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out having a fair credit and estimation among those with whom he deals and converses. For who will trust to a man of a lost reputation ? Or who would willingly have any intercourse with one whom he cannot trust and confide in? Credit is the main sinew that holds society together; and there is scarce any conversation or dealing between man and man, but what requires a mutual trust and confidence in one another. Since therefore all trust and credit is founded upon good repute, every member of our society, who hath not forfeited his good name, hath a natural right to be well reputed and spoken of; and whosoever, either by false witness, public slanders, or private whisperings, endeavours to attaint an innocent man's reputation, doth thereby injuriously attempt to exclude him from the conversation of men, and shut the door of human society against him. And this, how lightly soever it may be thought of, is one of the highest acts of injustice that one man can offer to another; for a good name, saith Solomon, is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold, Prov. xxi. 1. And indeed in its consequences it is much more so to every man; because upon his good name his ability to do good to himself, or friends, or neighbours, the success of his affairs, his best comforts, chiefest interests, and dearest conveniencies of life, yea, and sometimes his life itself depends. So that in defaming of others, we commonly rob, sometimes murder, and always injure them; and there are no damages so irreparable, no wounds so incurable, no scars so indelible, as those of a slanderous tongue. For wheresoever its venomous arrows fall, no eminéncy of rank, dignity of place, sacredness of office,
no innocence of life, circumspection of behaviour, benignity of nature and deportment, can protect men against them; no force can resist, no act can decline them, no vindication assoil their mischievous impressions, but still aliquid adhærebit, let the innocence they wound be never so well cured, some mark of dishonour will remain. Whosoever therefore either forges, or spreads, or rashly entertains a slander against any man, doth in so doing injuriously offend against the natural rights of society, and is at once a thief, a ravisher, and a murderer; a robber of the good name, a deflourer of the reputation, and a murderer of the honour of his neighbour. And yet, good God, how strangely doth this unjust and villainous practice prevail in all societies and conversations of men ! among whom it is grown so common to asperse causelessly, that no man wonders at it, few dislike it, and scarce any detest it; but whilst the black-mouthed calumniator is blustering against all that stand in his way, and exhaling his poisonous breath from his venomous heart, he is heard, not only with patience, but with pleasure, and looked upon as a man of a notable talent, and judged very serviceable to the party he is engaged in. So that now this odious vice is grown a fashionable humour, a pleasing entertainment, a knack of carrying on some curious feat of policy: and so epidemical is the mischief grown, that it is dangerous for a man who hath any sense of honesty or justice to come into any conversation without being tempted to wish himself sequestered from society, and to cry out with the prophet, Jer. ix. 2, 3. Oh that I had in the wilderness a lodging place of wayfaring men; that I might leave my people, and go from them! for
they are an assembly of treacherous men. And they bend their tongues like a bow for lies.
5. By virtue of our being united in society, we have a right to protection from one another. For it was for this reason that God brought us forth in a state of society, and linked us to one another by the inclinations of our nature; that so we, who are singly a sort of the most defenceless creatures, whom nature hath not furnished either with the defensive or offensive armour, which is natural to other creatures, might by an union of forces be able to secure ourselves against foreign outrage and violence; and being associated for this end by the law of our nature, we are thereby obliged, so far as we are able, to defend one another. All mankind are one body, incorporated by the charter of nature, whereby every member is obliged to stand by and assist his fellow, so long as he acts as a member, and keeps within the rules of human society. Whilst therefore I do not, by offending others, offend against the charter of nature, I have a right to be defended by every man, so far as he hath power and opportunity; and whosoever offends me ought to be looked on and proceeded with as a public offender against the corporation of mankind. For the whole is concerned in every part: and as he that bruiseth the toe offends the body, and engages every member against him; so he who wrongfully hurts any member of the human society is thereby injurious to the whole, and ought to be repelled and opposed by every member of it: and he who refuses to aid his fellow-member, when injuriously struck at, and it is in his power to defend him, is a traitor to the common cause, a falsehearted turncoat and base deserter of the society of mankind. He that can patiently sit still, and hear his brother's name torn in pieces by a slanderous tongue, when it is in his power to purge and vindicate him, robs him of the common rights of a man: he that can see his brother's life injuriously exposed, either by open violence or secret practice, when it is in his power to rescue him, treats him like an utter alien and foreigner to mankind : he that can suffer a brother to be robbed of his estate, or defrauded in his property, when it is in his power to defend and right him, unjustly withholds from him what he owes him by the charter of human society; and in so doing doth not only offend against his brother in particular, but also against the whole society of which he is a part and member. So that in short, as we are all united by the God of nature into the same corporation, we are obliged in justice manfully to defend each other's lives, estates, and reputations; and if we wilfully permit any fellow-member to be murdered, slandered, robbed, or cozened, when it is in our power to prevent it, we do not only wrongfully withhold from him his natural right to be defended by us, but foully betray the common interest of mankind; for both which we shall one day give a dear account to the supreme Head and Sovereign of all societies.
6. Sixthly and lastly, by virtue of our being united in society, we have also a right to share with one another in the profits of our commerce and intercourse. For as of all other creatures we are the best fitted for society, by reason of that peculiar faculty we have of communicating our thoughts and minds to one another; so of all other creatures we stand in the greatest need of it, by reason of our insufficiency to supply and relieve ourselves. For as for other creatures, after they come into the world, they are much sooner able to help themselves than we; and after we are most able to help ourselves, there are a world of necessaries and conveniencies without which we cannot be happy, and with which we cannot be supplied without each other's aid and assistance. And therefore God created us in society, and imprinted sociable inclinations on our natures ; that being by them combined and united together, we might be mutually helpful to one another, and ready to assist and supply each other, according to our several talents and abilities, with such necessaries and conveniencies of life as the condition of our nature requires. This therefore being one main end of our society, viz. to be dutiful ministers of God's providence towards one another, in supplying those wants and necessities which he hath made, and which he hath made to be supplied by our mutual good offices and ministries ; every man hath thereupon a right to be aided and assisted by every one with whom he hath any dealing or intercourse ; and to have some share of the benefit of all that exchange, traffick, or commerce, which passes between him and others. For every man hath a right to his own labour and industry; and therefore, if another be benefited by mine, it is but just and equal that I should be benefited by his; that he should so exchange labour or commodities with me, as that my necessities should be served as well as his own; and that while he reaps what I sow, and enjoys the harvest of my labour, he should repay me such a share of his, as my convenience and necessity calls for. But if he engross all the profit of our exchange and commerce to himself, he is rather a wen of the body