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they are characterised in the Seriptures, A ferpent will bite; and a babbler is no beta ter. The words of a talebearer are wounds. A talebearer revealeth secrets. He that repeateth a matter separateth very friends. Where no wood is, the fire goeth out : fo;where there is no talebearer, the strife ceafeth (d). Hear the positive commands of God. Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people. Let none of you suffer as a busy-body in other men's matters. Study to be quiet, and do your own business (e). The constant object of Jesus Christ was to be employed about that great business for which his Father had sent him into the world. Let it be your constant object to attend to that momentous concern, for which our Father who is in heaven hath sent you into the world. Repeat not the proceedings or the purposes of your neighbour, except in such a manner as may tend to edification. The Lord hateth him that soweth discord among brethren. For every idle word that men sall Speak they shall give account in the day of judgement (f).
(d) Eccl. X. II. Prov. xi. 13. xvii. 9. xviii. 18. xxvi. 20. (c) Lev. xix. 16. 1 Pet. iv. 15. i Theff. iv. ii. : I) Prov. vi. 16-19: Matth. xii. 36.
VII. We are now to consider tħofe offencės, which fall under the general des fcription of deceit.
Of these the most prominent is open falsehood. It is by the bands of truth that fociety is held together. It is in fincerity and truth that we are to serve God. The Jiar destroys the foundation of all confidence whether in the public dealings of men one with another, or in the retirement of domestic life. The evils which the violation of truth produces are fo manifeft; the dif, ficulty of guarding against its effects is so great; and men, with whatever indiffer, énce they behold their neighbour's fin as committed against God, are so quick to condemn it when prejudicial to themselves; that he who is notoriously guilty of lying is held in general abhorrence: and even those who abandon themselves to other branches of wickedness, and scarcely pré· tend to pay regard to religion, are solici
tous to maintain a character for veracity, and resent the imputation of a lie as the grosfelt of injuries. But the opinions of men concerning offences against men are of little importance, when compared with the estimation in which breaches of the divine law are viewed by Almighty God,
God is a God of truth. He requires truth in the inward parts, in the heart. Every departure from truth he marks as a fin against Himself. re shall not deal falsely, nor lie, one to another: I am the Lord (8).
The falsehood, however, of the lips frequently thews itself in the form of flander. The obnoxious individual who could not be injured or deceived by an open breach of truth, may be overwhelmed by the artifices of secret calumny. Evil reports may be raised and privately diffused concerning him: reports, which while their author lies concealed, may execute their office abroad in open day; and hastening from lip to lip, from door to door, from circle to circle, may undermine his good name, defeat his honest undertakings, blight his reasonable hopes, inflame his antient adversaries, embody a new host of foes, and poison the minds of his nearest friends with suspicion and distrust. Slander is but a more refined, and therefore more mischievous, mode of lying. Are you then surprised at the decision of the wise king : He that bideth hatred with lying lips, and be that uttereth a sander, is a fool (b)? Well (8) Lev. xix. 11, 12. (6) Prov. X. 18.
may he be pronounced memorable for folly, who remembereth not that the words of his lips are recorded against the day of retribution. Do you wonder at the declarations of the Psalmist, that whoso privily flandereth his neighbour Mall be cut off : that if any man would dwell in the presence of the Most High, he must be one who backbiteth not with his tongue, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour (i)? Is not the language of the New Testainent on this subject in full agreement with that of the Old? Does not St. Paul, in his Epistle to the Romans, name backbiters among the greatest offenders ? Does not he expressly warn the Corinthians against backbiting as a great offence? Does not he pointedly express both to Timothy and Titus the finfulness of false accusers (k)? . . : What were the engines of sin by which ruin was brought upon mankind? An open falsehood, and a disguised slander. An open falsehood : for the devil unequivocally ayerred, that man should not die, though he should eat of the fruit of the • forbidden tree. A disguised slander : for
(i) P. ci. 5. xv. 3. (k) Rom. i. 30. 2 Cor. xii. 20. 2 Tim. iii. 3. Titus, ii. 3:
the insinuating tempter imputed to God other motives than the true one, motives even of jealousy and selfishness, for prohibiting man from eating of it. Hence the devil is pronounced by our Saviour to be a liar; and the father of lies. Hence too the Jews, as liars, are pronounced the children of the devil. As the imitators, the slaves, the children of the devil, all liars, whether they deal in open falsehood or in lurking slander, are objects of deteftation to Almighty God. A lying tongue the Lord bateth : lying lips are an abomination to the Lord. All liars shall have their part in the lake that burneth with fire and brimftone (1).
There is yet another garb which deceit wears, that of flattery. To flatter is to ascribe to another that praise to which you do not believe him to be entitled : 'or to convey to him in any manner tinctured with insincerity the applause which you apprehend him to deserve. In the first case, the flattery is direct lying: in the second, it is hypocrisy. The flatterer exaggerates the excellence of the persons whom he purposes to conciliate ; know