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It seldom fails of enflaming Mens Wrath, and of provoking them to lasting Resentments. And what dreadful Consequences these may have, it is impossible for the injurious Person himself to forefee. It often costs him his Life; it often derives down Feuds to his Posterity ; it often enflames whole Countries and Kingdoms, and kindles most desperate Wars among the Citizens; and these attended with all the Cruelty, Rapine, Oppression, and Resentment imaginable.
- 5. Let us consider how utterly inconsistent this. Temper is with the Spirit of the Christian Religion; a Religion, which is all over Mildness and Goodness; a Religion, which stops the very first Motions of Pride, Anger, and Revenge ; and lays the Foundation of it's Laws in Humility, Charity, Patience, Peaceableness, Condescension, Moderation, Cheerfulness, Forgiveness of Enemies, and the like good natur'd Virtues: And on the contrary, doth, on the severest Penalties, prohibit all Malice, Envy, Wrath, Hatred, Animosity, and Ill-will in the Heart, and all Railing, Virulency, Bitterness, Slander, Reproach, and Evilspeaking in the Tongue.
6. Let us consider and observe how much these affronting, injurious Railers are detested and avoided by all Societies whatsoever. It was Solomon's Advice, Prov. xxii. 24, 25. Make no Friendship with an angry Man, and with a furious Man thou shalt not go; left thou learn his Ways, and get a Snare to thy Soul. There is no Man fafe that frequents such a one's Company; and indeed, every good Christian, for the Honour of his Religion, should set a Mark on such Persons, as Persons that he should have nothing to do with. If any Man that is called a Brother, be a Fornica. tor, or Covetous, or an Idolater, or a Railer, or a Drunkard, or an Extortioner, St Paul advises us, with such a one, no not to eat, i Cor. v. 11.
7. Let us confider, that foul Language is a certain Demonstration of a foul Mind within; were there Love and Charity in the Heart, such black Steams of Wrath and Hatred could never rife from it. And therefore in the Descriptions of good Men, we find one Ingredient is, a Freedom from this Vice, as Psal. xv. The Psalmist having put the Question, Who Mall abide in thy Tabernacle? Who shall dwell in thy holy Hill? á mong other things, answers: He that Backbiteth not with the Tongue, nor doth evil to his Neighbour, nor taketh up a Reproach against his Neighbour, Psalm xv. 3 . 8. Lastly, Let it be considered, that our Saviour makes this Vice an high Breach of the Sixth Commandment, and consequently, a great
ree of the Sin of Murder, and intimates plainly to us, that howsoever this be á Fault which often escapes the Punishment of human Judicatures, it shall be most exemplarily punished in the World to come ; for having compared the Punishment of Inward Anger against our Brother, to the Punishment of the Ordinary Courts of Judicature; and the Punishment of the lesser Provocations by the Tongue, to the Punishment of the Council or greater Sanhedrim ; when he comes to this, he can find the Punishment of no Court high enough for it ; and therefore compares it to the Burning in the Valley of Hinnom ; which exceeded the Punishment of all Courts whatsoever.
· From all which we may conclude, that he that useth such opprobrious Language, is a very Fool indeed; and he that is upon his Guard against it, and abstaineth from it, is a wise Man. A Fools Lips, enter into Contention, says Solomon, and his Mouth calleth for Strokes. A Fools Mouth is his Destruction, and his Lips are the Snare of his Soul, Prov. xviii. 6, 7. He that refraineth his Tongue is Wise, Prov. x., 19. He that keefeth bis Mouth keepeth his Life: but he that openeth wide his Lips, shall have Destruction, Prov. xiii. 3. These are Solomon's Observations, His Father David too, takes notice of it, that the good Government of the Tongue is the Way to pass quietly through the World, and not to have one's Days cut short: What Man is be that depreth Life, says he, and loveth many Days, that be may fee good? Keep thy Tongue from Evil, and thy Lips from speaking guile, Pfalm xxxiv. 12, 13.
So much for guarding us against opprobrious, contumelious Language. But before I quit this Subject, because in divers Cafes, an harsher fort of Language is countenanced by great Authorities; left they should be drawn into common Example, it will be necessary to distinguish and separate from the common Practice, fome privileged Cases, fo to speak, in which it may be lawful for some fort of Perfons, and upon some Occasions, to speak in Terms of greater Bluntness and Severity. Particularly,
When Parents, Masters, Magistrates, or Ministers, find that gentler Admonitions will not work upon Children, Servants, Delinquents, and obstinate Sinners, it is then not only lawful, but a Duty incumbent upon them, to rebuke with
greater Sharpness and Severity. For we find Eli's Gentleness to his Sons, who were guilty of great Enormities, faulted in him, and severely punished; and the Zeal of Magistrates, sharply to reprove, and severely to punith Vice, so they are not partial to one more than to another, is very commendable, and every where commended. St Paul directs Timothy, To rebuke before all, them that Sin, that others' may fear, 1 Tim. v. 20. And writing to Titus; Rebuke them sharply, says he, that they may be found in the Faith, Tit. i. 13. And the Prophet Isaiah had Directions, To cry aloud, and not to spare; to lift up his Voice like a Trumpet, to jew bis People their Transgressions, and the House of Jacob their Sins, Ifa. lvii. 1. And accordingly, God's ancient Prophets, and John the Baptist, and our Saviour and his Apoitles, did in Terms very sharp and biting, reprove the wicked Ages in which they lived, and more particularly fome that gave very bad Examples : Ab finful Nation, a People laden with Iniquity, a Seed of Evil-doers, Children that are corrupters! says the Prophet Isaiah, Chap. i. 4. They are all Adulterers, an Assembly of treacherous Men; they bend their Tongues like their Bows for Lies, says the Prophet Jeremiah, Chap, ix. 2. And so in many other Passages of the Prophecies, Thy Princes are rebellious, and companions of Thieves; every one loveth Gifts, and followerb after Rewards: They judge not the Fatherless, neither doth the Cause of the Widow come before them, Isa. i. 23, John the Baptist calls the Scribes and Pharisees, a Generation of Vipers: Our Saviour calls them Hypocrites, an evil and adulterous Generation, painted Sepulchres, blind Guides, Fools, and Blind,
And And yet certainly there is a way to recon... cile all these with the Doctrine of my Text; in which, as in all this Sermon indeed, our Saviour teacheth us the common Duties of private Christians, without entring into those of the publick Stations and Vocations of Men : the not observing of which has been the Cause of a great many Errors, especially among ignorant enthusiastick People, who consider only the found of Words, without the Scope and Connexion. For it is owing to their not observing this, that they have condemned all publick, as well as private Revenge ; all judicial, as well as customary Oaths in Discourse ; and divers other things, which I have not now Time to take notice of.
Only I must add, that left we should abuse our Authority, and think that by virtue thereof we may intermix our own irregular Paffions; I observe, we are commonly exhorted to use and govern our Authority with a Spirit of Meekness, as Gal. vi. 1. Brethren, if a Man be overtaken in a Fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in the Spirit of Meekness. And 2 Tim. ii. 24. The Servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle unto all Men, apt to teach, patient, in Meekness instructing those that oppose themselves.
But it is Time to draw to a Conclusion. For Application, I shall only say this, That I know none of our Saviour's Precepts more neglected than this is in the Practice; never were there greater Animosities ; never did Men' take greater Liberty in treating one another with provoking, opprobrious Language of Tongue and Pen, than in our Days; and therefore it was never more necessary to exhort you, as to this Particular, to