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the evils that curse the world. The Turks have a proverb which says, “ The devil tempts all other men, but idle men tempt the devil.” Actual statistics prove this to be a truthful proverb. Our prisons and reformatories are supplied with tenants from the idle classes of society. Of the five hundred and sixty-nine boys in the Massachusetts Reform-school at one time, four hundred and seventy-two of them were idle lads roaming the streets, before they were sent to that institution. It is seldom the case that a person, old or young, industriously pursuing an honourable calling, is found guilty of any of those offences which bring one to the penitentiary.
It may seem a small matter to the young to idle away an hour now and then. Just make an estimate and see if it is so. Suppose you
Suppose you waste cne hour in a day. Here are six hours in a week, and three hundred and twelve hours in a year, all lost. About one twelfth part of your working time is thus wasted. This time devoted to the acquisition of property or information, would enable you to accomplish much. We have seen that some men earned their distinction by the improvement of these “ odds and ends” of time. Besides, the habit of industry is not a solitary one.
Other good habits are associated with it. It helps to build up
the whole character. An idle boy is more likely to lie and steal than one who is laborious. The latter is likely to love the Bible and the place of worship, when the former shuns them both. Perhaps the highest value of industry consists in its power to beget and foster other excellent qualities.
It is related by Pliny, that Cresinus, a Roman, was accused of sorcery. The ground of the accusation was
his very remarkable success in agricultural pursuits. He could get much larger crops than others, even from a smaller piece of ground. People became excited over his eminent prosperity, and he was finally brought before the proper authorites to answer to the charge of sorcery. In answer to this charge, Cresinus produced his efficient implements of husbandry, his well-fed oxen, and a hale young woman, his daughter, and pointing to them, he exclaimed, “These, Romans, are my instruments of witchcraft; but I cannot here shew you my labours, sweats, and anxious cares !” This solved the mystery of his success. The fruits of industry are everywhere akin to the Roman's farm.
It is not surprising, then, that the Scriptures speak so frequently and strongly of this virtue. We may be sure that no quality of character is unimportant when the Bible commends it to the reader's attention. It is always worth while to inquire what is said in the Word of God upon the subject under consideration. Let us see, then, what the Scriptures say abont industry and its opposite.
“The sleep of a labouring man is sweet.” “The hand of the diligent shall bear rule.” “The hand of the diligent maketh rich." “ The soul of the diligent shall be made fat." “Seest thou a man diligent in his business ? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.” These, and kindred texts, are verified in the lives and characters of those men whom we have held up for examples. It is by the use of such language that the Bible extols industry.
In language equally strong it reproves idleness. “An idle soul shall suffer hunger.” “ The way of the slothful man is as a hedge of thorns." “ The desire of the slothful killeth him.” “ By much slothfulness the building decayeth ; and through idleness of the hands the house droppeth through.” Here we have a most truthful description of the evil consequence of idleness. And here is another most perfect picture of the lazy man's estate. “I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding, and, lo ! it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down. Then I saw and considered it well : I looked
upon it and received instruction. Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep, so shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man.”
God's opinion of industry and idleness is sufficiently clear from these passages.
AMONG the familiar maxims which teach the importance of frugality are the following :"A penny saved is as good as a penny earned.” “A small leak will sink a ship.”
“Ask thy purse what thou shalt buy." "A pin a day is a groat a year.” “Always taking out of the meal tub, and never putting in, soon brings you to the bottom."
Amos Lawrence, from his youth, always acted in accordance with these truthful sayings. Upon this point, he wrote in mature years :
“I practised a system of rigid economy, and never allowed myself to spend a fourpence for unnecessary objects until I had acquired it.”
Again he wrote, after giving a statement of his affairs :
“ The amount of property is great for a young man under forty-two years of age, who came to this town when he was twenty-one years old, with no other possessions than a common country education, a sincere love for his own family, and habits of industry, economy, and sobriety. Under God, it is these same self-denying habits, and a desire I always had to please, so far as I could without sinful compliance, that I can now look back upon
and see as the true ground of my success. I have many things to reproach myself with, but among them is not idling away my time, or spending money for such things as are improper."
It appears from this language, that when he removed to Boston, his habits of industry and economy were formed. Indeed, if they had not been formed before he commenced business in the city, it is probable that these qualities would never have adorned his life.
In consequence of the influence of this virtue upon his whole career, it became one of the prominent topics of instruction to his children, and other young people. He once wrote to his son, who was the father of several children, " Bring up your boys to do their work first, and enjoy their play afterward. Begin early to teach them habits of order, a proper economy, and exact accountability in their affairs."
The habit of frugality was so fixed in Mr Lawrence, that, when at the height of his greatest prosperity, he used his means with as little show of extravagance, as he did during the first year of his business in Boston. He practised economy as a duty. In this respect, his course presented a striking contrast with that of many wealthy men. The world presents a scene of the most reckless extravagance, not, indeed, confined to the rich, but equally prevalent among those who are in moderate circumstances.
It is said by some of our most practical and best business men, that extravagance is the principal cause of failures in the commercial sphere. Young men commence business, and prosper. Their gains are equal to their highest anticipations, but their domestic arrangements are graduated upon a similar scale. Their houses are furnished with princely magnificence, and every other thing relating to “keeping up appearances,” is of the most costly character. They continue in this way for a few years, and then make their creditors pay for
A statement has recently been made upon the best authority, relating to one hundred and nine business men in Boston, in 1808. After the lapse of forty-eight years, it appeared that fifty of the number had failed in business. Only about one third of them were eminently successful, and these were distinguished through life for their industry and frugality. There is no doubt that an accurate account of the lives of the fifty who failed would reveal the want of economy in their pecuniary affairs. This statement is much more favourable for tradesmen than facts usually warrant. It was said