Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

going on, far from foreign corruption, on the broadest scale, and under the most benignant prospects; and it certainly rests with us to solve the great problem in human society, — to settle, and that forever, the momentous question, whether mankind can be trusted with a purely popular system of Government ?

One might almost think, without extravagance, that the departed wise and good, of all places and times, are looking down from their happy seats to witness what shall now be done by us; that they who lavished their treasures and their blood, of old,— who spake and wrote, who labored, fought and perished, in the one great cause of Freedom and Truth, — are now hanging, from their orbs on high, over the last solemn experiment of humanity. As I have wandered over the spots once the scene of their labors, and mused among the prostrate columns of their senate-houses and forums, I have seemed almost to hear a voice from the tombs of departed ages, from the sepulchres of the Nations which died before the sight. They exhort us, they adjure us, to be faithful to our trust. They implore us, by the long trials of struggling humanity; by the blessed memory of the departed; by the dear faith which has been plighted by pure hands to the holy cause of truth and man; by the awful secrets of the prison-house, where the sons of freedom have been immured; by the noble heads which have been brought to the block; by the wrecks of time, by the eloquent ruins of Nations, — they conjure us not to quench the light which is rising on the world. Greece cries to us by the convulsed lips of her poisoned, dying Demosthenes ; and Rome pleads with us in the mute persuasion of her mangled Tully.

52. THE SHIP OF STATE.- Rev. Wm. P. Lunt.

Break up the Union of these States, because there are acknowledged evils in our system? Is it so easy a matter, then, to make everything in the actual world conform exactly to the ideal pattern we have conceived, in our minds, of absolute right? Suppose the fatal blow were struck, and the bonds which fasten together these States were severed, would the evils and mischiefs that would be experienced by those who are actually members of this vast Republican Community be all that would ensue? Certainly not. We are connected with the several Nations and Races of the world as no other People has ever been connected. We have opened our doors, and invited emigration to our soil from all lands. Our invitation has been accepted. Thousands have come at our bidding. Thousands more are on the way. Other thousands still are standing a-tiptoe on the shores of the Old World, eager to find a passage to the land where bread may be had for labor, and where man is treated as man. In our political family almost all Nations are represented. The several varieties of the race are here subjected to a social fusion, out of which Providence designs to form a “new man."

We are in this way teaching the world a great lesson, - namely,

that men of different languages, habits, manners and creeds, can live together, and vote together, and, if not pray and worship together, yet in near vicinity, and do all in peace, and be, for certain purposes at least, one People. And is not this lesson of some value to the world, especially if we can teach it not by theory merely, but through a successful example? Has not this lesson, thus conveyed, some connection with the world's progress towards that far-off period to which the human mind looks for the fulfilment of its vision of a perfect social state? It may safely be asserted that this Union could not be dissolved without disarranging and convulsing every part of the globe. Not in the indulgence of a vain confidence did our fathers build the Ship of State, and launch it upon the waters. We will exclaim, in the noble words of one of our poets : *

“ Thou, too, sail on, 0 Ship of State !

Sail on, 0 Union, strong and great!
Humanity with all its fears,
With all the hopes of future years,
Is hanging breathless on thy fate!
We know what Master laid thy keel,
What Workmen wrought thy ribs of steel,
Who made each mast, and sail, and rope,
What anvils rang, what hammers beat,
In what a forge and what a heat
Were shaped the anchors of thy hope !
Fear not each sudden sound and shock, -
'Tis of the wave and not the rock;
*T is but the flapping of the sail,
And not a rent made by the gale!
In spite of rock and tempest roar,
In spite of false lights on the shore,
Sail on, nor fear to breast the sea !
Our hearts, our hopes, are all with thee.
Our hearts, our hopes, our prayers, our tears,
Our faith triumphant o'er our fears,
Are all with thee,– are all with thee!”

53. ART. - Charles Sprague.
When, from the sacred garden driven,

Man filed before his Maker's wrath,
An angel left her place in Heaven,

And crossed the wanderer's sunless path.
'Twas Art! sweet Art! New radiance broke

Where her light foot flew o'er the ground;
And thus with seraph voice she spoke, –

“The curse a blessing shall be found.”
She led him through the trackless wild,

Where noontide sunbeam never blazed ;
The thistle shrank, the harvest smiled,

And Nature gladdened as she gazed.

* H. W. Longfellow.

Earth's thousand tribes of living things,

At Art's command, to him are given;
The village grows, the city springs,

And point their spires of faith to Heaven.
He rends the oak, and bids it ride,

To guard the shores its beauty graced ;
He smites the rock, – upheaved in pride,

See towers of strength and domes of taste;
Earth's teeming caves their wealth reveal,

Fire bears his banner on the wave,
He bids the mortal poison heal,

And leaps triumphant o'er the grave.
He plucks the pearls that stud the deep,

Admiring Beauty's lap to fill ;
He breaks the stubborn marble's sleep,

And mocks his own Creator's skill.
With thoughts that fill his glowing soul,

He bids the ore illume the page,
And, proudly scorning Time's control,

Commerces with an unborn age.
In fields of air he writes his name,

And treads the chambers of the sky;
He reads the stars, and grasps the flame

That quivers round the Throne on high.
In war renowned, in peace sublime,

He moves in greatness and in grace;
His power, subduing space and time,

Links realm to realm, and race to race.

54. THE PILOT. — Thomas Haynes Bayły. Born, 1797 ; died, 1839. O, PILOT' 't is a fearful night, — there's danger on the deep ; I'll come and pace the deck with thee, — I do not dare to sleep. Go down ! the sailor cried, go down; this is no place for thee : Fear not; but trust in Providence, wherever thou mayst be.

Ah! pilot, dangers often met we all are apt to slight,
And thou hast known these raging waves but to subdue their might
It is not apathy, he cried, that gives this strength to me:
Fear not; but trust in Providence, wherever thou mayst be.
On such a night the sea engulfed my father's lifeless form;
My only brother's boat went down in just so wild a storm :
And such, perhaps, may be my fate ; but still I say to thee,
Fear not; but trust in Providence, wherever thou mayst be.

55. DEATH TYPIFIED BY WINTER. - James Thomson. Born, 1700; died, 1748

'T is done! — dread WINTER spreads his latest glooms,
And reigns tremendous o'er the conquered year.
How dead the vegetable kingdom lies !
How dumb the tuneful! Horror wide extends
His desolate domain. Behold, fond man!
See here thy pictured life: -pass some few years,
Thy flowering Spring, thy Summer's ardent strength,
Thy sober Autumn fading into age,
And pale concluding Winter comes, at last,
And shuts the scene. Ah! whither now are fled
Those dreams of greatness ? those unsolid hopes
Of happiness ? those longings after fame ?
Those restless cares? those busy bustling days?
Those gay-spent, festive nights? those veering thoughts
Lost between good and ill, that shared thy life?
All now are vanished! VIRTUE sole survives,
Immortal, never-failing friend of man,
His guide to happiness on high. And see !
"T is come, the glorious morn! the second birth
Of Heaven and Earth! Awakening Nature hears
The new-creating word, and starts to life,
In every heightened form, from pain and death
Forever free. The great eternal scheme
Involving all, and in a perfect whole
Uniting, as the prospect wider spreads,
To Reason's eye refined clears up apace.
Ye vainly wise! ye blind presumptuous ! now,
Confounded in the dust, adore that POWER
And Wisdom oft arraigned : see now the cause,
Why unassuming Worth in secret lived,
And died neglected : why the good man's share
In life was gall and bitterness of soul :
Why the lone widow and her orphans pined,
In starving solitude; while Luxury,
In palaces, lay straining her low thought,
To form unreal wants : why Heaven-born Truth.
And Moderation fair, wore the red marks
Of Superstition's scourge: why licensed Pain
That cruel spoiler, that embosomed foe,
Embittered all our bliss. Ye good distressed,
Ye noble few! who here unbending stand
Beneath life's pressure, yet bear up a while,
And what your bounded view, which only saw
A little part, deemed Evil, is no more !
The storms of WINTRY TIME will quickly pass,
And one unbounded SPRING encircle all !

56. INDUCEMENTS TO EARNESTNESS IN RELIGION. - John Angell James.

INDUCEMENTS! Can it be necessary to offer these? What! Is not the bare mention of religion enough to rouse every soul, who understands the meaning of that momentous word, to the greatest intensity of action? Who needs to have spread out before him the demonstrations of logic, or the persuasions of rhetoric, to move him to seek after wealth, rank, or honor? Who, when an opportunity presents itself to obtain such possessions, requires anything more than an appeal to his consciousness of their value to engage him in the pursuit ? The very mention of riches suggests at once to man's cupidity a thousand arguments to use the means of obtaining them. What intense longings rise in the heart! What pictures crowd the imagination! What a spell comes over the whole soul! And why is there less, yea, why is there not intensely more, than all this, at the mention of the word religion, – that term which comprehends Heaven and earth, time and eternity, God and man, within its sublime and boundless meaning? If we were as we ought to be, it would be enough only to whisper in the ear that word, of more than magic power, to engage all our faculties, and all their energies, in the most resolute purpose, the most determined pursuit, and the most entire self-devotement. Inducements to earnestness in religion! Alas! how low we have sunk, how far have we been paralyzed, to need to be thus stimulated !

Is religion a contradiction to the usual maxim, that a man's activity in endeavoring to obtain an object is, if he understand it, in exact proportion to the value and importance which he attaches to it? Are Heaven, and salvation, and eternity, the only matters that shall reverse this maxim, and make lukewarmness the rule of action ? By what thunder shall I break in upon your deep and dangerous sleep? O, revolve often and deeply the infinite realities of religion! Most subjects may be made to appear with greater or less dignity, according to the greater or less degree of importance in which the preacher places them. Pompous expressions, bold figures, lively ornaments of eloquence, may often supply a want of this dignity in the subject discussed. But every attempt to give importance to a motive taken from eternity is more likely to enfeeble the doctrine than to invigorate it. Motives of this kind are self-sufficient. Descriptions the most simple and the most natural are always the most pathetic or the most terrifying; nor can I find an expression more powerful and emphatic than that of Paul, “ The things which are not seen are eternal.” What more could the tongues of men and the eloquence of angels say? “ Eternal things”! Weigh the import of that phrase, “eternal things.” The history of Nations, the eras of time, the creation of worlds, all fade into insignificance, — dwindle to a point, attenuate to a shadow, compared with these “ eternal things." Do you believe them? If not, abjure your creed, abandon your belief. Be consistent, and let the stupendous vision which, like Jacob's ladder, rests its foot

« AnteriorContinuar »