“What man is he that desireth life and loveth many days that he may see good? Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile; depart from evil and do good, seek peace and pursue it.” Psalm xxxiv:12-14.
We have shown in our last number that the truth of this text is based upon philosophy, and verified by experience and observation: that nothing is more destructive to health and longevity than to indulge in the revengeful passions of our nature; and that constant fear, grief and melancholy are also destructive to the human constitution, and withering to the dearest joys of life. We have shown that violent anger, revenge and most of the malignant passions originate from the bad use of the tongue; and that if we would live long and see good, we must give heed to our ways by following the injunctions of the text. We now propose a further discussion of this subject, addressed particularly to the young.
A single spark of fire has often wrapped a city in conflagration. Great effects not unfrequently flow from small causes. The apostle James says, see chap. iii—“Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet they are turned about with a very small helm whithersoever the governor listeth. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasteth great things. Behold how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity; so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature, and is set on fire of hell. For every kind of beasts and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind. But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly member full of deadly poison.” The apostle, in the above quotation, has reference to those who have so long indulged in evil speaking that it has become, as it were, an incurable habit. If any man makes a practice of slandering his neighbors, and disturbing the peace of the community, it is immaterial to what church he may belong, or what os-tentatious professions he may make, he is, notwithstanding all this, destitute of christianity.
It is a painful fact that the religion of the present day is too much accommodated to the fashions and customs of the world. Let a man, for instance, use profane language, or get intoxicated, and he will readily be suspended from the communion of the church. But let him slander his neighbors, and little or no notice is taken of his conduct. And let him slander other denominations; and it becomes, as it were, a virtue; whereas the fact is that the latter, according to the book of God, is much the greatest crime. It is therefore wise to lay, in early youth, a foundation for a tranquil, virtuous and long life.
Thus you see my young friends that virtue and happiness, temperance, prosperity and longevity are inseparably connected by the Author of our being, who has made them to depend in a great measure upon our conduct. You have also seen that sin and misery, intemperance in body, and also intemperance in mind, such as evil speaking, violent anger, commotions, griefs and troubles, and a premature grave, are likewise inseparably and wisely connected.