Sidebilder
PDF
ePub
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

LECTURE I.

THE BEING OF A GOD.

HISTORY teaches us that in all past time the earth has been owned, and knowledge and power have been monopolized, by the few, while the people, the laboring classes, the great body of mankind, have been left to grope their way in darkness and slavery, tilling the earth they did not own, on the borders of starvation, and liable by a few days' sickness to become paupers. Some, supposing that this unequal condition was fostered by Christianity, have regarded it as the enemy of man. But, instead of this, all history teaches that degradation and oppression have existed in proportion as men have departed from the Bible, and that in the same degree in which men have come under its influence, they come out from darkness and bondage, to intelligence and Christian civilization. It is now three hundred

years

since commerce and the arts and sciences have exerted their powerful tendencies to equalize the condition of men, so that the many should not bear the burdens of life for the few. No nation has ever been placed in circumstances so favorable to the consummation of this experiment as ours; and though very much remains to be done, yet there is a wider diffusion of intellectual culture and general intelligence among us than among any other people, and we stand higher than any other as to liberty and equality.

And yet there is not a nation upon earth where the Bible has been so extensively circulated a intelligently read, and has exerted so great a power in ing institutions and moral character, as in our own.

It might, therefore, as well be insisted that the s unfriendly to light, and that it is a cause of darkness, a the Bible is unfriendly to civil and religious liberty.

By Liberty, I do not mean independence of law, b right of self-government, by our own laws. Freedd every one to do as he chooses, without regard to the of others, is anarchy, and not liberty.

By Equality, I do not mean that each one should the same amount of property as every other; nor tl should have the same calling.

To demand this wo as if we should ask that the earth might be all hill, valley.

The most perfect state of civilization includes innun parts, which no individual or family can supply, and constitute innumerable honorable, useful, and indisp vocations of society. There must be diversity of co among men, so long as there are diversities of charac capacity, and different ends to be achieved, in civiliza ety. By equality, I do mean that all shall be equal tected in their rights, and have the opportunity to industry and well-doing, according to their several a and their honest, faithful action.

We have no despotic government, costing an hund more than sufficient to sustain a republic. We landed aristocracy, no union of church and state, and cure priesthood. No minister can be forced upon his without their suffrage and voluntary support. Each stands upon his own character and deeds, without a to break the force of his responsibility to his people ;

in his calling, urged by as powerful motives and necessities as is the farmer or mechanic. Our soil is owned in fee simple by the cultivator, and our constitution and our laws are our own; they were made and are sustained and enjoyed by ourselves, and by all who choose to place themselves under them.

There never was a people of so much intelligence and enterprise, on such a luxuriant and boundless soil; and never, since earth was made, have men been let loose under the stimulus of such high hopes, and the pressure of such high motive to successful action. We are a wonder to many, and a wonder to ourselves.

The nations of antiquity, as well as those of more modern days, have faltered and failed through the power of voluptuousness; wealth being chiefly in the hands of the aristocracy, the corruption descended through their veins, till the feeble nerve and degenerate spirit exposed them to conquest or revolution by barbarian or plebeian power. But, with us, having no entailed estates, what the improvident children of the rich scatter, the children of the poor gather, while the enfeebled offspring of a voluptuous parentage go down to the laboring classes, and wait their turn to rise.

But, as it is easier to amass wealth than to keep it, so it is easier to obtain liberty than to maintain it. petuate our institutions and liberties, is a problem not yet, perhaps, entirely solved. Other republics have taken liberty by storm; but their light, like the meteor athwart the sky, has gone down in endless night. Shall it be so with us? Has our sun arisen so full-orbed and clear only to make the darkness of his setting the more terrible ? We believe no such thing, but rather that our light will shine more and more to the perfect day, till earth’s inhabitants, cheered by

How to per

« ForrigeFortsett »