Understand and remember what are the sins of the tongue to be avoided. And they are very many, and many of them very great: the most observable are these:
1. The first among all sins of commission is that of blasphemy, which is the reproaching of God: to speak contemptuously of God, or to vilify him, or dishonor him, by the denying of his perfections, and to debase him, by false titles, doctrines, images, resemblances, as likening him to man in any of our imperfections; anything that is a reproaching of God is blasphemy.
2. Another sin of the tongue is, false doctrine, or teaching things false and dangerous as from God. If any falsely say, he had such or such a point by divine inspiration, vision, or revelation, that makes him a false prophet. But if he only says falsely, that this or that doctrine is contained in the Scripture, or delivered by tradition to the church, this is but to be a false teacher.
3. Another of the sins of the tongue is, an opposing of godliness indirectly, by false application of true doctrine, and an opposing of godly persons for the sake of godliness, and objecting for no good reason against particular truths and duties of religion; or defending those points and practices which would subvert or undermine religion: a secret endeavor to make all serious godliness seem a needless thing. There are many that seem orthodox, that are impious and malicious opposers of that truth in the application, which themselves do notionally hold, and positively profess.
4. Another great sin of the tongue is, the profane deriding of serious godliness, and the mocking, and jesting, and scorning at godly persons as such; or scorning at some of their real or supposed imperfections, for their piety sake, to make them odious, that piety through them might be made odious. When men so speak, that the drift and tendency of their speech is to draw men to a dislike of truth or holiness.
5. Another great sin of the tongue is, unjustly to forbid Christ’s ministers to preach his gospel, or speak in his name; or to stand up against them and contradict, resist, and hinder them in the preaching of the truth; and, as Gamaliel calls it, ” to fight against God,” Acts 5:39.
6. Another sin of the tongue is, profane swearing, either by God or by creatures: and also all light and irreverent use of the name and attributes of God.
7. Much more is perjury or forswearing a most heinous sin, it being an appealing to God, the author and defender of truth, to bear witness to an untruth, and to judge the offender; and so a craving of vengeance from God.
8. Lying also is a great and common sin of the tongue.
9. Another sin of the tongue is, hypocritical dissembling, which is worse than mere lying: when men’s tongues agree not with their hearts, but speak good words in prayer to God, or conference with men, to cover evil intentions or affections, and to represent themselves to the hearers as better than they are.
10. Another is, ostentation or proud boasting, either of men’s wit and learning, or greatness, or riches, or honor, or strength, or beauty, or parts, or piety, or anything that men are proud of.’ As the faithful “do make their boast in God,” Ps. 34:2; so the “workers of iniquity boast themselves against the righteous, and the proud do triumph and speak hard things,” Ps. 44:2-4. “Even against the Lord,” do they boast, in their boasting against his people, Ezek. 35:13.
11. Another sin of the tongue is, unseasonable speaking of common things when holy things should be preferred; as on the Lord’s day, or at the time of public worship, or when the company, occasion, or opportunity call for holy speeches: worldlings are talking, as Saul, of their asses, when they should talk of a kingdom, 1 Sam. 9:10.
12. Another common sin of the tongue is, a tempting and persuading others to sin, enticing them to gluttony, drunkenness, wantonness, fornication, or any other crime; as men that ”not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them,” Rom. 1:32.
13. Another is, a carnal manner of handling the sacred things of God, as when it is done with lightness, or with unsuitable curiosity of words, or in a ludicrous, playful manner, especially by the preachers of the gospel themselves; and not with a style that is grave and serious, agreeable to the weight and majesty of the truth.
14. Another is, an imprudent, rash, and slovenly handling of holy things; when they are spoken of so ignorantly, unskillfully, disorderly, or passionately, tending to dishonor them, and frustrate the desired good success.
15. Another sin of the tongue is, the reviling or dishonoring of superiors; when children speak irreverently and dishonorably to or of their parents; or subjects of their governors; or servants of their masters, either to their faces, or behind their backs. “They are not afraid to speak evil of dignities”’ 2 Pet. 2:10; Jude 8.
16. Another is, the imperious contempt of inferiors, insulting over them, provoking and discouraging them. Eph. 6:4, “Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath.”
17. Another sin of the tongue is, idle talk and multitude of useless words; a babbling loquacity, or unprofitableness of speech; which is speech that does not edify.
18. Another sin is, foolish talk, or jesting in levity and folly, which tends to possess the minds of the hearers “with a disposition of levity and folly like the speakers. Eph. 5:4, “Foolish talking and jesting are things not convenient.” Honest mirth is lawful; and that is the best which is most sanctified, as being from a holy principle, and about a holy matter, or to a holy end: as “rejoicing in the Lord always,” Phil 4:4. ” If any be merry let him sing psalms,” James 5:13.
19. Another sin is, “filthy speaking, “Eph. 5:4; obscene and ribald talk; which the apostle calls “corrupt or rotten communication,” Eph. 4:29; when wanton, filthy minds do make themselves merry with wanton, filthy speeches. This is the devil’s preparative to whoredom and all abominable uncleanness; for when the tongue is first taught to make a sport of such filthy sins, and the ear to be delighted in it, or be indifferent to it, there remains but a small step to actual filthiness.
20. Another sin of the tongue is, cursing; when men wish some mischief causelessly or unwarrantably to others. If you speak but in passion or jest, and desire not to them in your hearts the hurt which you name, it is nevertheless a sin of the tongue, as it is to speak blasphemy or treason in a passion or in jest; the tongue must be ruled as well as the heart. But if really you desire the hurt which you wish them, it is so much the worse. But it is worst of all, when passionate, factious men will turn their very prayers into cursings, calling for fire from heaven, and praying for other men’s destruction or hurt; and pretending Scripture examples for it; as if they might do it unwarrantably, which others have done in other cases in a warrantable manner.
21. Slandering is another sin of the tongue; when out of malice and ill will, men speak evil falsely of others to make them odious or do them hurt: or else through uncharitable credulity, do easily believe a false report, and so report it again to others; or through rashness and unruliness of tongue, divulge it, before they try it, or receive either just proof, or any warrantable call to mention it.
22. Another sin is, backbiting and venting ill reports behind men’s backs, without any warrant. Be the matter true or false, as long as you either know it not to be true, or if you do, yet vent it to make the person less respected, or at least without a sufficient cause, it is a sin against God, and a wrong to men.
23. Another sin is, rash censuring, when you speak that evil of another, which you have but an uncharitable surmise of;and take that to be probable which is but possible, or that to be certain which is but probable against another.
24. Another sin is, railing, reviling, or passionate, provoking words, which tend to the diminution of charity, and the breach of peace, and the stirring up of discord, and of a return of railing words from others, contrary to the love, and patience, and meekness, and gentleness which become saints.
25. Another sin is, cheating, deceiving, overreaching words; when men use their tongues to defraud their neighbors, in bargaining for their own gain.
26. Another sin of the tongue is, false witness bearing, and false accusing; a sin which cries to God for vengeance, who is the justifier of the innocent.
27. Another sin of the tongue is, the passing an unrighteous sentence in judgment: when rulers absolve the guilty or condemn the just, and call evil good and good evil, and say to the righteous, “Thou art wicked,” Prov 24:24.
28. Another sin of the tongue is, flattery; which is the more heinous by how much more hurtful. And it is most hurtful, 1. When it tendeth to delude men in the greatest things, even the state of their souls. 2. Flattering is pernicious when it tendeth to the hurt of many; as when rulers are deceived and perverted by it to the destruction of the people and themselves.’ Prov. 26:28, “A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it, and a flattering mouth worketh ruin.” See 1 Thess. 2:5; Ezek. 12:24; Ps. 12: 2-3.
29. Another sin is, a jeering, mocking, deriding, or scorning at others, either for their infirmities of body or mind, or for their virtues, or through envy and malice, or pride, or a custom of deriding, scornful speech. Especially when sinners scorn at the reproofs and counsels of the godly, and cast them all back into their faces with contempt; for he that “reproveth a scorner getteth himself a blot,” Prov. 9:7-8– “A scorner loveth not one that reproveth,” Prov. 15:12.
30. Another tongue sin is, idolatry or false worship; the praise of idols, or praying to them, or making songs, or speeches, or disputes for them; as also the false worship of the true God. These among others are the sins of the tongue to be avoided. No wonder if there be yet more, for the ” tongue is a world of iniquity,” James 3:6.