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We presume there is no character from which hope has been completely eliminated and lost. But there are a great many characters in which it is not a prevailing and inspiring force. There are some whose future is never clear, and, as a consequence of this, the present is always under a cloud. Good cheer we hold to be one of the prime Christian virtues and graces, and it depends more upon ourselves than we generally acknowledge. There is no one, whatever his temperament or his surroundings, who may not attain unto it, unless there is in him some hereditary taint of monomania; and even then we are not sure but the mania may always be kept at bay. Despondency, in fact, is an inceptive insanity, and needs to be watched and carefully barred out from our domestic, social, and religious world; while the door should always be kept open toward hope, that it may come in with its irradiations and rainbows.

In the household, a morbid disposition develops itself in chills and gloom. Sorrow is good for us, for it melts our hearts and subdues our selfish will. Anger we can endure, provided it comes and goes like the lightning, and leaves a



clearer atmosphere afterwards. But a moody temper, that glooms out day after day, and loves the darkness better than the light, is a great deal worse than that. It generally chooses to retreat within the prerogatives of silence and reserve. It says very little, it refuses to state its case with any such explicitness that you can apply a remedy. Only it implies by its tone and manner that it is enduring great wrong and suffering, slow martyrdom, somehow and from somebody. Its influence on the economy of the household is very much like one of those long easterly storms that invest your premises with a sullen air which permeates all the nooks and crannies, - makes even the paint and the furniture look dingy, — singing doleful tunes around the corners of buildings, wailing on a minor key through old crevices, and finally possessing the whole house with its damps and shadows. Not less pervading are the chills and damps of a moody spirit, too fond of self-martyrdom to utter loud complainings, but choosing rather in silence to radiate itself through the household. Whenever any house has become possessed with such a spirit as this, I rather marvel that the swallows and the robins should come and sing about the premises, for it seems more fitting that the owls should perch on the chimneys, and the bats seek their habitation under the eaves.

Mark the contrast to this where good cheer is the prevailing and elastic spirit, and sheds over all things its light and gayety. When hope has become such a habit of mind as to give spring and buoyancy to its natural movements, two results invariably follow. Duties become easy, and common troubles become light. The same amount of physical strength goes twice as far, if put forth in a cheerful and not in a desponding mood. In one case obstacles become slight; you stretch out your hand, and they vanish. Distance becomes less, because wings are added to your feet. In the other case, the body hangs lifeless on the spirit; you carry it about by main strength, and even the grass


hopper is a burden. And, what is of vast importance, when hope lends its spring to your motions and radiates from your heart, it inspires all about you with strength and confidence. The secret which a great many people have of gaining the victory, is that they breathe courage into those that work with them. They make the atmosphere about them electric, and so it braces everybody else that comes and breathes it. The troubles that come, bound off with feathery lightness, yea, in such an electric air they rather dance through it for sport and pastime; whereas, upon one of these collapsed souls they are sure to alight and cling with a tenfold tenacity. We infer, then, that good cheer is one of the prime duties of the household, that good cheer which is born of hope, flinging its prismatic colors over common interests and common things.

Temptation comes in subtle and variant shapes. There are some who can resist the Devil when he

urges grosser sin, but who do not resist him when he sends those mul. titudinous little imps of darkness, that come up into the house like the frogs of Egypt, covering the chairs, the floors, the ceilings, the window-panes, and settling down as an impalpable cloud on all the household, and the minds of all within it, so that whereas there was once merry sunshine, flashing free and filling the whole house from cellar to attic, there is now moping silence, despondency, and spleen. These tempters are sometimes harder to keep off, for they creep in through cracks, and broken panes, and doors ajar, and sometimes, perhaps, have got possession before you know it. Some will have it that there is no resisting the emissaries of Satan when they come in the shape of these dusky but almost invisible gnomes. Do not believe it: they seldom come where affection reigns in its fulness; and when they do, they will vanish before a few flashes of heart-sunshine, and

“ Shall fold their tents, like the Arabs,

And as silently steal away."


Not less important shall we find this virtue of good cheer, if we enlarge our view a little, and look at social relations. Here again the contrast is quite as striking between those who have it and those who have it not. Eliminate the hopeful element from a man's character, or even obscure it considerably, and you unfit him very thoroughly for all efficient duty in society. St. Paul, de. scribing Charity, names it as one of her essential virtues, that she hopeth all things. He means by this that she hopeth the best things of other people. Take this away, and you will be dwelling eternally upon what is faulty or defective in character. The spots which you see upon it — for every character has them

will take up your whole attention. You will always be sighing, and looking solemn, and shaking your head in view of neighbor's sins and evil prospects; and this will be very sure to beget within you a censorious temper, that feeds on evil surmises and short-comings. That person does you a signal benefit who puts you on the best terms with your fellows, by bringing you into correspondency with all that is good and noble in character. does you a heinous wrong who impairs your confidence in man and woman, so that you may not see the luminous spots as well as the nebulæ, - so that you may not sometimes hear commendation that shall not be followed by the croak of the ravens.

This disposition is generally produced, or at least very much aggravated, by taking some artificial or technical rule of duty, and gauging everybody else by it. Does a man believe this or that dogma which I have settled to be all essential ? Does he believe in this or that measure of reform, or adopt this or that practice in special cases ? Then I put him down as a saint; otherwise, a very great sinner. By some such standard as this a man goes forth and takes the gauge of character, and comes to the conclusion that the world is in a very bad way, unless he

That person

and God together can contrive something for its relief and safety. So he goes forth with his taper-light, like Diogenes emerging from his tub and peering about with his candle to find an honest man. How many have been passed over by such people as hopelessly incurable, because they fell short of some standard of civic virtue or local morality, who nevertheless are quite reclaimable through that largeness of charity that can look through circumstance and accident, and hope for all things.

From want of this buoyant hopefulness comes the disposition always to scold and find fault. Matters are always out of joint, and always going backward, and everybody is to blame. Cheerfulness, however, that comes from this gay and living hope, always thanks God for the good that is, and on that basis asks your aid to work for the better time; and such a one works with tenfold efficiency, and obtains tenfold co-operation, because his courage is contagious, and puts heart into everybody else. Hopefulness is all-essential as an element in your char

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children and educate them well. Let them feel that you expect the best things of them, and they will delight in making efforts to come up to your expectations. Hope nothing good of them, and very likely they will see to it that you shall not be disappointed. Some maxims of education take it for granted that youth will do nothing but sin, — they were made for that, and nothing else ; and under such systems of culture I believe there is generally a very large crop of depravity. Other systems of culture - that of the Moravians, for instance assume just the opposite. Youth are expected to grow up religious, – that thing is taken for granted, and they generally do. They hope the largest and best things; they assume vice to be the exception, and not the rule; and their own efforts are stimulated to make it the exception. And the young are stimulated, too, by this generous confidence, and co-operate with their teachers, and the result is auspicious.

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