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“till I know I am beaten.” Such a man, even though beaten once for a time, like Taylor at Buena Vista, or many times like Bruce when he watched the spider in the cavern, knows he will yet win the day. Delays will not dishearten him ; for “the end is not yet.” Difficulties will not discourage him; he counts on them. Opposition will not dismay him; he takes no “scare." He knows that man is invincible while he works with God and “immortal till his work is done." Yea; he counts on the long array of obstacles succeeding obstacles so long as man is at variance with God. One is born as another dies. Yet that too will die. New forms of doubt and error will succeed the old ; but they too will wax old and pass away. Renan will be buried as deep as Voltaire, and Kuenen and Baur as thoroughly forgotten as Von Bohlen or Celsus. Sooner or later, over the multitudinous assaults upon the faith that is of God and Christ, one and all, will be inscribed that epitaph which the doubter Clifford wrote too literally for his own tombstone : “I was not, and was conceived ; I lived and did a little work; I am not, and grieve not.” Such is the bright prospect on which the steady experience and the immutable promise alike fix the eye; such the assurance without which the struggles of the present would often seem but a losing game. And thus it is our duty and our privilege, while entering fully into all that makes and marks the present, to do it with an unshaken hold upon the past, and an unwavering and unbounded faith in the future.
So will the men that have understanding of their times fulfill their high function. They will bring a true sympathy that involves breadth of culture, range of view, robustness of thought, catholicity of scholarship, many-sidedness of appreciation, and versatility of adaptation ; will lay it all on the firm basis of a profound reverence for the glorious past, that carries with it solid principles, clear opinions, and positive, powerful convictions — like a foundation on the living rock; and they will crown the whole with an unshaken faith in the future, God's future — an energizing trust in the divine word and pledge, full of hope and courage and perseverance, that rises evermore like some vast dome, bathed and gilded with the light of heaven. So will they become leaders of thought and action, with “their brethren at their commandment." And so will they be no blind guides but true leaders of men unto all that is high and holy, all that " Israel ought to do."
Gentlemen of the Graduating Class : I have spoken to you of the ever new surroundings of the young adventurer on life's journey, and of the specialties of our times.
But it is possible to overestimate them. The proverb, Tempora mutantur, et nos mutamur in illis, has its grave limitations. The changes are after all of circumstance rather than of substance. In the great world of human history it is as in the main ocean, where the waters rise in clouds to come again, but the perpetual tides roll on; or as in these college halls, where class after class sweeps by us, but the scenes and characters are the same. The Senior never fails. Individuals pass on, but here remains and flows the unending tide of youthful life, of early toil and hope and aspiration. Or, as in all nature, where we ask and
“When will the stream be aweary of flowing
Under my eye?
Over the sky?
And nature die?
The stream flows,
Even so only is it that the times change and we too change. They wear new faces, men new manners. But the same heaving life moves up and looks forth. The same deathless wants, passions, capacities, and hopes are in the human soul, the same fundamental anxieties, conflicts, perils abroad, the same loud summons to duty, the same endless call and sphere for a noble manhood in all these changing times.
Yours be it to hear that summons, to obey that call, to meet those wants, to show that manhood; yours to mingle in all the motions and commotions of the age, with the emotions of eternity — in the world and above it too. Enter into every turn of modern thought to guide it right. Enter into every legitimate sympathy of modern life to lift it up. Enter into all the mani. fold callings of modern enterprise to dignify and honor them. Be the reverend pastor, the good physician, the honorable lawyer, the magnanimous business man, the inspiring teacher, the truth-loving editor, the honest statesman, the high-souled man of literature, the pure artist, the devout scientist — or whatsoever else “ Israel ought to do,” prompted to all alike by Israel's hope, the faith in Christ. Go forth, strong, devoted, many-sided men to your generation's work. Then return hither in ten, twenty, fifty years, with everthinning ranks and ever-increasing honors. And when the last of these youthful forms, broken with age, shall totter to the grave, may it be but to pass from these changing times, and join every classmate in the changeless home of God!
A POSITIVE FAITH.
BACCALAUREATE SERMON, JUNE 24, 1883.
We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak. - 2 CorINTHIANS 4:13.
ERE are two voices, but one sentiment. “It is
written" — in the Psalms. It is repeated in the epistle. In the midst of conscious weakness and well-nigh universal treachery the sweet singer of Israel, centuries before, had stayed himself by faith on God: “I believed." And now the great apostle, looking out, backward and forward and around, on the enormous trials and dangers enveloping his whole pathway, rests his undaunted hope and courage on “the same spirit of faith " in God: “We also believe." Two dispensations here coalesce. The apostle and the psalmist join hands across the ages, and together they proclaim in our ears this great lesson of a cheerful and successful life,
THE DUTY, THE VALUE, AND THE POWER OF
A POSITIVE FAITH.
The distinction between a matter of science and a matter of faith has been stated thus : the one is a certitude admitting of verification; the other a certitude not admitting of verification, although both rest on satisfactory proof. The distinction may be admitted, so far at least as verification to another is concerned.