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to have me well spoken of, hath certainly but little kindness to me: he would very hardly die for me, or lay out great sums of money for me, that will not afford me the cheapest charity of a good word. The Jews have a saying, that “it were better that a man were put into a flame of fire, than he should publicly disgrace his neighbour.” But in this there are two great considerations, that declare the unworthiness of it.
1. They who readily speak reproachfully of others, destroy all the love and combinations of charity in the world; they rúin the excellency and peculiar privilege of mankind, whose nature it is to delight in society, and whose needs and nature make it necessary. Now slander and reproach, and speaking evil one of another, poisons love, and brings in hatred, and corrupts friendship, and tempts the biggest virtue by anger to pass unto revenge. For an evil tongue is a perpetual storm; it is a daily temptation; and no virtue can, without a miracle, withstand its temptation.. “ If you strike a lamprey but once with a rod,” saith the Greek proverbe, “ you make him gentle; but if often, you provoke him.”. A single injury is entertained by Christian patience, like a stone into a pocket of wool; it rests soft in the embraces of a meek spirit, which delights to see itself overcome a wrong, by a worthy sufferance: but he that loves to do injury by talk, does it in all companies, and takes all occasions, and brings it in by violence, and urges it rudely, till patience being weary goes away, and is waited upon by Charity, which never forsakes or goes away from patience. . “A wound with the tongue is like a bruise; it cannot be cured in four-and-twenty hours.”
2. No man sins singly in such instances as these. Some men commit one murder, and never do another; some men are surprised, and fall into uncleanness or drunkenness; but repent of it speedily, and never again return to folly: but an evil and an uncharitable tongued is an accursed principle, it is, in its very nature and original, equal to an evil habit; and it enters without temptation, and dwells in every part of our conversation, and injures every mar, and every woman.
• Και μύραινα, πληγείσα νάρθηκι εισάπαξ, ήσυχάζει: ει δε πλεονάκις, εις θυμών εξάπτεται,
a Sed miserere tui : rabido nec perditus ore
Fumantem nasum vivi tentaveris ursi,
It is like the evil spirit that was in love with Tobias's wife; if you drive him from Nineveh, he will run to the utmost parts of Egypt; there also, unless an angel bind him, he will do all the mischief in the world; for there is not in the world a worse devil, than a devilish tongueo.
But I am not now to speak of it as it is injurious to our neighbour, but as it is an hinderance to our worthy communicating. “ The mouth that speaketh lies," or stings his neighbour, or “ boasteth proud things,” is not fit to drink the blood of the sacrificed Lamb. Christ enters not into those lips', from whence slander and evil talkings do proceed ; and the tongue that loves to dispraise his brother, cannot worthily celebrate the praises and talk of the glorious things of God. Let no man deceive himself; an injurious talker is an habitual sinner; and he that does not learn the discipline of the tongue, can never : have the charity of Christ, and the blessings of the peaceful sacrament. Persons that slander 8 or disgrace their brother, are bound to make restitution; it is as if they had stolen a jewel -- they must give it back again, or not come hither. But they that will neither do nor speak well of others, are very far from charity: and they that are so, ought to be as far from the sacrament, or they will not be very far from condemnation. But a good man will be as careful of the reputation, as of the life, of his brother; and to be apt to speak well of all men, is a sign of a charitable and a good man; and that goes a great way in our preparation to a worthy communion.
* Cede Hyrcana tigris, Erymanthi bellua, cede;
Tnqne genas obnube tuas, natura, pudori ;
Lingua cruenta serens, non uno in funere ludit. i Nefas enim est per os, qno profertur Nomen illud sanctissimum, qnicquam turpe progredi.
6 De Catone dixit Plutarchus, Meusam imprimis putabat esse amicitiæ conciliandæ aptam; ac frequens illic laudatio egregiorum virorunr introducebatur; frequens etiam malorum et improborum oblivio: nec vitupera. tioni eorum, vel commendationi permittebat in convivium suum Cato
Forgiveness of Injuries a necessary Part of Preparation to the
This duty is expressed, not only as obligatory to us, but as relative to the holy sacrament, in the words of our blessed Saviouro; “ When thou bringest thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee, leave there thy gift; and go, first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer.” This precept was indeed instanced in the Levitical sacrifices, and Jewish altars; but because, as St. Irenæus observes ; " the precepts of Christ, however expressed, relate to Moses’ law but less principally, and chiefly design an evangelical duty;" and, therefore, he refers these words to the celebration of the Christian eucharistical sacrifice and oblation; concerning which he bath these excellent words :-“ From the beginning God respected Abel's offering, because he offered in righteousness and șingleness of heart. But God regarded not the sacrifice of Cain, because he had a heart divided from his brother, full of zeal and malice: and, therefore, God, who knoweth all secrets, thus reproves him; • If thou dost rightly offer, but not rightly divide, be quiet; God will not be appeased with thy sacrifice. For if any one, in outward appearance, offers a clean, a right, and a pure sacrifice; but, in his soul, does not truly apportion his communion to his neighbour, he hath sin within, and by his external sacrifice does not bring God unto him; neither will the oblation profit him at all, unless the malice that he hath conceived within, does cease; but that sin will make him every day more and more a murderer.”—In pursuance of this, St. Cyrild tells, that the ancient Christians were wont, before the communion, to kiss each other, as a symbol of reconciled minds and forgotten injuries; and, in confirmation of this practice, brings the preceptive words of our Lord now recited.
a Matt. v. 23, 24.
6 See this discoursed and proved, Rule of Conscience, Book ii. chap. iii. rule 15.
c Irenæ. lib. iv. c. 34. u St. Cyril. Hier. Mystag. Cat. 5.
And our blessed Savioure himself adds a parallel to the first
precept, which gives light and explication to it: “When you stand praying, if you have any thing against any man, forgive him, that your Father which is in heaven, may forgive you your trespasses." — And so Christ taught us to pray, “ Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us." Let us consider what we do, and consider what we say: do we desire to be forgiven no otherwise? Do not we exact every little ignorance, and grow warm at every mistake? And are not we angry at an unavoidable chance? Would we have God to do so to us, and forgive us in no other manner, than as we do, – that is, turn his anger into every shape, and smite us in every part? Or would we have God pardon us only for little things, for a rash word, or an idle hour spent less severely? If we do so to our brother, it is a great matter : but if he reviles us to our head, if he blasphemes, and dishonours us, if he robs us, if he smites us on the face, what then? We rob God of his honour,-bis priests, of their reverence, his houses, of their beauty,-- his churches, of their maintenance: we talk vile things of his holy name, we despise religion, we oppose his honour, and care not for his service. It is certain we do not usually forgive things of this nature to our brother; what then will become of our prayer? and what will be the effect of our communion? and yet it is certain, there is nothing in the world easier than to forgive an injury. It costs us nothing, after it is once suffered: and if our passions and foolish principles would give us leave to understand it, the precise duty of forgiveness is a perfect negative; it is a letting things alone as they are, and making no more evils in the world, in which already there was one too many, even that which thou didst suffer. And, indeed, that forgiveness is the best, which is the most perfect negative, that is, " in malice, be children;" whose petty quarrels, though they be fierce as a sudden spark, yet they are as innocent as the softest part of their own flesh, - and as soon out as that sudden spark, and forgotten perfectly as their first dream : and that is true forgiveness: and without this, we can never pray with just and perfect confidence and expectations.
e Mark, xi. 23.
1 Ignoramus sine pace Communionem. -S. Hicron. Epist. 62. ad Theo. philum.
St. Peter8 gives this precept in a considerable instance; “ Give honour unto the wife as unto the weaker vessel, that your prayers be not hindered;" that is, consider that they are weak and tender, easily moved, and soon disordered; their understanding is less, and their passions more; and if it happens to be so, bear their burdens, comply with their innocent passions, pity their infirmities, supply the breaches made by their indiscretions, take no notice of little inconveniences : counsel sweetly, reprove tenderly, strike no fires, and enkindle no flames; that is, do all that you can for peace, without peevish quarrels, and little commencements of a domestic war: for if you give way to any thing of this nature, it will hinder your prayers : for how shall the husband and wife pray together, if they be angry at each other? For, without love, and without peace, it is to no purpose to pray. The devotion of a man, that is not in actual
and kindness with his wife, is like a hot dead coal, it will burn his fingers that touches it, but it is wholly useless : but he that lives in peace with her, in love and prudent conduct, his devotion is a flaming fire; it kindles all that is round about it; it warms and shines; it is beauteous in itself, and it is useful to others; it is fit for the house, and fit for the altar; it will set the incense on smoking, and put the sacrifice on fire. And so it is in every instance of society and conversation; but I instanced in this the rather, because charity at home, and a peaceable society in a family, is the first of all public unions. When Philip of Macedon persuaded the Greek ambassadors", that they should invite their cities to peace and concord, Demaratus, of Corinth, began to laugh at him for his counsel, and thought it a thing ridiculous for him to speak of peace among the Greek republics, who was always wrangling at home with his wife Olympias. But as to the present matter.
The fourth council of Carthage refused to accept the
6 1 Pet. iii. 7.
b Greek ambassadors.] Plutarch, from whom Bishop Taylor seems to have taken this anecdote, does not make mention of Greek ambassadors :'Επει δε διενεχθέντος αυτού (Φιλίππου) προς Ολυμπιάδα την γυναίκα και τον υιόν, ήκε Δημάρατος ο Κορίνθιος, επυνθάνετο πώς προς αλλήλους έχουσιν οι Ελληνες και ο Δημάρατος, Πάνυ γούν (έφη) σοι περί της των Ελλήνων ομονοίας ο λόγος εστίν, ούτω πρός σε των οικειοτάτων εχόντων· ο δε συμφρονήσας επαύσατο της οργής, και διηλλάγη προς αυτούς.Apophth. Xyland. T. ii. p. 179. C. (J. R. P.)