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SERMON V.

SINS OF THE TONGUE.

JAMES, i. 26.

If any man among you seem to be religious, and

bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.

The faculty of speech is one of the best gifts of God's mercy to man. It is an essential element of his well-being. Without it, though placed in a world teeming with inhabitants, he would have dragged on an all but isolated existence, communing only with his own thoughts, and these dull and sluggish for want of intercourse and collision with other minds. A helpless and desolate being he would have been, incapable of that unity of purpose which blends the wills of

SINS OF THE TONGUE.

SINS OF THE TONGUE.:

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many into one, and thus of the union of weakness creates strength; and inferior to many of the brute creation in whom instinct supplies this social bond, and joins them in leagues of mutual assistance and defence. But God could not leave His last work thus imperfect. The gift of speech, as it distinguished man from the most sagacious and reasonable of the brute creation, formed also a medium of communication from mind to mind, and gave men access into the hearts of one another. It gave not existence, indeed, but scope and energy to the affections, and enabled them to fly abroad to call forth kindred affections from other breasts. It rendered the increase of knowledge possible; and advanced the cause of truth by enabling each individual inquirer to pour. his discoveries into the common stock, and to share in those of others in return. It sharpened the faculties by the play of intellects one on the other; and enriched all minds by the mutual inter

change of the ideas of each. It unlocked the gates of sympathy,—of compassion, affection, and charity, and thus gave liberty not only to the best virtues, but also to the purest happiness of our nature. It was therefore, that the heathen, both poets and philosophers, would define man by the gift of speech, as his distinguishing quality : and that the tongue, in Scripture, is called the glory of man. “Awake up, my glory,” said David: “I will sing and give praise, even with my glory."!

It is not the least melancholy effect of the fall, then, that this noble faculty should be degraded from its high purposes to be the minister of sin. Formed to be the messenger of peace and love, knitting hearts together in a mutual bond of amity, it has become the fomenter of jealousy, distrust, and ill-will, the lash of uncharitableness, and the weapon of hatred. Intended to be the interpreter of sincerity and the propagator of truth, it has been made the ready instrument of falsehood and deceit. Created to speak the praises of God, and to give utterance to the feelings of thankfulness, it is wasted on the follies of worldliness and self, and profaned by the awful accents of impurity, impiety, and blasphemy. It has become the index of the corruption of our moral nature, the test by which we may, in a great degree, guage and measure the spiritual unsoundness and sinfulness of our souls; “for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.”

1 Ps. lvii. 8. 2 Ps. cviii. 1.

It is obvious, then, that sins of the tongue hold a prominent place among those sins which, in order to true repentance, we must search out, examine, and condemn in ourselves, that we may seek forgiveness of them from God through the merits of Jesus Christ. Some, indeed, of this class of sins are of so daring and offensive a character, that few, one would think, in a Christian

1 Matt. xii. 34.

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country, would require to have their wickedness pointed out. Lying, swearing, obscenity and blasphemy, are offences from which the mind recoils; and against which even the world has pronounced its verdict of condemnation. But this is not the case with all sins of the tongue; some of which are wholly acquitted by mere human morality, and others are estimated far below the standard of their real sinfulness. Nor are we, perhaps, in any instance, in the habit of fully admitting the guilt of this kind of sins; nor consequently of either confessing them with sufficient sorrow, or guarding against them with sufficient care...

Let us then, as we have done in the case of other sins, first observe the estimate of them with which we are furnished by the word of God; then briefly enumerate some of the sins of the tongue of which we may be in the greatest danger; and conclude with a few practical remarks.

Now of God's estimate of this kind of

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