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which it passes, as to become, at last, little better than a fabrication. Every one who repeats it, adds some slight aggravation, and gives a colouring of his own, and thus, perhaps, without considering about the matter, "bears false witness against his neighbour."
It may seem extraordinary to you, that there should be any persons who can find pleasure in slander; any persons to whom it can be a gratification to hear their neighbours aspersed, and lowered in the estimation. in which they are held. But, I am sorry to say, that there are some people of that malignant temper, which is glad to hear of anything which may injure those whom it dislikes, or whom it envies. Some also listen to such things with pleasure, from a weak and selfish idea, that whatever detracts from the merits of another makes their own merits the greater, or the more conspicuous; or their own faults the less glaring. And there are many more, who listen greedily to slander, out of an idle and foolish love of gossip and news. But this love of news and gossip,
though it seems at first view a very small fault, yet, if indulged, leads to many other faults, to tale-bearing, to back-biting, to mischief-making, and to slander. I most earnestly exhort you, my young friends, not to indulge yourselves in this propensity, and not to allow yourselves to get a habit of watching, criticising, and commenting on the words and actions and affairs of others. It is a habit which commonly, indeed I should say always, arises from a love of talking, and a vacant mind. Those who have no higher aim, or worthier subject of interest, will doubtless always seek for amusement in such things. But if they must watch, and criticise, and comment, and find fault, let them look to themselves. In their own hearts, and tempers, and actions, and words, they will find enough to blame and to occupy themselves with. Let them therefore learn to improve themselves, and spare their neighbours.
That I may not be misunderstood, I must now add, in conclusion, that it may sometimes happen that a young person will be thrown into the painful situation of knowing of some
thing wrong in the conduct of another, which it is a duty not to conceal. Should any of you, my young friends, be thus circumstanced, you must be careful not to make the matter a subject of idle and unnecessary talk with those to whom it is of no concern, but disclose it only to the proper person. You should also be careful that you are not actuated by any personal resentments, or private feelings, but solely by a sense of what you consider to be your duty. Keep a guard also on your lips, that you do not add any exaggerations to the fact. If you do anything more than disclose the simple truth, you will be" bearing false witness against your neighbour." And the best, the only way to steer safely through this, and every other temptation and difficulty, is to throw yourselves entirely on God. Lay open your hearts to him, and beseech his help to guide your thoughts and your words. Your prayers will not be in vain. His grace is always at hand to protect and assist all those who call upon him. He will preserve your tongue from "evil speaking, lying, and slan
dering;" and at length we may hope, will cleanse your hearts from every unsubdued and erroneous feeling, and make them pure and holy to himself.
"I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof at the day of judgment."-Matthew xii. 36.
THIS seems a startling sentence, and one that may make even the best and wisest person tremble. But we are told by the
best commentators on the Bible that this expression," every idle word," is here intended to denote such words or conversations as are profane or injurious,-profane in respect of God, or injurious to our fellow-creatures. It is a great abuse of that gift of speech, which is bestowed on man alone, and which distinguishes him from all the rest of the animal creation: it is, I say, a great abuse of this great gift, to employ it in any way which shall be displeasing to God. And it must be displeasing to Him, when we employ it in spreading any bad principles, in persuading others to do wrong, in giving