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us for renewed alertness, activity, and zeal, in the service both of God and man. Every thing of the kind, however, must be subordinated to christian principles, and never suffered, either to counteract or preclude remarks, adapted to enlighten the understanding and improve the heart.
Here the directions, with which we proposed to conclude, invite our consideration.
1. The first step toward a conversation, tending to form us to the christian character, is to avoid all profane and indecent language. Surrounded by the gay and thoughtless, we are in frequent danger of falling into levities, inconsis-, tent with that “sound speech, which cannot be
condemned.” When the spirits are exhilarated : by scenes and subjects of mirth, our sympathy may rise to an undue degree, and betray us into those “ idle words,” which necessarily produce a temporary, if not a permanent disrelish for the sentiments of piety. Where is the person, who has never been thus surprised into transgression? Where is even the true disciple of Christ, who recollects no instance, in which, by unguarded compliances of this kind, he has “ given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme,” and “pierced himself through with many sorrows?!'
. The most effectual method of escaping these excesses would be, to avoid all intercourse with
the licentious and vain ; a method, which, to the extent of our power, we are bound to adopt. Its complete adoption, however, is impracticable ; “ for then we must needs go out of the world." It, therefore, behoves us to resolve with David, 'ty of old, to “ keep our mouth with a bridle, when ? the wicked is before us." When placed in sit . uations, where prudence requires us to “ hold our peace, even from good,” it is especially in- io cumbent on us to redouble our vigilance, lest we. be tempted to the utterance of evil. Otherwise, though we may sometimes presume to borrow .. the style of seriousness, it will be to little pur.. pose. Defiled and disgraced by “ corrupt communication," our own hearts will be unsusceptible of virtuous impressions; and, far from “min-.. istering grace to the hearers," we shall only provoke the imputation of hypocrisy. “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth, not his tongue, this man's religion is vain.” But by a steadfast adherence to the course, recom- : mended in the text, we shall be induced, as op-1 portunities present, to espouse the cause of truth. The influence of our conversation, whe. ther we dilate on the doctrines or precepts of rev. elation, will be felt both by ourselves and others.
2. A second direction relates to the disereet manner of discharging this obligation. .
6. There is a pedantry in religion, as well as e in knowledge into which minds, that are thor.
oughly enlightened, will not be apt to fall. The affected use of technical terms upon scientifick subjects is generally considered as savouring more vanity than knowledge ; yet some worthy people make it a matter of conscience to interlard their conversation with a sort of technical piety, which, by exciting disgust or ridicule, is productive of the worst effects.” Neither the pe. culiar phraseology, nor the peculiar tenets of a favourite sect can be introduced, with advantage to the cause of practical christianity, except among inmates of the same communion, whose opinions and views exactly coincide. To others, they “minister questions, rather than godly edifying ;"? and, by irritating the passions, serve to destroy that “ charity which is the bond of perfectness," and generate mutual distrust, animosity, and censure,
Nearly allied to this errour, and often found in the same person, is a disposition to insist much on our personal attainments and prospects. “True piety affects no unnecessary exposure ; its voice
is not heard in the street; it does not sound a i trumpet before it ; the left hand knows not what the right hand doth."
In the bosom of confidential friendship, to which our sincerity is previously known, we may safely and profitably repose the religious exercises of our own minds ; but to communicate these, without regard to time, place, and company, would be highly improper. In our general commerce with mankind, it should be our principal endeavour to “ abstain from all appearance of evil,” and to “ show, out of a good con, versation, our works with meekness of wisdom.". The various phenomena of nature, the conduct of divine providence, and the incidents of human life furnish topicks of perpetual instruction and incitement. To avail ourselves of these topicks, and apply them to our mutual edification, is the great object of christian converse. Seldom are we called to long and laboured discussions. Con. cise remarks, seasonably interposed, are more frequently needful; better adapted to the freedom of social interview, and more likely to me. liorate the heart." "A sudden glance,” says the pious Dr. Doddridge, “a sudden glance of thought towards God in the midst of the world, is often a great refreshment to the christian ; and a sudden turn to something serious and spiritual in
conversation, is frequently very edifying to others. ugot" It strikes the memory and the heart; and is, per
haps, as a nail fixed in a sure place, when many
a solemn admonition, and many an elaborate ser. ente mon is lost." . .? WIVE, E 3. This leads to a third direction, tending to Ele: illustrate the extent of christian conversation. o We are apt to confine religion to periods and , places, solemnly consecrated to its exercise ; and
or to consider its duties, as distinct from the ordidh nary concerns of the world. There are persons, ds from whom better things might be expected, who E seem to imagine it a kind of profanation to interriten mix serious observations with their common dis
course, though, on special occasions, they dis* cover no aversion to them. But can any subI stitute be offered for that' daily sobriety of lansett guage, which the gospel requires ? With what
ever eloquence or zeal we may sometimes speak ile for God, if, among those with whom we are most ons intimately and frequently associated, we neglect
to govern our tongues by the law of kindness,
and devotion, we are nothing." Here, our Irbi true character unfolds itself; and, here, our te hearts are seen. Here too, or nó where, the demen sign of our creation must be answered.
Subjects, which interest our feelings, will, of course, attract our attention; and though we may
not dwell upon them incessantly ; yet when any o occurrence or suggestion brings them into view, as we are no longer silent ; but snealo noon nanti.