Images de page




So that he advifeth us nothing, but what he did himfelf; nor imposeth any thing upon us, from which he himself defired to be excufed. And furely we have great reason to be in great love with this pattern, when that very goodness which he propounds to our imitation, was all laid out upon us, and redounds to our benefit and advantage; when our falvation and happiness are the effects of that goodness and compaffion which he exercised in the world. He did it all purely for our fakes: whereas all the good we do to others, is a greater good done to ourselves.

So that here is an example and experiment of the thing in the greatest and most famous inftance that the whole world can afford. The best and happiest man that ever was, the Son of GoD and the SAVIOUR of men, and who is the moft worthy to be the pattern of all mankind, "went about doing good," and governed his whole life, and all the actions of it by this principle, that "it is more bleffed to give, than to re"ceive. Let the fame mind be in us that was in "JESUS CHRIST: let us go and do likewise."

The evil of corrupt communication.

EPHES. iv. 29.

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth; but that which is good to the ufe of edifying, that it may minifter grace to the bearers.


S difcourfes against fin and vice in general are of great ufe, fo it is likewife very neceffary 'to level them against the particular vices of men, and to



endeavour by proper and intrinsical arguments, taken SERM. from the nature of that vice we treat of, to diffuade and deter them from it because this carries the difcourfe home to the confciences of men, and leaves them no way of escape. For this reason, and in compliance with their majefties pious proclamation, for the discountenancing and fupprefling of profaneness and vice, I have chofen to treat upon this fubject, of corrupt and filthy communication, as being one of the reigning vices of this wicked and adulterous generation; of the evil whereof the generality of men are less fenfible than almost of any other, that is fo frequently and fo exprefly branded in fcripture. And to this purpose I have pitched upon the words which I have read unto you, as containing a plain and exprefs prohibition of this vice. Let no corrupt commu"nication;"&¢!!

I remember. St. Auftin in one of his epiftles tells us, that Tully, the great mafter of the art of speaking, fays of one of the great orators, Nullum unquam verbum quod revocare vellet, emifit. That no word e"ver fell from him, that he could wish to have re

called" This I doubt is above the perfection of -human eloquence, for a man always to make fuch a choice of his words, and to place them fo fitly, that nothing he ever faid could be changed for the better. But the greateft faults of fpeech are not thofe which offend against the rules of eloquence; but of piety, and virtue, and good manners: and who can fay that his tongue is free from all faults in this kind, and no -word ever proceeded from him which he could wish to have recalled. "In many things," fays St. James, chap. iii. 2. we offend all," and in this kind as much perhaps, and as often as in any. He is a good and a happy man indeed, that feldom or never offends



[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

SER M. with his tongue. If any man," as St. James goes on, "offend not in word, the fame is a perfect man; that is, he hath attained to an eminent degree of vir tue indeed, and is above the common rate of men, and may reasonably be prefumed blamelefs in the general courfe of his life and practice;" and able," as it follows, to bridle the whole body;" that is, to order his whole converfation aright.

To govern the tongue is a matter of great difficulty, and confequently of great wisdom, and care, and circumspection; and therefore one of the great endeavours of a wife and good man, fhould be to govern his words by the rules of reafon and religion; and we should every one of us resolve and fay, as David does, Pfal. xxxix. 1.I will take heed to my

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

"ways, that I fin not with my tongue." For as the virtues, fo the vices of the tongue are many and great. In refpect of the virtues of it, David calls it .the best member we have; because of all the members -and inftruments of the body, it is capable of giving -the greatest glory to God, and of doing the greatest good and benefit to men. And in respect of the vices of it, it may be as truly faid to be the worst member that we have, because it is capable of doing the greateft difhonour to GoD, and the greatest mischief and . harm among men. So that upon all accounts, we ought to have a great care of the government of our tongue, which is capable of being fo useful and serviceable to the best and worst purposes, according as we restrain it and keep it in order, or let it loose to fin and folly.

And among all the vices, of the tongue, as none is more common, fo none is more mifbecoming, and more contrary to the modesty of a man, and the gravity of a Christian, than filthy and obfcene talk of the odious nature, and the evil and mifchievous con



fequences whereof, both to ourfelves and others, ISERM, défign by God's affiftance to treat at this time, from, the words which I have read unto you, "Let no corrupt communication, &c.", 1

That by corrupt or rotten communication, is here meant filthy and obfcene talk, is generally agreed among interpreters. By that which is good to the

"ufe of edyfying," is meant such discourse, as is apt to build us up in knowledge and goodness, to make the hearers wifer and better. That it may minif"ter grace unto the hearers," that is, fuch kind of difcourfe as is acceptable to all; not näufeous and offenfive to fober and virtuous perfons, not apt to grate upon chaite and modeft ears, and to put the hearers out of countenance.

So that the apostle doth here ftrictly forbid all lewd and filthy difcourfe among Chriftians; and enjoins them fo to converse with one another, that all their difcourfes may minifter mutual benefit and advantage to one another, and tend to the promoting of piety and virtue; and may likewife be grateful to the hearers, carefully avoiding every thing that may put them to the bluth, or any ways trefpafs upon modefty and good manners, as all filthy communicati

on does.

This fort of argument, though it be frequently mentioned in fcripture, yet it is very feldom treated of in' the pulpit, because it is a matter hard to be handled in a cleanly manner, and the preacher must always take good heed to himself, that his difcourfe be free from the contagion of that vice, which he reproves and designs to correct and cure. And thereTfore to diffuade and deter men from this evil practice,

[ocr errors]


fo rife and common in the world, and that not on

ly among the profane and diffolute fort of perfons,


SERM. but thofe likewife who would feem to be more ftri&t CCXIV. and religious, I hope it may be fufficient to all confiderate perfons, plainly to reprefent to them the heinous nature of the thing itself, together with the evil and dangerous confequences of it, both to our felves and to others. And this I fhall endeavour to do in the most general and wary terms, keeping all along, as much as is poffible, aloof and at a distance from any thing that might either offend the chafte and modeft, or infect lewd and diffolute minds, which like tinder are always ready to take fire at the least spark.

[ocr errors]

Having premised this in general, my work at this time fhall be to offer fuch particular confiderations, as may fully convince men of the great evil and danger of this practice; and I hope may effectually prevail with them to leave it, and break it off. And they fhall be these following.

I. That all filthy and corrupt communication is evidently contrary to nature, which is careful to hide and fupprefs, whatever in the general esteem of the fober part of mankind hath any thing of turpitude and uncomelinefs in it and wherever nature hath thought fit to draw a vail, we should neither by words nor actions expofe fuch things to open view. Quæ natura accultavit, fays Tully, de Offic. Lib. 1. eadem omnes, qui fanâ funt mente removent ab oculis, "Thofe things which nature hath thought fit to hide, "all men that are in their wits endeavour to keep "out of fight," Nos autem naturam fequamur, says the fame excellent moralift, ibid. Et ab omni quod abborret ab oculorum auriumque approbatione fugiamus, "Let us," fays he, "follow nature, and flee "every thing that is offenfive either to the eye or ear of men." And this is fo plain a lesson of nature, that an actor in a play will never fall into that abfur

« PrécédentContinuer »