But there is more danger, I think, from many of the family papers, published once a week; in those stories of vice and shame, full of infamous suggestions, going as far as they can without exposing themselves to the clutch of the law. I name none of them; but say that on some fashionable tables there lie “family newspapers” that are the very vomit of the pit.
The way to ruin is cheap. It costs three dollars to go to Philadelphia; six dollars to Boston; thirty-three dollars to Savannah; but, by the purchase of a bad paper for ten cents, you may get a through ticket to hell, by express, with few stopping-places, and the final halting like the tumbling of the lightning train down the draw-bridge at Norwalk—sudden, terrific, deathful, never to rise.
O, the power of an iniquitous pen! If a needle puncture the body at a certain point, life is destroyed; but the pen is a sharper instrument, for with its puncture you may kill the soul. And that very thing many of our acutest minds are to-day doing. Do not think that this which you drain from the glass, because it is sweet, is therefore healthful: some of the worst poisons are pleasant to the taste. The pen which for the time fascinates you may be dipped in the slime of unclean literature.
Look out for the books that come from France. It has sent us some grand histories, poems, and pure novels, but they are few in number compared with the nastiness that it has spewed out upon our shore.
Do we not read in our Bibles that the ancient flood covered all the earth? I would have thought that France had escaped, for it does not seem as if it had ever had a thorough washing.
In the next place, if you would shun an impure life, avoid those who indulge in impure conversation. There are many people whose chief mirthfulness is in that line. They are full of innuendo, and phrases of double meaning, and are always picking out of the conversation of decent men something vilely significant. It is astonishing in company, how many, professing to be Christians, will tell vile stories; and that some Christian women, in their own circles, have no hesitation at the same style of talking.
You take a step down hill, when, without resistance, you allow any one to put into your ear a vile innuendo. If, forgetting who you are, any man attempts to say such things in your presence, let your better nature assert itself, look the offender full in the face, and ask—“What do you mean by saying such a thing in my presence!” Better allow a man to smite you in the face than to utter such conversation before you. I do not care who the men or women are that utter impure thoughts; they are guilty of a mighty wrong; and their influence upon our young people is baleful.
If in the club where you associate; if in the social circle where you move, you hear depraved conversation, fly for your life! A man is no better than his talk; and no man can have such interviews without being scarred.