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It is universally conceded that habits formed in youth are the most firmly fixed. How important then that good principles, which must lead to good actions, should be early implanted! The mind is strongly influenced by our habits. Will a man, who, on entering his study or library, finds no one thing in its place, because nothing has a definite place, will he be likely to write connected, finished composition ? Will not his mind on the contrary partake of the disorder around him, and his thoughts be loose and disconnected ? It is said of the lamented W. Allston, that he never allowed any passing event to escape his notice, and constantly endeavored to learn something from everything he saw. This was certainly an excellent trait of character in a painter, but is it any less so for any one else ? Any one desirous of improving and cultivating the mental qualities may learn much of human nature and of the providences of God by a habit of attention, though his observations may be confined to a narrow circle of life.
Parents are not sufficiently aware of the influence they exert on the forming characters of their families. Two examples may be given illustrative of the power of mothers in this respect : Mrs. H. sees no one with whom she cannot find some fault; the most pious and agreeable people come in for a full share of reproach before her family; no one is actively or devotedly pious enough to escape her. Her children learn to see blemishes in the best of people, and are puffed up in their own eyes on account of their superior discernment in discovering them. The daughter is prevented from enjoying society which would be improving to her, because she can see no good in people she has been taught to believe so faulty. They are viewed with jealousy and dislike by those of whom they entertain such hard thoughts and make such hard speeches. But I turn to a more pleasing picture. Mrs. G. makes it a rule to speak evil of no one without necessity, and to believe the best of every one. Her children of course think as their mother does, and are unwilling to believe an evil report of any one. This may be sometimes carried too far, they may have a higher opinion of some people than is deserved, but this certainly seems to be the safer error. Need I add they
possess the love as well as respect of their neighbors? The different influences of these mothers will not cease with the early years of their children. I can only allude to one more habitthat of cheerfulness. There are clouds enough in this world which must at some time overshadow the brightest skies, but the sunshine of cheerfulness gleaming through will do much to dispel them. Music is a powerful auxiliary in its cultivation, and the time devoted to learning to sing, thus improving a talent God has bestowed on nearly every person, should never be unwillingly spent. In conclusion allow me to quote a few remarks from a late popular work. “Nor must I, while pointing out errors in the behavior of children, omit to observe, that if parents would be more solicitous to instil into their minds the importance of relative and social duties, faithfully performed, instead of captiously reproving them for every deviation from the strict line of those duties, they would find themselves more happy in their families. Still, though the fault may in some cases have been originally with the parents, there is little excuse for those who are of age not to think and act for themselves. It is right the tender sympathy of our friends should be excited when we tell them that the faults for which they blame us were fostered and encouraged by the mistaken judgments of our parents in early life; but there is a tribunal at which this plea will be of little avail, if while the means of reformation are yet within our reach, we suffer such habits to strengthen and establish themselves as parts of our characters."
“ It is a poor business to attend to the accumulation of a fortune for our children, and neglect their education. It is as if a man would gather straws, and scatter precious stones. Let parents but cultivate the minds and morals of their children, and in a great majority of cases, they will reap a hundred fold.”
LETTER TO A BERE A V ED MOT
« To a heart that ever felt the sting
It was but yesterday, my dear sister, that I learned that you bad become a sharer in my sorrow. The cup which has been put into your hand is one whose bitterness can be conceived only from experience. To see a sweet child, around whom our hopes and affections and prayers have clustered, languish and die ;—to lay it away in the dark and lonely grave ;-to look at the simplest memento of its existence only to weep ;-to seek in vain for its happy face when the family group mingle in the sport or in the prayer ;-to feul that the places which once knew it shall know it no more for ever ;-ah! this is the sorrow which “ a stranger intermeddleth not with.” My heart is pained to think that you, my sister, have been called so early to taste this bitter cup. But why do I thus speak? Why confine my eye and yours to the dark corner of the picture? which is indeed but a corner.
If we apply our eye to the telescope of Faith, a different scene, from which every cloud has passed away, presents itself. Let us look together upon the heavenly vision. Let us first gaze, if we may, upon that glorious throne, which is exalted “far above principalities and powers—things on earth and things in heaven.” Let us contemplate the character of Him who sits thereon :
King of kings and Lord of lords;" a God of infinite majesty and wisdom and power ; every way filted, and the only Being in the universe that is fitted, to sit at the helm of universal dominion; seeing the end from the beginning, and ordering all events, in all worlds, according to the dictates of unerring wisdom and rectitude and love. Let us turn for a moment from this central point, to survey the glories of the place; the“ many mansions ;" the thrones; the harps of gold; the hosts of cherubim and seraphim, veiling their faces; the innumerable company, redeemed from among men, who bow and sing and cast their crowns at the Savior's
feet. Let us listen to the chorus that ascends from the “ten thousand times ten thousand” as they sing, “ Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,-to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever.” Do not the voices of our children mingle in that song ?
Are they not safe within those sacred walls, stamped with SalVATION, and whose gates are Praise? And shall we call them back to earth's imperfect service“ its dangerous charms," its sorrows and its sins ? Oh no, my beloved sister, as you turn your back to earth will you not rather say,
“Stay there, blessed child, thy mother bids thee stay,
Though I am left alone." Heaven is fast filling up; and soon the last weary pilgrim will have been gathered in, to go no more out for ever. If we and ours are permitted, through wondrous grace, to join that blessed company, we shall surely sing this
“ HE HATH DONE ALL THINGS WELL."
“Yes, and before we rise
To that immortal state," let us be witnesses for God. Alas, how few there are who know him, or the power of his grace, or the sweetness of those precious drops which he mingles with the bitterest cup of earthly sorrow! How few that confide in his government, and feel that the interests of the universe are safe in his hands!
That it may be your privilege and mine to possess and to exhibit this filial confidence in, and submission to our Heavenly Father, is, my dear sister, the earnest prayer of
Your sympathizing friend,
F. L. S.
THE FIRST DISOBEDIENCE.
BY WM. OLAND BOURNE.
Having been called upon business to a Southern State, I left home in November, 1839, and took my seat with a crowded company in the railroad train for Philadelphia. What a portraiture of human character of the life of man-of his experiences, and of the vicissitudes of this earthly scene might have been drawn from the personal reminiscences of the individuals present! Here were hundreds of immortal spirits, all inhaling the same pure breath of heaven, all enjoying the precious boon of a gracious Providence—all gifted with intelligence, and hearts bounding with the impulses of the current of life—but to what dissimilar plans and purposes were they all to be consecrated! Here were the pure, the unholy—the devout Christian and the profane scoffer—the young and beautiful, and the aged and experienced children of humanity. One catching the inspiration of the exhilarating atmosphere to qualify him for increased usefulness to the age-another perhaps inhaling it to make it subservient to the purposes of sin and wrong! How intensely interesting to the meditative spirit !
Among these, and near me, sat a gentleman whose countenance and bearing indicated the serious earnestness of one who had learnt “to number his days so that he had applied his heart unto wisdom," and at an early opportunity, while some of our fellow-passengers were changing their seats, I took occasion to place myself near him, for the purpose of engaging him in a friendly interchange of thought and feeling. The result was not less profitable to me than it was a verification of my anticipations.
Among the topics which naturally suggested themselves, and in that digressive aptitude which marks colloquial intercourse on such occasions, our thoughts reverted to the days of youth. We were passing out of those beautiful landscapes which are to be seen along the line of the road, and it forcibly recalled the recollections of my companion to his childhood and his home.