Page images
PDF
EPUB

close union with them, that communion of ideas, that conformity of sentiments, which render heaven so delightful !

Let me die, that I may behold the patriarchs and the prophets, who acquired in the church an everlasting reputation, and on whose heads God hath already placed the crowns, which he promised to their faith and obedience!

Let me die, that I may hold communion with the happy God! I feel a void within me, which none but he can fill; I feel desires elevating me to his throne; I feel my soul longing and fainting, my heart and my flesh crying out, when I think of presenting myself before him, Psal. Ixxxiv. 2. Doth my heart say seek his face? Thy face, O Lord, will I seek! Psal. xxvii. 8. And, as in this vale of tears thou art always hidden, I will seek thee in another economy !

A meditation of death such as this hath charms unknown to the world: but to you, my brethren, they are not unknown. The prospect of dying is better to Barzillai than all the pleasures of a court. A tomb appears more desirable to him than a roy. al palace. Let me turn back, that I may die, and be buried by the grave of my father and my mother ! May we all by a holy life prepare for such a death! God grant us grace to do so! To him be honor and glory for ever! Amen.

[merged small][ocr errors]

SERMON VIII.

CHRISTIAN CONVERSATION.

Col. iv. 6.

Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt.

I as

nature, that mankind are prone to excess, that they never observe a just mean, that in practising one virtue, they neglect another, that in avoiding one vice, they run into an opposite; in a word, that men usually go into extremes. This general maxim, which is exemplified in almost all the acţions of men, is particularly remarkable in those fan miliar conversations, which religion allows, which society renders necessary, and for which God seems to have purposely formed us. Observe the conduct of men in this article, you will find every where excesses and extremes. On the one hand, you will see rude and uncivil people putting on in the most innocent companies austere looks, ever declaiming against the manners of the world, exclaiming against every body, affecting to be offended with every thing, and converting every company into a court of justice resounding with sentences against the guilty. On the other hand, you will find people, under pretence of avoiding this extreme, exceeding the bounds of religion, and imagining that, in order to please in conversation, christianity must be laid aside, and each expression must have an air

A

sordid and vicious. Nothing is so rare as a wise union of gravity and gentility, piety and sweetness of manners; a disposition that engages us to preserve inviolable the laws of religion without injuring the rights of society, and to do justice to society without violating religion.

However, it is this just medium, to which we are called, without which our conversation must be criminal, and which Śt. Paul teaches us in the text. Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt. Let your speech be seasoned with salt; here the rights of religion are preserved, this is the livery of the gospel, the character of christianity. Let your speech be alway with grace ; here the rights of society are asserted, this is the innocent pleasure, which Jesus Christ allows us ; this is the sweetness of manners, which, far from opposing, he expressly enjoins us to acquire and practise. The title of my discourse, then, shall be the art of speaking, and on this subject we will treat.

The art of speaking, not according to the rules of grammar, not in the sense used in polite academies, according to the rules of worldly good breeding, an art too insignificant to be taught in this pulpit, but the art of speaking according to the laws of the gospel, according to the precepts of Jesus Christ, the christian art of speaking.

May God, who hath called us to treat of this important duty, enable us to treat of it properly! May he so direct us, that this discourse may serve us both for instruction and example ! May our language be seasoned with salt and grace ; with salt, that it may be grave and agreeable to the majesty of this place, and to the purity of our ministry: and with grace, that we may acquire your attention, and insinuate into your hearts ! Amen!

Salt, must be the first seasoning of our conver

sation. It is hardly necessary to observe, that this term is metaphorical, and put for purity, of which salt is a symbol. The reason of this metaphor is clear;

it is taken from the use of salt which preserves the flesh of animals from putrefaction. For this purpose it was used in sacrifices, according to the words of Jesus Christ, every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. Let your speech be seasoned with salt, that is, never let your lips utter any discourse, which does not savor of the respect you have for the God you adore, the religion you profess, and the christian name, which you have the honor to bear. This is, in substance, the first law of conversation. Let us be more particular.

The spirit of this maxim may be expressed in five rules. The apostle recommends a seasoning of piety, a seasoning of chastity, a seasoning of charity, a seasoning of severity, and a seasoning of solidity. Consequently he condemns five usual imperfections of conversation. 1. Oaths. 2. Obscene language. 3. Slander. 4. Extravagant complaisance. 5. Futility. Either I am deceived, my brethren, or every person in this auditory needs instruction in some one of these articles.

1. The first vice of conversation, which the apostle condemns is swearing. The first seasoning which he recommends to us, is the salt of piety. Sad necessity for a christian preacher, preaching to a christian audience! Sad necessity indeed, obliged to prove, that blasphemy ought to be banished from conversation ! however, it is indispena sibly necessary to prove this, for nothing is so common among some called christians as this detestable vice. It is the effect of two principles, the first is a brutal madness, and the other is a most false and fanciful idea of superior understanding and free and easy behavior.

2D

VOL. IV.

« PreviousContinue »