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Inconsiderate parents are apt to think, that time will cure the faults of their children. This is a sad and fatal mistake. Not but that time perchance may cure the minor follies and errors of the juvenile mind; such follies and errors as are peculiarly incidental to the inexperience, the imbecile judgment, and the eager vivacity, of childhood and immature youth; but immoral propensities are strengthened, rather than cured, by time, which matures them into fixed habits. The bias to lying, profaneness, defrauding, or whatever immorality else, is not so very hard to cure when it first appears in the child; but if it be neglected then, it grows into an inveterate habit in the man. It is of importance, however, to premise, that the inceptive immorality of child. hood is to be cured chiefly by moral means; by example; by exhibiting to the view its odious nature and direful consequences; by cogent and convincing appeals to the understanding, and affectionate appeals to the heart—and not altogether, or chiefly, by the infliction of punishments.
One of the most important objects of domestic government, is so to train up children that they may have a due government of themselves. This is a point, on which the worth or worthlessness of character greatly depends; for discreet and well regulated self-government, is the surest prevention of the deplorable excesses of passion and appetite, since it keeps upon them a stronger and a more steady rein than any other human government does, or can do. Neither is the science of self-government so hard to learn, nor the practice of it so very difficult, provided it be commenced as well in good season, as in good earnest. But the longer it is neglected, the greater is the difficulty ; till at last it becomes next to impossible for one to rule his passions or restrain his appetites. Immoral habits, which might have been easily prevented by timely discipline, attain gigantic strength by long indulgence.
It is out of our power to alter the structure of our bodies: we must take them as they are, for better or for
We cannot change our complexions or fashion our own features. We cannot add to our stature, or make even a single hair of our heads white or black. But it is not altogether so with the mind. We may, with the divine helps afforded us, improve and meliorate that. We may keep our passions and our appetites in subordination to our reason.
And in this necessary and noble exercise should every one be employed, day by day, who wishes to be wise, or hopes to be happy.
Of our proneness to go from one extreme to another.
IT often happens, that when we set ourselves to straighten a crook, instead of making it quite straight, we crook it the contrary way, or carry things from one extreme to the other.
A youth of an ingenuous, liberal temper, is apt to be not regardful enough of his own interest. He esteems money as trash, and scorns to employ his care about it. As it comes to him easily, it goes from him freely. He gives, he spends, he squanders, till at length experiencing embarrassment, he resolves to become frugal and provident. But such a youth seldom stops at the true point, but leaps at once, far beyond it. Heartily sick of extravagance, he makes a covenant with avarice, and changes to unfeeling, illiberal, and miserly.
The extreme of confidence often runs into the extreme of jealousy. Of those who live to a considerable age, very few perhaps leave the world with as good an opinion of mankind as they had begun it. To the eye of the ingenuous but inexperienced youth, the world appears bright and charming. He looks to meet with justice, candor and honor, in his intercourse with his fellow-beings. Fancy gilds the objects of his hopes, and whatever is promised him by hope, he regards as sure and certain. Presently, however, the illusion begins to vanish. He meets with disappointment: he experiences cold blooded selfislıness, deceit, fraud and Tidy'; his confidence in men turns to suspicion; the world, he concludes, is a cheat; he hastily says in his heart, that all men are rogues and liars; and he becomes sour and misanthropic. By how much his opinion of mankind was too favorable in his younger days, by so inuch it is too uncharitable in his advanced age.
Self-convicted credulity often runs into scepticism: and so also, a zeal to free themselves from all shackles of superstition is very apt to drive men upon the fatal rocks of infidelity and irreligion.
Gibbon, the historian, no less celebrated for talents and learning than notorious for infidelity, was, in his youth, an implicit believer in, and a zealot for, the nonsensical popish doctrine of transubstantiation. To the arguments and expostulations of his father and other protestant relations and friends, he was utterly deaf. But happening, of himself, to find out an argument which convinced him of the monstrous absurdity of that doctrine, he rejected it, and along with it, rejected the whole system of divine revelation : which he, in the manner of Voltaire, encountered with the weapons of sneer and contempt, rather than by fair and manly reasoning. Nor is it unlikely that the rank infidelity, so general, a few years since, among the learned and the fashionable in Europe, sprung chiefly from the same root. Identifying the monstrous doctrines and superstitious rites of the corrupted church in whose bosom they had been educated, with the gospel itself, and discerning clearly the ridiculous absurdities of the former, they hesitated not to explode the latter.
Some men of impetuous tempers, but of feeling hearts, are possessed, by turns, of ferocity, and, on the other hand, of an uridue measure of indulgent feelings. In their gusts of anger, hard words, and sometimes hard blows, are dealt out for petty offences, or for none at all. But no sooner is the tempest subsided, than they deeply relent; and, passing into the other extreme, they smother their little ones with caresses, and indulge them in every thing. A certain nobleman of former times is said to have been so remarkable in this respect, that his domestics threw themselves in his way
wheneva er they saw him angry, in order to be beaten by him ; well knowing that he would reward them bounsibr" with gifts as soon as lijs passion cooled,
Again, some fatliers frame in their own minds a sys
tem of paternal government, that is fine-spun in theory, but impracticable. They will govern by rule and plummet. They will begin in good season, and effectually whip old Adam out of their children. So they do begin, and so they proceed, sternly marking every childish foible, till, finding their efforts baffled, they rather cast away, than remit, the reins of government, and let their children do as they will.
Beware of extremes. Several of the minor virtues of our nature degenerate to folly or vice when carried beyond the due measure. Sensibility is not more lovely in its proper degree, than contemptible in its extravagance. A sentimentalist, puling over an uprooted flower or a maimed butterfly, excites disgust. rather than sympathy. Good humor, candor, and generosity, may all be carried to extreme. If our good humor render our moral characters flexible, and our hearts too yielding; if our candor degenerate to a sort of indiscriminate approvance of truth and error, of right and wrong, of the good and of the evil; if our generosity infringe upon the sacred laws of justice, by an hospitality exceeding our meanis, or by giving gifts in preference to paying honest debts :-in these, as in divers other cases, too inuch of a good thing turns it to bad.
One remark more : moments of excessive mirth are usually succeeded by melancholy and gloom; because ecstatic joy, by wasting the animal spirits, produces the opposite extreme.
So that the mind which is serene, but not mirthful, ordinarily enjoys a greater amount of real pleasure, than one of a very jovial cast; the latter being, at times, sunk as much below the tone of nature, as, at other times it is raised above it. Cheerfulness of heart is one of the best cordials of life, but highseasoned mirth has the effect of intoxicating liquor. Transporting joys of permanent continuance, are to be found in certain fantastical books, but belong not to real life.
Of despising small things.
“ He that despiseth small things, shall fall by little and litde."
ECCLESIASTICUS. This text, though apocryphal, is consonant to the whole tenor of human experience.
Time, which is of such invaluable account to every hunian being, is made up as of little particles, that ever are flying away from us, and never to return : No, never.
6 Time that ensueth
Youth is the death of childhoood; age of youth.” How inconceivably small are the passing moments ! yet they are not to be contemned. For of these is the whole duration of life composed; and it is the assiduous and wise use of moments, that crowns life with honor. On the other hand, by undervaluing the moments and neglecting to employ them, whole days and years are lost.
We often complain of the shortness of the whole, and at the same time are daily making prodigal waste of the parts. We carelessly throw away thousands of the small fractions of time; else, in most cases, we should have time enough.
So it happens that in the acquisition of knowledge, the race is not always to the swift. Many a wonderful boy that confided altogether in the native force of his genius, has been left far behind his cotemporaries of smaller talent, but of unwearied assiduity. Nor does history scarcely record the single instance of a man truly great in point of knowledge, who did not diligently improve even the small fractions of his time. In short, with the exception of a few remarkable cases, much more is effected by the dint of application than by the dint of genius. The fabled mouse with unweariable diligence ate in twain the cable, which a giant could not have parted with all his strength. And besides, if it be of great value to know how to bear tedi