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knights-errant of the post, whose business it is to run about scattering false reports ; sometimes loudly proclaiming them in open companies, sometimes closely whispering them in dark corners ; thus infecting conversation with their poisonous breath : these no less notoriously are guilty of this kind, as bearing always the same malice, and sometimes breeding as ill effects.
2. Another kind is, affixing scandalous names, injurious epithets, and odious characters on persons, which they deserve not. As when Corah and his complices did accuse Moses of being ambitious, unjust, and tyrannical: when the Pharisees called our Lord an impostor, a blasphemer, a sorcerer, a glutton and wine-bibber, an incendiary and perverter of the people, one that 'spake against Cæsar,' and · forbad to give tribute :' when the Apostles were charged of being pestilent, turbulent, factious and seditious fellows. This sort being very common, and thence in ordinary repute not so bad, yet in just estimation may be judged even worse than the former ; as doing to our neighbor more heavy and more irreparable wrong. For it imposeth on him really more blame, and that such which he can hardly shake off: because the charge signifieth habit of evil, and includeth many acts; then, being general and indennite, can scarce be disproved. He, for instance, that calleth a sober man drunkard, doth impute to him many acts of such intemperance; some really past, others probably future; and no particular time or place being specified, how can a man clear himself of that imputation, especially with those who are not throughly acquainted with his conversation ? So he that calleth a man unjust, proud, perverse, hypocritical, doth load him with most grievous faults, which it is not possible that the most innocent person should discharge himself from.
3. Like to that kind is this, aspersing a man's actions with harsh censures and foul terms, importing that they proceed from ill principles, or tend to bad ends ; so as it doth not or cannot appear. Thus when we say of him that is generously hospitable, that he is profuse ; of him that is prudently frugal, that he is niggardly; of him that is cheerful and free in his conversation, that he is vain or loose ; of him that is serious and resolute in a good way, that he is sullen or morose; of him that is conspicuous and brisk in virtuous practice, that it is ambition or ostentation which acts him; of him that is close and bashful in the like good way, that it is sneaking stupidity, or want of spirit; of him that is reserved, that it is craft; of him that is open, that it is simplicity in him : when we ascribe a man's liberality and charity to vain-glory or popularity; his strictness of life and constancy in devotion, to superstition or hypocrisy : when, I say, we pass such censures, or impose such characters, on the laudable or innocent practice of our neighbors, we are indeed slanderers, imitating therein the great calumniator, who thus did slander even God himself, imputing his prohibition of the fruit unto envy toward men ; ( God,' said he, doth know, that in the day ye eat thereof, your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil ;') who thus did ascribe the steady piety of Job, not to a conscientious love and fear of God, but to policy and selfish design ; · Doth Job fear God for nought?'
Whoever indeed pronounceth concerning his neighbor's intentions otherwise than as they are evidently expressed by words, or signified by overt actions, is a slanderer ; because he pretendeth to know, and dareth to aver, that which he noways possibly can tell whether it be true; because the heart is exempt from all jurisdiction here, is only subject to the government and trial of another world ; because no man can judge concerning the truth of such accusations ; because no man can exempt or defend himself from them : so that apparently such practice doth thwart all course of justice and equity.
4. Another kind is, perverting a man's words or actions disadvantageously by affected misconstruction. All words are ambiguous and capable of different senses, (some fair, some more foul ;) all actions have two handles, one that candor and charity will, another that disingenuity and spite may, lay hold on; and in such cases to misapprehend is a calumnious
procedure, arguing malignant disposition and mischievous design. Thus when two men did witness that our Lord affirmed he
could demolish the temple, and rear it again in three days ;' although he did indeed speak words to that purpose, meaning them in a figurative sense, discernible enough to those who would candidly have minded his drift and way of speaking ; yet
they who crudely alleged them against him are called false wit
• At last,' saith the gospel, • came two false witnesses, and said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple,' &c. Thus also when some certified of St. Stephen, as having said that · Jesus of Nazareth should destroy that place, and change the customs that Moses delivered ;' although probably he did speak words near to that purpose, yet are those men called false witnesses : And,' saith St. Luke, they set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words,' &c. Which instances plainly do show, if we would avoid the guilt of slander, how careful we should be to interpret fairly and favorably the words and the actions of our neighbor.
5. Another sort of this practice is partial and lame representation of men's discourse, or their practice; suppressing some part of the truth in them, or concealing some circumstances about them, which might serve to explain, to excuse, or to extenuate them. In such a manner easily, without uttering any logical untruth, one may yet grievously calumniate. Thus suppose that a man speaketh a thing on supposition, or with exception, or in way of objection, or merely for disputation sake, in order to the discussion or clearing of truth; he that should report him asserting it absolutely, unlimitedly, positively, and peremptorily, as his own settled judgment, would notoriously calumniate. If one should be inveigled by fraud, or driven by violence, or slip by chance into a bad place, or bad company; he that should so represent the gross of that accident as to breed an opinion of that person, that out of pure disposition and design he did put himself there, doth slanderously abuse that innocent person.
The reporter in such cases must not think to defend himself by pretending that he spake nothing false ; for such propositions, however true in logic, may justly be deemed lies in morality, being uttered with a malicious and deceitful (that is, with a calumnious) mind, being apt to impress false conceits, and to produce hurtful effects concerning our neighbor. There are slanderous truths, as well as slanderous falsehoods: when truth is uttered with a deceitful heart, and to a base end, it becomes a lie. • He that speaketh truth,' saith the wise man, showeth forth righteousness, but a false witness de
ceit.' Deceiving is the proper work of slander : and truth abused to that end putteth on its nature, and will engage into
6. Another kind of calumny is, by instilling sly suggestions ; which although they do not downrightly assert falsehoods, yet they breed sinister opinions in the hearers ; especially in those who from weakness or credulity, from jealousy or prejudice, from negligence or inadvertency, are prone to entertain them. This is done many ways; by propounding wily suppositions, shrewd insinuations, crafty questions, and specious comparisons, intimating a possibility, or inferring some likelihood of, and thence inducing to believe the fact. Doth not, saith this kind of slanderer, his temper incline him to do thus ? may not his interest have swayed him thereto? had he not fair opportunity and strong temptation to it? hath he not acted so in like cases ? Judge you therefore whether he did it not. Thus the close slanderer argueth ; and a weak or prejudiced person is thereby so caught, that he presently is ready thence to conclude the thing done. Again ; he doeth well, saith the sycophant, it is true ; but why, and to what end? Is it not, as most men do, out of ill design ? may he not dissemble now ? may he not recoil hereafter ? have not others made as fair a show ? yet we know what came of it. Thus do calumnious tongues pervert the judgments of men to think ill of the most innocent, and meanly of the worthiest actions. Even commendation itself is often used calumniously, with intent to breed dislike and illwill toward a person commended in envious or jealous ears; or so as to give passage to dispraises, and render the accusations following more credible. It is an artifice commonly observed to be much in use there, where the finest tricks of supplanting are practised with greatest effect: so that, pessimum inimicorum genus, laudantes ; there is no more pestilent enemy than a malevolent praiser. All these kinds of dealing, as they issue from the principles of slander, and perform its work, so they deservedly bear the guilt thereof.
Vid. Herm. Pastor. Where the Pastor observes, that the devil doth in his temptations intersperse some truths, serving to render his delusions passable.
7. A like kind is that of oblique and covert reflexions; when a man doth not directly or expressly charge his neighbor with faults, but yet so speaketh that he is understood, or reasonably presumed to do it. This is a very cunning and very mischievous way of slandering ; for therein the skulking calumniator keepeth a reserve for himself, and cutteth off from the person concerned the means of defence. If he goeth to clear himself from the matter of such aspersions ; What need, saith this insidious speaker, of that ? must I needs mean you ? did I name you ? why do
then assume it to yourself? do you not prejudge yourself guilty? I did not, but your own conscience it seemeth doth, accuse you. You are so jealous and suspicious, as persons over-wise or guilty use to be. So meaneth this serpent out of the hedge securely and unavoidably to bite his neighbor; and is in that respect more base and more hurtful than the most flat and positive slanderer.
8. Another kind is that of magnifying and aggravating the faults of others; raising any small miscarriage into a heinous crime, any slender defect into an odious vice, and
any common infirmity into a strange enormity; turning a small mote in the eye of our neighbor into a huge beam, a little dimple in his face into a monstrous wen. This is plainly slander, at least in degree, and according to the surplusage whereby the censure doth exceed the fault. As he that, on the score of a small debt, doth extort a great sum, is no less a thief, in regard to what amounts beyond his due, than if without any pretence he had violently or fraudulently seized on it; so is he a slanderer, that by heightening faults or imperfections, doth charge his neighbor with greater blame, or loads him with more disgrace than he deserves. It is not only slander to pick a hole where there is none, but to make that wider which is, so that it appeareth more ugly, and cannot so easily be mended. For charity is wont to ext ate faults, justice doth never exaggerate them. As no man is exempt from some defects, or can live free from some misdemeanors, so by this practice every man may be rendered
odious and infamous. 9. Another kind of slander is, imputing to our neighbor's practice, judgment, or profession, evil consequences (apt to render him odious or despicable) which have no dependence