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like causes. Other springs and principles of faulty discourse are inordinate self-love, pride, arrogance, envy, and ill-will, contempt of other men, and a disregard to their interests, covetousness, emulation, and ambition. These lead men into falsehood and defamation, for promoting their own gain, and lessening those whom they envy, or whose influence stands in their way. St. Paul speaks of some who

taught things which they ought not for filthy lucre's sake,” Tit. i. Ii. Some depart from the truth, and forward erroneous conceits, because they are pleasing. Detraction is one way of lessening those who are eminent, and of carrying a point against them. St. John bad experience of this, and therefore says 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 his deeds which he does, prating against us with malicious words."

These and other causes there are of the offences of the tongue. And when it is considered how difficult it is to root all these bad principles out of the heart of man, it must be apparent, that governing the tongue is no easy thing : for " out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh," Matt. xii. 34. 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 with three considerations to this purpose; First, the importance of the thing to the good of the world. Secondly, its importance to us; 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 horse's mouth, the helm of ships,” 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 lesser societies, and among particular persons. By the right use of the tongue truth is recommended, virtue promoted, the peace and happiness 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 error are promoted, instead of those of truth; good designs are obstructed, or quite defeated ; the reputation of innocent, and even excellent men, is

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blasted; seeds of animosity and dissension are sown among brethren, friendships broken and dissolved, and many bad effects produced, more than can be easily numbered.

How much did Joseph suffer by the calumny of his mistress! 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 history of David. When he fled from Jerusalem, on occasion of Absalom's rebellion, Ziba, servant of Mephibosheth, son of Jonathan, came to David, bringing him presents. “ And David said unto bim; Where is thy master? And Ziba said unto the king : Behold, he abideth at Jerusalem; for he said : To-day shall the house of Israel restore me to the kingdom of my father. Then said the king to Ziba : Behold, thine are all that pertained unto Mephiboshieth," 2 Sam. xvi. 3, 4. But when David returned victorious, and in safety, to Jerusalem, it appeared, that during the time of his absence, Mephibosbeth had lived with all the outward tokens of mourning and aftliction, without putting on bis usual ornaments, or taking the refreshments, customary in times of peace and prosperity. “ And when he met the king, David said unto him: Wherefore wentest thou not with me, Mephibosheth? And he answered: My lord, o king, my servant deceived me. For thy servant said: I will saddle me an ass, that I may ride thereon, and go to the king, because thy servant is lame. And he has slandered thy servant unto my lord the king. But my lord the king is as an angel of God. Do therefore what is good in thy eyes.” What now is the answer which David makes to Mephibosheth, after so submissive a speech, and so full a defence of himself? It is this. “ The king said unto him: Why speakest thou any more of thy matters? I have said: Thou and Ziba divide the land.” An answer, if we may presume to judge, unworthy of David. It seems to show that Ziba's story still made impressions upon him, and that he was not fully reconciled to Mephibosheth; or else, that he was unwilling to own how much he had been deceived and imposed upon by the artifice of Ziba, Mephibosbeth's servant. Such effect had flattery and slander, improbable slander, upon the mind of king David.

David seems not pow to have recollected the resolu. tions which he had formed, the plan of government which he had laid down to himself before his settlement on the throne of Israel. When he said : “ Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I cut off. He that worketh deceit shall not dwell in my house. He that telleth lics shall not abide in my sight," Psal. ci. 5,7. And indeed, it may exceed the abilities of the best and wisest 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 otherwise we cannot approve ourselves to be truly religious. It is an observation of St. James, already taken notice of, If any “ man among you scemeth to be religious,

, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, that man's religion is vain." And the truth of that observation is confirmed by what has been said under the foregoing particular, of the importance of this matter. That man is not truly religious, whatever profession he may make, who talks without consideration, spreads stories to the disadvantage of others, founded only on surmise, or upon testimony that ought to be suspected; or affects to recommend the principles of religion, or of any science, who has neglected inquiry; or, who gives his judgment in affairs about which he is not well informed, and has taken no care to be so.

3. It ought to induce us to aim at the government of the tongue, that it is a great excellence. It is the doctrine of the text.

“ If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.” It is a proof of much virtue, great discretion, a full command of the passions, and a prevailing regard to the good of others. Does a man bridle his tongue? Does nothing proceed out of his mouth to the detriment or offence of others ? nuthing but what tends to edification? Does he know when to speak, and when to be silent? “ Is his speech always with grace, seasoned with salt ?” Col. iv. 6. Are his words weighty though few ? Are his discourses solid for the matter, and modest, and agreeable for the manner ? Does he argue without positiveness, advise without assuming authority, and reprove without severity and harshness ? Such an one is an excellent or perfect man.

And it is a character which we may desire to attain to.

III. Which brings me to the third and last thing that was proposed, to lay down some rules and directions, which may assist 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 dispose to good words, as well as to good actions.” Come, ye children,” says the Psalmist,“ hearken unto me. '

I will you the fear of the Lord. What man is he that de

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sireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good ? Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile," Psal. xxxiv. 11-13.

2. Let us also cherish and cultivate the love of our neighbour. " For love," as the apostle says, “ is the fulfilling of the law,” Rom. xiii. 10. If we love our neighbour as ourselves, we shall be concerned for his credit, as well as for our own; and not willingly injure him by words, any more than by actions.

3. Let us call to mind former offences and transgressions of this kind, which we have been convinced of, and have been sorry for. This may be of great use for time to come. It will secure 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 should diligently observe them for our imitation. If we know of any, 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 lesser faults; whose discourses are useful and entertaining; in whose mouth is the law of kindness, and whose “ wisdom” is accompanied with “ meekness," James iii. 13, they are worthy of our attentive view and observation,

5. Let us endeavour to mortify pride, envy, and inordinate self-love; and cultivate that wisdom, which is “ pure, peaceable,” ver. 17, 18, unbiassed, disinterested, and public spirited. Then we are likely to attain to this perfection, and not offend in word.

6. Let us also endeavour to improve in the knowledge of the works of nature, and the word of God. If a man's miud be filled with a variety of valuable knowledge, he will be under little temptation to divert into the topics of detraction and scandal, for the sake of shining in company.

7. Let us often recollect some of the directions which the scripture affords upon this point : “ Speak evil of no man, ” Tit. iii. 2. “ Let every one be swift to hear, slow to speak," James i. 19. “Speak not evil one of another, brethren,” ch. iv. 11.

But it is time to conclude, out of reverence to the rules that have been just laid down, some 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 seen any of our faults, and the causes of them, let us not be like

man, who, having beheld his face in a glass, goes away, and soon forgetteth


what manner of man he was ; but having looked into the perfect law of” virtue, “ let us continue therein ; not being forgetful hearers, but doers of the word; for such shall be blessed in their deed," James i. 23, 24.




Flappy is the man that feareth always : but he that hard

eneth his heart, shall fall into mischief. Prov. xxviii. 14. ALL know, that a large part of the book of Proverbs cousists of sentences unconnected, or observations and maxims independent on each other. Where that is the case, little light is afforded by the coherence. Nevertheless I shall read the verse immediately preceding. And if any connection was intended, possibly we may perceive it, at least hereafter, when we have considered the meaning of the words of this text.

Ver. 13, and 14,“ He that covereth his sins, shall not prosper ; but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them, shall have mercy. Happy is the man that feareth always; but he that hardeneth his heart, shall fall into mischief.

In discoursing on this text,
1. I shall describe the fear here recommended.

II. I would show the happiness of him who feareth always,

ill. I shall endeavour to show how this fear conduces to a man's happiness.

IV. After which I intend to mention some remarks and observations upon this subject, and conclude.

I. In the first place I should describe the fear here recommended; or show what is meant by fearing always.

There is a good counsel of Solomon in the twenty-third chapter of this book : “ Let not thy heart envy sinners; but be thou in the fear of the Lord all the day long,” Prov. xxii. 17. This is our duty and interest. Whatever advantages some may gain by unrighteousness, we should never be thereby induced to imitate their ways; but should still persevere in the service of God, and the way of virtue, which in time will be rewarded.

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