Page 17 - Montana Freemason - September
P. 17


 Continued from Page 16

"Lastly, many do this out of wantonness, and for diversion; so little do they consider a man's reputation as too
great and tender a concern to be jested with; and that a slanderous tongue bites like a serpent, and cuts like a
sword. What can be so barbarous, next to sporting with a man's life, as to play with his honor and good name,
which to some is better than life? Such, and so bad, are the causes of this vice."

"If we consider its pernicious effects we shall find that, to such as are slandered, it is a great injury, commonly a
high provocation, but always matter of grief. It is certainly a great injury; and, if the evil which we say of them
be not true, it is an injury beyond reparation. It is an injury that descends to a man's children; because the good
or ill name of the father is derived down to them, and many times the best thing he has to leave them is an
unblemished virtue. And do we make no conscience to rob his innocent children of the best part of his small
patrimony, and of all the kindnesses that would have been done them for their father's sake, if his reputation
had not been undeservedly stained? Is it no crime, by the breath of our mouth, at once to blast a man's
reputation, and to ruin his children, perhaps to all posterity? Can we jest with so serious a matter? an injury so
very hard to be repented of as it ought; because in such a case, no repentance will be acceptable without
restitution, if in our power."

"Even supposing the matter of the slander true, yet no man's reputation is considerably injured, never so
deservedly, without great hurt to him; and it is odds but the charge, by passing through several hands, is
aggravated beyond truth, every one being apt to add something to it."

"Besides the injury, it is commonly a high provocation; the consequence of which may be dangerous and
desperate quarrels. One way or other the injured person will hear of it, and will take the first opportunity to
revenge it. At best it is always a matter of grief to the person that is defamed; and Christianity, which is the best
-natured institution in the world, forbids us to do those things whereby we may grieve one another."

"A man's character is a tender thing, and a wound there sinks deep into the spirit even of a wise and good man;
and the more innocent any man is in this respect, the more sensible he is of this uncharitable treatment; because
he never treats others so, nor is he conscious to himself that he has deserved it. To ourselves the consequences
of this vice are as bad or worse. He that accustoms himself to speak evil of others gives a bad character to
himself, even to those whom he desires to please, who, if they be wise, will conclude that he speaks to them of
others as he does of others to them."

"And this practice of evil-speaking may be inconvenient many other ways. For who knows in the chance of
things, and the mutability of human affairs, whose kindness he may stand in need of before he dies? So that did
a man only consult his own safety and quiet he ought to refrain from evil-speaking.

"How cheap a kindness it is to speak well, at least not to speak ill, of others. A good word is an easy obligation;
but not to speak ill requires only our silence. Some instances of charity are chargeable; but, were a man ever so
covetous, he might afford another his good word; at least, he might refrain from speaking ill of him, especially
if it be considered how dear many have paid for a slanderous and reproachful word."

"No quality ordinarily recommends one more to the favor of men than to be free from this vice. Such a man's
friendship every one desires; and, next to piety and righteousness, nothing is thought a greater commendation
than that he was never, or very rarely, heard to speak ill of any. Let every man lay his hand upon his heart and
consider how himself is apt to be affected with this usage. Nothing, sure, is more equal and reasonable than that
known rule, what thou wouldst have no man do to thee, that do thou to no man.

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