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certain, is a Lyar also; or if he do not report bunday
XIII. it as a Certainty, but only as a Probability, yet then, tho’ he be not guilty of the Lye, yet he is of the Injustice of robbing his Neighbour of his Credit ; for there is such an aptness in Men to believe Ill of others, that any the lightest Jealousy will, if once it be spread Abroad, serve for that purpose ; and fure it is a most horrible Injustice, upon every flight Surmise and Fancy, to hazard the bringing so great an Evil upon another especially when it is consider'd, that those Surmises commonly spring rather from some Censoriousness, Peevishness, or Malice in the Surmiser, than from any real Fault in the Person so suspected.
2. The manner of spreading the false false wir Reports of both kinds, is not always the presso same; sometimes it is more open and avowed, sometimes more close and private : The open is many times by false Witness before 1 the Court of Justice; and this not only hurts a Man in his Credit, but in other respects alfo : 'tis the delivering him up to the Punishment of the Law, and according to the nature of the Crime pretended, does him more or less Mischief; but if it be of the highest kind, it may concern his Life, as we see it did in Naboth’s Case, 1 Kings xxi. How great and crying a Sin it is in this respect, as also in that of the Perjury, you may learn from what hath been said of both those Sins. Iam noris
Sunday to consider it only as it touches the Credit
and to that it is a most grievous Wound, thus
bring upon the other, Deut. xix. 16. Publick
3. The Second open way of spreading these landers. Reports, is, by a publick and common de
claring of them, tho' not before the Magi-
Flesh, which are to shut Men out both from Sunday the Church here, by Excommunication, as you
XIII. may see 1 Cor. xv. II. and from the Kingdom of God hereafter, as it is i Cor. vi. 10.
4. The other more close and private way Whispering of spreading such Reports, is that of the Whisperer; he that goes about from one to another, and privately vents his Slanders, not out of an Intent by that means to make them less publick, but rather more : This Trick of delivering them by way of Secret, being the way to make them both more believed, and more spoken of too ; for he that receives such a Tale as a Secret from one, thinks to please fome-body else by delivering it as a Secret to him also; and so it passes from one hand to another, till at last it spread over a whole Town. This sort of Slander is of all others the most dangerous, for he works in the dark, tyes all he speaks to, not to own him as the Author ; so that whereas in the more publick Accusations, the Party may have some means of clearing himself, and detecting his Accuser, here he shall have no possibility of that ; the $lander, like a secret Poison, works incurable Effects, before ever the Man discern it. This Sin of Whispering, is by St. Paul mentioned among those
great Crimes which are the Effects of 4 reprobate Mind, Rom. i. 29. It is indeed one of the most incurable Wounds of this $word of the Tongue, the very Bane and Pest of Humane Society, and that which not only
Sunday robs single Persons of their good Names, but XIII. oftentimes whole families, nay, publick So
cieties of Men, of their Peace; what Ruins, what Confusions, hath this one Sin wrought in the World ! ?Tis Solomon's Observation, Prov. xviii. 28. that a Whisperer separateth chief Friends : and sure one may truly say of Tongues thus employed, that they are set on fire of Hell
, as St. James saith, chap iii. 6. 5. This is such a Guilt, that we are to beSteps to ware of all the degrees of approach to it, of wards this which there are several Steps; the first is, The
giving ear to, and cherishing of those that come with Slanders; for they that entertain and receive them, encourage them in the Practice; for, as our common Proverb says, If there were no Receivers, there would be no Thief; 1o, if there were none that would give an ear to Tales, there would be no Tale-bearers. A second Step is, The giving too easie credit to them; for this helps them to attain part of their End. They desire to get a general ill Opinion of such a Man; but the way of doing it must be, by causing it first in particular Men; and if thou suffer them to do it in thee, they have so far prospered in their aim. And for thy own part, thou do'st a great Injustice to thy Neighbour, to believe Ill of him, withput a just ground, which the Accusation of Tuch a Person certainly is not. A Third Step is, The reporting to others, what is thus told thee; by which thou makeft thyself dire&ly
a Party in the Slander; and after thou hast Sunday
XIII. unjustly withdrawn from thy Neighbour thy own good Opinion, endeavourest to rob him also of that of others. This is very little below the Guilt of the first Whisperer, and tends as much to the Ruin of our Neighbour's Credit. And these several degrees have fo close a dependance one upon another, that it will be very hard for him that allows himself the first, to escape the other : And indeed, he that can take delight to hear his Neighbour defamed, may well be presumed of so malicious a Humour, that it is not likely he should stick at spreading the Slander. He therefore that will preserve his Innocence in this matter, must never, in the least degree, cherish or countenance any that brings these false Reports. And it is not less necessary to. his Peace, than to his Innocency; for he that once entertains them, must never expect quiet, but shall be continually incited and ftirred up, even against his nearest and dearest Relation ; so that this Whisperer and Slanderer is to be look”d on by, all as a common Enemy, he being so as well to those to whom, as of whom, he speaks.
6. But besides this grosser way of Slander- bespising ing, there is another, whereby we may im- und Scoffpair and lessen the Credit of our Neighbour, and that is, by Contempt and Despising, one common effect whereof is Scoffing and Deriding him. This is very injurious to a Man's