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INDEX OF AUTHORS.
Armstrong, Rev. George, B. A.
182 PAGE 241
Sadler, Rev. Thomas, Ph.D.
THE REGULATION OF THOUGHT.
BY REV. W. GASKELL, M.A.
PHILIPPIANS iv. 8:
“Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are venerable, whatsoever
things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, THINK on these things.”
THERE is one class of trees which are termed “endogenous ;" they grow from within. The same is it, to a greater degree than we often realize, with our own true selves. The trains of thought—the unexpressed, yet constantly rising ideaswhich keep ever passing to and fro through the mind, are the builders up of the soul's dwelling, whether that be a calm palace of joy, or a dark prison-house of restless, angry, chafing passions. These inner workmen are at all times ceaselessly pursuing their unseen and silent labour, which will hereafter stand forth in glory, or remain a monument of shame.
Confidential and friendly as man may be with man, there is yet by far the larger portion of self that is completely hidden from human view.
" Each has his world of thought alone,
To one dread Watcher only known.” We are all conscious of ideas and feelings which are too com
plex for repetition ; of such as are often too frivolous and vain, occasionally too vicious, sometimes too sacred, to be revealed to another, even were there time enough for the communication, or sympathy enough to listen to it. Yet these inward movements are the sources of outward manifestation of character. A man who indulges habitually in low and earthly ideas, cannot perform high and heavenly actions. He whose thoughts all centre on the pivot of self, can no more cast away his precious treasures in the service of others, than a crawling reptile can take to itself wings and soar in freedom through the blue skies above. Picture to yourselves the thoughts of a Fenelon, a Clarkson, a Howard—of any of those on whose names humanity loves to dwell—I dare hardly say, picture to yourselves the thoughts of Christ; can you fancy them dwelling by choice on any but high and holy things? Can you imagine them filled with ideas of self—with day-dreams of the riches, the pomps and vanities of the world—to say nothing of the evil passions which are suffered to take their abode in, and desecrate the minds of too many? You cannot. You are unable to conceive of them as willingly entertaining such visitors. You represent them rather, in accordance with the text, thinking of things that are true, and venerable, and just, and pure, and lovely, and of good report. Such is our almost instinctive acknowledgment that it is a man's thoughts which make him what he is—these which are ever noiselessly moulding his life-and, as the old rhymester has it,
" He that good thinketh good may do,
And God will help him thereunto;
Without beginning of good thought.”. Unhappily, this truth, like so many others, is not kept before our mental vision as it should be, and too often passes away as though it had never been. The curse of forgetfulness is on our heedless minds. But oh! let us remember the different sounds there will be in the trumpet of doom! While to some it will proclaim the love of God, and blessedness laid up with Him for evermore; to others it will, in awful accents, declare the many sins of omission, as well as commission, of which they have been guilty—the many truths that have been urged upon them without effect—the many angel visitants that they might have entertained to their eternal good, but suffered to depart without an effort to keep them. Oh! let not the tremendous sorrow of that awakened consciousness to lost and squandered opportunities be ours! Let not acknowledged truths, one after another, be brought before us without leaving any trace on our inner man or outward conduct !
The apostle enjoins us to think on whatsoever things are true, venerable, just, pure, lovely, and of good report. We have the power then to do this, else the injunction would be but a mockery. Yet, when reproved for some conduct which is not what it should be, how ready are we to say, “Well, I will not do it again, but I shall still feel the same; you know, I cannot command my thoughts.” But we can. If we could not, in what would our condition differ from that of idiotcy or insanity? The power is given to us of controlling the inward workings of our nature, as well as our outward actions. But the fear of man-dread of the world's opinion or the world's law-steps in to make us attend to the latter; the former, of which God alone is cognizant—for which no human being can call us to account—we too frequently relinquish unrestrained to the lusts of the flesh. offer up our thoughts as a sacrifice, in some form or other, to the idol of self. We will not be at the pains to govern and regulate them. The power becomes useless, because so little used. Just as our right arm, now full of life and vigour, would become dead and withered if denied its proper exercise—just as the lord, in the parable, took away the neglected talent—so lose we the power which has never been duly employed. In this way, many of our lost fellow-creatures have been deprived of all control even over action—become the very sport of the demon passion that rends them. . But in their case, we are apt enough to condemn the want of control—to shew no mercy to the reckless disuse of