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"the sweet music of speech," to the language of sympathy; to the voice of affection dimming the eye and kindling a glow on the cheek; they do not know what it is to have the heart thrilled with joy through the ear. And how imperfectly can they comprehend this language of the psalmist, "In His temple doth every one speak of his glory;" or this sweet invitation, "Let us exalt His name together." They know nothing of "a word fitly spoken;" nothing of the power, the charm which there is in the human voice, winning, soothing, narrating. They cannot understand the pleasure conveyed by these words
"His very foot has music in 't
They cannot recall delightful conversations; for signs, even to the well instructed, are very limited; and the language of the fingers can seldom be carried on, so as to convey any continued train of thought. The most intelligent and benevolent minds must feel (mercifully far more than the object of their pity feels) how little information or enjoyment they can communicate to the dumb. To them, too, not only man but the whole world is silent! The song of birds, the cry of animals, with all the melody of sweet sounds, to the sealed ear are nothing! And to us it appears that their solitude must be very great when they are in the dark. The poet exclaims, "Silence and darkness, solemn sisters!" but silence and darkness must have a twofold solemnity to the dumb; for literally nor eye nor ear an object finds." Yet even here mercy has stepped in with an alleviation. The dumb exchange their thoughts in the dark by conversing on each other's fingers, and by this means feeling is made to serve the purposes of both sight and speech, so that he may still exclaim—
"There's mercy in all that we trace;
And mercy, encouraging thought!
And reconciles man to his lot."
But let us consider the great purposes for which speech was given; to glorify God; to convey truth; to speak truth; to instruct and edify one another. "The heavens," we know, "declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge." But to man alone is given a soul to contemplate this glory, and a tongue capable of proclaiming it. To man alone is given the exalted privilege of singing God's praise, and of calling upon his fellow
creatures to join in adoring him. "Give unto the Lord, O ye mighty, give unto the Lord glory and strength. Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness." But who can give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name? Who can worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness? He in whose heart self is most abased, and Christ, who is the beauty of holiness, is most extolled and exalted. A Saviour seen by faith, in all the riches of his love and mercy, is the best preparation for praising God, and the best qualification for fulfilling the second great purpose of speech-edifying one another.
Solomon says, "The lips of the righteous feed many." "The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright." If we cannot always reach to the high attainment of the former, we should study the latter-the secret of using knowledge aright. This secret is seeing God in everything, and making all knowledge, all conversation, lead to him either directly or indirectly. Nothing but our fallen condition can account for the melancholy fact, that man by nature delights in speaking of all things except God. Every day's experience confirms this truth. A new discovery in art or science is proclaimed with delight; knowledge, on whatever subject, is communicated and listened to with the greatest interest. And praise and admiration are lavished on the wonders of creation; but the Creator of the ends of the earth is forgotten. If "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh," what must be the inference? In the affairs of this world we have no analogy for such oblivious silence. Who lauds a deed of generosity, and forgets his benefactor? Who speaks of the phenomena of light and colours, and does not name sir Isaac Newton? Who mentions the discovery of the New World, and makes no allusion to Columbus?
We fully admit that in familiar intercourse with each other it is very possible to have heavenly thoughts and a single eye to God, when we are not speaking expressly of him, or mentioning religious subjects. But when this is the case the conversation will exhibit this influence. It will be improving, though it does not aim directly at edification. There will be the absence of all that is injurious, worldly, and insincere: for in general society there is, it may be feared, much insincerity, and very needful is the prayer of the psalmist for many who would shrink from the charge of "lying lips," "Deliver my soul, O Lord, from a deceitful tongue." The language of Scripture, though figurative, is
awful in its denunciation against falsehood: "What shall be given unto thee? or what shall be done unto thee, thou false tongue? Sharp arrows of the mighty, with coals of juniper." The Rev. T. H. Horne says, According to Ammianus Marcellinus, these arrows, or fiery darts, consisted of a hollow reed, to the lower part of which, under the point or barb, was fastened a round receptacle made of iron for combustible materials, so that such an arrow had the form of a distaff. This was filled with burning naphtha; and when the arrow was shot from a slack bow, it struck the enemies' ranks and remained infixed, the flame consuming whatever it met with; water, poured upon it, increased its violence; there were no other means to extinguish it but by throwing earth upon it." This description of the punishment of falsehood should make us guard against the slightest departure from truth. An old poet (Sir Thomas Wyat) writes on
David's secret is the only one for preserving "that sweet accord," the only one for keeping truth inviolate. "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee." And, most assuredly, they who seek to have this word hid in their hearts, will often be enabled to speak a word in season to each other, and to stir up the fire slumbering in the ashes till it burns brightly. Hear what the Rev. Charles Bridges says on the subject of religious conversation: "If we cannot say all we want of our Saviour, let us say all we can. A word spoken in weakness may be a word of Almighty power, and a present help to one of the Lord's 'little ones." And in our connexions with the world, many occasions will unexpectedly offer, when the heart is wakeful and active to improve them. The common topics of earthly conversation may furnish a channel for heavenly intercourse, so that our communications, even with the world, may be like Jacob's ladder, whose bottom rested upon the earth, but the top reached unto the heavens."
Holy conversation does reach to heaven, and lives recorded
* The fire made from juniper is intensely hot.
before God, who has annexed glorious promises to this description which he has himself given of his children. "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; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him."
How countless are the melodies which earth
Sweet are the voices heard among the hills,
The tinkling fall of little mountain rills,
The hamlet lacketh not its pleasant sounds,
And when the circling year rich autumn crowns,
Sweet is the music of the forest shade,
Where the stag browses in the bracken* glade,
Who would not list the ocean's mighty waves
While the white sea-fowl from their oozy caves
Such melody is sure a gift of love
From Him who first attuned the lifeless ear,
And waked the seraph harps that swell above,
And sweeter far than ocean's murmurings,
Is the faint song the humblest Christian sings.
OBLIVION OF PAIN.
In a world "out of order," as Hooker aptly described the present scene, and with bodies so fearfully and wonderfully made, that the slightest derangement in their exquisite machinery lays us open to acute suffering, it is a most merciful law of our nature that pain is so speedily forgotten. It might have been perpetuated to us either in its actual presence, or in our keen remembrance of its pangs; but Mercy has decreed otherwise, and gently drawn the veil of oblivion over the sufferings, mental or corporeal, which as salutary discipline it interferes not to intercept. Perhaps those who have most endured, are most aware how impossible it is to recall pain. There is a remembrance that we have suffered, strong enough to make us guard against its recurrence when it is within our own control, but the sensation itself cannot by any effort of the volition be revived. There is a natural dread of its approach which sends us to the throne of grace, to ask if it be possible that the cup may pass away from us untasted; but it is the salutary medicine dealt out by the Great Physician, and as "He woundeth," so 66 his hands make whole." L. H. C.
GIVE AND SCATTER TRACTS.
"It shall not return unto me void.”—ISA. lv. 11.
THE Rev. Dr. Malan, of Geneva, has related, that he once put down a tract, on passing by a well-known house, near the borders of one of the cantons of Switzerland, and that it seemed to have been accompanied with a blessing, being attended by the following result:—
He says: "Three or four years ago (1842) a minister of God, whose labours have been attended with fruit in several churches, was sitting at my table. I wished to know in what manner he had been brought to the knowledge of the truth, and he gave this account in reply. In such a year, during the month of October, I set out on the high road from Berne to Lausanne. I was then, like too many other young divines,