« 上一頁繼續 »
succeeded by volumes upon the clergymen of other denominations—the whole forming the most valuable and authentic books of reference of the kind in our language.
VOLTAIRE AND WILBERFORCE.
Let me now, for a moment, show you what the two systems— Atheism and Christianity—can do, have done, for individual character; and I can think of no two names to which I may refer with more confidence, in the way of illustration, than Voltaire and Wilberforce; both of them names which stand out with prominence upon the world's history, and each, in its own way, imperishable.
Voltaire was perhaps the master-spirit in the school of French Atheism; and though he was not alive to participate in the horrors of the revolution, probably he did more by his writings to combine the elements for that tremendous tempest than any other man. And now I undertake to say that you may draw a character in which there shall be as much of the blackness of moral turpitude as your imagination can supply, and yet you shall not have exceeded the reality as it was found in the character of this apostle of Atheism. You may throw into it the darkest shades of selfishness, making the man a perfect idolater of himself; you may paint the serpent in his most wily form to represent deceit and cunning; you may let sensuality stand forth in all the loathsomeness of a beast in the mire; you may bring out envy, and malice, and all the baser and all the darker passions, drawing nutriment from the pit; and when you have done this, you may contemplate the character of Voltaire, and exclaim, “Here is the monstrous original " The fires of his genius kindled only to wither and consume; he stood, for almost a century, a great tree of poison, not only cumbering the ground, but infusing death into the atmosphere; and though its foliage has long since dropped off, and its branches have withered, and its trunk fallen, under the hand of time, its deadly root still remains; and the very earth that nourishes it is cursed for its sake.
And now I will speak of Wilberforce; and I do it with gratitude and triumph, gratitude to the God who made him what he was; triumph that there is that in his very name which ought to
! I am not aware that Voltaire ever formally professed himself an Atheist: and I well know that his writings contain some things which would seem inconsistent with atheistical opinions. But not only are many of his works deeply pervaded by the spirit of Atheism, but there is scarcely a doctrine of natural religion which he has not somewhere directly and bitterly assailed; so that I cannot doubt that he falls fairly into the ranks of those who say, “There is no God.”
make Atheism turn pale. Wilberforce was the friend of man. Wilberforce was the friend of enslaved and wretched man. Wilberforce (for I love to repeat his name) consecrated the energies of his whole life to one of the noblest objects of benevolence; it was in the cause of injured Africa that he often passed the night in intense and wakeful thought; that he counselled with the wise, and reasoned with the unbelieving, and expostulated with the unmerciful; that his heart burst forth with all its melting tenderness, and his genius with all its electric fire; that he turned the most accidental meeting into a conference for the relief of human woe, and converted even the Senate-House into a theatre of benevolent action. Though his zeal had at one time almost eaten him up, and the vigor of his frame was so far gone that he stooped over and looked into his own grave, yet his faith failed not; his fortitude failed not; and, blessed be God, the vital spark was kindled up anew, and he kept on laboring through a long succession of years; and at length, just as his friends were gathering around him to receive his last whisper, and the angels were gathering around to receive his departing spirit, the news, worthy to be borne by angels, was brought to him, that the great object to which his life had been given was gained; and then, Simeon-like, he clasped his hands to die, and went off to heaven with the sound of deliverance to the captive vibrating sweetly upon his ear. Both Voltaire and Wilberforce are dead; but each of them lives in the character he has left behind him. And now who does not delight to honor the character of the one’ who does not
shudder to contemplate the character of the other? - Contrast between True and False Religion.
VIRTUE CROWNED WITH USEFULNESS.
What a noble example of usefulness was Joseph in every relation which he sustained—in every condition in which he was placed Of what he was to the Midianitish merchants, previous to his being sold to Potiphar, we have no account; but, from that period to the close of his life, the monuments of his benevolent activity are continually rising before us. And what was true of Joseph is true of every other good man,—his life is crowned with usefulness. For the truth of this remark, I refer you to your own observation, and will ask your attention to a few thoughts only, illustrative of the manner in which virtue operates to secure this end.
In the first place, virtue renders its possessor useful, by securing to his faculties their right direction and their legitimate
exercise. But, while virtue keeps the faculties appropriately em
ployed, she makes the most of all those opportunities for doing good which grow out of the various relations and conditions in life. Place her where you will, and she finds means of usefulness, which she diligently and scrupulously improves. In the various occupations and professions in which the mass of men look for nothing beyond their own aggrandizement, the truly od man finds channels innumerable through which to send forth a healthful and quickening influence on the neighborhood, the community, the world. Suppose that he is so obscure that, though he is in your immediate neighborhood, you never hear of him—yet there are those who do know him, and to whom he has access in daily intercourse. These he can influence by his example, his conversation, perhaps by his prayers; and it is by no means improbable that some will dwell in heaven forever, because they have dwelt on earth within the circle of his influence. Or suppose that he is left to linger out years upon a sick-bed, and is thereby cut off from all intercourse, except with those who come to sympathize in his affliction, or minister to his wants—even there he may be an eminently useful man. By his faith in God, his cheerful submission, his elevated devotion, he may leave an indelible impression for good on those who are about his bedside; and the story of what passes there may penetrate some other hearts to which it may be communicated; and the prayers which he offers up may be the medium through which the richest blessings shall be conveyed to multitudes whom he has never seen. I repeat, it is the privilege of the good man to be useful always— he may be sick and poor, he may be unknown and forgotten, he may even be imprisoned and manacled, and yet, so long as he has lips that can move in prayer, or a heart that can beat to the spiritual miseries of the world, you may not say that he is a cumberer of the ground. What a delightful employment to reflect on a useful life, when life is drawing to a close How transported must have been the apostle when he could say, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith !” You, my young friends, will soon be in his circumstances, in respect to the opening of another world upon your spirits. Murmur not, though God place you in the humblest circumstances here; but be thank- ful that, even in these circumstances, your consciences may at least bear testimony to a useful life. Let this blessed result be accomplished in your experience, and, be your condition on earth what it may, you need not envy the rich man his wealth, nor the statesman his laurels, nor the monarch his crown.
SARAH JOSEPHA. HALE.
SARAH Joseph A BUELL was born in Newport, New Hampshire, in the year 1795, whither her parents had removed soon after the close of the Revolution, from Saybrook, Connecticut. Her mother was a woman of a highly cultivated mind, and attended carefully to the education of her children; and our authoress had also the advantage of the instruction of a brother who graduated at Dartmouth College in 1809. In 1814, she was married to Mr. David Hale, a lawyer of distinguished abilities and great excellence of character, but who died in 1822, leaving her with five children, the eldest but seven years old. To train, support, and educate these, she engaged in literature as a profession. Her first publication was The Genius of Oblivion, and other Original Poems, printed at Concord, in 1823. Her next work was Northwood, a Tale of New England, in two volumes, published in Boston, in 1827, in which is happily illustrated common life among the descendants of the Puritans. In 1828, she removed to Boston, and became the editor of “The Ladies’ Magazine,” the first periodical, exclusively devoted to her sex, which appeared in America. She continued to edit this until 1837, when it was united with “The Lady's Book,” in Philadelphia, of the literary department of which she has ever since had charge." However, as her sons were in Harvard College, she continued to reside in Boston, till 1841, when she removed to Philadelphia, where she now resides.
Mrs. Hale has been a most industrious, as well as instructive, writer. Her other publications are, Sketches of American Character; Flora's Interpreter; (republished in London;) The Ladies' Wreath, a selection from the Female Poets of England and America; The Way to Live Well, and to be Well while we Live; Grosvenor, a Tragedy; Alice Ray, a Romance in Rhyme; Harry Gray, the Widow's Son, a Story of the Sea; Three Hours, or the Vigil of Lore, and other Poems; A Complete Dictionary of Poetical Quotations, containing Selections from the Writings of the Poets of England and America; and lastly, Woman's Record, or, Sketches of all Distinguished Women from ‘the beginning' till A. D. 1850, a large octavo, in double columns, of nine hundred page. This is the most important of her productions, and very valuable as a book of reference.
THE LIGHT OF HOME.
My son, thou wilt dream the world is fair,
And thou must go ; but never, when there,
! We always regretted that Mrs. Hale did not at once resign the editorial charge of “The Lady's Book” when its proprietor, Louis A. Godey, removed, at the dictation of some Southern subscribers, the name of Grace Greenwood from the cover of his magazine, because she was also a contributor to “The National Era.” See his letter in the “Era,” of February 12, 1850, to the editors of the Columbia (South Carolina) “Telegraph.” For some deservedly severe comments upon this letter, see “The New York Independent” of that time.
Though Pleasure may smile with a ray more bright,
Like the meteor's flash, 'twill deepen the night
But the hearth of home has a constant flame,
'Twill burn, 'twill burn forever the same,
The sea of ambition is tempest-toss'd,
When sails are shiver'd and compass lost,
And there, like a star through midnight cloud,
For never, till shining on thy shroud,
The sun of fame may gild the name,
And fashion's smiles, that rich ones claim,
How cold and dim those beams would be,
My son, when the world is dark to thee, .
“It snows!” cries the Schoolboy, “Hurrah!” and his shout
“It snows!” sighs the Imbecile, “Ah!” and his breath