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VOL. VI.-OCTOBER, 1855.-No. X.
EARNEST YOUNG MEN.
BY THE EDITOR.
A youth who, who bore, 'mid snow and ice,
THERE is a great difference in young men. Among various classes there is one distinctly marked, which we venture to characterize as earnest young men. This class is not very large, but they are nevertheless to be found in almost every neighborhood. The Editor of The Guardian frequently receives letters from young men belonging to this class. A brief extract from one lately received will enable the reader at once to see what kind of young men we call
This young man writes for some information and advice in regard to going to college. He says "I had made up my mind long ago to come?-was made up long ago to go to college.' Why then did he not go long ago? Ah! this is easily explained. There was opposition on the part of his parents and friends; and there were difficulties and hindrances that met him at every step. "It is very discouraging," he says somewhat sadly. Still the fire burned in his soul; and his strong desire to go to college consumed all his pleasure and his interest in other things. Thus year after year passed away, while hope deferred made his heart sick. At length he grows desperate, and resolves at once to break through all hindrances from friends and from want of means. "My friends say that they do not see how I am to get along; but my motto is: What has been done can be done-and, Where there's a will there's a way. As you say in an address delivered before a Society, and published in The Guardian, of such as had a desire to get an education, one lived on two pence a day in order that he might support himself at a University; and that another stinted himself in clothes, that he might buy books; and another blacked the Professor's boots for his tuition! why may not I get along also."
This will give the reader an idea of what we mean by an earnest
young man. The one who wrote this letter is only a specimen of a pretty large class who, scattered over the land in our vallies, and on our farms, are hindered by opposition and difficulties from fulfilling the earnest desire of their hearts, which is to cultivate their minds. We have formed an acquaintance with many such during our editorial life. We must say we honor them, we love them, we bear them on our heart; and if we could utter words of power that should inspire them with new courage, and bid them in their earnest struggles to take heart again, how gladly would we do it.
We are convinced that there is more true heroism displayed by this class of young men, than is known in battle fields. The heroism of a soldier in war is the mere maddened impulse of rage, or desperation; but this is a steady, high, and holy struggle to rise in the scale of being, to be wise, useful, and good. That is the courage of physical intoxication; but this is the strife of the spirit under the influence of a noble purpose.
We have noticed that earnest young men are always unselfish. They have generous hearts; and their desire to improve their minds springs generally from a desire to be more useful in life. They know that knowledge, besides being a satisfaction to its possessor, is also power, and influence, and is a great element in proper fitness for a higher sphere of duty and responsibility. This is truly noble. It is a dignity of purpose which is never attained by those who live merely for wealth, and to enjoy the satisfaction and conveniences which it is falsely supposed to procure.
Earnest young men, with all their generosity of spirit, are generally economical. Spendthrifts are not earnest. Earnest young men freely deny themselves of those things which are only for the body and this life, that they may secure advantages to the mind and their nobler nature. What they save by economy, is not spent on dress, luxuries, or foolish diversions, but in books, periodicals, and other means by which the mind is improved. We have known one, who has not the least grain of a miserly spirit in him, who, when he travels, has frequently missed a meal to buy a book. It is the triumph of the higher over the lower nature. Nor can it be censured; for, to fast over a meal, is in general good for the body instead of injurious; and the possession of another book is a positive and lasting good.
Earnest young men are careful of their time. You do not find them lounging in stores and shops during long winter evenings. They care not for parties and diversions to pass away time. The hours of leisure, that come in between their labor, and needed sleep, are carefully devoted to reading and the general improvement of the mind. Time is to them precious as a means; and every moment is therefore watched as it passes, and put to some good use.
Earnest young men are persevering. Obstacles, and difficulties, and opposition, only increase their courage, as exercise gives new
vigor to the muscles. They rightly believe that will there is a way." Not only what has been again; but what ought to be done can be done. to cultivate his talents, and prepare for usefulness. and this the state of the world requires, it can The history of thousands of earnest young men, and their final success, proves that perseverance will in the end be crowned with triumphant results.
These few words intended for encouragement will meet the eyes of some earnest young men. We say to them "never despair." You have long looked toward some college, with a fainting heart, as a place which your circumstances will never permit you to reach. Do not give it up. You will yet reach the object of your ardent desire. You will yet accomplish what you have longed for almost from childhood. Be sincere, be prayerful, be persevering, "learn to labor and to wait;" time will make way for you. Begin to take the necessary steps. Seek the advice of those who, amid similar difficulties, have gone before you. Venture with courage upon the way, though you see but a little way clearly before you. Our little boy, when we entered in at one end of a long bridge, feared that we could not get out at the other end, because the opening seemed so small. It was the thought of a child. But he found that the bridge grew wide enough as we advanced. Be not fearful, or over anxious as to the way before you. It will open to you as fast as you go. It is time enough to stop, and turn back, when you are once absolutely against the mountains that cannot be climbed. As long as one more step can be taken, take it! Go forward-go forward:
"Heart within, and God overhead!"
"where there is a done can be done Every one ought This God wishes therefore be done.
BY THE EDITOR.
"DENY thyself." As soon as we mention it, the serious reader will feel that there is true ground for placing this among the neglected commands. Where are those who deny themselves? Of what do the generality of professing christians deny themselves? To what extent are inconveniences, to say nothing of absolute sufferings, endured for Christ's sake, and for man's sake? Alas! how little do we feel the deep meaning of the words: "He that looseth his life for my sake shall find it." Alas! how few dare say with the early friends of Chris: "Lord we have left all and followed thee."
Self-denial is not merely a particular part of christian duty to be practiced incidentally when occasion brings it into our way, but it is always the very first step toward union with Christ. It is the let ing go of what is not Christ, that we may take hold of Him. It is a constant, and earnest turning away from self to Christ.
We need but consider the nature of religion to see how necessarily self-denial belongs to it. In piety-when we become christians -the centre of our life is changed from ourselves to God. The natural man is like a planet that acknowledges no relations and dependencies, but revolves for itself, and seeks to make all else circle around itself, and be secondary to it. The christian is like a planet that has found another centre besides and beyond itself, and now finds its own harmony and meaning in revolving around that centre it loses itself, denies itself, and gives up itself to another power and influence. Thus the christian swings loose from self, and finds his home, harmony and happiness in God, the true and only centre of the whole circle of life. In the very nature of christianity, therefore, self-denial or self-sacrifice is the first law, and the first duty. Till self is thus surrendered there is no piety towards God.
We find this principle acknowledged in all the acts of Christ. He, as our pattern, devoted himself entirely to his Heavenly Father. "Not my will, but thine," was the ruling spirit of His life. Self-denial and self-sacrifice form the main current of his life and acts from the time he left the glories of heaven, until he lay in the grave under the power of the penalty which He bore for us. The whole of His life seems to be comprehended in these words: "Though he was rich, for our sakes he became poor." He emptied himself. He made himself of no reputation. He bore the cross and the shame. He gave himself to God and to man. He gave heaven for earth-bliss for suffering-life for death.
We find the same spirit of self-denial active in the apostles and early christians. They counted all things but loss for Christ, and were willing always to give up all, and to suffer all for Him and His kingdom.
Not only does piety change the centre of our activities from ourselves to God, but it also causes us to turn our activities towards the good of our fellow men. Our selfishness must be lost in our interest for others. We must love our neighbor as ourself-devote ourselves to his good. This requires at once the spirit of selfdenial. This is seen in the spirit of Christ. He gave up his own ease, comfort, and all, for the good of men. The same spirit has in all ages characterized all that have had fellowship with him in the new life of grace. Where this spirit is not there is not the spirit of Christ; and wherever this spirit is there is self-denial.
Piety also always raises the future in importance and value above the present. It teaches us that the promi, con forts, and rewards of the present are ever to be sacrificed for he of the future. Time must be subordinated to eternity, earth to heaven. This requires that the present be a life of self-dl; in no other way can the present he subordinated to the future. is spirit is also found eminently in Christ and in all saints in all ages, and it is the spirit of self-denial.
In what respects, and in what particulars, must self-denial be practiced? It would be an almost endless task to point out these. The shortest mode, and the true one, is to say, it is our duty to deny ourselves in all things which interfere with our supreme devotion to God, and hinder our doing the greatest amount of good to mankind. We must cut short our desire for worldly gain where it interferes with the cultivation of our mind, the sanctification of our spirit, or our usefulness in life. We must cut off from luxuries, where indulgence injures us by surfeiting, or others by poverty. We must deny ourselves of ease, where the wants of others call for our activity. In short a true christian life must steadily and always practice self-denial for the good of others.
How little is there of this spirit in our present christianity! See the rich, the high, the fashionable in the circles of professed followers of Christ! Of what do they deny themselves? They often give more for a shawl, or a bonnet, than they do to missions. Give more for toys, perfumes, and jewelry, than they do to support the gospel. Give more for tobacco than they do to their minister. They either squander money or hoard it while thousands are suffering both for temporal and spiritual food. Yet such deceive themselves with the vain fancy that they are christians, and have the spirit of Him who said, "If any man will be my disciple let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me!" Alas! how deplorably deceived are such.
If we view self-denial in the light of scripture, and of our Sa