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Let me die, that I may behold the patriarchs and the prophets, who acquired in the church an everlasting reputation, and on whose heads God hath already placed the crowns, which he promised to their faith and obedience!
Let me die, that I may hold communion with the happy God! I feel a void within me, which none but he can fill; I feel desires elevating me to his throne; I feel my soul longing and fainting, my heart and my flesh crying out, when I think of presenting myself before him, Psal. Ixxxiy. 2. Doth my heart say seek his face? Thy face, O Lord will I seek ? Psal. xxvii. 8. And, as in this vale of tears thou art always hidden, I will seek thee in another economy!
A meditation of death such as this hath charms unknown to the world: but to you, my brethren, they are not unknown. The prospect of dying is better to Barzillai than all the pleasures of a court. A tomb appears more desirable to him than a royal palace. Let me turn back, that
I may die, and be buried by the grave of my father and my mother! May we all by a holy life prepare for such a death! God grant us grace to do so! To him bę honour and glory for ever! Amen.
Col. iv. 6.
tèt your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt.
TT is a complaint, as old as the study of human nature,
1 that mankind are prone to excess, that they never observe a just mean, that in practising one virtue, they neglect another, that in avoiding one vice, they run into an opposite, in a word, that men usually go into extremes. This general maxim, which is exemplified in almost all the action's of men, is particularly remarkable in those familiar conversations, which religion allows, which society renders necessary, and for which God seems to have purposely formed us. Observe the conduct of men in this article, you will find every where excesses and extremes. On the one hand, you will see rude and nncivil people putting on in the most innocent companies austere looks, ever declaiming against the manners of the world, exclaiming against every body, affecting to be offended with every thing, and converting every' company into a court of justice resounding with sentences against the guilty. On the other hand, you will find people, under pretence of avoiding this 'extreme, exceeding the bounds of religion, and imagining that, in order to please in conversation, christianity must be laid aside, and each expression must have an air sordid and vicious. Nothing is so rare as a wise unico of gravity
society without vibe rights of soolable the fasi a disposition
and gentility, piety and sweetness of manners; a dispositioni that engages us to preserve inviolable the laws of religion without injuring the rights of society, and to do justice to society without violating religion.
However, it is this just medium, to which we are called, without which our conversation must be criminal, and which St. Paul teaches us in the text; Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt. Let your speech be seasoned with salt; here the rights of religion are preserved, this is the livery of the gospel, the character of christianity. Let your speech be alway with grace; here the rights of society are asserted, this is the innocent pleasure, which Jesus Christ allows us; this is the sweetness of manners, which, far from opposing, he expressly enjoins us to acquire and practise. The title of my discourse, then, shall be the art of speaking, and on this subject we will treat. The art of speaking, not according to the rules of grammar, not in the sense used in polite académies, according to the rules of worldly good breeding, an art too insignificant to be taught in this pulpit, but the art of speaking according to the laws of the gospel, according to the precepts of Jesus Christ, the christian art of speaking. ii.
May God, who hath called us to treat of this important duty, enable us to treat of it properly! May he so direct us, that this discourse may serve us both for instruction and example! May our la iguage be seasoned with salt and grace; with salt, that it may be grave and agreeable to the majesty of this place, and to the purity of our ministry: and with grace that we may acquire your attention, and insinuate into your hearts! Amen!
Salt must be the first seasoning of our conversation. It is hardly necessary to observe, that this term is metaphorical, and put for purity, of which salt is a symbol. The reason of this metaphor is clear; it is taken from the use of salt, which preserves the flesh of animals from putrefaction. For this purpose it was used in sacrifices, according to the words of Jesus Christ, every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. Let your speech be seasoned with salt, that is, never let your lips utter any discourse, which does not savour of the respect you have for the God you adore, the religion you profess, and the christian name, which you have the honour to bear. This is, in substance, the first law of conversation. Let us be more particular.
The spirit of this maxim may be expressed in five rules. The apostle recommends a seasoning of piety, a seasoning of chastity, a seasoning of charity, a seasoning of severity, and a seasoning of solidity. Consequently he condemns five usual imperfections of conversation. 1. Oaths 2. Obscene language. 3. Slander. 4. Extravagant complaisance. 5. Futility. Either I am deceived, my brethren, or every person in this auditory needs instruction in some one of these articles.
1. The first vice of conversation, which the apostle condemns, is swearing. The first seasoning, which he recommends to us, is the salt of piety. Sad necessity for a christian preacher, preaching to a christian audience ! Sad necessity indeed, obliged to prove, that blasphemy ought to be banished from conversation! however, it is indispensibly necessary to prove this, for nothing is so common among some called christians as this detestible vice. It is the effect of two principles, the first is a brutal madness, and the other is a most false and fanciful idea of superior understanding and free and easy behaviour.
It is a brutal madness, that puts some people on swearing. Our language seems too poor to express this disposition, and the words brutality and madness are too vague to describe the spirit of such as are guilty of this crime. These, shall I call them men, or brute beasts? cannot be agitated with the least passion without uttering the most execrable imprecations. Froward souls, who cannot endure the least controul without attacking God himself, taxing him with cruelty and injustice, disputing with him the government of the world, and, not being able to subvert his throne, assaulting him with murmurings and blasphemies. Certainly nothing can be so opposite to this salt of conversation as this abominable excess. They, who practise it, ought to be secluded from christian societies, yea to be banished even from worldly companies. Thus the supreme lawgiver, able to save and to destroy, hath determined. Read the twenty-fourth of Leviticus, The son of an Israelitish woman blasphemed the. ! name of the Lord, ver. 11, &c. At this news all Israel trembled with horror. The prudent Moses paused, and consulted God himself what to do in this new and unheard of case. The oracle informned him in these words, Bring forth him, that hath cursed, without the camp, and let all that heard him lay their hands upon his head, and let all the congregation stone him. Inil thou, Moses, shalt speak