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joy for his death. Be sure that there is no reality in religion, before you mock at it.
6. Reasoning against religion, and defending sinful opinions and practices. This is very frequent with men who love carnal liberty, and so endeavour to shelter sinful practices, under the cloak of reason; yea, and the Scriptures too, by which they bring God himself to be a patron to their wickedness." But the curse is denounced against these. "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter.
Lastly, Murmuring and complaining. Proud hearts make us fret at the dispensations of providence. This sets the tongue on fire, and hence some are ever complaining, as if their tongues had been given them for no other end, but to accuse God. Read Jude 14, 15, 16. It is a base tongue that will proclaim our crosses, and bury our mercies, though the last are far more numerous than the former.
II. Against our duty to man. I shall here specify these following things,
1. Idle speaking. That is, words spoken to no good purpose, tending neither to the glory of God, nor the good of ourselves or others, either in spiritual or temporal things. This is condemned. "But I say unto you," said Jesus, "that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof, in the day of judgment." It may be comprehended under that foolish talking which is not convenient; rash, roving, and impertinent discourse, which doth no good to the hearers, but bewrays the folly of the speaker. It will not be long ere our speech be laid, so that it is sad to waste our little breath so idly. We have enough besides, to fill our accounts, though we wanted that. A gracious soul will beware of idle words, as of vain thoughts.
2. A trade of jesting. Paul says, "Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient." It is not unlawful to pass an innocent jest, to produce a moderate recreation. But if a jest be allowed to be sauce to our conversation, yet it is impious to make it the meat. For a man to make every word a jest, is fitter for a stage than Christian gravity. And seldom, if ever, is it so managed, but it is offensive both to God and man; but some will rather lose their friend than their jest.
3. Lying; of which there are four sorts: 1. Pernicious. 2. Officious. 3. The sporting lie. 4. The rash lie; when men through inadvertency, and customary looseness, tell an untruth; as when tidings were brought to David, saying, Absalom hath slain all the king's sons, and there is not one of them left. This is so common,
that we may say truth hath fallen in the streets. Few so tender, as to avoid making a lie. Consider God is a God of truth, and therefore it is most contrary to his nature, and the devil is the father of lies. It is a badge of the old man. "Lie not one to another, seeing ye have put off the old man." The godly are children that will not lie. A lying tongue is an abomination to the Lord, and lies will lodge the soul with the devil for ever. All liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone. Say not it is only to do good to others, for we must not speak wickedly for God. Some lie to keep others from sin, but it is an excess of charity for a man to damn his own soul, to save another's. If it is to make sport, surely that grieves the Spirit of God, and is indeed sport to the devil. Or, if you say you know no better, remember God has given you a heart to think before you speak, and before you speak you should be sure.
4. Uncharitable speaking of truth, to the wounding of the reputation of others. It is not enough, that what ill we speak of others be true, but the speaking of it must bring a greater, than the disadvantage the party gets by it. This brought the curse on Ham and his posterity, Gen. ix. 22. And we should imitate Shem and Japheth, with respect to the faults of others. This uncharitable speaking is readily the effect of pride, while others are cast down, that we may rise on their ruins; or of envy which, like the flies, pass over the sound parts, and feed on the sores in the body. It is most contrary to charity, which covers the multitude of sins. Truth may come from a malicious heart, as in Doeg's case, 1 Sam. xxii. 8, 9 This does not stop at the real faults of others, but oftentimes breaks out to the natural defects of others, or to that which is really their affliction; in which that holds true, he that despiseth the poor, reproacheth his Maker.
5. Slandering or back biting. Of this, three sorts of persons are guilty: 1. He that raiseth a false report of his neighbour, Exod. xxiii. 1. Here is a true son of the devil, with malice and lying in conjunction. 2. He who readily reports it, though he knows it to be false, as readily receives, though he is not sure it is true. 3. He that spreads it. This is a very common sin. Tale bearers and whisperers are found every where, whose tongues are swords to stab the reputation of others.
Ye do the devil's work, who is the accuser of the brethren. Ye are his special errand-bearers, and no doubt, will get such wages as he has to give. Consider that sad passage, Psal. 1. 20, 22. "Therefore, speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law."
6. Censoriousness, which construes the words and actions of others, always to the worse. Many are of such a waspish nature, that they can suck poison out of the sweetest flowers, and have an evil tale of every person, Matth, vii. 1, 2.
7. Flattery; a base kind of sin, by which men strive to humour others, at the loss of truth, to the great hurt of the party flattered. Of such a person it may be said, "The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart; his words were softer than oil, yet were they drawn swords." But this is remarkable, that these that will speak fair before a man's face, will not stand to wound him behind his back. The Lord shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things.
8. Boasting; by which men talk big of themselves, or others concerned in them; trumpeting out their own praise, a sin which is odious in the sight of every man. Some boast themselves of what they have not. "Whoso boasteth himself of a false gift, is like clouds and wind without rain." Others, of what they have, setting it in a magnifying glass. These are the black roll, 2 Tim. iii. 2.
Lastly, Obscenity. "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth." This argues a rotten heart, and is ready to infect others. "Evil communications corrupt good manners." O! how like the devil, that unclean Spirit, do they look, who cannot hold within the bounds of common modesty. These are some of the most common parts of the world of iniquity.
INFERENCE 1. If the tongue be a world of iniquity, what must the heart be; for out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh. You may know the lion by his paw.
2. See wherein true greatness consists: to govern a world of iniquity. Here is work for you. To help you.
1. Labour to get the heart purified from these sins and lusts that it vents by the tongue. Quench the fire on the hearth, and the smoke will cease.
2. Get the fear of God impressed on your hearts, and walk as under the eye of an all-seeing God. This will be a bridle and a spur to the tongue, for it needs both. Amen.
January 12, 1707.
ON THE DUTY OF PRAYING FOR THE PEACE OF THE CHURCH.
PSALM CXxii. 6,
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
THIS psalm seems to have been penned when the ark had been newly brought to Jerusalem, and set up in the tabernacle which David pitched for it. Now it was in a fixed place, after it had been in several places. See 2 Sam. vi. 7; 1 Chron. xv. 17. In the text we have, 1. A duty; namely, prayer. 2. A particular part of the matter of prayer; "the piece of Jerusalem." This city was now in peace, and the continuance of it is to be desired. In Jerusalem now were the tabernacle and the ark, and the solemn assemblies for worship. In this respect it was a type of the church.
DOCTRINE. It is the duty of all church members, to pray for the peace of the church. Let us,
I. Shew what this peace is.
II. Give reasons why we should pray for it.
1. We are to shew what this peace is. It consists in these two:
1. The removal of evils from the church of Christ. Many are the evils to which the church is liable, while here; and therefore she as a city, must have her walls, bulwarks, soldiers, and watchmen. It is Jerusalem above, only, which is past hazard. "The gates of it shall not be shut at all by day, for there shall be no night there.”
2. The enjoyment of positive blessings. Her peace includes her prosperity; that she be in a prosperous condition, not standing still, not going backward. "Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces." All kingdoms and states have their revolutions. One while they prosper, another they are in adversity. Jerusalem's prosperity is spiritual. It is produced by the light of God's countenance, and by the communications of his grace. When under these, the children of Zion grow in knowledge, holiness, and comfort, and enjoy all their privileges undisturbed; then Jerusalem hath peace.
II. We are to give reasons why we are to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
1. Because God commands us not to hold our peace, till we see her peace. This command is express in the text. Says God by Isaiah, "I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace, day nor night; ye that make mention of the Lord, keep not silence; and give him no rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth." Therefore the prophet himself, is peremptory as to this duty. "For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof, as a lamp that burneth."
2. Because of her relation to the God of peace. This should not only engage us to pray, but may encourage us to hope for her peace at length. The church is confederate with God, in a covenant of peace. She is the house of God. The city of the great King. The object of his special providence. "Behold he that keepeth Israel, shall neither slumber nor sleep."
3. Because of her relation to the Prince of Peace. The church is Christ's spouse, his body, she is built on him, she is his special charge from the Father; and is it not reasonable that the children be concerned for the peace of their mother, and the members for the body to which they belong. The nearer relation any of us have to Christ, the more should be our concern for the peace of Jerusalem. 4. Because her peace is purchased at a dear rate, even the blood of the Mediator of peace. "We are made nigh by the blood of Christ, for he is our peace." Not only her inward, but her outward peace. Will not we pour out a prayer for that, for which Christ poured out his blood?
5. Because she hath many enemies without, ready on all occasions to disturb her peace. The enemy watcheth at her gates, ready on all occasions to break in. The devil has an army of wicked men, constantly in arms and pay, to fight against the church. The war was begun by Cain, but the sword is never yet put up, no will be to the end of the world. As one race of wicked men goes off another takes up their weapons, and stand in their place.
6. Because she has disturbers of her peace within. There are hypocrites in her bosom, ready to betray the spouse, as Judas did his Lord. There are corruptions in the best; so that Jerusalem is often made to suffer by earthquakes, by reason of what is inclosed in her own bowels.
USE 1. Of reproof to those who are not concerned for the peace of Jerusalem. Some pray not at all. Some are longing to see Jerusalem in confusion, laid in heaps, and her ways filled with mourning. They are so far from praying for the church, that they