ePub 版


inexhaustible reserved power. How great soever have been its boundaries, they are a drop to the sea whence they flow. If you say, "The acceptance of the vision is also the act of God," I shall not seek to penetrate the mystery; I admit the force of what you say. If you ask, How can any rules be given for the attainment of gifts so sublime?" I shall only remark, that the solicitations of this spirit, as long as there is life, are never forborne. Tenderly, tenderly, they woo and court us from every object in Nature, from every fact in life, from every thought in the mind. The one condition coupled with the gift of truth is its use. That man shall be learned who reduceth his learning to practice. Emanuel Swedenborg affirmed that it was open to him "that the spirits who knew truth in this life, but did it not, at death shall lose their knowledge." "If knowledge," said Ali, the Caliph, "calleth unto practice, well; if not, it goeth away." The only way into Nature is to enact our best insight. Instantly we are higher poets, and can speak a deeper law. Do what you know, and perception is converted into character, as islands and continents were built by invisible infusories; or as these forest leaves absorb light, electricity, and volatile gases, and the gnarled oak to live a thousand years is the arrest and fixation of the most volatile and ethereal currents. The doctrine of this Supreme Presence is a cry of joy and exultation. Who shall dare think he has come late into Nature, or has missed anything excellent in the past, who seeth the admirable stars of Possibility, and the yet untouched continent of Hope glittering with all its mountains in the vast West? I praise with wonder this great reality which seems to drown all things in the deluge of its light. What man, seeing this, can lose it from his thoughts, or entertain a meaner subject? The entrance of this into his mind seems to be the birth of man. We cannot describe the natural history of the soul, but we know that it is divine. I cannot tell if these wonderful qualities, which house to-day in this mortal frame, shall ever re-assemble in equal activity in

a similar frame, or whether they have before had a natural history like that of this body you see before you; but this one thing I know, that these qualities did not now begin to exist, cannot be sick with my sickness, nor buried in any grave; but that they circulate through the universe-before the world was, they were. Nothing can bar them out, or shut them in; but they penetrate the ocean and land, space and time, form and essence, and hold the key to universal Nature. I draw from this faith, courage, and hope. All things are known to the soul. It is not to be surprised by any communication. Nothing can be greater than it. Let those fear and those fawn who will. The soul is in her native realm; and it is wider than space, older than time, wide as hope, rich as love. Pusillanimity and fear she refuses with a beautiful scorn: they are not for her who putteth on her coronation robes, and goes out through universal love to universal power.




Read before the Mechanics' Apprentices' Library Association, at the Masonic Temple, Boston, U. S.

MR. PRESIDENT, and Gentlemen,

I WISH to offer to your consideration some thoughts on the particular and general relations of man as a Reformer. I shall assume that the aim of each young man in this association is the very highest that belongs to a rational mind. Let it be granted, that our life, as we lead it, is common and mean; that some of those offices and functions for which we were mainly created are grown so rare in society, that the memory of them is only kept alive in old books, and in dim traditions; that prophets and poets, that beautiful and perfect men, we are not now-no, nor have even seen such; that some sources of human instruction are almost unnamed and unknown among us; that the community in which we live will hardly bear to be told that every man should be open to ecstasy, or a divine illumination, and his daily walk elevated by intercourse with the spiritual world. Grant all this, as we must, yet I suppose none of my auditors -no honest and intelligent soul-will deny that we ought to seek to establish ourselves in such disciplines and courses as will deserve that guidance and clearer communication with the spiritual nature. And further, I will not dissemble my hope, that each person whom I address has felt his own call to cast aside all evil customs, timidities, and limitations, and to be in his place a free and helpful man, a reformer, a benefactor, not content

to slip along through the world like a footman or a spy, escaping by his nimbleness and apologies as many knocks as he can, but a brave and upright man, who must find or cut a straight road to everything excellent in the earth, and not only go honourably himself, but make it easier for all who follow him to go in honour, and with benefit.

In the history of the world, the doctrine of Reform had never such scope as at the present hour. Lutherans, Hernhutters, Jesuits, Monks, Quakers, Knox, Wesley, Swedenborg, Bentham, in their accusations of society, all respected something-church or state, literature or history, domestic usages, the market town, the dinnertable, coined money. But now, all these, and all things else, hear the trumpet, and must rush to judgmentChristianity, the laws, commerce, schools, the farm, the laboratory; and not a kingdom, town, statute, right, calling, man, or woman, but is threatened by the new spirit.

What if some of the objections and objectors whereby our institutions are assailed are extreme and speculative, and the reformers tend to idealism? that only shows the extravagance of the abuses which have driven the mind into the opposite extreme. It is when your facts and persons grow unreal and fantastic by too much falsehood, that the scholar flies for refuge to the world of ideas, and aims to recruit and replenish Nature from that source. Let ideas establish their legitimate sway again in society-let life be fair and poetic, and the scholars will gladly be lovers, citizens, and philanthropists.

It will afford no security from the new ideas, that the old nations, the laws of centuries, the property and institutions of a hundred cities, are all built on other foundations. The demon of reform has a secret door into the heart of every law-maker, of every inhabitant of every city. The fact that a new thought and hope have dawned in your breast, should apprise you that, in the same hour, a new light broke in upon a thousand private hearts. That secret which you would fain keep-as soon as you go abroad, lo! there is one standing on the



the same.

There is not the most

door-step to tell bronzed and sharpened money-catcher who does not, to your consternation almost, quail and shake the moment he hears a question prompted by the new ideas. We thought he had some semblance of ground to stand upon, that such as he at least would die hard; but he trembles and flees. Then the scholar says, "Cities and coaches shall never impose on me again; for, behold every solitary dream of mine is rushing to fulfilment. That fancy I had, and hesitated to utter, because you would laugh, the broker, the attorney, the marketman, are saying the same thing. Had I waited a day longer to speak, I had been too late. Behold, State Street thinks! and Wall Street doubts, and begins to prophesy!"

It cannot be wondered at that this general inquest into abuses should arise in the bosom of society, when one considers the practical impediments that stand in the way of virtuous young men. The young man, on entering life, finds the way to lucrative employments blocked with abuses. The ways of trade are grown selfish to the borders of theft, and supple to the borders (if not beyond the borders) of fraud. The employments of commerce are not intrinsically unfit for a man, or less genial to his faculties; but these are now, in their general course, so vitiated by direlictions and abuses, at which all connive, that it requires more vigour and resources than can be expected of every young man to right himself in them; he is lost in them; he cannot move hand or foot in them. Has he genius and virtue? the less does he find them fit for him to grow in; and if he would thrive in them, he must sacrifice all the brilliant dreams of boyhood and youth as dreams; he must forget the prayers of his childhood, and must take on him the harness of routine and obsequiousness. If not so minded, nothing is left him but to begin the world anew, as he does who puts the spade into the ground for food. We are all implicated, of course, in this charge; it is only necessary to ask a few questions as to the progress of the articles of commerce, from the

« 上一頁繼續 »