The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon. The following excerpt is from Lectures to my students, "The blind eye and the deaf ear," Pilgrim Publications, pages 167-68."What can’t be cured must be endured, and the best way of enduring it is not to listen to it."
Over one of our old castles a former owner has inscribed these lines—
WHAT DO THEY SAY?
LET THEM SAY.
Thin-skinned persons should learn this motto by heart. The talk of the village is never worthy of notice, and you should never take any interest in it except to mourn over the malice and heartlessness of which it is too often the indicator.
Above all, never join in tale-bearing yourself, and beg your wife to abstain from it also. Some men are too talkative by half, and remind me of the young man who was sent to Socrates to learn oratory. On being introduced to the philosopher he talked so incessantly that Socrates asked for double fees. “Why charge me double?” said the young fellow. “Because,” said the orator, “I must teach you two sciences: the one how to hold your tongue and the other how to speak.”
The first science is the more difficult, but aim at proficiency in it, or you will suffer greatly, and create trouble without end.
Avoid with your whole soul that spirit of suspicion which sours some men’s lives, and to all things from which you might harshly draw an unkind inference turn a blind eye and a deaf ear. Suspicion makes a man a torment to himself and a spy towards others.
Once begin to suspect, and causes for distrust will multiply around you, and your very suspiciousness will create the major part of them. Many a friend has been transformed into an enemy by being suspected. Do not, therefore, look about you with the eyes of mistrust, nor listen as an eaves-dropper with the quick ear of fear.
To go about the congregation ferreting out disaffection, like a gamekeeper after rabbits, is a mean employment, and is generally rewarded most sorrowfully. Lord Bacon wisely advises “the provident stay of inquiry of that which we would be loth to find.”
When nothing is to be discovered which will help us to love others we had better cease from the inquiry, for we may drag to light that which may be the commencement of years of contention.
I am not, of course, referring to cases requiring discipline which must be thoroughly investigated and boldly dealt with, but have upon my mind mere personal matters where the main sufferer is yourself; here it is always best not to know, nor to wish to know, what is being said about you, either by friends or foes.
Those who praise us are probably as much mistaken as those who abuse us, and the one may be regarded as a set off to the other, if indeed it be worth while taking any account at all of man’s judgment.
If we have the approbation of our God, certified by a placid conscience, we can afford to be indifferent to the opinions of our fellow men, whether they commend or condemn. If we cannot reach this point we are babes and not men.