« السابقةمتابعة »
Man at his birth possesses an inherent moral element, which guides and restrains him throughout his earthly existence. The Creator has wisely and graciously granted to the race an unchangeable standard by which their moral life and actions are to be tested. The human soul demands something stedfast and unfailing, from which it may obtain instruction and sustenance-it claims some steady light to direct its course, through night and tempest, on the untraversed ocean of life. And relying on the infallible guidance of this moral judgment, it reposes calmly and securely, encompassed by darkness, danger and death.
Something remarkably analogous to this moral element may be discovered in the mental constitution of mankind. There may be discovered in the intellectual, as in the moral man, the same desire for stability--the same fixed elements of character--the same strong influence moulding and directing thought and action. As the soul, oppressed by doubt and hesitation, looks upward to its moral counselor for guidance and support—so the mind, surrounded by the shifting scenes of life, and acted upon by the ever-varying forces of circumstance, grows strong and energetic, when nerved by the giant strength of an unconquered purpose.
The necessity of such an element in the character of man is obvious. Purpose, developed and strengthened by desires, is a fundamental principle in his intellectual as well as spiritual nature. The mind remains originally inactive and devoid of thought or sensation, until the influence of something external to itself awakes it into action. It primarily possesses within itself no sources of thought or knowledge. The faculty of conception and the strong force of desire lie alike dormant in its undisturbed recesses. The power of motive alone can quicken them to action. But all motives, whether they be ideal or tangible, are of external origin, and can be discovered only through the media of sense. And hence motives, in some of their manifold forms, lie at the foundation of all human thought and action. These are with reference to our knowledge, what the sun and soil and showers are with reference to the unexpanded germ—they vivify and strengthen and sustain it. Such is the constitution of the mind. Desires spring up instantaneously within it, whenever sensation discloses any external inducement to action ; and desires, strengthened and enlarged till they become impelling motives, lie at the basis of all human knowledge. Uninfluenced by these, the mind would lie forever torpid and effortless. Its energy and power and vitality would be lost together; and like a blasted flower it would decay and perish!
The motives which operate upon and influence different men, are widely various. God has filled the world around us with a thousand incentives which give activity and energy to the mind. The apple swaying gently on its bough-the clustering grapes upon the sunny hill-side—the sparkling fountain, gushing from its rocky bed, and gliding merrily through mossy dells the dappled landscape, radiant with a thousand forms of beauty and of life--are all incentives, awakening desire, and arousing the whole soul into activity. The universe is overflowing with such glorious creations, appealing to passion and to thought, and awakening new and strange emotions in the breast.
These creations-universal in variety and in extent as they are-are adapted to satisfy both the mysterious wants of our physical nature and the still more mysterious longings of the spirit. They have a double use and value-a two-fold influence-a mission to ihe body, and a mission to the soul and hence arises a wide distinction in the characters and lives of men. The common mass have scarce a thought unwedded to sensual things-scarce an emotion, elevated above the daily avocations they pursue. They are readily satisfied with such sources of enjoyment, as appeal only to the senses. The splendors that delight the eye--the melodies that soothe the ear-the sweets that gratify the taste-the pleasures that thrill the touch the fragrance that floats upon the evening air, are sufficient to satisfy their minds, and to still the restlessness of their emotions. Their desires, spell-bound as they are to the senses, are easily gratified to fullness, and are ever changing in their nature and their object. They have no supreme and ultimate object of existence-no supreme and ultimate end of life, compared with which all other ends are trifling, and in which all other ends are merged. They are born, and eat, and sleep, and die, without one yearning thought of that spiritual realm in which the heart and soul have life--without one strong emotion, swallowing up all others, and strengthening within the soul till it becomes a master passion, governing the whole man, and moving him onward to some definite and settled end. • There is however another class of men who fasten their desires on objects more elevated and enduring in their nature—on objects lying far beyond and above the circumstances more immediately surrounding them. Their minds are open to the spiritual elements in the universe around them; and all within their souls is but a living reflection of that which lies without--silent, immutable, eternal! Their desires are as lasting as the objects of their hope. These objects whether they be education, honor, power, skill, faine, wealth, or any other of those purposes which sway and move the mind with such inexplicable power-are the goal of all their thoughts. Years of toil and struggle and hope may intervene between their first bright aspiration and the final consummation of their wishes ; but years in their sight are valued only as they serve to bring about the object of their strong desires. All their views and hopes and thoughts revolve around one common centre-the sun of their existence.
These exalted desires, to which a passing notice has been given, as well as those more trivial wants which occupy the mass of men, seem to spring from an innate longing after happiness—the first and greatest MASTER Passion in human existence. By far the larger portion of mankind derive the only happiness of which they are conscious, from the gratification of their sensual desires. There is, however, a nobler happiness which thrills through every fibre of our being, and stirs the soul with more than earthly power. To gain this whether from the pleasures of education, or the thrilling joys of power, or the possession of a fame immortal-is a master passion. It is an indispensable element of greatness. It must be pre-eminent in the mind, swallowing up, like the rod of Aaron, all minor feelings, and engrossing all other thoughts. The whole soul must be fixed on this, as the polar star of its existence. The whole heart must rest on this one hope—every affection must be centred there.
It may be argued that such a powerful feeling as we have just described, must necessarily be excessive. The same argument would prove that conscience, controlling as it does to some extent every thought and action of life, must also be excessive. A wide distinction should evidently be made between a controlling and an excessive desire. The human mind requires some controlling element as an essential to success--some guiding principle of existence. All men are actuated by controlling desires, yet in most cases these desires are not excessive, or even sufficiently powerful to wield their appropriate influence.
Again it may be urged that man should be actuated by no controlling desires-that in order to preserve a proper equilibrium of mind, every passion and emotion should be subdued, and suffered to have no supreme controll over the decisions of the judgment. But if the mind acts only at the bidding of desires, how can these desires be subdued ? Will not the mind itself then cease to operate and to exist ? And can such an event take place as the entire subjugation of all controlling desires ? Such an attempt, under whatever circumstances it be made, would be a difficult and fruitless contest-a war of Achilles against Chiron-a war of intellectual might against its teacher.
These desires, springing out of the constitution of the mind, and inherent in its inmost nature, possess a perfect mastery over it. They hold the destiny of man. They wield an influence, widely various, yet almost omnipotent, over his character and his life. The history of humanity is replete with many an instance of men whose lives have been consecrated to the furtherance of a single end-to the obtainment and fruition of a single hope. Every reflecting and observant mind can fill out the measure of its thoughts with many an example of the moral and social hero--the warrior, the missionary, the philosopher, the poet, the statesman-men of strong and far-reaching desires, of broad and subtle mental vision, of resolute hearts and measureless hopes. Such men are the leaders and the light of the ages in which they live. Their self-created radiance shines out upon the surrounding darkness, and scatters a profuse and living lustre over its otherwise rayless gloom. No human mind can measure the mighty influence of a single desire, planted and nurtured in the fruitful soil of a resolute heart. It expands and enlarges, embracing age after age and generation after generation within its widening folds, and marching onward with resistless impulse and ever increasing power, till, pass
ing the boundaries of time and space, it reaches far out into the dim islence of eternity.
With this thought filling and moving our minds, let us cast a brief glance at the two classes of men whom I have partially attempted to describe. Their inherent characters are betrayed by the character of the objects they pursue. Those, whose only object in life is their daily subsistence and gratification, are necessarily more or less sensual in their nature. Their thoughts never rise above the atmosphere of the Present. They rarely at never dream of the Future, and of that happiness which a life-long effort alone can furnish. They never realize the glow and inspiration of a single hope, dawning upon their souls, and outshining all other inspirations, as the radiant sun outshines and casts a shade upon the paler lights of midnight. The epitome of their lives is, in the language of the poet,
“ Seen in the common epitaph,
Such men as Buonaparte, Bacon, Washington, Milton, must be men of great desires. Their hearts were set upon the fulfillment of great hopes The objects for which they lived and toiled and died, were the great facts in their existence. Life in their sight was not merely To-day-the Past, the Present, and the Future, were all one-absosolutely, eternally one. The world was full of great deeds waiting to be done ; and with giant hearts and measureless desires, they strove to do them. Glorious hopes shone, like rising suns, upon them; and when their time of rest drew nigh, they laid themselves, like brave old warriors, down and slept.
Such is the moral and social hero. His life is no scene of trivial and desultory play. An unmeasured depth of silence and solemnity overshadows and gathers around him. His heart throbs not in unison with the light and playful tread of the passing hours, but rather with the deep and solemnn music of eternity. In the quaint, yet forcible language of Carlyle
“Not a may-game is this man's life; but a battle and a march, a warfare with principalities and powers. No idle promenade through fragrant orange-groves and green flowery spaces, waited on by the choral Muses and the rosy Hours ; it is a stern pilgrimage through burning, sandy solitudes, through regions of thick-ribbed ice. He walks among inen, loves men with inexpressible soft pity, as they cannot love him: but his soul dwells in solitude, in the uttermost parts of creation. In green oases, by the palm-tree wells, he rests a space ; but anon he has to journey forward, escorted by the Terrors and the Splendors, the Archdemons and the Archangels. All Heaven and Pandemonium are his escort. The stars, keen-glancing from the Immensities, send tidings to him; the graves, silent with their dead, from the Eternities. Deep calls for him unto Deep !"
Would that our hearts might be more firmly set on the great hopes of life. The voices of the good and heroic, who have passed away, are calling us. We hear their solemn tread in the chambers of the Past. They beckon to us from the silent. dead. Shall we not follow them, and hold high converse with all that is truly great and glorious in life? Oh, let us be aroused to energetic thoughts, to great desires, to mighty deeds, feeling in our souls the noble inspiration of the Poet:
“ The Star of the unconquered Will,
He rises in my breast,
And calm, and self-possessed."
“On the fair bosom of a wide-stretching lake, might have been seen a frail birch canoe, gliding swiftly under the weight of three dusky forms.”—Novelist.
We would haul up closer to your heart than that, reader, and ask you not only to look at, but to feel for us, mid-way up the length of the muddy, troubled waters, lumbering along in a crazy shallop toward the head-waters of Pizeko. To feel for us, reader, for we know you to be compassionate, to feel for us as you sit comfortably on the crest of that old hill yonder, gazing down upon our feeble, heavyladen craft, as it toils among the muddy little breakers ; and to feel with us, too, for now that you have arranged your glass, and see distinctly, through the heavy sweat rolling down Dunning's Indian-like visage as he tugs at the oars, through my frantic exertions to master this big leak with the bailing dish, and through Charlie's clenched teeth and twisted mouth as he labors with that piece of plank to make the craft's bows face the breakers, see distinctly through all these a fixed but pleasing determination, after some distant but agreeable object. Yes, reader, we are bound for the head-waters, thence far away through long winding stream and lake's fair bosom, away, away, into the deep, silent recesses of the forest, Come, reader, come awhile with us, and though, now and then, you may lose us among the woodmatted windings of the stream, we will do our best to make the way agreeable to you, and will endeavor to arouse those eager longings, and that eagerness in pursuit of pleasure, which moves ours, to a lively sympathy in your breast, exciting an interest with you in whatever we