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The tale-bearer, like the evil-speaker, is sure to be hated by all, and little confidence will be placed in him. On the other hand, how noble is that disposition which prompts a man to throw the cloak of charity over the faults of others, and never to speak of them except when it is absolutely necessary! Napoleon once exercised this noble spirit; and in this action, he gained more real glory than in all the battles he ever fought, put together. When he was eleven years. old, a basket of fruit which had been given to his father, was found emptied. Inquiries were made of the children about it, and his sister, Marianne, said that Napoleon had eaten the fruit. He denied it; but not being believed, he was whipped. His father then told him that if he would beg his pardon for what he had done, he should be forgiven. He still declared his innocence; but not being believed, he was kept three days with nothing to eat but bread and cheese. On the fourth day, a little girl, who was a friend of his sister, hearing of what had taken place, confessed that she and Marianne had eaten the fruit. When Napoleon
was asked why he did not tell that his sister had done what he was punished for, he replied that he did not wish to get her little friend into trouble, who had indeed eaten of the fruit, but who had told no falsehood about it. He preferred to suffer the punishment himself, rather than be a tale-bearer, and expose the crimes of others.
PROFANENESS. I suppose it is not necessary to warn you of this sin, because I hope none of my readers ever have been or ever will be guilty of it. Yet there are many children who do take the name of God in vain, and who also curse their playmates. Surely such children cannot be members of the Sabbath school. They must forget the third commandment, "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain." They must forget the words of our Saviour, "Swear not at all." They must forget the words of the apostle, "But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath."
Look for a moment at the swearer. Now, he has the holy name of God upon his lips, calling down curses upon himself, or his friends, or his beast, or upon some inanimate object. Now, his prayer is directed to the devil, of whom he talks very familiarly. And thus he goes on from day to day, insulting God, making himself unhappy, and offending all around him. And O, should his prayers be answered, what fearful curses would rest upon his head! Should one half the "swearers' prayers" be answered in our land, what a flood of desolation would roll over us! Surely, the Lord would "rain snares, fire and brimstone, and a horrible tempest," upon us. Alas, that so many practise this dreadful sin! Alas, that so many never take the name of the Lord upon their lips, except in an oath! Alas, that we are constrained to say now, with Jeremiah of old, "Because of swearing the land mourneth."
Swearing is a sin peculiarly offensive and insulting to God, and very disgusting to all respectable people; and it is a sin, as before remarked, which calls down wrath
and curses upon the head of him who practises it. Flee from it, then, young reader, and flee from those who are guilty of it; and be careful not only to avoid direct oaths, but also those phrases and expressions which approach to them.
IDLE TALKING. This embraces all the abuses of the tongue previously mentioned, and many others. It is the chit-chat and gossiping which some people keep up from morning till night, with hardly a minute's rest. Of course, where there is so much talking, much must be said that is useless, and not a little that is sinful. Solomon understood this, when he said, "In the multitude of words, there wanteth not sin; but he that refraineth his lips is wise." It is almost impossible for any one to unite in this commonplace conversation, without. saying something that will displease God, grieve his friends, or afterwards cause him to repent. Remember the words of the apostle, "Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak;" for we must at last answer for every idle word we speak.
I have thus briefly mentioned some of
the most prominent sins of the tongue. In conclusion, my young reader, let me urge you, with the Psalmist, to "Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile." Remember what the apostle James has said, "If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, this man's religion is vain." Watch your unruly member, guard it, and early train it to avoid falsehoods, slander, talebearing, profaneness, idle talking, and every other sin to which it is prone. I say, begin early, for you cannot begin too soon. Children begin to practise these sins as soon as they begin to talk, and therefore they must begin early to guard against them. Let it be your constant prayer, "Deliver my soul, O Lord, from lying lips, and from a deceitful tongue." Then shall this ungovernable member become a blessing to yourself, and your fellow-men,—speaking peace and comfort to the afflicted, blessing all men, and scattering abroad the light which God has caused to shine in your soul. Then shall the declaration of Solomon be realized, "The tongue of the just is as choice silver."