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CHILDREN are very early capable of impression. I imprinted on my daughter the idea of faith at a very early age. She was playing one day with a few beads, which seemed to delight her wonderfully. Her whole soul was absorbed in her beads. I said to her, 'My dear, you have some pretty beads there.'
'And you seem to be vastly pleased with them.' 'Yes, papa!'
'Well now, throw 'em behind the fire!'
The tears started into her eyes. She looked earnestly at me, as though she ought to have a reason for such a cruel sacrifice. 'Well, my dear, do as you please; but you know I never told you to do any thing, which I did not think would be good for you.'
She looked at me a few moments longer, and then, summoning up all her fortitude, her breast heaving with the effort, she dashed them into the fire.
'Well,' said I, 'there let them lie; you shall hear more about them another time, but say no more about them now.'
Some days after, I bought her a box full of
larger beads, and toys of the same kind. When I returned home, I opened the treasure and set it before her; she burst into tears with ecstasy.
'Those, my child,' said I, 'are yours, because you believed me, when I told you it would be better for you to throw those two or three paltry beads behind the fire. Now that has brought you this treasure. But now, my dear, remember, as long as you live, what faith is. I did all this to teach you the nature of faith. You threw your beads away when I bid you, because you had faith in me, that I never advised you but for your good. Put the same confidence in God. Believe every thing that he says in his word. Whether you understand it or not, have faith in him that he means you good.'
ADVICE TO YOUTH.
At your first setting out in life, especially when yet unacquainted with the world and its snares, when every pleasure enchants with its smile, and every object shines with the gloss of novelty, beware of the seducing appearances which surround you; and.recollect what others have suffered from the power of headstrong desire. If you allow any
passion, even though it be esteemed innocent, to acquire an absolute ascendant, your inward peace will be impaired. But if any which has the taint of guilt take early possession of your mind, you may date from that moment the ruin of your tranquillity. Nor with the season of youth does the peril end. To the impetuosity of youthful desire succeed the more sober, but not less dangerous, attachments of advancing years, when the passions which are connected with interest and ambition begin their reign, and too frequently extend their malignant influence even over those periods of life which ought to be most tranquil. From the first to the last of man's abode on earth, the discipline must never be relaxed of guarding the heart from the dominion of passion. Eager passions, and violent desires were not made for man. They exceed his sphere; they find no adequate objects on earth; and of course can be productive of nothing but misery. The certain consequence of indulging them, is, that there shall come an evil day, when the anguish of disappointment shall drive us to acknowledge that all which we enjoy 'availeth us nothing.'
You are not to imagine, that the warnings which I have given in this discourse are applicable only to signal offenders. Think not, as I am afraid too many do, that because your passions have not hurried you into atrocious deeds, they
have therefore wrought no mischief, and have left no sting behind them. By a continued series of loose, though apparently trivial, gratifications, the heart is often as thoroughly corrupted, as by the commission of any one of those enormous crimes which spring from great ambition, or great revenge. Habit gives the passions strength, while the absence of glaring guilt seemingly justifies them; and, unawakened by remorse, the sinner proceeds in his course, till he wax bold in guilt, and become ripe for ruin. For by gradual and latent steps the destruction of our virtue advances. Did the evil unveil itself at the beginning; did the storm which is to overthrow our peace discover, as it rose, all its horrors, precautions would more frequently be taken against it. But we are imperceptibly betrayed; and from one licentious attachment, one criminal passion, are, by a train of consequences, drawn on to another, till the government of our minds is irrecoverably lost. The enticing and the odious passions are, in this respect, similar in their process; and, though by different roads, conduct at last to the same issue. David, when he first beheld Bathsheba, did not plan the death of Uriah. Haman was not delivered up all at once to the madness of revenge; his passion rose with the rising tide of prosperity; and pride completed what prosperity began. What was originally no more than displeasure at
Mordecai's disrespect, increased with every invitation he received to the banquet of the queen, till it impelled him to devise the slaughter of a whole nation, and ended in a decree of rage which confounded his reason, and hurried him to ruin. In this manner, every criminal passion in its progress swells and blackens; and what was at first a small cloud, such as the prophet's servant saw, no bigger than a man's hand, rising from the sea,' is soon found to carry the tempest in its womb.
OF A PEACEABLE TEMPER.
TO INDUCE us to the practice of the duty of living peaceably, we may consider:
1. 'How good and pleasant a thing it is,' as David saith, for brethren,' and so we are all, at least by nature, 'to live together in unity.' How that, as Solomon saith, 'Better is a dry morsel and quietness therewith, than a house full of sacrifices with strife.' How delicious that conversation is, which is accompanied with a mutual confidence, freedom, courtesy, and complaisance; how calm the mind, how composed the affections, how se