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possessions, as others had done among those early Christians, lied to the apostles, and consequently to the Holy Ghost and to God. But how great was their punishment! No sooner did Peter rebuke Ananias, than "he fell down, and gave up the ghost." About three hours after, when Sapphira came in, who was ignorant of the fate of her husband, she also fell down before the rebuke of the apostle, and was buried by his side. What solemn warnings are these to those who do not always speak the truth!
Think, for a moment, of the great evil a falsehood may occasion. It was a falsehood that deceived our first parents, and led them to sin; and O, what a train of suffering has followed in consequence of that falsehood! Its effects are now felt, and will be felt through all eternity. Young reader, are you willing to be a disciple of him who is "a liar, and the father of it?" Will you not rather avoid a sin which may lead to such fearful consequences? There are some who seldom tell a direct lie, who are in the habit of deceiving others; do you
ever do this?
Remember the words of the
wise man, man; but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel."
"Bread of deceit is sweet to a
A poor African mother, with clasped hands and streaming eyes, was once mourning over the death of her son, who had been slain in battle by a Moor. As he was borne along on horseback, she proclaimed to the mournful group all the excellent qualities of her boy. But the one for which she chiefly praised him, formed itself a noble epitaph. "He never," said she, with pathetic energy, "never, never told a lie!" Happy the mother who has this thought to console her, when following a beloved child to the tomb!
Young reader, if truth is such a beautiful trait of character, will you not always strive to possess it! Can you not adopt as your own the desire expressed in the following acrostic?
"Truth! thou angel of heavenly birth,
Rarely an exile to this earth,
Heaven-born angel, fair and true!"
EVIL SPEAKING.-This is another very common and almost universal abuse of the tongue. But in the Bible we are expressly commanded to "put off all evil speakings," and "to speak evil of no man." David resolved: "Whoso privily slandereth his neighbor, him will I cut off." James, also, has said, "Speak not evil one of another, brethren." Solomon says, "He that uttereth a slander is a fool." Many of the feuds and contentions among families and friends arise from the tongue of slander; and to the members of such communities, in which
every neighbor will walk with slanders," it may be said, in the mournful language of Micah, "Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide; keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom. For the son dishonoreth the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughter-in-law against her mother-inlaw; a man's enemies are the men of his own house."
Slander, like falsehood, sometimes leads to great evil. A criminal once confessed, just before his death, that his first step in
crime was occasioned by slander. His character had been injured; and being unable to wipe away the stain, he left the place where he resided, to seek his fortune elsewhere. He soon fell into crime, and at last committed robbery and murder. All this, be it remembered, was occasioned by the slander of his neighbors. No doubt, many a person has been injured, and driven into crime, in a similar way.
My young friends, if any of you are in the habit of speaking evil of others, even of those whom you dislike, I would advise you to give it up; for those who would walk in wisdom's ways can find better employment for their tongue. If you would avoid contentions and evil feelings, then you certainly must avoid this sin; for those who speak peace to their neighbors, while "mischief is in their hearts," will be sure to have more enemies than friends. The resolution which President Edwards made on this subject is an excellent one, and is worthy to be adopted by all. It is as follows: "Resolved, Never to speak evil of any one, so that it should tend to his
dishonor, more or less, upon no account, except for some real good."
TALE-BEARING. You all know what a tale-bearer is, but perhaps you have never thought of the mischief which such a one may do. Says Solomon, "Where there is no wood, the fire goeth out: where there is no tale-bearer, the strife ceaseth." "The words of a tale-bearer are as wounds." In the laws which God gave to the children of Israel, we find the following statute: "Thou shalt not go up and down as a tale-bearer among thy people."
These verses show us the evil and consequences of tale-bearing; and who can. say that they are not true? Who can calculate the mischief that has been done in the world by tale-bearers alone. A talebearer, by noising abroad a remark made by the king of France, was the occasion of the first invasion of France by England; which, perhaps, gave rise to those national animosities that have ever since existed between those two countries, and which have cost millions of treasure, and thousands if not millions of lives. Surely, "the words of a tale-bearer are as wounds!"