Manton on the Tongue

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Puritan Board Junior
While preparing for this sabbath's sermon today, I came across this gem from Thomas Manton's sermons on Psalm 119 (this quote from his sermon on v.13). How wonderful!

Use 1. To shame us for our unprofitableness in our relations and converses; for these are two things wherein a Christian should take occasion to declare the judgments of God's mouth.

1. In our relations, that we do no good there in declaring the judgments of God's mouth to one another. Surely every relation is a talent, and you will be accountable for it, if you do not improve it for your master's use. The husband is to converse with his wife as a man of knowledge; 1 Peter iii. '7; and the wife to gain upon the husband, I Peter iii. 2; and both upon the children and servants. The members of every family should be helping one another in the way to heaven. With what busy diligence doth an idolatrous family carry on their way and their course! See Jer. vii. 18, 'The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire,' etc. saith the Lord. Every one will have his hand in the work, and are quickening and inflaming one another. Fathers, children, husbands, wives, all find some employment or other about their idolatrous service. Oh, that every one would be as forward and zealous and helpful in the work of God! Oh, that we were as careful to train and set our families a-work in a course of godliness ! Christians should reason thus: What honour hath God by making me a father, a master of a family ? Every such an one hath a charge of souls, and he is to be responsible. It will be no grief of heart to you when by your means they become acquainted with God: 'Ye are my crown and my rejoicing,' says the apostle, of the Thessalonians converted by his ministry. It will be a crown of honour and rejoicing in the day of the Lord, when you have been instrumental, not only for their prosperity in the world, but of their increasing in grace.
2. In our converses, how little do we edify one another ! If Christ's question to the two disciples going to Emmaus were put to us: Luke xxiv. 17, 'What manner of conversation had you by the way?' what cause should we have to blush and be ashamed! Generally our discourse is either -
(1.) Profane and sinful; there is too much of the rotten communication which the apostle forbids: Eph. iv. 29, 'Let no corrupt communication come out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace to the hearer.' Rotten discourse argueth a rotten heart. Or,
(2.) Idle and vain, as foolish tales. The apostle bids Timothy, 1 Tim. iv. 7, to 'refuse profane and old wives fables,' or 'vain compliments,' though we are to give an account for idle words, Mat. xii. 36. Or else, like the Athenians, we 'spend our time in hearing and telling news,' Acts xvii. 21. Or we please and solace ourselves with frothy flashes of wanton wit, and 'jesting that is not convenient,' which the apostle forbids, Eph. v. 4. The praise of a Christian lieth not in the wittiness, but in the graciousness of his conversation. That which is Aristotle's virtue is made a sin with Paul - foolish jesting. You should rather be refreshing one another with what experiences you have had of the Lord's grace; that is the comfort and solace of Christians when they meet together. But when men wholly give up themselves to move laughter, all this is idle and vain discourse. It is not enough to say it doth no hurt, but what good doth it do? doth it tend 'to the use of edifying'? A Christian that hath God and Christ, and his wonderful and precious benefits to talk of, and so many occasions to give thanks, he cannot want matter to discourse of when he comes into company; therefore we should avoid vain discourse. Or,
(3.) We talk of other men's matters or faults, as the apostle speaks of those, 1 Tim. v. 13, that wandered from house to house; that were not idle only, but tattlers also, and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not: Lev. xix. 16, 'Thou shalt not go up and down as a tale-bearer among thy people.' The Hebrew word signifies a merchant, or one that goeth about with spices to sell; thence the word is used for one that wandereth from place to place, uttering slanders as wares. These pedlars will always be opening their packs. Men fill up time by tattling and meddling with others: Thus have I heard of such or such an one. Or,
(4.) our discourse is wholly of worldly business, not a word of God 'They are of the earth, and speak of the earth,' John iii. 31. The habituating ourselves to worldly discourse together, without inter posing something of God, is a great disadvantage. Or,
(5.) vain jangling; if we speak of anything that hath an aspect upon religion, we turn it into a mere dispute about opinion; we do not use conferences as helps to gracious affections. how many are there sick of questions, as the apostle saith, and 'dote upon strife of words'? 1 Tim. vi. 4. Thus if we did put ourselves to question at night, What have I spoken? what good have I done? what good have I received from such company ? - it would make the word more sensible and active upon our souls.

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