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superior to them on account of the high destiny of his life, the divine commission he bears, and the large measure of moral force which he naturally possesses for the successful accomplishment of the same. When, therefore, he is honoured above others as God's incarnation, we are to understand his superiority to be one of degree, not of kind. For, it must be admitted, that every man is, in some measure, an incarnation of the divine spirit. The constitution of man is of a composite character ; it is on the one hand gross, carnal, and earthly, on the other holy, spiritual, and heavenly. It is a strange combination of the lusts of the flesh and the divine instincts of the soul. not feel that, though we are made of dust, there is within us something which is not of this earth, which is immortal and holy, born of heaven and destined for heaven ? Are we not all conscious that, however sinful we may be, God dwells in each of us, inherent in our very constitution ?
6 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the spirit of God dwelleth in you ?” The wickedness and foibles of man may be hated and pitied ; but when we behold his conscience struggling successfully with sin and temptations, and with self-sacrificing devotion upholding the cause of truth, are we not led to exclaim : What is there on earth so noble as man ? The human body is indeed the living tabernacle of the living God. “ There is but one temple in the universe," it has been beautifully said, " and that is the body of man. Nothing is holier than that high form. Bending before man is a reverence done to this revelation in the flesh, We touch heaven when we lay our hand on a human body.” However shocking man's sinfulness may be, his godliness is worthy of homage. If it is true
he crawls and creeps on the low platform of the world, it is equally true he soars into the regions of heaven, and enjoys its purer atmosphere. Man is verily, as the poet describes him, "a worm, a God,” and he ought to be treated as such. If then, incarnation means the spirit of God manifest in human flesh, certainly every man is an incarnation. And great men are pre-eminently so, for they exhibit a larger measure of the divine spirit. They are singularly brilliant manifestations of that Eternal Light which all men in some measure reflect.
Thus you see that great men are superhuman, and, I may add, supernatural ; but there is nothing miraculous about them, in the popular sense of that word, there is no deviation from the established laws of nature. They are perfectly natural phenomena; and if they are miracles, they are only greater miracles than ordinary men. They are supernatural only in the sense of being above ordinary nature. None will deny that there are common and uncommon, ordinary and extraordinary, things and phenomena in the world ; but they are all included in the established economy of nature. However extraordi. nary a thing may be, it is not and cannot be at variance with God's law. He governs the universe with immutable and fixed laws, from which there can be no deviation whatsoever. Beneath all outward anomalies and apparent irregularities there lies the most perfect harmony. There is no disorder in nature but it resolves itself into eternal order ; no violation of a known law but it is a fulfilment of a higher and latent law. That there is something remarkably irregular in the lives and career of great men, which ordinary facts and precedents cannot account for or explain, few will deny. They appear upon the stage of history irregularly, now and then,
after long intervals and at different places, play their parts most singularly, following no custom or precedent, think and act as no contemporary does, and though hated, reviled, and persecuted, convert millions of souls to their ideas with amazing success and facility, and with no other power but the power of those ideas, extend their conquests far and wide. And yet amidst all these apparently unaccountable irregularities the deep harmony of God's moral economy may be traced. Great men, like comets, move in eccentric orbits. As the course of comets seems irregular when compared with the movements of planets, so does the career of great men when compared with that of ordinary men. comets have orbits of their own, which are perfect and regular in themselves. A comet, however strange it may seem to us, is as much a natural phenomenon as a planet, and the movements of both are regulated by the same ruling hand of God. Similarly, a prophet, however uncommon and eccentric and different from ordinary men, is guided by the same unalterable law as they.
Great men appear when they are needed. In the history of nations there occur now and then crises of a very serious character, when the advancing tide of progress shakes the very foundations of society ; at such times certain great minds appear, being called forth by the peculiar necessities of the age, who avert impending perils, meet all existing wants, and remodel society on an improved basis ; and they die when their work is over. Such men are seldom born in ordinary times, when everything glides smoothly and quietly ; for then they are not wanted. Their lot is always cast in troublous days ; for they have to combat established errors and prejudices, to revolutionize popular tastes and ideas. They mark
the transition state of society, the turning-point in the career of nations. The preceding age ends and a new epoch commences in them. In the established economy of Providence they are special dispensations, to meet the pressing wants of humanity. Hence their appearance is not a mere accident, a casual phenomenon, but the sequence of a regular and constant law which regulates the moral interests of mankind. Their birth is always the result of a deep and irrepressible moral necessity. Wherever and whenever peculiar circumstances demand a great man, the
very pressure of that demand drags him forth perforce. In God's moral government, to feel a want is to get the thing needed. Great men cast their shadows before. The circumstances of the age foretell their birth ; signs and prognostics herald their advent. We see a peculiar fermentation and upheaving and excitement on all sides. The spirit of the age can no longer brook the tyranny of the past, and shows restlessness and impatience and an earnest struggle for enfranchisement. Amidst all this struggle and turmoil, the travail of an age seeking to disburden itself, the prophet is born. All the advanced men of the time joyfully accept him as the promised liberator and redeemer, their heaven-appointed guide, and under his leadership, and with his aid, carry on a terrible crusade against prevalent errors and vices, and at last victoriously unfurl the banners of liberty and truth in the midst of a reformed nation. A prophet is said to regenerate his people ; he infuses new life into them. In him the old generation dies, and a new generation is born. Himself the child of the past, he becomes in his turn the progenitor of an altogether new race of men. As from one small seed a whole forest may spring up, so one prophet brings
forth, by the law of moral development, many generations of reformed souls that lay potentially in him. Born in his spirit, these new generations continue to live in him, and he in them. His spirit courses through their veins and arteries, and moulds their character, their ideas, and sentiments. They think his thoughts and feel his feelings, and however much they may advance in the path of reform, he is the root of the new life they lead.
Great men possess a representative character. They are representative in a double sense :-(1) They represent their country and age ; (2) They represent specific ideas. This quality is essential to greatness. I have already said that the administration of the affairs of human society is actually, though not apparently, carried on by a few leading minds; it is the aristocracy of great men that governs the world. But this aristocracy is representative, not arbitrary or despotic. Great men 'rule the masses, not by reason of their superior talents and energies, but because they faithfully represent the interests of those whom they govern.
The secret of their gubernatorial authority, and likewise of their successful administration, lies in their unflinching fidelity to their constituents. They are essentially and thoroughly national in their sympathies, tastes, and ideas; they are strictly men of the people and men of the age. Among a different nation and in a different age, they would be altogether out of place. They represent only their own people and their own age. phet is, in fact, the highest embodiment of the spirit of his country and time,—the leading type of contemporaneous nationality. In him the people recognise their truest representative, and they spontaneously and trustfully throw themselves on his guidance, Nay, they often find that he understands them better