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his boldness and originality it will regulate, his patriotism it will purify. It will adapt his genius to more nations and ages than Hence it is that works of genuine taste never become obsolete. Homer, and Virgil, and Milton, and Cowper, will continue to be read through all generations.
Does the youth aspire to eminent usefulness as a preacher of righteousness? he will need the guidance of a good taste; as there are polished sinners that must be won, and accomplished believers that must be guided home to heaven. In each part of his work he will have need of language soft and chaste as angels use. A good taste need not enervate or secularize his style, but will, if there be genius, invigorate it. It will qualify him to handle profitably those subjects which are in themselves disgusting, and from which delicacy might otherwise shrink. He may descend, accompanied by a good taste as his guardian angel, into the lowest cells of iniquity, and make war with it in all its haunts of filthiness, without offending delicacy. It will give him that address which will bring him into successful conflict with a whole family of vices, that would otherwise lie without his reach, operate beyond his control, and parry every thrust he made. It will teach him how to characterize foul iniquity, and to stamp its shame by an indignation so full of soul, and by illustrations so elevated, as to hold himself a whole atmosphere above the meanness and the turpitude he depicts. Seated on a cloud, he may, unharmed, dart his lightnings down into the dreariest and filthiest abodes of moral putrefaction. As if an angel, with sword pointed and burnished in heaven, and himself shrouded in celestial glory, should be sent to still the tumults and lay the blasphemies of the infernal prison. The better the taste employed, and the more elevated the language in which admonition and rebuke is administered, the deeper may he descend till he has seized iniquity in its profoundest caverns, and laid it naked, and lashed it into agony and into shame.
Would the youth qualify himself to be a teacher? he will have great need of a cultivated taste, and that whatever may be the age at which he is to take the rising generation under his instruction. It is a grief and a loss too when our common schools are committed to the care of men void of taste; for the hackneyed proverb is still most true,
"Just as the twig is bent, the tree's inclined."
The child of five years old may, through this deficiency of his teacher, receive a bad impression of character that will last till he
dies. It is yet more lamentable when the teacher of our youth is destitute of this endowment, and cannot point out to his pupils the beauties that lie along the track of improvement. This very failure in the teacher has probably damped the ardor of many a young man, and turned back to manual labor one who might have reached eminence in literature. It is a loss not easily estimated when the preceptors in our academies and tutors in our colleges cannot point out to their classes the flowers that bloom, and the sublimities that open to view as they climb the hill of science. And through all the ascending grades of literary instruction, a good taste becomes increasingly important. There may be much in the character of our public teachers to admire; there may be those talents and that good sense that are indispensable, and that amiableness of temper which in their station is above all price, and that piety which we most of all revere, and still if a good taste be wanting the evil will be long and distinctly seen in the deportment of educated men, and be from them spread out and handed down till it affect most unhappily the character of our whole republic through many generations. On them too it must depend to give American genius its polish and elevation and influence in the literary world, and to decide whether in letters, as in correct views of true liberty and enlightened civil government, we are to stand admired and honored as the first nation on the face of the earth.
Would the youth gain distinguished eminence at the bar? his good taste must enable him to chastise fraud and mischief without vulgarity. The ribaldry that has sometimes disgraced the legal profession, must, as society becomes more enlightened, fall into the contempt it merits, and its place be filled with solid and dignified argument and eloquence. The advocate should make himself respected by the judge and the jury, on whose enlightened decision rests the issue of his cause. And he will so often see fraud and crime in a smooth and varnished aspect, concealed be. hind all that art can do to polish and baptize it into honesty, and all that wealth and influence can do to cover its deformities, and all that pride and impudence can do to confound its opposer, that an improved taste will be requisite to follow it into the parlor and the theatre and the billiard room, and hunt it down, and strip it, and mark it, that no drapery may longer conceal its hideous and accursed form. If his weapons be coarse and. blunt, he will give polished vice the vantage. ground, and furnish it an unanswerable argument why it should not be willing to perish by his sword. In
the hall of legislation too, and on the bench, and through all the ascending grades of political elevation, a good taste is increasingly
The physician too, to be respected and useful, must be a man of taste. He is necessarily conversant with the best families and the most delicate diseases, and cannot be coarse without offence. One would not choose to invite the rustic into his sick chamber, or submit himself to his surgical operations. Society is abused, (and the abuse should have been long since corrected,) when the clown is pronounced capable of practising the healing art, and is sent out to learn his first lessons of decency from the gentle manners, the subdued accents, and restrained habits of the sick and dying bed. Chain him to the plow; put a spade into his hand, and not a lancet; keep him from touching the sacred casket of the materia medica.
No matter into what department of life and action the youth is entering from the walls of the seminary, he must every where have a good taste or he will bring literature into disrepute.
My motive, then, young gentlemen, in addressing you on this subject, is distinctly seen. God has given us a world in which there are many beauties, but, through the apostacy, many deformities. These beauties I would have you qualified to see and relish, and these deformities to obliterate. I would have you employ all your genius to create other beauties, till every spot about you shall smile, every eminence be comely, and every valley verdant. I would there should be in your views an enlightened graciousness, which, if not religion, is its handmaid; if not born in heaven, was early in Eden; if not possessed of power to subdue the heart, may mould some of its rougher affections into milder forms; and though not a radical cure for the calamities of life, has abundant power to soothe. You would then be more useful and happy while you live, and we should have higher hopes of meeting you in heaven, and joining you in exploring the wonders of that pure and tasteful city, whose walls are jasper, whose gates are of pearl, and whose streets are paved with gold.
Before I conclude, I must be permitted to devote a few words to friendship. I see many faces here that have often lighted up my own with a smile. It is affecting to meet you again in this world of change. It is probably the last time I shall ever see you all until we meet in that country " from whose bourne no traveler returns." I learn that death has made inroads among you. It is a note of ad monition to us all to be prepared to die. The past year has been
to us one of peculiar interest. God has deigned to display the power of his grace under my poor ministrations, and has given me often the pleasure of sitting down by the conscience and the heart that his truth and his Spirit had impressed. And I have rejoiced to hear that he has been in very deed with you, begetting everlasting consolation and good hope in many of your hearts. Thus it appears that he who is rich in mercy was with me in the way that I went, and remained with you. May he still be with us, and keep us by his power, and guide our wayward feet to his heavenly rest. There may we another day meet, and with bursting hearts rehearse the mercies that bore with us and brought us safely through, and sustained us in our trials, and managed our spiritual enemies, and covered our heads in the day of battle, and subdued our lusts, and planted our feet at last on the hills of promise. You will let me and my dear people have an interest in your prayers. And may the Lord bless this people and its ministry, and bless these rising schools of science, and all their guardians and teachers, and all who come to seek wisdom at these gates. From age to age let heaven's richest influence come down on these hills, and flow out in streams of salvation through the world, and down through all generations, till all the curse shall be repealed, and God be once more pleased with the world he made.
EXPOSITION OF 1 JOHN IV. 19.
We love him, because he first loved us.
THIS text has been subjected to various, and, in a measure, contradictory expositions.
Some have supposed, that our love to God, is mere gratitude to him for having loved us. They have gone upon the supposition that naturally we imbibe the impression that God is our enemy, but when at length we discover the mistake, and learn that he loves us, it fills us with gratitude and love to him. To this exposition there are several objections. If it were true, more light would change the heart. The most depraved man, needs only to be convinced that God is not so angry with him as he supposed, and in fact is his friend, and the change is effected. He needs
only to have his mistake corrected, and he is a new man, and to effect this, nothing is necessary but light. Depravity, of course, has its seat only in the understanding. But this will not agree with the testimony of inspiration. Regeneration is spoken of as a change of heart. The stony heart is said to be taken away, and there is given a heart of flesh. The new man has passed from death unto life. But all this is hyperbole, if the change is the mere correction of a mistake.
If this exposition were correct, the gospel could have no agency in the conversion of sinners, for on the principles of the gospel, no man can have any evidence that God loves him, till he loves God. 66 Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit." Constantly do the Scriptures teach us, that our interest in the Divine affections, can be known only by our love to God, our obedience to his commands, and our attachment to his holy family. But if the exposition given be true, none of all this can take place, till God has loved us, and has revealed to us this fact. Hence a voice from heaven, and not the Bible, must make known the truth that effects our sanctification.
The exposition given, supposes also, the TRUTH of a palpable absurdity; that God can love us, while we possess no goodness for him to love. Till we love God, we hate him, and to hate infinite excellence, is to be totally depraved. This continues to be the character of every man till he loves his Creator. Hence, till then it is impossible that God should be pleased with him. He assures us, "I love them that love me;" implying that all others he does not love. God cannot view with complacency the man who has no pleasure in the contemplation of infinite moral excellence. A being so depraved is not worthy of Divine regard. "God is angry with the wicked every day," and hence is continually angry with every man who does not love him. Should an unregenerated man, therefore, hear some supernatural voice proclaim, "beloved of the Lord," he ought to doubt whether the revelation came from heaven. For God will not reveal to him that which the Bible would contradict.
The exposition which we are noticing, exhibits depravity as confined to the understanding, and he surely is not very extensively depraved, who has merely mistaken a matter of fact. The Scriptures, however, exhibit a darker picture. They speak of the unsanctified heart as the seat of malicious passions, as full of all bitterness, as issuing evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. We are told that "every