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to testify what it is convenient for him to have believed, (though it is not always believed,) these are yet more execrable: the two extremities of aversion are united in our sentiments of them; and they are, at the same time, the most terrible, and most contemptible.
HE THAT UTTERETH A SLANDER,
IS A FOOL.
N the large field of falsehood, there is room
for a multitude of offences, not so terribly eminent as that lie, which we confirm by oath, and deliver solemnly in a court of justice.
The first, however, approaches towards it; the calumny, which is known to be
false, false, and spoken with a design to do mischief. The name of God, I grant, is not profaned, it is also something, that the very place and forms of justice, are not defiled and prostituted: in other respects, the injustice is much the same; and the stroke, sometimes, as heavy as that which is given by the hand of the executioner:
Reputation, of all poffeffions, is the most valuable, next to a good conscience; to which indeed it of right belongs, and from which it naturally springs. The root lies out of the reach of injury: Your innocence, by God's grace, no one can take from you, without your own confent: but the fruit of a fair reputation, fo beautiful, and fragrant, and in all respects fo precious, this, alas! hangs exposed to the affault of every passenger: the lowest, as he goes along, can Aling a itone upwards, and laugh to see the prize fall, though he cannot gather it.
It is an aggravation of the crime, or at least of the folly of calumny, that commonly there is nothing to be gained by the commiffion of it. Men do not despise a Prov. vi. thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul, when he is hungry; but, if he be found, he shall restore feven fold; he shall give all the substance of his house. But he who steals away your reputation, has no pretence to the plea of necessity; fince what he takes
from another, does not therefore fall into his own hands; and when he has ruined
you by the robbery, he himself is no richer.
We have an account somewhere, of a certain tribe of Savages, who are poffeffed of a perfuasion, that, whenever they have Nain a man, they are immediately endowed with all his good qualities; which they think are transfused from the soul of the dead, into the person that has killed him. You will not wonder, that murders are frequent in that country; and that it is very dangerous for a man