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motives to candour, they, like the deaf adder, stop their ears against the unwelcome truth. Set before them the example of Jesus, who was no less ready to forgive sins than to heal bodily infirmities, they will pretend that it is their principal aim to discountenance vice and reform the world. But in contradiction to malignity thus combined with hypocrisy we might justly say,—Cast out the beam that is in thy own eye, and then, but not till then, shalt thou see clearly to take out the mote that is in thy brother's
eye. Slanderers we ourselves must sometimes meet, who endeavour to hide their base purposes under the most plausible excuses. Of contumely, disguised under the semblance of commendation, we have a striking instance in the first lesson of to-day. Jehu issues his commands for the children of Ahab to be destroyed, and he selects his instruments from the nobles of his court and the captains in his
army, in order to involve them in the guilt of shedding royal blood, and to prevent the fickle multitude from finding leaders in any future revolt. Ye, said the crafty king, be righteous. Behold, Jehu slew his master ; but who slew so many ? Instead of upbraiding me for my crimes, look to your own; and as we have a common cause, let us not weaken it by dissention and mutual reproach. Again, like clamorous and selfish loyalists of later ages, Jehu conformed to idolatry, while Ahab, his royal master, was in prosperity. Hence the priests of Baal, who had known his former habits of worship, could not distrust the proclamation which he had issued for assembling them, and while they feared to disobey a ferocious conqueror, they cherished the expectation of gaining his favour to their own corrupt religion. But when the sanguinary deceiver had insidiously said to the priests of Baal,—“Search, and look that there be here with you none of the worshippers of the Lord, but the servants of Baal only;" and when, confiding in Jehu's protection, they proclaimed the sacrifice, he suddenly held the language of accusation to the guard and the captains,“ Go in and slay them.” But did he act from sincere aversion to their religion ? No. He had been zealous for Baal while Ahab reigned in full power, and he was a favourite-he was zealous for the Lord, in order to get the throne—he was equally zealous for the calves that were in Bethel or in Dan, in order to secure the sceptre, because he feared that by inviting the people to the temple of Jehovah he should revive in them their antient attachment to the family of David, and lose the support of his nobles, who had been long attached to the impure rites which Jeroboam had introduced, and which he from wicked policy had determined to restore.
Upon the same principle of factitious zeal for any forms of religion, and real indifference to all, he, if it had suited his ambition, or his rage, or his fears, would by some ambiguous or courteous message
have assembled the servants of Jehovah in their sanctuary, and then, reviling them before his obsequious vassals, he would have exclaimed,-Unsheath the sword against these impious adorers of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and see that not one be left to spread the treacherous tale, and inflame their blind adherents. Jehu fulfilled-as unrighteous men are often permitted to do—the just and awful judgments of the Deity against the sinful family of Ahab. He was a legitimate disciple of a school much frequented in ancient and modern times —by turns he could be an encomiast and a reviler, a conformist and an apostate, a courtier and an insurgent.
There are to whom God has given great powers of understanding and the inestimable benefits of education. But habitual moroseness, or latent jealousy, has such an effect upon them that they chiefly wish to obtain celebrity by the acrimony of their invectives and the keenness of their sarcasms. They conduct themselves as if it were their supreme good to trample upon the strength, or sport with the weakness of their fellow-creatures. But, instead of endeavouring to awaken their pity, we should rather appeal to their ambition. We should remind them, that performances, which owe their popularity to personal abuse, gradually sink into contempt or oblivion: for a season, I grant, they may amuse the idle, and gratify the ill-natured; but they disgust men of reflection—they turn the attention of the public from the contents of a book to the spirit of the author-they become incumbrances to the very matter which they were intended to enliven or embellish—and they defeat by every goodly purpose,
if such a purpose ever existed, of communicating know
ledge to the intelligent and the impartial. They who do not aspire to literary fame, but walk in the common path of life, would do well to consider that the satire, which in a season of gaiety is heard with applause, will in the calm hour of reflection be remembered with indignation. If the claims of friendship have been disregarded—if every character has in its turn been sacrificed—if genius has been depreciated—if virtue has been ridiculed-if truth has been violated, most assuredly, with what judgment men judge, shall they be judged, and with what measure they mete, it shall be measured to them again.
In the circle of conviviality we may be cheered with the vivacity, and charmed with the brilliancy, of the slanderer ; but, if we could pursue him into his retirement--if we could perceive what passes
in his mind, when in the darkness of the night and the dreariness of solitude he is compelled to commune with his own throbbing heart—if we could see the deep and tempestuous agitations of his mind, when his own actions are misrepresented, or his own reputation even justly attacked, perhaps we should find him in the same forlorn and disgraceful condition with Joseph's brethren, and hear him thus pass sentence on himself: Verily, I have been guilty concerning other men — no discretion led me to keep a watch over the door of my lips—no pity softened my own heart, when I could indulge pride, envy, resentment, or create temporary amusement at the expence of peace and profit, and fame to my
neighbours. Bent upon a destructive end, I regarded not the unrighteous means; therefore is this distress come upon me—therefore I am accused, but have no advocate; I am afflicted, but have no comforter ; I am ruined, but have no helper. Every bosom is steeled against my sufferings-every voice is raised against my crimes—every finger points with scorn at my person-every hand is lifted my destruction. If there be any such persons within the sphere of your own acquaintance, upon every principle of prudence as well as justice, and for your own sakes as well as for the benefit of
fellowcreatures, it becomes you not to give them encouragement by re-echoing, or even listening to, their calumnious tales. Recollect that in all ages men have been so perverse, that neither spotless innocence nor distinguished excellence could escape from their attacks—with yet greater seriousness remember that the Lord himself was vilified as a glutton and a wine-bibber, and the friend of publicans and sinners. But in proportion as wisdom is thus insulted by the wicked, let it be your wish and your endeavour that she be justified of her children.
For that end I shall now give you some particular directions, which your own experience will make very intelligible, and which I know to be very interesting to every one of my
hearers. Are you rich? Do not bereave your inferiors of reputation; for it is one of the few precious blessings they can enjoy in common with yourselves.