The Young Man's Guide to the Harmonious
Development of Christian Character

by Harvey Newcomb, 1847


It often requires great courage to say NO. But by being able promptly, on occasion, to utter this little monosyllable, you may save yourself a deal of trouble. If mother Eve had known how to say no, she might have saved herself and her posterity from ruin. And many of her children, who have lost their character and their all, might have been saved, if they had only had courage promptly to say NO. Your safety and happiness depend upon it.

You are importuned by some of your companions to engage in some amusement, or to go on some excursion, which you know to be wrong. You resolutely and promptly say NO, at the outset, and there is the end of it. But if you hesitate, you will be urged and importuned, until you will probably yield; and having thus given up your own judgment, and violated your conscience, you will lose your power of resistance, and yield to every enticement.

'Joseph' has cultivated decision of character. He never hesitates a moment when anything wrong is proposed. He rejects it instantly. The consequence is, his companions never think of going to him, when they have any mischievous scheme on foot. His prompt and decisive NO they do not wish to encounter. His parents can trust him any where, because they have no fears of his being led astray. And this relieves them of a load of anxiety.

'Reuben' is the opposite of this. He wishes to please everybody, and therefore has not courage to say no to any. He seems wholly unable to resist temptation. He is, therefore, always getting into difficulty—always doing something that he ought not, or going to some improper place, or engaging in some improper diversions, through the enticement of his companions. His parents scarcely dare trust him out of their sight, they are so fearful that he will be led astray. He is thus a source of great anxiety to them, and all because he cannot say NO.

Now, let me beg of you to learn to say NO. If you find any difficulty in uttering it—if your tongue won't do its office, or if you find a "frog in your throat," which obstructs your utterance—go by yourself, and practice saying no, NO, NO! until you can articulate clearly, distinctly, and without hesitation; and have it always ready on your tongue's end, to utter with emphasis to every girl or boy, man or woman, or evil spirit—who presumes to propose to you to do anything that is wrong. Only be careful to say it respectfully and courteously, with the usual prefixes and suffixes, which properly belong to the people to whom you are speaking.