Tuesday, November 1, 2016

My Year With Newton #10

John Newton
Today I am continuing to share my reading experience with John Newton. I have completed John Newton's sermon series on Handel's Messiah. I am moving on to his LETTERS. 

Today I will share snippets from "Thoughts on the Government of the Tongue." This letter, I believe, is speaking of James 3:1-12.
This passage should not be thought a hard saying, for it stands in the Bible; but, because it stands in the Bible, and forms a part of the rule by which the characters and states of all men will be finally determined, there is reason to fear that it will be found a hard saying at last, by too many who name the name of Christ. A few thoughts upon this important subject, "the government of the tongue" can never be unseasonable.
It is not the restraint of the heart, which the apostle requires. He knew that, though it is our duty to watch against the first rising motions of evil within, and to be humbled for them—that it is not in our power wholly to prevent them.
Nor is the restraint of the tongue to be taken so strictly, as if a true believer was never liable to speak unadvisedly.
I allow that it is possible for the best of men, in an unguarded hour, and through the pressure of some sudden and violent temptation or provocation, may occasionally act or speak unsuitably to their habitual gracious character. But I think the apostle must mean thus much at least, that, when saving grace is in the heart—it will so regulate and control the tongue, that it shall not customarily sin;
But what are we to understand by bridling the tongue? The expression, I think, will be sufficiently explained by considering how the grace of God will necessarily influence and govern the tongues of those who partake of it, in what they say when they are led to speak of God, of themselves, and of or to their fellow-creatures. Having seen a glimpse of the holiness and majesty, the glory and the grace, of the great God with whom they have to do—their hearts are impressed with reverence, and therefore there is a sobriety and decorum in their language. They cannot speak lightly of God, or of his ways. One would suppose that no person, who even but seems to be religious, can directly and expressly profane his glorious name.
Likewise, the hearts of believers teach their mouths to speak honorably of God under all their afflictions and crosses, acknowledging the wisdom and the mercy of his dispensations; and, if an impatient word escapes them, it grieves and humbles them, as quite unfitting their situation as His creatures, and especially as sinful creatures, who have always reason to acknowledge, that it is of the Lord's mercy, that they are not wholly consumed.
When they speak of themselves, their tongues are bridled, and restrained from boasting.
In what they say of or to others, the tongues of believers are bridled by a heart felt regard to truth, love and purity.
Where grace is in the heart, the tongue will be bridled by the law of TRUTH. It is grievous to see how nearly and readily some professors of religion will venture upon the borders of a lie; either to defend their own conduct, to avoid some inconvenience, to procure a supposed advantage, or sometimes merely to embellish a story.
Where grace is in the heart, the tongue will be likewise bridled by the law of LOVE. If we love our neighbor, can we lightly speak evil of him, magnify his failings, or use provoking or insulting language? Love thinks no evil—but bears, hopes and endures. Love acts by the golden rule, to "Do unto others—what you would like them to do unto you." Those who are under the influence of Christian love, will be gentle and compassionate, disposed to make the most favorable allowances, and of course their tongues will be restrained from the language of malevolence, harsh censure, and slander—which are as familiar to us as our mother tongue, until we are made partakers of the grace of God.
The tongue is also bridled by a regard to PURITY, agreeable to the precepts, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." "Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving." Ephesians 4:29, 5:4. Grace has taught believers to hate these things; how then can their tongues speak of them? There are false professors, indeed, who can suit their language to their company. When with the people of God—they call talk very seriously. But at other times, they are well pleased to join in vain, frothy, and evil conversation.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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