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CULTURE AND DISCIPLINE
If we are asked what constitutes the greatest difference between one man and another, considered either as intellectual or as moral beings, we cannot hesitate to answer,—the culture and the discipline of the mind. Under the influence of those external things, by which we are so habitually occupied, our consideration is too little directed to the wondrous essence of which we are conscious within. But when we turn our serious attention to the economy of the mind, we perceive that it is capable of a variety of processes, of the most remarkable and most important nature. We find also, that we can exert a voluntary power over these processes, by which we control, direct, and regulate them at our
will,—and that, when we do not exert this power, the mind is left to the influence of external impressions, or casual trains of association, often unprofitable, and often frivolous. We thus discover that the mind is the subject of culture and of discipline, which, when duly exercised, must produce the most important results on our condition as rational and moral beings; and that the exercise of them involves a responsibility of the most solemn kind, which no man can possibly put away from him.
Youth is the season peculiarly adapted for this great undertaking, while the attention is not yet engrossed by the distractions of active life, and while those injurious habits have not yet been formed, which are so often fatal to the health of the mind. Allow me, then, to direct your earnest attention to this high concern,—the highest and the most important that can engage your anxious care. While life is opening before you, with all its fair prospects, and all its promises of happiness, learn to feel the supreme interest of the discipline of the mind;-study the remarkable power which you can exercise over its habits of attention and its trains of thought; and cultivate a sense of the deep importance of exercising this power according to the principles of wisdom and of virtue.
You are at present eagerly engaged in prosecuting
useful and important acquirements, in various branches of knowledge,—but all that is furnished by early study gives only the elements for forming the mind, and for gradually training it to that intellectual vigour and moral discipline, by which it may be prepared for farther and greater pursuits. While, therefore, you prosecute with ardour the various departments of science, you will remember that a higher and more extended object is still before you. You will feel the necessity of rising above the details of individual sciences, to those results to which all science ought to combine in leading us,—the culture of the understanding itselfand the practical application of those rules, by which the mind may be directed towards the discovery of truth, and by which the truth, so discovered, may be applied to the actual duties and responsibilities of life. You will learn to estimate the value of that greatest of all acquirements, a well-regulated mind, and to study with anxious care what those qualities are which constitute such a mind, and what are the particular pursuits, and the mode of conducting them, which are best adapted for this high attainment. You will learn to estimate the benefits which arise from such a regulation of the mind,—to see how, in every inquiry, it tends to conduct us to truth,-how it leads the mind to apply itself to various pursuits with a degree of attention adapted to their real value, and to follow out
the inductions of each to its last and highest object,-the culture of the moral being.
Amid the most zealous prosecution of knowledge, learn to press forward to those great and ultimate truths, by which science ought to lead us to the omnipotent and eternal Cause. Philosophy fails of its .noblest object, if it does not lead us to God ;—and, whatever may be its pretensions, that is unworthy of the name of science, which professes to trace the sequences of nature, and yet fails to discover, as if marked by a sunbeam, the mighty hand which arranged them all; which fails to bow in humble adoration, before the power and wisdom, the harmony and beauty, which pervade all the works of Him who is Eternal.
Judging upon these principles, we are taught to feel that life has a value beyond the mere acquirement of knowledge, and the mere prosecution of our own happiness. This value is found in those nobler pursuits which qualify us for promoting the good of others, and in those acquirements by which we learn to become masters of ourselves. It is to cultivate the intellectual part for the attainment of truth, and to train the moral being for the solemn purposes of life, when life is viewed in its relation to a life which is to come. These exalted pursuits are not more conducive to the great objects which are presented to us as moral and responsible beings, than they are calculated to promote