Page images
PDF
EPUB
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

But you are lovely leaves, where we

May read how soon things have

Their end, though ne'er so brave;
And after they have shown their pride,

Like you, awhile, they glide

Into the grave.

LESSON XXIV.

Pledge to abstain from the Use of Ardent Spirits.

HENRY WARE, JR.

On this point, I am aware, there is greater difference of opinion. Many of the true friends to the cause, advocates of the great principle, hesitate about the pledge. I know their objections, conscientiously and religiously entertained. They are to be treated with all respect. But after the most careful consideration I have been able to give the subject, I am constrained to say, that I think them founded in error, and such as offer no sufficient reason for refusing to join the combination.

The error seems to me twofold : first, in supposing that the pledge is always designed for his sake who takes it, whereas it is often intended chiefly for the sake of others; and, secondly, in fancying that it contains a snare to his conscience, by inducing him to act from unworthy motives.

First, these persons say, We do not use these injurious articles. Why is not this enough? Why pledge ourselves to that restraint which we already practise ?

I answer, For the sake of others, for the sake of extending the knowledge and influence of your example. There is a large class of men almost persuaded, who think on the whole it would be better to abandon the cup altogether, who yet continue to drink habitually, though soberly, and who thus encourage the intemperate, because they are not called to make an immediate decision. Your private exa ample does not urge them to it any more to-day than next year; and they think that next year will be more convenient. But when you sign a paper, and pass it to them, they are brought to a decision on the spot. And it is precisely in this way, that thousands, without a moment's hesitation, have been made practical advocates of the cause. They were advocates at heart before; yet they might never have become such openly, so as to exert a wholesome influence, except they had thus been called on for an immediate decision. In this way, therefore, your written engagement may make your practice known to many, and thus tend to influence many, who never would otherwise have learned what your practice is.

But again they say, We lay snares for conscience in thus surrendering our liberty. We do not think a little occasional indulgence injurious to us, though we do not desire it; and why should we tempt ourselves by the prohibition ?

It is not strange that some should be affected by this mode of viewing the matter. They religiously dread to tamper with conscience, and put its delicacy in jeopardy. But, after all, are they not mistaken as to the amount of the . risk ? If they are accustomed to act on principle, is there much danger that appetite or civility will get ascendency over it, because they have told their neighbors that it shall not ?—for this is the amount of it. Or suppose it amounted to something more; yet should they not be ready to incur the risk for the sake of the good which they may thus do to others !—for this is the point to be considered. It is a question between a single regard to one's own good, and a benevolent sacrifice to the good of others. On the one side is a possible evil to one's self; on the other, an inevitable evil to others. Which is to be chosen ? To a conscientious man, who walks circumspectly, the personal danger is nothing; and he certainly cannot feel justified in refusing to do what might prove an essential office of benevolence, on the selfish plea that possibly he might thereby injure his own mind. The duty then seems obvious. It is determined by the maxim of holy writ, “ Let no man seek his own, but every man another's good ;"> and by that already cited, “I will eat no meat while the world standeth, lest I cause my brother to offend.”

I would ask, also, why this objection should be thought so peculiarly strong in this case, when it is equally applicable to many other occasions, on which it is never brought for. ward. “We are principled against making promises to do our duty; we choose to do it because it is our duty ; otherwise we set snares for our consciences.” But

you

do not act on this principle in other cases. It is your duty to speak the truth in a court of justice ; yet you make a solemn engagement to do so. It is your duty to pay your debts; yet you do not hesitate to give a note of hand promising payment. It is your duty to be faithful to your

wife ; yet you did not refuse, when you took her for better or for worse, to engage to be so. And did you ever find yourself less likely to speak the truth, pay your debts, and honor your wife, because of these promises? Have you found them snares to your conscience ? Certainly, then, there is no force in the objection. It cannot stand before a candid examination.

LESSON XXV.

The Dawning of a better Day.-James Douglas.

1

But, though it may seem long to those whose bodies must moulder in the grave before it arrives, the time is brief, when compared with the past duration of the world, until the era shall commence, when the veil shall be rent which is spread over the face of all people. According to the sure word of prophecy, allowing for the variety of interpretation, before the oak which was planted yesterday shall have reached its full maturity, the whole earth shall have become the garden of the Lord. The fulness of the gentiles, in every sense, is at hand. The earth will soon be full of people, and full of knowledge; the desert is beginning to bloom, and the darkness to disperse, and the minds of men are ripening for, and expectant of, the greatest change which as yet has passed over the earth. Numbers are ready to join in the sublime supplication of Milton,

Come, therefore, O thou that hast the seven stars in thy right hand, appoint thy chosen priests, according to their orders and courses of old, to minister before thee, and duly to dress and pour out the consecrated oil into thy holy and ever-burning lamps. Thou hast sent out the spirit of prayer upon thy servants over all the earth to this effect, and stirred up their vows as the sound of many

waters about thy throne. Every one can say, that now certainly thou hast visited this land, and hast not forgotten the utmost corners of the earth, in a time when men had thought that thou wast gone up from us to the farthest end of the heavens, and hadst left to do marvellously among the sons of these last ages. 0, perfect and accomplish thy glorious acts; for men may leave their works unfinished, but thou art a God, thy nature is perfection.” “The times and seasons pass along under thy feet, to go and come at thy bidding; and as thou didst dignify our fathers' days with many revelations, above all their foregoing ages, since thou tookest the flesh, so thou canst vouchsafe to us, though unworthy, as large a portion of thy spirit as thou pleasest : for who shall prejudice thy all-governing will ? Seeing the power of thy grace is not passed away with the primitive times, as fond and faithless men imagine, but thy kingdom is now at hand, and thou standing at the door; come forth out of thy royal chambers, O Prince of all the kings of the earth; put on the visible robes of thy imperial majesty; take up that unlimited sceptre which thy Almighty Father hath bequeathed thee; for now the voice of thy bride calls thee, and all creatures sigh to be renewed.”

LESSON XXVI.

Sonnet-November. -BRYANT.

Yet one smile more, departing, distant sun !

One mellow smile through the soft, vapory air, Ere, o'er the frozen earth, the loud winds run,

Or snows are sifted o'er the meadows bare; One smile on the brown hills and naked trees,

And the dark rocks, whose summer wreaths are cast, And the blue gentian flower, that in the breeze

Nods lonely, of her beauteous race the last ;

« PreviousContinue »