« AnteriorContinuar »
with many disagreeable circumstances. And so arc most works of spiritual mercy; reproof, in particular. lle wouli! reprove his neighbour; but sometimes shame, sometimes fear comes between : for he may expose liimsell, not only to ridicule, but to heavier inconveniences too. Upon these and the like cousiderations, he omits one or more, if not all works of mercy and piety. Therefore, his faith is not made perfect, neither can he grow in grace; namely, because he will not deny himself, and take up his daily cross.
7. It manifestly follows, that it is always owing to the want cither of self-denial, or taking up his cross, that a man does not thoroughly follow his Lord, that he is not fully a disciple of Christ. It is owing to this, that he who is dead in sin, does not awake, though the trumpet be blown; that he who begins to awake ont of sleep, yet has no deep or lasting conviction ; that he who is deeply and lastingly convinced of sin, does not attain remission of sins; that some who have received this hcavenly gift, retain it not, but make shipwreck of the faith ; and that others, if they do not draw back to perdition, yet are weary and faint in their mind, and do not reach the mark of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Ill. 1. low easily may we learn hence, that they know neither the Scripture nor the power of God, who directly or indirectly, in public or in private, oppose the doctrine of selfdenial and the daily cross. lloutotally ignorant are these men of an hundred particular texts, as well as of the general tenor of the whole Oracles of God? And how entirely unacquainted must they be, iritlit'e', conuine', christian experience; of the manner wherein the Holy Spirit ever did, and does at this day, work in the souls of men! They may talk it deed very loudly and confidently, fabatural fruit of ignorance,) as though they were the only men who understood cither the Word of God, or the experience of his children ; but their words are, in every seuse', 2012 Korids'; they are weighied in the balance and found wantin
2. We may learn from hence, secondly, the real cause why not only many particular persons, but even bodies of men, who were once burning and shining lihts, have now lost both their light and mat. If they did not hafi and oppose, they at least livesiccand their preinscrispiel-doctrine. If they did not bu!!!!!!!!!!!!? peculanus, internecioni LE" Liple distal code foot, we devote it 1. Gendrination:
Pri test valued it according to its
high importance, nor took any pains in practising it. Hanc mystici docent, said that great, bad man: “ The Mystic writers teach self-denial.”—No; the Inspired Writers ! And God teaches it to every soul, who is willing to hear his voice!
3. We may learn from hence, thirdly, that it is not enough for a Minister of the Gospel not to oppose the doctrine of selfdenial, to say nothing concerning it. Nay, he cannot satisfy his duty, by saying a little in favour of it. If he would indeed be pure from the blood of all men, he must speak of it frequently and largely; he must inculcate the necessity of it in the clearest and strongest manner; he must press it with his might, on all persons, at all times, and in all places; laying “line upon line, line upon line, precept upon precept, precept upon precept :” So shall he have a conscience voia of offence; so shall he save his own soul and those that hear him.
4. Lastly: See that you apply this, every one of you, to your own soul. Meditate upon it when you are in secret: ponder it in your heart! Take care not only to understand it thoroughly, but to remember it to your lives' end! Cry unto the Strong for strength, that you may no sooner understand, than enter upon the practice of it! Delay not the time, but practise it immediately, from this very hour! Practise it universally, on every one of the thousand occasions, which occur in all circumstances of life! Practise it daily, without intermission, from the hour you first set your hand to the plough, and enduring therein to the end, till your spirit returns to God!
SER VON XLIX.
TIIE CURE OF EVIL-SPEAKING.
“If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his
fault between thee und him alone : if he shall hear thee,
thou hast gaineit thy brother. “ But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or tuo
more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every
woril may be established. “ And if he shtill neglect to hear them, tell it unto the Church :
but if he neglect to hear the Church, let him be unto thee as an heuthen man und a publican.” Matt. xviii. 15–17.
1. “ Speak evil of no man,” says the great Apostle :-as plain a command as, “Thou shalt do no murder.” But who, cven among Christians, regards this command ? Yea, how few are there, that so much as understand it? What is Evilspeaking ? It is not, as some suppose, the same with lying or slandering. All a man says may be as true as the Bible; and yet the saying of it is evil-speaking. For evil-speaking is neither more nor less, than speaking evil of an absent person;
ting something evil, which was really done or said by one that is not present when it is related. Suppose, having seen a man drunk, or heard him curse or swear, I tell this when he is absent; it is Evil-speaking. In our language, this is also by an extremely proper name, termed Backbiting. Nor is there any material difference between this and what we usually style Tale-bearing. If the tale be delivered in a soft and quiet manner, (perhaps with expressions of good will to the person, and of hope that things may not be quite so bad,) then we call it Whispering. But in whatever manner it be done, the thing is the saine; the same in substance, if not in circumstance. Still it is Evil-speaking ; still this command, “ Speak evil of no man," is trampled under foot; if we relate to another the fault of a third person, when he is not present to answer for himself.
2. And how extremely common is this sin, among all orders and degrees of men ! How do high and low, rich and poor, wise and foolish, learned and unlearned, run into it continually! Persons who differ from each other in all things else, nevertheless agree in this. How few are there that can testity before God, 'I am clear in this matter ; I have always set a watch before my mouth, and kept the door of my lips ?' What conversation do you hear of any considerable length, whereof evilspeaking is not one ingredient? And that even among persons, who, in the general, have the fear of God before their eyes, and do really desire to bave a conscience void of offence, toward God and toward man.
3. And the very commonness of this sin makes it difficult to be avoided. As we are encompassed with it on every side, so, if we are not deeply sensible of the danger, and continually guarding against it, we are liable to be carried away by the torrent. In this instance, almost the whole of mankind is, as it were, in a conspiracy against us. And their example steals upon us, we know not how; so that we insensibly slide into the imitation of it. Besides, it is recommended from within, as well as from without. There is scarce any wrong temper in the mind of man, which may not be occasionally gratified by it, and consequently incline us to it. It gratifies our pride, to relate those faults of others, whereof we think ourselves not to be guilty. Anger, resentment, and all unkind tempers are indulged, by speaking against those with whom we are displeased; and in many cases, by reciting the sins of their neighbours, men indulge their own foolish and hurtful desires.
4. Evil-speaking is the more difficult to be avoided, because it frequently attacks us in disguise. We speak thus, ont of a noble, generous, (il is well if we do not say) holy indignation against these vile creatures ! We commit sin, from mere batred of sin ! We serve the Devil, out of pure zeal for God! It is merely in order to punish the wicked, that we run into this wickedness. “So do the passions" (as one speaks) “ all justify themselves,” and palm sin upon us, under the veil of holiness!
5. But is there no way to avoid the snare ? Unquestionably there is. Our blessed Lord has marked out a plain way for his followers, in the words above recited. None, who warily and steadily walk in this path, will ever fall into evil-speaking,
This rule is either an infallible preventive, or a certain cure of it. In the preceding verses, our Lord had said, “Woe to the world because of offences ;”—unspeakable misery will arise in the world, from this baleful fountain : (Offences, are all things wherchy any one is turned out of, or hindered in, the ways of God: “For it must be, that offences come:"—such is the nature of things; such the wickedness, folly, and weakness of paukiud : " But woe to that man,”-miserable is that man, “by whom the orience cometh.” “ Wherefore, if thy baud, thy font, thine eye, cause thee to offend ;”-if the most dear enjoyment, the most beloved and useful person, turn thee out of, or linder thee in, the way, pluck it out,”—Cut them oil, and cast them from thee. But how can we aroid giving offence to some, and being offended at others ? Especially, suppose they are quite in the wrong, and we see it with our own eyes? Our Lord here teaches us how: He lays down a sure method of avoiding offences, and evil-speaking together. “If thy brother shall trespass against thec, go and tell him of his fauit betrecuthce and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou bast gained thy lzether. But if he will not hear thee, then take with tlice oneri] TO dore', that in the mouth of tiro or tbree witnesses erery word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, iell it into the Church: but if be neglect to hear tie Clurel, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.”
1.1. First, “ If thy brother shall sin against thee, go and tell him of his fault between tlice and him alone.” The most litcral way of toilowing this first rule, where it is practicable, is the best : 7!!creiore if thou seest with thine own eyes a brother, a fellow-christian, cemnit undeniable sin, or bearest it with thine own ears, so that it is impossible for thee to doubt the fact, then the part is plain: Take the very first opportunity of going to him; and if thou canst have access, " tell him of his fault between thee and him alone." Indeed great care is to be taken that this is done in a right spirit, and in a right manner. The success of a reproof greatly depends on the spirit wherein it is given. De not, therefore, wanting in carnest prayer to God, that it may be given in a lowly spirit; with a deep, piercing conviction, that it is God alone who maketh thee to clitler, and that if any good be done by what is nowpoken, Ciud doeth it himself. Pray that he would guard thy heart, enlighten thy mind, and direct thy tongue lo such words as He may please to bless. See that thou speak in a weck is well as in lowly spirit; for the “ wrath of man