Abbildungen der Seite

exorbitant motions of a soul, wherein reason hath lost its command, so that qua data porta, where the next passage occurs, they should not rush forth, and vent themselves. A vain mind naturally will bubble forth or fly out in frothy expressions ; wrath burning in the breast will flame out, or at least smoke through the mouth; rancorous imposthumes of spite and malice will at length discharge purulent matter ; lust boiling within will soon foam out in lewd discourse. If the fountain itself is polluted or infected, how can the streams be clear or wholesome ? “How can ye, being evil

, speak good things?” saith our Lord ; " for from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man,” addeth he, “out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things; and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things :" ÈxBalle Tovnpà “he casteth forth ill things,” as a fountain doth its waters by a natural and necessary ebullition. It is true, that in some particular cases, or at some times, a foul heart may be disguised by fair words, or covered by demure reservedness; shame, or fear, or crafty design, may often repress the declaration of ill thoughts and purposes. But such fits of dissimulation cannot hold; men cannot abide quiet under so violent constraints; the intestine jars, or unkindly truces, between heart and tongue, those natural friends, cannot be perpetual, or very durable: no man can hold his breath long, or live without evaporating through his mouth those steams of passion which arise from flesh and blood. My heart was hot within me, while I was musing, the fire burned; then spake I with my tongue,” saith David, expressing the difficulty of obstructing the eruption of our affections into language. Hence it is that speech is commonly judged the truest character of the mind; and the surest test of inward worth ; as that which discloseth the “hidden man of the heart,” which unlocketh the closets of the breast, which draws the soul out of her dark recesses into open light and view, which rendereth our thoughts visible, and our intentions palpable. Hence, Loquere, ut te videam, speak, that I may see you, or know what kind

of man you are, is a saying which all men, at first meeting, do in their hearts direct one to another : neither

commonly doth any man require more to ground a judgment upon concerning the worth or ability of another, than opportunity of hearing him to discourse for a competent time: yea, often before a man hath spoken ten words, his mind is caught, and a formal sentence is passed upon it. Such a strict affinity and connection do all men suppose between thoughts and words.

From hence, that the use of speech is itself a great ingredient into our practice, and hath a very general influence upon whatever we do, may be inferred, that whoever governeth it well, cannot also but well order his whole life. The extent of speech must needs be vast, since it is nearly commensurate to thought itself, which it ever closely traceth, widely ranging through all the immense variety of objects ; so that men almost as often speak incogitantly, as they think silently. Speech is indeed the rudder that steereth human affairs, the spring that setteth the wheels of action on going ; the hands work, the feet walk, all the members and all the senses act by its direction and impulse ; yea, most thoughts are begotten, and most affections stirred up thereby : it is itself most of our employment, and what we do beside it, is, however, guided and moved by it. It is the profession and trade of many, it is the practice of all men, to be in a manner continually talking The chief and most considerable sort of men manage all their concernments merely by words; by them princes rule their subjects, generals command their armies, senators deliberate and debate about the great matters of state : by them advocates plead causes, and judges decide them ; divines perform their offices, and minister their instructions ; merchants strike up their bargains, and drive on all their traffic. Whatever almost great or small is done in the court or in the hall, in the church or at the exchange, in the school or in the shop, it is the tongue alone that doeth it: it is the force of this little machine, that turneth all the human world about. It is indeed the use of this strange organ

which rendereth human life, beyond the simple life of other creatures, so exceedingly various and compounded; which creates such a multiplicity of business, and which transacts it; while by it we communicate our secret conceptions, transfusing them into others; while therewith we instruct and advise one another; while we consult about what is to be done, contest about right, dispute about truth ; while the whole business of conversation, of commerce, of government and administration of justice, of learning, and of religion, is managed thereby'; yea, while it stoppeth the gaps of time, and filleth up the wide intervals of business, our recreations and divertisements, the which do constitute a great portion of our life, mainly consisting therein, so that, in comparison thereof, the execution of what we determine and all other action do take up small room : and even all that usually dependeth upon foregoing speech, which persuadeth, or counselleth, or commandeth it. Whence the province of speech being so very large, it being so universally concerned, either immediately as the matter, or by consequence as the source of our actions, he that constantly governeth it well may justly be esteemed to live very excellently.


But first it may be demanded what the thing we speak of is, or what this facetiousness doth import? To which question 1 might refly as Democritus did to him that asked the definition of a man, “ It is that which we all see and know :” any one better apprehends what it is by acquaintance, than I can inform him by description. It is indeed a thing so versatile and multiform, appearing in so many shapes, so many postures, so many garbs, so variously apprehended by several eyes and judgments, that it seemeth no less hard to settle a clear and certain notion thereof, than to make a portrait of Proteus, or to define the figure of the fleeting air. Sometimes it lieth in pat allusion to a known story, or in seasonable application of a trivial

saying, or in forging an apposite tale: sometimes it playeth in words and phrases, taking advantage from the ambiguity of their sense, or the affinity of their sound: sometimes it is wrapped in a dress of humorous expression : sometimes it lurketh under an odd: similitude: sometimes it is lodged in a sly question, in a smart answer, in a quirkjsh reason, in a shrewd intimation, in cunningly diverting, or cleverly retorting an objection: sometimes it is couched in a bold scheme of speech, in a tart irony, in a lusty hyperbole, in a startling metaphor, in a plausible reconciling of contradictions, or in acute nonsense : sometimes a scenical representation of persons or things, a counterfeit speech, a mimical look or gesture passeth for it : sometimes an affected simplicity,

sometimes a presumptuous bluntness giveth it being : sometimes it riseth from a lucky hitting upon what is strange, sometimes from a crafty wresting obvious matter to the purpose : often it consisteth in one knows not what, and springeth up one can hardly tell how. Its ways are unaccountable and inexplicable, being answerable to the numberless rovings of fancy and windings of language. It is, in short, a manner of speaking out of the simple and plain way, such as reason teacheth and proveth things by, which by a pretty surprising uncouthness in conceit or expression doth affect and amuse the fancy, stirring in it some wonder, and breeding some delight thereto. It raiseth admiration, as signifying a nimble sagacity of apprehension, a special felicity of invention, a vivacity of spirit, and reach of wit more than vulgar: it seeming to argue a rare quickness of parts, that one can fetch in remote conceits applicable ; a notable skill, that he can dexterously accommodate them to the purpose before him ; together with a lively briskness of humour, not apt to damp those sportful flashes of imagination. Whence in Aristotle such persons are termed επιδέξιοι, , dexterous men ; and εűtpotcor, men of facile or versatile manners, who can easily turn themselves to all things, or turn all things to themselves. It also procureth delight, by gratifying curiosity with its rareness or semblance of difficulty ; as monsters, not for their

beauty, but their rarity; as juggling tricks, not for their use, but their abtruseness, are beheld with pleasure; by diverting the mind from its road of serious thoughts ; by instilling gaiety and airiness of spirit; by provoking to such dispositions of spirit in the way of emulation or complaisance; and by seasoning matters, otherwise distasteful or insipid, with an unusual, and thence grateful tang.

SERMON, Rom. xii. 18.

If we desire to live peaceably with all men, we are to be equal in censuring men's actions, candid in interpreting their meanings, 'mild in reprehending, and sparing to relate their miscarriages; to derive their actions from the best principles, from which in the judgment of charity they may be supposed to proceed, as from casual mistake rather than from wilful prejudice, from human infirmity rather than from malicious design; to construe ambiguous expressions to the most favourable sense they may admit; not to condemn men's practices without distinct knowledge of the case, and examining the reasons, which possibly may absolve or excuse them; to extenuate their acknowledged faults by such circumstances as aptly serve that purpose, and not to exaggerate them by strained consequences, or uncertain conjectures; to rebuke them, if need be, so as they may perceive we sincerely pity their errors, and tender their good, and wish nothing more than their recovery, and do not design to upbraid, deride, or insult over them, being fallen ; and finally, not to recount their misdeeds over frequently, unseasonably, and with complacence. He that thus demeaneth himself, manifestly sheweth himself to prize his neighbour's good will, and to be desirous to continue in amity with him ; and assuredly obliges him to be in the same manner affected toward him. But he that is rigidly severe and censorious in his judgments, blaming in them things indifferent, condemning actions allowable, detracting from qualities commendable, deducing men's doings

« ZurückWeiter »