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are innocent, and in which no Harm is meant, and by which no Harm is done; tho' perhaps they do not serve to any great Purpose either of spiritual or temporal Improvement or Advantage. And thus much let it suffice to have spoken of the first Text.
Secondly, The next I will give an Account of, is that of St. Paul, Eph. v. 4. He, in the Verse before, having exhorted the Ephesians, that Fornication and all Uncleannefs might not so much as be named among them, as becometh Saints, adds in this Verse, neither Filthiness, nor foolish Talking or Jefting. Here now seems to be a terrible Check and Rebuke given to all that we call Mirth, or Wit, or Railery, or good Humour in Conversation ; for all that comes under the Notion of Jefting, as we use the Word. So that if Jesting is forbidden, God forgive most of the Conversation of this World, tho otherwise never so innocent. But I think I need say no more to
that this is not the true Meaning of the Text, than only to give you Dr. Hammond's Account of it, who was indeed himself one of the gravest feverest Men that perhaps his Age bred. He takes notice that μωρολογία and ευτραπελία (which are the Words here used, and which we render foolish Talking and Fefting) are in this Place so joined together, that the latter Word is only an Explanation of the
former. For the Apostle, speaking of feveral other Things that are not to be named among Christians, mentions, among the rest, foolish Talking or Jesting. He doth not say foolish Talking and Jesting, which would make them two distinct Things ; but foolish Talking or Jefting, which makes the latter Word only an Explication of that which goes before. He obferves likewife further, that μωρολογία, which we render foolish Talking, (but if ftrialy interpreted, would fignify speaking Folly) is, in the Language of Scripture, such kind of Talking, as tends to Lewdness and Uncleanness; as to commit Folly in the sacred Language is the same thing as to commit Fornication or Adultery, And consequently the latter Word, Festing, means the fame thing, only with this Difference, that 1950n.czáz is speaking lewdly in general, but žuteTenia, or Jefting, is speaking lewdly, by way of Jest, with a Design to move Laughter, for that is the Importance of the Word. He therefore concludes, that both these Words, foolish Talking and Jefting, are not to be taken in the full Latitude that they signify in our Language, but are to be confined to such kind of Talk or Dif. course, as is impure, and smutty, and obfcene. And this Conclusion of his he confirms from two Things: First, from the Company that these are set with, viz. Un. cleanness, Fornication, Inordinate Lust,
(which is more proper than Covetousness) matovežia and Filthiness, which are named immedi- mond's ately before. And secondly, and more Note on especially, from the Reason that is given, why these Things should not be named anong Christians in the Words following; and that is this: For this you know, says V. 5. the Apostle, that no Whoremonger, or unclean Person, or inordinate Lufter, who is an TACOVEXTS Idolater (for so the Words are more intelJigibly rendered than by covetous Man, who is an Idolater) hath any Inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and of God. Here is a Reason given why none of those Things before mentioned mould be named among Christians. It follows therefore, that foolish Talking and Jefting, which are one of the Things mentioned, must be of the same Sort with the rest of the Things, viz. must fall under some Head of Uncleanness, otherwise the Reason here given would not reach them, and consequently would not answer to the Exhortation. I think this is a very plain Account of this Passage, and that there needs no more to be said about it.
Thirdly, Well, but the Difficulty about the Liberty of Speech is not yet over. However we get off from this Text, yet what can be said to the other Passage of St. Paul, which I have at present made my Text. The Apostle, in this place, doth not only caution us, that no corrupt Communication pould proceed out of our Mouths, but he also
exhorts, that we should in all our Conversation Speak that which is good to the Use of Edifying, that it may minister Grace unto ibe Hearers.
What is meant by this? Is it not plain from hence, that no Words ought to pass our Lips but such as tend to Edification, such as minister Grace to the Hearers? Well, this Text I shall now, in the laft Place, confider.
ift. And first of all I desire it may be taken norice of, that let the Sense of thefe Words be what it will, yet they are always to be understood with this Proviso, viz. fupposing we have Ability, and Convenience, and Opportunity. A Man cannot always speak that which tends to the Use of Edifying.
For in many
perhaps it is above his Reach. But if he could, oftentimes the Nature of the Converfation, or the Circumstances of the Company, would not bear it. In either of thefe Cafes now I hope a Man doth not tranfgrefs the Apostle's Rule, when he doth not fpeak fuch Things as minister Grace to the Hearers, whatsoever be the Meaning of that Phrase. It is plain that the Apostle doth not require of us that our Speeches should always be for Edification, and that they should always minister Grace unto the Hearers; for there is no such Word as always in the Text : and indeed, the Thing itself is impossible, and there
fore certainly he doth not always condemn us when our Speeches are not so. But this is chat which he exhorts us to, as we have Ability, and as we have Opportunity put into our Hands, that we should make use of them for the Purposes of edifying our Brethren, that our Discourse may minister Grace to the Hearers. Our Communication is lawful and allowable, tho' it do not minister to Edification, provided it be inno
But it is then praise-worthy, and suitable to the Excellency of that Religion we have taken upon us, when we make it useful and edifying to others. And this we ought to do as often as we can. This, I take it, is the general Sense of the Apoftle's Words.
2dly. But, secondly, let us a little more particularly consider this Text. And here two Things are to be enquired into
First, What is here meant by the Phrase to the Use of edifying. --Secondly, What is meant by the Phrase of ministring Grace to the Hearers.
(1.) As to the first, the Answer is short, viz. That when the Apostle exhorts that our Communication should be such as is goud, to the Use of edifying, that Phrase imports no more than this, that which is good to theorrado puedo Use of Instruction, or that which is good to
xsease the Instruction of Use; for both these Ways the Words may be render'd: That is to say, (as most Expositors explain it) Let