The Restoration of His Hearing Brought to Him Pain as Well as Pleasure.
THE LESSON—That we should guard well our tongues against speaking careless, useless or vulgar words.
This illustration is based on the actual experience of an Indiana man. It contains a lesson of such great importance that a chapter of one of the strong
[Before beginning the talk, draw the picture of the man, completing Fig. 108.]
"The face I have here drawn represents the portrait of a certain business man living in an Indiana town. Ever since the time of an illness in childhood this man had been almost totally deaf. For years he tried in vain to secure the aid which would restore to him his hearing, and during all the period of his boyhood and young manhood he could hear only those words which were spoken very distinctly, close to his ear. Sometimes he could hear the thunder and other loud, sharp sounds.
"Then, one day, came a great change! All at once he could hear almost perfectly. What a great time it was! Once more he heard the songs of the birds as he remembered them when he was a child; the voices of the members of his family and the voices of his friends, new and strange, came to him! What had brought the change? It was merely a new invention, by which a disc containing a diaphragm was placed over his ear. This diaphragm gathered the sound waves, just as the natural ear-drum was intended to do. The disc fitted over his ear, like this: [Add the disc and attachment, as in Fig. 109.] Was he happy? Of course he was—but soon it was noticed by those about him that his gladness seemed to fade away from his face and a kind of sadness took its place. [Add the lines about eye and mouth, completing Fig. 109.] What was the matter? Some one asked him the question. And this was his answer—listen to it: 'I never knew, during those years when I could not hear the sound of people's voices, that those about me were so unkind to each other!'
"'Yes,' said he; 'ever since my hearing was restored I have been surprised and pained and shocked to hear the careless words—the harmful words—which people speak concerning even those they love. I have thought about it a good deal and have made up my mind that the people do not speak these words because they always mean what they say, but because they have grown into the habit of saying unkind things. And the profanity! And the vulgarity! It is dreadful to listen to the language used by many men, and even boys, in their ordinary conversation!'
"The man had spoken a sad, sad truth. How careless we are! Even the best of us speak too many thoughtless, unkind words—words which may affect the entire after life of the one who is the subject of their utterance. And how many there are all about us who blaspheme the name of their Maker!
"All of us are familiar with the words of Shakespeare, who, in 'Othello,' causes Iago to say that 'he that filches from me my good name robs me of that which not enriches him and makes me poor, indeed.' Our slighting word may rob some one of his good name and leave him poor, indeed; while the kind word which rises to our lips, but remains unspoken, may retard the progress of the person of whom we might have spoken it.
"'Be not rash with thy mouth,' says the writer of Ecclesiastes; 'let thy words be few.'
"'Behold also the ships,' says the Epistle of James, 'which, though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity; so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature, and it is set on fire of hell. For every kind of beasts and of birds and of serpents and of things in the sea is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind; but the tongue can no man tame.'
"Let us, friends, watch this unruly member. Profanity and vulgarity bespeak a vile mind. We trust that our trouble is not so serious as this; but we still have the unkind word, the hotly-spoken word, to watch and to avoid.
"Boys, watch your thoughts and words. Do you know, I would rather see a boy with jam smeared all over his cheeks than to hear a 'smutty' remark from his lips? Yes—the jam wouldn't hurt him a bit, but the smut can't be washed off. You all want clean hands and a clean face. It is still more important to have a clean mind and clean speech."