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him that hath understanding, wisdom is found.——The lips of the righteous feed many".” “The lips of the wise disperse knowledge; but the heart of the foolish doth not so “.” “There is gold, and a multitude of rubies; but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel".” “The tongue of the just is as choice silver; the heart of the wicked is little worth".”
Mot. I v. ‘Holy discourse is also most profitable to the speaker himself.’ Grace increaseth by the exercise. Even in instructing others and opening truth, we are ofttimes more powerfully led up to further truth ourselves, than by solitary studies. For speech doth awaken the intellectual faculty, and keepeth on the thoughts in order, and one truth oft inferreth others, to a thus excited and prepared mind. And the tongue hath a power of moving on our hearts; when we blow the fire to warm another, both the exercise and the fire warm ourselves: it kindleth the flames of holy love in us, to declare the praise of God to others; it increaseth a hatred of sin in us, to open its odiousness to others. We starve ourselves, when we starve the souls which we should cherish.
Mot. v. ‘Holy and heavenly discourse is the most delectable.’ I mean in its own aptitude, and to a mind that is not diseased by corruption. That which is most great, and good, and necessary, is most delectable. What should best please us, but that which is best for us? And best for others? And best in itself? The excellency of the subject maketh it delightful! And so doth the exercise of our graces upon it: and serious conference doth help down the truth into our hearts, where it is most sweet. Besides that nature and charity make it pleasant to do good to others. It can be nothing better than a subversion of the appetite by carnality and wickedness, that maketh any one think idle jests, or tales, or plays, to be more pleasant than spiritual, heavenly conference; and the talking of riches, or sports, or lusts, to be sweeter than to talk of God, and Christ, and grace, and glory. A holy mind hath a continual feast in itself in meditating on these things, and the communicating of such thoughts to others, is a more common, and so a more pleasant feast.
* Prov. x. 13. 21. . c Prov. xv. 7. d Prov. :* 15. * Prov. x. 20,
Mot. v1. ‘Our faithfulness to God obligeth us to speak his praise, and to promote his truth, and plead his cause against iniquity.’ Hath he given us tongues to magnify his name, and set before us the admirable frame of all the world, to declare his glory in 2 And shall we be backward to so sweet and great a work? How precious and useful is all his holy Word? What light, and life, and comfort may it cause? And shall we bury it in silence? What company can we come into almost, where either the barefaced committing of sin, or the defending it, or the opposition of truth or godliness, or the frigidity of men's hearts towards God, and supine neglect of holy things, do not call to us, if we are the servants of God, to take his part; and if we are the children of light, to bear our testimony against the darkness of the world, and if we love God, and truth, and the souls of men, to shew it by our prudent, seasonable speech 2 Is he true to God, and to his cause, that will not open his mouth to speak for him 3 Mot. vii. “And how precious a thing is an immortal soul, and therefore not to be neglected.” Did Christ think souls to be worth his mediation, by such strange condescension, even to a shameful death 2 Did he think them worth his coming into flesh, to be their teacher ? And will you not think them worth the speaking to ? Mot. v1.11. ‘See also the greatness of your sin, in the negligence of unfaithful ministers.’ It is easy to see the odiousness of their sin, who preach not the Gospel, or do no more than by an hour's dry and dead discourse, shift off the serious work which they should do, and think they may be excused from all personal oversight and helping of the people's souls, all the week after. And why should you not perceive that a dumb, private Christian is also to be condemned, as well as a dumb minister 2 Is not profitable conference your duty, as well as profitable preaching is his? How many persons condemn themselves, while they speak against unfaithful pastors ? being themselves as unfaithful to families and neighbours, as the other are to the flock 2 Mot. 1x. “And consider how the cheapness of the means, doth aggravate the sin of your neglect? And shew much unmercifulness to souls.” Words cost you little ; indeed alone, without the company of good works, they are too cheap for God to accept of. But if an hypocrite may bring so cheap a sacrifice, who is rejected, what doth he deserve that thinketh it too dear? What will that man do for God, or for his neighbour's soul, who will not open his mouth to speak for them? He seemeth to have less love than that man in hell', who would so fain have had a messenger sent from another world, to have warned his brethren, and saved them from that place of torment. Mot. x. “Your fruitful conference is a needful help to the ministerial work.’ When the preacher hath publicly delivered the Word of God to the assembly, if you would so far second him, as in your daily converse to set it home on the hearts of those that you have opportunity to discourse with, how great an assistance would it be to his success? Though he must teach them publicly, and from house to house", yet is it not possible for him to be so frequent and familiar in daily conference with all the ignorant of the place, as those that are still with them may be. You are many, and he is but one, and can be but in one place at once. Your business bringeth you into their company, when he cannot be there. O happy is that minister who hath such a people, who will daily preach over the matter of his public sermons, in their private conference with one another! Many hands make quick work. This would most effectually prevail against the powers of darkness, and cast out satan from multitudes of miserable souls. Mot. x 1. ‘Yea, when ministers are wanting, through scarcity, persecution, or unfaithfulness and negligence, the people's holy, profitable conference, would do much towards the supplying of that want.” There have few places and ages of the world been so happy, but that learned, able, faithful pastors have been so few, that we had need to pray to the Lord of the harvest to send forth more. And it is nothing unusual to have those few silenced or hindered from the preaching of the Gospel, by the factions or the malignity of the world! And it is yet more common to have ignorant or ungodly persons in that office, who betray the people's souls by their usurpation, impiety, or slothfulness. But if in all such wants, the people that fear God, would do their part in private conference, it would be an excellent
supply. Ministers may be silenced from public preaching, when you cannot be silenced from profitable discourse. Mot. x 11. ‘It is a duty that hath many great advantages for success.’ 1. You may choose your season; if one time be not fit, you may take another. 2. You may choose the person, whom you find to have the greatest necessity or capacity, and where your labour is most likely to take. 3. You may choose your subject, and speak of that which you find most suitable. There is no restraint or imposition upon you, to hinder your liberty in this. 4. You may choose your arguments by which you would enforce it. 5. Interlocutory conference keepeth your auditors attentive, and carrieth them on along with you as you go. And it maketh the application much more easy, by their nearness and the familiarity of the discourse; when sermons are usually heard but as an insignificant sound, or words of course. 6. You may at your pleasure go back and repeat those things which the hearer doth understand, or doth forget; which a preacher in the pulpit cannot do without the censure of the more curious auditors. 7. You may perceive by the answers of them whom you speak to, what particulars you need most to insist on, and what objections you should most carefully resolve; and when you have satisfied them, and may proceed. All which it is hard for a minister to do in public preaching; and is it not a great sin to neglect such an advantageous duty 2 Mot. x 111. “And it should somewhat encourage you to it, that it is an unquestionable duty, when many other are brought into controversy.” Ministers preach under the regulation of human laws and canons, and it is a great controversy with many, whether they should preach, when they are silenced or 'forbidden by their superiors; but whether you may speak for God and for men's salvation in your familiar conference, no man questioneth, nor doth any law forbid it. Mot. xiv. ‘Hath not the fruitful conference of others, in the days of your ignorance, done good to you ?” Have you not been instructed, convinced, persuaded, and comforted by it? What had become of you, if all men had let you alone, and past you by, and left you to yourselves? And doth not justice require that you do good to others, as others have done to you; in the use of such a tried means? Mot. xv. “Consider how forward the devil's servants are to plead his cause!” How readily and fiercely will an ignorant, drunken sot pour out his reproaches and scorns against religion' And speak evil of the things which he never understood How zealously will a Papist, or heretic, or schismatic, promote the interest of his sect, and labour to proselyte others to his party! And shall we be less zealous and serviceable for Christ, than the devil's servants are for him? And do less to save souls, than they do to damn them? Mot. xvi. “Nay, in the time of your sin and ignorance, if you have not spoken against religion, nor taught others to curse, or swear, or speak in ribald, filthy language, yet, at least, you have spent many an hour in idle, fruitless talk? And doth not this now oblige you, to shew your repentance by more fruitful conference? Will you since your conversion, speak as unprofitably as you did before ? Mot. xvii. “Holy conference will prevent the guilt of foolish, idle talk.” Men will not be long silent, but will talk of somewhat, and if they have not profitable things to talk of, they will prate of vanity. All the foolish chat, and frothy jests, and scurrilous ribaldry, and envious backbiting, which taketh up men's time, and poisoneth the hearers, is caused by their want of edifying discourse, which should keep it out. The rankest wits and tongues will have most weeds, if they be not cultivated and taught to bear a better crop. Mot. xviii. “Your tongues will be instrumental to public good or public hurt.” When filthy, vain, and impious language is grown common, it will bring down common plagues and judgments' And if you cross not the custom, you seem to be consenters, and harden men in their sin. But holy conference may, at least, shew that some partake not of the evil, and may free them from the plague, if they prevail not with others so far as to prevent it. “Then they that feared the Lord, spake often one to another, and the Lord hearkened, and heard it; and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the