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talking, rash, raving, and impertinent discourse, doing no good to the hearers, but bewraying the folly of the speaker.
3. A trade of jesting, Eph. v. 4. It is not sinful to pass an innocent jest for begetting of moderate cheerfulness. The wise man tells us, There is a time to weep, and a time to laugh,' Eccl. iii. 4. It may in some cases be as necessary to cheer the spirits, as a cordial is to restore them, or a pleasant gale of wind to purify the air. It was not unbecoming the gravity of the prophet to mock Baal's priests, and to say,
Cry aloud; for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is on a journey; or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awakened,' 1 Kings xviii. 27. But sinful are,
(1.) Offensive jests, which tend to the shewing a despising of our neighbour, to the irritating and provoking of him. And indeed it is often seen, that those who are much given that way, their conversation is most offensive, sparing neither friend nor foe,and will rather lose their friend than their jest.
(2.) Profane jests, either making a mock of sin, or of that which is holy, particularly wresting and abusing of scripture, to express the conceits of their light and wanton wits. It is a dangerous thing to jest in such matters.
(3.) People's being immoderate in jesting. To make every word a jest, is liker the stage than Christian gravity. This is as absurd as to present a man a dish of salt to feed on; a little of it is good for seasoning, but to give it for the whole entertainment, is absurd.
4. Lastly, Flattery, Psal. xii. 3. This is a most dangerous stroke, and the more deadly that the wound it gives does not smart, but by it a man is hugged to ruin. The words of a flatterer are smoother than oil, yet are they in effect as drawn swords. It is a compound of lying, abjectness of spirit, and treachery. The flatterer gives the praise that is not due, professes the kindness that is not real, and screws up all to a pitch far above truth; and so he is a liar. He debases himself to please others, turning himself into every shape to humour the party he is to flatter; and betrays him into self-conceit and unacquaintedness with himself.
I shall shut all with a twofold dehortation.
First, Speak truth, and beware of lying. Lying is a very common sin; repent of that guilt, and beware of it for the future. For motives, consider,
Mot. 1. That God is the God of truth, the Author and
Lover of truth, so that he cannot lie; and therefore lying is most contrary to the nature and mind of God: it is therefore singularly abominable and hateful to him, Psal. x. 6. Prov. vi. 16. 17; We find that God suffered Adam's sons to marry their own sisters, and the Israelites to spoil the Egyptians of what they had borrowed of them; but never did the God of truth at any time dispense with men's speaking lies. Hate that abominable thing, then, which God so hates.
2. All lies are from the devil in a special manner, John viii. 44; It was he that first broached lies in the world, and ruined mankind with them; and having sped so well with that engine of hell at first, no wonder he sets himself to keep up the trade. He is the father of lies, that begets them in the false heart, and they are brought forth by the lying tongue. Whom do liars resemble then, the God of truth, or the father of lies?
3. Lying is a part of the old man of sin, which must be put off, if we would not be put out of God's presence, Eph. iv. 24, 25; It is the way to which our corrupt natures do kindly and quickly incline, Psal. lviii. 3; The wicked go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.' Hence children are not to learn this; they have the art of it from their first father Adam. But as soon as grace enters the heart, it rectifies it in that point. Hence the Lord's people are called children that will not lie,' Isa. lxiii. 8.
4. There is a meanness or baseness in lying beyond what is in other common sins, either because it proceeds from fear, or tends to deceive. Hence liars themselves cannot endure to be called liars; the baseness of the sin being so much acknowledged in the world, that though many bring forth and cherish the vile brat, none can endure to be reputed the father of it. And no wonder it is reputed such a base thing; for when once a man is known to make no conscience of truth, he has los. his credit, and is looked upon as a man that cannot be bound with the common ties of society, nor trusted.
Lastly, It will bring God's wrath heavily on the guilty, Prov. xix. 5, 9: A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape. A false witness shall not be unpunished; and he that speaketh lies shall perish.' God's truth is impawned for the liar's destruction,
even eternal destruction. Shall liars have access to heaven? No, they are barred out from thence, Rev. xxj. ult. There shall in nowise enter into it any thing that maketh a lie,' Their lodging is appointed to them in another place, with the devil the father of lies, in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, Rey. xxi. 8. and xxii. 15,
I shall give you a few advices.
1. Strike at the root of lying, and so the fruit will wither and come to nought. The great root of all is the corrupt nature, that needs to be mortified by grace from Jesus Christ, There are also particular lusts on which lies depend. Labour to be humble, for pride and self-seeking occasions many lies, as the boaster's lie. Some are founded on covetousness, as the lies in bargaining; some in fear, slavish fear of men, as denying of truth; some in the vanity and rashness of our natures, whereby lies come to be broached without a formed design.
2. Accustom yourselves to few words, for in the multitude of words there wanteth not sin,' Prov. x. 19; It is but just with God, that idle words be punished by suffering people to fall into lying words.
3, Remember that God will discover truth; and that his eye is upon you at all times. And though ye may deceive others with your lies, ye cannot deceive the omniscient God: He is witness to the truth, and will call you to account for your contradicting of it. And indeed the trade of lying is hard to keep up without discovery. Liars had need of good memories. A lying tongue is but for a moment,' Prov. xii. 19.
Lastly, Curb lying in young ones, out of pity to their souls, and care of their credit when they come to years, For some get such a habit of it when they are young, that there is no mending of them when they grow old.
Secondly, Beware of carrying an evil tongue. The lying tongue is contrary to truth, the evil tongue to charity and love to our neigbour, being employed in slandering, back, biting, reproaching, reviling, scolding, &c. For motives,
Mot. 1. Consider the woful perverseness that is in an evil tongue. God gave man speech, which he denied to other creatures, that by his tongue he might glorify God, and do good to himself and others, Psal. lvii. 9, 10; Shall we thus
turn our glory into shame, and pervert the ends of speech? How just were it that we were struck dumb?
2. It is a murdering instrument. I observed to you before, that an ill tongue is a parcel of murdering weapons, a bow and sharp arrows to pierce, a sword to stab, and a fire to devour others. Yea, Solomon observes, that death and life are in the power of the tongue. It is a fire that kindles strife and contention in all societies, and turns them into confusion; and oft-times returns heavily on the head of those who carry it. The tongues from heaven were cloven, to be the more diffusive of good; but those fired from hell are forked to be the more impressive of mischief.
3. Consider the wickedness of it. It is a world of iniquity, Jam. iii. 6; They have much ado that have an ill tongue to guide, a world of iniquity to guide. It is a broad stream from the fountain of the wickedness of the heart.
4. An unbridled tongue cuts off all pretences to true reli gion, Jam. i. 26; For where the fear or love of God and our neighbour is in the heart, it will be a bond on the tongue to keep it within the bounds of Christian charity.
5. We must give an account of our words at the day of judgment, Matth. xii. 36, 37.
Lastly, An ill tongue will ruin the soul. Bridle your tongues; however unruly they be, they shall be silent in the grave. And, if repentance prevent it not, the day will come that they will be tormented in hell-flames, Luke xvi,
I shall conclude with an advice or two,
1. Begin at the heart, if ye would order your tongues aright. Labour to get them cleansed by the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, Study love to God and your neighbour, which are the fulfilling of the law. Labour for meekness, and patience, and humility, which will be the best direc tors of the tongue.
2. Set yourselves, in the faith of promised assistance, to watch over your hearts and tongues. Unwatchfulness is dangerous in the case of such an unruly member as the tongue is. God has guarded it naturally. Do ye also watch it.
OF THE TENTH COMMANDMENT.
EXOD. XX. 17.-Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his man servant, nor his maid-servant, nor his ot, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's,
THE scope of this command is to strike at the root and first risings of sin in the heart, in the desires going out of their right line of purity and equity. It is a strict boundary set to the unbounded desires of the heart.
In it, there are, 1. The act. 2. The object. The act, Thou shalt not covet, or lust, as the apostle terms it, Rom. vii. 7; which implies an inordinateness of desire, a feverish motion of the soul towards the creature, irregular and disorderly; and so a dissatisfaction with one's present condi tion, as appears from Heb. xiii. 5; Let your conversation be without covetousness, and be content with such things as ye have.'
The object is held forth particularly for example's cause, thy neighbour's house, thy neighbour's wife, his servants, and goods. Thou shalt not only not take away thy neighbour's house from him by oppression, nor'entice away his servants, nor steal his goods, nor entertain a fixed and deliberate desire to do him that injury, as is forbidden in the eighth command; but the inordinate desire of having them shall not rise in, nor go through thy heart, however lightly, if it were like a flying arrow, saying, O that his house, his servant, his ox and ass were mine! Thou shalt not only not defile his wife, nor deliberately desire to do it, as is forbidden in the seventh commandment; but thou shalt not say. in thine heart, O that she were mine! though thou hast no mind, right or wrong, to make her so.
This object is held forth universally, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's: whereby it appears, that this command looks through all the other coinmandments of the second table, and so condemns all inordinate desire of any object whatsoever. And therefore the Papists dividing this command into two is absurd, and but a trick invented to atone for their