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pleading for false doctrine, or false worship, disputing against truth and duty; scorning at godliness, or reasoning against it. These and such impieties of the tongue, are the evidences of profaneness in the speaker's heart; though some of them much more than others, and if the tongue is not here bridled, all is in vain.
2. Sinful speeches against justice and charity are these :reproaching parents, or governors, or neighbours ; railing and reviling, cursing, provoking others to do mischief, or commit any sin, disputing against and dissuading men from truth and duty; and hindering them by your speeches from a holy life, and the means of their salvation; calling good, evil, and evil, good; lying, slandering, false-witness bearing, backbiting ; extenuating men's virtues, and aggravating their faults beyond the certain apparent truth ; receiving, and reciting, and carrying on évil reports, which you know not to be true; endeavouring to cool men's love to others, by making them seem bad, when we cannot prove it, mentioning men's faults and failings with out à call and just occasion; unchaste, immodest, ribald speeches; cheating and deceitful words to wrong others in their estates ; with other such like.
But undoubtedly that sin of the tongue which the Apostle here had particular respect to, was the reproaching of fellowChristians, especially upon the occasion of some differences of judgment and practice in the smaller matters of religion ; the Judaizing Christians gave liberty to their tongues to reproach those that refused the use of those ceremonies which they used themselves, and placed much of their religion in; the quarrel was the same that was decided by the Apostles, Acts xv., and by Paul, Romans xiv. and xv., and throughout the Epistle to the Galatians. And this is the religion that James calls vain here, which was much placed in ceremonies, with a pretence of highest knowledge, and a censorious vilifying of all that would not do as they
There are especially three sorts that use to reproach each other about the matters of religion.
1. Those that are hardened to that height of impiety, as to make a mock at seriousness and diligence in the practice of Christianity itself, hating and reproaching them that dare not sell their souls at as base a price as they.
2. Those that have so far extinguished charity by faction and self-conceit, as to confine their love and honour to their party, and to speak evil of those that are not of their own opinions.
3. Those that give liberty to their tongues unseasonably, unmeasurably, or unwarrantably to speak hardly of those that they suffer by upon religious accounts; though, perhaps, they are their superiors whom they are bound to honour.
1. The first sort are arrived at such a measure of maliciousness and misery, that they are as mad men, the objects of compassion to all men save themselves. Their sin and misery is so notorious, that I need not say anything to discover it to others that have anything of reason and true religion; and for themselves, being so far forsaken of God, as to hate and reproach the means of their salvation, no wonder if withal they are given over to that blindness as not to understand the words that should convince them, and neither to see their shame, nor the light that would discover it; and to such impenitency, as not to feel or fear the wrath and threatenings of the Almighty; but boldly to rage on, till hell hath brought them to their wits. (Prov. xiv. 16.) “A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil, but the fool rageth, and is confident." Yet this much, briefly, I shall say to these, if any of them be this day my auditors, that I may not leave them as utterly past hope.
1. Thou art one of the most self-condemned, stigmatized, slaves of Satan, in the world. Thou bearest openly so undoubted a brand of wickedness, that there is no room for any rational hope in thy self, or any of thy friends, that ever thou shouldest be saved, if thou die in such a state ; some hope is left that yet thou mayest be converted, but none that thou shouldest be saved without conversion. It is possible with God that can do all things, that yet thy wilful blindness may be cured, and thy tongue may unsay all that thou hast said ; and thou mayest cry out of thy folly, and cry shame against thyself, for that which now thou gloriest in. It is possible for God of such a stone to make a child of Abraham ! and to melt that hardened heart of thine, and lay it bleeding at the feet of Christ, and to make thee wish with tears or groans, that such thoughts had never entered into thy heart, nor such words of malice proceeded from thy mouth. And happy art thou, if God will have so much mercy on thee, that hast derided mercy, as to vouchsafe thee such a change. And pray for it, and pray hard, and pray again, if thou love thy soul; for this is thy hope, and thou hast no other. For that ever such a wretch as thou shouldest be saved, in the state that now thou art in, is as impossible as for God to lie, and as impossiblė. as for the devils to be saved. I
wonder (but that such a forsaken soul is a senseless block, and as a lifeless carcass,) that thou dost not quake with the fears of hell, which way ever thou goest ; and that thou art not still thinking whither thou art going, and how the devils are ready to take thy soul as soon as death hath opened the door and let it out into Eternity ? As carelessly or scornfully as thou sittest here, I wonder that thou dost not tremble to consider, where it is that thou must shortly be, and where thou must abide for
It is one of the most notable discoveries of the powerful craft of Satan, that he is able to keep such a garrison as thy heart in so much peace, and to quiet a poor wretch that is uncertain to be one hour out of hell! that thy sleep is not broken with terrible dreams, and that thou dost not eat thy meat in terrors, and that ever a smile should be seen in thy face ! that thy business, or company, or sports, or pleasures, should once put out of thy mind thy endless misery. While I am speaking, and thou art hearing, hell-fire is burning, and the devils are waiting, and, thy blinded soul is posting on, and, for aught thou knowest, may be there this night. Poor sinner! for my part, I know thee not! and, therefore, cannot justly be suspected to bear thee any ill will, or to speak these words with a desire of thy hurt. I know this is language that the guilty do not love to hear. But I must tell thee, who reproachest and deridest a serious, holy life, that, except the blasphemers of the Holy Ghost, there are few in the world in more certain misery than thou. Other sinners, though miserable, may have some cloak to hide their misery. Though the drunkard shall not enter into heaven, he may
flatter himself with the remembrance that Noah was once overtaken with that sin. Though the fornicator or adulterer shall not enter into the kingdom of God, (Eph. v. 5,) he may cheat himself awhile with the remembrance of David's guilt. Though the false-hearted, temporizing, self-saving hypocrite shall not be saved, he may deceive himself, by the instance of Peter's denying his master, and his dissimulation, (Gal. ii.,) but what cloak hast thou to hide thy misery? Did ever any true disciple of Christ either hate or reproach his servants and his ways? What godly man hath made a mock at godliness (unless it were when he was ungodly?) If any should think that an act of drunkenness or fornication might consist with grace, no man that understands himself can think that a scorner at an holy life, hath himself the holiuess which he scorneth ! I would not for a world be in the case of that wretch, that speaks. well of
holiness in others, while he lives in fornication, luxury, or worldliness himself, though he think that he cuts scores by daily crying to God for mercy. But I would much less for a thousand worlds be in the case of him that neither is godly, nor can speak well of it; that is not only void of the Spirit of Christ, but speaks against it; that is not only void of the holy image of God, but hateth it, and reproacheth it in others. O rather let me have no tongue to speak, no soul to think, than ever I should speak or think thus maliciously of the image, and ways, and ser-> vants of the Lord! I had rather be a dog, or a toad, than one of those men that use to mock at serious, diligent serving of the Lord, or that maliciously reproach his servants, and bend their wits and tongues against them ; so legibly is the mark of the devil upon them, that I must needs tell
that are true believers, you are much to be blamed that you look not on them with more compassion, and weep not for them, as for men that are within a step of hell, when you hear them rail at the laws or servants of the Lord. I mean those of whom the Apostle saith, “For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you, even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ, (that is, to the self-denying mortified state of Christians, and following him even through sufferings,) whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is their shame, who mind earthly things.” (Phil. iii. 18,19.) “That not only do wickedly, but teach men so to do;" (Matt. v. 19.) "and have pleasure in them that do it;” (Rom. i. 32;) "and think it strange that we run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of us, who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead.” (1 Pet. iv. 4, 5.)
2. Thou bearest most eminently the image of the devil, and most expressly speakest his mind, and art most openly employed in his works. What is the devil but an apostate spirit, filled with enmity against God and his servants, and hating holiness; the malicious accuser of the brethren, slandering and reproaching them, and seeking their destruction ! And shall a malicious, lying sinner live, that imitateth Satan in his enmity to God? O that thou knewest whom thou servest! And that thou knews est whom thou speakest against ! Woe be to him that striveth with his Maker. (Isa. xlv. 2.) It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. (Acts ix. '5.) Whoever hardened himself against him, and hath prospered? (Job ix. 4.) If Satan were to speak with open face, what would he say, but as the tongues of the malici
éus enemies of holiness; even to speak evil of the ways and servants of the Lord? Might he appear and speak himself in the assemblies and councils of the great ones of the earth, he would speak against the same men, and to the same purpose, as those that I have described. Your tongues are his instruments. You speak what he secretly suggesteth, as verily as if he had written you your instructions, and you had read it in his words: he hateth holiness, and, therefore, he tempteth you to hate it. He would bring it into hatred in the world, and, therefore, he speaks disgracefully of it by your tongues. His will is your will; and your words are his words; and the pleasantest music that you could make him. O how it pleaseth him to make a reasonable creature reproach the word and ways of the Creator ! How eager was he to have got Job to have spoken evil of God!
3. Be it known to thee, thou teviler, that if ever thou be saved thyself, it must be in that way that thou revilest. Thy hope lieth in it. As sure as thou livest, there is no other way to life.eternal. Without holiness none shall see God. (Heb. xii. 14.) Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. (Matt. V. 8.) When thou hast done all, thou must come back, and go
that way thyself, or burn for ever. Either thou must be such as those that thou dost speak against, or thou art everlastingly undone. And if thou think to be such a one thyself, and to come to heaven by the very way that now thou dost revile, canst thou yet revile it? And if thou perish in hell for want of holiness, thou shalt then have enough of thy rebellion. Then thou shalt cry out against thy own malicious reproaches a thousand times more than ever thou didst against the servants of the Lord. Though the very distinction between the godly and ungodly be now thy scorn, yet I shall be bold to tell thee, in the words of Enoch, yea of God, (Jud. xiv. 16;).“ Behold the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them, of all their ungodly deeds, which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” Now you have your day, and judgment must begin at the house of God. And if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God! And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? (1 Pet. iv. 17, 18.) “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the