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ÆTAT. 21] MEANS OF IMPROVEMENT UNLIMITED.

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"I enjoyed con

securing it, have here an illustration. siderable freedom in prayer this morning, and I think it was obtained mainly by a determination to say nothing which I did not fully mean. I have been in the habit of using words without attaching any definite meaning to them, and I now see this practice to be highly pernicious. This morning I first considered what I should ask, and then expressed my desire in as few words as possible; mentally dwelling upon it until I realized the importance of the petition. At first I was very slow and seemed as if I had nothing to request, and nothing to say to my Heavenly Father. But desires soon began to spring, and they flowed until they formed a torrent. I hope that this is one means by which God is about to revive His work in my soul.

"I have lately seen the importance of attending much to mental and moral discipline-of acquiring those habits which will secure the greatest possible good. I see it is possible to multiply the means of intellectual improvement to an almost unlimited extent—that one may be continually opening new channels of mental wealth, so that in whatever circumstances we are placed something may be flowing into the mind. I must give up all those employments originating in mere custom and which yield little or no good, and open spheres of operation in which the mental energies shall have full room and adequate motives for exertion. I should like to work habitually under the influence of necessityto acquire those habits which will render it impossible for me not to be doing or acquiring some good. I would not wish this necessity to be a stern task-master rigidly exacting an unwilling obedience to his laws; but a sweet enchantress whose magic spell irresistibly draws me on the road to eminence.

'Among the employments which have been useless, and I believe decidedly injurious, are the following: 1. Cursory reading. I have read much that has not only done me no

good, but, by forming habits of indistinct conception, great injury. 2. Slovenly attention to the college-studies. Through this I have lost much real knowledge; much mental power; much reputation, and consequently, influence and usefulness, which I can never regain. All this is very humiliating, but I richly deserve all I suffer from it. 3. The habit of preaching the same sermons so frequently. The evils arising from this practice are more than I can enumerate. It produces a limited range of theology; habits of mental inactivity on the Sabbath, which are attended by bad moral consequences; a feigned, unnatural, sleepy, mode of delivering sermons, very much adapted to make the hearers as dul land stupid as myself. It is often the means of causing me to waste Friday night and Saturday, which might be usefully employed in preparing discourses and thus turning to practical account the reading of the week. So long as I continue this practice, I am neglecting to cultivate the talent of public speaking, by which, if I am to be useful at all, a great deal of my usefulness is to be effected."

6th. "Have been thinking much in my walk about my future life—if I am spared. The solemn question whether I am to be useful or useless, presses hard upon me. Am I now acquiring the elements of usefulness or not? This is the grand, practical, all-absorbing inquiry. I feel that my time is short; that my part in the great drama of existence will soon be acted; and I am anxious to act it well. I think I never felt with such an emphasis of conviction that great usefulness can only be secured by intimate communion with the Deity. He is the great source of moral power-the arm that is not nerved by Him must be powerless. May it be mine to act upon this conviction !"

8th. "I must make more continuous efforts in study, and write complete sermons and essays. If the mind be accustomed only to small acts its action will be feeble. Great efforts are not only a sign of mental greatness but are

ÆTAT. 21] ONE OF THE SECRETS OF SUCCESS.

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the means of producing it."-Young man! read these two last sentences again.

"I will set apart some portion of time every month to review my diary and consecrate myself anew to God. I think the last Saturday morning in every month would be the best time. It would be well to take maxims and resolutions on trial for a month, and then make a summary of those I determine to adopt."

"Whenever I feel the least incitement to pray I will cherish it and engage in prayer. I will regard that day as not well spent in which I have not offered up many silent petitions to God. There are numerous occasions every day in which I may do this. In the morning before I leave my bed-when entering the library for morning prayer— on opening a book—when about to mingle with my fellowstudents, that my intercourse with them may be a mutual blessing."

"More things are wrought by prayer Than this world dreams of.

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For what are men better than sheep or goats

That nourish a blind life within the brain,

If, knowing God, they lift not hands of prayer

Both for themselves and those who call them friends."

"Let me never forget that I am to be a preacher of the Gospel-not a poet, a philosopher, an orator, or a mere literary man. Let every book I read have some bearing upon my destination, and whenever I have found that I have got hold of a volume that will do me no ultimate good in that character, I will lay it aside.”—This passage suggests one of the secrets by which success in any vocation can alone be secured. Why do so many persons fail in realizing the noble purposes they projected in youth? Because their energies are scattered over too wide a surface. They lack definiteness of object and concentration of effort. Life is too short to permit any man to be

a proficient in every thing. Almost every man who has attained eminence has been a man of one pursuit. It is to this fact, much more than to the inspirations of genius, that we owe that splendid galaxy of names which adorns the pages of British history. In nothing does the wisdom of John Hessel shine more conspicuously than in this: he definitely prescribed what he believed to be his true course, and resolutely determined that all pursuits should contribute to its fulfilment. Learn to say "No," young man,

to the enticements of unsuitable books as well as frivolous companions. He who has not learnt to say "No" boldly and perseveringly, is wanting in some of the choicest material of which manliness is made. "Francis Horner, in laying down rules for the cultivation of his mind and character, placed great stress upon the habit of continuous application to one subject for the sake of mastering it thoroughly; confining himself, with this object, to but a few books, and resisting with the greatest firmness, every approach to a habit of desultory reading." Wisely does Mr. Smiles say in his valuable "Self Help," "it is not the quantity of study that one gets through, or the amount of reading, that makes a wise man ; but the appositeness of the study to the purpose for which it is pursued; the concentration of the mind upon the subject; and the habitual discipline by which the whole system of mental application is regulated."

The neighbouring places supplied by the students were often at some considerable distance. They were "short journeys" if within six miles-not unfrequently they extended to twenty. A considerable portion of the Saturday and Monday therefore was usually employed in performing the journey-for at that period it had generally to be walked. It will be seen that Mr. Hessel did not regard the time thus spent as necessarily wasted. 9th. "I lose a great deal of time in journeys, and I have

ÆTAT. 21] THE QUIXOTISM OF REAL LIFE.

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thought of several ways in which it might be improved. I observe that I get much more pleasantly over the ground when I am engaged in deep thought-when my mind is fully occupied with some subject. In future I must keep a sermon paper in my case and put down every valuable thought. By this means the time may be more profitably spent than even in my study, for I have often found walking to excite brilliant ideas. I do not think this plan will harass my mind, for I generally find that I tease myself in my journeys with some profitless subject—such as, how fast can I walk? how soon can I get home? what shall I do when I get there, &c."

During the former part of Mr. Hessel's stay at Sedbergh I was supplying at Kirkby-Stephen, in Westmoreland. Being but fourteen miles apart we exchanged visits. In a few days after my return to College he wrote:- "I have felt very much the want of you since you left. I seem to possess but half an existence. I find these hills and dales and rocks and woods, beautiful as they are, will not answer the purpose of an intelligence. If I speak to them they cannot answer. One mind is worth a universe of matter, into whatever forms of beauty or magnificence it may be cast. Really how absurd the doctrine of materialism does seem! If the mind were formed out of the same materials as these rocks and trees, their common origin would create a mutual sympathy. But the spirit spurns such ignoble alliance, and vindicates the nobility of its origin and the grandeur of its destiny.

"I agree with you as it respects the light in which we ought to view the position we now occupy. There is in some a disposition to rest in the means without reference to the end; I am always leaping to the end, without sufficient attention to the means. This I feel is my bane,

and the source of many a failure.

This is the quixotism

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