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timents are fed from this fountain; how powerless conscience would become without the belief of a God; how palsied would be human benevolence, were there not the sense of a higher benevolence, to quicken and sustain it; how suddenly the whole social fabric would quake, and with what a fearful crash it would sink into hopeless ruins, were the ideas of a Supreme Being, of accountableness, and of a future life, to be utterly erased from every mind.
2. Once let men thoroughly believe, that they are the work and sport of chance; that no Superior Intelligence concerns itself with human affairs; that all their improvements perish forever at death; that the weak have no guardian, and the injured no avenger; that there is no recompense for sacrifices to uprightness and the public good; that an oath is unheard in heaven; that secret crimes have no witness but the perpetrator; that human existence has no purpose, and human virtue no unfailing friend; that this brief life is everything to us, and death is total, everlasting extinction, once let men thoroughly abandon religion, and who can conceive or describe the extent of the desolation which would follow?
3. We hope, perhaps, that human laws and natural sympathy would hold society together. As reasonably might we believe, that, were the sun quenched in the heavens, our torches could illuminate, and our fires quicken and fertilize, the creation. What is there in human nature to awaken respect and tenderness, if man is the unprotected insect of a day? and what is he more, if atheism be true? Erase all thought and fear of God from a community, and selfishness and sensuality would absorb the whole man.
4. Appetite, knowing no restraint, and poverty and suffering, having no solace or hope, would trample in scorn on the restraints of human laws. Virtue, duty, principle, would be mocked and spurned as unmeaning sounds. A sordid self-interest would supplant every other feeling, and man would become in fact, what the theory of atheism declares him to be, a companion for brutes!
CHARACTER OF A GOOD PARSON. 285
LESSON CXXXVIII. Character of a Good Parson.
1. A PARISH priest was of the pilgrim train;
Rich was his soul, though his attire was poor;
But sweetly tempered awe, and softened all he spoke.
LESSON CXXXIX. Studies for the Statesman.
1. ALL society is an affair of mutual concession. expect to derive the benefits which are incident to it, we must sustain our reasonable share of burdens. The great interests which it is intended to guard and cherish must be supported by their reciprocal action and reaction. The harmony of its parts is disturbed, the discipline which is necessary to its order is incomplete, when one of the three great and essential branches of its industry is abandoned and unprotected.
2. If you want to find an example of order, of freedom from debt, of economy, of expenditure falling below, rather than exceeding income, you will go to the well-regulated family of a farmer. You will go to the house of such a man as Isaac Shelby. You will not find him haunting taverns, engaged in broils, or prosecuting angry lawsuits.
3. You will behold every member of his family clad with the produce of their own hands, and usefully employed, the spinning-wheel and the loom in motion by daybreak. With what pleasure will his wife carry you into her neat dairy, lead you into her store-house, and point you to the tablecloths, the sheets, the counterpanes, which lie on this shelf for one daughter, or on that for another, all prepared in advance by her provident care for the day of their respective marriages.
4. If you want to see an opposite example, go to the house of a man who manufactures nothing at home, whose family resorts to the store for every thing they consume. You will find him perhaps in the tavern, or at the shop at the cross-roads. He is engaged, with the rum grog on the table, taking depositions to make out some case of usury or fraud.
5. Or, perhaps he is furnishing to his lawyer the materials to prepare a long bill of injunction in some intricate case. The sheriff is hovering about his farm to serve some new writ. On court days (he never misses attending them) you will find him eagerly collecting his witnesses, to defend himself against the merchant's and doctor's claims.
6. Go to his house, and, after the short and giddy period that his wife and daughters have flirted about the country in
their calico and muslin frocks, what a scene of discomfort and distress is presented to you there! What the individual family of Isaac Shelby is, I wish to see the nation in the aggregate become. But I fear we shall shortly have to contemplate its resemblance in the opposite picture. If statesmen would carefully observe the conduct of private individuals in the management of their own affairs, they would have much surer guides in promoting the interests of the state, than the visionary speculations of theoretical writers.
LESSON CXL. The Puritans.
1. THE first years of the residence of the Puritans in America, were years of great hardship and affliction. It is an error to suppose, that this short season of distress was not promptly followed by abundance and happiness. The people were full of afflictions, and the objects of love were around them. They struck root in the soil immediately. They enjoyed religion. They were, from the first, industrious, and enterprising, and frugal; and affluence followed of course. When persecution ceased in England, there were already in New England "thousands who would not change their place for any other in the world"; and they were tempted in vain with invitations to the Bahama Isles, to Ireland, to Jamaica, to Trinidad.
2. The purity of morals completes the picture of colonial felicity. "As Ireland will not brook venomous beasts, so will not that land vile livers." One might dwell there "from year to year, and not see a drunkard, or hear an oath, or meet a beggar." The consequence was universal health,one of the chief elements of public happiness.
3. The average duration of life in New England, compared with Europe, was doubled; and the human race was so vigorous, that, of all who were born into the world, more than tw in ten, full four in nineteen, attained the age of seventy. Of those who lived beyond ninety, the proportion, as compared with European tables of longevity, was still more remarkable.
4. I have dwelt the longer on the character of the early
Puritans of New England, for they are the parents of one third the whole white population of the United States. In the first ten or twelve years, and there was never afterwards any considerable increase from England, - we have seen, that there came over twenty-one thousand two hundred persons, or four thousand families. Their descendants are now not far from four millions. Each family has multiplied on the average to one thousand souls. To New York and Ohio, where they constitute half the population, they have carried the Puritan system of free schools; and their example is spreading it through the civilized world.
5. Historians have loved to eulogize the manners and virtues, the glory and the benefits, of chivalry. Puritanism accomplished for mankind far more. If it had the sectarian crime of intolerance, chivalry had the vices of dissoluteness. The knights were brave from gallantry of spirit; the Puritans from the fear of God. The knights did homage to monarchs, in whose smile they beheld honor, whose rebuke was the wound of disgrace; the Puritans, disdaining ceremony, would not bow at the name of Jesus, nor bend the knee to the King of Kings.
6. Chivalry delighted in outward show, favored pleasure, multiplied amusements, and degraded the human race by an exclusive respect for the privileged classes. Puritanism bridled the passions, commended the virtues of self-denial, and rescued the name of man from dishonor. The former valued courtesy, the latter justice. The former adorned society by graceful refinements, the latter founded national grandeur on universal education. The institutions of chivalry were subverted by the gradually increasing weight, and knowledge, and opulence of the industrious classes; the Puritans, rallying upon those classes, planted in their hearts the undying principles of democratic liberty.
LESSON CXLI. Cesar's Funeral.
It will be recollected, that Cesar was the chief ruler of ancient Rome, but, being deemed ambitious, was slain by Brutus and other.
Enter BRUTUS and CASSIUS, and a throng of CITIZENS.