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bulent zeal who were conceited of them-
In the very first chapter ver. 19,
SERM. and curfing men: nor have added: My breXVII. thren, thefe things ought not fo to be. Such admonitions and reproofs are delivered upon the fuppofition of the happy effects of great care in this matter. And here, in the text, it is admitted, that fome may, and do attain to a great degree of perfection in this refpect.
We are not to fuppofe, then, that St. James defigns to fay, the government of the tongue is abfolutly impoffible. Much lefs are we to think, that he intends to cenfure the faculty of speech, when he fays, the Ja. iii, 6. tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. No! he only aims, by emphatical expreffions, and pathetic arguments, to correct the abuses of it which were very great and frequent, as it feems, among the Chriftians, to whom he writes, as well as among many other perfons. David sometimes speaks of his tongue, as his glorie, it being fited to celebrate the praises of God. Indeed the communication, which we have with each other, and the many advantages of fociety, depend upon it. And the organs of fpeech are admirable. The difpofitions made for it are beyond the dis
cription of the moft eloquent tongue, and SERM.
St. James begins this chapter with a caution against affecting the office and character of a teacher, as was very common among the Jewish people, and against exercifing it with too great rigour and severity. My brethren, be not many masters, knowing, that we fhall receive the greater condemnation, if we offend, which it is very difficult to avoid. For in many things we all offend. If any man offend not in word, the fame is a perfect man, and able to bridle the whole body. "But if
there is any man among you, that does
SERM. In farther difcourfing on this text I shall XVII. obferve the following method.
I. I fhall fhew fomewhat distinctly the difficulty of governing the tongue.
II. I shall propose some motives and confiderations, tending to engage us to do our best to govern the tongue.
III. I intend to lay down fome rules and directions, which may be of use to affift us in obtaining this excellence and perfection.
I. In the firft place I would fhew the difficulty of governing the tongue, the point fo largely infifted on, and fo emphatically represented in this chapter. The difficulty of this will appear by these particulars: the great number of those who offend in word, the many faults which [the tongue is liable to, and the springs and causes of tranfgreffions of this kind.
1. The difficulty of governing the tongue may be argued from hence, that great num bers of men offend in their words.
There are many, who fcarce fet any guard upon their expreffions, as if their tongue
was their own, and subject to no law, and SERM. they had a right to annoy others at pleasure. XVII Yea fome who have had the character of Pr. xii. 4. goodneffe, have tranfgreffed here by falfhood, or haftineffe of fpeech, or other ways. An
offense of this kind is taken notice of in Mofes himself, who was fo remakable for meekneffe.Pf. cvi. 32. 33. They angred him alfo at the waters of ftrife, fo that it went ill with Mofes for their fake: because they provoked his fpirit, fo that he spake unadvisedly with his lips: referring, probably, to what is recorded in Numb. xx. 10. And Mofes and Aaron gathered the congregation together be
fore the rock, and be faid unto them: Hear now, ye rebels: Muft we fetch you water out of this rock?
But I need not infift farther on this particular: though it may be of fome use to fatisfy us of the difficulty of governing the tongue, that men of excellent characters, who have. been almost faultlefs in other refpects, have been surprised into fome offenfes of this fort.
2. Another thing, which fhews the difficulty of governing the tongue, is the many offenfes, it is liable to.