongs him, and gives advantage to the subtle, when he rather pities their faithlessness, than repents of his credulity. He hath but one heart, and that lies open to sight; and were it not for discretion, he never thinks ought whereof he would avoid a witness: his word is his parchment, and his yea his oath, which he will not violate for fear or for loss. The mishaps of following events may cause him to blame his providence, can never cause him to eat his promise; neither saith he, This I saw not, but, This I said. When he is made his friend’s executor, he defrayeth debts, payeth legacies, and scorneth to gain by orphans, or to ransack graves: and therefore will be true to a dead friend, because he sees him not. All his dealings are square and above board; he bewrays the fault of what he sells, and restores the overseen gain of a false reckoning. He esteems a bribe venomous, though it comes guilded over with the colour of gratuity. His cheeks are never stained with the blushes of recantation; neither doth his tongue falter to make good a lie, with the secret glosses of double or reserved senses; and when his name is traduced, his innocency bears him out with courage; then, lo, he goes on the plain way of truth, and will either triumph in his integrity, or suffer with it. His conscience overrules his providence so as in all things good or ill, he respects the nature of the actions, not the sequel; if he sees what he must do, let God see what shall follow. He never loadeth himself with burdens above his strength, beyond his will; and once bound, what he can he will do, neither doth he will but what he can do. His ear is the sanctuary of his absent friend’s name, of his present friend’s secret; neither of them can miscarry in his trust. He remembers the wrongs of his youth, and repays him with that usury which he himself would not take. He would rather want than borrow, and beg than not to pay. His fair conditions are without dissembling, and he loves actions above words. Finally, he hates falsehood worse than death; he is a faithful client of truth: no man’s enemy, and it is a question, whether more another man’s friend or his own; and if there were no heaven, yet he would be virtuous.

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