« AnteriorContinuar »
ed to the summer storm, refreshing and gladdening the earth, but often bringing desolation and ruin in its train; uprooting the forest, and desolating the village; but the influence of our Order, is like that of the gentle dew, descending from heaven in the darkness and stillness of the night; no eye sees it fall, but you may trace its genial influence in the green freshness of the herbage revived by its quickening power.
The objections to our Order are as trivial as they are false; the loudesť cry is that of mystery; you have secrets! whatever is secret is pernicious! aye! is it so is not this world and all that it contains but one mighty mystery? can you fathom the process by which the tiny acorn, hidden in an infant's hand, expands into the giant oak shading the forest? Is there a thinking being, who has ever gazed upon the myriad stars which gem the vault of heaven? or the bright blaze of the mid-day sun, without confessing in his heart that he is conscious only of his ignorance? and shall we be drawn from a noble cause like this, because of the idle clamor of those who do not understand it? Without our secret passwords and signs; without the mystery of which they complain, how could our Order maintain its existence? how could we distinguish the true brother from the false? But these objections from without fall by their own weight; our Order is now too firmly established to fear any opposition which may be brought against it from without; the only dangers which menace it are from within. Its safety depends upon the zeal and integrity of its members-upon their thoroughly understanding their duties and faithfully performing them, and among some of the members of this Order there may possibly prevail a distrust of the power delegated to the Order. I have heard it urged, that the power claimed by the Order of watching the conduct of the members out of the Lodge as well as in it, was a dangerous power, and liable to abuse; that it would have a pernicious tendency; would cause each Odd-Fellow to regard his neighbour as a spy upon his actions, and would destroy all sincerity, and all confidence, and all friendship; were this the case, then would I say, perish the Order! but I deny it; and maintain that this opinion is founded upon a mistaken notion of the rights and duties of Odd-Fellows. It is true that for any gross moral delinquency a member may be expelled; else our Order might become a “Den of Thieves;" he who desires to violate the laws of decency and propriety should not enter here; but I do most solemnly protest against the propriety or expediency of prying into the privacy of domestic life, for the purpose of dragging before this Order, trivial disputes and petty foibles, converting it into an Inquisition for the detection of those faults and follies to which all men are liable. Such a course of conduct would only tend to bring our Order into deserved contempt, and would be in direct contradiction to our avowed object, which is peace and goodwill among men. Brethren such are the principles avowed by our Order; I do not pretend to say that they have ever been fully carried out in practice, for human nature is imperfect and frail; but by erecting a high standard we will be more apt to elevate ourselves than if we placed it lower down. In our own case it is not to be expected, since this Order must have been a wonderful panacea indeed, if within the course of one short year it could have wrought an entire change in the habits and natures of its members; some of them, men grown gray in contention and strife; submit it to the test of time, and you can then judge whether or not it can effect the objects which it proposes to do.
Brethren, the fabric of our Order has been reared in our union with pain, and care, and toil, and it remains with its members to determine, whether it shall be as enduring as those mighty pyramids which frown in solemn majesty over the wastes of Egypt; or whether it shall resemble that famous palace, reared by a Russian Czar, a magnificent and stupendous pile of purest ice, with lofty colonnades and glittering halls, fit residence for a king; yet in the course of a few short months, melted down by the summer's sun into undistinguished ruin, and “like the baseless fabric of a vision leaving no wreck behind.”
EXTRACT FROM A LECTURE ON
DECISION OF CHARACTER.
BY ELIAS WARE.
By decision of character we do not mean that incorrigible tenacity with which some persons adhere to early impressions and to long cherished sentiments, without regard to the good or evil tendency of those impressions, or to the truth or falsity of those sentiments.
Our observations on this subject have resulted in the conviction that those who are most distinguished for true decision of character, are the most willing to renounce error; and to embrace and pursue truth whereever she may lead them, regardless alike of the world's contumely and of the many advantages that might accrue from an unfaltering and undeviating march with the multitude.
It is entirely a mistaken idea that a man of decision never changes his sentiments. Martin Luther was decision of character personified, and yet no man ever changed more thoroughly or under more unfavourable auspices than he. In fact, the very instability and uncertainty of all things terrestrial stamp an indelible inconsistency upon that man who avows himself invincible by change.
But while we would discard this false decision, or rather that obsti. nate resolution that would lead a man to adopt the language of Shakspeare and exclaim
And knew no other kin." While on the one hand we would condemn the man who would speak and act thus, we would on the other condemn in language more positive and emphatic, that instability and hypocrisy which cause some men to. be one thing to-day and nothing to-morrow. Those persons have their reward in being held by the wise and the good as ignorant fanatics—these in having the withering frowns of an unchangeable God resting upon them for their double-mindedness, instability and hypocrisy-that fanaticism finds its own quiessence in the incorrigible stupidity of its own possessor—This hypocrisy rests (if it rest at all,) that it may, like the stare of the deadly Basilisk, charm but to destroy, or like the infuriated bird of prey, that only stops to whet its fangs, that it may make a more dreadful and successful pounce upon its unprotected and devoted victim. Obstinacy closes every avenue to the improvement of the mind.-Instability in addition to this checks the very flow of God's love to man.—That keeps its possessor forever beneath the dignity of his own nature. This closes his eyes to that knowledge of Jehovah's works that should shed its radiance on the unclouded intellect of man, as he stands forth in the majesty of his strength and surveys the boundless splendors of eternal worlds.
We are sorry to say that this instability and hypocrisy is mostly manifested in the religious world. We have known some persons who made very good Catholics until the right of Popish supremacy or the infallibility of the Church was disputed, or peradventure until the onerous ceremonies of that antiquated institution become too burdensome. Then we behold them regular in their attendance at the Class-Meetings, the mourning benches, and all the innumerable means of grace that the great and good John Wesley has provided; until some cold-hearted, calculating mathematician demonstrate that it is unphilosophical to let heart-religion usurp the throne of reason. Then we see them shake hands with the Quaker and march smoothly along with the friends in perfect friendship until the spirit ceases to move them at all. They are then out with so dry a party—there is not enough of soul in it—it is too contracted. Let me enjoy that "feast of reason and flow of soul,” in the exercise of which I can preach universal salvation to all mankind. Though God in ancient times did decree, “it is appointed unto man once to die and after this the judge ment," I rejoice that the improvements in Theology have been such that I can now preach, it is appointed unto man once to die and after this the glory. He makes a charitable Universalist until he begins to think so much of himself that he can, like the ancient Pharisee, thank God that he is not as bad as other men; then he can descry a great inequality in that system of religion which would take the basest of all creation and place them in Abraham's bosom.
I will not follow this double-minded animal farther only to say that finally his expansive soul becomes a high-pressure engine and his body a locomotive going at the rate of some twenty miles an hour.
We frequently hear it said of such men that they have two faces, and it were most devoutly to be wished that they never had more than two; but I have known some such who would have as many faces on a small head and they as variegated too as the signs of the zodiac.
Such men may serve the cause of phisiognomy and perhaps phrenology, but of truth and virtue, or of pure and undefiled religion, never-an honest man would rather have his conscience bear him witness that he is doing the duties of a man than to enjoy the profits of hypocrisy for a season.
But that kind of decision of character to which we design calling your attention, as being of paramount importance, is that something by which we are enabled to bring the whole powers, physical and moral, to bear on one single object—that something which can alone render knowledge available; in a word, that something without which all efforts to be either great or good will prove abortive and leave the unstable aspirant a disappointed, dejected, mortified subject of "hope deferred.”
We are frequently astonished at seeing individuals rise from poverty to wealth and from obscurity to eminence. But we need not be astonished at the progress of a man of energy or decision of character. Show me a man who can bring all his powers to bear on one single object. And I will show you a man whose success is inevitable and with whom the conception and the execution of a thing are the same act. I am aware that you may think you have a number of exceptions on file, but let me say to you that it is not unfrequently the case that the adoption of the motto, “what man has done man can do,” has been mistaken for the existence of this principle of energy or decision of character. This has not only been the case with some unassuming venders of hoar-hound candy and sage philosophical mesmerizers of our own day, but it was to a fearful extent the case with Danton, Robispierre and Marat. These unrighteous men could sail smoothly enough on the sea of blood, spilt by their own unhallowed hands, so long as that sea flowed down a plane, but when breakers appeared they were the first to drop the dagger and abandon the ship of death. One mighty effort and they could have written upon France's Iris in characters sufficiently legible to be read by an astonished universe.—The boasted invincible glory of ancient France is fallen! is fallen!! but she lacked decision and consequently lost all in a moment. And the destroying hand of time has only failed to cover their names with an everlasting oblivion, that they might receive the reward of their iniquity in being “doomed to everlasting fame.”
I have frequently thought when studying the histories of those who have been distinguished in the world for extensive learning, sublimity of thought or wonderful achievements, that that guardian angel of the ancients and munition of rocks of the moderns "Native genius," is but another name for energy or decision of character. You are all familiar with the apparently insurmountable difficulties through which the immortal Demosthenes rose to be the author and finisher of Oratory. You are alike familiar with the abject poverty and the formidable obstacles through which and from which the divine Shakspeare raised himself from being a lacky in a theatre to that sublime elevation from which he stooped to touch the loftiest thought.
But for this energy or decision of character a thousand stars of the first magnitude that now glitter in the galaxy of intellect would never have been known beyond the precincts of their own threshold. What but the most unfaltering energy could have raised Franklin from poverty and obscurity and placed him upon that exalted elevation, where, while he could command the admiration and astonishment of the world, he could say to the very artillery of heaven, thus far shalt thou go and no farther! I would not pluck a single laurel from the brow of the immortal Washing. ton, when I say that it was not his superior knowledge of military tactics, but his firm unyielding energy and decision of character that enabled him with a handful of undisciplined soldiers to throw off the galling yoke of
a powerful and insidious despot, and plant in a congenial soil, that glorious tree of liberty, under whose spreading branches and perpetual foliage the oppressed of all nations find a home and safety, and whose rapid growth can only be checked by the circumference of the earth on the one hand and the canopy of heaven on the other.
BY MISS E. c. 1., OF NEW York.
'Tis in the silent glade ;
'Tis at the mountain's side Where never hamlet stood; 'Tis in the gentle stream, With kine in dreamy mood.
'Tis in the lofty pine,
'Tis in the dawn's first light,
'Tis in the noiseless room,
Peace is in every glen;
There is a peace for man
But seeking in meridian light