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I happened across the following article in an old edition of McGuffey's Readers. It reminded me of II Tim. 4:1-
To be insensible to public opinion, or to the estimation in which we are held by others, indicates anything, rather than a good and generous spirit. It is, indeed, the mark of a low and worthless character; devoid of principle, and therefore devoid of shame. A young man is not far from ruin, when he can say without blushing, I don't care what others think of me.
But to have a proper regard for public opinion, is one thing; to make that opinion our rule of action, is quite another. The one we may cherish consistently with purest virtue, and the most unbending rectitude; the other we can not adopt, without an utter abandonment of principle and disregard of duty.
The young man whose great aim is to please, who makes the opinion and favor of others his rule and motive of action, stands ready to adopt any sentiments, or pursue any course of conduct, however false and criminal, provided only that it be popular.
In every emergency, his first question is, what will my companions, what will the world think and say of me, if I adopt this, or that course of conduct? Duty, the eternal laws of rectitude, are not thought of. Custom, fashion, popular favor: these are the things, that fill his entire vision, and decide every question of opinion and duty.
Such a man can never be trusted; for he has no integrity and no independence of mind, to obey the dictates of rectitude. He is at the mercy of every casual impulse and change of popular opinion; and you can no more tell whether he will be right or wrong tomorrow, than you can predict the course of the wind, or what shape the clouds will then assume.
And what is the usual consequence of this weak and foolish regard to the opinions of men? What the end of thus acting in compliance with custom in opposition to one's own convictions of duty? It is to lose the esteem and respect of the very men whom you thus attempt to please. Your defect of principle and hollow-
And what is the usual consequence of this weak and foolish regard to the opinions of men? What the end of thus acting in compliance with custom in opposition to one's own convictions of duty?
It is to lose the esteem and respect of the very men whom you thus attempt to please. Your defect of principle and hollow-
Young men hardly commit a greater mistake, than to think of gaining the esteem of others, by yielding to their wishes contrary to their own sense of duty. Such conduct is already is always morally wrong, and rarely fails to deprive one, both of self-
It is very common for young men, just commencing business, to imagine that, if they would advance their secular interests, they must not be very scrupulous in binding themselves down to the strict rules of rectitude. They must conform to custom; and if, in buying and selling, they sometimes say things that are not true, and do the things that are not honest; why, their neighbors do the same; and, verily, there is no getting along without it. There is so much competition and rivalry, that, to be strictly honest, and yet succeed in business, is out of the question.
Now, if it were indeed so, I would say to a young man; then, quit your business. Better dig, and beg too, than to tamper with conscience, sin against God, and lose your soul.
But is it so? Is it necessary, in order to succeed in business, that you should adopt a standard of morals, more lax and pliable, than the one placed before you in the Bible? Perhaps for a time, a rigid adherence to rectitude might bear hard upon you; but how would it be in the end? Possibly, your neighbor, by being less scrupulous than yourself, may invent a more expeditious way of acquiring a fortune. If he is willing to violate the dictates of conscience, to lie and cheat, and trample on the rules of justice and honesty, he may, indeed, get the start of you, and rise suddenly to wealth and distinction.
But would you envy him his riches, or be willing to place yourself in his situation? Sudden wealth, especially when obtained by dishonest means, rarely fails of bringing with it sudden ruin. Those who acquire it, are of course beggared in their morals, and are often, very soon, beggared in property. Their riches are corrupted; and while they bring the curse of God on their immediate possessors, they usually entail misery and ruin upon their families.
If it be admitted, then, that strict integrity is not always the shortest way to success, is it not the surest, the happiest, and the best? A young man of thorough integrity may, it is true, find it difficult, in the midst of dishonest competitors and rivals, to start in his business or profession; but how long, ere he will surmount every difficulty, draw around him patrons and friends, and rise in the confidence and support of all who know him.
What, if, in pursuing this course, you should not, at the close of life, have so much money, by a few hundred dollars? Will not a fair character, an approving conscience, and an approving God, be an abundant compensation for this little deficiency of pelf?
O, there is an hour coming, when one whisper of an approving mind, one smile of an approving God, will be accounted of more value than the wealth of a thousand worlds like this. In that hour, my young friends, nothing will sustain you but the consciousness of having been governed in life by worthy and good principles.