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Conversation between the boy and his friend.

impede our influence and usefulness. If we would now explore and correct these, taking some such thoroughgoing course as I have described, how rapidly we should at once rise in usefulness and happiness! Instead of that, however, we listen to moral and religious instruction from the pulpit, to admire the form of its expression, or perhaps to fix the general principles in our hearts; but the business of exploring thoroughly our own characters to ascertain their real condition, and of going earnestly to work upon all the detail of actual and minute repair-pulling down in this place, building up in that, and altering in the otherah! this is a business with which we have but little to do.

But I must go on with my account of the means of correcting faults, for I have one more expedient to describe. I have been digressing a little to urge you to apply practically what I say to yourselves, and resolve to try the experiment. This one more expedient relates to your exposure to temptation. In regard to temptation you have I think two duties. First, to avoid all great temptations; and secondly, to encounter the small ones with a determination, by God's blessing, to conquer them.

A boy knows, I will imagine, that he has an irritable spirit; he wishes to cure himself of it. I will suppose that he has taken the two steps I have already described, and now as the morning comes, and he is about to go forth to the exposures of the day, we may suppose him to hold the following conversation with his father, or some other friend.


Boy. "I have made a great many resolutions, and I am really desirous of not becoming angry and impatient to-day. But I always do, and I am afraid I always shall." Friend. "Do you always? Do you get angry every day?"

Boy. "I do almost always; whenever any thing happens to vex me."

Friend. "What are the most common things that happen to vex you? "

Great and small temptations.

"Why I almost always get angry playing marbles. George does not play fair, and I get angry with him, and he gets angry with me."

"Do you always get angry playing marbles?"

"We do very often."

"Then I advise you to avoid playing marbles altogether. I know you like to play, but if you find it affords too great a temptation for you to resist, you must abandon it, or you will not cure yourself of your fault. What other temptations do you meet with?"

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Why I get put out with my sums at school."

"Get put out with your sums!-What do you mean by that?

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Why I get impatient and vexed because I cannot do them, and then I get angry with them."

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Yes; with the sums, and the book, and the slate, every thing else; I know it is very foolish and wicked."

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Well; now I advise you to take your slate and pencil to-day, and find some difficult sum, such a one as you have often been angry with, and sit down calmly to work, and see if you cannot go through it, and fail of doing it, and yet not feel vexed and angry. Think before you begin, how sad it is for you to be under the control of wicked passions, and ask God to help you, and then go on expecting to find difficulty and endeavoring to meet it with a calm and patient spirit. If you succeed in this, you will really improve while you do it. By gaining one victory over yourself you will make another more easy.

"Which do you think is the greatest temptation for you, to play marbles or to do sums?"

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'Why, I think that to play marbles is; because the boys don't play fair."

'Well; now I wish you to practise the easiest lesson first. Conquer yourself in your arithmetical temptation first, and then perhaps you can encounter the other. And I wish you would watch yourself to-day, and observe what

Great and small temptations.

Growing in grace.

are the trials which are too great for you to bear, and avoid them until you have acquired more moral strength. But do not flee from any temptation which you think you can resist. By meeting and resisting it, you will advance in your course."

Now this is the case in the correction of all faults. The temptations which you think you will not be successful in resisting, you ought to avoid, no matter at what sacrifice; and though you ought not to seek the trial of your strength, yet where Providence gives you trial, go forward to the effort which it requires, with confidence in his help, and with resolution to do your duty. If you have the right spirit, he will help you; and virtuous principle will grow by any exposure which does not over-power it.

I have however spoken more fully on this subject in the chapter of discipline and trial, where the general effect of such discipline as we have here to pass through was pointed out. I have here only alluded to it again, to show how important an auxiliary it is in the correction of particular faults.


seems to refer to this The correction of ex

But I must pass to the consideration of another part of my subject, for the correction of absolute faults of character is by no means the only, or even the most important object of attention in Christian progress. The spirit of piety, which is the mainspring of all these efforts in the improvement of the character, is to be directly cultivated. The command "grow in grace, progress in the spirit of piety itself. ternal faults, and the improvement of the character in all those aspects in which intercourse between man and man is concerned, will result from it. But it is itself something different from these external changes. To grow in grace, is to have the heart itself so changed that sin shall become more and more hateful, the promotion of the general happiness an increasing object of interest and desire, the soul more and more closely united to God, so as to receive all its happiness from him.

Unavailing efforts.

The mother.


This now is a change in the affections of the heart. provement in conduct will result from it, but it is in itself essentially different from right conduct. It is the fountain, from which good actions are the streams. I wish therefore that every one of my readers would now turn his attention to this subject, and inquire with me, by what means he may grow most rapidly in attachment to the Savior, and in hatred of sin. A very unwise and ineffectual kind of effort is very often made, which I shall first describe, and then proceed to describe the means which may be successful in drawing the heart closer and closer to Jehovah.

To illustrate the unavailing efforts which are sometimes made to awaken in the heart a deeper and deeper interest in piety, I will suppose a case, and it is a case which is exceedingly common. A professing Christian—and, to make the case more definite, I will suppose the individual to be the mother of a family-feels that she does not love God as she ought, and she is consequently unhappy. She is aware that her affections are placed too strongly, perhaps, upon her family—her children. She knows that she is a wanderer from her Savior, and feels at all times, when she thinks of religious duty, a settled uneasiness which mars many of her enjoyments, and often saddens her heart. Now, what does she do to remedy this difficulty? Why, when the week is past, and her hour of prayer on the Sabbath has arrived, she thinks a little of her cold and wayward condition, and tries, by direct effort, to arouse in her heart feelings of penitence and love. But she tries in vain. I acknowledge that she is very guilty in being in such a state, but if she is so, her direct efforts to feel will be vain. She will have, for an hour, a weary and melancholy struggle-the Sabbath will pass away, rendered gloomy by her condition and her reflections-and Monday morning will come, with its worldly cares and enjoyments, to drift her still further away from God and from happiness.

A man of business, engrossed in the management of

The man of business.

The dejected Christian.

his prosperous affairs, knows that he is not living to God. And yet he is a member of a Christian church;-he has solemnly consecrated himself to the Savior; and when he thinks of it, he really wishes that his heart was in a different state. The world however holds him from day to day, and the only thing which he does to save himself from wandering to a returnless distance from God, is to strive a little, morning and evening, at his short period of secret devotion, to feel his sins. He makes direct effort to urge his heart to gratitude. He perhaps kneel before the throne of God, and knowing how little love for God he really feels, he exerts every nerve to bring his heart to exercise more. He is trying to control his affections by direct effort-and he probably fails. He is striving in vain. He soon becomes discouraged, and yields himself again to the current which is bearing him away from holiness and peace.

I once knew a young man-and while I describe his case, it is possible that there may be many of the readers of this chapter who will say his case is like theirs-who had a faint hope that he was a Christian; but his penitence was in his opinion so feeble and heartless, his love to God was so cold, and his spark of grace, if there was any in his heart, was só faint and languishing, that he scarcely dared to hope. He did not therefore take the stand, or perform the duties of a Christian. He thought he must make more progress himself in piety before he endeavored to do any good to others; he was accordingly attempting to make this progress; he struggled with his own heart, to awaken stronger love and deeper penitence there; but it was a sad and almost fruitless struggle; he became dejected and desponding; he thought his heart was still cold and hardened in sin, and that religious feeling would not come at his bidding; and he continued for a long time unhappy himself and useless to others.

The principle which I have been designing to illustrate

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