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fail to improve in knowledge and purity, they, who are destined to daily labour, have sufficient opportunities to explore the oracles of heaven. None is so incessantly occupied by business, or perplexed by care, as not to have many intervals of repose, and even amusement. Now, if only a part of these intervals could be devoted to religious study, what a fund of information, relative to the dignity and glory of our nature, might be gained ! What a variety of incentives to piety and virtue might be discovered, and called into action ! Beside these ordinary occasions, which may and ought to be improved, every seventh day is graciously consecrated to the office of “ seeking a right way for us and our little ones.”
To all this may be added, that the scriptures are written in a style adapted to every ca. pacity. It requires no uncommon intenseness of thought to understand all that is necessary for us to believe and practise. The great, and indeed the only essential, is a sincere desire to know and do the will of God. If with this qualification we open and peruse our bibles, when convenience will permit, we shall find no difficulty in imprinting on our minds those views of the divine character and counsels,
and those rules for the government of our-, selves, which constitute the best security of our virtue and happiness. Let us, therefore, venerate the word of truth as the charter of our salvation, and we shall be at no loss for time to inspect its divine institutions, until they become familiar to our minds, and shed a benign influence upon the whole series of our intentions and actions ; till no longer misled by indistinct conceptions of our duty and desti. nation, we are “ filled with spiritual under." standing,” and become “ neither barren, nor unfruitful in knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.??" ne .
EPHESIANS iv. 29. Let no corrupt communication proceed out of yo
mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying) that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
SPEECH holds a distinguished rank de mong the faculties of our nature. This is the medium of that social intercourse, whence result the most refined and rational pleasures of life. Were we denied the power of communicating our sentiments and wishes to each other; of dividing our joys and sorrows, in »the reciprocation of friendship and sympathy, how cheerless and insipid would be our state ! Alike ignorant of the discoveries and views of those around us, mutual confidence would be banished from the earth ; and many sources of information and comfort, which now illumine our path, and gladden our hearts, would be inaccessible to mortals.
But the benefits of language are not con. fined to the present world. It bears an aspect on our future destiny, and is designed, by the benevolent author of our existence, to facili. tate the knowledge and practice of the duties incumbent on us, as candidates for eternity. By this means, we are enabled to celebrate the wonders of creation, providence, and redemp. tion; and to enkindle, both in ourselves and others, that love to God and man, which“ is the fulfilling of the law." The sacred writerg accordingly insist much on the due govern. ment of the tongue. David declares, “ I am purposed, that my mouth shall not transgress;” James asserts, “ If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body ;” and, on the same principle, Paul exhorts, ." Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”
Under the article of " corrupt communicaa tions,” may be comprised, not only that inde. cent jesting, which pollutes the lips of the licentious, and those blasphemous imprecations, which heighten the depravity of the impious, But all other expressions and phrases, which counteract the holy simplicity of the gospel.
Every thing of this kind is forbidden; and a style of inoffensive discourse enjoined, tend.. ing, while it improves and confirms our own virtue, to conciliate the attention, and excite. the activity of others.
The apostle pre-supposes, that conversa+. tion has a powerful influence in forming our character ; and, on this ground, urges the importance of making it uniformly subservient : to the purposes of religion and morality. A distinct consideration of these two particulars will give us possession of the useful instruction, conveyed in the text, and furnish those, directions which, at once, encourage and assist obedience.
1. That conversation has a powerful influence in forming our character, must be apparent to every one, accustomed to observe the operations of his mind, or the progress of his actions. Thoughts, confined to our own bosoms, are seldom uniform and vigorous in their effects; but when imparted to others, and aided by discussion, they collect astonishing strength, and stimulate correspondent exertions. We consider ourselves bound to support and exemplify principles which we have once espoused, lest we should incur the imputation of absurdity. The act of divulg