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ficial Repentance only. The Petition of the Psalmist, Cleanse thou me from secret Faults, proceeded from a Heart deeply affected with the Sense of its Guilt, and does not express the Sentiments of one who was excusing or lessening his Faults ; for he remembered, and so must we, that secret as our Faults are, yet God has placed them in the Light of bis Countenance,
ver the efs
PAR T I.
MATThew xii. 36. But I say unto you, that every idle Word that
Men shall Speak, they shall give Account thereof in the Day of Judgment.
**T is very evident from the Con
text, that our Saviour's Intention was to distinguish between the heinous Offences of Blaf
phemy, Perjury, and the like, and the idle Words mentioned in the Text, as I shall have Occasion to observe. We must therefore look among the more common and less crying Sins of Speech, to know what kind of Words they are, which our
Saviour threatens with an Account at the Day of Judgment. Of these there are many forts:
First, Idle Words may denote Words which proceed either from the Vanity or the Deceitfulness of Men's Minds; and this Sense will take in all the empty Boastings and great Pretences of Vanity and Pride, and all the fly Infinuations of Craft and Hypocrisy; and there is no Doubt to be made, but that Men shall be accountable for Words of this kind at the Day of Judgment.
Secondly, Idle Words may comprehend the Reports which proceed oftentimes from mere Curiosity, and a Desire of hearing and telling News, by which our Neighbour suffers in his Credit or Reputation; and questionless these Words will be also remembered in the Day of the Lord.
Thirdly, Idle Words may imply such Words as are the impure Conceptions of a polluted Mind, which often pass for Wit and Entertainment among those who have learned to make a Mock of Sin. Under this Head will be comprehended the Filthiness and foolish Talking and Festing, which the Apostle to the Ephesians would not have so much as among Christians.
Lastly, Idle Words may signify useless and insignificant Words. This Sense will comprehend a great part of the Conversation of the World, which aims at nothing but present Amusements; as if it were the Business of a rational Creature to divert his Mind from Thought and Reflection. How far Words of this kind, when attended with no other Evil, may expose a Man to Guilt, is not easily discerned; though I think it is evident at least, that a Man may spend so much of his Time in idle or unprofitable Words, as to render himself obnoxious to an Account for the Misuse and Misapplication of the Reason and Speech with which his Maker has endowed him,
These are the common Sins of Speech, which are comprehended under the general Term of idle Words, which, if persisted in, may prove of dangerous Consequence to our Souls; for of every idle Word we speak we must give Account thereof in the Day of Judgment.
What these Sins are, I shall endeavour to represent to you in the following Discourse, under the several Heads already mentioned.
And, First, By idle Words we may understand such Words as proceed generally from VOL. III.