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In this vast creation no one lives by himself, or for himself; and therefore, none should live to himself. We must borrow from society a large portion of our happiness, and we must pay that which we have borrowed, and, sometimes, with interest, too. One indi. vidual may, and often does, change the destiny of another for good or for evil. And that good or evil does not always terminate with the individual that creates it. It may continue and increase through many generations. Hence the law that sometimes visits the iniquities of the fathers upon the children, and also the goodness that shows mercy to many generations.
Seeing, then, that one individual may change, or affect the destiny of another for weal or for woe, and that this weal or woe may be transmitted to many generations, how important and how necessary that every young man, on entering the active theatre of life, should gravely think and feel that he is sent into the world to be a minister of good or evil to mankind. The day of his birth is to be remembered forever, as a blessing or a curse to some of his contemporaries, and their heirs and successors for an indefinite period of time. The character and the fortunes of myriads of our living contemporaries, are but the fruits and consequences of the acts and deeds of those who lived one, two, or three centuries ago. For this reason not only individuals, families, and tribes of men, but nations, and king, doms, and empires, for many generations, celebrate the birth of their eminent benefactors. The very day we celebrate as our commencement, with all its pleasing, grateful, glorious associations ; with the noble deeds and the illustrious patriots, heroes and philanthropists, whose memories cluster around the day of our national nativity, is a monumental fact in development and proof of the position we would now indelibly imprint upon the living tablets of your hearts and memories.
Perhaps, too, a mother, a nurse, a school mistress, may have deposited in the mind of that infant the idea, the sentiment, the purpose that grew with his years, and that ripened into that illus. trious benefactor or redeemer of his country, whose fame is as broad as the earth and as enduring as time. But we need no abstract reasonings nor elaborate developments, to impress upon your minds, my young friends, the lesson before us. You have already learned that the history of tribes, nations, and empires, are but the development and proof of my position—that every man sent into the world has a commission from his Creator to do some great and noble deeds, on the performance of which his own glory and happiness, and the glory and happiness of others, is as necessarily dependent as an
infant is upon his nurse for his life, growth, and full personal development. It is not necessary that every man, in order to personal nobility, true greatness, and real glory, should be a Sampson, a David, a Solomon; nor even a Columbus, a Luther, a Franklin, a Washington. There are as many forms of true greatness as there are of real goodness; and, therefore, he that is eminently good will always be eminently great in some of the admirable attributes of human greatness and human excellency, which throw a halo of true grandeur around human character, and give to man an enduring nobility. There are, too, as many niches in God's celestial temple, for constellations of great and noble men, as there are stars in the heavens, and worlds in infinite space.
It is not time or earth, or their petty ephemeral distinctions, that fill the measure of man's real greatness or true glory. He was created in the image of God, and, by heaven-born truth and infinite benevolence, he may rise to honor, and glory, and happiness, as far above all earth-born aspirations as the heavens are higher than the earth, or the brightness and grandeur of the sun to the feeble and evanescent glow of a worm.
But how is this real grandeur, this true greatness and glory, to be achieved ? It commences first in thinking right, next in feeling right, and then in doing right. We must first perceive that we are men, and not mere animals; that the mind of man is essentially spirit, and not matter; that true glory is the government of ourselves, and not in constraining the admiration of others; that true beauty is not mere sensible form, light and shade, but moral excel. lence; that true honor is not the noisy breath of human adulation, but the approbation of conscience and the smiles of the God of heaven; that the path of glory is not in clambering up the steeps of earth's ambition, but in condescending to men of low degree, to raise them to honor and happiness.
We must, though we may think as sages, feel as men encompassed with innumerable infirmities. We must cultivate all the feelings indicated and comprehended in the word humanity. We must aim at raising the man of low degree, and not at equaling or surpassing men of high degree. We must stoup to conquer our own pride, avarice and ambition, and not stretch our pinions to soar above the eagle, nor employ our powers to equal or surpass those who stand, or vainly aspire to stand, on the giddy pinnacles of earth's towering but mouldering temples. We must, in one sentence, seek the glory that cometh from above; and that is the glory of having been the benefactor of many. di
- The fields of human labor on the great plantation of humanity, are both numerous and large. You may choose science or art, in some of their innumerable departments, and find enough of labor and enough of glory in any one of them, in some grand—that is, in some benevolent and useful achievement. You may make a small con. tribution in a mite, that may terminate in a million sterling. I will give you an illustration or two. You may at random open any page in the biography of the world's benefactors, and find a passage that will furnish materials for a volume. Here is one, taken from the science of astronomy--a science in which we are all interested, and which ranks, in sublimity and grandeur, next to religion. The fields of space which it has opened to our vision, are of overwhelming dimensions, and rich with manifestations of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness, beyond the limits of human appreciation. Yet this science, which communes with masses and distances that create extacies of admiration, to which language vouchsafes no utteranceno adequate means of expression-is now so far grasped by the human mind, and subjected to such accuracy of knowledge and com. prehension, as to give man the power of foreseeing such conjunctions and oppositions of suns and planets in our solar system, as a century before to foretell the appearance of a comet, or the transit of a planet over the sun's disk, or the occulation of a star, eclipsed by the interposition of a planet. It accurately anticipates the meeting of two or more stars, or planets, in one degree of the Zodiac, or an eclipse of the sun and moon, either partial or total, at a given moment. It foretels an age before it happens, the moment when the shadow of our earth will shroud the moon in mourning; and it enables the mariner to traverse all the oceans of earth to a given point, with as much certainty as we follow the compass from one corner of a plantation to another. And yet this science has been in progress for twenty centuries, and is still in progress. But how came it to this degree of perfection?
Hipparchus lived 2,000 years ago. Indeed, he was born 147 years before Christ. He simply suggested to a friend the propriety of making a note in his vade mecum, of every new fixed star that might strike his attention in the heavens, adding, that he had been doing so for sometime. He got up, as we say in our style, a few star-gazers, who were now and then making a new discovery. But the opinions of Plato concerning the earth, stood sternly in the way of their progress. This renowned disciple of Socrates had, even then, a magic influence over the free inquirers of that day. He had taught the theory that our little earth was the stable centre of the
material universe, and that, of course, the whole heavens moved in solemn and sublime attendance around our fixed and immovable domicil. The sublimity of his philosophy, and the elegance of his diction, were a universal passport to all that he spoke and wrote.
" It must be so, Plato, thou reasonest well," was, for ages, enough to silence all the logic and rhetoric of the schools of Greeks, Romans and Jews, on all points of dissent and difference. Hipparchus, and his school of observers, held on their way, noting down and com. paring their observations till Ptolemy, some 280 years afterwards, came upon the area of observation, and, correcting some of their aberrations, added new discoveries and reasonings of his own.
Alphonsus, King of Castile, in the same spirit, improved upon the tables of Ptolemy; and so it progressed tiil Copernicus, about the middle of the 16th century, became a still more enlightened star-gazer, and removed from the heavens the cycles and epicycles of his predecessors, and placed the sun in the centre of the universe. Kepler and Galileo, in the same spirit, advanced farther into the arcana of nature, and corrected, still more satisfactorily, the errors of their predecessors.
Waxing bold, Galileo and the Pope got into a debate. It was an unequal conflict in every point of view. Galileo had the science and the telescope; but His Holiness had the authority and the scaffold. He brought the astronomer to his knees, in solemn recantation of his error, in differing from him who had hanging at his girdle the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Still, as the chorus of his recantations, when acknowledging the sin of differing from the Pope and Plato, he muttered, “BUT IT MOVES.' Yes, the earth moves and the sun stands still.
His Holiness, good natured soul, had no faith in any one thinking upon any subject on which he had not thought; and although Galileo had looked through a telescope, and had actually seen four of Jupiter's moons, and even the hills and valleys in our own moon, the Holy Father not having seen them through his spectacles, constrained him to abjure his heresy. Still the philosopher, with his own telescope, went on his way, and continued his observations till he weighed the air in balances; invented the cycloid and the pen. dulum, and demonstrated the laws of motion, and fully established the Copernicum system. So much for observation and thinking for one's self. I need not tell you of the Continental, the English, and the American philosophers, reformers, discover ers, and inventors. These are, and have been, portions of your every-day reading and study. You have learned, that from Newton's observation of a
falling apple, and reflections thereupon, resulted his “Principia ;" and from our own Franklin's observations, and his babits of analysis and sunthesis, he gave his name to an instrument that steals from a thunder cloud its superabundant stores of life and destruction. Indeed, all the great original characters, and public benefactors of all time, and in all departments, scientific or artistic, ecclesiastical or political, have been distinguished, not so much by nature as by their habits of observation, comparison, deduction, and by a severe mental discipline and application.
You are fully aware, that large as is the area of our knowledge, the area of our ignorance is yet much larger; that the unknown incomparably transcends the known, in all the fields and departments of true science. Benefactors are yet in demand, and the rewards of their labor are sure. The man of science, that makes two blades of grass to grow in the space occupied by one, is more to be appreciated and to be rewarded, because more beneficial to mankind, than the commander of a belligerent army, or the commodore of a floating navy, in quest of new territories.
Not one of you was either created or educated to be a mere drone in the hive of humanity; to stand upon an eminence with a spy glass in your hand, to ogle a moving, working, toiling world. You came not into the world booted and spirred, standing by a well saddled and caparisoned courser, to take the field of the sportsman and contend for the limb of a hare, or the wing of a partridge. Still less were your lips moulded for puffing a cigar, uttering a smutty tale, or taking the name of God in vain. You have studied language and science, and the useful and ornamental arts, to give you the power of enlightening, adorning, and elevating human nature; of blessing and being blessed, in the performance of good and noble service to yourself and to society. Hide not, then, your talent in a napkin; still less, bury it not in the earth.
Young gentlemen, I wish you to take a proper view of yourselves; but I trust you have attempted it already. To regard yourselves, from this day forth, as having each a special mission into the world; as providentially called, and furnished, and sent out into the world to do something, if not great and wonderful, at least something good, useful, profitable to yourselves and to mankind; honorable and memorable in the archives of the universe. Of what use, honor, or profit, is education-literary, scientific, moral-if you do not employ it, use it, and enjoy it, in doing the generous and noble deeds of eternal fame and reward?
There is no reasonable, no desirable position or place, in some of