Example is better than precept. Dry-as-dust moral lessons do not appeal to the majority of men. They do not fill young men with any enthusiasm, nor do they inspire them to noble deeds. Such lessons, if illustrated by examples, will impress upon young minds with double and treble force the value of doing good and shunning evil.
Tell a young man not to run into debt, and he may not listen to your advice, but show him the evil effects of indebtedness by a reference to those who have ruined themselves, and he would very vividly realize the importance of living within his means. Similarly, a young man who sees a drunkard rolling in a gutter, and who sees his wife and children starving, will keep this example always before him, and avoid this had habit like poison.
Good examples are especially inspiring. A poet says:
“Lives of great men all remind us.
We can make our lives sublime.”
[the_ad id=”17141″]The heroic deeds of our ancestors fill us with a spirit of noble emulation. We try to imitate what is before us. Consequently, our actions will he noble and good, if we have such examples before us. The study of biography is especially useful on this very account. Examples of patriotism, of self-sacrifice for the good of others, have a very good effect on the character of young men.
The effects of bad examples are equally great. This is the reason why we are asked to shun bad company. The influence of example is very silent but sure.
We must remember that our own example, also, affects the lives of others. We must, therefore, set before those who come in contact with us a good example which they may follow with profit. A father, who drinks and swears, and indulges in other bad habits, but wishes to train his children hy precepts, is woefully deficient in sense. He ought to know that he cannot -succeed in this. His example is bound to exert more influence of the young minds than his lip sermons. This very fact ought to help us to be always good.