1632 By George Herbert

The Parson in Sentinell.

THe Countrey Parson, where ever he is, keeps Gods
watch; that is, there is nothing spoken, or done in the
Company where he is, but comes under his Test and censure:
If it be well spoken, or done, he takes occasion to commend,
and enlarge it; if ill, he presently lays hold of it, least the
poyson steal into some young and unwary spirits, and possesse
them even before they themselves heed it. But this he doth
discretely, with mollifying, and suppling words; This was
not so well said, as it might have been forborn; We cannot
allow this: or else if the thing will admit interpretation;
Your meaning is not thus, but thus; or, So farr indeed what
you say is true, and well said; but this will not stand. This
is called keeping Gods watch, when the baits which the
enemy lays in company, are discovered and avoyded: This
is to be on Gods side, and be true to his party. Besides, if he
perceive in company any discourse tending to ill, either by
the wickedness or quarrelsomnesse thereof, he either prevents
it judiciously, or breaks it off seasonably by some diversion.
Wherein a pleasantness of disposition is of great use, men
being willing to sell the interest, and ingagement of their
discourses for no price sooner, then that of mirth; whither the
nature of man, loving refreshment, gladly betakes it selfe,
even to the losse of honour.

Editor's Note: A stinging comment on man's nature preferring humour to honour.

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