Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

the severest laws of integrity, truth, and value received. I know such as these, and noble men they are, God's noblemen. And when I see them standing amid the uproar of traffic and worldliness, amid the ceaseless din of the street and the wareroom, and the keen encounter of buying and selling-standing there with serene countenance, with clean hands and a pure conscience, with garments unsoiled and not even the dust of trade upon their sandals-it seems to me that this whole broad earth has no fairer sight. And when I consider the manifold temptations with which they are daily beset, and the infirmities of human nature; the loose morality which prevails in regard to this subject, and the powerful influence of corrupt example in high places, I feel for these men not only the warmest admiration, but a sort of involuntary I honor them, first and foremost of all; for they honor, make honorable, and give dignity to, the name not only of the Merchant, but also of the Man and the Christian! They are the fixed stars, the suns in the commercial, moral and social systems, around which your mean men, your men of cunning, of tricks, and sharp trading, so called, revolve, in orbits eccentric enough, but still in a way to illustrate the power and influence of the strictly just and righteous man.

reverence.

Yes; one just man, one man of unbending moral principle, is mightier than all the hosts of dishonest and fraudulent knaves; and in his majestic presence they feel their littleness, and weakness, and shame, and are ready to slink away lest they blush beneath the gaze of his calm clear eye. It is a noble sight, worth going far to look at, the man who stands erect and serene, with his heel upon the red dragon of temptation, its seven heads and ten horns crushed and trodden down into the dust! In all the world there is no sight so lovely, so grand as this. He is nobler than any coronet can make him. is richer than gold or precious stones can make him. He is mightier than kings, and one of the greatest of conquerors, for all men rejoice in his victories. Even those who have not courage to follow him in his conflicts, are glad to see him come forth from the life-battle-field unscarred, and silently, in their hearts, they bless him.

He

Look at him in the daily turmoil of business, with shift.

ing waves of buying and selling, building, stocks, mortgages, loans and interest, profit and loss, tempting bargains, promising speculations, fortunes made at a single throw of the dice-look at him as he stands there amid the ebb and flow, the rush and roar, firm as a rock in the stormy sea. The waters gather upon him, and howl around him, but he cannot be shaken. His foundation is below the waters, reaching down into the very roots of the earth. He cannot be moved from the eternal rectitude of his soul. He cannot be swept from the unalterable moral principles on which the massy and symmetrical structure of his character rests, as on the centre of the solid globe. No temptations are strong enough to overthrow him, or to make him waver for a moment. Conscience is supreme with him. Her slightest touch is responded to quick as thought. He never debates for an instant of time whether it is not best to do a little wrong for the sake of a great gain. His cheek would redden with shame, he would feel degraded, if the thought of such a thing got lodge. ment in his heart so long as it went from one beat to the next. He does right, as if it were a kind of instinct with him. He sees what is true, and speaks it. He sees what is just, and does it. His counting-room is the sanctuary of justice; and her altar is never naked nor cold. His account-books are a beautiful daily paraphrase of the laws of honorable trade and mercantile integrity. They are a kind of ten commandments, a book of proverbs, a business-bible, which your cunning, sharp, all-is-fair-intrade men would do well to read a lesson out of every day, and then go away and pray in secret.

He listens as reverently to the voice of justice when she speaks for another, as when she speaks for him. He can see the rights of another as clearly as his own; and he would sooner cut off his right hand than wrong another man. You might put a hundred fortunes in the scale against his conscience, and they would be lighter than so many feathers. He would not sell his truth and honor to gain the whole world.

Who buys of him, gets what he bargains for. His goods are better than his samples. Who sells him is sure of his pay. His word is better than your shrewd man's bond or note. His clerks and laborers get a fair compen

sation for their work; and get it when it is due, without asking. The baker, the grocer, the tailor, all who deal with him, are straight up and down. They have but one price. They know him, and know that the first approach to higgling would be the signal for non-intercourse.

He stands on change, under the great dome, undisturbed by the ceaseless hum, and roar, and reverberation. He walks through State Street, and Wall Street, without being infected by its atmosphere. Even the bellowing bulls and bears, and other wild beasts, that meet him seem awed in his presence, and get done with their discordant howlings. They unconsciously acknowledge the majesty and supremacy of a Man! and he stands in their midst unharmed, like Daniel in the lion's den. God protects the righteous man, and as of old sends his angels to stop the mouths of the devouring beasts-that angel is his divine, spotless, incorruptible integrity! his inflexible, unbending moral principle! This is ever his guardian angel, and delivers him from all the perils of riches and traffic, of the city and the wilderness. Other men who have no such angel, confess she is beautiful when they see her, and acknowledge the power of her presence. All men, even the worst, feel the dignity, and confess the majesty and the power of virtue.

Such is the "Man of Principle in Business." Such his position, character, and influence. It would be a work of supererogation after this description, to enter into an exhortation respecting the importance of following him as a guide; or, in other words, the importance of maintaining the most sacred allegiance to truth, honor, moral principle; and heeding the first promptings of conscience. As said, sometimes she does not speak clearly; yet if she speak at all there is danger. As a man thinketh so he is. Even though all things be pure, as Paul says, yet it is evil to that man who eateth with offence, and he that doubteth is damned if he eat. Better not go within an hundred steps as far as one might law. fully go, than go one step farther. Better to err on the right side than on the wrong.

What is right clearly, do it, though the heavens fall. What is wrong clearly, do it not, though you could thereby grasp the wealth of a Croesus. In the presence of

evil, or the shadow of it, never hesitate for a breath-on the instant speak to it-" Get thee behind me Satan." Then thou shalt be at peace with thyself. All men shall honor thee, and God and his angels shall bless thee and keep thee always.

T. B. T.

ART. II.

Indications of Providence in the Establishment of Christianity.

THE philosophical mind has not failed to notice, in the tendency of those political events that immediately preceded the advent of Christianity, or in the condition of the civilized world at that period, very significant signs of preparation for the reign of that religion which Jesus Christ was to establish. In the new order of things, which it was his mission to initiate, we find the explanation of a course of events and of a posture of affairs, which, considered apart from their ultimate uses, must have appeared inexplicable. It is by the revelation of God's designs in the slowly unfolding results of ages, that he justifies his ways to man, interprets the anomalies of human experience, and makes history luminous to the wise. We propose to consider a few indications of his directing providence, as seen in the introduction and establishment of Christianity.

For many years, the steady progress of Roman conquest had been obliterating the distinction of nations, appeasing the jealousy of hostile peoples by granting a similarity of social position and political privilege, and blending the apparently incongruous tribes in the equality of a vast commonwealth. With an insatiable ambition and an iron will, the genius of Rome had led her victorious armies through the most distant provinces, and brought back the spoils of nations to her capital; yet, after the heat of conquest had subsided with the exultation of victory, in the exercise of a tolerant and comprehensive policy, she embraced all the conquered within her im

[ocr errors]

perial jurisdiction, and extended to them the common rights of Roman subjects; so that, in the words of a popular historian," the kingdoms, which were won by the most unjustifiable aggression, were, for the most part, governed with a judicious union of firmness and conciliation, in which the conscious strength of irresistible power was tempered with the wisest respect to national usages." Thus, in the reign of Augustus Cæsar, the world was presented with the unexampled spectacle of an empire extending "from the Euphrates to the Atlantic; from the shores of Britain, and the borders of the German forests, to the sands of the African desert," and consolidating a large part of the human family within a uniform social system, united by similar laws and commercial facilites, and by the general predominance of the Greek and Latin languages.2

No sooner was this mighty political fabric completed, than a religion appeared, worthy to be enthroned in it as its living soul. As the Roman empire transcended all former political confederations, and moulded into a uniform social condition the hostile and local diversities of the nations it conquered,-so Christianity, transcending all former religions, was prepared to unite the various peoples, thus made accessible to her teachings, into a uniform and everlasting spiritual commonwealth. This adaptation of the world to the advent of Christianity could not have been accidental. So perfect an adjustment of ample means to a great and lofty end, indicates divine forecast and an intelligible plan. Political Rome, fulfilling its ultimate mission in the reception and diffusion of the gospel, reveals a divine purpose in its gradual ascendency, and justifies its monopoly of the power, learning, and wealth of the world. Without the work which it accomplished in removing the barriers that had divided tribes and nations, it seems impossible that the new religion. could have diffused itself, to any considerable extent, except by perpetual miracles-and miracles, too, of an order most violent and unprecedented. It is easy to estimate the difficulties it must have encountered, at an earlier period and under different outward circumstances, with all the petty tribes and powerful nations in a mutually

[blocks in formation]
« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »