by James Meikle, 1730-1799
What a wicked world do we live in! If happy and
successful—we are envied; if miserable—we are despised; and in every
condition—slandered. With the psalmist of old, I may say, "the mouth of the
slanderer is opened against me." With him I may add, "They have spoken
against me without a cause." O that, with him, I could also say, "But I gave
myself to prayer!"
I am not the first man who has suffered innocently. The
man after God's own heart, in the darkest day of his distress; (for slander
has no pity,) is attacked by a subject, and has the most virulent speeches
thrown out against him, accompanied with dust; and the most bitter
reproaches, sent home with vollies of stones! David, you were never more
like a king, nor more like the King of heaven, than now, who makes his sun
to shine on the good and the evil, and sends rain on the just and unjust. I
read, I admire, and would imitate: "Let him alone, let him curse, for the
Lord has bidden him." Such patience under such ill usage, at any other time,
would not have been prudent; but now it is like a king, like a saint, like
an angel, like God.
From David, I cast my eye to David's Lord, the God of
angels, who, by his own creatures, and to his very face is called a devil.
He whose miracles set his divinity above doubt, is accused as a deceiver,
condemned as an impostor, and executed as a malefactor; yet hear his prayer;
"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." The patience of the
type, and the prayer of the antitype, let me study to imitate.
How cautious should we be in believing detracting
stories, since nothing can be more like truth, yet nothing more untrue—than
slander. But O how sweet is the testimony of a good conscience! It is an
impenetrable shield against all the poisoned arrows of reproach. When the
soul can call in the heart-searching God to witness its innocency, well may
it triumph, knowing that "the curse causeless shall not come." But how
difficult is it to be of a meek and forgiving spirit, when despitefully
slandered! To love an enemy, and forgive an evil-speaker, is a higher
attainment than is commonly believed. Christianity in theory, and
Christianity in practice, are very different things! It is easy to talk
of Christian forgiveness among neighbors—but to practice it ourselves,
proves us to be Christians indeed.
The evil language of evil times need not greatly disturb
me, since in the day of judgment "my judgment shall be brought forth as the
noon-day." While I pray for pardon to my slanderers, I also plead, that
their evil speeches may not be established in the earth.
My passion runs in a wrong channel; for my grief should
be greater that the malicious slanderer sins against God, against his own
soul, and against the truth, in his elaborate lies—than for all the mischief
his bitter reproaches can do to me.
Every time the military man enters the field of battle,
he must either stand his ground, or come off with disgrace; so under every
trial my graces either must reap advantage, or suffer loss. Therefore, my
present duty is not to slander my slanderers, not to meditate revenge, or
rejoice when evil finds them. But, first, to justify God in all things;
then, to forgive, pray for, and love my enemies; thirdly to study what I may
be reproved in, chastised for, or instructed about; and, lastly, that every
grace, (faith in God, patience under the rod, humility of mind, and meekness
towards all,) may improve under the present providences.