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(portion in the Lake that burmth with Fire and Brim* stone.
2. Let us no less hate the Practice of Taking up Evil sports against any, than that of Inventing them. We learn from <Psal. 15. 3. That Tins also will exclude us the Kingdom of Heaven $ in that 'tis here said, that among those that frail abide in Gods Tabernacle, and dwell in his Holy Hilly He is one that Backbiteth not with his Tongue, nor doth Evil to his Neighbour,, nor taketh up a (Reproach against: his Neighbour: Or doth not without Good Evidence give credit to it, and much less spread and propagate it. The Wife Man maketh him a VVicked doer, who gheth heed to false Vips\ and a Lyar, who gtveth ear to a naughty Tongue. (FVoV. 17. 4. This is as much a Transgression of the sprementioned Golden (Rule, Of doing as we would be done unto, as is Devising and Forging Slanders. I doubt there is not much less Malice in this Practice, but I am sure it savours of every whit as little Charity, as that other Practice doth. I can have no Charity for that man, against whom I am forward to believe .and report whatsoever of evil I chance to hear 'of him. Kay, VVlnsperers and 'Backbiters, as well as InVenters of Evil things, are reckoned by Saint fpaul, among those obdurate Sinners, of whom he Pronounceth, That God had given them over €i( vvv cidloKi/uLov to a fyprobate mind, Rom. I. 20, jo.
Hasty Believers and Spreaders of false Reports, are the Tools and Instruments of those that invent them, for the doing of the Mischief they design by them. And it is almost whol* ly Long of these, that Those wicked People are in a Capacity of doing any Mischief by their Forgeries.
We are Bound therefore by the strictest Bonds,' by the Bonds of Charity, of Justice, and of Self* (Preservation, to be extremely Cautious of lending our Ear to Tale°Bearers, lest we be Involved in their Guilt, and so brought to share with them in their dreadful Punishment, Since this is an express Law of God, Thou shalt not go up and doton as a Talebearer among thy People, Lev. 19. 16. Surely *tis as much a Lalo of His, That we should not give incouragement to those whom we know to be Tale-bearers, by Listning to their Tales.
Nay, We are obliged to be so far from Believing a Report against our Neighbour, meerly from the Information of any One or a A D Few Fe* Persons, of whose Integrity, and os whose certain knowledge i of the Truth thereof,* we have not great Assurance, .that we may notnei* ther conclude any Man Guilty, from his being Accused by the generality. There is indeed a common faying, . Vox Vopuli efl yox Tkiy Tbe Foice of the Teople r js the Voice ofyGfid. And in a certain Sence, it-nlay well pass for a true Proverb. But as it is.vulgarly understood, The Voice of,jfafPeopfc knot the- Voice of.God,, as we of this Qty and Kingdom have 6ften found by fad Experience. All. Wife arid Honest Men cannot be,, at this time of day:, to seek for Conviction, What great Sufferers^ even our Qovej-nwrs themrelves have been Wrongfully made to be, by the Voice of the Teopk. And I dare Affirm, That he who now takes the common Vogue for unquestionable' Evidence, had he lived in the Dayes of our Blessed Saviour, would have been made One among that wicked Crew, who. applauded the Sentence pronounc'd, a* gainst Him. •
And there is this weighty Reason, why Com* mon Fame it self is not to be Confided in,, yiz\ For ought we, can tell this Fame might first arise, from -but One Man, and^Ws/Man a. /J^ too; and this we Certainly knowj that the Generality ure so void of Charity,. as hastily to Catch at Scandalous Stories, and are much more easily perswaded to think and report Evil Things upon very flightGrounds, than good and com* mendahle Things, upon the most evident and apparent Ones. And none have so fad Experience of the Truth of this, as Those of whose Repu* tation we are obliged to be the most tender.. I mean our Governours in Church and State.
But suppose we have certain Assurance, that such an ill Report did take its first Rife from not a sew, yet we may not be sure but that these might be United (in one common Interest andD^/fgn; but in this Case, the Report of many carryes no whit stronger Evidence with it, than if it came but from One Mouth. And this was the very Cafe of our blessed- Lord :';They. were many who first divulged vile Siatiders -of Him, but they were All acted by one and the & me Principle, 'vizj, That of Malice; and. by the fame Tjefign, <vi^. That of Disgracing. Him ammxg the (People, and Incencing of King Herod aud Pontius Pilate against Him. .,
But Lastly, Suppose, we could be certain, That the many first, Reporters of Bad Stones
D 2 were were not Linked together by one Common Tye, yet even in this Case too we are bound to use Caution and Deliberation, before we give them undoubted Credit. Especially if those Stories relate to Words or Actions that are capable of a two-fold Interpretation. The fame Jtlions may be faulty or Commendable, according to the Circumstances wherewith they are attended. And the fame Words may be so too, according to the Occasion or Connexion of them. But People are generally, even those who have no Malic)' ous Intention, Rash, and Heady in judging of Aftions without weighing Circumstances;. and. in running away with half Sentences,- or with whole ones, without Considering, What went hefore, ot'followed after.
So that, I fay, as we would not fall under the Guilt of that Sin, the exceeding Heinoufnefs of which I have been representing, Look we to it, that we be not Hasty in taking up Evill Reports of any Body, let them come to us from never so many. If this be warrantable, as I have already intimated, the joyning with those who ran down our Sayiour, and at last Nailed Him to the Cross, had been very Excuseable, not to fay Defensible,