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SERM. David feems not now to have recollected XVII. the refolutions, which he had formed, the plan of government, which he had laid downto himself, before his fettlement on the throne of Ifrael. When he faid: Whofo privily flandereth his neighbour, him will I cut off. He that worketh deceit, fhall not dwell in my boufe. He that telleth lyes, fhall not abide in my fight. And indeed, it may exceed the abilities of the best, and wifeft of men, to guard, at all times, against all the arts of detraction.
2. Another thing, that should induce us to this care, is, that otherwife we cannot approve ourselves to be truly religious. It is an obfervation of St. James, already taken notice of. If any man among you feemeth to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, that man's religion is vain. And the truth of that obfervation is confirmed by what has been faid under the foregoing particular, of the importance of this matter. That man is not truly religi ous, whatever profeffion he may make, who talks without confideration, fpreads stories to the difadvantage of others, founded only on furmife, or upon teftimonie that ought to be fuf
fufpected or affects to recommend the prin- SERM.
SERM. And it is a character, which we may defire XVII. to attain to.
III. Which brings me to the third and last thing that was propofed, to lay down fome rules and directions, which may affift us in governing the tongue, and curing the faults of it.
1. Let us cherish the principle of the fear of God in our hearts. For that will deter from every kind of evil, and difpofe to good Pl. xxxiv. words, as well as to good actions. Come, ye, children, fays the Pfalmift, bearken unto me. I will teach you the fear of the Lord. What man is he that defireth life, and loveth many days, that be may fee good? Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from Speaking guile.
2. Let us alfo cherish and cultivate the Rom. xiii. love of our neighbour. For love, as the Apoftle fays, is the fulfilling of the law. If we love our neighbour as ourselves, we fhall be concerned for his credit, as well as for our own: and not willingly injure him by wards, any more than by actions.
Let us call to mind former offenfes and 3. tranfgreffions of this kind, which we have
been convinced of, and have been forry for. SERM This may be of great ufe for time to come. It will fecure our guard, and render it more effectual.
4. If we are acquainted with any excellent masters in this art, who are great examples of this virtue, we fhould diligently obferve them for our imitation. If we know of who do not readily receive evil reports, who rarely speak to the disadvantage of any, who never aggravate the real faults of men, who are willing to applaud commendable actions, and to excuse imprudences, and leffer faults: whofe difcourfes are useful and entertaining in whofe mouth is the law of kindneffe, and whose wisdom is accompanied Ja. iii. 13. with meeknesse; they are worthie of our attentive view and obfervation.
5. Let us endeavor to mortify pride, envie, and inordinate self-love, and cultivate that wisdom, which is pure, peaceable, unbiaffed, Ver. 17: difinterested, and public-fpirited. Then we are likely to attain to this perfection, and not offend in word.
6. Let us also endeavor to emprove in the knowledge of the works of nature, and the word of God. If a man's mind is filled
SERM. with a variety of valuable knowledge, he will XVII. be under little temptation to divert into the topics of detraction and scandal, for the fake of fhining in companie.
7. Let us often recollect fome of the directions, which the Scripture affords upon this Tit. iii. 2. point: Speak evil of no man: Let every one Ja. i. 19. be fwift to hear, flow to speak: Speak not evil ... iv. 11. one of another, brethren.
But it is time to conclude, out of reverence to the rules that have been just laid down, fome of them especially.
I add therefore but one word more, which is, that we should now make application, not to others, but to ourselves. And if we have this day feen any of our faults, and the Ja. i. 23. caufes of them; let us not be like a man, who having beheld his face in a glaffe, goes away, and foon forgeteth what manner of man he was: but having looked into the perfect law of virtue, let us continue therein: not being forgetful bearers, but doers of the word. For fuch fhall be blefed in their deed.