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WILLIAM ELLERY CHANNING, D. D., was born at Newport, in Rhode Island, in the year 1780. He died in 1842. He wrote chiefly on theological subjects, and was a profound thinker, an admirable writer, and an excellent man. From one of his discourses on the practical duties of life, we take the first extract following, and from one of his occasional addresses the second.
SPIRITUAL FREEDOM—WHAT IS IT?
1. I call that mind free, which masters the senses, which protects itself against animal appetites, which contemns pleasure and pain in comparison with its own energy, which penetrates beneath the body and recognizes its own reality and greatness, which passes life, not in asking what it shall eat or drink, hut in hungering, thirsting, and seeking after righteousness.
2. I call that mind free, which escapes the bondage of matter, which, instead of stopping at the material universe and making it a prison-wall, passes beyond it to its Author, and finds, in the radiant signatures which it everywhere bears of the Infinite Spirit, helps to its own spiritual enlargement.
3. I call that mind free, which jealously guards its intellectual rights and powers, which calls no man master, which does not content itself with a passive or hereditary faith, which opens itself to light whencesoever it may come, which receives new truth as an angel from heaven, which, while consulting others, inquires still more of the oracle within itself, and uses instruction from abroad, not to supersede, but to quicken and exalt its own energies.
4. I call that mind free, which sets no bounds to its love, which is not imprisoned in itself or in a sect, which recognizes in all human beings the image of God and the rights of his children, which delights in virtue and sympathizes with suffering, wherever they are seen, which conquers pride, anger, and sloth, and offers itself up a willing victim to the cause of mankind.
5. I call that mind free, which is not passively framed by outward circumstances, which is not swept away by the torrents
of events, which is not the creature of accidental impulse, bu! which bends events to its own improvement, and acts from an inward spring, from immutable principles which it has deliberately espoused.
6. I call that mind free, which protects itself against the usurpations of society, which does not cower to human opinion, which feels itself accountable to a higher tribunal than man's, which respects a higher law than fashion, which respects itself too much to be the slave or tool of the many or the few.
7. I call that mind free, which, through confidence in God, and, in the power of virtue, has cast off all fear but that of wrong doing, which no menace or peril can enthrall, which is calm in the midst of tumults, and possesses itself, though all else be lost.
8. I call that mind free, which resists the bondage of habit, which does not mechanically repeat itself and copy the past, which does not live on its old virtues, which does not enslave itself to precise rules, but which forgets what is behind, listens for new and higher monitions of conscience, and rejoices to pour itself forth in fresh and higher exertions.
9. I call that mind free, which is jealous of its own freedom, which guards itself from being merged in others, which guards its empire over itself as nobler than the empire of the world.
10. In fine, I call that mind free, which, conscious of its afinity with God, and confiding in his promises by Jesus Christ, devotes itself faithfully to the unfolding of all its powers, which passes the bounds of time and death, which hopes to advance forever, and which finds inexhaustible power, both for action and suffering, in the prospect of immortality.
THE PRESENT AGE.
1. The grand idea of humanity, of the importance of man as man, is spreading silently, but surely. Even the most abject portions of society are visited by some dreams of a better condition for which they were designed. The grand doctrine, that every human being should have the means of self-culture, of progress in knowledge and virtue, of health, comfort, and happiness, of exercising the powers and affections of a man, this is slowly taking its place as the highest social truth. That the world was made for all, and not for a few; that society is to care for all; that no human being shall perish but through his own fault; that the great end of government is to spread a shield over the rights of all,—these propositions are growing into axioms, and the spirit of them is coming forth in all the departments of life. .....
2. The Present Age! In these brief words what a world of thought is comprehended! what infinite movements ! what joys and sorrows ! what hope and despair! what faith and doubt! what silent grief and loud lament! what fierce conflicts and subtle schemes of policy! what private and public revolutions ! In the period through which many of us have passed, what thrones have been shaken ! what hearts have been bled! what millions have been butchered by their fellow-creatures ! what hopes of philanthropy have been blighted!
3. And at the same time, what magnificent enterprises have been achieved ! what new provinces won to science and art ! what rights and liberties secured to nations ! It is a privilege to have lived in an age so stirring, so pregnant, so eventful. It is an age never to be forgotten. Its voice of warning and encouragement is never to die. Its impression on history is indelible.
4. Amidst its events, the American Revolution, the first distinct, solemn assertion of the rights of men, and the French Revolution, that volcanic force which shook the earth to its center, are never to pass from men's minds. Over this age the night will, indeed, gather more and more as time rolls away; but, in that night, two forms will appear, Washington* and Napoleon, t the one a lurid meteor, the other a benign, serene, and undecaying star.
5. Another American name will live in history, your Frank. lin ;* and the kitet which brought lightning from heaven, will be seen sailing in the clouds by remote posterity, when the city where he dwelt may be known only by its ruins. There is, however, something greater in the age than in its greatest men; it is the appearance of a new power in the world, the appear. ance of the multitude of men on that stage where as yet the few have acted their parts alone.
6. This influence is to endure to the end of time. What more of the present is to survive? Perhaps, much of which we now take no note. The glory of an age is often hidden from itself. Perhaps, some word has been spoken in our day which we have not deigned to hear, but which is to grow clearer and louder through all ages.
7. Perhaps, some silent thinker among us is at work in his closet whose name is to fill the whole earth. Perhaps, there sleeps in his cradle some reformer who is to move the church and the world, who is to open a new era in history, who is to fire the human soul with new hope and new daring. What else is to survive the age? That which the age has little thought of, but which is living in us all;—I mean the Soul, the Immortal Spirit. *8. Of this all ages are the unfoldings, and it is greater than all. We must not feel, in the contemplation of the vast movements of our own and former times, as if we ourselves were nothing. I repeat it, we are greater than all. We are to survive our age, to comprehend it, and to pronounce its sentence. As yet, however, we are encompassed with darkness. The issues of our time how obscure! The future into which it opens, who of us can foresee? To the Father of all Ages I commit this future with humble, yet courageous and unfaltering hope.
* See Exercise CXXXIII.
+ The reference here is to Dr. Franklin's well-known experiment with a kite made in Philadelphia, in June 1752, whereby he succeeded in actually conducting the lightning to the earth, and so establishing the identity of lightning with electricity.
WILLIAM MURRAY, first Earl of Mansfield, was born near Perth, in Scot. land, in the year 1705, and died in 1793. While a student he gave himself to study with that extraordinary diligence for which he was always remarkable. Being iestined for the bar, he made everything subservient to that object. “In c.oseness of argument,” says an able writer, quoted by Prof. Goodrich, “in happiness of illustration, in copiousness and grace of diction, the oratory of Murray was unsurpassed.” The speech, part of which we give below, is regarded as his best effort in Parliament. It was delivered during a debate on a bill for taking away all privilege from the servants of members of Parliament. As an exercise in reading, to show the tone and manner proper in dignified debate, it has no superior
SPEECH OF LORD MANSFIELD ON PRIVILEGE. 1. I come now to speak upon what, indeed, I would have gladly avoided, had I not been particularly pointed at for the part I have taken in this bill. It has been said by a noble lord on my left hand, that I likewise am running the race of popularity. If the noble lord means by popularity, that applause bestowed by after ages on good and virtuous actions, I have long been struggling in that race,—to what purpose all-trying time can alone determine; but, if that noble lord means that mushroom popularity which is raised without merit, and lost without a crime, he is much mistaken in his opinion. I defy the noble lord to point out a single action of my life, where the popularity of the times ever had the smallest influence on my determinations.
2. I thank God, I have a more permanent and steady rule for my conduct—the dictates of my own breast. Those that have forgone that pleasing adviser, and given up their minds to be the slave of every popular impulse, I sincerely pity; I pity them still more, if their vanity leads them to mistake the shouts of a mob for the trumpet of fame. Experience might inform then, that many who have been saluted with the huzzas of a erowd one day, have received their execrations the next; and many who, by the popularity of the times, have been held up as spotless patriots, have, nevertheless, appeared upon the histo.