Watts - Houston-Packer Collection BX5207.W3 S4x 1805 v.2

s HOLY FORTITUDE, [SERM, XXXI. we are called to undertake the cause of the oppressed, to plead for the poor against the mighty, or to vindicate the innocent against the men of slanderor violence. It is a cowardly spirit, a spirit of shameful pride, or selfish meanness, to trample upon those that are lying .upon.the ground, to tread upon the poor and the distressed, and sometimes through fear of the mighty, as well as scorn of the poor, to neglect the cries ofthose that are injured. This indeed is the custom of the world ; but if we be the disciples of Christ, we must have more courage than this, we must " open our mouth for the dumb," and plead the cause of those that cannot speak for them- selves, Prov. xxxi. 8. When we happen into company that delight in scandal, and the slander goes round from tongue to tongue, we must first guard our lips from the infamous compliance, though we cannot defend our ears: And then we should have some Compassion on the absent person, who per- haps may be loaded with calumny and lies : I\Tor should We be afraid or ashamed to put in a relieving word ; to support the good name of those that are oppressed by malicious reproaches. And if the censure be never so just, yet where providence doth not plainly call us to join in that censure, let us not betray such an inclination to evil-speaking; nor show such a base and mean soul, as to call names for company. Where the life or the estate of our neighbour is in dan- ger, we must venture something to secure it, as well as to defend his good name. This advice is given in Prov. xxiv. 11, 12. " If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn out to death, 'and those that are ready to be slain; if thou sayest, behold we knew it not, doth not he that pondereth the heart consider ?" That is, if there are any persons drawnout to death, and ready to be slain by sinful oppression, and that thou hast a just and reasona- ble power in thine hand to preserve them, it is not thy duty to stand still or hide thyself, and say, behold Ï knew it not." He that lets the ox or the ass of his neighbour go astray or sink under a burden, and passeth away regardless as though he did not know it, is under the censure of the word of God ; and much more do we deserve the censure, if we abandon our fellow-creatures ofhumannature to perish, when we are able to save them,