ePub 版

Thus recommended, they cannot fail to have weight, on the present occasion.

In this paragraph the following things are plainly and especially urged on Solomon.

1. That he should faithfully observe the precepts of his Father. Vs. 20—22.

2. That he should keep his heart with all diligence ; that he should watch carefully over his thoughts, and affections; as being the springs of action, and the true source of a good or evil character. V. 23.

3. That he should in like manner, watch over his lips; and take effectual care, not to be snared by the words of his mouth. V. 24.

4. That he should examine the course of Life, before him, with seriousness and diligence ; and determine coolly and cautiously, beforehand, concerning all his conduct. Vs. 25 and 26.

5. That, when he had thus considered his course of Life, and determined on what was right, and proper to be pursued; he should closely adhere to his determination.

On the present occasion, I stand as a Father to the Youths, whom I am about to address. Through the past year, they have been wholly committed to my parental care; and are now to receive my last parental office. The solemn and interesting nature of the occasion will, I presume, apologize for me, if I confine my observations wholly to them. I wish to say many things to them ; but all, that I can ever say to most of them, must probably be said, at the present time.

Without further preface, let me, then, Young Gentlemen, my pupils, my children, endeared to me by many affecting considerations, address to you the following counsels. I trust you will find them, though not the counsels of your real parents, nor of a wise and inspired prince, yet the sentiments of a sincere friend, and sentiments accordant with inspired truth. One interesting circumstance will certainly attend them, they will probably be the last, which most of you will ever receive from me.

The words, which I have selected for the occasion, as the theme of discourse, are wholly suited to your situation. Nothing can be more important, for you to do; than to treasure up the

good counsels which are given to you ; especially when you are counselled to keep your hearts with diligence; to watch over your lips; to ponder and establish the course and conduct of

your lives; and, when you have once determined wisely concerning it, to adhere to your determination, with unshaken firmness. At the same time, when you remember, that these directions were given by David, pursued by Solomon, and sanctioned by God, additional motives will scarcely be necessary to engage your obedience.

You have now finished your academical education, and are about to enter into the busy world. A part, of some kind, or other, you must act in it; and you doubtless intend, that that part shall be honourable to yourselves, and useful to mankind. To make it such, prudent measures, and vigorous efforts, must be adopted. Allow me in the following observations, to point to you the one, and to prompt you to the other. Some of these observations I shall make because of their inherent importance; and some because they may never perhaps be made to you by others.

Most of you will, probably, and within a short time, enter in one, or other, of those, which are appropriately called the learned professions. With this object before me, let me request you to remember that the

Ist. Duty, incumbent on you, is to qualify yourselves for the profession, which you adopt.

Although this is, in the highest degree, expedient for you, yet it is by no means to be considered in the light of mere expediency. It is an indispensable Duty. In offering yourselves to mankind, in either of these professions, you declare publicly and solemnly, that you have faithfully endeavoured to qualify yourselves for discharging the duties of it; and with equal publicity and solemnity you announce yourselves to be thus qualified. This profession your countrymen would certainly believe; had not experience, in various instances, proved to them that their confidence was unfounded. Disappointed as they have sometimes been, they have still an undoubted right to believe the profession, on your part, to be sincere ; and the qualifications, professed, to be real, and adequate to the character assumed.

The great qualification, here intended, is the Understanding,

necessary to the skilful discharge of your professional duties. The only possible method of obtaining this qualification is study. Without study you will experience deficiencies, which no genius can supply. Genius can invent, and model, but it cannot furnish information. Facts, laws, doctrines, can never be known, unless they are learned; and they can never be learned unless they are studied.

Few subjects are viewed by Youths, with more prejudice, or more self-deception, than Genius and Application. To Genius have been always attributed qualities, which it did not possess, and effects, which it never accomplished. Its splendour is indeed great and dazzling; but its usefulness has been commonly small, and its value trifling. Pride has perverted it, vanity misguided, vice tainted, and idleness destroyed. Like the car of Phæton, it has alarmed, where it should have blessed, mankind; and, while it should have enlightened and warmed the world, it has only set it on fire.

In the mean time, its efficiency is commonly and egregiously mistaken. No man was ever great in intellect, but by means of intense application. The diligence of Demosthenes, of Aristotle, of Plato, and of Cicero, needs no comment. Even Homer, the heaven born Poet, studied men, and things, as diligently, as the bookworm his volumes. Bacon, Boyle, Berkeley, Newton, and Locke, were scarcely more distinguished by endowments, than by application. What is to be justly attributed to the Genius, and what to the Study, of each ; it is, perhaps, impossible to determine. Suffice it to say, that, without superior diligence, they would probably have all, long before the present time, been forgotten; or remembered merely because they abused their talents, and because when it was in their power, they neglected to become either great or useful.

Reading is not the only mode of studying. Conversation, reflection, observation, and writing, have each their peculiar advantages.

Reading wisely directed puts into your possession within a few days or hours the thoughts which others have spent years in collecting; and furnishes you with the best thoughts, of the wisest men, on the most important subjects.

Observation presents to you facts, and frequently interesting facts, which you will gain from no other source, and of which you, at the saine time, possess the most undoubting certainty. Conversation furnishes

you with truths, which were never written; and awakens in you valuable ideas which, otherwise, you would never have entertained. At the same time it teaches you that readiness of thought, and of expression, so remarkable in men, accustomed to correspond largely with the world

Reflection, or Meditation makes the knowledge, which you gain from the sources already mentioned, a part of your own system of thinking; and arranges your thoughts in that regular method, without which they would be a mere heap of rubbish.

Writing, or meditating by the pen, performs the same work, in a more exact and perfect manner; and, as it allows abundant opportunity for reviewing and reforming them, so it conducts you more certainly and safely to truth and rectitude.

Multitudes of Men, who read little, observe, converse, and reflect, mich; and are, therefore, in a respectable sense studious. To this fact it is probably owing that Genius has stood in so high reputation. Some men have been great, with but little reading ; and have, therefore, been thought great, merely by dint of Genius; whereas they became great by their diligence, as truly, and as much, as the most laborious student. Would


be great men, imitate their diligence. Travel ofien, and far, in the same paths. Make, at the same time, the utmost ad. vantage of your books.

He, who has a library, and will not use it, is a sluggard, possessed of a golden mine, who wears the rags, and starves on the crusts, of beggary, because he is too lazy to dig.

If you need authority to prompt your industry, or to settle your opinions, that authority is at hand. Cicero, the greatest genius, scholar, and man, of his own, and of almost all ages, has declared, as the result of all his researches, “ Diligentia vincit omnia." Solomon, a much greater, and wiser man, than Cicero, has written or rather God has written by the hand of Solomon, The diligent hand maketh rich,”—and equally in property, knowledge, eloquence, and virtue.

Begin your course of professional studies, then, with a fixed de


termination to study closely, daily, and perseveringly. Read carefully books of the most respectable character, and read them thoroughly. Make diligent reading a business for life. Examine critically what you read. Bow not to the decisions of mere authority, any longer, at least, than until you have opportunity to examine for yourselves. If the Rulers, and the Pharisees do not believe, let their infidelity be no foundation for yours.

Arrange in clear order the sentiments which you adopt. Meditate with, and without, the pen. Without method, your thoughts whether originated, or imbibed, will never be ready for use. The Store may be full, and the goods of great value ; but if they be all thrown together from the bale, and the box, it will cost you more time to find that, for which you look, than it will be worth, when found. Put up every thing in its proper place, that it may be ready for the first customer.

Converse, also, freely with others, on the opinions which you embrace. They will view them in a different manner from that, in which you view them. They will often detect your errors, discover the weakness of your arguments, and strengthen you in your just opinions. Should you in this way be sometimes mortified, let it not deter you from persevering. The profit will abundantly compensate for the pain. No man is wise with respect to every subject : all men are wise with respect to some subjects. The Farmer will often improve the Philosopher ; nay even the servant can in many things teach his master. Would you know men, or things, converse freely and frequently with persons of every class and station.

Allow yourselves time to gain the requisite information. The first impressions concerning the character of a young man are usually of the utmost importance to his success in Life. If they are favourable, moderate industry and prudence will preserve them; if unfavourable, great and long continued efforts will scarcely wear them away. You will not forward your real progress in life by hurrying yourselves into business. Like the tortoise in the fable, the slow and sure runner will usually first reach the goal.

Three years are barely sufficient to furnish you with the necessary qualifications for either of the liberal professions. Straitened

« 上一頁繼續 »