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On Mutual Influence.

On Mutual Influence.

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Published by glennpease
STEPHEN OLIN, D.D., LL.D.,



None of us liveth to himself. — Romans, xiv., 7.
STEPHEN OLIN, D.D., LL.D.,



None of us liveth to himself. — Romans, xiv., 7.

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Published by: glennpease on Oct 19, 2013
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O MUTUAL IFLUECE.STEPHE OLI, D.D., LL.D.,one of us liveth to himself. — Romans, xiv., 7.All men, or nearly all, aj^parently live to themselves.They form their plans of life, and prosecute them, with ex-clusive reference to personal ends. Self-love may be said tocomprehend the love of pleasure, of ease, of influence, of dis-tinction, and it is the chief motive that leads men on in questof money, reputation, knowledge. Every man is the centreof his own system. To this point every thing is drawn. Herehe accumulates his honors, his gains, his means of enjoyment.He rears up walls around his possessions. He gives smilesand greetings to those without, and but little besides. Andthe world has fashioned its maxims upon its spirit and prac-tice. " Every man must take care of himself." They arethought to do well who attend exclusively to their own bus-iness and interests, leaving other people to manage theirs.Under impulses and teachings such as these, men wouldbecome anti-social and isolated in the midst of the crowdedworld, but for antagonist influences which act upon themperpetually with the force and authority of a law of their320 O MUTUAL IFLUECE.nature and a decree of the Almighty. In spite of himself,and often unknown to himself, every man is living to hisspecies and to God. While he makes himself, and seems tohimself really to be, the object of all his efforts and aspira-tions, the centre to which all things within the sphere of hisinterests and anxieties is tending, he is, in fact, a fountain of influences, which operate in all directions, producing mani-fold results of incalculable moment. Let us take, for illustra-
 
tion, the example of a private man hving in unostentatiousquietness in the bosom of his own family. Does he " liveto himself?" His looks, the tones of his voice, are not onlymaking or marring the happiness of the domestic circle, butmolding the tempers and inspiring the hearts of his children — of those who will not only be made better or worse, happyor miserable through life by these influences, but are hkelyto hand them down to their own offspring, to be perpetuatedin some form or extent through all future time. In this sameway, his conversation, his habits, his morals become modelsfor the formation of character, and are likely to give theircoloring to generations unborn. What immense results flowfrom the decision by the parent of a question which everyparent must decide,, as to what instruction and education hischildren shall have — in what school they shall be taught,what church they shall frequent, what books they .shall read,what company they shall keep. Beyond this circle the hum-blest has also his influence. The men with w^iom hebargains in the market or the store, or by the side of whomhe works in the shop, are insensibly affected by his language,his spirit, his principles, his maxims, and his entire exam-ple ; and these, too, will diffuse their influence, good or bad,sending it off upon whole communities, and onw^ard throughall the future.What a mighty interest is it whether this plain man bevirtuous or vicious, be wise or foolish I Above all, how fear-fully interesting the question whether he be a Christian orO MUTUAL IFLUECE, 321not. If he is, then his sons and daughters may imbibe piety,purity, reverence for God, love to Christ, eternal life fromhis spirit, words, example, and prayers. If he is not, theywill likely be infidel, or profligate, or at least irrehgious, and,besides diffusing these influences around and after them, are
 
likely to be damned.If a Christian, how vastly important that he be one of the highest, purest stamp ! His children will remember andcopy his rehgion long after he is dead, and it is likely to bethe type for future generations. The fervency of his prayers — the tenderness and charitableness of his spirit — his amplesacrifices— his fervent love to Christ and his cause, what aglorious memorial — what a rich and enriching inheritancefor his children ! What a curse and a bhght to send downon the future, and out on the present, the influence of for-mality, bigotry, worldliness, and covetousness ! Every manis the model of somebody else. His piety and its develop-ments form the measure and gauge for others. There aremdividuals in all churches whose opinions, examples, andreligious tone act on many, if not all, associated with them — who act upon the body much as others do on single per-sons. Their advocacy of any measure or good work insuressuccess, while their silence or neutrahty is equivalent to theseal of reprobation. The measure of their zeal or liberality,also, becomes a guide to the Church. They thus give toneto the whole — are the mainspring of events, often withoutsuspecting it or desiring it. They live to others— to theirbrethren— to the Church — to the cause, in the most import-ant sense, whether they will or not. They have the respons-ibility of determining questions when they take no part.So it is made good that "none of us liveth to himself"We live to men— we live to society— to our families— to God,whether we choose it or not. It is the law of our being andof our religion. In this, as in all things, we are parts of agreat whole. We belong to a system. We have a part toO 2322 O MUTUAL IFLUECE.

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