Imatges de pÓgina

apace towards their accomplishment. False prophets, and pretended Messiahs, were numberless; their furious persecutions against the christians were begun; and "the beginning of sorrows," tumults, and insurrections against the Romans, and wars and rumours of wars amongst themselves, and between them and that people, all shewed that "the Judge was at the door," and their punishment speedily approaching. In this situation of affairs, St. James wrote his epistle; and intended it chiefly to comfort the christians under the dangers and persecutions to which they were exposed on account of their religion, and to guard them against those vices, wicked practices, and furious passions, which marked the beha viour of the unbelieving Jews, and would soon bring them into destruction. Among these bad practices, for which the Jews were then remarkable, was the wicked use of the tongue, with which they " spake evil of dignities;"" blasphemed the name of "GOD," and uttered" railing accusations" against man; " provoking most justly the "wrath and indignation" of the ALMIGHTY; and hastening the infliction of that curse upon themselves, which they had wilfully made themselves liable to at the crucifixion of CHRIST, when they said, “his

[ocr errors]


"blood be on us and on our children." Knowing the fatal consequences of this wicked use of the tongue, (which, as he justly says, "is a world of iniquity," if not under proper management,) he earnestly exhorts the christians to whom he writes, to be careful not to offend with this member; but to "bridle it," or, in other words, to refrain from vice which the tongue. every capable of committing. This caution was particularly useful to the christians of those early days; for, as one of the crying sins of the Jews, as I have said before, was, at that time, a wicked use of the tongue, which added much to the provocations which they gave the Romans; so the Apostle felt exceedingly anxious that the disciples of CHRIST might not commit the same offence, lest they also should be involved in the same punishment that the Romans were just going to inflict on the Jewish nation. But, although the circumstances of those times rendered it more especially necessary, that the then christians should refrain from every wicked or improper liberty of speech; yet the same forbearance is a great duty of our religion at all times and seasons; since a man, now, may not only do great mischief to others, by indulging in a bad use of the tongue, but may also ruin his own everlast

ing salvation by it. This will appear very clear to you, my friends, when we consider the three chief vices which the tongue commits, and their terrible consequences here and hereafter they are, lying, profane language, and backbiting or evil-speaking

[ocr errors]

One would think, that no other argument need be advanced against lying, than barely saying with whom the sin originated. Scripture tells us, that the Devil is the


father of lies," and was a liar from "the beginning." By this abuse of the faculty of speech, he deceived Eve, and brought upon mankind all the evils of a fallen nature. It was he, who, having found the apostle Peter, in an unguarded moment, under the influence of pride and self-conceit, induced him to deny his Lord and Master, and to say, with oaths and imprecations, "I "know not the man of whom ye speak:" and it was he, who tempted Ananias and Sapphira to lie to the Holy Ghost," and bring upon themselves instant destruction, as a punishment of their falsehood: so true is it, that he is the great parent and fountain. of this crime, and that all they who commit it, must be considered as the "children of

the devil." In this light, indeed, the scriptures regard liars; and, whilst they declare them to be guilty before God, pro,

nounce upon them terrible puuishments as the recompence of their wickedness. "He "that hath a lying tongue, falleth into mis-, "chief." "A lying tongue is but for a "moment; for the mouth of them that "speak lies shall be stopped." "What "reward shall be given or done unto thee, "thou false tongue? even mighty and "sharp arrows, with hot burning coals." "All liars shall have their portion in the "lake that burneth with fire and brimstone " for ever."

It is not, however, in the next world, alone, that the liar shall meet with punishment; since many evils must attend him in this, as the consequences of his crime. Indeed, it may be truly said, of all descriptions of wickedness, that they bring their present, as well as future, loss or misery with them; for, as it is scarcely possible to commit a crime without injuring others as well as ourselves by it, so we must, of course, either hurt our worldly credit, or lessen the number of our friends, or excite the anger of others against ourselves, by every wicked. ness of which we are guilty. This is remarkably the case with lying. To speak the truth is so necessary between man and man, and of so much consequence is it to be able to depend upon what is told us, that


[ocr errors]

the liar is considered as a sort of public enemy, and breaking through one of those great bonds by which society is held together. The consequence is, that all men either dislike or despise him: all confidence is withdrawn from him no one has pleasure in conversing with him, because no man can believe what he says; and still less will any sort of trust be committed to him, because he is universally known to disregard that sacred principle-the love of truth, which is the 'great security for a man's fulfilling any trust that may be reposed in him. These considerations (independently of the commands of GOD and CHRIST to "speak the truth "from the heart") should induce people of all ranks and ages to refrain from the sin of lying; but they more particularly apply to the young, as warnings to guard themselves from getting a habit of practising so disgraceful and pernicious a vice. Their credit and success in life, indeed, depend in a great measure upon their avoiding it. They never can hope for the encouragement and countenance of the good and wise, if they practise it; because people of this description must hate "the mouths of liars," upon religious principles; and even worldly-minded men will be equally averse to have any thing to do with the tongue that frameth deceit, be

« AnteriorContinua »