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of the Holy Spirit, that without Christ we can do nothing? that we must derive all we need for pardon and for holiness from the love and power of the Saviour ? that in him only we can have life? that in him we can be safe and happy? Would that we all might be able to answer this inquiry in the way which is so greatly to be desired ! Would that we could all declare that, awakened to a sense of the evil of sin, we disclaimed every way of salvation, but that which is set before us in the Lord! My brethren, is it not dreadful to be in any other state; careless, or impenitent, or trusting to ourselves ? Oh, let it not be our condition ? Let not the threatenings, and invitations, and promises of the word of God be laid before us in vain. May the blessing of God accompany his Gospel! And may it not be without profit that we remember the solemn words, “ without me ye can do nothing !"
THE POWER OF THE TONGUE.
PROVERBS xviii. 21.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”
The faculty of speech is one of the very highest faculties with which we have been endowed. Great is its value to man as an intelligent and social being, and great is the weight of responsibility which is implied by the possession of it. Yet it would at the first sight almost appear that the Hebrew sage has stated something extravagant, that he has exceeded the fair limit of what is allowed even to hyperbole, when he says, as he does in the text, that “ Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Examination perhaps will show that the
expression is of highly figurative character, that the sacred writer expresses an important truth, and that the importance of what he would convey has led him to employ language that will not bear to be strictly interpreted.
This however is certainly not the case. The words are undoubtedly to be understood in their literal meaning. There is nothing that is figurative, there is nothing but what is strictly accurate in the sentence, that “ Death and life are in the power of the tongue."
I said that there is nothing figurative in the words; and such is the case with them, as they are represented in our translation. But our translators have suppressed a very elegant and highly poetical figure. The words of Solomon are, when literally rendered, “ Death and life are in the hand of the tongue.” In the lofty spirit of the Hebrew poetry, he gives form, and powers, and action to the faculty of which he speaks. He represents it as a living thing -as the arbiter of good and ill, as the disposer of human fortune. Never was there
a more noble personification : never did poet more suitably furnish an embodied abstraction. The faculty of speech stands before us in giant dimensions, and terrible powers, bearing before him our race's destinies, when we read the striking words, 6 Death and life are in the hand of the
Our translators have stripped the sentiment of its figurative dress. They have conveyed it to us perfectly unadorned. But though the words may have lost something of poetical beauty, they express all the moral meaning of the inspired writer. The original words clearly mean just what our translators have represented them as meaning. When Solomon says that “ death and life are in the hand of the tongue,” he undoubtedly means that “ death and life are in the power of the tongue;" and the sentiment he would express simply, is that what we say has an important, a most important bearing on our present and future condition. May God the Holy Spirit be with us! And may he who now addresses you be enabled to speak under an urgent sense of his responsibility, remembering on the present, and on all similar opportunities of preaching the glorious Gospel, that “ death and life are in the power of the tongue."
It is not at all necessary to make out a laboured proof of the fact, that men in general do not act upon the assertion of the text. It is quite certain and undeniable that the world at large seems to regard what they say as of very little consequence, and show by their conduct that they utterly forget that “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” The profane and irreligious might set small value on maxim of Scripture, the careless and worldly concern themselves not with such things; but the charge extends beyond these classes. Those who profess to feel the importance of the one thing needful—who acknowledge the Divine origin of the Bible, and the binding obligation of its morality, are slow to learn the lesson which the text teaches, and to show by their habitual conduct that they estimate as the Scripture estimates the power of the tongue.