« PreviousContinue »
Mary with her alabaster box, Aquila and Priscilla the trainers of Apollos, Paul's sister's son that saved bis precious life, the centurion and the Syrophænician woman, come down embalmed in precious memories. Each was a splendid success.
So I have seen the modest owner of a country farm whose life was so identified with the welfare of the community and the cause of beneficence that every interest felt his quiet power. I remember an obscure faithful teacher whose molding influence will never fade out from his pupils and theirs. I have seen the village physician whose known medical skill was but the lesser part of his usefulness. I have known the small trader whose sturdy honesty, candor, and sympathy made him the trusted agent of the widow and the fatherless, and the sought adviser of a wide region round. I have read of an invalid confined for thirty years to her room and mostly to her bed who was thought to have done more good in and from her sick room than any well person in the place.
I knew a legal gentleman who has just passed away at the age of nearly fourscore years and ten.
He was not brilliant, but he was clear-headed by his candor and unruffled temper. He had his cheery word for every one and his good story for and of every one.
He was patient, he was kind, he was true and trusty, he was a friend indeed and a friend in need. In a profession that tends to litigation he was a noted "peacemaker.” With no political aspirations or high office he powerfully molded political affairs. He busied himself in the public improvements of his town and his state, and in all good enterprises, agricultural, financial, educational, philanthropic, and religious. With innumerable engagements he was always at his post. He held on till the last and died in the harness, a thirty years' trustee of this Institution, the honored president of the Agricultural College, superintendent of the Orphans' Home, the valued member of a village church. One of his latest acts, nine days before his death, was a donation to the Christian Association building of Dartmouth College. There have been many more showy and more famous men in this commonwealth, but during its whole history it would be difficult to find a more truly and thoroughly successful career than that of George Washington Nesmith — “an Israelite indeed, in whom was no guile."
Three months before his death there passed away from the other side of the globe, beyond the Pacific Ocean, a man of half his years. Born and reared a pagan, escaping from his country at the peril of his life, arriving penniless in America, educated by charity, the young man who had left all to find the Bible and its blessings returned to give them to his countrymen. With little of the rhetorician, by his simplicity and his fervor he had power with great audiences. In the school that he founded, by his known unselfishness he had power with the trustees, teachers, and pupils. With rich men because of the simpleness of his purpose and his self-sacrificing energy he had power to draw money. He had power with the statesmen and the influential of his nation because they knew and believed in him and his plans. In every line of action, so comes up the testimony, it was character, character, character that made the man and accomplished in sixteen years a work that will hand down his name as a great benefactor. This made him wise, courteous, selfforgetful, energetic, hopeful, indomitable ; and he lived long enough to see that gospel that made him spread. ing in his native land, to see his school grow from seven pupils to nine hundred, from two dingy rooms to a score of buildings, and from being an object of ridicule and contempt to a national reputation and influence; and himself to leave an example that is both a lasting memory and a living power. Prostrated at an inn as he was toiling for his school, in his last hours pointing out on the map strategic places for Christian labor, he died, as he said, on the battlefield; but with the words, "Peace, joy, heaven” on his lips. At midnight of a cold and stormy day a great company of loving friends gathered to receive his remains. Men came hundreds of miles to join the three thousand that assembled at his funeral. The Buddhists of Osaka sent a banner for the procession; and for two miles through the rain pastors and teachers in relay bore his remains on their shoulders to their last resting place, and a wail went up over Japan for Joseph Neesima, the beloved.
Such men as these, or most of them, and multitudes more, have obtained their good report and their ascendency never without their high character, and some of them mainly by it. And it is a melancholy thought what numbers of men with parts as bright and opportunities as great have passed away and left no mark herds of kings and princes, thousands of geniuses, idle, fickle, vicious, and millions of men of common mold.
But humanity glows and responds to the divine spark in humanity. And the true man, true to himself, to his fellow man, and to God, knows no real failure. Whatever his work, he will do it well; whatever his sphere, he will fill it full. Neglect cannot wither, disparagement cannot disable, opposition cannot arrest him. The Lilliputians bound Gulliver with their small cords to the earth; but that was fable. The unshorn Samson bursts their small cords and goes forth on his way. The true man' is
“ One who never turned his back, but marched breast forward,
Never doubted clouds would break, Never dreamed, though right were worsted, wrong would triumph. Held we fall to rise, are battled to fight better,
Sleep to wake.”
And when such a man passes wholly hence,
“ He is not dead but sleeps; no good man dies,
But like the daystar only sets to rise."
For we would not forget that the harvest may come when the sower is gone. Stephen's last discourse was the most effective he ever preached ; Paul was among his hearers. The Plymouth settlers on that barren coast planted an empire. Harriet Newell died at nineteen, before she had done a stroke of missionary work, but her brief life did more for the mission cause than that of any other woman but one then on the earth. David Livingstone in those last hours, as he knelt by his bedside baffled of his special aim, doubtless felt that his work was a failure; but he did more for Africa than any other man living or dead.
God knows best when man's mission is accomplished, and
“ Man is immortal till his work is done."
Young Gentlemen of the Graduating Class : I have presented to you a theme on which your work and destiny depend. No words of mine can sufficiently set forth its momentous import. “It is not a vain thing for you, because it is your life.” Yes, your life. When a man's character is all gone he had better be dead, better never have been born. Such a man has wished it, oh, how often. But so long as the inmost self is right and bright towards God and man no outer lot is absolutely dark. The moral virtues will brighten the present life, the Christian virtues the future life.
Fear God; work hard ; live true; act fairly; be generous ; do good ; God will take care of the rest. In no other sense will I say, Aim high. When you fill to overflowing the place you are in, you will, if need be, hear the call “ Go up higher.”
And be not too much afraid of majorities, oppositions, and defeats. In an evil world the minority is often in the right. An honorable defeat is better than a mean victory. Malignant opposition commonly fails