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Saturday, 29 April 2017

Sins that yield a terrible harvest

Whatever wickedness a man may commit in the world, what is it as compared with the wrong he may be guilty of by his example? Then sin is as a mountain torrent, bursting its banks and carrying the unwary headlong to destruction. You may be dead yourself, yet your sin may live, yielding a terrible harvest.

It was in this respect that the demon ruling my life did its worst; I went my sinful course, flinging evil seed about me, and stopped not to consider how many I might bring to ruin.

Do you understand? perhaps not fully. Let me return to memories.

I happened once to spend an evening with some dozen youths gathered for social intercourse. I was much older, and it was quite by accident that I found myself among them; but, enjoying the reputation of a boon companion, they entreated me to remain. It flattered me and I stayed. They evidently looked to me for information, which made me all the more willing to show off my superior experience. Being a witty talker, I added not a little to the evening's enjoyment. We made little speeches, sang, and drank to each other. Now I knew that these young people would take as gospel truth almost anything I might tell them, believing any worldly wisdom I might point to as the road to success. The concluding word was given to me. I rose, ready to give them the benefit of my knowledge. Dare to be happy! was the motto I chose. I reminded them of the position I enjoyed in the world, averring that my life was brimful of satisfaction; that I had always had whatever man could wish for, and that I had had it because I had dared. It was true in all things that faint heart never won fair lady; there was a treasure of wisdom in these words beyond the treasures of Solomon. They were just entering upon life. I could give them no better advice to go by—no better aim to follow—than was expressed by these wordsDare it—dare be happy!

They thanked me with cheers of enthusiasm. They were flushed with wine, but another spirit than that of wine lay hidden in my words; its subtle influence was even then upon them, intoxicating their souls. With some of them its fumes, no doubt, passed away with the fumes of the liquor; but with others—three or four of them—the false maxim had caught; they went out into opening life armed with a rule which consisted of falsehood mostly, and a particle of truth. It took them to the broad way, and not only them but others through them. That lying principle, which sounded so grand and true, spread in widening circles, ruining soul after soul; it is still spreading, alas! and I see no end to the pernicious influence.

Letters from Hell, L. W. J. S., Richard Bentley & Son, London, 1889