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ing them gives us an interest in their reputa. tion and success, to which we should otherwise be strangers. Besides, that which occupies our tongues and receives our applause, in company, naturally engrosses our meditations in retirement; and, thus rendered more familiar and agreeable, we at length feel ourselves no less disposed, than pledged, to conduct ourselves accordingly. At the same time, there is a re-action from the voice of concurrence, which inspires a zeal and alacrity, to be acquired in no other way; and contributes much to establish our opinions, and direct our pursuits. “As iron sharpeneth iron, so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend." Hence, sentiments, incidentally expressed at first, not unfrequently gain à complete ascendency over the mind, and give complexion to the whole character. It is no lon. ger the impulse of a moment, which gives them utterance: They have imperceptibly conciliated the affections, and,“ out of the abundance of the heart the mouth now speaketh." · The preceding remarks apply indiscrim. inately to every species of conversation, whe. ther virtuous or vicious. But to be more particular : The person, who gives indulgence to indecent levities of speech, puts his eternal
all at hazard. For a while, he may blush at the allusive filthiness which falls from his lips. Encouraged, however, by the approbation of dissolute companions, he soon mistakes obscenity for wit, and proceeds with increasing ef. frontery, till, by dwelling on images of impurity, “ even his mind and conscience are defiled ;” and he not only offends every chaste. ear by his discourse, but, “ being past feeling, gives himself over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.”
The person, who presumes to trifle with sacred things, though he begins with fear and trembling, gradually loses the restraints of religion, and becomes indifferent and averse to, its duties. Nothing, indeed, which we are. accustomed to make the subject or instrument of ridicule, can receive the homage of our hearts. Who will be improved by reading or hearing texts of scripture, which he has recently perverted from their original design to the purposes of merriment and witticism? The ludicrous assemblage of ideas, with which, he has dared to blend them, spontaneously recurs to memory, and destroys their salutary effects. “Becoming vain in his imagination,
his foolish heart is darkened.” As if laugh. · ter and mirth were the end of his being, and
paramount to the most solemn obligations, both the injunctions of holy writ, and the counsels of pious friendship, are treated with habitual derision ; and neither argument nor persuasion can arrest his serious attention. Alike insensible to the dictates of reason and scripture, he is “ taken captive of the deceiver at his will,” and heedlessly " treasures up wrath against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.”
The person, who adopts the language of impiety and prophaneness, has commenced a career destructive of that veneration for the attributes and authority of Jehovah, which is the fundamental principle of religious obedi. ence, and the only effectual defence against “presumptuous sins.” Whilst he calls his maker to witness, on every trivial occasion, what security can he give for the truth of his testimony, even in a court of justice ? And should passion or interest prompt, what could preserve him from absolute perjury? Whilst he unfeelingly imprecates the vengeance of heaven upon all who incur his displeasure, who can safely confide in his humanity ? May not the same disposition, in the indulgence of which he so readily execrates his fellow-men, impel him to deeds of irreparable outrage ?
Certain it is, that he has no fear of God be: fore his eyes,” and is, therefore, accessible to every temptation.
The person, who falls into the degrading practice of calumny, necessarily contracts a malignity of temper and manners, equally hos. tile to the peace of society, and incompatible with that love which “ worketh no ill to his neighbour.” Between taking pleasure in the mortification and disturbance of those around us, and the actual commission of injustice, fraud, and falsehood, there is but a single step; a step by which thousands have plunged them. selves into atrocious guilt, and precluded the prospect, if not the possibility of their amendment and salvation.
From the baneful influence of “ corrupt communication,” let us turn to “ that which is good to the use of edifying.” This, too, yields its appropriate fruits. To regulate our conversation by the gospel of Christ ; and, not only to avoid those abuses of spcech, which tend to strengthen the vicious propensities of our nature, but to embrace every favourable opportunity to introduce subjects, calculated to disclose the beauty of a holy life, will greatly assist our progress in the service of God, Even the negative virtue of abstaining from
defiling language, will serve to eradicate defiling imaginations from our hearts. Irregular passions are often inflamed by the agency of the tongue; which, when so employed, is indeed “ a fire," as well as " a world of iniquity.” Though not extinguished, their lawless rage is abated by silence. If, therefore, refusing so much as to name subjects, adapted to excite criminal emotions in the mind, we“ consider one another, to provoke unto love and good works,” the unholy flame of sinful desire will subside, and the purest affections be enkindled in our bosoms; affections, productive of continual improvements in piety and virtue. By pleading the cause of truth and righteousness, and endeavouring, “ by sound doctrine to convince gainsayers,” our own faith will be increased and confirmed. By “reproving the unfruitful works of darkness,” and, in no case, “suffering sin upon a brother,” our personal integrity will be guarded. We shall be constrained not to “ allow ourselves in the thing which we con: demn,” in others. By taking “sweet counsel together," and dilating with mutual satisfaction, and harmonious agreement, on the wisdom and grace of the christian scheme, with the various obligations it infers, our apprehensions of the divine character and government will be enlarged, No. 3.