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The Sphere of Silence.

The Sphere of Silence.

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Luke vi. 45.
of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh.


Luke vi. 45.
of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Nov 15, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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THE SPHERE OF SILECE. BY JAMES MARTIEAU. I. MA'S. Luke vi. 45. of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh. It is often assumed as if implied in these words, that whatever is a fit subject for thought is necessarily the fit subject of conversation. As language is but the expression of the mind, it seems natural to suppose that the mind must appear through its medium ; that the matters which occupy the lips must be those which engage the heart ; and that no deep and pow- erful interest can fail to overflow, in its full propor- tion, on our communications with each other. That about which silence is the habit, and speech the exception, — which, even in the sweet counsel of friends, glides in but for the moment and flits away,  — cannot, it is affirmed, have any strong and con- stant hold upon men ; and by its transiency, con- fesses itself to be an evanescent interest. Many there are who apply this rule to Religion ; and who would measure the reality and force of its influence on the character by the frequency and explicitness of its appearance in our discourse. If we are truly penetrated with the same highest concerns ; if we are standing in the same attitude before God ; if the same solemnity of life covers us with its cloud, and 45 530 THE SPHERE OF SILECE. the same glory of hope guides us by its fire ; — how
can we do otherwise than always speak together of a lot so awful and a faith so high ? May it not be fairly doubted, whether those, who are drawn by no experience, inspired by no joy, melted by no sorrow, to break their reserve on these things, have any de- vout belief of them at all. There seems to be a show of reason in this ; and when it is urged on the modest and self-distrustful, they often gather from it a lesson of inward reproach, and know not how to answer. Yet the appeal has always failed to gain its end. It has not unsealed the lips of men to converse of divine, as they would of human, things ; a certain loneliness, which cannot be removed, still hangs over their loftiest relations ; and they are stricken, as with dumbness, to one another, before God. There is, indeed, a foundation in our unperverted nature for this repugnance to mingle talk and worship, to look into another's eye and say the thought of inward prayer ; and it is a harsh and false interpretation to take such repugnance as the sign of irreligion. Many an earnest and devout heart, too lowly to teach others, too quiet to pro- claim itself, you may find watching the scene of human things through a constant atmosphere of piety ; recognizing a holy light on all ; touching each duty with a gentle and willing love ; yet saying not a word, because unable to make a special tale of that which is but the truth of nature. And many a family group may be observed, gathering round the decline of some venerated life, well knowing whither it fast tends ; and he who discerns nothing beneath the sur- face, may think it but a worldly thing, that all the care seems to be spent in providing outward allevia- THE SPHERE OF SILECE. 531 tion, and sheltering from inward shock, and keeping
some glow of tempered cheerfulness about the slack- ening pulse and deepening chill of life. But an eye less obtuse may often read a secret meaning in all this, and recognize in it the symbol of an unspoken mystery ; the sacred hope, the perfect trust, the will laid low, the love raised high, make their confession by faithful act, and learn the right of a holy silence. And, assuredly, he to whose ready speech the sancti- ties most quickly come, who has no difficulty in running over everlasting things, and never pauses at the awful name, and can coin the words for what is most dear and deep, is not often the most truly devout. The sects and classes, moreover, who make the greatest point of bringing their Christianity into the drawing-room, the street or the senate, after be- guiling you into respect and perhaps admiration, continually let out the other half of the truth by some surprising coarseness or some selfish intolerance. Yet, in spite of these appearances, it is altogether true that ' of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh.' Language has two functions, easily distinguished, yet easily forgotten. It is an instrument of com- munication with one another ; and an instrument of thought within ourselves. Plato used to say that Thought and Speech are the same ; only that thought is the mind's silent dialogue with itself.* It need * The definition is so apposite, that I am tempted to subjoin it : — ^E. OuxQVv Siavoia fitv y.ai Xoyoq ravrov • n2.i:v 6 ^ev ivrog r^g 'ipv/t'jg 7TQ0C avri^v diu?.OYog artv ^cov/yg yiyvu^uevog rovr' avro i^nv ircMvoHuad^i], diuvoia ; &EAI. Huvv jiih' oi'v. Sophista, 263, E. The same thought is more fully presented in the Thesetetus, 189, E. 190, A.

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