Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

THE LADIES' REPOSITORY.

CINCINNATI, DECEMBER, 1842.

Original.
DECEMBER.

FAST fleeting year,
How, from thy reign, the deep, rich glories fade!
Even as we gaze, how leaf by leaf grows sere,
And stain by stain on thy green robes is laid;
From all thy hues something of light is pass'd—
Some shade of dimness o'er their brightness cast.

Thy smile looks wornLife's subtle spirit is no longer thine; Though earth's still fair, we meet, where'er we turn, Some mournful witness of thy swift declineIn vale and glen, and on the mountain steep, And mid the depths where forest shadows sleep. The painted things, Born but to sport where summer sunlight falls— Where are they now, with their bright, glittering wings? O'er faded grass, the dull, brown reptile crawls, Or from low branches, hid by changing leaves, His silken shroud in aimless instinct weaves.

The vacant nest, Love's home, embosomed in the wild-wood bower, No more the spot where fond affections rest, But speaks what was in love's soft spring-time hour; Amid the leaves that parent voices stirred, The wind's wild murmur now alone is heard.

And a low moan From the deep wood, with thrilling sorrow fraught, Tells that the shaft has been too truly flown, The wedded bosom of the dove that sought; And blood is dropping from the pheasant's wing, Now slowly rising where quick death shots ring. Yet few the hours Since spring, glad spring, in breathing freshness drest, Like a young mother smiling o'er her flowers, The pure, bright buds unfolding on her breast, Was in thy train, treading the awaken'd earth, That heaved beneath her feet with one wide birth.

And all fair things Seemed with a sense of quickened being thrilled, And nature woke her thousand choral strings; But all are changed, though all are not yet stilled. With all glad sounds now blends an undertoneA cadence, murm'ring of bright visions gone. And summer's trainWhy, yet the glorious pageant hath not passed; 'Mid all our vales some gorgeous hues remainSome floating odors from her censors vast; But with the breath of lingering flowers, intense Decay's dark vapors mingle on the sense.

The skies, still fair, Wear yet no shadow to the lifted eye; But day's long splendors have a yellow glare, And shadows, all unseen on earth or sky, Seem darkly flung upon the conscious heartA sad foreboding that the bright must part. And all shall part: They fade out one by one-they haste away; The tides grow still in nature's curdling heart, And thou, pale dying year, may'st not delay: The dim and dusty scroll of things that were Shall soon all record of thy being bear.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

354

Original.

THE CONFLICTS OF MIND.

THE CONFLICTS OF MIND.*

A VALEDICTORY ADDRESS DELIVERED AT THE CLOSE OF THE

ACADEMICAL YEAR OF NORWALK SEMINARY.

BY REV. EDWARD THOMSON,
Principal of the Seminary.

Resolution inspires self-confidence. Before the declaration of independence, the Continental Congress acted with fear and trembling; but so soon as that instrument was adopted, a noble self-confidence inspired that gallant band of patriots. They found that they had emerged from that dependance in which they had been reared; and this perception spread a might and majesty over all their thoughts and actions.

5. DIFFICULTIES are more easily overcome than is generally imagined. The simple resolution to surmount an obstacle reduces it one half. It concentrates the powers of the soul. There is much exertion in a retreating army; but it is of little avail, for it makes no impression upon the foe. It is spent in taking care of the baggage and the wounded, gathering up the slain, destroying property, lest it should fall into the hands of the enemy, preparing the way for escape, and protecting the rear from attack. Let that army, however, resolve to stand its ground; and though there may be no more energy expended than there was in retreating, The resolution to pursue the path of duty, regardless how different is the result! Its powers are collected of enemies or obstacles, begets the conviction that we every hand is placed upon a gun-every bayonet is can place reliance on our own souls. Under this condirected against the foe, and every moment works im-viction, whatever is done, is done firmly. Next to a portant issues. So a defeated, staggering soul may sense of the Divine presence there is nothing so invigmake effort to escape from the disgrace of defeat—effort orating to the spirit as the consciousness of indepento rise from beneath the pressure of its own humbling dence. In some respects it is not proper that we should reproaches-effort at planning some new enterprise, be independent. It is wisely ordained that our persons, but it is effort wasted. our tongues, our property, should be, to some extent, under the control of human law; but there is one little territory over which God designs that man should sway an exclusive scepter-that territory is his own soul. On this no tyrant dare rattle his chains-into this no monarch can push his bayonets. It is a holy inheritance-it is celestial soil-it is guarded by the cherubic sword.

taste.

Resolution brings every power to the same point, and moves the whole soul forward, like the Grecian phalanx, each part supported and supporting, and every step making an opening before it. It dissipates imaginary terrors. Imagination is a very busy but very humble servant of the soul. She obsequiously consults predominant inclination, and paints to suit its She is never more active than when fear (which is generally a usurper in a state of irresolution) sways the scepter over the inner man. Hence difficulties are always magnified when viewed in the distance. The inner as well as the outer optics are subject to illusions. When, upon some unknown coast, we view, through the morning fog, the distant cottage, we deem it a castle. Thus the sluggard, standing at his door, sees a lion in his way. Though the enemy be a hundred miles off, the coward sees him on the next hill top. He only who says, "I can and I will," sees difficulties in their true dimensions. How the terrors of the wilderness retreat, before the advancing steps of the fearless emigrant! O, how I like those words, "I can and I will!" They are words of magic-they put to flight the hosts of phantoms and hobgoblins which fear conjures up around us in moments of hesitation-they reduce giant enemies to ordinary foes-they level the mountains, fill the vallies, and make straight paths for the feet. Would you be victors, write them upon your banners, and, like the vision of Minerva which made Achilles tremble, they will shake the knees of all your enemies.

dren, and bid the first pulsations of their little hearts beat music to them. These words, "I will not let thee go until thou bless me," inspired mortal to struggle with immortal powers. Fathers, breathe resolution into your sons; then, though you put them unarmed, unfriended, and unshod, into this wide world, they will see their way to wealth and honor. Launch them upon the stormy ocean-they will exact a rich revenue from its billows: exile them to the wilderness, and they will press milk and honey from its rocks.

Concluded from P. 325.

Unhappy wretch that does not rule in the counsels of his own mind! He opens the gates of his paradise. He becomes a vassal where he should be a king—instead of heading an army he can scarce control a finger. Pitiable being he who asks his fellow mortals to legislate for him. What do they know of the soul? Were they by, in the laboratory of heaven, when God struck it off? or can they measure its apprehensions or its anguish? Can they see it cling to the cross, or attach itself to the throne, or cast anchor within the vail? Can they lift the curtain that hides eternity, and travel up with it to see what will be its wants in unwasting ages? Poor ruined soul art thou that embarkest upon the shipwrecked reason of the world--pcrplexed soul who must obtain consent of his fellow worms before he acts. To whom shall he go? This world is a great Babel, where chaos umpire sits,

"And by deciding, worse embroils the fray." Such a man resembles a boatman on a mighty river, where it divides into a thousand branches. A points to one and B to another of the diverging streams, and obey whom he pleases, the overwhelming majority is against him. Perplexed by the confused cries, every

Ye mothers, at your cradles teach them to your chil- stroke of his paddle is feeble. He is a degraded mortal, whomsoever he be, that stoops to ask man, or winds,

or waves, or mountains, or storms, or lightning, whether

THE CONFLICTS OF MIND.

he may do his duty, and weak as he is degraded. Would you be unembarrassed? Have but one will, viz., the will of God. Inquire what is duty, then do it; and though storms may rage around you, all will be calm within. From the counsels of your own soul you will come forth, as Gabriel, from the light, doing nothing rashly, nothing doubtfully, nothing feebly, and before you difficulties will sink.

Under manly resistance difficulties progressively diminish. If, when we set out in life, we fail, we shall be likely to do so throughout our career; but if we conquer in the first onset, we shall probably vanquish in the next, and after a few triumphs our march will be as that of the conqueror.

355

You will have opposition from honest motives, and opposition from hostile feelings. It will, perchance, come from the hand that has gathered your bounty, and issue from that heart that should love and bless you. No matter, stand firm. If you weep over the ingratitude of those who have basely injured you, let no one see your tears. If you receive into your bosom the poisoned dagger of a false friend, let no murmur escape your lips. Be sure, this course will be best. Preserve a steady footstep, and march towards your object, and your foes will slink away ashamed. Under such a course as named, the very feeling which leads to opposition will suggest its withdrawal. When a designing enemy sees that a man is not arrested by difficultythat obstacles only develop superior energies, he will take care not to put any in his way. The very men that oppose you with bitterness, when they see you marching onward with accelerated footstep, will soon not only surcease their opposition, but come around you with obsequious smile, and bow and beg to do you homage.

||

The forty-fourth British regiment, having lost their colors by a dastardly delay in bringing up the fascines at the battle of New Orleans, and being sent to India to regain them, instead of accomplishing their object, were annihilated by the Affghans. The hero who led the American lines to that memorable field, commenced his career by a fortunate battle, and terminated, in a blaze of glory, a series of brilliant victories. Summon all your energies to the first conflict. As, under reiterated failures, the bold heart sinks, under repeated triumphs the timid one rises. Success gives strength to the hand, and energy to the head, and courage to the heart, and produces the habit of perseverance to successful issue. Its subject goes to the battle as did the Greek, who, being reminded that he was lame, replied, "I propose to fight, not to run." When Buonaparte heard that his old guards had surrendered, he said it was impossible, because they did not know how.

Secure the assistance of friends. It is an old adage that fortune helps those who help themselves. Certain it is that friends are most inclined to help us when they see we least care about their assistance. They wish to be assured that their means will be well invested before they part with them. The individual of sagacity will be glad of an opportunity of aiding a vigorous, manly youth, because he will be sure of an ample interest for his capital. But he who has an estate to bequeath, will not be quick to believe that it is his duty to leave it to a slothful relative. He will seek to intrust it to Manly resistance subdues the opposition of the world. some hand which will make it tell upon the interest of This world is a wicked one. It loves to crush the the world. The multitude delight to crowd around the oppressed. I know not how it is, but I do know that man who can use them to good advantage. It is said so it is. When a man gives signs of failing, his friends of an ancient general, that, in consequence of his seforsake him, and his enemies come up; and even they verity, in time of peace all who could forsook him; who before were indifferent to his affairs, take an inter- but when danger arose, they rushed back again to his est in his downfall. Woe to the man who cannot con- standard. His fearless step in the hour of trial, conceal his inadequacy to meet his exigencies. Clearchus gregated the multitudes around him. The steady dein that memorable retreat of the ten thousand from termination to encounter difficulty without alarm, is, in Persia, though in an enemy's land, and surrounded moments of danger, like the trumpet of Gideon on the with millions of armed foes, delivered to the king's mes-mountains of Palestine, which instantly gathered Abisengers, inviting him to sue for peace, that truly Spartan ezer around him. reply, "Go tell the king that it is rather necessary to fight, as we have nothing on which to dine." While such was his bearing, he marched unhurt through dan-human blessings. In itself it is a curse; relatively, to gerous passes, and over unfordable rivers, and was fallen man, it is a perpetual, universal, unmixed mercy. abundantly supplied with Persian dainties; but when Though the seraph, soaring on his wings of fire, and he went to parley with Tissaphernes, he and the brave triumphing in immortal powers, regards it as a curse— men around him fell. though man in paradise felt it to be such, yet to man Whether unfortunate or prosperous, you may expect depraved, it is a kind angel which saves him from himto be opposed. Had you the wisdom of Ulysses, the self, his greatest foe. Were it repealed, earth would patriotism of Washington, the purity of an angel of be a thousand fold cursed. Matter and mind would light, you would be opposed. God incarnate, on an rot-the field would be a wilderness-man would be errand of redeeming mercy, fought his way to the cross, armed against himself, and against his fellow-passion which he stained with his atoning blood. You may would obliterate reason-iniquity would spring out of expect opposition as long as selfishness and envy rankle all the earth-unmitigated wrath would look down in the human heart. Sometimes your motives will be from heaven-hell itself would be anticipated. Wisely misunderstood, sometimes maliciously misconstrued. has God locked up every blessing, and thrown a cur

Difficulty is associated with happiness. The curse which doomed man to toil is among the greatest of

356

THE CONFLICTS OF MIND.

tain over every truth, that in turning the key, and lift- || glory in thee." Go ask the blood-washed throng if ing the vail, man's physical and moral powers might be they would erase one trial from their history. Ask diverted from their desolating, downward tendency. David on yon mount of glory, why the angels fold their wings, and drop their harps to listen to his story. Would you have an honored life, an honored memory, a blessed immortality, shrink not from conflict.

We measure a man's intellect by his achievement. We estimate his achievements by their difficulties. Think you that honor can come without difficulty? Try it. Go build baby-houses, join mice to a little wagon, play at even and odd, and ride on a long pole, and see what laurels the world will award you.

But exercise not only preserves us, in some degree, from wickedness and woe, it brings us positive pleasure. The exercise of any of the faculties, within prescribed limits, affords enjoyment. As we survey, with the microscope, the fantastic motions of the animalcula that float in the dew drop, we exclaim, how happy! As we take our evening walk in the meadow, and survey the sportive lambs, we cry out, instinctively, what pleasure these little creatures enjoy! We never contrast the slow pace of the dam with the buoyant footsteps of the colt, without drawing an inference in favor of the hap-like Sardanapalus, wrapping yourself in petticoats, dress wool among a flock of women, and see if honor would not stamp his angry foot, and shake his hoary locks, and spurn you from his presence.

We will give you the crown of empire. Now go,

piness of the latter. And why? We form our estimate of the happiness of inferior animals by their motions. But where did we obtain this measure? From our superior natures. The activity of our faculties is the measure of enjoyment, all other things being equal. We may add that joy is the richer and the purer, the more elevated the faculty called into exercise. Does not the peasant enjoy more than the brute-the philosopher than the peasant-the Christian than the philosopher?

Go to your congress of nations. See those two champion statesmen meet in fierce and final struggle. A nation's arguments, a nation's feelings, a nation's interests crowd upon each aching head, and press each throbbing heart. The world's wit and wisdom crowd the halls, and beauty in the glittering gallery watches the approaching conflict. The multitudes besiege the doors, and aisles, and windows, anxious to witness the scene, and herald the issue. The champions rise upon the tempest of human passions-they raise storm after storm, and throw thunderbolt on thunderbolt at each other-they soar, wing to wing, into the loftiest regions-they grapple with each other, soul to soul. Then is the purest, deepest, sweetest rapture, save that which comes from heaven. It were cheap to buy one draught with the crown of empire.

Difficulties give courage. Look at the raw recruit. How timid, how fearful of the foe, how willing to avoid an engagement! See him on the eve of strife-his imagination pictures the smoke and din of battle from afar-the plain crimsoned with blood-the piercing cries and gaping wounds of the dying and the dead. He longs for the home of his childhood, the embrace of his mother, the quiet of peace. But mark the hardy veteran by his side, who carries in his body the bullets of the foe, and bears upon his face the marks of their sabres. He stands firm-he thinks only of the image of his country, the punishment of the invader, and the laurels of the conqueror, and lies down to rest, longing for the reveille that shall wake him to the strife. Behold yon timid, delicate female. She trembles at the spider-she shudders at the unexpected rap-she faints at the firing of the pistol. War breaks out-her husband draws his sword, and leads his platoon to the cannon's mouth. The savages surround her dwelling-the sound of the war-whoop wakes the slumbers of midnight, and the blood of her first-born flows over her threshold. || That female is the timid virgin no longer. Guarding the cradle of her weeping babes, she learns to fire the rifle, and plunge into warrior hearts the sharpened dagger. The heart of a Hannibal throbs in her bosom.

Difficulties, when overcome, insure honor. What laurels can be gathered from the field of sham battle? No enemy, no glory. The brave man scorns the feeble Finally. God knew the difficulties of duty from the adversary. The greater the foe the more noble the vic-beginning. Did difficulty justify a surceasing from tory. Rome gave her best honors to Scipio, because duty, God would have qualified his commands. When, he prostrated Hannibal. America honors Washington amid thunders and lightning, he delivered on the mount because he drove the giant forces of Britain. England that trembled, the command, thou shalt have none other awards to Wellington her highest praise because he gods before me, did he not see that lion's den, and hear struck down Napoleon, her mightiest foe. Mark the that sad decree? Did he not cast his eyes to the plains aged Christian pilgrim as he rises from some fearful of Durah? Did he not see that golden image rising conflict in holy triumph. Hark! Methinks I hear him three-score cubits? Did he not see that gathering host say, "O glorious Gospel of the blessed God! Because of captains, judges, treasurers, counselors, sheriffs, and thou dost task all my powers-because thou dost lead all the rulers of the provinces, meeting for the dedicame to the arena-because thou dost bring me to the tion of the image? Did he not see those three Hemightiest foes—to principalities and powers, leagued for brews, and that furious monarch, and that furnace our destruction-to rulers of darkness, and wicked spir- heated with seven-fold flame to the temperature of a its, panting for our everlasting death-to the world and tyrant's wrath? And yet he did not qualify the high the flesh-to earth and to hell, thus making me a spec- command. tacle to infernal and heavenly worlds-to God the Spirit, God the Son, and God the Father; therefore will I

When Jesus, rising from the tomb, paused on his ascent to heaven, and gave his great commission, "Go

THE CONFLICTS OF MIND.

357

ye," &c., did he not know that Peter would die, that || upon those seats, than move with any other object than

Paul would be beheaded, that emperor after emperor the good of man—the glory of God.

would kindle his fires, and lead out his Christian victims to the flames, or feed them to the beasts? Did he not well know that rivers of blood would flow over his sanctuary, and that every age to the millenium would witness its persecutions? Who says that difficulty should arrest us in the work of evangelizing the world? and yet there may be duties as clear as that.

I would not encourage rash enterprises-I would not set will in the place of conscience, or desire in the room of reason. I would take into consideration opposing tendencies and probable results in forming my views of duty. But there may be duties as clearly marked out by the divine providence as by the divine word. Reason, guided by the light of revelation, may satisfy us of duty as clearly as if God were to speak audibly from heaven.

Pleasure and glory pursue those who least seek them. Serve God with a pure heart, and happiness and honor shall follow you. Pant you for a foe? You shall have one. There is an enemy to all your species, who hangs the earth in black, and fills it with mourning, lamentation, and woe, and plunges his hatchet in unnumbered souls, and kindles around them eternal burnings. Enter the field against him.

At the close of the first punic war, as Hamilcar, about to cross his army into Spain, stood upon the shores of Carthage, he was reflecting upon the triumphs of the Romans, the rivals of his country. He thought of Sicily yielded by a premature despair, of Sardinia intercepted by fraud, of the stipends maliciously imposed, and above all of the laurels won from his native shores, and his great spirit was stirred within him. In the midst of his meditations his little son, nine years old, approached him, and fawning in a childish manner, entreated his father to lead him with the troops into Spain. The great parent breathed upon the martial spirit of his son, and leading him to the altar bade him touch the sacrifices, and then swear that when he became a man, he would be the enemy of Rome. That son was Hannibal. Ye sons of Christendom, come to the altar of our God, touch the sacrifices of our Jesus, and swear eternal hostility to Satan.

I have pointed out the path to success. I cannot leave you without directing attention to the motives which should influence you in determining your pursuit. I cannot imagine that any of you think so meanly of your souls as to enter upon life with the question, what shall we eat, or what shall we drink, or wherewithal shall we be clothed? This would be to regard yourselves as mere brutes. Some may ask, what will be most congenial to my taste, or is most favorable to improvement, or renown, or power, or wealth? I know not how to express my profound contempt for worldly honor or riches. The world cannot often estimate true worth. Homer receives honor; but it comes too late even for the sepulchre. Milton deserved a temple, but scarce received a tomb. But honor, what is it? A name upon the scroll, and which Time with one dash of his sponge shall soon wipe out. Crucify soul and body for the world, and she may mock you in your expiring agonies; and will you offer incense at her shrine, and seek her favor? Let her honors be sought when her heart is purified. Who would seek the applause of hell? Why then seek the honors of a world kindred to it? You are dying, immortal men. What will a world's applause be to you in your last agonies? in the resurrection morning? in the eternal world? There are unfading laurels-there are eternal histories, but not on earth. In what terms shall I express the fathomless degradation of that man who mere heaps up the glittering dust of the mine-who prostitutes energies that might bless a world to the accumulation of dollars and cents? He sinks to the level of the ants a soul that might take rank among the angels. I am soon to die. I tell you-remember what I saythat there is no service which is not infinitely beneath I have said what I intended. I now come to bid your immortal powers but the service of the living God. you farewell. The hour of parting is a solemn one. There is no honor worthy to be sought but that which It is crowded with recollections of pleasures for ever comes from heaven. There is no object sufficiently fled, of opportunities neglected, of mercies abusedgreat to develop the energies that slumber in your bo- may I not hope in this instance mingled with recollecsom, except that for which the Almighty designed you. tions of privileges improved, of intercourse sanctified? I want to see you men-I pant to see you mighty It is allied to the hour when a man lays his head upon Fain would I have you move through earth the pillow to die. It suggests the solemn scenes of the with a tempest's force; but better harden into marble final judgment, and the retribution which must follow.

Do you ask for exemplars? I point you to Daniel, to Paul, to Luther. Others have provoked the acclamations of earth-they have called forth the shouts of heaven. Do you demand a magnificent object? The world is before you. Balboa, the discoverer of the South Sea, in crossing the isthmus which separates the Atlantic from the Pacific, ascended a mountain, from which he beheld the unknown ocean rolling in all its majesty. Overwhelmed by the sight, he fell upon his knees to thank God for conducting him to so important a discovery. When he reached the margin of the sea, he plunged up to his middle in its waves, and with sword and buckler took possession of it in the name of his sovereign, Ferdinand of Spain. Lay the map of the world before you, plant your foot on Asiatic highlands, or on some lofty peak of the Andes. Survey continents, and seas, and islands in darkness and captivity, and fall down to thank God that you stand on an eminence from which you see this great sight; then rising in the majesty of faith, and girding on sword and buckler, advance to the conquest of the nations in the name of Zion's King. There are energies slumbering in the smallest bosom among you to shake the world.

men.

« PoprzedniaDalej »