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substance into his hands, and he shall appear moro sordid, more pitiless and unjust than the injured themselves have bitterness to paint him. Another* shall be charitable to the poor, uncharitable in his censures and opinions of all the rest of the world besides;-temperate in his appetites, intemperate in his tongue: shall have too much conscience and religion to cheat the man who trusts him, and, perhaps, as far as the business of debtor and creditor extends, shall be just and scrupulous to the atter. most mite; yet, in matters of full as great concern, where he is to have the handling of the party's reps utation and good name,—the dearest, the tenderest property the man has, he will do him irreparable damage, and rob him there without measure or pity.
And this seems to be that particular piece of inconsistency and contradiction which the text is levelled at, in which the words seem so pointed, as if St. James had known more flagrant instances of this kind of delusion than what had fallen under the ob. servation of any of the rest of the apostles ; he being more remarkably vehement and copious upon that subject than any other.
Doubtless, some of his converts had been notori. ously wicked and licentious in this remorseless practice of defamation and evil-speaking. Perhaps the holy man, though spotless as an angel (for no character is too sacred for calumny to blacken) had grievously suffered himself, and, as his blessed Master foretold him, had been cruelly reviled and evil spoken of.
All his labours in the gospel, his unaffected and perpetual solicitude for the preservation of his flock, his watchings and fastings, his poverty, his natural
simplicity and innocence of life, all perhaps were not enough to defend him from this unruly weapon, so full of deadly poison :-and what, in all likelihood, might move his sorrow and indignation more, some who seemed the most devout and zealous of all his converts, were the most merciless, and uncharitable in that respect: having a form of godliness, full of bitter envyings and strife.
With such it is that he expostulates so largely in the third chapter of his epistle : and there is something in his vivacity tenipered with such affection and concern, as well suited the character of an inspired man. My brethren, says the apostle, these things ought not to be. The wisdom that is from above, is pure, peaceable, gentle, full of mercy, without partiality, without hypocrisy. The wisdom from aboveg--that heavenly religion which I have preached to you, is pure, alike, and consistent with itself in all its parts; like its great Author, 'tis universally kind and benevolent in all cases and cireumstances. Its first glad tidings were peace upon earth, good-will towards men ; its chief corner-stone, its most distinguishing character is love,
that kind principle which brought it down, in the pure exer. cise of which consists the chief enjoyment of heaven, from whence it came. But this practice, my brethren, cometh not from above, but it is earthly, sensual, devilish, full of confusion and every evil work. Reflect then a moment :-Can a fountain send forth, at the same place, sweet water and bitter? Can the fig-tree, my brethren, bear olive-berries ? either a vine, figs? Lay your hands upon your, hearts, and let your consciences speak.-Ought not the same just principle, which restrains you from
cruelty and wrong in one case, equally to withhold you from it in another ?-Should not charity and good-will, like the principle of life, circulating through the smallest vessels in every member, ought it not to operate as regularly upon you throughout, as well upon your words as upon your actions ?
If a man is wise and endued with knowledge, let him shew it out of a good conversation, with meekness of wisdom. But if any man amongst you seemeth to be religious-(seêmeth to be, for truly religious he cannot be)-and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain. This is the full force of St. James's reasoning, upon which I have dwelt the more, it being the foundation upon which is grounded this clear decision of the matter left us in the text:-in which the apostle seems to have set the two characters of a saint and a slanderer at such variance, that one would have thought they could never have had a heart to have met together again. But there are no alliances too strange for this world.-How many "may we observe every day, even of the gentler 'sex. as well as our own, who, without conviction of dor ing much wrong,
, in the midst of a full career of calumny and defamation, rise up punctual at the stat-> ed hour of prayer, leave the cruel story half untold till they return ;-go-and kneel down before the throne of heaven, thank God that he had not made them like others, and that his Holy Spirit had enabled them to perform the duties of the day in so .ehristian and conscientious a manner !
This delusive itch for slander, too common in all ranks of people, whether to gratify a little ungener
ous resentment ;-whether oftener out of a princi
ple of levelling, from a narrowness and poverty of • soul, ever impatient of merit and superiority in oth
ers; whether from a mean ambition, or the insatate lust of being witty (a talent in which ill-nature and malice are no ingredients ;)-or lastly, whether from a natural cruelty of disposition, abstracted from all views and considerations of self: to which one, or whether to all jointly, we are indebted for this contagious malady, thus much is certain, from whatever seeds it springs, the growth and progress of it are as destructive to as they are unbecoming a eivilized people. To pass a hard and ill-natured reflection upon an undesigning action ;-to invent, or, which is equally bad, to propagate a vexatious report without colour and grounds ;-0 plunder an innocent man of his character and good name, a jewel which, perhaps, he has starved himself to purchase, and probably would hazard his life to 'secure ;-to rob him at the same time of his happiness and peace of mind, perhaps his bread,—the bread, may be, of a virtuous family; and all this, as Solomon says of the madman who casteth firebrands, arrows, and death, and saith, Am I not in sport ? all, this out of wantonness, and oftener from worse motives,—the whole appears such a complication of badness, as requires no words or warmth of fancy to aggravate. Pride, treachery, envy, hypocrisy, malice, cruelty, and self-love, may have been said, in one shape or other, to have occasioned all the frauds and mischiefs that ever happened in the world; but the chances against a coincidence of them all in one person are so many, that one would have supposed the character of a common slander
er, as rare and difficult a production in nature as that of a great genius, which seldom happens above once in an age.
But whatever was the case when St. James wrote his epistle, we have been very successful in later days, and have found out the art, by a pr
per management of light and shade, to compound all these vices together, so as to give body and strength to the whole, whilst no one but a discerning artist is able to discover the labours that join in finishing the picture ;-and, indeed, like many other bad originals in the world, it stands in need of all the disguise it has.-For who could be enamoured of a character made up of so loathsome a compound, could they behold it naked-in its crooked and deformed shape_with all its natural and detested infirmities laid open to publick view ?
And, therefore, it were to be wished, that one would do in this malignant case of the mind,what
is generally done for the publick good in the more malignant and epidemical cases of the body ;-that
is,-When they are found infectious,to write a history of the distemper,--and ascertain all the symptoms of the malady, so that every one might know whom he might venture to go near, with tolerable safety to himself.-But alaş ! the symptoms of this appear in so many strange and contradictory shapes, and vary so wonderfully with the temper and habit of the patient, that they are not to be classed-nor reduced to any one regular system.
Ten thousand are the vehicles in wbich this dead. ly poison is prepared and communicated to the world ;-and, by some artful hands, 'uis done by so