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I shall therefore content myself with the indulgence of repeating the all-sufficient injunctions of " Him who spoke as never man spoke.” “ Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged, condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned. Watch and pray lest ye enter into temptation, and what I say unto you (says the blessed Lord) I say unto all, watch.”
In recapitulation I must now observe, that as the wisdom of our ancestors has guarded us against the besetting sin of Detraction, Friends have less excuse than most others, if they fall into it.
That I call on my younger brethren and sisters, more particularly, to remember the obligation to watchfulness, which this query imposes, -as they also are a party to the an
That my observation tells me, all young persons, whatever be their situation or religious creed, are more or less given to satire.
That being conscious of the natural tendency of youth to detraction, I have contemplated with admiration, amongst the other benefits peculiar to our society, the query relative to tale-bearing and detraction.
That detraction is the more ensnaring, because it is so common one forgets it is a sin.
That we ought to be very thankful, therefore, for the query in question.
That those only who have been born and bred in different circumstances to Friends, can
sufficiently appreciate the advantages and privileges of our religious society.
That Friends, born in the society, can not feel the peculiar advantages, of which they have felt, and will continue to feel, the good consequences, to the end of life.
That when they are parents, I believe they will desire for their children the same restraints which they are now feeling, remembering that though they pained, they preserved.
That whatever be the power of the second query, we, like others, have, in order to be able to act up to it, much to do, and much to leave undone.
That SELF-EXAMINATION, by leading us to think before we speak, woul dlead to the query: “ How should I like what I am now disposed to say, to be repeated to the person of whom I speak?” and if the responding heart says “no," then it is clear the detracting remark should not be made.
That if willing to make the remark in the presence of the individuals blamed, it would be better not to say it at all in their absence.
That satirical mirth would always be checked, could we fancy the objects of it listening or looking in at the window.
That it may seem impossible to bring restraining motives quickly enough to bear on the arising temptation, but that thought is as swift as lightning, and will come in a moment, and who is there amongst us that has not known at times the efficacy of deep though sudden prayer?
That there are prohibitions in scripture sufficient to prevent detraction, if properly attended to; and lastly, I recommend to my younger brethren and sisters, to remember the words of the blessed Saviour, “What I say unto you, I say unto all, watch!”
OTHERS AS YOU
Now, full of anxious solicitude and discouragement, I write my concluding pages with humble but heartfelt earnestness, pressing once more on the attention of my readers the following list of preventives or remedies for detraction.
The maxim, “DO UNTO
And CULTIVATION OF THE MIND, or KNOWLEDGE, which Solomon desires us to receive “ rather than choice gold.”
SELF-EXAMINATION, or in other words, the self-knowledge which is its result, would, even in a worldly point of view, be our best policy, because by giving us a thorough knowledge of ourselves, it would prevent us from incurring ridicule, by censuring in others the faults which we ourselves commit; and conviction of our own frailties, by teaching us indulgence to those of others, might forbid us to give way to detraction.
THINKING BEFORE WE SPEAK would lead us to put this precautionary question to our
selves. _“Should I like to have what I am about to say, repeated to the subject of it?” and if the answer is in the negative, we must know that by persisting to say it, we should fall into the sin of detraction. The maxim of “ Do unto others as you would have others do unto you," if it were constantly uppermost in our minds, and considered as it ought to be a sure guide for all our actions, must entirely, and for ever, preserve us from the sin of detraction, and the crime of defamation.
And CULTIVATION OF THE MIND, by enabling those who meet in social intercourjö to talk of things in preference to persons, would prevent the treacherous indulgence of backbiting and detraction.
These preventives, or remedies, as I have ventured to call them, are not the suggestions of an Empiric, for they are to be found in the BOOK of "the GREAT PHYSICIAN."
They are few, and simple also.
It requires no learning or science to understand them; nay, such is their virtue, that they can not be injured even by the weakness of the person who prepares them, for their origin is not human, but divine, and they are stamped with the sacred and inimitable seal of TRUTH and REVELATION.