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XVII.

bulent zeal who were conceited of them- SERM. felves, and defpifed others: and were impofing, and uncharitable. That may be one reafon, why this writer infifts fo much, and fo frequently, upon this matter.

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In the very first chapter ver. 19, he exhorts with affectionate earneftneffe: Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be fwift to bear, flow to speak, flow to wrath. And again ver. 26. If any man among you feemeth to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, deceiving his own heart, that man's religion is vain. In this chapter he enlargeth upon the point. Some of his expreffions are extremely strong, faying, that the tongue can Ja. iii. 8、 no man tame: meaning, however, no more, than that it is very difficult for a man to govern his own tongue, or to teach others that skill. For we are not to fuppofe, that he intends to say, that it is altogether impoffible. This may be inferred from his exhortations. would not be at the pains to admonish and argue, as he does, if there were no hopes of fucceffe. He would not, then, have said: My brethren, let every man be fwift to hear, flow to speak. He would not have argued, and fhewn the inconfiftence of blessing God, .... 9. and

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SERM. and curfing men: nor have added: My breXVII. thren, these things ought not fo to be. Such admonitions and reproofs are delivered upon the fuppofition of the happy effects of great care in this matter. And here, in the text, it is admitted, that fome may, and do attain to a great degree of perfection in this refpect.

We are not to fuppofe, then, that St. James defigns to fay, the government of the tongue is abfolutly impoffible. Much less are we to think, that he intends to cenfure the faculty of speech, when he fays, the Ja. iii. 6. tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. No! he only aims, by emphatical expreffions, and pathetic arguments, to correct the abuses of it: which were very great and frequent, as it feems, among the Chriftians, to whom he writes, as well as among many other perfons. David fometimes fpeaks of his tongue, as his glorie, it being fited to celebrate the praises of God. Indeed the communication, which we have with each other, and the many advantages of fociety, depend upon it. And the organs of fpeech are admirable. The difpofitions made for it are beyond the dif

cription of the moft eloquent tongue, and SERM. above all the force of human language. Nor XVII. is it at all ftrange, that the thing formed should not be able to comprehend, or fully commend, the wifdom and skill of it's former.

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St. James begins this chapter with a caution against affecting the office and character of a teacher, as was very common among the Jewish people, and against exercifing it with too great rigour and severity. My brethren, be not many mafters, knowing, that we fhall receive the greater condemnation, if we offend, which it is very difficult to avoid. For in many things we all offend. If any man offend not in word, the fame is a perfect man, and able to bridle the whole body. "But if "there is any man among you, that does "not offend in fpeech, he is an excellent "man, and able to manage all the other "parts of the body:" or, as fome thereby understand, the whole church, the body of Chriftian people, among whom he refides. "He is qualified for the office and station "of a teacher of others, and is likely to be ufeful and ferviceable therein."

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SERM.

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In farther difcourfing on this text I shall

XVII. obferve the following method.

I. I fhall fhew fomewhat diftinctly the
difficulty of governing the tongue.
II. I fhall propose fome motives and con-
fiderations, tending to engage us to do
our best to govern the tongue.

III. I intend to lay down fome rules and directions, which may be of use to affift us in obtaining this excellence and perfection.

I. In the firft place I would fhew the difficulty of governing the tongue, the point fo largely infifted on, and fo emphatically represented in this chapter. The difficulty of this will appear by these particulars: the great number of those who offend in word, the many faults which [the tongue is liable to, and the springs and caufes of tranfgreffions of this kind.

1. The difficulty of governing the tongue may be argued from hence, that great num bers of men offend in their words.

There are many, who fcarce fet any guard upon their expreffions, as if their tongue

was

was their own, and fubject to no law, and SERM. they had a right to annoy others at pleafure. XVIL Yea fome who have had the character of Pr. xii. 4. goodneffe, have tranfgreffed here by falfhood,

or haftineffe of fpeech, or other ways. An

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offense of this kind is taken notice of in Mofes himself, who was fo remakable for meekneffe.Pf. cvi. 32. 33. They angred him alfo at the waters of firife, fo that it went ill with Mofes for their fake: because they provoked his fpirit, fo that he spake unadvisedly with his lips: referring, probably, to what is recorded in Numb. xx. 10. And Mofes and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he faid unto them: Hear now, ye rebels: Must we fetch you water out of this rock?

But I need not infift farther on this particular: though it may be of fome use to fatisfy us of the difficulty of governing the tongue, that men of excellent characters, who have been almost faultlefs in other refpects, have been surprised into fome offenfes of this fort.

2. Another thing, which fhews the difficulty of governing the tongue, is the many offenfes, it is liable to.

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