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THERE are many who suppose they can pass through life without ever investigating or establishing their principles. Thinking the natural excellence of their hearts sufficient to guide them through every scene of trial and temptation, they neglect to settle those rules of action, which would be a magnet to their course through all its alternations of sunshine and of storm. The force of habit thcy deem, will still keep their feet in that path of rectitude and honor, in which, from the sway of example, or the power of circumstance, they have hitherto continued to tread. Nothing can be more groundless than such an opinion--nothing more futile than such a trust. Even if the heart in the moral, as matter in the material were naturally inclined to pursue a direct path ; still, in the one case as in the other, whenever any obstacle impeded or object crossed its course, that direction would be altered. If the soul be not a moral automaton of regular and un
deviating progress, the dangers that threaten, and the temptations that as. sail it, will bear it away from its onward road till its course and its prospects will be the very opposite of what they were. But when we know, and in grief acknowledge, that the natural tendency of our steps is perverse to a marvel; that the very goodness which we boast, is the result of accident rather than of purpose, and that self-complacency and the world's opinion are the fountains of our most applauded actions; we feel the absolute necessity of unwavering principle. The seltish man always prefers himself to his neighbor, and when their respective interests clash, he will take any means consistent with his other interests, to accomplish his own purposes and defeat the plans of his fellow. This is the foundation of all the injustice in the world, and, by consequence, of all the sin ; for sin is nothing but injustice developing itself in various forms. When, indeed, a man of no principle finds his own interests counteracting the interests of his neighbor, he frequently neither attempts nor perpetrates injustice : but it is always either because he cannot, or because some other advantage would be thereby curtailed. It may be that the power of community or the arm of the law will restrain him from the commission of his wil). He is virtuous by selfish necessity, and not from choice. The advantages he might gain by the act of wrong, to which he is tempted, would be far outweighed by its adverse consequences—the loss of patronage, the ruin of character, and the indignant frown of an outraged community. But remove him from the power of these salutary restraints—and will that forced excellence continue? Let him be assured of security—let the promised good outweigh the prospect of danger -let his fellows raise but a feeble condemnation-or let their united voice be heard in accents of applause—and how is it possible he should hesitate! He has no principles by which to test and govern his actions,-conscience is dead, or, if alive, its life is but languid, and its voice is hushed. Now no one can be assured that he will not at some time, be placed in circumstances like these. The fashion of the day-the influence of a great name—the sway of interest—the bias of prejudice—the electric fire of excitementall ihese cause so many refluent currents in the stream of public sentiment, that nothing can be a more deceptive guide.
What then, can give any security for the rectitude of his future conduct, to one who has no fixed principles--no unvarying standard, no touch-stone of truth and duty. Should the waywardness of youth reject the stern dictates of principle for a while, we should not give them up in despair. When excess and aberration are but the irregularities of youth or the hasty sallies of wild excitement, there yet is hope ; for soberer years may cool that early Aush, or the rod of affliction and disappointment may stay his wanderings. It is natural for a young and a warm heart to be impetuous and ungoverna. ble for a while-its feelings are frenzied by their very novelty.-drunk with their own fullness. But that heart is still fresh and kind; it has not yet for. gotten the fervency of a father's benediction, or the unutterable yearnings of a mother's love, and a mother's prayer. His views are not yet settledbut the seeds of truth and goodness, which a mother's hand had sown,
and her tears had watered, after that wild storm of excitement has passed by, may spring up to a harvest of rejoicing. But when the buoyancy of early feeling is gone—when the heart grows sick of its wanderings, and its energies have been exerted with such unnatural violence, that it has neither the
On the Need of Principle.
strength nor courage to retrace its steps; then, if there be no principle to guide and regulate, the danger is appalling. Sick of vice, and yet a foe to virtue-disgusted with pleasure, and yet its unwearied votary-regretful of the past, yet reckless of the present, and hopeless of the future—despair usurps the place of enjoyment; and the heart, a stranger to the pleasures of rectitude, determines to make itself a heaven in the chase of folly, or, more often, in the vortex of sin. When vice is pursued, not in the hope of pleasure, but as a relief from thought—when the cords of early association, and the ties that bound him to home and to happiness are snapped or severed, when the mental sinews are unbraced, and the moral frame-work of the soul has collapsed—there is no hope. He has no motive for exertion, and he makes none ;-he owns no governing principle of invariable firmness, and therefore drifts with the tide of circumstances, or is drawn into the whirl. pool of crime.
In the words of a noble, but abandoned poet—whose mind was a garden of mental luxuriance and moral desolation, and who was himself the most sorrowful example of that condition which he has so feelingly described
" Then the fow, whose spirits float above the wreck of happiness,
If then, firm, just principle is so all important to success in life, what a weight of obligation devolves upon mothers—the mistresses of the little world of home. They have in their hands almost exclusively the formation of infant character. As from its mother's breast the nursling draws the first nourishment of its little body; so from her lips, from her words, from her smiles and her frowns, does he gather the earliest aliment of his moral frame. As the plant receives form and character from the skies above and the airs around it, being gnarled or expansive even as they are harsh or gentle, so does the infant mind mould and conform its nature to the moral atmosphere it inhales. Let the mother instil into the heart of her child the truths of virtue and religion—let her send him forth from the little world of home, girded with armor of proof-bearing a two-edged sword, with one edge may he put to flight the temptations of prosperity-with the other meet and conquer the trials of affliction and sorrow.
*. C. *
It is an unusually bad mind to which suspicion is natural; or which looks for a snare before it has ever fallen into one. I placc little confidence in the man who never was deceived, and I ever give that mind credit for the greatest familiarity with truth, which least questions the veracity of another. Credulity is that weakness which lingers the longest amidst the virtues ; and if we admire a man the less for it, we yet love him the more.--Cunningham
For the Micro: osm.
“ THE WIFE FOR A MISSIONARY."
BY THE AUTHOR OF LOUISA RALSTON," THE REFORMATION, A TALE OF
THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY," &C.
The limits within which we are of necessity confined, are too much contracted to allow us to render that justice to the little book before us, which it so properly deserves. It is not our purpose to recommend it as perfect throughout, either in the style in which it written, or the sentiments it embodies-nor, on the other hand, do we wish to examine any defects it may have, with the severe acumen of criticism. We are prepared to say of it, with the strictest candor, that it meritoriously claims a careful perusal. Such a book is needed, and cannot fail to accomplish much good. The subject is of importance and deserves to be treated with delicacy and sound reflection. The author of such a book, should know well the hidden springs of moral action ; nor should he be a stranger to the passions and affections of the human heart. This is no abstract subject; it has to do with every family circle, with every christian. The father who gathers his household-his sons and his daughters-around the domestic altar to offer to God the sacrifice of a broken and a grateful heart, must pray with this great subject forcing its claims upon his conscience and his bener. olence. Am I ready to devote my offspring to the work of spreading the gospel in foreign lands? No pious mother can refuse to meet this question. In her hours of secret communion with her God—when she pleads for her children, the dearest earthly objects of her affections—this subject must press itself upon her attention. He, whose youthful heart has been inspired with the spirit of his master-whose arm is strong-whose feet are swift -he, most of all must ponder well the wants of a dying world. Nor can that pious youthful female, who loves her Savior, turn a deaf ear to so loud and repeated an interrogation. We say the subject of the book before us is of importance. We
hazard the remark, that it has not received a perfect examination. It has been dwelt upon only in part, and with brevity; there is still room for more investigation.
“ The Wife for a Missionary,” is written in a style for the most part graceful and familiar, calculated enlist the interest of the reader. Its descriptions are lively and in some instances graphic. Of its kind, we may say it is a valuable work. It is quite brief and has the careless ease of a story. It is not, like the vast majority of similar works with which the community is inundated, destitute of thought,—a mere linking together of melodious words in the formation of harmonious periods—it has the impress of candor and an acquaintance with human nature.
It represents christian character, both as it is and as it ought to be, pla. cing them in striking contrast. In holding up a model, a pattern, it should be a perfect one. Perfection is the mountain of the Lord, on which he sits, and let the christian elevate his standard to the same eminence.
The first great topic which we will notice, is, the influence of correct family government in the formation of christian character. It usually happens that the piety of a family is conformed to the example exhibited in those who are its guardians in other matters. Let a child see in its parents, benevolence
The Wife for a Missionary.
123 deep devotion, self-denial, faith, joy, in their benignent and most heroic aspect and if it becomes a christian, its religion will wear the same features. The faults of early life, indeed those of mature age, are but the legitimate results of education at home. Some parents who bear the christian name, make an ostentatious display of their profession—their piety seldom appears the great master spring of all their actions-if seen at all, it is seen behind the drapery of worldly fashion-encased close in the vestments of pride and ambition. Such will be the piety of their families. A father or mother are constantly in the practice of self-denial—they pray for the speedy conversion of the world—they contribute freely and with a liberal hand of their property as the Lord hath blessed them—they are interested in the cause of foreign missions, are acquainted with the various movements of the great Benevolent Institutions of the age, read the reports of missionaries and others-in fine they illustrate the spirit of Christ, and as far as they are able, obey his great command, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Their pious sons and daughters, will grow up imbued deeply with the spirit of missions. We recollect to have heard it remarked, that the world never will be converted, till christian parents devote their children to the cause of missions, and from their infancy train them up for labors on missionary ground. They must be ready to answer the call “ Who shall be sent,”—here are our children given to us by God, or rather lent, and we yield them back to Him. The church is wofully deficient in active benevolence, and she has grown up with this character. She is as destitute of the spirit of Paul and of Christ, as if God had piedged himself to enlighten and redeem the heathen without the instrumentality of man. Her charity begins at home, and it ends there; it ventures not beyond the precincts of the domestic enclosure. Parents are unwilling to give up their children to the enterprise of converting the world, and their children are taught to feel that this work must be sustained by other bands and by other voices. In some cases, when a christian son or daughter has been ready to go to some foreign clime, their zeal has been chilled, their desires have been repressed, because a father or a mother has contravened the dictates of their benevolence, and put an interdict upon their love for a perishing world. We will here extract a scene from “The Wife for a Missionary," to illustrate the triumph of love to God and the world, over the affections and passions of nature.
A son had lett the sacred sanctuary of home, to receive an education within the walls of a college. He returns with an intimate classmate, to the spot "endeared to him by a thousand tond recollections, and the most precious ties.”—“ Frederic had not seen his home since his determination to devote himself to the work of the Lord in foreign lands. He entered, therefore, with all the eagerness and delight of a long-absent child, anticipating the gush of affection and joy which his unexpected arrival would create, and with all the increased interest, which the remembrance, that soon he would never see it more, might be supposed to inspire. That evening beheld a happy circle. The father had not only consented to the wish of his son to devote himself to a missionary life, but with a holy magnaniinity which we seldom see, had said promptly and cheerfully, “Go, my child; go and live and die in your Master's service.” And as he looked upon his firstborn again, he rejoiced, that God had called him to so noble a work; and