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teach them to regard its intellectual and moral improvement as mainly important. In the same way the interests of the cause to which they are devoted compel them to direct their efforts towards the at. tainment of this object. For wbile they know that Christianity is adapted to man in every condition, from the highest point of intellectual elevation to the lowest depth of ignorance; they are equally well assured, that the farther a nation advances in intelligence, the more completely may it be brought under the dominion of the gospel. Thus the Christian ministry furnishes, and spreads over our land, an order of men, whose habits, and pursuits, and interests, all lead them to make every effort for the advancement of public intelligence, and thus, for the progress of that refinement, and that nobleness of character, which are deemed its necessary attendants. Will any man say that this is speculation ?Then look abroad, and tell me who in this land are, and are of course expected to be, the foremost in contriving, and the most indefatigable in prosecuting, all schemes of public improvement. Go, number our schools, and academies, and colleges; and tell me on whom do these grand instruments of national happiness and power chiefly depend for their efficiency, not to say for their very organization. Why is it that, in all these United States, you can hardly find a single flourishing seminary of learning, which is not more or less under the influence of the ministers of religion? How are such facts to be explained, except by the supposition that he who has instituted the sacred office as the means by which he will save the
souls of men, has also mercifully designed that it shall be a palladium of prosperity to the nation that preserves it in its original form and brightness, as it was sent down from heaven?
But we are told that ministers are the contrivers and most strenuous advocates of the great schemes for converting the world. Be it so. Here I find another topic by which to illustrate their influence. Here I bring my argument, and I say that these efforts of Christian benevolence are working out for us an abundant reward of national happiness. They are extending their branches, not only through our towns and cities, but into every hamlet and every settlement; and wherever their influence extends, there they are rapidly diffusing the most valuable information, and continually speaking, not only to the high motives by which the Christian is governed, but to all that is kind and generous in humanity; and thus are they cherishing and strengthening whatever is lovely, and whatever is grand, in the ruins of our fallen nature. Is it no advantage that our old men are taught to be generous, and our young men to be active, for the alleviation of misery in another hemisphere? Is it no advantage that all classes of the community learn to make efforts and sacrifices, for the sake of accomplishing a good on the other side of the globe ? Does it give them no comprehensiveness of views, no enlargement of feeling ? And are such operations nothing for the glory of our country?
Let it not be said that glory is only a name. It is more than a name. It is more in its causes, and in its consequences. False glory is more than a name. Is
it nothing but a name to France, that she has aspired after, and has gained the reputation of being the greatest military nation in Europe ? Let her internal disturbances, and her foreign warslet her capital twice occupied by her allied enemies, and her armies slaughtered on the plains of Belgium, or in the defiles of the Pyrenees--be the answer. True glory is more than a name. Is it nothing to our own country that her political institutions are acknowledged to be the freest on the globe ? Is it nothing that we have “ gotten the start of the majestic world,” and that the nations are looking on our career with astonishment ?nothing that the orators and poets of the old world are pointing to our government, as having realized those dreams of political happiness which the whole host of visionary philosophers have worshipped ? Is it nothing that the patriot on the shores of Europe smiles and sighs, as he greets the starry ensign of freedom floating over the waves of the Atlantic? I need not say--for every man's consciousness tells him—that in reflections like these, there is something that can create and support a high and honourable national feeling. And if there is inspiration in these thoughts-if such reflections can cherish noble sentiments, is there nothing inspiring, nothing ennobling, in the thought that our country is to bear a magnificent part in the great work of enlightening and purifying the world ? Is there nothing sublime, nothing that can elevate, in the thought that from our land from a continent unknown to the first promulgators of Christianity—the pure light of truth is beaming forth on countries
where the Sun of Righteousness has long since ceased to shine, and on countries over which darkness has rested from the foundation of the world? Is it nothing to believe that our country, from the calm haven of her triumphant rest, is holding out the torch of hope and salvation to the nationis wandering in darkness, and afflicted and tossed by the tempest? Thoughts and reflections like these will be, to the nation that receives them, like the image of perfection that haunted the orator of old, the “something immense” that filled and swelled all his conceptions, that was in his dreams, and in his waking aspirations, that inspired and stimulated his efforts, till he himself became the ideal he had imagined. ľ Such, in its nature, is the influence of the Christian ministry on national character and happiness. And this influence is far greater in its amount, than a superficial observer would be ready to imagine. It goes to the very foundations of our national character; and it is mightier and steadier, and more enduring, than any other influence which can be brought to bear upon its object. The machinery moves silently; and on that account, though it moves with no less power, its power may be unnoticed, or forgotten, or at the most but imperfectly apprehended, till it is conceived of by a minute and specific observation. You may be told that there are, in the United States, five thousand ministers; and so far is this proposition from conveying any vivid conception of power, that you may even go with the political economist, and in your account of our national resources, set down the efforts of these men as so much“ unproductive la
bour.” You must learn what they are doing, by looking at them, not in the mass, but individually,—not in their associations, or synods, or conventions, but in the respective spheres of their immediate influence. If you go in and look at the ministers of your own Commonwealth, when they assemble in this metropolis, you will see nothing that looks like the exercise of a wide and mighty influence. You see no pomp or parade, no symbols of power, no insignia of office. They may debate, but their debates would seem to be a very harmless affair. They may enact decrees, but their decrees are only such as the politician laughs at. You can calculate their influence, only as you follow the individuals to their homes, and see what they are doing there ;—nay, you must follow them to their graves; and you will find that the more specific and particular are your conceptions of the relation they sustain to the community, the more thorough will be your conviction of their power.
Some of you have stood by the open grave, in which a venerable minister of the gospel had lain down to sleep till the morning of the resurrection. It was surrounded, perhaps, by the grassy mounds where he himself had deposited, with funeral rites, a whole generation of his flock. The men and women, who passed by that open grave, wept as they looked in on the coffin that contained the venerable form with which were associated all their earliest recollections of religion. His hand had baptized them into the faith of the Redeemer, and by the same hand, when tremulous with age, had their children been devoted to God. His voice had recalled them from their