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evil stories in order to hurt him; | sometimes occurred to me, whether
the Psalmist's words, Ps. cxx. 3, 4. may not as well refer to the cause of the wickedness as to its punishment; "What shall be given unto thee" (how shall we account for such a supremely vile and mischievous spirit?) "Sharp arrows of the mighty with coals of juniper," inflame and drive it to distraction; it is set on fire of hell. Hence this spirit also is so un
and this practice indeed, whether from direct malice, or an habit of what is commonly called jangling, the whole Bible is levelled against under the term evil speaking; Speak not evil one of another," ch. iv. 11. There is no sort of wickedness that God declares his greater abhorrence of. The Psalmist said, and Paul quotes it of the ungodly, Rom. iii. 13. as a proof of the utter depravity of human na-manageable, that you may tame ture, "Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips, and the way of peace have they not known." Many people have no greater delight than to surmise, insinuate, or spread evil and reproachful things of their neighbours, a proceeding manifestly suggested by the same fiery tongue, with the view of alleviating its own misery by enhancing the blame of other persons, and hiding its own guilt in the good of other people's faults. If then they can pick up any reproachful tale how greedily do they grasp at it, and how eagerly spread it abroad! If not, 'tis easy to trump up a false story, and set it a-going; and hence perhaps it is whispered abroad, and has travelled a circuit of many miles before the victim of its malignity has so much as heard of it. If any person speak evil of another, instead of burying it in silence, it is retailed with additional circumstances of scandal calculated to give pain, and to provoke wrath and strife. Now it matters not, whether that which is reported be true or false; if false indeed, there is the guilt of lying and slander to be added to it; but if true, perhaps it is communicated with a cruel design, and with so many garnishings of supposition and suspicion, to render it the more hideous, that in all it discovers the pleasure and gratification the diabolical spirit imagines, in making another miserable; and it has
the fiercest of animals, birds, and beasts, and even serpents and crocodiles; but such a tongue, actuated by hell can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. I know not what to compare it so well to, as the man possessed among the tombs, Matt. viii. 28. who was so fierce that none might pass that way; so this tongue lays hold of, and does injury to all it can meet with. O! what mischief has it not done, and does it not do daily! As the heart is a world of iniquity, in like manner the tongue is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it? It has made in the world confusion and every evil work. It has separated chief friends, caused nation to rise against nation, and army against army.-By the force of this pestilence, wars, fightings, slaughter and death have diffused their baleful influence through the earth, and the world is, as it were, set on fire of hell. Hell-fire has set the world on fire, and made it wretched; see! how great a matter a little fire kindleth-do you wonder, that all this considered, the tongue is in my text said to set the whole course of nature on fire, and to defile the whole body? what can be more hateful to God, or render man or woman more hateful, than an evil tongue? The more pleasing and attractive the sex, the more hideous the perversion of it by such hideous means, and to so hellish a purpose. It discovers a
man, were there no other evidence, to be in a state of loathsomeness and defilement, at enmity with God-not happy in him; for if he knew and felt the love of God, his heart would be purged from an evil conscience-he would serve the living God-and the conscience purged from dead works, would not bring forth unto death, as we have said. But does it not appear from all this, that let a man talk of his religion, and seem ever so demure in his profession of it, yet if he bridle not his tongue, his religion is all nothing. He testifies against himself that the fire of hell is not quenched within him; whereas, on the other hand, ver. 2. if a man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and gives proof that he is a real Christian, able to curb that member which is the most restless, and if able to bridle the tongue, able also to bridle the whole. This being the case then, brethren,
III. It may be of use to enquire, whether there be not a remedy for this disorder-a tongue that is set on fire of hell? Now, as we have already observed, that the chief cause why the tongue is thus set on fire is that the heart, the conscience, has the wrath of God, which is hell, within it, and is filled therewith; the main enquiry is to find out a remedy for that; remove that; make that happy, and all the rest will follow of course.
The gospel of Christ, then, our glorious Redeemer discovers, and at large explains and expatiates on, as a full and sufficient cure for the fire unquenchable, the fire of a guilty mind. It tells us of Jesus the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world: of Jesus, who came into the world for that express purpose; who was infinitely happy and glorious from all eternity-but who pitied us. He could see nothing in us to deserve his notice, yet he made himself one with us, took part in all our
guilt and enmity, and while we were yet sinners he died for us. I sometimes wonder in my own mind, and at my own mind, that the humiliation of the Lord Jesus, and the excruciating agonies he went through, do not make a deeper impression on the heart, and appear more visible in the conversation. Are these things true? Did they happen? Is an infidel, judging from the behaviour of (perhaps) the greater number of those who have made a solemn profession that they belong to Christ, and are bought with his blood-Is such an infidel to conclude, that they really credit what they profess, or that they are sly impostors, who are really the servants of mammon, while for the sake of private conveniency, they assume the garb of Christ; and on sundays at least, with his sunday's apparel, he has the appearance of a saint, and goes to the house and table of the Lord in company with such.-I don't wonder, then, that so many religious professors have no rest, and are actuated by the blowing up of malignant passions: while the fire in the conscience remains, and its fury is unallayed, the unavoidable effects must be wrath and torment. The gospel of the Son of God is so full and complete, that by it the greatest of sins and the vilest of sinners may be forgiven, and the pain of guilt so completely removed, by the Spirit revealing Christ to the soul, that you shall sing of mercy and of judgment, and with rapture shall say, "Is not this a brand plucked, and with almighty force, plucked out of the fire?" I am astonished therefore that ministers (and gospel ministers so called also) do not insist oftener, and with the greatest plainness, honesty, and earnestness, on this which is the root of religion in the soul, and ought to be the leading topic of every Sermon. We may talk and talk well of the depravity and
wickedness of the heart, of the depth of sin in the human soul, and of the necessity of the work of almighty grace to subdue and dispel it; and yet at the same time you may not speak of (perhaps not be aware, as I myself was not aware) of the first and leading cause; and when I preached it, I was not believed: still I found that the generality of people had recourse in order to account for it, to the common complaint of the unknown wickedness of the heart, and the fruits and effects in the life, all which I firmly believe, and I hope as firmly deplore. But weep over it as we may and shall, weeping over it will not reach the cause or administer the cure. The only balm is sovereign grace; and the physician God. It tells us that all who hear the news are welcome to receive it, and doing so, shall not be disappointed; and if any object, that they are too unworthy, or too depraved to be the objects of mercy, the gospel declares that none are; but we must come as sinners, and sinners only, abandoning every other hope but Jesus Christ the Saviour of sinners, and having our dependance alone on his own word, "Him that cometh, I will in no wise reject," or say No, to, "I will in no wise cast out." This is the grand remedy; and now, the business is to take it, for our comfort, and for removing the fire of a guilty conscience out of the soul. If you believe this word which the scripture so amply and affectionately declares, then you will read and hear it as the word of the eternal God directed to you; not think of it as spoken to others, but to you, to you personally, as if God Most High were present before you, and speaking to you; between him and you only; and O! how reverently, diligently, and attentively will you listen to it, as the voice not of man but of God; and you will pray to the Lord (mix
prayer with your hearing) that the eyes of your mind may be opened and enlightened, that so you may see, and know, and understand the word of life; find Christ as revealed in that word as the chief among ten thousand, the suitable, the only, the all-sufficient, the faithful and never failing Saviour, and so worthy of all acceptation, of the very best reception, that you will not content yourselves with thinking, or having something of a good opinion of him (which is a state of indifference, neither cold nor hot) but will seek intimate fellowship with him, and to have him so applied to your souls, that upon the bare encouragement of God's word, you shall find yourself empowered to rest your soul upon Christ for your comfort and satisfaction. And thus waiting on the Lord, watching at Wisdom's gates, and waiting, as a poor beggar, at the posts of her doors, you will find life; and by the witness of his Spirit obtain favour of the Lord. God will himself witness it unto you; for he that believeth hath the witness in himself, 1 John v. 6. God is rich in mercy (not niggardly or avaricious, as too many of those called rich in this world are) but gracious, full of compassion, and abundant in goodness and truth; mercy is his delight; while we were yet sinners, and provoking God's anger by our iniquities, Christ died for us; and the vengeance was not poured out upon the transgressors, but upon the person he loved best, and most delighted in.
Take therefore what he voluntarily and spontaneously sets before you; hear him addressing you, "Come, for all things are ready; and yet there is room." Come and he will visit your souls with his salvation; he will open your eyes to understand and believe (really believe it, which but very few do) that in Christ is all righteousness and faithfulness; and enable, yea
powerfully persuade you to take | wisdom that is from above is first Christ in the promise, with that pure, then peaceable, gentle, and composure to yourselves, as your easy to be entreated, full of mercy own salvation, all your desire, and and good fruits, without partiality the gift of God to you personally and without hypocrisy. It will and individually, that you shall not be disposed to take offence or see all your sins to be forgiven, the lay blame, but have a measure of wrath passed away and transacted the same mind that was in Christ upon Christ, and you shall feel Jesus, who humbled himself, and peace in your consciences that when he was reviled, reviled not passeth all understanding; con- again; of that charity spoken of science will be quiet, your mind | 1 Cor. xiii. 4. which suffereth long, composed, and your heart fixed yet is kind; which vaunteth not trusting in the Lord. Jesus will itself, doth not behave itself unbreathe on you, and say, "Peace seemly; is not easily provoked; be unto you;" and in him you will thinketh no evil, and therefore find that peace and enjoyment, that worketh none; hopeth all things, the world cannot give, and that beareth all things; rejoiceth not the world cannot take away. And in iniquity, and that for a good thus you will be, according to the reason, because it rejoiceth in the degree of your faith and confidence truth, that precious truth, which in what he speaks, more and more is of more worth to him than happy in him than if you had all rubies, yea all the jewels of the the Indies, and more entertained world are not to be compared with by him, than if you had all the it. This is the grand secret of pleasures of the world. In a word, human felicity, thus to come as a you'll have enough; and being in little child stripped of every emyourselves thus happy, and rejoic-bellishment into the kingdom of ing in the Lord (I wish I could say Christ. And do we not now per always) you will have no taste, ceive, how justly that is called the no relish, for earthly amusements, kingdom of heaven? Heaven is still less for gossipping, slander, made up of peace, happiness, and suspicion, evil surmising, envy and joy. Hell is full of rage, misery, ill-nature; your tongue will be and fury. In this world we have seasoned with grace as with salt; the spirit of heaven or of hell, just your tongue will have a savor of as far as we resemble the one or Christ and you will speak of him; the other; just as far as we have you will enjoy that conversation, or have not the fire of a guilty and it will preserve you from in- mind within us quenched. Dr. dulging wrath and rancour, and Watts in his Hymns states it beau lead to the ornament of a meek tifully, and quiet spirit, which in the sight of God is of great price. Enjoying this peace you will bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and per secute you. With this peace implanted in the breast, the whole soul will be peace. The fire of a guilty conscience subdued and quenched by the application of the blood of Christ, the soul will evince its inward peace by wishing well to all about it. The
Madness by nature reigns within,
The passions burn and rage;
And that cannot be effected by sage documents to master the passions, and guard against bad tempers; the cure is all his own, by the application of his own blood, through the power of his own Spirit: why then are so many miserable expedients resorted to, and this one, so sweet, so healing, so little esteemed; rarely explain
ed; not always insisted upon, as the prime, the main, the most necessary ingredient in the cure? To propose any other remedy, is not unlike the contest fabled between the Hydrà and Hercules; when the latter cut off one head, seven sprouted out in its room: the beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water. If the tongue set on fire of hell be now so painful and destructive, and the peace of God in Christ be now so salutary and efficacious, are we not called upon to be earnest with God that this peace may be more known, and each for him and herself, see whether we are seeking this peace, and seeking it in the method of the gospel? What a blessed world is that, where all is Christ, all is peace and happiness, and that for ever! O! choose Jesus and so depart from evil; seek peace and pursue it always. AMEN.
To the Editor of the New Evangelical Magazine.
Epping Forest, Walthamstow,