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MATT. xii. 36.
But I fay unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they fhall give account thereof in the day of judgement.
37. For by thy words thou shalt be juftified, and by thy words thou fhalt be condemned.
N the preceding part of this chapter several things are related, which may be reckoned to have given occafion for what is here faid. To obferve those particulars therefore
may conduce very much to the better un- SERM. derstanding of our Lord's defign in thefe XVI. words.
One thing, related at the begining of this chapter, is our Lord's going through fields of corn, and the reflections caft upon the difciples by the Pharifees for plucking ears of corn on the Sabbath day, together with his vindication of the disciples from those reflections.
Afterwards is an account of our Lord's meekneffe in withdrawing from the Pharifees, who fought to apprehend him, with a general character of the mildneffe of his miniftrie.
After which notice is taken of a miracle wrought by the Lord Jefus, and the false and injurious charge of the Pharifees, that be caft out demons by Beelzebub, their prince: and the reproof of those, who therein had blasphemed the Holy Ghoft. 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, how can Ꮓ
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 fay unto you, that every idle word which men shall speak, they shall give an account thereof in the day of judgement. For by thy words thou shalt be juflified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.
I. In explaining and emproving this text I would first confider, what our Lord calls an idle word.
II. In what fenfe our Lord is to be understood and how we can be justified by our words, when good and condemned by them, when they are evil. III. I fhall enquire into the reafon of this fentence of juftification, or condem
IV. And then, in the fourth and last place, I intend to conclude with fome remarks, by way of application.
I. In the first place, we will confider, what our Lord calls an idle word.
And here it must be owned, that there is SERM. fome variety of explication among pious and XVI. learned interpreters.
Some by idle word underftand the fame as unprofitable. They think, this to be the beft interpretation, and that the word ought not to be reftrained to falfe and injurious words, fuch as are spoken of in the preceding context. They judge our Lord to argue from the lefs to the greater, to convince the Pharifees, how dreadful an account they muft give for their blafphemous and reproch ful fpeeches: when all men must give an account even of useless words, which they fpeak to no good purpose, but vainly; without refpect either to the glorie of God, or the good of others, or their own neceffarie and lawful occafions.
So fome. Others hereby rather understand falfe, 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 Mofes is thus expreffed: 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 atteft and fupport a falf
SERM. hood. When Pharaoh iffued a fevere order XVI. against the Ifraelites, 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 fol loweth after the east-wind. He daily encreafeth lyes and defolation. In the ancient Greek verfion, the ftile of which is ofen very agreeable to that of the writers of the New Teftament, the text is rendred in this manner: Ephraim daily encreafeth vain and unprofitable things. And Micah i. 14. The boufe of Achzib fhall be a lye to the Kings of Ifrael. In the fame ancient verfion it is, fhall be vain to the Kings of Ifrael. Habb. ii. 3. For the vifion is yet for an appointed time: but at the end it fhall Speak, and not lye. In the fame ancient Greek verfion, it Eph. v. 6. ball not be in vain. And St. Paul: Let no man deceive you with vain, or falfe words: for because of these things, the wrath of God cometh upon the children of disobedience.
And the coherence like wife countenanceth this fenfe. For of this fort are the words spoken by the Pharifees. At the begining of the chapter they are related to have caft reflections on Chrift's difciples, to prejudice