Man has a body, mind, and soul, and there are great powers hidden in them, which must he developed. The proper training and development of these powers by one’s own diligent effort is self-culture.” “The best part of every man’s education, says Sir Walter Scott, ‘is that which he gives to himself. The education which we receive at school is more important training which we are to give ourselves on these foundations. That which is imparted to us from outside is not so much ours as that which we acquire by our own application and study.
A student should acquire knowledge by the exercise of his own faculties. Our own work in this direction will strengthen our character.
Physical exercise is essential for the development of the body. A. good digestion, a healthy and strong constitution are as much needed for success in life as keen intellect. Young men, besides taking regular exercise by means of manly games, should also train themselves in the use of tools, such as those of the carpenter. Gladstone used to cut wood with an axe in his leisure hours. Such an occupation, besides teaching them a useful art, will keep them busy and strengthen their muscles, and body labor is of the greatest benefit for driving away the devil. ‘An idle man’s brain is the devil’s workshop.’
Next to physical health, mental development must be attended to observation and study of nature and habits of thinking. Extensive reading are some of the means of developing the mind. Cultivation of the habit of mental application is indispensable for a student, and by using up the fragments of time, and hy steady work, much can be accomplished. Knowledge gained from books is valuable, but that gained from actual life is wisdom itself. Knowledge without wisdom is useless. Practical, experience of the world forms character. It teaches us discipline, self-control, and tactfulness. The study of nature opens our eyes to the wonders of creation and leads us to God.
Spiritual development depends upon prayerfulness, humility, love, and reverence. Study of religious literature, daily prayers, and regular performance of other exercises enjoined by religion are the means of strengthening the spirit.
Neither the mind nor the body should be turned into drudges. We must give them proper rest and relaxation. Amusements, therefore, must have an important place in all schemes of self-culture. Amusement in moderation is wholesome. There is no royal road to self-culture. If a man wishes to elevate himself and to better his condition in society, he must pay the price for it, which is practice and hard work.