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Ver. 31. 32.
their character, without reason. Afterwards Serm.
Where by speaking against the Son of man seem to be intended those false characters given of our Lord by some, of his being a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and finers: consisting of false and injurious representations of some part of his conduct, and embraced by fome, who were little acquainted with him, or his works.
We might farther argue, that this is the design of our Lord from what is said at the 2 3
SERM. 34. and 35. How can ye being evil speck good
the mouth Speaketh. A good man out of the
well incline us to think, that by idle words our Lord does not mean those words, which are insignificant and unprofitable, and have no immediate tendence to promote some good : but rather such words as are evil, false, injurious and detrimental to mens personal characters, or to the interests of religion.
II. Secondly, we are to consider, how
men can be justified by their words, if they are good : and how they can
be condemned by them, if evil. It is what our Lord here declares expreffly and Itrongly. And the justification, or acquital, 'and the condemnation or censure, relate to the folemn transactions of the great day : 'when mens characters and states shall be finally, and forever determined : and not
barely to any sentences of applause or dif- SERM•
But how can this be? Are there not other
The design of our Lord therefore is, to assure men, that their words also are of
great importance. Men are often apt to be very heedless in this respect. They indulge great freedom of speech, not being duly apprehentive of the consequences of good, or bad words. And our Lord, upon the Pharisees reviling his miracles, takes occafion to discourse
upon the point, and delivers this doctrine : that mens words will come into consideration in
Serm. the day of judgement. Whatever fome may XVI. think, or endeavor to persuade themselves,
this is the judgement of God: their words are of no small moment. God abferves them now, and will call men to an account for them hereafter. And sometimes their words alone may be found sufficient to decide men's characters.
III. Which brings me to the third parti
cular, to fhew the reasonablenesse of justifying, or condemning men by their
words. One reason is, that a great deal is in the power of the tongue. Good or bad difcourse has a great effect and influence on the
affairs of the world. As St. James says, the Ja. iii. 5. tongue, though a little member, boasteth great
things. Bebold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity, ... and settetb on fire the whole course of nature. The abuse of the
The abuse of the tongue in false and injurious speeches is often prejudicial and ruinous to the good character and prol
perity of particular persons, and to the peace Pro xviii. and quietnesse of whole societies. The words of a tale-bearer are as wounds, and they go
down into the innermost parts of the belly. Serm. St. Paul: Wherefore putting away lying, speak XVI. every man truth with bis neighbour : for we Eph. iv. are members one of another. Let all bitter- 25. nesse, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, be put'away from you with all malice.
False and injurious words are evil and vicious. And there is virtue in good words: in vindicating the characters of the injured, pleading the cause of the oppressed, reconciling differences, recommending peace and friendship, and forwarding any good and useful designs. - Solomon says: A man shall be satisfied Pr. xii. with good by the fruit of his lips. And the recompense of a mans bands fall be rendred unto him : that is, the author of good counsel and advice, whether in private. or public concerns, will reap advantage by it. And a man shall be recompensed for good words, as well as for good actions.':
Again : A man mall eat good by the fruit ... xiii. 2
bis mouth: but the soul of the transgresors Mall eat violence : that is, he who gives men good and faithful counsel, or he who speaks well of others, as they deserve, will have a benefit by it. And they also who injuriously