THE PRACTICE OF PIETY.
Secondly, for thy Words.
1. Remember, that thou must answer for every idle word, that in multiloquy, the wisest man shall overshoot himself. Avoid, therefore, all tedious and idle talk, from which seldom arises comfort, many times repentance: especially beware of rash answers, when the tongue outruns the mind. The word was thine whilst thou didst keep it in; it is another's as soon as it is out. O the shame, when a man's own tongue shall be produced a witness, to the confusion of his own face!
Let, then, thy words be few, but advised; forethink whether that which thou art to speak be fit to be spoken; affirm no more than what thou knowest to be true; and be rather silent than speak to an ill, or to no purpose.
2. Let thy heart and tongue ever go together in honesty and truth; hate dissembling and lying in another; detest it in thyself, or God will detest thee for it; for he hateth alike a liar, and his father, the devil. And if once thou be discovered to make no conscience of lying, no man will believe thee when thou speakest a truth; but if thou lovest truth, more credit will be given to thy word than to a liar's oath. Great is the possession which Satan has in those who are so accustomed to lying, that they will lie though they get nothing by it themselves, nor are compelled to it by others. Let not thine anger remain when thou seest the cause removed; and ever distinguish between him that offends of infirmity (or against his will), and him who offends maliciously, and of set purpose: let the one have pity, and the other justice.
3. Keep thy speech as clean from all obscenity as thou wouldst thy meat from poison; and let thy talk be gracious, that he who hears thee may grow better by thee: And be ever more earnest when thou speakest of religion than when thou talkest of worldly matters.
If thou perceivest that thou hast erred, persevere not in thine error; rejoice to find the truth, and magnify it. Study, therefore, three things especially—to understand well, to say well, and to do well.
And when thou meetest with God's children, be sure to make some holy advantage by them; learn of them all the good that thou canst, and communicate with them all the good things that thou knowest. The more good thou teachest others, the more will God still minister unto thee. For as the gifts of men, by much using, do perish and decrease; so the gifts of God, by much using, do the more grow and increase; like the widow's pitcher of oil, which the more it poured to fill other vessels, the more it was still replenished in itself.
4. Beware that you believe not all that is told you, and that you tell not all that you hear; for if you do, you shall not long enjoy true friends, nor ever want great troubles. Therefore, in accusations, be first, assured of the truth, then censure. And as thou tenderest the reputation of an honest heart, never let malice in hatred make thee to reveal that which love in friendship bound thee a long time to conceal. But for fear of such afterclaps, observe two things—First, though thou hast many acquaintance, yet make not any thy familiar friend, but he that truly fears God: such an one thou never needest to fear, for though you should in some particulars fall out, yet Christian love, the main ground of your friendship, will never fall away; and the fear of God will never suffer him to do thee any villany. Secondly, do nothing in the sight of a civil friend, for which thou canst not be safe, unless it be concealed, nor anything for which, if just cause be offered, thou needest fear him, if he proves thine unjust enemy. If thou hast done anything amiss, ask forgiveness of God, and persuade thyself, rather than thy friend, to keep thine own counsel. For be assured that what friendship soever is grounded upon any other cause than true religion; if ever that cause fail, the friendship falleth off: and the rather, because that as God diffuses among men, truth, peace, and amity, that we should live to do one another good; so the devil daily sows falsehood, discord, and enmity, to cause, if he can, the dearest friends to devour one another.
5. Make not a jest of another man's infirmity: remember thine own. Abhor the frothy wit of a filthy nature, whose brains having once conceived an odd scoff, his mind travails till he be delivered of it; yea, he had rather lose bis best friend, than his worst jest; but if thou be disposed to be merry, have a special care to three things (Philippians 4:4; Proverbs 23:17)—1st, That thy mirth be not against religion; 2d, That it be not against charity; 3d, That it be not against chastity, and then be as merry as thou canst, only in the Lord.
6. Rejoice not at the fall of thine enemy, for thou knowest not what shall be the manner of thine own end; but be more glad to see the worst man's amendment, than his punishment. Hate no man, for fear Christ loves him, who will not take it well, that thou shouldst hate whom he loveth. Christ loved thee, when thou wast his enemy; by the merits, therefore, of his blood, he requires thee, for his sake, to love thine enemy; deny him being a Christian if thou darest. He asks but forgiveness for forgiveness: The forgiveness of one hundred pence, for the forgiveness of ten thousand talents—of sixty hundred thousand crowns, for ten crowns—petty forgiveness of man, for the infinite forgiveness of Almighty God. Though thou thinkest thine enemy unworthy to be forgiven, yet Christ is worthy to be obeyed.
7. When the glory of God, or good of thy neighbour requires it, speak the truth, and fear not the face of man. The frown of a prince may sometimes be the favour of God. Neither shall flattery still hold in credit, nor truth always continue in disgrace.
8. Ever think him a true friend, who tells thee secretly and plainly of thy faults. He that sees thee offend, and tells thee not of thy fault, eithers flatters thee for favour, or dares not displease thee for fear. Miserable is his case, who when he needs has none to admonish him. Reprehension, be it just, be it unjust; come it from the mouth of a friend, or from a foe, never does a wise man harm; for if it be true, thou hast a warning to amend—if it be false, thou hast a caveat what to avoid. So every way it makes a wise man better, or more wary. But if thou canst not endure to be reprehended, do then nothing worthy of reprehension.
9. Speak not of God but with fear and reverence, and as in his sight and hearing (Deuteronomy 28:58.) For seeing we are not worthy to use his holy name in our mouths, much less ought we to abuse it vainly in our talk. But ordinarily to use it in vain, rash, or false oaths, is an undoubted sign of a soul that never truly feared God. Pray, therefore, with David, when thou art to speak in any matter that may move passion, "Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth, and keep the door of my lips." (Psal. cxli.3.)
10. Lastly, in praising, be discreet (1 Pet. v.12;) in saluting, courteous (Romans 12:10;) in admonishing, friendly (1 Thess. v.26; 2 Thessalonians 3:5; Leviticus 19:17;) in forgiving, merciful; in promising, faithful (Psal. xv.4;) and bountiful in recompensing good service (Deuteronomy 15:13, 14;) making not the rewards of virtue the gifts of favour.