"...reason and speech do difference us from brutes."
" Use therefore your tongues to those noble ends for which they were given you."
Motive XVII. Holy conference will prevent the guilt of foolish, idle talk. Men will not be long silent, but will talk of somewhat, and if they have not profitable things to talk of, they will prate of vanity. All the foolish chat, and frothy jests, and scurrilous ribaldry, and envious backbiting, which taketh up men's time, and poisoneth the hearers, is caused by their lack of edifying discourse, which should keep it out. The most luxuriant wits and tongues will have most weeds, if they be not cultivated and taught to bear a better crop.
Motive XVIII. Your tongues will be instrumental to public good or public hurt. When filthy, vain, and impious language is grown common, it will bring down common plagues and judgments! And if you cross not the custom, you seem to be consenters, and harden men in their sin. But holy conference may, at least, show that some partake not of the evil, and may free them from the plague, if they prevail not with others so far as to prevent it.
"Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him," Mal. 3:16, 17.
Motive XIX. Consider what great necessity there is every where of fruitful, edifying speech. 1. In the multitude of the ignorant; and the greatness of their ignorance. 2. The numbers of the sensual and obstinate. 3. The power of blindness, and of every sin: what root it hath taken in the most of men. 4. The multitude of baits which are every where before them. 5. The subtilty of Satan and his instruments in tempting. 6. The weakness and unconstancy of man, that hath need of constant solicitation. 7. The lack of holy, faithful pastors, which maketh private men's diligence the more necessary. And in such necessity to shut lip our mouths, is to shut up the bowels of our compassion, when we see our brother's need; and how then doth the love of God dwell in us? 1 John 3:17. To withhold our exhortation, is as the withholding of corn from the poor in a time of famine, which procureth a curse, Prov. 11:26. And though in this case men are insensible of their need, and take it not ill to be passed by, yet Christ that died for them will take it ill.
Motive XX. Lastly, Consider how short a time you are like to speak; and how long you must be silent. Death will quickly stop your breath, and lay you in the dark, and tell you that all your opportunities are at an end. Speak now, for you have not long to speak. Your neighbours' lives are hastening to an end, and so are yours; they are dying and must hear no more, till they hear their doom, and you are dying and must speak no more; and they will be lost for ever if they have not help: pity them then, and call on them to foresee the final day; warn them now, for it must be now or never: there is no instructing and admonishing them in the grave. Those sculls which you see cast up; had once tongues which should have praised their Creator and Redeemer, and have helped to save each other's souls; but now they are tongueless. It is a great grief to us that are now here silenced, that we used not our ministry more laboriously and zealously while we had time. And will it not be so with you, when death shall silence you, that you spake not for God while you had a tongue to speak?
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