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how opposite is cenforiousness, from whatever source it may proceed, to the precepts of Jesus Christ. Judge not, that ye
be not judged. Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye ; but considereft not the beam that is in thine own eye (a)? Reflect how contrary it is to his example. How pure was his conversation from harsh reflections on the prejudices, the timidity, the cold and wavering faith of his followers : and from needless severity in noticing the obdurate blindness, the unconquerable malice, and the murderous designs of his enemies. Brethren, be ye followers of God, as dear children, and walk in love, as Christ hath loved us. Consider yourselves, left ye also be tempted (b).
VI. Let us now direct our thoughts to those sins of the lips, which originate in a busy and meddling fpirit: fins which, if not in themselves of a deeper hue than some which have already been mentioned, often prove more extensively destructive to the peace of society.
From a busy and meddling temper is: derived a loquacious interference in the con-cerns of other men. The people of Athens, when St. Paul was in their city, spent their (1) Matth. vii. 1. 3. (6) Eph. v. 1, 2. Gal. vi, 1.
time in nothing else but either to tell or to bear some new thing. Many Christians seem by their conduct to be descendants of these: Athenians. Impelled by curiosity, they search out every petty transaction of the neighbourhood; sift it again and again to the very hottom ; and treasure up
in their memories, in such matters too faithful, each particle of intelligence which they have collected. They pry into the interior of families; worm out every incident of the day; make themselves masters of every change in the domestic arrangement; and discover every projected plan of alteration almost as soon as it is formed, often before it has been digested, by the person who devised it. The store of news which they have thus acquired vanity and self-importance urge them to communicate. Hence from bufy-bodies they advance to be talebearers. They wander from house to bouse, being tatlers alfo, speaking those things which tbey ought not (c). Wherever they wander, they spread mischief. If they employ for the gratification of malevolence the tidings which the spirit of curiosity has gleaned ; they are among the most dangerous of man
, kind. But what if they are actuated merely by the love of tatling? They encourage (c) : Tim, v. 13
idlenets; they infame inquisitiveness ; they betray secrets; they excite quarrels; they prolong dissentions. Hear with what accu[acy they are characterised in the Scriptures. A serpent will bite; and a babbler is no bet
The words of a talebearer are wounds. A talebearer revealeth secrets. He that repeateth, a matter separateth very friends Where no wood is, the fire goeth aut : fo, where there is no, talebearer, the frife ceafeth (d). Hear the positive commands of God. Thou falt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people. Let none of you suffer as a busy-body in other men's matters. Study to be quiet and do your own business (e). The constant object of Jesus Christ was to be employed about that great business for which his Father had sent him into the world. Let it be your constant object to attend to that momentouś concern, for which our Father who is in heaven hath sent you into the world. Repeat not the proceedings or the purposes of your neighbour, except in such a manner as may tend to edification. The Lord hateth bim that Joweth discord among brethren. For
idle word that men fall
(d) Eccl. X. 11. Prov. xi. 13. xvii. 9. xviii. 18. xxvi. 20. (6) Lev. xix. 16. 1 Pet. iv. 15. Theff. iv. il.
Speak they shall give account in the day of judgement (f).
VII. We are now to consider thofe offences, which fall under the general description of deceit.
Of these the most prominent is open falsehood. It is by the bands of truth that society is held together. It is in sincerity and truth that we are to serve God. The liar destroys the foundation of all confidence whether in the public dealings of men one with another, or in the retirement of domestic life. The evils which the violation of truth produces are so manifest: the difficulty of guarding against its effects is so great; and the indignation with which men, with whatever indifference they be. hold their neigbour's sin as committed against God, condemn it when prejudicial to themselves, is so prompt; that he who is notoriously guilty of lying is held in general abhorrence; and eyen those who abandon themselves to other branches of wickedness, and scarcely pretend to pay an exterior regard to religion, are solicitqus to maintain a character for veracity, and resent the imputation of a lie as the groffest of injuries. But theopinions of men concerning offences ) Prov. vi. 16-19. Matth. xii. 36.
against men are of little importance, when compared with the estimation in which breaches of the divine law are viewed by Almighty God. God is a God of truth. He requires truth in the inward parts, in the heart. Every departure from truth he marks as a sin against Himself. Ye shall not deal falsely, nor lie, one to'another: I am. the Lord (8).
The falsehood, however, of the lips frequently shews itself in the form of slander. The obnoxious individual who could not be insured or deceived by an open
breach of truth, may be overwhelmed by the artifices of secret calumny. Evil reports may be raised and privately diffused concerning him ; reports, which while their author lies concealed, may execute their office abroad in open day; and hastening from lip to lip, from door to door, from circle to circle, may undermine his good name, defeat his honest undertakings, blight his reasonable hopes, inflame his ancient adversaries, embody a new host of foes, and poison the minds of his nearest friends with suspicion and distrust, Slander is but a more refined, and therefore more mifchieyous mode of lying. Are you then surprised at the decision of the wise king :
(8) Lev. xix. 11, 12.