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bulent zeal: who were conceited of them- SERM, selves, and despised others : and were impo.

XVII. fing, and uncharitable. That may be one reason, why this writer insists so much, and so frequently, upon this matter.

In the very first chapter ver. 19, he exhorts with affectionate earneftneffe: Wherefore, my beloved bretbren, let every man be swift to bear, how to speak, how to wrath. And again ver. 26. If any man among you seemeth to be religious, and bridletb not his tongue, deceiving his own beart, that man's religion is vain. In this chapter he enlargeth upon the point.

the point. Some of his expressions are extremely strong, saying, that the tongue can Ja. iii. 86 no man tame : meaning, however, no more, than that it is very difficult for a man to govern his own tongue, or to teach others that skill. For we are not to suppose, that he intends to say, that it is altogether impossible. This may be inferred from his exhortations. He would not be at the pains to admonish and argue, as he does, if there were no hopes of fucceffe. He would not, then, have said: My brethren, let every man be swift to bear, how to speak, He would not have argued, and shewn the inconsistence of blessing God, .. iii. 9.


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SERM. and cursing men : nor have added: My breXVII. thren, these things ought not to be. Such ad

monitions and reproofs are delivered upon the supposition of the happy effects of great care in this matter. And here, in the text, it is admitted, that some may, and do attain to a great degree of perfection in this refpect.

We are not to suppose, then, that St. James designs to fay, the government of the tongue is absolutly impossible. Much less are we to think, that he intends to censure

the faculty of speech, when he says, the Ja. iii, 6. tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. No!

he only aims, by emphatical expressions, and pathetic arguments, to correct the abuses of it : which were very great and frequent, as it seems, among the Christians, to whom he writes, as well as among many other persons. David sometimes speaks of his tongue, as bis glorie, it being fited to celebrate the praises of God. Indeed the communication, which we have with each other, and the

advantages of society, depend upon it. And the organs of speech are admirable. The dispositions made for it are beyond the dis


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cription of the most eloquent tongue, and SERM.
above all the force of human language. Nor XVII.
is it at all strange, that the thing formed
should not be able to comprehend, or ful-
ly commend, the wisdom and skill of it's

St. James begins this chapter with a cau-
tion against affecting the office and charac-
ter of a teacher, as was very common among
the Jewish people, and against exercising it
with too great rigour and severity. My bre-
thren, be not many masters, knowing, that we
fall receive the greater condemnation, if we
offend, which it is very difficult to avoid.
For in many things we all offend. If any man
offend not in word, the same is a perfect man,
and able to bridle the whole body. “But if
“ there is any man among you, that does
« not offend in speech, he is an excellent
“man, and able to manage all the other
s parts of the body:" or, as some thereby
understand, the whole church, the body of
Chriftian people, among whom he resides.
" He is qualified for the office and station
“ of a teacher of others, and is likely to be
a very ufeful and serviceable therein."

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SERM. In farther discourfing on this text I hall
XVII. observe the following method.

1. I Thall shew fomewhat distinctly the difficulty of governing the

tongue. II. I shall propose some motives and con

fiderations, tending to engage us to do our best to govern the tongue. III. I intend to lay down some rules and

directions, which may be of use to affist us in obtaining this excellence and perfe&tion.

I. In the first place I would shew the dif

ficulty of governing the tongue, the point so largely insisted on, and fo em

phatically represented in this chapter. : The difficulty of this will appear by these particulars: the great number of those who offend in word, the many faults which

tongue is liable to, and the springs and causes of transgressions of this kind.

1. The difficulty of governing the tongue may be argued from hence, that great numbers of men offend in their words.

There are many, who scarce set any guard upon their expressions, as if their tongue



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was their own, and subject to no law, and Serm.
they had a right to annoy others at pleasure. XVII.
Yea fome who have had the character of Pl. xii. 4.
goodnesse, have tranfgreffed here by falshood,
or hastineffe of speech, or other ways. An
offense of this kind is taken notice of in
Moses himself, who was so remakable for
meeknesse. Pl. cvi. 32. 33. They angred bim
also at the waters of strife, so that it went
ill with Moses for their fake : because they
provoked bis spirit, so that he spake unadvised-
ly with bis lips : referring, probably, to what
is recorded in Numb. xx. 10. And Mofes and
Aaron gathered the congregation togetber be-
fore the rock, and he said unto them: Hear
now, ye rebels : Muft we fetch you water out
of this rock?

But I need not infist farther on this parti-
cular: though it may be of some use to satis-
fy us of the difficulty of governing the tongue,
that men of excellent characters, who have
been almost faultless in other respects, have
been surprised into some offenses of this

2. Another thing, which shews the diffi, culty of governing the tongue, is the many offenses, it is liable to.

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