« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
THE STUDENT IN BUSINESS.
Some few months back, we endeavoured to urge upon Young Men the importance of a strict attention to the duties of life which, by God's providence, they are called to fulfil ; and the necessity of resisting any insinuations as to their sphere of life, from peculiar talents lying in a different direction. Our readers will, we hope, pardon us for returning to the same subject. We are very anxious to impress upon the mind of the Student the strict harmony between thought and labour, between the daily avocations of an active commercial life and the morning and evening studies of his own closet. There is a generally-entertained idea that the man of study is unfitted to grapple with the difficulties of business; and we have ourselves witnessed, with much pain, young men of superior minds compelled to submit to the dictatorship and censure of men decidedly their inferiors, merely because the latter exerted all their limited powers in the work before them, while the attention of the former was divided and destroyed. A thorough man of business is, undoubtedly, a man of great intelligence; but we shall find that that intelligence is directed exclusively to the affairs of the world. Beyond this range he possesses no power, because no inclination and aptitude. Just as the studious man cannot endure the turmoil and labour of business, so he cannot conceive how gratification is to be experienced from the pursuits of philosophy. He takes things as they are, and does not perplex himself about the why or wherefore. Such a man, however, in one point of view, is a wise man. He sees distinctly what is required of him, and he acts accordingly, adapting his energies
to the circumstances that demand them. He prospers ; for such is the synthesis that God has established — earnestness of purpose preceding success. Nothing can divorce this order : it is as cause and effect. But the mere man of business can never be a great man ; one train of ideas, and this of the lowest order, alone attracts his notice. Still he furnishes us with a principle, which, upon examination, will be found to be the characteristic of all great men, and which the Student must act on, if he would derive practical good from the studies he pursues.
The principle is simply this: a determination to let no one pursuit interfere with another, and to give to every occupation the attention which it demands. It is not necessary for any young man to give up the cultivation of his mind; but it is imperative on every young man to pursue a system, and to acquire that decision of character that will enable him, at once, to abstract his mind from any employment, however pleasurable, so as to follow, unfettered, the path of duty. The limits of the mind need not be circumscribed till—to use a trite expression“a man's soul can be placed in a nutshell,” but they may be expanded by degrees, upon the principle we have named, till the Student, profound in literature and science, is also the firstrate man of business, maintaining, as he should do, the chief post in every department in which he is called to operate. This decision is difficult to acquire; but, for the honour of studious young men, we trust it will be the aim of each one to cultivate it. So shall it no longer be said, that study and trade are in. compatible; but, rather, that they are the best men of business who are the best Students.
THE MORAL LAW SUITED TO THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF
(Concluded from page 143.) My dear friends, what part of this law would you abrogate if you could ? I do not believe that an atheist, fairly looking upon man in the philosophy of his nature, seeing what man's tendency to religion is -I do not believe that even he, if he had the destiny of the world in his hands, if he was a thoughtful and reflecting atheist, would actually blot out the idea of religion altogether. He would feel that something like it, whether it were true or false, was necessary to meet the hunger of the heart, which is actually developed in human nature as such.
With respect to the moral precepts, which of them would you wish
to violate? If there is an infidel here to-night, I would ask him which of these laws would you wish your son, your daughter, or your wife, not to obey? Would you wish your daughter to live in the habitual disobedience of the fifth, not to honour her father and her mother or the sixth, to disobey that? or the seventh, to disobey that? or the eighth ? or the ninth ? or the tenth ?-Young man, you would like to be free from some of these laws; you cast yourself free from them ; you do not regulate the heart; you do not guard the springs and sources of virtue; you do not watch over the purity of the imagi. nation, the speech, and the practice : would you like your sister to act as you do? how many of these laws would you allow her to break ? If any of you have any respect for human nature, and any wish for the happiness and the harmony of the world, I again ask, what portions of this law you would abrogate if you could ? It is fitted for universality, for it would make all men happy if they would obey it; it is fitted for it, too, I think, by its simplicity, its plainness of language, its comprehensiveness ; it is a system which every man can keep in his memory and carry perpetually about him; there is nothing in it cumbersome, and nothing casuistic-it is distinct and intelligible, -its general rules admitting of easy application by any man of sound head and honest heart, sincerely influenced by the principles of love, of which it is the exposition.
I come now, in the next place, to say, that this which we have made ont, even by this imperfect argument, (and I, perhaps, feel its imperfection more than any one of you,) being admitted, all presumptions are in favour of this law having been GIVEN by God.
In the first place, however true it is (and it is true that we can be brought to see the beauty and propriety of certain moral principles and certain religious views-that we can say of them, one is reasonable, another beautiful, another just, -however it may be that when we can be brought to admire these things, and see their propriety and excellence, when they are presented to us,-I think the history of the world and the tendencies of human nature show, that, if the original state of man had been barbarism, he never would have risen out of it by his own efforts, and never would have discovered the principles which, when they are presented to him, he can admire. Now, man, (if the species ever had a beginning,) man, at first, must either have been in possession of just religious principles and just moral views, or he must have been in the condition of an infant,- he must have been like a little child, ignorant and helpless. On the first supposition, he could only possess these moral principles and these religious views, immediately on his creation, by a direct communication from God; and if man had ever been in the condition simply of infantile Dature, the savage state would certainly have been his first, and he would never have risen to the discovery of high moral principles, or the origination of a pure and spiritual theism for himself; yet, both are here, somehow or other--and we are brought, somehow or other, to understand and to perceive their propriety and beauty.
All history testifies that, in the most refined ages of ancient times, when literature and science were at their height, when civilisation had done everything which it could do for the individual and for common
wealths, a moral system, or religious views, equal, or approaching, in rationality, in purity, in simplicity, to these, never were taught either by the philosopher, the statesman, or the priest. Take the best periods of ancient nations,-take the best men of the best periods ; take the philosophers who are distinguished for the sublimity of their views and the strength of their powers, for the purity of their systems, as far as they have any,-take them, and you will find universally that moral principles so high, consistent, and admirable as these were violated by them in the maxims of morality which they laid down, which they taught, and upon which they acted. We could show you this on unquestionable authority, because we could quote the very words of the books which were written by these men themselves, or by their disci. ples and admirers, in which they actually advocate principles and practices which we cannot but feel are to be condemned, and which, in comparison with what is inculcated here, excite nothing but disapprobation and disgust. This is a fact. And with respect to the religion of the ancients, you know that polytheism and idolatry were universal, and that the rites and services of their temples were not only absurd, but corrupting; much connected with their religious worship was of a nature to sensualise and to degrade, instead of elevating and improving it. Instead of developing the man, raising him out of the animal, purifying and polishing him into a virtuous and holy being, it laid its iron hand upon him, and bound him fast to the slavery of the senses, and made him drunk with its secret abominations, till there was often, in the practices permitted and encouraged, nothing but the frenzied manifestations of the devil and the brute.
It is a further fact, that even in our own times, our philosophers, the men who have given us their moral systems, have taught principles subversive of this. Bolingbroke, and Hobbes, and Hume, and various others of the infidel philosophers of the last century, advocated and defended principles in morals which any man who has any conscience, or any heart, or any delicacy, cannot but feel are to be rejected with abhorrence. One suspends both the principles of religion and the law of morality on the enactments of the state,--whatever it declares, enforces, or permits, is right! Another resolves modesty into vanity, and advocates the gratification of any passion, when it can be done with safety! and a third justifies suicide-makes physical strength as much a virtue as moral principle, and affirms not only that adultery is a small offence if known, and none at all if it be not, but that it must be practised if man would obtain all the advantages of life! Some of these men might be free from vicious and licentious habits, but this was not owing to their system and their law. Many others, especially among the French, were practically consistent with moral maxims as immoral as these, and worse. And so with respect to other infidel philosophers : we could produce from their books the sentiments and maxims of morality which they advocate, which are violations of all the principles laid down here, and though they frequently talk much about virtue, and express much admiration of it, yet we find them in the habit of advocating principles in their moral disquisitions which, if acted upon at all, would destroy the virtue and happiness of individuals and families, and which, if generalised, would fill the world with misery, impurity, and crime.
And now, further, it is a fact that cannot be disputed, that this law, up to the excellence of which the priests and the philosophers of old never got—this law, far beneath the excellence of which modern philosophers have always fallen—it is a fact that this law was unquestonably given about the time when it was said to be given by the book before us. We can run up the literary proof by the laws by which we can ascertain the propagation of books from one age to another, from printing to writing, from edition to edition, from manuscript to manuscript, from age to age; we can go up till we can trace the Bible to the time of the Cæsars,—the translation of the Seventy shows its existence previous to Christ; and we can go further up, and bring proofs of the separation of the Jew and the Samaritan in a long and distant antiquity, both of them holding the Pentateuch, in which is this law, but the Samaritan remaining destitute of the writings subsequently given; we can go up, in fact, to the time when it really must have been the case, as has been shown in previous lectures, that the descendants of Abraham, separated from the rest of the nations, and passing through Egypt, must have had this law given to them by a man called Moses. This man does not appear to have possessed naturally either a very superior intellect, courage, or ambition: yet he not only effected, by some means, the freedom from slavery of a Tamerous people, and ventured with them into the Arabian desert, but there, at a time when all the nations of the world were sunk in ilolatry-when they were immersed in impurity-when they had no proper notions of the nature of God, rational worship, and consistent morality, &c., gave them this law! Here, then, was a man standing in the midst of this horde of barbarians (for they were almost such), and actually delivering great principles with respect to Religion and Morals, which were not only good, but the best,—which have never been equalled; which all your philosophers, in all times ever since, have never approached anything near to. Where did the man get these principles? a man who must have been breathing all his life an atmosphere that was contrary to them all, for idolatry was so prevalent that neither he nor his followers could be free from it, except on the admission of some previous Divine interference, which is not now the question, and yet he delivers a law like this, which all the philosophy of centuries has never equalled, and never will! This law, given under these circumstances, and given at that early age, has been ahead of the world's intelligence ever since, and will keep ahead of it as long as it lasts. Where did he get this law? Where! “God spake all these words:" the first verse of the chapter tells you, “ God spake all these words, saying, I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me." Yes, and if he did not get it from God, the getting it at all,—the having it, then and there, as it is, -is just as great a miracle as its coming from heaven. Under all the circumstances, the fact of the existence of such a law, I do say, is as much a miracle, and more difficult to be accounted for, than its being spoken from Mount Sinai by the wise, holy, and benevolent Father of the world.
I hasten to conclude. I am ashamed to have detained you so long,