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Readings for the Young

By S. S.

No. IX.

Over some fair oasis, more beautiful and blooming for the surrounding desolation, the deadly simoom has breathed, and where but now nature revelled in all her loveliness, nought is to be seen but decay and death. So wither and perish all those beautifying and soul-like qualities of the mind, when Prejudice with its blighting influence usurps the prerogative of the understanding, and bids Reason fly from her throne. Cunning in its approaches, it makes its way by steps slow but sure, and ere the victim feels a dread of its advances, it finds itself shrouded in its gloomy pall. Though few things are impervious to the light of truth, here it has no power to penetrate the parent of <<135>> bigotry, and the germ from which have sprung those autos-da-fé which blacken the pages of history, and at whose recital the blood of the coldest burns with horror and indignation.

The mind, when it first begins to feel the influence of this ten­dency, becomes morbid, and the eye perceives things under a false and uncertain medium. And, as when viewed through a telescope, the spots on the sun’s disc cover the whole field of vision:—so the beauty and worth of character disappear, and nothing presents itself but some trifling defect, not perceivable by the unaided eye. Beauty becomes deformity, and truth and virtue, things of expediency. Passive at first, it soon tires of inaction, and with its venom tooth it injects the poison where it may spread and fructify, and from whence its seed may be widely strewn. As you would, my young friends, attempt to shield yourselves from he attacks of a dangerous and venomous reptile, so should you guard yourselves from the approach of this insidious foe to your reasoning powers. For, as reason is the grand distinctive between man and the brute creation, we should endeavour to keep this faculty in all its native purity, and shun all that might tarnish its innate beauty. Principle based upon religion is the only guide and criterion of thought.

Our minds should at all times, and in every case, act as a just judge, and without any reference to individual or personal feeling, decide upon the law and the testimony. And this must not be a negative act only. We must cultivate early the habits of self-examination. If we find our thoughts leading us astray, we must battle with them manfully until we subdue them. By close application and severe study of moral and scientific works, we may, on finding out how weak we are, and how little we know, acquire that faith and trust in the Great Creator, which, when they inspire the mind, free it from all its little pettinesses and contractions a faith and trust which we never can acquire unless we can say with truth when we lie down on our nightly pillow or to our eternal rest—I thank thee, oh God ! that in thought or deed, I never have injured my fellow-man.