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present world, does in general perfectly coincide with virtue, and leads us to one and the same course of life. But, whatever exceptions there are to this, which are much fewer than they are commonly thought, all shall be set right at the final distribution of things. It is a manifest absurdity to suppose evil prevailing finally over good, under the conduct and administration of a perfect mind.
The whole argument which I have been now insisting upon, may be thus summed up and given you in one view. The nature of man is adapted to some course of action or other. Upon comparing some actions with this nature, they appear suitable and correspondent to it: From comparison of other actions with the same nature, there arises to our view some unsuitableness or disproportion. The correspondence of actions to the nature of the agent renders them natural; their disproportion to it, unnatural. That an action is correspondent to the nature of the agent, does not arise from its being agreeable to the principle which happens to be the strongest ; for it may be so, and yet be quite disproportionate to the nature of the agent. The correspondence, therefore, or disproportion, arises from somewhat else. This can be nothing but a difference in nature and kind, (altogether distinct from strength) between the inward principles. Some, then, are in nature and kind superior to others. And the correspondence arises from the action being conformable to the higher principle; and the unsuitableness, from its being contrary to it. Reasonable self-love and conscience are the chief or superior principles in the nature of man because an action may be suitable to this nature, though all other principles be violated; but becomes unsuitable, if either of those are. Conscience and self-love, if we understand our true happiness, always lead us the same way.-Duty and interest are perfectly coincident; for the most part in this world, but entirely and in every instance, if we take in the future, and the whole; this being implied in the notion of a good and
perfect administration of things. Thus, they who have been so wise in their generation, as to regard only their own supposed interest, at the expense and to the injury of others, shall at last find, that he who has given up all the advantages of the present world, rather than violate his conscience and the relations of life, has infinitely better provided for himself, and secured his own interest and happiness.
UPON THE GOVERNMENT 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 translation of this text would be more determinate by being more literal, thus: "If any man among you seemeth to be religious, not bridling his tongue, but deceiving his own heart, this man's religion is vain." This determines that the words, "but deceiveth his own heart," are not put in opposition to, "seemeth to be religious," but to, "bridleth not his tongue." The certain determinate meaning of the text then being, that he who seemeth to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but, in that particular, deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain; we may observe somewhat very forcible and expressive in these words of St James. As if the apostle had said, No man surely can make any pretences to religion, who does not at least believe that he bridleth his tongue: If he puts on any appearance or face of religion, and yet does not govern his tongue, he must surely deceive himself in that particular, and
think he does: And whoever is so unhappy as to deceive himself in this, to imagine he keeps that unruly faculty in due subjection, when, indeed, he does not, whatever the other part of his life be, his religion is vain; the government of the tongue being a most material restraint which virtue lays us under: without it, no man can be truly religious.
In treating upon this subject, I will consider,
First, What is the general vice, or fault, here referred to: Or, what disposition in men is supposed in moral reflections and precepts concerning "bridling the tongue."
Secondly, When it may be said of any one, that he has a due government over himself in this respect.
I. Now, the fault referred to, and the disposition supposed, in precepts and reflections concerning the government of the tongue, is not evil speaking from malice, nor lying or bearing false witness from indirect selfish designs. The disposition to these, and the actual vices themselves, all come under other subjects. The tongue may be employed about, and made to serve ail the purposes of vice, in tempting and deceiving, in perjury and injustice. But the thing here supposed and referred, to is talkativeness; a disposition to be talking, abstracted from the consideration of what is to be said; with very little or no regard to, or thought of doing, either good, or harm. And let not any imagine this to be a slight matter, and that it deserves not to have so great weight laid upon it, till he has considered what evil is implied in it, and the bad effects which follow from it. It is, perhaps, true, that they who are addicted to this folly, would choose to confine themselves to trifles and indifferent subjects, and so intend only to be guilty of being impertinent; but as they cannot go on for ever talking of nothing, as common matters will not afford a sufficient fund for perpetual continued discourse, when subjects of this kind are exhausted, they will go on to defamation, scandal, divulging of secrets, their own secrets as well as those of others: any thing rather than be silent. They are plainly hurried on, in the heat of
their talk, to say quite different things from what they first intended, and which they afterwards wish unsaid; or improper things, which they had no other end in saying, but only to afford employment to their tongue. And if these people expect to be heard and regarded, for there are some content merely with talking, they will invent to engage your attention; and, when they have heard the least imperfect hint of an affair, they will, out of their own head, add the circumstances of time and place, and other matters, to make out their story, and give the appearance of probability to it; not that they have any concern about being believed, otherwise than as a means of being heard. The thing is, to engage your attention; to take you up wholly for the present time: what reflections will be made afterwards, is in truth the least of their thoughts. And further, when persons, who indulge themselves in these liberties of the tongue, are in any degree offended with another, as little disgusts and misunderstandings will be, they allow themselves to defame and revile such a one without any moderation or bounds; though the offence is so very slight, that they themselves would not do, nor perhaps wish, him an injury in any other way. And in this case the scandal and revilings are chiefly owing to talkativeness, and not bridling their tongue; and so come under our present subject. The least occasion in the world will make the humor break out in this particular way, or in another. It is like a torrent, which must and will flow; but the least thing imaginable will first of all give it either this or another direction, turn it into this or that channel or like a fire, the nature of which, when in a heap of combustible matter, is to spread and lay waste all around; but any one of a thousand little accidents will occasion it to break out first either in this or another particular part.
The subject then before us, though it does run up into, and can scarce be treated as entirely distinct from all others; yet it needs not be so much mixed and blended with them as it often is. Every faculty and power may