« PreviousContinue »
do not punish these guilty men, will most inevitably punish you?
If the widows and the orphans, which this wasting evil has created and is yearly multiplying, might all 35 stand before you, could you witness their tears ; listen
to their details of anguish? Should they point to the inurderers of their fathers, their husbands, and their children, and lift up their voice and implore your aid to
arrest an evil which had made them desolate--could 40 you disregard their cry? Before their eyes could you
approach the poll and patronize by your vote the destroyers of their peace? Had you beheld a dying father, conveyed bleeding and agonizing to his distracted
family: had you heard their piercing shrieks, and wit45 nessed their frantic agony-would you reward the sav
age man who had plunged them in distress? Had the duellist destroyed your neighbour—had your own father been killed by the man who solicits your suffrage--had
your son been brought to your door, pale in death, and 55 weltering in blood, laid low by his hand-would you
then think the crime a small one? Would you honour with your confidence, and elevate to power by your vote, the guilty monster ? And what would you think of
your neighbours, if, regardless of your agony, they 55 should reward him ? And yet, such scenes of unuttera
ble anguish, are multiplied every year. Every year the duellist is cutting down the neighbour of somebody. Every year, and many times in the year, a father is
brought dead or dying to his family, or a son laid breath60 less at the feet of his parents. And every year you are
patronizing, by your votes, the men who commit these crimes, and looking with cold indifference upon, and even mocking the sorrows of your neighbour.--Beware
-I admonish you solemnly to beware, and especially 65 such of you as have promising sons preparing for active
life, lest, having no feeling for the sorrows of another, you be called to weep for your own sorrow ; lest your sons fall by the hand of the very murderer you vote for,
or by the hand of some one whom his example has train70 ed to the work of blood. With such considerations before you, why, in the
name of heaven, do you wish to vote for such men ? What have they done for you-what can they do, that
better men cannot as happily accomplish ? And will 75 you incur all this guilt and hazard all these consequen
ces for nothing ? Have you no religion--no conscience - no love to your country? No attachment to liberty
-no humanity-no sympathy-no regard to your own
welfare in this life; and no fear of consequences in the 80 life to come ?
Oh, my countrymen, awake! Awake to crimes which are your disgrace--to miseries which know not a limit --to judgments which will make you desolate.
108. Character of the Puritans. The Puritans were men whose minds had derived a peculiar character from the daily contemplation of superior beings and eternal interests. Not content with
acknowledging, in general terms, an overruling Prov5 idence, they habitually ascribed every event to the will
of the Great Being, for whose power nothing was too vast, for whose inspection nothing was too minute. To know him, to serve him, to enjoy him, was with them
the great end of existence. They rejected with con10 tempt the ceremonious homage which other sects sub
stituted for the pure worship of the soul. Instead of catching occasional glimpses of the Deity through an obscuring veil, they aspired to gaze full on the intolera
ble brightness, and to commune with him face to face. 15 Hence originated their contempt for terrestrial distinc
tions. The difference between the greatest and meanest of mankind seemed to vanish, when compared with the boundless interval which separated the whole race
from him on whom their own eyes were constantly fix20 ed. They recognized no title to superiority but his fa
vour ; and, confident of that favour, they despised all the accomplishments and all the dignities of the world. If they were unacquainted with the works of philoso
phers and poets, they were deeply read in the oracles of 25 God. If their names were not found in the registers of
UNITE. SIS Ex. 108.] SACRED ELOQUENCE.
heralds, they felt assured that they were recorded in the Book of Life. If their steps were not accompanied by a splendid train of menials, legions of ministering an
gels had charge over them. Their palaces were houses 30 not made with hands; their diadems crowns of glory which should never fade away!
On the rich and the eloquent, on nobles and priests, they looked down with contempt: for they esteemed
themselves rich in a more precious treasure, and elo35 quent in a more sublime language, nobles by the right
of an earlier creation, and priests by the imposition of a mightier hand. The very meanest of them was a being to whose fate a mysterious and terrible importance
belonged--on whose slightest action the spirits of light 40 and darkness looked with anxious interest, who had
been destined, before heaven and earth were created, to enjoy a felicity which should continue when heaven and earth should have passed away. Events which short
sighted politicians ascribed to earthly causes, had been 45 ordained on his account. For his sake empires had
risen, and flourished, and decayed. For his sake the Almighty had proclaimed his will by the pen of the evangelist, and the harp of the prophet. He had been res
cued by no common deliverer from the grasp of no com50 mon foe. He had been ransomed by the sweat of no
vulgar agony, by the blood of no earthly sacrifice. It was for him that the sun had been darkened, that the rocks had been rent, that the dead had arisen, that all
nature had shuddered at the sufferings of her expiring 55 God!
Thus the Puritan was made up of two different men, the one all self-abasement, penitence, gratitude, passion; the other proud, calm, inflexible, sagacious. He pros
trated himself in the dust before his Maker : but he set 60 his foot on the neck of the king. In his devotional re
tirement, he prayed with convulsions, and groans, and tears. He was half maddened by glorious or terrible illusions. He heard the lyres of angels, or the tempting
whispers of fiends. He caught a gleam of the beatifick 65 vision, or woke screaming from dreams of everlasting
fire. Like Vane, he thought himself intrusted with the sceptre of the millennial year. Like Fleetwood, he cried in the bitterness of his soul that God had hid his face
from him. But, when he took his seat in the council, 70 or girt on his sword for war, these tempestuous workings
of the soul had left no perceptible trace behind them. People who saw nothing of the godly but their uncouth visages, and heard nothing from them but their groans
and their hymns, might laugh at them. But those had 75 little reason to laugh who encountered them in the hall of debate, or in the field of battle.
The Puritans brought to civil and military affairs, a coolness of judgment, and an immutability of purpose
which some writers have thought inconsistent with their 80 religious zeal, but which were in fact the necessary
effects of it. The intensity of their feelings on one subject made them tranquil on every other. One overpowering sentiment had subjected to itself pity and hatred,
ambition and fear. Death had lost its terrors, and pleas85 ure is charms. They had their smiles and their tears,
their raptures and their sorrows, but not for the things of this world. Enthusiasm had made them stoicks, had cleared their minds from every vulgar passion and
prejudice, and raised them above the influence of dan90 ger and of corruption. It sometimes might lead them to
pursue unwise ends, but never to choose unwise means. They went through the world like Sir Artegales's iron man Talus with his flail, crushing and trampling down
oppressors, mingling with human beings, but having 95 neither part nor lot in human infirmities; insensible to
fatigue, to pleasure, and to pain; not to be pierced by any weapon, not to be withstood by any barrier.
Such we believe to have been the character of the Puritans.
We perceive the absurdity of their manners. 100 We dislike the gloom of their domestick habits.
acknowledge that the tone of their minds was often injured by straining after things too high for mortal reach : And we know that, in spite of their hatred of popery,
they too often fell into the vices of that bad system, in105 tolerance and extravagant austerity. Yet, when all cir
cumstances are taken into consideration, we do not hes
itate to pronounce them a brave, a wise, an honest, and an useful body.
109. An enlightened ministry. Christianity now needs dispensers, who will make history, nature, and the improvements of society, tributary to its elucidation and support; who will show its
adaptation to man as an ever progressive being ; who · 5 will be able to meet the objections to its truth, which
will naturally be started in an active, stirring, inquiring age; and, though last not least, who will have enough of mental and moral courage to detect and renounce the
errors in the Church, on which such objections are gen10 erally built. In such an age a ministry is wanted,
which will furnish discussions of religious topicks, not inferior at least in intelligence to those, which people are accustomed to read and hear on other subjects.
Christianity will suffer, if at a time, when vigour and 15 acuteness of thinking are carried into all other depart
ments, the pulpit should send forth nothing but wild declamation, positive assertion, or dull common places, with which even childhood is satiated. Religion must
be seen to be the friend and quickener of intellect. It 20 must be exhibited with clearness of reasoning and varie.
ty of illustration; nor ought it to be deprived of the benefits of a pure and felicitous diction, and of rich and glowing imagery, where these gifts fall to the lot of the
teacher. It is not meant that every minister must be 25 a man of genius ; for genius is one of God's rarest in
spirations ; and of all the beamings and breathings of genius, perhaps the rarest is eloquence. I mean only to say, that the age demands of those, who devote them
selves to the administration of Christianity, that they 30 should feel themselves called upon for the highest culti
vation and fullest developement of the intellectual nature. Instead of thinking, that the ministry is a refuge for dulness, and that whoever can escape from the plough
is fit for God's spiritual husbandry, we ought to feel that 35 no profession demands more enlarged thinking and
more various acquisitions of truth.