« PreviousContinue »
tongue and the lips, so that as there is no evil har. iz those boured in the heart, there is none to employ the The 'organs. Our Saviour has informed us, that it is suite that which cometh out of the man that defileth sunt him; but if there be a proper restraint on the site tongue and lips, that which defileth cannot break through, and therefore cannot defile.
Now look round you and ask where the man is yeri who keeps the door of his lips, who speaks no evil, author who utters no guile, and who, at the same time and lives a wretched, miserable life? Can you find tid such an instance ? No, my friends, you never will ser find such an instance in our world. You will find the that those, who refrain their tongues from evil
, and their lips that they speak no guile, that is, zu who never opened their lips to deceive, are the fin jewels of society, they are the precious ones of the this earth ; and let their temporal condition be what it may, the sun of peace. 'is within, shedding his warming and enlivening rays through the vast reta 'gions of the soul.
2d. After the tongue and the lips are put under proper restraint, the next thing recommended is, that we shun evil and do good, that we seek peace and follow it.
Here we have good works recommended, and their reward plainly and clearly stated. A life of happiness and good dạys are promised as the reward, the sure reward of shunning evil and doing good, of seeking peace and following it. The whole duty of man is here comprehended; for if we shun evil we shall do none, and if we do good, this constitutes ús active and living members of society, and we are not only häppy in ourselves, but we make others so likewise. Remember, it is not enough that we seek peace, but we must follow it
, by which we shall shun strife and animosity, and come under the denomination of which the Saviour speaks and says; “Blessed are the peace-makers , for they shall be called the children of God."
Once more, my friends, look round you and in
e, ale o tongues from evil, nor their lips from speaking
moeil quire after those who shun evil and do good; and
when you have found those who in any good measure are entitled to this character, then endeavour to ascertain whether they are the miserable and
the wretched, or whether they enjoy life and see with good days. The fact is, we all know, if we are
willing to acknowledge the truth, that such people in society are more precious than fine gold. They are eyes to the blind, feet to the lame, health to the sick, wisdom to the foolish, knowledge to the ignorant, and bread to the hungry. They can say,
by happy experience, “Great peace have they bu mit that love thy law, and nothing shall offend them.”
Now look again, examine the black list of the e by profane and vicious, those who restrain not their med guile, who shun not evil but live in sin, who neither berib seek peace nor pursue it; do they present a world
of happiness? Do they see good days? Do you. envy them their felicity? No, you all know that the wickedness of the wicked is upon him. Go into a virtuous family, where order and decorum
are préserved, where tongues and lips are kept ped to under restraint, where peace is spoken and pursu
ed, where evil is shunned and nothing but good del cacted, and there, my friends, is that which we all
80 much desire, 'HAPPINESS. The people enjoy life and see good days. And our text promises such a reward as this to all who will use these means, which are here recommended.
There may be two questions, which the hearer may desire to have answered.
1. Why should the whole duty of man be rebu quired, the reward stated, and nothing said con
cerning a future state of bliss ? Reply : Because, though the gospel brings life and immortality to light, and clearly promises, that “as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive, it no where informs us, that this state of incorruptible felicity and glory is the reward of our good works, but the gift of God in his Son.
2. Why have our pious clergy made such a mistake, and why have they been so wrapt up in this superstitious notion, that virtue is not rewarded, nor vice punished in this world, as long as the scriptures, reason, and experience all teach to the contrary? Reply : The clergy have erred in sitting up something for righteousness, which is nothing | but a round of ceremonies, rites, and religious formularies, and condemning every one as nothing more than good moralists, who do not conform to these rites. They attend to them with great punctuality, and they think that this is righteousness. They look on the good moralist, who neglects these rites, and find him as happy a man, at least, in the this world as they are; and as they think that something is due to them, more than their neighbours are to receive, and as they do not obtain it in this world, they feel sure that they must in the sha world to come. We are, therefore, to make a distinction between the religious and the moral, which is an unnatural distinction, but one which is made by the superstition which we have considered. When all shall be convinced that to refrain the
huis tongue from evil, and the lips that they speak no guile; to shun evil and do good; to seek peace se and follow it, is the righteousness which God requires, and which hath the promise of a rich reward of rational happiness, in the present life, it is expected that all will thus obey God's commandments and enjoy life and see good days.
h 1924 read in your hearing, as the foundation of our
1 PETER IV. 17, 18.
Perhaps there are but a few passages of scripture, in the whole of the sacred volume, which contains more of weighty and important matter, in 80 few words, than is expressed in the one just
present labours. While contemplating the vast extent of subject, the great variety of matter, and the important and solemn nature of the whole, the speaker feels, very sensibly, the impotency of his powers to do his subject justice, by dividing the word of truth in such a manner, as to give a suitable encouragement to the virtues of our religion, and at the same time, judicial discouragement and terror to evil doers, preserving a due regard to the dictates of divine authority, especially in those cases wherein human traditions are preposterously opposed to the divine testimony.
Human invention and ecclesiastical authority; have established a tradition concerning this text, which we feel bound to oppose; because they have extended, by the use of this passage, the severity of the divine judgments infinitely beyond the plain and most definite denunciations of the divine law, which is certainly deserving of more respect than
it receives irom those erroneous doctrines by which zakou it is so directly opposed.
It is well known by you all, that this passage is generally used in support of the doctrine of future endless misery, and so explained, as to indicate that the ungodly and sinner, who obey not the se gospel, must suffer in a future state, and to all eternity, the indignation and wrath of Almighty God.
If this use of our text was only known as a piece of ancient history, of some opinion entertained in the dark ages of popery, the necessity of considerar ing and disproving it now could hardly be main-le tained; but, my brethren, it is the present efforts which are now making to perpetuate this use of I this and many other passages, which calls for our careful attention, that what may be done to do and of away this superstition, so dishonourable to our heavenly Father, should by no means be omitted But the moment we open our mouth to plead for the the mercy of our heavenly Father, in opposition to the endless unmerciful punishment contended for by tradition, a mighty host of superstition presents a most formidable and imposing front, and raises its terrific voice, denouncing vengeance upon us for the heresy, and accusing us of denying the validity of the divine threatenings. With a confidence which the defies all reason, and a pertinacity which is blindelse to truth and deaf to argument, the advocate of the ungracious doctrine of never-ending punishments are wil allow no chastisement for the crimes of the trench wicked, unless we subscribe to the popular creed, med which annihilates divine charity, and dooms the erring offspring of the Father of spirits to the regions of despair, beyond the reach of the Redeem- 08m er's grace. But standing firm on the never failing told rock of unalterable truth, we may venture to take a more reasonable position, contend for the judgments of God to the extent of the divine severity, and yet allow that where sin abounds, grace abounds much more.