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I HAve formerly in this place, discoursing on this text, explained the nature of the sin here condemned, with its several kinds and ways of practising. II. I shall now proceed to declare the folly of it; and to make good by divers reasons the assertion of the wise man, that “he who uttereth slander is a fool.' 1. Slandering is foolish, as sinful and wicked. All sin is foolish on many accounts; as proceeding from ignorance, error, inconsiderateness, vanity; as implying weak judgment and irrational choice; as thwarting the dictates of reason and best rules of wisdom; as producing very mischievous effects to ourselves, bereaving us of the chief goods, and exposing us to the worst evils. What can be more egregiously absurd than to dissent in our opinion and discord in our choice from infinite wisdom; to provoke by our actions sovereign justice and immutable severity; to oppose almighty power, and offend immense goodness; to render ourselves unlike, and contrary in our doings, our disposition, our state, to absolute perfection and felicity What can be more desperately wild than to disoblige our best friend, to forfeit his love and favor, to render him our enemy, who is our Lord and our Judge, on whose mere will and disposal all our subsistence, all our welfare does absolutely depend ? What greater madness can be conceived than to deprive our minds of all true content here, and to separate our souls from eternal bliss hereafter; to gall our consciences now with sore remorse, and to engage ourselves for ever in remediless miseries Such folly doth all sin include: whence in Scripture style worthily goodness and wisdom are terms equivalent; sin and folly do signify the same thing. If thence this practice be proved extremely sinful, it will thence sufficiently be demonstrated no less foolish. And that it is extremely sinful may easily be showed. It is the character of the superlatively wicked man; ‘Thou givest thy mouth to evil, and thy tongue frameth deceit: thou sittest and speakest against thy brother; thou slanderest thine own mother's son.’ It is indeed plainly the blackest and most hellish sin that can be; that which giveth the grand fiend his names, and most expresseth his nature. He is 6 Atá90A0s, ‘the slanderer;” satan, the spiteful adversary; the old snake, or dragon, hissing out lies, and spitting forth venom of calumnious accusation ; “the accuser of the brethren,” a murderous, envious, malicious calumniator; “the father of lies;’ the grand defamer of God to man, of man to God, of one man to another. And highly wicked surely must that practice be, whereby we grow namesakes to him, conspire in proceeding with him, resemble his disposition and nature. It is a complication, a comprisal, a collection and sum of all wickedness; opposite to all the principal virtues, (to veracity and sincerity, to charity and justice,) transgressing all the great commandments, violating immediately and directly all the duties concerning our neighbor. To lie simply is a great fault, being a deviation from that good rule which prescribeth truth in all our words; rendering us unlike and disagreeable to God, who is ‘the God of truth;’ (who loveth truth, and practiseth it in all his doings, who abominateth all falsehood;) including a treacherous breach of faith toward mankind; (we being all, in order to the maintenance of society, by an implicit compact, obliged by speech to declare our mind, to inform truly, and not to impose on our neighbor;) arguing pusillanimous timorousness and impotency of mind, a distrust in God's help, and diffidence in all good means to compass our designs; begetting deception and error, a foul and illfavored brood: lying, I say, is on such accounts a sinful and

blameable thing: and of all lies those certainly are the worst which proceed from malice, or from vanity, or from both, and which work mischief; such as slanders are. Again, to bear any hatred or ill-will, to exercise enmity toward any man, to design or procure any mischief to our neighbor, whom even Jews were commanded to “love as themselves,' whose good, by many laws, and on divers scores, we are obliged to tender as our own, is a heinous fault ; and of this apparently the slanderer is most guilty in the highest degree. For evidently true it is which the wise man affirmeth, ‘a lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted with it;’ there is no surer argument of extreme hatred; nothing but the height of ill-will can suggest this practice. The slanderer is an enemy, as the most fierce and outrageous, so the most base and unworthy that can be: he fighteth with the most perilous and most unlawful weapon, in the most furious and foul way that can be. His weapon is an envenomed “arrow, full of deadly poison,’ which ‘he shooteth suddenly, and feareth not;’ a weapon which by no force can be resisted, by no art declined, whose impression is altogether inevitable and unsustainable. It is a most insidious, most treacherous and cowardly way of fighting; wherein manifestly the weakest and basest spirits have extreme advantage, and may easily prevail against the bravest and worthiest: for no man of honor or honesty can in way of resistance or requital deign to use it, but must infallibly without repugnance be borne down thereby. By it the vile practiser achieveth the greatest mischief that can be. His words are, as the psalmist saith of Doeg, “devouring words,’ (‘Thou lovest all devouring words, O thou deceitful tongue :’) and, “A man,’ saith the wise man, “that beareth false witness against his neighbor is a maul, and a sword, and a sharp arrow ;’ that is, he is a complicated instrument of all mischiefs: he smiteth and bruiseth like a ‘maul,” he cutteth and pierceth like a “sword,” he thus doth hurt near at hand; and at distance he woundeth like a ‘sharp arrow;’ it is hard anywhere to evade him, or to get out of his reach. “Many, saith another wise man, the imitator of Solomon, “have fallen by the edge of the sword; but not so many as have fallen by the tongue. Well is he that is defended from it, and hath not passed through the venom thereof; who hath not drawn the yoke thereof, nor hath been bound in its bands. For the yoke thereof is a yoke of iron, and the bands thereof are bands of brass. The death thereof is an evil death, the grave were better than it.’ Incurable are the wounds which the slanderer inflicteth, irreparable the damages which he causeth, indelible the marks which he leaveth. “No balsam can heal the biting of a sycophant;’ no thread can stitch up a good name torn by calumnious defamation; no soap is able to cleanse from the stains aspersed by a foul mouth. Aliquid adhaerebit ; somewhat always of suspicion and ill-opinion will stick in the minds of those who have given ear to slander. So extremely opposite is this practice unto the queen of virtues, charity. Its property indeed is, to “believe all things,’ that is, all things for the best, and to the advantage of our neighbor; not so much as to suspect any evil of him, without unavoidably manifest cause: how much more not to devise any falsehood against him " It covereth all things, studiously conniving at real defects, and concealing assured miscarriages: how much more not divulging imaginary or false scandals? It disposeth to seek and further any the least good concerning him : how much more will it hinder committing grievous outrage on his dearest good name 7 Again, all injustice is abominable: to do any sort of wrong is a heinous crime; that crime, which of all most immediately tendeth to the dissolution of society, and disturbance of human life; which God therefore doth most loathe, and men have reason especially to detest. And of this the slanderer is most deeply guilty. “A witness of Belial scorneth judgment, and the mouth of the wicked devoureth iniquity,' saith the wise man. He is indeed, according to just estimation, guilty of all kinds whatever of injury, breaking all the second table of commands respecting our neighbor. Most formally and directly he ‘beareth false witness against his neighbor:' he doth “covet his neighbor's goods;’ for 'tis constantly out of such an irregular desire, for his own presumed advantage, to dispossess his neighbor of some good, and transfer it on himself, that the slanderer uttereth his tale: he is ever a thief and robber of his good name, a deflowerer and defiler of his reputation, an assassin and murderer of his honor. So doth he violate all the

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rules of justice, and perpetrateth all sorts of wrong against his
neighbor.
He may indeed perhaps conceive it no great matter that he
committeth; because he doth not act in so boisterous and bloody
a way, but only by words, which are subtile, slim, and transient
things; on his neighbor's credit only, which is no substantial or
visible matter. He draweth, thinks he, no blood, nor break-
eth any bones, nor impresseth any remarkable scar: 'tis only
the soft air he breaketh with his tongue, ’tis only a slight cha-
racter that he stampeth on the fancy, 'tis only an imaginary
stain that he daubeth his neighbor with: therefore he supposeth
no great wrong done, and seemeth to himself innocent, or very
excusable. But these conceits arise from great inconsiderate-
ness, or mistake; nor can they excuse the slanderer from griev-
ous injustice. For in dealing with our neighbor, and med-
dling with his property, we are not to value things according
to our fancy, but according to the price set on them by the
owner: we must not reckon that a trifle, which he prizeth as a
jewel. Since then all men (especially men of honor and ho-
nesty) do, from a necessary instinct of nature, estimate their
good name beyond any of their goods, yea do commonly hold
it more dear and precious than their very lives; we, by vio-
lently or fraudulently bereaving them of it, do them no less
wrong, than if we should rob or cozen them of their substance,
yea, than if we should maim their body, or spill their blood,
or even stop their breath. If they as grievously feel it, and
resent it as deeply, as they do any other outrage, the injury is
really as great to them. Even the slanderer's own judgment
and conscience might tell him so much : for they who most
slight another's fame, are usually very tender of their own, and
can with no patience endure that others should touch it: which
demonstrates the inconsiderateness of their judgment, and the
iniquity of their practice. It is an injustice not to be corrected
or cured. Thefts may be restored, wounds may be cured; but
there is no restitution or cure of a lost good name: it is there-
fore an irreparable injury.
Nor is the thing itself, in true judgment, contemptible; but
in itself really very considerable. ‘A good name," saith Solo-
mon himself, (no fool,) “is rather to be chosen than great

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