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How to Stop Swearing by D. L. Moody

When I was out West thirty years ago I was preaching one day in the open air when a man drove up in a fine turnout. After listening for a while he put his whip to his fine-looking steed, and away he went. I did not expect to see him again, but the next night he came back; and he kept on coming regularly night after night.

I said to a gentleman: "Who is that man who drives up here every night? Is he interested?"

"Interested! I should think not. You should have heard the way he talked about you today."

"Well," I said, "that is a sign he is interested."

I asked where he lived, but my friend told me not to go to see him; for he would only curse me. I said, "It takes God to curse a man: man can only bring curses on his own head."

I found out where he lived, and went to see him. He was the wealthiest man within a hundred miles of that place, and had a wife and seven beautiful children. Just as I reached his gate, I saw him coming out of the front door. I stepped up to him, and said:—

"You are Mr. Davis, I believe?"

He said, "Yes, sir, that is my name." Then he asked, "What do you want?"

"Well," I said, "I should like to ask you a question, if you won't be angry."

"Well, what is it?"

"I am told that God has blessed you above all men in this part of the country; that he has given you wealth, a beautiful Christian wife, and seven lovely children. I do not know whether it is true, but I hear that all he gets in return is cursing and blasphemy."

He said, "Come in, come in." I went in. "Now," he said, "what you said out there is true. If any man has a fine wife, I am the man, and I have a lovely family of children, and God has been good to me. But, do you know, we had company here the other night, and I cursed my wife at the table, and did not know it till after the company was gone. I never felt so mean and contemptible in my life as when my wife told me of it. She said she wanted the floor to open and let her down out of her seat. If I have tried once, I have tried a hundred times to stop swearing. You preachers don't know anything about it."

"Yes," I said, "I know all about it; I have been a traveler."

"But," he said, "you don't know anything about a business man's troubles.
When he is harassed and tormented the whole time, he can't help swearing."

"O, yes," I said, "he can. I know something about it. I myself used to swear."

"What! you used to swear?" he asked. "How did you stop?"

"I never stopped."

"Why, you don't swear now, do you?"

"No, I have not sworn for years."

"How did you stop?"

"I never stopped. It stopped itself."

He said, "I don't understand this."

"No," I said, "I know you don't. But I came to talk to you so that you will never want to swear again as long as you live."

I began to tell him about Christ in the heart; how he would take the temptation to swear out of a man.

"Well," he said, "how am I to get Christ?"

"Get right down here and tell him what you want."

"But," he said, "I was never on my knees in my life. I have been cursing all the day, and I don't know how to pray, or what to pray for."

"Well," I said, "it is mortifying to call on God for mercy when you have never used his name except in oaths, but he will not turn you away. Ask God to forgive you, if you want to be forgiven."

He knelt down and prayed, only a few sentences. After he prayed, he rose and said, "What shall I do now?"

I said, "Go down to the church, and tell the people there that you want to be an out-and-out Christian."

"I cannot do that," he said; "I never go to church except to some funeral."

"Then it is high time for you to go for something else," I said.

At the next church meeting the man was there, and I sat right in front of him. He stood up and put his hands on the seat, and he trembled so much that I could feel the seat shake. He said:—

"My friends, you know all about me; if God can save a wretch like me, I want to have you pray for my salvation."

That was thirty years ago. Some time since I was back in that town, but did not see him. But when I was in California, a man asked me to have dinner with him. I told him I could not do so. Then he asked me if I remembered him, and told me his name.

"O!" I exclaimed. "Tell me, have you ever sworn since that night you knelt in your drawing-room, and asked God to help you?"

"No," he replied, "I have never had a desire to swear since then."—D.L.
Moody, in "Weighed in the Balances," Published by Morgan & Scott.