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shall discover owe their origin to some self-conceit, long latent always ready to break forth. That cold, repelling demeanour is the result of some hard, unkind thoughts secretly indulged in; some time ago, may be, but which have now blossomed and borne fruit. That haughty, cynical, satirical look and speech owe their rise to some secret, subtle contempt which we have been entertaining of our acquaintances; some low opinion we have formed of their social, intellectual, or religious standing. Truly, manner “is a result, the growth of many yesterdays.” That mal-adroitness in seizing the right moment to do the kind thing or the wise one, from whence does it proceed, but from a dullness—a torpor in our benevolent perceptions ?
Then how often we fail when we are desirous to do the right, We try to offer words of counsel that we hope will be of use, and we are surprised, and very likely offended, to find that the parties advised do not appear to recognise their obligation; when the fact is, that some fussiness or seeming officiousness on our part marred the effect of our good intentions. Or perhaps we wish to sympathise, and we do so in a cold, stiff, awkward, and constrained way; or we essay to touch a broken heart with blundering fingers, and wonder that it shrinks from us, and that we repel where we thought we should attract. And why-and why is this? We meant to do rightly and kindly. Ah, true! But the reason of failure dates from former days; the cause is older far than the effect. If we do not exercise the ministries of kindness gracefully and easily, it argues this, at least, if nothing worse, that we are out of practice ; and to be out of practice in a world so full of opportunities, shows either that the heart is not sufficiently “at leisure from itself,” or that the precept“ Love thy neighbour," has been imperfectly understood, and restricted in its application to a few great, but by no means exhaustive methods of doing good.
“To see ourselves as others see us " would be a startling sight. It would be well if every seven years we might have such a glimpse; oftener would be too discouraging. We very rarely gain any idea of the opinion formed of us in small things by our neighbours. With the young there is so much freedom of speech, and their candour, thoughtlessness, and brusquerie are such admirable detectives, that habits and faults that are patent, get freely commented upon, and the possessor has a chance of knowing his external peculiarities, and of altering them if he so please.
But when we are grown up the case is different. Freedom of speech, including playful satire and the outspoken dislike and surprise, are unknown among decorous, educated, conventional people. Among ladies there is very little of it; between gentlemen none. And, perhaps, it is as well that it should be som at least it is unavoidable.
In the young we do not look for much consideration of the eelings of others; we learn that virtue in after years. And vanity is a very delicate feeling, easy to wound, and hard to heal, and is sure to resent the imputation of small faults far more than the charge of graver sins. So, knowing this, we carefully abstain from giving our friends any information as to their peculiarities lest we wound their feelings and risk our friendships.
Once or twice, perhaps, in a lifetime, there comes a strange unlooked-for revelation to us. It may come through the illconduct of some of our fellow-creatures for whom we have done acts of kindness, and fancied that they were grateful and loving in return—from some over whom we thought we had an influence, and who, we imagined, held us in high esteem. When, to our amazement, we discover that the reverse of all this is the case. And how and why is the wonder? Of course there must be great and grave fault on the side of the parties thus disappointing us; and their share of sin will be heavy. There is no sense or justice in ignoring this. We will admit that they are wrong and bad in their treatment of us, and then we can be angry or pitying towards them, and consoling and complacent towards ourselves, if we wish. One can get a vast deal of comfort out of an injury if one can only persistently regard oneself as in the right. Once admit a stray misgiving that there may be a shadow of evil on our side as well as a large amount on the other, and the comfort of the situation is considerably lessened.
It is a sad thing for our moral culture when there is a great preponderance of manifest wrong in the parties disagreeing with us, for it is apt to prevent any attempt at rigid self-scrutiny, and hinder us from passing clear, righteous judgment on our conduct; and yet, if we come out of this sort of trial without having done so, our moral perceptions will be dulled, and our evil quickened. But if we honestly address ourselves to the task of finding the wherein we may possibly have erred, then will the trial become to us a revelation, and make known to us many faults and mistakes which, though they be "only manner," have yet been the provocation to stronger evil in others; and as such, if for that alone, deserve at our hand reprobation and correction.
It is a great mistake to think slightingly of faults or graces of manner. Manner is the current coin with which we pay the small debts of society, and he who does not do so pleasantly and in full measure, has no right to be surprised if society appears reluctant to meet his advances in weightier matters.
How often have we heard, and perhaps made the remark, "What a pity it is that so and so have not a more agreeable manner; what power and influence they might exert with their talents, their high intellectual and religious standing, and their undoubted goodness, if their manner was but different.” If their manner was but beautified in proportion to the intrinsic worth of their characters, how many of their casual acquaintances would be induced to seek for more knowledge of them, and of the doctrines they teach, while they, whom longer intimacy had taught to respect and esteem them as they deserve to be, would far more easily and thoroughly yield to their influence, because then there would be no breaks or checks interposed to their love and admiration.
To do good among our equals and daily associates, requires more delicacy, more tact, more painstaking, and more self-abnegation than to do so among our social inferiors. Not that visiting the poor is easy work, or hours spent in charitable ministrations all couleur de rose. Very far from it. They who engage in this labour well need all the highest motives of love and duty to keep them patient and persevering.
But this kind of labour does not offer the only, nor perhaps the best, means of self-discipline, and of training in the "whatsoever things are lovely ;" for they who excel in it are not invariably the most gifted in those qualities that win the love of every-day companions There are dangers incident and peculiar to this as to every special path of goodness which the traveller must look out for and guard against; and some there are who are so well aware of this, and take such good heed to their feet, that, though foremost in every good work, their tenderness and humility are wondrously beautiful. Others are not so willing to allow of the dangers, and, consequently, are not so careful to cultivate those graces and virtues without which they have no right to expect to be able to do good in the ordinary circle of friends and relatives.
Yet surely it must be a sad thought to any loving Christian that words and ways of his may have hindered the cause he loves, and that while he has been bustling about with the best intentions to serve his Lord, he may have somewhat neglected one of the best means of pleasing Him-yiz., by reflecting on all around from all sides of his character the grace and beauty of the religion he professes. We are sometimes allowed to know of any little bits of good that we may effect; the evil that we often cause is mercifully hidden from us, but it remains no less a fact. Not all the ghosts that haunt the dreadful valley come direct from hell ; many of them we send on before us to wait for us there, and among those thus waiting will be found the manes of thoughts and facts like these. Thank God that they cannot bar our entrance into heaven, nor hinder God's work on earth; for neither the one nor the other is dependent on our feeble efforts, but they must and ought to cause us a great amount of keenest sorrow.
Oh for “the grace of tenderest courtesy !” What an irresistible power in the hands of a strong Christian ! It differs as much from mere artificial, conventional politeness as the veneer on common wood, that a slight, untoward blow may disfigure and displace, differs from the high polish of the precious stone which is not a something superadded, but a property evolved from the substance, and dependent for its beauty, brilliancy, and completeness upon the nature and construction of the material itself.
Blessed are they who bear the mark of this finished workmanship! For such to live is to go about doing good ; their casual contact with strangers leaves a line of light to mark it; their hold upon the minds of others has lasting blessing in its grasp.
Young hearts in the fulness of their joy and the strength of their hopes intuitively come to them to be comprehended and encouraged; and go away with their joy brightened and refined, and their hopes pointed to a higher range, and steadied to a surer aim. And weary hearts and wounded hearts come and sit by them for awhile, that they may find rest and shelter, and rise up strengthened, stimulated, refreshed, and healed. And sin-laden ones will draw near and pour out sorrowful full-of-shame confession, knowing well that even rebuke from such will bring with it healing, and fresh hopes, and new resolves, and re-animated courage. Oh for “the grace of tenderest courtesy !” Let us seek for it, pray for it, labour for it. It may take long years of discipline and training ; but blessed, thrice blessed will it be for ourselves and for others when the desired result is at last realized.
Well may the whole creation long and groan for the evening of that day to come, when God shall pronounce His sons and daughters to be "all very good,” for the next day will be the Sabbath.
ELIJAH'S FAILURE. A WORD OF COMFORT FOR THE APPARENTLY UNSUCCESSFUL.
"NOTHING succeeds like success," is one of the many sayings current among men. In the narrow and worldly sense of the
word “success,” the saying is quite true. It is to be feared that all men respect too highly and take too readily to what is called success. For awhile King Hudson, whose rule over our railway companies will be long remembered, was a great success. His success (such as it was succeeded; and he obtained a place in Parliament, admission to the most aristocratic circles, and even the acquaintance of some of the wisest and best men in the realm. Our successful literary men rejoice doubtless in the truth of the proverb, “Nothing succeeds like success.” Once get a name, make yourself known, interest the public in your work and welfare, and prosperity will attend all your efforts; your writings will command a large and remunerative circulation. The immediate popularity of “All the Year Round” and “Cornhill ” illustrates the manner in which success succeeds. Is it not the same with preaching and preachers? The crowd loves to follow the crowd. Let it be known far and wide that any church, chapel, or tabernacle, is filled to overflowing, and everybody, for that simple reason and for none other, will add to the thronging multitude. Many go to popular places of worship because they are sure to find the many there. How success (of a worldly kind, visible and tangible) is obtained is a question which it would be unsafe to enter upon. But one fact is undeniable “ nothing succeeds” among the church and chapel going “like success." The cynical might doubt whether the success is deserved. It is. In the long run men receive "measure for measure.” They who seek to please, and employ the readiest and surest means of pleasing, obtain popularity. Popularity is the favour of the people. Those, therefore, who are candidates for the smile of the multitude, and who proceed to win the desired smile of approbation, are the deservedly popular. Such as are careless whether they please or displease, who have another object in view, must expect neglect on the part of the many, whose good-will they take no pains to secure. There is a saying which applies to all kinds of work, to all sorts of effort, and which may be said of all classes of men—“Verily they have their reward.” As to the value of the reward-what men should be content to do and to suffer in order to obtain it, and how much good it brings with it when obtained_each individual in each instance must decide that matter for himself. And yet there is one question which ought to be pondered-Do not professedly spiritual workmen lay too much stress upon worldly success? The Christian Churchi strives after the things which are not seen and eternal; but one is at the same time very apt to judge of the results of her strivings by the things which are seen and temporal. And hence it has come pass that the Church and the