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except greater dexterity in concealing their vices. Soothing themselves with this doctrine in secret, too many foster and strengthen the bad opinion which they entertain of all mankind. Rarely, if ever, have you ground to think well of that man's heart, who is, on every occasion, given to think the worst of others. Let us observe,
In the fourth place, that suitable to the sources whence a jealous and suspicious temper proceeds, are the effects which it produces in the world, the crimes and mischiefs with which it fills society. It possesses this unhappy distinction beyond the other failings of the human heart, that while it impels men to violent deeds, it justifies to their own apprehension the excesses which they commit. Amidst the uproar of other bad passions, conscience acts as a restraining power. As soon as the tumult subsides, remorse exerts its influence, and renders the sinner sensible of the evil which he has done. But the uncharitable man is unfortunately set loose from any such check or controul. Through the infatuation of prejudice, his judgment is perverted; conscience is misled; the light within him is turned into darkness. Viewing the objects of his displeasure as evil men, he thinks himself entitled to give that displeasure full vent; and in committing the most inhuman actions, may sometimes imagine that he is doing good service to God.
The first fruits of an evil-thinking spirit are calumny and detraction, by which society is so often embroiled, and men are set at variance with one another. But did it proceed no farther than censorious speech, the mischief would be less. Much greater and more serious evils frequently ensue. What direful effects,
for instance, haye often flowed from rash and illfounded jealousy in private life? No sooner has one allowed that dæmon to take possession of his mind, than it perverts his understanding, and taints all his faculties. Haunting him by night and by day, bringing perpetually before him the odious and disquieting forms which it has raised up, it blackens every appearance to his view; gives to trifles, which are in themselves light as air, the weight of full confirmation; till what was at first a dubious surmise, or a slight displeasure, rises at length into full belief and implacable fury. Hence, families torn with the most violent convulsions; the husband armed against the wife, the father against the son, the friend against the friend; the plan of treachery and assassination contrived, and the dagger plunged into the bosom of the innocent. In public life, how often have kingdoms been shaken with all the violence of war and rebellion, from the unjust suspicions which subjects had conceived of their rulers; or the rash jealousy which princes had entertained of their people ! - But it is in religious dissensions chiefly, that the mischievous power of uncharitable prejudice has displayed its full atrocity, Religion is always found to heighten every passion on which it acts, and to render every contest into which it enters, uncommonly ardent; because the objects which it presents are of such a nature, as strongly to seize and engage the human mind. When zeal for their own principles has prompted men to view those of a different persuasion in the odious lights which bigotry suggests, every sentiment of humanity has too often been extinguished. The mild influence of that religion which breathes nothing but gentleness, has proved too feeble to restrain the violent and bloody hand of persecution; and the uncharitable spirit, raging among contending parties, has filled the world with such calamities and crimes, as have brought disgrace on the Christian name.
Let us attend particularly to one awful instance of the guilt which men may contract, and of the ruin which they may bring upon themselves, through the want of fairness and candour. The nation of the Jews were almost noted for a narrow and uncharitable spirit. When John the Baptist, and our blessed Lord appeared among them, because the former was austere in his temper, and retired in his life, they pronounced of him that he had an evil spirit; and, because the latter was open and sociable in his manners, they held him to be destitute of that sanctity which became a prophet. Their prejudice against our Lord took its first rise from a most frivolous and contemptible cause. Is not this the son of the Carpenter? Can any good thing come out of Nazareth? When his miracles repelled this reproach, and sufficiently proved the eminence of his character, still they fostered their prejudices by this most futile reasoning, Have any of the rulers believed
Obstinate in their attachment to a temporal Messiah, and continuing to view all our Saviour's conduct with an evil eye, when he conversed with bad men in order to reclaim them, they treated him as a companion of publicans and sinners. Because he disallowed their groundless traditions, they held him to be a breaker of the Sabbath, and a contemner of religion. Because he prophesied the destruction of their temple, they accused him of being an enemy to his own nation. Till at last,
through their perpetual misconstruction of his actions, their passions became so inflamed as to make them ry out with one voice, Away with this man to the death, and give us Barabbas the robber. Viewing in this dreadful event the consequences of want of candour, let every man tremble to think evil rashly of his brother. No one can tell how far uncharitable prejudices may carry him in guilt, if he allow them to harbour and gather strength within his breast. The cloud which rose from the sea, no bigger than a man's head, may soon swell and spread, till it cover the whole horizon, and discharge with most destructive violence the gathered storm.
In the fifth place, As a suspicious spirit is the source of so many crimes and calamities in the world, so it is the spring of certain misery to the person who indulges it. His friends will be few; and small will be his comfort in those whom he possesses. Believing others to be his enemies, he will of course make them such. Let his caution be ever so great, the asperity of his thoughts will often break out in his behaviour ; and, in return for suspecting and hating, he will incur suspicion and hatred. Besides the external evils which he draws upon himself, arising from alienated friendship, broken confidence, and open enmity; the suspicious temper itself is one of the worst evils which any man can suffer. If in all fear there be torment, how miserable must be his state who, by living in perpetual jealousy, lives in perpetual dread! Looking upon himself to be surrounded with spies, enemies, and designing men, he is a stranger to reliance and trust. He knows not to whom to open himself. He dresses his countenance in forced smiles, while his heart throbs within from apprehensions of secret treachery. Hence fretfulness and ill-humour, disgust at the world, and all the painful sensations of an irritated aud embittered mind.
So numerous and great are the evils arising from a suspicious disposition, that of the two extremes it is more eligible to expose ourselves to occasional disadvange from thinking too well of others, than to suffer continual misery by thinking always ill of them. It is better to be sometimes imposed upon, than never to trust. Safety is purchased at too dear a rate, when, in order to secure it, we are obliged to be always clad in armour, and to live in perpetual hostility with our fellows. This is, for the sake of living, to deprive ourselves of the comfort of life, The man of candour enjoys his situation, whatever it is, with cheerfulness and peace. Prudence directs his intercourse with the world; but no black suspicions haunt his hours of rest. Accustomed to view the characters of his neighbours in the most favourable light, he is like one who dwells amidst those beautiful scenes of nature, on which the eye rests with pleasure. Whereas the suspicious man, having his imagination filled with all the shocking forms of human falsehood, deceit, and treachery, resembles the traveller in the wilderness, who discerns no objects around him but what are either dreary or terrible ; caverns that open, serpents that hiss, and beasts of prey that howl. Hence, in him are verified those descriptions which the Spirit of God has given us of the misery of the wicked. They shall have no peace. They shall be like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest. The Lord shall give them a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind : And they shall fear day and night, and have none assurance of heart.