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The Importance of our Words.


MATT. xii. 36.
But I say unto you,


idle word that men shall speak, they fall give account thereof in the

day of judgement. 37. For by thy words thou shalt be

justified, and by thy words thou falt be condemned.

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N the preceding part of this chapter several things are related, which may be reckoned to have

given occasion for what is here faid. To observe those particulars therefore


may conduce very much to the better un- Serm. derstanding of our Lord's design in these XVI. words.

One thing, related at the begining of this chapter, is our Lord's going through fields of corn, and the reflections cast upon the disciples by the Pharisees for plucking ears of corn on the Sabbath day, together with his vindication of the disciples froin those reflections.

Afterwards is an account of our Lord's meeknesse in withdrawing from the Pharisees, who sought to apprehend him, with a general character of the mildnefse of his ministrie.

After which notice is taken of a miracle wrought by the Lord Jesus, and the false and injurious charge of the Pharisees, that he cast out demons by Beelzebub, their prince : and the reproof of those, who therein had blafphemed the Holy Ghost. Which fin he declares would not be forgiven, neither in this world, nor in that which is to come.

And then he adds these general observations in his teaching: Either. make the tree good, and it's fruit good : or else make the tree corrupt, and it's fruit corrupt. For the tree is known by it's fruit. O generation of vipers, bow car



SERM. ye being evil speak good thing? For out of the XVI. abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A

good man out of the good treasure of his heart
bringeth forth good things. And an evil man
out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil
things. But I say unto you,


idle word which men fall speak, they fall give an account thereof in the day of judgement. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by tby words thou shalt be condemned.

1. In explaining and emproving this text

I would first consider, what our Lord

calls an idle word. II. In what sense our Lord is to be un

derstood: and how we can be justified by our words, when good : and con

demned by them, when they are evil. III. I shall enquire into the reason of this

sentence of justification, or condem

nation, IV. And then, in the fourth and last

place, I intend to conclude with some remarks, by way of application,

1. In the first place, we will consider, what our Lord calls an idle word.


And here it must be owned, that there is Serm. some variety of explication among pious and XVI. learned interpreters.

Some by lidle word understand the same as unprofitable. They think, this to be the best interpretation, and that the word ought not to be restrained to false and injurious words, such as are spoken of in the preceding context. They judge our Lord to argue from the less to the greater, to convince the Pharisees, how dreadful an account they must give for their blasphemous and reproche ful speeches: when all men must give an account even of useless words, which they speak to no good purpose, but vainly; without respect either to the glorie of God, or the good of others, or their own necessarie and lawful occasions.

So some. Others hereby rather understand false, reprochful, hurtful words: the word vain, or idle, according to the Hebrews, being often used for deceitful, false, lying. The third commandment in the Law of Moses is thus expressed: Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain. Thou fhalt take care, never to make use of the name of God, to attest and support a fall


Z 2

Exod. v. 9.

SERM. hood. When Pharaoh issued a severe order XVI. against the Israelites, to encrease their labour,

it is added; And let them not regard vain words, or false and deceitful speeches. Hofea xii. 1. Ephraim feedeth on the wind, and followeth after the east-wind. He daily encreasetblyes and desolation. In the ancient Greek version, the stile of which is ofen very agreeable to that of the writers of the New Testament, the text is rendred in this manner : Ephraim daily encreaseth vain and unprofitable things. And Micah i.

And Micah i. 14. The bouse of Achzib Mall be a lye to the Kings of Israel. In the same ancient version it is, Jhall be. vain to the Kings of Ifrael. Habb. . ii. 3.

For the vihon is yet for an appointed time : but at the end it hall Speak, and not

lye. In the same. ancient Greek version, it Eph. v. 6. Mall not be in vain. And St. Paul: Let no man deceive

you with vain, or false words: for because of these things, the wrath of God cometh upon the children of disobedience.

And the coherence likewise countenanceth this fense. For of this sort are the words spoken by the Pharisees. At the begining of the chapter they are related to have cast reflections on Christ's difciples, to prejudice

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