HABITS

Some people esteem it a hardship to be compelled to keep the Sabbath.
They think it an interference with their liberties, that the state
should make laws to punish them for breaking it. This disposition very
early shows itself in children. Often they think it is hard that they
are restrained from play, or from seeking their pleasure, on the holy
Sabbath. But God did not give us the Sabbath for his own sake, or
because he is benefited by our keeping it. The Bible says, “The Sabbath
was made for man.” God gave us the Sabbath for our benefit, and for
two purposes. He has made us so that we need rest one day in seven.
It has been proved, upon fair trial, that men cannot do as much, nor
preserve their health as well, by laboring seven days in a week, as
they can by laboring six days, and resting one day in a week. If there
were no Sabbath, you would have no day of rest. You would grow weary of
school, if you were obliged to attend and study seven days in a week.
If you are kept at home to work, you would soon tire out, if you had to
labor every day in the week. But, by resting every seventh day, you get
recruited, so that you are able to go on with study or work with new
vigor. The Sabbath, in this respect, is then a great blessing to you;
and you ought to be so thankful to God for it, as to keep it strictly
according to his command.

Another object of the Sabbath is, to give all people an opportunity to
lay aside their worldly cares and business, to worship God and learn
his will. The other design of the Sabbath was, to _benefit the body_;
this is, to _bless the soul_. If there were no Sabbath, people that are
dependent upon others would be obliged to work every day in the week;
and they would have no time to meet together for the worship of God.
And, if every one were allowed to choose his own time for worshipping
God, there would be no agreement. One would be at meeting, another
would be at work, and others would be seeking their pleasure. But, in
order to have every one at liberty to worship God without disturbance,
he has set apart one day in seven for this purpose. On this day, he
requires us to rest from all labor and recreation, and spend its sacred
hours in learning his will, and in acts of devotion. The Sabbath thus
becomes a means of improving the mind and the heart. It furnishes the
best opportunity for social improvement that could be devised. It
brings the people together, in their best attire, to exercise their
minds in understanding divine truth, and their hearts in obeying it.
And the same object, and the same spirit, it carries out in the family.
If, therefore, you ever consider the duties of the holy Sabbath irksome
and unpleasant, or feel uneasy under its restraints, you perceive that
you must be very unreasonable, since they are designed for your good.
You will not, then, find fault with me, if I am rigid in requiring
the strict observance of the Sabbath. One thing I would have you
remember,–_If you would receive the full benefit of the holy Sabbath,
you must form right habits of keeping it, early in life._ To give
it full power over the mind, it must be associated, in our earliest
recollections, with order, quiet, stillness, and solemnity. If you are
in the habit of disregarding it in early life, you lose all the benefit
and enjoyment to be derived from these sacred associations.

The best directions for keeping the Sabbath, any where to be found,
are contained in the thirteenth verse of the fifty-eighth chapter of
Isaiah:–“If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy
pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of
the Lord, honorable; and shalt honor him, not doing thine own ways, nor
finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words–” You must
_turn away your foot from the Sabbath_, not trampling on it by doing
your own pleasure, instead of the pleasure of the Lord. Your foot must
not move to perform any act that is contrary to the design of this
sacred day; and especially, must not go after your own pleasure. You
must not _do your own ways_, nor _find your own pleasure_. These things
may be lawful on other days; but on this day, every thing must have
reference to God. You must not even _speak your own words_. Worldly,
vain, light, or trifling conversation is thus forbidden. And, if you
may not speak your own words, you may not think your own thoughts.
Worldly, vain, trifling thoughts, or thoughts of your pleasure, are
not lawful on God’s holy day. But you must not only _refrain_ from
these things; the Sabbath is not properly kept, unless its sacred
services are a _delight_ to the soul. If you are tired of hearing,
reading, and thinking of the things of another world, you do not keep
the Sabbath according to these directions. To one who enters truly into
the spirit of God’s holy day, it is the most delightful of the seven.
You remember, in the memoir of Phebe Bartlett, it is stated that she so
loved the Sabbath that she would long to have it come, and count the
days intervening before it. Such are the feelings of all who love God
and sacred things.

Having made these general remarks, I will give you a few simple
directions for making the Sabbath both profitable and delightful. The
evening before the Sabbath, do every thing that can be done, to save
doing on the Sabbath. Leave nothing to be done in _God’s time_ that you
can do in your _own time_. Lay out your Sabbath day’s clothing, and see
that it is all in order, that you may have no brushing or mending to
be done Sabbath morning. Rise early in the morning, and, while washing
and dressing, which you will do in as little time as possible, think
of your need of the “washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy
Ghost,” and of being clothed in the clean, white robe of Christ’s
righteousness. Then offer up your thanksgiving to God for his mercy in
preserving your life, and giving you another holy Sabbath, and pray for
his presence and blessing through the day. If you are called by your
father or mother, for any service of the family, go to it cheerfully;
and as soon as you can retire again, read a portion of Scripture, and
pray to God for such particular blessings upon yourself as you feel
your need of, and for his blessing upon others on his holy day. If you
attend the Sabbath school, you will need to look over your lesson for
the day, and endeavor to apply it to your own heart; for I suppose you
do not put off the study of your lesson till Sabbath morning.

Never stay at home on the Sabbath, unless you are necessarily detained.
Make it a matter of principle and calculation always to be there.
On your way to the house of God, do not engage in any unnecessary
conversation, especially that which is vain, light, or trifling, to
divert your mind, and unfit you for the worship of God. Do not stand
about the doors of the meeting-house, to salute your friends, or to
converse with your young companions. This practice, I am sorry to say,
prevails in the country, among young people of both sexes, to the great
annoyance of well-bred people. It is a great temptation to conversation
improper for the Sabbath. It is very unpleasant for people who are
passing, to have the way blocked up, so as to have to press through a
crowd. Neither do people like to be _stared at_, by a company of rude
young people, as they pass into the house of God. I am sorry to admit,
also, that this unmannerly practice is not confined to youth; but that
many elderly people set the example. Instead of doing so, go directly
to your seat, in a quiet, reverent manner; and if any time intervenes
before the commencement of public worship, do not spend it in gazing
about the house, to observe the dress of different persons; but take
the opportunity to compose your mind, to call in all vagrant thoughts,
to get your heart impressed with a sense of God’s presence, and to lift
up your soul in silent prayer for his blessing. Or, if the time be
long, you can employ a part of it in reading the Bible, or devotional
hymns. But do not carry any other book to the house of worship to be
read there. If you have a Sabbath school library book, it will be
better not to read it at such a time, because you will be likely to
get your mind filled with it, so as to interfere with the services
of the sanctuary. But the Bible and hymn book, being of a devotional
character, will tend to prepare your mind for worship. Above all, do
not read a newspaper, of any kind, at such a time. Even a religious
newspaper would tend to divert your mind from that serious, tender,
devout frame, which you ought to possess when you engage in the solemn
public worship of the Great Jehovah. But I have often witnessed more
serious improprieties, in the house of God, than any of these. I have
seen young people whispering and laughing during the sermon; and it is
a very common thing to see them gazing about during the singing, as
though they had nothing to do with the service. I have also seen them
engaged in reading, in the time of sermon, or of singing. Some, also,
are seen, in time of prayer, with their eyes wide open, gazing about.
Such conduct would be very unmannerly, if nobody were concerned but the
minister; for it is treating him as though he were not worthy of your
attention. But when it is considered that he speaks to you _in the name
of God_, and that, in prayer, while you stand up with the congregation,
you profess to join in the prayer; and while the hymn is sung, you
profess to exercise the devout feeling which it expresses,–when all
these things are considered, such conduct as that I have described
appears impious in a high degree.

Instead of being guilty of such improprieties, you will endeavor, from
the heart, to join in the sentiments expressed in prayer and praise;
and listen to the sermon with all attention, as a message sent from
God to you. You must not think that the sermon is designed for older
people, and therefore you have nothing to do with it; nor take up the
notion that sermons are too dry and uninteresting to engage your
attention. The minister speaks _to you_, in the name of God, those
great truths which concern the salvation of the soul. Can they be of
no interest to you? Have you not a soul to be saved or lost? Nor need
you think that you cannot understand the sermon. If you _give your
attention_, you can understand a sermon as well as you can understand
the lessons you are required every day to study at school. If you do
not understand preaching, it is because you do not give your mind to
it, and hear with attention. Your mind is here and there, “walking to
and fro in the earth, and going up and down in it;” and you only catch,
here and there, a sentence of the sermon. This is the reason you do
not understand it. Endeavor to examine your heart and life by what you
hear, and to apply it to yourself in such a way as to be benefitted by
it. And, when you leave the house of God, do not immediately engage in
conversation, and by this means dissipate all impression; but, as far
as possible, go home in silence, and retire to your closet, to seek
the blessing of God upon the services of his house, on which you have
attended.

I suppose, of course, that you attend the Sabbath school. I think it a
great advantage to those who rightly improve it. But, like every other
privilege, it may be so neglected or abused as to be of no benefit. If
you pay no attention to the Sabbath school lesson at home, your mere
attendance upon the recitation at school will do you little good. You
will feel little interest, and receive little profit. But, if you make
it the occasion for the faithful study of the Holy Scriptures at home,
to ascertain their meaning, and to become acquainted with the great
truths of Christianity, it will be of great service to you in forming
your Christian character.

Having well and thoroughly studied your Sabbath school lesson, you
will then be prepared to engage in the recitation with interest. In
the Sabbath school, you will observe the same general directions for
propriety of behavior as in public worship. You are to remember that
it is the holy Sabbath, and that the Sabbath school is a religious
meeting. All lightness of manner is out of place. A serious deportment
is necessary, if you would profit by it. Courtesy to your teacher,
and to the school, also requires that you should give your attention,
and not be conversing or reading during the recitation, or while your
teacher is speaking to you. In answering the questions, you should be
full and explicit; not merely making the briefest possible reply, but
entering into the subject with interest. But be careful that you do
not give indulgence to a self-confident, conceited spirit, nor appear
as if you thought yourself wiser than your teacher. Such a spirit
indulged will have an injurious influence in the formation of your
character, and will make you an object of disgust to sensible people.

Some young people, when a little past the period of childhood, begin
to feel as if they were too old to attend the Sabbath school, and so
gradually absent themselves, and finally leave it altogether. This
arises from a mistaken notion as to the design of the Sabbath school.
It is not a school _for children merely_; but a school for all classes
of people, to engage in the study of the most wonderful book in the
world. I hope you will never think of leaving the Sabbath school, as
long as you are able to attend it. If you do, you will suffer a loss
which you will regret as long as you live.

If you remain at the house of worship between the Sabbath school
and the afternoon service, as many do in the country, you will be
exposed to temptations to profane the Sabbath. To prevent this, avoid
meeting with your companions, in groups, for conversation. However
well-disposed you may be, you can hardly avoid being drawn into
conversation unsuitable for the holy Sabbath. If you take a book from
the Sabbath school library, this will be a suitable time to read it, if
you are careful not to extend the reading into the afternoon service,
or suffer your thoughts to be diverted by what you have read. But the
practice of reading the Sabbath school books during divine service,
which prevails among children, and even with some young men and women,
is not only very irreverent, but a gross violation of good breeding. It
is slighting the service of God, and treating the minister as though
they thought what he has to say to them not worth their attention.

You ought to have a particular time set apart for the study of your
Sabbath school lesson. I should prefer that this be taken during the
week, so as not to task your mind too severely on the Sabbath with
_study_, inasmuch as it is a day of _rest_. But, if you cannot do this,
I should advise that you study it Sabbath afternoon, and review it the
next Sabbath morning.

Some portion of the Sabbath afternoon, or evening, you will employ,
under the direction of your parents, in repeating the Catechism, which,
I hope none of my readers will consider beneath their attention. “_The
Shorter Catechism_,” next to the Bible, I regard as the best book
in existence to lay the foundation of a strong and solid religious
character. If you get it thoroughly committed to memory, so as to be
able to repeat it verbatim from beginning to end, you will never regret
it; but, as long as you live, you will have occasion to rejoice in it.
I cannot now give you any adequate idea of the benefit you will derive
from it. These catechetical exercises in your father’s house will be
associated, in your mind, with the most precious recollections of your
early years. As I said with regard to your Sabbath school lessons,
and for the same reason, I should advise you, if possible, to study
the portion of the Catechism to be recited, during the week. But if
you cannot do so, it should be studied on the afternoon or evening of
the Sabbath. If, however, you study these lessons in the week time,
you will be able to spend the afternoon and evening of the Sabbath,
except what is devoted to family worship and repeating the Catechism,
in reading serious and devotional books, which will not tax your mind
so much. If you are engaged in study all the week, your mind will need
rest. Therefore, I would have you prosecute your _religious study_
during the week, and let your mind be taxed less on the Sabbath,
reading such books and engaging in such services as are calculated more
to affect the heart, than to tax the mind. You ought to spend more
time than usual, on God’s holy day, in your closet, in reading the
Scriptures and prayer. But, besides the Bible, I would particularly
recommend Religious Biographies, and such works as Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s
Progress” and “Holy War,” D’Aubigne’s “History of the Reformation,” &c.
But secular history, or any books or papers of a secular character,
should not be read on the holy Sabbath. In general, you may safely
read, on Sabbath afternoon, the books that you find in the Sabbath
school library; though it will sometimes happen that a book creeps into
the library that is not suitable for this sacred day. A portion of the
evening of the Sabbath, before retiring to rest, should be spent in
reviewing the day, recollecting the sermons, examining how you have
kept the day, and seeking in prayer the pardon of what has been amiss,
and God’s blessing on all the services in which you have been engaged.

A Sabbath thus spent will be a blessing to you, not only for the six
days following, but as long as you live. It will contribute to the
formation of religious habits that you will be thankful for to the
day of your death. And when you become accustomed to spending your
Sabbaths thus, so far from finding them long and tedious days, you
will find them the most delightful of the seven, and will only regret
that they are TOO SHORT–they come to an end before you have finished
all the good designs you have formed.

The fact that God has set apart a day to himself, and commanded us to
keep it holy, would naturally lead us to conclude that he would order
his Providence so as to favor its observance. We have only need to
examine the subject to be convinced that he does so. When his ancient
people, the children of Israel, refused to keep his Sabbaths, and
trampled his holy day under foot, he emptied them out of the land,
and caused them to be carried off into a strange country, and to
remain there seventy years. This was threatened in Leviticus xxvi.
34, 35:–“Then shall the land enjoy her Sabbaths, as long as it lieth
desolate, and ye be in your enemies’ land; even then shall the land
rest, and enjoy her Sabbaths. As long as it lieth desolate, it shall
rest; because it did not rest in your Sabbaths, when ye dwelt upon it.”
In 2 Ch. xxxvi. 20, 21, this is referred to as one of the principal
reasons why they were carried away to Babylon:–“And them that escaped
the sword carried he away to Babylon; where they were servants to him
and his sons, until the reign of the kingdom of Persia, to fulfil the
word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah the prophet, until the land
had enjoyed her Sabbaths; for as long as she lay desolate, she kept
Sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten years.”

I can think of no reason why God, in his holy Providence, should not
punish Sabbath-breakers now as well as then. I have no doubt that he
does. If we could see the design of his Providence, as it is explained
in the Bible, no one would doubt it. Sir Matthew Hale, after a long and
laborious public life, declared, as the result of his experience, that
he found his affairs prosper, during the week, just in proportion to
the strictness with which he had observed the Sabbath; and that he had
never met with success in any business which was planned on the Sabbath.

I might fill this book with narratives of accidents that have happened
to young people, while seeking their pleasure on the Lord’s day.
Scarcely a week occurs, in the summer season, but the papers contain
accounts of parties of young people drowned while taking Sabbath
excursions on the water, or of young men and boys drowned while bathing
on the Lord’s day. Many very striking accounts of this kind have been
collected and published in tracts. And a great many facts of a more
general nature have also been published, in various forms, showing
that it is _profitable_ to keep the Sabbath, and _unprofitable_ and
dangerous to break it. My object, in this place, is simply to impress
on the minds of my readers the very important influence which the
proper observance of the Sabbath has in the _formation of character_.
And I wish them to follow the youth through life who has been
accustomed to keep the Sabbath, and who continues to keep it; and then
follow the course of one who has, in early life, been accustomed to
disregard God’s holy day. And one thought, in particular, I desire you
to ponder well,–_The Sabbath-breaker cannot expect God’s protection._
And, if God forsakes you, what will become of you?

A party of young people set out for a sail, on the Sabbath day. One of
the young ladies told her brother that she felt very bad to think she
was breaking the Sabbath, and she must return home. But he entreated
her not to spoil his pleasure, for he should not enjoy it, unless she
went with him; and to please him she consented to go. The boat was
upset, and she was drowned. The distracted brother now gave vent to
his grief in the most bitter lamentation. He had been the means of her
death. There he stood, wringing his hands in agony, and exclaiming, “O!
what shall I do! How can I see my father’s face!”

There was a boy in Boston, the son of respectable parents, who gave
promise of becoming a respectable and useful man. He stood well in
school, and had the reputation of being a good scholar. He attended
the Sabbath school, and appeared to be a good boy. His mother was
endeavoring to bring him up in the way he should go. But, on one
Sabbath, he was persuaded by some bad boys not to go to Sabbath
school, but to go with them to Chelsea. This was his first step in the
down-hill road. The next thing was, to conceal his conduct from his
mother. She asked him if he had been to Sabbath school, and he said he
had. Then she asked him for the text. He repeated a text; and as she
was not able to go that afternoon, she could not detect his deception.
He also pretended to repeat parts of the sermon, in order to blind her
eyes. She was satisfied, supposing he had been at Sabbath school and
meeting, secure from temptation. Finding he had succeeded so well in
deceiving his mother, he continued to seek his pleasure on God’s holy
day, and to repeat his deceptions to his mother, making her believe
that he had been at Sabbath school and meeting. He went on so for some
time, hardening himself in sin, and associating with bad boys, till he
became ripe for mischief and crime. He was employed by the publisher
of a paper, as an errand boy. One part of his duty was to bring letters
and papers from the post-office. While thus engaged, he learned that
money frequently came to his employer in letters. After a while, he
left this employment. The money in the letters now tempted him. Having
hardened his heart by breaking the Sabbath, associating with bad boys,
and deceiving his mother, he had not strength of principle to resist.
He continued to receive the letters, robbing them of their contents.
At length he was detected, and sent to prison for two years. The
gentleman who related this to me said he went one day to the prison,
and there he saw the boy’s mother and sister, talking with him through
an iron-grated window, and weeping as though they would break their
hearts. All this came upon him by his seeking his pleasure on God’s
holy day. And if you knew the history of those who have been imprisoned
for crime, you would find a great many such cases. If he had turned
away his foot from the Sabbath, from seeking his pleasure on this holy
day, he might have been sitting with his mother and sister in their
own quiet home, instead of being locked up in a filthy prison, with a
company of hardened criminals.

Besides what I have noticed in several of the foregoing chapters, there
are many things of a general nature, which I shall group together under
the title of _habits_. A _habit_ is what has become easy and natural
by frequent repetition. People not unfrequently become much attached
to practices, which at first were very unpleasant. You will sometimes
see men chewing, smoking, or snuffing _tobacco_, a most filthy and
poisonous plant, a little bit of which you could not be persuaded to
take into your mouth, it is so nauseous; yet, by long use, people learn
to love it. That is a _habit_. So, likewise, you see persons very fond
of drinking intoxicating liquors, which to you would be a nauseous
medicine; and which are poisonous and destructive to all. It is
_practice_ which has made these drinks so pleasant. This is a _habit_.

Habits are both _bad_ and _good_; and a habit is a very good or a very
bad thing, as it is good or bad. Habits are mostly formed in early
life; and a habit, once formed, is difficult to be broken;–once fixed,
it may follow you as long as you live.

I shall specify a few of the bad habits which boys of your age are
liable to contract, with their opposite good habits. It is very likely
I shall fail to notice many others, equally important; but these may
put you upon thinking, and lead you to discover and correct other bad
practices.

I. DILATORINESS OR TARDINESS.–The tardy boy is dilatory about rising
in the morning. Although old Chanticleer is pouring his shrill note
of warning into his ear, and the birds are filling the air with their
merry song, and the morning rays of the sun are peeping stealthily
through the half-closed shutter, still he thinks, “_There’s time enough
yet_;” and instead of starting up with the lark, he lingers and delays,
saying with the sluggard, “A little more sleep, a little more slumber,
a little more folding of the hands to sleep.” At length he rises, in
a yawning mood, and proceeds slowly to pull on his clothes, lingering
with every article, looking here and there, and stopping every now
and then to play, or to amuse himself in gazing about his chamber.
And sometimes he stops, half-dressed, to read a story from a piece of
an old newspaper. In this and other ways, he amuses himself until the
breakfast bell rings, and he is not ready. Perhaps he has been called
half a dozen times to “do his chores,” and as often answered, “_Well,
I’m coming_;” till, wearied with his delay, his mother or sister has
done the work that belonged to him, or his father has been called from
his room, or the hired man from his work, to do it for him. At length,
he makes his appearance at the table after the blessing, when the rest
of the family have begun their meal. But, having just emerged from
the foul air of his bedroom, he has no appetite for his breakfast,
and feels peevish and fretful. A scowl appears upon his brow, and he
turns up his nose at the food spread before him, forgetful alike of his
obligations to his Heavenly Father for providing, and to his mother for
preparing it. Or, if he sometimes gets dressed before breakfast, he
is not in season to do his chores, or to complete the lesson which he
left unfinished the night before. He hears the breakfast bell, but he
is just now engaged, and thinks, “_There’s time enough yet,–I’ll just
finish what I’ve begun_;” and so he is not in season for the table.
He has either detained the table till all are impatient of waiting,
or else he takes his seat after the rest have commenced eating. In
consequence of this loss of time, he is left at the table to finish
his breakfast, and his seat is for some time vacant at prayers, when
he comes in and disturbs the whole family. Or, if at any time, he gets
his seat with the rest, he is dilatory in finding his place, and is
never ready to read when his turn comes. This dilatoriness goes on,
till the school hour arrives, and he is not ready; or he delays on the
way to school, and arrives, perhaps, just after his class have recited.
Sabbath morning, when the bell tolls, and the family are starting for
meeting, he is roused from a reverie, and has yet to get ready. And so
in every thing else this dilatory habit follows him. When his father or
mother calls him, instead of promptly making his appearance, to serve
them, as a dutiful son should do, he answers, “_Yes, in a minute_,”
or, “_Yes, I’m going to_.” He must dispose of something else first;
and before he comes, the service for which he was called has been
despatched by some one else. He does not seem to know how to start
quick. He is always in a hurry when the time comes to do any thing,
because he was dilatory in making preparation when he had time. He is
always late,–always out of time,–vexing those that are about him, and
injuring himself. He seems to have _started too late_. You would think
that he began too late in the beginning,–that he was _born too late_,
and has never been able to gain the lost time. Every thing comes too
soon, before he is prepared for it. If he ever becomes a man, and this
habit continues, it will always be a source of vexation and disaster
to him. If he is a mechanic, he will fail to meet his engagements, and
disappoint, vex, and lose his customers. If he is a man of business, he
will fail to meet his appointments, and thus lose many a bargain. He
will suffer his notes to be protested at the bank, and thus injure his
friends and destroy his credit. His dilatory habits will be the ruin of
his business. And if he carries the same habit into religion, he will
ruin his soul, for _death will overtake him before he is ready_.

Although this seems _natural_ to him, it is only tardiness indulged
till it has grown into a habit. But by timely resolution, diligence,
and perseverance, the habit may be broken.

The opposites of this are the good habits of _promptness and
punctuality_. When the gray dawn steals in at his window, the prompt
lad springs from his bed; and in a few minutes he is washed and
dressed, and on his knees at his morning devotions. Soon he appears at
his work; and before breakfast, all his _chores_ are done. Thus he has
redeemed the time between breakfast and school, which he has at his
own disposal, for his lessons or his sports. He is _always in time_.
He never keeps the table waiting for him, and never comes after the
blessing. He is never late at prayers–never late at school–never
late at meeting; and yet he is never in a hurry. He redeems so much
time by his promptness, that he has as much as he needs to do every
thing well and in season. He saves all the time that the dilatory
spends in sauntering, in considering what to do next, in reading
frivolous matters, and in gazing idly at _vacancy_. Do you desire to
possess these good habits? Only carry out for one day the idea I have
given of promptness, and then repeat it every day, and, in a little
time, you have the habit established.

II. SLOVENLINESS.–A slovenly boy makes himself a deal of needless
trouble, and greatly tries the patience of his mother. If you go into
his room, you find it always in confusion. His things are scattered
about, here and there, some on the bed, some on the chairs, and some
on the floor,–but none in their places. He either has no particular
place for any thing, or else he takes no pains to put things in their
places. He leaves a thing where he uses it. Hence, if he wants any
thing, he never knows where to look for it, unless he happens to
remember where he used it last. He must waste his time in hunting for
it. Hence you will often hear him impatiently inquiring if any one has
seen his things; when he ought himself to know where they are. If he
goes into another person’s room, whatever article he lays his hand
upon is misplaced. And so it is, if he uses any of his father’s tools.
He never thinks of putting any thing where he found it. He throws it
down carelessly wherever he happens to be, or else puts it in the wrong
place; so that, when wanted, it cannot be found. Thus, he not only
wastes his own time, but hinders and vexes others. If he goes into the
library, and takes down a book, he either puts it in a different place,
and so disarranges the shelves, or lays it down on the shelf in front
of other books, for his father or mother to arrange. His school books
are torn and dirty–disfigured with pencil marks, blots of ink, grease
spots, finger prints, and dog’s-ears; and if he borrows a book from the
Sabbath school library, or of a friend, it is returned with some of
these _his marks_ upon it.

Whatever he undertakes to do is done in the same slovenly style. If he
brings in water, he spills it on the floor. His wood he throws down in
a sprawling manner, instead of laying it in a neat and handsome pile.
Nothing that he does looks neat and finished.

Nor does he appear to any better advantage in his person. His clothes
are put on in a slouching, uncouth manner; and he always contrives to
have them dirty. He cannot have on clean clothes half an hour without
soiling them. He rubs against whatever dirty thing he passes. If he
carries milk, he spills it on his clothes. He drops grease on them at
the table. He wallows in the dirt. He contrives to hitch against a
nail, or the latch of a door, and makes a rent for his mother to mend.
If left to himself, his face would never come in contact with water,
nor his teeth with a brush. You would almost think, sometimes, that you
could see the grass growing on his upper lip.

He comes into the house with his shoes covered with mud, and never
thinks of wiping his feet, but leaves the prints of them on his
mother’s clean floor or nice carpet. He seems to forget what scrapers
and mats are made for, for he passes by without using them. He lays his
hat on a chair, or throws it upon the floor, instead of hanging it in
its place. Thus he tries the patience of his mother and sisters, and
makes himself unwelcome at his own home.

And with this habit is generally associated _carelessness_. He never
seems to be thinking what he is about. He does not see things that are
in his way, but stumbles over them, breaking, bruising, or otherwise
injuring them, and often hurting himself. You dread to see him
approach, lest some mischief should happen. He does not look to see
what he steps on, nor whether his hands have firm hold of the article
he takes up. If he passes through a door, he does not mind whether
it was open or shut; and most likely, if he finds it open, in a warm
summer’s day, he will close it; but, if he finds it carefully shut, on
a freezing day in mid-winter, he will leave it wide open.

A careless person will be constantly meeting with accidents
and misfortunes, and continually subject to the most vexatious
mortifications, which a little thoughtfulness and care would prevent.
This habit is a very great fault, and, when confirmed, very difficult
to correct. It is therefore the more important, that it should be taken
in season, and nipped in the bud.

I need not tell you what are the opposites of slovenly and careless
habits. The neat, orderly, and careful boy has an invariable rule,–“A
PLACE FOR EVERY THING, AND EVERY THING IN ITS PLACE.” Go into his room
at any hour, and you will find every thing in order. He can go in the
dark, and lay his hand on any thing he wants, so that he never runs
the risk of setting the house on fire, by carrying a light into his
bedroom. He is so much in the habit of putting things in their proper
places, that he never thinks of doing otherwise. He never leaves a
thing at random, where he happens to be using it; but always puts it
where it belongs. When he undresses, every article of his clothing is
folded, and laid together in the order that it will be wanted in the
morning; so that he loses no time in hunting for it. His clothes are
put on and adjusted so as to show a neat fit, and every button does its
office. His shoes are regularly brushed every morning, and the strings
neatly tied, so that your eye is never offended with the appearance,
nor your ear distressed with the sound, of dirty, slip-shod, flapping
shoes.

To whatever part of the house he goes, he leaves it in the order in
which he found it; for it is his invariable rule, when he uses any
thing belonging to another, to replace it exactly as he found it. When
he takes hold of a cup, or a lamp, or any such article, he is careful
to get fairly hold, and then to move moderately, and not with a jerk;
and by this means, he seldom meets with any of those accidents which
are so annoying to tidy housekeepers. If he goes to the library, he is
careful to replace every book or paper he takes in his hand, exactly
as he found it. If he takes a book to read, he carries it with care,
firmly grasped in his hand, and avoids letting it fall, or hitting it
against any thing to bruise the cover. He holds it in such a manner as
not to strain the back or crumple the leaves; and if called away from
his reading, he puts in a mark, shuts the book, and lays it in a safe
place. He never thinks of using a book for any other purpose than that
for which it was made. When he has finished reading it, he carefully
replaces it in the library, just where he found it. He does not place
it wrong end upwards, nor the title towards the back of the shelf; but
puts it in the place where it belongs, makes it stand straight, and
shoves it back even with its fellows. All his school books are kept
neat and clean. No blots of ink, nor pencil marks, nor thumb-prints,
nor dog’s-ears, any where appear. If he passes through a door into or
out of a room where others are sitting, he leaves it open or shut as he
found it; judging that the persons occupying the room, have adjusted
its temperature to their own liking.

He is equally careful of his person. He never considers himself
dressed, till he has washed his hands and face, cleaned his teeth, and
combed his hair; and he never thinks of sitting down at the table with
dirty hands. He learns to keep his clothes neat and clean. At table,
he avoids dropping his food upon them. At school, he is careful of
his ink, not to bespatter his clothes with it. And at play, he keeps
himself out of the dirt. He will wear his clothes a week, and have
them appear cleaner, at the end of it, than the sloven’s when he has
worn them a single day.

He has a care, also, of the appearance of the house. He never forgets
to use the scraper at the door, to remove the mud from his feet; and
then he makes it an invariable rule never to pass a mat without wiping
his shoes. He never says, like the sloven, “I didn’t think,” to excuse
himself. He would consider it unpardonable in him _not to think_; for
what is the ability of thinking worth, if it never comes when it is
wanted.

The neat, orderly boy, makes himself agreeable to his mother and
sisters, who are always glad to see him coming; and home is a
delightful place to him, because he meets with smiles and pleasant
words. But the sloven exposes himself to sour looks and chiding, by his
dirty habits; and he finds home a disagreeable place, because he makes
it so.

III. RUDENESS.–This term does not describe any one habit in
particular, but a great many little ones. Webster gives the following
definition: “RUDE: rough; of coarse manners; unpolished; clownish;
rustic.” It is not, therefore, a single habit, but a series of habits.
These are so numerous, it can hardly be expected that I should think
of them all. The rude boy is rough, clownish, and boisterous, in his
manners. He is rude in speech and rude in behavior. He will stalk
into the house with his hat on; and if there is company, he does not
notice them. He talks in a loud and boisterous manner, often breaking
in abruptly upon the conversation of others. If he hears part of a
conversation, and desires to know what it is about, he abruptly breaks
in, “Who is it? Who is it? What is it?” And, often, he keeps his tongue
running continually, like the incessant clatter of a mill.

It is rude and vulgar to interlard conversation with _by-words_, or
unmeaning phrases, thrown in at random between the sentences. It is
much more so, to throw in _little oaths_, or low, vulgar expressions.
All this shows a disposition to be profane. It is saying, in effect, “I
would swear, if I durst.” If indulged, this habit will be very likely
to lead on to profaneness.

Another rude habit, which boys often indulge, is, what is familiarly
called “CRACKING JOKES” upon one another. The object seems to be, to
see who can say the wittiest thing, at another’s expense. But, in such
attempts, generally, _wit_ fails; and the strife is, which can say the
silliest thing, in the silliest manner. All such low witticisms may be
set down as decidedly rude and vulgar.

_Rudeness of behavior_ manifests itself in so many forms, that it is
scarcely definable. I can only glance at a few things which indicate
a want of good breeding. It is rude to be so _forward_ as to treat
your superiors as equals, or to take the lead in all companies. On
the other hand, it is rude to be _bashful_–to hang down the head,
with a _leer_ of the eye, in the presence of company, and refuse to
speak when spoken to, or to speak in a confused and mumbling tone,
as though you had never seen anybody before. It is rude for a boy to
take the best seat in the room, or to take the only seat, while others
are standing. Tilting one’s chair; sitting awkwardly on one side of
the chair, or with the feet stretched out at full length; putting the
feet on another’s chair; sitting on two chairs; rocking; drumming with
the fingers or feet; scratching books, furniture, window-frames, or
walls,–these, and a hundred other things that might be named, are rude
habits, which indicate not only the want of good breeding, but the
absence of good taste and a sense of propriety.

There are other rude habits, which boys often contract, while abroad,
that are wholly out of character for one that would be a _gentleman_;
such as hallooing in the streets; jumping on the backside of carriages;
calling out to strangers that are passing; collecting in groups about
public places, and staring at people. All such behavior is intolerable;
and those who are guilty of it will be set down by all sensible people
as low, ill-bred, rude boys.

IV. EVIL HABITS.–I am sorry to say that some boys indulge habits,
that are worse than any I have mentioned. Boys may be seen strutting
through the streets, puffing segars; and even sometimes filling their
mouths with that loathsome Indian weed, _tobacco_, as though they
thought such vile habits necessary to make them men. And often you
will hear the profane oath issuing from their mouth, along with the
foul breath created by this nauseous potion. A disposition to smoke
or to chew this filthy, poisonous substance, indicates the existence
of an intemperate appetite, and the love of low company. You will,
perhaps, see the same boys at the shops, drinking beer. But this is
only the prelude to something stronger. Tobacco is one of the most
active vegetable poisons. It disorders the system and creates an
appetite for stimulants. It is dangerous to use it in any form. But
when a boy goes so far as to contract a relish for intoxicating drinks,
his ruin is well nigh accomplished. After once giving indulgence
to any of these practices, the downhill road is easy and rapid.
About the time when temperance societies began to be formed, I was
conversing with a mechanic, who informed me that almost every one of
his fellow-apprentices, who were in the habit of occasionally drinking
intoxicating liquors, had become drunkards. Many years ago, there
were, in one of our large cities, fifty young men, clerks in stores,
who used to frequent a particular place, to spend their evenings in a
social way, with the wine bottle as a companion of their social cheer.
One evening, one of them, after retiring, began to reflect upon the
consequences of the course he was pursuing. He came to the conclusion,
that, if he went on, it would be his ruin. He resolved that he would
never go again. The next evening, he found himself on the way to the
same place. But as he came to the corner of the street which turned
towards the place, he thought of his resolution. He hesitated a moment,
and then said to himself, “_Right about face!_” He returned, and was
never seen there again. That man is now one of the most wealthy,
respected, and useful men in the country; while forty of those who
continued their resort to the public house, became intemperate, and I
believe have all gone down to the drunkard’s grave.

_Gaming_ is another evil habit, which leads to all manner of evil
company and evil practices. It has proved the destruction of thousands
of promising youth.

NEVER SUFFER YOURSELF TO BECOME THE SLAVE OF _any_ HABIT. Abstain
entirely from intoxicating drinks, tobacco, gaming, and profane
language. For when you once begin, with any of these, it is like “the
letting out of waters.” At first they run very slowly; but soon they
wear away a channel, and rush on with an impetuosity, which defies
all attempts to stop them. On the coast of Norway, there is a great
whirlpool, called the _Maelstrom_, which sometimes swallows up great
ships. When a vessel comes near this terrible abyss, it is first drawn
very gently, with a circular motion. But after it has made one or two
rounds, it goes more and more rapidly, and draws nearer and nearer
the centre, till finally it reaches the vortex, is swallowed up, and
is seen no more. So it is with these bad habits. When one gets fairly
within the circle of their influence, his fate is well nigh sealed. The
only safety, with young men and boys, is to keep far away from the very
outer edges of the whirlpool.

The reader will perhaps laugh at the idea of _educating_ the body.
But a moment’s reflection will show that no part of man more needs
education than the body. The design of education, as I have already
said is, to form the character, and prepare us, in early life, for what
we are to do in future. For this purpose, the body needs discipline
as well as the mind. An ill body makes an ill mind and a sad heart.
The health of the body is necessary to the healthy operation of the
mind; and a healthy body is secured by activity. But the body not only
needs _health_, but discipline. The fingers must be taught all manner
of handiwork, and exercised upon it, in order to accustom them to the
use that is to be made of them; the feet must be taught to perform
their appropriate duties, in a graceful and proper manner; and all the
muscles of the body must be exercised, in due proportion, to give them
strength and solidity. The proper discipline of the several members of
the body is necessary, not only to prepare them for useful occupation,
but to give them a graceful, natural, and easy motion, and so promote
good manners and a genteel carriage.

I shall not be very particular in what I have to say on this subject,
but only give a few gentle hints.

1. DISCIPLINE THE BODY TO OBEY THE WILL.–You would not think, to see
some young folks, that the will had any thing to do with the movements
of the body; for it moves in all imaginable ways, with all sorts of
contortions. First flies out a foot, then a hand, then there’s a twirl
or a swing, then a drumming of the fingers, a trotting of the foot,
or some such odd figure. This arises from leaving the body to control
itself, by its own natural activity, the mind taking no supervision of
its motions. Now, if you early accustom yourself to exercise a strict
mental supervision over the body, so as never to make any movement
whatever, except what you mean to make, you will find this habit of
great consequence to you; for, besides saving you the mortification of
a thousand ungraceful movements which habit has rendered natural, it
will enable you to _control your nerves_, the necessity for which you
will understand better hereafter than you do now. Make the _will_ the
ruling power of your body, so as never to do any thing but what you
mean to do, and you will never get the reputation of _being nervous_.

2. AVOID LATE HOURS.–It would seem hardly necessary to give such a
direction to young persons still under the control of their parents.
But facts too plainly show that parents do not always sufficiently
consider the injurious effects of late hours upon the fair and healthy
development of the human frame. And the disposition of young people
to seek amusement overcomes, with them, the dictates of prudence. But
the practice of sitting up late, and especially of being abroad late
at night, is a war upon nature. It interrupts the regular course of
things. It turns night into day and day into night. If you would be
pale-faced, sickly, nervous, and good for nothing, sit up late at night.

3. RISE EARLY.–It is said that, to have a fair skin, rosy cheeks, and
a fine complexion, one must wash every morning in summer _in the dew_.
Whether there is any virtue in the dew or not, I cannot say; but I have
no doubt that such would be the effect of the practice proposed. To
rise early, before the atmosphere has become heated with the summer’s
sun, and walk abroad, snuffing the cool breeze, listening to the music
of the feathered tribe, and joining in the sweet harmony of nature,
hymning forth praise to the Creator, certainly tends to promote health
of body and cheerfulness and serenity of mind; and these will make a
blooming countenance, and clothe very plain features with an aspect of
beauty. The adding of the _dew-wash_ will do no harm. If you make a
rule of washing in the dew, it will stimulate you to sally forth before
the sun has driven it away; and you can find no softer water than the
dew.

4. USE PLENTY OF WATER.–The body cannot be kept in a healthy state,
without frequent bathing. It should be washed all over, with cold
water, at least once every day, to promote health and cleanliness. One
who has never tried it can have no idea of its invigorating effects;
and it seems hardly possible that the human system can keep long in
order, while this is neglected. The machinery of a watch, after a
while, gets dirty, so that it will not run till it is taken to pieces
and cleaned. But the machinery of the human body is vastly more
intricate than that of a watch. It is made up of an endless number of
parts, of various patterns, some of them of the most delicate texture
and exquisite workmanship, but all parts of a great machine that is
constantly in motion. And there is provision made for carrying off
all the dirt that accumulates on its wheels and bands, in little
tubes, which discharge it upon the surface of the skin. But unless
frequently washed off, it accumulates, and stops up the ends of these
little tubes, and prevents their discharging, so that the offensive
and poisonous matter which they would carry off is kept in the system.
Let this go on a little while, and it cannot fail to produce disease.
Therefore, I say, _use plenty of water_.

5. TAKE CARE OF YOUR TEETH.–The teeth have a very important office
to perform in the animal economy–that of preparing the food for the
stomach. What is not done by the teeth must be done by the digestive
organs. Therefore, your health is deeply concerned in the preservation
of a good set of teeth. The voice and the countenance, also, plead with
you to take care of your teeth. In almost all cases, teeth may be saved
from decay, if attended to in time. The best directions I can give for
preserving the teeth are, to clean them every day with a brush, and
pick them after every meal with a pointed quill, so as to remove all
the particles of food from between them, and the tartar that adheres to
the surface;–cleanliness, as well as the safety of the teeth, requires
this. You ought to have your teeth examined and attended to, by a
dentist, once or twice a year. Keeping them clean preserves them from
decay; and if decay commences, a dentist can stop it, if he can take
them in season.

6. BE ACTIVE.–The body was made _for use_. Every part of it is formed
for activity. But any thing made for use will suffer injury to lie
still. The human body, especially, if suffered to remain inactive,
becomes useless. Activity strengthens the parts. If you would have more
strength, you must use what you have, and it will increase. The right
use of your members, also, must be learned by _practice_. Much practice
is necessary, for instance, to train the fingers to the various uses
in which they are to be employed, so as, (to use a homely phrase,) to
make them _handy_. The body, likewise, needs exercise, to keep it in
a healthy state. The various parts of its machinery have a great work
to do, every day, in turning your food into blood, and sending it a
great many thousand times, in a vast number of little streams, to every
part of the body. But this machinery will not work, if the body is all
the time inactive. It requires _motion_, to give it power. There is
nothing, therefore, so bad for it as _laziness_. It is like a dead calm
to a windmill, which stops all its machinery.

7. LEARN, AT PROPER TIMES, TO BE STILL.–All nature needs repose. If
the human system were always kept in the utmost activity, it would
soon wear out. For this reason, God has given us periodical seasons of
rest–a part of every day, and one whole day in seven. There are times,
also, when it is not proper to be active; as, when you are at your
devotions, or at family worship, or in the house of God. So, likewise,
at school, or in company, or when you sit down with the family at
home, as well as in many other cases, activity is out of place. Your
body, therefore, will never be _educated_, till you have obtained such
control over it, as to be able, at proper times, to _be still_. And I
may say, it is a great accomplishment in a young person, to know just
when to be still, and to have self-control enough to be still just at
the proper time.

8. BE CAREFUL TO KEEP THE BODY IN ITS NATURAL POSITION.–This is
necessary, not only to preserve its beauty, but to prevent deformity.
Sitting at school, or at any sedentary employment, is liable to
produce some unnatural twist or bend of the body. The human form, in
its natural position, is a model of beauty. But, when bad habits turn
it out of shape, it offends the eye. Avoid a stooping posture, or an
inclination to either side. But sit and stand erect, with the small
of the back curved in, the chest thrown forward, the shoulders back,
and the head upright. A little attention to these things every day,
while the body is growing, and the bones and muscles are in a flexible
state, will give your form a beauty and symmetry, which you can never
acquire afterwards, if you neglect it at this time of life. And it will
do more, a thousand times, to keep you in health, than all the doctor’s
pill-boxes.

9. AVOID TIGHT-DRESSING, AS YOU WOULD A BLACK SNAKE.–You will,
perhaps, smile at this. But if you know any thing of the black snake,
you will recollect that it assaults not with deadly venom, but winds
itself around its victim, stops the circulation of the blood, and, if
it reaches high enough, makes a rope of itself, to strangle him. I need
not tell you that the effects of tight-dressing are similar. Whatever
part of the body,–whether neck, chest, arms, limbs or feet,–is
_pinched_ with tight covering, is subject to the same strangling
process produced by the black snake. It obstructs the free circulation
of the blood, and produces a tendency to disease in the part so
compressed. If you feel an unpleasant tightness in any part of your
dress, _remember the black snake_.

10. DISCIPLINE THE MUSCLES OF THE FACE.–You may think this a queer
direction; but I assure you it is given with all gravity. If you allow
every temper of the heart to find a corresponding expression in the
muscles of the face, you will be sure to spoil the fairest countenance.
How would you feel, if you were to see an accomplished young person,
with fine features, and a beautiful countenance; but on coming near,
should discover little holes in the face, from which, every now and
then, vipers and venomous serpents were thrusting out their heads and
hissing at you? Well, the evil tempers of the heart, such as pride,
vanity, envy, jealousy, &c., are a nest of vipers; and, when indulged,
they will spit out their venom through the countenance. How often
do we see a proud, scornful, sour, morose, or jealous expression,
that has fairly been worn into the features of the countenance! And
what is this but the hissing of vipers that dwell within? Strive to
acquire such self-control, as to keep a calm, serene expression upon
your countenance; and you cannot tell how much it will add to your
appearance.

11. BE TEMPERATE.–To be strictly temperate is, to _avoid all excess_.
Not only abstain from eating and drinking what is hurtful, but use
moderation in all things–in eating and drinking, in running and
walking, in play, in amusement.

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