Saturday, December 08, 2007

The two languages we speak

I was reading a sermon by Horace Bushnell, I have never read him before but this one on, how we influence others, I found interesting.

“ The law of human influence is deeper than many suspect, and they lose sight of it altogether. The outward endeavors ( he means speech ) made by good men or bad to sway others, they call their influence; whereas it is, in fact, but a fraction, and, in most cases, but a very small fraction, of the good or evil that flows out of their lives.
Nay, I will even go further. How many persons do you meet, the insensible influence of whose manners and character is so decided as often to thwart their voluntary influences; so that, whatever they attempt to do, in the way of controlling others, they are sure to carry the exact opposite of what they intend! And it will generally be found that, where men undertake by argument or persuasion to exert a power, in the face of qualities that make them odious or detestable, or only not entitled to respect, their insensible influence will be too strong for them. The total effect of the life is then of a kind directly opposite to the voluntary endeavor; which, of course, does not add so much as a fraction of it”.

Stay with me now, he explains a little further—

“I call your attention, next, to the twofold powers of effect and expression by which man connects with his fellow man. If we distinguish man as a creature of language, and thus qualified to communicate himself to others, there are in him two sets or kinds of language, one which is voluntary in the use, and one that is involuntary; that of speech in the literal sense, and the other, that expression of the eye, the face, the look, the gait, the motion the tone or cadence which is sometimes called the ‘natural language of sentiments’. This ‘Natural language’ too, is greatly enlarged by the conduct of life, that which, in business and society, reveals the principles and spirit of men. Speech, or voluntary language, is a door to the soul that we may open or shut at will; the other is a door that stands open evermore, and reveals to others constantly and often very clearly, the tempers, tastes, and motives of their hearts. Within, as we may represent, is character, charging the common reservoir of influence and through these twofold gates of the soul, pouring itself out on the world. Out of one it flows at choice, and whensoever we purpose to do good or evil to men. Out of the other it flows each moment, as light from the sun and propagates itself in all beholders”.

Okay, let me see if I can explain how this affected me; I tried to think of a scripture that clearly describes this “natural language” and the only one that came to mind is in Isaiah 3:16—
“Moreover, the Lord said, “Because the daughters of Zion are proud, and walk with heads held high and seductive eyes, and go along with mincing steps, and tinkle the bangles on their feet.”

This is an example of the “natural language”, now these women may speak words of humility, or spirituality, but their “natural language” contradicts it.
Although this example is blatant, I think the author was trying to speak more to subtleties, the kinds that betray the soul, though we may think they are invisible.

T. DeWitt Talmage gives another example of bold “Natural Language” in this passage—

“But when I see a woman of unblushing boldness, loud-voiced, with a tongue of infinite clitter-clatter, with arrogant look, passing through the streets with a masculine swing, gaily arrayed in a very hurricane of millinery…..”

Now forgive me for giving two female examples they were first to come to mind.
Certainly this is not gender specific, I think rather men are the greater offenders but the point is that we can go through life with a “Natural Language” that is contradicting our words and be completely oblivious to it, because it is the true state of the soul.
The true state of the soul is our greatest testimony, for or against Christ.
I found that quite humbling.
I posted this picture as an example of how vividly thoughts are conveyed without words.

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