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the fixed one of inquiring as to his health ;—any wonder that so many go through life, literally burdened with a body of disease and death? At length and in earnestness could we dwell upon this point, urging its deep, and serious, and growing importance. Would that we could sound it through the land
with the voice of a whirlwind and the throat of an earthquake." Would that we could impress it upon all, never to be forgotten, that physical health is not only the highest duty, and the greatest earthly blessing, but that it is the first and one of the most important items of self-cultivation. Well has it been said that “ if the mind, which rules the body, ever so far forgets itself as to neglect or trample on its slave, that slave never forgets or forgives the injury; but at some time will rise in fearful retribution, to smite and sting its oppressor.” Well has it been said that “it is hard to cultivate the inind and soul, if the body which contains them is in anguish or in ruins.” A sound mind in a sound body—if the former be the glory of the latter, the latter is indispensable to the former.
2. Self-cultivation is also INTELLECTUAL. Man was made for thought, for intelligence, for endless mental growth. The instinctive desire for knowledge is like an ever burning fire within us; and to every well-balanced and well-directed mind, its attainment (though paleness and sickness may come with it) is not only a passion, but a rapture.
«. The wish-ihe dream the wild desire,
Delirious, yei divine, to know”Who has not felt it, burning like a living flame into his inmost soul, and like an inspiration firing him on to all that is beyond and above him! And, as God has given us this thirst, we are to cherish and rightly direct it. Since he has given us minds by which we are raised above the brutes, and allied to angels, it is ours to see that they do not run to waste, but that they are improved to the utmost. Especially is this true in this country, where facilities for the attainment of knowledge are so multiplied; where every station is open to well-directed talent, no matter how humble its origin; where our theory, like that of heaven, is to recognise no distinctions but those of talents and moral worth ; where a Franklin may rise from the printingoffice to the highest rank of philosophers and statesmen; and a Sherman from the shoemaker's bench to the halls of congress; and where pre-eminently knowledge is power-power for happiness—power for influence-power for good of every kind. And not only are we to acquire knowledge—this is but the food for mental growth—but we are to use it. We may
fill our minds with facts—with mere information-as full as the shelves of the largest library; hut after all, like the volumes on those shelves, we shall be dead to the world, and strangers to self-cultivation, unless, at the same time, we learn to think, and weigh, and compare, and reason, and judge for ourselves; unless all our information is so digested and used as to make us wise and judicious, as well as intelligent and well-informed. Here is the difference between two great divisions of mankind. The one only knows—the other thinks. The one looks only to details, and particular facts, and there stops; and thus is but an intellectual receptacle or channel : the other uses all these facts only as the foundation of higher and wider truths, and he is a philosopher. All the world had seen the apple fall when shaken from the tree, and seen it a thousand times; but only Newton, reasoning from the particular to the general fact, rose to the grand idea that gravitation was the mighty bond of the universe. One man reads history, or the conduct of his neighbors, to be interested in it, and then perhaps, like the parrot, to repeat, and then to forget it; another, to combine actions and events, to trace the moving causes of conduct and change, and the tendencies of society, and to gather from them all, larger and juster views of human nature, and broader and better rules of conduct. One sees every thing apart and in fragments; the other sees all as parts of one vast whole, and as a habit, rises from them to fix on general principles, on universal truths. Now this elevation and expansion of mind, and the consciousness of growing strength in it—this is one of the highest ends of mental culture. We are to gather knowledge—everywhere and without limit to gather it—and then to use it to enlarge, and liberalize, and expand our minds, and to make ourselves constantly wiser, that we may be better. And to our progress in this there is no assignable limit. There is nothing so elastic, so mighty as the mind within us. Like imprisoned steam, the more it is pressed the more it rises to resist the pressure; and the more we demand of it the more it performs. Unlike the mechanical powers, which are exhausted and spent by their own action, the power of the intellect is but strengthened by effort. Leave it to idleness and repose, and, like the sleeping sword, it will rust in the scabbard. But bring it into exercise-task it to the utmost, and it rises and gathers
strength, and rushes onward with ever-increasing force, and widening sweep-searching all the avenues of truth, gathering from them all its appropriate food, tracking the earth and scaling the heavens in search of God's footsteps, and burning with quenchless thirst for all the treasures of knowledge and truth. The more we know the more we desire to know, and the more we shall know. The more we cultivate our minds the more shall we delight in them; creating, as it were, a new world within us. The more we store them with knowledge, the more food have we laid up for their growth. The more we discipline and train them, and think and judge with them, the wiser and happier shall we be--the wider our influence for the good of others. By mental cultivation, we may make our own eagle-wings, and on them mount for ever!
3. Self-cultivation should also be social. By nature we are social beings, made for the minglings of the world, ever to be in intercourse with our fellow-men, and at every contact with them to give and take impressions that are to last for ever. And to this trait of our nature we should have respect in the great work of self-improvement. We should guard against being unsocial; we should cultivate the power and the habit of expressing our thoughts, and of imparting and receiving both benefit and pleasure in social communion. If we are but mutes in society, it were as well at once to be in an asylum; and if we speak only to give pain to others, or to display our own folly, it were far better to be silent. We should, then, cultivate an intelligent, a cheerful, a sociable and a friendly spiritthe spirit of sympathy with our fellow-beingssympathy in their employments, in their improvement, in all their joys and sorrows. We should put away scandal and suspicion, and harsh judgment, having faith in others till compelled to withdraw it. Selfishness we should subdue, and patience and forbearance cherish as the habit of life. By the look, and the word, and the deed of kindness by anticipating the wants and studying the welfare of others—by ever seeking their happiness, and that in little things—in all these ways we should ever strew around us “ the charities that cheer, and sooth, and bless.” It is a touching thought, that soon the grave will be upon all those who are dearest to us, and who are now mingling with us in every-day life; and that then all our intercourse with them will rise to the mind, either as a star of joy and peace, or as a source of the deepest bitterness and grief, and self-reproach. And we should see to it that our social character is such, that we shall feel it to have been a blessing and not a curse to others, when they are gone from us, or we from them, for ever. To this end, then, as well as for our own sake, we should seek to unfold and enlighten, and purify the social affections—those that bind us to the parent whom we almost worship, to the brother and the sister so fondly beloved, to the family, to the friend, to the neighbor, to the land of our birthright, to the world. Those affections we should elevate from instincts to principles, from impulses to deep and eternal attachments; inweaving them with all that is right and faithful, and generous and true; making them, as far as possible, like the love of God to his own children. Growth and improvement as social beings this is alike due to our nature and enjoyment, and to our fellow-beings.
4. Self-cultivation should also be MORAL and RELIGIOUS. Let it be physical without this, and it does but make us finer animals, with no regard to the great end of our being. Let it be intellectual without this, and its intelligence may be perverted, like that of devils, only to blight and destroy. Let it be social without this, and it may be used, or rather abused to the vilest ends, sneering in secret at the moralities of life, and trampling them all in the dust for the sake of self-indulgence. There is too great a tendency with many to separate these things—to cultivate the physical, the social and the intellectual, while the moral and the religious are neglected. Not without reason has it been said, “ that the tendency to exalt talent above virtue and religion is the curse of the age.” And for this very reason it is, that we the more need to cultivate our moral, our religious part, as the guide and the check, the perfection and the glory of our nature. Not that our religion should be, as too many seem to think it was designed to be, morose and gloomy, and divorced from common life. On the contrary, it should gather the spirit of heaven only that it may walk the more cheerfully, and gracefully, and usefully, on earth. As sacred and spiritual, and as principled it should be, as the very spirit of the Redeemer himself. But it should also be such that we can take it with us to the glorious scenes of nature or art-to the flower-garden, and to the top of some goodly hill, and in the sail over the quiet lake, and into the saloons of music, and to the galleries of the painter and the sculptor, and to the minglings of social joy, and to all those humanizing scenes where virtue holds her sway, not
merely as the generic and abstract " love to being in general," but also as the more familiar grace of “ love to some beings in particular.” It should be drawn not merely from “systematic treatises on theology, written in schools and garrets and cloisters, many of them by those bearing the title of bachelor in divinity, and the character of bachelor in humanity too;” but from the Bible, which is full of sympathy with common life, and which not only permits but directs us to all things which are pure and lovely and of good report—to all in social life which makes the intellect more pliant and versatile, the manners more polished and affectionate and winning, the man more human, and the entire life more joyous and blessed.
And besides all this, we should mount still higher in the scale. Truth and duty-for these we should ever and earnestly seek, that we may know the one and do the other. Every wrong propensity we should strive to subdue--every evil habit to lay aside-every good one to cherish. Conscience and principle we should enthrone within us, and ever hearken to their voice. Often should we ask as to our nature and destiny as immortal beings; and, bound as we are to a future and invisible world, and to a deathless existence, we should seek, as the gospel directs, to prepare for the scenes that are before us. Nowhere has self-cultivation so glorious a field as when she whispers of our destiny-as when she reminds us that we are to live for ever—as when she unfolds the idea of God and of duty, clearly and livingly within us; moving us to reverence and love and obey him, to hunger and thirst after his likeness, to be a blessing to ourselves and to all around us, and thus to make progress in the noblest growth whether of human or angelic natures. And never do we appear so noble, so like the bright intelligences of heaven, as when we are thus bound to God in deep and holy affection, in joyful obedience and heavenly hope; when religion sits enthroned on our brow, and pride has given way to meekness, and benevolence reigns within us, and glows in our looks, and breathes in our words, and lives in our conduct ;