« PreviousContinue »
ness, and an invariable solicitude never to offend.
By an early habit of proper thought, many inconveniences are avoided; for, the want of consideration may sometimes be ad. mitted as an excuse for a slight trespass; it is never a recommendation to confidence or love. True wisdom is not sour, morose, or melancholy; she will teach you to avoid useless regret, and to escape the necessity of repentance; under her guidance you will always be satisfied and cheerful, for happy is every one that retaineth her.
witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren, are joined to the list of those who are particularly hated or disapproved of the Lord.
Be careful, therefore, of your conversa. tion; and while you aim to render yourself agreeable to all, injure none of your companions, by an indiscreet use of their com munications. The intercourse we enjoy with each other should be productive of mutual pleasure and advantage, not made subservient to baser passions, or liable to be the cause of future sorrow. Still less should it be used for the insidious design
and defamation: no
offence in society can be more atrocious than this. It is not, indeed, considered as a capital crime by the laws of man, but will be severely estimated by the laws of equity. Those who rob a person of his good name, do him an injury which no reparation can compensate; and though many, with thoughtless wantonness, speak evil of others, it is, perhaps, the greatest evil they can possibly inflict. In every rank of life, a good character is a most sacred treasure: it is a livelihood to a poor person, and a blessing to a rich one; and although it is so easily blemished, nothing can ever restore its lustre. Ought you not, then, my young friend, to be watchful over your words, when you mention any thing respecting the fame of others? Can you tell how far the person to whom you speak may hereafter be connected with those you defame? how much good to them your tales of prejudice may prevent? and how greatly they may suffer in their happiness, their virtue, and prosperity ?
Many surmise evil of others from a casual dislike, and afterwards talk of their suspi
cions as a real fact. Young people, who are more guided by prejudice than discretion, frequently take a dislike without reason, and then are studious to suit the accounts they give, to the idea they have entertained the most trifling cause may beget an ill report, and therefore we should not be hasty in judgment. Solomon advises, "Take no heed unto all words that are spoken, lest thou hear thy servant curse thee;" and he adds a proper and remind ing caution" for oftentimes also thine own heart knoweth, that thou thyself likewise hast cursed others," or said things as bad to their prejudice. But it makes a wide difference, whether others have behaved amiss to us, or we have misused them. In the one case, we can readily give judgment with the king of Israel: "The man that hath done this thing shall surely die, and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity;"-no pity in destroying our fame. But to the fame of others, the parable of Nathan will not apply. You may speak without thought, and fancy it a sufficient excuse; but will you admit such a plea
from your companion, who has hastily be. trayed an indiscreet expression, or exposed any of your blameable actions? Endeavour then to be consistent and unform, to judge righteous judgment, whether it respects your own or your neighbours' concerns. What is wrong in itself, cannot be rendered excusable by the self-love of the offender. If you would be truly respectable, you must connect good-nature with affability, and correct both of them with modesty and prudence. Never make your court to one person at the expense of another's reputa tion; and remember that "a tale-bearer re. vealeth secrets; but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter." Reflect how great a proportion of happiness depends on the mutual interchange of kind offices; how soothing a pleasure results from reciprocal esteem. "Blessed are the peace-makers;" but those can never share in this benedic. tion, who are careless of their words, and hastily utter what may plant suspicion, or occasion resentment. A benevolent mind will always be accustomed to sympathise, in some measure, with the feelings of every one, and, as far as it is acquainted with their
sentiments or connexions, to suit the tenour of conversation to their wishes. If there is any person with whom they are known to disagree, good-nature will soften the aspe rity by the milder representation of the absent; by repeating any thing the offender may have been known to advance in their favour, and by suppressing all that is recollected to have been uttered with ill-will. These are the means to conciliate the hearts of those who are disaffected towards each other and, in some degree, every day will afford opportunities of such acts of benevo lence. Family intercourse will be heightened by additional pleasure, where harmony reigns undisturbed; but no harmony can subsist, either in a small circle, or larger communities, without we set a watch over our lips, and take heed that the tongue do not offend, either by indiscretion, warmth, or malevolence.