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" Thy neighbour ?_It is he whom thou
Hast power to aid and bless ;
Thy soothing hand may press.
Whose years are at their brim;
Go thou and comfort him!
Whose eye with want is dim;
Go thou and succour him!
Less favoured than thine own,
Thy brother, or thy son.”
Let us examine ourselves, then, and see if we are conscious of having done our duty towards our neighbour. We used to parrot it from the Catechism in our childhood, and now, perhaps, we are teaching it to children of our own; but do we really live it in our daily walk amongst the sons of men ? Do we really love our neighbour as ourselves, in the remotest conceivable approximation to the sense in which our blessed Saviour used the terms ? What a stab our self-accusing conscience gives us here!
I have read a story somewhere of a lady who was driving out in her carriage one bleak, wintry, windy day; and, in spite of her furs, and all her precautions, she felt miserably cold and cheerless. “John," she is reported to have said to her servant, who was driving her, “John, remind me that we send poor Widow Jenkins a sack of coals, when we get home, and the same to Thomas, and Smith, and Brown, and Barber.”
“ Yes, Ma'am.”
The story goes that the lady, having arrived at length at her comfortable home, and having dined and arranged herself before a brightly shining fire, the servant came in to inquire when he should see about distributing the coals to these poor people. But the lady put him off: “I don't think it's so cold now, John; and besides, I can't spare you to-night.”
The blood runs hotly through the veins, and the indignation of all but the hypocrite is aroused against a woman who could act in this way; but, gentle reader, do not we do exactly the same thing, substantially, every year of our lives? How many times have we not been guilty of essentially similar conduct during 1857 ? Can you plead innocent, honest reader! If you can, right glad am I to warm the heart and arouse the sympathies of such a one; but alas ! for my own part, truth and conscience stare me in the face, and, with an angry glance that I would fain get rid of, exclaim, “GUILTY!" And I fear there are few of my readers who can say aught else.
So much for behind, around, and within ; let us now look onward.
“ The proudest motto for the young
Write it in lines of gold
The stirring words unfold;
Or fortune's prosperous gale,
There's no such word as FAIL!”
This must be your motto-the spirit in which you launch into the unknown future: “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might." How beautifully has Oland Bourne ex- . pressed this noble sentiment:
“He whose ardour brightly burneth,
With a purpose true and strong,
Nobler than the highest song.” This witness is true! A bold, self-reliant, dauntless spirit, who defies all his enemies, concludes by subjugating them. But while industry is crowned with success, the result of cowardice is an increase of the difficulty :
“ They who idly stand and tremble,
Thinking dangers fill the way,
In the terror-born array.
Fears make coward hearts for aye,
Knows no yielding but to die.” I will now point out a few of those objects towards which I think young men should direct that great and continuous energy of which I have spoken.
(1) Mental culture. Seek to store the mind with pearls of price from the caskets of ancient and modern authors. Rest not satisfied with a verbal recollection of them ; ponder well over them, that their full meaning may be gradually revealed to you. I say this especially with respect to some of those glorious gems
which adorn the pages of Holy Writ. Controversy, conducted in a fair and proper spirit, is admirably adapted to give large and liberal and enlightened views on the topics so examined. You should also, in making your resolves for the new year, be more than ever determined to expand your sympathies beyond any mere geographical confines to look down from the tops of the mountains, as it were, and take a bird's-eye view of the whole human race as one vast brotherhood-a single family-with a common parent, one creator, one ruler, one redeemer. Cease to confine your interest to your own little circle, or city, or county, or even country, and look out upon all nations of the earth, and long and labour for their happiness and prosperity. What is it constitutes our national greatness! This very mental power I am urging you to cultivate is one of its main constituents. It is mental power and that energy with which I have sought to inspire you that have produced us the locomotive, with its lengthened train of goods or passengers, rushing to and fro in every direction, till our little island is streaked like a gridiron. It is mental culture and indomitable perseverance which have produced the mighty monsters of the deep, who convey us to the remotest corners of the earth, and who bring from every clime all that can minister to our daily wants, and even to our luxuries. It is these which have brought the printing press to such a pitch of perfection, that the reproduction of the largest library of antiquity would be but comparatively a trifling work. It is these which have tamed the very lightning, and rendered it subservient to man as a messenger. It is these which have laid the glorious sun himself under tribute, and have brought into play his artistic powers, which till of late were quite unknown, and thus we secure portraits and pictures of unerring fidelity and surpassing loveliness. It is these which have gathered together that vast and countless wealth which places us at the head of the commerce of the world.
But this leads me to another requirement—(2) Moral character. Mental power and industry might accumulate wealth, but it can only be done successfully and on any large scale when there is moral character in addition to mental power and persevering industry. Without faith in one another, the vast fabric of our commerce would pass away like the chaff before the wind ; and this faith is the result of integrity and fair dealing. Let your object be, therefore, to add to your mental culture perseverance, and to your perseverance integrity.
To all these add (3) Economy. Be prudent and forethoughtful, though not niggardly. “Cut your coat according to your cloth,” as the homely proverb says.
A quaint little story will illustrate the general principle which I wish to inculcate. A worthy Scotch couple, who had made a little competence in a certain shop, retired to enjoy the fruits of their industry, and gave the business to their son John. But though John began well, in a year or two he failed, and so hopeless was his case that it was town talk. A very commiserating kind of party spoke to the old woman about it. “How is it,” said she of the inquiring mind, “how is it that your John failed, though you did so well there ? You began with no connection, and he began with a good one.” To this the sagacious maternal parent made a reply (as nearly as we can do the Scotch) to the following effect:
“Hoot, woman, it's rae wonder at a'. Ye mun ken, when Tam and me began to merchandise, we took parritch night and morn. ing, and kail to our dinner.”
* Well, what has that to do with it?".
“ Weel now, I'll tell ye. When things looked up a bit, we took tea to our breakfast. Weel now, the age mended, and we sometimes coft a lambkin for a Sunday dinner, and before we gae up, we sometimes coft a chuckie, we were doing sae weel.”
“Well, and what can that have to do with John's failure?”
« Weel now, ye mun ken that our Johnnie began with the chuckie first.""
That's the secret. Don't “ begin with the chuckie first.” The application is so forcible that comment would be superfluous.
Finally, resolve that you will do something and be somebody. It is not meet for intelligent man to slink lazily through his existence, as if he were only created for the merely animal purpose of eating and drinking, and “enjoying life," as it is called. No! such a supposition would dishononr both Creator and creature. Man was made to progress, to be useful in his day and generation, and to work out the infinite purposes of his omnipotent Creator. Push ahead! as our American cousins would say :
“Large streams from little fountains flow,
Tall oaks from little acorns grow.”
“Press on! if once or twice thy feet
Slip back and stumble, harder try.” Do this, and success is certain. The greater your courage is, the greater your strength will surely be. Once well begun, your courage will “mount with the occasion," as Shakespeare has it.
Nor should a tame mediocrity content you. The new year gives a fair opportunity to “ begin again," and now resolve to be somebody.
“Be thou a hero! let thy might
Tranıp on eternal snows its way,
The fainthearted are useless to themselves, and hurtful by example to those around them. Once in the fight, let your wounds be not in the back. You must learn, more or less, in the school of experience; but avoid those whose lessons are learnt in no other.
Let the experience of to-day teach the lesson of the morrow; let the disappointments of to-day furnish hopes for the morrow; let thc woes of the past predict joys in the future.
“ The wisdom of the present hour
Makes up for follies past and gone;
From frailty springs. Press on! press on!" Have you never sat down to rest in the darkest part of the forest, weary, hungry, and travel-stained ? From the densest and gloomiest masses of foliage has there never arisen the joyous thrill of the song-bird, as it warbled its cheerful notes, and soared towards the skies? Just so it is that often when our prospects are most dreary they are nearest the change for the better, as philosophers inform us that the night is darkest in the moments just before the dawn. Cheer up, afflicted brother! Courage, energy, ye listless ones! Let us turn over a new leaf with our entrance on the new year. Short is the time allotted for you to accomplish your mission, whatever it be.
“ Therefore press on, and reach the goal,
And gain the prize and wear the crown.in
Come wealth, and honour, and renown.
Thy mind from sloth, thy heart from soil.
A heavenly harvest for thy toil."
And what I say to you, I say also to myself. Let us try, looking for help to Him who is both able and willing to help in every good word and work. Adieu !
PERSECUTION.-It is the essence of injustice to persecute any person for omitting to conform to the established religion. No man should be deprived of any part of his liberty with respeet to his opinions, unless his actions, derived from such opinions, were clearly prejudicial to the state. It is not in the power of man to surrender his opinions, and therefore the society which demands him to make this sacrifice, demands an impossibility.
WILL, WIT, AND JUDGMENT.-At twenty years of age, the will reigns; at thirty, the wit; and at forty, the judgment. Gratian.