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You will perceive, my friends, from what I have said, how important it is to your own welfare here and hereafter, and the happiness and peace of society, that you should bridle your tongue, and not suffer it to deal in lies, to utter profane language, or to indulge in malicious slander, or careless evil speaking. The gift of speech is, indeed, a blessing of unspeakable value, and chiefly distinguishes us from the condition of the beast that perisheth; since it enables us to communicate our thoughts to each other, and to open our lips in praise and supplication to the merciful Creator, who has bestowed this and other good things, upon us. But, like every other blessing enjoyed by man, it is capable of being abused ; and a very. great part of the misery of public and private life, arises from its being abused to foolish or wicked purposes; and hence the apostle James calls the tongue, “ a fire, a “ world of iniquity, defiling the whole body, " and setting on fire the course of nature." To'i bridle” it, therefore, is a great point of christian duty, as well as of worldly prudence, and he who gives a wicked or a vain licence to it, is equally wanting in religion and common sense. Solomon, you know, said, nearly three thousand years ago, “ he that keepeth his mouth, keepeth his
« life, but he that openeth wide his lips, 6 shall have destruction ;” that is, his success in life shall be ruined, and his hope of happiness hereafier destroyed; for he equally injures man, and offends God. But a greater than Solomon has given us still more awful admonitions on the same subject : “ Let your conversation,” says CHRIST,“ be yea, yea, and nay, nay;" that is, innocent and harmless, “ for what
soever is more than these cometh of the “ evil one;" and he has added the authority of his example to the power of his words ; for, he was “meek and lowly of heart:"even when he was reviled, he reviled not 66 again;" and when persecuted and buffeted, spit upon, and scourged, he answered not a word, but, “ as a lamb that is dumb before " his shearer, so he opened not his mouth."
[For the Sunday after Ascension-Day.)
I PETER iv. 7.
The end of all things is at hand; be ye there
fore sober, and watch unto prayer.
"HE text, my friends, which is taken
directs my attention to three things: first, to explain to you what the Apostle means by the words, the end of all things is at “ hand ;" secondly, to shew you what the virtue of sobriety is; and, thirdly, to point out to you the necessity of being sober, and watching unto prayer, from the consideration that “the end of all things is at hand.”
It is a clear case that the Apostle did not intend us to understand, by the first words of the text, that the end of the world was soon to take place ; because, in other parts of his epistles, he has spoken of the future persecutions and trials of the christian church, and of its triumphing over the enemies by which it should be attacked; events which he would not have foretold, had he expected that Christ would immediately have come to a general judgment. No, my brethren; the words refer to two very different events,—the speedy destruction of the city of Jerusalem, and the dispersion of the Jews by the Romans, which actually happened a few years after 'St. Peter wrote his two epistles ; and the hour of death, which is ever at hand, to every single soul of man, and will certainly put an end to all things in this world, as far as he is concerned with them.
Our blessed LORD, before he was cru. cified, had solemnly foretold the overthrow of the Jewish nation, and added, that some who were then hearing him should be witnesses of that event. Accordingly, in less chan forty years after his death, the dreadful scene took place. Jerusalem was encompassed about by their enemies, the Romans, to whom they were in subjection, but whose vengeance they had brought down, by their frequent tumults and insurrections against them. “ The abomination of desolation," or the Roman armies, stood in the holy place, or the temple of Jerusalem, of which the Jews
were so proud: this, notwithstanding the strength of the building, was pulled down, so as bot to have “
upon ano" ther;" and the Jews themselves were < scattered into all lands," where they have remained for nearly eighteen hundred years, a distinct and despised people ; and a standing proof of the divine character of the LORD JESUS CHRIST, who could see into futurity, and tell what was to come to pass in the latter days; and a visible testimony of the truth of his holy religion. This, then, was the event which St. Peter first referred to in the words, “ the end of all things is at 6 hand :" but I have said he had a second meaning in them, namely, that death was ever near us, to put an end to all things in this world, as far as we are concerned about them. I need not labour to convince you, my friends, of the truth of that saying of scripture, “we must all once die;" for your own observation is sufficient for this purpose : neither need I remark to you, that the hour of death is entirely uncertain ; that people of all ages, young as well as old; and of all degrees, rich as well as poor, are suddenly " called hence, and are no more seen,” without warning ; without time for preparation; in the midst of business ; in the midst of pleasure ; when their souls are at ease, and
one stone left