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Title: How to Be a Man - A Book for Boys, Containing Useful Hints on the Formation of Character
Author: Newcomb, Harvey
Language: English
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A Book for Boys,
Containing Useful Hints on the
Formation of Character.



Author of the “Young Lady’S Guide,” etc.

Gould, Kendall, and Lincoln.

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1846,
By Gould, Kendall, and Lincoln,
In the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the District of

Stereotyped at the
Boston Type and Stereotype Foundry


“Who reads a preface?” Many do not; but jump at once into the middle
of a book. But it is well to know something about a book, before
reading it; and who so likely to give you information respecting the
contents of a book as the Author himself? I wish to see the youth of
my country come forward upon the stage of life, models of excellence,
with characters formed for the times in which they are to act. How
much influence my book may have, in securing such a result, I cannot
tell; but my design in writing it has been, to contribute something
toward forming the character of some of those who are to be our future
electors, legislators, governors, judges, ministers, lawyers, and
physicians,--after the best model; and, from the kind reception of my
former attempts to benefit American youth, I trust they will give a
candid hearing to the few hints contained in the following pages. It is
intended for boys,--or, if you please, for _young gentlemen_,--in early
youth, from eight or ten to fifteen or sixteen years of age. It covers
substantially the same ground occupied by a work for girls issued
simultaneously with it; and some of the chapters are identical in the
two books, while others are entirely different, and some partially so.
It is the hope of the Author, that every one who reads it, will strive
to _be a man_, in the highest sense of the term.

    JANUARY, 1847.


      I. ON CHILDHOOD AND YOUTH                                     7

     II. NATURE AND OBJECTS OF EDUCATION                           12

            SOUL                                                   17

     IV. FILIAL PIETY                                              24

            FAMILY                                                 37

     VI. BEHAVIOR AT SCHOOL                                        45

    VII. BEHAVIOR AT TABLE                                         51

   VIII. BEHAVIOR AT FAMILY WORSHIP                                56

     IX. PRIVATE PRAYER                                            59

      X. KEEPING THE SABBATH                                       64

     XI. HABITS                                                    83

    XII. EDUCATION OF THE BODY                                    100

   XIII. ON USEFUL LABOR                                          109

    XIV. EDUCATION OF THE HEART                                   121

     XV. EDUCATION OF THE MIND                                    145

    XVI. READING                                                  155

   XVII. WRITING                                                  161

  XVIII. INDOLENCE                                                165

    XIX. ON DOING ONE THING AT A TIME                             168

     XX. ON FINISHING WHAT IS BEGUN                               170


   XXII. BAD COMPANY--MISCHIEVOUSNESS                             176

  XXIII. ON AMUSEMENTS                                            181

   XXIV. GOVERNMENT OF THE TONGUE                                 192


   XXVI. INQUISITIVENESS                                          206


 XXVIII. ON BEING USEFUL                                          212

   XXIX. ON BEING CONTENTED                                       216





In one sense, very young persons are apt to think too much of
themselves--in another, not enough. When they think they know more than
their parents and teachers, or other elderly people, and so set up to
be _bold_ and _smart_, then they think too much of themselves. It used
to be said, when I was a boy, that “Young folks _think_ old folks are
fools; but old folks _know_ young folks are fools.” Although I would
be very far indeed from calling you _fools_, because you have already
acquired much knowledge, and have the capacity for acquiring much more,
yet, with reference to such knowledge as is acquired by _experience_,
and in comparison with _what there is to be known_, there is “more
truth than _poetry_,” in the old adage. But, when young people suppose
it is of no consequence what they do, or how they behave, _because they
are young_, then they do not think enough of themselves. Should you see
a man riding with a little stick for a whip, you would not think his
stick worth your notice at all; but the biggest tree that ever I saw
grew from a little willow stick that a man rode home with, and then
planted in his garden. You have sat under the beautiful shade of a
great elm-tree; and when you have looked upon its tall, majestic trunk,
and its great and strong branches, with their ten thousand little limbs
waving gracefully before the wind, you have been filled with admiration
and delight. “What a mighty tree!” you say; “I wonder how long it has
been growing.” But the seed of that tree, when it was planted, many
years ago, was no bigger than a mustard-seed; and if you had seen the
little tiny sprout that your grandfather was tying up with so much
care, when it was a few years old, you would have wondered that a man
should think so much of such an insignificant twig. But, if he had let
it grow up as it began, without any care, it never would have been the
stately tree it is now. That was the most important period in its life,
when it was a little twig. It began to lean over, and grow crooked and
ugly. If it had not been trained up then, it would have continued to
grow worse and worse; and, after it had grown to be a tree, it could
not have been straightened at all. Now, you are, in some respects,
like this little twig. You, too, have just begun to be; and now your
character is pliable, like the young tree. But, unlike it, your being
is to have no end. Instead of growing a few hundred years, like a great
tree, you are to live forever. And every thing that you do now must
have an influence in forming your character for your whole being. In
this latter sense, you cannot think too much of yourself; for you are
the _germ_ of an immortal being.

Did you ever stand by the shore of a placid lake or pond, in a calm,
sunny day, and throw a little stone into its smooth, silvery waters?
Did you observe how, first, a little ripple was formed around the
place where it struck, and this was followed by a wave, and then,
beyond, another, and another, till the whole surface of the water was
disturbed? It was a very little thing that you did; and yet it agitated
a great body of water. So it is with childhood and youth; the most
insignificant action you perform, in its influence upon your character,
will reach through the whole period of your existence.

It will not do for you to say, “It is no matter how I behave now; I
shall do differently when I am a man.” “But would you have a little
boy act like a man?” Not exactly. I would not have him affect the
man, and appear as though he thought himself a full-grown gentleman.
I would not have him imitate the _toad_, which undertook to swell to
the size of an _ox_, and in the operation burst open. But, I would
have him _manly_ in his childishness. I would have him courageous, to
meet difficulties, noble and generous in his feelings and actions, and
courteous in his manners, always, in all companies, and in all places,
behaving in a manner becoming a person of his age. A well-bred boy, who
knows what is becoming and proper, and carries it out in his behavior,
is already a _gentleman_. But the mischievous, rude, unmannerly lad,
who pays no regard to propriety of conduct, will never be a gentleman.
And a boy who has the courage to face difficulties, and the energy and
perseverance to accomplish what he undertakes, is already _a man_;
while the indolent, cowardly, “_I can’t_” boy, will _never be a man_.
It is my desire, in this book, to lead you to the formation of a solid,
energetic, manly character, combined with true gentility of manners;
and then you will be both a _man_ and a _gentleman_.

Very young persons sometimes live in an _ideal world_. What they
imagine in their plays seems real. They have a little fairy world in
their minds, in which they live more, and take greater delight, than
they do in what is real and true. To this I do not object, within
certain bounds; but often it becomes a _passion_, so that they lose
all relish for sober, every-day life. For such creatures of fancy real
life is too dull, and what concerns realities, too grave. Perhaps they
will not like my book, because it treats of things true and real. But
I beg them to consider that, through the whole of their being, they
are to be concerned chiefly with _realities_; and therefore, to do
them substantial good, we must speak to them of things real, and not
of those airy things that belong to the fairy land. But real things
are, truly, more interesting than the creations of fancy. The things of
fancy interest you more only because they appear new and less common.
A person who has always lived in the country, and is used to sitting
under the wide-spreading, shady tree, would be more pleased with the
_picture_ of a tree than with a _tree itself_. But one brought up in
the city would cast away the picture, and hasten to enjoy the cool
shade of the beautiful tree. A castle in the air may please the fancy;
but you want a _real house_ to live in.



Perhaps some of my readers, when they see the title of this chapter,
will think only of confinement in school, of books, and of hard study,
and so be inclined to pass over it, as a dry subject, which they have
so much to do with, every day, that they have no wish to think of it in
a moment of relaxation. But I beg them to stop a minute, and not throw
me away, among the old school-books, till they have heard me through. I
assure them that I use the term _education_ in a far different sense.
I think it means much more than going to school and studying books.
This is only a small part of education. Mr. Walker defines education,
“_The formation of manners in youth._” But this is a very imperfect
definition; and I am afraid there may be found some who would even
doubt whether education has any thing to do with manners. Mr. Webster
gives a better definition:--“Education comprehends all that series
of instruction and discipline which is intended to enlighten the
understanding, correct the temper, and form the manners and habits of
youth, and fit them for usefulness in their future stations;”--all, in
fact, that is necessary to make a _man_ or a _woman_--a _gentleman_ or
a _lady_.

The original root, from which the word _education_ is derived, means to
_lead out_, to _conduct_, to _form_, to _fashion_, to _beat out_, to
_forge_. It was used with reference to the forging of an instrument out
of a piece of metal, or the chiselling of a statue out of a block of
marble. This furnishes a good illustration of my ideas of _education_.
It is a process by which a character is formed out of rude or unwrought
materials. It is not confined to mere school learning. A person may be
very _learned_, and yet not half _educated_. There are many steps in
the process. The ore must first be dug up by the miner; then smelted
at the furnace, and the metal separated from the dross; then wrought
into bars at the foundry; afterwards forged by the smith; and then,
finally, polished by the finisher. The marble must first be quarried,
or blasted out of the ledge; then cut into blocks; then transported;
then wrought with the hammer and chisel; and finally, polished. This
gives a good idea of education. It is not merely what is done to form
the character in _school_; but it comprises all the influences which
are exerted upon the young, in training them up and forming their
characters. Education begins in the _family_. It is carried forward in
the _school_. It is affected, for good or for evil, by the influence
of public worship, lectures, books, amusements, scenery, companions,
&c. In all places and circumstances, something is doing towards the
formation of character.

Yet there is one important respect in which _education_, or _the
formation of character_, differs essentially from the process described
in this illustration. The block of marble, or the piece of metal, is
_passive_; the whole process is performed upon it by another. But
no person can be educated in this way; every one that is educated
must be _active_. You may be drilled through all the schools, and
have every advantage at home and in society; and yet, without your
own active coöperation, you can never be educated. But, if you are
determined to be educated, you will turn every thing to some account.
Every thing will be a school to you; for you will make contributions
to your stock of knowledge from every object you see; and by seeking
to act discreetly, wisely, and correctly, in every place, you will
be constantly forming good habits. Like the little busy bee, you
will suck honey from every flower. You will commune with your own
heart upon your bed, and exercise your powers of thought in useful
meditation. You will converse with God in your secret place, and seek
wisdom of Him who has promised to give liberally to those that ask. In
company, you will be more ready to hear than to speak; and you will
never meet with any so ignorant but you may learn from them some useful
lessons. You will exercise your mind upon every person and object you
meet. You will study philosophy in the fields, by the brooks, on the
hills, in the valleys, and upon the broad canopy of heaven. It has
been well observed, that the difference between a wise man and a fool
is, that one goes through the world with his eyes wide open, while the
other keeps them shut.

You will perceive, then, that your education is continually going on,
whether you think of it or not. Your character is constantly forming.
It is your business to keep out of the way of bad influences, and
submit yourself to the moulding of the good. Keep in mind the great
truth that you are forming a character for eternity. Some years ago,
there were found on the banks of the Mississippi River the tracks of
a human being, deeply imprinted in the solid rock. These tracks were
made in the soft clay, which in time became hardened, and formed into
stone;--now, the impression is immovable. You now resemble this soft
clay. Every thing with which you come in contact makes an impression.
But, as you grow older, your character acquires solidity, and is less
and less affected by these influences, till at length it will be like
the hard stone, and the impressions made upon you at this season will
become confirmed habits.

All the impressions made upon your character ought to be such as will
not need to be removed. Washington Allston, the great painter, had
been a long time at work on a most magnificent painting. He had nearly
completed it, when his keen eye discovered some defects in a portion
of the piece. He hastily drew his rough brush over that portion of the
picture, intending to paint it anew. But in the midst of his plans,
death seized him, and his painting remains, just as he left it. No
other person can carry out the conception that was in his mind. If you
allow wrong impressions to be made upon your forming character, death
may meet you with his stern mandate, and fix them forever, as immovable
as it left the rough print of the coarse brush upon Allston’s canvass.



A watch, to one who had never seen such a piece of mechanism before,
would be a great wonder. It is an object of much curiosity to the
natives of savage and barbarous tribes, visited by the missionaries.
It seems to speak and move, as though instinct with life. I have read,
somewhere, of a poor savage, who, seeing a white man’s watch lying
on the ground, and hearing it tick, supposed it to be some venomous
reptile, and, with a stone, dashed it in pieces. A watch is an object
of no less wonder to a child. Children are full of curiosity, as my
readers well know. They wish to examine every thing they see--to take
it in pieces, and see how it is made. I dare say my readers remember
the time when they sat on their father’s knee, and modestly requested
him to show them the little wheels of his watch.

If I could sit down with my young friends, and take my watch in pieces,
I would teach them a useful lesson. I would show them how a watch
resembles a human being. There is the _case_, which may be taken off,
and put by itself, and still the watch will go as well as ever. In this
respect, it is like the human body. Death separates it from the soul,
and yet the soul remains, with all its active powers. It still lives.
The inside of the watch, too, resembles the soul. It has a great many
different parts, all working together in harmony--a great many wheels,
all moving in concert. So the soul has a great many different powers
or faculties, all designed to operate in concert with each other, as
the _understanding_, the _judgment_, the _conscience_, the _will_,
the _affections_, the _memory_, the _passions_, _desires_, &c.; and
each one of these has a part to act, as important for the man as the
several wheels and springs of the watch. If every part of the watch is
in order, and in its proper place, it will keep exact time; but, if
one wheel gets disordered, it will derange the whole. The secret power
that moves the watch is unperceived. If you examine, you will see a
large wheel, with a smooth surface, round which is wound a long chain,
attached to another wheel, with ridges for the chain to run upon.
Inside of the first-named wheel is the _main-spring_, which, by means
of the chain, moves the whole machinery. The WILL is the main-spring
of the soul. By a mysterious, invisible chain, it holds all the powers
of the soul and body at its command. Not only the operations of the
mind, but the motions of the body are controlled by the will.

But, if there were no check upon the main-spring of the watch, it would
not give the time of day. It would set all the wheels in rapid motion,
and in a few moments the watch would run down. To prevent this, there
is a _balance-wheel_, which turns backwards and forwards, by means of a
fine spring, called the _hair-spring_, and so keeps the whole machinery
in a regular motion. To this is attached a little lever, called the
_regulator_, which, by a gentle touch, works on this delicate spring,
so as to move the balance-wheel faster or slower, as the case may be,
to make the movement exact and regular.

Now, if there were no checks on the will, it would run on impetuously
in its course, without regard to consequences. And this we often see
in persons called _wilful_, _self-willed_, _headstrong_. Children are
often so; if let alone, their stubborn will would lead them to rush on
headlong to their own destruction. Without meaning to be very accurate
in these illustrations, I shall call _judgment_ the _balance-wheel_.
This is the faculty which perceives, compares, and decides, keeps the
mind balanced, and prevents its running to extremes either way.

The _hair-spring_ and _regulator_ of the watch I shall compare
with _conscience_. A very slight touch of the regulator moves
the hair-spring, and gives a quicker or a slower motion to the
balance-wheel. But, if the watch is out of order, oftentimes the
movement of the regulator has no effect upon it. So, when the soul is
_in order_, a very slight touch of conscience will affect the judgment
and regulate the will. But often, the soul is so much _out of order_,
that conscience will have no effect upon it.

But who touches the regulator of the watch? There is nothing in the
watch itself to do this. The power that moves the regulator _is applied
to it_. So, the conscience is moved. The _Word of God_ enlightens the
conscience, and the _Spirit of God_ applies the word. And this brings
me to the point which I had in my mind when I began this chapter. What
a poor thing a watch is, when it is out of order. It is of no use. A
watch is made to keep the time of day; but, when it is out of order,
it will keep no time. Or, if it is in order, and yet not regulated, it
will not keep the right time.

Now until the heart is changed by the grace of God, the _soul is out
of order_. It does not answer the purpose for which it was made. The
_will_ is wrong; the _judgment_ is wrong; the _conscience_ is wrong.
And, whatever cultivation may be bestowed upon the mind, it will not
act aright. In the very beginning, then, you want _piety_, as the
_main-spring_ of action, and the _regulator_ of the soul. Without this,
you are not prepared to begin any thing aright. Indeed, without it,
you have no sufficient motive to action. You seem to be toiling and
laboring and wearying yourself for nothing. But _piety towards God_
gives a new impulse to the mind. When you set out to improve your mind,
if you have no piety, the object to be gained by it is very small. It
can secure to you no more than, perhaps, a little additional enjoyment,
for the brief space you are to continue in this world. But piety opens
to you a wide field of usefulness in this life, and the prospect of
going forward in the improvement of your mind as long as eternity
endures. It must, therefore, give a new spring and vigor to all the
faculties of the soul. It does more. It _regulates_ the powers of the
mind, and the affections of the heart, and gives a right direction to
them all.

I would persuade you, then, as the first and great thing, to _seek
God_. Remember what Christ has said,--“Seek ye first the kingdom of
God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto
you.” Here is the promise that you shall have all else that is needful,
if you seek God first. Yield your heart to him, and have his kingdom
set up there. Let him rule in your heart, and devote yourself to his
service, and he will supply all your need. This, also, will give a
right direction to all your faculties, and lay a good foundation
of character. But, without it, you will be like a watch without a
balance-wheel or a regulator; you will be fit neither for this life
nor that which is to come. And, it is of the utmost importance that
you should become pious now, while you are young. If you would form a
good character, you must have a good foundation laid at the beginning.
Nothing but this can make a good foundation. All your habits ought to
be formed and settled upon religious principles. Religious motives
should enter into all your efforts to improve your mind and cultivate
your affections. And, should you neglect religion now, and afterwards,
by the grace of God, be led to devote yourself to him, you will find
it hard and difficult to overcome the wrong habits of mind and conduct
which you will have formed.

_Piety_, then, is the first thing to be considered, in the _formation
of character_. And remember, also, that you are forming character _for
eternity_; and that your whole being, through a never ending existence,
is to be affected by the character which you form now in your childhood
and youth. If you lay the foundation of your character now in the love
and fear of God, it will rise higher and higher, in excellence, beauty,
and loveliness, for ever and ever. But if you lay the foundation in
selfishness and sin, and build accordingly, it will forever be sinking
lower in degradation and deeper in wretchedness.



Next to your duty to God comes your duty to your _parents_; and you
can never form an excellent, amiable, and lovely character, unless the
foundation of it is laid in _filial piety_, as well as in piety towards
God. Solomon says to the young, “Hear the instruction of thy father,
and forsake not the law of thy mother; for they shall be an ornament
of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck.” Nothing will make
you appear so lovely in the eyes of others as a dutiful behaviour
towards your parents; and nothing will make you appear so unamiable
and unlovely as a disrespectful, disobedient carriage towards them.
No ornament sits so gracefully upon youth as filial piety; no outward
adorning can compare with it.

_Filial piety_ calls into exercise feelings towards your parents,
similar to those which piety towards God calls into exercise towards
him; such as esteem and veneration of his character, love to his
person, confidence in his word, submission to his authority, and
penitence for offences against him. When the heart is habituated to
the exercise of these feelings towards parents, it is prepared the
more readily to exercise them towards God. The promises which God has
made to those who honor their parents, and his threatenings against
those who dishonor them, are similar to those which he has made
respecting honor and obedience to himself. You owe it, therefore,
to God, to exercise filial piety, because he has required it, and
because it is one of the means he employs to cultivate piety towards
himself. _Gratitude_, also, should lead to filial piety, as well as
to piety towards God; for what God is to man, only in a lower sense,
the parent is to his child. Your parents are, under God, the authors
of your being. The greater part of parents’ lives is spent in rearing,
supporting, and educating their children. For this they wear out their
strength in anxious care and toil; they watch beside the bed of their
children when they are sick, with tender solicitude and sleepless
vigilance; they labor to provide for them. But good parents are, most
of all, anxious that their children should grow up intelligent and
virtuous, pious and happy. There is no being but God to whom children
are so much indebted as to a faithful parent; and almost all the
blessings that God bestows upon them come through their parents.

Filial piety has great influence on future character. One who has never
been in the habit of submitting to others, will always be headstrong
and self-willed; and such a character nobody loves. You cannot always
do as you please; and, if such is your disposition, you will always be
unhappy when your will is crossed. You will be unwilling to submit to
necessary restraints, and this will irritate, and keep you in misery;
for you will never see the time in your life when you will be so
entirely independent of others that you can have your own way in every
thing. Even the king on his throne cannot do this. But, if you have
always been in the habit of submitting to your parents, these necessary
restraints will be no burden. If, then, you would be respected,
beloved, and happy, when you grow up and take your place in society,
you must _honor your parents_. Cultivate the habit of submission to
their authority; of respectful attention to their instructions; and of
affection and reverence to their persons. These are the habits that
will make you respected, beloved, and happy. But as God has joined
a curse to parental impiety, so he makes it punish itself. And thus
you will find that it is generally followed with the most dreadful
consequences. Of this I might give many painful examples; but the
narratives would swell my book to an immoderate size.

The whole duty of children to parents, is expressed by God himself in
one word--HONOR. This word is chosen, with great felicity, to express
all the various duties of children toward their parents. There is a
great deal of meaning in this little word, _honor_.

Do you ask, “_How shall I honor my parents?_” In the first place, you
must honor them _in your heart_, by loving and reverencing them, and
by cultivating a submissive, obedient disposition. It is not honoring
your parents, to indulge an unsubmissive, turbulent spirit. To be angry
with your parents, and to feel that their lawful commands are hard or
unreasonable, is dishonoring them. The authority which God has given
your parents over you is for your good, that they may restrain you from
evil and hurtful practices, and require you to do what will be, in the
end, for your benefit. When they restrain you, or require you to do
what is not pleasing to you, they have a regard to your best interests.
To be impatient of restraint, and to indulge hard feelings toward them,
is doing them great dishonor. If you could read the hearts of your
parents, and see what a struggle it costs them to interfere with your
inclinations, you would feel differently. But these rebellious feelings
of yours are not only against your parents, but against God, who gave
them this authority over you.

Children also honor or dishonor their parents by their _words_. You
honor them, by addressing them in respectful language, and in a tone
of voice indicating reverence and submission, giving them those titles
that belong to their superior station. An example of this we have in
the answer of Samuel to what he supposed the call of Eli,--“Here am
I,”--a form of speech used by servants to their masters, and implying
attention to what was said, and a readiness to execute what was
commanded. But parents are dishonored, when their children answer them
gruffly, or speak in a sharp, positive, angry, or self-important tone;
or when they neglect to accompany their address with the usual titles
of respect, but speak out bluntly, “_Yes_,” or “_No_.” This shows the
state of the heart. And I think the reason why it is so difficult, in
these days, to teach children to say, “Yes, sir,” “No, ma’am,” &c., is,
that they do not feel in their hearts the respect which these terms
imply. You will perceive, by this remark, that I have no respect for
the notion which prevails, in some quarters, that these expressions are
not genteel.

Children likewise dishonor their parents, when they answer back, and
argue against their commands, or excuse themselves for not obeying. It
is as much as to say, they are wiser than their parents--which is doing
them a great dishonor. To speak to them in disrespectful, reproachful,
or passionate language, or to speak of them or their authority in such
language to others, is also a great offence against their honor. Under
the law of Moses, God punished this offence in the same manner that
he did blasphemy against himself:--“He that curseth his father or his
mother shall surely be put to death.” This shows what a great offence
it is in his sight.

Another way in which you honor your parents is, by giving respectful
attention to their instruction and counsels. God has committed your
instruction and training to them; and when they teach or advise you
according to the Scripture, their instructions are the voice of God to
you. If you despise their instruction, you cast contempt upon God, who
speaks through them, and who says, “My son, hear the instruction of thy
father, and forsake not the law of thy mother.” It is very natural for
children to wish to follow their own inclinations. The impetuosity
of youth would hurry them on, heedlessly, in the high-road to ruin.
And, often, they despise the wholesome instruction and advice of their
parents, as only designed to interfere with their pleasures, and
abridge their enjoyments; while, in truth, their parents look beyond
_mere pleasure_, to that which is of greater importance. They look upon
these things in the light which age and experience has given them. If
you were going to a strange place, in a way with which you were not
acquainted, and should meet one that had been that way before, you
would put confidence in what he should tell you of the way, and follow
his directions. Your parents have passed through the period of life on
which you are now entering, and they know the way. You will do well to
confide in them, and abide by their instructions. If you neglect to
do so, you will be sure to get into difficulty. The path of life is
beset, on every side, with by-paths, leading astray; and these by-paths
are full of snares and pit-falls, to catch the unwary, and plunge them
into ruin. Your parents have become acquainted with these ways, and
know their dangers. If they are good people, and understand their duty
to you, they will warn you against them; and it will be the height of
folly for you to disregard their warnings. Multitudes, by doing so,
have rushed heedlessly on to ruin.

You must honor your parents, also, by a _prompt and cheerful obedience_
to their lawful commands. I say _lawful_, because no one ought to obey
a command to do what is positively wrong. If a wicked parent should
command his child to break the Sabbath, to lie, or to steal, or to
break any of God’s commands, it would be the child’s duty to refuse,
and meekly submit to the punishment which the parent might inflict. It
is not often that such things happen among us; but our missionaries in
Constantinople have related two instances that are in point. Two little
Armenian girls had learned to read, and obtained from the missionaries
some ideas of Christian morality. A person knocked at the door of their
house, and their father, not wishing to see him, told one of them to go
and tell the person that he was _not at home_. “That would be telling
a lie,” said the daughter. “What then?” said the father; “it is a
very little thing. You have only to say that I am not at home.” “But,
father,” she replied, “the Bible says it is wicked to tell lies, and I
cannot tell a lie.” He was angry, and called his other daughter, and
told her to go. She replied, “Father, I cannot, for it is wicked to
lie.” These children did right in refusing to obey such a command. But
in no other case, except when told to do what is wrong, will a child be
justified in refusing to obey.

Obedience must be _prompt_ and _cheerful_. Your parents are not
honored, when obedience is delayed to suit your convenience; nor when
you _answer back_, or try to _reason against_ your parents’ commands,
or plead for delay, that you may first finish your own work. A parent
who is honored will never have to repeat the same command. Some
children are bent on having their own way, and attempt to carry their
point by showing their parents that their way is best; which is the
same as saying to them that they are more ignorant than their children.
Neither is _sullen obedience_ honoring your parents. Some children, who
dare not disobey their parents, will go about doing what is required
of them with great reluctance, with perhaps a sullen expression of
the countenance, a flirt, an angry step, or a slam of the door, or
some other show of passion. Such conduct is a grief to parents, and
an offence against God, who will not count that as obedience, which
is not done cheerfully. But if you truly honor your parents from the
heart, you will not wait for their _commands_. You will be always
ready to obey the slightest intimation of their wishes. It is a great
grief to a parent, when, out of respect to his child’s feelings, he
has expressed his _wish_, to be obliged to add his _command_, before
the thing will be done. But filial piety never appears so amiable and
lovely as when it anticipates the wishes of parents, and supersedes the
necessity of expressing those wishes in advice or commands.

If you honor your parents in your heart, you will pay an equal regard
to their counsels and commands, whether they are present or absent. If
you cast off their authority as soon as you are out of their sight, you
greatly dishonor them. Such conduct shows that you do not honor them at
all in your heart, but obey them only when you cannot disobey without
suffering for it. But if you keep their authority always present with
you, then you will do them great honor; for you show that they have
succeeded in fixing in your heart a deep-seated principle of reverence
and affection for them. If you truly honor your parents _in your
heart_, you will obey them as well when they are absent as present. The
parents’ authority and honor are always present with the good child.

Children, likewise, honor or dishonor their parents in their _general
behavior_. If they are rude and uncivil, they reflect dishonor upon
their parents; for people say, they have not been trained and
instructed at home. But when their behavior is respectful, correct,
pure, and amiable, it reflects honor upon the parents. People will
judge of the character of your parents by your behavior. Are you
willing to hear your parents reproachfully spoken of? No, your cheek
would glow with indignation at the person who should speak ill of your
father or your mother. But you speak evil of them, in your conduct,
every time you do any thing that reflects dishonor upon them in the
eyes of others. The blame of your conduct will be thrown back upon your

But the true way to honor your parents, at all times and in all
circumstances, is, to have your heart right with God. If you have true
piety of heart toward God, you will show piety toward your parents; for
you will regard the authority of his commandment, and delight in doing
what will please him. The fear of God, dwelling in your heart, will
lead you to reverence all his commands, and none more continually and
conscientiously than the one which requires you to honor your parents.
Every thing that you do for them will be done, “not with eye-service,
as men-pleasers, but with good will, doing service as to God, and not
to man.”

Boys of a certain age are frequently disposed to show their importance,
by assuming to be wiser than their parents. They call in question the
wisdom of their parents’ directions, and seek, in every possible way,
to set up their own will. This is particularly the case with respect
to the authority of the mother; they _feel too big to be governed by a
woman_; and if obliged to obey, they will be sullen about it. Instead
of requiting her care, by studying to be helpful,--anticipating her
wishes,--they seem to lose all sense of obligation, and regard what she
requires of them as an unreasonable interference with their pleasures;
and so, they will meet her requests in a snarling, snappish manner,
like an impertinent young mastiff, slighting, in every possible way,
the thing to be done. And if, in the Providence of God, such boys are
left without a father, they take advantage of the widowhood of their
mother, to resist her authority. I can scarcely think of any thing more
_unmanly_ than this. It is _mean_ and _despicable_. The mother, by all
the ties of gratitude, in these desolate circumstances, is entitled to
the kindness, assistance, and protection, of her sons; and to rebel
against her authority, because she may not have strength to enforce it,
manifests a very _black heart_. A young man, who, in any circumstances,
will treat his mother ill, is to be despised; but one who will take
advantage of the helplessness of her widowhood, to cast off her just
authority, is to be detested and abhorred.

Nothing has, perhaps, a greater influence upon the future character
of the _man_ than the trait of which we are speaking. The boy that is
obedient and submissive to parental authority will make a good citizen.
He has learned to _obey_, from his childhood; and he will be obedient
to the laws of his country; he will be respected in society, and may
rise to posts of honor. But the disobedient boy, who is turbulent and
ungovernable at home, will make a bad member of society. Never having
learned how to obey, he will be disobedient to the laws, and incur
their penalty; he will be found in evil company; engaged in mobs and
riots; making disturbance at fires, &c., till, perhaps, he will land
at last in prison, or be launched into eternity from the gallows. I
might easily fill the rest of this volume with the detail of cases,
in which a career of crime, ending in prison or on the gallows, has
been commenced in disobedience to parents, and in very many cases,
disobedience to widowed mothers.



The family is a little kingdom in miniature. The father and mother are
king and queen; and children, and others residing in the family, are
the subjects. I have treated at large, in the last chapter, on your
duties to your parents; but I must not pass over your behavior towards
the other members of the family. And here, I wish you to keep in mind
all I have said about the _formation of character_. Remember, that the
character you form in the family will, in all probability, follow you
through life. As you are regarded by your own brothers and sisters
at home, so, in a great measure, will you be regarded by others,
when you leave your father’s house. If you are manly, amiable, kind,
and courteous, at home, so you will continue to be; and these traits
of character will always make you beloved. But if you are peevish,
ill-natured, harsh, uncourteous, or overbearing, at home, among your
own brothers and sisters, so will you be abroad; and, instead of being
beloved, you will be disliked and shunned.

The best general direction that I can give is, that you carry out the
golden rule in your behavior toward your brothers and sisters, and
all other persons who reside in the family. If you do to them as you
would wish them to do to you, all will be well. But I must be a little
more particular. Boys are often disposed to assume a dictatorial,
domineering air toward their sisters, as though they thought themselves
born to rule, and were determined to exercise their dominion over their
sisters, because they have not strength to resist their tyranny. But
I can hardly think of any thing more unmanly. It shows a very mean
spirit, destitute of noble and generous feelings, to take advantage
of the weakness of others to tyrannize over them. But to do this to
those who, by the relation they bear to you, are entitled to your love
and protection, is base beyond description. The same is true, though
perhaps in a less degree, in regard to the conduct of an elder toward a
younger brother.

A brother should be kind, tender, courteous, and delicate, in his
behavior toward his sisters, never treating them with rudeness or
neglect, and standing ready always to protect them from the rudeness of
other boys. He should never speak gruffly to them, nor in a lordly,
domineering, or contemptuous manner. Such conduct toward other misses
or young ladies would be esteemed very unhandsome and ungentlemanly;
and why should it not be so esteemed at home? Are your own sisters
entitled to less respect than strangers?

Accustom yourself to make confidants of your sisters. Let them
understand your feelings, and know your designs; and pay a suitable
regard to their advice. By this means you may be saved from many a
snare, and you will secure their affection and sympathy. Never form any
design, or engage in any enterprise, which you are ashamed to divulge
to them. If you do, you may be sure it will not end well.

One rule, well observed at home, among brothers and sisters, would go
far towards making them accomplished gentlemen and ladies, in their
manners:--BE COURTEOUS TO EACH OTHER. Never allow yourself to treat
your brothers or sisters in a manner that would be considered rude or
ungentlemanly, if done to other young persons visiting in the family.
Especially, never allow yourself to play tricks upon them, to teaze
them, or, in a coarse, rough manner, to criticize or ridicule their
conduct, especially in the presence of others. But if you see any thing
that you think needs reforming, kindly remind them of it in private.
This will have a much better effect than if you mortify them, by
exposing their faults before company. Be careful of their feelings, and
never needlessly injure them.

Boys sometimes take delight in crossing the feelings of their brothers
and sisters, interfering with their plans, and vexing them, out of
sheer mischief. Such conduct is especially unamiable, and it will
tend to promote ill-will and contention in the family. Be not fond of
informing against them. If they do any thing very much amiss, it will
be your duty to acquaint your parents with it. But in little things, of
small moment, it is better for you kindly to remonstrate with them, but
not to appeal to your parents. In some families, when the children are
at home, your ears are continually ringing with the unwelcome sounds,
“Mother, John”--“Father, Susan”--“Mother, George,” &c.--a perpetual
string of complaints, which makes the place more like a bedlam than a
quiet, sweet home. There is no sight more unlovely than a quarrelsome
family,--no place on earth more undesirable than a family of brothers
and sisters who are perpetually contending with each other. But I know
of no place, this side heaven, so sweet and attractive as the home of
a family of brothers and sisters, always smiling and happy, full of
kindness and love, delighting in each other’s happiness, and striving
how much each can oblige the other. If you would have your home such a
place, you must not be selfish; you must not be too particular about
maintaining your own rights; but be ready always to yield rather than
to contend. This will generally have the effect to produce the same
disposition in your brothers and sisters; and then the strife will be,
which can be most generous.

Be noble and generous in your treatment of domestics. Never be so mean
as to domineer over the hired men or women employed about the house,
or in the field. Keep out of the kitchen as much as possible. But
if you are obliged to go there, remember that you are on the cook’s
premises. Keep out of her way, and be careful not to put things out
of their place, or make litter. Nothing is more annoying to her than
such conduct, because it interferes with her efforts to keep things
in order, and increases her labor. Never ask servants to help you,
when you are able to help yourself. It is very provoking to them to
be called to wait on the little _gentlemen_ about house. Cultivate
independence of character, and help yourself. You will never be fit
for any business, if you always depend on others to help you in little
every-day affairs.

Young men and boys should cultivate a _love of home_ as a defence
against the temptations to frequent bad company and places of resort
dangerous to their morals. A boy or a young man, who is deeply and
warmly attached to his mother and sisters, will prefer their society
to that of the depraved and worthless; and he will not be tempted to
go abroad in search of pleasure, when he finds so much at home. It is
a delusive idea, that any greater pleasure can be found abroad than
is to be enjoyed at home; and that boy or young man is in a dangerous
way, to whom the society of his mother and sisters has become insipid
and uninteresting. When you feel any inclination to go abroad in search
of forbidden pleasure, I advise you to sit down with your sisters, and
sing, “_Home, sweet home_.” And here I may say that the cultivation
of music will add much to the attractions of home. It is a delightful
recreation. It soothes the feelings, sweetens the temper, and refines
the taste. In addition to the cultivation of the voice, and the
practice of vocal music, you will find great satisfaction in learning
to play on some instrument of music, to be able to carry your part on
the flute or viol. This will greatly diminish the temptation to go
abroad for amusement; and in proportion as you find your pleasure at
home, will you be safe from those evil influences which have proved
the destruction of so many boys.

But perhaps you are an _only child_. Then you will enjoy the exclusive
affections and attention of your parents, without a rival. But you
will lose the advantage of the society of brothers and sisters. The
former will be no benefit; for parents do not abate their love to their
first-born, when others are added to their number. But the exclusive
love to an only child often degenerates into excessive indulgence. The
society of brothers and sisters, though it often tries the temper,
yet contributes greatly to the happiness of a child. It provides a
wholesome discipline, and affords the means of learning how to behave
among equals; which an only child cannot learn at home. You will be
likely to think too much of yourself, because you will receive the
exclusive attentions of your parents, and will not have before you the
daily example of your equals. These things you must guard against; and
endeavor to make up the deficiency, by carrying out the hints I have
given, in the society of other children, wherever you meet them.

In conclusion, I will give you one little _family rule_. You may think
it a _very little_ one; but it is able to do wonders. If you will
try it one week, and never deviate from it, I will promise you the
happiest week you ever enjoyed. And, more than this, you will diffuse
such a sunshine about you as to make others happy also. My little rule
is this: NEVER BE CROSS.



Most of what I have said in the last two chapters will apply to your
behavior at school. When you go to school, your teachers take the
place of your parents. To them, for the time being, your parents have
delegated their authority. You are bound, therefore, to give to them
the same reverence and obedience which are due to your parents. To
disobey, or to dishonor them in any other way, is a breach of the
fifth commandment, which, in its spirit, requires _subordination to
lawful authority_; or, as the Catechism says, “The fifth commandment
requireth the preserving the honor of, and performing the duties
belonging to, every one, in their several places and relations, as
superiors, inferiors, or equals.” You ought, therefore, in the first
place, to pay strict regard to every rule of the school, as a religious
duty; and obey your teacher, in all things, with the same promptness
and cheerfulness that you would obey your parents. You should be too
careful of your own reputation to permit yourself to be reprimanded
by your teacher. If you take up the resolution that you will be so
diligent, faithful, and well-behaved, as never to be reproved, you
will find it a very wholesome restraint, to keep you within the bounds
of propriety. Be careful of the _honor_ of your teachers, remembering
that, if you dishonor them, you break God’s holy commandment. Never
call in question their arrangements; and never indulge feelings of
dissatisfaction. Especially, never speak slightingly or disrespectfully
of them, nor of their ways. It does not become you to call in question
their arrangements, or their mode of teaching. If you are wiser than
they, you had better not seek instruction from them; but if not, then
you should be satisfied with the dictates of their superior wisdom.
Never attempt to question their proceedings, nor to argue with them,
when they require you to do any thing. Be very careful, also, not
to carry home tales from school; because such a practice tends to
cultivate a disposition to tattle, and often leads to great mischief.
Yet, when your parents make inquiries, it is your duty to answer them.

Be diligent in your studies, from _principle_, not from a spirit
of emulation. Remember that you are placed at school for your own
benefit. It is not for your parents’ advantage, nor for the benefit
of your teachers, that you are required to study; but for your own
good. Remember how much pains your parents take, to give you this
opportunity. They give up your time, which they have a right to
employ for their own benefit, and they expend money for the support
of schools, that you may have the opportunity of obtaining useful
learning. You are bound, therefore, to improve this opportunity with
great diligence. You will not think it a task, that you are compelled
to study; but you will regard it as a price[1] put into your hands to
get wisdom. It is all for your own benefit. In school hours, therefore,
you should put away all thoughts of play, and all communication with
other scholars, and give yourself strictly and closely to your studies.

    [1] Prov. xvii. 16.

But, I suppose you will find the most difficulty in regulating your
conduct during the intervals of school hours, and on your way to and
from school. When a great many young persons of your own age are
together, there is a disposition to throw off restraint. I would
not have you under such restraint as to avoid all relaxation and
innocent hilarity; for these are necessary to keep your mind and
body in a healthful condition. But, here, you will be more exposed
to temptation. As punctuality is of great importance in school, and
a necessary habit to be cultivated, you need to make it a matter of
principle to be always in your seat a few minutes before the opening
of school. A failure to do this, will rob you of many advantages, and
greatly embarrass your teacher. It will, also, give you the habit of
tardiness, which will be a great injury to you, as long as you live,
whatever may be your occupation. But, in order to be punctual, you must
not linger to engage in sport by the way. So, likewise, in returning
from school, you ought to be equally punctual in reporting yourself
at home; for you know not what your parents may have for you to do.
This, also, forbids your lingering for amusement on the way home. But,
besides these, there are other reasons why you should not idle away
your time on the way. Idle boys are always in the way of temptation; for

    “Satan finds some mischief still
        For idle hands to do.”

If you linger along on the way, you will be very likely to meet with
some bad boys, who will lead you astray, and involve you in some
mischief that will get you into serious difficulty. A boy was walking
along in the streets of Boston, and another boy, who knew him by name,
called to him from the other side of the street, saying, “Come, John,
come over here, and we’ll have some fun.” “No, I can’t,” John replied;
“I must go home.” “But just come over here a minute.” “No, I can’t,”
said John; “my mother expects me home.” But the boy still urged him,
and at length prevailed on him to cross the street. They then went into
a hardware store; and the boy who called John over stole some knives
and disappeared; and John was taken for the theft, because he was with
the other boy at the time, and put in jail. Thus, by just stopping
on the way, and going across the street, he got into jail. If he had
made it his invariable rule to go directly on his way, and not linger,
and idle his time away, he would have been saved from this suffering,
shame, and disgrace. But, if you indulge in the same habit of lingering
by the way, you will be exposed to similar temptation and trouble.

In all your intercourse with your school-fellows, be kind and obliging.
Treat them courteously, and avoid every thing that is rough, coarse,
and rude. Endeavor to behave like a _young gentleman_. Avoid the
company of boys who are rough and coarse in their manners, or profane
or obscene in their conversation. You will insensibly imbibe their
vulgarity, if you associate with them. In your sports or plays, be
conscientiously fair and honorable. The boy, who is unfair or dishonest
in his play, when he becomes a man, will drive a hard bargain or be
dishonest in his business.

If you go where boys and girls are associated in the same school, have
a strict regard to propriety, in your intercourse with the other sex.
Be gentlemanly in your behavior towards them. Avoid all rudeness or
roughness of manners and conversation in their presence. Especially,
refrain from rude jests and low buffoonery. You may engage with them
in sensible conversation; but a well-bred girl will be offended if you
attempt to please her by trying how nonsensically and silly you can
talk. Venture no improper liberties; but maintain your own self-respect
by respecting them.

Finally, see that you do nothing in school or out of it, which you
would be unwilling your parents should see; and remember that there is
One Eye that is always upon you.



Did it ever occur to you to inquire why all civilized people have their
food prepared at particular hours, and all the family sit at table
together? Why not have the food prepared, and placed where every one
can go and eat, whenever he pleases, by himself? One great advantage of
having a whole family sit together, and partake of their meals at the
same time, is, that it brings them together in a social way, every day.
But for this, and the assembling of the family at prayers, they might
not all meet at once for a long time. But eating together is a mark of
friendship; and it tends to promote social feeling. In a well-regulated
family, also, it is a means of great improvement, both of mind and
manners. It is, in fact, a _school of good manners_. You will perceive,
then, how very important it is, that your behavior at table should
always be regulated by the rules of propriety. If you acquire vulgar
habits here, or practise rudeness, you will find it difficult to
overcome them; and they will make you appear to great disadvantage.

I shall mention a few things to be observed, at the table, by one who
would maintain a character for good breeding. And, first of all, be not
tardy in taking your place at the table. In a well-regulated family,
the master of the family waits till all are seated before he asks a
blessing. Suppose there are five persons at the table, and you hinder
them all by your tardiness three minutes, you waste fifteen minutes of
precious time. To those who set a proper value upon time, this is a
great evil. There is no need of it; you may as easily be at your seat
in time as too late. When called to a meal, never wait to finish what
you are doing, but promptly leave it, and proceed to your place. Above
all, do not delay till after the blessing, and so sit down to your food
like a heathen.

The table is a place for easy, cheerful, social intercourse; but some
children make it a place of noisy clamor. The younger members of the
family should leave it for the parents (and guests, if there are any,)
to take the lead in conversation. It does not appear well for a very
young person to be forward and talkative at table. You should generally
wait till you are spoken to; or, if you wish to make an inquiry or a
remark, do it in a modest, unassuming way, not raising your voice, nor
spinning out a story. And be especially careful not to interrupt any
other person. Sensible people will get a very unfavorable impression
concerning you, if they see you bold and talkative at table. Yet you
should never appear inattentive to what others are saying. Be not so
intent on discussing the contents of your plate, as not to observe the
movements of others, or to hear their conversation. Show your interest
in what is said by occasional glances at the speaker, and by the
expression of your countenance; but be not too anxious to put a word in
yourself. Some children make themselves ridiculous, by always joining
in, and making their remarks, when older persons are speaking, often
giving a grave opinion of some matter about which they know nothing.

Be helpful to others, without staring at them, or neglecting your own
plate. You may keep your eye on the movements around you, to pass a
cup and saucer, to notice if any one near you needs helping, and to
help any dish that is within your reach. By so doing, you may greatly
relieve your father and mother, who must be very busy, if they help
all the family. By cultivating a close observation, and studying to
know and anticipate the wants of others, you will be able to do these
things in a genteel and graceful manner, without appearing obtrusive or

Study _propriety_. If asked what you will be helped to, do not answer
in an indefinite manner, saying, you “have no choice;” for this will
put the master of the house to the inconvenience of choosing for you.
Do not wait, after you are asked, to determine what you will have, but
answer promptly; and do not be particular in your choice. To be very
particular in the choice of food is not agreeable to good breeding.
Never ask for what is not on the table. Do not make remarks respecting
the food; and avoid expressing your likes and dislikes of particular
articles. One of your age should not appear to be an epicure. Show your
praise of the food set before you, by the good nature and relish with
which you partake of it; but do not eat so fast as to appear voracious.
Never put on sour looks, nor turn up your nose at your food. This is
unmannerly, and a serious affront to the mistress of the table. Be
careful to use your knife and fork as other people do, and to know when
to lay them down, and when to hold them in your hands. Be careful not
to drop your food, nor to spill liquids on the cloth. Do not leave the
table before the family withdraw from it, unless it is necessary; and
then, ask to be excused. Neither linger to finish your meal, after you
perceive the rest have done.

Besides what I have mentioned, there are a great many nameless little
things, that go to make up good manners at table, which you must learn
by studying the rules of propriety, and observing the behavior of



All well-regulated Christian families are assembled, morning and
evening, to worship God. Seeing we are dependent on him for all
things, it is suitable and proper that we should daily acknowledge our
dependence, by asking him for what we need, and thanking him for what
we receive. That we should do this _as a family_ is highly proper. But
if it is our duty to worship God _as a family_, it is the duty of every
one in particular. It is as much your duty as it is your father’s.
You must, therefore, not only make it a principle to be in your place
punctually at the time, but to enter heartily into all the exercises.
Some children and youth appear as if they had no interest in what is
going on, at this most interesting household service. But this is not
only showing great disrespect to your parents, but great irreverence
toward God. It will help you to right feelings, on these occasions, if
you imagine Christ Jesus present in person. God is present spiritually,
and in a peculiar manner, at such times, to bless the families that
call on his name. When, therefore, the family are assembled for
prayers, you should put away all vain or wandering thoughts. When the
time arrives, and the family are assembled for devotion, seat yourself,
in a serious, reverent manner; and if there should be a few moments’
delay, do not engage in conversation, nor in reading newspapers, or any
thing calculated to divert your mind; but direct your thoughts upward
to God, and seek a preparation for his worship. Suffer not your mind
to be occupied with any thing but the service before you. Let not your
eyes wander about, to catch vagrant thoughts. Let not your hands be
occupied with any thing, to divert your attention or to disturb others.
Have your Bible, and take your turn in reading. Be attentive and
devout, during the reading of God’s holy word, endeavoring to apply it
to your heart. If the family sing, enter into this sweet service, not
only with your lips, but with your heart. When prayer is offered, place
yourself in the attitude which is taken by your father and mother. If
they kneel, do you kneel also,--not sit, nor recline, but stand upon
your knees, in a reverent posture. Shut your eyes, and keep your heart.
Let your heart embrace the words of the prayer, and make them your own.
Remember that the devotional habits you form at the family altar, are
the habits that will follow you to God’s house, and probably adhere to
you through life. And what can be more shocking than to see persons
pretending to gentility, who do not know how to behave with propriety
before the great God that made them! If you were in company, and should
treat the person that invited you with as much indifference as you
treat God by such conduct, you would be considered a very ill-bred
person. He has invited you to come to his mercy-seat to converse with
him, and to receive favors at his hand; and yet, by such conduct as I
have named, you show no interest at all in the matter.

Family devotion, when rightly improved, is a very important means of
grace. If you attend upon it seriously and reverently, you may hope
that God will bless it to your soul. It tends, also, to tranquillize
the feelings, and prepare you to engage in the duties of the day with
serenity and cheerfulness.



I suppose, if my readers are the children of pious parents, they have
been taught from their earliest recollection, to retire, morning and
evening, to some secret place, to read their Bible alone, and engage in
private prayer. This, in very early childhood, is often an interesting
and affecting service. But when young people come to a certain age,
if their hearts are not renewed, they are disposed to regard this as
an irksome duty, and gradually to leave it off. They find the old
adage, in the primer, true,--“Praying will make thee leave sinning, and
sinning will make thee leave praying.”

It is a sad period, in the history of a young person, when the early
habit of prayer is given up. Then the heart becomes like the garden of
the slothful, described by Solomon:--

“I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man
void of understanding; and lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and
nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was
broken down.”

There are no good plants thriving in the prayerless soul; but weeds,
and briars, and thorns, grow thick and rank, occupying every vacant
spot. The stone wall is broken down: there is no defence against the
beasts of the field. Every vagrant thought, every vicious passion, find
free admittance. The heart grows hard, and the spirit careless. Sin is
not dreaded as it once was. The fear of God and the desire of his favor
are gone. “God is not in all his thoughts.” That youth stands on the
very edge of a frightful precipice.

I would not have you think, however, that there is any _merit_ in
prayer; or that the prayers of one whose “heart is not right with God”
are acceptable to him. But, what I say is, that every one ought to pray
to God with a right heart. If your heart is not right with God, then
it is wrong; and you are to blame for having it wrong. I will suppose
a case, to illustrate what I mean. You see a child rise up in the
morning, and go about the house; and though its mother is with it all
the time, yet the child neither speaks to her nor seems to notice her
at all. After a while, the mother asks what is the matter, and why her
dear child does not speak to her? The child says, “I have _no heart_ to
speak to you, mother. I do not _love_ you; and so I think it would be
wrong for me to speak to you.” What would you think of such conduct?
You would say, “The child _ought_ to love its mother; and it is only
an aggravation of its offence, to carry out the feelings of its heart
in its conduct?” “Would you then have it act the hypocrite, and speak
with its lips what it does not feel in its heart?” No; but I would
have it love its mother, as every dutiful child ought to do, and then
act out, in its speech and behavior, what it feels in its heart. But I
would never have it excuse itself from right actions because its heart
is wrong. Now, apply this to the subject of prayer, and you will see
the character of all impenitent excuses for neglecting this duty. And
those who go on and continue to neglect it, certainly have no reason to
expect that their hearts will grow any better by it, but only worse.
But in attempting to perform a sacred duty, the Lord may give you grace
to perform it aright, and then you will have a new heart.

If possible, have a particular place of prayer, where you can be
secure from all interruption, and particular times for it. At the
appointed hours, retire alone, and put away all thoughts about your
studies, your work, your amusements, or any thing of a worldly nature,
and try to realize that God is as truly present as if you saw him
with your bodily eyes. Then read his word, as though you heard him
speaking to you in the sacred page; and when your mind has become
serious and collected, kneel down and acknowledge God as your Creator
and Preserver, your God and Redeemer; thank him for the mercies you
have received, mentioning particularly every good thing you can think
of, that you have received from him; confess your sins; plead for
pardon, through the blood of Jesus Christ; and ask him to give you
such blessings as you see and feel that you need. Pray also for your
friends, (and for your enemies, if you have any;) and conclude with a
prayer for the coming of Christ’s kingdom every where throughout the

Some young people neglect to pray, because they think they are not
able to form their words into prayer. But you need not be afraid to
speak to God. If you can find language to ask your parents for what you
desire, you can find words to express your desires to God; and he will
not upbraid you for the imperfection of your language. He looks at the
heart. If that is right, your prayer will be accepted.

Let me earnestly entreat you to have your set times for prayer, at
least as often as morning and evening; and never suffer yourself to
neglect them. And, especially, do not adopt the unseemly practice of
saying your prayers in bed, but give to God the brightest and best
hours of the day, and not offer to him the blind and the lame for
sacrifice. You will find the regular and stated habit of prayer, thus
formed in early life, of great value to you, as long as you live.

But let me once more caution you not to trust in your prayers, for they
cannot save you; and do not think, because you are regular and habitual
in attending to the outward forms of duty, that you must be a Christian.

Prayer, if sincere and true, will prepare you for engaging in the
duties of the day, or for enjoying calm repose at night. If, for any
cause, you neglect prayer in the morning, you may expect things will
go ill with you all the day. You can do nothing well without God’s
blessing; and you cannot expect his blessing without asking for it. You
need, also, that calm, tranquil, humble spirit which prayer promotes,
to prepare you to encounter those things which are constantly occurring
to try the feelings, and to enable you to do any thing well. Therefore,
never engage in any thing of importance without first seeking direction
of God; and never do any thing on which you would be unwilling to ask
His blessing.



Some people esteem it a hardship to be compelled to keep the Sabbath.
They think it an interference with their liberties, that the state
should make laws to punish them for breaking it. This disposition very
early shows itself in children. Often they think it is hard that they
are restrained from play, or from seeking their pleasure, on the holy
Sabbath. But God did not give us the Sabbath for his own sake, or
because he is benefited by our keeping it. The Bible says, “The Sabbath
was made for man.” God gave us the Sabbath for our benefit, and for
two purposes. He has made us so that we need rest one day in seven.
It has been proved, upon fair trial, that men cannot do as much, nor
preserve their health as well, by laboring seven days in a week, as
they can by laboring six days, and resting one day in a week. If there
were no Sabbath, you would have no day of rest. You would grow weary of
school, if you were obliged to attend and study seven days in a week.
If you are kept at home to work, you would soon tire out, if you had to
labor every day in the week. But, by resting every seventh day, you get
recruited, so that you are able to go on with study or work with new
vigor. The Sabbath, in this respect, is then a great blessing to you;
and you ought to be so thankful to God for it, as to keep it strictly
according to his command.

Another object of the Sabbath is, to give all people an opportunity to
lay aside their worldly cares and business, to worship God and learn
his will. The other design of the Sabbath was, to _benefit the body_;
this is, to _bless the soul_. If there were no Sabbath, people that are
dependent upon others would be obliged to work every day in the week;
and they would have no time to meet together for the worship of God.
And, if every one were allowed to choose his own time for worshipping
God, there would be no agreement. One would be at meeting, another
would be at work, and others would be seeking their pleasure. But, in
order to have every one at liberty to worship God without disturbance,
he has set apart one day in seven for this purpose. On this day, he
requires us to rest from all labor and recreation, and spend its sacred
hours in learning his will, and in acts of devotion. The Sabbath thus
becomes a means of improving the mind and the heart. It furnishes the
best opportunity for social improvement that could be devised. It
brings the people together, in their best attire, to exercise their
minds in understanding divine truth, and their hearts in obeying it.
And the same object, and the same spirit, it carries out in the family.
If, therefore, you ever consider the duties of the holy Sabbath irksome
and unpleasant, or feel uneasy under its restraints, you perceive that
you must be very unreasonable, since they are designed for your good.
You will not, then, find fault with me, if I am rigid in requiring
the strict observance of the Sabbath. One thing I would have you
remember,--_If you would receive the full benefit of the holy Sabbath,
you must form right habits of keeping it, early in life._ To give
it full power over the mind, it must be associated, in our earliest
recollections, with order, quiet, stillness, and solemnity. If you are
in the habit of disregarding it in early life, you lose all the benefit
and enjoyment to be derived from these sacred associations.

The best directions for keeping the Sabbath, any where to be found,
are contained in the thirteenth verse of the fifty-eighth chapter of
Isaiah:--“If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy
pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of
the Lord, honorable; and shalt honor him, not doing thine own ways, nor
finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words--” You must
_turn away your foot from the Sabbath_, not trampling on it by doing
your own pleasure, instead of the pleasure of the Lord. Your foot must
not move to perform any act that is contrary to the design of this
sacred day; and especially, must not go after your own pleasure. You
must not _do your own ways_, nor _find your own pleasure_. These things
may be lawful on other days; but on this day, every thing must have
reference to God. You must not even _speak your own words_. Worldly,
vain, light, or trifling conversation is thus forbidden. And, if you
may not speak your own words, you may not think your own thoughts.
Worldly, vain, trifling thoughts, or thoughts of your pleasure, are
not lawful on God’s holy day. But you must not only _refrain_ from
these things; the Sabbath is not properly kept, unless its sacred
services are a _delight_ to the soul. If you are tired of hearing,
reading, and thinking of the things of another world, you do not keep
the Sabbath according to these directions. To one who enters truly into
the spirit of God’s holy day, it is the most delightful of the seven.
You remember, in the memoir of Phebe Bartlett, it is stated that she so
loved the Sabbath that she would long to have it come, and count the
days intervening before it. Such are the feelings of all who love God
and sacred things.

Having made these general remarks, I will give you a few simple
directions for making the Sabbath both profitable and delightful. The
evening before the Sabbath, do every thing that can be done, to save
doing on the Sabbath. Leave nothing to be done in _God’s time_ that you
can do in your _own time_. Lay out your Sabbath day’s clothing, and see
that it is all in order, that you may have no brushing or mending to
be done Sabbath morning. Rise early in the morning, and, while washing
and dressing, which you will do in as little time as possible, think
of your need of the “washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy
Ghost,” and of being clothed in the clean, white robe of Christ’s
righteousness. Then offer up your thanksgiving to God for his mercy in
preserving your life, and giving you another holy Sabbath, and pray for
his presence and blessing through the day. If you are called by your
father or mother, for any service of the family, go to it cheerfully;
and as soon as you can retire again, read a portion of Scripture, and
pray to God for such particular blessings upon yourself as you feel
your need of, and for his blessing upon others on his holy day. If you
attend the Sabbath school, you will need to look over your lesson for
the day, and endeavor to apply it to your own heart; for I suppose you
do not put off the study of your lesson till Sabbath morning.

Never stay at home on the Sabbath, unless you are necessarily detained.
Make it a matter of principle and calculation always to be there.
On your way to the house of God, do not engage in any unnecessary
conversation, especially that which is vain, light, or trifling, to
divert your mind, and unfit you for the worship of God. Do not stand
about the doors of the meeting-house, to salute your friends, or to
converse with your young companions. This practice, I am sorry to say,
prevails in the country, among young people of both sexes, to the great
annoyance of well-bred people. It is a great temptation to conversation
improper for the Sabbath. It is very unpleasant for people who are
passing, to have the way blocked up, so as to have to press through a
crowd. Neither do people like to be _stared at_, by a company of rude
young people, as they pass into the house of God. I am sorry to admit,
also, that this unmannerly practice is not confined to youth; but that
many elderly people set the example. Instead of doing so, go directly
to your seat, in a quiet, reverent manner; and if any time intervenes
before the commencement of public worship, do not spend it in gazing
about the house, to observe the dress of different persons; but take
the opportunity to compose your mind, to call in all vagrant thoughts,
to get your heart impressed with a sense of God’s presence, and to lift
up your soul in silent prayer for his blessing. Or, if the time be
long, you can employ a part of it in reading the Bible, or devotional
hymns. But do not carry any other book to the house of worship to be
read there. If you have a Sabbath school library book, it will be
better not to read it at such a time, because you will be likely to
get your mind filled with it, so as to interfere with the services
of the sanctuary. But the Bible and hymn book, being of a devotional
character, will tend to prepare your mind for worship. Above all, do
not read a newspaper, of any kind, at such a time. Even a religious
newspaper would tend to divert your mind from that serious, tender,
devout frame, which you ought to possess when you engage in the solemn
public worship of the Great Jehovah. But I have often witnessed more
serious improprieties, in the house of God, than any of these. I have
seen young people whispering and laughing during the sermon; and it is
a very common thing to see them gazing about during the singing, as
though they had nothing to do with the service. I have also seen them
engaged in reading, in the time of sermon, or of singing. Some, also,
are seen, in time of prayer, with their eyes wide open, gazing about.
Such conduct would be very unmannerly, if nobody were concerned but the
minister; for it is treating him as though he were not worthy of your
attention. But when it is considered that he speaks to you _in the name
of God_, and that, in prayer, while you stand up with the congregation,
you profess to join in the prayer; and while the hymn is sung, you
profess to exercise the devout feeling which it expresses,--when all
these things are considered, such conduct as that I have described
appears impious in a high degree.

Instead of being guilty of such improprieties, you will endeavor, from
the heart, to join in the sentiments expressed in prayer and praise;
and listen to the sermon with all attention, as a message sent from
God to you. You must not think that the sermon is designed for older
people, and therefore you have nothing to do with it; nor take up the
notion that sermons are too dry and uninteresting to engage your
attention. The minister speaks _to you_, in the name of God, those
great truths which concern the salvation of the soul. Can they be of
no interest to you? Have you not a soul to be saved or lost? Nor need
you think that you cannot understand the sermon. If you _give your
attention_, you can understand a sermon as well as you can understand
the lessons you are required every day to study at school. If you do
not understand preaching, it is because you do not give your mind to
it, and hear with attention. Your mind is here and there, “walking to
and fro in the earth, and going up and down in it;” and you only catch,
here and there, a sentence of the sermon. This is the reason you do
not understand it. Endeavor to examine your heart and life by what you
hear, and to apply it to yourself in such a way as to be benefitted by
it. And, when you leave the house of God, do not immediately engage in
conversation, and by this means dissipate all impression; but, as far
as possible, go home in silence, and retire to your closet, to seek
the blessing of God upon the services of his house, on which you have

I suppose, of course, that you attend the Sabbath school. I think it a
great advantage to those who rightly improve it. But, like every other
privilege, it may be so neglected or abused as to be of no benefit. If
you pay no attention to the Sabbath school lesson at home, your mere
attendance upon the recitation at school will do you little good. You
will feel little interest, and receive little profit. But, if you make
it the occasion for the faithful study of the Holy Scriptures at home,
to ascertain their meaning, and to become acquainted with the great
truths of Christianity, it will be of great service to you in forming
your Christian character.

Having well and thoroughly studied your Sabbath school lesson, you
will then be prepared to engage in the recitation with interest. In
the Sabbath school, you will observe the same general directions for
propriety of behavior as in public worship. You are to remember that
it is the holy Sabbath, and that the Sabbath school is a religious
meeting. All lightness of manner is out of place. A serious deportment
is necessary, if you would profit by it. Courtesy to your teacher,
and to the school, also requires that you should give your attention,
and not be conversing or reading during the recitation, or while your
teacher is speaking to you. In answering the questions, you should be
full and explicit; not merely making the briefest possible reply, but
entering into the subject with interest. But be careful that you do
not give indulgence to a self-confident, conceited spirit, nor appear
as if you thought yourself wiser than your teacher. Such a spirit
indulged will have an injurious influence in the formation of your
character, and will make you an object of disgust to sensible people.

Some young people, when a little past the period of childhood, begin
to feel as if they were too old to attend the Sabbath school, and so
gradually absent themselves, and finally leave it altogether. This
arises from a mistaken notion as to the design of the Sabbath school.
It is not a school _for children merely_; but a school for all classes
of people, to engage in the study of the most wonderful book in the
world. I hope you will never think of leaving the Sabbath school, as
long as you are able to attend it. If you do, you will suffer a loss
which you will regret as long as you live.

If you remain at the house of worship between the Sabbath school
and the afternoon service, as many do in the country, you will be
exposed to temptations to profane the Sabbath. To prevent this, avoid
meeting with your companions, in groups, for conversation. However
well-disposed you may be, you can hardly avoid being drawn into
conversation unsuitable for the holy Sabbath. If you take a book from
the Sabbath school library, this will be a suitable time to read it, if
you are careful not to extend the reading into the afternoon service,
or suffer your thoughts to be diverted by what you have read. But the
practice of reading the Sabbath school books during divine service,
which prevails among children, and even with some young men and women,
is not only very irreverent, but a gross violation of good breeding. It
is slighting the service of God, and treating the minister as though
they thought what he has to say to them not worth their attention.

You ought to have a particular time set apart for the study of your
Sabbath school lesson. I should prefer that this be taken during the
week, so as not to task your mind too severely on the Sabbath with
_study_, inasmuch as it is a day of _rest_. But, if you cannot do this,
I should advise that you study it Sabbath afternoon, and review it the
next Sabbath morning.

Some portion of the Sabbath afternoon, or evening, you will employ,
under the direction of your parents, in repeating the Catechism, which,
I hope none of my readers will consider beneath their attention. “_The
Shorter Catechism_,” next to the Bible, I regard as the best book
in existence to lay the foundation of a strong and solid religious
character. If you get it thoroughly committed to memory, so as to be
able to repeat it verbatim from beginning to end, you will never regret
it; but, as long as you live, you will have occasion to rejoice in it.
I cannot now give you any adequate idea of the benefit you will derive
from it. These catechetical exercises in your father’s house will be
associated, in your mind, with the most precious recollections of your
early years. As I said with regard to your Sabbath school lessons,
and for the same reason, I should advise you, if possible, to study
the portion of the Catechism to be recited, during the week. But if
you cannot do so, it should be studied on the afternoon or evening of
the Sabbath. If, however, you study these lessons in the week time,
you will be able to spend the afternoon and evening of the Sabbath,
except what is devoted to family worship and repeating the Catechism,
in reading serious and devotional books, which will not tax your mind
so much. If you are engaged in study all the week, your mind will need
rest. Therefore, I would have you prosecute your _religious study_
during the week, and let your mind be taxed less on the Sabbath,
reading such books and engaging in such services as are calculated more
to affect the heart, than to tax the mind. You ought to spend more
time than usual, on God’s holy day, in your closet, in reading the
Scriptures and prayer. But, besides the Bible, I would particularly
recommend Religious Biographies, and such works as Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s
Progress” and “Holy War,” D’Aubigne’s “History of the Reformation,” &c.
But secular history, or any books or papers of a secular character,
should not be read on the holy Sabbath. In general, you may safely
read, on Sabbath afternoon, the books that you find in the Sabbath
school library; though it will sometimes happen that a book creeps into
the library that is not suitable for this sacred day. A portion of the
evening of the Sabbath, before retiring to rest, should be spent in
reviewing the day, recollecting the sermons, examining how you have
kept the day, and seeking in prayer the pardon of what has been amiss,
and God’s blessing on all the services in which you have been engaged.

A Sabbath thus spent will be a blessing to you, not only for the six
days following, but as long as you live. It will contribute to the
formation of religious habits that you will be thankful for to the
day of your death. And when you become accustomed to spending your
Sabbaths thus, so far from finding them long and tedious days, you
will find them the most delightful of the seven, and will only regret
that they are TOO SHORT--they come to an end before you have finished
all the good designs you have formed.

The fact that God has set apart a day to himself, and commanded us to
keep it holy, would naturally lead us to conclude that he would order
his Providence so as to favor its observance. We have only need to
examine the subject to be convinced that he does so. When his ancient
people, the children of Israel, refused to keep his Sabbaths, and
trampled his holy day under foot, he emptied them out of the land,
and caused them to be carried off into a strange country, and to
remain there seventy years. This was threatened in Leviticus xxvi.
34, 35:--“Then shall the land enjoy her Sabbaths, as long as it lieth
desolate, and ye be in your enemies’ land; even then shall the land
rest, and enjoy her Sabbaths. As long as it lieth desolate, it shall
rest; because it did not rest in your Sabbaths, when ye dwelt upon it.”
In 2 Ch. xxxvi. 20, 21, this is referred to as one of the principal
reasons why they were carried away to Babylon:--“And them that escaped
the sword carried he away to Babylon; where they were servants to him
and his sons, until the reign of the kingdom of Persia, to fulfil the
word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah the prophet, until the land
had enjoyed her Sabbaths; for as long as she lay desolate, she kept
Sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten years.”

I can think of no reason why God, in his holy Providence, should not
punish Sabbath-breakers now as well as then. I have no doubt that he
does. If we could see the design of his Providence, as it is explained
in the Bible, no one would doubt it. Sir Matthew Hale, after a long and
laborious public life, declared, as the result of his experience, that
he found his affairs prosper, during the week, just in proportion to
the strictness with which he had observed the Sabbath; and that he had
never met with success in any business which was planned on the Sabbath.

I might fill this book with narratives of accidents that have happened
to young people, while seeking their pleasure on the Lord’s day.
Scarcely a week occurs, in the summer season, but the papers contain
accounts of parties of young people drowned while taking Sabbath
excursions on the water, or of young men and boys drowned while bathing
on the Lord’s day. Many very striking accounts of this kind have been
collected and published in tracts. And a great many facts of a more
general nature have also been published, in various forms, showing
that it is _profitable_ to keep the Sabbath, and _unprofitable_ and
dangerous to break it. My object, in this place, is simply to impress
on the minds of my readers the very important influence which the
proper observance of the Sabbath has in the _formation of character_.
And I wish them to follow the youth through life who has been
accustomed to keep the Sabbath, and who continues to keep it; and then
follow the course of one who has, in early life, been accustomed to
disregard God’s holy day. And one thought, in particular, I desire you
to ponder well,--_The Sabbath-breaker cannot expect God’s protection._
And, if God forsakes you, what will become of you?

A party of young people set out for a sail, on the Sabbath day. One of
the young ladies told her brother that she felt very bad to think she
was breaking the Sabbath, and she must return home. But he entreated
her not to spoil his pleasure, for he should not enjoy it, unless she
went with him; and to please him she consented to go. The boat was
upset, and she was drowned. The distracted brother now gave vent to
his grief in the most bitter lamentation. He had been the means of her
death. There he stood, wringing his hands in agony, and exclaiming, “O!
what shall I do! How can I see my father’s face!”

There was a boy in Boston, the son of respectable parents, who gave
promise of becoming a respectable and useful man. He stood well in
school, and had the reputation of being a good scholar. He attended
the Sabbath school, and appeared to be a good boy. His mother was
endeavoring to bring him up in the way he should go. But, on one
Sabbath, he was persuaded by some bad boys not to go to Sabbath
school, but to go with them to Chelsea. This was his first step in the
down-hill road. The next thing was, to conceal his conduct from his
mother. She asked him if he had been to Sabbath school, and he said he
had. Then she asked him for the text. He repeated a text; and as she
was not able to go that afternoon, she could not detect his deception.
He also pretended to repeat parts of the sermon, in order to blind her
eyes. She was satisfied, supposing he had been at Sabbath school and
meeting, secure from temptation. Finding he had succeeded so well in
deceiving his mother, he continued to seek his pleasure on God’s holy
day, and to repeat his deceptions to his mother, making her believe
that he had been at Sabbath school and meeting. He went on so for some
time, hardening himself in sin, and associating with bad boys, till he
became ripe for mischief and crime. He was employed by the publisher
of a paper, as an errand boy. One part of his duty was to bring letters
and papers from the post-office. While thus engaged, he learned that
money frequently came to his employer in letters. After a while, he
left this employment. The money in the letters now tempted him. Having
hardened his heart by breaking the Sabbath, associating with bad boys,
and deceiving his mother, he had not strength of principle to resist.
He continued to receive the letters, robbing them of their contents.
At length he was detected, and sent to prison for two years. The
gentleman who related this to me said he went one day to the prison,
and there he saw the boy’s mother and sister, talking with him through
an iron-grated window, and weeping as though they would break their
hearts. All this came upon him by his seeking his pleasure on God’s
holy day. And if you knew the history of those who have been imprisoned
for crime, you would find a great many such cases. If he had turned
away his foot from the Sabbath, from seeking his pleasure on this holy
day, he might have been sitting with his mother and sister in their
own quiet home, instead of being locked up in a filthy prison, with a
company of hardened criminals.



Besides what I have noticed in several of the foregoing chapters, there
are many things of a general nature, which I shall group together under
the title of _habits_. A _habit_ is what has become easy and natural
by frequent repetition. People not unfrequently become much attached
to practices, which at first were very unpleasant. You will sometimes
see men chewing, smoking, or snuffing _tobacco_, a most filthy and
poisonous plant, a little bit of which you could not be persuaded to
take into your mouth, it is so nauseous; yet, by long use, people learn
to love it. That is a _habit_. So, likewise, you see persons very fond
of drinking intoxicating liquors, which to you would be a nauseous
medicine; and which are poisonous and destructive to all. It is
_practice_ which has made these drinks so pleasant. This is a _habit_.

Habits are both _bad_ and _good_; and a habit is a very good or a very
bad thing, as it is good or bad. Habits are mostly formed in early
life; and a habit, once formed, is difficult to be broken;--once fixed,
it may follow you as long as you live.

I shall specify a few of the bad habits which boys of your age are
liable to contract, with their opposite good habits. It is very likely
I shall fail to notice many others, equally important; but these may
put you upon thinking, and lead you to discover and correct other bad

I. DILATORINESS OR TARDINESS.--The tardy boy is dilatory about rising
in the morning. Although old Chanticleer is pouring his shrill note
of warning into his ear, and the birds are filling the air with their
merry song, and the morning rays of the sun are peeping stealthily
through the half-closed shutter, still he thinks, “_There’s time enough
yet_;” and instead of starting up with the lark, he lingers and delays,
saying with the sluggard, “A little more sleep, a little more slumber,
a little more folding of the hands to sleep.” At length he rises, in
a yawning mood, and proceeds slowly to pull on his clothes, lingering
with every article, looking here and there, and stopping every now
and then to play, or to amuse himself in gazing about his chamber.
And sometimes he stops, half-dressed, to read a story from a piece of
an old newspaper. In this and other ways, he amuses himself until the
breakfast bell rings, and he is not ready. Perhaps he has been called
half a dozen times to “do his chores,” and as often answered, “_Well,
I’m coming_;” till, wearied with his delay, his mother or sister has
done the work that belonged to him, or his father has been called from
his room, or the hired man from his work, to do it for him. At length,
he makes his appearance at the table after the blessing, when the rest
of the family have begun their meal. But, having just emerged from
the foul air of his bedroom, he has no appetite for his breakfast,
and feels peevish and fretful. A scowl appears upon his brow, and he
turns up his nose at the food spread before him, forgetful alike of his
obligations to his Heavenly Father for providing, and to his mother for
preparing it. Or, if he sometimes gets dressed before breakfast, he
is not in season to do his chores, or to complete the lesson which he
left unfinished the night before. He hears the breakfast bell, but he
is just now engaged, and thinks, “_There’s time enough yet,--I’ll just
finish what I’ve begun_;” and so he is not in season for the table.
He has either detained the table till all are impatient of waiting,
or else he takes his seat after the rest have commenced eating. In
consequence of this loss of time, he is left at the table to finish
his breakfast, and his seat is for some time vacant at prayers, when
he comes in and disturbs the whole family. Or, if at any time, he gets
his seat with the rest, he is dilatory in finding his place, and is
never ready to read when his turn comes. This dilatoriness goes on,
till the school hour arrives, and he is not ready; or he delays on the
way to school, and arrives, perhaps, just after his class have recited.
Sabbath morning, when the bell tolls, and the family are starting for
meeting, he is roused from a reverie, and has yet to get ready. And so
in every thing else this dilatory habit follows him. When his father or
mother calls him, instead of promptly making his appearance, to serve
them, as a dutiful son should do, he answers, “_Yes, in a minute_,”
or, “_Yes, I’m going to_.” He must dispose of something else first;
and before he comes, the service for which he was called has been
despatched by some one else. He does not seem to know how to start
quick. He is always in a hurry when the time comes to do any thing,
because he was dilatory in making preparation when he had time. He is
always late,--always out of time,--vexing those that are about him, and
injuring himself. He seems to have _started too late_. You would think
that he began too late in the beginning,--that he was _born too late_,
and has never been able to gain the lost time. Every thing comes too
soon, before he is prepared for it. If he ever becomes a man, and this
habit continues, it will always be a source of vexation and disaster
to him. If he is a mechanic, he will fail to meet his engagements, and
disappoint, vex, and lose his customers. If he is a man of business, he
will fail to meet his appointments, and thus lose many a bargain. He
will suffer his notes to be protested at the bank, and thus injure his
friends and destroy his credit. His dilatory habits will be the ruin of
his business. And if he carries the same habit into religion, he will
ruin his soul, for _death will overtake him before he is ready_.

Although this seems _natural_ to him, it is only tardiness indulged
till it has grown into a habit. But by timely resolution, diligence,
and perseverance, the habit may be broken.

The opposites of this are the good habits of _promptness and
punctuality_. When the gray dawn steals in at his window, the prompt
lad springs from his bed; and in a few minutes he is washed and
dressed, and on his knees at his morning devotions. Soon he appears at
his work; and before breakfast, all his _chores_ are done. Thus he has
redeemed the time between breakfast and school, which he has at his
own disposal, for his lessons or his sports. He is _always in time_.
He never keeps the table waiting for him, and never comes after the
blessing. He is never late at prayers--never late at school--never
late at meeting; and yet he is never in a hurry. He redeems so much
time by his promptness, that he has as much as he needs to do every
thing well and in season. He saves all the time that the dilatory
spends in sauntering, in considering what to do next, in reading
frivolous matters, and in gazing idly at _vacancy_. Do you desire to
possess these good habits? Only carry out for one day the idea I have
given of promptness, and then repeat it every day, and, in a little
time, you have the habit established.

II. SLOVENLINESS.--A slovenly boy makes himself a deal of needless
trouble, and greatly tries the patience of his mother. If you go into
his room, you find it always in confusion. His things are scattered
about, here and there, some on the bed, some on the chairs, and some
on the floor,--but none in their places. He either has no particular
place for any thing, or else he takes no pains to put things in their
places. He leaves a thing where he uses it. Hence, if he wants any
thing, he never knows where to look for it, unless he happens to
remember where he used it last. He must waste his time in hunting for
it. Hence you will often hear him impatiently inquiring if any one has
seen his things; when he ought himself to know where they are. If he
goes into another person’s room, whatever article he lays his hand
upon is misplaced. And so it is, if he uses any of his father’s tools.
He never thinks of putting any thing where he found it. He throws it
down carelessly wherever he happens to be, or else puts it in the wrong
place; so that, when wanted, it cannot be found. Thus, he not only
wastes his own time, but hinders and vexes others. If he goes into the
library, and takes down a book, he either puts it in a different place,
and so disarranges the shelves, or lays it down on the shelf in front
of other books, for his father or mother to arrange. His school books
are torn and dirty--disfigured with pencil marks, blots of ink, grease
spots, finger prints, and dog’s-ears; and if he borrows a book from the
Sabbath school library, or of a friend, it is returned with some of
these _his marks_ upon it.

Whatever he undertakes to do is done in the same slovenly style. If he
brings in water, he spills it on the floor. His wood he throws down in
a sprawling manner, instead of laying it in a neat and handsome pile.
Nothing that he does looks neat and finished.

Nor does he appear to any better advantage in his person. His clothes
are put on in a slouching, uncouth manner; and he always contrives to
have them dirty. He cannot have on clean clothes half an hour without
soiling them. He rubs against whatever dirty thing he passes. If he
carries milk, he spills it on his clothes. He drops grease on them at
the table. He wallows in the dirt. He contrives to hitch against a
nail, or the latch of a door, and makes a rent for his mother to mend.
If left to himself, his face would never come in contact with water,
nor his teeth with a brush. You would almost think, sometimes, that you
could see the grass growing on his upper lip.

He comes into the house with his shoes covered with mud, and never
thinks of wiping his feet, but leaves the prints of them on his
mother’s clean floor or nice carpet. He seems to forget what scrapers
and mats are made for, for he passes by without using them. He lays his
hat on a chair, or throws it upon the floor, instead of hanging it in
its place. Thus he tries the patience of his mother and sisters, and
makes himself unwelcome at his own home.

And with this habit is generally associated _carelessness_. He never
seems to be thinking what he is about. He does not see things that are
in his way, but stumbles over them, breaking, bruising, or otherwise
injuring them, and often hurting himself. You dread to see him
approach, lest some mischief should happen. He does not look to see
what he steps on, nor whether his hands have firm hold of the article
he takes up. If he passes through a door, he does not mind whether
it was open or shut; and most likely, if he finds it open, in a warm
summer’s day, he will close it; but, if he finds it carefully shut, on
a freezing day in mid-winter, he will leave it wide open.

A careless person will be constantly meeting with accidents
and misfortunes, and continually subject to the most vexatious
mortifications, which a little thoughtfulness and care would prevent.
This habit is a very great fault, and, when confirmed, very difficult
to correct. It is therefore the more important, that it should be taken
in season, and nipped in the bud.

I need not tell you what are the opposites of slovenly and careless
habits. The neat, orderly, and careful boy has an invariable rule,--“A
at any hour, and you will find every thing in order. He can go in the
dark, and lay his hand on any thing he wants, so that he never runs
the risk of setting the house on fire, by carrying a light into his
bedroom. He is so much in the habit of putting things in their proper
places, that he never thinks of doing otherwise. He never leaves a
thing at random, where he happens to be using it; but always puts it
where it belongs. When he undresses, every article of his clothing is
folded, and laid together in the order that it will be wanted in the
morning; so that he loses no time in hunting for it. His clothes are
put on and adjusted so as to show a neat fit, and every button does its
office. His shoes are regularly brushed every morning, and the strings
neatly tied, so that your eye is never offended with the appearance,
nor your ear distressed with the sound, of dirty, slip-shod, flapping

To whatever part of the house he goes, he leaves it in the order in
which he found it; for it is his invariable rule, when he uses any
thing belonging to another, to replace it exactly as he found it. When
he takes hold of a cup, or a lamp, or any such article, he is careful
to get fairly hold, and then to move moderately, and not with a jerk;
and by this means, he seldom meets with any of those accidents which
are so annoying to tidy housekeepers. If he goes to the library, he is
careful to replace every book or paper he takes in his hand, exactly
as he found it. If he takes a book to read, he carries it with care,
firmly grasped in his hand, and avoids letting it fall, or hitting it
against any thing to bruise the cover. He holds it in such a manner as
not to strain the back or crumple the leaves; and if called away from
his reading, he puts in a mark, shuts the book, and lays it in a safe
place. He never thinks of using a book for any other purpose than that
for which it was made. When he has finished reading it, he carefully
replaces it in the library, just where he found it. He does not place
it wrong end upwards, nor the title towards the back of the shelf; but
puts it in the place where it belongs, makes it stand straight, and
shoves it back even with its fellows. All his school books are kept
neat and clean. No blots of ink, nor pencil marks, nor thumb-prints,
nor dog’s-ears, any where appear. If he passes through a door into or
out of a room where others are sitting, he leaves it open or shut as he
found it; judging that the persons occupying the room, have adjusted
its temperature to their own liking.

He is equally careful of his person. He never considers himself
dressed, till he has washed his hands and face, cleaned his teeth, and
combed his hair; and he never thinks of sitting down at the table with
dirty hands. He learns to keep his clothes neat and clean. At table,
he avoids dropping his food upon them. At school, he is careful of
his ink, not to bespatter his clothes with it. And at play, he keeps
himself out of the dirt. He will wear his clothes a week, and have
them appear cleaner, at the end of it, than the sloven’s when he has
worn them a single day.

He has a care, also, of the appearance of the house. He never forgets
to use the scraper at the door, to remove the mud from his feet; and
then he makes it an invariable rule never to pass a mat without wiping
his shoes. He never says, like the sloven, “I didn’t think,” to excuse
himself. He would consider it unpardonable in him _not to think_; for
what is the ability of thinking worth, if it never comes when it is

The neat, orderly boy, makes himself agreeable to his mother and
sisters, who are always glad to see him coming; and home is a
delightful place to him, because he meets with smiles and pleasant
words. But the sloven exposes himself to sour looks and chiding, by his
dirty habits; and he finds home a disagreeable place, because he makes
it so.

III. RUDENESS.--This term does not describe any one habit in
particular, but a great many little ones. Webster gives the following
definition: “RUDE: rough; of coarse manners; unpolished; clownish;
rustic.” It is not, therefore, a single habit, but a series of habits.
These are so numerous, it can hardly be expected that I should think
of them all. The rude boy is rough, clownish, and boisterous, in his
manners. He is rude in speech and rude in behavior. He will stalk
into the house with his hat on; and if there is company, he does not
notice them. He talks in a loud and boisterous manner, often breaking
in abruptly upon the conversation of others. If he hears part of a
conversation, and desires to know what it is about, he abruptly breaks
in, “Who is it? Who is it? What is it?” And, often, he keeps his tongue
running continually, like the incessant clatter of a mill.

It is rude and vulgar to interlard conversation with _by-words_, or
unmeaning phrases, thrown in at random between the sentences. It is
much more so, to throw in _little oaths_, or low, vulgar expressions.
All this shows a disposition to be profane. It is saying, in effect, “I
would swear, if I durst.” If indulged, this habit will be very likely
to lead on to profaneness.

Another rude habit, which boys often indulge, is, what is familiarly
called “CRACKING JOKES” upon one another. The object seems to be, to
see who can say the wittiest thing, at another’s expense. But, in such
attempts, generally, _wit_ fails; and the strife is, which can say the
silliest thing, in the silliest manner. All such low witticisms may be
set down as decidedly rude and vulgar.

_Rudeness of behavior_ manifests itself in so many forms, that it is
scarcely definable. I can only glance at a few things which indicate
a want of good breeding. It is rude to be so _forward_ as to treat
your superiors as equals, or to take the lead in all companies. On
the other hand, it is rude to be _bashful_--to hang down the head,
with a _leer_ of the eye, in the presence of company, and refuse to
speak when spoken to, or to speak in a confused and mumbling tone,
as though you had never seen anybody before. It is rude for a boy to
take the best seat in the room, or to take the only seat, while others
are standing. Tilting one’s chair; sitting awkwardly on one side of
the chair, or with the feet stretched out at full length; putting the
feet on another’s chair; sitting on two chairs; rocking; drumming with
the fingers or feet; scratching books, furniture, window-frames, or
walls,--these, and a hundred other things that might be named, are rude
habits, which indicate not only the want of good breeding, but the
absence of good taste and a sense of propriety.

There are other rude habits, which boys often contract, while abroad,
that are wholly out of character for one that would be a _gentleman_;
such as hallooing in the streets; jumping on the backside of carriages;
calling out to strangers that are passing; collecting in groups about
public places, and staring at people. All such behavior is intolerable;
and those who are guilty of it will be set down by all sensible people
as low, ill-bred, rude boys.

IV. EVIL HABITS.--I am sorry to say that some boys indulge habits,
that are worse than any I have mentioned. Boys may be seen strutting
through the streets, puffing segars; and even sometimes filling their
mouths with that loathsome Indian weed, _tobacco_, as though they
thought such vile habits necessary to make them men. And often you
will hear the profane oath issuing from their mouth, along with the
foul breath created by this nauseous potion. A disposition to smoke
or to chew this filthy, poisonous substance, indicates the existence
of an intemperate appetite, and the love of low company. You will,
perhaps, see the same boys at the shops, drinking beer. But this is
only the prelude to something stronger. Tobacco is one of the most
active vegetable poisons. It disorders the system and creates an
appetite for stimulants. It is dangerous to use it in any form. But
when a boy goes so far as to contract a relish for intoxicating drinks,
his ruin is well nigh accomplished. After once giving indulgence
to any of these practices, the downhill road is easy and rapid.
About the time when temperance societies began to be formed, I was
conversing with a mechanic, who informed me that almost every one of
his fellow-apprentices, who were in the habit of occasionally drinking
intoxicating liquors, had become drunkards. Many years ago, there
were, in one of our large cities, fifty young men, clerks in stores,
who used to frequent a particular place, to spend their evenings in a
social way, with the wine bottle as a companion of their social cheer.
One evening, one of them, after retiring, began to reflect upon the
consequences of the course he was pursuing. He came to the conclusion,
that, if he went on, it would be his ruin. He resolved that he would
never go again. The next evening, he found himself on the way to the
same place. But as he came to the corner of the street which turned
towards the place, he thought of his resolution. He hesitated a moment,
and then said to himself, “_Right about face!_” He returned, and was
never seen there again. That man is now one of the most wealthy,
respected, and useful men in the country; while forty of those who
continued their resort to the public house, became intemperate, and I
believe have all gone down to the drunkard’s grave.

_Gaming_ is another evil habit, which leads to all manner of evil
company and evil practices. It has proved the destruction of thousands
of promising youth.

entirely from intoxicating drinks, tobacco, gaming, and profane
language. For when you once begin, with any of these, it is like “the
letting out of waters.” At first they run very slowly; but soon they
wear away a channel, and rush on with an impetuosity, which defies
all attempts to stop them. On the coast of Norway, there is a great
whirlpool, called the _Maelstrom_, which sometimes swallows up great
ships. When a vessel comes near this terrible abyss, it is first drawn
very gently, with a circular motion. But after it has made one or two
rounds, it goes more and more rapidly, and draws nearer and nearer
the centre, till finally it reaches the vortex, is swallowed up, and
is seen no more. So it is with these bad habits. When one gets fairly
within the circle of their influence, his fate is well nigh sealed. The
only safety, with young men and boys, is to keep far away from the very
outer edges of the whirlpool.



The reader will perhaps laugh at the idea of _educating_ the body.
But a moment’s reflection will show that no part of man more needs
education than the body. The design of education, as I have already
said is, to form the character, and prepare us, in early life, for what
we are to do in future. For this purpose, the body needs discipline
as well as the mind. An ill body makes an ill mind and a sad heart.
The health of the body is necessary to the healthy operation of the
mind; and a healthy body is secured by activity. But the body not only
needs _health_, but discipline. The fingers must be taught all manner
of handiwork, and exercised upon it, in order to accustom them to the
use that is to be made of them; the feet must be taught to perform
their appropriate duties, in a graceful and proper manner; and all the
muscles of the body must be exercised, in due proportion, to give them
strength and solidity. The proper discipline of the several members of
the body is necessary, not only to prepare them for useful occupation,
but to give them a graceful, natural, and easy motion, and so promote
good manners and a genteel carriage.

I shall not be very particular in what I have to say on this subject,
but only give a few gentle hints.

1. DISCIPLINE THE BODY TO OBEY THE WILL.--You would not think, to see
some young folks, that the will had any thing to do with the movements
of the body; for it moves in all imaginable ways, with all sorts of
contortions. First flies out a foot, then a hand, then there’s a twirl
or a swing, then a drumming of the fingers, a trotting of the foot,
or some such odd figure. This arises from leaving the body to control
itself, by its own natural activity, the mind taking no supervision of
its motions. Now, if you early accustom yourself to exercise a strict
mental supervision over the body, so as never to make any movement
whatever, except what you mean to make, you will find this habit of
great consequence to you; for, besides saving you the mortification of
a thousand ungraceful movements which habit has rendered natural, it
will enable you to _control your nerves_, the necessity for which you
will understand better hereafter than you do now. Make the _will_ the
ruling power of your body, so as never to do any thing but what you
mean to do, and you will never get the reputation of _being nervous_.

2. AVOID LATE HOURS.--It would seem hardly necessary to give such a
direction to young persons still under the control of their parents.
But facts too plainly show that parents do not always sufficiently
consider the injurious effects of late hours upon the fair and healthy
development of the human frame. And the disposition of young people
to seek amusement overcomes, with them, the dictates of prudence. But
the practice of sitting up late, and especially of being abroad late
at night, is a war upon nature. It interrupts the regular course of
things. It turns night into day and day into night. If you would be
pale-faced, sickly, nervous, and good for nothing, sit up late at night.

3. RISE EARLY.--It is said that, to have a fair skin, rosy cheeks, and
a fine complexion, one must wash every morning in summer _in the dew_.
Whether there is any virtue in the dew or not, I cannot say; but I have
no doubt that such would be the effect of the practice proposed. To
rise early, before the atmosphere has become heated with the summer’s
sun, and walk abroad, snuffing the cool breeze, listening to the music
of the feathered tribe, and joining in the sweet harmony of nature,
hymning forth praise to the Creator, certainly tends to promote health
of body and cheerfulness and serenity of mind; and these will make a
blooming countenance, and clothe very plain features with an aspect of
beauty. The adding of the _dew-wash_ will do no harm. If you make a
rule of washing in the dew, it will stimulate you to sally forth before
the sun has driven it away; and you can find no softer water than the

4. USE PLENTY OF WATER.--The body cannot be kept in a healthy state,
without frequent bathing. It should be washed all over, with cold
water, at least once every day, to promote health and cleanliness. One
who has never tried it can have no idea of its invigorating effects;
and it seems hardly possible that the human system can keep long in
order, while this is neglected. The machinery of a watch, after a
while, gets dirty, so that it will not run till it is taken to pieces
and cleaned. But the machinery of the human body is vastly more
intricate than that of a watch. It is made up of an endless number of
parts, of various patterns, some of them of the most delicate texture
and exquisite workmanship, but all parts of a great machine that is
constantly in motion. And there is provision made for carrying off
all the dirt that accumulates on its wheels and bands, in little
tubes, which discharge it upon the surface of the skin. But unless
frequently washed off, it accumulates, and stops up the ends of these
little tubes, and prevents their discharging, so that the offensive
and poisonous matter which they would carry off is kept in the system.
Let this go on a little while, and it cannot fail to produce disease.
Therefore, I say, _use plenty of water_.

5. TAKE CARE OF YOUR TEETH.--The teeth have a very important office
to perform in the animal economy--that of preparing the food for the
stomach. What is not done by the teeth must be done by the digestive
organs. Therefore, your health is deeply concerned in the preservation
of a good set of teeth. The voice and the countenance, also, plead with
you to take care of your teeth. In almost all cases, teeth may be saved
from decay, if attended to in time. The best directions I can give for
preserving the teeth are, to clean them every day with a brush, and
pick them after every meal with a pointed quill, so as to remove all
the particles of food from between them, and the tartar that adheres to
the surface;--cleanliness, as well as the safety of the teeth, requires
this. You ought to have your teeth examined and attended to, by a
dentist, once or twice a year. Keeping them clean preserves them from
decay; and if decay commences, a dentist can stop it, if he can take
them in season.

6. BE ACTIVE.--The body was made _for use_. Every part of it is formed
for activity. But any thing made for use will suffer injury to lie
still. The human body, especially, if suffered to remain inactive,
becomes useless. Activity strengthens the parts. If you would have more
strength, you must use what you have, and it will increase. The right
use of your members, also, must be learned by _practice_. Much practice
is necessary, for instance, to train the fingers to the various uses
in which they are to be employed, so as, (to use a homely phrase,) to
make them _handy_. The body, likewise, needs exercise, to keep it in
a healthy state. The various parts of its machinery have a great work
to do, every day, in turning your food into blood, and sending it a
great many thousand times, in a vast number of little streams, to every
part of the body. But this machinery will not work, if the body is all
the time inactive. It requires _motion_, to give it power. There is
nothing, therefore, so bad for it as _laziness_. It is like a dead calm
to a windmill, which stops all its machinery.

7. LEARN, AT PROPER TIMES, TO BE STILL.--All nature needs repose. If
the human system were always kept in the utmost activity, it would
soon wear out. For this reason, God has given us periodical seasons of
rest--a part of every day, and one whole day in seven. There are times,
also, when it is not proper to be active; as, when you are at your
devotions, or at family worship, or in the house of God. So, likewise,
at school, or in company, or when you sit down with the family at
home, as well as in many other cases, activity is out of place. Your
body, therefore, will never be _educated_, till you have obtained such
control over it, as to be able, at proper times, to _be still_. And I
may say, it is a great accomplishment in a young person, to know just
when to be still, and to have self-control enough to be still just at
the proper time.

necessary, not only to preserve its beauty, but to prevent deformity.
Sitting at school, or at any sedentary employment, is liable to
produce some unnatural twist or bend of the body. The human form, in
its natural position, is a model of beauty. But, when bad habits turn
it out of shape, it offends the eye. Avoid a stooping posture, or an
inclination to either side. But sit and stand erect, with the small
of the back curved in, the chest thrown forward, the shoulders back,
and the head upright. A little attention to these things every day,
while the body is growing, and the bones and muscles are in a flexible
state, will give your form a beauty and symmetry, which you can never
acquire afterwards, if you neglect it at this time of life. And it will
do more, a thousand times, to keep you in health, than all the doctor’s

perhaps, smile at this. But if you know any thing of the black snake,
you will recollect that it assaults not with deadly venom, but winds
itself around its victim, stops the circulation of the blood, and, if
it reaches high enough, makes a rope of itself, to strangle him. I need
not tell you that the effects of tight-dressing are similar. Whatever
part of the body,--whether neck, chest, arms, limbs or feet,--is
_pinched_ with tight covering, is subject to the same strangling
process produced by the black snake. It obstructs the free circulation
of the blood, and produces a tendency to disease in the part so
compressed. If you feel an unpleasant tightness in any part of your
dress, _remember the black snake_.

10. DISCIPLINE THE MUSCLES OF THE FACE.--You may think this a queer
direction; but I assure you it is given with all gravity. If you allow
every temper of the heart to find a corresponding expression in the
muscles of the face, you will be sure to spoil the fairest countenance.
How would you feel, if you were to see an accomplished young person,
with fine features, and a beautiful countenance; but on coming near,
should discover little holes in the face, from which, every now and
then, vipers and venomous serpents were thrusting out their heads and
hissing at you? Well, the evil tempers of the heart, such as pride,
vanity, envy, jealousy, &c., are a nest of vipers; and, when indulged,
they will spit out their venom through the countenance. How often
do we see a proud, scornful, sour, morose, or jealous expression,
that has fairly been worn into the features of the countenance! And
what is this but the hissing of vipers that dwell within? Strive to
acquire such self-control, as to keep a calm, serene expression upon
your countenance; and you cannot tell how much it will add to your

11. BE TEMPERATE.--To be strictly temperate is, to _avoid all excess_.
Not only abstain from eating and drinking what is hurtful, but use
moderation in all things--in eating and drinking, in running and
walking, in play, in amusement.



I have seen boys who would make incredible exertion to accomplish any
thing which they undertook for their own amusement; but who, when
called upon to do any thing useful, would demur and complain, put on
sour looks, and conjure up a multitude of objections, making the thing
to be done like lifting a mountain. Whenever any _work_ is to be done,
“there is a lion in the way;” and the objections they make, and the
difficulties they interpose, make you feel as if you would rather do
it a dozen times yourself, than to ask them to lift a little finger.
The real difficulty is in the boy’s own mind. He has no idea of being
useful; no thought of doing any thing but to seek his own pleasure; and
he is mean enough to look on and see his father and mother toil and
wear themselves out to bring him up in idleness. Play, play, play, from
morning till night, is all his ambition. Now, I do not object to his
_playing_; but what I would find fault with is, that he should wish to
_play all the time_. I would not have him work all the time, for

    “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy;”

neither would I have him play all the time, for

    “All play and no work makes Jack a _mere toy_.”

There is not a spark of _manliness_ in such a boy; and he never will be
a man, till he alters his notions.

There is another boy, who has more heart--a better disposition. When
called to do any thing, he is always ready and willing. His heart
dilates at the thought of helping his father or his mother--of being
useful. He takes hold with alacrity. You would think the work he is
set about would be despatched in a trice. But he is _chicken-hearted_.
Instead of conquering his work, he suffers his work to conquer him. He
works briskly for a few minutes, and then he begins to flag. Instead
of working away, with steady perseverance, he stops every minute or
two, and looks at his work, and wishes it were done. But wishing is
not working; and his work does not get done in this way. The more he
gazes at it, the more like a mountain it appears. At length, he sits
down to rest; and finally, after having suffered more from the dread of
exertion than it would have cost him to do his work a dozen times, he
gives it up, and goes to his father or mother, and in a desponding tone
and with a sheepish look, he says, “_I can’t do it!_” He is a _coward_.
He has suffered himself to be _conquered_ by a wood-pile which he was
told to saw, or by a few weeds in the garden that he was required to
dig up. He will never make a man, till he gets courage enough to face
his work with resolution, and to finish it with a _manly perseverance_.
“_I can’t_,” never made a man.

Here is another boy, who has got the notion into his head that he is
going to live without work. His father is rich; or he intends to be a
professional man, or a merchant; and he thinks it of no use for him
to learn to work. He feels above labor. He means to be a _gentleman_.
But he is very much mistaken as to what constitutes a gentleman. He
has altogether erroneous and false views of things. Whatever may be
his situation in life, labor is necessary to exercise and develope
the muscular powers of his body. If he grows up in indolence, he will
be weak and effeminate, never possessing the vigor of a man. And
whatever sphere of life he may occupy hereafter, he will never possess
independence and energy of character enough to accomplish any thing.
A man who does not know how to work, is not more than half a man. He
is so dependent upon others, that he can accomplish nothing without
help. Nor can wealth, or education, or professional knowledge, supply
the deficiency. Wealth is very uncertain. “Riches take to themselves
wings;” and they are especially liable to fly away from men who have
been bred up in idle, _do-nothing_ habits. And what will they do when
their wealth is gone? They have never made any exertion, or depended on
themselves. They have no energy of character. They have no knowledge of
any useful employment. They cannot dig, and to beg they are ashamed.
They either sink down, in utter discouragement, to the lowest depths
of poverty, or else they resort to dishonest means of obtaining money.
I have before me a letter, written to a gentleman in Boston, from a
boy in the _House of Correction_, who got there by trying to live
without work. After telling how bad he felt to be shut up in prison,
and how bitter his reflections upon his past life were, he says, “I
thought that _as long as I could live without work_, and get my living
dishonestly, I would _go ahead_; but my high life was soon stopped.”
Here you perceive that his temptation to be dishonest arose from his
dislike of work. But now, he says, he is convinced that the best way to
get a living is by _honest labor_. And so you will find it. There is
no one more exposed to temptation than the idle boy.

    “Satan finds some mischief still
        For idle hands to do.”

One who undertakes to get a living without work will be very likely to
fall into dishonest practices, and get shut up in prison.

Equally necessary is it for a man of learning, or a professional
man, to know how to do with his own hands the most common things. If
dependent on his own earnings for a support, he will not be able to
hire every thing done to his hand; or, if able, he will not always
find any one to do it. And as to the merchant, his life, from the very
first, is a life of incessant toil and labor. The lazy boy, who goes
into a store as a clerk, with such notions in his head about work, will
be served as the working bees serve their _drones_--he will be _dragged
out of the hive_.

The boy that despises work, sets himself against nature; and if he
succeeds in making any thing of himself, he will contradict the voice
of all history. When man fell from his innocency, it was determined
that he should eat his bread in the sweat of his brow. It is in vain
for his posterity to attempt to evade this curse. If they refuse to
toil, they will suffer a worse disaster, as the penalty of their
disobedience. Disease, or poverty, or both, will follow the lazy
track of the sluggard. This result, Solomon has described, in the
most glowing terms: “I went by the field of the slothful, and by the
vineyard of the man void of understanding; and lo, it was all grown
over with thorns; nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone
wall thereof was broken down. Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a
little folding of the hands to sleep; so shall thy poverty come as one
that travaileth, and thy want as an armed man.”

Many of the ancient nations used to have a law requiring every young
man to have a knowledge of some branch of labor. There appears to have
been such a custom among the Jews. Paul, though belonging to a wealthy
family, and bred a lawyer, in the highest school in the nation, was
yet brought up to a trade. And when he came to devote himself to his
Master’s service, he found his tent-maker’s trade of great use to him.
And whatever occupation you design to follow, you will find use for all
the practical knowledge of _work_, of _handicraft_, or of _mechanical
skill_, you can acquire in early life.

In the empire of China, labor is held in such esteem, that the emperor,
on the day of his coronation, is required to plough a furrow with his
own hand. And if you look over the page of history, both ancient and
modern, you will find that many of the greatest men that ever lived,
were accustomed to follow some laborious occupation. David, the poet
king, the sweet singer of Israel, whose name has been embalmed in the
hearts of the pious in all ages, when a boy, was occupied in keeping
his father’s sheep. Dr. Franklin was the son of a mechanic in Boston,
and was bred a printer. Washington, the father of his country, was a
farmer. And the blessed Savior himself has set an example of industry
and love of labor, which should put to shame every _pseudo-gentleman_
who despises the labor of the hands. His apostles, also, were called
from laborious occupations to preach the gospel; and many of the most
eminent of his ministers and missionaries of the present day have been
called from the plough or the workshop; and some of them have _worked
their way_ through a long course of study, bearing the expenses of
their education with the labor of their hands.

We may safely conclude, then, that, whoever despises labor is a fool;
for he despises the only thing that can make him A MAN.

But industry is not only necessary to _make you a man_; it is necessary
to _make you happy_. Some boys have such an aversion to labor, that
they would think themselves perfectly happy if they had _nothing to
do_. But they are greatly mistaken. They might like such a life a
day or two; but they would soon get tired of it. The children at the
Sandwich Islands have nothing to do. Their parents have no employment
for them. They grow up in idleness. A missionary, writing to the
children of this country, says, “Now, does any one say, ‘Happy, happy
children, inhabiting these sunny isles! Absolutely nothing to do, but
to seek their own gratification, without fear or restraint!’ Happy?
No. The goats which graze the sides of their mountains may be happy;
or the kitten which gambols on your kitchen hearth may be happy; but
these children are not happy.” They often go hungry. Their parents
were brought up in idleness, also; and now they will not work if they
can help it. They receive no assistance from their children, and often
have no food to give them. The children frequently live upon roots,
which they dig in the mountains, or upon sugar-cane, which they find in
the fields. After spending the day in idleness, they often have to go
supperless to bed.

In many parts of the islands, also, the children, who have no
disposition to labor and obtain clothing, suffer much from cold. They
go almost naked; and when night comes, they lie down on a bare mat,
with the dogs and fleas. Would the children of America exchange their
warm beds and sweet sleep, for the leisure and hard fare of these young
Sandwich Islanders?

But in sickness, their sufferings are much greater. They are destitute
of nearly every comfort; they have no physician; and they receive very
little attention from their parents and friends. No kind mother watches
over their couch at night. If they suffer, they suffer alone; if they
die, they die unattended.

Idleness, also, makes these children vicious. Having nothing useful to
do, they are always ready for every evil work. They tempt each other to
sin. They rush together the downward road; and if spared to become men,
they are poor and degraded, diseased and miserable.

But perhaps you will say, “These Sandwich Islanders are uncivilized
heathen; and this is what makes them so wretched.” But you need not
go to heathen lands, to see the bad effects of the want of useful
employment, upon boys and young men. In the Southern States, all the
labor is done by slaves. It is esteemed disgraceful for a white man to
work. The consequence is, that the boys grow up in idleness and vice.
They learn every thing that is bad. They grow up with strong and fiery
passions, and vicious inclinations unsubdued. Among the young men,
gambling, horse-racing, and other social vices, generally prevail. But
many of them become poor; and then they are as wretched as the poor
Sandwich Islanders. There is, perhaps, no class of persons, in this
country, more degraded than the poor whites in the slave states. And
their poverty and wretchedness may be traced to the fact, that it is
disgraceful, among them, for white men to labor.

There is no country on earth where there is less of squalid poverty,
and where the people generally enjoy more comfort and happiness, than
in New England. And what is the reason? There is, probably, no other
country in the world where the people are so industrious--where _all
the people_ are engaged in some useful employment. In New England, boys
are set to work as soon as they are old enough to handle a hoe, an axe,
or a spade. Every child has something to do, which adds something to
the family’s comfort. And where, in the wide world, will you find so
many smiling, happy faces as among the children of New England? This
is the true reason why they are so much happier than the children of
the Sandwich Islands. The Yankee boy may sometimes get tired of his
work; but if he had nothing to do, he would be absolutely miserable.
It is not in the nature of a son of New England to be happy without
employment. And, where you find one of them educated, and rising to
eminence in professional life, if you trace back his history, in most
cases, you will learn that, when a boy, he worked on his father’s farm,
or in his father’s shop. And if you could see him seeking relaxation
and amusement, you would often find him engaged in the same kind of
labor that he used to perform when a boy.

When one of the convicts in the state prison has committed an offence,
they punish him by shutting him up in his cell alone, and _giving him
nothing to do_. For a little while he is glad to be relieved from his
work; but very soon, he begs for it again. Nothing is so hard for him
to bear as _doing nothing_.

If, then, you would be virtuous and happy,--if you would be qualified
to brave the storms of life’s troubled ocean,--_cultivate the love
of useful labor_. This will give you independence of character. It
will give you the ability to take care of yourself. It will make you
despise the fawning sycophant, who would sell his birthright for a
piece of bread. It will save you from the temptation to surrender your
independence, or commit any act of meanness or dishonesty for the sake
of a living.



By the _heart_, I mean the _moral faculties_, in distinction from
the _intellectual_. Any action is _moral_, which can be _praised_ or
_blamed_. The _moral faculties_ are those which determine moral action.
These faculties are, the _Conscience_, _Will_, and _Affections_. In
this division, I do not attempt metaphysical exactness, but only what
I can make my readers understand. When I speak of _educating_ these
faculties, I do not mean to separate the process from that of religious
education in general; for nothing can be well done, in the formation of
character, without religious principle and motives at the foundation.
But my object is, to speak of the specific means by which these
faculties may be cultivated.

It may be necessary for me to explain what I mean by the _Conscience_,
_Will_, and _Affections_. Yet it does not fall in with my design,
neither would it suit the age and capacities of those for whom I
write, to enter into a philosophical description, or analysis, of the
faculties of the mind, or affections of the heart. I shall only give
such simple explanations as are sufficient for my purpose, and as I
suppose will be understood by my readers.

I. THE CONSCIENCE.--This is the faculty which determines whether any
action proposed to the mind, or any feeling of the heart, is _right_
or _wrong_. If you will watch the motions of your own mind, you will
perceive, whenever any thing is proposed to be done or not to be done,
something within tells you that it is either _right_ or _wrong_; if
_wrong_, you find the same _something within_, urging you _not to do_
it; or, if _right_, the same impulse moves you _to do_ it. If you do as
you are thus urged, you find the same voice within _approving_ what you
have done, or, if you do not obey, _condemning_ you. This _something
within_ is CONSCIENCE.

You have, doubtless, lived long enough to experience many a conflict,
or dispute, between your _conscience_ and your _inclinations_. You are
inclined to do something which your conscience tells you is wrong; but
conscience not only tells you it is wrong, but urges you not to do it.
Your inclinations, or desires, urge you in the contrary direction; and
this creates a conflict. If conscience prevails, then it approves your
decision, and you feel happy. But, if inclination prevails, conscience
upbraids, and you feel miserable.

As I have defined education, you will see the great importance of
_educating the conscience_. It is the leading moral faculty, and must
have a great influence upon the moral character. For the conscience
itself may be wrong. It is not itself the rule by which you are to
determine what is right and wrong. The Word of God is the rule. The
office of conscience is, to determine whether any thing you propose
to do is agreeable to the rule, and to urge you, accordingly, to do
it or not to do it. Suppose you wish to determine whether any thing
is straight; you lay a rule upon it that you suppose to be straight,
and if they agree, that settles the matter. Your eye, comparing the
object with the rule, determines whether it is straight or not. But, if
the rule applied is crooked, your eye is deceived, and you misjudge.
Conscience is the eye of the soul, that compares an action with the
rule. The conscience, then, must be well instructed. You must learn the
_rule of right_ from the Word of God, and then conscience will always
decide right. But, if you adopt false notions of right and wrong, your
very conscience will lead you astray. The first thing, then, in the
education of the heart is, to have it filled with _right principles_;
and these you are to obtain from the study of the Bible, and from
listening to the instructions of your parents, teachers, and ministers.

The next thing is, _always to obey the voice of conscience_. If you go
contrary to it, and do what conscience tells you is wrong, or neglect
what it urges upon you as duty, you weaken that faculty, and harden
the heart. When you refuse to hearken to the voice of conscience, the
next time it will not speak so loud; and every time this is repeated,
the weaker it grows, till at length it is scarcely heard at all, and
you may go on and sin almost without restraint. If you will look back
a little while in your own experience, you will see the force of what
I say. If you have ever fallen into the habit of secretly disobeying
your parents, you will find an illustration of it. The first time you
were tempted to disobey, your conscience was very loud against it;
but the temptation, falling in with your inclinations, prevailed.
Then conscience upbraided you with a voice of terror. But you were
not discovered, and no immediate evil followed. The next time the
temptation presented itself, the remonstrance of conscience was feeble,
and its condemnation light. The next time it was feebler still; till
at length you could do with careless indifference what at first made
you shudder. But when the power of conscience is gone, there is but one
step more to ruin. If, then, you would keep your conscience tender, you
must always obey its voice.

Another means of educating the conscience is, the habit of thinking
with approbation of what is right, and putting out of the mind with
horror all thoughts of what is wrong. The most hateful things, by
becoming familiar to the sight, lose much of the horror which they
excite at first. A person who had never seen an animal killed would be
deeply affected at the sight; but a butcher thinks nothing of it. So,
by thinking much of what is wrong, the conscience becomes defiled, and
ceases to act with promptness and decision; while, if kept familiar
only with the good, it would revolt instantly from the bad.

II. THE WILL.--This is the faculty that _chooses_ or _refuses_. It
is the _decisive_ faculty. It is the power that determines action,
whether good or bad. It is the _ruling_ faculty of the soul. I said
_conscience_ was the _leading_ faculty, because it goes before the
action of the will, and moves it to choose what is right. The _will_
is the _ruling_ faculty, because it determines all action. The way to
_educate the will_ is, to accustom it to submit to the dictates of
conscience. The will, in our fallen and depraved state, is turbulent
and unsubmissive. It is not disposed to submit to the law of God,
nor to those whom God has set over us. Yet there is nothing of more
importance to our happiness and usefulness than the early subjection
of the will. If you determine that you will always have your own will,
you will certainly be unhappy; for it is impossible that you should
always have your own way. But if you early accustom yourself to give up
your own will; to submit to the will of God, as made known to you in
his word and Providence,--to submit to your parents, as those whom God
has set over you, and to your own conscience, as the faithful monitor
which God has placed in your own bosom,--then you will be as happy as
you can be in this imperfect state. This you will not accomplish all
at once. It must be the result of experience, trial, and discipline,
with the grace of God in your heart. But if you begin to cultivate the
_habit of submission_, in early life, it will save you many a severe
struggle and much unhappiness. You have doubtless learned, before
this time, that you always get into difficulty at home, when you set
out to have your own will. And perhaps you have sometimes, in your
impatience at contradiction, secretly wished that you were of age,
beyond the control of your parents, that you might do as you pleased.
But I assure you, both from my own experience and from what I have
seen of the world, that you will not find it any easier to have your
own will, after you come to act for yourself. You will not succeed in
any thing you undertake to do for others, unless you give up your own
will; neither will you succeed in making society agreeable to yourself.
Suppose you go to a shoemaker, to get a pair of shoes made, and as
soon as you begin to tell him how you wish them done, he answers, “I
understand my business; if you want a pair of shoes, I’ll make them for
you, but nobody can teach me how to do my work?” You would say, “He is
a surly creature; I’ll have nothing to do with him.” Or, suppose you
go into company, and you find a young lady who will consent to nothing
except what she herself proposes; you say, “She is a selfish creature;
let her enjoy herself alone.” But all this comes from mere wilfulness.
You never will be comfortable, much less happy, till you are willing
to yield to others, when no principle is concerned, but only the mere
gratification of your own will. And when one is employed by another, it
is perfectly reasonable that he should be directed by his employer,
even if what he is directed to do may appear to him unwise. The only
way that you can succeed, and be happy, in any thing you may undertake
to do for others, is, to submit your will to theirs, and do cheerfully,
and without objection, what they require--provided, only, that they do
not require you to do wrong. If you will look back, you will find that
this _wilfulness_ has been the cause of all the trouble you have got
into with your parents, and of nearly all the altercations you have had
with your brothers, sisters, and companions. And, if you retain this
disposition, it will make you miserable, whatever station in society
you may occupy.

A little boy, named Truman, lost his own mother; and when he was four
or five years of age, his father married again. His new mother was an
excellent lady, very affectionate and kind-hearted toward the children.
But one day, when she was teaching Truman how to read, she could not
make him say his lesson correctly. She therefore used the rod till he
submitted, and read as he ought. He was afterwards overheard talking
with himself, about his conduct:--“Tru, what made you treat your dear
mother so? Hasn’t she always been kind to you?” “Yes, I know she has.
She loves me, and tries to do me all the good she can.” “Then how
could you be so naughty, to treat her so?” “I know I have been a very
naughty boy, and treated her very bad indeed when she has been very
kind to me; and she was trying then to teach me for my own good.” “What
can you say for yourself, then? How did you come to behave so?” “I
can’t say any thing for myself; I know it was very mean. I feel ashamed
to think I could treat her so; and I’ll never do it again as long as
I live. But I thought I would just try for once, and _see who was

The object of this little boy was to have his own will. He was not
willing to submit to his mother, till he had tried his strength, to
see whose will should prevail. He got a severe chastisement, and had
to submit after all. And so it will always be with you, if you set out
with the determination, if possible, always to have your own will. You
will be always getting into difficulty, and gain nothing by it in the

III. THE AFFECTIONS.--I shall not undertake, in this place, to give
a full and complete definition of the affections. It will answer my
present purpose, to say that the _affections_ are the _feelings_ or
_emotions of the heart_. This may not be philosophically accurate; but
when my readers come, at a more advanced age, to study mental and moral
philosophy, they can enlarge their views. For all practical purposes,
this will answer. And what I mean by _educating the affections_ is,
to acquire the habit of controlling the feelings, so as to suppress
the bad and cultivate the good. You hear people talk of good and bad
_dispositions_. But a good disposition is only the preponderance of
good feelings; or in other words, where good feelings and good tempers
prevail, we say that person has a good disposition; but if bad feelings
and evil tempers predominate, we say he has a bad disposition. There
is no doubt a difference in natural dispositions. But with suitable
efforts, and especially with the aid of God’s grace, much may be done
to cultivate and improve them.

With these preliminary remarks, I proceed to give some _rules for the
cultivation_ of the affections.

1. CHECK THE FIRST RISINGS OF ILL-TEMPER.--The smith, who makes an
edged tool,--an axe, a knife, or any such instrument,--first works
the iron and steel into the form which he wishes, and then _tempers_
it. While he is working it, he wants to keep it soft, so that he can
work it easy; and this he does by keeping it hot. But after he gets it
finished, he heats it in the fire, and dips it in water, so as to cool
it suddenly, and that makes it hard. But, if he left it so, it would
be so hard that it would break all to pieces as soon as it was used.
So he holds it again over the fire, and heats it a little, to take out
a part of the temper, and make it just of the hardness that he wishes.
An instrument that is very hard is called _high-tempered_; one that is
very soft is _low-tempered_. This is a good illustration of _temper_ as
it appears in us. A _high temper_ is one that is easily excited, and
that runs so high as to be in danger of doing great mischief. A _low
temper_ is a disposition easy and indifferent, like a knife tempered
so little that the edge will turn the first time it is used. Now you
want temper enough not to be indifferent, but not so much as to fly all
in pieces. And I know nothing on which your usefulness and happiness
more depend, than in the proper regulation of your temper; and not your
own happiness alone, but the happiness of all around you. One of the
first and greatest moral lessons is, to learn to control your temper.
“He that is slow to anger,” says Solomon, “is better than the mighty;
and he that ruleth his spirit, than he that taketh a city.” But, “He
that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken
down and without walls.” By indulging an ungoverned temper, you expose
yourself to many evils. You show the weak points of your character,
and lose the good opinion of others, and your own self-respect. You
cannot help thinking meanly of yourself after having broken out in
a sudden gust of anger, or given indulgence to a peevish, fretful
spirit. To be ill-humored, peevish, or cross, is to be unhappy, and
to make others unhappy. But a sweet temper will not only make you
happy, but, like the balmy breezes of a summer evening, it will shed
a sweet fragrance all around you. Nothing will render your character
more unlovely than ill-temper. Nor, if habitually indulged at home,
can it be concealed even from the most careless observer. You will
carry the mark of it wherever you go. There will be the ill-natured
scowl, the knit brow, the distorted features, which no sweet-scented
soap can wash out, and no cosmetic hide. It will spoil the most elegant
features, and mar the most beautiful countenance. But a sweet temper
will hide a thousand defects, and render the most ordinary features
beautiful and lovely. I do not know any thing that adds a greater charm
to the youthful countenance. But, if you would have a sweet temper,
you must suppress every ill-natured feeling; never suffer yourself to
be angry at trifles, nor get into a storm of passion on any account:
neither indulge a peevish, fretful disposition; but, on the contrary,
cultivate and cherish _good-nature_, in every possible way. Strive
to be pleased with every thing around you, unless it is positively
bad; and never suffer the ill-humors of others to disturb your own
tranquillity. The noisy cataract comes splashing its muddy waters over
the side of the mountain, leaping from rock to rock, now shouting,
now murmuring, now scolding, now rushing on in the wildest fury, till
it plunges into the great river; but the river rolls quietly on its
majestic way, undisturbed by the babbling waterfall, which only makes
a momentary ripple upon the surface of its placid waters. But, suppose
the river should stop its course, to quarrel with the noisy waterfall,
what would be the consequence? The whole country would be inundated
with the fury of its pent-up waters. You cannot afford to get angry
with every one that is disposed to treat you ill. It costs too much.
Did you ever see a dog barking at the moon? And what did the moon do?
It went right straight on, and minded nothing about it. The moon can’t
afford to stop and quarrel with the dog that barks at it.

“I know it is very foolish to be angry,” perhaps you will say; “but
how can I help it? I am suddenly provoked, and fall into a passion
before I have time to think of it.” The best remedy I can recommend
is, that you make it a rule never to be angry till you have had time to
consider whether you have any thing to be angry about. And, in making
inquiry, do not ask whether the conduct that provoked you was bad;
but, in the first place, try if you cannot find some apology for it,
or some palliation; and, second, whether, admitting it to be as bad as
it seems, it is really worth so great a sacrifice of feeling, on your
part, as you will have to make, if you indulge your passions. And,
among other considerations, ask yourself how this thing will appear a
hundred years hence, when both yourself and the person who has provoked
you, will be in eternity:--“If I indulge my passions in this thing,
shall I then be able to look back upon it with pleasure?” Some such
reflections as these will tend greatly to cool your anger; and most
likely, before you have thought upon the matter many minutes, you will
conclude that it is not worth while to be angry.

So likewise, if you are given to fretfulness and ill-humor, consider
whether there is any sufficient cause why you should thus make yourself
miserable? And you will probably find that all your trouble is
imaginary. Remember that every thing that concerns you is ordered by
the providence of God; and think how much cause of thankfulness you
have, every day, for his goodness. And what has he done that you should
fret against him? He has perhaps suffered your will to be crossed;
but he has done it for your good. Think, also, how this will appear a
hundred years hence? “How will my fretfulness appear, when I look back
upon it, from another world?” And if there were no sin in it, is there
not much folly?--for “why should I make myself miserable?”

be _jealous_, is to suspect others of being unfriendly to us, or of
a design to injure us. To be _envious_, is to be displeased with the
prosperity of others, especially if they are likely to excel us. The
effect of these two passions upon the disposition is very similar. If
you are jealous of any person, you will be always looking for some
evil design in his conduct; and your imagination will conjure up a
thousand things that never had any existence, except in your own mind.
This passion, habitually indulged, very often settles down into a
kind of _monomania_, or partial insanity. I have known persons, whose
imaginings, through the influence of jealousy, became realities to
their minds, and they would roundly assert as facts, the things that
they had imagined respecting others. Such persons are perpetually
in trouble, because they fancy some one is plotting against them.
Your own comfort, therefore, depends on your suppressing the first
motions of this evil affection. While you should be on your guard
against imposition, and never confide implicitly in strangers, nor put
yourself in the power of any one whose character has not been proved,
yet you should presume others to be friendly till they show themselves
otherwise, and always give their conduct the best construction it will

Let me give you an example. There is Laura Williams,--she is always in
trouble, for fear some one does not like her. If any of her companions
seem to take more notice of some other one than of herself, she begins
to be jealous that their professions of friendship are not real; and
if any one happens not to notice her for once, she considers it a
slight; and so her feelings are perpetually disturbed. She is never
happy. Sometimes she will weep, as if her heart would break, for some
fancied slight; when, in reality, she has no occasion for trouble, and
might just as well laugh as cry. She will be unhappy as long as she
lives, and perhaps crazy before she dies, if she does not overcome this

_Envy_ is a more depraved passion than _jealousy_; but the effect
upon the character is nearly similar. You will find a melancholy
illustration of the nature and effects of envy, in the story of Haman,
in the Book of Esther. Though exalted to the second place in the
kingdom, he could not enjoy his elevation, so long as Mordecai the Jew
sat in the king’s gate. He could endure no rival.

But you will find examples enough of this passion among your own
companions. There are those that cannot bear a rival; and if any of
their companions excel themselves, they hate them. But consider how
mean and ignoble such a feeling is. A truly generous spirit will
rejoice in whatever is excellent--will love excellence wherever it
appears; but a mean and selfish spirit would monopolize every thing to
itself, and be offended, if excelled by others. Every noble sentiment
revolts at the spirit of envy; so that this base passion always defeats
itself. The envious person would be exalted above all; but envy debases
him below all, and renders him despicable and miserable.

GOOD-WILL.--There are some persons, who accustom themselves to look
upon others with a critical eye, and seem to take pleasure in detecting
and exposing their failings. This leads to misanthropy; it makes
people ill-natured. It leads them to look upon almost every one as
an object of aversion. If this disposition begins in early life, and
continues to be cultivated, it will grow and increase, till it settles
at last into a sour, morose, malignant temper, that can never look with
pleasure or satisfaction upon any human being.

Instead of indulging such a temper, you should look with feelings
of _good-will_ upon every one. Do not regard others with a critical
eye. If they are not incorrigibly bad, so as to render them dangerous
associates, overlook their faults, and study to find out some redeeming
qualities. Consider that they belong to the same great family--that
they are as good by nature as yourself--that they have immortal souls,
to be saved or lost. Try what excuses or apologies you can find for
their faults in the circumstances in which they have been bred. And
though you may not see fit to make choice of them as your friends, yet
_feel kindly towards them_. But especially, do not forget that you are
not faultless yourself. This will exert a softening influence upon your
own character; and you will find yourself much more happy in studying
the good qualities of others, and exercising feelings of charity and
good-will toward them, than you will in criticising and finding fault.
The one course will make you amiable and happy,--the other, unlovely
and miserable.

when you see others prosperous. Why should you be unhappy, that another
is more prosperous than yourself, if you are not injured by it? If you
love your neighbor as yourself, his prosperity will be as grateful to
you as your own. Rejoice, also, in the excellence of others. A truly
noble heart loves excellence for excellence’s sake. A generous heart
is forgetful of self; and when it sees excellence, it is drawn toward
it in love. It would scorn to put little self between it and a worthy

This disposition should also be carried out in action. A generous
and noble spirit will not always be contending for its own rights.
It will yield rather than contend. Contention, among companions and
associates, for each other’s rights, is a source of great unhappiness;
and when it becomes habitual, as it sometimes does among brothers and
sisters at home, it spoils the disposition. “That is _mine_,” says
one. “No,” says the other, “it is not yours, it is mine.” And without
waiting quietly to look into the matter, and investigate the question
of right, they fall into a sharp contention. The matter in question
was a mere trifle. It was not worth the sacrifice of _good-nature_
which it cost. How much better both would feel, to keep good-natured,
and give each other the reasons for their claims, and if they cannot
agree, for one or the other to yield! Or, rather, how much more noble,
if the contention be, which shall be allowed the privilege of yielding!
There is more pleasure in one act of generosity than in all that can be
enjoyed by selfish possession; and nothing will render you more lovely
in the eyes of others than a noble and generous disposition.

5. BE GENTLE.--Gentleness is opposed to all severity and roughness of
manners. It diffuses a mild, bland, amiable spirit through all the
behavior. It has much to do with the cultivation of the affections.
Where this is wanting, none of the amiable affections will flourish.
A gentle spirit will show itself in a gentle behavior, and a gentle
behavior will react upon the spirit, and promote the growth of all the
mild and amiable affections. You can distinguish the gentle by the
motion of the head, or the sound of their footsteps. Their movements
are quiet and noiseless. There is a charm in their behavior which
operates to secure for them the good opinion of all.

6. BE KIND.--Every kind act that is performed increases the kind
feelings of the heart. If you treat your brothers and sisters kindly,
you will feel more kindly toward them; while, if you treat them with
harshness and severity, or ill-treat them in any manner, it will seal
up your affections toward them, and you will be more inclined to treat
them with coolness and indifference. If you are habitually kind to
every one, embracing every opportunity in your power to perform some
office of kindness to others, you will find your good-will toward all
increasing. You will be universally beloved, and every one will be kind
to you. See that little girl! She has run back to assist her little
brother, who has lost his shoe in the mud. How kindly she speaks to
him, to soothe his feelings and wipe his tears! Some sisters that I
have seen would have been impatient of the delay, and scolded him in a
cross and angry manner for the trouble he made. But with a heart full
of sympathy, she forgets herself, and is intent only on helping him out
of trouble, and quieting his grief. But she has hardly got under way
again, before she meets a little girl, who has just fallen down and
spilled her berries, crying over her loss. Without once thinking of
the trouble it would give her, she speaks kindly to the little girl,
helps her pick up the lost fruit, and then assists her to pick enough
more to make up her loss. Every where she is just so, always glad of an
opportunity to show kindness to every one she meets. And she gets her
pay as she goes along. The happiness she feels, in thus being able to
contribute to the comfort of others, is far beyond any thing she could
receive from mere selfish enjoyment. And, in addition to this, she gets
the good-will of others, which makes them kind to her in return.

OTHERS.--This will not only interest others in you, but it will tend to
stifle selfishness in your own heart, and to cultivate disinterested
feeling. Sympathize with others; enter into their feelings; and
endeavor, in heart and feeling, to make their interest your own; so
that there may be a soil for disinterested feeling to grow in. If you
see others enjoying themselves, rejoice with them. Make the case your
own, and be glad that they have occasion to rejoice. “Rejoice with
them that do rejoice.” If you have truly benevolent feelings, it will
certainly be an occasion of joy to you to see them prosperous and
happy, whoever they are. On the other hand, sympathize with misery and
distress. “Weep with them that weep.” Wherever you see misery, let it
affect your heart. And never fail, if it is in your power, to offer
relief. And, often, you can afford the best relief to those of your
own age,--your companions, but especially your inferiors,--by showing
that you are affected with their troubles, that you sympathize with
them. Cultivate the habit of _feeling_ for others. When you see or read
of the sufferings of the poor, when you read of the condition of the
heathen, who know not the way of salvation, let your sympathies flow
forth toward them. Learn to feel for others’ woe, and it will improve
your own heart. But, besides this, you will find yourself rewarded with
the affections of others.

Thus I have given you a few brief hints, to show how the affections may
be cultivated. I must leave you to apply them in practice to every-day
life, and to carry out the principle, in its application to all the
circumstances in which you may be placed; which principle is, as much
as possible, to repress and refrain from exercising every bad feeling
or affection, and to cherish and cultivate the good, bringing them into
exercise on every fit occasion, that they may grow into habits.

You will see, by what I have said under the various heads of this
chapter, that the idea of _educating the heart_ is no mere _figure
of speech_, but a reality, of great importance to your character and
well-being through life. Your parents and teachers will, of course,
pay attention to this matter; but they cannot succeed in it without
your coöperation. And with you it must be an every-day work. You must
carry it out in all your conduct and feelings, and seek the grace of
God to aid you in so difficult a work. Without an _educated heart_, you
will never make a GENTLEMAN. The fine feelings and good tempers which
I have described are indispensable to _good breeding_. You cannot have
polished manners with a _rough heart_. You may _put on_ the gentleman;
but it will appear out of place. You cannot change the nature of a
_pig_. You may wash him over and over again, and make him ever so
clean; you may even dress him up in white linen garments--but he will
immediately return to his wallowing in the mire.



The term _Mind_ is often employed to signify all the faculties of
the soul. But I shall use it in application to the _intellectual
faculties_, in distinction from the _moral_; as I have employed _heart_
to denote the _moral_, in distinction from the _intellectual_. I shall
not undertake to give a strictly philosophical distinction of the
mental faculties, but shall comprehend them in the following division,
which is sufficient for my purpose, to wit: _Perception_, _Reason_ or
_Understanding_, _Judgment_, _Memory_, and _Imagination_. PERCEPTION is
the faculty that receives ideas into the mind; as, when you look at a
tree, immediately the idea of a tree is impressed on the mind through
the sense of sight; or, when you touch an object, the idea of that
object is impressed on your mind through the sense of touch; or, you
may receive the idea of a spirit, from the explanations which you hear
or read.

The REASON or UNDERSTANDING, is the faculty that considers, analyzes,
and compares ideas received into the mind, and forms conclusions
concerning them. For example, suppose you had never seen a watch: one
is presented to you, and, as soon as your eye rests upon it, you form
an idea respecting it. Perhaps this idea is no more than that it is a
very curious object. But, immediately, your understanding is employed
in _considering_ what it is, the perceptive faculty still being
occupied in further discoveries. From the fact that there is motion,
you conclude there must be some _power_ within it; for motion is not
produced without power. Here is _consideration_ and _conclusion_, which
is a regular operation of reason. But, to make further discoveries, you
open the watch, to examine its parts. This is _analyzing_. You examine
all the parts that you can see, on removing the case. You still see
_motion_--all the wheels moving in regular order; but the _cause_ of
the motion, the _power_ that moves, is yet unseen. You perceive a chain
wound around a wheel, and attached to another wheel, around which it
is slowly winding itself; and this chain appears to regulate the whole
movement. You conclude that the power must be in this last-named wheel.
Here is a conclusion from analyzing, or examining the parts separately.

The JUDGMENT is the same as what is popularly styled _common sense_.
It is that faculty which pronounces a decision, in view of all the
information before the mind, in any given case. For example, if you
wish to determine what school you will attend, you first obtain all
the information you can respecting the different schools that claim
your attention. You consider and compare the advantages of each; and
you decide according to your impression of their comparative merits.
The faculty which forms this decision is called the _judgment_. You
will readily perceive how very important this faculty is; for a person
may be very learned, and yet a very great _dunce_ in every thing of a
practical nature, if he fails in judgment or common sense. His learning
will be of very little use to him, because he has not sense to use it
to advantage.

The MEMORY is the faculty which _retains_ the knowledge that is
received into the mind. It is a wonderful faculty. It may be compared
to an immense closet, with a countless number and variety of shelves,
drawers, and cells, in which articles are stored away for future use,
only one of which can be examined by the proprietor at the same time,
and yet so arranged that he knows just where to look for the article he
wants. It is supposed that no impression, once made upon the memory,
can be obliterated; and yet the impression may not be called up for
years. It lies there, till some association of ideas brings it up
again; the faculty not being able to present more than one object
distinctly before the mind at the same instant.

The IMAGINATION is that faculty which forms pictures in the mind of
real or unreal scenes. It is the faculty that you exercise in your
fanciful plays, and when your mind runs forward to the time that you
expect to be engaged in the busy scenes of life, and you picture to
yourself pleasures and enjoyments in prospect. It is the faculty
chiefly exercised by the poet and the writer of fiction.

You will, perhaps, be tired of this explanation; but it was necessary,
in order to prepare the way for what I have to say on the _education
of the mind_. From the definition of education already given, you will
perceive that my ideas differ very much from those entertained by most
young people. Ask a young person what he is going to school for, and
he will answer, “_To learn_.” And his idea of learning is, simply, to
_acquire knowledge_. This, however, is but a small part of the object
of education. And this idea often leads youth to judge that much of
what they are required to study is of no value to them; because they
think they shall have no use for the particular science they are
studying, in practical life. The chief objects of mental education
are, to cultivate and discipline the mind, and to store it with those
great facts and principles which compose the elements of all knowledge.
The studies to be pursued, then, are to be chosen with reference to
these objects, and not merely for the purpose of making the mind a
vast store-house of knowledge. This may be done, and yet leave it a
mere lumber-room. For without the capacity to analyze, and turn it to
account, all the knowledge in the world is but useless lumber. It is
of great importance that young people should understand and appreciate
this principle, because it is intimately connected with their success
in acquiring a good education. To this end, it is necessary that they
should coöperate with their parents and teachers. This they will never
be ready to do, if they suppose the only object of study is, to acquire
a knowledge of the particular branches they are set to learn; for they
cannot see the use of them. But, understanding the design of education
to be, to discipline the mind, and furnish it with the elements of
knowledge, there is no science, no branch of learning, but what is
useful for these objects; and the only question, where education cannot
be liberal, is, What branches will best secure these ends?

This understanding of the objects of education is also necessary, to
stimulate the young to prosecute their studies in the most profitable
manner. If their object were merely to acquire knowledge, the more aid
they could get from their teachers the better, because they would thus
obtain information the more rapidly. But the object being to discipline
the mind, call forth its energies, and obtain a thorough knowledge
of elementary principles, what is _studied out_, by the unaided
efforts of the pupil, is worth a hundred times more than that which is
communicated by an instructor. The very effort of the mind which is
requisite to study out a sum in arithmetic, or a difficult sentence in
language, is worth more than it costs, for the increased power which
it imparts to the faculties so exercised. The principles involved in
the case will, also, by this effort, be more deeply impressed upon the
mind. Such efforts are also exceedingly valuable, for the confidence
which they inspire in one’s power of accomplishment. I do not mean to
commend self-confidence in a bad sense. For any one to be so confident
of his own power as to think he can do things which he cannot, or to
fancy himself qualified for stations which he is not able to fill,
is foolish and vain. But, to know one’s own ability to do, and have
confidence in it, is indispensable to success in any undertaking. And
this confidence is inspired by unaided efforts to overcome difficulties
in the process of education. As an instance of this, I recollect,
when a boy, of encountering a very difficult sum in arithmetic. After
spending a considerable time on it, without success, I sought the
aid of the school teacher, who failed to render me any assistance. I
then applied to several other persons, none of whom could give me the
desired information. Thus I was thrown back upon my own resources. I
studied upon it several days without success. After worrying my head
with it one evening, I retired to rest, and _dreamed_ out the whole
process. I do not suppose there was any thing supernatural in my dream;
but the sum was the absorbing subject of my thoughts, and when sleep
had closed the senses, they still ran on the same subject. Rising in
the morning with a clear head, and examining the question anew, it all
opened up to my mind with perfect clearness; all difficulty vanished,
and in a few moments the problem was solved. I can scarcely point to
any single event, which has had more influence upon the whole course
of my life than this. It gave me confidence in my ability to succeed
in any reasonable undertaking. But for this confidence, I should
never have thought of entering upon the most useful undertakings of
my life. But for this, you would never have seen this book, nor any
other of the numerous works which I have been enabled to furnish
for the benefit of the young. I mention this circumstance here, for
the purpose of encouraging you to _independent mental effort_. In
prosecuting your studies, endeavor always, if possible, to overcome
every difficulty without the aid of others. This practice, besides
giving you the confidence of which I have spoken, will give you a much
better knowledge of the branches you are pursuing, and enable you,
as you advance, to proceed much more rapidly. Every difficulty you
overcome, by your own unaided efforts, will make the next difficulty
less. And though at first you will proceed more slowly, your habit of
independent investigation will soon enable you to outstrip all those
who are still held in the leading-strings of their teachers. A child
will learn to walk much sooner by being let alone, than to be provided
with a go-cart. Your studies, pursued in this manner, will be much more
interesting; for you are interested in any study just in proportion to
the effort of mind it costs you.

The _perceptive faculty_ is developed first of all. It begins to
be exercised by the child before it can speak, or even understand
language. _Reason_ and _judgment_ are more slow in their development,
though they begin to be exercised at a very early period. _Memory_
is exercised as soon as ideas are received into the mind. The
_imagination_, in the natural course of things, is developed latest of
all; but it is often forced out too early, like flowers in a hot-bed,
in which case it works great injury to the mind.

You will perceive the great importance of bringing out the several
faculties of the mind in their due proportion. If the _memory_ is
chiefly cultivated, you will have a great amount of knowledge floating
loosely in your mind, but it will be of very little use. But the proper
cultivation of the memory is indispensable, in order to render your
knowledge available. Nor will it do for you to adopt the notion that
nothing is to be committed to the keeping of the memory which is not
fully understood. The memory is a _servant_, which must consent to do
some things without knowing the reason why. The _imagination_ is the
beautiful flower that crowns the top of the plant. But if forced out
too early, or out of due proportion, it will cover the stalk with false
blossoms, which, in a little time, will wither, and leave it dry and
useless. The _perception_, _reason_, and _judgment_, require a long
course of vigorous exercise and severe training, in order to lay a
solid foundation of character.

I shall leave this subject here, without suggesting any particular
means of cultivating the mind, leaving you to apply the principles here
laid down to your ordinary studies. But in several subsequent chapters,
I shall have some reference to what I have said here.



READING occupies a very important place in education. It is one of the
principal means of treasuring up knowledge. It is, therefore, highly
necessary that a taste for reading should be early cultivated. But a
mere _taste for reading_, uncontrolled by intelligent principle, is
a dangerous appetite. It may lead to ruinous consequences. The habit
of reading _merely for amusement_, is a dangerous habit. _Reading
for amusement_ furnishes a constant temptation for reading what is
injurious. It promotes, also, an _unprofitable manner_ of reading.
Reading in a hasty and cursory manner, without exercising your own
thoughts upon what you read, induces a bad habit of mind. To profit
by reading depends, not so much on the _quantity_ which is read, as
upon the _manner_ in which it is read. You may read a great deal, in
a gormandizing way, as the glutton consumes food, and yet be none the
better, but the worse for what you read.

If you would profit by reading, you must, in the first place, be
careful _what you read_. There are a multitude of books, pamphlets,
periodicals, and newspapers, in circulation at the present day, which
cannot be read, especially by the young, without great injury, both to
the mind and heart. If any one should propose to you to associate with
men and women of the lowest and most abandoned character, you would
shrink from the thought--you would be indignant at the proposition. But
it is not the mere bodily presence of such characters that makes their
society dangerous. It is the communion which you have with their minds
and hearts, in their conduct and conversation. But a great portion
of the popular literature of the day is written by such characters.
By reading their writings, you come into communion with their minds
and hearts, as much as if you were personally in their company. In
their writings, the fancies which fill their corrupt minds, and the
false and dangerous principles which dwell in their depraved hearts,
are transferred to paper, to corrupt the unwary reader. Here are,
likewise, glowing descriptions of evil conduct, more fascinating to the
youthful heart than the example itself would be, because the mischief
is artfully concealed behind the drapery of fine literary taste, and
beautiful language. There are, likewise, many such writings, the
productions of persons of _moral lives_, but of _corrupt principles_,
which are equally dangerous. You would not associate with a person
whom you knew to be an unprincipled character, even though he might be
outwardly moral. He would be the more dangerous, because you would be
less on your guard. If it is dangerous to keep company with persons of
bad character or bad principles, it is much more so to keep company
with bad books.

I have treated at large on the subject of _novel-reading_, and other
objectionable writings, in my “Young Lady’s Guide;” and to that I must
refer you, for my reasons, more at length, for condemning such reading.
I shall here only suggest, for the regulation of your reading, a few
simple rules.

pursuing your education, you will be so severely taxed with hard study,
that reading merely for diversion or amusement does not furnish the
relaxation which you need. It keeps the body idle and the mind still in
exercise; whereas, the diversion which you need, is something that will
exercise the body and relax the mind. If your object is _diversion_,
then it is better to seek it in useful labor, sprightly amusements, or
healthful walks. I can think of nothing more injurious to the young
than spending the hours in which they are released from study, bending
over novels, or the light literature of our trashy periodicals. Not
only is the health seriously injured by such means, but the mind loses
its vigor. The high stimulus applied to the imagination creates a kind
of mental intoxication, which renders study insipid and irksome. But
reading is an important part of education, and some time should be
devoted to it. Instead of mere amusement, however, there are higher
objects to be aimed at. These are, 1st, to store the mind with useful
knowledge; 2d, to cultivate a correct taste; 3d, to make salutary
impressions upon the heart. For the first, you may read approved works
on all the various branches of knowledge; as history, biography,
travels, science, and religious truth. For the second, you may read
such works of imagination and literary taste as are perfectly free
from objection, on the score of religion and morality,--and these but
sparingly at your age; for the third, such practical works of piety
as you will find in the Sabbath school library. But, for all these
purposes, the _Bible_ is the great Book of books. It contains history,
biography, poetry, travels, and doctrinal and practical essays.
Any plan of reading will be essentially defective, which does not
contemplate the daily reading of the Bible. You ought to calculate on
reading it through, in course, every year of your life.

2. BE EXCEEDINGLY CAREFUL WHAT YOU READ.--Do not take up a book,
paper, or periodical, that happens to fall in your way, because you
have nothing else to read. By so doing, you will expose yourself to
great evils. But, though a book be not decidedly objectionable, it may
not be _worth reading_. There are so many good books, at the present
day, that it is not worth while to spend time over what is of little
value; and it is better to read the Bible alone, than to spend time
over a poor book. Avoid, especially, the fictitious stories that you
will find in newspapers and popular magazines. They are generally the
worst species of fiction, and tend strongly to induce a vitiated taste,
and an appetite for novel-reading. If you once become accustomed to
such reading, you will find it produce a kind of _moral intoxication_,
so that you will feel as uneasy without it, as the drunkard without
his cups, or the smoker without his pipe. It is much the safer way
for young people to be wholly directed by their parents, (or their
teachers, if away from home,) in the choice of their reading. Make it
a rule never to read any book, pamphlet, or periodical, till you have
first ascertained from your parents, teachers, or minister, that it is
safe, and worth reading.

3. THINK AS YOU READ.--Do not drink in the thoughts of others as you
drink water; but examine them, and see whether they carry conviction
to your own mind; and if they do, think them over, till they become
incorporated with your own thoughts, part and parcel of your own mind.
Lay up facts and principles in your memory. Let the beautiful thoughts
and striking ideas that you discover be treasured up as so many gems
and precious stones, to enrich and beautify your own mind. And let your
heart be impressed and benefited by the practical thoughts you find
addressed to it.

4. REDEEM TIME FOR READING.--Although it would be improper for you to
take the time appropriated for study, or to rob yourself of needful
diversion, yet you may, by careful economy, save some time every day
for reading. A great deal of time is thrown away by the indulgence of
dilatory habits, or consumed in a careless, sauntering vacancy. If you
follow system, and have a time for every thing, and endeavor to do
every thing with despatch, in its proper season, you will have time
enough for every thing that is necessary to be done.



WRITING, or COMPOSING, is one of the best exercises of the mind. It is,
however, I am sorry to say, an exercise to which young people generally
show a great aversion. One reason, perhaps, is, that, to write well,
requires _hard thinking_. But I am inclined to think the chief reason
is, that the difficulties of writing are magnified. There is, also,
a want of wisdom in the choice of subjects. Themes are frequently
selected for first efforts, which require deep, abstract thinking; and
the mind not being able to grasp them, there is a want of thought,
which discourages new beginners. The first attempts should be made upon
subjects that are easy and well understood; such as a well-studied
portion of history, a well-known story, or a description of some
familiar scene; the object being to clothe it in suitable language,
and to make such reflections upon it as occur to the mind. Writing is
but _thinking on paper_; and if you have any thoughts at all, you may
commit them to writing.

Another fault in young beginners is, viewing composition as a _task_
imposed on them by their teachers, and making it their chief object
to cover a certain quantity of paper with writing; and so the sooner
this task is discharged the better. But you must have a higher aim than
this, or you will never be a good writer. Such efforts are positively
injurious. They promote a careless, negligent habit of writing. One
well-written composition, which costs days of hard study, is worth
more, as a discipline of mind, than a hundred off-hand, careless
productions. Indeed, one good, successful effort will greatly diminish
every succeeding effort, and make writing easy. You will do well, then,
first to select your subject some time before you write, and think it
over and study it, and have your ideas arranged in your mind before
you begin. Then write with care, selecting the best expressions, and
clothing your thoughts in the best dress. Then carefully and repeatedly
read it over, and correct it, studying every sentence, weighing every
expression, and making every possible improvement. Then lay it aside
awhile, and afterwards copy it, with such improvements as occur at the
time. Then lay it aside, and after some days revise it again, and see
what further improvements and corrections you can make, and copy it a
second time. If you repeat this process half a dozen times, it will be
all the better. Nor will the time you spend upon it be lost. One such
composition will conquer all the difficulties in the way of writing;
and every time you repeat such an effort, you will find your mind
expanding, and your thoughts multiplying, so that, very soon, writing
will become an easy and delightful exercise; and you will, at length,
be able to make the first draught so nearly perfect that it will not
need copying. But you never will make a good writer by off-hand,
careless efforts.

_Letter-writing_, however, is a very different affair. Its beauty
consists in its simplicity, ease, and freedom from formality. The best
rule that can be given for letter-writing is, to imagine the person
present whom you are addressing, and write just what you would say in
conversation. All attempts at effort, in letter-writing, are out of
place. The detail of particulars, such as your correspondent would
be interested to know, and the expression of your own feelings, are
the great excellences of this kind of writing. Nothing disappoints
a person more than to receive a letter full of fine sentiments, or
didactic matter, such as he might find in books, while the very
information which he desired is left out, and perhaps an apology at the
close for not giving the news, because the sheet is full. In a letter,
we want _information of the welfare of our friends_, together with
the warm gush of feeling which fills their hearts. These are the true
excellences of epistolary writing.



There is no greater enemy to improvement than an indolent spirit. An
aversion to effort paralyzes every noble desire, and defeats every
attempt at advancement. If you are naturally indolent, you must put
on resolution to overcome it, and strive against it with untiring
vigilance. There is not a single point, in the process of education, at
which this hydra-headed monster will not meet you. “The slothful man
saith there is a lion without, I shall be slain in the street.” There
is always a lion in the way, when slothful spirits are called upon
to make any exertion. “_I can’t_,” is the sovereign arbiter of their
destiny. It prevents their attempting any thing difficult or laborious.
If required to write a composition, they _can’t_ think of any thing
to write about. The Latin lesson is difficult; this word they _can’t_
find; that sentence they _can’t_ read. The sums in arithmetic are _so
hard_, they _can’t_ do them. And so this lion in the way defeats every
thing. But those who expect ever to be any thing, must not suffer such
a word as _can’t_ in their vocabulary.

It is the same with labor. The indolent dread all exertion. When
requested to do any thing, they have something else to do first, which
their indolence has left unfinished; or they have some other reason to
give why they should not attempt it. But if nothing else will do, the
sluggard’s excuse, “_I can’t_,” is always at hand. Were it not for the
injury to them, it would be far more agreeable to do, one’s self, what
is desired of them, than to encounter the painful scowls that clothe
the brow, when they think of making an effort. Solomon has described
this disposition to the life:--“The slothful man putteth his hand in
his bosom: _it grieveth him to take it out again_.”

But indolence is a source of great misery. There are none so happy as
those who are _always active_. I do not mean that they should give
themselves no relaxation from severe effort. But relaxation does not
suppose _idleness_. To sit and fold one’s hands, and do nothing,
serves no purpose. Change of employment is the best recreation. And
from the idea of employment, I would not exclude active and healthful
sports, provided they are kept within due bounds. But to sit idly
staring at vacancy is intolerable. There is no enjoyment in it. It is
a stagnation of body and mind. An indolent person is, to the active
and industrious, what a stagnant pool is to the clear and beautiful
lake. Employment contributes greatly to enjoyment. It invigorates the
body, sharpens the intellect, and promotes cheerfulness of spirits;
while indolence makes a torpid body, a vacant mind, and a peevish,
discontented spirit.

Indolence is a great waste of existence. Suppose you live to the age
of seventy years, and squander in idleness one hour a day, you will
absolutely throw away about three years of your existence. And if we
consider that this is taken from the waking hours of the day, it should
be reckoned six years. Are you willing, by idleness, to shorten your
life six years? Then take care of the moments. Never fritter away time
in doing nothing. Whatever you do, whether study, work, or play, enter
into it with spirit and energy; and never waste your time in sauntering
and doing nothing. “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy
might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in
the grave, whither thou goest.”



What is worth doing at all, is worth the undivided attention; but John
can never be satisfied to do but one thing at a time. By attempting
to read or play while dressing, he consumes double the time that is
necessary. He reads at the table, and, in consequence, keeps the table
waiting for him to finish his meal. He turns his work into play, and
thus his work is slighted, and frequently left half done. When he goes
to his lesson, his attention is arrested by something else before he
has fairly commenced, and he stops to look or listen. Or perhaps he
insensibly falls into a reverie, and is engaged in building “castles
in the air,” till something happens to call back his spirit from the
fairy land. The consequence is, the lesson is acquired but imperfectly,
while twice the needful time has been spent upon it. At the same time,
nothing else is accomplished. This is what I call _busy idleness_.

The true way to accomplish the most, and to do it in the best manner,
is to confine the attention strictly to the thing in hand, and to
bend all the energies of the mind to that one object, aiming to do it
in the best possible manner, in the least possible time. By adopting
this principle, and acting upon it, you will be surprised to find how
much more expeditiously you will accomplish what you undertake, and
how much better it will be done. It is indispensable to success in any

Closely connected with this subject, is the _systematic division of
time_. Where there is no system, one duty will jostle another, and much
time will be wasted in considering what to do next; all of which would
be avoided, by having a regular routine of duties, one coming after the
other in regular order, and so having a set time for each. This cannot
be carried out perfectly, because there will every day be something to
do that was not anticipated. But it may be so far pursued as to avoid
confusion and waste of time.



Beginning things and leaving them unfinished, exerts a bad influence
in the formation of character. If it becomes a habit, it will make
you so fickle that no one will put confidence in you. There is James
Scott. If you go into his room, you will find his table strewed, and
his drawer filled, with compositions begun and not completed; scraps of
verses, but no poem finished; letters commenced, but not completed. Or,
if you go to his play-house, you will find a ball half wound; a kite
half made; a boat begun; one runner of a sled; one wheel of a wagon;
and other things to match. He wants energy and perseverance to finish
what he begins; and thus he wastes his time in frivolous pursuits. He
is very ready to _begin_; but before he has completed what is begun,
he thinks of something else that he wishes to do; or he grows weary of
what he is upon. He lives to no purpose, for he _completes_ nothing;
and he might as well _do nothing_, as to _complete nothing_.

If you indulge this practice, it will grow upon you, till you will
become weak, irresolute, fickle, and good for nothing. To avoid this,
begin nothing that is not worth finishing, or that you have not
good reason to think you will be able to finish. But when you have
begun, resolutely persevere till you have finished. There is a strong
temptation, with the young, to abandon an undertaking, because of
the difficulties in the way; but, if you persevere, and conquer the
difficulties you meet with, you will gain confidence in yourself, and
the next time, perseverance in your undertakings will be more easy. You
may, however, make a mistake, and begin what you cannot or ought not to
perform; in which case, perseverance would only increase the evil.



CHARACTER is formed under a great variety of influences. Sometimes a
very trifling circumstance gives direction to the whole course of one’s
life. And every incident that occurs, from day to day, is exerting a
silent, gradual influence, in the formation of your character. Among
these influences, none are more direct and powerful than that exerted
upon us by the companions with whom we associate; for we insensibly
fall into their habits. This is especially true in childhood and youth,
when the character is plastic, like soft wax,--easily impressed.

But we cannot avoid associating, to some extent, with those whose
influence is injurious. It is necessary, then, for us to distinguish
society into _general_ and _particular_. General society is that with
which we are _compelled to associate_. Particular society is that which
we _choose for ourselves_. In school, and in all public places, you are
under the necessity of associating somewhat with all. But those whom
you meet, in such circumstances, you are not compelled to make intimate
friends. You may be courteous and polite to all, wherever and whenever
you meet them, and yet maintain such a prudent reserve, and cautious
deportment, as not to be much exposed to contamination, if they should
not prove suitable companions.

But every one needs _intimate friends_; and it is necessary that these
should be well chosen. A bad friend may prove your ruin. You should
therefore be slow and cautious in the formation of intimacies and
friendships. Do not be suddenly taken with any one, and so enter into
a hasty friendship; for you may be mistaken, and soon repent of it.
There is much force in the old adage, “All is not gold that shines.”
A pleasing exterior often conceals a corrupt heart. Before you enter
into close intimacies or friendships, study the characters of the
persons whom you propose to choose for companions. Watch their behavior
and conversation; and if you discover any bad habits indulged, or any
thing that indicates a want of principle, let them not become your
companions. If you discover that they disregard any of the commandments
of God, set them down as unsafe associates. They will not only be
sure to lead you astray, but you can place no dependence upon their
fidelity. If they will break one of God’s commands, they will another;
and you can put no confidence in them. But even where you discover no
such thing, ask the opinion of your parents respecting them before you
choose them as your friends. Yet, while you are in suspense about the
matter, treat them courteously and kindly. But when you have determined
to seek their friendship, do not impose your friendship on them against
their will. Remember that they have the same right as yourself to
the choice of their friends; and they may see some objection to the
formation of a friendship with yourself. Be delicate, therefore, in
your advances, and give them an opportunity to _come half way_. A
friendship cautiously and slowly formed will be much more likely to
last than one that is formed in haste.

But let the number of your intimate and confidential friends be small.
It is better to have a few select, choice, and warm friends, than to
have a great number, less carefully chosen, whose attachment is less
warm and ardent. But you must not refuse to associate at all with the
mass of the society where you belong; especially, if you live in the
country. You must meet them kindly and courteously, on all occasions
where the society in general in which you move is called together. You
must not affect exclusiveness, nor confine yourself to the company of
your particular friends, at such times. But be careful that you do not
expose yourself to evil influences.

You ought not, at present, to form any intimate friendships with the
other sex. Such friendships, at your age, are dangerous; and if not
productive of any serious present evils, they will probably be subjects
of regret when you come to years of maturity; for attachments may be
formed that your judgment will then disapprove.



There are some boys, who carelessly go any where that they can find
amusement, without regard to the character of their company. They not
only associate indiscriminately in general society, where they are
obliged to go, as at school; but they seek the company of bad boys, or
permit themselves to be enticed into it, because it affords them some
momentary enjoyment.

A bad boy is one who has a _bad disposition_, which has never been
subdued; or one of corrupt principles and bad habits. A boy with a bad
disposition will be rough, quarrelsome, malicious in his temper, fond
of mischief, and rude and unmannerly in his general behavior. A boy of
corrupt principles is one who will not scruple to break the commands
of God, when they stand in the way of his own gratification. He acts
from the mere selfish desire of present enjoyment. A boy of bad habits
is one who is in the habit of disobeying his parents, breaking the
Sabbath, using bad language, lying, stealing, gaming, drinking, or
doing wanton mischief. Any of these habits shows a character thoroughly

If you go into the company of persons that are sick with the measles,
hooping-cough, smallpox, or any contagious disorder, in a short time
you will be taken with the same disease. The very atmosphere of the
room where they stay is full of contagion, and you will draw it in
with your breath. So, likewise, _moral diseases_ are contagious. There
is an atmosphere of moral contagion and death surrounding persons of
vicious habits. “Evil communications corrupt good manners.” The sight
of evil deeds, or the hearing of bad language, hardens the heart, and
diminishes the abhorrence of sin, which is felt by those to whom vice
is not familiar. If you consent to go into bad company, you will soon
find yourself falling into their habits. And if you keep company with
bad boys, you will soon have the reputation of being a bad boy yourself.

Bad company will lead you into practices that will end in your ruin and
disgrace. If you could read the history of those who have been sent to
prison or otherwise punished for their crimes, you would be surprised
to find how many of them were led, insensibly, into the evil courses
which ended in their ruin, by frequenting bad company. I will give you
a single example, which is only one among thousands that might be set
before you, to show the dangerous influence of evil companions. There
was a boy in Stockport, (England,) who went to the Sabbath school,
and was esteemed a very good boy; so that he was appointed a teacher
of one of the classes. But about this time his father died; and his
mother, being poor, was obliged to send him to work in the factory.
There he met with bad boys, who were addicted to evil practices. They
gradually led him into their own evil courses, till, at length, he
lost all the good impressions he had received in the Sabbath school.
He began to drink, and drinking led him to committing petty thefts. He
became so dissolute that his mother could do nothing with him. He was
turned out of his employment, and obliged to enlist as a soldier. He
was sent into Spain. There he indulged his evil courses, and supplied
himself with the means of gratifying his evil desires, by plundering
the inhabitants. At the close of the war, he returned home. Soon after
landing, he and his evil companions began to break into people’s houses
and commit robberies. He was detected, tried, and condemned to death,
at the age of twenty-one.

Let me especially caution you against indulging a mischievous
disposition, or joining with others in any schemes of mischief. I
know of nothing more likely to get you into serious difficulty, or
to lead you into vicious habits and dissolute practices. A few years
ago, a young man was hung, in one of our seaport towns, for piracy. He
was one of the _bad boys_ of whom I have been speaking. He had a bad
disposition, which had never been subdued. At home, he was turbulent
and unsubmissive; abroad, he was a ringleader in mischief; at school,
he was disobedient to his teacher, and set himself to work to organize
the boys to resist the authority of their teachers. At length, he went
to sea; and there he carried out the same disposition. He headed the
sailors against the authority of the captain. After he had been some
time at sea, he persuaded the rest of the crew to set the captain and
mate of the vessel upon the ocean in an open boat. They then took
possession of the vessel, and turned pirates, robbing every vessel they
could find. They were captured; and this young man was brought home,
tried and condemned, and hung for his crime. This was the result of a
turbulent and ungovernable boy giving up himself to be a ringleader in

Boys who go from the country to the city are very apt to be drawn into
bad company. Cities abound with boys who are old in mischief and crime.
They take great delight in leading astray the simple-hearted; and if
boys from the country come within the reach of their influence, they
are almost sure to be ruined. The great number of boys found in the
houses of correction and reformation, and in the city prisons, are so
many beacons to warn the unwary of the danger of shipwreck on the rocks
and shoals of evil company.

In conclusion, let me commend to you the wholesome warning and advice
of Solomon: “My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.” “Enter
not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men.
Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away. For they sleep
not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away,
unless they cause some to fall.”



The human system is formed for alternate labor and rest, and not for
incessant activity; and to provide for this, the night follows the day
and the Sabbath the six days of labor. But not only is rest necessary
after labor, but activity in a different direction. When you are
carrying a burden of any kind, you find relief in a change of position.
A poor boy was employed in turning a wheel, by which he was enabled to
do something for his mother. A lady, observing him steadily employed at
what appeared to be a very laborious occupation, inquired whether he
did not get tired. He replied that he was often very tired. “And what
do you do when you are tired?” she further inquired. “O,” said he, “I
take the other hand.” He had learned that a change of position gave him
rest. Neither the mind nor the body is capable of being incessantly
exerted, in one direction, without injury. Like the bent bow, they will
lose their elasticity. The body, after labor, and the mind, after
study, need unbending, especially in youth, while the muscles of the
body have not acquired maturity or solidity, and the powers of the mind
are yet developing. At this period of life relaxation and amusement are
especially necessary; and those young persons who eschew all play, and
confine themselves to books and labor, must, in the natural course of
things, suffer both in health and spirits. Healthful play is natural
to the young, throughout the whole animal creation. The lamb, that
emblem of innocence; is seen sporting in the fields, blithely bounding
over the hills, as if desirous of expressing a grateful sense of its
Creator’s goodness. There is no more harm in the play of children than
in the skipping of the lambs. It is necessary to restore the bent bow
to its natural elasticity. It is the voice of nature, which cannot be

But having said so much, it is necessary to guard against improprieties
and excesses in amusements. And yet, to determine what amusements
are to be allowed, and what condemned, is no easy matter; for, while
some kinds of amusement are evil in their own nature, and necessarily
injurious, others are evil and injurious only on account of their
_excess_, or of the _manner_ in which they are pursued, or of the
evils that are associated with them. My object is, not so much to point
out what amusements are wrong, as to give you some rules by which you
can judge for yourself.

I. Never engage in recreation at an _unsuitable time_.--To neglect
_duty_ for the sake of amusement is not only wrong, but it will exert
a bad influence upon your character. It tends to produce an immoderate
love of amusement, and to break up all orderly and regular habits. Let
your invariable rule be, “BUSINESS FIRST, AND THEN PLEASURE.” Never
suffer any kind of amusement to break in upon the time appropriated to
labor or study.

II. Never do any thing that is _disapproved by your parents_ or
_guardians_.--They desire your happiness, and will not deprive you of
any enjoyment, unless they see good reason for it. They may see evil
where you would not perceive it. They regard your highest welfare. They
look beyond the present, to see what influence these things will have
on your character and happiness hereafter. They are also set over you
of the Lord; and it is your duty not only to submit to their authority,
but to reverence their counsel.

III. Engage in no amusement which is _disapproved by the most devoted
and consistent Christians_ of your acquaintance. I do not mean the few
_cross_ and _austere_ persons, who always wear an aspect of gloom, and
cannot bear to see the countenances of youth lighted up with the smile
of innocent hilarity. But I mean those Christians who wear an aspect
of devout cheerfulness, and maintain a holy and consistent life. Their
judgment is formed under the influence of _devotional feeling_, and
will not be likely to be far from what is just and right.

IV. Do nothing which you would be _afraid God should see_.--There is
no darkness nor secret place, where you can hide yourself from his
all-searching eye. Contemplate the Lord Jesus Christ as walking by
your side, as he truly is in spirit; and do nothing which you would be
unwilling that he should witness, if he were with you in his bodily

V. Do nothing the preparation for which _unfits you for religious
duty_.--If an amusement in which you are preparing to engage so takes
up your mind as to interfere with your devotional exercises; if your
thoughts run away from the Bible that you are reading to anticipated
pleasures; or if those pleasures occupy your thoughts in prayer; you
may be sure you are going too far.

VI. Engage in nothing _on which you cannot first ask God’s blessing_.
Do you desire to engage in any thing in which you would not wish to be
blessed and prospered? But God only can bless and prosper us in any
undertaking. If, therefore, your feelings would be shocked to think of
asking God’s blessing on any thing in which you would engage, it must
be because your conscience tells you it is wrong.

VII. Engage in no amusement which _unfits you for devotional
exercises_.--If, on returning from a scene of amusement, you feel no
disposition to pray, you may be sure something is wrong. You had better
not repeat the same again.

VIII. Engage in nothing which _tends to dissipate serious
impressions_.--Seriousness, and a sense of eternal things, are
perfectly consistent with serenity and cheerfulness. But thoughtless
mirth, or habitual levity, will drive away such impressions. Whatever
you find has this effect is dangerous to your soul.

IX. Reject such amusements as are generally _associated with evil_.--If
the influences which surround any practice are bad, you may justly
conclude that it is unsafe, without stopping to inquire into the nature
of the practice itself. Games of chance are associated with gambling
and dissipation; therefore, I conclude that they cannot be safely
pursued, even for amusement. Dancing, also, is associated with balls,
with late hours, high and unnatural excitement, and dissipation; it is
therefore unsafe. You may know the character of any amusement by the
company in which it is found.

X. Engage in nothing which necessarily _leads you into temptation_.--You
pray every day, (or ought to,) “lead us not into temptation.” But you
cannot offer up this prayer sincerely, and then run needlessly in the
way of temptation. And if you throw yourself in the way of it, you have
no reason to expect that God will deliver you from it.

XI. If you engage in any recreation, and return from it with a _wounded
conscience_, set it down as evil.--A clear conscience is too valuable
to be bartered for a few moments of pleasure; and if you find your
conscience accusing you for having engaged in any amusement, never
repeat the experiment.

XII. Practise no amusement which _offends your sense of propriety_.--A
delicate sense of propriety, in regard to outward deportment, is in
manners what conscience is in morals, and taste in language. It is not
any thing that we arrive at by a process of reasoning, but what the
mind as it were instinctively perceives. It resembles the sense of
taste; and by it one will notice any deviation from what is proper,
before he has time to consider wherein the impropriety consists. There
is a beauty and harmony in what is proper and right, which instantly
strikes the mind with pleasure. There is a fitness of things, and an
adaptation of one thing to another, in one’s deportment, that strikes
the beholder with sensations of pleasure, like those experienced on
beholding the harmonious and beautiful blending of the seven colors
of the rainbow. But when _propriety_ is disregarded, the impression
is similar to what we might suppose would be produced, if the colors
of the rainbow crossed each other at irregular angles, now blending
together in one, and now separating entirely, producing irregularity
and confusion. The sensation produced upon the eye would be unpleasant,
if not insufferable. Among the amusements which come under this rule
are the vulgar plays that abound in low company, especially such as
require the payment of forfeits, to be imposed by the victor. In
such cases, you know not to what mortification you may be subjected.
_Frolics_, in general, come under this head, where rude and boisterous
plays are practised, and often to a late hour of the night, when all
sense of propriety and even of courtesy is often forgotten.

XIII. Engage in nothing of _doubtful propriety_.--The apostle Paul
teaches that it is wrong to do any thing the propriety of which we
doubt; because, by doing that which we are not fully persuaded is
right, we violate our conscience. It is always best to keep on the safe
side. If you were walking near the crater of a volcano, you would not
venture on ground where there was any danger of breaking through, and
falling into the burning lake. You would keep on the ground where it
was safe and sure. And so we should do, in regard to all questions of
right and wrong. _Never venture where the ground trembles under your

XIV. Do nothing which you will _remember with regret on your dying
bed_.--It is well always to keep death in view; it has a good effect
upon our minds. The death-bed always brings with it pains and sorrows
enough. It is a sad thing to make work for repentance at such an hour.
That is an honest hour. Then we shall view things in their true light.
Ask yourself, then, before entering into any scene of amusement, how it
will appear to you when you come to look back upon it from your dying

XV. Do nothing in the midst of which you would be _afraid to meet
death_.--When preparing for a scene of pleasure, how do you know but
you may be cut down in the midst of it? Sudden death is so common
that it is folly to be in any place or condition in which we are not
prepared to meet it. Many persons have been cut down in the midst of
scenes of gayety, and the same may occur again. A man in Germany was
sitting at the gaming table. His card won a thousand ducats. The dealer
handed over the money, and inquired how he would continue the game. The
man made no reply. He was examined, and found to be a corpse! Similar
scenes have occurred in the ball-room. In the midst of the merry
dance, persons have been called suddenly out of time into eternity.
A gentleman and lady started in a sleigh, to ride some distance to a
ball, in a cold winter’s night. Some time before reaching the place,
the lady was observed to be silent. On driving up, the gentleman called
to her, but no answer was returned. A light was procured, and he
discovered, to his amazement, that he had been riding with a corpse! At
no moment of life are we exempt from sudden death. He who holds us in
his hand has a thousand ways of extinguishing our life in a moment. He
can withhold the breath which he gave; he can stop the vital pulsation
instantly; or he can break one of the thousand parts of the intricate
machinery of which our mortal bodies are composed. No skill can provide
against it. We ought not, therefore, to trust ourselves, for a single
moment, in any place or condition where we are unwilling to meet death.

XVI. Do nothing for which you will be _afraid to answer at the bar of
God_.--There every secret thing will be revealed. What was done in the
darkness will be judged in open day. “Rejoice, O young man, in thy
youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth; and walk
in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know
thou that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.” A
young man, on leaving home to enter the army, was supplied with a small
Bible, which, though a thoughtless youth, he always carried in his
pocket. On one occasion, after a battle, he took out his Bible, and
observed that there was a bullet hole in the cover. His first impulse
was, to turn over the leaves, and read the verse on which the ball
rested. It was the passage just quoted. It brought before his mind all
the scenes of mirth and sinful pleasure in which he had been engaged,
and pressed upon him the fearful truth, that for all of them he was to
be brought into judgment. It was the means of awakening him to a sense
of his condition, and led to a change of heart and life. And why should
not the same solemn impression rest upon your mind, with respect to all
scenes of pleasure, and lead you carefully to avoid whatever you would
not willingly meet at that awful tribunal?

If you apply these tests to the various amusements that are in vogue
among young people, you may readily discern what you can safely pursue,
and what you must sternly reject. It will lead you, especially, to
detect the evils of all theatrical performances, balls, cards, and
dancing parties, country frolics, and all things of a like nature.
But it will not deprive you of one innocent enjoyment. A girl, ten or
twelve years old, made a visit to a companion about her own age. Both
of them were hopefully pious. On returning home, she told her mother
she was sure Jane was a Christian. “Why do you think so, my daughter?”
inquired the mother. “O,” said the daughter, “_she plays like a
Christian_.” In her diversions she carried out Christian principles,
and manifested a Christian temper. This is the true secret of innocent
recreation; and it cuts off all kinds of amusement that cannot be
pursued in a Christian-like manner.



The apostle James says, the _tongue_ is an unruly member, and that it
is easier to control a horse or a ship, or even to tame wild beasts and
serpents, than to govern the tongue. And, though a very little member,
it is capable of doing immense mischief. He even likens it to a fire.
A very small spark, thrown into a heap of dry shavings, in a wooden
house, in a great city, will make a terrible fire. It may burn up the
whole city. So a very few words, carelessly spoken by an ungoverned
tongue, may set a whole neighborhood on fire. You cannot, therefore, be
too careful how you employ your tongue. It is of the highest importance
to your character and usefulness, that you early acquire the habit of
controlling this unruly member. For the purpose of aiding you in this,
I shall give a few simple rules.


I. _Think before you speak._--Many persons open their mouths, and set
their tongues a-going like the clapper of a wind-mill, as though the
object was, to see how many words could be uttered in a given time,
without any regard to their _quality_,--whether _sense_ or _nonsense_,
whether good, bad, or indifferent. A tongue, trained up in this way,
will never be governed, and must become a source of great mischief. But
accustom yourself, before you speak, to consider whether what you are
going to say is worth speaking, or whether it can do any mischief. If
you cultivate this habit, your mind will speedily acquire an activity,
that will enable you to make this consideration without waiting so
long before answering your companions as to be observed; and it will
impose a salutary restraint upon your loquacity; for you will find
others often taking the lead of conversation instead of yourself, by
seizing upon the pause that is made by your consideration. This will
be an advantage to you, in two ways. It will give you something better
to say, and will diminish the _quantity_. You will soon perceive that,
though you say less than some of your companions, your words have more

II. _Never allow yourself to talk nonsense._--The habit of careless,
nonsensical talking, is greatly averse to the government of the tongue.
It accustoms it to speak at random, without regard to consequences.
It often leads to the utterance of what is not strictly true, and thus
insensibly diminishes the regard for truth. It hardens the heart, and
cherishes a trifling, careless spirit. Moreover, if you indulge this
habit, your conversation will soon become silly and insipid.

III. _Do not allow yourself in the habit of_ JOKING _with your
companions._--This tends to cultivate severe sarcasm, which is a bad
habit of the tongue. And, if you indulge it, your strokes will be too
keen for your companions to bear; and you will lose their friendship.

IV. _Always speak the truth._--There is no evil habit, which the
tongue can acquire, more wicked and mischievous than that of speaking
falsehood. It is in itself very wicked; but it is not more wicked than
mischievous. If all were liars, there could be no happiness; because
all confidence would be destroyed, and no one would trust another. It
is very offensive to God, who is a _God of truth_, and who has declared
that all liars shall have their part in the lake that burns with fire
and brimstone. It is a great affront and injury to the person that is
deceived by it. Many young persons think nothing of deceiving their
companions, in sport; but they will find that the habit of speaking
what is not true, even in sport, besides being intrinsically wrong,
will so accustom them to the utterance of falsehood, that they will
soon lose that dread of a lie which used to fortify them against it.
The habit of exaggeration, too, is a great enemy to truth. Where this
is indulged, the practice of uttering falsehood, without thought or
consideration, will steal on insensibly. It is necessary, therefore, in
detailing circumstances, to state them accurately, precisely as they
occurred, in order to cultivate the habit of truth-telling. Be very
particular on this head. Do not allow yourself so little an inaccuracy,
even, as to say you laid a book on the table, when you put it on the
mantel, or on the window-seat. In relating a story, it is not necessary
that you should state every minute particular, but that what you do
state should be exactly and circumstantially true. If you acquire this
habit of accuracy, it will not only guard you against the indulgence of
falsehood, but it will raise your character for truth. When people come
to learn that they can depend upon the critical accuracy of whatever
you say, it will greatly increase their confidence in you. But if you
grow up with the habit of speaking falsehood, there will be very little
hope of your reformation, as long as you live. The character that has
acquired an habitual disregard of truth is most thoroughly vitiated.
This one habit, if indulged and cherished, and carried with you from
childhood to youth, and from youth upwards, will prove your ruin.

V. Remember that _all truth is not to be spoken at all times_.--The
habit of uttering all that you know, at random, without regard to times
and circumstances, is productive of great mischief. If you accustom
your tongue to this habit, it will lead you into great difficulties.
There are many of our own thoughts, and many facts that come to our
knowledge, that prudence would require us to keep in our own bosom,
because the utterance of them would do mischief.

VI. _Never, if you can possibly avoid it, speak any thing to the
disadvantage of another._--The claims of justice or friendship may
sometimes require you to speak what you know against others. You may
be called to testify against their evil conduct in school, or before a
court of justice; or you may be called to warn a friend against an evil
or designing person. But, where no such motive exists, it is far better
to leave them to the judgment of others and of God, and say nothing
against them yourself.

VII. _Keep your tongue from tale-bearing._--There is much said in
the Scriptures against tattling. “Thou shalt not go up and down as
a tale-bearer, among the children of thy people.” “A tale-bearer
revealeth secrets.” “Where no wood is, the fire goeth out; and where
there is no tale-bearer, the strife ceaseth.” Young people are apt to
imbibe a taste for neighborhood gossip, and to delight in possessing
family secrets, and in repeating personal matters, neighborhood
scandal, &c. But the habit is a bad one. It depraves the taste and
vitiates the character, and often is the means of forming for life the
vicious habit of tale-bearing. And tale-bearers, besides the great
mischief they do, are always despised, as mean, mischievous, and
contemptible characters.

If you will attentively observe and follow the foregoing rules, you
will acquire such a habit of governing the tongue, that it will be an
easy matter; and it will give dignity and value to your character, and
make you beloved and esteemed, as worthy the confidence of all.



There is, perhaps, no accomplishment which will add so much to your
character and influence, as the art of conversing agreeably and well.
To do this, however, requires a cultivated mind, richly stored with
a variety of useful information; a good taste; a delicate sense of
propriety; a good use of language; and an easy and fluent expression.

The most of these requisites can be acquired; and the rest, if
naturally deficient, can be greatly improved. An easy, fluent
expression is sometimes a natural talent; but, when not joined with
a good understanding and a cultivated mind, it degenerates into mere
loquacity. But, in order to be prepared to converse well, you must not
only have your mind _well stored_, but its contents, if I may so speak,
_well arranged_; so that you can at any time call forth its resources,
upon any subject, when they are needed.

One of the principal difficulties, in the way of conversing well, is
a hesitancy of speech--a difficulty of expressing one’s ideas with
ease and grace. This may arise from various causes. It may proceed
from affectation--a desire to speak in fine, showy style. This will
invariably defeat its object. You can never appear, in the eyes of
intelligent and well-bred people, to be what you are not. The more
simple and unaffected your style is, provided it be pure and chaste,
the better you will appear. Affectation will only make you ridiculous.
But the same difficulty may arise from diffidence, which leads to
embarrassment; and embarrassment clouds the memory, and produces
confusion of mind and hesitancy of speech. This must be overcome by
degrees, by cultivating self-possession, and frequenting good society.
The same difficulty may, likewise, arise from the want of a sufficient
command of language to express one’s ideas with ease and fluency. This
is to be obtained by writing; by reading the most pure and classic
authors, such as Addison’s Spectator; and by observing the conversation
of well-educated people. In order to have a good supply of well-chosen
words at ready command, Mr. Whelpley recommends selecting from a
dictionary several hundred words, such as are in most common use, and
required especially in ordinary conversation, writing them down,
and committing them to memory, so as to have them as familiar as the
letters of the alphabet. A professional gentleman informs me, that he
has overcome this difficulty by reading a well-written story till it
becomes trite and uninteresting, and then frequently reading it aloud,
without any regard to the story, but only to the language, in order to
accustom the organs of speech to an easy flow of words. I have no doubt
that such experiments as these would be successful in giving a freedom
and ease of expression, which is often greatly impeded for want of just
the word that is needed at a given time.

There is no species of information but may be available to improve and
enrich the conversation, and make it interesting to the various classes
of people. As an example of this, a clergyman recently informed me
that a rich man, who is engaged extensively in the iron business, but
who is very irreligious, put up with him for the night. The minister,
knowing the character of his guest, directed his conversation to
those subjects in which he supposed him to be chiefly interested. He
exhibited specimens of iron ore, of which he possessed a variety;
explained their different qualities; spoke of the various modes of
manufacturing it; explained the process of manufacturing steel, &c.;
interspersing his conversation with occasional serious reflections on
the wisdom and goodness of God, in providing so abundantly the metals
most necessary for the common purposes of life, and thus leading the
man’s mind “from Nature up to Nature’s God.” The man entered readily
into the conversation, appeared deeply interested, and afterwards
expressed his great admiration of the minister. The man was prejudiced
against ministers. This conversation may so far remove his prejudices
as to open his ear to the truth. But all this the minister was enabled
to do, by acquainting himself with a branch of knowledge which many
would suppose to be of no use to a minister. By conversing freely with
all sorts of people upon that which chiefly interests them, you may
not only secure their good-will, but greatly increase you own stock
of knowledge. There is no one so ignorant but he may, in this way,
add something to your general information; and you may improve the
opportunity it gives to impart useful information, without seeming to
do it.


I. Avoid _affectation_.--Instead of making you appear to better
advantage, it will only expose you to ridicule.

II. Avoid _low expressions_.--There is a dialect peculiar to low
people, which you cannot imitate without appearing as if you were
yourself low-bred.

III. Avoid _provincialisms_.--There are certain expressions peculiar to
particular sections of the country. For example, in New England, many
people are in the habit of interlarding their conversation with the
phrase, “_You see_.” In Pennsylvania and New York, the same use is made
of “_You know_.” And in the West and South, phrases peculiar to those
sections of the country are still more common and ludicrous. Avoid all
these expressions, and strive after a pure, chaste, and simple style.

IV. Avoid all _ungrammatical_ expressions.

V. Avoid _unmeaning exclamations_, as, “O my!” “O mercy!” &c.

VI. Never speak unless you have _something to say_.--“A word fitly
spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.”

VII. Avoid _prolixity_.--Make your language concise and perspicuous,
and strive not to prolong your speech beyond what is necessary,
remembering that others wish to speak as well as yourself. Be sparing
of anecdote; and only resort to it when you have a good illustration
of some subject before the company, or when you have a piece of
information of general interest. To tell a story well, is a great art.
To be tedious and prolix in story-telling, is insufferable. To avoid
this, do not attempt to relate every minute particular; but seize
upon the grand points. Take the following specimen of the relation of
the same incident by two different persons:--“You see, I got up this
morning, and dressed myself, and came down stairs, and opened the
front door; and O, if it didn’t look beautiful! For, you see, the sun
shone on the dew,--the dew, you know, that hangs in great drops on the
grass in the morning. Well, as the sun shone on the dewdrops, it was
all sparkling, like so many diamonds; and it looked so inviting, you
see, I thought I must have a walk. So, you see, I went out into the
street, and got over the fence,--the fence, you know, the back side of
the barn. Well, I got over it, and walked into the grove, and there
I heard the blue jay, and cock-robin, and ever so many pretty birds,
singing so sweetly. I went along the foot-path to a place where there
is a stump,--the great stump, you know, James, by the side of the path.
Well, there,--O, my!--what should I see, but a gray squirrel running up
a tree!”

How much better the following:--“Early this morning, just as the sun
was peeping over the hill, and the green grass was all over sparkling
with diamonds, as the sun shone upon the dewdrops, I had a delightful
walk in the grove, listening to the sweet music of the birds, and
watching the motions of a beautiful gray squirrel, running up a tree,
and hopping nimbly from branch to branch.” Here is the story, better
told, in less than half the words.

Never specify any particulars which would readily be understood
without. In the relation of this incident, all the circumstances
detailed in the first specimen, previous to entering the grove, are
superfluous; for if you were in the grove early in the morning, you
could not get there without getting out of your bed, dressing yourself,
opening the door, going into the street, and getting over the fence.
The moment you speak of being in the grove early in the morning,
the mind of the hearer supplies all these preliminaries; and your
specifying them only excites his impatience to get at the point of your
story. Be careful, also, that you never relate the same anecdote the
second time to the same company; neither set up a laugh at your own

VIII. Never interrupt others while they are speaking. Quietly wait
till they have finished what they have to say, before you reply. To
interrupt others in conversation is very unmannerly.

IX. You will sometimes meet with very talkative persons, who are not
disposed to give you a fair chance. _Let them talk on._ They will be
better pleased, and you will save your words and your feelings.

X. Avoid, as much as possible, _speaking of yourself_.--When we meet a
person who is always saying _I_, telling what he has done, and how he
does things, the impression it gives us of him is unpleasant. We say,
“He thinks he knows every thing, and can teach every body. He is great
in his own eyes. He thinks more of himself than of every body else.”
True politeness leads us to keep ourselves out of view, and show an
interest in other people’s affairs.

XI. Endeavor to make your conversation _useful_.--Introduce some
subject which will be profitable to the company you are in. You feel
dissatisfied when you retire from company where nothing useful has been
said. But there is no amusement more interesting, to a sensible person,
than intelligent conversation upon elevated subjects. It leaves a happy
impression upon the mind. You can retire from it, and lay your head
upon your pillow with a quiet conscience.



The inhabitants of New England have the reputation of being inquisitive
to a fault; and perhaps with some justice. This disposition grows out
of a good trait of character, carried to an extreme. It comes from
a desire after knowledge. But this desire becomes excessive, when
exercised with reference to matters which it does not concern us to
know. When it leads us to pry into the concerns of others, from a mere
vain curiosity, it becomes a vice. There are some people who can never
be satisfied, till they _see the inside of every thing_. They must
know the why and the wherefore of every thing they meet with. I have
heard an amusing anecdote of this sort. There was a man who had lost
his nose. A _Yankee_, seeing him, desired to know how so strange a
thing had happened. After enduring his importunity for some time, the
man declared he would tell him, if he would promise to ask him no more
questions; to which the other agreed. “Well,” said the man, “_it_ _was
bit off_.” “Ah,” replied the Yankee, “_I wish I knew who bit it off!_”
This is a fair specimen of the morbid appetite created by excessive

When inquisitiveness goes no farther than a strong desire to obtain
useful information, and to inquire into the reason of things, or when
it desires information concerning the affairs of others from benevolent
sympathy, then it is a valuable trait of character. But when the object
is to gratify an idle curiosity, it is annoying to others, and often
leads the person who indulges it into serious difficulty. And the more
it is indulged, the more it craves. If you gratify this disposition
till it grows into a habit, you will find it very difficult to control.
You will never be able to let any thing alone. You will want to look
into every drawer in the house; to open every bundle that you see;
and never be satisfied till you have seen the inside of every thing.
This will lead you into temptation. It can hardly be supposed that
one who is so anxious to _see_ every thing should have no desire to
_possess_ the things that are seen. Thus, what began in curiosity
may end in coveting and thieving. But if it does not lead you so far
astray as this, it will bring you into serious difficulty with your
parents, or your friends whose guest you are; for they will not be
satisfied to have their drawers tumbled, packages opened, and every
nice article fingered. This disposition, too, will lead you to inquire
into the secrets of your friends; and this will furnish a temptation
to tattling. What you have been at such pains to obtain, you will find
it difficult to keep to yourself. You will want to share the rare
enjoyment with others. And when the story comes round to your friend or
companion, whose confidence you have betrayed, you will, to your great
chagrin and mortification, be discarded. A delicate sense of propriety
will lead you to avoid prying too closely into the affairs of others.
You will never do it from mere curiosity. But if any of your friends
so far make you a confidant as to lead you to suppose that they need
your sympathy or aid, you may, in a delicate manner, inquire farther,
in order to ascertain what aid you can render. You may, also, make some
general inquiries of strangers, in order to show an interest in their
affairs. But beyond this, you cannot safely indulge this disposition.



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

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

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

Reuben is the opposite of this. He wishes to please every body,
and therefore has not courage to say _no_ to any. He seems wholly
unable to resist temptation. He is, therefore, always getting into
difficulty,--always doing something that he ought not, or going to some
improper place, or engaging in some improper diversions, through the
enticement of his companions. His parents scarcely dare trust him out
of their sight, they are so fearful that he will be led astray. He is
thus a source of great anxiety to them, and all because he cannot say

Now, let me beg of you to learn to say NO. If you find any difficulty
in uttering it,--if your tongue won’t do its office, or if you find
a “_frog in your throat_,” which obstructs your utterance,--go by
yourself, and practise _saying_ no, NO, NO! till you can articulate
clearly, distinctly, and without hesitation; and have it always ready
on your tongue’s end, to utter with emphasis to every girl or boy,
man or woman, or evil spirit, that presumes to propose to you to do
any thing that is wrong. Only be careful to say it respectfully and
courteously, with the usual _prefixes_ and _suffixes_, which properly
belong to the persons to whom you are speaking.



Can you find any thing, in all the works of Nature, which is not made
for some use? The cow gives milk, the ox labors in the field, the sheep
furnishes wool for clothing, and all of them provide us with meat. The
horse and the dog are the servants of man. Every animal,--every little
insect,--has its place, and its work to perform, carrying out the great
design of its Creator. And so it is with the inanimate creation. The
earth yields its products for the use of man and beast; and the sun,
and the air, and the clouds, (each in turn,) help forward the work.
And to how many thousand uses do we put the noble, stately tree! It
furnishes houses for us to live in, furniture for our convenience, fuel
to make us warm, ships to sail in, and to bring us the productions of
other lands. It yields us fruit for food, and to gratify our taste. And
so you may go through all the variety of animal and vegetable life, and
you will find every thing designed for some use. And, though there may
be some things of the use of which you are ignorant, yet you will find
every thing made with such evidence of design, that you cannot help
thinking it must have been intended for some use.

Now, if every thing in creation is designed for some use, surely you
ought not to think of being useless, or of living for nothing. God made
you to be useful; and, to answer the end of your being, you must begin
early to learn to be useful. “But how can I be useful?” you may ask.
“I wish to be useful. I am anxious to be qualified to fill some useful
station in life,--to be a missionary or a teacher, or in some other way
to do good. But I do not see what good I can do now.” Though you may
not say this in so many words, yet I have no doubt that such thoughts
may often have passed through your mind. Many people long to be useful,
as they suppose, but think they must be in some other situation, to
afford them the opportunity. This is a great mistake. God, who made all
creatures, has put every one in the right place. In the place where God
has put you, there you may find some useful thing to do. Do you ask me
what useful thing you can do? You may find a hundred opportunities for
doing good, and being useful, every day, if you watch for them. You
can be useful in assisting your mother; you can be useful in helping
your brothers and sisters; you can be useful in school, by supporting
the authority of your teacher, and by being kind and helpful to your
playmates. If you make it the great aim of your life to be useful, you
will never lack opportunities.

I have seen young persons, who would take great delight in mere play or
amusement; but the moment they were directed to do any thing useful,
they would be displeased. Now, I do not object to amusement, in its
proper place; for a suitable degree of amusement is useful to the
health. But pleasure alone is a small object to live for; and if you
attempt to live only to be amused, you will soon run the whole round
of pleasure, and become tired of it all. But if you make it your great
object to be useful, and seek your chief pleasure therein, you will
engage in occasional amusement with a double relish. No one can be
happy who is not useful. Pleasure soon satiates. One amusement soon
_grows gray_, and another is sought; till, at length, they all become
tasteless and insipid.

Let it be your object, then, every day of your life, to be useful
to yourself and others. In the morning, ask yourself, “What useful
things can I do to-day? What can I do that will be a lasting benefit
to myself? How can I make myself useful in the family? What can I do
for my father or mother? What for my brothers or sisters? And what
disinterested act can I perform for the benefit of those who have no
claim upon me?” Thus you will cultivate useful habits and benevolent
feelings. And you will find a rich return into your own bosom. By
making yourself useful to every body, you will find every one making
a return of your kindness. You will secure their friendship and good
will, as well as their bounty. You will find it, then, both for your
interest and happiness to BE USEFUL.



The true secret of happiness is, to be contented. “Godliness,” says
the apostle Paul, “_with contentment_, is great gain.” These two are
_great gain_, because, without them, all the gain in the world will not
make us happy. Young people are apt to think, if they had this thing or
that, or if they were in such and such circumstances, different from
their own, they would be happy. Sometimes they think, if their parents
were only rich, they should enjoy themselves. But rich people are often
more anxious to increase their riches than poor people are to be rich;
and the more their artificial wants are gratified, the more they are
increased. “The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled
with hearing.” Solomon was a great king, so rich that he was able to
get whatever his heart desired. He built great palaces for himself; he
filled them with servants; he treasured up gold and silver; he bought
gardens, and vineyards, and fields; he bought herds of cattle, with
horses and carriages; he kept men and women singers, and players on
all sorts of instruments; whatever his eyes desired he kept not from
them; he withheld not his heart from any joy; but with it all he was
not satisfied. He called it all “vanity and vexation of spirit.” So you
may set your heart at rest, that riches will not make you happy. Nor
would you be any more happy, if you could exchange places with some
other persons, who seem to you to have many more means of enjoyment
than yourself. With these things that dazzle your eyes, they have also
their trials; and if you take their place, you must take the bitter
with the sweet.

But young people sometimes think, if they were only men and women, and
could manage for themselves, and have none to control them, then they
would certainly be happy, for they could do as they please. But in this
they are greatly mistaken. There will then be a great increase of care
and labor; and they will find it more difficult to _do as they please_
than they do now. If they have none to control them, they will have
none to provide for them. True, they may then manage for themselves;
but they will also have to support themselves. Those who have lived the
longest, generally consider youth the happiest period of life, because
it is comparatively free from trouble and care, and there is more time
for pleasure and amusement.

But there is one lesson, which, if you will learn it in youth, will
make you happy all your days. It is the lesson which Paul had learned.
You know that he suffered great hardships in travelling on foot, in
various countries, to preach the gospel. He was often persecuted,
reviled, defamed, beaten, and imprisoned. Yet he says, “_I have learned
in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content._” There are several
things which should teach us this lesson. In the first place, God, in
his holy providence, has placed us in the condition where we are. He
knows what is best for us, and what will best serve the end for which
he made us; and of all other situations, he has chosen for us the one
that we now occupy. Who could choose so well as he? And then, what can
we gain by fretting about it, and worrying ourselves for what we cannot
help? We only make ourselves unhappy. Moreover, it is very ungrateful
and wicked to complain of our lot, since God has given us more and
better than we deserve. It is better to look about us, and see how many
things we have to be thankful for; to look upon _what we have_, rather
than _what we have not_. This does not, indeed, forbid our seeking to
improve our condition, provided we do it with submission to the will
of God. We ought to use all fair and lawful means to this end; but not
in such a spirit of discontent and repining, as will make us miserable
if we are disappointed. If you desire to be happy, then, BE CONTENTED.



It is a mistake often made by young people, to associate religion
with a downcast look, a sad countenance, and an aching heart. Perhaps
the mistakes of some good people, in putting on a grave and severe
aspect, approaching even to moroseness, may have given some occasion
for this sentiment. I do not know, indeed, how prevalent the sentiment
is among the young. I can hardly think it is common with those who
are religiously educated. As for myself, I well remember that, in
my childhood, I thought true Christians must be the happiest people
in the world. There is no doubt, however, that many pleasure-loving
young people do look upon religion with that peculiar kind of dread
which they feel of the presence of a grave, severe maiden aunt, which
would spoil all their pleasure. And, I do not deny, that there are
certain kinds of pleasure which religion spoils; but then it first
removes the taste and desire for them, after which the spoliation is
nothing to be lamented. It is true, also, that there are some things in
religion which are painful. Repentance for sin is a painful exercise;
self-denial is painful; the resistance of temptation is sometimes
trying; and the subduing of evil dispositions is a difficult work.
But, to endure whatever of suffering there is in these things, is a
saving in the end. It is less painful than the tortures of a guilty
conscience, the gnawings of remorse, and the fear of hell. It is easier
to be endured than the consequences of neglecting religion. If you get
a sliver in your finger, it is easier to bear the pain of having it
removed, than it is to carry it about with you. If you have a decayed
tooth, it is easier to have it extracted than to bear the toothache. So
it is easier to repent of sin than to bear remorse and fear. And the
labor of resisting temptation, and of restraining and subduing evil
dispositions, is not so great an interference with one’s happiness as
it is to carry about a guilty conscience.

There is, however, nothing in true piety inconsistent with habitual
cheerfulness. There is a difference between cheerfulness and levity.
Cheerfulness is serene and peaceful. Levity is light and trifling. The
former promotes evenness of temper and equanimity of enjoyment; the
latter drowns sorrow and pain for a short time, only to have it return
again with redoubled power.

The Christian hope, and the promises and consolations of God’s word,
furnish the only true ground of cheerfulness. Who should be cheerful
and happy, if not one who is delivered from the terrors of hell and the
fear of death,--who is raised to the dignity of a child of God,--who
has the hope of eternal life--the prospect of dwelling forever in the
presence of God, in the society of the blessed, and in the enjoyment
of perfect felicity? But no one would associate these things with that
peculiar kind of mirth, which is the delight of the pleasure-loving
world. Your sense of propriety recoils from the idea of associating
things of such high import with rudeness, frolicking, and mirth. Yet
there is an innocent gayety of spirits, arising from natural vivacity,
especially in the period of childhood and youth, the indulgence of
which, within proper bounds, religion does not forbid.

There is a happy medium between a settled, severe gravity and gloom,
and frivolity, levity, and mirth, which young Christians should strive
to cultivate. If you give unbounded license to a mirthful spirit,
and indulge freely in all manner of levity, frivolity, and foolish
jesting, you cannot maintain that devout state of heart which is
essential to true piety. On the other hand, if you studiously repress
the natural vivacity of youthful feeling, and cultivate a romantic kind
of melancholy, or a severe gravity, you will destroy the elasticity
of your spirits, injure your health, and very likely become peevish
and irritable, and of a sour, morose temper; and this will be quite
as injurious to true religious feeling as the other. The true medium
is, to unite serious piety with habitual cheerfulness. Always bring
Christian motives to bear upon your feelings. The gospel of Jesus
Christ has a remedy for every thing in life that is calculated to make
us gloomy and sad. It offers the pardon of sin to the penitent and
believing, the aid of grace to those that struggle against an evil
disposition, and succor and help against temptation. It promises to
relieve the believer from fear, and afford consolation in affliction.
There is no reason why a true Christian should not be cheerful. There
are, indeed, many things, which he sees, within and without, that must
give him pain. But there is that in his Christian hope, and in the
considerations brought to his mind from the Word of God, which is able
to bear him high above them all.

Let me, then, earnestly recommend you to cultivate a serious but
cheerful piety. Let your religion be neither of that spurious kind
which expends itself in sighs, and tears, and gloomy feelings, nor that
which makes you insensible to all feeling. But while you are alive to
your own sins and imperfections, exercising godly sorrow for them,
and while you feel a deep and earnest sympathy for those who have no
interest in Christ, let your faith in the atoning blood of Jesus, and
your confidence in God, avail to keep you from sinking into melancholy
and gloom, and make you cheerful and happy, while you rest in God.

And now, gentle reader, after this long conversation, I must take leave
of you, commending you to God, with the prayer that my book may be
useful to you, in the formation of a well-balanced Christian character;
and that, after you and I shall have done the errand for which the Lord
sent us into the world, we may meet in heaven. GOD BLESS YOU!

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber’s note:

 --Punctuation and spelling inaccuracies were silently corrected.

 --Archaic and variable spelling has been preserved.

 --Variations in hyphenation and compound words have been preserved.

 --The Chapter XXII title in the Table of Contents was adjusted to
   reflect the title within the contents.

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