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´╗┐Title: Golden Steps to Respectability, Usefulness and Happiness
Author: Austin, John Mather
Language: English
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GOLDEN STEPS TO RESPECTABILITY, USEFULNESS, AND HAPPINESS

Being a Series of Lectures to Youth of Both Sexes, on Character,
Principles, Associates, Amusements, Religion, and Marriage

by

JOHN MATHER AUSTIN

Author of _Voice to Youth_, _Voice to Married_, etc., etc.

Auburn:
Derby, Miller, and Company

1851



    "Onward! onward! Toils despising,
      Upward, upward! Turn thine eyes,
     Only be content when rising,
      Fix thy goal amid the skies."



[Illustration]



CONTENTS.


  LECTURE I. THE VALUE OF A GOOD REPUTATION

 LECTURE II. THE PRINCIPLES AND PURPOSES OF LIFE

LECTURE III. SELECTION OF ASSOCIATES

 LECTURE IV. THE HABITS AND AMUSEMENTS

  LECTURE V. THE RELIGIOUS SENTIMENTS

 LECTURE VI. MARRIAGE



PREFACE.


The Lectures embraced in this volume, were written for the pulpit,
in the usual manner of preparation for such labor, without any
expectation of their appearing in print. The author is but too
sensible that they are imperfect in many features, both in matter
and style. It is only in the hope that they will be of some benefit
to the class to whom they are addressed, that he has consented to
submit them to public perusal. He has aimed at nothing eccentric,
odd, or far-fetched; but has sought to utter plain and obvious
truths, in a plain and simple manner. There is no class more
interesting, and none which has higher claims on the wisdom,
experience, and advice, of mature minds, than the young who are
about to enter upon the trying duties and responsibilities of active
life. Whatever tends to instruct and enlighten them: to point out
the temptations which will beset their pathway, and the dire evils
which inevitably flow from a life of immorality; whatever will
influence them to honesty, industry, sobriety, and religion, and
lead them to the practice of these virtues, as "Golden Steps" by
which they may ascend to Respectability, Usefulness, and Happiness,
must be of benefit to the world. To aid in such a work, is the
design of this volume. If it subserves this end--if it becomes
instrumental in inciting the youthful to high and pure principles
of action, in hedging up the way of sin, and opening the path of
wisdom, to any--if it drops but a single good seed into the heart
of each of its readers, and awakens the slightest aspiration to
morality, usefulness, and religion--it will not have been prepared
in vain. With a prayer to God that he would protect and bless the
youth of our common country, and prepare them to preserve and
perpetuate the priceless legacy of Freedom and Religion, which they
will inherit from their fathers, this book is given to the world, to
fulfil such a mission as Divine Wisdom shall direct.

THE AUTHOR.
AUBURN, June, 1850.



LECTURE I.

The Value of a Good Reputation.

    "Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against
    the time to come."--1 Tim. vi. 19.


In this language St. Paul asserts a principle which should commend
itself to the mature consideration of every youthful mind. If the
young would have their career honorable and prosperous--if they
would enjoy the respect and confidence of community; if they would
have the evening of their days calm, serene, and peaceful--they must
prepare for it early in life. They must lay "a good foundation
against the time to come"--a foundation which will be capable of
sustaining the edifice they would erect. The building cannot be
reared in strength and beauty, without it rests on a secure
"corner-stone." The harvest cannot be gathered unless the seed is
first cast into the ground. A wise Providence has so ordered it that
success, prosperity, and happiness through life, and a respected and
"green old age," are to be enjoyed only by careful preparation,
prudent forecast, and assiduous culture, in the earlier periods of
our existence.

    "True wisdom, early sought and gained,
      In age will give thee rest;
      then improve the morn of life,
      To make its evening blest."

The youthful live much in the future. They are fond of gazing into
its unknown depths, and of endeavoring to trace the outline, at
least, of the fortunes that await them. With ardent hope, with eager
expectation, they anticipate the approach of coming years--confident
they will bring to them naught but unalloyed felicity. But they
should allow their anticipations of the future to be controlled by a
well-balanced judgment, and moderated by the experience of those who
have gone before them.

In looking to the future, there is one important inquiry which the
young should put to their own hearts:--What do I most desire to
become in mature life? What position am I anxious to occupy in
society? What is the estimation in which I wish to be held by those
within the circle of my acquaintance?

The answer to these inquiries, from the great mass of young people,
can well be anticipated. There are none among them who desire to be
disrespected and shunned by the wise and good--who are anxious to
be covered with disgrace and infamy--who seek to be outcasts and
vagabonds in the world. The thought that they were doomed to such a
condition, would fill them with alarm. Every discreet youth will
exclaim--"Nothing would gratify me more than to be honored and
respected, as I advance in years; to move in good society; to have
people seek my company, rather than shun it; to be looked up to as
an example for others to imitate, and to enjoy the confidence of all
around me."

Is not his the desire of the young of this large audience? Surely
there can be none here so blind to the future, so lost to their
own good, as to prefer a life of infamy and its ever-accompanying
wretchedness, to respectability, prosperity, and true enjoyment? But
how are these to be obtained? Respectability, prosperity, the good
opinion of community, do not come simply at our bidding. We cannot
reach forth our hands and take them, as we pluck the ripe fruit from
the bending branch. Neither will wishing or hoping for them shower
their blessings upon us. If we would obtain and _enjoy_ them, we
must _labor_ for them--EARN them. They are only secured as the
well-merited reward of a pure and useful life!

The first thing to be aimed at by the young, should be the
establishment of a GOOD CHARACTER: In all their plans, anticipations,
and prospects for future years, this should form the grand
starting-point!--the chief corner-stone! It should be the foundation
of every hope and thought of prosperity and happiness in days to
come. It is the only basis on which such a hope can mature to full
fruition. A good character, established in the season of youth,
becomes a rich and productive moral soil to its possessor. Planted
therein, the "Tree of Life" will spring forth in a vigorous growth.
Its roots will strike deep and strong, in such a soil, and draw
thence the utmost vigor and fruitfulness. Its trunk will grow up in
majestic proportions--its wide-spreading branches will be clothed
with a green luxuriant foliage, "goodly to look upon"--the most
beautiful of blossoms will in due time, blush on every twig--and at
length each limb and bough shall bend beneath the rich, golden
fruit, ready to drop into the hand. Beneath its grateful shade you
can find rest and repose, when the heat and burden of life come upon
you. And of its delicious fruit, you can pluck and eat, and obtain
refreshment and strength, when the soul becomes wearied with labor
and care, or the weight of years. Would you behold such a tree?
Remember it grows alone on the soil of a good reputation!! Labor to
prepare such a soil.

Believe not, ye youthful, that God has made the path of virtue and
religion hard and thorny. Believe not he has overhung it with dark
clouds, and made it barren of fruit and beauty. Believe not that
rugged rocks, and briers, and brambles, choke the way, and lacerate
the limbs of those who would walk therein! No! he has made it a
smooth and peaceful path--an easy and pleasant way.--"Wisdom's ways
are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace."

The young who overlook these considerations--who lay their plans,
and cherish their expectations, in reference to their future career,
without any regard to the importance of a good character--who, in
marking out their course, lose sight of the necessity of laboring to
establish a worthy reputation to _commence_ with--who, in building
their hopes of success and happiness, are not convinced that "a good
name" is the only foundation on which such hopes can legitimately
rest--have commenced wrong. They have made a radical and lamentable
MISTAKE at the outset. A mistake, which, unless speedily corrected,
will prove most disastrous in all its influences, and be keenly felt
and deplored throughout life.

Those who fall into error on this point, who view a good reputation
as a matter of no moment--well enough if you can secure it without
much trouble, but not worth laboring for, with zeal and
perseverance--have placed themselves in a most critical position.
They are like a ship in the midst of the wide wastes of ocean,
without chart compass, or rudder, liable to be turned hither and
thither by every fickle wind that blows, and dashed upon dangerous
reefs by the heaving billows. Failing to see the importance of
establishing a good character, they fall easy victims to sinful
temptations, and, ere long, verging farther and farther from the
path of rectitude, they at length find every fond hope, every fair
prospect, blasted for life.

To a young man, a good character is the best _capital_ he can
possess, to start with in life. It is much better, and far more to
be depended on than gold. Although money may aid in establishing a
young man in business, under favorable circumstances, yet without
a good character he cannot succeed. His want of reputation will
undermine the best advantages, and failure, and ruin, will, sooner
or later, overtake him with unerring certainty!!

When it is known that a young man is well-informed, industrious,
attentive to business, economical, strictly temperate, and moral, a
respecter of the Sabbath, the Bible, and religion, he cannot fail to
obtain the good opinion and the confidence of the whole community.
He will have friends on every hand, who will take pleasure in
encouraging and assisting him. The wise and good will bestow their
commendation upon him; and parents will point to him as an example
for their children to imitate. Blessed with health, such a youth
cannot fail of success and permanent happiness.

But let it be known that a young man is ignorant or indolent, that
he is neglectful of business, or dishonest; that he is given to
intemperance, or disposed to visit places of dissipation, or to
associate with vicious companions--and what are his prospects?
With either one or more of these evil qualifications fixed upon
him, he is hedged out of the path of prosperity. To cover up
such characteristics for a great length of time, is a moral
impossibility. Remember this, I beg you. It is beyond the power of
mortals to _conceal_ vicious habits and propensities for any long
period. And when once _discovered_, who will repose confidence in
such a youth? Who will trust him, or encourage him, or countenance
him? Who will give him employment? Who will confide anything to his
oversight? Who will render him assistance in his business affairs,
when he is straitened and in need of the aid of friends? Behold his
prospects! How unpromising, how dark!! It is impossible for such a
young man to succeed. No earthly power can confer prosperity upon
him. He himself undermines his own welfare, blackens his own name,
and dashes down the cup of life which a wise and good Providence has
kindly placed to his lips, and calls upon him to drink.

       *       *       *       *       *

If a good character, a spotless reputation, is all-essential to the
prosperity of a young man, what must it not be to a young woman?
A well-established character for morality and virtue is of great
importance to people of every class, and in all circumstances.
But to a young lady, a "good name" is a priceless jewel. It is
everything--literally, EVERYTHING--to her. It will give her an
attraction, a value, an importance, in the estimation of others,
which nothing else can impart. In possession of a spotless
character, she may reasonably hope for peace and happiness. But
without such a character, she is _nothing_! Youth, beauty, dress,
accomplishments, all gifts and qualities will be looked upon as
naught, when tainted by a suspicious reputation! Nothing can atone
for this, nothing can be allowed to take its place, nothing can give
charm and attraction where it exists. When the character of a young
woman is gone--all is gone! Thenceforward she can look for naught
else but degradation and wretchedness.

The reputation of a young woman is of the most delicate texture.
It requires not overt acts of actual wickedness to tarnish its
brightness, and cast suspicion on its purity. Indiscreet language,
careless deportment, a want of discrimination in regard to
associates, even when no evil is done, or intended, will often
bring into question her character, greatly to her injury. Many are
the instances where a single word, spoken at random, in the giddy
thoughtlessness of youthful vivacity, without the slightest
thought of wrong, has cast a shadow upon the character of a young
woman which it required years to efface. How important that every
word uttered, and every deed performed, should be maturely weighed.
A discreet lady will not only be careful to avoid evil itself,
but will studiously refrain from everything which has even the
appearance of evil.

    "Whatever dims thy sense of truth,
      Or stains thy purity,
     Though light as breath of summer air,
      Count it as sin to thee."

Young women frequently err in their understanding of what it is that
gives them a good name, and imparts their chief attraction. Many
seem to imagine that good looks, a gay attire, in the extreme of
fashion, and a few showy attainments, constitute everything
essential to make them interesting and attractive, and to establish
a high reputation in the estimation of the other sex. Hence they
seek for no other attainments. In this, they make a radical mistake.
The charms contained in these qualities, are very shallow, very
worthless, and very uncertain. There can no dependence be placed
upon them.

If there is one point more than another, in this respect, where
young ladies err, it is in regard to DRESS. There are not a few who
suppose that dress is the most important thing for which they have
been created, and that it forms the highest attraction of woman.
Under this mistaken notion--this poor infatuation--they plunge into
every extravagance in their attire; and, in this manner, squander
sums of money, which would be much more profitably expended in
storing their minds with useful knowledge, or, in some cases, even
in procuring the ordinary comforts of life.

There is a secret on this point I would like to divulge to young
women. It is this--That any dress, which from its oddness, or its
extreme of fashion and display, is calculated to attract very
particular attention, is worn at the expense of the good name of its
possessor. It raises them in the estimation of none; but deprives
them of the good opinion of all sensible people. It gives occasion
for suspicion, not only of their good sense, but of their habits of
economy. When a young woman is given to extravagant displays in
dress, it is but publishing to the world, her own consciousness of a
want of other attractions of a more substantial nature. It is but
virtually saying, "I seek to excite attention by my dress, because I
have no other good quality by which I can secure attention."

Could a young woman who passes through the streets decked out
extravagantly in all that the milliner and dress-maker can furnish,
realize the unfavorable impression she makes upon sensible young
men--could she but see the curl of the lip, and hear the
contemptuous epithet which her appearance excites, and know how
utterly worthless they esteem her--she would hasten to her home,
throw off her foolish attire, and weep tears of bitterness at her
folly.

Parents are often much to be blamed for this indiscretion in their
daughters. They should give them better advice; and instruct them to
cultivate other and worthier attractions than the poor gewgaws of
DRESS! Do they not know that the worthless and abandoned of the
female sex dress the most gaily and fashionably? Should they not
urge their daughters to seek for a higher excellency, a more
creditable distinction than this?

Here is another secret for young ladies:--All the attraction they
can ever possess by means of dress, will be derived from three
sources, viz. Plainness, Neatness, and Appropriateness. In whatever
they deviate from these cardinal points, they will to the same
degree make themselves ridiculous--weaken their influence, and lose
the good opinion of those they are the most anxious to win. I beg
these truths to be impressed deeply on the mind.

Dress, personal beauty, and showy accomplishments, go but a short
way to establish the reputation on which the happiness of woman
really depends. Instead of placing reliance on these, they should
seek to cultivate those qualities, habits, and dispositions, which
will give permanent merit and value, in the estimation of those
whose attention and regard they are desirous to cultivate. A sweet
and gentle disposition--a mild and forgiving temper--a respectful
and womanly demeanor--a mind cultivated, and well-stored with useful
knowledge--a thorough practical acquaintance with all domestic
duties; (the sphere where woman can exhibit her highest attractions,
and her most valuable qualities,) tastes, habits, and views of
life, drawn not from the silly novels of the day, but from a
discriminating judgment, and the school of a well-learned practical
experience in usefulness and goodness:--these are the elements of a
good name, a valuable reputation in a young woman. They are more to
be sought for, and more to be depended upon, than any outward
qualification. They form an attraction which will win the regard and
affection of the wise and enlightened, where the fascinations of
dress, and other worthless accomplishments, would prove utterly
powerless.

I desire the young, of both sexes, to remember that it is one thing
not to have a bad reputation, but quite another thing to have a good
one. The fact that an individual does nothing criminal, or
offensive, although creditable in itself considered, does not bestow
the amount of merit after which all should seek. They may do nothing
particularly bad, and nothing very good. It is meritorious to
refrain from evil; but it is better still to achieve something by
active exertion, which shall deserve commendation. The Apostle
exhorts us not only to "cease to do evil," but to "learn to do
well." The young, while striving to avoid the evils of a bad
reputation, should assiduously seek for the advantages of a good
one.

How can the young secure a good character? Its worth, its
importance, its blessings, we have seen. Now, how can it be
obtained? This is a question, worthy the serious consideration of
every youth. Let me say in reply:--

1. That a good character cannot be _inherited_, as the estate of a
father descends to his heirs. However respectable and worthy parents
may be, their children cannot share in that respect, unless they
deserve it by their own merits. Too many youth, it is to be
apprehended, are depending upon their parents' reputation as well as
their parents' property, for their own standing and success in life.
This is an insecure foundation. In our republican land, every
individual is estimated by his or her own conduct, and not by the
reputation of their connections. It is undoubtedly an advantage in
many points of view, for a young person to have respectable parents.
But if they would inherit their parents' good name, they must
imitate their parents' virtues.

2. A good character cannot be purchased with gold. Though a man or a
woman may have all the wealth of the Indies, yet it cannot secure a
worthy name--it cannot buy the esteem of the wise and good, without
the merit which deserves it. The glitter of gold cannot conceal an
evil and crabbed disposition, a selfish soul, a corrupt heart, or
vile passions and propensities. Although the sycophantic may fawn
around such as possess wealth, and bow obsequiously before them, on
account of their riches, yet, in fact, they are despised and
contemned in the hearts even of their hangers-on and followers.

3. A good character cannot be obtained by simply wishing for it. The
Creator has wisely provided, that the desire for a thing does not
secure it. Were it to be thus, our world would soon present a
strange aspect. It is, undoubtedly, much better that it should be as
it is. We have the privilege to wish for whatever we please; but we
can secure only that which we labor for and deserve. Were the
traveller to stand throughout the day, at the foot of the hill,
wishing to be at the summit, his simple desire would not place him
there. He must allow his wishes to prompt him to proper exertion. It
is only by persevering industry, and patient toil, contented to take
one step at a time; that his wish is gratified, and he finds himself
at length upon the brow of the eminence.

In like manner, the youthful, to obtain possession of a good
character, must earn it. It must be sought for, by an earnest
cultivation of all the graces and virtues, which are commended by
God and man. It cannot be secured in a moment. As the edifice is
erected by diligently laying one stone upon another, until it
finally becomes a splendid temple, piercing the heavens with its
glittering spire, so a good name must be built up by good deeds,
faithfully and constantly performed, as day after day carries us
along amid the affairs of life.

Let the youthful fix their eyes upon this prize of a good
reputation--the only end worth striving for in life. Let them
studiously avoid evil practices, corrupt associates, and vicious
examples. Let them patiently and faithfully lay the foundations of
virtuous habits, and practice the lessons of wisdom and the precepts
of religion--and in due time the prize shall be theirs. The spotless
wreath of a virtuous character shall rest upon their brow. The
commendation, the confidence, and the good-will of man shall
accompany them; and the choicest of the blessings of God shall rest
upon them, and sweeten all their days.



LECTURE II.

The Principles and Purposes of Life.

    "The heart of him that hath understanding, seeketh
    knowledge."--Prov. xv. 14.


The practical wisdom of Solomon is seen in this simple precept. The
youthful, who have the slightest understanding of the journey of
life--who have been impressed, even in the smallest degree, with the
perils to which they are exposed; the trials to be endured; the
vicissitudes through which they must necessarily pass; the obstacles
they must overcome; the deceptions and allurements they will have to
detect and withstand--cannot fail to acknowledge the wisdom of
seeking for knowledge to enlighten and prepare for the exigencies
which await the inexperienced traveller through this world's wayward
scenes.

Those who commence their career without forethought, or
discrimination in regard to the moral principles by which they will
be governed, and without selecting the best and safest path of the
many which open before them, are involved in a blindness of the
most pitiable description. They would not manifest this want of
discretion on matters of much less importance. The commander of the
ship does not venture his voyage to sea without his compass, his
chart, and a full supply of stores. We would not sail an hour with
him, if we believed him ignorant or indifferent to the necessity of
these important preparations. How hazardous, how foolish the youth
who launches away on the momentous voyage of life, without compass,
or chart, or any preparation which extends beyond the present
moment. True, the ship destitute of all these essentials, may leave
the harbor in safety, with her gay pennons flying, her swelling
sails filled with a favorable breeze, a smiling sun above, a smooth
sea beneath, and all the outward indications of a prosperous voyage.
But follow her a few hours. The terrific storm-king spreads abroad
his misty pinions, and goes forth in fury, ploughing up the waters
into mountain billows, and shrieking for his prey. The gloomy night
settles down upon the bosom of the mighty deep, and spreads its dark
pall over sea and sky. Muttering thunders stun the ear, and the
lightning's vivid flash lights up the terrific scene, and reveals
all its indescribable horrors. Where now is the gay ship which
ventured forth without needful preparation? Behold her, tossed to
and fro by the angry waves. All on board are in alarm! The fierce
winds drive her on, they know not whither. Hark to that fearful
roar! It is the fatal breakers! Hard up the helm! Put the ship
about! See, on every hand frowns the fatal lee-shore! Pull taught
each rope--spread every sail. It is in vain! Throw out the anchors!
Haste! strain every nerve! Alas! _It is all too late._ The danger
cannot be escaped. On drifts the fated craft. Now she mounts the
crest of an angry wave, which hurries forward with its doomed
burthen. Now she dashes against the craggy points of massive rocks,
and sinks into the raging deep. One loud, terrific wail is heard,
and all is silent! On the rising of the morrow's sun, the spectator
beholds the beach and the neighboring waters strewn with broken
masts, rent sails, and drifting fragments--all that remains of the
proud ship which yesterday floated so gaily on the ocean waters!!

Behold, O ye youthful, a picture of the fate of those who rush upon
the career of life, without forethought or preparation, and without
the light of well-selected moral principles to guide them. All may
appear fair and promising at the outset, and for a season. But
before many years can elapse, the prospects of such youth must be
overclouded; and ere long disappointment, overthrow, disgrace and
ruin, will be the closing scenes of a life, commenced in so much
blindness.

"Well begun is half done," was one of Dr. Franklin's sound maxims. A
career well begun--a life commenced properly, with wise forecast,
with prudent rules of action, and under the influence of sound and
pure, moral and religious principles--is an advance, half-way at
least, to ultimate success and prosperity. Such a commencement will
not, it is true, insure you against the misfortunes which are
incident to earthly existence. But if persevered in, it will guard
you against the long catalogue of evils, vexatious penalties and
wretchedness, which are the certain fruit of a life of immorality;
and will bestow upon you all the real enjoyments, within the earthly
reach of man.

As people advance in years, they perceive more and more the
importance of commencing life properly.

See that wretched outcast! Poor and miserable, shunned by all but
depraved associates, he drags out the worthless remnant of his days.
Does he think he has acted wisely? Hark to his soliloquy--"Oh, could
I begin life again:--could I but live my days over once more--how
different the course I would pursue. Instead of rushing on blindly
and mindlessly, without forethought or care, and allowing myself to
become an easy prey to temptation and sin, I would reflect maturely,
and choose wisely the path for my footsteps. Faithfully I would
search for the way of virtue, honesty, sobriety, and goodness, and
strictly would I walk therein!" The opportunity he so eagerly
covets, and to obtain which he would deem no sacrifice too great, is
now before every youth in the assembly.

This thought is beautifully elaborated in the following allegory:

"It was midnight of the new year, and an aged man stood thoughtfully
at the window. He gazed with a long, despairing look, upon the
fixed, eternal, and glorious heaven, and down upon the silent,
still, and snow-white earth, whereon was none so joyless, so
sleepless as he. For his grave stood open near him; it was covered
only with the snows of age, not decked with the green of youth; and
he brought with him, from a long and rich life, nothing save errors,
crimes, and sickness--a wasted body, a desolate soul, a breast
filled with poison, and an old age heavy with repentance and sorrow.
The fair days of his youth at this hour, arose like spectres before
his mind, and carried him back to the bright morning, when his
father had first planted him at the starting-point of life; whence,
to the right, the way conducts along the sunny path of virtue, to a
wide and peaceful land, a land of light, rich in the harvest of good
deeds, and full of the joy of angels; whilst, to the left, the road
descends to the molehills of vice, toward a dark cavern, full of
poisonous droppings, stinging serpents, and dank and steaming mists.

"The serpents clung around his breast, and the drops of poison lay
upon his tongue, and he knew not where he was.

"Senseless and in unutterable anguish, his cry went forth to heaven:
'Grant me but youth again! O, father, place me but once again upon
the starting-point of life, that I may choose otherwise!'

"But his father and his youth were far away. He beheld wandering
lights dance upon the marshes, and disappear upon the graveyards;
and he exclaimed, 'These are my days of folly!'

"He beheld a star shoot through the heaven, and vanish: it glimmered
as it fell, and disappeared upon the earth. 'Such, too, am I!'
whispered his bleeding heart; and the serpent-tooth of remorse
struck afresh into its wounds.

"His heated fancy pictured to him night-wandering forms slow-creeping
upon the house-tops; the windmill raised its arm, and threatened to
fell him to the earth; and in the tenantless house of death, the
only remaining mask assumed imperceptibly his own features.

"At once, in the midst of this delirium, the sounds from the
steeple, welcoming the new year, fell upon his ear, like distant
church music.

"He was moved, but to a gentler mood. He gazed around, unto the
horizon, and looked forth upon the wide earth; and he thought of the
friends of his youth, who, happier and better than he, were now
teachers upon the earth, fathers of happy children, and blessed each
in his condition.

"'Alas! and I, too, like ye, might now be sleeping peacefully and
tearless through this first night of the year, had I willed so! I
too might have been happy, ye dear parents, had I fulfilled your
new-year's wishes and admonitions!'

"In the feverish reminiscences of his youth, it seemed to him as if
the mask which had assumed his features in the house of death arose,
and grew into a living youth, and his former blooming figure stood
before him in the bitter mockery of illusion.

"He could look no longer; he hid his eyes, a flood of hot tears
streamed forth and were lost in the snow. And he sighed, now more
gently, and despairing, 'Return but again, O youth, come once
again!'

"And youth did return; for he had but dreamed thus fearfully in the
new-year's night. He was still young; but his sinful wanderings,
they had been no dream; and he thanked God that he could yet turn
from the miry ways of vice, and again choose the sunny path which
leadeth unto the pure land of the harvest of righteousness.

"Turn thou with him, young man, if thou standest upon his path of
error. This fearful dream will in a future be thy judge; but
shouldst thou ever exclaim, in the bitterness of remorse, 'Return,
fair time of youth!'--youth will not come when thou dost call for
her."

It is much easier to start right and keep right, than to start
wrong, and then endeavor to get right. Although those who take the
wrong path at the commencement, should afterwards seek to obtain the
right one, and persevere until they find it, still the labor to
retrieve the early error will be difficult. It is painful to walk in
the way of wickedness--it is painful to break away from it, when
once there. It is painful to continue on--it is painful to turn
back. This is in consequence of the _nature_ of sin. It is a path
all evil, all pain, all darkness--everything connected with it is
fruitful of wretchedness. Those who stray therein, find themselves
beset with perils and troubles on all sides. Avoid it, as you love
happiness!

    "Ne'er till to-morrow's light delay
     What may as well be done to-day;
     Ne'er do to-day, what on the morrow
     Will wring your heart with sighs and sorrow."

A young man may, in early life, fall into vicious habits, and
afterwards turn from them. Some have done so. But they declare that
the struggles they were compelled to make--the conflicts and trials,
the buffeting of evil passions, and the mental agony they endured,
in breaking away, were terrible beyond description. Where one, who
has fallen into bad habits in youth, has afterwards abandoned them,
there are a score who have continued their victims, until ruin, and
a premature death, closed their career. How much safer, how much
easier and pleasanter, how much more promising and hopeful, to
commence life with good habits well established, with high
principles, sound maxims, enlightened rules of conduct, deeply fixed
in the soul. This is a plain, pleasant, prosperous path--readily
found, and easily followed. In no other can you secure true
enjoyment.

    "We cannot live too slowly to be good
     And happy, nor too much by line and square.
     But youth is burning to forestall its nature,
     And will not wait for time to ferry it
     Over the stream; but flings itself into
     The flood and perishes. *******
     The first and worst of all frauds is to cheat
     Oneself. **************"

There is nothing more essential to the young than to accustom
themselves to mature reflection, and practical observation, in
regard to the duties of life, and the sources of human enjoyment.
This is a task, however, which but few of the youthful are inclined
to undertake. The most of them are averse to giving up their
thoughts to sober meditation on the consequences which accrue from
different courses of conduct, or to practical observation on the
lessons taught by the experience of others. The Present!--the
Present!--its amusements, its gayeties, its fashions, absorbs nearly
all their thoughts. They have little relish to look towards the
future, except to anticipate the continuance of the novelty and
joyousness of the spring-time of life. The poet utters a most
salutary admonition in his beautiful lines:

    "The beam of the morning, the bud of the Spring,
     The promise of beauty and brightness may bring;
     But clouds gather darkness, and touched by the frost,
     The pride of the plant, and the morning are lost.
     Thus the bright and the beautiful ever decay--
     Life's morn and life's flowers, oh, they quick pass away!"

I would not cast one unnecessary shadow on the pathway of the young;
but they should be often reminded, that the season of youth, with
its romance and light-heartedness, soon, too soon, departs! Spring,
with its budding beauties, and fragrant blossoms, does not continue
all the year. It is speedily followed by the fervid summer, the
mature and sober autumn, and the dreary snows of winter. In order to
have thriving and promising fields in summer, rich and abundant
harvests in autumn, and bountiful supplies for comfort and repose in
winter, "good seed" must be sowed in the spring. So, also, if you
would have the summer of life fruitful of prosperity--its autumn
yield a rich and bountiful harvest, and the winter of old age made
comfortable and peaceful--the good seed of pure habits, and sound
moral and religious principles, must be carefully sowed in the rich
soil of the heart, in the budding spring-time of youth.

Due observation and reflection will enable the young to sow the
right kind of seed at the right time. There is much in this. Those
who sow late will be likely to have their harvest blighted by
chilling rains and nipping frosts. The earlier the seed is cast into
the ground, the greater the certainty that it will produce an
abundant crop. Reflection and discrimination are all-essential to
the youthful. Those who think deeply will act wisely. They will
detect and avoid the dangers which beset their pathway, and into
which the thoughtless so easily fall. They will readily penetrate
the specious appearance, the harmless aspect, the deceptive veil,
which vice and immorality can so readily assume. They will
understand the old maxim, that "all is not gold that glitters."
This is a simple truth, and yet how few of the young practise upon
it. See this young man. How easily he gives way to temptation--how
readily he is led astray. Why does he thus turn aside from virtue's
path? Why thus trample upon the affectionate counsel and admonition
of wise parents and kind friends? Ah! he sees a glittering bauble
in the way of sin, and imagines it is the shining of the gold of
true and solid happiness. Eagerly he presses on to secure the
prize. He plunges into the wickedness to which, it tempts him--he
seizes the dazzling treasure, and finds--what? Pure gold?--true
delight?--unalloyed happiness? Alas, foolish youth! No! That which
he took for the glitter of gold, proves to be worthless ashes in his
hand. And the high pleasure he was anticipating, results in naught
but disappointment, disgrace, wretchedness.

    "Teach me the flattering paths to shun,
     In which the thoughtless many run;
     Who for a shade the substance miss,
     And grasp their ruin in their bliss."

A well-established habit of practical observation, enables the
youthful to guard against the mistakes of conduct, into which
others have fallen, and to make the shortcomings of their
fellow-beings, salutary admonitions for their own instruction. When
thoughtful, observing young persons, see an individual do a mean,
unmanly action, they will reflect much upon it. They will notice how
contemptible it makes him appear--how it degrades him in the
estimation of the honorable and high-minded--how it belittles him in
the view of society at large--and how unworthy it makes him appear
even in his own eyes. These observations, if faithfully made, will
guard them against like acts themselves.

When they behold one arraigned at the bar of public justice, to
answer to the offended laws of his country, they will make it a
salutary lesson of instruction. They will realize the deceptive and
ruinous nature of wrong-doing--how, while promising them the very
elixir of happiness, it pours naught but bitterness and poison into
the cup of life, entailing degradation and wretchedness upon its
victims. They will become satisfied of the solemn truth of the words
of the Most High, that "though hand join in hand, the wicked shall
not be unpunished."

When they see neighbors, who might promote each other's enjoyments,
by living peaceably together, fall out in regard to some trivial
misunderstanding, and engage in angry disputes, and a bitter
warfare, disturbing the harmony of the neighborhood, and destroying
their own happiness--the young who exercise practical observation,
will be instructed, to avoid similar troubles in their own affairs.
They will realize the folly and blindness of such a course, and the
necessity of exercising a forbearing and forgiving spirit, and the
wisdom of submitting to injuries, if need be, rather than to become
involved in angry recriminations and hostilities.

Thus by a constant habit of observation and reflection, the youthful
can turn the failings of others to their own account. As the
industrious bee extracts honey from the most nauseous substances, so
can the thoughtful and observing draw instruction not only from the
example of the wise, but from the folly of the wicked!

In preparations for future usefulness and success, the young should
establish certain fixed principles of moral conduct, by which they
will be steadfastly governed in all their intercourse with the
world. Without some well-defined landmarks, by which they can be
guided in emergencies, when everything depends on the course of
conduct to be pursued, they will be in imminent peril. Temptations
are strewed along the pathway of the young, and assail them at every
turn. If they could clearly contemplate the effects of giving way to
temptation--were all the unhappy consequences to stand out visibly
before them--they would never be induced to turn aside into sin.
Could the young man as he is tempted to quaff the fashionable glass
of intoxicating beverage, see plainly the ignominious life, the
poverty and wretchedness, and the horrid death by delirium tremens,
to which it so often leads, he would set it down untasted, and turn
away in alarm. But it is the nature of temptation to blind and
deceive the unwary, and lead them into sin, by false representations
of the happiness to be derived from it. Hence the young need to
establish, in their calm, cool moments, when under the influence of
mature judgment and enlightened discretion, certain fixed rules of
conduct, by which they will be governed, and on which they will
depend in every hour of temptation.

One of the first and most important rules of life which should be
established by the youthful, is the constant cultivation of purity
of heart. This is the great safeguard of the young. It is their
brightest jewel--their most attractive ornament--the crowning glory
of their character and being. It adds a captivating lustre to
all charms of whatever description; and without it all other
excellencies are lost in perpetual darkness. It should be a fixed
rule, never to violate the dictates of purity either in action,
language, or thought. Many imagine it is a matter of small moment
what their thoughts may be, so long as in action they do not
transgress the requirements of virtue. This, however, is a serious
error. The outward action is but the expression of the inward
thought. Wicked deeds would never have birth, were they not first
prompted by wicked desires. Hence if the young would have their
words and deeds characterized by purity, they must see that their
hearts and thoughts are constantly pure.

    "Pure thoughts are angel visitants! Be such
     The frequent inmates of thy guileless breast.
     They hallow all things by their sacred touch,
     And ope the portals of the land of rest."

The heart is the source of all actions. A dark, muddy fountain
cannot send forth clear waters. Neither does a pure fountain send
forth muddy waters. A foul heart, the receptacle of unclean thoughts
and impure passions, is a corrupt well-spring of action, which leads
to every vicious practice. Let the hearts of the youthful be pure as
crystal, let their thoughts be sanctified by virtue and holiness;
and their lives shall be as white and spotless as the driven
snow--winning the admiration of all who know them. With purity as
a shield, they are doubly guarded against sin. However enticing
temptation may be--however artfully or strongly it may assail
them--they are prepared to rise above it, in any and every
emergency.

Another of the fixed rules of conduct should be to _aim high_ in all
the _purposes_ of life. The great obstacle to success with many of
the young, is that they adopt no standard of action for their
government; but allow themselves to float along the current of time
like a mere straw on the surface of the waters, liable to be veered
about by every puff of wind and whirling eddy! If the current in
which they float happens to waft them into the smooth waters, and
the calm sunshine of virtue and respectability, it is a matter of
mere fortunate chance. If they are drawn into the dark stream of
sin, they have but little power to resist, and are soon hurried into
the surging rapids, and hurled over the boiling cataract of ruin!
True, they may not utterly perish even in plunging down the
cataract. They may possibly seize hold of some jutting rock below,
and by a desperate effort drag themselves from the raging waters.
But they will come forth bruised, bleeding, strangling, and
half-drowned, to mourn the folly of their thoughtlessness. How much
wiser and better to have taken early precaution, and guarded in the
first place against the insidious current, which compelled them to
purchase wisdom at so dear a rate.

To avoid this great folly, the youthful should establish a fixed
purpose for life. They should set their mark, as to what they wish
to become; and then make it the great labor of their lives to attain
it. And let that mark be a high one. You cannot make it too
elevated. The maxim of the ancients was, that although he who aims
at the sun will not hit it, yet his arrows will fly much higher than
though his mark was on the earth. A young man who should strive to
be a second Washington or Jefferson, might not attain to their
renown. But he would become a much greater and better man, than
though he had only aspired to be the keeper of a gambling-house, or
the leader of a gang of blacklegs. In all your purposes and plans of
life, aim high!

    "Again a light boat on a streamlet is seen,
     Where the banks are o'erladen with beautiful green,
     Like a mantle of velvet spread out to the sight,
     Reflects to the gazer a bright world of light.
     The fair bark has lost none of its beauty of yore,
     But a youth is within it,--the fair child before;
     And the Angel is gone--on the shore see him stand,
     As he bids him adieu with a wave of the hand.
     Ah! a life is before thee--a life full of care,
     Gentle Youth, and mayhap thou wilt fall in its snare.
     Can thy bark speed thee now? without wind, without tide?
     Without the kind Angel, thy beautiful guide?
     Ah! no;--then what lures thee, fair youth, to depart?
     Must thou rush into danger from impulse of heart?
     Lo! above in the bright arch of Heaven I see
     The vision, the aim so alluring to thee:
     'Tis the temple of Fame, with its pillars so fair,
     And the Genius of Wisdom and Love reigneth there.
     Advance then, proud vessel,--thy burden is light,--
     Swift speed thee, and guide his young steps in the right;
     For in life's 'fitful changes' are many dark streams,
     And paths unillumed by the sun's golden beams."

Cherish self-respect. Have a deep regard for your own estimation of
your own merits. Look with scorn and contempt upon low and vicious
practices. Cultivate pride of character. I care not how proud the
youthful are of all their valuable attainments, their correct
habits, their excellings in that which is manly, useful, and good.
The more pride of this description, the better. Though it should
reach even to egotism and vanity, it is much better than no pride in
these things. This pride in doing right is one of the preserving
ingredients, the very salt of man's moral character, which prevents
from plunging into vice.

Live for something besides _self_. Build with your own hands, the
monument that shall perpetuate your memory, when the dust has
claimed your body. Do good. Live for others, if you would be
embalmed in their recollections.

"Thousands of men breathe, move, and live--pass off the stage of
life, and are heard of no more. Why! They did not a particle of good
in the world; and none were blessed by them; none could point to
them as the instruments of their redemption; not a line they wrote,
not a word they spoke could be recalled, and so they perished;
their light went out in darkness, and they were not remembered more
than the insects of yesterday. Will you thus live and die, O man
immortal? Live for something. Do good, and leave behind you a
monument of virtue that the storm of time can never Destroy. Write
your name by kindness, love, and mercy, on the hearts of the
thousands you come in contact with year by year, and you will never
be forgotten. No, your name--your deeds--will be as legible on the
hearts you leave behind, as the stars on the brow of evening. Good
deeds will shine as brightly on the earth as the stars of
heaven."[1]

    "Up! it is a glorious era!
      Never yet has dawned its peer;
     Up, and work! and then a nobler
      In the future shall appear.
     'Onward!' is the present's motto,
      To a larger, higher life;
     'Onward!' though the march be weary,
      Though unceasing be the strife.

     "Pitch not here thy tent, for higher
      Doth the bright ideal shine,
     And the journey is not ended
      Till thou reach that height divine.
     Upward! and above earth's vapors,
      Glimpses shall to thee be given,
     And the fresh and odorous breezes,
      Of the very hills, of heaven."

[Footnote 1: Dr. Chalmers.]

Among the fixed principles which you should establish for your
government, by no means overlook _Honesty_ and _Integrity_. The
poet never uttered a truer word than that

    "An honest man's the noblest work of God."

Honesty is approved and admired by God and man--by all in heaven,
and by all on earth. Even the corrupt swindler, in his heart,
respects an honest man, and stands abashed in his presence.

In all your actions, in all your dealings, let strict and rigid
honesty guide you. Never be tempted to swerve from its dictates,
even in the most trivial degree. There will be strong allurements
to entice you from this path. The appetite for gain--the voice
of avarice--will often whisper that honesty may be violated to
advantage. There will be times when it will seem that its dictates
may be placed aside--that a little dishonesty will be greatly to
your benefit. Believe not this syren song. This is the time you are
in the most danger of being deceived to your serious injury.
Although there may be occasions when you will seem actually to lose
by adhering to honesty, yet you should not shrink a hair's breadth.
Whatever you may lose, in a pecuniary point of view, at any time,
by a strict submission to honesty, you will make up an hundred-fold
in the long-run, by establishing and preserving a reputation for
integrity. Looking at it in simply a pecuniary point of view,
community will give their countenance, their patronage, and
business, much quicker to a man who has established a reputation for
honesty, than to one who is known, or suspected of being fraudulent
in his dealings. Every consideration which can bear upon the young,
religious, moral and pecuniary, unite to urge them to establish,
in the outset of life, the rule of unswerving _honesty_ and
_integrity_, as their constant guide. Let it not be forgotten, that
in every possible point of view, and in every conceivable condition
of things, it will always be true, that "Honesty is the best
policy."

I would have the young also cultivate and establish as it fixed
rule of life, a friendly and accommodating disposition. This is
all-essential to make their days pleasant and happy. Other virtues
will influence the world to respect you; but an affectionate
disposition will cause those with whom you have intercourse, to love
you. Those who wish the friendship and good will of others, must
themselves manifest a friendly disposition, and a spirit of
kindness. Whoever would be accommodated and assisted, must
themselves be accommodating, and ready to aid those who require it.
In all these things we see the wisdom of the Saviour's _golden
rule_--"All things whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you,
do ye even so unto them." Be kind, accommodating, loving, and
peaceful, in the whole current of your disposition, and the cup of
your life will be sweetened with peace and joy.

I exhort the young to adopt the noble motto of the coat-of-arms of
New York--"EXCELSIOR!"

    "The shades of night were falling fast,
     As through an Alpine village passed
     A youth, who bore, 'mid snow and ice,
     A banner with the strange device,
        EXCELSIOR!"

Let it be the aim of every youth to lift aloft this glorious banner,
and soar _upward_ to a surpassing excellency. Let them seek to
_excel_ in all tilings high, and good. Let them never stoop to do
an evil act, nor degrade themselves to commit a wrong. But in their
principles, purposes, deeds, and words, let their great
characteristics be Truth, Goodness, and Usefulness!

         "Be just and fear not!
     Let all the ends thou aim'st at, be thy country's,
     Thy God's, and Truth's!"



LECTURE III.

Selection of Associates.

    "Be not thou envious against evil men, neither desire to be
    with them; for their heart studieth destruction, and their
    lips talk of mischief."--Prov. xxiv. I, 2.


There is nothing more important to the youthful, or that should
receive more serious consideration at their hands, than the
selection of Associates. We are by nature social beings. We desire,
we seek, and enjoy, the society of our fellow-creatures. This trait
is strongly developed in the young. They yearn for each other's
companionship, and they must have it, or they pine away, and sink
into misanthropy. This disposition may properly be indulged; but
great care and prudence should be exercised in regard to it.

While mingling in each other's society, it is natural, almost
unavoidable, that the youthful should imbibe much of the leading
characteristics of their associates. Being highly imitative in our
nature, it is impossible to be on social and familiar terms with
others, for any great length of time, without copying somewhat of
their dispositions, ways, and habits.

Let a young man, however upright and pure, associate habitually with
those who are profane, Sabbath-breaking, intemperate, and
unprincipled--who are given to gambling, licentiousness, and every
low, brutal and wicked practice--and but a brief space of time will
elapse before he will fall into like habits himself, and become as
great an adept in iniquitous proceedings as the most thorough-paced
profligate among them. When a young woman associates with girls who
are idle, disrespectful and disobedient to parents--who are vulgar,
brazen-faced, loud talkers and laughers--whose chief occupation and
delight is to spin street-yarn, to run from house to house and store
to store, and walk the streets in the evening, instead of being at
home engaged in some useful occupation--whose whole conversation,
and thoughts, and dreams, relate to dress, and fashion, and gewgaws,
and trinkets, to adorn the person, utterly negligent of the
ornaments of the mind and heart--whose reading never extends to
instructive and useful books, but is confined exclusively to sickly
novels and silly love-stories;--how long will it be before she will
become as careless and good-for-nothing as they?

This predisposition of the young to imitate the characteristics of
those with whom they associate, has been so well and so long known,
that it has given rise to the old proverb--"Show me your company,
and I will show you your character." So perfectly did Solomon
understand this, that he uttered the wise maxim--"Make no friendship
with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go; lest
thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul."

The young should remember, that people will judge them by the
company they keep. This principle is perfectly correct. In selecting
their associates, they act _voluntarily_. They choose such as they
please. When they seek the society of the ignorant, the vulgar, the
profane and profligate, they give the best of reasons for believing
that they prefer profligacy and vulgarity to virtue and purity. To
what other conclusion can the observer come? If they preferred
virtue and purity, they would certainly seek pure and virtuous
associates. Hence society have adopted the very correct principle of
judging the young, by the character of their associates. If they
would be thought well of, they should strive to associate with those
who are known to be virtuous and good. However blameless and upright
young persons may have been, if they begin to associate with those
whose reputation is poor, and whose conduct is improper, they will
soon be esteemed no higher than their companions.

These reflections show the youthful how important it is, that their
associates should be of the right stamp. They should see the
necessity of _selecting_ their companions. The great difficulty with
the young is, that they leave this important matter altogether too
much to "chance." If they happen to fall into good company, it is
very well; and their associates and intimate friends will be likely
to be of that class. But if, unfortunately, they meet with the
vicious and unprincipled, and are, to any great extent, thrown in
their way, they are as likely to form intimacies with them as with
any others.

Such negligence is exceedingly unpromising and dangerous. Whoever
allows it, will be in far more danger of falling under the influence
of the vicious than the exemplary. Instead of this heedlessness,
they should carefully and thoughtfully _select_ their associates.
They should not be willing to form terms of intimacy with, every one
into whose society they may be casually thrown. They should inform
themselves of their tastes, habits, and reputation. And from the
circle of their acquaintance should choose those with whom they
would form terms of intimacy.

Be cautious to select aright. The entire career in after-life
depends very much on this. How many a young woman of fine
attractions has had her reputation injured, and her prospects for
life destroyed, by associating with those whose character and habits
proved to be bad. When once young women get a taint on their
reputation in this way, or in any other manner, it is exceedingly
difficult to wipe it out.

The ruin of multitudes of young men can be traced to the same
origin--a bad selection of associates. I have in my mind's eye now,
a case in point. A young man, born in this city, and known to most
of you, was naturally endowed with the rarest abilities and the
finest talents. He belonged to one of the most wealthy and
respectable families. He had every advantage for cultivation, and
for the highest and most thorough education. Had he been thoughtful
and wise to have improved his opportunities, the way was open for
him to the highest advancement. He might have been blessed with
respectability, wealth, and honors. He could have risen to the most
dignified positions in life. His voice might have been heard in
strains of persuasive eloquence, from the sacred pulpit, or in the
halls of justice, or in the senate chamber of our state or national
councils. He might have occupied a seat on the bench of the highest
courts, or have aspired to the executive chair of the nation. But
where is he now, and what are his circumstances and his position in
the world? See issuing from the door of yonder filthy groggery; a
wretched specimen of humanity--the distorted caricature of a man!
His garments are thread-bare and patched--his eyes are inflamed,
sunken and watery--his countenance bloated and livid--his limbs
swelled and tottering. Although but in the morning of his manhood,
yet the lines of premature old age and decrepitude are deeply carved
upon his pale, dejected face; and in his whole aspect, there is that
forlorn, broken-spirited, anguished look of despair, which shows he
himself feels that he has sunken, beyond earthly redemption, into
the awful pit of the confirmed drunkard! This is the young man whose
early opportunities were so favorable, and whose prospects were so
bright and flattering. He has become a curse to himself, he has
brought disgrace and wretchedness on his connections, and is an
outcast and vagabond, with whom no young man who now hears me would
associate for a single hour!

What has brought him to this pitiable condition--this state of utter
wretchedness? It was a want of forethought. He totally neglected the
considerations I have endeavored to impress upon the young. He was
careless and indifferent in regard to his associates. He would not
be admonished to turn from the company of the vicious, and seek the
society of those of good habits and upright character. Despite
the counsel of parents and friends, he would associate with
companions of corrupt habits--with the profane, the drinking,
the Sabbath-breaking--those whose chief delight was to visit
oyster-cellars and grog-shops--whose highest ambition was to excel
in cards, and dice, and sleight-of-hand tricks--and who sought for
no better employment than to range the streets and alleys, to engage
in midnight adventures and Bacchanalian revelries. Mingling with
such as his associates, and falling unavoidably into their habits,
he is now reaping the _bitter_--BITTER fruits of his folly. His time
misspent--character destroyed--health ruined--every source of
happiness obliterated--his life wasted and literally thrown
away--his days, a _blank_--ah! worse than that--filled with the
terrific visions, the horrid dreams, the flames of the unquenchable
fire, which float and burn in the veins of the confirmed inebriate!

Young men! Do you shudder at the condition of this wretched youth,
whose form yet flits like a shadow through our streets? Would you
avoid his fate? Do you start back in affright at the mere thought of
becoming the poor, cast-off wreck of humanity that he is? Then avoid
the rock on which he foundered his bark. Shun, as you would a nest
of vipers, the company of the reckless and profligate. Avoid all
association, all companionship, all intimacy, with those whose
habits deviate from the high rules of rectitude, purity, and virtue.

Allow me to paint you a picture of an opposite character, drawn also
from real life. I have another young man in my mind's eye, who
originated in our own county. He had but few of the advantages of
him whose melancholy career I have painted. He was the son of
parents who possessed but little means, and who could afford him no
assistance after the days of childhood. He was early placed to the
hard labor of a mechanic. But he did not sink into lewdness and
vice, under the pressure of his adverse circumstances. He would not
spend his leisure hours at public resorts, in the midst of the
profligate and reckless. Each moment of respite from labor, he
applied himself to study and the improvement of his mind. With great
wisdom he avoided the company of idle, profane and vicious youth;
and would associate with none but the discreet, the intelligent and
virtuous. He was determined to RISE in the world, and to win a name
which should live long after he should pass from the earth. He
placed his mark high! With indomitable courage and unwearied
perseverance, he pursued the path he had chosen for himself. He cut
his way through every obstacle, and overcame every hindrance and
difficulty, though they might seem to tower mountain high. Friends
came to his aid, as they will to the assistance of every youth who
is industriously seeking to rise in the world by the strength of his
own merits. At length, after great exertions, he obtained a
profession, and entered into a field where he could bring into
active exercise the fund of knowledge he had been acquiring under so
many difficulties. One thus industrious, thus pure in his habits,
thus upright and honorable in all his transactions, could not fail
to receive the commendation and confidence of his fellow-citizens.
Rapidly he rose from one post of honor to another. Ere long he was
sent to the Legislature of our State. Soon he entered the halls of
Congress, where he won the confidence of his compeers, and arose to
honorable distinction. From step to step he advanced--high and
higher still he ascended the ladder of fame--until now, the poor
mechanic boy of Montville, occupies the _second place_ in the gift
of the American people--within _one step_ of the highest pinnacle of
fame to which man can attain on the earth! How noble the career--how
splendid the example--placed before the youth of our country, in the
history of this eminent man! How honorable to himself--how worthy of
imitation.

I need not ask the young men of this audience, which place they
would prefer to occupy, the position of the poor inebriate of whom
I have spoken, or that of the Vice-President of the United States?
It is instructive to inquire why the one, with opportunities so
good, sunk so low, and the other, with early advantages so limited,
has arisen so high? This disparity in their condition is to be
attributed to the different paths they selected at the outset of
life. While the one trampled on all his advantages, and foolishly
associated with the vicious and unprincipled, the other diligently
applied himself to the acquisition of useful knowledge, and was
scrupulous to associate with none but those who were discreet and
virtuous, and whose influence was calculated to elevate and purify
him.

These two cases, drawn from real life, are but a specimen of
instances with which the world is filled. They show how immensely
important it is for the young to reflect maturely on the course they
would pursue, and the necessity of selecting for their associates
such as have habits, tastes, and principles, proper for commendation
and imitation.

Most of those who come under the influence of corrupt associates,
are led thither more from sheer thoughtlessness, than from any
disposition to become depraved. They fall into the company of those
who are gay, sociable and pleasant in their manners; who make time
pass agreeably, and who contrive many ways to drive dull care away,
which do not, in themselves, appear very bad. The thoughtless youth
becomes attached to their society, and gradually gives himself up to
their influence. Almost imperceptibly to himself, he follows them
farther and farther from the path of rectitude, until, before he is
aware of it, some vicious habit has fixed its fangs upon him, and
made him its wretched slave for life.

The difficulty in these cases, is the want of a due exercise of
reflection and discernment. The young should guard against being
deceived by outward appearances. Beneath a pleasant, agreeable
exterior--beneath sociability and attractive manners--there may lurk
vicious propensities, depraved appetites, and habits of the most
corrupt nature. Hence the young should look beyond the surface, and
guard against deceptive appearances. It should not be enough to make
a young man or a young woman your associate, that they are sociable
and attractive in their manners, and can make their company
agreeable. Search farther than this. Strive to know their tastes,
their habits, their principles. Inquire how, and where, they spend
their leisure hour's--in what company do they mingle--what practices
do they approbate--what is their general conduct and demeanor? If in
all these respects, they are found to be discreet, virtuous, and
worthy of imitation, then hesitate not to associate with them, and
allow yourself to be influenced by them. But if you find them
deficient in any of these characteristics, however attractive they
may be in other respects, shun their company, and avoid their
influence. The effect of associating with them would be to lead you
astray, to your ruin.

In selecting associates, studiously avoid those who are low, coarse,
and vulgar in their behavior and manners. Rudeness and vulgarity are
unbecoming any age. But they are especially offensive and indecorous
in youth. The young man, or young woman, who has not sufficient
self-respect and pride of character to deport themselves with
modesty, circumspection, and politeness, is unfitted to be an
associate. A bold, brazen, forward demeanor, indicates a heart far
from possessing those delicate and amiable traits, which are alone
worthy of imitation. Vulgarity in language or demeanor, indicates a
vitiated heart. Cultivation and refinement of manners are, to a good
degree, evidence of a pure spirit, and high and honorable feelings.

The youth who is truly polite, has a great advantage, in every
respect, over those who are deficient in this desirable
qualification. Many, however, entertain very erroneous views of the
nature of politeness. It does not consist in putting on an air, a
simper, a strut, or a bow. Neither is it to be manifested in
high-flown words, or a fashionable pronunciation. Many young persons
who can make very accomplished bows, and go through all the postures
and attitudes of the schools, are still ignorant of the first
principles of genuine politeness, and violate them every day.
Politeness is not to be learned of the dancing-master, the fop, or
the belle. Do you inquire where it can be obtained? I answer, in the
gospel of our Saviour. True-hearted Christians are always polite.
They cannot be otherwise, while influenced by the Christian spirit.
For the first great principle of true politeness is found in the
Saviour's golden rule--"All things whatsoever ye would that men
should do to you, do ye even so to them." Treat others as you wish
to be treated yourself, and you cannot fail of being polite. Treat
them as you wish _not_ to be treated, and you are ill-bred and
vulgar, though you may be dressed in the extreme of fashion, and
steeped in Cologne! Politeness, in its true acceptation, is but
another word for kindness. The truly polite man and woman, are not
haughty, nor exclusive--they are not starched, nor supercilious.
They show their politeness in being respectful to the feelings of
persons of every rank, condition, and complexion. They treat all
kindly and gently; and seek to make those in their presence to feel
easy and happy. The whole secret of politeness may be summed up in
a single sentence--Make yourselves agreeable and pleasant to
whomsoever you meet. With this intent, your manners will be easy and
natural; and you will be polite in every true sense of the word,
though brought up in the centre of the wilderness.

In selecting those they would imitate in regard to politeness, the
young should not choose the starched fop, the gaudily-dressed dandy,
who may owe all their attractions to the unpaid tailor--nor the
fashionable belle, who sneers upon everything plain and useful.
They, more than all others, violate the first principles of
politeness in their demeanor. But select the plain-dressed, the
modest, the affable, the kind and friendly at heart. In these you
find the true lady--the genuine gentleman.

       *       *       *       *       *

In regard to this whole subject of the selection of associates, I
would earnestly counsel the young to listen respectfully to the
advice of their parents, guardians, and elder friends. They should
not be headstrong, nor wise in their own conceits; but should yield
to the counsel of others. Your parents are far better calculated to
judge of associates than themselves. You are liable to be blinded to
their defects, and deceived by specious appearances. But parents
scrutinize them from a different position. They have been through
the school of experience, and are much better prepared to judge of
character. Listen, O ye youthful! to their warning voice. They are
moved by love for you--they speak for your good. When they entreat
you to avoid the society of certain individuals, and escape their
influence, heed their exhortations. Your own heart will tell you,
that your father and mother would not speak, simply to thwart your
feelings; but that they see danger hovering around you, and would
snatch you away, as the bird from the fowler's snare! That is a wise
and promising son--a prudent and hopeful daughter--who pays
respectful deference to the counsel of parents, and yields a
cheerful compliance with their wishes!

    "So live, that when thy summons comes, to join
     The innumerable caravan, that moves
     To the pale realms of shade, where each shall take
     His chamber in the silent halls of death,
     Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,
     Scourged to his dungeon; but, sustained and soothed
     By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave
     Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
     About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams!"



LECTURE IV.

Habits and Amusements.

    "Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be
    established."--Prov. iv. 20.


There is not a youth present this evening, who will not acknowledge
this to be sound and wholesome advice. Were you walking in a
slippery, dangerous way, amid the darkness of midnight, you would
give the strictest heed to the friendly precaution--"Ponder the path
of thy feet. Be careful where you step. When you put your foot down,
see to it, that it rests on something well-established--some rock,
some spot of earth, that is firm and solid." This advice would be
heeded, because of your consciousness that by stepping heedlessly,
you would be in danger of stumbling into a pit, or falling over a
precipice, where your limbs would be broken, or life destroyed.
Simple discretion would bid you beware, under such circumstances.
The youthful should fully realize that they are walking in a
pathway, which to them is wholly untried and unknown. It is a road
surrounded by many dangers, unseen by the careless traveller; where
he is liable to be lured aside to ruin, by a thousand fascinations
and temptations, and where multitudes possessing the best
advantages, the highest talents, the brightest genius, the rarest
gifts, have stumbled and fallen, to rise no more on earth. While
pressing on ardently and thoughtlessly in this dangerous highway,
apprehending no difficulty, and fearing no peril, a voice from on
high calls to the young, and urges them to "Ponder the path of their
feet, and to let all their ways--their footsteps--be established!"
There is wisdom, prudence, goodness, in this exhortation.

Question the old man--the aged traveller--who has passed over this
pathway of life, and is just ready to step up into the mysterious
road of a higher existence. Ask him as to his experience--beseech
him for advice. Looking back through the vista of his long and
chequered way, of light and shadow, of joy and sorrow, he will
exclaim--"O ye youthful! Give heed to the admonition of the wise
man--'Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be
established.'"

The admonition of the text is important in reference to the _Habits_
and _Amusements_ of the youthful. We are all more or less the
creatures of habit. Our ways, from earliest infancy, are more the
result of the force of habit, than we are generally aware. The
actions, words, and thoughts of men, form for themselves certain
channels, in which they continually seek to flow, unless turned
aside by a strong hand, and a painful effort.

Habits are formed insensibly. We are not aware of any moment when
they are created; but the first consciousness of their being fixed
upon us, is, when their great power is felt impelling us strongly to
certain courses. A single deed does not create a habit. One thread
of hemp forms not a rope. It contains but a very slight amount of
strength. But when a large number of threads are laid and twisted
together, they make the mighty cable, which, attached to the ship,
enables lier to bid a proud defiance to the fierce gales and
mountain billows of ocean. Thus the young are continually, yet
unconsciously, spinning the threads of habit. Day by day the strands
increase, and are twisted tighter together; until at length they
become strong and unyielding cords, binding their possessor to
customs and practices which fix his character and prospects for
life.

It is of the greatest importance that the young should inquire
faithfully into the nature of the habits they are forming. They
should not fall into self-deception--a common error, on this
subject. The love of indulgence should not be permitted to blind
them to the legitimate consequences of careless habits. Let them
look abroad on their fellow-beings, and critically study the
tendencies and fruits of their habits. When they see one prosperous
in life--one who is respected, confided in, and beloved by all--who
leads a quiet, pleasant and peaceful life,--mark his habits, and
strive to imitate them. They will bless them as well as him, if
faithfully practised. And when they behold a man disliked and
despised by his neighbors, especially by those who know him best--or
one who has fallen into disgrace and ruin; who has, lost his
character, his health, his happiness, and become an outcast and
vagabond,--let them not fail to learn what his habits have been.
Look at them carefully and critically. Ponder well the effect they
have had upon him. And then strive to avoid them. Shun them as the
poisonous viper whose sting is death. Let them wind not a single
coil of their fatal chains around the free spirit of the young. The
same appalling consequences will be visited on every youth who
indulges them, that have fallen on those whose condition excites
Loth pity and loathing in their breasts.

In youth, habits are much easier formed and corrected, than at a
later period of life. If they are right now, preserve, strengthen
and mature them. If they are wrong--if they have any dangerous
influence or tendency--correct them immediately. Delay not the
effort an hour. The earlier you make the attempt to remedy a bad
habit, the easier it will be accomplished. Every day adds to its
strength and vigor; until, if not conquered in due time, it will
become a voracious monster, devouring everything good and excellent.
It will make its victim a miserable, drivelling slave, to be
continually lashed and scourged into the doing of its low and
wretched promptings. Hence the importance of attending to the habits
in early life, when they are easily controlled and corrected. If the
young do not make themselves the masters of their passions,
appetites, and habits, these will soon become their masters, and
make them their tool and bond-men through all their days.

Usually at the age of thirty years, the moral habits become fixed
for life. New ones are seldom formed after that age; and quite as
seldom are old ones abandoned. There are exceptions to this rule;
but in general, it holds good. If the habits are depraved and
vicious at that age, there is little hope of amendment. But if they
are correct--if they are characterized by virtue, goodness, and
sobriety--there is a flattering prospect of a prosperous and
peaceful life. Remember, the habits are not formed, nor can they be
corrected, in a single week or month. It requires years to form
them, and years will be necessary to correct them permanently, when
they are wrong. Hence, in order to possess good habits at maturity,
it is all-important to commence schooling the passions, curbing the
appetites, and bringing the whole moral nature under complete
control, early in youth. This work cannot be commenced too soon. The
earlier the effort, the easier it can be accomplished. To straighten
the tender twig, when it grows awry from the ground, is the easiest
thing imaginable. A child can do it at the touch of its finger. But
let the twig become a matured tree before the attempt is made, and
it will baffle all the art of man to bring it to a symmetrical
position. It must be uprooted from the very soil before this can be
accomplished. It is not difficult to correct a bad habit when it
commences forming. But wait until it has become fully developed, and
it will require a long and painful exertion of every energy to
correct it.

Permit me to enumerate a few of the more important habits, which the
young should seek to cultivate.

First of all--the most important of all--and that, indeed, which
underlies and gives coloring to all others--is the habit of
TEMPERANCE. Surely it is needless for me, at this day, to dwell upon
the evils of intemperance. It cannot be necessary to paint the
bitter consequences--the destruction to property, health,
reputation--the overthrow of the peace of families, the want and
misery, to which its victims are frequently reduced. The disgrace,
the wretchedness, the ruin, the useless and ignominious life, and
the horrid death, which are so often caused by habits of
intemperance, are seen, and known to all. No one attempts, no one
thinks of denying them. The most interested dealer, or retailer in
intoxicating drinks--the most confirmed inebriate--will acknowledge
without hesitation, that intemperance is the direst evil that ever
cursed a fallen race!! The deleterious consequences of other vices
may sometimes be concealed for a season, from outward observation.
Not so with intemperance. It writes its loathsome name, in legible
characters, upon the very brow of its wretched victim. _"I am a
drunkard!"_ is as plainly to be read as though a printed label was
posted there!

Need I warn--need I exhort--the young to avoid the habit of
intemperance. Perhaps there is not a youth present, who is not ready
to say, "To me this exhortation is needless. I have not the
slightest expectation of becoming a drunkard!" Of course not. There
never was a man who desired, or expected, to become a victim to
intemperance. The great danger of this habit is, that it creeps
stealthily and imperceptibly upon the unwary. It does its work
gradually. The most besotted inebriate cannot tell you the day, nor
the month, when he became a confirmed drunkard. It is in the nature
of this habit, that those who expose themselves at all to its
assaults, become its victims, while they are entirely unaware of it.

The only safeguard and security, against this scourge of man, is
_total abstinence from all intoxicating drinks_!! Here is the true,
the safe ground for the young. There is no other condition of entire
security. No man who drinks, however sparingly, has assurance of
a sober life. He needlessly, and foolishly, places himself in
danger--turns his footsteps into the only path that can possibly
lead to the drunkard's ruin and the drunkard's grave!

Drink the _first drop_ that can intoxicate, and your feet stand at
the very brink of the ocean of intemperance. Its briny waters are
composed of human tears. Its winds, the sighs of those made poor and
wretched by the inebriation of husbands, fathers, sons. Its billows,
ever tossing, are overhung with black and lowering clouds, and
illuminated only by the lightning's vivid flash, while hoarse
thunders reverberate over the wide and desolate waste. Engulphed in
this dreary ocean, the wretched drunkard is buffeted hither and
thither, at the mercy of its angry waves--now dashed on jagged
rocks, bruised and bleeding--then engulphed in raging whirlpools to
suffocating depths--anon, like a worthless weed, cast high into the
darkened heavens by the wild water-spout, only to fall again into
the surging deep, to be tossed to and fro on waters which cannot
rest! Rash youth! Would you launch away on this sea of death? Quaff
of the intoxicating bowl, and soon its hungry waves will be around
you. Would you avoid a fate so direful? Seal your lips to the _first
drop_, and the drear prospect will sink forever from your vision!

Young men who would guard themselves against the baleful habit of
intemperance, should shun all resorts where intoxicating drinks are
vended. They should avoid throwing themselves in the way of
temptation. "Lead us not into temptation," should be the constant
prayer of the young. When by any combination of circumstances, they
find themselves in the company of those who quaff of the poisoned
bowl, whether in public or private, they should exercise a manly
pride in firmly refusing to participate in their potations. This is
a legitimate and commendable pride, of which the young cannot have
too much. Let them place themselves on the high rock of principle,
and their feet will not slide in the trying hour.

    "Oh! water for me! bright water for me,
     And wine for the tremulous debauchee!
     It cooleth the brow, it cooleth the brain,
     It maketh the faint one strong again!
     It comes o'er the sense like a breeze from the sea,
     All freshness, like infant purity.
     Oh! water, bright water, for me, for me!
     Give wine, give wine, to the debauchee."

"The young man walks in the midst of temptations to appetite, the
improper indulgence of which is in danger of proving his ruin.
Health, longevity, and virtue depend on his resisting these
temptations. The providence of God is no more responsible, because
a man of improper indulgence becomes subject to disease, than for
picking his pockets. For a young man to injure his health, is to
waste his patrimony and destroy his capacity for virtuous deeds.

"If young men imagine that the gratification of appetite is the
great source of enjoyment, they will find this in the highest degree
with industry and _temperance_. The epicure, who seeks it in a
dinner which costs five dollars, will find less enjoyment of
appetite than the laborer who dines on a shilling. If the devotee
to appetite desires its high gratification, he must not send for
buffalo tongues and champagne, but climb a mountain or swing an axe.
Let a young man pursue temperance, sobriety, and industry, and he
may retain his vigor till three score years and ten, with his cup of
enjoyment full, and depart painlessly; as the candle burns out in
its socket, he will expire."[2]

[Footnote 2: Horace Mann.]

Next to Temperance in importance, I would rank the habit of
INDUSTRY. We were evidently made for active occupation. Every joint,
sinew, and muscle plainly shows this. A young person who is an
idler, a drone, is a pest in society. He is ready to engage in
mischief, and to fall into vice, with but little resistance. It is
an old saying, that "an idle brain is the devil's workshop." Those
who are not actively employed in something useful, will be very
likely to fall into evil practices. Industry is one of the best
safeguards against the inroads of vice. The young, whatever may be
their condition, or however abundantly they may believe their future
wants already provided for, should actively engage in some honorable
occupation or profession--in something that will benefit mankind.
They should be fired with the high and noble ambition of making the
world better for their living in it. Who can wish to pass a _blank_
existence? Yet this is the life of every idler, poor or rich. Be
stirring in anything which is useful--anything which will make
others happy. Then you will not have lived in vain. Behold how a
good man can devote his life to labors for the benefit of others.
Would you partake of the immortal fame of a Howard? Imitate, to the
extent of your ability, the example of industrious benevolence he
has placed before the world.

    "From realm to realm, with cross or crescent crowned,
     Where'er mankind and misery are found,
     O'er burning sands, deep waves, or wilds of snow,
     Mild Howard journeying seeks the house of woe.
     Down many a winding step to dungeons dank,
     Where anguish wails aloud and fetters clank,
     To caves bestrewed with many a mouldering bone,
     And cells whose echoes only learn to groan;
     Where no kind bars a whispering friend disclose,
     No sunbeam enters, and no zephyr blows;--
     He treads, inemulous of fame or wealth,
     Profuse of toil and prodigal of health;
     Leads stern-eyed Justice to the dark domains,
     If not to sever, to relax his chains;
     Gives to her babes the self-devoted wife,
     To her fond husband liberty and life,--
     Onward he mores! disease and death retire;
     And murmuring demons hate him and admire."

To young women industry is equally essential and commendable. An
idle woman is a poor and worthless thing. For what does she imagine
she was created? Of what service is she to the world? In what
respect would not the world be as well without her? A _do-nothing_
young lady is most assuredly pitied and despised by those whose good
opinion she is most anxious to secure.

It is not enough that a young woman can play skilfully, sing
delightfully, dance gracefully, dress fashionably, and has an
abundant flow of "small talk." The world looks beyond these outward
ornaments, and asks--Has she a good heart and gentle disposition?
Is she affectionate and forbearing? Can she rule her temper and
control her tongue? Does she respect and obey her parents? Has she
a well-cultivated and well-stored mind? Is she industrious, prudent,
economical? Is she able and willing to engage in household duties?
Accomplishments are not to be overlooked. But the qualities above
enumerated are essential, indispensable, to the character of a good
daughter and a useful wife.

"ACTION! _That's_ the word. The great world itself throbs with life.
Action, untiring harmony pervades the Universe of God. The Creative
Power has so ordained it. The physical formation of the world, and
all therein, forbids inactivity. The vast machinery must move, or
the whole cease to exist. Man was never designed to be a drone. Had
he lived pure in the first Paradise, he could not have been idle.
Sick or well, in cold or heat, day or night, he machine moves on,
the heart, like a steam-engine, throbs away, and faithfully pumps
its crimson currents unceasingly to every part of the animal frame.
Action is one of the first elements of health and happiness. The
mind will stagnate and engender moral miasma, as much as the pool
never stirred by a tide or swept by the winds.

"God has written action on the Heavens. Silent, but ceaseless, the
worlds that gleam out upon us, keep on their course. Every orb
follows the track marked out for it. The Ocean rolls and heaves. The
spring gushes out from the hill-side and dances from rock to rock,
and the brook hums and murmurs its melody as it goes. Upon the
meadow, the springing grass tells of the process that annually
clothes the turf with wealth and beauty. The leaves put out, rustle
in the winds, and fall to their rest, while others follow. The
fierce, fiery energy of the lightning writes the truth upon the
scudding clouds. The formless waves that in the atmosphere ripple
and dash against the cheek, tell of a restless ocean around us, a
medium of health and sound. From the world that rolls, to the summer
flies that float on the air and glance in the sun, the truth is
proclaimed that all is activity. Man cannot be idle--should not."[3]

[Footnote 3: T.W. Brown.]

"One of the most mischievous phrases in which a rotten Morality, a
radically false and vicious Public Sentiment, disguise themselves,
is that which characterizes certain individuals as destitute of
financial capacity. A 'kind, amiable, generous, good sort of man,'
(so runs the varnish,) 'but utterly unqualified for the management
of his own finances'--'a mere child in everything relating to
money,' &c. &c.--meaning that with an income of $500 a year, he
persisted in spending $1000; or with an income of from $2000 to
$3000, he regularly spent from $5000 to $8000, according to his
ability to run in debt, or the credulity of others in trusting him.

"The victims of this immorality--debtor as well as creditor--are
entitled to more faithful dealing at the hands of those not directly
affected by the misdemeanors of the former. It is the duty of the
community to rebuke and repress these pernicious glosses, making the
truth heard and felt, that inordinate expenditure is knavery and
crime. No man has a moral right thus to lavish on his own appetites,
money which he has not earned, and does not really need. If public
opinion were sound on this subject--if a man living beyond his
means, when his means were commensurate with his real needs, were
subjected to the reprehension he deserves--the evil would be
instantly checked, and ultimately eradicated.

"The world is full of people who can't imagine why they don't
prosper like their neighbors, when the real obstacle is not in the
banks nor tariffs, in bad public policy nor hard times, but in their
own extravagance and heedless ostentation. The young mechanic or
clerk marries and takes a house, which he proceeds to furnish twice
as expensively as he can afford; and then his wife, instead of
taking hold to help him earn a livelihood by doing her own work,
must have a hired servant to help her spend his limited earnings.
Ten years afterward, you will find him struggling on under a double
load of debts and children, wondering why the luck was always
against him, while his friends regret his unhappy destitution of
financial ability. Had they, from the first, been frank and honest,
he need not have been so unlucky.

"Through every grade of society this vice of inordinate expenditure
insinuates itself. The single man 'hired out' in the country at ten
to fifteen dollars per month, who contrives to dissolve his year's
earnings in frolics and fine clothes; the clerk who has three to
five hundred dollars a year, and melts down twenty to fifty of it
into liquor and cigars, are paralleled by the young merchant who
fills a spacious house with costly furniture, gives dinners, and
drives a fast horse, on the strength of the profits he expects to
realize when his goods are all sold and his notes all paid. Let a
man have a genius for spending, and whether his income is a dollar a
day or a dollar a minute, it is equally certain to prove inadequate.
If dining, wining, and party-giving won't help him through with it,
building, gaming, and speculation will be sure to. The bottomless
pocket will never fill, no matter how bounteous the stream pouring
into it. The man who (being single) does not save money on six
dollars a week, will not be apt to on sixty; and he who does not lay
up something in his first year of independent exertion, will be
pretty likely to wear a poor man's hair into his grave.

"No man who has the natural use of his faculties and his muscles,
has any right to tax others with the cost of his support, as this
class of non-financial gentlemen habitually do. It is their common
mistake to fancy that if a debt is only paid at last, the obligation
of the debtor is fulfilled; but the fact is not so. A man who sells
his property for another's promise to pay next week or next month,
and is compelled to wear out a pair of boots in running after his
due, which he finally gets after a year or two, is never really
paid. Very often, he has lost half the face of his demand, by not
having the money when he needed it, beside the cost and vexation of
running after it. There is just one way to pay an obligation in
full, and that is to pay it when due. He who keeps up a running
fight with bills and loans through life, is continually living on
other men's means, is a serious burden and a detriment to those who
deal with him, although his estate should finally pay every dollar
of his legal obligations.

"Inordinate expenditure is the cause of a great share of the crime
and consequent misery which devastate the world. The clerk who
spends more than he earns, is fast qualifying himself for a gambler
and a thief; the trader or mechanic who overruns his income, is very
certain to become in time a trickster and a cheat. Wherever you see
a man spending faster than he earns, there look out for villainy to
be developed, though it be the farthest thing possible from his
present thought.

"When the world shall have become wiser, and its standard of
morality more lofty, it will perceive and affirm that profuse
expenditure, even by one who can pecuniarily afford it, is
pernicious and unjustifiable--that a man, however wealthy, has
no right to lavish on his own appetites, his tastes, or his
ostentation, that which might have raised hundreds from destitution
and despair to comfort and usefulness. But that is an improvement in
public sentiment which must be waited for, while the other is more
ready and obvious.

"The meanness, the dishonesty, the iniquity, of squandering
thousands unearned, and keeping others out of money that is justly
theirs, have rarely been urged and enforced as they should be. They
need but to be considered and understood, to be universally loathed
and detested."[4]

[Footnote 4: Horace Greeley.]

Nearly allied with the Habits of the young, are their _Amusements_.
That the youthful should be allowed a reasonable degree of
recreation, is universally admitted. The laws of health demand
relaxation from the labors and cares of life. The body, the
mind, constantly strained to the highest exertion, without
repose, and something to cheer, refreshen, and re-invigorate it,
will speedily fall into disease and death. The very word
recreation--(re-creation)--indicates that to a degree, proper
amusement has the power to revive the wearied energies, supply
afresh the springs of life, and give a renewed elasticity and
endurance to all the capacities of our nature.

Yet there is no subject surrounded with greater difficulties, than
the _amusements_ of the youthful. There is no amusement, however
harmless and proper in its nature, but what can be carried to
such excess, as to inflict deep injury. It is while searching for
recreations, that the youthful meet the most dangerous temptations,
and fall into the most vicious practices. How important that
they should make this a matter of mature reflection and acute
discrimination. Pleasure we all desire. It is sought for by every
human being. But it is essential to distinguish between true
pleasure, which we can enjoy with real benefit, and _false
pleasure_, which deceives, demoralizes, and destroys. The poet truly
describes the nature of this distinction, when he says,

    "Pleasure, or wrong, or rightly understood,
     Our greatest evil, or our greatest good!"

One of the first things requisite to be understood is, that in order
to enjoy any amusement, a previous _preparation_ is necessary. That
preparation is to be obtained by _useful occupation_. It is only by
contrast that we can enjoy anything.--Without weariness, we can know
nothing of rest. Without first enduring hunger and thirst, we cannot
experience the satisfaction of partaking of food and drink. In like
manner, it is only by faithful and industrious application to
business of some kind--it is only by occupying the mind in useful
employment--that we can draw any satisfaction from recreation.
Without this preparation, all amusement loses its charm. Were the
young to engage in one unceasing round of pastimes, from day to day,
with no time or thought devoted to useful occupation, recreation
would soon be divested of its attractions, and become insipid and
painfully laborious. To be beneficial, amusements should be virtuous
in their tendencies, healthful in their influence on the body, and
of _brief duration_.

Among the many pastimes to which the young resort for amusement,
_card-playing_ often fills a prominent place. This is a general, and
in some circles, a fashionable practice; but it is objectionable and
injurious in all its influences, and in every possible point of
view. Nothing good or instructive, nothing elevating or commendable,
in any sense, can come from it. All its fruits must necessarily be
evil.

It is a senseless occupation. Nothing can be more unmeaning and
fruitless, among all the employments to which a rational mind can
devote its attention. It affords no useful exercise of the
intellect--no food for profitable thought--no power to call into
activity the higher and better capacities. It is true, I suppose,
there is some degree of cunning and skill to be displayed in
managing the cards. But what high intellectual, or moral capacity is
brought into exercise by a game so trivial? It excludes interesting
and instructive interchanges of sentiment; on topics of any degree
of importance; and substitutes talk of a frivolous and meaningless
character. To a spectator, the conversation of a card-table, is of
the most uninteresting and childish description.

There are, however, more serious objections than these. Card-playing
has a tendency of the most dangerous description, especially to the
youthful. Let a young man become expert in this game, and fond of
engaging in it, and who does not see he is liable to become that
most mean and despicable of all living creatures--a GAMBLER.
Confident of his own skill as a card-player, how long would he
hesitate to engage in a game for a small sum? He has seen older ones
playing--perhaps his own parents--and he can discover no great harm
in doing the same thing even if it is for a stake of a few
shillings. From playing for small sums, the steps are very easy
which lead to large amounts. And in due time, the young man becomes
a gambler, from no other cause than that he acquired a love for
card-playing, when he engaged in it only as an amusement.

Parents have a responsibility resting on them in this respect, of
which they should not lose sight. They cannot be surprised that
their children imitate their examples. With all the dangerous
associations and tendencies of card-playing, would they have their
children acquire a passion for it? What wise parent can make such a
choice for his son? Ah, how many a young man has become a gamester,
a black-leg, an inmate of the prison cell, because, in the home of
his childhood, he acquired a love of the card-table. He but imitated
the practice of parents, whose duty it was to set him a better
example, and _was led to the path of ruin_!

If, from its influences, card-playing, even for amusement, is
improper for gentlemen, I conceive it much more so for ladies. A
woman--and more especially a young woman--seems entirely out of
place at a card-table. The associations are so masculine--they bring
to mind so much of the cut-and-shuffle trickery, vulgarity and
profanity--so many of the words and phrases of that _hell_, the
gaming-table--that for a lady to indulge in them, appears entirely
opposed to that modesty and refinement, which are so becoming the
female character. I trust all young ladies of discretion will shun
the card-table. I am confident every woman, who possesses a proper
sense of the dignity and delicacy which form the highest attractions
of the female character, will avoid a practice which is made an
instrument of the most despicable uses, and to which the most vile
and abandoned constantly resort.

    "Daughters of those who, long ago,
       Dared the dark storm and angry sea,
     And walked the desert way of woe,
       And pain, and trouble to be free!

     "Oh, be like them! like them endure,
       And bow beneath affliction's rod;
     Like them be watchful, high and pure--
       In all things seek the smile of God."

The same caution I have uttered in regard to card-playing, I would
apply to all games of hazard and chance. The young should never
indulge in them, even for amusement. Although they may be able to
see no harm in them as recreations, yet the influences they exert,
and the associations into which they lead, cannot but exert a
deleterious influence. They can do no good. They may lead to the
most dire results!

Another amusement in which the youthful frequently engage, is
_Dancing_. This is the most fascinating of pastimes. And it might
be made the most proper, healthful, and invigorating. In the simple
act of dancing--of moving the body in unison with strains of
music--there can be no harm. It is a custom which has been practised
in all ages, and among all nations, both civilized and barbarous.
The very lambs in the green and sunny meadow, and the cattle on a
thousand hills, in many a fantastic game, exult and rejoice in the
blessings a kind Providence bestows upon them. It is one of Nature's
methods of attesting the consciousness of enjoyment.

Dancing, when viewed in the light of a pleasant bodily exercise, is
undoubtedly healthy and beneficial. It is peculiarly so to females,
and those whose occupation and habits are of a sedentary character.
When properly engaged in, it strengthens the limbs, developes the
chest, enlarges the lungs, and invigorates the whole system.

But this pastime is greatly abused, and is so perverted as to have
become one of the most serious evils. In this view, it is subject to
severe and well-grounded censure. As dancing is usually conducted in
modern times, it has proved one of the greatest evils into which the
youthful have fallen. The routs and balls to which the young resort,
as generally managed, cannot be too severely condemned. The late
hours to which they are prolonged--the rich and unhealthy pastry
partaken of in abundance--the intoxicating drinks passed around, or
conveniently found in the side-room, or at the bar--the thoughtless
manner of dressing, exposing to cold and damp, and so confining the
_lungs_, that when, by reason of exercise, they need the most room
for expansion, they have the least, thus sowing the seeds of speedy
disease and early death--the long-continued excitement and
over-fatigue--the improper company which often assembles on such
occasions--these all combine to make such assemblages a source of
injury in all their influences and consequences. They should be
discountenanced by every parent and well-wisher of public good. The
young of both sexes, who have any just regard for their morals--and
their health, should avoid these routs, and balls, and cotillion
parties. Their tendency, in every respect, is evil in the extreme.

Dancing among children [unreadable] their pastimes--or by young
people, at private parties, or social gatherings, engaged in
temperately, and for a brief period, with proper precautions in
regard to health, cannot, be objectionable. In this, as in most
other amusements, it is the excess, the abuse, that causes the
injury.

In urging these considerations on the young, I would not seek to
deprive them of any amusement suited to their age and circumstances.
Youth is the season of joyousness--of light-hearted pleasure, and
budding hope. I would not overshadow one ray of its bright and
beautiful sunshine--nor check one throb of its innocent pleasure.
The shadows, the cares, and burthens of life, will come upon them
full early enough, at the latest. In the spring-time of their
days--the delicious, romantic morning of their being--they can
experience some of the sweetest hours of their earthly existence.
Nor would I rob them of that which God and nature designed them to
enjoy. But I would have them seek for innocent amusements--for
recreations and enjoyments, of a pure and elevated character. None
other can make them truly happy. All things sinful in their nature,
or demoralizing in their tendency, are unmitigated evils,
destructive in their consequences. However attractive they may
appear to the inexperienced, in the form of amusements, yet in the
end, they will "bite as a serpent, and sting as an adder."

There is no necessity that the young should resort to that which is
low and vicious to find amusement. A thousand means of recreation
surround them, of the most harmless character. The enjoyments of the
paternal roof--the social party, where the young engage in sprightly
conversation, or innocent pastimes--the friendly call--the perusal
of interesting and instructive books--the scanning of the journals
of the day, by which they can look out upon the shifting scene of
the busy, restless world--the summer morning walk, to behold the
opening beauties of the glorious day, and listen to the singing of
the birds, the lowing of the flocks and herds, the murmuring of the
streamlet, nature's early anthem of praise to God--or the evening
ramble, to watch the flowers as they open their fragrant leaves to
be bathed in sweet distilling dews--to gaze upon the golden sunset,
making the fleecy clouds to blush with a crimson glow, as the king
of day bids them "good night;" or to behold the stars, as one by one
they come forth to their appointed stations, bestudding the whole
heavens with crystal coronets.--These, O youth! and countless other
fountains, are open for you, from which the sweetest and purest
enjoyments can be obtained. Seek for amusement--for pleasure--in
these directions, and the cup which you press to your lips shall be
one of unmixed happiness!

    "While some in folly's pleasures roll,
     And court the joys that hurt the soul,
     Be mine that silent, calm repast,
     A conscience peaceful to the last."



LECTURE V.

The Religious Sentiments.

    "Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth."--Eccl.
    xii. 1.


There are few subjects so generally uninteresting to the youthful as
Religion. The great majority prefer to have their attention called
in any other direction, and to be addressed on any topic, rather
than this, which, in fact, is the most important of all. There is
evidently a defect somewhere in this matter, which should be
corrected. Where shall we seek for it? Not in any natural, inherent
aversion to the subject of religion, resting in the hearts of the
young. It is neither reasonable in itself, nor respectful to the
Creator, to insist he has so constituted the human soul, that it is
naturally and necessarily indisposed to a topic which is most
vitally connected with its happiness, and which should receive a
large share of its attention.

This indifference is to be attributed chiefly, I think, to improper
impressions in regard to the nature and objects of religion.
The young look upon it as something gloomy, saddening, and
distasteful--something that forbids enjoyment, chains in dire
bondage the free, glad spirit of early life, and casts dark and
cheerless shadows on the sunshine of youth's bright morning! They
imagine it to stalk forth from a dark cell, arrayed in hood and
cowl, to frown upon them in their innocent pastimes--to curdle their
blood with severe rebukes, because of the buoyancy of their hearts
and to drive them back with scowling reprimands, when they would
walk in the sunny paths which God has kindly opened for their
elastic footsteps. Hence they close their ears to its invitations;
turn away from its instructions, as something designed to impose a
heavy yoke upon them; and postpone its claims, to be attended to
among the last acts of life.

That these views and feelings should widely prevail, on a subject
so important as religion, is a matter of deep regret. They are
erroneous and deleterious in the extreme. Let the young strive to
become acquainted with the true nature of the religion of Christ,
and they will learn that such are not its requirements, nor its
fruits. It is not the purpose of its Divine Author to sadden the
heart, or fill the mind with gloom; but to cheer and gladden the
soul, and lead it to the highest and sweetest enjoyments of
existence. It is not the aim of religion to deprive the young of any
real enjoyment--any recreation proper to their age or their nature,
as intellectual, moral, and spiritual beings. But it would assist
the young to distinguish between permanent happiness, and those
hurtful and wicked gratifications which corrupt the heart, and
plunge the whole being into the dark pool of sin and woe. Religion
is the friendly Guide sent from our Father in heaven, to lead his
creatures away from peril and woe, and direct their footsteps into
the most beautiful and happy paths of existence.

    "Through life's bewildered way,
      Her hand unerring leads;
     And o'er the path her heavenly ray
      A cheering lustre sheds."

What sight can present itself to the eye more pleasing than a
_religious youth_. By this I do not mean a gloomy, downcast,
sorrowful young man, or young woman, whose countenance is overcast
with shadows, and whose presence chills every beholder. It is a
darkened superstition, a cold, cheerless asceticism, and not the
Christian religion, which gives this unnatural and forbidding
appearance. A religious youth is one who is cheerful and
happy--whose countenance is pervaded with an expression of
benevolence, a smile of contentment--who is constant in attendance
on public worship--who respects the Scriptures, and makes their
daily perusal one of the fixed duties of life--who loves God, and
strives faithfully to keep his commandments--who reverences the
Saviour of man, and takes him as a pattern in all things--who is
honest, industrious, economical, and strictly temperate. Behold the
fair picture! Is it not goodly to look upon? Can earth furnish a
spectacle more beautiful? Such a youth is beloved of all men.
Angels, Christ, the Father, smile their approval on every one
treading this high pathway

     "Sweet is the early dew
      Which gilds the mountain tops,
    And decks each plant and flower we view
      With pearly, glittering drops;
      But sweeter far the scene
      On Zion's holy hill,
    When there the dew of youth is seen
      Its freshness to distill."

Is there a youth in the audience who does not desire to occupy a
position so elevated and so honorable? Do not imagine it is beyond
your reach. Every one can attain to it by proper exertion. It is
not difficult of accomplishment. With pure desires, and right
intentions, nothing is more feasible. In fact, so to conduct as to
secure such a character, and attain to such a position, is the most
easy, pleasant, and happy path in which the young can walk. All
others are full of difficulty, vexation, trouble, and wretchedness.
All others yield fruit the most bitter and poisonous--fruit which,
however luscious and tempting it may appear to the eye, like the
apples of Sodom, will turn to ashes in the hand.

If the young are looking simply for a peaceful and happy life, where
prosperity will be the most likely to attend them, and where the
richest and choicest blessings will be showered on their pathway,
they will find it in the practice of religion. So far from being a
heavy burthen, a grievous cross, it is the lightener of all
burthens, the easiest of all yokes, the kindest, truest friend, to
help along the rough spots, and smile and cheer in the darkest hours
of man's earthly pilgrimage. Listen to the representations of
religion found in the Word of God: "Wisdom is more precious than
rubies; and all things thou canst desire are not to be compared to
her. Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand
riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her
paths are peace."[5] "Come, ye children, hearken unto me. I will
teach you the fear [reverence] of the Lord. What man is he that
desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good? Keep thy
tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile. Depart from
evil, and do good. Seek peace and pursue it."[6] "Blessed is the man
that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the
way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his
delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate,
day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of
water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season. His leaf also
shall not wither. And whatsoever he doeth shall prosper."[7] There
is nothing sad and gloomy in these views; but everything pleasant
and inviting.

[Footnote 5: Prov. iii. 15, 16, 17.]

[Footnote 6: Ps. xxxiv. 11-14.]

[Footnote 7: Ps. i. 1, 2, 3.]

I would disabuse the young of the idea that religion is needed only
by the aged, the sick, and the dying; and that it can be of no
essential service at other times. It does indeed become the hoary
head, more than the jewelled diadem. It is the comforter of the
sick--the supporter of the departing spirit--giving it a sustaining
power which all earth's riches cannot purchase. But religion is
quite as appropriate and essential to the youthful as to the aged
and sick. It is equally as important that men should _live_ right,
as _die_ right. There is no way so effectually to insure a peaceful
and happy death, as to live a good and useful life. Religion leads
to such a life, and prepares the way for such a death. Hence the
necessity that the young should give themselves up to its influences
in the morning of their days, that their meridian may be fruitful of
good, and their evening sunset calm and serene.

Away, then, with the supposition, that religion is not adapted, nor
necessary to youth. "The flower of youth never appears more
beautiful, than when it leans towards the Sun of Righteousness."
Religion is the brightest ornament with which the young can bedeck
themselves. The fragrant blossom which crowns the tree, is not more
beautiful, or hopeful of coming fruitfulness, than is religion to
the freshness of youth. Indeed, as the blossom is necessary to
insure the rich and golden fruit, so is early religion requisite to
a useful and prosperous career. It is the best preparation the young
can secure for after life, whatever calling they may pursue. There
is no occupation, no pursuit, no profession, which they will not be
far better prepared to enter, by the influence of an enlightened,
cheerful, enlarged Christian faith and practice. These will
interfere with no useful enterprise, no honest business, no laudable
calling; nor prevent the prosecution of any of the many projects
among men, which comport with the public good, and are executed
on principles of integrity. Religion will make its possessors
better and more successful laborers, mechanics, manufacturers,
agriculturists, merchants, and more respected and useful members of
any of the learned professions.

If there is any pursuit, any business, which you cannot prosecute
with the sanction of religion, avoid it at once and forever. You had
better do anything else than engage in it. I would have the young
strongly impressed with this view. It would be far preferable to
suffer poverty and obscurity, in an honest and useful calling, than
to obtain the possession and fame of great riches, in a pursuit
which the pure and enlightened principles of Christianity would
condemn. Although you may succeed in hoarding up mountains of gold
in such a pursuit, and in possessing broad domains and "the cattle
on a thousand hills," yet all this will not afford you one throb of
genuine enjoyment. There would be that in the manner of obtaining
these possessions, which would utterly deprive them of all power to
impart happiness. Wealth secured by extortion, fraud, or any
practice or business of a corrupting nature, injurious to the
morals, and destructive to the well-being of community, will be of
no more value to him who thus obtains it, as far as his happiness is
concerned, than so much dust. It is the consciousness of having
obtained riches in honest and useful pursuits, that gives zest and
relish to the enjoyments they procure. Without this consciousness,
the man of wealth has less of pure peace and happiness than the
poorest honest man in the wide world. In the very nature of things,
as a wise and holy God has constituted us, this must inevitably be
so. All past history and experience furnish indubitable proof of the
correctness of this position. If I can impress this single truth on
the hearts and memories of the youthful, I shall do them a service
of a value beyond all human computation.

These considerations, I trust, will tend to convince the young of
the vital importance of obtaining now, at the commencement of their
career, the direction and influence of well-grounded and enlightened
religious views and principles. I would have them become neither
fanatics nor bigots; but would urge them to place themselves under
the pure and divine light of the gospel of Christ, that they may be
exalted to the highest and noblest principles of human action, and
to the summit of human enjoyment.

To what sources should the young apply for correct religious
doctrines and principles? While they should give due heed to the
instruction and advice of the learned, the wise and good, within
whose influence they may be thrown, yet they should not depend
wholly upon these sources for the attainment of truth. The wisest
and best among religious teachers, differ materially on fundamental
points. To rely solely on the convictions of others, however exalted
their talents or sincere their opinions, would be injustice to
yourselves, and to the truth you would obtain. Let no man _think_
for you. He who would persuade you to allow him to do so--who would
have you distrust the convictions of your own reason, throw aside
the decisions of your judgment, and allow him to judge and decide
for you, in religious matters, does in fact assume to be your
master, and would reduce you to a poor and pitiable spiritual
bondage.

Let not the young overlook the fact, that they have been endowed by
their Creator with the faculties of reason, judgment, and
discrimination. These must necessarily be exercised in forming
enlightened religious opinions. Those who fail to do this, fall an
easy prey to every error that will but commend itself by something
novel and startling. Christianity is pre-eminently, a reasonable
system of doctrines. There is no topic claiming the attention of
man, in the investigation of which it is so important to exercise
with all deliberation, the highest capacities of reason and
reflection, as religion. From the great multiplicity of opinions
which prevail, those who are distrustful of their own judgment and
reason, and who are more disposed to receive the _ipse dixit_ of
others, than to depend on the convictions of the good sense with
which they have been endowed, will speedily become involved in a
labyrinth of errors, from which it will be difficult to extricate
themselves. Let the young, in all their religious investigations,
hesitate not to appeal continually to the highest and noblest
capacity of their nature, and give all due weight to its decisions.
Freely, abundantly, your Maker has bestowed a reasoning capacity
upon you. Freely, unhesitatingly, always should you appeal to its
directing light.

Whoever counsel the young against the exercise of reason in regard
to religion--whoever warn them to beware of its decisions on a
topic so momentous--lay themselves open to a just and legitimate
suspicion, of being the abettors of error. Is not this self-evident?
Error is born in ignorance. It burrows in darkness, and draws all
its vitality from stupid credulity. Enlightened reason strips away
the false garbs by which it deceives the thoughtless, reveals its
deformities, and holds up its absurdities naked and repulsive, to
the gaze of the passer-by. In view of such an unwelcome office, it
is natural that error should dread the eye of reason, should shrink
away at its approach, and cry out mightily against its scrutiny.

Not so is it with truth. It cultivates no apprehension of reason. It
courts, invites its approach, and smiles in conscious strength at
its most critical investigations. Truth has everything to gain, and
nothing to lose from the researches of reason. The clearer and
keener the eye of the one, the more beautiful the appearance of the
other. Truth and Reason are twin sisters, born of God, and
despatched from heaven, to guide and bless earth's children. They
are linked together inseparably. The one is never found except in
the presence of the other. Their blended light is all that gives
value and beauty to Christianity, and all that makes it of any more
importance than the merest heathen fable. Mutually they co-operate
with, and strengthen each other. All Truth is reasonable, and all
the legitimate deductions of Reason are true. Truth forms the vital
atmosphere which Reason inhales. Reason is the very sunlight in
which Truth bathes its beauteous form.

Remember, O youth, religion does not require you to separate these
heaven-born guides to men. Never expect to find religious truth,
without beholding it radiant with the light of reason. Reject
without hesitation, whatever is presented to you as truth,
unless reason throws its divine sanction around it. In all your
investigations, let Reason direct your footsteps; and, guided by
revelation, it will at last, and unerringly, lead you to the
glorious abode of Truth.

It is readily allowed, there are truths in Christianity which reason
cannot fathom. Not because they are opposed to reason, but because
they are beyond its reach. They are infinite, while man's reason is
finite. But it is only by the light of reason that man can see any
consistency or propriety in the assertion of such truths. Reason may
sanction what it cannot fully grasp, as the boundlessness of space,
or the endlessness of time. One thing may be _above_ reason, another
thing may be _opposed_ to reason. The former it may approve--the
latter it will peremptorily condemn. This is an important
distinction, which should never be overlooked in its bearing on
religious tenets.

In all researches for an enlightened religious faith, there are but
two sources of information, on which reliance can be placed with
entire confidence, viz. _the Works of Nature_, and the _Revealed
Word of God_. Both are equally the productions of the Infinite Mind,
and can be studied with the highest profit.

Nature's works are but an "elder Scripture," written by Jehovah's
finger. In glowing suns and stars, we read its brilliant and
instructive lessons. These all teach us aright of the perfections of
the Sovereign Creator. They are "golden steps," on which the mind
ascends to a clearer view of the great Creator. Behold the
o'erarching canopy with which God has adorned our earthly abode. See
how it glitters with burnished worlds, more numerous than the dust
of earth. All are in motion. With a velocity which outstrips the
wind, they wheel their flight around their vast orbits, with a
precision which astonishes and confounds the beholder. Yonder rolls
the planet Jupiter. Could I put my finger down at a certain point in
its orbit, as it rushes past, it might exclaim--"Although the
journey around the orbit in which I revolve, is two thousand nine
hundred and sixty-six millions six hundred and sixty-one thousand
miles, yet in four thousand three hundred and thirty-two days,
fourteen hours, eighteen minutes, and forty-one seconds, I will pass
this point again!!" And away it flies to fulfil the grand prophecy.
I watch with intense interest for more than eleven years. At length
they have expired. The days also run by--the hours pass--the
minutes. And as the clock ticks the forty-first second, lo! old
Jupiter wheels past the given point, without the variation of the
thousandth part of a moment. Thus it has been journeying from the
morning of creation. Thus perfectly revolve all the heavenly bodies.

    "Mysterious round! what skill, what force divine,
     Deep felt, in these appear! A single train,
     Yet so delightful mixed, with such kind art,
     Such beauty and beneficence combin'd;
     Shade, unperceived, so softening into shade;
     And all so forming an harmonious whole;
     That as they still succeed, they ravish still."

In the magnitude of the heavenly bodies, and the precision of their
movements, we behold the most glorious and convincing evidences of
the omnipotence of God's power, and the perfection of His wisdom and
skill. In the splendor of the starry dome of night--in the thousand
attractions of our earthly abode--the loveliness of its summer
landscapes--the beauty of its flowers, and the balmy fragrance they
distil upon the air--in the warmth of the precious sunlight, which
floods hill, valley, field, forest, and ocean--in the refreshing
influences of the evening dew, and "the early and latter rains"--in
the grateful breeze which bears life and health to our nostrils--in
the rich productions of the ever-bountiful soil--in these, in all
nature's wide departments, we read, with rejoicing eyes, the
witnesses of the impartial goodness and boundless beneficence of
the Father of spirits!

    "My heart is awed within me, when I think
     Of the great miracle that still goes on,
     In silence, round me--the perpetual work
     Of thy creation, finished, yet renewed
     Forever. Written on thy works I read
     The lesson of thy Eternity."

Nature furnishes a thousand evidences of man's immortality--that
greatest of all truths asserted by revelation, and sustained by
religion. We see a corroboration of this momentous fact, in the
transformation of the loathsome caterpillar into the beautiful
butterfly, by the process of an actual death--in the dying and
reviving of the vegetable kingdom--in the luxuriant plant and golden
harvest, springing from the dead body of the seed--in the numerous
forms and processes in which life springs from death all around us.

                             "Oh, listen, man,
    A voice within us speaks the startling word,
    'Man, thou shalt never die!' Celestial voices
    Hymn it round our souls; according harps,
    By angel lingers touched when the mild stars
    Of morning sang together, sounds forth still
    The song of our great immortality;
    Thick-clustering orbs, and this our fair domain,
    The tall, dark mountains, and the deep-toned seas,
    Join in the solemn, universal song.
    O, listen, ye, our spirits; drink it in
    From all the air! 'Tis in the gentle moonlight:
    Is floating in day's setting glories; Night,
    Wrapped in her sable robe, with silent step
    Comes to our bed and breathes it in our ears.
    Night and the dawn, bright day and thoughtful eve,
    All times, all bounds, the limitless expanse,
    As one great mystic instrument, are touched
    By an unseen, living Hand, and conscious chords
    Quiver with joy in this great jubilee.
    The dying hear it; and as sounds of earth
    Grow dull and distant, wake their passing souls
    To mingle in this passing melody."[8]

[Footnote 8: Dana.]

Still more valuable resources for the attainment of religious truths
are found in the holy Scriptures--the revealed word of the Most
High. In forming their religious opinions, let the young fail not to
make these sacred pages their constant study. Nor should they dream
they will find there any contradiction to the lessons read on the
broad pages of Nature's book. These are but different methods in
which the same God reveals himself to his creatures. He will not
contradict himself. His revealed word as plainly asserts his power,
wisdom, and goodness, as his works shadow forth these glorious
perfections. While the Scriptures do not contradict the voice
uttered by nature, they lead us to higher departments of religion,
and to clearer revelations of God and his character. They represent
him as a Father, exercising a parental government over man--a
government characterized by benevolence, justice, mercy, and truth,
and administered for the promotion of his own glory, and the highest
good of those called to obey. The Scriptures, moreover, bring to
our knowledge the Son of God and his gospel--presenting us in
the life of Jesus Christ, a beautiful example of truth, purity,
righteousness, and love, and imparting, in his teachings, the most
perfect rules of human conduct, and the brightest anticipations of
life and immortality beyond the grave.

In perusing the Scriptures, let reason be your guide. Reason should
not be elevated above the Scriptures; yet they cannot be understood
without its aid. The Creator, in the Bible, addresses himself
directly to man's reason: "Come now, and let us reason together,
saith the Lord."[9] Without the exercise of reason in reading the
Bible, it will be as a sealed book. How else can man comprehend its
truths, and be instructed by its rich lessons of wisdom? In the
exercise of this highest capacity bestowed upon us, the word of God
will appear harmonious in all its parts--beautiful and sublime in
all its truths--instructive in all its lessons--inspiring the
brightest, broadest hopes the mind can conceive. But lay reason
aside, in its perusal, and it will be involved in inextricable
confusion, and impenetrable darkness.

[Footnote 9: Isaiah i. 18.]

The young should not lose sight of the fact, that we have the Bible
only in the form of a translation by uninspired men, from the
original Hebrew and Greek, in which it was penned by the inspired
writers. Hence it should not seem surprising that there are some
inaccuracies connected with this translation; nor that certain
words, allusion, and forms of speech, appear obscure and
unintelligible. There is a plain and simple rule by which all
obscure and disputed words and passages should be understood. Give
them such construction as will most perfectly correspond with the
attributes and character of God, as revealed in his word and works,
his omnipotence and omniscience, his wisdom and goodness, his
justice and mercy--and as will best accord with the grace and love
which moved the Saviour in his divine mission to the earth.

For the following excellent suggestions in regard to the study of
the Scriptures, I am indebted to a popular writer of the present
day.

"On the Sabbath the Bible should be _studied_. Every person, old or
young, ignorant or learned, should devote a portion of time every
Sabbath to the _study_ of the Scriptures, in the more strict and
proper sense of that term. But to show precisely what I mean by this
weekly study of the Bible, I will describe a particular case. A
young man with only such opportunities as are possessed by all,
resolves to take this course. He selects the Epistle to the
Ephesians for his first subject; he obtains such books and helps as
he finds in his own family, or as he can obtain from a religious
friend, or procure from a Sabbath-school library. It is not too much
to suppose that he will have a sacred Atlas, some Commentary, and
probably a Bible Dictionary. He should also have pen, ink, and
paper; and thus provided, he sits down Sabbath morning to his work.
He raises a short but heartfelt prayer to God that he will assist
and bless him, and then commences his inquiries.

"The Epistle to the Ephesians I have supposed to be his subject.
He sees that the first question evidently is, '_Who were the
Ephesians_?' He finds the city of Ephesus upon the map; and from the
preface to the Epistle contained in the commentary, or from any
other source to which he can have access, he learns what sort of a
city it was--what was the character of the inhabitants, and if
possible, what condition the city was in at the time this letter was
written. He next inquires in regard to the writer of this letter or
Epistle, as it is called. It was Paul; and what did Paul know of the
Ephesians? had he ever been there? or was he writing to strangers?
To settle these points, so evidently important to a correct
understanding of the letter, he examines the Acts of the Apostles,
(in which an account of St. Paul's labors is contained,) to learn
whether Paul went there, and if so, what happened while he was
there. He finds that many interesting incidents occurred during
Paul's visits, and his curiosity is excited to know whether these
things will be alluded to in the letter; he also endeavors to
ascertain where Paul was when he wrote the letter. After having thus
determined everything relating to the circumstances of the case, he
is prepared to come to the Epistle itself, and enter with spirit and
interest into an examination of its contents.

"He first glances his eye cursorily through the chapters of the
book, that he may take in at once a general view of its object and
design--perhaps he makes out a brief list of the topics discussed,
and thus has a distinct general idea of the whole before he enters
into a minute examination of the parts. This minute examination he
comes to at last--though perhaps the time devoted to the study for
_two or three_ Sabbaths is spent in the preparatory inquiries. If it
is so, it is time well spent; for by it he is now prepared to enter
with interest into the very soul and spirit of the letter. While he
was ignorant of these points, his knowledge of the Epistle itself
must have been very vague and superficial. Suppose I were now to
introduce into this book a letter, and should begin at once, without
saying by whom the letter was written, or to whom it was addressed.
It would be preposterous. If I wished to excite your interest, I
should describe particularly the parties, and the circumstances
which produced the letter originally. And yet how many Christians
there are, who could not tell whether Paul's letter to the Ephesians
was written before or after he went there, or where Titus was when
Paul wrote to him, or for what special purpose he wrote!

"This method of studying the Scriptures, which I have thus attempted
to describe, and which I might illustrate by supposing many other
cases, is not intended for one class alone; not for the ignorant
peculiarly, nor for the wise; not for the rich, nor for the poor;
but for all. The solitary widow, in her lonely cottage among the
distant mountains, with nothing but her simple Bible in her hand, by
the light of her evening fire, may pursue this course of comparing
Scripture with Scripture, and entering into the spirit of sacred
story, throwing herself back to ancient times, and thus preparing
herself to grasp more completely, and to feel more vividly the moral
lessons which the Bible is mainly intended to teach. And the most
cultivated scholar may pursue this course in his quiet study,
surrounded by all the helps to a thorough knowledge of the
Scriptures which learning can produce or wealth obtain.

"I hope the specimens I have given are sufficient to convey to my
readers the general idea I have in view, when I speak of _studying_
the Bible, in contradistinction from the mere cursory reading of it,
which is so common among Christians.

"Select some subject upon which a good deal of information may be
found in various parts of the Bible, and make it your object to
bring together into one view all that the Bible says upon that
subject. Take for instance the life of the Apostle Peter. Suppose
you make it your business on one Sabbath, with the help of a
brother, or sister, or any other friend who will unite with you in
the work, to obtain all the information which the Bible gives in
regard to him. By the help of the Concordance you find all the
places in which he is mentioned--you compare the various accounts in
the Four Gospels; see in what they agree and in what they differ.
After following down his history as far as the Evangelists bring it,
you take up the book of the Acts, and go through that for
information in regard to this Apostle, omitting those parts which
relate to other subjects. In this way you become fully acquainted
with his character and history; you understand it as a whole.

"_Jerusalem_ is another good subject, and the examination would
afford scope for the exercise of the faculties of the highest minds
for many Sabbaths: find when the city is first named, and from the
manner in which it is mentioned, and the circumstances connected
with the earliest accounts of it, ascertain what sort of a city
it was at that time. Then follow its history down; notice the
changes as they occur; understand every revolution, examine the
circumstances of every battle and siege of which it is the scene,
and thus become acquainted with its whole story down to the time
when the sacred narration leaves it. To do this well, will require
patient and careful investigation. You cannot do it as you can read
a chapter, carelessly and with an unconcerned and uninterested mind;
you must, if you would succeed in such an investigation, engage in
it _in earnest_. And that is the very advantage of such a method of
study; it breaks up effectually that habit of listless, dull,
inattentive reading of the Bible which so extensively prevails.

"You may take the subject of the _Sabbath_; examine the
circumstances of its first appointment, and then follow its history
down, so far as it is given in the Bible, to the last Sabbath
alluded to on the sacred pages.

"The variety of topics which might profitably be studied in this way
is vastly greater than would at first be supposed. There are a great
number of biographical and geographical topics--a great number which
relate to manners, and customs, and sacred instructions. In fact,
the whole Bible may be analyzed in this way; and its various
contents brought before the mind in new aspects, and with a
freshness and vividness which, in the mere repeated reading of the
Scriptures in regular course, can never be seen."[10]

[Footnote 10: Abbott's Young Christian.]

In connection with this general subject, I would make a few
suggestions to the young, in regard to those who differ from them on
religious doctrines. That there should be a diversity of opinions in
respect to a subject so purely speculative as religion, should not
be a matter of surprise. Indeed, when the disparity in strength of
mind, intelligence, discrimination, early instruction, and
educational bias, which prevails in society, is taken into
consideration, it would be singular if religious differences did not
exist. Our civil institutions and laws, guaranteeing unto every
individual unlimited freedom of opinion, encourage investigations
which tend, for a definite period at least, to produce these
differences.

There are not a few who view with alarm the multiplicity of
religious doctrines and sects, which prevails in our day. They are
disposed to look upon it as an imperfection in our institutions, or
as a token of the degeneracy of our age; and they fear that the most
disastrous consequences will flow from it to Christianity. I cannot
but view these apprehensions as groundless. They seem to grow out
of a singular want of knowledge of the organism of the human mind.
Moreover, they indicate an erroneous conception of the inherent
power of truth; and a marvellous lack of confidence in the
self-sustaining capacity of the Christian religion. If Christianity
cannot exist and progress among men without chaining the human mind
in bondage, stifling all research, and forbidding a critical
investigation of doctrines put forth in its name, then it must at
length become extinct. Men will and must think, reason, investigate,
on religious subjects, as well as other topics, whatever result may
follow. I cherish, however, none of these fears. The multiplicity of
denominations, and the diversity of opinions, can work no serious
injury to religion. The discussions, researches, and critical
examinations, which necessarily grow out of this state of things,
will but sift error from truth; and result, ultimately, in laying
broader and deeper the foundations of pure Christianity in human
society; bringing out its highest excellencies and beauties to the
admiration of men, and elevating it far above the poisoned arrows of
scepticism. It is the errors engrafted on Christianity, in dark and
ignorant ages, that have given the infidel all his weapons of
attack. When these errors shall at length all be detected and
expunged by candid research, and faithful investigation, the shafts
of the sceptic will fall harmless at the base of the graceful and
glorious temple of Christ's religion. In the words of John
Milton--"Though all the winds of doctrine were let loose to play
upon the earth, so truth be in the field, we do injuriously * * * to
misdoubt her strength. Let her and falsehood grapple. Who ever knew
truth put to the worse in a free and open encounter?"

What line of conduct should the young adopt towards those who differ
from them on religious doctrines?

In the first place, let it never be forgotten that others have the
same civil, moral, and religious right to differ in sentiment from
you, that you have from them. This right is recognized by our
republican government, and is sanctioned by the gospel. One of the
directions of the Saviour is, that men should "search the
Scriptures."[11] There would be no propriety in this commandment,
had not individuals the right to understand the teachings of the
Scriptures, according to their best judgment, with the light they
possess. Moreover, Protestantism allows among its first principles,
the legitimate right of individual interpretation of the Scriptures,
and private judgment in religious matters. It was for this right
that Luther and Zuinglius, Melancthon and Calvin, and all the
Reformers, contended against the arrogant assumption of the Roman
Church. That Church insisted that the people were not to understand
the Scriptures for themselves, but were bound, to receive,
unquestioned, such interpretations as the bishop or priest should
teach them. Whoever deny freedom of opinion, in regard to religion,
to all men, clearly violate the spirit of the gospel, the recognized
rights conferred by the Protestant religion, and the sanctions of
our political institutions.

[Footnote 11: John v. 39.]

Admitting then, as you must, the privilege of others to differ from
you in religious sentiment, you should not allow that difference to
be a matter of offence. It should be no disparagement in your view,
nor lessen them in your estimation. However great you may consider
the errors of your neighbors, if you are satisfied they are
_sincere_, you should respect them for their sincerity! Hypocrisy,
in every form, should be denounced. Those who profess to believe
what they do not, or to be what they are not--who assume the
Christian name when they are in fact, but bitter and narrow-minded
bigots--are only worthy to be heartily despised.

Let me caution the young, also, against a spirit of exclusiveness.
In our age and country, a religious aristocracy is no more to be
acknowledged than a political. All denominations stand on an
_equality_, in their rights and privileges, and in the estimation in
which they are to be held as public bodies. No sect can put on airs,
and assume to lord it over others, in any respect whatever, without
subjecting itself to the severest censure. Among the rights
belonging equally to all, is the Christian name. Every denomination
which receives the Scriptures as the inspired word of God, and
believes in Jesus Christ, as the Son of God and the Saviour of men,
is justly entitled to the name of _Christian_, and to be
acknowledged and treated as such. This is the only test laid down in
the New Testament, as a careful examination will satisfy the candid
mind.

For any one sect to attempt to monopolize the Christian name, and
assume that all the piety, godliness, and virtue in the land, is
to be found in its borders alone, is to place itself in a most
ridiculous position. A pretence so arrogant and groundless, in our
enlightened day, can have no other effect than to excite a smile of
pity on the countenance of sincere and candid Christians. I would
have the young give no countenance to these pretensions; but seek
to attain to higher and nobler principles. Let them place sectarian
bitterness and prejudice beneath their feet, and imbibe enough
of the Christian spirit to acknowledge freely, that, in all
denominations, good and pious people can be found.

In estimating those of other views, the young should avoid
denouncing a whole denomination, and condemning their doctrines as
demoralizing, because some corrupt men may have been found in their
midst. If this rule of judging was generally adopted, where is there
a class of Christians which could stand? Were there not among the
chosen twelve of our Saviour, a Judas to betray him, and a Peter to
deny him with oaths? Shall we, therefore, insist that Christianity
is false and corrupting? There are few sects in the land, which have
not had both clergymen and church-members guilty of the most corrupt
practices. Are we to conclude from this, that the doctrines of those
who have had these unworthy members, are false and licentious? Who
are willing to adopt this test? A denomination cannot consistently
apply a test to others which they are not willing to abide by
themselves.

Candor will lead all upright minds to acknowledge that corrupt men
will find their way into every sect, and that it is manifestly
wrong to judge of the whole body by this class. To decide of the
practical tendencies of different and conflicting doctrines, seek
to understand their effect on the great mass of those who receive
them. Do they influence them to honesty, industry, benevolence and
neighborly kindness? Do they inspire respect for the rights and
interest of fellow-beings? Do they open the ear to the cry of
poverty and want? Do they lead to a love supreme to God, and to
our neighbor as ourselves? These are the legitimate fruits of
Christianity. Where they abound, you need not doubt the spirit of
Christ prevails, and that the truths of his gospel are in the midst
of such a people.

I would exhort the young to respect religion, in whatever form they
find it, and to have a high and just regard for the rights and
feelings of professing Christians of every class. In this, as in all
things else, be governed by the Redeemer's golden rule--"All things
whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so unto
them."

Amid the multiplicity of sects and doctrines, let every youth search
for religious truth, as the "pearl of great price!" Be careful that
your researches are in the right direction--not downward to the dark
and mysterious of past and ignorant ages, but upward to the bright,
the simple, and glorious. Ever seek for expansive and enlightened
conceptions of God, his character and purposes--of Christ, his
gospel and its results--of man, his nature, his high relationship,
his duty and destiny. The more elevated and comprehensive your views
on these subjects, the more exalted will be your feelings and
principles of action; and the better will you be prepared to live
a life of purity and usefulness, and to die triumphing in the
brightest and sweetest hopes of immortal light and happiness.

In concluding this subject, I would call attention to the following
suggestions of several able writers, in regard to Religion and its
influence on its possessors:--

"In the great and universal concern of religion, both sexes, and
all ranks are equally interested. The truly catholic spirit of
Christianity accommodates itself, with an astonishing condescension,
to the circumstances of the whole human race. It rejects none on
account of their pecuniary wants, their personal infirmities, or
their intellectual deficiencies. No superiority of parts is the
least recommendation, nor is any depression of fortune the smallest
objection. None are too wise to be excused from performing the
duties of religion, nor are any too poor to be excluded from the
consolations of its promises.

"If we admire the wisdom of God in having furnished different
degrees of intelligence, so exactly adapted to their different
conditions, and in having fitted every part of this stupendous work,
not only to serve its own immediate purpose, but also to contribute
to the beauty and perfection of the whole; how much more ought we
to adore that goodness which has perfected the divine plan, by
appointing one wide and comprehensive means of salvation: a
salvation which all are invited to partake; by a means which all are
capable of using; which nothing but voluntary blindness can prevent
our comprehending, and nothing but wilful error can hinder us from
embracing.

"The muses are coy, and will only be wooed and won by some
highly-favored suitors. The sciences are lofty, and will not stoop
to the reach of ordinary capacities. But 'wisdom (by which the royal
preacher means piety) is a loving spirit; she is easily seen of them
that love her, and found of all such as seek her.' Nay, she is so
accessible and condescending, 'that she preventeth them that desire
her, making herself first known unto them.'

"We are told by the same animated writer, 'that wisdom is the breath
of the power of God.' How infinitely superior in grandeur and
sublimity, is this description to the origin of the _wisdom_ of the
heathens, as described by their poets and mythologists! In the
exalted strains of the Hebrew poetry, we read, that 'wisdom is the
brightness of the everlasting light, the unspotted mirror of the
power of God, and the image of his goodness.'

"The philosophical author of 'The Defence of Learning,' observes,
that knowledge has some thing of venom and malignity in it, when
taken without its proper corrective; and what that is, the
inspired St. Paul teaches us, by placing it as the immediate
antidote--'Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.' Perhaps it
is the vanity of human wisdom, unchastised by this correcting
principle, which has made so many infidels. It may proceed from the
arrogance of a self-sufficient pride, that some philosophers disdain
to acknowledge their belief in a Being who has judged proper to
conceal from them the infinite wisdom of his counsels; who (to
borrow the lofty language of the man of Uz) refused to consult them
when he laid the foundations of the earth, when he shut up the sea
with doors, and made the clouds the garment thereof.

"A man must be an infidel either from pride, prejudice, or bad
education; he cannot be one unawares, or by surprise; for infidelity
is not occasioned by sudden impulse or violent temptation. He may be
hurried by some vehement desire into an immoral action, at which he
will blush in his cooler moments, and which he will lament as the
sad effect of a spirit unsubdued by religion; but infidelity is a
calm, considerate act, which cannot plead the weakness of the heart,
or the seduction of the senses. Even good men frequently fail in
their duty through the infirmities of nature and the allurements of
the world; but the infidel errs on a plan, on a settled and
deliberate principle.

"But though the minds of men are sometimes fatally infected with
this disease, either through unhappy prepossession, or some of the
other causes above-mentioned, yet I am unwilling to believe that
there is in nature so monstrously incongruous a being as a _female_
infidel. The least reflection on the temper, the character, and the
education of women, makes the mind revolt with horror from an idea
so improbable and so unnatural.

"May I be allowed to observe that, in general, the minds of girls
seem more aptly prepared in their early youth for the reception of
serious impressions than those of the other sex, and that their less
exposed situations in more advanced life qualify them better for the
preservation of them! The daughters (of good parents I mean) are
often more carefully instructed in their religious duties than the
sons, and this from a variety of causes. They are not so soon sent
from under the paternal eye into the bustle of the world, and so
early exposed to the contagion of bad example: their hearts are
naturally more flexible, soft, and liable to any kind of impression
the forming hand may stamp on them; and, lastly, as they do not
receive the same classical education with boys, their feeble minds
are not obliged at once to receive and separate the precepts of
Christianity, and the documents of pagan philosophy. The necessity
of doing this perhaps somewhat weakens the serious impressions of
young men, at least till the understanding is formed; and confuses
their ideas of piety, by mixing them with so much heterogeneous
matter. They only casually read, or hear read, the Scriptures of
truth, while they are obliged to learn by heart, construe, and
repeat, the poetical fables of the less than human gods of the
ancients. And, as the excellent author of 'The Internal Evidence of
the Christian Religion' observes, 'Nothing has so much contributed
to corrupt the true spirit of the Christian institution, as that
partiality which we contract, in our earliest education, for the
manners of pagan antiquity.'

"Girls, therefore, who do _not_ contract this early partiality,
ought to have a clearer notion of their religious duties: they are
not obliged, at an age when the judgment is so weak, to distinguish
between the doctrines of Zeno, of Epicurus, and of Christ; and to
embarrass their minds with the various morals, which were taught in
the Porch, in the Academy, and on the Mount.

"It is presumed that these remarks cannot possibly be so
misunderstood, as to be construed into the least disrespect to
literature, or a want of the highest reverence for a learned
education, the basis of all elegant knowledge: they are only
intended, with all proper deference, to point out to young women
that, however inferior their advantages of acquiring a knowledge
of the belles-lettres are to those of the other sex, yet it depends
on themselves not to be surpassed in this most important of all
studies, for which their abilities are equal, and their
opportunities perhaps greater.

"But the mere exemption from infidelity is so small a part of the
religious character, that I hope no one will attempt to claim any
merit from this negative sort of goodness, or value herself merely
for not being the very worst thing she possibly can be. Let no
mistaken girl fancy she gives a proof of her wit by her want of
piety, or that a contempt of things serious and sacred will exalt
her understanding, or raise her character even in the opinion of the
most avowed male infidels. For one may venture to affirm, that with
all their profligate ideas, both of women and religion, neither
Bolingbroke, Wharton, Buckingham, or even Lord Chesterfield himself,
would have esteemed a woman the more for her being irreligious.

"With whatever ridicule a polite freethinker may affect to treat
religion himself, he will think it necessary his wife should
entertain different notions of it. He may pretend to despise it as
a matter of opinion, depending on creeds and systems; but, if he
is a man of sense, he will know the value of it as a governing
principle, which is to influence her conduct and direct her action.
If he sees her unaffectedly sincere in the practice of her religious
duties, it will be a secret pledge to him that she will be equally
exact in fulfilling the conjugal; for he can have no reasonable
dependence on her attachment to _him_, if he has no opinion of her
fidelity to God; for she who neglects first duties, gives but an
indifferent proof of her disposition to fill up inferior ones; and
how can a man of any understanding (whatever his own religious
professions may be) trust that woman with the cares of his family,
and the education of his children, who wants herself the best
incentive to a virtuous life, the belief that she is an accountable
creature, and the reflection that she has an immortal soul?

"Cicero spoke it as the highest commendation of Cato's character,
that he embraced philosophy, not for the sake of _disputing_ like
a philosopher, but of _living_ like one. The chief purpose of
Christian knowledge is to promote the great end of a Christian life.
Every rational woman should, no doubt, be able to give a reason of
the hope that is in her; but this knowledge is best acquired, and
the duties consequent on it best performed, by reading books of
plain piety and practical devotion, and not by entering into the
endless feuds, and engaging in the unprofitable contentions of
partial controversialists. Nothing is more unamiable than the narrow
spirit of party zeal, nor more disgusting than to hear a woman deal
out judgments, and denounce vengeance, against any one who happens
to differ from her in some opinion, perhaps of no real importance,
and which, it is probable, she may be just as wrong in rejecting, as
the object of her censure is in embracing. A furious and unmerciful
female bigot wanders as far beyond the limits prescribed to her sex,
as a Thalestris or a Joan d'Arc. Violent debate has made as few
converts as the sword;--and both these instruments are particularly
unbecoming when wielded by a female hand.

"But, though no one will be frightened out of their opinions, yet
they may be persuaded out of them; they may be touched by the
affecting earnestness of serious conversation, and allured by the
attractive beauty of a consistently serious life. And while a young
woman ought to dread the name of a wrangling polemic, it is her duty
to aspire after the honourable character of a sincere Christian.
But this dignified character she can by no means deserve, if she is
ever afraid to avow her principles, or ashamed to defend them. A
profligate, who makes it a point to ridicule everything which comes
under the appearance of formal instruction, will be disconcerted at
the spirited, yet modest rebuke of a pious young woman: But there is
as much efficacy in the manner of reproving profaneness, as in the
words. If she corrects it with moroseness, she defeats the effect of
her remedy by her unskilful manner of administering it. If, on the
other hand, she affects to defend the insulted cause of God in a
faint tone of voice, and studied ambiguity of phrase, or with an air
of levity, and a certain expression of pleasure in her eyes, which
proves she is secretly delighted with what she pretends to censure,
she injures religion much more than he did who publicly profaned it;
for she plainly indicates, either that she does not believe or
respect what she professes. The other attacked it as an open foe;
she betrays it as a false friend. No one pays any regard to the
opinion of an avowed enemy; but the desertion or treachery of a
professed friend is dangerous indeed!"

       *       *       *       *       *

"A desire after happiness is inseparable from the human mind. It is
the natural and healthy craving of our spirit; an appetite which we
have neither will nor power to destroy, and for which all mankind
are busily employed in making provision. This is as natural, as for
birds to fly, or fishes to swim. For this the scholar and the
philosopher, who think it consists in knowledge, pore over their
books and their apparatus, light the midnight lamp, and keep
frequent vigils, when the world around them is asleep. For this the
warrior, who thinks that happiness is inseparably united with fame,
pursues that bubble through the gory field of conflict, and is as
lavish of his life, as if it were not worth a soldier's pay. The
worldling, with whom happiness and _wealth_ are kindred terms,
worships daily at the shrine of Mammon, and offers earnest prayers
for the golden shower. The voluptuary gratifies every craving sense,
rejoices in the midnight revel, renders himself vile, and yet tells
you he is in the chase of happiness. The ambitious man, conceiving
that the great desideratum blossoms on the sceptre, and hangs in
rich clusters from the throne, consumes one half of his life, and
embitters the other half, in climbing the giddy elevation of
royalty. All these, however, have confessed their disappointment;
and have retired from the stage exclaiming, in reference to
happiness, what Brutus, just before he stabbed himself, did in
reference to virtue, 'I have pursued thee everywhere, and found thee
nothing but a name.' This, however, is a mistake; for both virtue
and happiness are glorious realities, and if they are not found, it
is merely because they are not sought from the right sources.

"1. That religion is pleasure, will appear, if you consider what
part of our nature it more particularly employs and gratifies.

"It is not the gratification of the _senses_, or of the animal part
of our nature, but a provision for _the immaterial and immortal
mind_. The mind of man is an image not only of God's spirituality,
but of his infinity. It is not like the senses, limited to this or
that kind of object; as the sight intermeddles not with that which
affects the smell; but with an universal superintendence, it
arbitrates upon, and takes them all in. It is, as I may say, an
ocean, into which all the little rivulets of sensation, both
external and internal, discharge themselves. Now this is that part
of man to which the exercises of religion properly belong. The
pleasures of the understanding, in the contemplation of truth, have
been sometimes so great, so intense, so engrossing of all the powers
of the soul, that there has been no room left for any other kind of
pleasure. How short of this are the delights of the epicure! How
vastly disproportionate are the pleasures of the eating, and of the
thinking man! Indeed, says Dr. South, as different as the silence of
an Archimides in the study of a problem, and the stillness of a
swine at her wash. Nothing is comparable to the pleasures of mind;
these are enjoyed by the spirits above, by Jesus Christ, and the
great and blessed God.

"Think what objects religion brings before the mind, as the sources
of its pleasure: no less than the great God himself, and that both
in his nature and in his works. For the eye of religion, like that
of the eagle, directs itself chiefly to the sun, to a glory that
neither admits of a superior nor an equal. The mind is conversant,
in the exercises of piety, with all the most stupendous events that
have ever occurred in the history of the universe, or that ever will
transpire till the close of time. The creation of the world; its
government by a universal Providence; its redemption by the death
of Christ; its conversion by the power of the Holy Ghost; the
immortality of the soul; the resurrection of the body; the certainty
of an eternal existence; the secrets of the unseen state; subjects,
all of them of the loftiest and sublimest kind, which have engaged
the inquiries of the profoundest intellects, are the matter of
contemplation to real piety. What topics are these for our reason,
under the guidance of religion, to study: what an ocean to swim in,
what a heaven to soar in: what heights to measure, what depths to
fathom. Here are subjects, which, from their infinite vastness, must
be ever new, and ever-fresh; which can be never laid aside as dry or
empty. If novelty is the parent of pleasure, here it may be found;
for although the subject itself is the same, some new view of it,
some fresh discovery of its wonders, is ever bursting upon the mind
of the devout and attentive inquirer after truth.

"How then can religion be otherwise than pleasant, when it is the
exercise of the noble faculties of the mind, upon the sublimest
topics of mental investigation; the voluntary, excursive, endless
pursuits of the human understanding in the region of eternal truth.
Never was there a more interesting or important inquiry than that
proposed by Pilate to the illustrious Prisoner at his bar; and if
the latter thought it not proper to answer it, it was not to show
that the question was insignificant, but to condemn the light and
flippant manner in which a subject so important was taken up.
Religion can answer the question, and with an ecstasy greater than
that of the ancient Mathematician, exclaims, 'I have found it: I
have found it.' The Bible is not only true, but TRUTH. It contains
that which deserves this sublime emphasis. It settles the disputes
of ages, and of philosophers, and makes known what is truth, and
where it is to be found. It brings us from amongst the quicksands
and shelves, and rocks of skepticism, ignorance, and error, and
shows us that goodly land, in quest of which myriads of minds have
sailed, and multitudes have been wrecked; and religion is setting
our foot on this shore, and dwelling in the region of eternal truth.

"2. That a religious life is pleasant, is evident from the nature of
religion itself.

"Religion is a principle of _spiritual life_ in the soul. Now all
the exercises and acts of vitality are agreeable. To see, to hear,
to taste, to walk, are all agreeable, because they are the voluntary
energies of inward life. So religion, in all its duties, is the
exercise of a living principle in the soul: it is a new spiritual
existence. Piety is a spiritual _taste_. Hence it is said, 'If so be
ye have _tasted_ that the Lord is gracious.' No matter what the
object of a taste is, the exercises of it are always agreeable. The
painter goes with delight to his picture; the musician to his
instrument; the sculptor to his bust; because they have a _taste_
for these pursuits. The same feeling of delight attends the
Christian to the exercises of godliness: and this is his language,
'It is a good thing to give thanks, and to draw near to God. O how I
love thy law! it is sweeter to my taste than honey. How amiable are
thy tabernacles.' Religion, where it is real, is the natural element
of a Christian; and every creature rejoices in its own appropriate
sphere. If you consider true piety with disgust, as a hard,
unnatural, involuntary thing, you are totally ignorant of its
nature, entirely destitute of its influence, and no wonder you
cannot attach to it the idea of pleasure: but viewing it as it ought
to be viewed, in the light of a new nature, you will perceive that
it admits of most exalted delight.

"3. Consider the miseries which it prevents.

"It does not, it is true, prevent sickness, poverty, or misfortune:
it does not fence off from the wilderness of this world, a mystic
enclosure, within which the ills of life never intrude. No; these
things happen to all alike; but how small a portion of human
wretchedness flows from these sources, compared with that which
arises from the dispositions of the heart. 'The mind is its own
place, can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.' Men carry the
springs of their happiness or misery in their own bosom. Hence it is
said of the wicked, 'that they are like the troubled sea which
cannot rest, which is never at peace, but continually casting up
mire and dirt.' In contrast with which, it is affirmed that 'the
work of righteousness is peace; and that the good man shall be
satisfied from himself.' Would you behold the misery entailed by
_pride_, look at Haman; by _covetousness_, look at Ahab; by
_malice_, look at Cain; by _profaneness_ and _sensuality_, united
with the forebodings of a guilty conscience, look at Belshazzar; by
_envy_, and a consciousness of being rejected of God, look at Saul;
by _revenge_, look at Herodias writhing beneath the accusations of
John, and thirsting for his blood; by _apostasy_, look at Judas.
Religion would have prevented all this, and it will prevent similar
misery in you. Hearken to the confessions of the outcast in the land
of his banishment; of the felon in his irons, and in his dungeon; of
the prostitute expiring upon her bed of straw; of the malefactor at
the gallows--'Wretched creature that I am, abhorred of men, accursed
of God! To what have my crimes brought me!' Religion prevents all
this: all that wretchedness which is the result of crime, is cut off
by the influence of genuine piety. Misery prevented is happiness
gained.

"4. Consider the consolations it imparts.

"Our world has been called, in the language of poetry, a vale of
tears, and human life a bubble, raised from those tears, and
inflated by sighs, which, after floating a little while, decked with
a few gaudy colors, is touched by the hand of death, and dissolves.
Poverty, disease, misfortune, unkindness, inconstancy, death, all
assail the travellers as they journey onward to eternity through
this gloomy valley; and what is to comfort them but _religion_?

"The consolations of religion are neither few nor small; they arise
in part from those things which we have already mentioned in this
chapter; _i.e._ from the exercise of the understanding on the
revealed truths of God's word, from the impulses of the spiritual
life within us, and from a reflection upon our spiritual privileges;
but there are some others, which, though partially implied in these
things, deserve a special enumeration and distinct consideration.

"_A good conscience_, which the wise man says is a perpetual feast,
sustains a high place amongst the comforts of genuine piety. It is
unquestionably true, that a man's happiness is in the keeping of his
conscience; all the sources of his felicity are under the command of
this faculty. 'A wounded spirit who can bear?' A troubled conscience
converts a paradise into a hell, for it is the flame of hell kindled
on earth; but a quiet conscience would illuminate the horrors of the
deepest dungeon with the beams of heavenly day; the former has often
rendered men like tormented fiends amidst an elysium of delights,
while the latter has taught the songs of cherubim to martyrs in the
prison or the flames.

"In addition to this, religion comforts the mind, with the assurance
of an all-wise, all-pervading Providence, so minute in its
superintendence and control, that not a sparrow falls to the ground
without the knowledge of our heavenly Father: a superintendence
which is excluded from no point of space, no moment of time, and
overlooks not the meanest creature in existence. Nor is this all;
for the Word of God assures the believer that 'all things work
together for good to them that love God, who are the called
according to his purpose.' Nothing that imagination could conceive,
is more truly consolatory than this, to be assured that all things,
however painful at the time, not excepting the failure of our
favorite schemes, the disappointment of our fondest hopes, the loss
of our dearest comforts, shall be overruled by infinite wisdom for
the promotion of our ultimate good. This is a spring of comfort
whose waters never fail.

"Religion consoles also by making manifest some of the benefits of
affliction, even at the time it is endured. It crucifies the world,
mortifies sin, quickens prayer, extracts the balmy sweets of the
promises, endears the Saviour; and, to crown all, it directs the
mind to that glorious state, where the days of our mourning shall be
ended: that happy country where God shall wipe every tear from our
eyes, and there shall be no more sorrow or crying. Nothing so
composes the mind, and helps it to bear the load of trouble which
God may lay upon it, as the near prospect of its termination.
Religion shows the weather-beaten mariner the haven of eternal
repose, where no storms arise, and the sea is ever calm; it exhibits
to the weary traveller the city of habitation, within whose walls he
will find a pleasant home, rest from his labors, and friends to
welcome his arrival; it discloses to the wounded warrior his native
country, where the alarms of war, and the dangers of conflict, will
be no more encountered, but undisturbed peace forever reign. In that
one word, HEAVEN, religion provides a balm for every wound, a
cordial for every care.

"Here, then, is the pleasure of that wisdom which is from above; it
is not only enjoyed in prosperity but continues to refresh us, and
most powerfully to refresh us, in adversity; a remark which will not
apply to any other kind of pleasure."[12]

[Footnote 12: Christian Father's Present.]

       *       *       *       *       *

"In many persons, a seriousness and sense of awe overspread the
imagination, whenever the idea of the Supreme Being is presented to
their thoughts. This effect, which forms a considerable security
against vice, is the consequence not so much of reflection as of
habit; which habit being generated by the external expressions of
reverence which we use ourselves, or observe in others, may be
destroyed by causes opposite to these, and especially by that
familiar levity with which some learn to speak of the Deity, of his
attributes, providence, revelations or worship.

"God hath been pleased (no matter for what reason, although probably
for this,) to forbid the vain mention of his name:--'Thou shalt not
take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.' Now the mention is
_vain_ when it is useless; and it is useless when it is neither
likely nor intended to serve any good purpose; as when it flows
from the lips idle and unmeaning, or is applied, on occasions
inconsistent with any consideration of religion and devotion, to
express our anger, our earnestness, our courage, or our mirth; or
indeed when it is used at all, except in acts of religion, or in
serious and seasonable discourse upon religious subjects.

"The prohibition of the third commandment is recognized by Christ
in his sermon upon the mount; which sermon adverts to none but the
moral parts of the Jewish law: 'I say unto you, swear not at all:
but let your communication be Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever
is more than these cometh of evil.' The Jews probably interpreted
the prohibition as restrained to the name JEHOVAH, the name which
the Deity had appointed and appropriated to himself; Exod. vi. 3.
The words of Christ extend the prohibition beyond the _name_ of
God, to everything associated with the idea:--'Swear not, neither
by heaven, for it is God's throne; nor by the earth, for it is
God's footstool; neither by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the
Great King.' Matt. v. 35.

"The offence of profane swearing is aggravated by the consideration,
that in _it_ duty and decency are sacrificed to the slenderest of
temptations. Suppose the habit, either from affectation, or by
negligence and inadvertency, to be already formed, it must always
remain within the power of the most ordinary resolution to correct
it: and it cannot, one would think, cost a great deal to relinquish
the pleasure and honor which it confers. A concern for duty is in
fact never strong, when the exertion requisite to vanquish a habit
founded in no antecedent propensity is thought too much or too
painful.

"A contempt of positive duties, or rather of those duties for which
the reason is not so plain as the command, indicates a disposition
upon which the authority of revelation has obtained little
influence. This remark is applicable to the offence of profane
swearing, and describes, perhaps pretty exactly, the general
character of those who are most addicted to it.

"Mockery and ridicule, when exercised upon the Scriptures, or even
upon the places, persons, and forms set apart for the ministration
of religion, fall within the meaning of the law which forbids the
profanation of God's name; especially as that law is extended by
Christ's interpretation. They are moreover inconsistent with a
religious frame of mind: for as no one ever either feels himself
disposed to pleasantry, or capable of being diverted with the
pleasantry of others, upon matters in which he is deeply interested;
so a mind intent upon the acquisition of heaven rejects with
indignation every attempt to entertain it with jests, calculated to
degrade or deride subjects which it never recollects but with
seriousness and anxiety. Nothing but stupidity, or the most
frivolous disposition of thought, can make even the inconsiderate
forget the supreme importance of everything which relates to the
expectation of a future existence. Whilst the infidel mocks at the
superstitions of the vulgar, insults over their credulous fears,
their childish errors, or fantastic rites, it does not occur to him
to observe, that the most preposterous device by which the weakest
devotee ever believed he was securing the happiness of a future
life, is more rational than unconcern about it. Upon this subject
nothing is so absurd as indifference; no folly so contemptible as
thoughtlessness and levity.

"The knowledge of what is due to the solemnity of those interests,
concerning which Revelation professes to inform and direct us, may
teach even those who are least inclined to respect the prejudices of
mankind, to observe a decorum in the style and conduct of religious
disquisitions, with the neglect of which many adversaries of
Christianity are justly chargeable. Serious arguments are fair on
all sides. Christianity is but ill defended by refusing audience or
toleration to the objections of unbelievers. But whilst we would
have freedom of inquiry restrained by no laws but those of decency,
we are entitled to demand, on behalf of a religion which holds forth
to mankind assurances of immortality, that its credit be assailed by
no other weapons than those of sober discussion and legitimate
reasoning;--that the truth or falsehood of Christianity be never
made a topic of raillery, a theme for the exercise of wit or
eloquence, or a subject of contention for literary fame and
victory;--that the cause be tried upon its merits;--that all
applications to the fancy, passions or prejudices of the reader, all
attempts to preoccupy, ensnare, or perplex his judgment, by any art,
influence, or impression whatsoever, extrinsic to the proper grounds
and evidence upon which his assent ought to proceed, be rejected
from a question which involves in its determination the hopes, the
virtue, and the repose of millions;--that the controversy be managed
on both sides with sincerity; that is, that nothing be produced, in
the writings of either, contrary to or beyond the writer's own
knowledge and persuasion;--that objections and difficulties be
proposed, from no other motive than an honest and serious desire to
obtain satisfaction, or to communicate information which may promote
the discovery and progress of truth;--that, in conformity with this
design, everything be stated with integrity, with method, precision,
and simplicity; and above all, that whatever is published in
opposition to received and confessedly beneficial persuasions, be
set forth under a form which is likely to invite inquiry and to meet
examination. If with these moderate and equitable conditions be
compared the manner in which hostilities have been waged against the
Christian religion, not only the votaries of the prevailing faith,
but every man who looks forward with anxiety to the destination of
his being, will see much to blame and to complain of. By _one
unbeliever_, all the follies which have adhered in a long course of
dark and superstitious ages, to the popular creed, are assumed as so
many doctrines of Christ and his Apostles, for the purpose of
subverting the whole system by the absurdities which it is _thus_
represented to contain. By _another_, the ignorance and vices of the
sacerdotal order, their mutual dissensions and persecutions, their
usurpations and encroachments upon the intellectual liberty and
civil rights of mankind, have been displayed with no small triumph
and invective; not so much to guard the Christian laity against a
repetition of the same injuries (which is the only proper use to be
made of the most flagrant examples of the past,) as to prepare the
way for an insinuation, that the religion itself is nothing but a
profitable fable, imposed upon the fears and credulity of the
multitude, and upheld by the frauds and influence of an interested
and crafty priesthood. And yet, how remotely is the character of the
clergy connected with the truth of Christianity! What, after all, do
the most disgraceful pages of ecclesiastical history prove, but that
the passions of our common nature are not altered or excluded by
distinctions of name, and that the characters of men are formed much
more by the temptations than the duties of their profession? A
_third_ finds delight in collecting and repeating accounts of wars
and massacres, of tumults and insurrections, excited in almost every
age of the Christian era by religious zeal; as though the vices of
Christians were parts of Christianity; intolerance and extirpation
precepts of the Gospel; or as if its spirit could be judged of from
the counsels of princes, the intrigues of statesmen, the pretences
of malice and ambition, or the unauthorized cruelty of some gloomy
and virulent superstition. By a _fourth_, the succession and variety
of popular religions; the vicissitudes with which sects and tenets
have flourished and decayed; the zeal with which they were once
supported, the negligence with which they are now remembered; the
little share which reason and argument appear to have had in framing
the creed, or regulating the religious conduct of the multitude; the
indifference and submission with which the religion of the state is
generally received by the common people; the caprice and vehemence
with which it is sometimes opposed; the frenzy with which men have
been brought to contend for opinions and ceremonies, of which they
knew neither the proof, the meaning, nor the original: lastly, the
equal and undoubting confidence with which we hear the doctrines of
Christ or of Confucius, the law of Moses or of Mahomet, the Bible,
the Koran, or the Shaster, maintained or anathematized, taught or
abjured, revered or derided, according as we live on this or on that
side of a river; keep within or step over the boundaries of a state;
or even in the same country, and by the same people, so often as the
event of a battle, or the issue of a negotiation, delivers them to
the dominion of a new master;--points, we say, of this sort are
exhibited to the public attention, as so many arguments against the
_truth_ of the Christian religion;--and with success. For these
topics being brought together, and set off with some aggravation of
circumstances, and with a vivacity of style and description familiar
enough to the writings and conversation of free-thinkers, insensibly
lead the imagination into a habit of classing Christianity with the
delusions that have taken possession, by turns, of the public
belief; and of regarding it as, what the scoffers of our faith
represent it to be, _the superstition of the day_. But is this to
deal honestly by the subject, or with the world? May not the same
things be said, may not the same prejudices be excited by these
representations, whether Christianity be true or false, or by
whatever proofs its truth be attested? May not truth as well as
falsehood be taken upon credit? May not a religion be founded upon
evidence accessible and satisfactory to every mind competent to the
inquiry, which yet, by the greatest part of its professors, is
received upon authority?

"But if the _matter_ of these objections be reprehensible, as
calculated to produce an effect upon the reader beyond what their
real weight and place in the argument deserve, still more shall we
discover of management and disingenuousness in the _form_ under
which they are dispersed among the public. Infidelity is served up
in every shape that is likely to allure, surprise, or beguile the
imagination; in a fable, a tale, a novel, a poem; in interspersed
and broken hints, remote and oblique surmises; in books of travels,
of philosophy, of natural history; in a word, in any form rather
than the right one, that of a professed and regular disquisition.
And because the coarse buffoonery and broad laugh of the old and
rude adversaries of the Christian faith would offend the taste,
perhaps, rather than the virtue, of this cultivated age, a graver
irony, a more skilful and delicate banter is substituted in its
place. An eloquent historian, beside his more direct, and therefore
fairer, attacks upon the credibility of Evangelic story, has
contrived to weave into his narration one continued sneer upon the
cause of Christianity, and upon the writings and characters of its
ancient patrons. The knowledge which this author possesses of the
frame and conduct of the human mind must have led him to observe,
that such attacks do their execution without inquiry. Who can refute
a _sneer_? Who can compute the number, much less, one by one,
scrutinize the justice of those disparaging insinuations which crowd
the pages of this elaborate history? What reader suspends his
curiosity, or calls off his attention from the principal narrative,
to examine references, to search into the foundation, or to weigh
the reason, propriety, and force of every transient sarcasm and sly
allusion, by which the Christian testimony is depreciated and
traduced; and by which, nevertheless, he may find his persuasion
afterwards unsettled and perplexed?"

"But the enemies of Christianity have pursued her with poisoned
arrows. Obscenity itself is made the vehicle of infidelity. The
fondness for ridicule is almost universal; and ridicule to many
minds is never so irresistible as when seasoned with obscenity,
and employed upon religion. But in proportion as these noxious
principles take hold of the imagination, they infatuate the
judgment; for trains of ludicrous and unchaste associations,
adhering to every sentiment and mention of religion, render the mind
indisposed to receive either conviction from its evidence, or
impressions from its authority. And this effect, being exerted upon
the sensitive part of our frame, is altogether independent of
argument, proof, or reason; is as formidable to a true religion
as to a false one; to a well-grounded faith as to a chimerical
mythology, or fabulous tradition. Neither, let it be observed, is
the crime or danger less, because impure ideas are exhibited under
a veil, in covert and chastised language."



LECTURE VI.

On Marriage.

    "Have ye not read that he which made them at the beginning,
    made them male and female? And said, For this cause shall a
    man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife;
    and they twain shall be one flesh. Wherefore they are no more
    twain, but one flesh. What, therefore, God hath joined
    together, let not man put asunder."--Matt. xix. 4,5,6.


It is not impossible that some may doubt the propriety of
introducing into the pulpit the subject which will claim our
attention this evening. Marriage is a topic of so much every-day
conversation; it is so often and habitually treated as a light and
trivial affair--forming as it does, in every circle of society, a
standing matter for jest and laughter, for tattle and gossip--that
many are surprised at the idea of treating it in a thoughtful and
serious manner. So far from this being an objection, it is an urgent
reason for presenting this subject under the sedate influences of
this place and occasion. I would bring out the important event
of Marriage, from amid the frivolity with which it is usually
associated, and present it in its real and true aspect--as a topic
demanding the most sober and mature consideration.

Marriage is a divine covenant, instituted by God himself.--"And the
Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone. I will
make him a help-meet for him." From the body of Adam, woman was
formed, and given to him as a companion, a wife. "And Adam said,
This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh. She shall be
called woman, because she was taken out of man. Therefore shall a
man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife:
and they shall be one flesh." The Saviour also, in the language of
the text, unqualifiedly sanctions the marriage covenant, and
adopts it as one of the sacred institutions of the Christian
dispensation.

The marriage relation is vitally connected with the highest
interests of human society. It restrains, purifies, elevates
mankind. It is the great preserver of morality and religion; and
forms one of the most effective of the influences which prevent the
world from being deluged with licentiousness, and every loathsome
form of evil. All the comforts of domestic life--the sacred and
deathless ties of the family circle--the dear delights, the
cherished associations, the hallowed memories of the paternal
fireside--spring directly from the marriage state. It is this alone
that gives us the home of our childhood, the love, the protection,
the wise counsel and advice of parents. It is this that affords the
sacred retreat in mature days, where, from the strifes, and cares,
and bitter disappointments of the business mart, the husband and
father can retire, and amid the soothing attentions and the unbought
love of wife and children, renew his strength and courage for future
struggles. It is this that furnishes the aged patriarch and the
venerable matron, with the safe covert, the quiet refuge, the warm,
snug corner, where they can pass the winter of life, surrounded by
children and children's children, who delight to rise up and do them
reverence, and minister to their comforts.

    "Domestic happiness! thou only bliss
     Of paradise that hath survived the fall!

     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

     "Thou art the nurse of virtue; in thine arms
     She smiles, appearing, as in truth she is,
     Heaven-born, and destined to the skies again."

Among all nations, wherever the marriage tie is the most generally
formed, and held the most sacred, there woman holds the highest
position and obtains her truest estimation--there civilization and
refinement--there truth, purity, fidelity, and all the virtues and
graces that can adorn and elevate humanity, bloom in vigorous
luxuriance. And in the same degree that this sacred relationship is
neglected, and its obligations disregarded, in any nation, do we
find woman degraded, and ignorance, barbarism, sensuality and vice,
in every shape, prevailing and preying on the vitals of society.

In view of these considerations, it assuredly cannot be deemed
improper, in addressing the young, to call their especial attention
to a subject so interesting as Marriage, and one so vitally
connected with all that is valuable and sacred. Indeed any series
of discourses designed to counsel them, which should omit this
all-important topic, would seem to be deficient in one of the first
essentials of salutary admonition.

In presenting this subject to the consideration of the youthful,
I would admonish them against thoughtless engagements, and hasty
marriages. A heedlessness in these matters, is fraught with
dangerous consequences. Matrimony is not to be viewed as a mere
joke, or frolic, to be engaged in at any moment, without forethought
or preparation. It is the first great step, the most momentous
event, in the life of a young couple. Their position, their
circumstances, their habits, their manner of occupying time, their
prospects, all undergo an almost total change at this important era.
It will be to them a source of prosperity, of peace, of the highest
enjoyments, or of adversity, misfortune, wrangling, and bitter
wretchedness--as they do, or do not, exercise discretion and
judgment in forming the connection. No thoughtful young man, no
prudent young woman, will enter into an engagement of marriage, much
less consummate the act, without viewing it in all its bearings.
They will maturely weigh the consequences which follow, and
seriously reflect upon the new scenes, duties, responsibilities, and
labors, to which it leads.

I know that to many, perhaps most of the young, the whole matter of
matrimony is viewed in a light so romantic--its pathway seeming to
be so in the midst of rosy clouds, so fanned by ambrosial gales, so
intermixed with flowery meads and rural bowers, the songs of birds
and murmuring streams--that it is exceedingly difficult for them to
follow a train of sober thought on the subject. It is important,
however, that they should seek to rise above these deceptive
conceptions, and take such a view of this matter, as shall approach
the reality, and save them from the disappointment which so often
follows this consummation of their fondest dreams.

The selection of a companion for life is a transaction altogether
more serious than the young appear generally to view it. They too
often forget, that from all the world, they are choosing one to
walk with them in closest intimacy, during all their days; and that
it depends on the wisdom of their choice, whether the journey of
life shall be peaceful and pleasant, or sad and wretched. It has
passed into a species of proverb, that the selection of a wife
or a husband, is like purchasing a ticket in a lottery--no one
knows whether a prize or a blank will be drawn. There is too much
truth in this saying, as selections of husbands and wives are
often made. When the young are governed in such things, by fancy
rather than judgment--when they are carried away captives by some
outward, worthless attraction, rather than by solid and useful
qualities--their success will, indeed, depend on blind chance. But
there is no necessity for so great a hazard. A young man, or a young
woman, may positively know beforehand, whether they will draw a
prize or a blank. In fact, they may select the _prizes_ without any
mistake, and let the _blanks_ go for what they are worth. Let them
exercise but an ordinary degree of judgment, sound discrimination
and good sense, and there will be no danger of drawing a blank.

When a young man has attained to a suitable age, and is engaged in
some honest and useful occupation, whereby he is in possession of
means to maintain a family, it then becomes not only a privilege,
but a _duty_, to select a wife, to be the sharer of his joys
and his sorrows. In making this choice, he should act calmly,
deliberately, and thoughtfully. He should bear in mind that he is
selecting, not for a day, or a year, but for all life. The object
of his affections should be one, who will live pleasantly with
him, and make him happy, not for a few months only, but during long
years to come, when the romance of marriage shall have been
succeeded by the cares and struggles of maturer life. She should be
one of whom he can say, in the words of the poet:--

    "Oft as clouds my path o'erspread,
     Doubtful where my steps should tread,
     She, with judgment's steady ray,
     Marks and smooths the better way."

There is no greater folly than to select a wife for mere personal
beauty alone. Beauty will always have its attractions; and when
connected with an amiable disposition and useful qualifications,
its influence, cannot be objected to. But when unaccompanied with
these characteristics, its power is to be resisted, and the heart
steeled against all its fascinations. The young man who permits
himself to fall so desperately in love with a lady, on account of
mere personal beauty, as to marry her, despite the counsel of his
friends, and when he himself sees, or might see, a sad want of
other and more valuable qualifications, commits an error, the
wretched effects of which will be experienced through life. When
this outward beauty loses its charm and passes away, as it will
in a brief space of time, what has he left? A cross-grained,
ill-natured, fault-finding, petulant, selfish wife, who will prove
a "thorn in his side," during all his days, rather than a loving
and valuable companion.

Good looks are always attractive. But there is something still more
desirable in a wife, viz., a sweet disposition and an even temper,
a gentle, affectionate heart, and a well-cultivated and enlightened
mind. Let young men, by all means, seek for such qualifications in
those whom they would choose for their companions. In these
characteristics there is a beauty and loveliness which will not
fade away with the consummation of marriage; but they will grow
brighter and more attractive from year to year, during all life.

Moreover, I would caution young men against allowing their hearts
to be taken captive under circumstances where they are especially
exposed to deception. A young woman may exhibit a fine appearance
in a ball-room--may be very attractive at a party, and cut a
fashionable and dashing figure in the public streets, and still
make a poor, good-for-nothing wife. These are the last places in
which choice should be made of a companion, to render aid and
comfort amid the struggles of life. Whenever your attention is
attracted by a young lady, study her in the family circle--learn
her domestic qualifications. Is she a respectful, dutiful, loving
daughter? Is she a kind and affectionate sister? Does she manifest
a noble, generous, friendly spirit? Does she exhibit delicacy,
refinement, and purity in her tastes and manners? Is she
industrious, economical, and frugal in her habits? Will she be
likely to assist you in husbanding your income, and taking care of
your earnings? Is she thoroughly versed in all domestic affairs, so
that she herself could do all things connected with household
matters, should necessity require it? These, I acknowledge, are
very ordinary, very homely inquiries; but nevertheless they are of
the highest importance. A young man who will marry, without having
thoroughly made all such investigations, and becoming satisfied
that his intended is not deficient, to any great extent, in these
qualifications, is blind to his own highest good, and will in long
after-years, amid domestic inquietude, and family troubles, indulge
unavailing regrets at his blindness and folly. But whenever a young
woman can be found, possessing these invaluable characteristics, I
would advise the youth seeking for a companion, to win her for a
wife if possible. Although she may be plain in person, and poor in
property, yet she will be of more worth than rubies; and all riches
cannot be compared with her. She will be a faithful friend and wise
counsellor, and will smooth the rugged pathway of life. However the
world and its affairs may go without, he who has such a wife, will
ever have a home, where neatness and comfort, peace and love, and
all that can yield contentment and enjoyment, will smile upon him!

All the care, discrimination, and judgment urged on young men in
selecting wives, I would commend to young ladies, in accepting
husbands. If to the former, marriage is an important event, fraught
with consequences lasting as life, it is peculiarly so to the
latter. It surely is no trivial event for a daughter to leave the
home of her childhood, the tender care and watchful guardianship of
kind parents, the society of affectionate brothers and sisters, to
confide herself, with all her interests and her happiness, to
another with whom she has hitherto associated only as a friend. Is
it not necessary to exercise prudence, forethought, discretion, in
taking a step so momentous?

A young woman should not marry because the youthful are expected
to enter matrimonial bonds at a certain age, nor merely because they
have had an offer of marriage. Such an admonition may seem to be
unnecessary; but I think it called for. It is true, beyond question,
that young women sometimes receive the addresses, and finally
become the wives, of men for whom they have formed no very strong
attachment, and, indeed, in whom they see many characteristics and
habits, which they cannot approbate. This is done on the principle,
that it is the first offer of marriage they have had, and may be the
only opportunity of settlement for life that will ever present
itself. Not a few parents have urged their daughters to such a
course--totally blinded to the evils which often flow from it.

Such a procedure is fraught with danger. It perils the happiness of
all coming days. How many have, under such circumstances, left the
abode of their childhood, where every comfort surrounded them, to
spend a life of wrangling, bitterness, and, sometimes, abject
poverty. Better, a thousand times, to remain at home, better live
in "single blessedness" all your days, than to become connected
with a man whose disposition, habits, or character, you cannot
fully approve. Though he may be as rich as Cresus--though he may
lead you to a palace for an abode, and deck you with jewels--yet,
if you cannot give him your entire approbation, if your heart's
fondest affections are not centred upon him, if he is not all you
can sanction and love, unite not your destiny with him. The life of
a contented, useful "old maid" is infinitely to be preferred to
that of a wretched, heart-broken wife. "Those unequal marriages
which are sometimes called _excellent matches_, seldom produce much
happiness. And where happiness is not, what _is_ all the rest?"

In accepting the addresses of young men, with a view to matrimony,
allow me to caution you against being too much influenced by good
looks and fascinating manners. It is due to young ladies to say,
that they show much more good sense in this respect than the other
sex. They do not select their companions so much on the ground of
mere personal beauty, without reference to higher and better
qualifications, as do young men. Still, a precaution to them on
this point will not be wholly useless.

Here is a young man who is gay in his manners, and fashionable in
his attire--a dandy of the first water, all buckled and strapped
after the latest pattern. His bosom is decked with golden chains,
and his fingers with platter rings. His tongue is as prolific of
lackadaisical words, as his head is devoid of good sense. He showers
the politest attentions in the assembly room, or during the ride, or
walk. He is, in fine, the very beau ideal of a "ladies' man!" There
is another young man. His manners are respectful, but without
courtly polish. His dress is plain and neat, with no display and no
gaudy ornaments. He knows nothing of the thousand ways and arts by
which the other makes himself so agreeable. He has no "small talk"
in his vocabulary, and must utter sound sense, on useful subjects,
or remain silent He may appear somewhat awkward in his attentions to
ladies, but is, nevertheless, friendly and obliging in his demeanor.
In his whole life and character, he is a retiring, but most worthy
youth. Are there not some young ladies who would prefer the company
of the showy, chattering fop; who would receive his address, yea,
accept him as a husband, and reject the diffident, modest youth? Yet
the latter would make a kind, affectionate, provident husband;
likely to attain to respectability, high-standing, and wealth:
while the former would most probably prove a poor, cross-grained
broken-stick; ill-natured, and perhaps dissipated; dragging wife and
family into the insignificance and poverty to which he speedily
would sink! Surely discreet young ladies will think many times, and
weigh well the consequences, before making such a choice.

Where the hand of a young woman is sought in marriage, she should
look beyond the mere personal accomplishments of dress, manners,
and conversational powers of him who would make her his wife. Many
an individual who has the appearance and manners of a gentleman,
is, in reality, a black-hearted villain--a marriage with, whom
would seal their wretchedness for life. In accepting a husband,
there are certain requisite which young women should consider as
indispensable.

He should have some honest and useful trade, profession, or
occupation. A "do-nothing" young man, will assuredly make a
"good-for-nothing" husband. No one can justly charge you with sordid
motives, for scrutinizing critically his capability to secure to
you, and such family as may gather around you, a maintenance that
shall insure you against poverty and want.

His habits should be unexceptionable. He should be honest, upright,
truthful, industrious, and economical--pure in his conversation and
tastes. Not only should he have the ability to obtain a livelihood,
but should possess prudence and frugality to lay up and secure the
fruits of his industry.

Above all, he should be strictly and rigidly _temperate_. On this
point I would speak with emphasis. Most earnestly would I admonish
young women never to unite their destiny with, that of a drinking
young man. Alas! how many a wife, when too late, has lamented in
bitter tears her short-sightedness in this respect. A young man,
who, in this age of temperance, has not sufficient self-respect,
pride of character, and good sense, to refrain from the intoxicating
bowl before marriage, will be very likely to sink into a common
drunkard afterwards. This is not always the case; but the exceptions
are so rare, that she who ventures the risk, places herself in a
condition which hazards her happiness for life. However proper his
other habits may be, however amiable and pleasant his disposition,
however bright and promising his prospects, however high his
position, or respectable his family connections--if he drinks the
lethean draught, even but sparingly, he is tampering with a viper,
which will almost certainly sting him to death, and poison the joys,
and destroy the prosperity of all connected with him.

The world is filled with scenes which attest the need of this
admonition. All around we behold the wrecks of families, torn
asunder by the intemperance of husbands and fathers, which otherwise
might have been united and happy. Wives forsaken broken-hearted,
impoverished--children beggared and neglected, growing up in rags
and ignorance, to become the victims of sin and shame. All these
attest the danger that woman encounters, who links her destiny with
a drinking young man. O ye youthful and inexperienced, turn not a
cold ear to my exhortation. With all the solemnity the momentous
topic inspires, I beseech you, as you value a life of peace and
prosperity, never, under any possible consideration, give your hand
to a man who presses to his lips the intoxicating cup! Though you
may have granted your affections, and plighted your troth, to one
who is given, even but slightly, to this practice, if on your
earnest expostulation, he will not abandon it, you should, without
hesitation, break all connection with him. Every consideration of
prudence, self-respect, and safety, urges you to such a step,
however painful; and every law, human and divine, will justify you
in adopting it.

The suggestions which follow, on the views of Marriage that should
be entertained by young men, and "Female qualifications for
Marriage," are so appropriate and excellent, that I cannot forbear
giving them an insertion in these pages.

"Whatever advice may be given to the contrary by friends or foes, it
is my opinion that you ought to keep matrimony steadily in view. For
this end, were it for no other, you ought to mingle much in society.
Never consider yourself complete without this other half of
yourself. It is too much the fashion among young men at the present
day to make up their minds to dispense with marriage;--an unnatural,
and therefore an unwise plan. Much of our character, and most of our
comfort and happiness depend upon it. Many have found this out too
late; that is, after age and fixed habits had partly disqualified
them for this important duty.

"According to the character of the person you select, in a
considerable degree, will be your own. Should a mere face fascinate
you to a _doll_, you will not need much mental energy to please her;
and the necessity of exertion on this account being small, your own
self will sink, or at least not rise, as it otherwise might do.

"But were I personally acquainted with you, and should I perceive an
_honorable_ attachment taking possession of your heart, I should
regard it as a happy circumstance. Life then has an object. The only
thing to be observed is that it be managed with prudence, honor, and
good sense.

"The case of John Newton is precisely in point. In very early life
this man formed a strong attachment to a lady, under circumstances
which did not permit him to make it known which was probably well
for both parties. It did not diminish _her_ happiness, so long as
she remained in ignorance on the subject; and in scenes of sorrow,
suffering, and temptation, the hope of one day obtaining her soothed
him, and kept him from performing many dishonorable actions. 'The
bare possibility,' he says, 'of seeing her again, was the only
obvious means of restraining me from the most horrid designs,
against myself and others.'

"The wish to marry, if _prudently_ indulged, will lead to honest and
persevering exertions to obtain a reasonable income--one which will
be satisfactory to the object of your hopes, as well as to her
friends. He who is determined on living a single life, very
naturally contracts his endeavors to his own narrow personal wants,
or else squanders freely, in the belief that he can always procure
enough to support himself. Indeed it cannot have escaped even the
careless observer that in proportion as an individual relinquishes
the idea of matrimony, just in the same proportion do his mind and
feelings contract. On the contrary that hope which aims at a beloved
partner--a family--a fireside--will lead its possessor to activity
in all his conduct. It will elicit his talents, and urge them to
their full energy, and probably call in the aid of economy; a
quality so indispensable to every condition of life. The single
consideration, 'What would she think were she now to see me?'
called up by the obtrusion of a favorite image,--how often has it
stimulated a noble mind and heart to deeds which otherwise had never
been performed!

"I repeat it, I am aware that this advice is liable to abuse. But
what shall be done? Images of some sort will haunt the mind more or
less--female influence in some shape or other, will operate. Is it
not better to give the imagination a virtuous direction than to
leave it to range without control, and without _end_?

"I repeat it, nothing is better calculated to preserve a young man
from the contamination of low pleasures and pursuits, than frequent
intercourse with the more refined and virtuous of the other sex.
Besides, without such society his manners can never acquire the
true polish of a gentleman,--general character, dignity, and
refinement;--nor his mind and heart the truest and noblest
sentiments of a man. Make it an object then, I again say, to spend
some portion of every week of your life in the company of
intelligent and virtuous ladies. At all events, flee solitude, and
especially the exclusive society of your own sex. The doctrines even
of Zimmerman, the great apostle of solitude, would put to shame many
young men, who seldom or never mix in female society.

"If you should be so unfortunate as not to have among your
acquaintance any ladies whose society would, in these points of
view, be profitable to you, do not be in haste to mix with the
ignorant and vulgar; but wait patiently till your own industry and
good conduct shall give you admission to better circles; and in the
meantime cultivate your mind by reading and thinking, so that when
you actually gain admission to good society, you may know how to
prize and enjoy it. Remember, too, that you are not to be so selfish
as to think nothing of contributing to the happiness of others. It
is blessed to _give_ as well as to _receive_.

"When you are in the company of ladies, beware of silliness. It is
true they will sooner forgive foolishness than ill manners, but you
will, of course, avoid both. I know one young gentleman of great
promise, who adopted the opinion that in order to qualify himself
for female society, he had only to become as foolish as possible,
while in their presence. That young man soon lost the favor of all
whose friendship might have operated as a restraint; but unwilling
to associate with the despicable, and unable to live in absolute
solitude, he chose the bottle for his companion; and made himself,
and the few friends he had, miserable.

"Nothing, unless it be the coarsest flattery, will give more
offence, in the end, than to treat ladies as mere playthings or
children. On the other hand, do not become pedantic, and lecture
them on difficult subjects. They readily see through all this.
Neither is it good manners or policy to talk much of yourself. They
can penetrate this also; and they despise the vanity which produces
it. In detecting deception, they are often much quicker than we
apprehend.

"A young gentleman, in one of the New England States, who had
assumed the chair of the pedagogue, paid his addresses to the
beautiful and sensible daughter of a respectable farmer. One day,
as she was present in his school, he read to her a hymn, which he
said was from his own pen. Now it was obvious to this lady, and even
to some of the pupils, that the hymn was none other than that
usually known by the name of the 'Harvest Hymn,' modified by the
change of a few words only. How much effect this circumstance might
have had I cannot say with certainty; but I know it disgusted _one_,
at least, of the pupils; and I know, too, that his addresses to the
lady were soon afterwards discontinued.

"A young man who would profit from the society of young ladies, or
indeed from any society, must preserve a modest and respectful
spirit; must seek to conciliate their good will by quiet and
unostentatious attentions, and discover more willingness to avail
himself of their stock of information, than to display his own
knowledge or abilities.

"He should observe, and learn to admire, that purity and ignorance
of evil, which is the characteristic of well-educated young ladies,
and which, while we are near them, raises us above those sordid and
sensual considerations which hold such sway over _men_, in their
intercourse with each other. He should treat them as spirits of a
purer sphere, and try to be as innocent, if not as ignorant of evil
as they are; remembering that there is no better way of raising
himself in the scale of intellectual and moral being. But to
whatever degree of intimacy he may arrive, he should never forget
those little acts of courtesy and kindness, as well as that respect,
and self-denial, which lend a charm to every kind of polite
intercourse, and especially to that of which I am now speaking.

"Whenever an opportunity occurs, however, it is the duty of a
young man to introduce topics of conversation which are decidedly
favorable to mental and moral improvement. Should he happen to be
attending to the same study, or reading the same book with a female
acquaintance, an excellent opportunity will be afforded for putting
this rule in practice.


FEMALE QUALIFICATIONS FOR MARRIAGE.

"The highest as well as the noblest trait in female character,
is love to God. When we consider what are the tendencies of
Christianity to elevate woman from the state of degradation to
which she had, for ages, been subjected--when we consider not only
what it has done, but what it is destined yet to do for her
advancement,--it is impossible not to shrink from the presence of
an impious, and above all an unprincipled atheistical female, as
from an ungrateful and unnatural being.

"Man is under eternal obligations to Christianity and its Divine
Author, undoubtedly; but woman seems to be more so.

"That charge against females which in the minds of some
half-atheistical men is magnified into a stigma on Christianity
itself, namely, that they are more apt to become religious than
men; and that we find by far the greater part of professing
Christians to be females, is in my own view one of the highest
praises of the sex. I rejoice that their hearts are more
susceptible than ours, and that they do not war so strongly against
that religion which their nature demands. I have met with but one
female, whom I knew to be an avowed atheist.

"Indeed there are very few men to be found, who are skeptical
themselves, who do not prefer pious companions of the other sex.
I will not stop to adduce this as an evidence of the truth of our
religion itself, and of its adaptation to the wants of the human
race, for happily it does not need it. Christianity is based on the
most abundant evidence, of a character wholly unquestionable. But
this I do and will say, that to be consistent, young men of loose
principles ought not to rail at females for their piety, and then
whenever they seek for a constant friend, one whom they can
love,--for they never really love the abandoned--always prefer,
other things being equal, the society of the pious and the virtuous.

"Next on the list of particular qualifications in a female, for
matrimonial life, I place COMMON SENSE. In the view of some, it
ought to precede moral excellence. A person, it is said, who is
deficient in common sense, is, in proportion to the imbecility,
unfit for _social_ life, and yet the same person might possess a
kind of negative excellency, or perhaps even a species of piety.
This view appears to me, however, much more specious than sound.

"By _common sense_, as used in this place, I mean the faculty by
means of which we see things _as they_ really are. It implies
judgment and discrimination, and a proper sense of propriety in
regard to the common concerns of life. It leads us to form judicious
plans of action, and to be governed by our circumstances in such a
way as will be generally approved. It is the exercise of reason,
uninfluenced by passion or prejudice. To man, it is nearly what
instinct is to brutes. It is very different from genius or talent,
as they are commonly defined; but much better than either. It never
blazes forth with the splendor of noon, but shines with a constant
and useful light. To the housewife--but, above all, to the
mother,--it is indispensable.

"Whatever other recommendations a lady may possess, she should have
an inextinguishable thirst for improvement. No sensible person can
be truly happy in the world, without this; much less qualified to
make others happy. But the genuine spirit of improvement, wherever
it exists, atones for the absence of many qualities which would
otherwise be indispensable: in this respect resembling that
'charity' which covers 'a multitude of sins.' Without it, almost
everything would be of little consequence,--with it, everything
else is rendered doubly valuable.

"One would think that every sensible person, of either sex, would
aspire at improvement, were it merely to avoid the shame of being
stationary like the brutes. Above all, it is most surprising that
any lady should be satisfied to pass a day or even an hour without
mental and moral progress. It is no discredit to the lower animals
that--'their little all flows in at once,' that 'in ages they no
more can know, or covet or enjoy,' for this is the legitimate result
of the physical constitution which God has given them. But it is far
otherwise with the masters and mistresses of creation; for

    "'Were man to live coeval with the sun,
     The patriarch pupil _should_ be learning still,
     And dying, leave his lessons half unlearnt.'

"There are,--I am sorry to say it--not a few of both sexes who never
appear to breathe out one hearty desire to rise, intellectually or
morally, with a view to the government of themselves or others.
They love themselves supremely--their friends subordinately--their
neighbors, perhaps not at all. But neither the love they bear to
themselves or others even leads them to a single series of any sort
of action which has for its ultimate object the improvement of
anything higher than the condition of the mere animal. Dress,
personal appearance, equipage, style of a dwelling or its furniture,
with no other view, however, than the promotion of mere physical
enjoyment, is the height of their desires for improvement!

"Talk to them of elevating the intellect or improving the heart,
and they admit it is true; but they go their way and pursue their
accustomed round of folly again. The probability is, that though
they assent to your views, they do not understand you. It requires a
stretch of charity to which I am wholly unequal, to believe that
beings who ever conceived, for one short moment, of the height to
which their natures may be elevated, should sink back" without a
single struggle, to a mere selfish, unsocial, animal life;--to lying
in bed ten or twelve hours daily, rising three or four hours later
than the sun, spending the morning in preparation at the glass, the
remainder of the time till dinner in unmeaning calls, the afternoon
in yawning over a novel, and the evening in the excitement of the
tea-table and the party, and the ball-room, to retire, perhaps at
midnight, with the mind and body and soul in a feverish state, to
toss away the night in vapid or distressing dreams.

"How beings endowed with immortal souls can be contented to while
away precious hours in a manner so useless, and withal so
displeasing to the God who gave them their time for the improvement
of themselves and others, is to me absolutely inconceivable! Yet it
is certainly done; and that not merely by a few solitary individuals
scattered up and down the land; but in some of our most populous
cities, by considerable numbers.

"Should the young man who is seeking an 'help meet,' chance to fall
in with such _beings_ as these--and some we fear there are in almost
every part of our land,--let him shun them as he would the 'choke
damp' of the cavern.

"Their society would extinguish, rather than fan the flame of every
generous or benevolent-feeling that might be kindling in his bosom.
_With_ the fond, the ardent, the never-failing desire to improve,
physically, intellectually, and morally, there are few females who
may not make tolerable companions for a man of sense;--_without_ it,
though a young lady were beautiful and otherwise lovely beyond
comparison, wealthy as the Indies, surrounded by thousands of the
most worthy friends, and even talented, let him beware! Better
remain in celibacy a thousand years (could life last so long) great
as the evil may be, than form a union with such an object. He
should pity, and seek her reformation, if not beyond the bounds
of possibility; but love her he should not! The penalty will be
absolutely insupportable.

"One point ought to be settled,--I think unalterably settled--before
matrimony. It ought indeed to be settled in early life, but it is
better late, perhaps, than never. Each of the parties should
consider themselves as sacredly pledged, in all cases, to yield to
conviction. I have no good opinion of the man who expects his wife
to yield her opinion to his, on every occasion, unless she is
convinced. I say on _every occasion_; for that she sometimes ought
to do so, seems to be both scriptural and rational. It would be very
inconvenient to call in a third person as an umpire upon every
slight difference of opinion between a young couple, besides being
very humiliating. But if each maintain, with pertinacity, their
opinion, what can be done? It does seem to me that every sensible
woman, who feels any good degree of confidence in her husband, will
perceive the propriety of yielding her opinion to his in such cases,
where the matter is of such a nature that it cannot be delayed.

"But there are a thousand things occurring, in which there is no
necessity of forming an immediate opinion, or decision, except from
conviction. I should never like the idea of a woman's conforming to
her husband's views to please him, merely, without considering
whether they are correct or not. It seems to me a sort of treason
against the God who gave her a mind of her own, with an intention
that she should use it. But it would be higher treason still, in
male or female, not to yield, when actually convinced.

"Without the knowledge and the love of domestic concerns, even the
wife of a peer is but a poor affair. It was the fashion, in former
times, for ladies to understand a great deal about these things, and
it would be very hard to make me believe that it did not tend to
promote the interests and honor of their husbands.

"The concerns of a great family never can be _well_ managed, if left
_wholly_ to hirelings; and there are many parts of these affairs
in which it would be unseemly for husbands to meddle. Surely, no
lady can be too high in rank to make it proper for her to be well
acquainted with the character and general demeanor of all the female
servants. To receive and give character is too much to be left to a
servant, however good, whose service has been ever so long, or
acceptable.

"Much of the ease and happiness of the great and rich must depend on
the character of those by whom they are assisted. They live under
the same roof with them; they are frequently the children of their
tenants, or poorer neighbors; the conduct of their whole lives must
be influenced by the examples and precepts which they here imbibe;
and when ladies consider how much more weight there must be in one
word from them, than in ten thousand word from a person who, call
her what you like, is still _fellow servant,_ it does appear strange
that they should forego the performance of this at once important
and pleasing part of their duty.

"I am, however, addressing myself, in this work, to persons in the
middle ranks of life; and here a knowledge of domestic affairs is so
necessary in every wife, that the lover ought to have it continually
in his eye. Not only a knowledge of these affairs--not only to know
how things _ought to be done_, but how to _do them_; not only to
know what ingredients ought to be put into a pie or a pudding, but
to be able _to make_ the pie or the pudding.

"Young people, when they come together, ought not, unless they have
fortunes, or are to do unusual business, to think about _servants_!
Servants for what! To help them eat, and drink, and sleep? When
they have children, there must be some _help_ in a farmer's or
tradesman's house, but until then, what call is there for a servant
in a house, the master of which has to _earn_ every mouthful that
is consumed?

"Eating and drinking come _three times every day_; they must come;
and, however little we may, in the days of our health and vigor,
care about choice food and about cookery, we very soon get _tired_
of heavy or burnt bread, and of spoiled joints of meat. We bear them
for once or twice perhaps; but about the third time, we begin to
lament; about the fifth time, it must be an extraordinary affair
that will keep us from complaining; if the like continue for a month
or two, we begin to _repent_; and then adieu to all our anticipated
delights. We discover, when it is too late, that we have not got a
help-mate, but a burden; and, the fire of love being damped, the
unfortunately educated creature, whose parents are more to blame
than she is, unless she resolve to learn her duty, is doomed to lead
a life very nearly approaching to that of misery; for, however
considerate the husband, he never can esteem her as he would have
done, had she been skilled in domestic affairs.

"The mere _manual_ performance of domestic labors is not, indeed,
absolutely necessary in the female head of the family of
professional men; but, even here, and also in the case of great
merchants and of gentlemen living on their fortunes, surely the head
of the household ought to be able to give directions as to the
purchasing of meal, salting meat, making bread, making preserves of
all sorts; and ought to see the things done.

"The lady ought to take care that food be well cooked that there be
always a sufficient supply; that there be good living without waste;
and that in her department, nothing shall be seen inconsistent with
the rank, station, and character of her husband. If he have a
skilful and industrious wife, he will, unless he be of a singularly
foolish turn, gladly leave all these things to her absolute
dominion, controlled only by the extent of the whole expenditure, of
which he must be the best judge.

"But, in a farmer's or a tradesman's family, the manual performance
is absolutely necessary, whether there be domestics or not. No one
knows how to teach another so well as one who has done, and can do,
the thing himself. It was said of a famous French commander, that,
in attacking an enemy, he did not say to his men '_go_ on,' but
'_come_ on;' and, whoever has well observed the movements of
domestics, must know what a prodigious difference there is in the
effect of the words, _go_ and _come_.

"A very good rule would be, to have nothing to eat, in a farmer's or
mechanic's house, that the mistress did not know how to prepare and
to cook; no pudding, tart, pie or cake, that she did not know how to
make. Never fear the toil to her: exercise is good for health; and
without health there is no beauty. Besides, what is the labor in
such a case? And how many thousands of ladies, who idle away the
day, would give half their fortunes for that sound sleep which the
stirring housewife seldom fails to enjoy.

"Yet, if a young farmer or mechanic _marry_ a girl, who has been
brought up only to '_play music_,' to _draw_, to _sing_, to waste
paper, pen and ink in writing long and half-romantic letters, and to
see shows, and plays, and read novels;--if a young man do marry such
an unfortunate young creature, let him bear the consequences with
temper. Let him be _just_. Justice will teach him to treat her with
great indulgence; to endeavor to persuade her to learn her business
as a wife; to be patient with her; to reflect that he has taken her,
being apprized of her inability; to bear in mind, that he was, or
seemed to be, pleased with her showy and us less acquirements; and
that, when the gratification of his passion has been accomplished,
he is unjust, and cruel, and unmanly, if he turn round upon her,
and accuse her of a want of that knowledge, which he well knew,
beforehand, she did not possess.

"For my part, I do not know, nor can I form an idea of, a more
unfortunate being than a girl with a mere boarding-school education,
and without a fortune to enable her to keep domestics, when married.
Of what _use_ are _her_ accomplishments? Of what use her music, her
drawing, and her romantic epistles? If she should chance to possess
a sweet disposition, and good nature, the first faint cry of her
first babe drives all the tunes and all the landscapes, and all the
imaginary beings out of her head forever.

"The farmer or the tradesman's wife has to _help earn_ a provision
for her children; or, at the least, to help to earn a store for
sickness or old age. She ought, therefore, to be qualified to begin,
at once, to assist her husband in his earnings. The way in which she
can most efficiently assist, is by taking care of his property; by
expending his money to the greatest advantage; by wasting nothing,
but by making the table sufficiently abundant with the least
expense.

"But how is she to do these things, unless she has been _brought up_
to understand domestic affairs? How is she to do these things, if
she has been taught to think these matters beneath her study? How is
the man to expect her to do these things, if she has been so bred,
as to make her habitually look upon them as worthy the attention of
none but low and ignorant women?

"_Ignorant_, indeed! Ignorance consists in a want of knowledge of
those things which your calling or state of life naturally supposes
you to understand. A ploughman is not an ignorant man because he
does not know how to read. If he knows how to plough, he is not
to be called an ignorant man; but a wife may be justly called an
ignorant woman, if she does not know how to provide a dinner for
her husband. It is cold comfort for a hungry man, to tell him how
delightfully his wife plays and sings. _Lovers_ may live on very
aerial diet, but husbands stand in need of something more solid; and
young women may take my word for it, that a constantly clean table,
well cooked victuals, a house in order, and a cheerful fire, will
do more towards preserving a husband's heart, than all the
'accomplishments' taught in all the 'establishments' in the world
without them."[13]

[Footnote 13: Young Man's Guide.]

Other considerations might be urged on the young of both sexes,
as prerequisites to a hopeful and a happy marriage. But if the
reflections already offered are duly heeded, they will enable those
who are influenced by them, to secure the blessings and escape the
evils of the marriage state. As a general remark, I would suggest
that in selecting a companion for a connection so lasting, it should
be a leading object to find as great a similarity of opinions,
habits, tastes, and feelings, as possible. This is especially
important in regard to religious sentiments. It is a serious
misfortune for a young married couple to find themselves differing
materially on the subject of religion. This is more particularly an
evil when both are strongly attached to their respective opinions,
and anxious to attend different churches. I have frequently known
this greatly to embitter the cup of domestic enjoyment. Where
husband and wife can sympathize in each other's sentiments--can walk
together to the house of God, with their children--can strengthen
and enlighten one another in regard to the great truths to which
they there listen--can unite in instructing their family in the same
doctrines and principles of Christianity--it opens one of the
highest and sweetest sources of domestic happiness. But an absence
of this unity in religious opinions, is liable to lead to frequent
disputations and contentions, which often result in recriminations,
and hard and bitter feelings. There are not wanting instances where
the most serious difficulties and the greatest unhappiness have
grown out of these disagreements. Hence it is both proper and
needful, to admonish the young, in choosing a wife or a husband, to
make a concurrence in religious faith, one of the great essentials
requisite to a union.

In case of a different result--when husband and wife unfortunately
find a wide disparity in the leading doctrines of their
religion--they should seek to make the best of their misfortune,
and guard against allowing it to prove a bone of contention in their
midst. They should agree to disagree in forbearance and love. They
should respect each other's views, and be cautious not to say or do
that which can cast disparagement on their respective sentiments.
Neither should demand or expect the other to abandon his or her
doctrines, without full conviction of their erroneous nature. Both
should be tolerant and forbearing--willing to grant the other the
same freedom of opinion they claim for themselves.

It should be an established rule with husband and wife, to attend
the worship of God together. This is by far the most agreeable and
proper procedure. Should it not be pleasant, however, for both to
worship statedly in the same church, and listen to the proclamation
of the same doctrines, they should arrange their plans to attend
each other's meetings on alternate Sabbaths. This kind and friendly
reciprocity would be fair, just, and honorable to both parties,
and might lead ultimately to a similarity of opinions. But for a
husband or a wife to refuse such a concession, and insist that the
other shall forsake their attached place of worship, abandon their
sentiments, or remain totally silent in relation to them, on pain
of having the harmony and peace of the family destroyed--would be
to exhibit a spirit totally ungenerous, and in violation of every
dictate of the Christian religion.

I have made these suggestions, not only for the benefit of those who
have recently entered upon married life, but to admonish those who
are unmarried to come to an understanding on this subject, and make
all these arrangements before the consummation of their vows. Or,
what is still better, let these considerations convince the youthful
of the necessity of making a similarity of religious sentiment one
of the chief qualifications in forming a tie, which, for good or
evil, will connect them with another during the remainder of the
earthly journey.





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