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room for the duties of religion, no doubt but you are very guilty : but your guilt does not arise from the nature of your conversation, but from your misapplication of time, from the neglect of your proper business and duty; and your guilt will be the same, if you mifpend your time, though you discourse upon subjects ever so great and momen. tous.
But, lastly, let us consider the nature of man in general, and the different degrees of sense and understanding that different men are endowed with, This consideration must have place in this question, because the tongue cannot speak better than the understanding can conceive ; which infers a proportion between the abilities of our mind, and the foundness of our speech; the latter must be judged by the former ; for a man cannot be obliged to utter more wisdom than God has given him.
Now to discourse profitably upon the most profitable subjects requires a good share of reason, a clear conception, and a diftinguishing judgment: without these qualifications men do but expose the noblest subjects they take in hand ; and, in proportion, there are but few men thus qualified. I ask therefore, what must the reft do? Would you have them choose great and noble subjects, which they do not understand? Or would you have them hold their tongues? The first, I think, they ought not to do; the last, I am sure, they will not do. It remains then that they must talk of such things as die level to their capacities, that is, of mean and every-day subjects : for these men are fitted for fociety, and have a relish of conversation, as well as brighter spirits, and they ought not to be excluded from it; and therefore they must be allowed to follow their genius, which is not likely to lead to any very useful or improving topics of discourse. It is fit, you may say, that these people should learn, and that others should instruct them; fo say I too: but to be always under instruction is not very diverting, and not many will submit to it; and when men of the same stamp meet together, who shall be the instructor ?
I think it would be a good compofition, if we could prevail so far with the meaner people, as to reftrain them from envious and malicious discourse, from lewd and filthy jesting, which are great ingredients in their conversation : for, fince God has designed them for society as well as you, and given them no great share of understanding, you can nei. ther restrain them from society, nor exact more wisdom from them than they have received.
This confideration will likewise reach the case of wiser men : you must not despise your weak brother. Charity obliges you to be civil and courteous to him ;- and when a man of understanding is joined in society with a weak man, the discourse must be according to the meanest capacity; and it is sometimes a piece of charity to submit to the · conversation of men of much less ability than yourself.
From all these considerations together then it appears, that the conversation of the world, upon common and trivial subjects, is not blameworthy. It is a diversion in which we must not spend too much time ; if we offend in this respect, we shall
be answerable for the neglect of 'weightier matters; but otherwise, if we transgress not the bounds of innocence and virtue, we trust in Christ that our harmless, though weak and unprofitable words: shall not rise up in judgment against us.
Let him that stole steal no more ; but rather let him la
bour, working with his hands the thing which is good,
that he may have to give to him that needeth. THE words now
now read to you make up a complete sense, without depending upon what goes before, or comes after. They contain a confirmation and explication of the eighth commandment: for what the Apostle enjoins concerning labour, and working with our hands, is no more than the necessary consequence of the command, Thou shalt not steal. For since all men are equal sharers in the wants and necessities of life, and the things which should supply these wants are unequally divided, so that some have more than enough, and some much less; it follows, that the necessities of the one must be supplied from the abundance of the other. Steal you must not, and give perhaps he will not. The only way then by which you can come at the things you want, is by purchase or exchange; and the only thing a poor man has to exchange, is the work and labour of his hands : and therefore it follows as a consequence of the law, that since you must not steal, you must work, and purchase by your labour and industry the things which are necessary for your support and fubfiftence. In all that rich men do, they want the help and assistance of the poor ; they cannot minister to themselves either in the wants, or conveniencies, or pleasures of life: so that the
poor man has as many ways to maintain himself, as the rich man has wants or desires; for the wants and desires of the rich must be served by the labour of the poor. But then the rich man has often
very wicked desires, and often delights in sinful pleasures; and though to serve the rich be the poor man's maintenance, yet in these cases the poor man must not serve him ; and therefore the Apostle adds, that he must labour, working with his hands the thing which is good. His poverty obliges him to serve man, and therefore he must work with his hands; and his reason and religion oblige him to Serve God, and therefore he must work only the thing which is good.
Labour is the business and employment of the poor, it is the work which God has given him to do; and therefore a man cannot be satisfied in working merely as far as the wants of nature oblige him, and spending the rest of his time idly or wantonly : for if God has enabled him to gain more by his labour, than his own wants, and the conveniencies necessary to his station, require, he then becomes a debtor to such duties as are incumbent on all to whom God hath dispensed his gifts · libe