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David feems not now to have recollected

XVII. the refolutions, which he had formed, the

Pf. ci. 5.7.

plan of government, which he had laid down
to himself, before his fettlement on the throne
of Ifrael. When he faid: Whofo privily
flandereth his neighbour, him will I cut off.
He that worketh deceit, fhall not dwell in my
boufe. He that telleth lyes, fhall not abide in
my fight.
And indeed, it may exceed the
abilities of the best, and wifeft of men, to
guard, at all times, against all the arts of

2. Another thing, that should induce us to this care, is, that otherwife we cannot approve ourselves to be truly religious. It is an observation of St. James, already taken notice of. If any man among you feemeth to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, that man's religion is vain. And the truth of that obfervation is confirmed by what has been faid under the foregoing particular, of the importance of this matter. That man is not truly religi ous, whatever profeffion he may make, who talks without confideration, fpreads ftories to the difadvantage of others, founded only on furmife, or upon teftimonie that ought to be


fufpected or affects to recommend the prin- SERM. ciples of religion, or of any science, who XVII. has neglected enquirie: or, who gives his judgement in affairs, about which he is not well informed, and has taken no care to be fo.

3. It ought to induce us to aim at the government of the tongue, that it is a great excellence. It is the doctrine of the text. If any man offend not in word, the fame is a perfect man, and able alfo to bridle the whole body. It is a proof of much virtue, great difcretion, a full command of the paffions, and a prevailing regard to the good of others. Does a man bridle his tongue? Does nothing proceed out of his mouth, to the detriment, or offense, of others? nothing, but what tends to edification? Does he know, when to fpeak, and when to be filent? Is his fpeech always with grace fea- Col. iv. 6. Joned with falt? Are his words weighty, though few? Are his difcourfes folid for the matter, and modeft, and agreeable for the manner? Does he argue without pofitiveneffe, advise without affuming authority, and reprove without feverity and harfhneffe? Such an one is an excellent, or perfect man.


SERM. And it is a character, which we may defire XVII. to attain to.

III. Which brings me to the third and laft thing that was propofed, to lay down fome rules and directions, which may affift us in governing the tongue, and curing the faults of it.

1. Let us cherish the principle of the fear of God in our hearts. For that will deter from every kind of evil, and dispose to good Pl. xxxiv. words, as well as to good actions. Come, ye, children, fays the Pfalmift, bearken unto me. I will teach you the fear of the Lord.

11... 13.


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What man is he that defireth life, and loveth many days, that be may fee good? Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.

2. Let us alfo cherish and cultivate the Rom. xiii. love of our neighbour. For love, as the Apoftle fays, is the fulfilling of the law. If we love our neighbour as ourselves, we fhall be concerned for his credit, as well as for our own: and not willingly injure him by wards, any more than by actions.

3. Let us call to mind former offenfes and tranfgreffions of this kind, which we have been

been convinced of, and have been forry for. SERM. This may be of great ufe for time to come. XVII. It will fecure our guard, and render it more effectual.

4. If we are acquainted with any excellent mafters in this art, who are great examples of this virtue, we should diligently obferve them for our imitation. If we know of any, who do not readily receive evil reports, who rarely speak to the disadvantage of any, who never aggravate the real faults of men, who are willing to applaud commendable actions, and to excufe imprudences, and leffer faults: whofe difcourfes are ufeful and entertaining in whofe mouth is the law of kindneffe, and whofe wisdom is accompanied Ja. iii. 13. with meeknesse; they are worthie of our attentive view and obfervation.

15. Let us endeavor to mortify pride, envie, and inordinate felf-love, and cultivate that wisdom, which is pure, peaceable, unbiaffed, Ver. 17: difinterested, and public-fpirited. Then we are likely to attain to this perfection, and not offend in word.

6. Let us alfo endeavor to emprove in the knowledge of the works of nature, and the word of God. If a man's mind is filled


SERM. with a variety of valuable knowledge, he will XVII. be under little temptation to divert into the topics of detraction and scandal, for the fake of fhining in companie.

7. Let us often recollect fome of the directions, which the Scripture affords upon this Tit. iii. 2. point: Speak evil of no man: Let every one Ja. i. 19. be swift to hear, flow to Speak: Speak not evil ... iv. 11. one of another, brethren.


But it is time to conclude, out of reverence to the rules that have been just laid down, fome of them efpecially.

I add therefore but one word more, which is, that we should now make application, not to others, but to ourselves. And if we have this day feen any of our faults, and the Ja. i. 23. caufes of them; let us not be like a man, who having beheld his face in a glaffe, goes away, and foon forgeteth what manner of man he was: but having looked into the perfect law of virtue, let us continue therein: not being forgetful bearers, but doers of the word. For fuch fhall be blefed in their deed.


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