Those, then, who are early guarded from any intercourse with the world ought, instead of murmuring at the unnecessary strictness of their seclusion, to reflect with gratitude on the advantages it affords them. Faith ought, even now, to teach them the lesson that experience is sure to impress on every thoughtful mind, that it is a special mercy to be preserved from the duties of responsibility until we are, comparatively speaking, fitted to enter upon them.
This is not, however, the case with you. Ignorant and inexperienced as you are, you must now select, from among all the modes of life placed within your reach, those which you consider the best suited to secure your welfare for time and for eternity. Your decision now, even in very trifling particulars, must have some effect upon your state in both existences. The most unimportant event of this life carries forward a pulsation into eternity, and acquires a solemn importance from the reaction. Every feeling which we indulge or act upon becomes a part of ourselves, and is a preparation, by our own hand, of a scourge or a blessing for us throughout countless ages.
It may seem a matter of comparative unimportance, of trifling influence over your future fate, whether you attend Lady A.’s ball to-night, or Lady H.’s to-morrow. You may argue to yourself that even those who now think balls entirely sinful have attended hundreds of them in their time, and have nevertheless become afterwards more religious and more useful than others who have never entered a ball-room. You might add, that there could be more positive sin in passing two or three hours with two or three people in Lady A’s house in the morning than in passing the same number of hours with two or three hundred people in the same house in the evening. This is indeed true; but are you not deceiving yourself by referring to the mere overt act? That is, as you imply, past and over when the evening is past; but it is not so with the feelings which may make the ball either delightful or disagreeable to you; feelings, which may be then for the first time excited, never to be stilled again,—feelings which, when they once exist, will remain with you