"As a Man Thinketh in His Heart, So Is He"—A Lesson in Character Building.
THE LESSON—That our thoughts determine the kind of life we live, and often proclaim character in the face.
If the teacher succeeds in impressing upon the pupil the great need to "guard well thy thoughts," for "ou
"Let us think a while about our thoughts. Do you know it is a fact that a man, seated quietly in an easy chair on his front porch on a summer evening, may be sinning against God and man? Yes, it's true, for, as he sits there in the silence, he can hate another man with a bitter hatred; he can plan to rob him or burn his house or slander him or even take his life. And the worst of it all is that if he allows such thoughts to rent a room in his head it may not be long before his evil designs have become awful deeds.
"Not many boys or girls think such terrible things, but thoughts of this kind are only the little bad thoughts allowed to grow year after year in the head and in the heart. And do you know, also, that if you allow these little bad thoughts to live in your head and heart for a while, they get so bold and 'sassy' that they insist on taking possession of the best room of your head and the parlor of your heart and defy you to put them out? The only thing to do is to throw them out the very first time they come in.
"Let us take a walk down-street and mix with the crowd. Every person whom we see is thinking about something, even though he doesn't say a word, and we believe, as we look into the faces we meet, that we can tell just what kind of thoughts some of them have. Here, for instance, is a man with a face something like this: [Draw the sour face, completing the first step, Fig. 7.] He looks grouchy; perhaps he is vicious, and we avoid brushing against him. Perhaps he has lost money in a business deal; perhaps he wanted a political position and didn't get it; perhaps a supposed friend has proven untrue; perhaps his disappointment, whatever it is, has made him sour and crabbed. But he passes on, and we meet other faces. Here comes a man who looks something like this: [Draw the happy face, completing Fig. 8.] He doesn't look as if he had a care in all the world, does he? And yet we may find that he, too, has lost money in a business transaction that was full of promise—that he, also, has failed to win a political race; that he has been mistreated by a supposed friend. And yet, through it all, he has never lost sight of the sunshine. He has learned many a valuable lesson from each of his disappointments, and perhaps he has had a good many more of them than the other fellow ever knew.
"Now, what has made the difference in these two men? Their thoughts have made the difference. The grouch has, for years, entertained grouchy thoughts. The sunshiny man has cultivated the habit of seeing the bright side of things. That's all there is to it.
"How about you, boys? And you, girls? What kind of thoughts do you think? I said, you remember, that if bad thoughts get into your head and heart, they stick there defiantly. But, listen! If you let good thoughts into your head and heart, they, too, will settle down and make their home with you and your happiness is assured.
"Don't get into the habit of growling because the street car is two minutes late. Thank your lucky stars that there is a street car to come at all!
"Learn to be happy. A smiling face is welcome everywhere. People scamper away from a scowling countenance, especially if the owner of it insists upon telling his woes and troubles.
"Remember that happiness depends not upon how many burdens we worry about, but upon how many blessings we are glad about—it depends not upon what we have, but upon what we enjoy. God says, 'Let the wicked forsake his ways and the unrighteous man his thoughts'—that is, his unrighteous thoughts. Why? Because God knows that vulgar thoughts make vulgar men, and evil thoughts make evil men. So boys, make a practice of chasing them out of your heads as you would drive a snake out of your bedroom."