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son.

So is the madman, who scatters fire-brands, arrows, and death.'

Remember, last of all, that the time in which your lot is cast, is pre-eminently a time in which the sense of truth is weakened, and the consciousness of moral obligation to a wonderful degree forgotten. In this day, falsehood bas come forth to the public eye with ber brazen front unveiled, her cheek without even a tinge, and her snaky tongue newly dipt in poi

Her professed enemies are changed into friends; her friends into worshippers. The wbole world wonders after her. Afraid no longer of the contempt of society, or the brand of public justice, she enters familiarly into the study of the philosopher, the hall of deliberation, and the palace of power; and dictates instructions, laws, edicts, and manifestoes to nations. In her train, parties, princes, and nations are proud to be enrolled. How immense then, how unceasing, how universal, is the danger to you. Awake to that danger, and feel that you are struggling for your all.

. Above all things, commit yourselves to God in prayer. Ask him, and he will make you watchful, wise, and stedfast in your duty. Ask him, and he will teach you to love, and enable you to speak truth only ; until you arrive at that glorious world, where truth only is spoken by its happy inhabitants, and where all its blessings are realized with increasing delight, throughout ages which know no end.

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In the last Discourse but one, I proposed to consider Falsehood under the two heads of lying, and slander.

The former of these I have discussed at length. I shall now proceed to the consideration of the latter ; and shall arrange my observations under the following heads :

I. The nature of Slander.
II. The modes in which it is practised.
III. The evils of it.
IV. Dissuasives from it.

I, Slander may be thus defined : It is that conduct which injuriously lessens or destroys another's reputation.

In most cases, words are made the vehicle of slander. It may, however, be accomplished without words. When we are reasonably expected to give a fair character of another, we may easily and deeply slander him by our silence. We may also accomplish the same purpose by our actions ; as when we withhold our countenance from a man who, in ordinary circumstances, might fairly expect to enjoy it; withdraw from him business, with which he has heretofore been entrusted; or turn him out of our service, without alleging any reasons for our conduct. In these, and the like cases, we give such proofs of suspecting him ourselves, as to entail upon him, in greater or less degrees, the suspicion of others.

Slander is perpetrated sometimes with design, and sometimes through inattention. In the former case, it is perpetrated with an intention to destroy happiness ; in the latter, from indifference to it. In the former case, it springs from malice; in the latter, from that sordid insensibility to the interests of others, which is little less censurable. It will be unnecessary to distinguish them any farther.

11. Slander is most frequently practised in the following modes :-

1. In direci and false Aspersions.

The slanderer commences this malignant employment by inventing and fabricating tales of falsehood concerning the person who is either the object of his hatred, or the subject of his diversion. To the fabricator of these tales all the subsequent mischief which arises from them is supremely chargeable.

The second step is the rehearsing of such stories, after they have been told to us by others. In this step we do not participate in all the guilt which is attendant on the first. But both the guilt and the mischief are often greater. The spirit with which we rebearse tales of slander may be more malignant than that which gave birth to them; and the consequences may be incomparably worse.

The inventor may have been a thoughtless, ignorant, giddy minded man, without consideration, and without character. We, on the contrary, may possess reputation, forecast, and a correct knowledge of human concerns, may comprehend the whole efficacy of the tale, may perceive its falsehood, and may enjoy a base pleasure in giving it the most effectual operation. Thus, although not chargeable with the guilt of fabricating falsehood, we may become much more criminal than the fabricator.

Whatever is our situation, we lend in this case our own weight to the story; and in this manner we sometimes do all, and not upfrequently most of the mischief of which the story becomes the instrument. The inventors of such tales are usually persons of no reputation; and, if reputable at first, they soon destroy their character by this very employment. Were they then disregarded, and their tales not repeated, both would sink at once into absolute contempt. But when persons of a fair character take up such stories, and soberly rehearse them, the falsehood acquires new strength, and spreads with a new and most unhappy influence. This base coin they have not indeed made ; but they have passed it, and given it a currency, which it could never have derived from the maker. Let no person then think himself at all justified in reciting a tale of slander by the very common, indeed, but very wretched excuse, dictated, and adopted only by the coarsest and most vulgar morality; that they heard it from others. Guilt fastens on every traveller in this base and bye path, and at every step in his progress.

Some persons perpetrate this iniquity with designs directly malicious. Some from a busy, meddling disposition, always unsatisfied, unless when interfering in the concerns of others; and some from a wish to be thought extensively acquainted with private bistory. All these are characterized in the Scriptures by the significant names of busy bodies,' and tale-bearers;' and are considered there, and everywhere else, as the disturbers and pests of society. They are characterized in the most disadvantageous manner. Levit. xix. 16, · Thou shalt not go up and down as a tale-bearer among thy people ; neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour. I am the Lord. And again, in Prov. xxvi. 20, &c, · The words of a tale-bearer are as wounds. Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out.' They are classed with the worst of mankind, 1 Pet. iv. 15, Let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evil doer, or as a busy-body in other men's matters.'

The character given of them in the Scriptures is the character given of them by common sense. In every age and country they have been objects of contempt and abhorrence. Prudent men have everywhere shunned them; and pointed them out to their friends and children as enemies, as gins and snares, which they were ever cautiously to spy out, and eagerly to avoid. Every company into which they enter after

VOL. IV.

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their character is known feels a sudden pressure upon its thoughts, and an alarm for its peace and safety. The aspect is changed at once. The features, relaxed by ease, friendship, and confidence, are suddenly contracted and fixed. The eye quits its smile of serenity and pleasure ; and settles itself in the attitude of vigilance, apprehensive and ill boding; and the conversation, which sprang from the heart, reciprocated friendship, and awakened delight, is chilled down in a moment into general, unmeaning observations, adopted only because they have no meaning, and because no tale of mischief can be told about them. When such a man resides in a neighbourhood, a thick cloud hangs over all its enjoyments. When he removes, it is again covered with cheerfulness and sunshine.

With a criminality often greater, we slander others by giving accounts concerning them which are true. No excuse is more frequently or more confidently pleaded, as an ample justification of malignant stories concerning others, than this : that they are true. The author of ill-natured tales or remarks is not indeed chargeable, in this case, with the crime of falsehood. Still, he may be really and eminently criminal. If the good name of our neighbour be injured, the great evil in question is done. If it be injured by us, the evil is done by us. If we have injured it with pleasure, our malevolence is real, and therefore our guilt is real. That guilt also may be as great or greater in the eye of God, than any which even we ourselves have attributed to the inventor of a slanderous story.

Be it so, that our neighbour has slipped ; and that he has sinned against God. Still, “ if his sin remain with him, he may repent; and his repentance may render his character better, and his hopes brighter, than ours. Still, his talents may be employed for the benefit of himself, his family, and mankind. All this benefit, and all the comfort which he and his might enjoy, we may thus prevent, and blast for

ever.

My neighbour is a merchant. In a course of honest industry, he is reduced by misfortunes to failing circumstances. The fact is known to me. I publish it. His creditors, auxious to secure as far as may be their own property, seize upon his effects, and perhaps confine bim in a prison. Thus he may be completely ruiued by a story which I have told;

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