Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

a stranger, and not thine own lips. Let nothing be done through firife or vain glory: but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself (t).

Many other offences of the tongue require to be noticed : and will form, with the permission of God, the subject of a future discourse. The number, however, and the magnitude of those which have been investigated are sufficient to awe the careless into reflection. Where now, ye inconsiderate, are your delusions ? Are words empty air ? Are fins of the tongue like the path of an arrow through a cloud, undiscerned, undiscoverable, forgotten ? If a book of remembrance is written before God for them that fear the Lord, and speak often one to another : is there no book of remembrance for them who employ not his gift of speech to his glory? If the Lord bearkens and bears, when men glorify Him in the use of His gift: if He proclaims, They Jhall be mine ; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him (u): shall he not hearken and hear, shall he not avenge and destroy, when the tongue

(1) Prov. Ixvi. 12. xxvii. 2. i Pet. iii. 8. Philipp. ii. 3. (u) Mal. iii. 16, 17.

labours

labours in the service of sin ? In that service, my brethren, how long have our tongues wearied themselves! How little in the application of speech have we imitated our Lord; his prudence, his patience, his calmness, his lowliness. By foolish talking, by fretful and impatient language, by strife, by boasting, by one or by all of these sins, how often has every one of us transgressed ! In proportion as we have resembled any of the pictures which have been drawn, so great has been our guilt. Do we deem the dispensation unreasonable, that words, no less than actions, shall be grounds of punishment ? They rest on the same basis. They are in nature essentially the same. Words and actions are equally signs : signs of the state of the heart. The word, the deed, the meditated purpose, speak the same language in the ear of the Most High. Alike they reveal the governing principle of the soul. Alike they testify the fact which decides our doom : that we are servants of God; or that we are fervants of the devil.

SER

[blocks in formation]

Set a watch, O Lord! before my mouth :

keep the door of my lips.

In the preceding discourse I represented

to various sins of the tongue. Let me now prosecute my design of warning you against additional offences equally comprehended within the scope of the text.

V. The offence to which I shall in the next place refer is cenforiousness.

It is not cenforiousness to affirm sin to be sin: to paint its heinousness in its true colours : to proclaim the tremendous judgments which hang over the heads of the impenitent. To palliate guilt as though

it were of trivial concern : to denominate various kinds of wickedness by those light appellations, which fashion most irreligiously applies to them: to lull the transgressor into security by obscuring or explaining away the fcriptural limitations of the divine mercy ; by describing the punishments reserved for the ungodly as less aweful in their nature and duration than the plain import of the Word of God pronounces them to be ; or by maintaining a cowardly and unchristian silence, when duty requires you to protest, to admonish, to alarm : to act thus is to prove yourself little acquainted with the Gospel of Christ, or little disposed to imbibe the spirit of a Christian ; little solicitouts for the glory of your Lord, and for the salvation of your own soul, and of the soulof your neighbour. Neither is it alway cenforiousness to make known the faults of another. Not only may public justice require you to uphold the interests of society by bearing a faithful testimony against crimes ; but your duty to your family and to your friends, and your general obligation to supply seasonable counsel to the unwary, may demand that you should reveal, in the spirit of truth and meekness, the actual misconduct of individuals : and that you should point out,

according

VOL. II.

[ocr errors]

accofding to your deliberate view of their characters, such of their dispositions, habits and purposes as,

in

your apprehension, would prove, were you to remain silent, mischievous and ensnaring. But when you publish the faults of others unnecessarily; when you enlarge upon them to a needless length; when you develop them with unwarranted vehemence; when

you knowingly omit any true or probable circumstance tending to diminish their magnitude: in each of these cases you are cenforious. In other words, cenforiousness is so to discourse concerning the offences of another as to transgress against charity. Some persons are censorious through carelessness; fome through selfishness; some through anger; fome through malice; some through envy. According to the difference of the sources from which cenforiousness springs, its guilt is more or less flagrant. But even when it arises from carelessness, deem it not a trifling sin. You are not careless concerning your own character, your own welfare. Are you not to love your neighbour as yourself? You feel pained and injured, if your own failings are inadvertently made the subject of needless observation. Why do you cause needless pain and injury to your neighbour? Reflect

how

« PoprzedniaDalej »