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Evil Speaking.

Evil Speaking.

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" Let all evil-spealung be put away from you." EPH. iv. 31.

" Let all evil-spealung be put away from you." EPH. iv. 31.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Jul 26, 2014
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved


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EVIL-SPEAKIG. BY ALFRED WILLIAMS MOMMEEIE" Let all evil-spealung be put away from you." EPH. iv. 31. T)Y one of the strange perversities of human *-* nature we attach no importance to common things. Actions we are always performing are,  just because of this frequency, the most import- ant actions of our lives. And yet we keep on performing them day after day, never asking whether we are doing them well or ill, never stopping to inquire what will be their effect upon ourselves and others. I suppose one -third, at least, of our waking hours is spent in talking. Every week we say enough to make a three- volume novel. And yet some of us have never once, in the whole course of our existence, paused to investigate the quality of our talk. 1 1 See also a sermon on little sins in my ' Origin of Evil. ' Evil-Speaking. 167 There is nothing, perhaps, of which the human race has more reason to be ashamed than its con- versation. "If," says La Bruyere, "we were to pay serious attention to all the dull, silly, and puerile observations that are made in ordinary conversation, we should be ashamed to speak or to listen, and should perhaps condemn ourselves to unbroken silence." While, on the one hand, the faculty of speech is a distinguishing excel- lence of the human race, on the other hand there is nothing which shows its pettiness and mean- ness and wickedness so clearly as the extent to
which this faculty is abused. How many men and women there are who usually talk nonsense nay, how many there are who usually talk what is worse than nonsense, whose favourite amusement is disparaging or calumniating their neighbours, and whose presence in the world would have been far more endurable if they had been born dumb ! Evil-speaking is a vice com- mon to all sorts and conditions of men. It is to be found among the upper classes as well as among the lower. It infests the quiet country village no less than the busy bustling town. You remember Tennyson's words : "Below me there is the village, which looks how quiet and small, 1 68 Common Sins. And yet bubbles o'er like the city with gossip and scandal and spite. . . . The long-necked geese of the world are ever hissing dispraise, Because their natures are little. . . . Whether he heed it or not, Each man walks with his head in a cloud of poisonous flies. . . . We cannot be kind to each other here for an hour ; We whisper, and hint, and chuckle, and grin at a brother's shame. . . . We men are a little breed." Evil - speaking is a vice which seems almost universal. " Half the world," says Horace Smith,
"takes pleasure in inventing scandal, and the other half in believing it." either education nor civilisation has suc- ceeded in diminishing the prevalence of scandal. On the contrary, men seem to get fonder of it as the world grows older. Among the early Romans there was a legal system called the twelve tables, which was promulgated by the decemvirs, and which was long regarded as the foundation of all law. In this system, and indeed throughout the whole history of Eome, we find libel dealt with as a very serious crime. The authors of libels, and even the persons who disseminated them, were punished by exile and confiscation of pro- perty. Had the proprietors, and editors, and contributors of some of our society and religious Evil-Speaking. 1 69 newspapers lived in those good old times, it would have gone, I suspect, rather hard with them. There are journals in the present day which exist solely for the purpose of systemati- cally spreading scandal. With a direr plague the world was never smitten. If anything can be heard, or surmised, or invented that is likely to be injurious or distressing to public characters or to persons well known in society, it is in- stantly seized upon by these unscrupulous jour- nalists, and disseminated over the length and breadth of the land. And the so-called religious newspapers, with one or two honourable excep- tions, are worse than the society journals. Both are lavish in their vilification, but the religious newspapers vilify in the name of Christ. If you were to ask me where you would find the gross- est instances of envy, hatred, malice, and all un-

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