The government of the tongue has been elaborated on for centuries. Richard Allestree would belong with the recognized scope of religious thought. There would be a resource stern in criticizing the liberty of the tongue; freedom of speech would stand close to blasphemy and atheism in the writing. The book would be ascribed to Richard Allestree.
There are things that change about the humanity over time. There are respects with which humanity remains invariable.
We humans are mortal and realize this. No one may assert that he or she knows what happens after his or her death. Faith is not knowledge; no knowledge is all-encompassing. Therefore, the non-believer and believer would not be strict opposites.
The non-believer would not necessarily claim there is no God; he or she may decline concluding on the universe entire. Importantly, the believer would not propose a holistic resolve, either: religion does not offer a picture of the cosmos. The non-believer may live and work without a yearning for God’s existence as well as non-existence. The believer will live and work without God being his or her very focus a proportion of the time.
The resolve on belief or non-belief would remain equally with the individual. A non-believer, one might not be forced to deliberate on existence of a being not believed. A believer, one might feel that the comprehension on existence would remain with the very deity understood to have originated gnosis altogether.
Here are a few Greek words on existence, as for the matters that happen to change from time to time,
Therefore, a non-believer myself, I still do not intend to propose a resolve on God’s existence. The purpose of this post is to discuss freedom of speech in the light of the notion of the government of the tongue as derived from religious resources. My perspective will be philological and I will refer to the resource as “The Government”, since the book does not figure in the bibliographical notes for Richard Allestree.
The text attempts to support its fierce treatment of freedom of speech with frequent invocations of king Solomon. Let us look at two examples.
The Philosopher and the Divine equally attest this: and Solomon (who was both) gives his suffrage also;
Solomon tells us Death and Life are in the power of the Tongue, and that not only directly in regard of the good or ill we may do to others, but reflexively also, in respect of what may rebound to ourselves. Let Moses then make the inference from Solomon’s premises, Therefore choose life, Deut. 30. 15. a proposal so reasonable, so agreeable to nature, that no flourishes can render it more inviting.
These would look definitely denominational, compared with the matter of the Gospel.
42 The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here (Matthew 12).
27 Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. (Luke 12)
The irresistible philological temptation is to compare the above with Wycliffe.
28 And of clothing what ben ye bisye? Biholde ye the lilies of the feeld, how thei wexen. Thei trauelen not, nether spynnen;29 and Y seie to you, Salomon in al his glorie was not keuered as oon of these. (Matheu 6)
42 The queene of the south shal rise in doom with this generacioun, and schal condempne it; for she cam fro the eendis of the erthe to here the wisdom of Salomon, and lo! here a gretter than Salomon. (Matheu 12)
Let us stay with temptation for a while. “The Government” would have “good” words and “bad” words. Temptation would be one of the “bad” words:
A man secluded from company can have but the Devil and himself to tempt him …
At the same time, the book would advocate memorizing texts,
But sure tis a pitiful pretence to ingenuity that can be thus kept up, there being little need of any other faculty but memory to be able to cap Texts.
Therefore, the text would advise memorizing what is good and what is bad, keeping guard:
The Tongue is so slippery, that it easily deceives a drowsy or heedless guard.
… so the childish parts of us, our passions, our fancies, all our mere animal faculties, can thrust our tongues into such disorder, as our reason cannot easily rectify. The due management therefore of this unruly member, may be rightly be esteemed on of the greatest mysteries of Wisdom and Virtue.
The relativism would blame language, not the language user. Speech is described as the force of all our other depravation, quoting the Old Testament. Fluency is outwardly condemned,
David uttered a bloody vow against Nabal, spake words smoother than oil to Uriah, when he had done him one injury, and designed him another. Twere endless to reckon up those several instances the Old Testament … amidst the universal depravation of our Faculties, there is none more notorious than that of speech.
Philologically, one notices a broken argument:
Other blasphemies level some at one Attribute, some another; but this by a more compendious impiety, shoots at his very being; and as if it scorned those piece-meal guilts, sets up a single monster big enough to devour them all: for all inferior profaneness is an much outdated by Atheism, as is religion itself. 2. Time was when the inveighing against this, would have been thought a very impertinent subject in a Christian nation, and men would have replied upon me as the Spartan Lady did, when she was asked what was the punishment for adulteresses, There are no such things here.
Whether adulteresses would have been things, or there would not have been punishment, the adversely influenced discourse would show most weakness in its treatment of the negative,
Secondly, it does not suffice that I do not know the falsity; for to make me a true speaker, tis necessary I know the truth of what I affirm. Nay, if the thing were never so true, yet if I knew it not to be so, its truth will not secure me from being a liar: and therefore, whoever endeavors to have that received for a certainty, which himself knows not to be so, offends against truth. The utmost that can consist with sincerity, is to represent it to others as doubtful as it appears to him: yet even that how consonant soever to truth, is not to Charity.
Now to apply these practices to our rule of duty, there will need no very close inspection to discern the obliquity.
The geographical interpretation on James’s stanzas would resound a grudge against Vespucci and Columbus, Europe having stood for the world entire to many people, before the discovery of America and other territories:
… it doth indeed pass all Geography to draw an exact Map of that world of iniquity, as St. James calls it.
Let us invoke the strictly metaphorical use in the Gospel, along with the figurative reference on adultery “The Government” would be missing,
6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. (James, 3:6)
Patrick J. Hartin would say, Here one is using the tongue not to pray, but to make evil requests of God in prayer. Mr. Hartin’s discourse would not be lacking in the interpretation of the term “mochalides”, “adulteresses”:
The word moichalides (“adulteresses”) is used in the figurative sense of the biblical tradition, where Israel is the bride of God … (James: Sacra Pagina Series, Patrick J. Hartin)
Denying atheists conscience, “The Government” would be making selfish attempts, indeed:
Human spite is usually confined within some bounds, aims sometimes at the goods, sometimes at the fame, at most but at the life of our neighbor: but here is an accumulation of all those, backed with the most prodigious insolence. Tis God only that has power of annihilation, and we (vile worms) seek here to steal that incommunicable right, and retort it upon himself, and by an anticreative power would unmake him who has made us. Nay lastly, by this we have not only the utmost guilt of single rebels, but we become ringleaders also, draw in others to that accursed association: for tis only this liberty of Discourse that has propagated Atheism.
Their most bold Thesis, That there is no God, no judgement, no hell, is often met with an inward tremulous Hypothesis, What if there be? I dare in this remit me to themselves, and challenge (not their consciences, who profess to have none, but) their natural ingenuity to say, whether they have not sometimes such damps and shivering within them. If they shall say, that these are but the relics of prepossession and education, which their reason soon dissipates, Let me then ask them farther, whether they would not really give a considerable sum to be infallibly ascertained there were no such thing …
Importantly, the word atheist does not come from the word thesis. It relates to the Greek word “theos”, god. Perseus also shows the lexical items referring to theses. An affirmed atheist would not place disbelief with a term categorically to refer to theory. As I have already stated, I do not intend to resolve on the matter.
Returning to the “Government”, language deficit to be equaled with waging war on God,
I Begin with those which relate to God, this poor despicable member the tongue being of such a gigantic insolence, though not size, as even to make war with heaven. Tis true every disordered speech doth remotely so, as it is a violation of God’s law,
Wycliffe’s mirth is yet not to be taken even with such an attempt:
A Third sort of impious discourse there is, which yet is bottomed on the most sacred, I mean those profane paraphrases that are usually make upon the holy Text, many making it the subject of their cavils, and others of their mirth.
King James Version translators relied for quality on Wycliffe’s Early Version.
Why did they do this? Simply put, in countless passages of the “Early Version”, both the poetry of the language and fidelity to the original Greek text are superior to that found in the “Later Version”, not only the Bible Gateway says.
With many regards, one may not agree to the status of language as only a tool to serve the “traffic and interchange” for “the notions and sentiments of a reasonable soul”, “the instrument to manage a commerce between the rational yet invisible powers of human souls”, as “The Government” would purport.
The Internet Archive also has Wycliffe downloads.
“The Government” front matter does not name the author. There is a circumstantial remark on a late Author within the text:
Men are indeed in all instances apt to speak ill of all things they understand not, but in none more than this. Their ignorance of local customs, Idioms of language, and several other circumstances, renders them incompetent judges, (as has been excellently evinced by a late Author).
Book titles happen to be the same, and “The Whole Duty of Man” itself has happened to be ascribed to 27 people so far. Therefore, my final comment will be that the text presents serious logical flaws and limited language functions in the interpretation of the figurative content of the Bible. This makes it not recommendable linguistically — I leave the parish to the parishioner.
The First Amendment shall remain an excellent piece of legislation, certainly not violating religious guidance.
“Looking to Wycliffe” is another of my projects, strictly philological, intended to show English as a live tongue: