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purse. Men should be careful in this particular, because an injury of this sort is without after-recompence. We cannot follow a lie at the heels, whereas goods taken away may be restored or recovered. What is ill spoken of any one, is hardly forgotten ; nor is it easy for the wronged to make his defence. Here in particular I must take notice of one thing, which I have always looked on as a shameful unaccountable miscarriage ; viz. to take an advantage against men from the liberty that is to be allowed and justly taken in mutual converse, wherein men trust each other. He is not fit to come in any company, who will not allow this as a rule of converse, to take every thing in the better part, to make candid construction, and to fuppose that whatever is spoken suddenly or merrily, hath no ill intention. It a man thinks he cannot keep another's counsel, then it is fair for him to give an intimation and warning; and then if men will not forbear, it is at their own peril; the hearer is discharged. Respect to God, and fidelity to government and the community, is an antecedent obligation ; and against God and his country, no man is to be patient or hear. Therefore a man by the laws of conversation is not under an obligation to keep counsel, if God and his country be spoken against ; because every man is under an antecedent engagement and duty to these. Also, we are to be chary of the credit of those that are absent. We should be impatient to hear them spoken against, that are not present : for it is unmanly to speak evil of those that are not present to give an account of themselves; the credit of the absent is not to receive pre
judice by the liberty of talking. It is commonly said, de mortuis non nisi bene, never speak evil of the dead ; because they are not within poffibility to make any defence. If this rule be not observed, but men will make severe interpretations, or lie at the catch ; away with all converse. If this be not minded, then the good of company is under too great restraint, and men will take no pleasure in conversation ; because they are always in fear they may be mistaken ; mifconstruction may be made : thus converse will be dangerous, so not pleasurable. This, I say, of converse between man and man, as our fellow-creatures, as qualified with power of speech, whereby we may communicate our notions, one to another. As christians, we are still under more and greater obligation
The great instances of wickedness.
PSALM V. 4, 5. Thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness, &c.
Am discoursing of things that are contrary to righteousness and justice. Now we may be guilty of
fins of unrighteousnefs to our neighbour these three ways. 1. By severe and harsh censure. 2. By perfidiousness and false testimony. 3. By cruel usage.
1. By severe and harsh censure ; rigid interpretations, hard constructions, whereby others innocent meanings are perverted ; captious, severe, morose, cynical, humoursome, uncivil conversation ; thefe things are materially unrighteous ; for what have we to do to judge our fellow-fervants? With what judgment we judge, we shall be judged, Mat. vii. 2. A man doth really pass a sentence of condemnation upon himself, when he doth severely censure any other person. If this were considered, we should have a far easier being in the world.
2. By perfidiousness and violating the rules and laws of society and converse, by giving false testimony.
By God's law, such a person should suffer what the accused should, if he had been found guilty, Deut. xix. 18. Haman was hanged on the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai ; and in common reason
Nec lex eft justior ulla, Quam necis artifices arte perire fua.
There is no law more just, more equal, more reafonable, than that whosoever designs evil and mischief against any innocent person, should perish himself, and fall into the pit which he mischievously had digged for others,
3. By cruel usages. These partake of the devilish nature ; cruelty is the devil in a compleat form ;
it is an hellifh temper. We cannot express any thing that is perfectly diabolical, more fully than in the temper of cruelty : I do find men have been infamous from generation to generation, and have been recordcd as monsters, Timons, cannibals, enemies to mankind; who have practised cruelty : such of whom
it is said, ingeniosi in tormenta, witty to find out torments ; such as that horrid monster Phalaris, of his brazen bull; and those who used these speeches, sentiat se mori ; nondum tecum redii in gratiam ; of whom it may be said, exuerunt humanam naturam, induerunt feritatem ; that they have divested themselves of human nature, and taken upon them that of ravenous wild beasts. It is horrid to think how the innocent harmless nature of man, may be altered to cruelty; what a man may come to, by gross neglect of himself, by base use, custom and practice ; Hazael did not think he could have done those cruel. acts the prophet admonished him of; am I a doz? Such an one was Tiberius, who delighted in torturing; of whom it was said that he was lutum fanguine maceratum, a lump of clay foak’d in blood : Caligula made it his diversion to see men rack’d, and Nero. to fee the city on fire.
But I must do right to the maker of our nature ; and therefore declare that man, if he be right, and have not abused his nature, but is as God brought him into the world, and hath done himself no wrong, is a mild, meek, gentle, calm, loving creature, fitted for conversation. I am sure many are so, and have been so from the beginning, and grow more so; and if any find it otherwise, I will say he may be ashamed of himself. I account that man, whosoever he is, if he be of years and understanding, he hath lived to little purpose in the world, and can give no account of himself, unless he can stand up and verify this of himself, omnia in me sunt suljećta rationi, all things that I allow, and do with knowledge, delight and consent,
they are as in reason they should be ; the reason of my mind leads me to it; and I do as I do, because my judgment doth first determine me. This in respect of all deliberate acts; for, as for surprizes or mistakes, being taken unawares ; in these I am to be excused : but for deliberate acts, he doth not deserve to be named a man ; much less a person under denomination of religion, unless he bring it to this, that in all deliberate acts, he do with fatisfaction to his own reason and judgment.
I consider man, ift. As God made him : 2dly, As Christ redeemed him.
1. In the former respect, man is a conversable creature ; forasmuch as he is invested with intellectual nature, and is qualified with principles of reason, and with a power of speech ; for by all these he is enabled and disposed for converse : the principle of reason that works inwardly, thereby he is apt to conceive notions of things, and prepare matter : by the other, he is able to bring forth, direct, communicate, resolve, fatisfy, teach, instruct, and make others partakers. It is a thing of the highest advantage in the world, to know what a confiderate mind finds cause to think. I take this to be the best office, either of kindness or of fervice, that one man can perform to another ; that we may be as oracles mutually one to another. In several matters, one hath examined this, another that ; ars longa, vita brevis ; our lives are short, but matters of knowledge are ten thousand times more than the years we have to live. It is not compatiable to any of us to be more than this, aliquis in fingulis, fingularis in aliqua, either to be a smatterer in more