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Psalm cxli. 3.
Set a watch, O Lord! before my mouth: keep the door of my Ftps,
T N the preceding discourse I represented to you the nature and consequences of 'various sins of the tongue. Let me now prosecute my design of warning you against additional offences equally comprehended within the scope of the text.
V. The offence to which I shall in the. next place refer is censoriousness.
It is not censoriousness to affirm sin to be fin: to paint its heinoufness in its true colours: to proclaim the tremendous judgements which hang over the heads of the impenitent. To palliate guilt as though
it were of trivial, concern i to denominate Various kinds of wickedness by those light appellations, which fashion most irreligiously applies to them: to lull the transgressor into .security by obscuring or explaining away the scriptural limitations of the divine mercy; by describing the punishments reserved for the ungodly as less, awful in their nature and duration than the plain import of the Word of God pronounces them to be; or by maintaining a' cowardly and unchristian silence, when duty requires you to protest, to admonish, to alarm: to act thds is to prove yourself little acquainted with the Gospel of (Christ, or little disposed to imbibe the spirit of a Christian; little solicitous for the glory of your Lord, and for the salvation ,of your own soul, and of the soul of your neighbour. Neither is it alway censoriousness to make known the faults of another. Not only may public justice require you to uphold the interests of society by bearing a faithful testimony against crimes; but your duty to your family and to your friends, and your general obligation to supply seasonable counsel to the unwary, may demand that you should revea'l, in the spirit of truth and meekness, the actual misconduct of "vol..II. S indivi
individuals: and chat you should point ouf, according to your deliberate view of their characters, such of their dispositions, habits and purposes as, in your apprehension, would prove, were you to remain silent, mischievous and ensnaring. But when you publish the faults of others unnecessarily; when you enlarge upon them to a needless length; when you develope them, with unwarranted vehemence; when you knowingly omit any true or probable circumstance tending to diminish their magnitude: in each of these cases you are cen
• sorious. In other words, cenfariousness is* so to discourse concerning the offences of another as to transgress against charity. Some persons are censorious through carelessness; some through selfishness; some through anger; some through malice;'some through envy. According to the difference of the sources from which censoriousnese springs, its guilt is more or less flagrant* But even when it arises from carelessness, deem it not a trifling fin. You are not
'careless concerning your own character, yOur own welfare. Are you not to love your neighbour as yourself?' You seer pained and injured, if your own failings
x are inadvertently made the subject of heedless observation. Why do you cause needless pain and injury to your neighbour? Reflect how opposite is censoriousnefs, from -whatever source it may proceed, to the precepts of Jesus Christ. Judge not, that ye be not judged. . Why beholdesi thou the mote that is in thy brother s eye; but confidereft not the beam that is in thine own eye (a)? .Reflect how contrary it is to his example. How pure was his conversation from harsh reflections on the prejudices, the timidity, the cold and wavering faith of his followers: and from needless severity in noticing the obdurate blindness, the unconquerable malice, and the murderous designs of his enemies. Brethren, be ye followers of God, as dear children, and walk in love, as Chrifi hath loved us. Consider yourselves, lefl ye clso be tempted (b).
VI. Xet us now direct our thoughts to those sins of the lips, which originate in a busy and meddling spirit.
From this temper is derived a loquacious interference in the concerns of other men. The people of Athens, when St. Paul was In their city, spent their time in nothing else
(a) Matth. vii. i. 3. (£) Eph. v. I, 2. Gal. vi. *• S2 but
but either to tell dr to hear some new thing. Many Christians seem by their conduct to be descendents of these Athenians. Impelled by curiosity, they search out every petty transaction of the neighbourhood; sift it again and again to the very bottom; and treasure up in their memories, in such mattters too faithful, each particle of intelligence which they have collected. They pry into the interior of families; worm out every incident of the day; make themselves masters of every change in the domestic arrangement j and discover every projected plan of alteration almost as soon as it is formed, often before it has been digested, by the person who devised it. The store of news which they have thus acquired vanity and self-importance urge them to communicate. Hence from busybodies they advance to be talebearers. They wander from house to house\ being tatlers 'also, speaking those things which they ought not \c). Wherever they wander, they spread mischief. They encourage idleness; they inflame inquisitiveness; they betray secrets; they excite quarrels; they prolong distensions. Hear with what accuracy
x (10 « Tim. v. 13.