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The Pharifees thought all this very innocent: That to luft after a beautiful Woman, and please themselves with amorous and wanton Imaginations, were no Crime, if they did not commit Adultery; that Anger, and Malice, and Revenge were very innocent, while confined to thought; but our Saviour teaches his Difciples better, Ye have heard, it hath been faid to them of old, Thou shalt not commit Adultery. But I lay unto you, Whosoever looketh on a Woman to luft after her, bath committed Adultery with her already in his Heart. You have heard it bath been faid unto them of old, Thou shalt not kill: And whofoever shall kill, fhall be in danger of the Judgment. But I fay unto you, Whosoever Shall be angry with his Brother without a Caufe, fhall be in danger of the Judgment, 5 Matth. 21, 22,
For indeed the Thoughts and Paffions of the Soul defile the Man: They difcover the Temper and Complection of the Mind: This is the conceiving of Luft, as St. James fpeaks; and while Men indulge themselves in wanton, luftful, proud, ambitious, fpiteful, and revengeful Thoughts, it is almoft impoffible but fuch Thoughts as thefe will influence their Actions, when a favourable Opportunity ferves; and if they do not, yet we know what the Mens Hearts are; and God who dwells within us, and fees our Thoughts, will judge the Secrets of Hearts. Men who act over the Scenes of Luft, and Pride, and Revenge in their Minds, are as unlike to God, who is effential Holiness, Purity, Love, as those who commit all thofe Villanies, which they only please themselves
with the Fancy of. Our likeness to God confifts only in the Conformity of our Wills and Affections to him; for it is only a Spirit that can be like a Spirit; and therefore while our Thoughts and Paffions are fo contrary and oppofite to the Divine Nature, God can never own us, we are not his Children, we are not yet born of God, for we have nothing of his Image on
And therefore let us take care of our Thoughts, of our Paffions and fecret Affections, for we must be judged for thefe, as well as for our external Actions; we may fin with our Minds and Spirits, as well as with our Bodies; and God who is a Spirit, requires the Worship and Obedience of our Minds and Spirits, and is as much offended with finful and impure Thoughts, as with wicked Actions.
VII. We fhall be judged for our Words too; Thus our Saviour affures us, 12 Matth. 36, 37. But I fay unto you, That every idle word that men Shall Speak, they shall give an account thereof in the Day of Fudgment. For by thy words thou shalt be juftified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned. I need not tell you what thefe idle words are; Prophane Atheistical Discourse, Blafpheming God and his Providence, Ridiculing his Worfhip and Religion, the Doctrines and Precepts of it, and thofe Miracles which were wrought by the Power of the Holy Ghoft, for the Confirmation of Chriftianity, to which our Saviour particularly refers in this place; or obfcene and wanton Difcourfe, which St. Paul calls corrupt Communication, which should never
come into the Mouths of Chriftians, and all reviling and reproachful Speeches, Slandering, Back-biting, Railing, which our Saviour threatens with Eternal Damnation: But I fay unto you, Whofoever is angry with his Brother without a "Caufe, fhall be in danger of the Judgment: And whosoever shall fay to his Brother, Racha, fhall be in danger of the Council: but whofoever shall Say, Thou Fool, fhall be in danger of Hell-fire, 5 Mat.
22. And St. James with a peculiar respect
fuch angry reproachful Language, tells us, If any man among you feemeth to be Religious, and bridleth not his Tongue, but deceiveth his own ·Heart, that man's Religion is vain, 1 James 26. And yet I need not tell any Man, how common this practice is.
Atheistical, Prophane, Obfcene, Reviling Discourses, make up the Wit, and Humour, and Conversation of the Age: The brisk and pleasant Talkers would fit like Mopes, and gaze upon one another without one wife word to fay, unless you allow them to laugh at God, and Religion, and all things facred, to make a Mock of Sin, to tickle their Fancies with obfcene Jefts, or fpiteful Reflections; for were it ever poffible that fuch Men fhould have nothing to Laugh at, or nothing to Rail at, they were undone.
These Men never think of being judged for their Words; and yet there is as much reafon we fhould be judged for our Word as for our Actions.
Words are the first and most natural Indications of the Temper and Difpofition of the Mind; For out of the fulness of the Heart the
Mouth Speaketh: Our Words betray the Atheism and Infidelity, the Luft and Wantonnefs, Revenge and Malice, and other evil Paffions, which are within: Men are generally more cautious of their Actions than of their Words, and they can speak their Minds, when they cannot act; and therefore may be better known by their Words than by their Actions : Nay, Words do not only betray what is within, but fhew what the Heart most abounds with: For out of the fulness of the Heart, the Mouth fpeaketh: That Men talk of moft, which is moft in their Thoughts, and which they are most full of; fo full, that they cannot open their mouths, but it runs out.
There are fome Fools that only fay in their Hearts, There is no GOD. Such Thoughts as thefe lie low and fecret, are not come to maturity and perfection yet to be talked; but when Men venture to fay this with their Mouths, when they come to be talking and difputing Fools, it is a fign they are very full of thefe Thoughts, and either are Atheifts, or have a great mind to be fo.
There are a great many lafcivious Wantons, who yet are very modeft in Converfation, and will not offend chaft Ears with their wanton Difcourfe; but when Men think they can't be witty nor pleafant Company, without larding their Talk with obfcene Jefts, and putting modest Matrons and Virgins to the Blush, they have arrived at a great perfection of Lewdnefs: And do not fuch Men deferve to be judged?
But befides this, does any thing do more Mifchief in the World, than Words, as little as fome Men make of them? Can there be a greater Contempt of God, than for Men to deny his Being, to reproach his Providence, to ridicule his Worfhip? St. Jude tells us, That the Lord cometh with Ten thousand of his Saints, to execute Vengeance upon all, and to convince all that are Ungodly among them, of all their ungodly Deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all the hard Speeches which ungodly Sinners have spoken against him, Jude 14, 15, v.
Does any thing more tend to corrupt the Minds of Men, than fuch Words, which St. Paul fays, Eat like a Canker, 2 Tim. 2. 17. and prey upon the very Vitals of Religion?
What tends more to corrupt Mens Lives than lewd and wanton Talk, as St. Paul tells us, That evil Communication corrupts good Manners.
• What makes more Divifions in the World, and gives greater Difturbance to Neighbourhoods and Families and private Perfons, than Slandering, and Backbiting, and Tale-bearing? I am fure St. James tells us, That the Tongue is a little Member, and boafteth great things, Behold how great a matter a little Fire kindleth. And the Tongue is a Fire, a world of iniquity: fo is the Tongue amongst our members, that it defileth the whole Body, and fetteth on fire the Courfe of Nature; and it is fet on fire of Hell, 3 Jam. 5, 6. And if words can do fo .3 much Mifchief in the World, it is very fit that GOD fhould judge us for them; and then it is very fit that we fhould be very careful of our words.