The Thief Of Character
The Unholy Thought Robs Life of Its Choicest Treasures—The Voice of Conscience.
THE LESSON—That as we use care in the selection of our confidential friends, so, also, should we guard the choice of our thoughts.
It was Lowell who said:
"Ah! let us hope that to our praise
Good God not only reckons
The moments when we tread His ways,
But when the spirit beckons—
That some slight good is also wrought
When we are simply good in thought,
Howe'er we fail in action."
The truth that good thoughts must be encouraged every moment of our lives, if we would really live, is expressed by every great mind that the earth has known. It is here reviewed once more.
"I am going to place on the drawing paper today the picture of a young man of the type which we admire—a young fellow of upright life, good habits and Christian principles. We want him for our friend. [Draw Fig. 52, complete.]
"But there is another type of man whose character we can well illustrate by changing the lines in this first portrait. [With the broad side of your black crayon make the changes needed to produce Fig. 53. Shade the face with a light touch of the broad side of the crayon.] He is a dishonest man—he is willing to risk his life in taking from us that which does not belong to him. Do we welcome such a man to our homes? No. The hand of every man is against a thief and a robber. He is an outcast. The law seeks to protect us from him by putting him in prison if he can be caught.
"I know that we agree that we should be very careful about the kind of people whom we welcome to our homes. But, nevertheless the hand of forgiveness and uplift should be extended to every repentant sinner, for Christ has so taught us. But if we should be so careful about the people whom we admit into our homes, why should we not be still more careful about those other visitors—our thoughts—when we admit them to our minds? Did you ever think of your thoughts as your visitors? No, I suppose not; but we are going to consider them as visitors today.
"Ah, here comes a nice-looking thought that wants to enter into your head. Fortunately, you have a faithful servant who answers the doorbell every time a visitor comes. It is your Conscience, and if it is well trained, it will admit to your mind only the pure thoughts, and it will slam the door in the face of all harmful intruders. But, alas! we are the master of the house and sometimes when Conscience would close the door to an unholy thought, we tell the servant to step aside, and we admit the visitor. It is a shame! And the worst of it is that Conscience, like an obedient servant, finally lets us have our own way and then we have thrust out our best friend!
"Here is a boy who has lagged behind in his school work. A nice-looking little thought comes along and says, 'Why not cheat just a little? No one would know anything about it.' In a jiffy, Conscience is on hand trying to shut the door. But the boy welcomes the thought into his head. Conscience, made bold by the threatened disaster, tries to show the lad that he can succeed more surely by remaining true and honest, but the thought prevails, and before the boy knows it, the door is opened to a multitude of other thoughts, and the ones which came last are worse than the little one which entered first. When such a boy is grown to young manhood he finds himself robbed of character, robbed of honors, robbed of noble ambitions. He is a failure. No one trusts him for he cannot trust himself. He is completely at the mercy of his evil thoughts, and Conscience can no longer serve him.
"How gladly, then, should each one of you boys and girls welcome good thoughts. Make Conscience your door-keeper. The same good thought will come again and again, bringing other splendid, helpful, delightful thoughts, and they will become the greater part of your life. Every one of you has a thinker in his head. Be careful to keep it clean and pure."
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