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confidently restored to his favourite play-place.
There,” said my uncle, “is an instance in which attraction is better than force. The needle eluded the brush and the stick, but yielded to the power of the magnet. If you want to induce persons to do any good action, or to win them to goodness in general, you are much more likely to win than to scold them to it. 'A spoonful of honey catches more flies than a hogshead of vinegar.'
Even the worst of men, whom neither threatenings, terrors, nor inflictions, could subdue, have not been proof against the power of kindness. This was the holy "guile” with which the apostle
caught” or gained men to their own duty and interest. Such methods the blessed God himself takes in dealing with sinners. He leads them with the “cords of a man,” and with the “bands of love:" and such methods have been adopted by those who have been most wise to win souls. Winning the affections of the young towards their ministers, and other religious instructors, is not converting them to Christ; but it is an appointed means for effecting that grand object, and one that is often and eminently blessed and rendered successful. A youth who had resisted many efforts of his parents and other pious friends, and still walked in the way of his own heart, and in the sight of his eyes, was at length won upon by means of a simple and affectionate message to another, of which he was made the bearer. Well, my young friend,” said a minister to him at parting, “give my love to your sister, and tell her I hope she is beginning to seek Christ. If she becomes religious, she will be happy."
This seems to be the secret of the extraordinary success with
which some holy men in modern days have been honoured. Their sermons and their efforts have been baptized in a spirit of love, and rendered attractive. It is strikingly and affectingly recorded in a modern piece of Christian biography—the Life of Harlan Page—by an individual who was one of the numerous instances of success with which the labours of that devoted man were so eminently honoured. “Having resolved,” he states, “to attend a meeting for prayer, I went early, found only the sexton in the room, and sat down. Soon there came in a plain man, who spoke very pleasantly to the sexton, and then coming and sitting by my side, after a kind salutation, said, 'I trust you love the Saviour?' The question instantly filled my eyes with tears.
I had been preached to at arm's length all my days, but this was the first time that ever a Christian thus kindly and directly put such a question to my heart. We conversed considerably together, in the course of which, at his request, I gave
my name and residence. The next day he came to my shop, and brought me the tract, The Way to be Saved, which he thought I should like to read. He called again and again. I became interested in him, and the next sabbath joined his sabbath school, was brought, as I hope, to Christ, and soon united with the church.” This, among unnumbered instances beside, corroborates the sentiment of Uncle Barnaby, which, in all
my efforts to do good to, or by, my fellow men, I desire never to lose sight of—“ Attraction is better than force.”
My uncle's last rule was, “Employ personal application.” Some people do not succeed in what they set about, because, when they have furnished
themselves with proper instruments, they are apt to slacken their exertions, and rest satisfied with leaving the instruments to work themselves, or with committing the operation to others. “No, no,” said my uncle,“ remember Poor Richard's maxim,
“He who at the plough would thrive,
He who projects and commences a good work, if he wishes successfully to accomplish it, must keep up his own interest by personal attention to it; and not expect, if he deserts it, or grows supine towards it, that any other person will take a lively interest in it, so as to carry it on to perfection. But a well-laid plan, a judicious selection and application of instruments, the attracting together of congenial influences and powers, will tend to keep alive, in the mind of the originator of the undertaking, so lively an interest, as will insure the requisite personal attention, and prove an incentive and encouragement to perseverance, and a pledge of success.
The Lord of hosts is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working. This appears in that work in which we are most deeply interested ; and we are encouraged to entertain that well-grounded confidence which the apostle expressed, that He who has begun the good work in us will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ, Phil. i. 6.
I am quite sure, that in applying to great things the remarks which were originally suggested by trifles, my good uncle would not have failed to remind us of the necessity of continu
ally seeking the “wisdom that cometh from above” to direct us to worthy objects of pursuit, and to assist us in the selection and application of means and instruments, as well as to draw down supplies of heavenly strength to enable us to persevere, and the rich blessing of Heaven to prosper and crown with success our feeble efforts.
This was one lovely feature in my uncle's character, or rather, it was one of the great principles that diffused its influence through all his actions-a desire to make every body around him happy.
If ever he was ambitious to extend his power, and widen the circle of his influence, it was not for the selfish pleasure of adding house to house, and field to field, or making himself a man of greater consequence by commanding a larger number of votes at the county election, or any other of the selfish motives that actuate too large a portion of mankind; but that he might get within his reach a larger portion of his fellow creatures, to do them good. A proof that this was in sincerity his aim, existed in the fact, that wherever the circumference of his circle of influence might be fixed, it was well filled ; and those nearest the centre, most sensibly, and constantly, and powerfully, realized and enjoyed its benign control. This is not always the case. Some people are very eccentric in their benevolence: they must do things upon a large scale ; all their doings must be with a great blaze and a great report, and extend to a great distance; but there