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tal arrangement, and of the ever-revolving circuit of their own immortal minds; men often open the wrong valve, start on false premises, and arrive at erroneous conclusions.
This ignorance of human nature, which is far more extensive than the casual observer would suppose, often paralyzes the best intentions of benevolence and philanthropy, by generating error, not unfrequently imbibed, by imparting unsound instruction to the rising generation, or permitting them to grow up carelessly, perhaps ignorantly.
In external matters of business and money-making, men are more careful to open the right valve; bringing into action, judgment, skill, and taste. Their mechanic must understand his business; their physician his practice; their counsellor his profession; their book-keeper his duties; but, when the machinery of the immortal mind is first put to work, unskilful engineers are too often employed, who open the wrong valve, and derange the noble work that came from the hands of the Architect of worlds, perfect in all its parts.
Parents and teachers, who do not correctly understand the machinery of mind, are ever in danger of opening the wrong valve, and of doing irreparable injury. Nor does the danger stop here. Ignorant pilots, incompetent engineers, and blind leaders of the blind; are ever urging their services, assuming the high responsibility of managing the valves of the mind, when matured by age. They are found in the walks of private life, and in all the departments of political, moral, and religious economy.
The great object of every philanthropist is, to improve and better the condition of the human family. To succeed in this noble enterprise, we must understand the delicate and sensitive formation of the mind of man, and the philosophy of his nature. Without this knowledge, we are liable to open the wrong valves, or open the right ones so unskilfully, as to produce confusion, perhaps mischief.
The vicious are restrained and reclaimed by example, persuasion, reproof, and coercion; all of which should be consistent and harmonize. Where example fails, persuasion should be resorted to, in all the mildness and meekness of Christian love and charity. The minds of men may be led, but not forced. We can rarely drive vice out of a man, or a man out of vice. Reserved rights are tender parts of the machinery, the valve of interference must be cautiously opened. The minister who presents the precepts of religion, with all the ardor of heavenly love and affection, instead of pouring upon his hearers a stream of fire and brimstone; does more to restrain vice, reclaim the wicked, and evangelize the world; than one who deals out terror and vengeance like a volcano. Simple truth, in its native dress, is more fascinating, than when decked by the ornaments of men.
If example and persuasion fail, reproof must be administered, with all the kindness and tenderness we use, when we only attempt to persuade. To gain the esteem and confidence of a person we wish and hope to reclaim, is the safety valve, which alone can insure success.
If all these fail to produce a reformation, and the recusant steps beyond ordinary vice, into the arena of crime; the law valve must be opened, but with no less skill and precaution than the others. To do full justice to the offender, and the offended majesty of the law; the judge and jury must understand the machinery of human nature, or they may open the vindictive valve, and inflict an injury, beyond their power to repair.
In the ordinary concerns of life many open the wrong valve. When I see children growing up in vice, drinking in corruption like water, I conclude they are under the direction of a bad engineer—the wrong valve is opened—they are in danger of ultimate ruin.
When I see young men in full chase after the phantom, PLEASURE, neglecting all that makes the man; fonder of a mint julep than of Bacon or Locke; who prefer the theatre to the lecture room; I fear they may neglect their safety valve, destroy their condenser, burst their boiler, and ruin the noble engine intrusted to them by the grand Architect of the universe, to whom they must render an account of the manner they bave performed the important trust committed to their care.
When I see a married man reeling from the grog shop to his home, there to meet a wife who is all loveliness; children who are all affection; perhaps a mother who is all tenderness; a father who is all anxiety; sisters who are all forgiveness; I know he has opened the wrong valve, and, unless he quickly closes it, and opens the safety valve, he will run his ship on the rocks of disgrace and poverty; and will fall into the hands of those rigid wreckers, the constable, the sheriff, and the judges.
When I see a man neglect his business, and embark on the murky and deceptive stream of politics, poor fellow, say I, you have opened the wrong valve, and most likely will land on the lee shore of disappointment. The political boat carries a large number of deck passengers, who have coarse fare and wood in the bargain; but has a very small cab-in-et.
When I see men run into wild and visionary speculations, working on the high pressure principle, make or break, they open the wrong valve, may break a shaft, and make themselves out of boat and home; and leave their passengers to manage the wreck in their own way.
When I see people forsaking the paths of wisdom, prudence and virtue; ruining fortune, health, and reputation; and endangering their immortal souls, by an indulgence in the follies, fashions, and vices of the day; it is plain they have opened the wrong valves, and live in constant danger of an explosion; fearful and destructive. To better insure safety, let all open the valve of self-examination, explore the labyrinthian mazes of their own immortal minds, become familiar with the safety valves there placed by a God of love, and learn from Him, and his book on this most important of all engineering; how, when, and where to use them, and NEVER OPEN THE WRONG VALVE.
This propensity pervades the whole human family, to a less or greater degree, as the atmosphere does the globe. It is the froth and effervescence of pride. The latter is unyielding haughtiness, the former, as soft, pliant, and light, as the down of a goose. It is selfishness modified and puffed up, like a bladder with wind. It is all action, but has no useful strength. It feeds voraciously and abundantly on the richest food that can be served up; and can live on less and meaner diet, than any thing of which we can have a conception. The rich, poor, learned, ignorant, beautiful, ugly, high, low, strong, and weak—all have a share of Vanity. The humblest Christian is not free from it, and, when he is most humble, the devil will flatter his Vanity, by telling him of it.
It is the weakest and most vulnerable point of human nature, and well does Satan know it, and most deeply should we deplore it. It was the wicket gate of Eden, through which the arch enemy entered, and took Mother Eve's citadel of Innocence. He tried the same plan, with our Saviour, but was foiled in his base attempt to snatch the last ray of hope from our race.
Because the woman first yielded to temptation, some have credited females with a larger share of this propensity, thap their lords; but the book of books says, “Surely, every man walketh in a vain show.”
Vanity, like the peacock its ugly feet, is ever striving to hide itself, and will even deny its own name. “I speak without vanity”-HUSH-you deceitful puff. You make men and women, the only animals that can laugh,
the very ones to be laughed at. Dr. Johnson once re• marked, “When any one complains of the want of what
he is known to possess in an eminent degree, he waits, with impatience, to be contradicted,” and thus Vanity converts him into a fool and a liar, only to render him ridiculous. Vanity engenders affectation, mock modesty, and a train of such like et ceteras; all subtracting from the real dignity of man.
On the other hand, it feeds, with equal voracity on vulgarity, coarseness, and fulsome eccentricity—every thing by which the person can attract attention. It often takes liberality by the hand, prompts advice, administers reproof, and sometimes perches, visibly and