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Readings for the Young

No. VI.

BY S. S.


As sloth is, of all habits, perhaps the most injurious in its results, not the less powerful, though of opposite tendency, is the chain thrown over the mind (if there fixed at an early age), by self-denial. By this we mean that predisposition of the understanding which causes its possessors to make a proper estimate of the duties of their own position, the rights of others, and the respect due thereto, and to feel at all times, and in all places, their dependence upon, and the fealty they owe to the Supreme Ruler of all; and to sacrifice pleasure, profit, and fame, when these become antagonistical to those great principles.

Not that we mean to assert that the exercise of self-denial at all militates against the possession of happiness, riches, or honour; on the contrary, those who have early acquired this habit, have placed their happiness on a sure foundation, and though fortune may not in all cases overwhelm them with her favours, the love of the good, and the respect of the worthy are sure to be theirs.

For them earth yields her choicest stores. The dews of the morning invigorate them, and the toil of the day is rendered easy. Their own hearts are reflected in the evening’s calm, as gentle and soft as their own repose. To-day they can enjoy “a dinner of acorns,” though, to-morrow the may feed upon “a stalled ox.” What is ambition to them? Shall they sacrifice in its attainment the glorious perspective that opens beyond the gates of light?

And riches? if they deal out the stores to them entrusted by the Most High, according to his wishes, who can do more? And fame ?—has not the wise king said, that a good name was beyond all earthly possessions, far exceeding all earthly rewards? For them the joys arising from the influence of family affections are <<287>>meted old with an unsparing hand; for they who sacrifice their desires to the happiness of others, are sure to meet with a ten-fold reward. Nor does this influence alone pervade the family circle. Society gladly opens her doors to those whose suavity of manners and strict moral habits create confidence and give pleasure, and into whose hands they can place the emblems of power, certain that the opportunity thus given of doing good to their fellow-creatures will not be abused.

And at last, when the grain becomes ripe for the sickle, it will be found sound and acceptable, not having been blighted by the mildew of the passions, or its kernel destroyed by the entrance of sin, “that worm which never dies!”