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Thirdly, in our lips. The tongue is the principal mischievous instrument whereby people ruin or wound the good name of others. And here come in the fins of the tongue against our neighbour in a special manner. Thus men injure their neighbour,
1. By silence, when they forbear to speak what they ought and can for the credit of their neighbour... Thus men may wrong others by their filence in their neighbour's cause while he is aspersed, Prov. xxxi. 8. for in that cafe filence is consent. As also when their neighbour is juftly commended, the entertaining thereof with filent looks as if they knew something that may justly mar his reputation. If that be not the sense of it, it reflects on the filent person as grudging the reputation of the person commended.
2. Our neighbour may be injured by sinful speaking; and so this command may be broken many ways.
(1.) By unnecessary discovering of the faults and infirmities of others. O how much guilt is contracted this way, by people's going in the way of cursed Ham, Gen. ix. 22. unvailing instead of vailing the weaknesses of others, without any necessity, but to the lessening of their reputation ! (2.) By aggravating of their lesser faults, Matth.
3. 4. 5. Men see motes like beams in the eyes of others, while beams are as motes in their own. It is a mischievous tongue that counting the faults of others, for fifty fets down a hundred, and ftill looks to them through a magnifying glass. Had we the dexterity of aggravating our own as we have
aggravating the faults of others, we would be happy, becaute very humble people.
(3.) By reviving the memory of our neighbour's crimes which were worn out of mind, especially being repented of. Thus many vent their malice against others by casting up their former faults to them, as Shimei did to David. Truth it may be, but it
is uncharitably and maliciously spoken, for which the speaker must give an acco:int to God.
(4.) By betraying of secrets committed to us. It is true, if the honour of God and the good of our neighbour require the discovering of a secret, in that case as we ought not to promise, so we ought not to conceal it. But when we have lawfully promised to keep it, either expressly or tacitly we fin, against truth, justice, and friendfhip, to betray it. And though there be no promise in the case, yet when the revealing of it tends to the detriment of our nciglibour, it is finful, Prov. xvii. 9. 2 Tim.
(s.) By detracting, or endeavouring any manner of way to impair the deserved credit of our neighbour, Ezek. iv. 12. 13. This is the native result of envy and ill-will at our neighbour : for those who cannot endure others to sit on high, where they are deservedly placed, will go about one way or other to undermine them.
(6.) By evil reports to the prejudicing of our neighbour unjustly. In these many are involved in guilt. [1.] The raiser of it, Exod. xxiji. 1. Satan has the mouths of many at command for a forge of ill reports, who ftrike that hellish coin with their stamp, that it may pass for current. [2.] The receivers and spreaders of it, who are guilty here as well as the raiser; for they are to the raiser as the receiver to the thief: Report, fay they, and we will report. If others will gather filth, they will throw it on their neighbours faces, and yet are not innocent, though they can give their authors, Neh. vi. 6. See Psal. xv. 3.
(7.) By flandering, which is an ill report witliout all ground, Pfal. 1. 20. This is the venom of a wretched tongue made use of to kill and bury alive the innocent. It has been the trial of the people of God in general, and seldom if ever do any of them escape without it. Satan loves by his agents to vo
mit out against them reproaches and Nanders, where. with their good name may be blafted, and especially if religion and the cause of God can be wounded through their fides. The scourge of the tongue is a sharp fcourge.
(8.) By backbiting and whispering, Rom. i. 29. 30. Both agree in that they speak evil behind mens back, acculing them and loading them with reproach, when they are not present to answer for themselves. The backbiter does it openly, and the whisperer does it fecretly.
(9.) By tale-bearing, Lev. xix. 16. This is a sort of pedlar-trade for the devil, driven by many whose work it is to carry tales out of the house or company where they happen to be ; and these are the wares they haye to vent in other houses or companies, where they will be ready to take up new clashes and tales to where they go next. These are the plagues of society, like Satan
fowing discord among brethren. Hence secret grudges against one another, and none knows wherefore ; and when they are searched to the furthest, it is all grounded on some talebearer's credit.
(10.) By countenancing and encouraging o the black tribe of flanderers, backbiters, &c. Prov,
If these merchants for hell got not their wares taken off their hands, they would be ashamed of their trade, and forced to quit is. But many are as ready to take them off their hands as they are to deliver them.
(11.) By stopping our ears against the just defence of the parties lefed, as the malicious Jews did against Stephen, Acts vii. 57. 58. How rare is it to find a person as ready to receive a defence for, as an accu. lation against their neighbour ?
(12.) By scornful contempt, and scoffing, and mocking of others. This was the way of Ishmael's persecuting of líac, Gal. iy. 29. These viperous tongues work upon the miferics of others as the fol.
diers did at Christ in his sufferings, Matth. xxvii. 28. 29. The natural imperfections of others are their sport, though reproaching the poor they despite his Maker; yea and their sinful imperfections too, for fools make a mock at fin.
Some have a mighty fondness for gibing and taunting; their whole converse runs that way, to make others uneasy and themselves merry with their taunts. Let them not value themselves on their ta. lent; if any spark of tenderness be left in them, I doubt they dare look to it as a good gift given them from above, but as an abuse of the good gift of God. It was Ishmael's way, for which he was cast out of the farnily of the faithful, Gal. iv. 29.
(13.) Reviling and railing, giving others reproachful and opprobrious names, piercing them with bitter words, and murdering them with their tongues, Matth. v. 22. 1 Cor. vi. 10.
Revilers are among those excluded out of heaven.
These are some of the ways how the wicked tongue gives home thrusts to others, and piérces like the piercing of the sword, following the ex. ample of him who was a liar and a murderer from the beginning. But would ye see them all gathered together in one, ye have them in,
(13.) Lastly, Scolding and rating, an abominable disorder which we are so much disturbed with. There their wicked hearts, stirred up with paliion and revenge, vomit out all at once this filthy stuff. For there their neighbour's faults are unnecessarily discovered, aggravated, &c. as if hell's forces were rendezvouling betwixt them. Wonder oot at the expreffiou. See Jude 9. No, the angei durft not engage Satan with these weapons whereof he was the proper maiter, and at which none can outdo him. If ye take not better heed to your tongues, they will ruin you, Pfal. lii. 2-5.
There are some other evils of the tongue here forbidden, the hurt whereof does not so plainly appear.
1. Talkativeness, or much speaking. Some are ever talking, and are never in their element but when prattling; and when once they loose, it is as hard to ftop them as to stop a flood, and turn it
Of it I say, (1.) It is a sign of a loose and frothy heart, where the fear of God has little place, Eccl. v, 2.
For that would make our words few, true, weighty, and useful. When God has given us two ears, and but one tongue, that we may be swift to hear and flow to speak; it is a pregnant evidence of a naughty heart, to be swift to speak and flow to hear.
(2.) It is the fool's badge, Eccl. v. 3. Talkative perfons, for want of acquaintance with themselves, thinking to shew themielves wise, ordinarily present a fool to the company. They will have a flood of words, who have hardly a drop of good fenfe or judgement; so that they are jult a voice, and no more. They that are given to much speaking, can bardly speak either true or well; which made an orator ask a double fee of a talkative scholar, one to learn him to speak well, another to learn him to hold his peace. It is the character of a virtuous woman, that she openeth her mouth with wisdom,. Prov. xxxi. 26. Her mouth is not always open, but duly fhut and discreetly opened.
2. Idle speaking, Matth. xii. 36. The tongue was given to man to be for the honour of God, and the good of himself and his neighbour. Though our words then be not evil in themselves, they are evil because they are idle ; that is, words spoken to no good purpose, ţending neither to the honour of God, for the good of ourselves or others, neither to his moral good to make him more holy, nor to his civil good, as not being upon the neceilary concerns of human life, nor bis natural good, to maintain the moderate chearfulness of fociety. It may be comprehended under foolish talking, rash, raving,