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blow at Sumner's head or the shot at Fort Sumter's flag - these and every other telling stroke came from the hand of human wrath and folly.
“God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform."
Such are some of the ways in which the wrath of man is overruled to praise God. And yet this is but a faint outline of the record as it can already be read on earth, and doubtless but a glimpse of the vision as it shall be seen from heaven.
Young Gentlemen of the Graduating Class : The theme I have presented may seem to you theoretical, but it is in reality intensely practical. It goes to the foundation, not alone of divine government, but of human life. It is matter of deep discouragement to the enemies of righteousness and of God. For all their efforts against him and his plans are of no avail. Willing or unwilling they shall do his work. He will use them and dispose of them. He will master their weapons and bind them to his chariot in the triumphal march.
In the same proportion it is full of comfort to all the earnest, honest, upright, and good. It is a word of cheer and of hope. So let it be to you as you look forth on the scene and the struggle of life. Should you see iniquity abounding and prospering, fraud and violence proud and boastful, wicked men and wicked passions bold and defiant, impiety arrogant and blatant, then be not dismayed. The Lord sits serenely above it all, and will say, “ Thus far and no farther.”
It is yours, then, as you launch forth into outer life to push out trustfully and fearlessly. Place conscience at the helm, fix your eye on the polestar of duty and your hand in God's, and ride safely over the waves of life. Choose your calling wisely, enter upon it earnestly, follow it faithfully, and give yourselves no anxiety for the issue. With a thoroughly right purpose be sure you will find your place and your level and achieve your work. No man but yourself can prevent you. You, and you alone, can be your effective enemy by abandoning the alliance with God. As you pass on in life you will often be permitted to see for yourself the truth of that Scripture, “He made a pit, and digged it, and is fallen into the ditch which he made,” as well as of this broader, higher truth, “The wrath of man shall praise God.” Unless your eyes are holden, you will see more and more that there is a God in history and in life.
Press on, work on, hope on, young men, neither envying the prosperity of the wicked nor fearing his machinations. “He that walketh uprightly walketh surely." Ally yourself to every good enterprise, and above all to that one enterprise against which the gates of hell shall not prevail. Stand at your post through life, and so stand in your lot at “the end of days.” God be with you in life, death, and eternity. Amen. CHRISTIANITY IN THE COLLEGE.
BACCALAUREATE SERMON, JUNE 20, 1886.
Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom.
'HE book of Proverbs is a body of maxims for the
conduct of life, and is addressed in substance and frequently in form to the young. It is a profound and practical treatise for the training of youth. Foremost among this matchless collection of maxims the writer himself lays down this foundation principle, “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom.”
He elsewhere explains himself when he declares that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." With him wisdom is piety and folly is sin. And his thought repeated often with extraordinary emphasis is that such wisdom, true religion, must preside over all training, thought, and culture. Wisdom is the principal thing; religion is to crown and complete true education. Among the questions now thrust upon the public attention by the agitation of the times is one topic of momentous magnitude, concerning the whole method and principle of youthful training for life's responsibilities. Adopting the standard of the sacred writer, I propose to maintain that
THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION SHOULD HOLD A PROMINENT
PLACE AND EXERT A CONTROLLING INFLUENCE IN
THE AMERICAN COLLEGE. I now confine my discussion to the college because here the question can be kept clear of the embarrassments and entanglements that might attend it in some other cases. Thus it is held by many good and intelligent men that institutions supported by the state, or maintained by general taxation, cannot legitimately introduce religious instruction of any definite character, and hence any religious instruction at all. I need not enter on that question. The college generally, and certainly this college in particular, is clear of such complications. It is not managed by the state or supported by taxation, but governed by a body of independent corporators, having been founded for benevolent and religious purposes, and maintained by individual gifts bestowed in view of this very constitution and purpose. It is not a civil organ or a political machine, but, as was once shown with power concerning our own college, an eleemosynary institution. Exceptions like Girard College do not invalidate the general rule. It is of such institutions as I have described that I now speak. The claim of the Christian religion to a prominent place and controlling influence in such an institution rests :
I. In the first place, on moral grounds. As the religious instinct is the central and ineradicable element of human nature, so it has always legitimately held the foremost place in human activity. The vote of the human race has put it there. In all lands the ceremonies of religion have presided over affairs civil and military, public, social, and private. Not alone the child and the youth but the man through his whole life has been held under its steady influence. It has been a religious training from the cradle to the grave. Mill mentions Greece as the only country in which religion did not distinctly form the basis of education, and his exception is by his own showing more formal than real.
If the profound convictions of the race in its darkness thus enthroned religion over the life of man, what should be the decision of those who hold the true religion, with the power and the right to apply it to the molding of youth for the duties of life? They know that religion to be of paramount and supreme importance - not only worth much but worth all. They know by abundant and indubitable proofs that education of the intellect without culture of the moral nature may be no boon but only a bane to the individual and to society. “ Knowledge is power," but it is neither wisdom nor virtue. It may but make the acuter villain the more fatal force. They can recall conditions of society brilliant in culture and ruinous in influence; and men of the finest endowments and highest learning, who have gone through life not only as wrecks but as wreckers. The skill for a lawmaker may pass into a lawbreaker. Medal scholars have proved as proficient in crime as in scholarship. Not long ago there stood before a New York court a man who was an adept in science and a master of many languages, but he stood there as one of the most desperate and dangerous of criminals. Remember Aaron Burr. The illiterate villain is a novice and a bungler, tethered with a short rope that easily becomes a halter. The educated villain is accomplished, dexterous, and