there in his newly-gotten freedom! What instincts of warning in its very novelty and dim inexperience! What possibilities of failure as well as of success in the unknown future as it stretches before him!
4. Vice or Virtue.—Certainly there is a grave importance as well as a pleasant charm in the beginning of life. There is awe as well as excitement in it when rightly viewed. The possibilities that lie in it of noble or ignoble work—of happy self-sacrifice or ruinous self-indulgence—the capacities in the right use of which it may rise to heights of beautiful virtue, in the abuse of which it may sink to the depths of debasing vice—make the crisis one of fear as well as of hope, of sadness as well as of joy.
5. Success or Failure.—It is wistful as well as pleasing to think of the young passing year by year into the world, and engaging with its duties, its interests, and temptations. Of the throng that struggle at the gates of entrance, how many may reach their anticipated goal? Carry the mind forward a few years, and some have climbed the hills of difficulty and gained the eminence on which they wished to stand—some, although they may not have done this, have kept their truth unhurt, their integrity unspoiled; but others have turned back, or have perished by the way, or fallen in weakness of will, no more to rise again; victims or their own sin.
6. Warning.—As we place ourselves with the young at the opening gates of life, and think of the end from the beginning, it is a deep concern more than anything else that fills us. Words of earnest argument and warning counsel rather than of congratulation rise to our lips.
[pg 7, ToC]
7. Mistakes are Often Fatal.—Begin well and the habit of doing well will become quite as easy as the habit of doing badly. "Well begun is half ended," says the proverb: "and a good beginning is half the battle." Many promising young men have irretrievably injured themselves by a first false step at the commencement of life; while others of much less promising talents, have succeeded simply by beginning well, and going onward. The good, practical beginning is to a certain extent, a pledge, a promise, and an assurance of the ultimate prosperous issue. There is many a poor creature, now crawling through life, miserable himself and the cause of sorrow to others, who might have lifted up his head and prospered, if, instead of merely satisfying himself with resolutions of well-doing, he had actually gone to work and made a good, practical beginning.
8. Begin at the Right Place.—Too many are, however, impatient of results. They are not satisfied to begin where their fathers did, but where they left off. They think to enjoy the fruits of industry without working for them. They cannot wait for the results of labor and application, but forestall them by too early indulgence.
HEALTH A DUTY.
Perhaps nothing will so much hasten the time when body and mind will both be adequately cared for, as a diffusion of the belief that the preservation of health is a duty. Few seem conscious that there is such a thing as physical morality.
Men's habitual words and acts imply that they are at liberty to treat their bodies as they please. Disorder entailed by disobedience to nature's dictates they regard as grievances, not as the effects of a conduct more or less flagitious. Though the evil consequences inflicted on their descendents and on future generations are often as great as those caused by crime, they do not think themselves in any degree criminal.
It is true that in the case of drunkenness the viciousness of a bodily transgression is recognized; but none appear to infer that if this bodily transgression is vicious, so too is every bodily transgression. The fact is, all breaches of the law of health are physical sins.
[pg 8, ToC]
When this is generally seen, then, and perhaps not till then, will the physical training of the young receive all the attention it deserves.
Purity of life and thought should be taught in the home. It is the only safeguard of the young. Let parents wake up on this important subject.
[pg 9, ToC]
VALUE OF REPUTATION.
1. Who Shall Estimate the Cost.—Who shall estimate the cost of a priceless reputation—that impress which gives this human dross its currency—without which we stand despised, debased, depreciated? Who shall repair it injured? Who can redeem it lost? Oh, well and truly does the great philosopher of poetry esteem the world's wealth as "trash" in the comparison. Without it gold has no value; birth, no distinction; station, no dignity; beauty, no charm; age, no reverence; without it every treasure impoverishes, every grace deforms, every dignity degrades, and all the arts, the decorations and accomplishments of life stand, like the beacon-blaze upon a rock, warning the world that its approach is dangerous; that its contact is death.
2. The Wretch Without It.—The wretch without it is under eternal quarantine; no friend to greet; no home to harbor him, the voyage of his life becomes a joyless peril, and in the midst of all ambition can achieve, or avarice amass, or rapacity plunder, he tosses on the surge, a buoyant pestilence. But let me not degrade into selfishness of individual safety or individual exposure this individual principle; it testifies a higher, a more ennobling origin.
3. Its Divinity.—Oh, Divine, oh, delightful legacy of a spotless reputation: Rich is the inheritance it leaves; pious the example it testifies; pure, precious and imperishable, the hope which it inspires; can there be conceived a more atrocious injury than to filch from its possessor this inestimable benefit to rob society of its charm, and solitude of its solace; not only to out-law life, but attain death, converting the very grave, the refuge of the sufferer, into the gate of infamy and of shame.
4. Lost Character.—We can conceive few crimes beyond it. He who plunders my property takes from me that which can be repaired by time; but what period can repair a ruined reputation? He who maims my person effects that which medicine may remedy; but what herb has sovereignty over the wounds of slander? He who ridicules my poverty or reproaches my profession, upbraids me with that which industry may retrieve, and integrity may purify; but what riches shall redeem the bankrupt fame? What power shall blanch the sullied show of character? There can be no injury more deadly. There can be no crime more cruel. It is without remedy. It is without antidote. It is without evasion.
[pg 10, ToC]