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And it is set on fire of hell. There are, with- SERM.
The 'causes of the offenses of the tongue
Serm. taught things which they ought not, for filthie XVII. lucre's fake. Some depart from the truth, Tit. i.
and forward erroneous conceits, because they are pleasing. Detraction is one way of leffening those who are eminent, and of carrying a point against them. St. John had experience of this, and therefore fays in his third epistle : I wrote unto the church. But Diotrephes, who loveth to have the pre-eminence, receiveth us not.
Wherefore, if I come, I will remember bis deeds which be does, prating against us with malicious words.
These, and other causes there are of the offenses of the tongue. And when it is considered, how difficult it is to root all these bad pinciples out of the heart of man ; it
must be apparent, that governing the tongue Matt. xii. is no easie thing. For out of the abundance of
the beart the mouth Speaketb. The streams will partake of the qualities of the fountain. And according to the root, so will the fruit be.
II. In the second place some arguments
should be mentioned, to induce us to use our best endeavours to bridle the tongue.
And St. James does presently furnish us Serm. with three considerations to this purpose : XVII. first the importance of the thing to the good of the world. . Secondly, it's importance to
forasmuch as without it our religion would be vain. And thirdly, it is a great perfection.
1. The importance of this matter. St. James has illustrated this by several instances and comparisons, the bit in the borse's mouth, the helm of hips, and fire, a spark of which kindles into a devouring flame.
That is, the use or abuse of the tongue is of much importance, and great things, for good or evil, are effected thereby, in the state, in leffer focieties, and among particular persons. By the right use of the tongue truth is recommended, virtue promoted, the peace
and happinesse of mankind advanced. By a perverse employment of speech the peace of society, of families, and particular persons is interrupted and disturbed : the interests of errour are promoted, instead of those of truth: good designs are obstructed, or quite defeated: the reputation of innocent, and even excellent men is blasted : seeds of animosity and diffenfion are fown among brethren,
B b 3
SERM. friendships broken and diffolved, and many XVII. bad effects produced, more than can be easily
How much did Jofeph suffer by the calumnie of his mistreffe ! how long, before his reputation could be vindicated, or his innocence cleared up! And sometimes the reputation of the innocent and virtuous is for ever ruined by malicious and artful detraction. We have a remarkable instance of the bad effect of a studied misrepresentation of things, in the historie of David. When he fled from Jeru, falem, on occafion of Abfalom's rebellion, Ziba, servant of Mephibosheth, fon of Jo
nathan, came to David, bringing him pre2 Sam. sents. And David said to bim: Where is the Xyi.
master ? And Ziba faid unto the King : Bebold, be abideth at Jerufalem. For he said: To day shall the bouse of Israel restore me to the kingdom of my father. Then said the King to Ziba: Bebold, thine are all that pertained unto Mepbibofbeth. But when David returned victorious, and in safety, to Jerusalem, it appeared, that during the time of his absence, Mephibosheth had lived with all the outward tokens of mourning and affliction, without putting on his usual ornaments, or taking the
2 Sam, xix.
refreshments, customarie in times of peace Serm.