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the reign of materialism and atheism, adds the same historian, “terror on earth succeeded justice in heaven. And when the scaffold was to give way to institutions, it was necessary to restore a conscience to the people. But a conscience without a God is a tribunal without a judge." And one of the saddest of laments is the mournful admission of the same brilliant writer, the hero of the bright hopes of 1848, that freedom could not prosper in his beloved land because of the lack of the great moral basis of all free government. Such allusions may seem far away to us.
Yet we too have food for thought. Incredible as it seemed at the time, I remember to have used on the twenty-sixth of November, 1857, — and it is matter of record, these very words: “It may be that this nation is, like ancient Canaan, to be chastised with war, oppression, and convulsion, that the billows of passion are to surge across the land and sweep over all that we hold dear. The crack of the rifle may be heard on the prairies of Kansas, the booming of cannon may resound along the Ohio, and the tramp of armies along the seaboard. Human wrath has but to rise a little higher and some of these things shall be. Political corruption and judicial prostitution have but to sink a little lower, and the southern despot will indeed parade his slaves on Bunker Hill and the agitation of a free press will be silenced.”
Strangely and terribly was the first half of these for. bodings fulfilled, and its fulfillment spared the last. The precipitate wrath of man praised God and saved the state. For there was in this land, thank God! a New England zone, stretching from the East to the far West, over which the church and the schoolhouse, in fraternal fellowship, had scattered thick the seeds of light and liberty and loyalty to law, and over which, as the solemn boom of the midnight gun at Fort Sumter went rolling along, it waked wild echoes in every hamlet and every home, and stirred throbbing pulses in millions of patriotic hearts, and the land blossomed with banners and the air rang with martial music, as the descendants of the Puritans, from Maine to Minnesota, came thronging by the hundred thousand and “the hundred thousand more" to strike their strong strokes for their ancient heritage of “equal laws," their peerless government, and the great hopes of humanity. And with them went the God of battles.
But our dangers are not all past. “Eternal vigilance" — yes, and the vigilance of the Eternal — still “is the price of liberty." There are premonitions of a conflict wide and deep, beginning to spread through all localities and all employments, a conflict of class with class, pregnant with disaster. It is an exasperation in view of the growing inequalities of life. Call itcolorlessly — a conflict between labor and capital, if you please, or color it, as the oppression of the poor by the rich or the envy of the poor toward the rich, or the conflict of idleness, ignorance, and often of misfortune, with industry, skill, and success. Still it is at bottom largely a collision between a heartless prosperity and a hardened adversity. It grows out of the lack of Christian relations and Christian sympathies between the parties concerned, and it never will be healed till the spirit of Christ and his apostles is infused into those inevitable relations. When we add to this volcanic rumbling beneath our feet, other tokens borne, as it were, upon the breeze — the rapid spread of violence, the increasing laxity of family bonds, the growing secularization of the Lord's day, the alleged venality of voters and control of legislatures by great corporations, the numerous and startling frauds of trusted men, the perversion of sacred trusts, the reckless journalism, the influx of atheism and anarchy into our cities - we may well discern in them "signs of the times, red and lowering,” and pray God for a return of the heart of the fathers to the children, for a revival throughout the land of that profound religious sentiment which procured us all our blessings, and has preserved them hitherto.
Young Gentlemen of the Graduating Class : In a few days you part company with each other and with
From this your preliminary education you go forth, more or less directly, to the activities and responsibilities of social and civil life. You enter on a scene of wide and profound agitation. Every element in human affairs — material and intellectual, social and economical, political and theological - has been quickened into extraordinary unrest and uprising. You launch upon a heaving ocean, where both for yourself and for society the only safe chart is God's Word, an
the sheet-anchor Christ's redemption. That Word has said: “Happy is that people, whose God is the Lord.” History has proved it. It has also declared: “The nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish.” History has proved that too. Look back through the long vista of the past, and see kingdom after kingdom and dynasty after dynasty rise by manly virtues, grow corrupt with prosperity and luxury, then topple over. Heed the solemn lesson. Carry with you into all the callings of life in this favored land the salt of Christian principle. Throw your whole life everywhere and always on the side of God and religion. Remember your splendid inheritance in the men who have made the name and fame of your college. Go once more through that gallery of portraits in Wilson Hall, where a hundred faces look down upon you, of teachers, guardians, defenders, benefactors, and honored alumni, and search in vain among them for an infidel. Behold a noble group of Christian men, many of them profoundly religious — such founders as Wheelock and Dartmouth, Puritans of the Puritans; such devout donors and business men as Phillips, Appleton, Reed, and Rollins; such deeply spiritual presiding officers as Brown, Tyler, Dana, Lord, and Smith; such eminently Christian professors as Adams, Shurtleff, and the goodly band of their successors down to the noble Sanborn, as resolute in religion as in literature, in some of whom, like Putnam, the accomplishments of scholarship were equaled by the graces of the Spirit; such reverent lawyers as Mason, Marsh, and Choate; such godly judges as Richard Fletcher; such beloved and believing physicians as Mussey, Peaslee, and Crosby ; such highsouled teachers as Oliver and Taylor; such pure theologians as Bush, Porter, and Long; such missionaries as Poor, Goodell, and Clark, who shared in giving the vernacular Scriptures to India, Turkey, and Hawaii ; behold the honest face of the Mohican preacher, Occum, and pause long before the portrait of him, the mightiest mind of them all, and remember how he resisted with his massive powers the sumptuous endowment of a college, “unblessed by the influences of religion,” and declared, in his electric tones, “it is no charity at all.” Thus compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, look long and thoughtfully upon that admirable and Christian group, and as you turn to your several spheres of life, let their earnest eyes follow you, and all that was bright and good in their example persuade you. Into all those callings go with the gospel. Stand for the gospel ; live out the gospel. Be not only a good citizen, but that best of citizens, a Christian freeman. And “if the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed."