« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
debasement. We may tremble for their doom.
they make selfish use they sport with it in
But our feelings are at the farthest remove from any sympathy with them who speak lightly of human nature. We see in it a fearful lapse. How different is their tone from ours! We regret it, of it. We speak with pity, scoff. We respect the original,-they see no trace of a higher state. We attempt its retrieval,-they despair. We behold in each individual man, the immortal, the charge of a Providence, the subject of an Atonement, the heir of an eternal Retribution. We mark the remains of greatness. We recognise the capacity and pledge of a restoration to that greatness. We see
what was the innocence in the defilement. We learn
the majesty from the ruins.
Never will we consent
to the disparagement of such a being!
The nature of man is the shoal on which all infidel philosophy, and, if it can be, all infidel benevolence, are wrecked. These cannot explain him. They mark contrasts in him which they cannot reconcile. The great and the little, the strong and the weak, the divine and the infernal, they cannot adjust. His origin they cannot deduce. His recovery they cannot meditate. They may explore all secrets, and master all difficulties, but this. Christianity alone makes it plain. Man is great but fallen, is strong but sinning, is divine but debased: therefore is he spiritually little, weak, infernal. It brings him back to spiritual greatness, strength, and divinity. It shows
him all that he was, is, shall be. intermediate stages and processes.
It explains the
It accounts for
all. Man! taught by this religion, I can abhor thee, dread thee, reverence thee, bemoan thee, shun thee, flee thee! But, O fearful, mysterious, being, I cannot slight thee!
There is something that may be regarded of the incidental and the adventitious in man, not affecting the intimacies of his nature. Of this kind are his secular connections, conditions, and pursuits. He is a kinsman, bound in ties of household and of relationship, but soon the stream of his life-blood will cease to flow. He is a citizen, held by many political duties, but soon the noblest empires will have faded from the world. He is linked to this earth as his local habitation, but soon the earth will have been consumed in flames. He may have been rich or poor, exalted or depressed, influential or inert. But whatever he has been, and though all these revolutions overtake him, there is an essence in him, a self, which it is even awful to contemplate.
Let us conceive of two such men as they pass away from this present scene to realise the life to come. While inhabitants of earth, let them have filled the most extreme stations of society, restrained from every contact, and alienated from every sympathy. The one shall be the monarch, surrounded by courtiers, heralds, guards,—revelling in luxuries to which every clime contributes,-holding the fate of nations on a
nod. The other shall be the beggar, scorned by every eye, reviled by every tongue, spurned by every foot. The day has come when both must die,-the moment is common to their death. The first presses the couch of softest down, and reclines beneath the canopy of lofty state. The cordials of pain and weakness stand rife around him on tables of cedar and gold. The arras waves not to the lightest wind. The palace is hushed in silence. An empire scarcely breathes. The second drags himself to the dunghill, and, without a soothing word or an alleviating office or an affectionate tear, gasps alone. It is at this appointed moment that their spirits break away ! Two souls are on the wing! Two souls are tracking their way to their final account! Pursue, if you can, their course! Ascertain, if you can, their condition! Tell us, which is the monarch's, which is the beggar's, soul! By what impressions do you recognise, by what marks do you distinguish, them? You know not either by its robes or by its rags! All such things are left below. The funeral, of royal state and of pauper meanness, has committed their equal bodies to the earth, and their equal souls have been weighed in the balances of a common immortality!
ON THE PRINCIPAL DIVISIONS OF THE LABOURING
TIME was when our countrymen united every employment; they delved the soil, they wove the fleece. The consequence was, that the agriculture was as crude as the manufacture, and the manufacture was as humble as the agriculture. Great immigrations brought with them their trades, and established among us their staples. These were deemed so helpless at first, that they were defended by incorporation and privilege. now our woollen, cotton, and silk, fabrications have drawn out an immense amount of artizans, and we commonly divide the people into agricultural and manufacturing. Cicero made the same distinction in his day; but while we quote him, we must not thoughtlessly prejudge the case between these classes as he has done. In his Oratoria Partitiones, section 25, he writes: "Et quoniam non ad veritatem solum, sed etiam ad opiniones eorum, qui audiunt, accomodanda est oratio; hoc primum intelligamus, hominum duo esse genera; alterum indoctum et agreste, quod anteferat semper utilitatem honestati; alterum expolitum,
quod rebus omnibus dignitatem anteponat. Itaque huie generi laus, honor, gloria, fides, justitia, omnisque virtus; illi autem alteri, quæstus, emolumentum, fructusque proponitur, atque etiam voluptas, quæ maxime est inimica virtuti, bonique naturam fallaciter imitando adulterat."* The whole truth may be in neither allegation, and to balance the opposite columns something may be required to pass from the one to the other.
Perhaps in no land of earth is this distinction of labourers more marked and more equipoised than in our own. Rival interests are supposed to arise between them, and, however only putative, these keep them apart and excite frequent irritation. To adjust all questions of jealousy is the part of the statesman ; and he feels his way to be slow and difficult among the competitors. Perhaps a new light begins to fall upon him, a simple light, a light from heaven. If he will follow it, it will save him from a thousand perplexities. It teaches him to leave commerce to the
"Since the Oration must be adapted not only for the announcement of truth, but to the opinions of those who listen, we ought to be fully aware that men divide themselves into two classes: the first, ill-taught and rustic, who always prefer the useful to the refined,— the second, the courtly, who set the highest value upon reputation. The whole intentness of the latter is upon fame, nobility, glory, faithfulness, justice, and every excellence: that of the former is on gain, advantage, acquisition, and even that grosser enjoyment, which is most opposed to virtue, and corrupts by its too successful imitation of happiness."