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It is the mark of a noble nature to be quick to recognize that which is praiseworthy in others, and ready on the moment to award to it its fitting meed. Such a nature looks for that which is good in men, sees it, encourages it, and gives it the strength of its indorsal. All that is noble in other men thrives in the presence of such a nature as this. It is sunshine and showers and healthful breezes to all that is amiable and laudable in the souls around it. Woman grows more womanly and lovable and happy in its presence. Men grow heroic and unselfish by its side. Children gather from it encouragement and inspiration, and impulse and direction into a beautiful life. What knows the charming wife whom we lay in the tomb, of the tears we shed above her, of the endearments we lavish upon
her memory, and of the praises of her virtue with which we burden the ears of our friends? This same wife would have drunk such expressions during her life with satisfaction and gratification beyond expression. Why can death alone teach us that those whom we love are dear? Why must they be placed forever beyond our sight before our lips can be unsealed ? Why must it be that in our public, social, and family life we have penalties in abundance, but no rewards-censure in profusion, but no praise-fault-finding without stint of freedom, but approbation dealt out by constrained and niggardly hands?
"I groan beneath this cowardice of heart
ALEXANDER SMITH. “There are two ways of escaping from suffering; the one by rising above the causes of conflict, the other by sinking below them; for there is quiet in the soul when all its faculties are harmonized about any centre. The one is the religious method; the other is the vulgar, worldly method. The one is called Christian elevation; the other, stoicism."-BEECHER.
THERE were few houses of the old time in New
England that did not contain a well-thumbed volume of the Pilgrim's Progress; and there were few children who did not become acquainted with its contents, either through its text or its pictures. I am sure that all the children felt as I did—very tired with sympathy for the poor pilgrim who was obliged to lug that ugly pack from picture to picture, and very glad and lightsome” when at last it fell from his shoulders, and went tumbling down the hill. We did not marvel
that "he stood still awhile, to look and wonder," or that “ he looked, and looked again, even till the springs that were in his head sent the waters down his cheeks." It was a great thing for a man who was bent on progress to be freed from an unnecessary burden; and it may be pleasant to know that at the foot of the hill of life the same sepulchre which swallowed the burden of Bunyan's Pilgrim, so that he “ saw it no more,” still stands open, and has room in it for all the burdens of all the pilgrims there are in the world.
I wonder whether all the pilgrims who have undertaken the journey “ from this world to that which is to come”.ever lose the pack whose fastenings were so quickly dissolved when our favorite old Pilgrim looked upon the Cross? I doubt it. I hear many people groaning throughout the whole course of their Christian experience with the oppressive weight of this same burden. Instead of losing it at the sight of the cross, they hold to it, and will not let it go. They mean well enough; but they do not understand that the cross was reared, and the meek sufferer nailed to it, that the burden of the penitent soul might be forever rolled off. They carry their own sins, and never yield the pack to Him who bore it for them “in His own body, on the tree.” They are never “light and gladsome with a sense of great relief; and their Christian prog. ress is sadly impeded by the burden from which the central truth of the Christian scheme releases them. If there be any such thing as forgiveness, then there is such a thing as release ; but I think there are many subjects of free and full forgiveness who insist on carrying their old, dirty packs to their graves, staggering under them all the way.
But this is not what I started to write about. A great many men carry their life as an author carries a book which he is writing-never losing the sense of their burden. When a writer undertakes a book, and feels the necessity of perfect continuity of thought and symmetry of structure, he can never lay it wholly aside. When once he has taken up the first chapter, and comprehended his materials and machinery and end, he does not dare to lay down his work, or diverge from the grand channel of his thought, until the last chapter is finished. He can take no three months' vacation; he can read no books that do not contribute to his progress in the chosen direction; he can never wholly lay aside the burden that is on him, It is like lifting upon one's shoulder the end of a long pole, and then walking under it from end to end. The burden upon the shoulder is not relieved until the whole length has been passed, and it drops as we walk from under it. Such is the way that many men, and, perhaps, most men, carry life. If their business troubles them, they have no power to throw it off, and no disposition to try to do it. They are entirely aware that they gain nothing by carrying their tedious burden, but they carry it. Not content with doing their duty, and trying their best while actively engaged, they take home with them a long face, breathe sighs around them in the saddest fashion, and really, unfit themselves for the healthy exercise of their reason, and the active employment of their faculties.
With men of this stamp, it makes little difference whether they are prosperous or otherwise. If times are good, and they really have no fault to find with matters as they exist, they become troubled about bad times that may possibly lie just ahead. “Oh, it's all well enough to-day,” they say, “but you can't tell what is coming;" so they bind the burden of the future upon them, and undertake to steal a march on God's providence. Such a thing as doing the duty of a single day, and doing it well, and then throwing off the burden of care, and having a good time in some rational way, until the hour comes for the commencement of the next day's duty, they are strangers to. They walk into their houses with a cloud upon their faces. They have no words of cheer for those whom they have left at home during the day. They are moody and sullen and sad-absorbed by their troubled thoughtstaking no interest in the schemes, and having no sympathy with the trials, of their wives and children, and