The Elements of Character
by Mary G. Chandler
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"An exclusively intellectual education leads, by a very obvious process, to hard-heartedness and the contempt of all moral influences. An exclusively moral education tends to fatuity by the over-excitement of the sensibilities. An exclusively religious education ends in insanity, if it do not take a directly opposite course and lead to atheism."—EDINBURGH REVIEW.







"We have been taught, consciously or unconsciously, intentionally or unintentionally, to seek rather what virtue gives than what virtue is; the reward rather than the service, the felicity rather than the life, the dowry, let me say, rather than the bride."—T.T. STONE.

"His practice was of a more divine extraction, drawn from the word of God, and wrought up by the assistance of his Spirit; therefore, in the head of all his virtues I shall set that which was the head and spring of them all, his Christianity; for this alone is the true royal blood that runs through the whole body of virtue, and every pretender to that glorious family, who has no tincture of it, is an impostor. This is that same fountain which baptizeth all the gentle virtues that so immortalize the names of the old philosophers; herein they are regenerated, and take a new name and nature. Dug up in the wilderness of nature, and dipped in this living spring, they are planted and flourish in the paradise of God. By Christianity I intend that universal habit of grace which is wrought in a soul by the regenerating Spirit of God, whereby the whole creature is resigned up into the divine will and love, and all its actions directed to the obedience and glory of its Maker."—MEMOIRS OF COL. HUTCHINSON, BY HIS WIDOW.

* * * * *

The weakness and helplessness of humanity, in relation to the fortunes of this life, have been a favorite theme with philosophers and teachers ever since the world began; and every term expressive of all that is uncertain, insubstantial, and unstable has been exhausted in describing the feebleness of man's power to retain in possession the good things of this life, or even life itself. However firmly the hand of man may seem to grasp power, reputation, or wealth; however numerous may be the band of children or friends that surrounds him, he has no certainty that he may not die friendless and a pauper. In fact, the most brilliant success in life seems sometimes to be permitted only that it may make the darkness of succeeding reverses the more profound.

Weak and helpless as we may be in the affairs of this life, there is, however, one thing over which we have entire control. Riches may take to themselves wings, though honest industry exert its best efforts to acquire and retain them; power is taken away from hands that seek to use it only for the good of those they govern; reputation may become tarnished, though virtue be without spot; health may vanish, though its laws, so far as we understand them, be strictly obeyed; but there is one thing left which misfortune cannot touch, which God is ever seeking to aid us in building up, and over which he permits us to hold absolute control; and this is Character. For this, and for this alone, we are entirely responsible. We may fail in all else, let our endeavors be earnest and patient as they may; but all other failures touch us only in our external lives. If we have used our best endeavors to attain success in the pursuit of temporal objects, we are not responsible though we fail. But if we do not succeed in attaining true health and wealth and power of Character, the responsibility is all our own; and the consequences of our failure are not bounded by the shores of time, but stretch onward through the limitless regions of eternity. If we strive for this, success is certain, for the Lord works with us to will and to do. If we do not strive, it were better for us that we had never been born.

Character is all we can take with us when we leave this world. Fortune, learning, reputation, power, must all be left behind us in the region of material things; but Character, the spiritual substance of our being, abides with us for ever. According as the possessions of this world have aided in building up Character,—forming it to the divine or to the infernal image,—they have been cursings or blessings to the soul.

Before we can understand how Character is to be built up, we must come to a distinct faith in its reality; we must learn to feel that it is more real than anything else that we possess; for surely that which is eternal is more real than that which is merely temporal; it may, indeed, be doubted whether that which is merely temporal has any just claim to be called real.

Many persons confound reputation with Character, and believe themselves to be striving for the reality of the one, when the fantasy of the other alone stimulates their desires. Reputation is the opinion entertained of us by our fellow- beings, while Character is that which we really are. When we labor to gain reputation, we are not even taking a first step toward the acquisition of Character, but only putting on coverings over that which is, and protecting it against improvement. As well may we strive to be virtuous by thinking of the reward of heaven, as to build up our Characters by thinking of the opinions of men. The cases are precisely parallel. In each we are thinking of the pay as something apart from the work, while, in fact, the only pay we can have inheres in the doing of the work. Virtue is its own reward, because its performance creates the kingdom of heaven within us, and we cannot attain to virtue until we strive after it for its own sake.

A wisely trained Character never stops to ask, What will society think of me if I do this thing, or if I leave it undone? The questions by which it tests the quality of an action are, whether it is just, and wise, and fitting, when judged by the eternal laws of right; and in accordance with this judgment will its manifestations ever be made. If the mind acquires the habit of deliberately asking and answering these questions in regard to common affairs, it acquires, by degrees, distinct opinions in relation to life, forming a regular system, in accordance with which the Character is shaped and built up; and unless this be done, the Character cannot become consistent and harmonious. It is never too late to begin to do this; but the earlier in life it is done, the more readily the character can be conformed to the standard of right which is thus established. Every year added to life ere this is attempted, is an added impediment to its performance; and until it is accomplished, there is no safety for the Character, for each year is adding additional force to careless or evil habits of thought and affection, and consequently of external life.

It is not going too far to say, that Character is the only permanent possession we can have. It is in fact our spiritual body. All other mental possessions are to the spiritual body only what clothing is to the natural body,—something put on and taken off as circumstances vary. Character changes from year to year as we cultivate or neglect it, and so does the natural body; but these changes of the body are something very different from the changes of our garments.

There is a transient and a permanent side to all our mental attributes. Take, for instance, manners, which are the most external of them all. So far as we habituate ourselves to courtesy and good-breeding because we shall stand better with the world if we are polite than if we are rude, we are cultivating a merely external habit, which we shall be likely to throw off as often as we think it safe to go without it, as we should an uncomfortably fitting dress; and our manners do not belong to our Characters any more than our coats belong to our persons. This is the transient side of manners. If, on the contrary, we are polite from an inward conviction that politeness is one of the forms of love to the neighbor, and because we believe that in being polite we are performing a duty that our neighbor has a right to claim from us, and because politeness is a trait that we love for its own inherent beauty, our manners belong to the substance of our Character,—they are not its garment, but its skin; and this is the permanent side of manners. Such manners will be ours in death, and afterwards, no less than in life.

In the same way, every personal accomplishment and every mental acquisition has its transient and its permanent side. So far as we cultivate them to enrich and to ennoble our natures, to enlarge and to elevate our understandings, to become wiser, better, and more useful to our fellow-beings, we are cultivating our Characters,—the spiritual essence of our being; but these very same acquisitions, when sought from motives wholly selfish and worldly, are not only as transient as the clothes we wear, but often as useless as the ornaments of a fashionable costume. The Character will be poor and famished and cold, however great the variety of such clothing or ornament we may put on. When the mind has learned to appreciate the difference between reputation and Character, between the Seeming and the being, it must next decide, if it would build up a worthy Character, what it desires this should be; for to build a Character requires a plan, no less than to build a house. A deep and broad foundation of sound opinions, believed in with the whole heart, can alone insure safety to the superstructure. Where such a foundation is not laid, the Character will possess no architectural unity,—will have no consistency. Its emotions will be swayed by the impulses of the moment, instead of being governed by principles of life. There is nothing reliable in such a Character, for it perpetually contradicts itself. Its powers, instead of acting together, like well-trained soldiers, will be ever jostling each other, like a disorderly mob.

The zeal for special reforms in morality that so strongly characterizes the present age, whatever may be its utility or its necessity, may not be without an evil effect upon the training of Character as a whole. The intense effort after reform in certain particular directions causes many to forget or to overlook altogether the fact that one virtue is not enough to make a moral being. It cannot be doubted that the present surpasses all former ages in its eagerness to put down several of the most prominent vices to which man is subject; but it may be well to pause and calmly examine whether a larger promise is not sometimes uttered by the zeal so actively at work in society, than will probably be made good by its results.

Nothing can be worthy the name of Reform that is not based on the Christian religion,—that does not acknowledge the laws of eternal truth and justice,—that does not find its life in Christian charity, and its light in Christian truth. The tendency of reform at the present day is too often to separate itself from religion; for religion cannot work fast enough to satisfy its haste; cannot, at the end of each year, count the steps it has advanced in arithmetical numbers. The reformer asks not always for general growth and advancement in Christian Character; but demands special evidences, startling results, tangible proofs. These things all have their value, and the persons who strive for them doubtless have their reward; but if the kingdom of heaven and its righteousness were first sought, the good things so fiercely advocated and labored after by special reformers would be added unto them, as naturally as flowers and fruits, and the wealth of harvest, are added to the light and warmth of the advancing year.

Persons who devote themselves to one special branch of reform are apt to lose the power of appreciating any virtue save that one which they have selected as their own, and which they seem to love, not so much because it is a virtue as because it is their virtue. They soon lose all moral perspective, and resemble him who holds some one object so closely before his eyes that he can see nothing else, and cannot see that correctly, while he insists that nothing else exists worthy of being seen.

There is ever an effort going on in the mind of man to find some substitute for that universal obedience to the laws of faith and charity which the Scriptures demand; and this temptation adapts itself specially to every different class of believers. Thus the Jew, if the higher requisitions of the Law oppress him, thinks to secure himself from its penalties by the exactness of his ritual observances. The unfaithful Romanist hopes to atone for a life of sin by devoting his property to the Church, or to charity, when he dies. The Lutheran and the Calvinist, when false to the call of duty, think to be forgiven their neglect of the laws of charity by reason of the liveliness of their faith. So the modern reformer sometimes seems to suppose himself at liberty to neglect the cure of any of the vices that he loves, because he fancies that he may take the kingdom of heaven by violence through his devotion to the destruction of some special vice which he abhors. Thus temperance is at times preached by men so intemperate in their zeal, that they are unwilling to make public addresses on the Sabbath, because on that day they are trammelled by the constraint of decency, which prevents them from entering freely into the gross and disgusting details in which they delight. We have the emancipation of negroes sometimes preached by men fast bound in fetters of malignity and spiritual pride. We have the destruction of the ruling influence of the clergy inculcated by men dogmatic as Spanish Inquisitors. We are taught that the doctrine of the inspiration of the Scriptures is a mere figment, by those who are firmly convinced that their own inspiration is perfect and unfailing. The result of all this is the development of characters as deformed as are the bodies of victims to hydrocephalus or goitre; while, in painful contrast to such victims, these morally distorted patients bear about their deformities in the most conspicuous manner, as if they were rare beauties. So pagan nations, when they embody their ideas of superhuman attributes, often construct figures having several heads or hands, or enormously enlarge some particular member of the frame, fancying that they thus express ideas of wisdom or power more perfectly than they could by forming a figure whose parts should all present a symmetrical development.

It is not that reformers over-estimate the evil of any of the vices against which they contend; for in the abstract that is impossible; but that they under-estimate the evil of all other vices in relation to that one against which they arm themselves. The tree of evil has many branches, and the trimming away one of them may only make the rest grow more vigorously. There can be no thorough progress in reform until the evil of the whole tree is perceived and acknowledged, and the whole strength is turned to digging it up by the roots.

If a man devote himself actively to the reform of some special vice, while he at the same time shows himself indifferent to other vices in himself or in his neighbors, it is evident that his virtue is only one of seeming. We are told that he who is guilty of breaking one commandment is guilty of all; because if we disregard any one commandment of the Lord habitually, persisting in the preference of our own will to his, it is evident we have no true reverence for him, or that we act in conformity to his commandments in other points only because in them our will happens not to run counter to his; and this is no obedience at all.

If we find men leaving no stone unturned in promoting the cause of temperance, who do not hesitate to cheat and slander their neighbors, temperance is no virtue in them; but is the result of love of wealth, or of property, or of reputation, or of the having no desire for strong drink; because if a man abstain from intemperance from love to God, he will abstain from cheating and slandering from love to the neighbor. "He that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?"

So, too, slavery is an enormous evil, and it is very easy for one who dwells in the free States to cover with opprobrium those who hold slaves; but if the abolitionist indulges in a violence of invective that compels one to fear that his heart is burning with hatred towards his Southern brothers, he stands quite as low in the moral scale as a cruel slaveholder, and possibly lower than a kind one.

The intemperate, and often malignant, violence with which men preach, and lead on crusades, against special vices, proves them ignorant of, or indifferent to, the significance of virtue as a whole. It does not enter into their hearts to conceive of the beauty of that growth in grace which results in the complete stature of a man,—that is, of an angel. In their haste to produce great growth in some particular direction, they overlook the fact, that in precise proportion to such growth must be the dwarfing of the other members of the soul. Man was created in the image and likeness of God; and he becomes truly a man only so far as, through the grace of God, his whole being voluntarily assumes that resemblance to the All-perfect for which he was designed. So long as he makes no effort to become regenerate, after he has arrived at an age to be at liberty to choose between good and evil, he turns himself more and more away from God, and becomes less and less like him. While in this state, he may possess many seeming virtues, may enjoy an untarnished reputation, may win the love of many friends; but is none the less the hollow image of that which should be the substance of a man. He is following only the devices of his own heart,—seeking only the good things of this world; and there is no virtue in anything that he does, though he may seem to devote all that he has, or all that he is, to purposes of charity or reform. Man begins to be truly virtuous,—to be truly a man, only when, relying on the strength of the Lord to sustain his endeavors, he begins to avoid sin because it is abhorrent to God, and to fulfil the commandments because they are the words of God. Then only he begins to form himself into the symmetrical figure of a man; and to become perfect after the manner in which the Heavenly Father is perfect.

The virtues all lock into each other. They cannot stand alone. Like the stones of an arch, no one of them can be wanting without making all the rest insecure. That Character alone is trustworthy in which each virtue takes its relative position, and all are held in place and confirmed by the key-stone of a living faith in the great central fact, that there is a God of infinite goodness and truth, whose commandments are the laws of life in this world and the world to come.

We cannot religiously obey one commandment unless we desire to obey all, because in order to obey one religiously we must obey it from reverence to the divine authority whence it emanates; and when such reverence is aroused in the heart, it sends the currents of spiritual life to every member of the spiritual frame, permeating the whole being, and suffering no disease to remain upon the soul. He, therefore, who devotes himself to some one object of reform enters upon an undertaking involving one of the most subtle temptations by which man is ever assailed. Spiritual pride will lie in wait for him every moment, telling him how clean he is compared with those against whose vices he is contending; and unless he is very strong in Christian humility, he will soon learn this oft-repeated lesson, and will go about the world with the spirit of the Pharisee's prayer ever in his heart,—"God, I thank thee that I am not as other men, intemperate, a slaveholder, a contemner of the rights of the weak. I am not, like many men, contented with fulfilling the common, every-day duties of life. They are too small for me. I seek to do great things; and to show my devotion to thee by going armed with all the power the law allows, to put down vice by force, and drive it from the face of the earth."

There is a class of men who assume to be, and are received by many as, philanthropists, who appear to delight in detecting and publishing to the world the vices of their fellow-beings. They seem to love to hate; and to find, in vilifying the reputations of those to whom they are opposed, a pleasure that can be compared to nothing human; but rather to the joy of a vulture as he gloats over, and rends in pieces, his carrion prey. While reading or listening to the raging denunciations of such persons, one is painfully reminded of the spirit that a few generations ago armed itself with the fagot and the axe in order to destroy those who held opinions in opposition to the dominant power. The axe and the fagot have disappeared; but, alas for human nature! the spirit that delighted in their use has hot wholly passed away; the flame and sword it uses now are those of malignity and hatred; it does not scorch or wound the body, but only burns and slays the reputations of those whom it assails. Forgetting that the Lord has declared, "judgment is mine," it hesitates but little to pass its condemnations upon those who differ from itself; and if Christian commandments are urged against it, it passes them by with a sneer, or openly sets them aside as too narrow and imperfect for the present age. While shrinking from the dangers that lie in wait for those who devote themselves to one idea in morality or reform, we should beware of falling into the opposite extreme of indifference on these same points; and should be sure to give them their full share of consideration. The ultra conservatism, that holds fast to existing customs and organizations merely because they are old, or from the love of conservation, is quite as fatuous as the radicalism that would destroy the old merely because it is old, or from the love of destruction. He whose conscience knows no higher sanction or restraint than the Statute Book, is not enough of a Christian to be a good citizen; while he who does not respect the Statute Book as the palladium of his country, is not a citizen worthy the name of Christian. While striving to remain unbiased by the clamor of party, or the violence of individuals, we should with equal care avoid the opposite error of looking with approval, or even with indifference, upon usages or institutions whose only claim to our forbearance lies in laws or popular opinions whose deformity should be discovered, and whose power should melt away beneath the light and warmth of a Christian sun.

True religious life consists in doing the will of God every moment of our lives. His will must bear upon us everywhere and at all times. Where the mind is absorbed in some one object of reform, this constant devotion to duty is almost, if not quite, impossible. The mind becomes so warped in one direction that it loses the habit, and almost loses the power, of turning in any other. Hence we rarely hear the word duty from the lips of the reformer. He constantly descants upon rights or wrongs, while duties seem forgotten. Thus we hear perpetually of the rights or of the wrongs of man or of woman, of the citizen, or of the criminal, and of the slave; but the duties of these classes seem to have passed out of sight. Now it is only when all shall fulfil their several duties that the rights of all can be respected; and if peace on earth, and good-will towards men are ever to reign, it must be when piety and charity shall go hand in hand,—when the human race shall unite as one to fulfil its duties towards God and towards each other.

Violence of every kind springs from a desire to do one's own will. Egotism is the sure accompaniment of wrath. The love of God never constrained any man to villify his brother. He who is bent on the performance of duty,—who desires simply to do the will of God, is firm as a rock, but never violent. He prays, with the poet,—

"Let not this weak, unknowing hand, Presume thy bolts to throw; And deal damnation round the land, On each I judge thy foe." He remembers that judgment belongs to God; and that the Lord taught us to pray, "Forgive our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us"; and surely none can hurl denunciation upon a fellow-sinner if from his heart he offers that prayer.

Possibly the ground may be taken that we should forgive our own personal enemies, but not the enemies of the Lord, against whom the reformer directs his wrath. But is the arm of the Lord shortened that he cannot avenge his own wrongs? and who among mortals is so pure or so strong that he may dare to say, the Lord has need of him for a champion?

It is deemed just that a soldier should suffer severe punishment if he act without orders, taking upon himself the authority of a commanding officer. How much more is he worthy of condemnation who puts himself in place of God, and under pretence of doing him service, presumes to transgress his explicit commands.

We are prone to fancy that when we are fond of talking about any object we are fond of the object itself; but this by no means follows of course. We may delight in talking about philanthropy while our hearts are burning with hatred, or about temperance while intoxicated with passion, or about abolitionism while we have no respect for the liberty of those around us, and no comprehension of that liberty wherewith Christ makes his children free; and all this because we are working from the blind impulses of an unregenerate spirit. When the spirit becomes regenerate,—taught of God,—it perceives the unity of virtue, and can never again regard it as a dismembered fragment. Then it knows, that to do wrong that good may come of it is striving to cast out Satan by Beelzebub,—an effort that must surely fail. Then it feels that evil is really overcome only by good. How different will be the reformatory zeal of this state of the spirit from that which preceded it. Formerly, no sooner was the subject of reform mentioned than the neck stiffened and the head tossed itself backward with the excitement of pride and combativeness, while the tongue poured forth whatever phrases anger might suggest. Now, how different is the attitude and expression, as with words of gentleness and love it strives to draw others to perceive the beauty of purity and justice. Formerly, the whole effort of the mind was to compel others to come into agreement with itself; now, it strives to win them into harmony with God. Once, it believed that indignation could be righteous; now, it knows that anger and heavenly mindedness dwell far apart; and, if they approach each other, one must perish.

If we would train character into genuine goodness, we should observe whether evil in ourselves or others offends us because it is contrary to our own ideas, or because it is opposed to the will of God. If the former be the case, we shall find ourselves angry; if the latter, we shall be sorrowful. No one can be angry from love to God. Anger is in its very nature egotistic and selfish, and has in it nothing of holiness. Penitence for sin is ever meek and humble, and so is regret for the sins of others. The moment we find ourselves angry, either for our own sins or for the sins of others, we may be sure there is something wrong in our state, and we should stop at once to analyze our feelings, and find where the trouble lies. If we do this conscienciously, we shall be sure to find some selfish or worldly passion at the root of the matter. We shall find that something else than love to God excited our indignation.

If we find ourselves indulging, habitually and with satisfaction in any one sin, we may be sure that we have not true hatred for any sin; for sin is hateful because it is contrary to the infinite wisdom and goodness of God. If we abhor it for this reason, we shall abhor all sin; and if we find ourselves hating some sins and loving others, we may be sure that we hate those which are repugnant to our own tastes, and love those which are in conformity with them. Thus our measure of sin is in ourselves, and not in God; and we are putting ourselves in place of God,—worshipping the idol self, instead of our Father in heaven.

The Lord was very explicit in his teachings regarding the necessity of the denial of self; but this is the last thing in which we are willing to obey him. We profess to be willing and eager to do a great deal of good; but when conscience tells us that we must do the will of God every moment of our lives, we turn away with a sorrowful countenance; for there are many things in which we wish to follow our own wills without stopping to consult the will of God, and we wish to believe that we can do this and yet be quite virtuous enough to insure salvation. While the natural man is strong within us, we are ever striving to serve God and mammon; but when the spiritual man is born, we are willing to give up all else and follow the Lord. Then, we feel that we cannot be truly virtuous, because we are, in some points, very scrupulous, while in others we are very indifferent; for we perceive that goodness is the harmonious development of the whole Character into accordance with the will of God.

So long as we labor for ourselves we shall be, at best, only special reformers, and cultivators of special virtues; but when we are ready to deny ourselves, and to do the will of God, all sin will become abhorrent to us, and we shall grow in grace daily until we become perfected in that symmetrical form of man, which is the image and likeness of God; and every faculty of the heart and of the head will then be baptized into the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.


"It is this trinity of man,—for man is the image of his God, in whom is the essential Trinity,—under which his whole character must be studied."—KINMONT.

Man being created in the image and likeness of God, we must of necessity find in him a finite organization corresponding with the infinite organization of the Creator. In the Infinite Divine Trinity there are the Divine Goodness or Love, the Divine Truth or Wisdom, and the Divine Operation or the manifestation of the other two in and upon the universe: in other words, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In the human, finite trinity, we have, corresponding with these, Affection, Understanding, and Use, or external life. Divinity being the embodiment of infinite order, its parts act in a sequence of absolute perfection; that is, absolute love by means of absolute wisdom exhibits itself in absolute use. Speaking with exactness, the word sequence is out of place in this connection, because with the Divinity, love, wisdom, and operation are simultaneous; but he has separated them in his ultimate manifestations, and we are obliged to separate them in our analysis, in order that they may in any degree come within the compass of human comprehension.

Man, in his primeval innocence, was a genuine image and likeness of the All-perfect Divinity; perfect after the same manner, but on a lower plane. There was then no antagonism between the creature and the Creator; and the finite naturally and joyfully obeyed the infinite; for in obedience to the will of the Heavenly Father it found sustenance for the soul as manifestly as in meat and drink for the body. The progress of time saw the creature turn from the love of God to the love of self,—from seeking the truth of God to seeking out its own vain imaginations, and from performing the orderly uses of a life of charity to all the disorderly indulgencies of selfish passion. Instead of worshipping the living God, man now invented idols representing his own evil passions, and bowed before them in adoring admiration; for the attributes wherewith he clothed them were fitting forces to stimulate his progress along the pathway he had chosen, where life was made hideous by the lowering shadows of rapine and murder.

The first Church, represented by Adam and Eve, is the general type of every Church that has followed it, and of every unregenerate individual in those Churches. Instead of looking to God as the source of all wisdom, there is ever the desire to eat of, or make our own, the fruit of the tree of knowledge, that we may know of ourselves good from evil; and that we may do of ourselves what seems to us right; and instead of penitence for sin and an endeavor after reformation, there is a striving to conceal our unfaithfulness. The covering assumed by those who, in Scripture, stand as the parents of mankind, is the perpetual type of the subterfuges we all invent to hide our disobedience from our God, from our neighbors, nay, even from ourselves. The primal image and likeness of God has become so defaced, distorted, and broken, that it is often hard to find a remnant still testifying to its Divine origin. Let us rise up from among these shattered fragments, and contemplate for a while the means of bringing the poor, fallen human nature into harmony with the divine;—let us develop, if we can, a system that may aid us in training our faculties, so that the Affections shall be pure, the Understanding wise, and Life the harmonious exponent of both.

In the attempt to restore our being to its original symmetry, the intellectual part of the nature must not be cultivated at the expense of the affectional, nor should the affectional be suffered to run riot with the intellectual. Love must be wise, and wisdom must be affectionate, or life will fail of its end. External morality has no reliable foundation unless it be built on morality of thought and affection. Apart from these, it is either the result of a happy organization that demands no disorderly indulgence, or it is the figleaf garment of deceit, put on by those who strive to seem rather than to be.

In the just training of Character, if we first learn to understand the capacities and relations of Affection, Thought, and Life, and look within our own natures until we learn to comprehend how everything pertaining to our being belongs to one of these departments, we shall better appreciate the difficulties to be overcome before we shall be willing to make everything that we do the honest outbirth of everything that we are. Pretence and hypocrisy, subterfuge and falsehood, will then disappear, and life will become the adequate expression of symmetrical Character.

The intellectual part of our being may be better understood if divided into two departments, viz., Thought and Imagination,—the subjective and the objective. Thought can be lifted up into the Affections, and made manifest in Life only through the medium of the Imagination. Thought is at first a pure abstraction, a subjective idea,—something entirely within the mind, and having no relation to conduct,—a seed sown, but not germinated; and while it remains thus it has no influence upon the Affections. If, however, it germinate, the next step in its existence is to become an objective idea; and now it has lost its abstract quality and become an image. In its first state it is neither agreeable nor disagreeable to the mind, but so soon as it takes a distinctive form it becomes either pleasing or displeasing, and is either cast away and forgotten, or retained arid expanded by the Affections, whose office it is to cause Thought to become a vital reality, ready to show itself in the external life so soon as a fitting occasion calls for its manifestation.

Thought is like water. Sometimes it glides over the mind as over a bed of rock; neither softening nor fertilizing; but when it is made a possible reality by the Imagination, and a vital reality by the Affections, it is now like a stream, flowing through rich farms and gardens, fertilizing wherever it comes; and again, like waterfalls, furnishing power to set ideas in motion, that shall give nutriment and warmth to the souls of millions.

The Lord, when he would condense religion into its narrowest compass, commands us to love the Heavenly Father with the whole heart and soul and mind and strength. Can this signify anything else than that Affection, Imagination, and Thought, in their whole strength, or brought down into the ultimates of life, must be consecrated to the Divine Creator of them all? So St. Paul, when he would sum up the whole Christian system in a single phrase, exclaims: "Faith, Hope, Charity. The greatest of these is Charity." Faith here expresses the religion of Thought, Hope the religion of the Imagination, and Charity the religion of the Affections, which is greatest of all because it is the vitalization of the other two.

Every act that we voluntarily perform, whether good or evil, first entered the mind as an abstract Thought; it was then shaped by the Imagination until it became a definite idea; next, it was claimed as a child by the Affections; and lastly, it was by the Affections made to come out into a use of love or an abuse of hate.

Many thoughts die in the mind without passing through all these stages. We sometimes hear a sermon that fills our Thoughts as we listen, and yet we forget it all as we turn away from the church door; for it went no deeper than our Thoughts. At another time, what we hear goes with us to our homes, haunts us through the week, and perhaps is made a standard whereby to measure the virtues or the vices of our neighbors; possibly even, we try ourselves by its rule, and our consciences are roused to pierce us with the sharp pang of remorse. All this, however, brings no change over our lives. Here Thought has passed into Imagination, has become a reality to the mind; but as yet the Affections do not warm towards it, and so it dies in the second stage of existence. Yet, again, we listen to the voice of the preacher, and his words abide in the soul until they quicken our Affections, and as we muse the fire burns. Then are our eyes lightened to perceive how all that we have heard may become realized in life; and warmed by the heavenly flame that has descended upon our altar, our souls kindle with charity, and we go forth to realize the hope that is within us in works of angelic use.

This process of the mind is not confined to the religious part of our being. It goes on perpetually in our intellectual no less than our moral nature. Our success in using whatever we learn in every department, the wisdom or the folly of everything we do, whether relating to intellectual, to religious, or to practical life, depends on the faithfulness with which we apply these three powers to whatever is presented to them.

Look in upon the assembled members of a school, of any grade from primary to collegiate, and you will see one set of pupils with stolid faces conning their tasks, as if they were indeed tasks in the hardest sense of the term, and then reciting them word for word, in a monotonous tone, as if their voices came from automata, and not from living throats. These are they who study only with their Thoughts, and whose Imaginations and Affections are untouched by all that passes through their minds. Scattered among the preceding another class may be found, with quickly glancing eyes, who seem all alive to everything they study, who recite with earnest tones, and whose faces are bright with expression. Here the Imagination is at work, and everything the mind seizes upon stands there at once a living picture. These are the brilliant scholars, who carry off all the prizes, and win all admiration. There is still a third class, of a calmer aspect. Its members may not shine so brightly, but there is more warmth in their rays. They will not learn so much nor so rapidly as those of the second class, but their whole being is permeated by what they know. They are constantly studying the relations of the things that they learn to each other and to life; and are endeavoring to form themselves in accordance with the rationality they thus acquire; for their Affections have fastened themselves upon it, and it is therefore becoming a part of their being.

When these three classes of pupils become men and women, and go forth into the various walks of life, the first, if they attempt any handicraft, are the botchers and bunglers, who bring little more than their hands to anything that they do; and who, therefore, do nothing well. They are the dead weights of society, that must be helped through life by their more active neighbors. If they are scholars, they are collectors of facts, which they pile up in their memories as a miser heaps his gold, for no end but the pleasure of heaping. They make physicians without resource, lawyers without discernment, preachers who dole out divinity in its baldest and heaviest forms.

Those of the second class are always better in theory than in practice; for with them zeal ever runs before knowledge. They will delight in telling how a thing should be done, but will find it very difficult to do it themselves. A blacksmith of this class will tell with great exactness how a horse should be shod, but if trusted to perform that office, ten to one the poor animal will go limping from his hands. So a carpenter of the same class will be full of plans and fancies that he will wish to carry out for the benefit of his employers; but his work, when completed, though perhaps elegant and ornamental, will probably be inappropriate in appearance, and not adapted to the use for which it was intended. From this class come inventors of machines that are never heard of after they get into the patent-office, schemers and speculators whose plans end in ruin, boon companions, brilliant talkers, sparkling orators, elegant and ornate poets who sing blithely for their own day and generation, preachers and statesmen who are ever led away by Utopian and millennial dreams; in short, men who may shine while they live, but are seldom remembered when they die.

The third class are men of mark in whatever walk of life they are found; —men to be relied upon for whatever they may undertake. They are men who can produce in Life what their Understandings know and imagine; or, rather, who know how to select from their stores of Thought and Imagination whatever may be realized in Life. If they are mechanics, their work is the best of its kind, and precisely adapted to the use for which it was intended; if they are machinists, their inventions are those that ameliorate the condition of society; if merchants or speculators, they do not run after bubbles; if devoted to intellectual pursuits, they are divines whose thoughts thrill the souls of men for centuries, founders of new schools of philosophy, lawgivers, and statesmen who are remembered with gratitude as the fathers of nations, poets whose words are destined to live so long as the language in which they write is spoken,—nay, who shall cause their language to be studied ages after all who spoke it have passed from the face of the earth.

The women who belong to these several classes are characterized in like manner, though their more retired lives prevent them from displaying their traits so conspicuously. Those of the first class are dress-makers whose work never fits, milliners whose bonnets look as if they were not intended for the wearers, servants who do nothing rightly unless the eye of their mistress is upon them, teachers whose pupils are taught as if they were beings without life or reason; and in their highest relations, as wives and mothers, they are those with whom nothing goes as it should, whose daily lives are but a succession of mistakes and catastrophies, whose husbands never find a comfortable home to which they may return for repose after a day of toil, whose children are "dragged up, not brought up."

In the second class are servants who have a quick perception of what is to be done, and who make all that is directly apparent to the eye look well, but a closer observation shows many an unswept corner and neglected duty; dress-makers and milliners whose work is ornamental, tasteful, and becoming, though the ornamentation is apt to be too great for the value of the material, and the work will now and then come in pieces for lack of being thoroughly finished; teachers who infuse brightness and quickness into their scholars, but whose instructions are more showy than solid. In their housekeeping they understand "putting the best foot foremost," and making a great deal of ornament where there may be but little of anything else; but they lack the practical skill that makes a housekeeper successful in the essentials that constitute comfort. They will seek to make their children accomplished ladies and gentlemen, who will be agreeable in society, rather than well-trained men and women, capable of meeting the duties and emergencies of life.

The third class of women are the reliable ones, wherever they may be found. They do everything they attempt well, because there is a sense of fitness and propriety in them which is disturbed by things badly done, and which gives them an almost intuitive faith, that if a thing is worth doing at all, it is worth doing well. They are not eye-servants, but faithful in all things. Thoroughness pervades whatever they do, in all departments of life. They are not satisfied with making a dress or a bonnet that is becoming, unless it is well finished and appropriate. They are the thorough teachers who are willing to have their schools examined every day in the year, who seek to know the capacities of their pupils, and to educate them accordingly. They are the mothers whose children are obedient and trained for the uses of life no less than for its pleasures; the wives whose husbands are happy in their homes if they are capable of being happy anywhere.

When we contemplate these three classes of human beings, we perceive that only one of them can be said to lead successful lives. Two classes, and both of them painfully numerous, fail. The question rises to the mind with fearful solemnity, were they created for this end,—created to fail? Can we for a single moment believe that a Father of infinite justice and mercy ever created one individual among his children, an accountable being, neither insane nor idiotic, and yet so imperfect that he must fail? Surely it were blasphemy to hold such an act possible. Infinitely various are the works of his hand in the forms of humanity, as in every other department of the universe, but even so manifold are the varieties and degrees of service which he prepares for every one to do. There is a place and a use for every one, and whoever fails of finding a place and a use fails, not because he was created incompetent, but because he refuses to cultivate the powers wherewith he is endowed. Indolence and selfishness, the moth and rust of Character, are corroding and devouring the delicate organization of the internal man, which can retain the wholeness and brightness of its powers only by constant use. We are weak and useless, not because we were created to be so, but because we do not listen to the voice of conscience when it tells us to serve the Lord with all our strength, in the very place where we now are, and at the very time that now is. It is not because the power of growth is not in them that our talents do not multiply, but because we fold them in a napkin of indifference, and bury them in the earth of our lower nature. Understanding and Affection are within us all, and if they do not develop into a life of use, into a Character that will fit us for heaven,—and this is what we should always keep before our minds as the only genuine success,—it is because we have not striven as we might and ought.

Understanding and Affection are within us all, differing, not in kind, but only in degree; and they are constantly at work, involuntarily if we do not voluntarily assume their control. In the little child they work as involuntarily as the heart beats and the lungs respire; but so soon as the child is old enough to begin to know the difference between right and wrong, the action of these powers should begin to be voluntary; should begin to be under the guidance of conscience.

Some persons call these powers into voluntary action from motives of mere worldly wisdom. Every one does so who places some object before himself, and cultivates his powers with a special view to attain perfection therein. The pickpocket, the gambler, the housebreaker, must do it before they can attain skill in their depravity. The worldling does it who follows an honorable profession with all his heart and soul and mind and strength, seeking only such rewards as Mammon bestows upon his votaries. Whether all these are to be successful in attaining the rewards they seek, is a matter of entire uncertainty; for Providence permits or withholds worldly success in a way that we cannot anticipate, nor but imperfectly understand. We may bear the heavy yoke of Mammon until it wear into the very marrow of our bones, and yet gain nothing but poverty and disgrace. They, however, who by a voluntary action of the powers endeavor to become perfected in the stature of Christian men and women,—who seek first the kingdom of heaven and its righteousness, using all things of this world only as rounds of that ladder whose summit is in the heavens, even while its base rests upon the earth, are sure of the reward they seek; and the yoke that they bear will grow more light and easy with each revolving year.

There are many persons who seem to belong by turns to each of the three great classes that have been described. These exercise their powers involuntarily. They cannot be depended upon, for they are not balanced Characters. If they happen to like what they are doing, or happen to feel in the mood of doing it, they will do it well; otherwise, they do not care how badly their work is performed, if it only can be got through with. They have not waked to the consciousness that we have no right to do anything badly, because whenever we do so we impair our own faculties, and thereby diminish our powers of usefulness; while, if the act concerns any one beside ourselves,—as almost all acts do,—we are wronging our neighbor.

Many persons are so fortunate, women especially almost always so, as to have enough employment placed before them by the circumstances of their position, without any effort of choice on their part, to occupy their time, and to train their faculties. Those who are not thus set to work by circumstance should be governed in the selection of their employment by their own inclination and talents. What we love to do we can learn to do well, and our work will then be agreeable to us. Many persons are governed in the choice of employment for themselves or for their children by a stronger consideration for what is honorable in the eyes of the world than by talent or taste. Thence it often results that persons fail ever to fulfil the duties they have chosen in a way to be satisfactory to any one beside themselves, perhaps not even to themselves. If they have sufficient force of Character to do well in spite of not doing what they like, they are still never so happy as they would have been had inclination been consulted. Where the heart is really in the employment, work is not a burden, but a natural and pleasant exercise of the powers; and it becomes comparatively easy to serve the Lord with all the strength.

Those who are not constrained to work, should remember that a life of idleness cannot be a life of innocence; for the idle cannot serve the Lord. A life that does not cultivate one's own capacities, and aid either in supplying the wants or cultivating the capacities of some one beside self, is no preparation for heaven; for the heavenly life is one of perpetual advance, because of untiring use.

There is no station in life where there is not a constant demand for the exercise of charity. We cannot be in company an hour with any person without some such demand presenting itself to us. The daily intercourse of life places it constantly in our power to make some person more or less happy than he now is, and accordingly as we may choose between these two modes of action we are fulfilling or setting aside the law of charity.

No class of human beings bears a more heavy weight of responsibility than that which is placed beyond the necessity of effort; and there is none whose position has a stronger tendency to blind it to the calls of duty. Although every gift bestowed upon us by providence, whether of mind, body, or estate, is but another talent, for the employment of which we must be one day called to account, yet these added talents too often excite in us a feeling of superiority which induces us to demand that others should minister to us, and causes us to forget that he who would be greatest must be so by doing more and greater services than others, and not by receiving them.

Persons whose position places them beyond the need of effort, would do well to select some special study or employment to occupy and develop their mental life, and save them from the inanity, ennui, and selfishness that are sure to follow in the footsteps of idleness. Poverty of mind is rendered all the more prominent and disgusting if accompanied by external wealth; and to such a mind wealth is but a means to folly, if to nothing worse.

Neither wealth nor poverty, neither strength nor weakness, neither genius nor the want of it, neither ten talents nor one, can excuse any human being from training his faculties in a way to develop them to the utmost, and forming them into a symmetrical whole, the type of a true humanity.

In the following essays it may seem to the reader that there is contradiction in treating each power of the mind as though its perfect training resulted in the upbuilding of a perfect Character; but the union between these capacities is so intimate that one cannot be rightly trained unless all the others are trained at the same time. We cannot think wisely unless we imagine truly, and love rightly, as well as warmly. We cannot love rightly unless we think justly, and imagine purely; nor can we imagine purely unless we love that which is pure. We cannot do all this unless we live out what we think, imagine, and love; for the inner life always acts narrowly and superficially unless it be widened and deepened by an efficient external life. What we do must follow closely in the footsteps of what we know, if we would arrive at breadth and depth of knowledge. So fast as we put in practice what we know we shall be able to receive more knowledge. We are told by the Lord that our knowledge of truth shall be enlarged in proportion as we are obedient to the divine will. "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine."

The Divine attributes act simultaneously and equally always and everywhere, while the triune manifestation is a merciful adaptation of these attributes to the comprehension of fallen humanity. Were humanity truly regenerate, the action of its capacities would be simultaneous and homogeneous. Even in its present state these capacities are so interlaced that one cannot act strongly without inducing some action in the others; just as in the physical frame the brain, the heart, and the lungs can no one of them act unless all act in some degree; while in perfect health all act in the fulness of perfect harmony, no one organ rendering itself prominent by being more full of vitality and activity than another. Disease alone renders us conscious of the action of any one vital organ, and our moral diseases having destroyed the harmonious action of our moral powers, thereby rendering it impossible for us to appreciate the Divinity in the full harmony of unity, we have been mercifully permitted to attain to such knowledge as is possible to us through manifestations of the Divine attributes in trinity. In proportion as our faculties are trained to act in harmony we shall become unconscious of their separate functions; and in the same proportion we shall become capable of looking upon the Divinity in the

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It is the grandeur of all truth which can occupy a very high place in human interests, that it is never absolutely novel to the meanest of minds: it exists eternally by way of germ or latent principle in the lowest as in the highest, needing to be developed, but never to be planted.—DE QUINCEY.

Many persons seem to suppose that the power of Thought, or at least the power of thinking to any purpose, is a natural gift, possessed by few, and unattainable by the many. This idea is a very pernicious error, for one of the traits by which the human being is distinguished from the brute is the possession of this power; and the progress that every human being may make in learning to think well has no limit but the universal one of finite capacity.

The distinction made between thoughtful and thoughtless persons is commonly one of intellect alone; it should be quite as much one of morality. Considered intellectually, a thoughtless person cannot be successful in any but the very lowest walks of life. He brings nothing but his hands to what he does. If these be strong, he may dig, perhaps, as well as another man, but he can never make a good farmer; he may use the axe or the hammer to good purpose, but he can never become a master-workman. If he attempt anything more or higher than what his hands can do under the guidance of another's brain, his effort is sure to be followed by confusion and failure. Viewing a thoughtless person in a moral light, he cannot be religious, he cannot be virtuous, and, unless by accident, he cannot even be externally moral. He may, perhaps, perceive that the grosser forms of wickedness are to be avoided, but he can have no comprehension of the danger involved in the little vices of everyday life; and cannot understand how every one of these vices, small as it may seem, contains within itself the germ of some one of those great and shocking sins forbidden in the commandments. He will, therefore, without compunction, go on committing these small sins until the habit of evil becomes so fixed, that, if he does not end by committing great ones, it is more frequently from lack of temptation than from any worthier reason.

The thoughtless person can never be depended upon for anything. We never know where to find him, or what he will do in any particular position or relation of life. All we can anticipate of him is, that he will probably do something bad, or silly, or improper; accordingly as the act may bear upon morality, sense, or manners.

Before going further, let it be understood that a thoughtless person is not one without Thought. A human being without Thought is an impossibility. Most, if not all, idiots think. It is the lack of coherency, purpose, and effort in Thought that induces the habit of mind commonly known as thoughtlessness. Without Thought, Imagination, and Affection, one could not be a human being. Mankind differ from each other, not in kind, but in degree. It is the low degree of activity in either of these great divisions of the human mind that causes one to seem thoughtless, unimaginative, or without affection. The end of all training should be to develop each one of these faculties so that it shall cooeperate with the others, and all as fully as possible. A just balance of power is the first requisite, and constant increase of it the second; just as in the physical frame we ask, first, for just proportion, and, as the product of this, for strength.

It is often said that no kind of sense is so rare as common sense; and this is true, simply because common sense is attainable by all far more, and is a natural gift far less, than most other traits of character. Common sense is the application of Thought to common things, and it is rare because most persons will not exercise Thought about common things. If some important affair occurs, people try then to think, but to very little purpose; because, not having exercised their powers on small things, their powers lack the development necessary for great ones. Hence, thoughtless people, when forced to act in an affair of importance, blunder through it with no more chance of doing as they should than one would have of hitting a small or distant mark at a shooting-match, if previous practice had not given the power of hitting objects that are large and near.

The thoughtless person perpetually acts and speaks as if it were of no consequence what is said or done. If any one venture to suggest a different mode of speech or action, the reply is pretty sure to be, "O, it is of no consequence!" As if an immortal being, to whom a few short years of probation had been given, the use or abuse of which must give character to an eternity to come, could do or say what would have no consequence! Let any one bring distinctly before himself the great truth that we stand ever in the presence of the Almighty, stewards of his bounty, children of his love, and could it be possible for him to believe that it is of no consequence how that love is returned, and how that bounty is used? Every word, every act of our lives, is either a use or an abuse of his bounty, a showing forth either of our love for or our indifference to him. Therefore, every word and act has a consequence, ending not with the hour or day, but stretching forward into eternity. Let this truth be admitted to the mind, and who could dare to be thoughtless. Who would not wish to return the infinite love poured out upon us, by consecrating all that we have and all that we are to the service of the Infinite Father? When this consecration takes place, all pure aspirations fill the heart, while the mind is ever thinking what is the best way in which the will of the Lord may be done. Thoughtlessness has no longer an abiding-place, for the mind now perceives that it must be about its Father's business, and Thought becomes a delightful and invigorating exercise, instead of the wearisome effort it seemed before.

If the mind hold to its integrity, without relapsing into its former state of blind indifference to its high vocation, the cultivation of the power of Thought will go on steadily and surely, and the mind will become constantly more and more clarified from all folly and silliness.

When a person brings everything habitually to the standard of right and wrong, he gradually learns to judge wisely of whatever subject he may hold under consideration, provided he does not seek for that standard in his own mind, but in the mind of the Lord, as he has given it to us in the Word of eternal life. When this standard is sought only in the human mind, nothing is fixed or permanent, and discord abounds in society much as it would if the length and breadth of the fingers of each individual were to be substituted for the standard inch and foot of the nation; but if the Bible be honestly and humbly received as the standard by which to judge of right and wrong, mankind would ever abide in brotherly love and harmonious union. The element of discord is not in God's work, but in the mind of man; and man becomes truly wise and capable of concord only so far as, forgetting the devices of his own understanding, he becomes a recipient of the truth that descends to him from on high.

It may be objected that the Bible has been the fruitful source of contention and war; and some may suppose it cannot therefore be a standard of union to the world; but it should be remembered that, when it has become a cause of dissension, it has been by the perversion of man, who has separated doctrine from life,—has put asunder that which God joined. No contention has ever risen in the world regarding religious life, but many and terrible ones regarding religious doctrine separated from life; and it is perfectly apparent, that, had those who were engaged in them, looked to religious life with the same earnestness they did toward doctrine, all these dissensions must have ceased. Christian life is, as it were, a building, of which faith is the foundation. The foundation is subservient to the superstructure, and should be strong and well laid; but has no value excepting as it is the support of a worthy building. The Lord is very explicit in all his teachings on the subject of life, and it is hardly possible that any one could faithfully study his words, and then exalt abstract doctrine into the place that belongs of right to Christian life.

Whoever studies the direct teachings of the Lord, recorded by the Evangelists, and makes them the rules of his Thoughts, must necessarily be wise. Everything connected with daily life, if his mind be really permeated with these teachings, takes its proper place before him. He sees what has a transient, and what a permanent value,—what is merely temporal, and what eternal; and so learns to appreciate the relative value of all things. Everything that occurs becomes a subject for his thoughts to work upon, and while working in heavenly light his mind grows in wisdom day by day. This action of Thought will not be confined to events as they occur around him, but whatever is read, all the events of the past, all art and science, are brought under the same analysis. The thoughtless person reads merely for the amusement of the moment, remembers little of what he reads, and that little to no purpose. A fact is, to such a man, a mere fact standing by itself, and having no relation to anything else. However much he may read, the thoughtless man can never be instructed. He is of those who, seeing, perceive not, and who, hearing, do not understand. The thoughtful person, on the contrary, reads everything with a purpose. His mind works upon what he reads, and he is instructed and made intelligent, even though he may see only with the light of this world. His intelligence will, however, be very different and very inferior in degree to that of the man who looks at objects in the light of heaven. He will measure things by an uncertain, varying standard, and will appreciate things only according to their temporal value. He will, therefore, never become truly wise. With those whose minds are nurtured by the words of the Lord, everything is judged by the standard of eternal truth. Whatever is learned is digested by the thoughts, and so the powers of the mind are strengthened and enlarged. Thus the mind becomes constantly more and more wise. The merely intellectual man has the desire to become wise, but his eye is not single, and therefore his mind is obscured by many clouds,—the dark exhalations of worldliness. When a man fixes his eye upon the Lord he is filled with light, and sees with a clearness of vision such as can be gained from no other source.

The cultivation of Thought lies at the root of all intellectuality, while it elevates and enlarges the sphere of the Affections. Affection is above Thought, but it is sustained and invigorated by its influence. Thought being the foundation upon which Affection is built, the strength, permanence and reliability of Affection must depend on the solidity and justice of the underlying Thought.

The mind may be stored with the most varied and extensive knowledge, and yet be neither improved nor adorned thereby. Robert Hall once remarked of an acquaintance, that he had piled such an amount of learning upon his brain, it could not move under the weight. It is little matter whether the amount of learning be large or small; the brain is only encumbered by it, unless it has taken it into its own texture, and made it by Thought a part of itself. Some persons love facts as a miser loves gold, merely because they are possessions; but without any desire to make use of them. A fact or thought is just as valuable in itself as a piece of money. Gold and silver are neither food, nor raiment, nor shelter; but we value them because through their means we can obtain all these. So facts and thoughts are neither rationality, nor wisdom, nor virtue, and their value lies in their being mediums whereby we may obtain them all.

Undigested learning is as useless and oppressive as undigested food; and as in the dyspeptic patient the appetite for food often grows with the inability to digest it, so in the unthinking patient an overweening desire to know often accompanies the inability to know to any purpose. Thought is to the brain what gastric juice is to the stomach,—a solvent to reduce whatever is received to a condition in which all that is wholesome and nutritive may be appropriated, and that alone. To learn merely for the sake of learning, is like eating merely for the taste of the food. The mind will wax fat and unwieldy, like the body of the gormand. The stomach is to the frame what memory is to the mind; and it is as unwise to cultivate the memory at the expense of the mind, as it would be to enlarge the capacity of the stomach by eating more food than the wants of the frame require, or food of a quality that it could not appropriate. To learn in order to become wise makes the mind active and powerful, like the body of one who is temperate and judicious in meat and drink. Learning is healthfully digested by the mind when it reflects upon what is learned, classifies and arranges facts and circumstances, considers the relations of one to another, and places what is taken into the mind at different times in relation to the same subjects under their appropriate heads, so that the various stores are not heterogeneously piled up, but laid away in order, and may be referred to with ease when wanted. If a person's daily employments are such as demand a constant exercise of the thoughts, all the leisure should not be devoted to reading, but a part reserved for reflecting upon and arranging in the mind what is read. The manner of reading is much more important than the quantity. To hurry through many books, retaining only a confused knowledge of their contents, is but a poor exercise of the brain; it is far better to read with care a few well-selected volumes.

There is a strong tendency towards superficial culture at the present day, which is the natural result of the immense amount of books and periodicals constantly pouring from the press, and tempting readers to dip a little into almost everything, and to study nothing. Much is said of the pernicious consequences arising from lectures and periodicals, as though a short account of anything must of necessity be a superficial one; but this is far from the truth. A quarto volume on one theme may be entirely superficial, while a lecture or review-article on the same theme may contain the whole gist of the matter. Prolixity is oftener superficial than brevity. Books are superficial if they relate only to the outside of a subject,—if they describe only its husk; and the reverse, if they give its kernel. Many an able review-article contains the kernel of a whole volume, and if the pleased reader of the review goes to the book itself, expecting to enjoy that in a degree proportionate to its size, he will often find he has got nothing but a dry husk for his pains.

Those who have little time for books, but who wish really to know many things, can accomplish a great deal by being careful to hunt for meats rather than for shells and husks; for though the outsides of things make a great show, and can be displayed by the pedant to great advantage before those who are superficial as himself, they contain no healthful nutriment for the mind. Take, for instance, the study of botany. Let a person master the whole vocabulary of the science, and know the arrangement of its classifications so well that he can turn at once to the description of any plant he may find. Let him do this until, like King Solomon, he knows every plant by name, from the "hyssop on the wall to the cedar of Lebanon"; but if at the same time he knows nothing more about them than the name, his knowledge of botany is entirely superficial, though he may have spent a vast deal of time and labor in its acquisition. Let another person have studied the physiology of plants till he has learned all that has yet been discovered of their curious and beautiful structure,—till he appreciates as far as mortals may the Divine wisdom, that even in the formation of a blade of grass transcends not only all that man with all his pride of science and mechanical skill can perform, but goes far—we cannot even guess how far—beyond all that human intellect can comprehend; and still more if the mind of this student be lifted upward in adoration as he learns, he is the true botanist, though he may have studied far less, if we count by time, than his superficial brother.

So it is with all the sciences. The kernel is what nourishes the mind,—the knowledge of what God has created, and not the mere power of repeating the classifications and vocabularies that man has invented to describe these creations: not that these also have not an eminent use; but still it is one that should always be esteemed secondary in all our studies.

So, too, it is with history. One may have all the important dates, names, and facts of the world's history at the tongue's end, and yet be none the wiser; for such knowledge is but the surface of history. To know history well, is to have so arranged its facts in the mind that it may be contemplated as a continuous exhibition of God's providence. It is to study the succession of events, not as separate units, but as links of one vast chain, on every one of which is inscribed a phrase discoursing of the progress of the human race, and showing the growth of man in the complex, from infancy to adolescence. Further than that, we can hardly venture to believe the race has yet advanced. Thus studied, history is the noblest of all sciences, since it treats of the highest of God's creations; but studied as a mere congeries of facts, all sciences are alike worthless; and from the mousings of the mere antiquarian to the dredgings of the student of the shelly coverings of the Mollusca, all end in naught.

When a person's employment is one that does not require a constant exercise of the thoughts, there is the greater need of a constant supply of nutritious food for the mind, that it may be growing all the time by reflection, and thus be saved from falling into a morbid state, such as too often results from long confinement to an occupation demanding little exertion of its powers. The farmer at his plough, the mechanic at his bench, the seamstress at her needle, and a host of others, too often suffer the thoughts to wander into realms of morbid egotism and discontent, when, if they would turn them upon moral or intellectual themes, they might be growing wiser and better every day.

It may be objected, that those who are obliged to work hard through the whole week cannot, on the Sabbath, take enough intellectual food to last them for Thought during the week. Every person can, if he will, find time for a chapter in the Bible every day, and therein lies wisdom, that all humanity combined can never exhaust, and which ever opens richer stores the more it is wrought upon. Then the human race are everywhere around us, and every individual is a volume to be read. We are vexed, and perhaps tormented, by the vices or foibles of those with whom we are thrown in contact. Let us not stop in vexation, but study our own hearts, and see if there is not some kindred vice or foible in ourselves that perhaps troubles our friends quite as much as this disturbs us; for it is often the case that our own vices, when we meet them in others, are precisely those which irritate us most; and we are almost always more irritable through our vices than through our virtues. Again, we find persons exciting our admiration through their virtues. Let us not stop in cold admiration, but reflect how we may engraft similar virtues upon our own souls. It is deep and earnest Thought alone that can teach us to know ourselves, and without this knowledge we are in constant danger of cherishing repulsive vices such as we should abhor in others, and of neglecting the culture of virtues such as in others we esteem indispensable. Society at large, too, is around us, and domestic circles, with all their complex relations, their jarring discords, or their heavenly harmonies; and all are full of food for Thought. The true and the false, the right and the wrong, are everywhere, and the highest wisdom is to be able to distinguish one from the other. He who has spent his whole life in intellectual pursuits may, in this greatest wisdom,—the only wisdom that belongs to eternity equally with time,—be the veriest fool; while he who has patiently and prayerfully and obediently studied no book but the Bible may be so taught of God that he shall possess all that man while on earth can possess of this highest wisdom.

It is beautifully said by William von Humboldt, that "exactly those joyful truths which are the most needful to man—the holiest and the greatest—lie open to the simplest, plainest mind; nay, are not unfrequently better, and even more entirely, grasped by such a one, than by him whose greater knowledge more dissipates his thoughts. These truths, too, have this peculiarity, that, although they want no profound research to attain to them, but rather make their own way in the mind, there is always something new to be found in them, because they are in themselves inexhaustible and endless."

While the Bible is left to us, while human beings surround us, while our own souls are to be cleansed, renewed, and saved, we miserably deceive ourselves if we think we lack material for Thought. We are thinking perpetually, whether we will or no, and let us look to it that we think to some good purpose. How much Thought is worse than wasted in planning how wealth, which too often profiteth not, may be acquired, while the true riches that the Lord is ever offering for our acceptance are forgotten! How often are the Thoughts poisoned with envying the lands of one's neighbor, while one's own soul is lying an uncultivated waste. How often is the mind cankered with vexation at the intellectual achievements of an old schoolmate, whom in school days we never deemed wiser than ourselves, when all that has wrought the present difference between us is, that he thought and strove while we dreamed and loitered.

In its purely religious action, Thought is the fountain of that Faith which forms the base of St. Paul's trinity of the primal elements of Character,—the foundation upon which hope and charity are to be elevated. How important, then, is it that this foundation should be wisely laid! Many persons think much in relation to religious subjects from the love of metaphysical reasoning; while their lives are not influenced by the doctrines they profess. This is an abuse of Thought, one of its fruits is bigotry. The more strongly a man confirms himself in any doctrine that he does not apply to life, the more elevated he becomes in his own estimation,—the more puffed up with spiritual pride,—the more full of contempt and hatred towards those who disagree with him. With such persons, purity of life is as nothing compared with faith in a certain set of dogmas. There are some who think much of the vices of life, but always in relation to their neighbors, and thereby engender that form of bigotry called misanthropy. Both these classes misuse the faculty of Thought, making it subserve the purposes of contempt and hatred and debasing narrow-mindedness, instead of ministering to Christian love, that hopeth all things of its brother, and judges as it would be judged.

The more we study human nature out of ourselves, and in the light of the Understanding, the less we love it; but the reverse takes place when we study our own hearts at the same time that we study the characters of our fellow-beings, and both in the light of Christian truth. We cannot hate our fellow-beings while we perceive that we are all of one family,—while we feel our own weakness and sinfulness; and we cannot despair of human nature while we believe that Infinite Wisdom has become its Redeemer and Saviour.

If Thought be strongly turned towards religious subjects, the mind must necessarily form to itself many doctrines which will be its true creed, whatever external form of Church creed it may avow, or even if it disavow all creeds. At the present day, it is not uncommon to hear creeds spoken of with contempt, as the effete remains of a past age; and the remark is often made, that it is of no consequence what a man believes if he do but lead a good life. The religious opinions we hold constitute the morality of our internal life; and it is difficult to understand how internal morality can be of no consequence, while external morality is of so much. It would seem that external morality is but a mask, unless it truly represent the internal morality. Still it is not surprising that many superficial observers should be found ready to express their aversion to creeds, when we consider the abuses into which Churches and Governments have rushed in their efforts to establish and maintain their favorite dogmas; or when we observe how the bigoted supporters of creeds become blinded to every other consideration, and learn to look upon life as of little importance when compared with doctrine. It was probably in contemplation of such bigotry that the Apostle exclaims, "Show me thy faith without works, and I will show thee my faith by my works." This saying is often quoted in defence of the idea that faith is of no consequence compared with works; but this is no logical deduction from the text. "I will show thee my faith by my works" expresses no disregard or undervaluing of faith, but asserts the great truth that faith becomes a living reality only when it forms itself into works. The quality of works depends, not on the works themselves, but upon the faith that inspires them. For instance, three men of equal wealth may each give the same sum of money to some charity. Externally the act is the same in each individual, yet the common sense of the very same persons who a few moments before may have asserted that faith is nothing, and works everything, does not hesitate to estimate it in a totally different manner. One of the donors has made up his mind that ease is the only good. He has taught himself to believe that it is wise to avoid all trouble, and to give rather than make the effort of resisting importunity; and he gives because he carries this belief into effect. Another is an ambitious man, who believes that power and the good opinion of society are the best among good things; and he gives to obtain the praise of men and the influence in society which follows praise. The third believes that the first good of life is making others happy, and with systematic benevolence examines every claim upon his bounty, and, if he finds it worthy, never dismisses it unsatisfied. It was the faith within the act that gave this distinctive quality to the three donations. The first put his faith in ease, the second in the opinion of the world, and the third in doing good to the neighbor; and the common sense of the community judges the actions accordingly. All the actions of life range themselves under one or other of the three heads represented by these gifts; namely, the love of self, or ease; the love of the world, or ambition; and the love of the neighbor, or true charity. Every man is probably governed in turn by each of these loves; but in every man one of them takes the lead and dominates over the other two; and just in proportion as he gives himself up to the dominion of one of these loves and rejects the sway of the others he leads a consistent life. Society may assert that life is everything, and faith nothing, when it talks abstractly; but its common sense ever shows more wisdom by transferring the quality of the motive to the act, as often as it finds any clew to the knowledge of motive. Of course, society makes many blunders in these judgments, because it reads the heart of man very imperfectly; but the nature of man leads him constantly to attempt penetrating the heart before forming his opinion of an action.

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