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114 God himself the ultimate end of all things. and omnipotent, ere he abandons the paramount purpose to glorify himself
. His own great mind alone is capable of appreciating the worth and importance of this mighty object. None but himself is capable of fully conceiving it. But his discerning eye has been fixed upon it from the beginning, and will be fixed upon it to the consummation of all things. Here, all his ardent and powerful affections concentrate. The strength, the fervour, the zeal of his combined attributes are engaged, and publicly pledged to propel the magnificent and glorious design.
“God hath made all things for himself.” And when we say this, we utter a grand and awful truth. Whatever of majesty there is in the divine power; whatever of extent and resource in the divine wisdom; whatever of munificence in the divine goodness; whatever of liberality and tenderness in the divine mercy; whatever of terror and dismay in the divine justice; whatever of royalty and splendour in the divine supremacy, shall all be progressively disclosed. Every dark dispensation shall, by and by, be covered with light, and every intricate providence have a satisfactory solution. Every thing shall be laid open. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain made low. The wonderful revolutions in the material, animal, and intellectual kingdoms, the various and unexpected developments of the human character, the successive periods of time, and the revolving ages of eternity shall all be fraught with deep and impressive illustrations of the Deity.
“God hath made all things for himself.” Creation shall yet more and more unfold its wonders, disclosing the hand of Deity. Providence shall yet more and more bring to light his universal agency and care, while under his omnipotent inAuence, its mighty machinery, like the wheel of Ezekiel, shall move still more high and dreadful to the last. And the great redemption shall yet more and more spread far and wide its glories. The Father shall be exalted. Every knee shall bow before the Son, and every tongue confess to him. And the Eternal Spirit, so long retired from this apostate world, shall be seen and honoured, and by his own mighty influence on the soul, make impressions of the Deity hitherto unknown. Ages so long pregnant with preparations for the Son of Man, shall bring forth their expected blessings. The benevolent exertions now making in the earth, shall be succeeded by those greater and more extended, and these by greater, till “a little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation—till the Spirit be poured from on high, and the wil. derness become a fruitful field”-till these clouds of mercy, the glory of the age in which we dwell, and the hope of ages to come, shall issue in one extended and long continued effusion of the Holy Spirit-till the earth shall become a temple, and time a Sabbath, and these humble notes, so indistinctly heard from here and there a voice scattered over this wide creation, shall receive the accession of ten thousand tongues, and burst forth in one harmonious Alleluia to Him who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever.
Art. VII.-CHARACTER OF THE PRESENT AGE.
In our second volume, page 372, we commenced some remarks on this subject, and took a rapid sketch of the intellectual features of our own age. It was our intention to have resumed the subject before this time, but circumstances beyond our control have compelled us to postpone it until now. Without recapitulation we proceed to say, that the present is an age of strong excitement.
The human mind is actuated by high and powerful excitements, in almost every department of social interest and important concern. If we have not greatly erred in our observation, it forms a prominent characteristic of the age in which we live.
It may seem, at first view, incompatible with intellectual attainments and influence, that feelings should be precipitate, prejudices strong, or energies fitful. The opinion is common that intellectual research is cold, too calculating and wary to admit of tumultuous feelings. In some respects, this sentiment is true. It is true in its application to the individual who secludes himself from social intercourse, and cultivates a severe employment of his intellect. The loftiest exercise of mere intellect may be cold as the polar firmament; and although its rays may illumine a hemisphere, they shed no genial warmth, and excite no emotion. It is also true that intellectual attainments, well directed, have a tendency to prevent a highly excited state of feeling. But more depends upon correct mental
discipline than the mere acquisition of knowledge, in regulating an excited state of feeling.
However we may account for the facts, it is undoubtedly true that this is both an intellectual age, and, at the same time,
great excitement. It would seem, therefore, that the concession, which we have made to the coldness of intellectual pursuits, can only apply to recluse students, never forming a large class of the people, and always unable to give character to the times. They may furnish the standard by which after ages shall estimate that in which they lived, because their writings may live, when the ephemeral notices, furnishing the true indices of the age, have perished. As for any further application of what we concede, the general cultivation of intellect only serves to suppress some of the grosser passions, refining and connecting them with other objects. But this is an important fact in the regulation, pursuits, and happiness of society. It may subserve our purpose to examine a little, this fact, by a few obvious principles of mental philosophy.
There are a few obvious and fixed laws of mental operation, which certainly allow the combination of highly excited feelings with cultivated intellect. Take the universal law, that feelings are the main spring of action, and the general fact, that unless the feelings are excited, nothing can be accomplished; and we have at once the necessity of some emotion, and the first element of strongly excited action. Add to these the social principle, by which men are induced to seek intercourse and unite their attempts, and the selfish propensity by which men are led into collision of feelings; and we have all necessary elements for tumultuous excitement. Another law of mind is, that the feelings are excited only through the medium of the intellect. Objects must be apprehended in order to affect the heart. We can have no feelings toward an unknown or unconceived object; consequently, the character of the medium through which the feelings are affected, must modify and give character in some measure to excited feelings. Ignorant minds may perceive only a single object, and that only in one aspect, calculated to make a strong impression, while cultivated minds take a wide range of thought, and perceive extensively the relations of things. The mind, which can only apprehend a single view of a given object, immediately and strongly associated with its own interests or prejudices, will be strongly excited; and that excitement may be sudden and ungovernable. But the mind which contemplates things in their various aspects and relations, will be affected by the whole view. If that be calculated to make the impression strong, the feelings may be highly excited. The consequence is, that one is cool, deliberate, and unexcited, while the other is thrown into an ecstacy of passion. These remarks naturally connect with the proper rise of knowledge, and with the precise and most important point of mental discipline. It is the appropriate and judicious application of knowledge to regulate the feelings and acquire a habit of selfcontrol. It is more inportant to acquire the habit of governing the passions and regulating the feelings, by sound discretion, than to acquire any conceivable amount of knowledge. This is not always the result of cultivating the intellect; but in most cases, extensive intellectual attainments have an influence over the excitements of feeling. The feelings may be as strongly excited in well informed, as in ignorant minds, but they are not so gross and so foolishly absurd in their association with their objects. When, therefore, the minds which govern the concerns of society are cultivated and imbued with useful knowledge, the passions of the whole are more under control, excitements are connected with more valuable objects, directed with more skill and consistency, and are neither so tumultuous nor ungovernable. Hence, when the feelings are highly excited in favour of useful objects, guided by extensive knowledge and sound discretion, human efforts are employed in the best manner, and human character developed in its most amiable and interesting aspects.
We now return to the fact asserted, that this is an age of great excitement.
We do not mean to assert, or suffer the inference, that no other age has ever been so characterized. Almost every age of the world has had its exciting interests, and the public mind has been swayed by strong emotions. The character has varied with the objects which awakened the excitements, and the circumstances, in which they were produced. Of the earliest ages we have few authentic records of fact or character; but enough is preserved to show that men acted under the dominion of passions strongly excited, in so much that “the earth was filled with violence.” During four thousand years the record shows multitudinous excitements of martial, idolatrous, avaricious, licentious character, and sometimes of a more pure, religious kind. Perhaps it may not be too much to say, that the master passion assumed a warlike
aspect, and martial excitements were the most prominent, frequent, and general. Religious excitements, so called, among Jews and Gentiles, occasionally took place, which gave character to a part or the whole of an age. The evidence is full, that men in those ages possessed an excitability capable of being wrought up to a very high and even frenzied state. Any thing, and every thing, which was deemed of sufficient importance to enlist general exertion, became the subject of great enthusiastic attachment or aversion.
At the time of the Saviour's advent, and the age which succeeded it, although the world was at peace, and more intellectual improvement prevailed than at any former period, we discern evidence of great excitability; and popular commotions were both frequent and violent. Subsequently, for we cannot now trace the characters, as developed in each period, martial and religious excitements have been obviously prevalent with some variation in degree, and some short intermissions, until within a short period. The martial excitement seems always to have kindled most readily, and fired the passions most ardently; and when this spirit has combined with some superstitious feelings, and connected in the pursuit of one object, martial and superstitious excitement, frenzy has been the most complete, and fury the most ungovernable. The history of the crusades fully illustrates this remark, and shows how reckless of means and consequences are men under such excitements. That was an age, not perhaps of so much more, as of misdirected and reckless passions. Still the world has never had so large a portion of its population engaged in one object so madly and perversely. But more recently other subjects than martial or religious, awake all the enthusiasm of feeling, and have left almost no object of human pursuit free from high, unwonted, and protracted excitement. It is in view of this fact, that we have denominated this an age of excitement.
Europe is at this moment agitated from one end to the other; and no class or department of society quietly pursues any uniform course. All are in bustle and commotion. In the political sphere, excitements shake thrones and overturn kingdoms; revolution follows revolution in rapid succession. Nothing of a political character is settled or stable, except when it is held so firmly in the grasp of despotism that life is ready to expire. In most of those cases, the grasp is so convulsive, that it indicates a strong excitement of feeling ready