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or a Napoleon, who purchased their fame at the expense of slaughtered millions; or of a Nero, or a Robespierre, who delighted in acts of cold-blooded murder; our better nature admires the spirit of the dauntless Howard, whose life was sacrificed to his philanthropy; or of the gentle Cowper, who could not inflict pain on the meanest of God's creatures; or of the self-denying missionary, who, in imitation of his Master, goes on his errand of mercy to distant climes to seek and restore the lost.
Do I expect mercy of God? I must myself be merciful. Those acts should delight me most, which relieve the distressed, and wipe away the tear of sorrow. The world is full of suffering. Sin has desolated its fairest scenes; in every direction we hear the cries of distress and the wail of broken hearts; and is not this a field in which I am called to act my part, in soothing the disconsolate? I must not only be careful not to add to this amount of misery, but strive to diminish it. If others can sport with the calamities of their fellow-men, let me regard every man as a brother, and run to his relief. This is my duty; it should be my privilege and pleasure. Thus will I best honour my Master and profit myself; for "the merciful man doeth good to his own soul."
eth open his folly.
A PRUDENT man foreseeth the | with knowledge; but a fool layevil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished.
Every prudent man dealeth |
The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going.
PRUDENCE is only another name for wisdom carried out into practice, in the various relations of life. It implies both intelligence and self-control. In the management of worldly business, in the conduct of domestic affairs, and in the regulation of general social intercourse, it is a quality of inestimable value. There is no relation of life from which it can be safely excluded. Without the counsels of prudence, the ruler would involve his government in inextricable confusion; without prudent plans, the man of business, instead of gathering in his profits, would squander his capital; in its absence, the affairs of the household would run into disorder and waste; and in our intercourse with others, unless prudence be observed, friendship would be broken, and the peace of neighbourhoods destroyed. In influencing our conduct, it suggests the best way of acting, and the right and safe way of speaking. By prudent management a newly married couple who start in life together, with little or nothing to depend on from others, will soon be seen emerging from their straitened circumstances into competency, if not wealth; while, on the contrary, the largest inherited fortunes are melted down and lost, not merely by profligacy, but from a
simple want of this quality. A prudent person, who knows when to speak and when to remain silent, who is careful to discriminate between what ought to be said, and what should be withheld, will not only save himself much trouble, but prove eminently serviceable to his fellow-creatures. Even religion may be rendered repulsive, by a disregard of prudential considerations in those who advocate it. A minister of the gospel may, by an imprudent remark from the pulpit, effectually alienate the affections of his flock; and parents often defeat their best hopes, in relation to their offspring, by not wisely considering the times and modes in which they may most favourably impress religious truth on their minds and hearts. An imprudent remark, made without intentional evil, will often prove as injurious in its results, as a hostile or slanderous one; and an imprudent determination not unfrequently brings in its train effects as detrimental to our own interests, or those of our fellow-men, as positive dishonesty. This defect of character, which is rather looked on as an infirmity than a vice, is thus not only productive of the evils which are the natural results of vices, but is, in some respects, less easily guarded against; for a man will encounter less danger from the hostility of an avowed enemy, than from the imprudence of a well-meaning friend.
While we thus by no means exaggerate the advantages of prudence, both in a secular and religious point of view; we should be careful to distinguish it from an over cautious, calculating, selfish, and cowardly spirit, which often takes shelter under its name. A man will often refuse to make any trivial sacrifice for a friend, decline contributing to objects unquestionably excel
lent and charitable, and even stand aloof when the claims of religion are calling him to action, and excuse himself under the plea of prudential considerations. No rule can be laid down for discriminating between the true and counterfeit in this respect, but that which is dictated by an enlightened conscience. A man must have blinded his own mind, if he be not conscious when he acts from genuine prudence, or those selfish feelings, which are so odious in themselves, as to require an assumed name to appear respectable.
My soul, how necessary is it that thou shouldst be as wise as the serpent, and as harmless as the dove! Not only thine own interests, but those of thy fellowmen, and, in a measure, those of the kingdom of Christ, are entrusted to thee. How necessary, therefore, that thou shouldst have wisdom from above, for the regulation of thy conduct! Seek heavenly direction, that neither in speech or behaviour, thou mayest do that which will injure thyself or thy neighbour, disturb the kindly relations thou sustainest to others, or bring reproach on the cause of Christ.
A MERRY heart doeth good like a medicine; but a broken spirit drieth the bones.
All the days of the afflicted are evil; but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast.
A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.
Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful; and the end of that mirth is heaviness.
THERE is an unspeakable difference between profane mirth and Christian cheerfulness. The libertine will exclaim, "Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die; let us seize the pleasures which present themselves, casting care to the winds; and if our life is to be short, at least let it be a merry one." How many insanely act on this maxim, and give a free scope to their sensual appetites, regardless alike of the dictates of reason and Scripture; and, as if they had no higher destination than the brutes that perish, close their eyes upon the retributions of eternity. Of such it may be truly said, "Woe unto you that laugh now, for ye shall lament." Their hilarity is soon to be clouded by sickness, and as the shades of death gather around them, the light of hope will be extinguished, and the brief season of fitful pleasure will be succeeded by "weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth."
Not so the Christian. His cheerfulness illuminates his countenance, refreshes like a feast, and is as salubrious as a medicine. Religion when viewed at a distance, through the discoloured medium of this world, may wear a repulsive aspect; and like a sweet landscape in nature, seen through a haze or by a defec