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is the shrine of the Almighty Sovereignty. Before it, thou shouldst stand in awe; in awe, I say, not of thy neighbour, but in awe of God. And the voice which comes to that shrine, to thy murmuring thought is, "Be still, and know that I am God!” Dost thou complain of this? As well mightst thou demand, that some higher world had been assigned thee for thy sphere! As well mightst thou demand, that thou hadst been made one of a loftier order of creatures-angel or archangel.
Here I might pause. But I would not leave the subject without pointing out some other states of mind, with which the trial, whether of real or supposed inferiority, is to be met. With this purpose in view, let us look at our own nature, and let us look around us upon our fellowmen. To gain the end in view, it is needful to look upon our fellowmen with love and confidence — upon our own nature, with devout gratitude and veneration.
Upon our fellow-men, I say, let us look with love, with confidence. To our peace of mind, this is essential. A man may think lightly of this advice; he may disdain to submit the high controversy with his rivals to a moral force; he may smile in derision, when we put forward the dictates of a gentle and loving spirit, to wrestle with the strong and stormy passions of human life; he may say, that it is as if we sent a child into the battle of armed men; yet let me tell that man, that this is the only thing—this child in the man's heart—this child-like love, this child-like confidence—is the only thing that can bring tho poor and miserable strifes and envyings of the world to an end. Let him call it what he will-weak, poor-spirited, mean-it is the only thing that can help him. That emblem-child which our Saviour once set in the midst of his ambitious disciples, is here the only powerful teacher. Refuse that teaching, pursue the worldly course-refuse, in short, to stand in any relation to your fellow-beings, but that of strifo for the precedence, and there is no help for you. It is not in heaven nor earth to help you. It is thus, that the disinterested love of our kind is made a necessity; not to be dispensed with, but upon condition of giving up all true peace of mind. Thus stern and uncompromising is the language of Providence. If you had been called upon only to love and admire beings far above you, in some loftier sphere of existence, it had been easy. So had you been little tried. But you are placed side by side, with beings who, some of them, tower above you; you are placed in this close pressure of social competition-and why? It is, I say, that every particle of mean selfishness, and base envy, may be expelled from your bosom. Love, then-pure, confiding, generous, disinterested love -has become to you a necessity; you cannot do without it. You might have stood without it on some solitary and barren point, alone in the creation ; but, in the world, you cannot live and be happy without it.
And how often have I seen, and surely was struck with observing it, that simple love, simple confidence, simple self-forgetfulness, makes its way in the world, makes its way to the heart, penetrates through all barriers-finding everywhere an open door, and good welcome and acceptance! I will not say that it was plain in person, poor in estate, or humble in condition; it might be so, or it might not ; but this I mean to say, that in every sphere, disinterested goodness is the pre-eminent quality ; happy in itself, and most likely, other things being equal, to be happy in the love of others. Yes, amidst all the selfishness and injustice of the world, this is true. And, therefore, would I send every complainer, every murmurer, every jealous, or anxious, or desponding person, that is ever thinking of himself— I would send him to the school of love—to tủe school of Christ. Thou mayest seek, restless, discontented one! many resources, many reliefs; but thou must come to Christ, if ever thou wouldst find rest to thy soul. This is no cantlanguage, no language of the pulpit merely; it is the language of simple truth; the only language that applies to the simple, actual relations of being to being. Had there been no Bible, had there been no religion, it were true. Never canst thou look rightly upon thy neighbour, upon thy companion, soaring above thee, unless thou lookest upon him in a kindly and loving spirit. This only can compose the miserable strifes of society. Come down, celestial goodness!—as an angel, come down; and unseal the fountains of healing, and spread new life and beauty over the barrenness of an unkindly, envious, and unhappy world!
One further consideration I have mentioned, and to that I would invite your attention for a moment in close. It is the consideration of our nature,
Your neighbour is above you in the world's esteem, perhaps-above you, it may be, in fact; but what are you? You are a man; you are à rational and religious being; you are an immortal creature. Yes, a glad and glorious existence is yours; your eye is open to the lovely and majestic vision of nature; the paths of knowledge are around you, and they stretch onward to eternity; and, most of all, the glory of the infinité God, the all-perfect, all-wise, and all-beautiful, is unfolded to you. What now, compared with this, is a little worldly eclat? The treasures of infinity and of eternity are heaped upon thy labouring thought; can that thought be deeply occupied with questions for mortal prudence ? It is as if a man were enriched by some generous benefactor, almost beyond measure, and should find nothing else to do, but to vex himself and complain, because another man was made a few thousands richer.
Where, unreasonable complainer! dost thou stand, and what is around thee? The world spreads before thee its sublime mysteries, where the thoughts of sages lose themselves in wonder; the ocean lifts up its eternal anthems to thine ear; the golden sun lights thy path; the wide heavens stretch themselves above thee, and worlds rise upon worlds, and systems beyond systems, to infinity: and dost thou stand in the centre of all this, to complain of thy lot and place! Pupil of that infinite teaching! minister at Nature's great altar! child of heaven's favour! ennobled being! redeemed creature! must thou pine in sullen and envious melancholy amidst the plenitude of the whole creation ?
But thy neighbour is above thee, thou sayest. What then ? What is that to thee? What, though the shout of millions rose around him? What is that, to the million-voiced nature that God has given thee? That shout dies away into the vacant air; it is not his; but thy nature—thy favoured, sacred, and glorious nature—is thine. It is the reality-to which praise is but a fleeting breath. Thou canst meditate the things which applause but celebrates. In that thou art a man, thou art infinitely exalted above what any man can be in that he is praised. I had rather be the humblest man in the world, than barely be thought greater than the greatest. The beggar is greater as a man, than is the man merely as a king. Not one of the crowds that listened to the eloquence of Demosthenes and Cicero—not one who has bent with admiration over the pages of Homer or Shakspeare—not one who followed in the train of Cæsar or of Napoleon, would part with the humblest power of thought, for all the fame that is echoing over the world, and through the ages.
Upon those mighty resources, then, upon those infinite benefactions of thy being, cast thyself, and be satisfied. Thou canst read ; thou canst think; thou canst feel; thou canst love—and be loved; thou canst love the infinitely lovely :say, then, that it is enough! In that
good, let poor and pitiful pride and ambition be swallowed up. Amidst an infinitude of blessings, let humble gratitude and boundless reverence be the permanent forms and characters of thy being.
ON THE PLACE WHICH
EDUCATION AND RELIGION MUST HAVE
IMPROVEMENT OF SOCIETY.
2 Peter i. 5—7: “Add to your faith, virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and
to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness,
charity.” I HAVE thus far, in this series of discourses on society, been occupied chiefly with the consideration of evils and dangers. I shall in this discourse, invite your attention to remedial and conservative principles. It is not my intention, however, to apply them to the evils already stated, since it was natural to connect, with the notice of them, some consideration of the proper remedies; and since there are other evils no less obvious and urgent. I may add here, that I aim at no completeness in this series of discourses; my plan is to notice only such topics, however isolated and disconnected, as justly press themselves upon our attention, in the moral views which we are taking of modern society.
The principles of improvement and safety which I propose now to examine, are education and religion. The space which I shall be able to give to these subjects, in a single discourse, must be, compared with their importance, very small; and, indeed, instead of attempting fully to discuss their social bearings, my purpose rather is, in accordance with the hint of my text, to suggest some things which need to be added to the popular views of them.
But let us consider, for a moment, the state of things on which these suggestions are to bear.
It is, doubtless, a very extraordinary state of things. Its distinctive feature is a grand popular movement, slowly propagating itself through all civilized nations—a revolution of ideas, which is elevating the mass of mankind to importance and power; and, in fact, to the eventual government of the world. It is a revolution which goes alike beyond all former examples in history, and principles in philosophy. The education of this age—that mass of sentiment and maxims which it has received from former ages—does not prepare it to understand itself. Though the noblest genius and philosophy of former times have been distinguished by their generous recognition of the claims of humanity; yet they have seldom descended to work out the great problem of human rights. They have shown more admiration for human nature, than confidence in it. Their speculations, indeed, have proceeded upon grounds widely different from the present state of facts. When Aristotle discoursed in such discouraging terms on the popular tendencies, he discoursed concerning a people that could not read; that had no newspapers; that were ignorant and brutal, compared with our educated and Christian communities. When Plato reasoned of his ideal republic, his ground was pure hypothesis ; his work pure fiction. The philosophy of modern politics has not been written in past times; it cannot be written now; that work, I believe, in its full perfection must be left to a future age. I do not pretend to say what it will be ; the principle of intelligent Christian freedom, may develope results that are out of the range of our present contemplation. But this, I think, is evident, that when the future philosopher and historiographer rises, that shall analyze and portray the stupendous revolution that is now passing in the civilized world, he will speak of a revolution having no precedent in history. None was ever so universal, so profound, or so fearful: all former revolutions have been local, occasional, and sanguinary. In former days, when power has been wrested from its despotic possessor, it has been done only by a violent and bloody hand. But now, an influence, silent and irresistible, is rising up from the mass of the people, and is stealing from thrones, and princedoms, and hierarchies, their unjust prerogatives; and, at the same time, as if by some wonderworking magic, is making their incumbents helpless to resist, and even willing to obey. Potentates are learning a new lesson, and so are the people too. Before, revolutions have been violent and bloody, from the very weakness of those who have carried them on, from the very uncertainty whether they should succeed. Now, the people are reposing in calm security upon their undoubted strength.Assurance has made them moderate. Let no one mistake their moderation for apathy, or their quietness for defeat; for they are calm only in proportion as they are determined and sure.*
Such is, undoubtedly, the character of the present era, however we may regard the good or the evil involved in it. To me, I confess, it is far the most momentous and sublime era in the history of the world. The introduction of Christianity, and the discovery of printing—the two greatest events on record—are, in fact, now producing, for the first time, on the broad theatre of national fortunes, the very results which we are witnessing. They have given birth, if not to the free principles of modern times, at least to their free action. Like the sun and the moon in heaven, they have penetrated by their influence the great deep of society. The effect produced, may well awaken that solemu and even religious emotion in the mind, of which a late distinguished writer has spoken. What is now presented to the attention of the world, is not, as formerly, kingdoms convulsed, or navies wrecked upon the shore, but that “ tide in the affairs of men,” that slow rising, and gradual swelling, of the whole ocean of society, which is to bear everything upon its bosom.
It is scarcely possible to speak of this great movement of modern * Nothing surprised me more, four years ago in England, than what appeared, at first sight, this apathy; this moderated tone of the most radical reformers: but how much more was I struck, to find, on closer observation, this deeper determination, this repose of conscious strength; the purpose to succeed not weakened, but only stronger in its calmness !