صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

views of former and ignorant ages, and dissipate for temporary objects those means which might have been made to rear institutions that would bless the country to the end of time. Perhaps nothing different could be reasonably expected of the government of the nation; but we blush that Massachusetts should have proved so false to her former reputation as to throw away the splendid opportunity. We are ashamed that the magnificent sum of nearly two million dollars should be divided and subdivided, and scattered over the surface of this State, like so much water spilt upon the ground, on the poor pretence of lightening the burdens of the people. Have the sons of the Puritans come to regard this petty relief as the summum bonum? Is this the legislation which they ask at the hands of their representatives? We are slow to believe it, though it has been asserted. Or if, for the present, they are willing, like improvident children, to take a temporary gratification in place of a solid and lasting good, the time must come when they will count themselves wronged by the parsimonious indulgence.

While these things are so, it is the more necessary that individuals should devote themselves to this all-important concern. What has been done amongst us hitherto, has been done principally by private beneficence; and the signs of the times indicate, that government is determined to throw the future yet more upon the munificence and forethought of private men. However this may be, it is clear that the further progress of education depends on the interest which shall be taken in it by the men who are coming forward to fill the future places in society. They must, therefore, be early aware of their responsibility. However absorbed in their own affairs, they must allow themselves leisure to devote a portion of their care and thought to this general good. Public spirit must be a pervading and universal virtue; not displaying itself merely in those works of general convenience, by which intercourse is promoted, trade facilitated, and our cities adorned; - in regard to these, neglect is little to be apprehended, because they lie in the very path of men, and are palpably instrumental in the growth of population, wealth, and luxury. The public spirit which the times demand must go deeper; it must act as if the minds and character of the people were the chief concern, and therefore be anxious to enlarge the means of education and virtue, watch over the schools, encourage the institutions of philanthropy, and labor for whatever advances society 20


[ocr errors]

by advancing the minds of its individual members. What might not be the progress and glory of this land, if our Young Men would devotedly address themselves to this great enterprise!

To all this, there is yet a higher principle to be added. It is not for patriotism only, that we speak; it is not merely the prosperity, order, and peace of the community, that we would promote; nor can it be hoped that the highest form of civilization will be attained, if man be regarded as the creature of society only. There are no principles adequate to this end, but those of the Christian Faith. All others stop short of the requisite thoroughness and consistency. The laws of the Commercial world uphold honesty because it is the best policy, and connive at breaches of morality when they are good policy also. Politicians and governments make wealth and power the supreme good, and have little care whether individuals be ignorant or informed, virtuous or vicious, happy or miserable, so long as the state prospers. The law of Honor establishes an external decorum of deportment, and obliges the base to appear like gentlemen; but it cares not for any thing deeper than the appearance; it leaves character unimproved, affixes no stigma to the grossest debauchery of life, permits the seducer to walk unmarked amongst men, and applauds him who lives with the cherished purpose of revenging with murder any insult to his own person. The mere pursuit of Science or Letters, refining and strengthening as it may the intellect, yet allows the corruption of the heart to remain, frowns ambiguously on the irregularities of life, and admits the profligacy of Byron and Voltaire to the same honors with the purity of Cowper and Milton. It is not here, then, that we must have our young men schooled. It is not a punctilious personal` honor, nor a mere devotion to country, nor a zeal for knowledge, that can satisfy. We must see them concerned for PRINCIPLE; patriots and scholars, for the reason, not that it is public spirited and good policy, but from a sense of moral obligation, because it is immoral to be otherwise. They must regard Virtue as the chief concern, the interests of the religious nature the chief interests, and whatever is done for themselves and for society, must be done in obedience to the will of God, and with a view to the highest welfare of his moral children.

We have not room to press this great topic. We can only

implore our Young Men to give it their faithful consideration. Let them ask themselves, what there is worth living for except virtue, and how virtue can exist without principle, and what principle can be trusted excepting that of Religion. Let them take counsel of their moral nature, let them listen to the spirit's voice within, which they cannot fail sometimes to hear, however overborne by the noise of the world and the tumult of earthly desires. Let them set their mark high, and press steadily forward to reach it. What other lesson are they to learn from the hallowed history of their own land? Who made New England what it is? What laid the foundations of strength, virtue, knowledge, which have been and still are, blessed be God, our just boast? Men, with whom religious considerations were the first question; who did their duty to the state, because it was their duty to God; who thought that no real good existed for the human family, but that which grew up from Christian faith, and a stern devotedness to conscience and truth. Herein we discern the spirit that makes a commonwealth, and it is the only spirit that can keep it. So far as New England has gone forward, it is in the power and by the guidance of this spirit; and if it has gone backward, — if, in the love of liberty, in devotion to knowledge and human rights, in high moral independence, she has gone backward, it is because she has been unfaithful to this spirit of the Forefathers, and recreant to their example. If in any honorable thing the Commonwealth has deteriorated, it is because it is less a Christian Commonwealth, and because inferior views have turned aside the hearts of the rulers, and corrupted the tastes of the people.

It is a narrow and short-sighted policy which excludes private principle from public actions; as if God were not the sovereign of the nation as well as of the man, as if he were not Lord of society as well as Father of its individual members, as if the whole history of the world did not show how he has exacted heavy retribution from the nations whenever they allowed selfishness and luxury to usurp the place of integrity and virtue. One would suppose, from the manner in which some men talk, that the ballot-box and the press were infallible talismans, breathing into the people undying vigor and everlasting youth; forgetting that they are both of them but the tools of the people, and sure to become corrupt and corrupting the moment that public and private principle are held cheap,

And so of all our political institutions. They are at the beck and will of individual men; and they are the readiest instruments of the nation's ruin, if those men are allowed to become unprincipled. They may be unprincipled in spite of constitutions, free elections, and newspapers; in spite of a general education which should confine itself to human learning and the mere art of getting along in the world. Oh, that our brave and goodly armies of youth just coming into life, eager, resolute, and with the destiny of forty millions in their hands, could be made to see this; that they could be roused to understand, and to act on the understanding of this infallible truth; that they could see how there are other institutions, those of moral instruction and Christian faith, on which the happiness and weal of themselves and all they love depend, infinitely more than on what the politicians and schemers about them contrive and enact. Let them observe, that there is no ground to fear lest the exchange and the senate-house be deserted, but there is fear lest the house of God be forsaken, and the institutions of Religion cast away; lest the generations, that are rapidly filling up our extensive borders, should spread their tents upon the hill-sides and in the valleys without the Tabernacle of the Lord among the tribes; lest worldly-mindedness and earthliness should possess and deprave the inheritance of our posterity.

Let our YOUNG MEN come to the rescue, and resolve to prevent the evil before it is too late. Beautiful it is to observe how many of them are already on the alert, and doing with their might what the times and their religion demand. How much does the cause of temperance, of education, of philanthropy in all its various branches, owe to their hearty aid and affectionate zeal. We look with admiration and devout gratitude on the examples we have seen of the cultivated and accomplished bringing the treasures of their intelligence, their refinement, and their wealth, and laying them at the feet of the altar, in the service of the poor and the church. We say to them, God speed! They are doing for themselves and for society a work that can never pass away, the most important work now to be done for mankind. If their spirit could pervade the land, if in all our cities and villages this youthful energy could be excited, and the united force of our ten thousand beating and growing hearts be directed to this object, what a revolution should we not behold, and how like

Paradise would be our land, before the current century shall close. We put it to the conscience of every young reader, whether he will not do his part. It may seem little he can do; but let him think it would be criminal in him to withhold this little; let him know, that if he do it in simplicity and faith, it will be far more than he imagines. There is no infallible sign that the world is to be despaired of, until individual men think there is nothing for them to do toward its salvation.

H. w., jr.

ART. II.—Notices of the Rev. Bezaleel Howard, D. D., of Springfield; being the Substance of the Rev. Mr. Peabody's Discourse at his Interment, February 22, 1837.

I. CORINTHIANS, XV. 26. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.


If any of you have enemies, you will find that there is but one way to disarm and subdue them. If you have power to crush them and trample upon them, they will still be your enemies, more hostile and determined than ever. By power, you may silence and overawe them, but they will cherish their hatred in the silence of their souls. The only way effectually to remove an enemy is to change him into a friend. This is the way in which the Savior of the world has destroyed the enemies of his religion. Ever since he was lifted up on the cross he has been drawing the human race to himself; their aversion to his spiritual religion is overcome by the power of his dying love.

And this is the way in which the Savior of the world has subdued the last enemy of man. He has changed death into a friend, and taught men to regard him as a friend; he has changed the whole aspect of death and the grave. Once the voice from Heaven said to erring man, "Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return." Heavily that sentence fell upon the human heart. But He says, "He that liveth and believeth in me shall never die." And now he expects us to regard the visitation of mortality as friendly to our welfare; he expects us to alter all our views of the subject; he expects us to give way as little as possible to our natural feelings; and to open our hearts as much as possible to the hopes and prom

[ocr errors]
« السابقةمتابعة »