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“Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”
PROVERBS xvii. 21.
SOLD AT 66, PATERNOSTER-ROW.
It sometimes happens that a mine, rich in ore, but imperfectly explored, has to be forsaken. To leave the place where the labourer is fully convinced there are large stores of wealth, which superior skill and strength might have secured, is humiliating and painful. The miner, though he may have brought to the surface a little precious ore, feels disappointed as he observes how greatly his performance has fallen short of his desires and hopes.
Regret of a similar kind is experienced by the writer of the following chapters, as he lays down his pen. He doubted not, when he commenced his task, that truth of incalculable importance was here to be obtained. At the entrance of this mine, in ancient and indelible characters, and written by a Hand unerring because Divine, was many a legend such as the one selected to adorn the title-page of this volume : “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” We are thus assured, on the highest possible authority, that the subject is closely connected with our real and endless blessedness. General experience and observation furnish abundant illustration of this lesson. There was no room for doubt. When, however, the attempt was made to grasp the priceless truth, and so to exhibit it, in its multiplied aspects and relations, that its worth should be clearly perceived, and its power suitably felt, the task was not found to be an easy one. But comparative failure in working the mine has occasioned no change in the labourer's opinion as to its richness, except an augmented conviction thereof. He has discerned gleams of precious things which he could not fully reach. Inaptitude has limited his success; weariness has caused his tools to be laid aside; other tasks demand his earnest care. But he ventures to call the attention of others to the unerring declarations concerning the hidden treasure.
That a volume on this important subject was needed, the writer believed ; or these pages would not have been written. It is not unlikely that the thoughtful reader may, when laying down the book, say within himself, “A volume on this subject is still needed.” But, should such be the case, the present effort may not have been altogether in vain. An unskilled labourer may carry the stones which by abler men shall be formed into an admirable edifice. Those who preside over the operations of the loom, and who thereby produce a thousand forms of beauty, are indebted for the raw material to those who have toiled in fields far away. Even a bird alighting on the mast, or a leaf floating on the wave, or tiny shells clinging to the lead, may have indicated to the intelligent though bewildered and discouraged voyager that the country for which he was searching was nigh. Or, to return to an illustration already employed, men who possess neither sufficient knowledge, nor vigour, nor capital, nor leisure, fully to work a mine, may still be able to call the attention of others to indications that the