« ZurückWeiter »
instructors. There is not such a dearth of poetry, expressing only sentiments of a correct, refined, and exalted character, as to drive the children of Zion to learn the corrupt songs of the heathens : if it were so, we should be ready to join with those who condemn music as a heathenish accomplishment; but we need not do this, while we are taught to consecrate the delights of music to the praises of God (Psalm cl.); and to employ psalms and hymns and spiritual songs as an appropriate accompaniment, “ singing and making melody in our hearts unto the Lord.”
Nor is it quite unnecessary to caution even young females against the sin of profanity. We do not indeed suppose that any young reader of this book is likely to be guilty of such extreme vulgarity, and such extreme wickedness, as to utter the language of gross profanity ; but there are many inadvertent expressions, which in some measure partake of the sin. The thoughtless utterance of the common phrases, “God bless you,” “It was quite a God-send,” and many others, at least imply a want of that deep reverence which should always accompany the utterance of the sacred name; and even the exclamations, My goodness! My patience! Bless me! Upon my word! As sure as I am alive! Dear me! etc. are at best foolish and unmeaning, and come within the censure of the Saviour's rule: “ Let your communication be Yea, yea; Nay, nay; for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.”
The tongue transgresses when it is suffered to overleap the boundaries of discretion, either by talking foolishly, uttering a number of idle frivo
lous sentences for the mere sake of talking, without any effort to impart or to gain instruction;-by talking imprudently, communicating to indifferent persons family affairs and circumstances which ought not to be disclosed; repeating opinions or remarks on persons or characters which may do injury or give needless offence; or indulging an idle curiosity, by prying into the concerns of others, in which we have no actual or benevolent interest; or by talking immoderately, and engrossing the conversation to the annoyance of others, who think they have an equal right to be heard ; and probably to great personal injury, by preventing others from speaking who would have said something much better worth hearing and remembering. Therefore “let every one be swift to hear, slow to speak." “ In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin : but he that refraineth his lips is wise." " Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words ? there is more hope of a fool than of him."
In seasons of peculiar danger, it behoves us to set an especial guard on the door of our lips. “I will keep my mouth with a bridle,” said David, “ when the wicked is before me.” “Go from the presence of a foolish man,” said Solomon, “ when thou perceivest not in him the lips of knowledge." It is a mark of wisdom to shun the society of the giddy and the vain, and to seek that of the good and wise; for “he that walketh with wise men shall be wise,” but a companion of fools is in great danger of imbibing and imitating their folly. If occasionally and unavoidably thrown into such society, it will be the part of wisdom, if possible, to shut the ears against hearing their vain discourse ; at least to lock the lips in silence, rather than to join in it. The state of our own minds and feelings, too, if wisely considered, will often restrain us from giving them utterance; in a moment of sudden irritation, or frivolous excitement, we shall often best show our wisdom in silence, “ First think, and then speak.” This one rule would suppress many vehement and unwarrantable expressions, which may result in great mischief, both to the hearer and the utterer, Should conversation at any time degenerate into expressions of levity or contempt for sacred things or religious persons, it is a duty wholly to abstain from taking a part in such conversation, or to meet it only with gentle yet firm expressions of rebuke.
But in the government of the tongue, we should not be content with restraining it from wandering, and guarding it against evil; we should be intent also on employing it for good. The language of modest inquiry will be most becoming and most profitable to young persons, especially in the presence of their superiors in age, wisdom, and piety. They will also do well to encourage among their young companions, conversations that shall tend to mutual improvement; nor will they overlook opportunities which may be afforded, even to them, of communicating instruction to others. The little Israelitish maid, made a good use of her tongue, when she modestly directed the attention of her master Naaman to the prophet of the Lord, who cured him of his leprosy, and directed him to the true God.
“ The tongue of the wise is health :” our hours
of social intercourse, if well employed, may prove the seasons both of seed-time and harvest. It would be well every evening to reflect on the conversations of the day, to reprove ourselves, and repent over our vain and idle words, and our neglect of improving the opportunities afforded of gaining instruction or of doing good ; and to note any valuable suggestions and remarks which we may have gleaned from the conversation of others. “A word spoken in season, how good is it !” “ The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened in a sure place." “ The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgment. The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.” Where sentiments of wisdom and piety form the theme of conversation among the young, the peculiar blessing of Heaven is often seen to rest. They take sweet counsel together, and strengthen each other's hands in God. As it was with the disciples going to Emmaus, while Jesus is their theme, he becomes their companion ; his love is shed abroad in their hearts; and they say one to another, “ Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the Scriptures?" " Then they that feared the Lord, spake often one to another : and the Lord hearkened, and heard it; and a book of remembrance was written before him, for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels."
Now, having suggested to the young female these hints, as to her personal habits in regard tr
her health, her dress, and appearance, and to the government of her thoughts, desires, tempers, and words,-a little must be said about her habitual conduct. Let integrity, benevolence, and discretion preside over all her actions, and let them be at once animated, consecrated, and sanctified by piety; and she will then be all that this little book contemplates for her—all that can satisfy the wishes, crown the hopes, and requite the labours of pious parents and instructors—all that can render her happy in herself, and a blessing to the circle in which she moves.
The following sentence is worthy of being written in letters of gold, or, what would be far more useful and honourable, of being treasured in the mind and engraven on the heart of every young female, and exemplified in her daily conduct. “ Integrity is the first moral virtue, benevolence is the second, and prudence is the third: without the first the two latter cannot exist, and without the third the two former would be often rendered useless ;" but where they unitedly preside, they will ensure the harmonious exercise of whatever is honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report. A few examples will show the universal application of these comprehensive principles to all the ordinary actions and circumstances of life. They will promote other good habits, such as docility, industry, economy, usefulness. “It is not just,” observes the young person of strict integrity," that I should live in helpless dependence, receiving benefits and rendering none: I must endeavour to learn, and in every way to make myself useful, My parents have kindly exerted themselves, and provided for me in my