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Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels, and I will spare them as a man spareth his own son that serveth him ".”
Mot. xix. “Consider what great necessity there is every where of fruitful, edifying speech. 1. In the multitude of the ignorant; and the greatness of their ignorance. 2. The numbers of the sensual and obstinate. 3. The power of blindness, and of every sin; what root it hath taken in the most of men. 4. The multitude of baits which are every where before them. 5. The subtlety of satan and his instruments in tempting. 6. The weakness and inconstancy of man, that hath need of constant solicitation. 7. The want of holy, faithful pastors, which maketh private men's diligence the more necessary. And in such necessity to shut up our mouths, is to shut up the bowels of our compassion, when we see our brother's need ; and how then doth the love of God dwell in us"? To withhold our exhortation, is as the withholding of corn from the poor in time of famine, which procureth a curse". And though in this case men are insensible of their want, and take it not ill to be past by, yet Christ that died for them, will take it ill.
Mot. xx. “Lastly, consider how short a time you are like to speak; and how long you must be silent.” Death will quickly stop your breath, and lay you in the dark, and tell you that all your opportunities are at an end. Speak now, for you have not long to speak. Your neighbours' lives are hasting to an end, and so are yours; they are dying
and must hear no more, (till they hear their doom,) and you
are dying, and must speak no more; and they will be lost for ever, if they have not help : pity them then, and call on them to foresee the final day; warn them now, for it must be now or never: there is no instructing or admonishing in the grave. Those sculls which you see cast up, had once tongues which should have praised their Creator and Redeemer, and have helped to save each other's souls; but now they are tongueless. It is a great grief to us that are now here silenced, that we used not our ministry more laboriously and zealously while we had time. And will it not be so with you, when death shall silence you, that you spake not for God while you had a tongue to speak?
* Mal. iii. 16, 17. * 1 John iii. 17. * Prov. xi. 26.
Let all these considerations stir up all that God hath taught a holy language, to use it for their Master's service while they may, and to repent of sinful silence.
Tit. 2. Directions for Christian Conference and Edifying Speech.
Direct. 1. The most necessary direction for a fruitful tongue is to get a well-furnished mind, and a holy heart, and to walk with God in holiness yourselves: for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth will speak.' That which you are fullest of, is most ready to come forth. 1. Spare for no study or labour to get understanding in the things of God: it is a weariness to hear men talk foolishly of any thing, but no where so much as about divine and heavenly things. A wise Christian instructed to the kingdom of God, hath a treasury in his mind, out of which he can bring forth things new and old'. “Go from the presence of a foolish man, when thou perceivest not in him the lips of knowledge".” 2. Get all that holiness in yourselves, to which you would persuade another. There is a strange communicating power in the course of nature, for every thing to produce its like. Learning and good utterance is very helpful; but it is holiness that is aptest to beget holiness in others. Words which proceed from the love of God, and a truly heavenly mind do most powerfully tend to breed in others, that love of God and heavenly mindedness. 3. Live in the practice of that which you would draw your neighbour to practise. A man that cometh warm from holy meditation, or fervent prayer, doth bring upon his heart a fulness of matter, and an earnest desire, and a fitness to communicate that good to others, which he himself hath felt. Direct. 11. “Especially see that you soundly believe yourselves what you are to speak to others.’ He that hath secret infidelity at his heart, and is himself unsatisfied, whether there be a heaven and hell, and whether sin be so bad, and holiness so necessary as the Scripture speaks, will speak but heartlessly of them to another; but if we believe these things, as if we saw them with our eyes, how heartily shall we discourse of them!
* Matt. xiii. 52. in Prov. xiv. 7.
Direct. 111. ‘Keep a compassionate sense of the misery of ignorant, ungodly, impenitent souls.” Think what a miserable bondage of darkness and sensuality they are in ; and that it is light that must recover them : think oft how quickly they must die, and what an appearance they must make before the Lord, and how miserable they must be for ever, if now they be not convinced and sanctified And sure this will stir up your bowels to pity them, and make you speak. Direct. I v. 'Subdue foolish shame or bashfulness, and get a holy fortitude of mind.” Remember what a sin it is to be ashamed of such a master, and such a cause and work, which all would be glad to own at last. And that when the wicked are not ashamed of the service of the devil, and the basest works. And remember that threatening, “Whosoever shall be ashamed of me, and of my words, in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him also shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father, with the holy angels".” Direct. v. ‘Be always furnished with those particular truths which may be most useful in this service.’ Study to do your work (in your degree) as ministers study to do theirs; who are not contented with the habitual furniture of their minds, but they also make particular preparations for their particular work. If you are to go into the field to your labour, you will take those tools with you, by which it must be done; so do when you go abroad among any that you may do good to, and be not unfurnished for edifying discourse. Direct. v 1. ‘Speak most of the greatest things, (the folly of sin, the vanity of the world, the certainty and nearness of death and judgment, the overwhelming weight of eternity, the necessity of holiness, the work of redemption, &c.) and choose not the smaller matters of religion to spend your time upon, (unless upon some special reason).” Among good men that will not lose their time on vanity, the devil too oft prevaileth, to make them lose it by such religious conference, as is little to edification, that greater matters may be thereby thrust out; such as Paul calleth, “Vain janglings, and doting about questions which engender a Mark viii. 38.
strife, and not godly edifying.” As about their several opinions or parties, or comparing one preacher or person with another, or such things as tend but little to make the hearers more wise, or holy, or heavenly. Direct. v11. ‘Suit all your discourse to the quality of your auditors.” That which is best in itself, may not be best for every hearer. You must vary both your subject and manner of discourse, 1. According to the variety of men's knowledge; the wise and the foolish must not be spoken to alike. 2. According to the variety of their moral qualities; one may be very pious, and another weak in grace, and another only teachable aud tractable, and another wicked and impenitent, and another obstinate and scornful. These must not be talked to with the same manner of discourse. 3. According to the variety of particular sins which they are inclined to ; which in some is pride, in some sensuality, lust or idleness, in some covetousness, and in some an erroneous zeal against the church and cause of Christ. Every wise physician will vary his remedies, not only according to the kind of the disease, but according to its various accidents, and the complexion also of the patient. . Direct. v1.11. “Be sure to do most, where you have most authority and obligation.” He that will neglect and slight his family, relations, children and servants, who are under him, and always with him, and yet be zealous for the conversion of strangers, doth discover much hypocrisy, and sheweth, that it is something else than the love of souls, or sense of duty, which carrieth him on. Direct. Ix. “Never speak of holy things, but with the greatest reverence and seriousness you can.” The manner as well as the matter is needful to the effect. To talk of sin and conversion, of God and eternity, in a common, running, careless manner, as you speak of the men, and the matters of the world, is much worse than silence, and tendeth but to debauch the hearers, and bring them to a contempt of God and holiness. I remember myself, that when I was young, I had sometime the company of one ancient godly minister, who was of weaker parts than many others, but yet did profit me more than most ; because he would never in prayer or conference, speak of God, or the life to
come, but with such marvellous seriousness and reverence, as if he had seen the majesty and glory which he talked of.
Direct. x. “Take heed of inconsiderate, imprudent passages, which may mar all the rest, and give malignant auditors advantage of contempt and scorn.” Many honest Christians through their ignorance, thus greatly wrong the cause they manage (i would I might not say, many ministers). Too few words is not so bad, as one such imprudent, foolish word too much.
Direct. x1. “Condescend to the weak, and bear with their infirmity.” If they give you foolish answers, be not angry and impatient with them; yea, or if they perversely cavil and contradict. “For the servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle to all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing opposers, if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth".” He is a foolish physician that cannot bear the words of a phrenetic or delirant patient.
Direct. xii. “When you are among those that can teach you, be not so forward to teach as to learn.” Be not eager to vent what you have to say, but desirous to hear what your betters have to say. Questions in such a case should be most of your part: it requireth great skill and diligence to draw that out of others, which may profit you; and be not impatient if they cross your opinions, or open your ignorance. Yea, those that you can teach in other things, yet in some things may be able to add much to your knowledge.
Tit. 3. Special Directions for Reproof and Erhortation for - the good of others.
This duty is so great, that satan hindereth it with all his power, and so hard, that most men quite omit it (unless an angry reproach may go for Christian exhortation): and some spoil it in the management; and some proud, censorious persons mistake the exercise of their pride and passion, for the exercise of a charitable, Christian duty; and seem to be more sensible of their neighbour's sin and misery, than of their own. Therefore that you miscarry not in
• 2 Tim. ii. 24, 25. VO L. VI. s