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those who hear him, but possibly may have an effect upon those who hear him; it may tend to awaken the sinner to a sense of his danger, or may harden him in his impenitence. It may be to the believer a word of edification, or it may bring him into grievous temptation. If there are any of us who make a profession of the faith, speak in levity, or say aught that may be chargeable with inconsistency, it is pretty sure to throw difficulties in the way of the unconverted, and to afford scandal to the real Christian. But if, on the contrary, our communications be such as become the Gospel, and we speak under our habitual sense of our obligations, as those who are bought with a price, and therefore bound to glorify God, often, when we least expect it, we may say that which may be employed by the Holy Spirit in the work of conversion, or be made effectual to the admonition or the consolation of the people of God.
Important, however, as may be the effects of what we say on others, they cannot be greater than they are upon ourselves. In We may,
this sense, truly “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” A word may determine our condition for ever, and mark us as the children of God, or the children of Satan. By a rash word, we may bind ourselves down to eternal ruin. for instance, by a word, cast in our lot with the evil-doers, or forfeit our allegiance to the King of heaven. By a word, again, we may express our adherence to the cause of truth, and bring ourselves within the influence of that society and that teaching, that may be blessed to our eternal advantage. Oh, we do not speak in vain. “ With the tongue,” says the Apostle, “bless we God, even the Father, and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.” But prayers, and praises, and holy conversation, cannot be in vainnor can curses, and railings, and idle talk, be in vain. It is true that the man who uses the language of piety, may be a base hypocrite; but if the work of grace bas been begun in us, if the love of Christ does constrain us, there is nothing then can be regarded as so sure a pledge of our spiritual progress, as our employing our tongues to the glory of God. There can be no mistake about the man who speaks profanely—“Out of the fulness of the heart the mouth speaketh.” If the language of the world is in the mouth, the love of the world is in the heart. And the more the sinner speaks as his sins incline him to speak, the more he rivets himself to his sins. By unusual provocations, we may expect to quench the Spirit, or to bring down on ourselves a judgment. We have but to look upon a Moses, excluded from the privilege of entering Canaan, because he spake unadvisedly with his lips, and a Peter distinguished by a promise for a timely confession of his faith in the Saviour, to perceive the correctness of the statement that “death and life are in the power of the tongue.”
My brethren, it is to be feared we may find much that is greatly amiss in ourselves, when we press our consciences with the question, Have we acted as those who believed that death and life are in the power of the tongue? The Lord himself says unto us, that “Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” And yet, how much do most of us say in thoughtlessness, how very much without the slightest view to edification! May the thought of this humble us! May it tend to convince us more strongly than ever of our weakness and sinfulness, and lead us to feel more strongly our need of an Almighty Saviour, and a Divine Sanctifier ! The Saviour is preached to us as a propitiation for sin—but he is also preached to us as a Deliverer from sin; and none of us can have duly felt his mighty power to renew us by his Spirit unto holiness, till he has been brought to feel the importance of his communications, and to remember that “death and life are in the power of the tongue.”
THE HOLY COMMUNION.
1 CORINTHIANS xi. 23–26.
" For I have received of the Lord that which also I
delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you : this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood : this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.”
In these words St. Paul describes the institution of the Holy Communion. Our Lord himself, he tells us, had given him this account of it. It agrees exactly with the account which is given by the first three