"The man that hath no Music in himself Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils."
"The harp the monarch minstrel swept, The King of men, the loved of Heaven, Which Music hallow'd while she wept O'er tones her heart of hearts had given, - Redoubled by her tears, its chords are riven! It softened men of iron mould, It gave them virtues not their own; No ear so dull, no soul so cold, That felt not, fired not to the tone, Till David's lyre grew mightier than his throne!"
If there is any one question of more importance than another in life, it is certainly that of character building; because character or the lack of it makes or unmakes the man. Man has the power within himself to feel, to think, and to act; and it is the use or misuse of this power that makes for character or the lack of it. The ideal man is one who is thoroughly rounded out, who has used to the full the attributes of soul, the faculties of mind, and the physical senses, and who through their use has developed soul, and mind, and body to their fullest extent. When we say that a man has a strong character, we mean that he is living life in a strong, true way, that he has strength of mind and purpose, and that he is able to carry both into his daily work. Such a man commands the respect of his fellow-man; but the weak, characterless man, the man who is negative in all his thinking and doing, is neither respected nor trusted by his fellow-man. It is character that counts in life. The man who is independent and self-reliant, who thinks clearly, and who acts from conviction, brings a far greater influence to bear upon life than could any number of weak, negative-minded people. If character, then, is so necessary to life, it should be the part of wisdom, not only to desire it, but to work for it, because character, like everything else, has to be worked out. None of us in life receives anything that is worth having save through working for it. Yet we all know that two men may do equally hard work and one far outstrip the other, both as regards the quantity and the quality of the work. Now what constitutes the difference between the two? It will be found that one man is putting greater intelligence into his work, and because of this is getting larger results. A man may be strong physically without being able to accomplish much in the world; a man may be mentally and physically strong, and succeed in accomplishing much more; but the man who is spiritually, mentally, and physically strong, will be the man who will do the really great things in life; for when a man is developed in all three aspects of his nature, he is thoroughly equipped to do the things that come to him to do. Let me explain: the spiritual is the inner emotion or feeling, it is the dynamic energy of life; mind is thought and reason, it perceives the form that things should take; the body or physical organism is the plane of expression belonging to both soul and mind, where thoughts and feelings later take form and are expressed. As heart and mind and body all work in harmony with each other, man is able to do his complete, his perfect work. Character, then, is developed through the use of all three, and no one can become fully rounded out unless he is functioning on all planes.
If a clear mind and a strong, healthy body are fundamentally necessary conditions to harmonious living, the question that will naturally arise is how may these two ends be attained? The athlete will tell you that the body may be strengthened and perfected through a wise course of physical training, and that intelligence must be used so that all parts of the body may be equally strengthened, but his theories in and of themselves can never make a weak man strong. It is only as a person puts into practice the theories he may have derived from another, that he can hope to gain his physical health and strength. In other words he gains his power through the use of power; he receives his energy through the expenditure of energy. For everything we receive a price is exacted before we can call it really ours. Everything in life depends upon this great law of reciprocity, of giving and receiving; and so, we give of our possessions, and through doing this enter into larger possessions. Nature exacts of us no indiscriminate giving, but a wise, orderly, righteous giving that considers both the object and the end of the giving. In the building up of the body all excess or intemperance in exercise, instead of making for greater health or strength, takes from both. There is a wise way of doing everything, and if that way is known and followed we get the best results. The body is strengthened and renewed when the mind chooses exercise of a normal, natural kind to strengthen alike all parts of the body. In this way the salvation of the body is being worked out, and it is being saved from weakness, pain, or disease. That which holds good as regards the body holds good in a larger way concerning man's mind. The weak or negative minded person need never hope to develop a strong, vigorous mind as long as he continues to allow his mind to dwell upon the negative things of life. If he would bring strength out of his weakness, it must come from a continuous effort toward clear, concise, positive thinking. Strength of mind can only come through a real use of the mind. Mental work is as necessary for the strengthening of the mind as physical work is for the body. He who uses his mind each day and hour of his life, in an effort to deal in a true way with everything he may have to do, giving thoughtful consideration to his every act, will have far less reason to regret the things done or left undone than the one who goes ahead blindly without taking thought. People who fail to use their minds to think and to reason, usually form what might be called biased opinions of almost everything in life; and because of this mental condition they are constantly making mistakes, which interfere not only with their own welfare but with the welfare of others. It is necessary that each one should make a mental effort to see all sides of any given question; for the one who does this is far better able to judge, not only what is going to be best for his own interest in life, but also to respect the rights and interests of others. No one need ever expect to attain any lasting success in life, if such success is the result of some one's loss; for reciprocity - giving and receiving - is the real law of living. Character is founded on righteousness; that is, feeling, thinking, and acting in the right, in the best way, and each one forms or develops his own character. If there is only one way to develop character, then all people, sooner or later, must take that way. If each person has to work out his own salvation through his own effort, the sooner he knows it and sets himself to the doing of it, the sooner will he accomplish the desired end; but that end will only be reached through rightly directed personal effort. One may profit by accepting the advice of others, but in the end the individual must do his own thinking. For if anyone is going to see and know life as it is, he must bring his own thought to bear upon it, and not the thought of by-gone ages, not even the thought of those whom a man may regard as better thinkers than himself. He may be thoroughly conversant with the thought of the past, and he must be willing to listen to, and be tolerant of, the thoughts of others, but in the last analysis he must fall back on his own highest and best thought; only in this way can be hope to strengthen his mind. He can no more grow mentally strong by proxy than he can grow physically strong by having another do his physical exercises. So mental health and strength are worked out through exercise of the mind; and the mind frees itself from all sense of sin and sorrow, when all its faculties are being used in a thoroughly natural way.