You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
A man of overweening curiosity who looked down his neighbour's chimney to see what he was cooking for supper, not only failed to find out what he desired to know, but was nearly blinded by the smoke. Somebody has conveyed a well-deserved rebuke to such unamiable people, who said, "If we would sit down by our neighbour's fire occasionally, instead of looking down his chimney, we would see many good points in his character that smoke will certainly obscure." There are so many ways of kindling a flame by the poisonous breath of slander, that only a few of them can now be referred to.
I. PERVERTING ONE'S WORDS OR ACTIONS IS AN EVERY-DAY OCCURRENCE.
II. Another way by which flames are often kindled to the damage of one's good name, is THE HABIT OF JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS WITHOUT SUFFICIENT EVIDENCE TO SUSTAIN THEM. While Wilberforce occupied his prominent place in the British parliament he was exceedingly annoyed by finding himself chronicled in opposition papers as "St. Wilberforce." "He was lately seen," said the slanderous print, "walking up and down in the pump-room at Bath, reading his prayers, like his predecessors of old, who prayed at the corners of the streets to be seen of men!" Mr. Wilberforce, who was not more distinguished for his brilliant mental gifts than for his unobtrusive goodness, remarked upon this wanton falsehood: "As there is generally some slight circumstance which perverse-ness turns into a charge or reproach, I began to reflect, and I soon found the occasion of the calumny. I was walking in the pump-room, in conversation with a friend; a passage from Horace was quoted, the accuracy of which was questioned, and as I had a copy of the Latin poet in my pocket, I took it out and read the words. This was the plain "bit of wire" which factious malignity sharpened into a pin to pierce my reputation." It is pitiful to think how many ugly pins have been fashioned out of smaller bits of wire than that l
III. THE CRUEL PURPOSES OF SLANDER MAY ALSO BE ACCOMPLISHED BY SLY INSINUATIONS AND CRAFTY QUESTIONS CALCULATED TO AROUSE SERIOUS AND DAMAGING SUSPICIONS. When any one spoke evil of another in the presence of Peter the Great, he would promptly stop him and say, "Well, now; but has he not got a bright side? Come, tell me what good you know of him. It is easy to splash mud; but I would rather help a man to keep his coat clean l"
IV. SLANDER IS ENCOURAGED BY THOSE WHO PATIENTLY LISTEN TO IT, and who prompt the cruel person to vent his venom on the innocent.
(J. H. Norton, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.