Robert E. (Robert Elliott) Speer.

A Christian's habits online

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that twelve dollars? It is a week's worth of
my muscle put into greenbacks and pocketed ;
that is, I have a week's worth of myself in
my pocket.

''Now, the moment you understand this,
you begin to understand that money in your
pocket is not merely silver and gold, but is
something human, something that is instinct
with power, because it represents power ex-
pended. ( If you are not earning any money
of your own, and your father is support-
ing you, then you are carrying that much
of your father around in your pocket.)
Now money is like electricity; it is stored
power, and it is only a question as to where
that power is to be loosed.

"Do you see what a blessed, what a solemn
thing this giving is, this giving of my stored
self to my Master? Surely we need, in the
matter of giving, consecrated thought as to
where to loose ourselves, earnest prayer in
the guidance of the choice of where to loose
our stored power, and earnest prayer to God


to add his blessing to the loosed personality
in this money that I have sent abroad, that
there may come a tenfold increase because
of my personal power that I have sent/'
What is true of giving is true of all spend-
ing. We have no right to be reckless of
human life, and yet we are reckless of life
when we spend money recklessly.

The question of saving is simply the ques-
tion of spending. Industry and frugality are
the simple rules of prosperity. "In order to
secure my credit and character as a trades-
man," says Benjamin Franklin in his shrewd
autobiography, 'T took care not only to be
in reality industrious and frugal, but to avoid
the appearances to the contrary." On these
two principles he constantly lays emphasis.
Of his printing business in Philadelphia he
writes :

"My circumstances, however, grew daily
easier. My original habits of frugality con-
tinuing, and my father having, among his
instructions to me when a boy, frequently
repeated a proverb of Solomon, 'Seest thou
a man diligent in his business? he shall
stand before kings ; he shall not stand be-
fore mean men,' I thence considered industry
as a means of obtaining wealth and distinc-


tibn, which encouraged me, though I did
not think that I should ever hterally stand
before kings, which, however, has since hap-
pened; for I have stood ])efore five, and even
had the honor of sitting down with one, the
King of Denmark, to dinner."

The fifth and sixth among the virtues he
set out to acquire were :

"Frugality — Make no expense but to
do good to others or yourself ; that is, waste

''Industry — Lose no time ; be always em-
ployed in something useful; cut off all un-
necessary actions."

He tells us of his "Poor Richard's Alma-
nac" :

"I filled all the little spaces that occurred
between the remarkable days in the calendar,
with proverbial sentences, chiefly such as
inculcated industry and frugality, as the
means of procuring wealth, and thereby se-
curing virtue; it being more difficult for a
man in want to act always honestly, as, to
use here one of those proverbs, 'It is hard
for an empty sack to stand upright.' "

To be rich is no high ambition, but each
of us not only may, but ought to strive to
be independent and to provide for others de-


pendent upon ns. And the way to do this
which is open to us is not the earning of
large sums of money, but the saving of small
sums. If we stop the leaks, the supply will
grow. What we thus save is not our treas-
ure. That is to be laid up "where neither
moth nor rust doth consume, and where
thieves do not break through nor steal." If
what we save becomes our treasure we are
doing wrong. But we are not doing our
duty if we carelessly let all that comes to us
slip loosely away and do nothing to prepare
for our future needs and those of others.
Nothing in Old Testament or New excuses
any of us from the duties of industry and

The virtue of simplicity in spending is
rarer now than it was in an earlier day. Then
the very conditions of life in our country
forced upon the people, except a few, a much
sterner economy and more frugal manage-
ment than is usual now. Families then prac-
ticed both, cultivated an energy and a sim-
plicity wllich constituted in many a home the
finest school of character to be found, and
extracted from hard conditions a comfort-
able subsistence to the old, and a hard-bought
education to the young. In Mrs. Cheney's


life of her father, Horace Bushnell, there
is a beautiful picture of such a home, and
Horace Bushnell himself has described, in
a noble speech on "The Age of Homespun,"
the frugality of the home :

"It was also a great point, in this home-
spun mode of life, that it imparted exactly
what many speak of only with contempt,
a closely girded habit of economy. Har-
nessed, all together, into the producing pro-
cess, young and old, male and female, from
the boy that rode the plow horse to the
grandmother knitting under her spectacles,
they had no conception of squandering lightly
what they all had been at work, thread by
thread, and grain by grain, to produce. They
knew too exactly what everything cost, even
small things, not to husband them carefully.
Men of patrimony in the great world, there-
fore, noticing their small way in trade or
expenditure, are ready, as we often see, to
charge them with meanness, simply because
they knew things only in the small; or,
what is not far different, because they were
too simple and rustic to have any conception
of the big operations by which other men
are wont to get their money without earning
it, and lavish the more freely because it was


not earned. Still, this knowing life only in
the small, it will be found, is really anything
but meanness."

Many of the strongest and best men of
our country came from such homes and re-
gret that their children will not have the
strong discipline of their fathers.

Occasionally a strong man who did not
grow up in such a homespun home has never-
theless a character of exactness and sim-
plicity and the will and wisdom to strive to
pass it on to his children. In Mr. Morley's
"Life of Gladstone," a letter of Mr. Glad-
stone's to his son is printed, revealing the
man who wrote, and counseling with sound
sense, the younger man who was in college
at Oxford at the time :

''i. To keep a short journal of principal
employments in each day; most valuable as
an account book of the all-precious gift of

"2. To keep also an account book of re-
ceipt and expenditure ; and the least trouble-
some way of keeping it is to keep it wnth
care. This done in early life, and carefully
done, creates the habit of performing the
great duty of keeping our expenditure (and
therefore our desires) within our means.


"3. Read attentively (and it is pleasant
reading) Taylor's Essay on Money, which,
if I have not done it already, I will give you.
It is most healthy and most useful reading.

"4. Establish a minimum number of hours
in the day for study, say seven at present,
and do not, without reasonable cause, let it
be less; noting down against yourself the
days of exception. There should also be a
minimum number for the vacations, which
at Oxford are extremely long.

'*5. There arises an important question
about Sundays. Though we should to the
best of our power avoid secular work on
Sundays, it does not follow that the mind
should remain idle. There is an immense
field of knowledge connected with religion,
and much of it is of a kind that will be of
use in the schools and in relation to your
eeneral studies. In these days of shallow
skepticism, so widely spread, it is more
than ever to be desired that we should
be able to give a reason for the hope that
is in us.

''6. As to duties directly religious, such
as daily prayer in the morning and evening,
and daily reading of some portion of the
Holy Scripture, or as to the holy ordinances


of the gospel, there is Httle need, I am con-
fident, to advise you ; one thing, however.
I would say, that it is not difficult, and it
is most beneficial, to cultivate the habit of
inwardly turning the thoughts to God,
though but for a moment in the course, or
during the intervals of our business ; which
continually presents occasions requiring his
aid and guidance.

"Turning again to ordinary duty, I know
no precept more wide or more valuable than
this : cultivate self-help ; do not seek nor
like to be dependent upon others for what you
can yourself supply ; and keep down as much
as you can the standard of your wants, for
in this lies a great secret of manliness, true
wealth, and happiness ; as, on the other hand,
the multiplication of our wants makes us
effeminate and slavish, as well as selfish.

"In regard to money as well as to time,
there is a great advantage in its methodical
use. Especially is it wise to dedicate a cer-
tain portion of our means to purposes of
charity and religion, and this is more easily
begun in youth than in after life. The great-
est advantage of making a little fund of this
kind is that when we are asked to give, the
competition is not between self on the one


hand and charity on the other, but between .
the different purposes of reHgion and charity
with one another, among which we ought to
make the most careful choice. It is desirable
that the fund thus devoted should not be less
than one tenth of our means ; and it tends
to bring a blessing on the rest."

Such care and frugality, as Bushnell said,
are not meanness. They are simple honesty.
Some people think that all spending is good
because it promotes business, and that even
extravagance has its excuse in providing
labor for those who minister to it. But there
is bad and wasteful spending as well as good
and helpful spending. Money that is at work
employing men at useful production is doing
more than money that is lavished on frills
and whims whose manufacture can only be

Some people want whatever they see.
Children are constantly longing for whatever
they have not, but see pictures of, or find
that other children have. And many
grown-up people are like children in this. If
they have money. they spend it without look-
ing forward and asking whether there is
not some better use to make of it or some
greater need to be met. But having money


is no reason for throwing it away. It is
ours to be used sacredly as a trust. And
worse than all this waste of what we have,
is the folly of some who spend what they
have not, incurring obligations which they
cannot discharge. The honest man cannot
understand how the dishonest or reckless man
can do this, or how doing it, he can hold up
liis head among his fellows. The duty of
wise spending requires us to live within
what money we have, and not to spend what
we do not have.

We shall only use money wisely when we
can do so habitually, when the right use of
each dollar and of each cent of each dollar
is a law of our nature.



TO be a dreamer and a visionary is to
lay one's self open, in this practical
day, to some scorn and reproach.
'*Oh, come now, be practical," is the way we
are met if we wander away from things as
they are, or seem to expect more from men
than ordinary give-and-take conduct. The
reformer in politics is laughed at and told
that men are what they are and that they
must be dealt with as we find them; that
they are not open to high patriotic consider-
ations, but must be moved by motives potent
on their level ; that the dream of a purified
state in which men shall act disinterestedly
for the good of the nation is a mere imprac-
tical dream. The purist in business seems to
masses of men to be the same sort of vision-
ary. ''You cannot be a Christian in business,"
some man says, ''and succeed. If you want
to succeed you must act, not on the Golden
Rule of the gospel, but on David Harum's
version of it, 'Do to the other fellow what
he intends to do to you and do it first.' "
Altruism, consideration for others who do
not take care of themselves and hold their


own, has no place in the business world, these
men argue. The man who believes in an
order of love, of thinking first of his broth-
er's interests and only afterwards of his
own, such a man may be good material for
citizenship in heaven, but he is not adapted
to membership in the industrial society of
this age. And the world smiles in the same
way at the idealist in the Church, the man
who believes in the unity of the Church and
who longs to see that unity realized visibly,
who wants to see Christ's followers follow
Christ, who does not see why the command
of Christ which he said was fundamental,
the command to love one's brother better
than one's self, cannot be fulfilled, inside the
Church, at least. All these are victims, the
world thinks, victims of a groundless hope.
The world looks at them as Joseph's broth-
ers looked at him. ''Go to," it says, "let us
hear what this dreamer says." Only it has
not as much time as Joseph's brothers had
and it soon loses patience and leaves the
dreamers to compare their dreams, while
it goes on its practical way.

Nevertheless the dreamers have caught the
true Christian secret of hope. On the day
of Pentecost, Peter pointed out that what had


happened that day carried its own evidence
with it, for it had been foretold by the
prophets that when the Spirit of God should
come, the old men should dream dreams and
the young men should see visions. The peo-
ple of the true light would be visionaries and
dreamers. The old Hebrew ideal had been
the ideal of the seer, the man who could
look on to the greater things. The supreme
habit which the nation acquired during the
centuries of its education was the habit of
hope, of expectation of the Messiah and of
golden age. When the Messiah came, the
Jews failed to recognize him and soon lost
this hope which passed on to the Christians.
The Christians now became the people of the
dream, the men and women who saw the
higher and the better things and believed
they could exist here and now. Christianity
proved itself to be of God by the brave way
in which it closed its eyes to what prevented
the coming of the best things in individual
hearts and in the world by its blindness to
the despair of the world and by its confident
assertion that there was an order of God,
that men could and must find it and that the
kingdom of God must be on the earth. It
would not be discouraged or defeated. God


lives, it said, and the world is his and he must
have it and rule it, and even that which
troubles men and seems to them unintelligible
has some meaning which will some day ap-
pear. Through it good is- to be wrought out
and hope fulfilled.

Without hope scarcely anything that we
possess that is really worth while would have
come to us. All that is in fact, was first in
some one's hope before it ever came to be
in fact. The world itself existed in the
hope of God before it came really to be.
"By faith," says the writer of the Epistle
to the Hebrews, "we understand that the
worlds have been framed by the word of
God, so that what is seen hath not been made
out of things which appear." In science the
habit of hopefulness is absolutely indis-
pensable. The man of science with a great
problem, if he assumed that the problem could
not be solved and refused to try any appar-
ently hopeful solution of it, w^ould never
make any progress. All progress is made in
science through the use of the ''working
hypothesis," and the ''working hypothesis"
is only the hope of a solution to be found
along a certain line. If that hope is disap-
pointed the real investigator tries another and


another and another. He will never give up
hope. It is the necessary habit of his mind.
It is so also in art and architecture and
poetry. What is wrought out by the artist,
the architect, the poet, is what he first hoped
and dreamed, what he saw in the far-off
reachings of his mind. In exploration it is
hope alone that sustains men, the hope of
the new land to be discovered, a new moun-
tain or lake to be found or a river source at
last to be traced up. Without an irrepres-
sible hope in the soul there could have been
no Livingstone, no Whitman, no Columbus.

How in God's name did Columbus get over

Is a pure wonder to me, I protest,
Cabot, and Raleigh too, that well-read rover,
Frobisher, Dampier, Drake, and the rest.

Bad enough all the same,

For them that after came.

But, in great heaven's name,

How he should ever think

That on the other brink
Of this wild waste, terra firma should be,
Is a pure wonder, I must say, to me.

How a man ever should hope to get thither,

E'en if he knew that there was another side;
But to suppose he should come any whither,
Sailing straight on into chaos untried,
In spite of the motion
Across the whole ocean,


To stick to the notion

That in some nook or bend

Of a sea without end
He should find North and South America,
Was a pure madness, indeed I must say, to me.

What if wise men had, as far back as Ptolemy,
Judged that the earth like an orange was round,
None of them ever said, "Come along, follow me.
Sail to the west, and the east will be found."

Many a day before

Ever they'd come ashore,

From the "San Salvador,"

Sadder and wiser men

They'd have turned back again ;
And that he did not, but did cross the sea,
Is a pure wonder, I must say, to me.

Even when tilings seem to happen, they
happen to the seekers, the seers, the men
of hope.

All social, intellectual and moral progress
results from the hope of better things than
the things that are. A vision is a rent in
the sky, a breach in the wall, a gateway
through which the larger things pour in.
The dreamer is he whom Von Sturmer de-
scribes in his lines in Richard Jeffries' ''Story
of My Heart" :

Dim woodlands made him wiser far
Than those who thresh their barren thought
With flails of knowledge dearly bought.

Till all his soul shone like a star


That flames at fringe of heaven's bar,
Where breaks the surge of space unseen
Against Hope's veil that hangs between

Love's future and the woes that are.

There are men who reahze that nothing that
is can be accepted as the final thing until at
last the perfect is come, the longed-for and
hoped-for best thing of God.

The strength of life is to be found in the
depth and height of our hopes. Garibaldi
and Mazzini dreamed of an Italy united and
free and were strong to lead and achieve
because the hope they cherished held them
so firmly. And Horace Bushnell was so great
a preacher because the habit of a mighty hope
in the gospel enthralled his soul. He saw
great things in God, and what he saw in God
he strove to bring out in speech for men.
All great preachers must be men of hope.
The world cannot be won to despair. It is
true that great multitudes of men hold to
hopeless religions like Buddhism, but they
cannot hold to them contentedly. The out-
reaching of the soul for larger and better
things cannot easily be suppressed. Men are
waiting for a hopeful word, and the religion
and the preachers who can speak it to them
control the future. All great leaders of men


must have somewhere to lead men. Their
goal must be a hope, and the courage and
patience of all struggle will depend on the
faitli and strength of our forward dream. A
man without resources of his own takes up
a tunnel scheme which has failed and by the
indomitable perseverance of his hope enlists
other men and means, and the enterprise
which connects two great states by a tunnel
under a great river is at once called after
his name by the public which benefits by
the victory of his hopefulness. The assur-
ance that he would find that which he sought
carried Livingstone through hardship enough
to destroy any ordinary man of hopeless
heart. Paul dreamed of a universal Church,
and his hope accomplished itself over every
obstacle of race and language. The hope
that the Campbells would come, and a half-
demented girl's conviction that they were
coming and that she heard their pipers, up-
held the men at Lucknow, whom nothing but
hope could save, until Havelock came. Our
own teachers would have given us up long
ago if it w^ere not for their hope that in spite
of ourselves we could become something.

The best things of our lives are not our
possessions, but our hopes. We can be bet-


ter men and women than we are. The
divinest reahties are the purposes oi God
for lis which are not yet fulfilled, which are
among our distant hopes. And in these
hopes the comfort of life is to be found, the
things which we have not attained as yet
and cannot understand, but to which we hope
to come. Our hymns and poems tell us this :

Far, far away, like bells at evening pealing,
The voice of Jesus sounds o'er land and sea ;

And laden souls, by thousands meekly stealing.
Kind Shepherd, turn their weary steps to thee.

So Faber puts it and so does Newman :

So long thy power hath blest me, sure it still

Will lead me on
O'er moor and fen, o'er crag and torrent, till

The night is gone ;
And with the morn those angel faces smile.
Which I have loved long since and lost awhile.

And so R W. H. Myers, in "St. Paul" :

What can we do o'er whom the unbeholden
Hangs in a night with which we cannot cope?
What but look sunward and with faces golden
Speak to each other softly of a hope.

No habit, after the habit of truth, is more
necessary to man than the habit of hope.
Whether or not we can acquire that habit will
determine for us whether we shall be strong
and glad, and leaders of men to better things.



IN his book entitled 'The Happy Life,"
ex-President EHot of Harvard quotes
the question of Emerson, asking what
use immortality would be to a man who does
not know how to live half an hour. Im-
mortality, in the popular view, is just an
endless number of half hours tied together,
one after the other. What would a man
do with a million of them who did not know
what to do with one? And of what use to
anyone will be a great, long-dreamed-of op-
portunity for heroism or service, unless prep-
aration has been made for it by such heroism
and service in the things that went before?
All these questions only bring out clearly the
true principle of life; namely, that living
now is the only living, that we ought to use
rightly each moment and fill it full of true
work and duty-doing.

This is the only sensible and workable
principle. Any other is impossible. You
cannot speak two words at the same time and
you cannot do two acts, each requiring the
whole personality, at once. There is no way


in which we can pull back into the present
an hour that is past, to do its work over
again, and there is no way in which we can
draw down into the present an hour out of
the future, in order to live it now. Living
now is the only living. Thinking of past
life or of life to come is not living. The
chance to live goes by while we are thinking
about it. We cannot break off an immense
achievement and do it at any one given time.
We can only live one moment at a time and
do at one time the work that can be put in
one moment. Life ceases to be such a com-
plicated and impracticable thing when we
realize this and are willing to live moment
by moment.

It is vitally important that we should
realize that the law of life is living now. The
kind of life we are living is producing the
sort we shall live forever. We may well
believe that death brings a mighty change,
but it is a change of sphere and of condition,
not of character. We shall be what we are.
The kind of things we do now and the way
we do them now will not suddenly undergo
a change. We shall keep right on. The
boy or girl who is now negligent and shift-
less and untruthful is likely to go on living


SO in the future. If any boy or girl is prompt,
alert, faithful now, the habit of using life
for living, of doing things in the only time
we ever have to do them in, namely, now,
will get so established that the boy or girl

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Online LibraryRobert E. (Robert Elliott) SpeerA Christian's habits → online text (page 3 of 5)