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it often disturbs the peace of families. A similar disposition for small-talk finds its way into some religious circles : but it gradually tends to eat away the core of piety. “Religion and my own business"-should be your constant motto. Every one has, or ought to have, his proper line of business a business which it is his duty to learn and to pursue. There can be no reasonable prospect of success to those young persons, who do not work out the plan set before them: and if they do not improve their minds, or put themselves in an improving way of circumstances, when young, they may be unable, all their lives after, to fetch up lost ground. The irksomeness of application is to some persons so great, that, when they have a little liberty to act for themselves, they look out for a more congenial element: they follow their own tastes, rather than their appointed studies and duties : and if Religion be to them rather a matter of custom and taste, than of deep principle, they will sometimes be tempted to view learning or trade as a worldly thing, and therefore deal slackly in things temporal. I have no hesitation in telling you
further my conviction, that, however zealous they may seem to be, yet they are usually very slack likewise in things spiritual. If such persons become poor, both temporally and spiritually, none need be surprised at it. The Bible plainly tells us, “He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand.” My caution you will find to be not superfluous in this age of professing piety. Be sure that the most conscientious youths will be made, by God's grace, the most diligent: they will settle down to their proper work, morning, noon and evening. Time will be too short for them, and gossip wearisome.
To every young person, whatever his calling may be, I would say, “Walk closely, at all times with your God; but still, be not slothful in business. Ply your work: ply your trade : ply your books. In all labour there is profit, but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury."
7. Should you ever fall in with young persons who appear to be declining from the path of piety in which their forefathers may have been eminent, much wisdom will be needed, in avoiding such associates. Circumstances, arising out of family-connections, or other causes, may sometimes throw you together ; but the warning voice should be sounding in your ears, “ See that ye walk circumspectly; not as fools, but as wise.” Degeneracy from the piety of ancestors, believe me, is a folly of the most deplorable character. Such an estrangement from longestablished habits of domestic piety resembles, in a degree, the first “Fall of Man"; and he who thus leads the way to a fresh race of careless and ungodly followers, has a heavy account of guilt resting on his head. But, in fact, the spirit of the world is continually encroaching : this point I noticed in my Letter on Temptation, under the topic of Worldliness. With regard, then, to those who are falling into conformity with the world, I would say-Be slow to judge them : you may be unable fully to estimate their temper and character. But, if your spirituality is decidedly impaired by witnessing the liberty in which they allow themselves, refrain from them; go from their presence, if you perceive not in them the words of understanding : endeavour to get no harm yourself, if you have no opportunity of benefitting them. And, indeed, by this very shyness of their company, (provided your manner be free from needless singularity, and moroseness, and self-conceit,) you may speak all the more loudly to their consciences. The day may come, when they shall voluntarily confess, “ You were right, and we were wrong. We have not glorified God; we have suffered loss; we have been a stumbling-block to others : would that we had heeded the plain and obvious warning, to keep ourselves unspotted from the world !”
But I must conclude this letter; which you will perceive to be of a very grave character, nearly the whole of it consisting of cautions. In my next, I hope to offer you some rules of a more direct nature, on the important topic of Early Friendships.
Affectionately Yours, &c.
MY DEAR ,
I left you, in my last letter, with various cautions and admonitions. I shall now request your attention to some more direct counsels.
1. In your future course, you may meet with those who, being but moderately gifted with abilities, make far less proficiency than others. Do not despise such : though they may not be successful, still, if they are sincere in their exertions to do their best, respect them. If, by piety and consistent conduct, they give good promise of future usefulness, although they may make little figure in that line of pursuit in which it is your duty to persevere, still you may, occasionally, derive the greatest advantage from their acquaintance. And they, on the other hand, have a claim on you for such friendly assistance as you may be able to render them.
2. It is, however, a great advantage to a young person, to have a friend, of about the same age, but a little cleverer than himself;