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by an idle word the Jews did commonly understand immodeft and unchafte fpeech, fcurrilous and obfcene words. And then it follows, for by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.
Men are commonly apt to make a very light matter of fuch words; but because they fhew the mind and manners of the man, his inward temper and difpofition, therefore men fhall be called to a ftrict account for them in the day of judgment, and be condemned for lewd and diffolute words, as well as for acts of filthiness and uncleannefs; because these come from the heart, and defile the man, they proceed from an impure fpring and fountain; and though we only perceive them to come out of the mouth, yet they proceed out of the abundance of the heart, from an evil difpofition of mind.
So that our Judge hath exprefly warned us of this fault, and declared to us the danger of it. And therefore whofoever believes this declaration of our Saviour, and dreads the judgment of the great day, ought to take heed that he offend not with his tongue, in this or any other kind. Men make but little account of fuch words now, but they shall all be strictly accounted for another day; and what we utter now fo freely and without blushing, will then ftrike us dumb, and be matter of greatest fhame and confufion to us, in the prefence of God and his holy angels.
And fo St. Paul likewife, not only here in the text, does forbid and reprove this practice, when he says, Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth; but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minifter grace to the hearers: but in feveral other places of his epiftles he most feverely condemns it, as utterly misbecoming Chriftians, and most directly contrary to our most holy profeffion. Eph. v. 3. 4. But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not once be named among you, as becometh faints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jefting, which are not convenient. Here he forbids all lewd and filthy talk, as utterly misbecoming the converfation of Chriftians, who should give no occafion to have the vices of this nature so much as once mentioned, much less practifed among Chriftians; Let not thefe things, fays he, be
once named among you, as becometh faints; but rather giving of thanks. Here he directs us to that which is the proper employment of the tongue, and one of the chief ends of fpeech; which is to praife and glorify God, and not to difhonour him by lewd and filthy talk. And this he urgeth again, as the proper fruit of our lips, ver. 20. Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father, in the name of our Lord Jefus Chrift.
And, at the 5th verfe of this chapter, he appeals to Christians, whether they had not been conftantly taught and inftructed, that all lewdness and filthinefs, not only in act but in word, will certainly fhut men out of the kingdom of heaven. For this, fays he, ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean perfon (referring to thofe feveral forts of uncleannefs he had mentioned before; among which is filthy and foolish talk) hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ, and of God. The Apostle here fpeaks to the Gentile Chriftians, who were newly converted from Heathenism, and had been accustomed to make flight of these kinds of fin, which were fo common among the idolatrous Heathen, and part of the worship of their obfcene deities: but he tells them, that the Chriftian religion, which they had embraced, required another fort of converfation, and did ftrictly enjoin all manner of purity, both of heart and life, in all our words and actions; and that as he that has called us is holy, fo we should be holy in all manner of converfation. And whatever falfe teachers might infinuate, as if the Chriftian religion did allow a greater liberty in these things, and made that a cloak for licentiousness, hereby turning the grace of God, that is, the doctrine of the gospel, into lafciviousness, as St. Jude speaks, ver. 4. yet they would certainly find things quite otherwife in the iffue, and that God, who punished the Heathen for these vices, and fent fuch terrible judgments upon them, would much less let Christians go unpunished, that should be found guilty of them. Eph. v. 6. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of difobedience, that is, the Heathen world, who continued ftill in their infidelity, and lived in the praétice of those fins; and would fall much more heavily
upon Christians, if after they had embraced this holy religion, they fhould allow themselves in any of those vile and impure practices, which they had been guilty of before, and which they had fo folemnly promised to renounce and put off in their baptifm.
And fo likewife, Col. iii. 5. 6. 7. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleannefs, inordinate affection, evil concupifcence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: for which things fake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience, or unbelief; in the which ye alfo walked fometime, when ye lived in them; that is, whilft ye were Heathers, and converfed among them, ye practifed these vices: but now, that is, now that ye are become Chriftians, put off thefe, anger, wrath, malice, evil-speaking, filthy communication. Ye fee that filthy communication is reckoned amongst thofe fins of the Gentiles, which Chriftians were utterly to quit and forfake, as contrary to the purity of the Chriftian profeffion. And fo St. Paul tells the Theffalonians, 1 Theff. iv. 7. God hath not called as unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. And he gives the fame precept to the Coloffians, chap. iv. 6. Let your fpeech be always with grace, that is, acceptable and ufeful, fomething that is worthy the hearing, feafoned with falt, that is, with prudence and difcretion, which should always govern our speech, and keep it within the bounds of fobriety and modefty. As our talk should not be infipid and foolish, so much less rotten and unfavory, immodeft and lewd.
And in his epiftle to the Philippians, chap. iv. 8. he earnestly recommends the virtues that are directly contrary to this vice. Finally, my brethren, whatsoever things are honeft, ora reuva, whatsoever things are grave or venerable, oa dyvá, whatsoever things are pure or chafte, think on these things; that is, have great regard to them in your converfation and behaviour, there being no fort of virtue which the Chriftian religion does not strictly enjoin and exact from us; and confequently whatfoever is light and frothy, and much more whatever is lewd and filthy, ought to be banished from the converfation of Chriftians, as utterly inconfiftent with the gravity and purity of that holy profeffion.
And the fame Apoftle tells us, that all the promises of the gospel are fo many arguments and obligations to purity and holiness, 2 Cor. vii. 1. Having therefore thefe promifes, dearly beloved, let us cleanfe ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and fpirit, perfecting, or practifing, holiness in the fear of God. And on the contrary, St. John tells us, that all impurity will be an effectual bar to our entrance into heaven. Rev. xxi. 27. fpeaking of the new Jerufalem, fays he, There fhall in no wife enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination. So that if either the promises or threatenings of the gospel have any influence upon us, they will effectually restrain this vitious practice.
VII. and lastly, All impure and filthy communication grieves the holy Spirit, and drives him away from us. And therefore after he had forbidden this vice here in the text, that no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the ufe of edifying, that it may minifter grace unto the bearers; he immediately adds, and grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are fealed to the day of redemption; hereby intimating, that all corrupt and filthy communication grieves the holy Spirit of God, that blessed Spirit which is the feal and earnest of our redemption; that is, as the Apoftle himself explains it, of the redemption of our bodies, from the bondage of corruption, by the refurrection of them to eternal life. For, it is the Spirit of God dwelling in us, which shall raise our bodies at the last day, and make them partakers of a blessed immortality. So the Apostle fays exprefly, Rom. viii. 11. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jefus from the dead, dwell in you; he that raised up Chrift from the dead, fhall also quicken your mortal bodies, by his Spirit that dwelleth in If we defile our bodies, or any members of them by uncleanness, we grieve the Spirit of God which dwells in us, and force him out of his habitation; that bleffed Spirit, which fhould quicken our mortal bodies, and is both the earnest and the cause of their refurrection to eternal life. For our bodies, as well as our fouls, are the temples of the Holy Ghoft, and the Spirit of God
dwells in them; and we banish him out of his temple whenever we profane it by lewd and filthy speech.
And the Apostle ufeth this argument more than once, to deter Chriftians more efpecially from the fins of uncleannefs. 1 Cor. iii. 16. 17. Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you ? If any man defile the temple of God, him Jhall God deftroy. For the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. The holy Spirit of God fanctifieth the place where he more especially refides, and makes it his temple; and fo are our bodies as well as our fouls; as the fame Apoftle exprefly tells us, chap. vi. ver. 18. 19. 20. where he argues against the fins of uncleannefs, which are committed in the body, and by the members and instruments of it, from this confideration, that our bodies are the temples of the Holy Ghoft. Flee fornication, fays he. Every fin a man doth, is without the body but he that committeth fornication, finneth against his own body; that is, the body is not the immediate inftrument of other fins, as it is of thofe of uncleannefs; and then it follows, What, know ye not that the temple of the Holy Ghoft which is in you, which ye your body is have of God, and ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price? therefore glorify God in your body, and in your fpirit, which are God's. Under the name of fornication the Apoftle comprehends all the fins of uncleannefs, of which any member of the body is an inftrument; fo that the lasciviousness of the eye, or ear, or tongue, is a polluting and prophaning this temple of God, and drives the holy Spirit of God out of his poffeffion.
And whenever the Spirit of God departs from ús, we ceafe to be children of God, and forfeit the earnest of our eternal inheritance. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Chrift, fays the fame Apostle, Rom. viii. 9. he is none of his, that is, he does not belong to him, in plain English, he is no Chriftian. So that, as we would not forfeit the title of Chriftians, and the bleffed hope of a glorious refurrection, we must be very careful that no corrupt communication proceed out of our mouth, left hereby we grieve the holy Spirit