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LET an old man speak, for he may not long have the opportunity; and let him be heard, and heeded too, for his words are worth a moment's consideration.
The tongue has set more people by the ears, ruined the peace of more families, and done more mischief in the world, than all the highwaymen that were ever hung. He that sets his neighbour's premises on fire with a torch, is taken up and tried for his life ; but he that inflames the hearts of his neighbours with his tongue is allowed to go free. Sometimes he propagates the lie of his own making, and sometimes the unfounded report of another, going forth with the poison of asps under his lips; and covers over the sin of his evil speaking, lying, and slandering, with the poor, pitiful excuse, that he has “ heard it said so."
When a house is on fire, though the flame bursts through the floors, wraps round the walls, and rages among the rafters, you may arrest its progress with a water-enginc ; or you may restrain
it from setting other houses on fire; or, even if it should burn down a whole street, a village, or a town, there is an end to it: but where is the end to the raging of the tongue ?
“ The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity,” James iii. 6. It spreads far and wide, it compasses sea and land, and no engine can repress its power. Of all conflagrations, there is none so rapid, wide-spreading, and destructive, as the conflagration of the tongue.
The sword is a deadly instrument, and many are the mighty that it has laid low ; yet it is not half so deadly as the tongue. The teeth of the sons of men
are spears and arrows, and their ngue a sharp sword,” Psa. lvii. 4. Where one has been injured by the sword, a hundred have been wounded by the tongue.
The sword provoketh to momentary contention ; but the tongue, by its grievous words, stirs up lasting anger, envy, hatred, malice, and uncharitableness.
Fierce are the wild beasts of the forest, when pressed by hunger; for they spare not, neither show pity to the traveller that falls in their way. Savage are the wolf, the hyena, and the tiger ; mighty is the elephant, and terrible the lion, the monarch of the woods; but these are not so fierce as the tongue, nor so untameable, for they may be subdued and made gentle as the lamb: 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,” James iii. 7, 3.
Dreadful is the plagne when the leprous spot spreads in the flesh. When the infectious breath and contaminating touch conspire to carry on the pestilence through the crowded city, mourning and lamentations increase, desolation and death abound; but the tongue destroys health, peace, and reputation :
“ Death and life are in the power of the tongue;" it wounds not only the body, but the spirit. It not only injures the living, but blasts with its pestilential poison the character of the dead. 6. What shall be done unto thee, thou false tongue ?”' The flame, the sword, the wild beast, and the pestilence, all together, do not half so much injury to mankind as the tongue. Our
forth in the morning, and be again repeated at eventide, “ Lord, cleanse thou my heart, and keep thou my tongue from evil.” God hateth "
proud look” and “a lying tongue;" “but the tongue of the wise is health."
Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle ? who shall dwell in thy holy hill ? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. He that backbiteth not
with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour," Psa. xv. 1-3.
O God, thy goodness and thy love
Preserve the old and young:
And guard and guide my tongue.
When walking abroad in the country, it is not one thing, but everything, that seeems to set forth a lesson of instruction. Every tree of the field, every branch of the tree, every spray of the branch, and every leaf of the spray, appears to address Old Humphrey.
One evening, on returning home through some fields of mowing grass, I stopped short on hearing the noise of the landrail, or corncrake, so called from the well-known sound it so constantly utters. Many a time had I listened to the corncrake, and compared its noise to the creaking of a thick branch in the winds; and many a time had I hunted in vain to find it. But this time it seemed close at hand.
“ Just by that sprig of green sorrel,” said I to myself, as I tripped over the grass, “I shall find it ;” but no such thing! When I got there, the sound was in quite a different direction. Still I followed the sound, and still was I deceived. Now it was behind, and then before me ; now to