You may get a ticket straight to Hell, by express!
(Talmage, "The Abominations of Modern Society", 1872)
If you would lead a pure life — have nothing to do with bad books and impure newspapers. With such immoral literature as is coming forth from our swift-revolving printing-presses, there is no excuse for dragging one's self through sewers of unchastity.
Never read a bad book! By the time you get through the first chapter, you will see the drift of it. If you find the hoof-prints of the devil in the pictures, or in the style, or in the plot — away with it! You may tear your coat, or break a vase — and repair them again. But it takes less than an hour to do your soul a damage — which no time can entirely repair!
Young man, as you value Heaven, never buy a book from one of those men who meet you in the square, and, after looking both ways to see if the police are watching, shows you a book — "very cheap". Have him arrested — as you would kill a rattle-snake! Grab him, and shout, "Police! police!"
But there is more danger, I think, from many of the family newspapers. Some of them contain stories of vice and shame, full of evil suggestions, and go as far as they can without exposing themselves to the clutch of the law. On some tables in Christian homes, there lie "family newspapers" which are the very vomit of the pit of Hell!
The way to ruin is cheap! It costs three dollars to go to Philadelphia; six dollars to Boston; thirty-three dollars to Savannah. But, by the purchase of a bad paper for ten cents — you may get a ticket straight to Hell, by express, with few stopping-places! And the final stop is like the tumbling of the train over a bridge — sudden, dreadful, deathly, never to rise.
O, the power of an iniquitous pen! If a needle punctures the body at a certain point — life is destroyed. But the pen is a sharper instrument — for with its puncture you may kill your soul!
Do not think that that book which you find fascinating and entertaining, is therefore healthful. Some of the worst poisons are pleasant to the taste. The pen which for the time fascinates you — may have been dipped in the slime of impure hearts!