He that hides hatred with lying lips, and he that utters a slander, is a fool.
I. SLANDERING IS FOOLISH, AS SINFUL AND WICKED. All sin is foolish upon many accounts. To lie simply is a great fault, being a deviation from that good rule which prescribeth truth in all our words. Of all lies those certainly are the worst which proceed from malice, or from vanity, or from both, and which work mischief; such slanders are. To bear any hatred or ill-will towards any man is a heinous fault. Of this the slanderer is most guilty in the highest degree. Incurable are the wounds which the slanderer inflicteth, irreparable the damages which he causeth, indelible the marks which he leaveth. All injustice is abominable; and of this the slanderer is most deeply guilty. The slanderer may indeed conceive it no great matter that he committeth; because he doth not act in a boisterous and bloody way, but only by words, which are subtle, slim, and transient things. Tis only an imaginary stain that he daubeth his neighbour with; therefore he supposeth no great wrong done. But these conceits arise from great inconsiderateness or mistake.
II. THE SLANDERER IS A FOOL, BECAUSE HE MAKETH WRONG JUDGMENTS AND VALUATIONS OF THINGS. And accordingly driveth on silly bargains for himself, in result whereof he proveth a great loser. The slanderer may pretend that what he does is for the sake of orthodox doctrines, or for advantage of the true Church. This indeed is the covert of innumerable slanders; zeal for some opinion, or some party, beareth out men of sectarian and factious spirits in such practices; they may do, they may say, anything for those fine ends. This plea will in no wise justify such practices. Truth does not need, and it loathes and scorns the patronage and the succour of lies. To prostitute the conscience, or sacrifice our honesty, for any cause, in any interest whatever, can never be warrantable or wise.
III. THE SLANDERER IS A FOOL, BECAUSE HE USETH IMPROPER MEANS AND PREPOSTEROUS METHODS OF EFFECTING HIS PURPOSES. The straight way is always shorter than the oblique and crooked. The plain way is easier than the rough and cragged. Using strict veracity and integrity, candour and equity, is the best method of accomplishing good designs.
IV. THE SLANDERER IS A VERY FOOL, as bringing many great inconveniences, troubles, and mischiefs on himself.
1. A fool's mouth is his destruction. If any kind of speech is destructive and dangerous, then is this slander kind most dangerous of all. Men will rather pardon a robber of their goods, than a defamer of their good Dame.
2. The slanderer is apprehended as a common enemy; all men are rendered averse from him, and ready to cross him.
3. All ingenious and honest persons have an aversion from the practice of the slanderer, and cannot entertain it with any acceptance or complacence. It is only ill-natured and ill-nurtured, unworthy and naughty people, that are willing auditors or encouragers thereof.
4. The slanderer doth banish himself from all conversation and company.
5. He derogateth wholly from his own credit in all matters of discourse.
6. This practice is perpetually haunted with most troublesome companions, inward regret, self-condemnation, fear and disquiet.
7. The consequence of this practice is commonly shameful disgrace, with an obligation to retract, and render satisfaction; for seldom doth calumny pass long without being detected and confuted.
8. He can never have sound quiet in his mind, he can never expect pardon from heaven, without acknowledging his fault, repairing the wrong he hath done, restoring that good name of which he dispossessed his neighbour.
9. This practice doth also certainly revenge itself, imposing on its actor a perfect retaliation, an irrecoverable infamy to himself, for the infamy he caused to others.
10. The slanderer doth banish himself from heaven and happiness, doth expose himself to endless miseries and sorrows. Is not he, then, who, out of malignity or vanity, to serve any design, or soothe any humour in himself or others, involves himself in all these great evils, a most desperate and deplorable fool? Persons of a generous and honest mind cannot but scorn to debase and defile themselves by so mean and vile a practice; and so do those who seriously profess Christianity; that is, the religion which peculiarly above all others prescribeth the constant truth, strictest justice, and highest charity.
(I. Barrow, D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is a fool.