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fons, Hiftrio hoc videbit in fcena, quod non videbit fapiens in vita?" Shall an actor fee this to be improper upon "the ftage, and a wife man not difcern the abfurdity "and undecency of it in his life and converfation?"
II. All corrupt and filthy communication is a notorious abuse of one of the greatest and best gifts which God hath given us, and does directly contradict the natural end and use of fpeech. Our tongue is our glory, as the holy Pfalmift often calls it, who had duly confidered the excellency and ufe of this faculty, and took great care to employ it to the purposes to which God gave it, and is herein an admirable pattern to us.
And next to our reafon and understanding, our speech doth most remarkably diftinguifh us from the beafts, and fets us above them. Hoc uno præftamus vel maxime feris, quod colloquimur inter nos, & quod exprimere dicendo fenfa poffumus, fays the great Roman orator, Cicero, de orat. lib. i. By this one thing we excel the beasts in a very high degree, that we can talk together, and by fpeech declare our minds to one another." By our understandings we know God, and by our tongues we confefs and praife him: but to use our tongues to lewd and filthy difcourfe, is to pervert and abuse one of the beft and nobleft faculties, which God hath given us; it is to affront him with his own gifts; and to fight againft him with his own weapons. Do we thus requite the Lord? foolish creatures and unthankful !
The two great ends for which this faculty of speech is given us, are to glorify God our maker, and to edify man our neighbour: but all corrupt communication contradicts both these ends; because, instead of praising God with pure hearts and lips, we do greatly dishonour him, by polluting our tongues with lewd and filthy talk for hereby we offer a direct affront to his holy nature and laws. This renders us altogether unfit for the worship and fervice of almighty God, who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity and impurity of any kind. For how can we think that he will accept thofe prayers and praises, which are offered to him by fuch impure and unhallowed lips? when we difhonour God with the fame mouth that we pretend to glorify him; and -commit fin with the fame tongue that we confefs it? How
can we hope that he will accept the facrifice of fuch polJuted lips, out of which proceed things fo contrary and inconfiftent?
Those who thus pervert the use of speech, and inftead of glorifying him who gave them this excellent gift, and fetting forth his praife, defile their tongues with filthy and impure language, give juft occafion to complain of them, as Elihu does of the wicked in his time, Job xxxv. 10. 11. None faith, Where is God my maker, who giveth fongs in the night? Who teacheth us. more than the beasts of the earth, and maketh us wiser. than the fowls of heaven. His meaning is, that they did not glorify God their maker, by finging his praises, which by being endued with this noble faculty of fpeech, (which he had denied to the creatures below man, the beafts and birds) they only were capable of performing. The confideration of this high privilege, by which we do fo much excel the creatures below us, ought to be a mighty obligation upon us, to employ this gift of God in the fervice, and to the glory of the giver, and make us very careful not to offend him by it, or by any defilement of it, to render it unfit for one of the principal uses for which God beftowed it upon us.
Another great end of fpeech is to edify our neighbour. So the Apostle here tells us in the text, that nothing fhould proceed out of our mouths, but what is good for the ufe of edifying, that it may minifter grace unto the hearers. But instead of that, corrupt communication offends the chafte and virtuous, and corrupts them who have vicious inclinations, by exciting and cherishing lewd imaginations in them, and making them that are filthy more filthy ftill.
III. Corrupt communication is an evidence of a cor. rupt and impure heart, as polluted streams are a sign that the fountain is impure from whence they came. impure mind may be covered and disguised by natural hame and outward reverence, in regard to the company, or from fome other particular defign; but when it breaks out at any time in lewd talk, our speech betrays us, and difcovers the inward thoughts of our hearts, and makes them vifible to every eye. For as our Saviour fays, Qut of the abundance of the heart the mouth Speaketh,
Speaketh, Matth. xii. 34. 35. How can ye, being evil, Speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth Speaketh. A good man, out of the good treafure of the heart, bringeth forth good things and an evil man, out of the evil treasure, bringeth forth evil things.
"There is not, fays an excellent divine of our own, "Dr. Barrow, a more certain fign of a mind utterly • debauched from piety and virtue, than affecting fuch "talk. A vain mind naturally venteth itself in frothy difcourfe; and luft, boiling within, foams out in fil " thy talk.' It is St. Jude's metaphor, when he defcribes that impure fect of the Gnofticks, he fays of them, that they were continually foaming out their own fhame, ver. 23. that is, by their lewd words and deeds they difcovered the inward filthiness of their hearts. And therefore it is Tully's advice to him that would be perfectly virtuous, and not defective in any part of his duty, Imprimis provideat, ne fermo vitium aliquod indicet ineffe moribus; de offic. lib. i. "Let him in the "first place, fays he, take great care, that his fpeech bctray not fome vice or fault in his manners." ̓Ανδρὸς χαρακτὴρ ἐκ λόγο γνωρίζεται, " a man's characteris commonly taken from his talk." "O107р7, 7088– Txdó, fays Ariftides, "Such as are the man،، ners of a man, fuch is his difcourfe;" and Quintilian, lib. xi. c. 1. Profert enim mores plerumque oratio, et animi fecreta detegit, nec fine canfa Græci prodiderunt, ut vivit, quemquam etiam dicere. "Our fpeech, for the
moft part, declares our manners, and difcovers the fe"crets of our hearts; fo that not without cause was *it become a proverbial faying among the Greeks, that,
as the man lives, fo alfo he speaks." And to the fame purpose the wife fon of Sirach, Eccluf. xxvii. 6. 7. The fruit declareth, if the tree hath been dreffed; fo is the utterance of a conceit in the heart of man. Praife no man before thou heareft him fpeak: for this is the trial of men. And ver. 13 The difcourfe of fools is irkfome, and their port is in the wantonnefs of fin.
Immodeft fpeech is not only an indication of an unchafte mind; but draws likewife a great fufpicion upon a man's life. So ftrict a connexion commonly is there between a man's thoughts and words, and between his words
words and actions, that they are generally prefumed to be all of a piece, and agreeable to one another.
IV. Corrupt communication doth debauch and defile the minds of men, and that not only of the speaker, but likewife of the hearer of fuch difcourfe; because it gratifies and feeds a corrupt humour, and a vitiated appetite, -befide that it difpofeth and inclines to lewd and filthy actions: a fmutty tongue and unchafte deeds are seldom far afunder, and do very often go together; for filthy talk and lewd practices feem only to differ in the occafion and opportunity; and he that makes no confcience of the one, will hardly ftick at the other, when it can be done with fecrecy and safety. The law of God forbids both alike, and his eye beholds both; For there is not a word in my tongue, fays David, Pfal. cxxxix. 4. but thou, O Lord, knoweft it altogether. So that whatever may deter us from lewd practice (the authority of God forbidding it, or the awe of his prefence, who continually ftands by us, and hears and fees all that we fay and do) is of equal force to restrain us from lewd and filthy words for they both proceed from the fame ill difpofition of mind, and are done in equal contempt of the divine prefence and authority.
V. It is uncivil and unmannerly, very difagreeable, and highly difpleafing to all fober and modeft perfons. It is a clownish and rude thing, fays Tully, de offic. lib. i. Si rerum turpitudini adhibetur verborum obfcænitas, "If to things which are immodeft in themselves, we add the obfcenity of words."
Nothing that trespasses upon the modefty of the company, and the decency of converfation, can become the mouth of a wife and virtuous perfon. This kind of converfation would fain pafs for wit among fome fort of perfons, to whom it is acceptable; but whatever favours of rudeness and immodefty, and ill manners, is very far from deferving that name; and they that are fober and virtuous, cannot entertain any discourse of this kind with approbation and acceptance: A wellbred perfon will never offend in this way; and therefore it cannot but be esteemed as an affront to modest company, and a rude prefuming upon their approbation,
impudently taking it for granted that all others are as lewd and diffolute as themfelves.
This fort of converfation was not only offenfive to righteous Lot, but was a perpetual vexation to him, and grieved him at his very heart. So St. Peter tells us, 2 Pet ii. 7. 8. that Lat was vexed with the filthy converfation of the wicked. For that righteous man dwelling among them, in feeing and hearing, vexed his righteous foul from day to day with their unlawful deeds. In feeing and hearing, that is, in feeing their lewd actions, and hearing their filthy talk, his life became a burden to him; and therefore God fingled him out, and delivered him both from that wicked company, and from that dreadful judgment of fire and brimftone, which came down from heaven upon them, and confumed them with an utter deftruction, for an example to all ages, and an admonition to all good men, that they ought to be in -like manner affected, as righteous Lot was, with the filthy converfation of the wicked.
VI. As by this practice we offend against nature, and reafon, and true morality; fo it is likewife a direct contempt and defiance of the Chriftian religion, which does fo ftrictly forbid, and fo feverely condemn it in Chriftians. Our bleffed Saviour feems more particularly to cenfure and condemn this vice, when he fays, Matth. xii. 36. 37. That every idle word that men fhall Speak, they fhall give an account thereof in the day of judgment. Every idle word, pa apy, every vain and unprofitable word, that no ways tends to edification; that is the very Howeft fenfe the words can bear. But then how much more fhall we give an account in that day of every lewd word, which tends to corrupt and debauch the minds and manners of men. Some copies have it, pua pov, every naughty and wicked word, every falfe, and malicious, and calumniating word: " An idle word, fays St. ་ Bafil, is that which is not for edification, and fuch "words fhall come under examination in that great
affembly of the whole world; and what then, fays "he, fhall be done to words of fcurrility, and calumny, "and obfcenity?"
But that which will beft direct us to the meaning of this phrafe, is what the Jewish masters obferved, that