"The next exercise of self-discipline will be in Conversation. Conversation, while it is a chief source of improvement and pleasure, is also a scene of peculiar trial, and the occasion of much sin. One might suppose that few persons ever dream that they are accountable for what passes in conversation, although there is no point of ordinary life which Jesus and the Apostles have more frequently and sternly put under the control of religious principle. Their language is strikingly urgent on this head ; and yet, so little scrupulousness is there among men, even religious men, that it would seem as if they felt ashamed to be careful in their talk. A thoroughly well-governed speech is so rare, that we still say, in the words of James, ' If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man.
Do not allow yourself to be off your guard in this respect. Make it a part of your business, by a cautious prudence, to have your speech consistent with the rest of your character. Do not flatter yourself that your thoughts are under due control, your desires properly regulated, or your dispositions subject as they should be to Christian principle, if your intercourse with others consists mainly of frivolous gossip, impertinent anecdotes, speculations on the character and affairs of your neighbors, the repetition of former conversations, or a discussion of the current petty scandal of society ; much less, if you allow yourself in careless exaggeration on all these points, and that grievous inattention to exact truth which is apt to attend the statements of those whose conversation is made up of these materials...
' A word spoken in season, how good it is!' Why should you not do all in your power to elevate the tone of conversation, and render the intercourse of man with man more rational and profitable ? Let your example of cheerful, innocent, blameless words, in which neither folly nor austerity shall find place, exhibit the uprightness and purity of a mind controlled by habitual principle, and be a recommendation of the religion you profess..."
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