« PreviousContinue »
272 PHILLIPS BROOKS
who is the utterance of God upon the earth. You taught the soul that was enthusiastic to be full of skepticisms and doubts. You wronged a woman years ago, and her life has gone out from your life, you cannot begin to tell where. You have repented of your sin. You have bowed yourself, it may be, in dust and ashes. You have entered upon a new life. You are pure to-day. But where is the skeptical soul ? Where is the ruined woman whom you sent forth into the world out of the shadow of your sin years ago 2 You cannot touch that life. You cannot reach it. You do not know where it is. No steps of yours, quickened with all your earnestness, can pursue it. No contrition of yours can draw back its consequences. Remorse cannot force the bullet back into the gun from which it once has gone forth.
It makes life awful to the man who has ever sinned, who has ever wronged and hurt another life because of this sin, because no sin was ever done that did not hurt another life. I know the mercy of our God, that while He has put us into each other's power to a fearful extent, He never will let any soul absolutely go to everlasting ruin for another's sin; and so I dare to see the love of God pursuing that lost soul where you cannot pursue it. But that does not for one moment lift the shadow from your heart, or cease to make you tremble when you think of how your sin has outgrown itself and is running far, far away where you can never follow it.
Thank God the other living thing is true as well. Thank God that when a man does a bit of service, however little it may be, of that, too, he can never trace the consequences. Thank God that that which in some better moment, in some nobler inspiration, you did ten years ago, to make your brother's faith a little more strong, to let your shop-boy confirm and not doubt the confidence in man which he had brought into his business, to establish the purity of a soul instead of staining it and shaking it, thank God, in this quick, electric atmosphere in which we live, that, too, runs forth.
WILLIAM G. BROWNLOW (1805–1877)
THE FIGHTING PARSON OF TENNESSEE
ENNESSEE can boast of two citizens who were among the T most remarkable products of our frontier civilization—David Crockett, the great hunter, and William G. Brownlow, the fighting parson. For energy and aggressiveness Brownlow was unsurpassed among our pioneer population. A Methodist minister in his early life, he became editor of a Knoxville paper, and with pen and voice made himself a power in that section of the South. Though opposed to the abolition of slavery, the outbreak of war found him an uncompromising adherent of the old flag, which he kept flying over his house in defiance of all threats to pull it down. He was imprisoned for several months by the secessionists, but his voice could not be hushed, though it was raised in unrestrained energy in favor of the North and the Union. After the war he was for two terms governor of Tennessee, and later on was elected to the Senate of the United States. THE UNION AND THE CONSTITUTION
[The brief extract here given is taken from a speech of Mr. Brownlow delivered in a debate in Philadelphia with the Rev. Mr. Prynne. No abolitionist of the North could have shown a more ardent love for and belief in the Union than this anti-abolitionist of the mountains of Tennessee. J
Who can estimate the value of the American Union ? Proud, happy, thrice-happy America | The home of the oppressed, the asylum of the emi grant where the citizen of every clime, and the child of every creed, roam free and untrammelled as the wild winds of heaven Baptized at the fount of Liberty in fire and blood, cold must be the heart that thril s not at the name of the American Union | When the Old World, with “all its pomp, and pride, and circumstance,” shall be covered with oblivion,-when thrones shall have crumbled
274 WILLIAM G. BROWNLOW
and dynasties shall have been forgotten, may this glorious Union, despite the mad schemes of Southern fire-eaters and Northern abolitionists, stand amid regal ruin and national desolation, towering sublime, like the last mountain in the Deluge—majestic, immutable, and magnificent
In pursuance of this, let every conservative Northern man, who loves his country and her institutions, shake off the trammels of Northern fanaticism, and swear upon the altar of his country that he will stand by her Constitution and laws. Let every Southern man shake off the trammels of disunion and nullification, and pledge his life and his sacred honor to stand by the Constitution of his country as it is, the laws as enacted by Congress and interpreted by the Supreme Court. Then we shall see every heart a shield, and a drawn sword in every hand, to preserve the ark of our political safety Then we shall see reared a fabric upon our National Constitution which time cannot crumble, persecution shake, fanaticism disturb, nor revolution change, but which shall stand among us like some lofty and stupendous Apennine, while the earth rocks at its feet, and the thunder peals above its head |
TRIBULATIONS IN TENNESSEE
[The following remarks were made by Parson Brownlow at Nashville in 1862. They tell their own story, and give in plain language the fighting Parson's opinion of the secessionists.] Gentlemen : Last December I was thrust into an uncomfortable and disagreeable jail,-for what? Treason / Treason to the bogus Confederacy; and the proofs of that treason were articles which appeared in the Anoxville Whig in May last, when the State of Tennessee was a member of the imperishable Union. At the expiration of four weeks I became a victim of the typhoid fever, and was removed to a room in a decent dwelling, and a guard of seven men kept me company. I subsequently became so weak that I could not turn over in my bed, and the guard was increased to twelve men, for fear I should suddenly recover and run away to Kentucky. But I never had any intention to run ; and if I had I was not able to escape. My purpose was to make them send me out of this infamous government, according to contract, or to hang me, if they thought proper. I was promised passports by their Secretary of War, a little Jew, late of New Orleans; and upon the faith of that promise, and upon the invitation of General Crittenden, then in command at Knoxville, I reported myself and demanded my passports. They gave me passports, but they were from my house to the Knoxville jail, and the escort was a deputymarshal of Jeff Davis. But I served my time out, and have been landed here at last, through much tribulation.
WILLIAM G. BROWNLOW 275
When I started on this perilous journey I was sore distressed both in mind and body, being weak from disease and confinement. I expected to meet with insults and indignities at every point from the blackguard portion of the rebel soldiers and citizens, and in this I was not disappointed. It was fortunate, indeed, that I was not mobbed. This would have been done but for the vigilance and fidelity of the officers having me in charge. These were Adjutant-General Young and Lieutenant O'Brien, clever men, high minded and honorable; and they were of my own selection. They had so long been Union men that I felt assured they had not lost the instincts of gentlemen and patriots, afflicted as they were with the incurable disease of secession.
But, gentlemen, some three or four days ago I landed in this city, as you are aware. Five miles distant I encountered the Federal pickets. Then it was that I felt like a new man. My depression ceased, and returning life and health seemed suddenly to invigorate my system and to arouse my physical constitution. I had been looking at soldiers in uniform for twelve months, and to me they appeared as hateful as their Confederacy and their infamous flag. But these Federal pickets, who received me kindly and shook me cordially by the hand, looked like angels of light. .
Gentlemen, I am no abolitionist; I applaud no sectional doctrines. I am a Southern man, and all my relatives and interests are thoroughly identified with the South and Southern institutions. I was born in the Old Dominion ; my parents were born in Virginia, and they and their ancestors were all slaveholders. Let me assure you that the South has suffered no infringement upon her institutions; the slavery question was actually no pretext for this unholy, unrighteous conflict. Twelve Senators from the Cotton States, who had sworn to preserve inviolate the Constitution framed by our forefathers, plotted treason at night—a fit time for such a crime—and telegraphed to their States despatches advising them to pass ordinances of secession. Yes, gentlemen, twelve Senators swore allegiance in the daytime, and unswore it at night.
ROBERT COLLYER (1823 )
THE BLACKSMITH EXPOUNDER OF THE GOSPEL
IFTY years or more ago a country blacksmith, working at his F trade in a rural district in Pennsylvania, surprised those who knew him by unusual powers of natural eloquence. A man of devout feelings, he exhorted his neighborhood audiences to a Christian life. Some of his hearers, desirous that his eloquence should have a better opportunity, aided him in the study of theology, and he became a Methodist preacher while still working at his trade. Robert Collyer, the person in question, was of English birth, and had learned the blacksmith trade there in his youth. He was not long in America before the forge was abandoned for the pulpit, in which he proved himself as good a preacher as he had been a blacksmith. He did not long continue a Methodist, however, but adopted Unitarianism, and from 1859 to 1879 was pastor of a Unitarian church in Chicago. Since the latter date he has had the pastoral care of a church in New York. Mr. Collyer is an orator of much eloquence and ability, and alike as preacher and lecturer is highly esteemed in his adopted country.
STOPPING AT HARAN
[The following selection is from a sermon on Genesis ix: 31, 32, in which we learn that old Terah, the father of Abraham, setting out from Edessa to go to Canaan, stopped at Haran, and saw fit to halt and spend the remainder of his life there, instead of pressing on to his goal. From this stopping by the way, Dr. Collyer draws some useful lessons, in an eloquent manner of his own.]
And so this man's life touches yours and mine, and opens out toward some truths we may well lay to our hearts, and this is the first : That, if I want to do a great and good thing in this world, of any sort, while the best of my life lies still before me, the sooner I set about it the better. For, while there is always a separate and special worth in a good old age,