And so I say to you, boys and girls, be sure in your own minds that you are doing right, then go boldly ahead, and you will find the gates down and the tracks clear. Let this be your motto:
“Silken-handed stroke a nettle,
And it stings you for your pains.
Grasp it like a man of mettle,
And it soft as silk remains.”
There is a story that tells of a man who advertised for a coachman, and three men answered the advertisement. They all made a good appearance, and the man was at a loss to know which one to choose.
Finally he hit upon this scheme. There was a road near his house that ran along the edge of a precipice. The man asked each one of these coachmen in turn how close he could drive to the cliff without going over. The first said he could drive within six inches of it; the second said he could drive within two inches of it. When the third man was asked he said, “I should keep away from it as far as possible.”
The man said, “You are the coachman I want.”
The way that last coachman felt about the precipice is the way for boys and girls to feel about temptation. Some things that are wrong are like thin ice: they tempt you to see how far you can go, and the first thing you know you are in. A boy, especially, is tempted to be what is known as a “daredevil;” that is, one who is not afraid of anything. But there is nothing in it, boys. That sort of thing is not courage: it is rashness, which is just another name for foolishness.
Shakespeare once said:
“I dare do all that may become a
Who dares do more is none.”
The really brave boy is not the one that blusters and brags: the brave boy is usually quiet, but, as we say, “all there” when the pinch really comes.
Christ was one of the bravest men the world ever knew, and yet He told us to be afraid, actually afraid, of things that hurt our souls.
Do not see how near the fire you can go without getting scorched; don’t see how near sin you can go without getting caught. It is poor business. Take this as your motto when you are inclined to tamper with wrong: “Who eats with the devil needs a long-handled spoon.” The farther you keep away from him, the better.
I suppose if I should ask you which is the fiercest animal mentioned in the Bible, I should get many different answers. Some of you would say the lion; some, the bear; some the panther; some, the wolf; and so on. But none of these is right, and I will tell you why. All of these animals can be tamed, more or less; but there is one fiercer thing than all these, and it cannot be tamed, so one of the apostles says.
It is kept behind two red doors and more than twenty white bars, and its name is spelled as follows: T-O-N-G-U-E. Yes, that is it, the tongue. James says, “The tongue can no man tame.”