« PředchozíPokračovat »
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 66 '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.
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
of real life-attempting the greatest ends without adequate means. I hope, however, these strivings of desire, these pantings of the soul will lead to something good.
"I have been thinking a good deal about our plans. They appear admirably adapted to promote concentration of the mental powers. In addition to all the ordinary means they bring in that immense auxiliary, the social feeling. A principle which operates so powerfully both in civil and religious society, cannot be unefficacious in our case. On the contrary, the more spirits advance in intellectual improvement the more influence will they exercise over each other. I therefore look forward with sanguine expectations to our future intercourse.
"There are three things which I think we should particularly study in conjunction: a passage in the Hebrew Bible or Greek Testament a subject in theology—and a useful memoir. I would lay down no rigid plan, for I am tired of plan-making; but I think these three departments are so important that we should carry them on simultaneously. In all our studies we should connect variety of means with uniformity of design and end.
"In reading the Scriptures, I have thought we had better spend a week in the Bible and Testament alternately. I should also wish us to have two or three subjects in theology, and to change them every week. This plan, while it would afford full scope for our efforts, would continually excite new interest. The grand desideratum is to place ourselves in such circumstances as shall render it impossible not to take a deep interest in, and fully investigate, the objects of our attention. I have been thinking of Edwards' Memoir. I should wish us to get our minds thoroughly imbued with the spirit of that great man."
The memoir of Jonathan Edwards was read, and amongst other remarks suggested by it, I find the following inquiry :"What are the peculiar circumstances in the present age,
ÆTAT. 211 THE PHILOSOPHY OF PREACHING.
in my station, which may be seized upon and turned to the best account? It will not do to follow in the track of Edwards. His principles may be adopted, his means of moral and intellectual aggression may be used, but a new course must be struck out-a new field selected. Suppose I select this :-The philosophy of preaching-the best mode of applying truth to the human mind to strip it of that which has weakened its influence-to give it the most concentration and energy-to ascertain what parts of the human mind are most vulnerable to the sword of the Spirit -or how the different ingredients of the moral medicine must be mingled in order to produce the greatest possible effect. This is a great field, affording at once scope and stimulus. The apparatus must be extensive. It will require, 1. A deep acquaintance with the Bible; a practical knowledge. 2. An intimate knowledge of the human heart. 3. A careful observation of all the great inoral phenomena the conduct of mankind has exhibited and is now exhibiting; a knowledge not to be acquired in the study only, but by mingling in the stirring scenes of life. Every fact must be set down in the note book of the mind, and be made to tell in the great plan. 4. A thorough acquaintance with the laws of mind, so far as they are known. 5. The study of the best divines-those whose thought is closest, whose ideas are the most elevated, who view things on the largest scale, such as Howe and Edwards; whose reasoning is the most impassioned-Demosthenian, as Baxter. 6. An acquaintance with the best literature-that language which is the best vehicle of solemn and impassioned thoughts, which tells upon the general mind, which hides itself behind the idea, so as to make it completely fill the spectator's sphere of vision; language which can shift its mode of aggression, and both get at the heart through the understanding, and at the understanding through the heart. This plan has long been in 'my mind's eye;'
it is here but faintly defined, but will be useful.”—How many candidates for the Christian Ministry have such a plan in their mind's eye at twenty-one?
15th. "I have observed to-day that one may be too prodigal in communicating ideas. An increase of quantity must always produce a corresponding decrease in value. A few ideas uttered with proper emphasis and tones, leaving sufficient time for the hearer to receive them, will often be more effective than a great profusion.”
Though the annexed may probably provoke a smile from some reader, I deem it worth insertion as a revelation of character. 16th. "I have not been careful enough in eating and drinking; last night I took too much supper. I believe these habits increase, so that if I do not check them their power will become tremendous. During the next week then I will endeavour to do better. Until next Saturday I will adhere to the following resolutions: 1. Eat very slowly. 2. Never take more than two cups at breakfast and tea, nor more than one piece of pudding at dinner. 3. Take a moderate piece of bread and half a mug of milk for supper-and never go a second time. 4. If I violate any of these regulations, I will forfeit half a crown to the London Missionary Society."
22nd. "I have this morning had the painful consciousness of indistinctness of mental vision arising from doing things in a hurried manner and having too many objects before the mind at once. Let me observe these two rules: 1. Do one thing at once. 2. Do nothing in a hurry."
On the 25th he writes: "I have tried the plan of the 16th, and have come to this conclusion :-To eat slowly; and in order to do this, engage in conversation as much as possible. 2. Never to take food when I cannot ask the blessing of God upon it."
Here we have noble aspirations, blended with such con