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their character, without reafon. Afterwards SERM.' they are faid to have blafphemed our Lord's XVI. miracles, done by the finger of God, afcribing them to the prince of evil fpirits. And our Lord, reprefenting the real guilt, and great malignity of that fin, does also take notice of fome other reprochful speeches concerning himself, which feem to have been more especially perfonal. Ver. 31. 32. Wherefore I Jay unto you: All manner of fin and blafphemie fhall be forgiven unto men. But the blafphemie against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever Speaketh a word against the Son of man, it fhall be forgiven: but whosoever Speaketh against the Holy Ghoft, it shall not be forgiven bim, neither in this world, nor in the world to come. Where by Speaking against the Son of man seem to be intended those false characters given of our Lord by fome, of his being glutton and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and finers: confifting of false and injurious representations of fome part of his conduct, and embraced by fome, who were little acquainted with him, or his works.
We might farther argue, that this is the defign of our Lord from what is faid at the Z 3 34.
SERM. 34. and 35. How can ye being evil speak good XVI. things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth fpeaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth good things. And an evil man out of the evil treafure bringeth forth evil things. Whereupon follow the declarations and obfervations of the text.
All this may well incline us to think, that by idle words our Lord does not mean thofe words, which are infignificant and unprofitable, and have no immediate tendence to promote fome good: but rather fuch words as are evil, falfe, injurious and detrimental to mens perfonal characters, or to the interefts of religion.
II. Secondly, we are to confider, how men can be juftified by their words, if they are good and how they can be condemned by them, if evil.
It is what our Lord here, declares expreffly and ftrongly. And the juftification, or acquital, and the condemnation or cenfure, relate to the folemn tranfactions of the great day: when mens characters and states shall be finally, and forever determined and not barely
barely to any fentences of applaufe or dif- SERM in this world. These are our Lord's XVI. grace
expreffions: But I fay unto you, that
But how can this be? Are there not other
The design of our Lord therefore is, to affure men, that their words alfo are of great importance. Men are often apt to be very heedlefs in this respect. They indulge great freedom of speech, not being duly apprehentive of the confequences of good, or bad words. And our Lord, upon the Pharifees reviling his miracles, takes occafion to difcourfe upon the point, and delivers this doctrine: that mens words will come into confideration in
SERM. the day of judgement. Whatever fome may think, or endeavor to perfuade themselves, this is the judgement of God: their words are of no small moment. God abferves them now, and will call men to an account for them hereafter. And fometimes their words alone may be found fufficient to decide men's characters.
III. Which brings me to the third particular, to fhew the reasonableneffe of justifying, or condemning men by their words.
One reafon is, that a great deal is in the power of the tongue. Good or bad difcourfe has a great effect and influence on the affairs of the world. As St. James fays, the Ja. iii. 5. tongue, though a little member, boafteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity, ... and fetteth on fire the whole courfe of nature. The abuse of the tongue in false and injurious fpeeches is often prejudicial. and ruinous to the good character and prof perity of particular perfons, and to the peace and quietneffe of whole focieties. The words of a tale-bearer are as wounds, and they go
down into the innermost parts of the belly. SERM.
Falfe and injurious words are evil and
Solomon fays: A man shall be fatisfied Pr. xii. with good by the fruit of his lips. And the recompenfe of a mans hands fhall be rendred unto him: that is, the author of good counfel and advice, whether in private or public concerns, will reap advantage by it. And a man fhall be recompenfed for good words, as well as for good actions.
Again: A man fhall eat good by the fruit... xiii. 2 of his mouth: but the foul of the tranfgreffors fhall eat violence: that is, he who gives men good and faithful counfel, or he who fpeaks
well of others, as they deferve, will have a
benefit by it. And they alfo who injuriously