* * * * *
Joseph S. Buckminster, 1784-1812. (Manual, p. 480.)
From the "Sermons."
28. NECESSITY OF REGENERATION.
Look back, my hearers, upon your lives, and observe the numerous opinions that you have adopted and discarded, the numerous attachments you have formed and forgotten, and recollect how imperceptible were the revolutions of your sentiments, how quiet the changes of your affections. Perhaps, even now, your minds may be passing through some interesting processes, your pursuits may be taking some new direction, and your character may soon exhibit to the world some unexpected transformation. Compare with this the spiritual regeneration of the heart. So is every one that is born of the Spirit. Perhaps the following may not be an imperfect description of the process that takes place in a mind which is the subject of a radical conversion. The motion of the wind is unseen, its effects are visible; the trees bend and fields are laid waste; though the altering sentiments and affections are unnoticed, the altered character obtrudes itself upon our observation. Truths before contemplated without concern, now seize the mind with a grasp too firm to be shaken. The world which is to succeed the present is no longer a subject of accidental thought, of wavering belief, or lifeless speculation; a region to which no tie binds us, and which no curiosity leads us to explore. To the regenerated mind, the character and condition of man appears in a new, and interesting light. To a being whose existence has but just commenced, death is only a boundary, a line, that marks off the first, the smallest portion of existence. Earth with her retinue of allurements, her band of fascinating syrens, exclaims, "We have lost our hold on this man! He is no longer ours!" Religion welcomes her new adherent; she beckons him to turn his steps into a new,—a pleasanter path; and God himself looks down from heaven with complacency and love, illuminating his track by the light of his countenance, marking the first step he takes in religion, and supporting him by the staff of his grace,—the aid of his Holy Spirit.
The first objects that engage the dawning mind of the child are objects of sense. That which is born of the flesh is flesh. It is a selfish, sensual creature, ignorant of its Creator, of its destination; uninclined to the purity, the spirituality, the power of religion; alienated from the life of God, the life of the soul. Unrenewed by the influence of religious truth, undirected by the guiding hand of an Almighty Father, how shall such a creature reach the regions of immortal bliss? Is it enthusiasm, is it folly, is it hypocrisy, to say to such, a creature, "You must be born again before you can see the kingdom of God?" Is that Redeemer to be disclaimed who offers you his divine aid to form anew your character, to exalt your affections, to enlighten your dreary and desolate understanding?
* * * * *
Nathaniel W. Taylor 1781-1871.
From the "Lectures on the Moral Government of God."
29. PROOF OF IMMORTALITY FROM THE MORAL NATURE OF MAN.
The argument from the moral nature of man is made still more impressive by the superiority of its design and object. If there is no existence for man beyond the present state, what can we suppose to be the design of his Creator in forming him a moral being? What powers, what capacities are involved in his nature! What capacity to enjoy, and what power to impart happiness to others! Who can reflect on the nature of such a creature, his intelligence, his susceptibility, his will, his conscience, the dignity, the excellence of which he is capable, the moral victories and triumphs he may win, his fitness to hold on his way with archangels, strong in advancing all that good which infinite wisdom could devise, and infinite benevolence could love, the graces with which he may be adorned, and the beatitudes with which he may be blessed, and not believe that he is made to be one with the God who has created him—a partaker of his blessedness, a companion of his eternity.
If we consider what an almost total failure there is, even on the part of every good man, to attain in any respect the great end of his creation; how weak in resolution and feeble in heart—how little success in subduing his passions and governing his temper—how much of life is spent before he even begins to live in obedience to the demands of duty and of conscience—how remote he is from the uniform and settled tranquility of perfect virtue—what dissatisfaction he feels with, the present, unappeased by all the world can offer—what an Impatience and disgust with the littleness of all he finds—what an ever-restless aspiration after nobler and higher things—what anticipations and hopes from futurity never realized, here on earth—how does our spirit labor under a sense of the incongruity between his attainments and his powers! and, unless there is a future state, what an insignificance is imparted to all that can be called virtue here on earth, and also to man himself!
[Footnote 9: An eminent Congregational divine, long professor of theology in Tale College, and distinguished by the vigor and originality of his thinking.]
* * * * *
Edward Hitchcock, 1793-1804. (Manual, p. 532.)
From "The Religion of Geology."
30. GEOLOGICAL PROOF OF DIVINE BENEVOLENCE.
My second argument in proof of the divine benevolence is derived from the disturbed, broken, and overturned condition of the earth's crust.
To the casual observer the rocks have the appearance of being lifted up, shattered, and overturned; but it is only the geologist who knows the vast extent of this disturbance. He never finds crystalline, non-fossiliferous rocks which have not been more or less removed from their original position. The older fossiliferous strata exhibit almost equal evidence of the operation of a powerful disturbing force, though sometimes found in their original horizontal position. The newer rocks have experienced less of this agency, though but few of them have not been elevated or dislocated.
If these strata had remained horizontal, as they were originally deposited, it is obvious that all the valuable ores, minerals, and rocks, which man could not have discovered by direct excavation, must have remained forever unknown to him. Now, man has very seldom penetrated the rocks below the depth of half a mile, and rarely so deep as that; whereas, by the elevations, dislocations, and overturnings that have been described, he obtains access to all deposits of useful substances that lie within fifteen or twenty miles of the surface; and many are thus probably brought to light from a greater depth. He is indebted, then, to this disturbing agency for nearly all the useful metals, coal, rock salt, marble, gypsum, and other useful minerals; and when we consider how necessary these substances are to civilized society, who will doubt that it was a striking act of benevolence which thus introduced disturbance, dislocation, and apparent ruin into the earth's crust?
* * * * *
John P. Durbin, 1800.
From "Observations in the East."
31. FIRST SIGHT OF MOUNT SINAI.
For two hours we ascended this wild, narrow pass, enclosed between stupendous granite cliffs, whose debris encumbered the defile, often rendering the passage difficult and dangerous. Escaping from the pass, we crossed the head of a basin-like plain, which declined to the south-west, and ascending gradually, gloomy, precipitous, mountain masses rose to view on either hand, with detached snow-beds lying in their clefts. The caravan moved slowly, and apparently with a more solemn, measured tread. The Bedouins became serious and silent, and looked steadily before them, as if to catch the first glimpse of some revered object. The space before us gradually expanded, when suddenly Tualeb, pointing to a black, perpendicular cliff, whose two riven and rugged summits rose some twelve or fifteen hundred feet directly in front of us, exclaimed, "Gebel Mousa!" How shall I describe the effect of that announcement? Not a word was spoken by Moslem or Christian, but slowly and silently we advanced into the still expanding plain, our eyes immovably fixed on the frowning precipices of the stern and desolate mountain. We were doubtless on the plain where Israel encamped at the giving of the law, and that grand and gloomy height before us was Sinai, on which God descended in fire, and the whole mountain was enveloped In smoke, and shook under the tread of the Almighty, while his presence was proclaimed by the long, loud peals of repeated thunder, above which the blast of the trumpet was heard waxing loader and louder, and reverberating amid the stern and gloomy mountain heights around; and then God spoke with Moses.
[Footnote 10: A native of Kentucky; is deemed one of the most eloquent divines in the Methodist church.]
* * * * *
Leonard Bacon, 1802. (Manual, p, 480.)
From a "Missionary Sermon."
32. THE DAY APPROACHING.
The time is to come when the world will be filled with the knowledge, the fear, and the praise of God Not always will war deluge the earth with fire and blood. Not always will idolatry offend the heavens with its abominations. Not always will despotism, political and spiritual, national and domestic, degrade and corrupt the masses of mankind. Not always will superstition, on the one hand, and infidelity, on the other, reject and despise the blessed revelation of forgiveness for sinners through Jesus, the Lamb of God. Not always will cold philosophy, and erratic enthusiasm, and fanaticism fierce and malignant, conspire to corrupt and pervert the gospel itself, turning even the streams from the fountain of life into waters of bitterness and poison. No, no; the time will come when the sun, in his daily journey round the renovated world, shall waken with his morning beam in every human dwelling the voice of joyful, thankful, spiritual worship. Then shall the boundless soul of Immanuel, who once travailed in the agony of the world's redemption, "be satisfied" with his victories over death and sin. The ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with songs, and with garlands of everlasting joy; and from the earth, no longer accursed for the sake of man, sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
* * * * *
From the New Englander.
33. THE BENEFITS OF CAPITAL.
What wealth can be created without capital? Robinson Crusoe, on his lonely island, was a capitalist as well as a laborer and a land-holder. Put him down there without any capital—simply a naked, featherless, two-legged and two-handed, animal, without clothes, without a gun or a fish-hook, without hoe, or hatchet, or knife, or rusty nail, without a particle of food to keep him from fainting, and what will become of him? He gathers perhaps some wild fruits from the bushes; he picks up perhaps some shell-fish from the water's edge; he surprises a fawn or a kid, and throttles it and tears it to pieces with his fingers; he kindles a fire perhaps by rubbing two dry sticks together till they ignite with the friction; and so he keeps himself alive for a few days; but how little progress does he make! But let him by any means have a little to begin with in the shape of implements and materials; give him an axe or a spade, a jack-knife, or only a fragment of an iron hoop, give him a gill of seed wheat, or a single potato, or no more than a grain of maize, for planting; and how soon will his condition be changed! He has begun to be, even in this small way, a capitalist; and his labor, drawing something from the past, begins to reach into the future. Instead of spending all his time and strength in a constant scratching for the food of to-day, how soon will he have a blanket of skins, and a hut, and a garden in which he is preparing to-day the food of future months. Give him now a little more capital; let him have the means of stocking his farm with some sort of domestic animals; give him only a steer and a heifer, or even a pair of goats, and how soon will he begin to be rich.
* * * * *
James W. Alexander, 1804-1859. (Manual, p. 480.)
From his "Discourses on Christian Faith and Practice."
34. THE CHURCH A TEMPLE.
In surveying the past, we observe a beautiful fitness and an enchanting variety in the materials which have been already built into that part of the edifice which has thus far been reared. How unlike the corps of prophets to the corps of apostles; and how unlike the several individuals of each. We have Scripture authority for placing these among the most honorable and sustaining parts of the fabric, near the corner-stone: for we are "built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets." Isaiah with his evangelic clarion. Jeremiah with his pastoral reed of sorrows, and David with his many-voiced harp, sometimes loud in notes of triumph, and sometimes subdued to the voice of weeping, stand out with a marked individuality which becomes the more surprising, the more nearly we examine the distinctive features. They may be likened to those immense but goodly stones, carried up in courses, along the precipitous side of the valley, to form the basis for the temple of Solomon. The twelve apostles, including the last, and humanly speaking, the greatest, though brethren, how unlike. Who for an instant, could mistake Paul for Peter, or either of them for John. They occupy salient angles of the great foundation, and lie nearest to the corner-stone, elect and precious. Some of their brethren, though not visible in the front which meets the eye, may have done equal service in the bearing up of the mass. Martyrs and confessors found their place, in succeeding ages, as the wall advanced; some as glorious for ornament as strong for use. When love needed a signal display, amidst the blood of martyrdom, we see it immortalized in an Ignatius and a Polycarp. When stalking heresy needed a front of steel to stand unmoved against all its columns, we find an "Athanasius against the world." When the language of Greece is to be elevated to new dignity by conveying the wonders of Christianity, we hear the golden eloquence of a Basil and a Chrysostom. When Roman philosophy had died out of the world, we behold it revived in an Augustine, the father of the fathers. Later down in ages, we catch glimpses even amidst Romish corruptions of a Bernard and a Kempis. The note of alarm is given to a sleeping carnal church, first by Wicliff, Huss, and Jerome, then by Zwingle, Luther, Calvin, and Knox.
* * * * *
Martin John Spaulding, 1810-1872.
From "Sketches of the Early Catholic Missions in Kentucky."
35. LIFE IN THE NEW SETTLEMENTS.
The early Catholic emigrants to Kentucky, in common with their brethren of other denominations, had to endure many privations and hardships. As we may well conceive, there were few luxuries to be found in the wilderness, in the midst of which they had fixed their new habitations. They often suffered even for the most indispensable necessaries of life. To obtain salt, they had to travel many miles to the licks, through a country infested with savages; and they were often obliged to remain there for several days, until they could procure a supply.
There were then no regular roads in Kentucky. The forests were filled with a luxuriant undergrowth, thickly interspersed with the cane, and the whole closely interlaced with the wild pea-vine. These circumstances rendered them nearly impassable; and almost the only chance of effecting a passage through this vegetable wilderness, was by following the paths or traces made by the herds of buffalo and other wild beasts. Luckily these traces were numerous, especially in the vicinity of the licks, which the buffalo were in the habit of frequenting, to drink the salt water, or lick the earth impregnated with salt.
The new colonists resided in log-cabins, rudely constructed, with no glass in the windows, with floors of dirt, or, in the better sort of dwellings, of puncheons of split timber, roughly hewed with the axe. After they had worn out the clothing brought with them from the old settlements, both men and women were under the necessity of wearing buckskin or homespun apparel. Such a thing as a store was not known in Kentucky for many years: and the names of broadcloth, ginghams and calicoes, were never even so much as breathed. Moccasins made of buckskin, supplied the place of our modern shoes, blankets thrown over the shoulder, answered the purpose of our present fashionable coats and cloaks; and handkerchiefs tied around the head served instead of hats and bonnets. A modern fashionable bonnet would have been a matter of real wonderment in those days of unaffected simplicity.
The furniture of the cabins was of the same primitive character. Stools were used instead of chairs: the table was made of slabs of timber, rudely put together. Wooden vessels and platters supplied the place of our modern plates and china-ware; and a "tin cup was an article of delicate furniture, almost as rare as an iron-fork," The beds were either placed on the floor, or on bedsteads of puncheons, supported by forked pieces of timber, driven into the ground, or resting on pins let into auger-holes in the sides of the cabin. Blankets, and bear and buffalo-skins, constituted often the principal bed-covering.
One of the chief resources for food was the chase. All kinds of game were then very abundant; and when the hunter chanced, to have a goodly supply of ammunition, his fortune was made for the year. The game was plainly dressed, and served up on wooden platters, with corn-bread, and the Indian dish-the well known hominy. The corn was ground with great difficulty, on the laborious hand-mills; for mills of other descriptions were then, and for many years afterwards, unknown in Kentucky.
Such was the simple manner of life led by our "pilgrim fathers." They had fewer luxuries, but perhaps were, withal, more happy than their more fastidious descendants. Hospitality was not then an empty name; every log-cabin was freely thrown open to all who chose to share in the best cheer its inmates could afford. The early settlers of Kentucky were bound together by the strong ties of common hardships and dangers—to say nothing of other bonds of union—and they clung together with great tenacity. On the slightest alarm of Indian invasion, they all made common cause, and flew together to the rescue. There was less selfishness, and more generous chivalry; less bickering, and more cordial charity, then, than at present; notwithstanding all our boasted refinement.
[Footnote 11: Born in Kentucky, and long eminent as a controversial writer and a Prelate of the Roman Catholic church. His "sketches" give much interesting information respecting the early history of that church at the West.]
[Footnote 12: Marshall—History of Kentucky.]
* * * * *
James Henry Thornwell, 1811-1862.
From the "Discourses on Truth."
36. EVIL TENDENCIES OF AN ACT OF SIN.
There is a double tendency in every voluntary determination, one to propagate itself, the other to weaken or support, according to its own moral quality, the general principle of virtue. Every sin, therefore, imparts a proclivity to other acts of the same sort, and disturbs and deranges, at the same time, the whole moral constitution, it tends to the formation of special habits, and to the superinducing of a general debility of principle, which lays a man open to defeat from every species of temptation. The extent to which a single act shall produce this double effect, depends upon its intensity, its intensity depends upon the fullness and energy of will which will enter into it, and the energy of will depends upon the strength of the motives resisted. An act, therefore, which concludes an earnest and protracted conflict, which has not been reached without a stormy debate in the soul, which marks the victory of evil over the love of character, sensibility to shame, the authority of conscience and the fear of God, an act of this sort concentrates in itself the essence of all the single determinations which preceded it, and possesses power to generate a habit and to derange the constitution, equal to that which the whole series of resistances to duty, considered as so many individual instances of transgression, is fitted to impart. By one such act a man is impelled with an amazing momentum in the path of evil. He lives years of sin in a day or an hour. It is always a solemn crisis when the first step is to be taken in a career of guilt, against which nature and education, or any other strong influences protest. The results are unspeakably perilous when a man has to fight his way into crime. The victory creates an epoch in his life. He is from that hour, without a miracle of grace, a lost man. The earth is strewed with wrecks of character which were occasioned by one fatal determination at a critical point in life, when the will stood face to face with duty, and had to make its decision deliberately and intensely for evil.
[Footnote 13: A Presbyterian divine, and professor of Theology, in South Carolina, his native state: a distinguished theological writer of the South.]
* * * * *
Charles P. McIlvaine, 1799-1873.
From a Sermon on the Resurrection of Christ.
37.. ATTESTATIONS OF THE RESURRECTION.
Here we remark, in general, that his resurrection was the great sign and crowning miracle to which our Lord, all the way of his ministry, to the day of his crucifixion, referred both friends and opposers, for the final confirmation of all his claims and doctrines. He staked all on the promise that he would rise from death. The Jews asked of him a sign, that they might believe. He answered, "There shall no sign be given, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. For as Jonas was three days and nights in the whale's belly, so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." Thus on that single; event, the resurrection of Christ, the whole of Christianity, as it all centres in, and depends on him, was made to hinge. Redemption waited the evidence of resurrection. Nothing was to be accounted as sealed and finally certified, till Jesus should deliver himself from the power of death. All of the gospel, all the hopes it brings to us, all the promises with which it comforts us, were taken for their final verdict, as true or false, sufficient or worthless, to the door of that jealously-guarded and stone-sealed sepulchre, waiting the settlement of the question, will he rise?
But an event so momentous was not left to but one class of evidences. There was a way by which thousands at once were made to receive as powerful assurance that Christ was risen, as if they had seen him in his risen body. Jesus, before his death, had made a great promise to his disciples, to be fulfilled by him only after his death and resurrection; a promise impossible to be fulfilled if his resurrection failed; because then, not only would he be under the power of death, but all his claim to divine power would be brought to nought. It was the promise of the Holy Ghost. "When the Comforter is come whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of Truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me, he shall glorify me."
It was after he had "shown himself alive after his passion, by many infallible proofs, being seen of his disciples forty days, and speaking to them of the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God," that the day for the accomplishment of that promise came. The day was that which commemorated the giving of the law on Mount Sinai. It was now to witness the going forth of the gospel from Jerusalem. I need not relate to you the wonderful events of that day of Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Ghost with the "sound as of a rushing mighty wind" that "filled all the house;" the cloven tongues "like as of fire," which sat on each of the disciples; the evidence that it was the Spirit of God which had then come, given in the sudden and astonishing change which immediately came over the apostles, transforming them from weak and timid men to the boldest and strongest; in the change which suddenly came upon the power of their ministry, converting it from the weak agent it had previously been in contact with all the unbelief and wickedness of men into an instrument so mighty that out of a congregation of Jews of all nations, many of whom had probably partaken in the crucifixion of Christ, three thousand that day were bowed down to repentance and subdued to his obedience.
Thus was the day of Pentecost, a great day of testimony to the life and divine power, and consequently the resurrection of Christ. Each of those who heard the divers tongues of the ministry of that day, each of the three thousand, was a witness of the same.
[Footnote 14: A native of New Jersey; in early life Chaplain and Professor of Moral Philosophy in the Military Academy at West Point and long time Bishop of Ohio in the Protestant Episcopal Church. His Treatise on the Evidences of Christianity has great merit, and his theological and controversial writings are in high esteem: greatly venerated for his truly evangelical character.]
* * * * *
George W. Bethune, 1805-1862. (Manual, p. 487.)
From the "Expository Lectures on the Heidelberg Catechism."
38. ASPIRATIONS TOWARDS HEAVEN.
Our Christian life is a course through, this world, which we are to run looking unto Jesus, at the right hand of the throne of God. The mark of the prize of the high calling is in heaven. Nay, it is the hope of heaven which keeps our souls surely and steadfastly. No matter what other proofs of his being a Christian, a man may think that he has—what moral virtue, what present zeal, what reverence for God and sacred things, what kindness and faithfulness to his fellow-men,—if he have not this longing thirst for heaven, he should doubt his Christianity. The regenerate soul can be satisfied with nothing short of awaking with the divine likeness. We cannot pray aright without hoping for heaven, for there only will the askings of a pious heart be fully granted. We cannot give thanks aright without hoping for heaven, for there are the consummate blessings of the Redeemer's purchase. We cannot serve God aright without hoping for heaven, for there only is our faithfulness to be acknowledged, and our wages paid. Our hopes should be submissive, and our longing patient; we should be willing to remain so long as God has work for us here, but ever with a yearning sense that to depart and be with Christ is far better. Grace in the heart is an ascensive power, ever lifting its desires upward and upward, and so above the temptations of time and earth. We can never drive this world out of our hearts, but by bringing heaven into them. And heaven meets our affections when they ascend, as it met Jesus; and he who so walks, climbing the arduous way from the Valley of Baca to the temple on the mount (for we must walk until we get our wings of angelic strength), will so approach the heavenly threshold, as, like holy Enoch, he can cross it at a step.
Oh, dear friends, what an advantage have they whose Jesus is in heaven, over those first disciples when they had him with them personally on earth. They were for building tabernacles on Tabor, looking for a temporal kingdom, walking by sight and not by faith; but our Lord now above, draws up to a better, higher, holier home, our aims, our desires, and our love.
* * * * *
From "A Lecture:" Philadelphia, 1840.
39. THE PROSPECTS OF ART IN THE UNITED STATES.
It is well for those who have sufficient wealth, to bring among us good works of foreign or ancient masters, especially if they allow free access to them for students and copyists. The true gems are, however, rare, and very costly. A single masterpiece would swallow up the whole sum which even the richest of our countrymen would be willing to devote in the way of paintings. I hope, however, soon to see the day when there shall be a fondness for making collections of works by American artists, or those resident among us. Such collections, judiciously made, would supply the best history of the rise and progress of the arts in the United States. They would, more than any other means, stimulate artists to a generous emulation. They would reflect high honor upon their possessors, as men who love Art for its own sake, and are willing to serve and encourage it. They would highly gratify the foreigner of taste who comes curious to observe the working of our institutions and our habits of life. He does not cross the sea to find Vandykes and Murillos. He can enjoy them at home; but he wishes to discover what the children of the West can do in following or excelling European example. The expense of such a collection could not be very great. A few thousands of dollars, less than is often lavished upon the French plate glass and lustres, damask hangings, and Turkey carpets of a pair of parlors (more than which few of our houses can boast), would cover their walls with good specimens of American art, and do far more credit to the taste and heart of the owner.
* * * * *
William R. Williams, 1804. (Manual, p. 480.)
From "The Lectures on the Lord's Prayer."
40. LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION.
We are warranted in praying to be brought through, temptation, when it is not of our own seeking, but of God's sending. If we walk without care and without vigilance, if we acknowledge not God in our ways, and take counsel at Ekron, and not at Zion,—leaving the Bible unread, and the closet unvisited,—if the sanctuary and the Sabbath lose their ancient hold upon us, and we then go on frowardly in the way of our own eyes, and after the counsel of our own heart, we have reason to tremble. A conscience quick and sensitive, under the presence of the indwelling Spirit, is like the safety-lamp of the miner, a ready witness and a mysterious guardian against the deathful damps, that unseen, but fatal, cluster around our darkling way. To neglect prayer and watching, is to lay aside that lamp, and then, though the eye see no danger and the ear hear no warning, spiritual death may be gathering around us her invisible vapors, stored with ruin, and rife for a sudden explosion. We are tempting God, and shall we be delivered?
And if this be so with, the negligent professor of religion, is it not applicable also to the openly careless, who never acknowledged Christ's claims to the heart and the life?
With an evil nature, and a mortal body, and a brittle and brief tenure of earth, you are traversing perilous paths. Had you God for your friend, your case would be far other than it is. Peril and snare might still beset you; but you would confront and traverse them, as the Hebrews of old did the weedy bed of the Red Sea, its watery walls guarding their dread way, the pillar of light the vanguard, and the pillar of cloud the rearguard of their mysterious progress, the ark and the God of the ark piloting and defending them.... You are like a presumptuous and unskilful traveller, passing under the arch of the waters of Niagara. The falling cataract thundering above you; a slippery, slimy rock beneath your gliding feet; the smoking, roaring abyss yawning beside you; the imprisoned winds beating back your breath; the struggling daylight coming but mistily to the bewildered eyes,—what is the terror of your condition if your guide, in whose grasp your fingers tremble, be malignant, and treacherous, and suicidal, determined on destroying your life at the sacrifice of his own? He assures you that he will bring you safely through upon the other side of the fall. And SUCH is SATAN. Lost himself, and desperate, he is set on swelling the number of his compeers in shame, and woe, and ruin.
[Footnote 15: A Baptist divine, born in New York city, where he has long been settled over a church; eminent for general scholarship and literary ability.]
* * * * *
George B. Cheever, 1807-(Manual, pp. 480, 490.)
From "The Wanderings of a Pilgrim."
41. MONT BLANC.
It is like those heights of ambition so much coveted in the world, and so glittering in the distance, where, if men live to reach them, they cannot live upon them. They may have all the appliances and means of life, as these French savants carried their tents to pitch upon the summit of Mont Blanc; but the peak that looked so warm and glittering in the sunshine, and of such a rosy hue in the evening rays, was too deadly cold, and swept by blasts too fierce and cutting; they were glad to relinquish the attempt, and come down. The view of the party a few hours below the summit, was a sight of deep interest. So was the spectacle of the immeasurable ridges and fields, gulfs and avalanches, heights and depths, unfathomable chasms and impassable precipices, of ice and snow, of such dazzling whiteness, of such endless extent, in such gigantic masses.
* * * * *
From "Lectures on the Pilgrim's Progress."
42.. SIN DISTORTS THE JUDGMENT.
On the other hand, those who do not love God, cannot expect to find in his Word a system of truth that will please their own hearts. A sinful heart can have no right views of God, and of course will have defective views of his Word: for sin distorts the judgment, and overturns the balance of the mind on all moral subjects, far more than even the best of men are aware of. There is, there can be, no true reflection of God or of his Word, from the bosom darkened with guilt, from the heart at enmity with him. That man will always look at God through the medium of his own selfishness, and at God's Word through the coloring of his own wishes, prejudices, and fears.
A heart that loves the Saviour, and rejoices in God as its Sovereign, reflects back in calmness the perfect view of his character, which it finds in his Word. Behold on the borders of a mountain lake, the reflection of the scene above, received into the bosom of the lake below! See that crag projecting, the wild flowers that, hang out from it, and bend as if to gaze at their own forms in the water beneath. Observe that plot of green grass above, that tree springing from the cleft, and over all, the quiet sky reflected in all its softness and depth from the lake's steady surface. Does it not seem as if there were two heavens. How perfect the reflection! And just as perfect and clear, and free from confusion and perplexity, is the reflection of God's character, and of the truths of his Word, from the quietness of the heart that loves the Saviour, and rejoices in his supreme and sovereign glory.
Now look again. The wind is on the lake, and drives forward its waters in crested and impetuous waves, angry and turbulent. Where is that sweet image? There is no change above: the sky is as clear, the crag projects as boldly, the flowers look just as sweet in their unconscious simplicity; but below, banks, trees, and skies are all mingled in confusion. There is just as much confusion in every unholy mind's idea of God and his blessed Word. God and his truth are always clear, always the same, but the passions of men fill their own hearts with obscurity and turbulence; their depravity is itself obscurity; and through all this perplexity and wilful ignorance, they contend that God is just such a being as they behold him, and that they are very good beings in his sight. We have heard of a defect in the bodily vision, that represents all objects upside down; that man would certainly be called insane, who, under the influence of this misfortune, should so blind his understanding, as to believe and assert that men walked on their heads, and that the trees grew downwards. Now, is it not a much greater insanity for men who in their hearts do not love God, and in their lives perhaps insult and disobey him, to give credit to their own perverted misrepresentations of him and of his Word? As long as men will continue to look at God's truth through the medium of their own pride and prejudice, so long will they have mistaken views of God and eternity, so long will their own self righteousness look better to them for a resting place, than the glorious righteousness of Him, who of God is made unto us our Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification, and Redemption.
* * * * *
Horace Bushnell, 1804- (Manual, p, 480.)
From the "Sermons for the New Life."
43. UNCONSCIOUS INFLUENCE.
The Bible calls the good man's life a light, and it is the nature of light to flow out spontaneously in all directions, and fill the world unconsciously with its beams. So the Christian shines, it would say, not so much because he will, as because he is a luminous object. Not that the active influence of Christians is made of no account in the figure, but only that this symbol of light has its propriety in the fact that their unconscious influence is the chief influence, end has the precedence in its power over the world. And yet there are many who will be ready to think that light is a very tame and feeble instrument, because it is noiseless. An earthquake for example, is to them a much more vigorous, and effective agency. Hear how it comes thundering through the solid foundations of nature. It rocks a whole continent. The noblest works of man—cities, monuments, and temples—are in a moment levelled to the ground or swallowed down the opening gulfs of fire.... But lot the light of the morning cease, and return no more: let the hour of morning come, and bring with it no dawn; the outcries of a horror-stricken world fill the air, and make, as it were, the darkness audible. The beasts go wild and frantic at the loss of the sun. The vegetable growths turn pale and die. A. chill creeps on, and frosty winds begin to howl across the freezing earth. Colder and yet colder is the night. The vital blood, at length, of all creatures stops, congealed. Down goes the frost toward the earth's centre. The heart of the sea is frozen; nay, the earthquakes are themselves frozen in, under their fiery caverns. The very globe itself, too, and all the fellow-planets that have lost their sun, are become mere balls of ice, swinging silent in the darkness. Such is the light which revisits us in the silence of the morning. It make no shock or scar. It would not wake an infant in his cradle. And yet it perpetually new creates the world, rescuing it each morning as a prey from night and chaos. So the Christian is a light, even "the light of the world;" and we must not think that, because he shines insensibly or silently, as a mere luminous object, he is therefore powerless. The greatest powers are ever those which lie back of the little stirs and commotions of nature: and I verily believe that the insensible influences of good men are as much more potent than what I have called their voluntary or active, as the great silent powers of nature are of greater consequence than her little disturbances and tumults. The law of human influence is deeper than many suspect, and they lose sight of it altogether. The outward endeavors made by good men or bad, to sway others, they call their influence; whereas it is, in fact, but a fraction, and in most cases, but a very small fraction, of the good or evil that flows out of their lives.
* * * * *
From "Christ and His Salvation."
44. THE TRUE REST OF THE CHRISTIAN.
Once more the analogies of the sleep of Jesus suggest the Christian right, and even duty, of those relaxations, which are necessary, at times, to loosen the strain of life and restore the freshness of its powers. Christ, as we have seen, actually tore himself away from multitudes waiting to be healed, that he might refit himself by sleep. He had a way, too, of retiring often to mountain solitudes and by-places on the sea, partly for the resting of his exhausted energies. Sometimes also he called his disciples off in this manner, saying, "come ye yourselves apart into a desert place and rest awhile." Not that every disciple is, of course, to retire into solitudes and desert places, when he wants recreation. Jesus was obliged to seek such places to escape the continual press of the crowd. In our day, a waking rest of travel, change of scene, new society, is permitted, and when it is a privilege assumed by faithful men, to recruit them for their works of duty they have it by God's sanction, and even as a part of the sound economy of life. Going after a turn of gaiety, or dissipation, not after Christian rest, or going after rest only because you are wearied and worried by selfish overdoings, troubled and spent by toils that serve an idol, is a very different matter. The true blessing of rest is on you, only when you carry a good mind with you, able to look back on works of industry and faithfulness, suspended for a time, that you may do them more effectually. Going in such a frame, you shall rest awhile, as none but such can rest. Nature will dress herself in beauty to your eye, calm thoughts will fan you with their cooling breath, and the joy of the Lord will be strength to your wasted brain and body. Ah, there is no luxury of indulgence to be compared with this true Christian rest! Money will not buy it, shows and pleasures can not woo its approach, no conjuration of art, or contrived gaiety, will compass it even for an hour: but it settles, like dew, unsought, upon the faithful servant of duty, bathing his weariness and recruiting his powers for a new engagement in his calling. Go ye thus apart and rest awhile if God permits.
* * * * *
Albert Taylor Bledsoe, about 1809-
From "The Theodicy."
45. MORAL EVIL CONSISTENT WITH THE HOLINESS OF GOD.
The argument of the atheist assumes, as we have seen, that a Being of infinite power could easily prevent sin, and cause holiness to exist. It assumes that it is possible, that it implies no contradiction, to create an intelligent moral agent, and place It beyond all liability to sin. But this is a mistake. Almighty power itself, we may say with, the most profound reverence, cannot create such a being, and place it beyond the possibility of sinning. If it could not sin, there would be no merit, no virtue, in its obedience. That is to say, it would not be a moral agent at all, but a machine merely. The power to do wrong, as well as to do right, is included in the very idea of a moral and accountable agent, and no such agent can possibly exist without being invested with such a power. To suppose such an agent to be created, and placed beyond all liability to sin, is to suppose it to be what it is, and not what it is, at one and the same time; it is to suppose a creature to be endowed with a power to do wrong, and yet destitute of such a power, which is a plain contradiction. Hence Omnipotence cannot create such a being, and deny to it a power to do evil, or secure it against the possibility of sinning.
[Footnote 16: The most prominent among the living philosophical writers of the South: at present editor of the Southern Review.]
* * * * *
Richard Fuller, 1808-
From a Sermon.
46. THE DESIRE OF ALL NATIONS SHALL COME. Haggai ii. 7.
Follow the adorable Jesus from scene to scene of ever deepening insult and sorrow, tracked everywhere by spies hunting for the precious blood. Behold his sacred face swollen with tears and stripes; and, last of all, ascend Mount Calvary, and view there the amazing spectacle: earth and hell gloating on the gashed form of the Lord of Glory; men and devils glutting their malice in the agony of the Prince of Life; and all the scattered rays of vengeance which would have consumed our guilty race, converging and beating in focal intensity upon Him of whom the Eternal twice exclaimed, in a voice from heaven, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." After this, what are our emotions? Can we ever be cold or faithless? No, my brethren, it is impossible, unless we forget this Saviour, and lose sight of that cross on which he poured out his soul for us.
That is an affecting passage in Roman history which records the death of Manlius. At night, and on the Capitol, fighting hand to hand, had he repelled the Gauls, and saved the city, when all seemed lost. Afterwards he was accused; but the Capitol towered in sight of the forum where he was tried, and, as he was about to be condemned, he stretched out his hands, and pointed, weeping, to that arena of his triumph. At this the people burst into tears, and the judges could not pronounce sentence. Again the trial proceeded, but was again defeated; nor could he be convicted until they had removed him to a low spot, from which the Capitol was invisible. And behold my brethren, what I am saying. While the cross is in view, vainly will earth and sin seek to shake the Christian's loyalty and devotion; one look at that purple monument of a love which alone, and when all was dark and lost, interposed for our rescue, and their efforts will be baffled. Low must we sink, and blotted from our hearts must be the memory of that deed, before we can become faithless to the Redeemer's cause, and perfidious to his glory.
[Footnote 17: A Baptist divine of much distinction: a native of South Carolina but long settled in Baltimore.]
* * * * *
Henry Ward Beecher, 1813- (Manual, p. 480.)
From the "Star Papers."
47. A PICTURE IN A COLLEGE AT OXFORD.
I was much affected by a head of Christ. Not that it met my ideal of that sacred front, but because it took me in a mood that clothed it with life and reality. For one blessed moment I was with the Lord. I know him. I loved him. My eyes I could not close for tears. My poor tongue kept silence; but my heart spoke, and I loved and adored. The amazing circuit of one's thoughts in so short a period is wonderful. They circle round through all the past, and up through the whole future; and both the past and future are the present, and are one. For one moment there arose a keen anguish, like a shooting pang, for that which I was; and I thought my heart would break that I could bring but only such a nature to my Lord; but in a moment, as quick as the flash of sunlight which follows the shadow of summer clouds across the fields, there seemed to spring out upon me from my Master a certainty of love so great and noble as utterly to consume my unworth, and leave me shining bright, as if it were impossible for Christ to love a heart without making it pure and beautiful by the resting on it of that illuming affection, just as the sun bathes into beauty the homeliest object when he looks full upon it.
* * * * *
48. FROST ON THE WINDOW.
But the indefatigable night repairs the desolation. New pictures supply the waste ones. New cathedrals there are, new forests, fringed and blossoming, new sceneries, and new races of extinct animals. We are rich every morning, and poor every noon. One day with us measures the space of two hundred years in kingdoms—a hundred years to build up, and a hundred years to decay and destroy; twelve hours to overspread the evanescent pane with glorious beauty, and twelve to extract and dissipate the pictures.... Shall we not reverently and rejoicingly behold in these morning pictures, wrought without color, and kissed upon the window by the cold lips of Winter, another instance of that Divine Beneficence of beauty which suffuses the heavens?
* * * * *
From "Lectures to Young Men."
49. NATURE, DESIGNED FOR OUR ENJOYMENT.
The necessity of amusement is admitted on all hands. There is an appetite of the eye, of the ear, and of every sense, for which God has provided the material. Gaiety of every degree, this side of puerile levity, is wholesome to the body, to the mind, and to the morals. Nature is a vast repository of manly enjoyments. The magnitude of God's works is not less admirable than its exhilarating beauty. The rudest forms have something of beauty; the ruggedest strength is graced with some charm; the very pins, and rivets, and clasps of nature, are attractive by qualities of beauty, more than is necessary for mere utility. The sun could go down without gorgeous clouds; evening could advance without its evanescent brilliance; trees might have flourished without symmetry; flowers have existed without odor, and fruit without flavor. When I have journeyed through forests, where ten thousand shrubs and vines exist without apparent use; through prairies, whose undulations exhibit sheets of flowers innumerable, and absolutely dazzling the eye with their prodigality of beauty—beauty, not a tithe of which is ever seen by man—I have said, it is plain that God is himself passionately fond of beauty, and the earth is his garden, as an acre is man's. God has made us like Himself, to be pleased by the universal beauty of the world. He has made provision in nature, in society, and in the family, for amusement and exhilaration enough to fill the heart with the perpetual sunshine of delight.
Upon this broad earth, purfled with flowers, scented with odors, brilliant in colors, vocal with echoing and re-echoing melody, I take my stand against all demoralizing pleasure. Is it not enough that our Father's house is so full of dear delights, that we must wander prodigal to the swine-herd for husks, and to the slough for drink?—when the trees of God's heritage bend over our head and solicit our hand to pluck the golden fruitage, must we still go in search of the apples of Sodom, outside fair and inside ashes.
Men shall crowd to the circus to hear clowns, and see rare feats of horsemanship; but a bird may poise beneath the very sun, or flying downward, swoop from the high heaven; then flit with graceful ease hither and thither, pouring liquid song as if it were a perennial fountain of sound—no man cares for that.
Upon the stage of life, the vastest tragedies are performing in every act; nations pitching headlong to their final catastrophe; others, raising their youthful forms to begin the drama of existence. The world of society is as full of exciting interest, as nature is full of beauty. The great dramatic throng of life is bustling along—the wise, the fool, the clown, the miser, the bereaved, the broken-hearted. Life mingles before us smiles and tears, sighs and laughter, joy and gloom, as the spring mingles the winter-storm and summer-sunshine. To this vast Theatre which God hath builded, where stranger plays are seen than ever author writ, man seldom cares to come. When God dramatizes, when nations act, or all the human kind conspire to educe the vast catastrophe, men sleep and snore, and let the busy scene go on, unlocked, unthought upon.... It is my object then, not to withdraw the young from pleasure, but from unworthy pleasures; not to lessen their enjoyments, but to increase them, by rejecting the counterfeit and the vile.
* * * * *
50. LIFE IN THE COUNTRY.
It was this union of seclusion and publicity that made Norwood a place of favorite resort, through the summer, of artists, of languid scholars, and of persons of quiet tastes. There was company for all that shunned solitude, and solitude for all that were weary of company. Each house was secluded from its neighbor. Yards and gardens full of trees and shrubbery, the streets lined with venerable trees, gave the town at a little distance the appearance of having been built in an orchard or a forest-park. A few steps and you could be alone—a few steps too would bring you among crowds. Where else could one watch the gentle conflict between sounds and silence with such dreamy joy?—or make idleness seem so nearly like meditation?—or more nimbly chase the dreams of night with even brighter day-dreams, wondering every day what has become of the day before, and each week where the week has gone, and in autumn what has become of the summer, that trod so noiselessly that none knew how swift were its footsteps! The town filled by July, and was not empty again till late October.
There are but two perfect months in our year—June and October. People from the city usually arrange to miss both. June is the month of gorgeous greens; October, the month of all colors. June has the full beauty of youth; October has the splendor of ripeness. Both of them are out-of-door months. If the year has anything to tell you, listen now! If these months teach the heart nothing, one may well shut up the book of the year.
* * * * *
From "The Life of Jesus the Christ."
51. THE CONCEPTION OF ANGELS, SUPERHUMAN.
The angels of the oldest records are like the angels of the latest. The Hebrew thought had moved through a vast arc of the infinite cycle of truth, between the days when Abraham came from Ur of Chaldea, and the times of our Lord's stay on earth. But there is no development in angels of later over those of an earlier date. They were as beautiful, as spiritual, as pure and noble, at the beginning as at the close of the old dispensation. Can such creatures, transcending earthly experience, and far out-running any thing in the life of man, be creations of the rude ages of the human understanding? We could not imagine the Advent stripped of its angelic lore. The dawn without a twilight, the sun without clouds of silver and gold, the morning on the fields without dew-diamonds,—but not the Saviour without his angels? They shine within the Temple, they bear to the matchless mother a message which would have been a disgrace from mortal lips, but which from theirs fell upon her as pure as dew-drops upon the lilies of the plain of Esdraelon. They communed with the Saviour in his glory of transfiguration, sustained him in the anguish of the garden, watched at the tomb; and as they had thronged the earth at his coming, so they seem to have hovered in the air in multitudes at the hour of his ascension. Beautiful as they seem, they are never mere poetic adornments. The occasions of their appearing are grand. The reasons are weighty. Their demeanor suggests and befits the highest conception of superior beings. These are the very elements that a rude age could not fashion. Could a sensuous age invent an order of beings, which, touching the earth from a heavenly height on its most momentous occasions, could still, after ages of culture had refined the human taste and moral appreciation, remain ineffably superior in delicacy, in pure spirituality, to the demands of criticism? Their very coming and going is not with earthly movement. They suddenly are seen in the air as one sees white clouds round out from the blue sky, in a summer's day, that melt back even while one looks upon them. They vibrate between the visible and the invisible. They come without motion. They go without flight. They dawn and disappear. Their words are few, but the Advent Chorus yet is sounding its music through the world.
* * * * *
John McClintock, 1814-1870.
From a Sermon on "The Ground of Man's Love to God."
52. THE CHRISTIAN THE ONLY TRUE LOVER OF NATURE.
It is not too much to say that the only true lover of nature, is he that loves God in Christ. It is as with one standing in one of those caves of unknown beauty of which travellers tell us. While it is dark, nothing can be seen but the abyss, or at most, a faint glimmer of ill-defined forms. But flash into it the light of a single torch, and myriad splendors crowd upon the gaze of the beholder. He sees long-drawn colonnades, sparkling with gems; chambers of beauty and glory open on every hand, flashing back the light a thousand fold increased, and in countless varied hues. So the sense of God's love in the heart gives an eye for nature, and supplies the torch to illuminate its recesses of beauty. For the ear that can hear them, ten thousand voices speak, and all in harmony, the name of God! The sun, rolling in his majesty,—
"And with his tread, of thunder force, Fulfilling his appointed course,"—
is but a faint and feeble image of the great central Light of the universe. The spheres of heaven, in the perpetual harmony of their unsleeping motion, swell the praise of God; the earth, radiant with beauty, and smiling in joy, proclaims its Maker's love; and the ocean,—that
"Glorious mirror, where the Almighty's form Glasses itself in tempests,"—
as it murmurs on the shore, or foams with its broad billows over the deep, declares its God; and even the tempests, that, in their "rising wrath, sweep sea and sky," still utter the name of Him who rides upon the whirlwind and directs the storm. In a word, the whole universe is but a temple, with God for its deity, and the redeemed man for its worshipper.
[Footnote 18: Distinguished among the Methodist clergy for eloquence and learning; a native of Pennsylvania.]
* * * * *
Noah Porter, 1811-
From "The Science of Nature versus the Science of Man."
53. SCIENCE MAGNIFIES GOD.
We contend at present only for the position that we cannot have a science of nature which does not regard the spirit of man as a part of nature. But is this all? Do man and nature exhaust the possibilities of being? We cannot answer this question here. But we find suggestions from the spectrum and the spectroscope which may be worth our heeding. The materials with which we have to do in their most brilliant scientific theories seem at first to overwhelm us with their vastness and complexity. The hulks are so enormous, the forces are so mighty, the laws are so wide-sweeping, and at times so pitiless, the distances are so over-mastering, even the uses and beauties are so bewildering, that we bow in mute and almost abject submission to the incomprehensible all; of which we hesitate to affirm aught, except what has been manifest to our observant senses and connected by our inseparable associations. We forget what our overmastering thought has done in subjecting this universe to its interpretations. Its vast distances have been annihilated, for we have connected the distant with the near by the one pervading force which Newton divined. We have analyzed the flame that burns in our lamp, and the flame that burns in the sun, by the same instrument,—connecting by a common affinity, at the same instant and under the same eye, two agents, the farthest removed in place and the most subtle in essence. As we have overcome distances, so we have conquered time, reading the story of antecedent cycles with a confidence equal to that with which we forecast the future ages. The philosopher who penetrates the distant portions of the universe by the omnipresence of his scientific generalizations, who reads the secret of the sun by the glance of his penetrating eye, has little occasion to deny that all its forces may be mastered by a single all-knowing and omnipresent Spirit, and that its secrets can be read by one all-seeing eye. The scientist who evolves the past in his confident thought, under a few grand titles of generalized forces and relations, and who develops and almost gives law to the future by his faith in the persistence of force, has little reason to question the existence of an intellect capable of deeper insight and larger foresight than his own, which can grasp all the past and the future by an all-comprehending intelligence, and can control its wants by a personal energy that is softened to personal tenderness and love.
[Footnote 19: A Congregational divine, born in Connecticut, long Professor of Metaphysics in Yale College, and writer of many critical Essays and Reviews. His treatise on "The Human Intellect," is the most elaborate American work upon Psychology.]
* * * * *
William Henry Milburn, 1823-
54. THE PIONEER PREACHERS OF THE MISSISSIPPI VALLEY.
The spoken eloquence of New England is for the most part from manuscript. Her first settlers brought old-world forms, and fashions from the old world, with them. Their preachers were set an appalling distance from their congregations. Between the pulpit, perched far up toward the ceiling, and the seats, was an awful abysmal depth. Above the lofty desk was dimly seen the white cravat, and above that the head of the preacher. His eye was averted and fastened downward upon his manuscript, and his discourse, or exercitation, or whatever it might be, was delivered in a monotonous, regular cadence, probably relieved from time to time by some quaint blunder, the result of indistinct penmanship, or dim religious light. It was not this preacher's business to arouse his audience. The theory of worship of the period was opposed to that. This people did not wish excitement, or stimulus, or astonishment, or agitation. They simply desired information; they wished to be instructed; to have their judgment informed, or their reason enlightened. Thus the preacher might safely remain perched up in his far distant unimpassioned eyrie.
But how would such a style of eloquence—if, indeed, truth will permit the name of eloquence to be applied to the reading of matter from a preconcerted manuscript—how would such a style of delivery be received out in the wild West? Place your textual speaker out in the backwoods, on the stump, where a surging tide of humanity streams strongly around him, where the people press up toward him on every side, their keen eyes intently perusing his to see if he be in real earnest,—"dead in earnest"—and where, as with a thousand darts, their contemptuous scorn would pierce him through if he were found playing a false game, trying to pump up tears by mere acting, or arousing an excitement without feeling it. Would such a style of oratory succeed there? By no means. The place is different; the hearers are different; the time, the thing required, all the circumstances, are totally different. Here, in the vast unwalled church of nature, with the leafy tree-tops for a ceiling, their massy stems for columns; with the endless mysterious cadences of the forest for a choir; with the distant or nearer music and murmur of streams, and the ever-returning voice of birds, sounding in their ears for the made-up music of a picked band of exclusive singers: here stand men whose ears are trained to catch the faintest foot-fall of the distant deer, or the rustle of their antlers against branch or bough of the forest track—whose eyes are skilled to discern the trail of savages who leave scarce a track behind them; and who will follow upon that trail—utterly invisible to the untrained eye—as surely as a blood-hound follows the scent, ten or twenty, or a hundred miles, whose eye and hand are so well practised that they can drive a nail, or snuff a candle, with the long, heavy western rifle. Such men, educated for years, or even generations, in that hard school of necessity, where every one's hand and wood-man's skill must keep his head; where incessant pressing necessities required ever a prompt and sufficient answer in deeds; and where words needed to be but few, and those the plainest and directest, required no delay nor preparation, nor oratorical coquetting, nor elaborate preliminary scribble; no hesitation nor doubts in deeds; no circumlocution in words. To restrain, influence, direct, govern, such a surging sea of life as this, required something very different from a written address.
[Footnote 20: Born in Philadelphia; a Methodist divine, long afflicted with blindness; but widely popular as a preacher and lecturer.]
* * * * *
ORATORS, AND LEGAL AND POLITICAL WRITERS, OF THE ERA OF THE REVOLUTION.
John Dickinson, 1732-1808. (Manual, p. 486.)
From "The Address of Congress to the States." May 26, 1779.
55. THE ASPECT OF THE WAR.
To our constituents we submit the propriety and purity of our intentions, well knowing they will not forget that we lay no burdens upon them but those in which we participate with them—a happy sympathy, that pervades societies formed on the basis of equal liberty. Many cares, many labors, and may we not add, reproaches, are peculiar to us. These are the emoluments of our unsolicited stations; and with these we are content, if YOU approve our conduct. If you do not, we shall return to our private condition, with no other regret than that which will arise from our not having served you as acceptably and essentially as we wished and strove to do, though as cheerfully and faithfully as we could.
Think not we despair of the commonwealth, or endeavor to shrink from opposing difficulties. No! Your cause is too good, your objects too sacred, to be relinquished. We tell you truths because you are freemen, who can bear to hear them, and may profit by them; and when they reach your enemies, we fear not the consequences, because we are not ignorant of their resources or our own. Let your good sense decide upon the comparison....
We well remember what you said at the commencement of this war. You saw the immense difference between your circumstances and those of your enemies, and you knew the quarrel must decide on no less than your lives, liberties, and estates. All these you greatly put to every hazard, resolving rather to die freemen than to live slaves; and justice will oblige the impartial world to confess you have uniformly acted on the same generous principle. Persevere, and you insure peace, freedom, safety, glory, sovereignty, and felicity to yourselves, your children, and your children's children.
Encouraged by favors already received from Infinite Goodness, gratefully acknowledging them, earnestly imploring their continuance, constantly endeavoring to draw them down on your heads by an amendment of your lives, and a conformity to the Divine will, humbly confiding in the protection so often and wonderfully experienced, vigorously employ the means placed by Providence in your hands for completing your labors.
Fill up your battalions—be prepared in every part to repel the incursions of your enemies—place your several quotas in the continental treasury—lend money for public uses—sink the emissions of your respective States—provide effectually for expediting the conveyance of supplies for your armies and fleets, and for your allies—prevent the produce of the country from being monopolized—effectually superintend the behavior of public officers—diligently promote piety, virtue, brotherly love, learning, frugality, and moderation—and may you be approved before Almighty God, worthy of those blessings we devoutly wish you to enjoy.
* * * * *
John Adams, 1735-1826. (Manual, p. 486.)
From his "Life and Works."
56. CHARACTER OF JAMES OTIS.
JAMES OTIS, of Boston, sprang from families among the earliest of the planters of the Colonies, and the most respectable in rank, while the word rank, and the idea annexed to it, were tolerated in America. He was a gentleman of general science and extensive literature. He had been an indefatigable student during the whole course of his education in college and at the bar. He was well versed in Greek and Roman history, philosophy, oratory, poetry, and mythology. His classical studies had been unusually ardent, and his acquisitions uncommonly great.... It was a maxim which he inculcated on his pupils, as his patron in the profession, Mr. Gridley, had done before him, "that a lawyer ought never to be without a volume of natural or public law, or moral philosophy, on his table or in his pocket." In the history, the common law, and statute laws, of England, he had no superior, at least in Boston.
Thus qualified to resist the system of usurpation and despotism, meditated by the British ministry, under the auspices of the Earl of Bute, Mr. Otis resigned his commission from the crown, as Advocate-General,—an office very lucrative at that time, and a sure road to the highest favors of government in America,—and engaged in the cause of his country without fee or reward. His argument, speech, discourse, oration, harangue,—call it by which name you will, was the most impressive upon his crowded audience of any that I ever heard before or since, excepting only many speeches by himself in Faneuil Hall, and in the House of Representatives, which he made from time to time for ten years afterwards. There were no stenographers in those days. Speeches were not printed; and all that was not remembered, like the harangues of Indian orators, was lost in air. Who, at the distance of fifty-seven years, would attempt, upon memory, to give even a sketch of it? Some of the heads are remembered, out of which Livy or Sallust would not scruple to compose an oration for history. I shall not essay an analysis or a sketch of it at present. I shall only say, and I do say in the most solemn manner, that Mr. Otis's oration against "writs of assistance" breathed into this nation the breath of life.
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From the "Thoughts on Government."
57. REQUISITES OF A GOOD GOVERNMENT.
The dignity and stability of government in all its branches, the morals of the people, and every blessing of society, depend so much upon an upright and skilful administration of justice, that the judicial power ought to be distinct from both the legislative and executive, and independent upon both, that so it may be a check upon both, as both should be checks upon that.
... Laws for the liberal education of youth, especially of the lower class of people, are so extremely wise and useful, that, to a humane and generous mind, no expense for this purpose would be thought extravagant.... You and I, my dear friend, have been sent into life at a time when the greatest lawgivers of antiquity would have wished to live. How few of the human race have ever enjoyed an opportunity of making an election of government, more than of air, soil, or climate, for themselves or their children! When, before the present epocha, had three millions of people full power and a fair opportunity, to form and establish the wisest and happiest government that human wisdom can contrive?
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Patrick Henry, 1736-1799. (Manual, p. 484.)
From "Speech in the Convention of Virginia," 1775.
58. THE NECESSITY OF THE WAR.
I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past. And judging by the past, I wish to know what has been the conduct of the British ministry for the last ten years to justify those hopes with which gentlemen have been pleased to solace themselves and the house. Is it that insidious smile with which our petition has been lately received. Trust it not, Sir, it will prove a snare to your feet. Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss. Ask yourselves how this gracious reception of our petition comports with those warlike preparations which cover our waters and darken our land. Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation? Have we shown ourselves so unwilling to be reconciled that force must be called in to win back our love? Let us not deceive ourselves, sir. These are the implements of war, and subjugation—the last arguments to which kings resort. There is no longer any room for hope. If we wish to be free, if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending, if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest is obtained, we must fight, I repeat it, sir, we must fight. An appeal to arms and to the God of Hosts is all that is left us.
They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance, by lying supinely on our backs, and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot?
Sir, we are not weak, if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. Three millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God, who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery. Our chains are forged. Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston. The war is inevitable—and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come!
It is vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, peace; but there is no peace. The war is actually begun. The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms. Our brethren are already in the field. Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!
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From a Speech on the Ratification of the Federal Constitution.
59. NECESSITY OF AMENDMENT BEFORE ADOPTION.
I exhort gentlemen to think seriously, before they ratify this constitution, and to indulge a salutary doubt of their being able to succeed in any effort they may make to get amendments after adoption. With respect to that part of the proposal, which says that every power not specially granted to Congress remains with the people; it must be previous to adoption, or it will involve this country in inevitable destruction. To talk of it, as a thing to be subsequently obtained, and not as one of your unalienable rights, is leaving it to the casual opinion of the Congress who shall take up the consideration of that most important right. They will not reason with you about the effect of this constitution. They will not take the opinion of this committee concerning its operation. They will construe it even as they please. If you place it subsequently, let me ask the consequences? Among ten thousand implied powers which they may assume, their may, if we be engaged in war, liberate every one of your slaves if they please. And this must and will be done by men, a majority of whom have not a common interest with you. They will, therefore, have no feeling for your interests.... Is it not worth while to turn your eyes for a moment from subsequent amendments, to the real situation of your country? You may have a union, but can you have a lasting union in these circumstances? It will be in vain to expect it. But if you agree to previous amendments, you will have union, firm, solid, permanent. I cannot conclude without saying, that I shall have nothing to do with it, if subsequent amendments be determined upon. Oppressions will be carried on as radically by the majority when adjustments and accommodations will be held up. I say, I conceive it my duty, if this government be adopted before it is amended, to go home. I shall act as I think my duty requires. Every other gentleman will do the same. Previous amendments, in my opinion, are necessary to procure peace and tranquility. I fear, if they be not agreed to, every movement and operation of government will cease, and how long that baneful thing, civil discord, will stay from this country, God only knows. When men are free from restraint, how long will you suspend their fury? The interval between this and bloodshed is but a moment. The licentious and wicked of the community will seize with avidity every thing you hold. In this unhappy situation, what is to be done? It surpasses my stock of wisdom to determine. If you will, in the language of freemen, stipulate that there are rights which no man under heaven can take from you, you shall have me going along with you; but not otherwise.
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John Rutledge, 1739-1800. (Manual, p. 484.)
From "Speech on the Judiciary Establishment."
60. AN INDEPENDENT JUDICIARY THE SAFEGUARD OF LIBERTY.
While this shield remains to the states, it will be difficult to dissolve the ties which knit and bind them together. As long as this buckler remains to the people, they cannot be liable to much, or permanent oppression. The government may be administered with violence, offices may be bestowed exclusively upon those who have no other merit than that of carrying votes at elections,—the commerce of our country may be depressed by nonsensical theories, and public credit may suffer from bad intentions; but so long as we have an independent judiciary, the great interests of the people will be safe. Neither the president, nor the legislature, can violate their constitutional rights. Any such attempt would be checked by the judges, who are designed by the constitution to keep the different branches of the government within the spheres of their respective orbits, and say thus far shall you legislate, and no further. Leave to the people an independent judiciary, and they will prove that man is capable of governing himself,—they will be saved from what has been the fate of all other republics, and they will disprove the position that governments of a republican form cannot endure.
We are asked by the gentleman from Virginia, if the people want judges to protect them? Yes, sir, in popular governments constitutional checks are necessary for their preservation; the people want to be protected against themselves; no man is so absurd as to propose the people collectedly will consent to the prostration of their liberties; but if they be not shielded by some constitutional checks, they will suffer them to be destroyed—to be destroyed by demagogues, who at the time they are soothing and cajoling the people, with bland and captivating speeches, are forging chains for them; demagogues who carry, daggers in their hearts, and seductive smiles in their hypocritical faces, who are dooming the people to despotism, when they profess to be exclusively the friends of the people; against such designs and such artifices, were our constitutional checks made, to preserve the people of this country.
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Thomas Jefferson, 1743-1826. (Manual, pp. 486, 490.)
From his "Inaugural Address", March 4th, 1801.
61. ESSENTIAL PRINCIPLES OF AMERICAN GOVERNMENT.
Kindly separated by nature and a wide ocean from the exterminating havoc of one quarter of the globe, too high-minded to endure the degradations of the others, possessing a chosen country with room enough for our descendants to the hundredth and thousandth generation, entertaining a due sense of our equal right to the use of our own faculties, to the acquisitions of our industry, to honor and confidence from our fellow citizens, resulting not from birth but from our actions and their sense of them, enlightened by a benign religion, professed, indeed, and practised, in various forms, yet all of them including honesty, truth, temperance, gratitude, and the love of man; acknowledging and adoring an overruling Providence, which by all its dispensations proves that it delights in the happiness of man here and his greater happiness hereafter; with all these blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and prosperous people? Still one thing more, fellow-citizens, a wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.
About to enter, fellow-citizens, on the exercise of duties which comprehend everything dear and valuable to you, it is proper that you should understand what I deem the essential principles of our government, and consequently those which ought to shape its administration. I will compress them within the narrowest compass they will bear, stating the general principle, but not all its limitations. Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever state or persuasion, religious, or political; peace, commerce, and honest friendship, with all nations, entangling alliances with none; the support of the state governments in all their rights, as the most competent administrations for our domestic concerns and the surest bulwarks against anti-republican tendencies; the preservation of the general government in its whole constitutional vigor, as the sheet anchor of our peace at home and safety abroad; a jealous care of the right of election by the people, a mild and safe corrective of abuses which are lopped by the sword of revolution where peaceable remedies are unprovided; absolute acquiescence in the decisions of the majority, the vital, principle of republics, from which there is no appeal but to force, the vital principle and immediate parent of despotism; a well disciplined militia, our best reliance in peace and for the first moments of war, till regulars may relieve them; the supremacy of the civil over the military authority; economy in the public expense, that labor may be lightly burdened; the honest payment of our debts send sacred preservation of the public faith; encouragement of agriculture, and of commerce as its handmaid; the diffusion of information and the arraignment of all abuses at the bar of public reason; freedom of religion; freedom of the press; freedom of person under the protection of the habeas corpus; and trial by juries impartially selected; these principles form the bright constellation which has gone before us, and guided our steps through an age of revolution and reformation. The wisdom of our sages and the blood of our heroes have been devoted to their attainment. They should be the creed of our political faith, the text of civil instruction, the touchstone by which to try the services of those we trust; and should we wander from them in moments of error or alarm, let us hasten to retrace our steps and to regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty, and safety.
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62. CHARACTER OF WASHINGTON.
His mind was great and powerful, without being of the very first order; his penetration strong, though not so acute as a Newton, Bacon, or Locke; and as far as he saw no judgment was ever sounder. It was slow in operation, being little aided by invention or imagination, but sure in conclusion. Hence the common remark of his officers, of the advantage he derived from councils of war, where hearing all suggestions, he selected whatever was best; and certainly no General ever planned his battles more judiciously. But if deranged during the course of the action, if any member of his plan was dislocated by sudden circumstances, he was slow in re-adjustment. The consequence was that he often failed in the field, and rarely against an enemy in station, as at Boston and York. He was incapable of fear, meeting personal dangers with the calmest unconcern. Perhaps the strongest feature in his character was prudence; never acting until every circumstance, every consideration was maturely weighed; refraining if he saw a doubt, but when once decided, going through with his purpose, whatever obstacles opposed. His integrity was most pure, his justice the most inflexible I have ever known; no motives of interest or consanguinity, of friendship or hatred, being able to bias his decision. He was indeed in every sense of the words, a wise, a good, and a great man. His temper was naturally irritable, and high toned; but reflection and resolution had obtained a firm and habitual ascendancy over it. If ever however it broke its bonds, he was most tremendous in his wrath. In his expenses he was honorable, but exact; liberal in contributions to whatever promised utility, but frowning and unyielding on all visionary projects, and all unworthy calls on his charity. His heart was not warm in its affections; but he exactly calculated every man's value, and gave him a solid esteem proportioned to it. His person, you know, was fine, his stature exactly what one would wish, his deportment easy, erect, and noble; the best horseman of his age, and the most graceful figure that could be seen on horseback. Although in the circle of his friends, where he might be unreserved with safety, he took a free share in conversation, his colloquial talents were not above mediocrity, possessing neither copiousness of ideas, nor fluency of words. In public, when called on for a sudden opinion, he was unready, short, and embarrassed. Yet he wrote readily, rather diffusely, in an easy and correct style. This he had acquired by conversation with the world, for his education was merely reading, writing, and common arithmetic, to which he added surveying at a later day. His time was employed in action chiefly, reading little, and that only in agriculture and English history. His correspondence became necessarily extensive, and with journalizing his agricultural proceedings, occupied most of his leisure hours within doors. On the whole, his character was in its mass, perfect; in nothing, bad; in few points indifferent; and it may truly be said that never did nature and fortune combine more perfectly to make a man great.