Charles Buck Theological Dictionary
The using language either reproachful or untrue respecting others, and thereby injuring them. It is an express command of Scripture, "To speak evil of no man." Titus 3:2 . James 4:11 . By which, however, we are not to understand that there are no occasions on which we are at liberty to speak of others that which may be considered as evil.
1. Persons in the administration of justice may speak words which in private intercourse would be reproachful.
2. God's ministers may inveigh against vice with sharpness and severity, both privately and publicly, Is. 58: 1. Titus 1:13 .
3. Private persons may reprove others when they commit sin, Leviticus 19:17 .
4. Some vehemence of speech may be used in defense of truth, and impugning errors of bad consequence, Judges 1:3 .
5. It may be necessary, upon some emergent occasions, with some heat of language, to express disapprobation of notorious wickedness, Acts 8:23 . Yet in all these the greatest equity, moderation, and candour, should be used; and we should take care,
1. Never to speak in severe terms without reasonable warrant or apparent just cause;
2. Nor beyond measure;
3. Nor out of bad principles or wrong ends; for ill will, contempt, revenge, envy, to compass our own ends; from wantonness, or negligence, but from pure charity for the good of those to whom or of whom we speak. This is an evil, however, which greatly abounds, and which is not sufficiently watched against; for it is not when we openly speak evil of others only that we are guilty, but even in speaking what is true we are in danger of speaking evil of others. There is sometimes a malignant pleasure manifested; a studious recollection of every thing that can be brought forward; a delight in hearing any thing spoken against others; a secret rejoicing in knowing that another's fall will be an occasion of our rise. All this is base to an extreme. The impropriety and sinfulness of evil speaking will appear, if we consider,
1. That it is entirely opposite to the whole tenor of the Christian religion.
2. Expressly condemned and prohibited as evil, Psalms 64:3 . James 4:11 .
3. No practice hath more severe punishments denounced against it, 1 Corinthians 5:11 . 1 Corinthians 6:10 .
4. It is an evidence of a weak and distempered mind.
5. It is even indicative of ill-breeding and bad manners.
6. It is the abhorrence of all wise and good men, Psalms 15:3 .
7. It is exceedingly injurious to society, and inconsistent with the relation we bear to each other as Christians, James 3:6 .
8. It is branded with the epithet of folly, Proverbs 18:6; Proverbs 7:1-27 :
9. It is perverting the design of speech.
10. It is opposite to the example of Christ, whom we profess to follow.
See SLANDER, Barrow's Works, vol. 1: ser. 16. Tillotson's Ser. ser. 42. Jack's Ser. on Evil Speaking.
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Buck, Charles. Entry for 'Evil Speaking'. Charles Buck Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/cbd/e/evil-speaking.html. 1802.