« PreviousContinue »
be fometimes found guilty of murder. The natural shape of the tongue resembles a flame of fire, and therefore in Hebrew one word fignifies a flame and the tongue; yea and it is what it seems to be, a fire, a world of iniquily, James iii. 6. It resembles also a sword, and to it is oft-times, Pfal. lvii. 4. & lix. 7. The mouth and tongue resemble bow and arrow, and so they are. Pfal, Isiv. 3. The rage of an ill tongue must needs be dangerous then, feeing such an one lays about him with his bow and arrow, and advances with fire and sword, which must needs bring him in blood-guilty. Now, this sword devours several ways.
1, By quarrelling, provoking, and contentious speeches, Prov. xxiii. 29. Such words have oft-times begun á plea that has ended in blood. And therefore the apostle compares such to beasts that begin to snarl and bite one another, till it end in the ruin of either or both, Gal. v. 15. Let us make conscience then of peaceable, mild, and gentle speeches.
2dly, By bitter words. These are the impoisoned arrows that tongue-murderers shoot at their neighbour, Pfal. Ixiv. 3. 4. Their tongues are dipt in gall, and they pierce to the heart, and give a home-thrust like a sword, Prov. xii. 28, They become not the disciples of the meek Jesus. Lay aside these, as ye would not be reckoned murderers in the fight of God, Epb. iv. 31.
3dly, By railing and scolding. This was Shimei's murdering deed, 2 Sam. xvi. 5. 6. 7. for which he died as a murderer in Solomon's days. Thus men and women manage their tongue-battles with eagernefs, making their doors or the town.gate the field of battle, where words pierce like swords to the heart. These are the plagues and pests of society, whose bloody mouths proclaiin their hearts fearless of God. Hear ye what the Lord says, 1 Pet. iii. 9. Not rendering evil for eril, or railing for railing : but contrariwise, blefing; knowing that je are thereunto calied, that ye should inherit a blessing,
4thl;', By reviling, reproachful, and disdainful speeches. Men think little of these; they are but words, and words are but wind. But they are a wind that will blow people to hell, Mat. V, 22. They are the devil's bellows to blow up the fire of anger; which
make fearful havock ere it be quenched, Prov. xv. I.
Sthly, By inocking, fcoffing, and deriding speeches. These are reckoned among the sufferings of the martyrs, Heb. xi. 36. Others had trial of cruel mockings. The soldiers mocking of Christ, John xix. 3. is compared to the baiting by dogs, Plal. xxii. 16. See how children paid for this usage to the prophet Elisha, 2 Kings iï. 23. 24.
Lastly, By curlings, imprecations, and wrathful wishings of ill and mischief to our neighbours ; which is but throwing up of hellith fire on others, that comes down and burns up him that threw it, Psal. cix. 18.
3. There is eye-murder, which vents itself by a wrathful countenance, and all geitures of that kind, such as high and proud looks, and fierce looks, Prov. vi. 17. The Spirit of God takes notice of Cain's countenance, Gen. iv. 5. As there is adultery in looks, so there may be murder in them, not only angry looks, but looks of satisfaction on the miseries of others, which God knows the nieaning of, Obad. 12. ; gnashing with the teeth, and all such gestures of a person, denoting a heart boiling with wrath and revenge, Acts vii. 54.
4. There is hand-murder, even where death killeth not. And people may be guilty of this two ways,
ist, By way of omission, when we with-hold and give not help to those that are in distress, to favę their life or living, Judg. v. 2. 3.; 'neglecting the fick, not visiting and helping them as need requires, Luke x. 31. 32.; not affording means of life to the poor in want, Jam. ii. 15. 16. for those put out the flame of life that do not feed it. We should then put on bowels of mercy and charity, in imitation of Job, chap. xxxi. 16. &c. It is observable, that the fentence against the wicked runs on unmercifulness to the poor members of Christ, Matth. xxv.41. &c. 2dly, By way of commission. And fomen are guilty,
(1.) As they strike against the living of others, their means and way of subsistence. This goes under the general name of oppression, a crying fin, Ezek. xxii. 7. Thus this command is broken by extortion, landlords racking of their lands so as labourers cannot live on them, tenants taking others lands over their heads sometimes to the ruin of honest families, masters not allowing fervants whereupon to live; and generally by all kind of oppression, which in God's account is murder, Il. iii. 14, 15. Micah jii. 3.
(2.) As they strike against the body and life itself. Thus men are guilty by fighting, striking, and wounding others, Exod. xxi. 18. 22. How many have been guilty as murderers in the fight of men, that have had no design to go the full length, when they fell to fighting?
Persecution is a complication of all these; and therefore the better the cause is, the worse is the deed. It is a main engine of him that was a murderer from the beginning. And God will reckon with them as murderers at the great day, Matth. XXV. 41. 42. &c
Lastly, Men may be guilty of the blood of others otherwise. As,
(1.) By finful occasioning in others those things whereby our neighbour sins against his own' soul, Quod eft caufa caufæ, est etiam caufa causati. So people fin by occasioning in others discontent, fretfulnefs, immoderate forrow, c. i Sam. i. 6. "Wherefóre we should beware of that, as we would not be guilty of their blood.
(2.) By all the ways we said men co-operate to the deltroying of others souls, they may be guilty of killing others bodies: as by commanding, counselling, or any wise procuring the taking away of mens living or lives unjustly. So David murdered Uriah by the sword of the Ammonites. So informers against the Lord's people in time of persecution are murderers in God's fight, Ezek. xxii. 9, Yea, the approving or any way consenting to it makes men guilty, Acts viii. 1.
Now, Sirs, examine yourselves in this matter; and who will not be brought in blood-guilty, guilty of their own and their neighbours blood, the blood of their souls and bodies ! God's law is spiritual, and fees the guilt of blood where we plead Not guilty. Let us be humbled and convinced, and apply to the blood of Christ, that we may be washed from it.
EXODUS XX. 14.
Thou shalt not commit adultery.
of our own and our neighbour's chaftity and purity. God is a hoiy God, and the devil'is an unclean spirit; we muit therefore ftudy purity in all manner of conversation. Our Lord puts this command before the fixth, Mark X. 19. because our chastity should be as dear to us as our life, and we fhould be as much afraid of that which defiles the body as that which destroys it.
This command is a negative precept, and expressly forbids adultery; but under that is comprehended all manner of uncleanness whatsoever, with all the causes and occasions lcading thereunto. And the positive part of this command is, that we must preierve our own and our neighbour's chastity by a!! due' means.
In discoursing further, I shall consider,
I. Our first business is to consider what is required in this command; and the catechism, agreeably to holy fcripture, tells us, that it “ requires the pre“ fervation of our own and our neighbour's chastity “ in heart, speech, and behaviour. The duties of this command may therefore be reduced to two general heads. 1. The preservation of our own chaftity, 2. The preservation of that of our neighbour.
FIRST, This command requires us to preserve our own chastity and purity. There is a twofold chastity. 1. In single life; when it is led in purity, it is like the angelical ; when in impurity, it is devilifh. 2. There is conjugal chastity, when mar. ried persons keep themselves within the bounds of the law of that state. This lies in two things. (1.) With respect to all others, keeping themselves pure and uncorrupted. (2.) With relpect to anc. ther, keeping themselves within the bounds of Christian sobriety and moderation. In whatsoever ftate we are, this is the will of God, even our fančtification, that we should abstain from fornication; that every one of us should know how to poljess his vessel in jančtification and honour, not in the luft of concupiscence, 1 Theff. iv. 3. 4. 5.
Now, there is a threefold chastity required of us, and to be preserved by us.
First, Chastity in heart, 1 Thefl. iv. 5. forecited, God knows the heart, and therefore his laws reach the heart, and he will judge for heart.fins. We must keep our minds pure, that the thoughts be not led afiray and corrupted. Hence Job made a covenant with his eyes, chap. xxxi. I. And we must keep our affections pure, that they be not vitiated. Job saw