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ASPIRATIONS AND CONFESSIONS.
fessions as only deep searchings of heart could prompt. “In reading over my diary this morning I have had some humbling experiences. O that I could make usefulness the supreme object of my aim! How degrading—how dishonourable to be useless! With what mighty wrestlings of spirit some men have prepared themselves for their work, such as Edwards ! what watching, what activity, what study, what prayer! I see nothing of this in myself. I seem to be actuated by a mean, low, paltry, ambition ; a desire only to aggrandize myself. Sometimes it appears to me that if I can only compass my own ends—exalt myself a little above my fellow-men-the glory of God and the welfare of immortal souls may go. O God, I confess this grievous sin to Thee! In boundless mercy forgive it, and give me a new heart."
26th. “I have thought of a plan by which immense improvement may be realized. It is to write down in my Diary every morning some desirable object to be aimed at during the day—some difficulty to be mastered—some sin to be avoided—some blessing to be prayed for. By confining my attention to one object I shall derive the advantage of concentration. To-day I have resolved to consider the condition of the heathen-to think about them-to read about them—to pray for them.”
Nov. 11th. “It is very probable that if we could unravel the complicated thread of God's providential dealings with us, we should meet with a harmonious classification—that those whose moral characters and circumstances were similar are placed under a similar discipline.”—In the last member of this sentence Mr. Hessel betrays a confusion of thought unusual with him. Are not "circumstances" discipline ? May not the chief disciplinary means employed for our improvement justly come under that denomination ? And though God's providential dealings very probably admit of a harmonious classification, it by no means follows that
persons of similar temperament are placed under similar discipline. The love of variety so palpably exhibited in the works and ways of God warrants the belief that characters compounded of precisely similar elements are subjected to varied disciplinary processes.
Here are a few aphorisms on reading well worthy of perusal.
“Unless a book calls into vigorous exercise the faculties to which it is particularly addressed, I do not think it worth reading. A book worth reading ought to have some influence upon the intellect and character. If profit is derived from it, memory will often recur to it; it will have an undisputed place in the mind. There will be a peculiar tone of feeling toward it, like the memory of ancient loves.”
“An incessant poring over books is injurious. If the mind be in a state in which neither reason, nor imagination, nor the feelings, can be brought into play, better throw aside a book and commence some other employment. Dull reading is worse than nothing. The practice of half understanding or half feeling the sentiments of an author, is pernicious."
“However short the time for study, the mind must be kept in a state of vigorous activity. One hour of this kind of study is worth five of mere reading. Nay, I would say more; the five may be absolutely injurious ; the one must be beneficial.”
“One great source of intellectual excellence is the faculty of intense attention-of holding the object of mental vision so distinctly and prolongedly before the mind that it may not only obtain a clear view—but experience the requisite ÆTAT. 21]
APHORISMS ON READING.
feeling. To this habit cursory reading is most hostile : writing, or something analagous to it, most friendly.”
“The value of books depends entirely upon the use we make of them. In reading, the mind does not rest in a simple perception of the ideas which the author communicates, it makes an application to its own purposes of whatever it receives. If two persons read the same book, the results will be widely different. The information communicated will by no means be the same. Each will view the objects from different points. The advantages we derive from books will be modified by our acquaintance with things.”
“The chief benefit of books consists, not in the amount of thought they furnish, but in the amount they suggest. The most suggestive writer is the most valuable.”
AT HOWDEN. Failure of health-On the method of preparation
for the pulpit-Letter to Miss -Cause of excessive admiration of the Classics-Baxter Jonathan Edwards-Distinction between the productions of men of genius and others - Letter to Miss * * - Ruptures a blood vessel-Letter to Miss ** -Impressive observations on the responsibility of the preacher.
The approach of winter developed indications of disease which, though combated for some time, ultimately proved fatal. Reluctant to believe himself an invalid, he imprudently continued his full course of studies. Toward the close of November, however, increasing debility compelled him to succumb. Removal from the keen air of Undercliffe, and mental repose, were alike requisite. The intelligent society accessible to him at Howden secured for it a preference over Catterton, and knowing that he was always a welcome visitor, he hastened to the home of his uncle Campbell.
“I think I am better this morning than since I left Undercliffe," he wrote to me on the 28th, “but am still very languid. Sometimes I feel as if my frame were dreadfully shattered, and have serious apprehensions as to the result. I find that a light and simple diet, with a good deal of exercise and cheerful society, are necessary for me.
“My stay in this world may be short, I want to make the best use of it. I feel that if ever I am to be useful my conduct must have a new bias—my character must be moulded afresh. I want more decision--more energymore concentration. I often think that if some new influence could come upon my spirit by which its latent powers would be educed-if I could only feel the powers of the ÆTAT. 21]
MORBID SENSIBILITY A CHEATER.
worlds of light and darkness to come upon me and occupy the whole sphere of vision, enabling me to see every object of time by the strong piercing light of eternity, what a revolution would take place in my character !”—True. And what hindered this ? Mainly the absence of clear perceptions of the means by which it was to be secured. He subsequently saw that the realization of eternal things, which
prayer and effort will enable any of us to effect, was all he needed.
Dec. 1st. “I am guilty of neglect in prayer. I too often regard it as an incidental instead of a serious duty. This is a bad habit. I wish to attempt an improvement in my conversation. This I need in every respect. My style is careless and broken, and by no means as finished as it might be. My manner is often blunt, and produces a bad impression upon strangers. I do not sufficiently introduce religious subjects in my conversation. These are great evils, and greatly limit my influence."
The accompanying sentiment was "proved," I have no doubt, and is worthy of being ranked with the things we are commanded to “hold fast :"-9th. “I see more than ever that little confidence is to be placed in the reasonings of the mind when a morbid sensibility upon the subject of thought has been generated. If even the logical process should be right, there will be such a selection of premises as will materially affect the conclusion. When the mind is in that state there are certain feelings which must be gratified, and they cheat reason out of her power. It is true they allow her to sit on the throne, and invest her with formal authority, but their decrees determine her decisions.” -It will be asked how is the victim of this morbid sensibility to be convinced of the fact ? I
Mr. Hessel would say, past experience may awaken surmise at all events.
10th. “How much the character is modified by the objects with which we are daily conversant! When we