« AnteriorContinuar »
becomes discord; and the human race is no more than an assemblage of reckless barbarians, shameless, remorseless, brutal, denaturalized, with no other law than force, no other check than passion, no other bond than irreligion, no other God than self! Such would be the world which impiety would make. Such would be this world, were a belief in God and immortality to die out of the human heart.
3. THE UTILITY OF THE BEAUTIFUL.-John Ruskin.
MAN'S use and function—and let him who will not grant me this follow me no further - is to be the witness of the glory of God, and to advance that glory by his reasonable obedience and resultant happiness. Whatever enables us to fulfil this function is, in the pure and first sense of the word, useful to us. And yet people speak, in this working age, as if houses, and lands, and food, and raiment, were alone useful; and, as if sight, thought and admiration, were all profitbss: so that men insolently call themselves Utilitarians, who would turn, if they had their way, themselves and their race into vegetables; men who think, as far as such can be said to think, that the meat is more than the life, and the raiment than the body; who look to the eart as a stable, and to its fruit as fodder; vine-dressers and husbandnen, who love the corn they grind, and the grapes they crush, better than the gardens of the angels upon the slopes of Eden; hewers of wool and drawers of water, who think that the wood they hew, and the water they draw, are better than the pine-forests that cover the mountains like the shadow of God, and than the great rivers that move like His eternity. And so comes upon us that woe of the preacher, that though God hath made everything beautiful in his time, also He ath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end."
Tis Nebuchadnezzar curse, that sends us to grass like oxen, seems to fobw but too closely on the excess or continuance of national power and pace. In the perplexities of nations, in their struggles for existence, in their infancy, their impotence, or even their disorganization,
- the have higher hopes and nobler passions. Out of the suffering comes te serious mind; out of the salvation, the grateful heart; out of the ndurance, the fortitude; out of the deliverance, the faith. Deep thugh the causes of thankfulness must be to every people at peace w others and at unity in itself, there are causes of fear also,a fear grater than of sword and sedition, that dependence on God may be fogotten, because the bread is given and the water is sure; that gratitde to Him may cease, because His constancy of protection has taken e semblance of a natural law; that heavenly hope may grow faint nidst the full fruition of the world; that selfishness may take place undemanded devotion, compassion be lost in vain-glory, and love in issimulation; that enervation may succeed to strength, apathy to paence, and the noise of jesting words and the foulness of
dark thoughts to the earnest purity of the girded loins and the burning lamp. Let us beware that our rest become not the rest of stones, which, so long as they are torrent-tossed and thunder-stricken, maintain their majesty, but, when the stream is silent, and the storm passed, suffer the grass to cover them and the lichen to feed on them, and are ploughed down into dust.
4. THE WORLD WITHOUT AND WITHIN.-Thomas Noon Talfourd.
EXISTENCE has become almost a different thing since it began with some of us. It then justified its old similitude of a journey,— it quickened with intellect into a march; it is now whirling with science and speculation into a flight. Space is contracted and shrivelled up like a scroll. Time disdains its old relations to distance. The intervals between the " 'flighty purpose" and the "deed" are almost annihilated; and the national mind must either glow with generous excitement, or waste in fitful fever. How important, then, is it, that throughout our land the spiritual agencies should be quickened inte kindred activity; that the few minutes of leisure and repose whic may be left us should, by the succession of those "thoughts whth wander through eternity," become hours of that true time whic! is dialled in Heaven; that thought, no longer circling in vapid dram, but impelled right onward with divine energy, should not only outspeed the realized miracles of steam, but the divinest visions of tmospheric prophecy, and still "keep the start of the majestic world"!
Mr. Canning once boasted, of his South American policy, hat he had "called a new world into existence, to balance the old." Beit your nobler endeavor to preserve the balance even between the weld within us and the world without us; not vainly seeking to retard he life of action, but to make it steady by Contemplation's immetal freightage. Then may we exult, as the chariot of humanity lies onward, with safety in its speed, for we shall discover, like Ezkiel of old, in prophetic vision, the spirit in its wheels.
All honor, then, to those who, amid the toils, the cares, an the excitements, of a season of transition and struggle, would resce the golden hours of the youth around them from debasing pleasus and more debasing sloth, and enable them to set to the world, in great crisis of its moral condition, this glorious example of intellectul courage and progress!
5. THE MECHANICAL EPOCH. — Hon. John P. Kennedy.
THE world is now entering upon the Mechanical Epoch. There is nothing in the future more sure than the great triumphs hich that epoch is to achieve. It has already advanced to some grious con quests. What miracles of mechanical invention alreadyrowd upon Look abroad, and contemplate the infinite achieveents of the
steam power. Reflect a moment on all that has been done by the railroad. Pause to estimate, if you can, with all the help of imagination, what is to result from the agency now manifested in the operations of the telegraph. Cast a thought over the whole field of scientific mechanical improvement and its application to human wants, in the last twenty years, to go no further back, and think what a world it has made; - how many comforts it has given to man, how many facilities; what it has done for his food and raiment, for his communication with his fellow-man in every clime, for his instruction in books, his amusements, his safety!-what new lands it has opened, what old ones made accessible!-how it has enlarged the sphere of his knowledge and conversancy with his species! It is all a great, astounding marvel, a miracle which it oppresses the mind to think of. It is the smallest boast which can be made for it to say that, in all desirable facilities in life, in the comfort that depends upon mechanism, and in all that is calculated to delight the senses or instruct the mind, the man of this day, who has secured himself a moderate competence, is placed far in advance of the most wealthy, powerful and princely of ancient times, — might I not say, of the times less than a century gone by?
And yet we have only begun; - we are but on the threshold of this epoch. A great celebration is now drawing to a close,― the celebration, by all nations, of the new era. A vast multitude of all peoples, nations and tongues, has been, but yesterday, gathered under a magnificent crystal palace, in the greatest city of the world, to illustrate and distinguish the achievements of art, - no less, also, to dignify and exalt the great mechanical fraternity who have filled that palace with wonders. Is not this fact, of itself, charged with a volume of comment? What is it but the setting of the great distinctive seal upon the nineteenth century? an advertisment of the fact that society has risen to occupy a higher platform than ever before? - a proclamation from the high places, announcing honor, honor immortal, to the workmen who fill this world with beauty, comfort and power; honor to be forever embalmed in history, to be perpetuated in monuments, to be written in the hearts of this and succeeding generations!
6. THE MIND OF MAN.-Mark Akenside. Born, 1721; died, 1770.
SAY, why was man so eminently raised
To chase each partial purpose from his breast,
The applauding smile of Heaven? The high-born soul
Mind, Mind alone (bear witness, Earth and Heaven'
Of beauteous and sublime: here, hand in hand,
Look, then, abroad through Nature, to the range
When guilt brings down the thunder, called aloud
For lo! the tyrant prostrate in the dust,
7. THE TRUE TO-DAY.-H. Withington. Born, 1818; died, 1848. ALL that there in what we call To-day is in the life of thought: thought is the spirit's breath. To think is to live; for he who thinks not has no sense of life. Wouldst thou make the most of life, wouldst thou have the joy of the present, let Thought's invisible shuttles weave full in the loom of Time the moment's passing threads. To think is to live; but with how many are these passing hours as so many loose filaments, never woven together, nor gathered, but scattered, ravelling, so many flying ends, confused and worthless! Time and life, unfilled with thought, are useless, unenjoyed, bringing no pleasure for the present, storing no good for future need. To-day is
the golden chance, wherewith to snatch Thought's blessed fruition,the joy of the Present, the hope of the Future. Thought makes the time that is, and thought the eternity to come:
"O bright presence of To-day, let me wrestle with thee, gracious angel;
O living rescue of To-day, let me run into thee, ark of refuge;
O rich banquet of To-day, let me feast upon thee, saving manna;
I have none other food nor store but daily bread To-day."
8. THE DUELLIST'S HONOR.—Bishop England. Born, 1786; died, 1842.
HONOR is the acquisition and preservation of the dignity of our nature that dignity consists in its perfection; that perfection is found in observing the laws of our Creator; the laws of the Creator are the dictates of reason and of religion: that is, the observance of what He teaches us by the natural light of our own minds, and by the special revelations of His will manifestly given. They both concur in teaching us that individuals have not the dominion of their own lives; otherwise, no suicide would be a criminal. They concur in teaching us that we ought to be amenable to the laws of the society of which we are members; otherwise, morality and honor would be consistent with the violation of law and the disturbance of the social system. They teach us that society cannot continue to exist where the public tribunals are despised or undervalued, and the redress of injuries withdrawn from the calm regulation of public justice, for the purpose of being committed to the caprice of private passion, and the execution of individual ill-will; therefore, the man of honor abides by the law of God, reveres the statutes of his country, and is respectful and amenable to its authorities. Such, my friends, is what the reflecting portion of mankind has always thought upon the subject of honor. This was the honor of the Greek; this was the honor of the Roman; this the honor of the Jew; this the honor of the Gentile; this, too, was the honor of the Christian, until the superstition and barbarity of Northern devastators darkened his glory and degraded his character.
Man, then, has not power over his own life; much less is he justified in depriving another human being of life. Upon what ground can he who engages in a duel, through the fear of ignominy, lay claim to courage? Unfortunate delinquent! Do you not see by how many links your victim was bound to a multitude of others? Does his vain and idle resignation of his title to life absolve you from the enormous claims which society has upon you for his services, — his family for that support, of which you have robbed them, without your own enrichment? Go, stand over that body; call back that soul