Page images

stead of justifying a “little wrong,” they would not have made shipwreck of their hopes. Here lies the secret of that ruin which is so wide-spread among those in early and later life.

A writer says, “Let us not neglect little duties, let us not screen ourselves in little faults. Whatever we may like to think, nothing is really of small importance that affects the soul. All diseases are small at the beginning. Many a death-bed begins with a little cold.' Nothing that can grow is large all at once -the greatest sin must have a beginning. Nothing that is great comes to perfection in a day—characters and habits are all the results of little actions. Little strokes made that ark which saved Noah. Little pins held firm that tabernacle which was the glory of Israel. We too are travelling through a wilderness ; let us be like the family of Merari, and be careful not to leave the pins behind.”

We call attention particularly to that part of the quotation that relates to small wrongs, as we intend to speak of other little things in another place. Little sins are the bane of the church. “Little foxes destroy the vines." If these could be guarded against, no gross inconsistencies would stain the Christian character. But even professing Christians are so disposed to find excuses for their little sins, that the way is opened for the commission of those which greatly dishonour God. If each professor would resolve to go “just right,” his own conscience, the Bible, and light from above, being his only guides, the Christian character would challenge the scrutiny of the whole world.

The youth of our land would present a different spectacle, were the aims of all as high as were those of Lawrence. If, like him, they observed the tendency of actions, and avoided those which had“ the appearance of evil,” their courses through life would be bright and glorious. Alas, that so many are blind to the evils and dangers that beset their paths! Alas, that so many do not care to cultivate those habits which are safe and good ! May they learn lessons of wisdom from the example of him to whose early life we have pointed. For his whole career was a happy illustration of the consequences of going just right.



AMOS LAWRENCE was an industrious youth. Youth, and even young men, often covet some position where they will not be compelled to labour. They appear to imagine that true enjoyment consists in freedom from the necessity to work—a very erroneous and dangerous sentiment. A few years since we met a wealthy acquaintance in the streets of Boston ; and being somewhat startled by the emaciation and apparent unhappiness that had usurped the place of his former physical strength and cheerful countenance, we expressed great surprise. He replied in substance, “I retired from business about a year ago, thinking it would be a fine thing to have nothing to do; but I have been the most wretched man in the world; and I am now on my way to Maine to purchase a factory; for I shall die if I try to live in this way.” So, to save his life, he returned to business, and is now a most industrious person, though previously worth his hundreds of thousands. Many other men would bear similar testimony to the unsatisfactory nature of idle days and hours. The reply of Sir Horace Vere to the Marquis of Spinola was full of meaning. The latter inquired, “Pray, Sir Horace, of what did your brother die ?” “He died of having nothing to do,” was his characteristic reply. “That is enough to kill anybody," responded the Marquis.

Such facts ought to convince the young that no real enjoyment is yielded by a life of indolence. All their fanciful ideas of ease in the midst of affluence and distinction ought to vanish before the experience and testimony of the wise and good in every age.

Amos Lawrence, we have said, always cultivated industrious habits. His biographer says of him : “He did not allow himself to be idle, but, from his earliest years, exhibited the same spirit of industry which led to success in after life. With a natural quickness of apprehension, and a fondness for books, he made commendable progress, in spite of his disadvantages.

We have seen that he was wont to devote himself to the business of his employer with such unwearied effort as always to be found at his post ; and that, after he commenced business for himself in Boston, he travelled many nights to visit his home, so that the hours of business might not be invaded. This excellent habit continued with him through life; and it was one of the topics upon which he frequently spoke earnestly to his children. In a letter to his son, at the time absent from home, he wrote as follows :

To a

“An idle person, with good powers of mind, becomes torpid and inactive after a few years of indulgence, and is incapable of making any high effort ; highly important it is then to avoid this enemy of mental and moral improvement."

Whether in his youth he regarded the proper improvement of time in the light of a duty or not, it is certain that he did so regard it in mature years. son he once wrote:

“The question you will naturally ask yourself is, How has the time been spent? And from the answer, you may gather much instruction for the future. If you have made the best use of this period, happy is it for you, as the habit of a useful application of your time will make its continuance more natural

If you have misused and abused your opportunities, there is not a moment to be lost in retracing your steps, and making good by future effort what has been lost by want of it. In short, we can none of us know that a future will be allowed us to amend and to correct our previous misdoings and omissions, and it is not less the part of wisdom than of duty to be always up and doing, that whenever our Master comes we may be ready."

Again he wrote to his son:

“To set a just value upon time, and to make a just use of it, deprives no one of any rational pleasure ; un the contrary, it encourages temperance in the enjoyment of all the good things which a good Providence has placed within our reach, and thankfulness for all opportunities of bestowing happiness on our fellow-beings. Thus you have an opportunity of making me and your

and easy.

other friends happy, by diligence in your studies, by temperance, truth, integrity, and purity of life and conversation.”

These counsels shew that the habit of industry which Lawrence cultivated in early life was highly valued by him in age. He desired to see the same babit formed by the young everywhere. Unlike many, he regarded time as the gift of God, which ought to be improved to the best advantage. This is the highest and most important view of life. In this respect Lawrence was like Samuel Budgett, who wrote as follows to a yonng man, twenty-one years of age :

“You think that if you were obliged to labour from morning till night without interruption, this would teach you

the value of time. Is not this a mistake ? Can any thing so effectually teach us its value as a deep conviction that it is not our own, but an important talent put into our hands, for which we must give a strict account at the great, the general audit of all our accounts with our Maker? If so, of how little importance is it to us what may be the nature or quantity of our engagements, so long as we may secure at the last, the blest plaudit of Well done!' from Him whose approbation alone it is that gives real value to every thing in earth or heaven."

Industry did not distinguish Mr Lawrence alone: all successful men are industrious. It distinguished all the merchants, statesmen, philosophers, and others, whose names we have already laid before the reader. The biographer of Budgett says:

“He seemed born under a decree to do. Doing, doing, ever doing; his nature seemed to abhor an idle

« EelmineJätka »