Life and Conduct
by J. Cameron Lees
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E-text prepared by Al Haines





Toronto: William Briggs, Wesley Buildings. Montreal: C. W. Coates. Halifax: S. F. Huestis. 1896.

Entered, according to Act of the Parliament of Canada, in the year one thousand eight hundred and ninety-six, by WILLIAM BRIGGS, at the Department of Agriculture.


This book has been selected from the "Guild Series" for young people, published in Scotland, and reprinted in Canada by permission.

The wise counsels and practical suggestions with which this book abounds make it eminently suitable for the Epworth League Reading Course. We commend it to all young people who are desirous to form their character on the Christian model and to carry religious principle into the practical affairs of common life.

Some of the chapters will furnish material for interesting programmes in the Literary Department.


This hand-book has been written at the request of the Christian Life and Work Committee of the Church of Scotland as one of a series of volumes which it is at present issuing for the use of Young Men's Guilds and Bible Classes.

The object of the writer has been to show how the principles of religion may be applied to the conduct of young men, and in the practice of everyday life. In doing this he has endeavored to keep steadily in view the fact that the book is designed chiefly as a manual of instruction, and can only present the outlines of a somewhat wide subject. His language has been necessarily simple, and he has been often obliged to put his statements in an abbreviated form.

Most of the contents of this book have been drawn from a long and somewhat varied experience of life; but the author has also availed himself of the writings of others who have written books for the special benefit of young men. He has appended a list of works which he has consulted, and has endeavored to acknowledge his indebtedness for any help in the way of argument or illustration that they have afforded him.

It will be a great gratification to him to learn that the book has been in any way useful to the young men, of whose position, duties, and temptations he has thought much when writing it; and he sends it forth with the earnest prayer that the Spirit of God may bless his endeavors to be of service to those whose interests he, in common with his brethren in the ministry, regards as of paramount importance.

EDINBURGH, 28th June, 1892.








Everything in the practical conduct of life depends upon character.

What is character? What do we mean by it? As when we say such a man is a bad character, or a good character, or when we use the words, "I don't like the character of that man."

By character we mean what a man really is, at the back of all his actions and his reputation and the opinion the world has of him, in the very depth of his being, in the sight of God, "to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid."

It is said of Burns, the poet, that walking along the streets of Edinburgh with a fashionable acquaintance, he saw a poorly-dressed peasant, whom he rushed up to and greeted as a familiar friend. His companion expressed his surprise that he could lower himself by speaking to one in so rustic a garb. "Fool!" said the poet, with flashing eye; "it was not the dress, the peasant's bonnet and hodden gray, I spoke to, but the man within—the man who beneath that bonnet has a head, and beneath that hodden gray a heart, better than a thousand such as yours." What the poet termed the "man within," what the Scripture calls the "hidden man of the heart," is character—the thing a man really is. Now, there are five things to be remembered about character.

I. Character is a growth.—As the man without grows, so the man within grows also—grows day by day either in beauty or in deformity. We are becoming, as the days and years pass on, what we shall be in our future earthly life, what we shall be when that life is ended. No one becomes what he is at once, whether what he is be good or bad. You may have seen in the winter-time an icicle forming under the eaves of a house. It grows, one drop at a time, until it is more than a foot long. If the water is clear, the icicle remains clear and sparkles in the sun; but if the water is muddy, the icicle looks dirty and its beauty is spoiled. So our characters are formed; one little thought or feeling at a time adds its influence. If these thoughts and feelings are pure and right, the character will be lovely and will sparkle with light; but if they are impure and evil, the character will be wretched and deformed.

Fairy tales tell us of palaces built up in a night by unseen hands, but those tales are not half so wonderful as what is going on in each of us. Day and night, summer and winter, a building is going up within us, behind the outer screen of our lives. The storeys of it are being silently fashioned: virtue is being added to faith, and to virtue is being added knowledge, and to knowledge is being added brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness charity; or meanness is being added to selfishness, and greed to meanness, and impurity, malice and hatred become courses in the building. A wretched hovel, a poor, mean, squalid structure, is rising within us; and when the screen of our outward life is taken from us, this is what we shall be.

II. Character is independent of reputation and circumstances.—A man may be held in very high esteem by the world, and yet may be a very miserable creature so far as his character is concerned. The rich man of the parable was well off and probably much thought of, but God called him a fool. Here is a man who is greatly esteemed by the public; he is regarded in every way as admirable. Follow him home, and you find him in his family a mean and sordid soul. There you have the real man. We cannot always judge a man by what he has, or by what he appears to us; for what he is may be something very different. "These uniforms," said the Duke of Wellington, "are great illusions. Strip them off, and many a pretty fellow would be a coward; when in them he passes muster with the rest." We must not confound the uniform with the man: we are often too ready to do so. To a certain extent we can form an idea what a man is from the outside. The horny hand tells of the life of labor; the deep-set brow tells of the thinker. In other words we have a right to judge a man by his habitation. If the fences are broken down, the paths are unkept, the flower-beds full of weeds, we may be pretty sure the inhabitants are idle, thriftless, perhaps intemperate. So a clear eye, a firm step, an open countenance, tell of a pure, good soul within. For example, a man of cold exterior or of formal manner may often have a warm heart under it all; a man of rough manners may have kindly feelings that he cannot express. We are often long in the company of men before we really know them, and then the discovery of what they are comes on us by surprise.

III. Character cannot be always hidden.—There are those who seem to think that they can have one set of principles for themselves and another for the outward world; that they can be in their heart one thing and in society another; that they can have one character and another reputation. They may be proud, but they can so hide their pride as to have the reputation of being humble; they can lie, but still have the reputation of always speaking the truth; they can be impure, and yet have the reputation of being virtuous. But sooner or later what they really are generally becomes manifest. Reputation and character come to be one. That which they would keep secret cannot be concealed. The mask which men would wear slips aside and discloses the face beneath it. (1) Time reveals character. As the years pass along, a man generally gets to be known for what he is. For example, if a man is a coward and enlists in the army, he may swagger about and look like a real soldier, but a time will come when the spirit of the man will show itself, and he will be set down at his real value. Or a young man in an office may act dishonestly and go on perhaps for long doing so, and thinking he is carefully concealing his frauds, but, when least expected, discovery takes place, and ruin and disgrace follow. (2) Sorrow reveals character. Nothing more truly shows what a man is than his bearing under the sorrows of life. When the flag is wrapped around the flag-staff on a calm day, when no breath of wind is moving, we cannot read the device that is upon it, but when the storm unfurls the flag, we can read it plainly enough. In the same way when the troubles of life beat upon men we can read clearly what they are. Again, when we go along the road on a summer day we often cannot see the houses that are concealed by the foliage of the trees; but in winter-time, when the trees are bare and leafless, we know what kind of houses are there, whether they are squalid cottages or grand mansions. So in the winter-time of life, when the leaves are blown away, men come out and we know what kind of character they have been building up behind the screen of their life. (3) If time and sorrow do not reveal character, eternity will. We will appear then, not as we seem, but as we are. Christ is to be our judge. Consider what a striking thing it is in the life of Christ that His searching glance seemed to go right to the heart, to the hidden motive, to the man within. "He knew what was in man." A poor woman passed by Him as He sat in the temple. She was poverty-stricken in her garb, and she stole up to the contribution-box and dropped in her offering. Christ's glance went right beyond her outward appearance, and beyond her small and almost imperceptible offering, to the motive and character. "She hath given more than they all." All sorts of people were around Him: Pharisees, with their phylacteries; Scribes, with their sceptical notions; Samaritans, with their vaunted traditions: but He always went right beyond the outward show. The Samaritan was good and kind, though he got no credit for piety; the Pharisee was corrupt and self-seeking, though he got no credit for piety; the Publican was a child of God, though no one would speak to him. Christ reversed the judgment of men on those people whom they thought they knew so well, but did not know at all. So it shall be at the last; we shall be judged by what we are.

IV. Character alone endures.—What a man has he leaves behind him; what a man is he carries with him. It is related that when Alexander the Great was dying he commanded that his hands should be left outside his shroud, that all men might see that, though conqueror of the world he could take nothing away with him. Before Saladin the Great uttered his last sigh he called the herald who had carried his banner before him in all his battles, and commanded him to fasten to the top of the spear a shroud in which he was to be buried, and to proclaim, "This is all that remains to Saladin the Great of all his glory." So men have felt in all ages that death strips them, and that they take nothing with them of what they have gained. But what we are ourselves we take with us. All that time has made us, for good or evil, goes with us. We can lay up treasures in ourselves that neither moth nor rust can corrupt, and which thieves cannot steal away. "The splendid treasures of memory, the treasures of disciplined powers, of enlarged capacities, of a pure and loving heart, all are treasures which a man can carry in him and with him into that other world."

We are but farmers of ourselves, yet may, If we can stock ourselves and thrive, uplay Much good treasure for the great rent-day.—DONNE.

"All the jewels and gold a man can collect he drops from his hand when he dies, but every good action he has done is rooted into his soul and can never leave him."—Buddhist saying.

V. The highest character a man can have is the Christian Character.—(1) Christ is the giver of a noble character. It is possible to be united to Christ as the branch is united to the tree; and when we are so, His life passes into ours: a change in character comes to us; we are renewed in the inward man, old things pass away, and all things become new. In the life of St. Paul we have a striking instance how coming to Christ effects a change in character. He became a different man from what he was; he received a new inward life; a transfiguring change passed over the entire character; the life he lived in the flesh became a life of faith in the Son of God; and his experience has been the experience of many. The source of the highest and noblest character is Christ. (2) Christ is also the standard of a noble character; the true ideal of manhood is found in Him: "the stature of the fulness of Christ." Take the following illustration: "In Holland we travel with Dutch money, in France with French money, in Germany with German money. The standard of the coinage varies with every state we go into. In Britain there is one standard of coinage; we may get some corrupted money or some light coin, but the standard of coinage is the same. The standard for the Christian is the same throughout the years and in all places: the one perpetual standard of the life of Christ." The best men are those who come the nearest to it. Those who come nearest to it are those who will do best in the practical conduct of life.



We often hear the word success used. The great wish that most have in beginning life is that they may be successful. One man constantly asks another the question regarding a third, How has he succeeded?

What is success in life? It may perhaps be defined in this way: It is to obtain the greatest amount of happiness possible to us in this world.

There are two things to be borne in mind in estimating what success is:

I. Lives which according to some are successful must in the highest sense be pronounced failures.—The idea of many is that success consists in the gaining of a livelihood, or competency, or wealth; but a man may gain these things who yet cannot be said to have succeeded. If he gets wealth at the expense of health, or if he gets it by means of trickery and dishonest practices, he can hardly be said to have succeeded. He does not get real happiness with it. If a man gains the whole world and loses his own soul, he cannot be said to have succeeded. True success in life is when a fair share of the world's good does not cost either physical or intellectual or moral well-being.

II. Lives which according to some are failures must in the highest sense be pronounced successful.—The life of our blessed Lord, from one point of view, was a failure. It was passed in poverty, it closed in darkness. We see Him crowned with thorns, buffeted, spit upon; yet never was Christ so successful as when He hung upon the cross. He had finished the work given Him to do. He "saw of the travail of His soul and was satisfied."

Milton completed his Paradise Lost and a bookseller only gave him fifteen pounds for it, yet he cannot be said to have failed.

Speak, History, who are life's victors? unroll thy long annals and say, Are they those whom the world calls victors, who won the success of the day, The martyrs or Nero? The Spartans who fell at Thermopylae's tryst Or the Persians or Xerxes? His judges or Socrates? Pilate or Christ?

What may seem defeat to some may be in the truest sense success.

There are certain things which directly tend to success in life:

The first is Industry.—There can be no success without working hard for it. There is no getting on without labor. We live in times of great competition, and if a man does not work, and work hard, he is soon jostled aside and falls into the rear. It is true now as in the days of Solomon that "the hand of the diligent maketh rich."

(a) There are some who think they can dispense with hard work because they possess great natural talents and ability—that cleverness or genius can be a substitute for diligence. Here the old fable of the hare and the tortoise applies. They both started to run a race. The hare, trusting to her natural gift of fleetness, turned aside and took a sleep; the tortoise plodded on and won the prize. Constant and well-sustained labor carries one through, where cleverness apart from this fails. History tells us that the greatest genius is most diligent in the cultivation of its powers. The cleverest men have been of great industry and unflinching perseverance. No truly eminent man was ever other than an industrious man.

(b) There are some who think that success is in the main a matter of what they call "luck," the product of circumstances over which they have little or no control. If circumstances are favorable they need not work; if they are unfavorable they need not work. So far from man being the creature of circumstances he should rather be termed the architect of circumstances. From the same materials one man builds palaces and another hovels. Bricks and mortar are mortar and bricks till the architect makes something out of them. In the same way, out of the same circumstances one man rears a stately edifice, while another, idle and incompetent, lives for ever amid ruins. Circumstances rarely conquer a strong man; he conquers them. He

Breaks his birth's invidious bar And grasps the skirts of happy chance, And breasts the blows of circumstance, And grapples with his evil star.—TENNYSON.

Against all sorts of opposing obstacles the great workers of the world fought their way to triumph. Milton wrote Paradise Lost in blindness and poverty. Luther, before he could establish the Reformation, had to encounter the prestige of a thousand years, the united power of an imperious hierarchy and the ban of the German Empire. Linnaeus, studying botany, was so poor as to be obliged to mend his shoes with folded paper and often to beg his meals of his friends. Columbus, the discoverer of America, had to besiege and importune in turn the states of Genoa, Portugal, Venice, France, England, and Spain, before he could get the control of three small vessels and 120 men. Hugh Miller, who became one of the first geological writers of his time, was apprenticed to a stonemason, and while working in the quarry, had already begun to study the stratum of red sandstone lying below one of red clay. George Stephenson, the inventor of the locomotive engine, was a common collier working in the mines. James Watt, the inventor of the steam-engine, was a poor sickly child not strong enough to go to school. John Calvin, who gave a theology to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, which has not yet been outgrown, was tortured with disease all his days. When were circumstances favorable to any great or good attempt, except as they were compelled by determination and industry to become favorable?

(c) Even if circumstances seem in every way favorable, industry is necessary to success. Though we be born, as the saying is, "with a silver spoon in our mouth," we cannot afford to dispense with work. Unless we are hard-working, life will become a weariness to us. Work keeps life full and happy; it drives all diseased fancies out of the mind; it gives balance and regularity to all movements of the soul.

If then we expect to succeed in life we must make up our mind to work hard. We must not let it be our notion of a fine lady or gentleman to do nothing. The idle life is a miserable life; it is bound to be so. God has promised many a blessing to industry; He has promised none to indolence. God himself works, and He wants His children to work.

The second thing that tends directly to success in life is a distinct Aim.—A man may run very hard in a race, the perspiration may stream from his brow and every muscle be strained, but if he is not running in a right direction, if he is running away from the goal, all his activity will not help him. So, industrious habits are not sufficient, unless we have a distinct idea of what we are aiming at. The world is full of purposeless people, and such people come to nothing. Those who have succeeded best have chosen their line and stuck to it.

One great aim, like a guiding-star above, Which tasked strength, wisdom, stateliness, to lift Their manhood to the height that takes the prize. BROWNING.

(a) The choice of a trade or profession is of enormous importance in settling our aim in life. Men often fail from having adopted a calling for which they are entirely unfitted. The round man in the square hole is a pitiful spectacle. It is difficult to lay down any special rule in regard to the choice of a profession or business. Some are obliged to take whatever opportunity offers, and others have to begin work at too early an age to permit them to form a true idea of what they are best fitted for, and are obliged to follow the wishes of others rather than their own. This only we can say, that so far as we have a choice we should adopt the calling that is most congenial to us and suits our inclinations. "Grasp the handle of your being" was the direction given by a wise counsellor to one who sought advice as to what calling he should follow. Everyone has certain aptitudes, and as far as he is able should keep them in view. There is often a distinct indication at a very early period of life for what we are best fitted. "The tastes of the boy foreshadow the occupations of the man. Ferguson's clock carved out of wood and supplied with rudest mechanism; Faraday's tiny electric machine made from a common bottle; Claude Lorraine's pictures in flour and charcoal on the walls of the bakers' shops; Canova's modelling of small images in clay; Chantrey's carving of his school-master's head in a bit of pine wood,—were all indications clear and strong of the future man."

(b) Whatever you resolve upon, keep to it. "One thing I do," is a great rule to follow. It is much better to do one thing well than many things indifferently. It may be well to have "many strings to our bow," but it is better to have a bow and string that will every time send the arrow to the target. A rolling stone gathers no moss. He that is everything by turns and nothing long comes to nothing in the end.

If thou canst plan a noble deed And never flag till it succeed, Though in the strife thy heart should bleed, Whatever obstacles contend, Thine hour will come, go on, thou soul! Thou'lt win the prize, thou'lt reach the goal. CHAS. MACKAY.

(c) The higher our purpose is, the greater our attainment is likely to be. The nobler our ideal, the nobler our success. It seems paradoxical to say it, but it is true, that no one ever reached a goal without starting from it; no one ever won a victory without beginning the battle with it; no one ever succeeded in any work without first finishing it in his own mind.

Pitch thy behavior low, thy projects high, So shalt thou humble and magnanimous be. Sink not in spirit; who aimeth at the sky Shoots higher much than he who means a tree. G. HERBERT.

When we go forward to life we should make up our mind what we intend to make of life. Make up your mind after prayer to God, and work for that.

The third essential to success in life is Moral Character, in its various elements of honesty, truthfulness, steadiness, temperance. "Honesty is the best policy" is one of those worldly maxims that express the experience of mankind. A small leak will sink a great ship. One bad string in a harp will turn its music into discord. Any flaw in moral character will sooner or later bring disaster. The most hopeless wrecks that toss on the broken waters of society are men who have failed from want of moral character. There are thousands of such from whom much was expected but from whom nothing came. It is told of a distinguished professor at Cambridge that he kept photographs of his students. He divided them into two lots. One he called his basket of adled eggs: they were the portraits of men who had failed, who had come to nothing though they promised much. What brought most of them to grief was want of character, of moral backbone. Some of them—a good many of them—went to drink, others to love of pleasure, others to the bad in other ways. Good principle counts for more than can be expressed; it is essential. Many things may hinder a man from getting on—slowness, idleness, want of ability, trifling, want of interest in his vocation. Many of these faults may be borne with long by others, and may be battled with earnestly by ourselves; but a flaw in character is deadly. To be unsteady, dishonest, or untruthful is fatal. Before God and man an unfaithful servant is worthless. We may have other qualifications that go to command success, such as those we have noticed,—industry and a distinct aim,—but want of principle will render them useless. Slow and sure often go together. The slow train is often the safest to travel by, but woe be to it and to us if we do not keep upon the rails.

The last essential to success in life is Religious Hopefulness.—(a) Our industry, our purpose, our principles may be all they ought to be, yet the "race is not always to the swift nor the battle to the strong." But when we find the race going from us and the battle going against us, if we have trust in God and the hopefulness that comes from religion, we will find heart to try again: we will not be utterly cast down. Christian faith keeps men in good heart amid many discouragements. (b) Even if a man or woman become rich or clever and have life pleasant around them, they cannot feel at the close of life that they have succeeded if the future is dark before them. When Cardinal Wolsey, who had been the favorite of the king and had long held the government of England in his hand, fell from power, he said, "If I had served my God as truly as I served my king He would not have forsaken me in my gray hairs." The world is a poor comforter at the last. No man or woman has become successful until their essential happiness is placed beyond the reach of all outward fluctuation and change. Faith in Christ, the faith that penetrates the future and brings down from heaven a bright and blessed hopefulness, which casts its illumination over the present scene and reveals the grand object of existence, is essential to true success.

We cannot sum up the teachings of this chapter better than in the words of a poem of which we should try to catch the spirit: they express the very philosophy of success in life:

Courage, brother! do not stumble, Though thy path be dark as night; There's a star to guide the humble;— Trust in God, and do the right.

Let the road be rough and dreary, And its end far out of sight, Foot it bravely! strong or weary, Trust in God, and do the right.

Perish policy and cunning, Perish all that fears the light! Whether losing, whether winning, Trust in God, and do the right.

Trust no party, sect, or faction; Trust no leaders in the fight; But in every word and action Trust in God, and do the right.

Trust no lovely forms of passion,— Fiends may look like angels bright: Trust no custom, school, or fashion— Trust in God, and do the right.

Simple rule, and safest guiding, Inward peace and inward might, Star upon our path abiding,— Trust in God, and do the right.

Some will hate thee, some will love thee, Some will flatter, some will slight: Cease from man, and look above thee,— Trust in God, and do the right. NORMAN M'LEOD.

That is the way to succeed in life.



We are all of us in close relations to one another. We are bound together in numberless ways. As members of the same family, as members of the same community, as members of the same Church—we are bound so closely together that what any one of us does is certain to tell upon others. It is out of this close connection with others that influence comes. Just as one man in a crowd sends by his movements a certain impulse throughout the whole, just as the stone thrown into a pond causes waves that move far away from where the stone fell and that reach in faint ripples to the distant shore, so our very existence exercises influence beyond our knowledge and beyond our calculation.

Influence is of two kinds, Direct and Indirect—Conscious and Unconscious,—The first is influence we deliberately put forth, as when we meet a man and argue with him, as when the orator addresses the multitude, or the politician seeks to gain their suffrages. The second is the influence which radiates from us, whether we will it or not, as fire burning warms a room, or icebergs floating down from the frozen north change the temperature where they come. There is a passage in Scripture where both kinds of influence are illustrated. "Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend. As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man." The first part of the proverb refers to direct influence: as "iron sharpeneth iron," so one man applying to another his powers of persuasion, his motives in the shape of money or some other inducement, moulds, fashions, sharpens him to his liking. "As in water face answereth to face:" this is the silent influence which we have on others. There is no conscious exercise of power, there is no deliberate putting forth of strength, there is no noise as of iron against iron; but as our shadow is silently reflected in the still water, so our life and character silently reflect themselves in others, and other hearts answer to the feelings that sway our own.

I. Direct or conscious influence.—In regard to this everyone must choose his own line of action. Everyone has his own special gift, and everyone has his own special opportunities. There are, however, certain lines of direct influence that may be indicated, and which lie open to all.

(a) Keeping others in the right path. We constantly meet with people who are evidently taking a wrong road; it is our duty to try and show them the right one, and to persuade them to walk in it. We see men taking up with evil habits, evil companions, or evil opinions; we are bound to remonstrate with them and endeavor to warn them timeously. This of course needs to be wisely done, and after prayer to God to guide us rightly; but we ought to do it. "A word spoken in due season how good is it." Such a word has often been blessed and made effectual, and we should not shrink from speaking it. The right time for speaking it should be chosen, but it should not be left by us unsaid. When Paley the great moralist was a student at Cambridge he wasted his time in idleness and frivolity, and was the butt of his fellow-students. One of them, however, took courage to remonstrate with him, and did so with good effect. One morning he came to his bedside and said to him earnestly, "Paley, I have not been able to sleep for thinking about you. I have been thinking what a fool you are! I have the means of dissipation, and could afford to be idle; you are poor and cannot afford it. I could do nothing probably even if I were to try; you are capable of doing anything. I have lain awake all night thinking about your folly, and I have now come solemnly to warn you. Indeed, if you persist in your indolence and go on in this way, I must renounce your society altogether." The words took effect. Paley became a changed man, and his after success sprang from his friend's warning. This incident illustrates what may be the influence in this form of one man upon another.

(b) Bearing testimony against evil. This is another line of direct influence open to all. It is a precept of the book of Leviticus, "If a soul sin, and hear the voice of swearing, and is a witness, whether he hath seen or known of it; if he do not utter it, then he shall bear his iniquity." If he does not give evidence against evil, even to his own hurt he sins. We are bound to protest against wrongdoing in any form; and our protest, if distinct and well directed, always tends to good. To be silent in certain circumstances makes us the accomplice of sin; to speak out frees us from responsibility. To be the dumb auditor of a shameful story, or to listen silently to the relation of a deed of wickedness, and not be honest and resolute in expressing our disgust and disapproval is to condone what no good man should condone. The outspoken testimony against evil is incumbent on all Christian men.

(c) Taking part in Christian and benevolent work. There are many ways, it is evident, in which we may do so individually. "The greatest works that have been done have been done by the ones." No learned society discovered America, but one man, Columbus. No parliament saved English liberties, but one man, Pym. No confederate nations rescued Scotland from her political and ecclesiastical enemies, but one man, Knox. By one man, Howard, our prisons were purified. By one woman, Miss Nightingale, our disgraceful nursing system was reformed. By one Clarkson the reproach of slavery was taken away. God in all ages has blessed individual effort, and if we are strong enough to take up any special line of benevolent and Christian work that seems open to us we should not shrink from it. We should be on the lookout for it. But many from their circumstances are not able to do so, and such can find their best opportunity by combining their own effort with the efforts of others. There are many agencies at work in every community for the helping of man, and they afford to all the opportunity of wisely using their power of influence. This is true especially of the Christian Church. It has been defined as "a society for doing good in the world." In many ways it carries on work for the benefit of others. In every Christian congregation there ought to be some work in which each of its members, however few his talents may be, can engage; and in lending a helping hand each of them may do something directly towards making society sweeter and better.

II. Indirect or unconscious influence.—There is an imperceptible personal atmosphere which surrounds every man, "an invisible belt of magnetism" which he bears with him wherever he goes. It invests him, and others quickly detect its presence. Take some of its simplest phases.

(a) Think of the influence of a look. When Christ stood in the courtyard of the palace of the High Priest over against His weak and erring disciple, whom He heard denying Him with oaths, it is said, "The Lord looked upon Peter." No more than that, and it reached right down into his heart. It touched him as nothing else could have touched him. "He went out and wept bitterly." It was said of Keble the poet that "his face was like that of an illuminated clock, beaming with the radiance of his poetry and wisdom"; and it is written of one of the most spiritually-minded of Scotchmen, Erskine of Linlathen, that "his looks were better than a thousand homilies." There was something in the very expression of his countenance that spoke to men of an inner life and of a spiritual dwelling in God.

(b) Think of the influence of a smile: the smile of welcome when we call at a friend's house; the smile of recognition when we meet him in the street; the smile of pleasure which the speaker sees in his audience; the smile of satisfaction in one to whom we have done an act of kindness. By the very expression of the countenance we can influence others, make their life more pleasant or more painful. There are those who by the sweetness of their demeanor are in a household like fragrant flowers. They are like the sweet ointment of spikenard which the woman poured upon Christ—the sweet perfume of it "filled the whole house."

(c) Think of the influence of sympathy. There are some natures that are gifted with a blessed power to bring consolation to men. It is not that they are glib of tongue or facile of speech, but somehow the very pressure of their hand is grateful to the saddened heart. The simple and kindly action, of which we think nothing, may tell powerfully on others, and unclose fountains of feeling deep down in the heart.

(d) Think of the influence of example: the simple doing of what is right, though we say nothing about it; the upright life of a father or mother in a household; the steady conduct of a soldier in his company; the stainless character of a workman among his comrades, or a boy in his school. It is bound to tell. "Example," says Dr. Smiles, "is one of the most potent instructors, though it teaches without a tongue. It is the practical school of mankind working by action, which is always more forcible than words. Precept may point to us the way, but it is a silent continuous example conveyed to us by habits, and living with us in fact, that carries us along. Good advice has its weight, but without the accompaniment of a good example it is of comparatively small influence, and it will be found that the common saying of 'Do as I say, not as I do' is usually reversed in the actual experience of life." Goodness makes good. As a man who trims his garden in a straight row and makes it beautiful will induce in time all his neighbors to follow him, or at least to be ashamed of their ragged and ill-kept plots in contrast with his own, so is it that the upright, good life of a sincere Christian man will silently tell upon others.

These are some illustrations of the power of influence unconsciously exercised, and the whole subject teaches us (1) Our responsibility. If we are ready to ask, "Am I my brother's keeper?" the answer is, you cannot help being so. It is as easy to evade the law of gravitation as the law of responsibility. A man was lately prosecuted for having waited on his customers in clothes he had worn when attending his children during an infectious complaint. It was proved that he had sown broadcast germs of the disease. It would have been no justification for him to say, What has anyone to do with the clothes I wear? It is my own business. He was a member of the community. His action was silently but surely dealing out death to others. He was punished, and justly punished. We cannot live without influencing others. We say perhaps that "we mean well," or at least we mean to do no one any harm, but is our influence harmless? It is going from us in forms as subtle as the germs of an infectious disease.

Say not, "It matters not to me, My brother's weal is his behoof," For in this wondrous human web, If your life's warp, his life is woof.

Woven together are the threads, And you and he are in one loom, For good or ill, for glad or sad, Your lives must share one common doom.

Then let the daily shuttle glide, Wound full of threads of kindly care, That life's increasing length may be Not only strongly wrought, but fair.

So from the stuff of each new day The loving hand of Time shall make Garments of joy and peace for all, And human hearts shall cease to ache. M. J. SAVAGE.

(2) The power all have to do good. There are some who think they can only serve God and man in a direct and premeditated way, by taking up some branch of Christian work and devoting themselves to it; and if they have no gift in any special direction, they think they are outside of the vineyard altogether. But it is not so. The sphere of quiet and unassuming Christian life is open to all. It is impossible to measure the extent of our influence. Its

Echoes roll from soul to soul, And grow for ever and for ever.

Like those of the Alpine horn in the solitudes of the mountains, long after the voice that caused them has ceased, they reverberate far and wide. No man lives to himself. He could not do so if he would. (3) The secret of good influence is to be influenced for good ourselves. Our lamp must be first lit if it is to shine, and we must ourselves be personally influenced by coming to the great source of spiritual power. If Christ is in a man, then, wherever he may be, there will radiate from him influences that can only be for good. Out of the life that is in him "will flow rivers of living water."

Thou must be true thyself If thou the truth wouldst teach. Thy soul must overflow if thou Another soul wouldst reach. It needs the overflowing heart To give the lips full speech. Think truly, and thy thought Shall the world's famine feed. Speak truly, and thy word Shall be a fruitful seed. Live truly, and thy life shall be A great and noble creed.



By friends we mean those whom we admit to the inner circle of our acquaintance.—All of us know many people. We are bound to do so; to meet with men of all classes, sects, beliefs, opinions. But with most of us there are a few persons who stand to us in a different relation from the rest. We are intimate with them. We take pleasure in their company; we tell them our thoughts: we speak to them of things we would not speak of to others; we confide in them, and in joy and in sorrow it is to them we go. It is of this inner circle, and of those we ought to admit to it, that we have now to speak.

Friendship has been regarded in all ages as one of the most important relationships of life.—Cicero, who dedicates an essay to it says that "it is the only thing on the importance of which mankind are agreed." It has been defined by Addison, the great English writer, as "a strong habitual inclination in two persons to promote the good and happiness of each other." It has been termed by another "the golden thread that ties the hearts of the world." "A faithful friend" has been called "the medicine of life." Ambrose, one of the Christian Fathers, says, "It is the solace of this life to have one to whom you can open your heart, and tell your secrets; to win to yourself a faithful man, who will rejoice with you in sunshine, and weep in showers. It is easy and common to say, 'I am wholly thine,' but to find it true is as rare." And Jeremy Taylor, the great preacher, calls friendship "the ease of our passions, the discharge of our oppressions, the sanctuary to our calamities, the counsellor of our doubts, the charity of our minds, the emission of our thoughts, the exercise and improvement of what we meditate." The great preachers, philosophers and poets of all time have dwelt on the importance and sweetness of friendship. The In Memoriam of Tennyson is a glorification of this relationship.

The highest of all examples of friendship is to be found in Christ.—"His behaviour in this beautiful relationship is the very mirror in which all true friendship must see and mirror itself." [1] In His life we see the blessings of companionship in good. "He loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus." He had intimate friends in His group of disciples. Peter and James and John stood to Him in this relation. They were taken by Him into scenes which the rest of the disciples did not behold. They knew a friendship with Him unenjoyed by the others. And of that inner circle there was one to whom the soul of Jesus clung with peculiar tenderness—the beloved disciple. Human friendship has been consecrated for us all by this example of Christ. He offers himself to every one of us as a friend: "Ye are my friends if ye do whatsoever I command you."

There are two things which specially show the importance of friendship:

(a) It is regarded by others as a test of our character. The worth of a man will always be rated by his companions. The proverbs of all nations show this. "A man is known by the company he keeps." "Like draws to like." "Birds of a feather flock together." If our companions are worthless, the verdict of society regarding us will be that we are worthless ourselves. This verdict may not in all cases be true, but the probability is that it will be true. If we are admitted to the friendship of men of honor, integrity and principle, people will come to believe in us. We would not, they will feel, be admitted into that society unless we were in sympathy with those who compose it. If we wish, therefore, that a good opinion should be formed regarding us by others, we need to be especially careful as to those with whom we associate closely and whom we admit to intimate friendship.

(b) Friends have a special power in moulding our character. George Herbert's saying is true, "Keep good company, and you shall be of their number." It is difficult, on the other hand, to be much with the silly and foolish without being silly and foolish also. It is the common explanation of a young man's ruin that he got among bad companions. We may go into a certain society confident that we will hold our own, and that we can come out of it as we go in; but, as a general rule, we will find ourselves mistaken. The man of the strongest individuality comes sooner or later to be affected by those with whom he is intimate. There is a subtle influence from them telling upon him that he cannot resist. He will inevitably be moulded by it. Here also the proverbs of the world point the lesson. "He who goes with the lame," says the Latin proverb, "will begin to limp." "He who herds with the wolves," says the Spanish, "will learn to howl." "Iron sharpeneth iron," says the scriptural proverb, "so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend." The rapidity of moral deterioration in an evil companionship is its most startling feature. It is appalling to see how soon an evil companionship will transform a young man, morally pure, of clean and wholesome life, into an unclean, befouled, trifling good-for-nothing. Lightning scarcely does its work of destruction quicker, or with more fell purpose.

It is difficult to give precise rules in regard to the formation of friendship. "A man that hath friends," says Solomon, "must show himself friendly." The man of a generous and sympathetic nature will have many friends, and will attract to himself companions of his own character. A few suggestions, however, founded on practical experience, may be offered for our guidance.

I. We should be (a) slow to make friendships, and (b) slow to break them when made.—(a) It is in the nature of some to take up with people very readily. Some young men are like fish that rise readily to a gaudy and many-colored fly. If they see anything that attracts them in another they admit him at once to their confidence. It should not be so. Among the reported and traditional sayings of Christ, there is one that is full of wisdom: "Be good money changers." As a money changer rings the coin on his counter to test it, so we should test men well before we make them our friends. There should be a narrow wicket leading into the inner circle of our social life at which we should make them stand for examination before they are admitted. An old proverb says, "Before you make a friend, eat a peck of salt with him." We should try before we trust; and as we should be careful whom we receive, we should be equally careful whom we part with. "Thine own friend, and thy father's friend, forsake not." With some, very little severs the bond of friendship. They are always changing their companions. They are "Hail fellow, well met," with one to-day, and cold and distant to-morrow. Inconstancy in friendship is a bad sign. It generally arises from readiness to admit to intimacy without sufficient examination. The friendship that is quickly cemented is easily dissolved. Fidelity is the very essence of true friendship; and, once broken, it cannot be easily renewed. Quarrels between friends are the bitterest and the most lasting. Broken friendship may be soldered, but never made sound.

Alas! they had been friends in youth, But whispering tongues can poison truth. * * * * They parted, ne'er to meet again, But never either found another To free the hollow heart from paining. They stood aloof, the scars remaining, Like cliffs which had been rent asunder; A dreary sea now flows between. COLERIDGE.

Shakespeare gives this rule for friendship in his own wonderful way. It could not be better stated—

The friends thou hast, and their adoption tried, Grapple them to thy soul with hooks of steel; But do not dull thy palm with entertainment Of each new-hatched, unfledged comrade.

II. We should refuse friendship with those whose standard of right is below our own.—Anything in a man or woman that indicates low moral tone, or want of principle, should debar them at once from our friendship. It is not easy to say in so many words what want of principle is, but we all know what is meant by it. It corresponds to a constitutional defect in the physical system. A person may have ailments, but that is different from a weak and broken constitution. So a person may have faults and failings, but a want of principle is more serious. It is a radical defect which should prevent friendship. A small thing often shows us whether a person wants principle. The single claw of a bird of prey tells us its nature. According to the familiar saying, "We don't need to eat a leg of mutton to know whether it is tainted; a mouthful is sufficient." So a single expression may tell us whether there is a want of moral principle. A word showing us that a person thinks lightly of honesty, of purity in man, of virtue in woman, should be sufficient to make us keep him at a distance. We may be civil to him, try to do him good, and lead him to better things, but he is not one to make our friend. Cowper the poet says:

I would not enter on my list of friends, Though graced with polished manners and fine sense, Yet wanting sensibility, the man Who needlessly sets foot upon a worm.

We may think it a small thing to set the foot upon a worm, but to do so needlessly and wantonly indicates a hard and cruel nature, and a man with such a nature is not a safe friend.

III. There should be equality in friendship.—Equality of station, of circumstances, of position. It does not do to lay down a hard and fast line as to this. For instance, in a "young men's guild" men of all stations and social conditions meet on an equality. They are a brotherhood bound together by ties of a very close description. To them this rule does not apply. Among members of such an association, a young man may always fitly find a friend. It is friendships formed outside such a circle, and in general society, that we have in view; and, in regard to such society, we are probably not far wrong in saying that we do well to choose our intimate friends from those who are neither much above us nor beneath us. If a man is poor, and chooses as a friend one who is rich, the chances are either that he becomes a toady and a mere "hanger-on," or that he is made to feel his inferiority. Young men in this way have been led into expenses which they could not afford, and into society that did them harm, and into debts sometimes that they could not pay. Making friends of those beneath us is often equally a mistake. We come to look upon them with patronizing affability. "It is well enough to talk of our humble friends, but they are too often like poor relations. We accept their services, and think that a mere 'thank you,' a nod, a beck, or a smile is sufficient recompense." [2] Either to become a toady or a patron is destructive of true friendship. We should be able to meet on the same platform, and join hands as brothers, having the same feelings, the same wants, the same aspirations. We should be courteous to the man above us, and civil to the man beneath us; but if we value our independence and manhood we will not try to make a friend of either.

IV. We should not make a friend of one who is without reverence for what we deem sacred and have been taught to deem sacred.—The want of "reverence for that which is above us" is one of the most serious defects in man or woman. We should be as slow to admit one to our friendship who has this defect as we would be if we knew he had entered into a church and stolen the vessels of the sanctuary. We should consort only with those who honor the sacred name we bear, and treat it with reverence. We should especially beware of admitting to intimacy the sceptic and infidel. There are those who have drifted away from the faith of Christ, and to whom God and eternity are mere names. Such are deserving of our most profound pity and sorrow, and we should do all in our power to lead them back to the Father's house from which they have wandered. But we should never make them our friends. We cannot dwell in an ill-ventilated and ill-drained house without running the risk of having our own constitution lowered. We cannot associate in close companionship with the infidel and the sceptic without endangering our own spiritual life. Doubt is as catching as disease. "Take my word for it," said the great Sir Robert Peel, who was a close observer of men, "it is not prudent, as a rule, to trust yourself to any man who tells you he does not believe in God, and in a future life after death." We should choose our friends from those who have chosen the better part, and day by day we shall feel the benefit of their companionship in making us stronger and better.

These are some plain rules drawn from long experience of life which may be helpful to some. We may conclude by quoting the noble lines of Tennyson in which he draws the picture of his friend, Arthur Hallam, and the inspiration he drew from him:

Thy converse drew us with delight, The men of rathe and riper years: The feeble soul, a haunt of fears, Forgot his weakness in thy sight.

On thee the loyal-hearted hung, The proud was half disarm'd of pride, Nor cared the serpent at thy side To flicker with his double tongue.

The stern were mild when thou wert by, The flippant put himself to school And heard thee, and the brazen fool Was soften'd, and he knew not why;

While I, thy nearest, sat apart, And felt thy triumph was as mine; And loved them more, that they were thine, The graceful tact, the Christian art;

Nor mine the sweetness or the skill, But mine the love that will not tire, And, born of love, the vague desire That spurs an imitative will. TENNYSON.

Happy are those whose friends in some degree approach the character here delineated.

[1] Stalker's Imago Christi.

[2] Hain Friswell, The Gentle Life.



Money has been defined as the measure and standard of value, and the medium of exchange. It represents everything that may be purchased. He who possesses money has potentially in his possession everything that can be bought with money. Money is thus power. It seems to have in itself all earthly possibilities.

There are three things which should be borne in mind in regard to money:

I. Money itself is neither good nor bad.—It is simply force. It is like the lightning or the sunlight: it withers or nourishes; it smites or does other bidding; it devastates or fertilizes, according as it is used by us. Whether money is good or bad depends on whether it is sought for in right or wrong ways, used wisely or unwisely, squandered where it does harm, or bestowed where it does good. (a) That it may be a power for good is evident to all. It enables men to benefit their fellow-creatures; it gives a man independence; it procures him comforts he could not otherwise have obtained. It is, as it has well been termed, "the lever by which the race has been lifted from barbarism to civilization. So long as the race could do nothing but barely live, man was little more than an animal who hunted and fought for his prey. When the race began to think and plan and save for tomorrow, it specially began to be human. There is not a single feature of our civilization to-day that has not sprung out of money, and that does not depend on money for its continuance." (b) That money may be a power for evil is equally evident. Much of the crime and sin and sorrow of the world spring from its misuse. "The love of money," as Scripture says, "is a root of all evil." In the haste to be rich men too often lose their very manhood. Money, it is often said, does wonders, but "the most wonderful thing that it does is to metalize the human soul."

II. Money and our relation to it is a test of character—The making and the using of it is an education. If we know how one gets and spends money, we know what a man is. "So many are the bearings of money upon the lives and characters of mankind, that an insight which would search out the life of a man in his pecuniary relations would penetrate into almost every cranny of his nature. He who, like St. Paul, has learnt how to want and how to abound, has a great knowledge; for if we take account of all the virtues with which money is mixed up—honesty, justice, generosity, charity, frugality, forethought, self-sacrifice, and their correlative vices—it is a knowledge which goes to cover the length and breadth of humanity, and a right measure and manner in getting, saving, spending, taking, lending, borrowing and bequeathing would almost argue a perfect man." [1] Nearly all the virtues and all the vices are connected with money. Its acquisition and its distribution are almost certain indications of what we are morally.

III. There are some things that are better than money, and that cannot be purchased with it—These are indeed the best things. All that can be bought money possesses actually or potentially, but there are some things that cannot be bought. Love, friendship, nobleness of soul, genius, cannot be purchased. We must estimate rightly the power of money. It is great, but it may be exaggerated, (a) Honesty is better than money. If a man gains money at the expense of honesty and integrity, he pays too great a price. He is like a savage who barters jewels for a string of beads. (b) Home is better than money. If a man, struggling and striving to be rich, has no time for the joys of family and the rich blessings that circle round the fireside, if he knows nothing of the charm of love and the pleasures that spring from the affections, he pays too great a price—"a costly house and luxurious furnishings are no substitute for love in the home." (c) Culture is better than money. If a man grows up in ignorance and vulgarity, shut out from the world of art, literature and science, and all that refines and elevates the mind—a rude, uncultured boor—he pays too great a price for any money he may scrape together. (d) Humanity is better than money. The rich man who leaves Lazarus untended at his gates, who builds about him walls so thick that no cry from the suffering world ever penetrates them, who becomes mean and stingy, close-fisted and selfish, pays too great a price. Of such a man it is said in Scripture that "in hell he lifted up his eyes." Surely he made a bad bargain, (e) Spirituality is better than money. He who has made an idol of his wealth, who in gaining it has lost his soul, who has allowed money to come between him and God, has paid too great a price for it. He has well been depicted by John Bunyan as the man with the muck-rake gathering straws, whilst he does not see the golden crown that is held above him. Christ tells us God regards such a man as a fool.

There are certain rules of conduct which may be laid down, drawn both from Scripture and experience, in regard to money.

1. We are especially to remember our stewardship.—Money is a trust committed to us, for which we are to give account unto God. We are answerable to Him for the use we make of it. If we have amassed wealth, from God has come the power that enabled us to do so. All we have is His—not our own. To each of us shall be addressed the words, "Give an account of thy stewardship, for thou mayest be no longer steward." If we remember this great truth we shall be rightly guided, both in regard to the accumulation and the distribution of money. We shall not inordinately desire it, for we shall feel that with its increase comes new responsibility; and we shall be careful how we spend it, for the question will ever be present to our minds, What would the great Master, to whom we have to give account, wish us to do with it? Those who have most wisely used their money are the men who have realized most intensely the thought of their stewardship. In the "Life of Mr. Moore," the successful merchant, by Smiles, this is most admirably shown. He amassed, by industry and by enterprise, great wealth; he lived a noble and benevolent life; he was honored by all men for his character and his generosity. But at the root and foundation of his life was the thought that all he had was a trust committed to him by God.

2. We should do good as we go.—There are those who allow that they should do good with their money, but they defer carrying out their intention till they have accumulated something that they think considerable. If they ever become rich, then they will do great things. The folly of this is apparent, (a) They lose the happiness which the humblest may daily reap from small deeds of kindness; and (b) they lose the power which will enable them to do anything if the great opportunity they desire comes. "Doing good," it has been well said, "is a faculty, like any other, that becomes weak and atrophied, palsied for lack of use. You might as well stop practising on the piano, under the impression that in a year or two you will find time to give a month to it. In the meantime, you will get out of practice and lose the power. Keep your hand and your pocket open, or they will grow together, so that nothing short of death's finger can unloose them." [2] However little money we may have, we should use a portion of it in doing good. The two mites of the widow were in the eye of Christ a beautiful offering. Giving should always go with getting. Mere getting injures us, but giving brings to us a blessing. "Gold," says holy George Herbert, "thou mayest safely touch; but if it stick it wounds thee to the quick." George Moore, to whom we have referred, wrote yearly in his diary the words of wisdom—

What I saved I lost, What I spent I had, What I gave I have.

What proportion of our money we should give every one must determine for himself, but we are not safe spiritually unless we cultivate the habit of generosity. "The Lord loveth a cheerful giver." "There are many," it has been satirically said, "who would be Good Samaritans without the oil and the two pence." All of us, however humble our station, are bound to give "as God hath prospered us" for the help of man and the cause of Christ; and the discharge of the obligation will become to us one of the greatest pleasures in life.

3. We should cultivate thrift.—Thrift is just forethought. It is reasonable prudence in regard to money. It provides for "the rainy day." If poverty be our lot, we must bear it bravely; but there is no special blessing in poverty. It is often misery unspeakable. It is often brought upon us by our self-indulgence, extravagance and recklessness. We are to use every means in our power to guard against it. The words of the poet Burns are full of common-sense:

To catch Dame Fortune's golden smile, Assiduous wait upon her, And gather gear by every wile That's justified by honor; Not for to hide it in a hedge, Nor for a train attendant, But for the glorious privilege Of being independent.

The squalor and wretchedness which often fall upon people come from their not having exercised a little thought in the use of their money. A little self-denial would have saved them, and those depending on them, from many sorrows. A saving habit is good. "It is coarse thinking to confound spending with generosity, or saving with meanness." The man who puts by a little week by week or year by year, against possible contingencies is wise. However small may be our salary and limited our income, we should try and save part of it. Every young man should be a member of a savings bank, or a benefit club, by means of which he can make provision for the future. The honest endeavor to make such provision is in itself an education.

4. We should earnestly endeavor to avoid debt.—Debt means slavery. It is loss of independence. It is misery. "He" (says a Spanish proverb) "that complains of sound sleep, let him borrow the debtor's pillow." Every shilling that we spend beyond our income means an addition to a burden that may crush us to the ground. "Pay as you go," is a good rule. "Keep a regular account of what you spend," is another. "Before you buy anything, think whether you can afford it," is a third. But whatever rule we follow in regard to our expenditure, let us see that it does not exceed our income. The words of Horace Greeley, a great American writer and politician who had a large experience of life, are not too strong: "Hunger, cold, rags, hard work, contempt, suspicion, unjust reproach, are disagreeable, but debt is infinitely worse than them all. Never run into debt! Avoid pecuniary obligation as you would pestilence or famine. If you have but fifty cents and can get no more a week, buy a peck of corn, parch it, and live on it, rather than owe any man a dollar."

5. We should resolutely set our face against gambling.—Gambling is one of the curses of our time. It is the endeavor to get money by dispensing with labor, to make it without honestly working for it. It entails widespread ruin and degradation. Its consequences are often of the most appalling character. When the gambling spirit is once aroused, like drunkenness, it becomes an overpowering appetite, which the victim becomes almost powerless to resist. Gambling is in itself evil, apart from its deadly effects. (a) It proposes to confer gain without merit, and to reward those who do not deserve a reward, (b) It proposes to benefit us while injuring our neighbor. "Benefit received," says Herbert Spencer in his Sociology, referring to gambling, "does not imply effort put forth; but the happiness of the winner involves the misery of the loser. This kind of action is therefore essentially anti-social, sears the sympathies, cultivates a hard egoism, and produces general deterioration of character and conduct." The young should specially guard against this vice, which has been a rock upon which many a promising life has made disastrous shipwreck.

[1] Sir Henry Taylor, Notes from Life.

[2] Life Questions, by M. J. Savage.



"Time," it is said, "is money." So it is, without doubt. But to the young man or young woman who is striving to make the most of himself or herself time is more than money, it is character and usefulness. They become great and good just as they learn how to make the best use of their time. On the right employment of it depends what we are to be now, and what we are to be hereafter, "We all complain," says the great Roman philosopher Seneca, "of the shortness of time, and yet we have more than we know what to do with. Our lives are spent either in doing nothing at all, or in doing nothing to the purpose, or in doing nothing that we ought to do. We are always complaining that our days are few, and acting as though there would be no end of them."

In regard to the right use of time—how to make the most of it and to get the most out of it—there are certain things that we should bear in mind and keep in constant remembrance. We may arrange them for convenience under four heads: Economy, System, Punctuality and Promptitude.

I. Economy.—We all know what economy is. In regard to money, in connection with which the word is chiefly used, it is keeping strict watch over our expenditure, and not spending a penny without good reason. According to the oft-quoted proverb, "Take care of the pence and the pounds will take care of themselves." Economy, in regard to time, is to watch over the minutes, hours and days, and the years will take care of themselves. It is, to let every moment of time be well employed; to let every hour of the day as it passes be turned to use; to let none be spent in idleness or folly. It is a good advice that of the poet—

Think nought a trifle though it small appears, Sands make the mountain, moments make the years, And trifles life.

In the mint, where money is coined, when the visitor reaches the room where the gold coins are cast, it is said that the floor is a network of wooden bars to catch all the particles of the falling metal. When the day's work is done, the floor is removed and the golden dust is swept up to be melted again. In the same way we should economize time: gather up its golden dust, let none of its moments be lost. Be careful of its spare minutes, and a wealth of culture will be the result. It is said of a European cathedral that when the architect came to insert the stained-glass windows he was one window short. An apprentice in the factory where the windows were made came forward and said that he thought he could make a window from the bits of glass cast aside. He went to work, collected the fragments, put them together, and produced a window said to be the finest of all. In the same way men have made much out of the bits of time that have been, so to speak, broken from the edges of a busy life.

Many illustrations might be given from history of what men have been able to do by a wise economy of time. Sir Humphry Davy established a laboratory in the attic of his house, and when his ordinary day's work was done began a course of scientific studies that continued throughout his memorable life. Cobbett learned grammar when a soldier, sitting on the edge of his bed. Lincoln, the famous president of America, acquired arithmetic during the winter evenings, mastered grammar by catching up his book at odd moments when he was keeping a shop, and studied law when following the business of a surveyor. Douglas Jerrold, during his apprenticeship, arose with the dawn of day to study his Latin grammar, and read Shakespeare and other works before his daily labor began at the printing office. At night, when his day's work was done, he added over two hours more to his studies. At seventeen years of age he had so mastered Shakespeare that when anyone quoted a line from the poet he could give from memory that which came next. While walking to and from his office Henry Kirke White acquired a knowledge of Greek. A German physician, while visiting his patients, contrived to commit to memory the Iliad of Homer. Hugh Miller, while working as a stonemason, studied geology in his off hours. Elihu Burritt, "the learned blacksmith," gained a mastery of eighteen languages and twenty-two dialects by using the odds and ends of time at his disposal. Franklin's hours of study were stolen from the time his companions devoted to their meals and to sleep.[1] Many similar instances might be added to show what may be done by economising time and strictly looking after those spare minutes which many throw away. The great rule is, never to be unemployed, and to find relief in turning from one occupation to another, due allowance of course being made for recreation and for rest. The wise man economises time as he economises money.

II. System.—It is wonderful how much work can be got through in a day if we go by rule—if we map out our time, divide it off and take up one thing regularly after another. To drift through our work, or to rush through it in helter skelter fashion, ends in comparatively little being done. "One thing at a time" will always perform a better day's work than doing two or three things at a time. By following this rule one person will do more in a day than another does in a week. "Marshal thy notions," said old Thomas Fuller, "into a handsome method. One will carry twice as much weight trussed and packed as when it lies untoward, flapping and hanging about his shoulders." Fixed rules are the greatest possible help to the worker. They give steadiness to his labor, and they enable him to go through it with comparative ease. Many a man would have been saved from ruin if he had appreciated the value of method in his affairs. In the peasant's cottage or the artisan's workshop, in the chemist's laboratory or the shipbuilder's yard, the two primary rules must be, "For every one his duty," and, "For everything its place."

It is a wise thing to begin the day by taking a survey in thought of the work we have to get through, and thus to divide it, giving to each hour its own share. The shortest way to do many things is to do one thing at a time. Albert Barnes was a distinguished American theologian who wrote a valuable commentary on the Bible amid the work of a large parish. He accomplished this by systematic arrangement of his time. He divided his day into parts. He devoted each part to some duty. He rigidly adhered to this arrangement, and in this way was able to overtake an amount of work that was truly wonderful. In the life of Anthony Trollope, the great novelist, we are told that he kept resolutely close to a rule he laid down for himself. He wrote so many pages a day of so many lines each. He overtook an immense amount of work in the year. He published many books, and he made a great deal of money. The great English lawyer Sir Edward Coke divided his time according to the well-known couplet—

Six hours in sleep, in law's grave study six, Four spend in prayer, the rest on nature fix.

Sir William Jones, the famous Oriental scholar, altered this rule to suit himself.

Seven hours to law, to soothing slumber seven, Ten to the world allot, and all to Heaven.

Benjamin Franklin's system of working is given in his "Life." Each day was carefully portioned off. His daily programme was the following:

Morning. ) Rise, wash, and address the 5 ) Almighty Father; contrive [Question, What good 6 ) the day's business and take shall I do this day?] 7 ) the resolution of the day; ) prosecute the present study, ) breakfast.

8 ) to ) Work 11 )

12 ) Read or look over accounts and Noon. to ) dine. 1 )

2 ) Afternoon, to ) Work 5 )

6 ) Put things in their place; Evening to ) supper; music or diversion or [Question, What good 9 ) conversation; examination of have I done to-day?] ) the day.

10 ) Night to ) Sleep. 4 )

It is evident that a scheme of life like this could not suit everyone. It is given as an illustration of the value of adhering to method in our work. "Order," the poet Pope says, "is Heaven's first law," and time well ordered means generally work well and thoroughly done.

III. Punctuality.—This means keeping strictly as to time by any engagement we make either with ourselves or with others. If we resolve to do anything at a certain time, we should do it neither before nor after that time. It is better to be before than after. But it is best to be at the very minute. If we enter into an engagement with others for a certain time, we should be precise in keeping it. In a letter from a celebrated merchant, Buxton, to his son, he says, "Be punctual; I do not mean merely being in time for lectures, but mean that spirit out of which punctuality grows, that love of accuracy and precision which mark the efficient man. The habit of being punctual extends to everything—meeting friends, paying debts, going to church, reaching and leaving place of business, keeping promises, retiring at night and rising in the morning." We may lay down a system or method of work for ourselves, but it will be of little service unless we keep carefully to it, beginning and leaving off at the appointed moment. If the work of one hour is postponed to another, it will encroach on the time allotted to some other duty, if it do not remain altogether undone, and thus the whole business of the day is thrown into disorder. If a man loses half an hour by rising late in the morning, he is apt to spend the rest of the day seeking after it. Sir Walter Scott was not only methodical in his work, he was exceedingly punctual, always beginning his allotted task at the appointed moment. "When a regiment," he wrote, "is under march, the rear is often thrown into confusion because the front does not move steadily and without interruption. It is the same thing in business. If that which is first in hand be not instantly despatched, other things accumulate betimes, till affairs begin to press all at once, and no brain can stand the confusion." We should steadily cultivate the habit of punctuality. We can cultivate it until it becomes with us a second nature, and we do everything, as the saying is, "by clockwork." In rising in the morning and going to bed, in taking up different kinds of work, in keeping appointments with others, we should strive to be "to the minute." The unpunctual man is a nuisance to society. He wastes his own time, and he wastes the time of others; as Principal Tulloch well says, "Men who have real work of their own would rather do anything than do business with him." [2]

IV. Promptitude.—By this we mean acting at the present moment—all that is opposed to procrastination, putting off to another time, to a "convenient season" which probably never comes—all that is opposed also to what is called "loitering" or "dawdling." There is an old Latin proverb, "Bis dat qui cito dat,"—he gives twice who gives quickly. The same thing may be said of work, "He works twice who works quickly." In work, of course, the first requirement is that it should be well done; but this does not hinder quickness and despatch. There are those who, when they have anything to do, seem to go round it and round it, instead of attacking it at once and getting it out of the way; and when they do begin it they do so in a listless and half-hearted fashion. There are those who look at their work, according to the simile of Sidney Smith, like men who stand shivering on the bank instead of at once taking the plunge. "In order," he says, "to do anything that is worth doing in this world, we must not stand shivering on the bank thinking of the cold and the danger, but jump in and scramble through as well as we can. It will not do to be perpetually calculating and adjusting nice chances; it did all very well before the Flood, when a man could consult his friends upon an intended publication for a hundred and fifty years, and then live to see its success for six or seven centuries afterwards, but at present a man doubts, and waits, and hesitates, and consults his brother, and his uncle, and his first cousin, and his particular friends, till one day he finds that he is sixty-five years of age, that he has lost so much time in consulting first cousins and particular friends that he has no time to follow their advice." This is good sense, though humorously put. Promptitude is a quality that should be assiduously cultivated. Like punctuality, it becomes a most valuable habit. "Procrastination," it is said, "is the thief of time," and "hell is paved with good intentions." These proverbs are full of wisdom. When we hear people saying, "They are going to be this thing or that thing; they intend to look to this or to that; they will by and by do this or that," we may be sure there is a weakness in their character. Such people never come to much. The best way is not to speak about doing a thing, but to do it, and to do it at once.

To these thoughts on the use of time we may fitly add the great words of Scripture, "So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom," Ps. xc. 12. "Redeeming the time, because the days are evil," Ephes. v. 16. We transform time into eternity by using it aright.

[1] These illustrations are given by Mr. Davenport Adams.

[2] Beginning Life.



We all know what is meant by courage, though it is not easy to define it. It is the determination to hold our own, to face danger without flinching, to go straight on our way against opposing forces, neither turning to the right hand nor the left.

It is a quality admirable in the eyes of all men, savage and civilized, Christian and non-Christian—as admirable as cowardice, the opposite quality, is detestable. The brave man is the hero of the savage. Bravery, or, as the Scriptures term it, virtue, is a great requisite in a Christian. If it is not the first, it is the second characteristic of a Christian life. "Add," says St. Paul, "to your faith virtue," that is to say, courage.

It is the very glory of youth to be courageous.—The "sneak" and the "coward" are the abhorrence of youth. It is youth which climbs "the imminent deadly breach" and faces the deadly hail of battle, which defies the tyranny of custom and the hatred of the world. One may have compassion for age, which is naturally timid and sees fears in the way, but youth which is cowardly is contemptible.

There are two kinds of courage—the one of a lower, the other of a higher type. (a) The first, the lower kind of courage, is that which has its root and foundation in our physical nature. It is constitutional; there is little or no merit in it. Some men are born to know no fear—men of strong nerve, of iron constitution, and powerful physique. Such men laugh at danger and scorn opposition. Theirs is the courage of the lion or the bull-dog, and there is no virtue about it. They cannot help being what they are. (b) But there is another kind of courage which is not so much physical as moral. It has its foundation not in man's bodily constitution so much as in his higher nature. It draws its power from the invisible. "Are you not afraid," was a question put by a young and boastful officer to his companion whose face was blanched and pale, as they stood together amid the thickly falling shot of a battle-field. "I am afraid," he replied, "and if you were half as afraid as I am, you would run." In his case there was little physical courage, but there was the higher courage drawn from a sense of duty which made him stand firm as a rock. When our Lord knelt in His mysterious anguish in Gethsemane, His whole physical nature seemed broken down, "His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground." "Suffer," He said, "this cup to pass from me"; and His strength came from the invisible. "Not my will," He cried, "but thine be done." With that sublime trust in God strengthening Him, He shrank not back for a moment; He took the cup and drained it to the dregs. This is the highest form of courage that there is. The weakest women have displayed it in face of appalling dangers. It is the courage of the martyr, the patriot, the reformer. There is a glory and beauty in it before which all men bow.

There are three chief forms which this moral courage takes in ordinary life.

First, there is the courage of our opinions.—Many people, perhaps the majority, do not have opinions. They have simply notions, impressions, sentiments, prejudices, which they have imbibed from others. They may be said to be like looking-glasses, which have a shadow of whatever stands before them. So long as they are in company with a positive person who believes something, they have an opinion. When he goes the shadow on the looking-glass goes also. They are like the sand on the seashore—the last person who comes the way makes a track and the next wave washes it away and leaves the sand ready for another impression. How many are there who, when any important question comes up, have no opinion about it, until they read their paper or hear what other people are saying. There is no sort of courage more needed than the courage to form an opinion and keep by it when we have formed it. There is no more contemptible form of cowardice than to do a thing merely because others do it. The grand words of President Garfield of the United States are worthy of remembrance: "I do not think what others may say or think about me, but there is one man's opinion about me which I very much value, that is the opinion of James Garfield; others I need not think about. I can get away from them, but I have to be with him all the time. He is with me when I rise up and when I lie down, when I go out and when I come in. It makes a great difference whether he thinks well of me or not." To this noble utterance we may add the words of the poet Russell Lowell:

They are slaves who will not choose Hatred, scoffing, and abuse, Rather than in silence shrink From the truth they needs must think. They are slaves who dare not be In the right with two or three.

Second, there is the courage of resistance.—This is the chief form courage should take in the young. They are surrounded on every side by strong temptations—temptations addressed to their lower nature, to vanity, to indolence, to scepticism, to impurity, to drunkenness. There is many a young man beset by temptation who has in reality to fight far harder if he will maintain his integrity than any soldier belonging to an army making its way through an enemy's country. He does not know when an ambush may be sprung upon him, or from what side the attack may come. In an old tower on the Continent they show you, graven again and again on the stones of one of the dungeons, the word Resist. It is said that a Protestant woman was kept in that hideous place for forty years, and during all that time her employment was in graving with a piece of iron, for anyone who might come after her, that word. It is a word that needs to be engraven on every young man's and young woman's heart. It represents the highest form of courage which to them is possible—the power to say "No" to every form of temptation.

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