ページの画像
PDF
ePub

youthful wanderings, it had warned them in temptation, it had spoken comfort in affliction. And now, when they remembered that they should see his face no more, they wept like children that weep over the grave of their father. And the stranger that was there, could see in their tears, and in their looks of deep and silent grief, what an influence the old man had gathered around him, and what a power he had been exerting to make that people happy.

Have we not seen a minister of the gospel, standing in the midst of a populous city, as if he were its guardian angel? Sabbath after sabbath, thousands listened to his instructions. While he spake, the Spirit came down upon them, and their hearts were softened, melted, subdued. The infidcl scoffed at his efforts, and the profligate was indignant; but the infidel was put to silence, and the profligate was confounded; and in spite of them, public sentiment was purified, and the standard of public morals was raised, and a new aspect was given to the affairs of that city. And when he died when his spirit had struggled and burned, till it escaped from its prison of mortality, then, when the long procession followed his coffin to the tomb, it was seen in their sad and solemn countenances, that their hearts were borne down by the weight of some mighty affliction; and while they spake of the sundering of ties which bound him to their hearts, it was the highest eulogy of their grief that his death was a public calamity. Say you that the picture is overdrawn? --You have heard of a LARNED, smitten by the breath of pesti

lence. You have heard of a WHELPLEY, cut down in the bright morning of his hopes. You have seen a HuntingTON. Is the picture overdrawn? Take then another illustration. It shall be actual, and still more specific.

A young minister of the gospel once said to an intimate friend, “ My brother, you and I are little men, but before we die, our influence must be felt on the other side of the world.” Not many years after, a ship, returning from a distant quarter of the globe, paused on her passage across the deep. There stood on her deck a man of God, who wept over the dead body of his friend. He prayed, and the sailors wept with him. And they consigned that body to the ocean. It was the body of the man, who, in the ardour of youthful benevolence, had aspired to extend his influence through the world. He died in youth; but he had redeemed his pledge; and at this hour, his influence is felt in Asia, in Africa, in the islands of the sea, and in every corner of his native country.-This man was SAMUEL John Mills: and all who know his history will say, that I have exaggerated neither the grandeur of his aspirations, nor the result of his efforts. He traversed our land, like a ministering spirit, silently and yet effectually, from the hill country of the Pilgrims to the valley of the Missouri. He wandered on his errands of benevolence from village to village, and from city to city, pleading now with the patriot, for a country growing up to an immensity of power, and now with the Christian, for a world lying in wickedness. He explored in person the desolations of the west, and in person he stir,

PI

red up to enterprise and effort the churches of the east. He lived for India and Owhyhee, and died in the service of Africa. He went to heaven in his youth; but his works do follow him, like a long train of glory that still widens and brightens, and will widen and brighten forever. Who can measure the influence of one such minister of the gospel ? . I have led you to consider the social and civil infuence of a well instructed Christian Ministry. The nature of this influence, as it affects the standard of public morals, the progress of public intelligence, and the elevation of public sentiment, I have attempted to illustrate, by referring you not only to the official character which ministers sustain, but also to the institutions of public utility which they patronize, and to the spirit of universal benevolence which they are labouring to create and cherish. The degree of this influence I have sought to impress on your minds, by leading you away from abstract and general propositions, to palpable and specific illustrations. A few words more, and my argument is brought to a conclusion.

You love your country. You exult in the anticipation of its ever growing prosperity and its enduring renown. Cherish the sentiment if you will. It is a high and manly feeling. Would that I had the inspiration of a prophet, and might bring before you the scenes that are coming. Look far away to the south, and far, far to the west, and you may see an empire rising into being, to which the shores and cities of New England will be only as the hem of the garment. Every day the growing tide of popu

RN

CLPT

lation rolls farther and farther, the wilderness falls and vanishes before it,--and rich plantations, and smiling villages, and crowded cities, come out upon our vision like the stars at evening. Look forth, and as your mind kindles with the thought of what a country your children will inherit tell me, where are the LARNEDs, and the WHELPLEYs, and the HunTINGTONS, who are to guard the yet uncreated cities of the south and west, from pollution, and ignorance, and degradation? Where are the pastors, who are to impart instruction and all the dignity of manhood, to the millions, that will soon swarm on all those fertile plains and sunny mountains ? Where are the Millses, who shall seek out all the dark corners of a country so immense, and who shall call forth and organize all the benevolence of so wide a community? Where ?-We are seeking to raise them up. And tell me, will you not respect an enterprise which aims at an object like this? Will you not bid it Godspeed? Will you not come up to aid it with your most devoted co-operation ?

The argument admits of another application. I will not believe that your benevolence is limited by the boundaries of your native country. From your peaceful home, you look out on the world as on a dark and stormy ocean. There is a spirit abroad among the nations, restless, impetuous, and its path is like the path of the tempest. You see it in Europe, agitating the whole mass of society. It is prostrating all the institutions of former ages. It is exciting the minds of men to new and mighty undertakings, and driving them onward with an irresistable im

pulse, they know not whither, or wherefore. The nations would be free and happy; but they are too degraded for happiness, and too ignorant for freedom. Franee has tried it, and Italy, and Spain. They would be free, but cannot. They would raise themselves to the dignity of their nature; but they are oppressed and burthened with their own degradation. Freedom—the freedom which we enjoy-is an attribute, and not an accident; it is a part of our character, rather than a circumstance in our condition. The people of America are free, because they are capable of self-government;-and the people of Europe will be free, only when the same capacity shall be found in them. The nations of Africa and Asia, and the islanders of the Pacific, now slumbering in a still darker repose, will, ere long, be heaving and convulsed with the same blind influence. And those millions of men can be organized into peaceful and happy republics, only when they shall have in their characters the elements of peace and happiness ;—they can be free, only when they shall be qualified to govern themselves. And as this is the indispensable, so it is the solitary condition of liberty. At this hour there is not a government on the globe, which does not exist by the sufferance of its subjects, or which does not derive all its power from their volition. The physical force of every nation is solely and purely the force of the people ; and whenever the people acquire the character of freemen, it is as certain that then they will be free, as it is that till then all efforts to be free-however desperate will be, and must be in vain. Here is an

« 前へ次へ »