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Ver. 31. 32.

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their character, without reason. Afterwards Serm.
they are said to have blasphenred our Lord's XVI.
miracles, done by the finger of God, ascrib-
ing them to the prince of evil spirits. And
our Lord, representing the real guilt, and
great malignity of that fin, does also take
notice of some other reprochful speeches
concerning himself, which seem to have been
more especially personal.
Wherefore I say unto you : All manner of firi
and blafphemie hall be forgiven unto men.
But the blafphemie against the Holy Ghost Mall
not be forgiven unto men.

And whosoever
Speaketh a word against the Son of man, it
Jhall be forgiven : but whosoever Speaketh
against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven
him, neither in this world, nor in the world

Where by speaking against the Son of man seem to be intended those false characters given of our Lord by some, of his being a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and finers: consisting of false and injurious representations of some part of his conduct, and embraced by fome, who were little acquainted with him, or his works.

We might farther argue, that this is the design of our Lord from what is said at the 2 3


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SERM. 34. and 35. How can ye being evil speck good
XVI. things ? For out of the abundance of the keart

the mouth Speaketh. A good man out of the
good treasure of bis heart bringeth forth gooi
things. And an evil man out of the evil trea-
fure bringeth forth evil things. Whereupon
follow the declarations and observations of
the text.
All this


well incline us to think, that by idle words our Lord does not mean those words, which are insignificant and unprofitable, and have no immediate tendence to promote some good : but rather such words as are evil, false, injurious and detrimental to mens personal characters, or to the interests of religion.

II. Secondly, we are to consider, how

men can be justified by their words, if they are good : and how they can

be condemned by them, if evil. It is what our Lord here declares expreffly and Itrongly. And the justification, or acquital, 'and the condemnation or censure, relate to the folemn transactions of the great day : 'when mens characters and states shall be finally, and forever determined : and not


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barely to any sentences of applause or dif- SERM•
grace in this world. These are our Lord's XVI.
expressions : But I say unto you, that every
idle word which men mall speak, they fall
give account thereof in the day of judgement.
For by thy words thou shalt be justified: and
by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

But how can this be? Are there not other
things that will be taken into consideration
in the day of judgement, beside mens words?
Yes, certainly. According to the doctrine
of our Saviour, there are evil thoughts, and
evil actions, as well as evil words, which shall
be examined into, censured, and punished.
And there are good thoughts, and useful
works, which are highly acceptable in the
fight of God.

The design of our Lord therefore is, to assure men, that their words also are of

great importance. Men are often apt to be very heedless in this respect. They indulge great freedom of speech, not being duly apprehentive of the consequences of good, or bad words. And our Lord, upon the Pharisees reviling his miracles, takes occafion to discourse

upon the point, and delivers this doctrine : that mens words will come into consideration in

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Serm. the day of judgement. Whatever fome may XVI. think, or endeavor to persuade themselves,

this is the judgement of God: their words are of no small moment. God abferves them now, and will call men to an account for them hereafter. And sometimes their words alone may be found sufficient to decide men's characters.


III. Which brings me to the third parti

cular, to fhew the reasonablenesse of justifying, or condemning men by their

words. One reason is, that a great deal is in the power of the tongue. Good or bad difcourse has a great effect and influence on the

affairs of the world. As St. James says, the Ja. iii. 5. tongue, though a little member, boasteth great

things. Bebold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity, ... and settetb on fire the whole course of nature. The abuse of the

The abuse of the tongue in false and injurious speeches is often prejudicial and ruinous to the good character and prol

perity of particular persons, and to the peace Pro xviii. and quietnesse of whole societies. The words of a tale-bearer are as wounds, and they go


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Ver. 31.


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down into the innermost parts of the belly. Serm.
St. Paul: Wherefore putting away lying, speak XVI.
every man truth with bis neighbour : for we Eph. iv.
are members one of another. Let all bitter- 25.
nese, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, be
put away from you with all malice.

False and injurious words are evil and
vicious. And there is virtue in good words:
in vindicating the characters of the injured,
pleading the cause of the oppressed, recon-
ciling differences, recommending peace and
friendship, and forwarding any good and
useful designs.
· Solomon says: A man shall be satisfied Pr. xii.
with good by the fruit of his lips. And the
recompense of a mans bands fall be rendred
unto him : that is, the author of good coun-
sel and advice, whether in private. or public
concerns, will reap advantage by it. And a
man fhall be recompensed for good words,
as well as for good actions.

Again : A man mall eat good by the fruit ... xiii. 2

bis mouth: but the soul of the transgresors Mall eat violence : that is, he who gives men good and faithful counsel, or he who speaks well of others, as they deserve, will have a benefit by it. And they also who injurioully



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