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fons, Histrio hoc videbit in scena, quod non videbit fapiens in vita? “ Shall an actor see this to be improper upon o the stage, and a wise man not discern the absurdity “ and undecency of it in his life and conversation?”
II. All corrupt and filthy communication is a notorious abuse of one of the greatest and belt gifts which God hath given us, and does directly contradict the natural end and use of speech. Our tongue is our glory, as the holy Psalmist often calls it, who had duly considered the excellency and use of this faculty, and took great care to employ it to the purposes to which God gave it, and is herein an admirable pattern to us.
And next to our reason and understanding, our speech doth most remarkably distinguish us from the beasts, and lets us above them. Hoc uno præftamus vel maxime feris, quod colloqiimur inter nos, quod exprimere dicendo sensa pollumus, says the great Roman orator, Cicero, de orat. lib. i. “ By this one thing we excel the beasts in a “ very high degree, that we can talk together, and by “ speechi declare our minds to one another.” By our understandings we know God, and by our tongues we confess and praise him : but to use our tongues to lewd and filthy discourse, is to pervert and abuse one of the best and noblest faculties, which God hath given us; it is to affront him with his own gifts; and to fight against him with his own weapons. Do we thus requite the Lord? foolish creatures and unthankful!.
The two great ends for which this faculty of speech is given us, are to glorify God our maker, and to edify man our neighbour: but all corrupt communication contradicts both these ends ; because, instead of praising God with pure hearts and lips, we do greatly dishonour him, by polluting our tongues with lewd and filthy talk: for hereby we offer a direct affront to his holy nature and laws. This renders us altogether unfit for the worship and service of almighty God, who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity and impurity of any kind. For how can we think that he will accept those prayers and praises, which are offered to him by such impure and unhallowed lips when we dishonour God with the saine mouth that we pretend to glorify him; and -commit fin with the same tongue that we confessit? How
can we hope that he will accept the sacrifice of such pol. Juted lips, out of which proceed things fo contrary and inconsistent ? ..
Those who thus pervert the use of speech, and instead of glorifying hinn who gave them this excellent gift, and setting forth his praise, defile their tongues with filthy and impure language, give just occasion to complain of them, as Elihu does of the wicked in his time, Job xxxv. 10. 11. None faith, Where is God my maker, who giveth fongs in the night? Who teacheth us. more than the beasts of the earth, and maketh us wiser. than the fowls of heaven. His meaning is, that they did not glorify God their maker, by singing his praises, which by being endued with this noble faculty of speech, (which he had denied to the creatures below man, the beasts and birds) they only were capable of performing. The consideration of this high privilege, by which we do so much excel the creatures below us, ought to be a mighty obligation upon us, to employ this gift of God in the service, and to the glory of the giver, and make us very careful not to offend him by it, or by any defilement of it, to render it unfit for one of the principal uses for which God bestowed it upon us.
Another great end of speech is to edify our neighbour. So the Apostle here tells us in the text, that nothing should proceed out of our mouths, but what is good for the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. But instead of that, corrupt communication offends the chaste and virtuous, and corrupts them who have vicious inclinations, by exciting and cherishing lewd ima. ginations in them, and making them that are filthy more filthy ftill.
III. Corrupt communication is an evidence of a cor. rupt and impure heart, as polluted streams are a sign that the fountain is impure from whence they came. An impure mind may be covered and disguised by natural shame and outward reverence, in regard to the com. pany, or from some other particular design; but when it breaks out at any time in lewd talk, our speech betrays us, and discovers the inward thoughts of our hearts, and makes them visible to every eye. For as our Saviour says, Qut of the abundance of the heart the inouth
Speaketh, Speaketh, Matth. xii. 34. 35. How can ye, being evil, Jpeak good things ? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man, out of the good treas füre of the heart, bringeth forth good things : and an evil man, out of the evil treasure, bringeth forth evil things.
" There is not, fays an excellent divine of our own, « Dr. Barrow, a more certain sign of a mind utterly e debauched from piety and virtue, than affecting fuch * talk. A vain mind naturally venteth itself in frothy. os discourse ; and lust, boiling within, foams out in file • thy talk.' It is St. Jude's metaphor, when he defcribes that impure fedt of the Gnosticks, he says of them, that they were continnally foaming out their own fame, ver. 23. that is, by their lewd words and deeds they discovered the inward filthiness of their hearts. And therefore it is Tully's advice to him that would be perfectly virtuous, and not defective in any part of his duty, Imprimis provideat, ne fermo vitinm aliquod in. dicet ineffe moribus ; de offic. lib. i. “ Let him in the ** first place, says he, take great care, that his fpeech bea tray not some vice or fault in his manners." 'Ardpois Xa antip ex adgs gvapítetas, “a man's character is si commonly taken from his talk." Olomouc, TOE 70 x 8 róg@, says Aristides,“ Such as are the man“ ners of a man, such is his discourse;" and Quintilian, lib. xi. c. 1. Profert enim mores plerumque oratio, et animi fecreta detegit, nec fine cansa Greci prodiderunt, ut vivit, quemquam etiam dicere. « Our speech, for the “ moft part, declares our manners, and discovers the fe* crets of our hearts; so that not without cause was * it become a proverbial saying among the Greeks, that, " as the man lives, so also he speaks.” And to the fame purpose the wise son of Sirach, Eccluf. xxvii. 6. 7. The fruit declareth, if the tree hath been dresled; so is the utterance of a conceit in the heart of man. Praise no man before thou hearest him speak: for this is the trial of men. And ver. 13. The discourse of fools is irksome, and their sport is in the wantonness of sin.
Immodest speech is not only an indication of an un. chafte mind; but draws likewise a great fufpicion upon å man's life. So strict a connexion commonly is there between a man's thoughts and words, and between his
words and actions, that they are generally presumed to be all of a piece, and agreeable to one another.
IV. Corrupt communication doth debauch and defile the minds of men, and that not only of the speaker, but likewise of the hearer of such discourse ; because it grati
fies and feeds a corrupt humour, and a vitiated appetite, - beside that it disposeth and inclines to lewd and filthy actions : a smutty tongue and unchaste deeds are seldom far afunder, and do very often go together; for filthy talk and lewd practices seem only to differ in the occalion and opportunity; and he that makes no conscience of the one, will hardly stick at the other, when it can be done with secrecy and safety. The law of God forbids both alike, and his eye beholds both; For there is not a word in my tongue, says David, Pfal. cxxxix. 4. but thou, O Lord, knowest it altogether. So that whatever may deter us from lewd practice (the authority of God forbidding it, or the awe of his presence, who continually stands by us, and hears and sees all that we fay and do) is of equal force to restrain us from lewd and filthy words : for they both proceed from the same ill difpofition of mind, and are done in equal contempt of the divine presence and authority.
V. It is uncivil and unmannerly, very disagreeable, and highly difpleasing to all fóber and modest persons. It is a clownish and rude thing, says Tully, de offic. lib. i. Si rerum turpitudini adhibetur verborum obscænitas, " If to things which are immodest in themselves, " we add the obscenity of words.”
Nothing that trespasses upon the modesty of the company, and the decency of conversation, can become the mouth of a wise and virtuous person. This kind of .conversation would fain pass for wit among some sort of persons, to whom it is acceptable; but whatever saç vours of rudeness and immodesty, and ill manners, is very far from deserving that name; and they that are fober and virtuous, cannot entertain any discourse of this kind with approbation and acceptance : A wellbred person will never offend in this way; and there. fore it cannot but be esteemed as an affront to modest company, and a rude presuming upon their approbation,
impudently taking it for granted that all others are as lewd and diffolute as themselves.
This sort of conversation was not only offensive to righteous Lot, but was a perpetual vexation to him, and grieved him at his very heart. So St. Peter tells us, 2 Pet ii. 7. 8. that Lot was vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked. For that righteous man dwell. ing among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righ. teous foul from day to day with their unlawful deeds. In · seeing and hearing, that is, in seeing their lewd actions, * and hearing their filthy talk, his life became a burden to
him ; and therefore God singled him out, and delivered -him both from that wicked company, and from that dreadful judgment of fire and brimstone, which came down from heaven upon them, and consumed them with an utter destruction, for an exainple to all ages, and an -admonition to all good men, that they ought to be in like manner affected, as righteous Lot was, with the filthy conversation of the wicked.
. . | VI. As by this practice we offend against nature, and reason, and true morality; so it is likewise a direct contempt and defiance of the Chriftian religion, which does so strictly forbid, and so feverely condemn it in Chri.. ftians. Our blessed Saviour feems more particularly to censure and condemn this vice, when he says, Matth. xii. 36. 37. That every idle word that men shall speak, they mall give an account thereof in the day of judgment. Every idle word, pruce epg.de, every vain and unprofitable word, that no ways tends to edification ; that is the very lowest fenfe the words can bear. But then how much more thall we give an account in that day of every lewd word, which tends to corrupt and debauch the minds and manners of men. Some copies have it, pnud nonpòv, every naughty and wicked word, every false, and malicious, and calumniating word: “ An idle word, fays St. “ Bafil, is that which is not for edification, and fuch « words Thall come 'under examination in that great " assembly of the whole world ; and what then, says Is he, shall be done to words of fcurrility, and calumny, “ and obfcenity!"
But that which will beft direct us to the meaning of · this phrase, is what the Jewish masters observed, that