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New Testament? Why should not the Epistles have sufficed? What mean those "parables," so simple, yet so profound, which bring religion "home to men's business and bosoms?" Nay, what are all the facts of Scripture but illustrations of its doctrines ? What is Bible history but Christian philosophy teaching by examples?
The law or ideal of human life, in order to tell, must be translated from the dead language of precept into the native dialect of example. The family institution, it need hardly be said, has this idea in the face of it. The father is the hero, the living model for his child. So in the relation of pastor and people
"His preaching much, but more his practice wrought;
Powerful beyond expression is the influence of one man's example upon another. The example particularly of men self-taught and self-made, who under Providence have risen from the humblest circumstances, over the highest difficulties, to eminence and command, is fitted, when adequately set forth by a sympathizing biographer, mightily to encourage and stimulate as well as guide others, whose difficulties are no greater, and whose circumstances are
no worse. When one sheep has the boldness and originality to overleap a fence that seemed formidable, the rest of the flock count it fun to follow What man has already done surely man may do.
Nothing, it has been said, is impossible to genius and perseverance. The saying, taken in the sense intended, the obvious limitation not being expressed, will gain something in respect of brevity, and lose nothing in point of truth, if we leave out the brilliant quality, and retain only the useful one. The brilliant quality,—what is it? Will any one favour us with a definition? Let this serve, in default of a better :
"What's genius?' quoth Jack;
Quoth Tom, 'I can't tell,
If it be not the knack
Of doing things well.'"
This happy knack or art, then,-bow is it to be attained? Like other arts, by practice, by patience, by perseverance. There is, no doubt, an innate difference in minds; but what is called genius, and does the work of genius, is generally the effect of culture, and of self-culture. Those who have accomplished most did not at first show signs of uncommon talent; but they manfully set to work upon themselves and
their circumstances; and they persevered. The har lequin or the juggler does wonders in a small way; and that is the effect of training. We have yet to learn that the mind is less capable of improvement in the noblest exercises than the body is in those trifling ones. Let those bent on self-improvement bear in mind that there was never yet great excellence without great effort; that the best kind of genius is that which lies in the will; and that nothing is impossible to perseverance.