THE POWER OF PERSONAL INFLUENCE.

By Rev. Louis Albert Banks, D.D
Romans xiv. NoTHiNa is more subtle and at the same time more powerful than our personal influence. I don't mean the influence we have upon others by the direct use of our reasoning powers in persuading them to do things, or by the exercise of some official prerogative which gives us power over the lives of others. I mean rather the influence of oui example and spirit — the silent, unconscious influence which we are exercising on our fellow men and women about us all the time. When I was a boy in Oregon we lived on a high hill, up in the foothills of the Coast Eange Mountains. The situation seemed as healthful as could have been selected within a thousand miles. The water we drank came from a great spring nearly as cold as ice that plunged out from the hillside from some deep hidden reservoir in the mountain. And yet we began to have the chills and fever every summer-time. About the time the wind got settled 16 241

242 B l^ear's iC>rai2cr«/llbeetlng ^allfts. round into the north the ague would begin to loosen our joints and make our teeth chatter, and life would become a burden. We were a long time finding out what was the matter. But finally we took into consideration the fact that a big beaverdam lay off to the north of us, two or three miles away, and in the hot summer this water became stagnant and foul and covered with a green slime — a perfect hot-bed for the production of ague-germs. The north wind came along and picked up these invisible plagues and brought them over to us on the hillside. Now some people in their personal influence are like that beaver-swamp. Their lives are stagnant and unwholesome. There rise from them, in the very spirit of their lives, the germs of deadly moral disease. They do not need to do bad things purposely in order to have a harmful influence; this evil miasm rises from them, and, without their knowing it, there is carried from them to others a blight worse than any ague. On the other hand, there are those whose lives are so fresh and strong, whose characters are so

sweet and pure, that no one can live in the same neighborhood with them without receiving a breath as from the sea, refreshing and full of vigor and courage. You can not meet such people without being cheered and inspired. Your half-defeated

tTbe power of {personal irnfluence. 243 faith and hope get nerve again in the sunshine of their strong, wholesome natures. What we need to feel is, that whatever we really are, in our inner selves, we shall, in a greater or less degree, radiate to others in unconscious influence every day. If a man is honest, straightforward, and genuine to the core, he makes it easier for other people to be honest, and all sorts of insincerity seem horrible in his presence. But if a man is leading a sham, superficial, insincere life, it can not be otherwise than that the influence going out from such a character and career will be deteriorating; others will feel the blight of the insincerity, tho they can not prove it. There is only one way to always have a good influence on people, and that is to be good ourselves. The unconscious influence comes most not from what you intend, but from what you really are yourself. Not what you do, but what you are — from that rises the influence that is to bless or curse. The great salt sea does not need to do things— only to rock and roll in its bed, and let the wind blow over it and carry away the wholesome medicine that brings vigor and health to the invalid. So if we are true to God and live reverent, cheerful lives, full of the atmosphere of faith and love and hope, it will be impossible for discouraged men and women to catch a whiff from off the salt

244 % J^ear'0 pra^er*/lReetfng ^alfts. meadows of our lives and not be the stronger and tlie better for it. Thus shall we fulfil the prophecy of Jesus Christ our Savior when he said, " Ye are the salt of the earth."

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