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AN

ADDRESS:

YOUNG GENTLEMEN,

A SEMINARY is a world in miniature.

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The resemblances are strong and numerous. of which, however, strike the mind more forcibly than that succession of actors, who, tripping on the stage, sustain the parts of the passing drama. As generation follows generation, so class follows class; and the gladsome smile of social intercourse soon gives place to the solemn gloom of final separation. On these occasions custom authorizes an address to the young adventurers, and nature sanctions what custom authorizes. Anxious for your future welfare, your instructors, who have hitherto guarded your virtue and watched for your happiness, seize on the parting interview, and by the solemn circumstances which crowd upon the mind urge their last counsel.

It is not possible, in the few moments allotted to this address, to develope or even hint at all those doctrines of faith which demand your attention. Nor should I feel as if I had discharged the sacred duty which I owed you had I left these to a hasty discussion in this place and on this occasion. To furnish you with a complete summary of practical duty is also impossible. A glance only at a topic or two is all that will be attempted. The real friend adapts his admonitions to the dangers which threaten, and shapes his cautions to the spirit of the timesThe spirit of the times, is a spirit of mutual injury, recrimination and revenge. In such an age, to hope to pass through life unassailed is vain. The only question is, therefore, how you are to sustain the assault; how treat the assailant?

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Were the world to utter its voice in this place it would tell you, "To be ever vigilant to discover causes of offence; quick in repelling and inexorable in revenging to the uttermost, the slightest attack upon your person or your honor." The gospel, however, adopts a different counsel, and in the bland accents of its Author, inculcates forbearance and forgiveness.

The crimes and miseries resulting from revenge, have been witnessed in every country and regretted in every age. Philosophy, in attempting to regulate, hath increased the evil. Christianity alone directs her weapons at its root, and aims at preventing the effects by exterminating the principle.

Revenge has been defined, the inflicting of pain upon the person who has injured or offended us, farther than the just ends of punishment or reparation require. "There can be no difficulty in knowing when we occasion pain to another; nor much in distinguishing whether we do so, with a view only to the ends of punishment, or from revenge; for in the one case we proceed with reluctance, in the other with plea

sure."

The most if not all the human passions have their use in the economy of life and when sanctified by grace, conduce no less to virtue than to happiness. But how can a passion which has misery as its object, be useful-how agreeable to the Deity? Where could have been its sphere of action in the primeval state or towards whom could it have been directed whilst mutual love predominated in the breast of man? -To these interrogations it is not easy to give a satisfactory answer. Is revenge then a new principle resulting from the apostacy? I know that the apostacy touched the vital principle of man with death; that it corrupted and perverted those faculties and powers which before existed; but I do not know that it created new ones. And when man shall be restored to that perfection from which he hath fallen, the restoration will consist, not in the annihilation of any of his faculties, but in the recovery of his entire nature from sin to holiness; so that he who before hated, now loves his Maker, with all his heart, soul, mind and strength, and his neighbor as himself.

May it, then, not be supposed that the principle in question is not a new one; but the ruins of a once holy principle implanted in the breasts of moral agents, and predisposing them to acquiesce in distributive justice, and to say, in the view of the executed penalties of the fearful law of God, true and righteous are thy judgments. Which principle, now perverted and depraved, prompts the proud possessor not to acquiesce in but to seize on the administration of Jehovah; to utter HIS maledictions, and hurl His thunders on every being who has done, or is supposed to have done, to himself an injury.

Though there cannot be an intentional injury without sin, and though pain is, and for ever will be, the just desert of the sinner, it is not the province of any created being to ascertain the degree of pain due for any offence, or to inflict the same when ascertained. This is an act of distributive penal justice which belongs to God, and to him exclusively. VENGEANCE IS MINE, SAITH THE LORD.

So minute are the causes which operate on human minds, so imperceptible are the shades of moral turpitude, that the OMNISCIENT BEING alone is competent to distributive justice. In civil governments, even penal codes are not founded on distributive but general justice: nor do these aim at the apportionment of penalties to personal demerit; but at the prevention of crimes, or the reformation of offenders; a thing totally different in its nature from the assignment of a certain degree of suffering to a certain degree of criminality. Hence, the difficulty of detect

ing, and the necessity of preventing, certain offences, and not the malignity of each particular case, determines human legislators in the severity of their penalties.

But if civil governments, authorized by divine appointment, are not to execute vengeance on offenders, much less are individuals to do this. It is, therefore, no apology or rather justification of an act of vengeance, that the person who is the object of it is guilty; nor does it alter the case that that guilt has been incurred by an injury done to you. He may deserve to be chastised for his temerity; but you are not constituted either the judge or the executor of that chastisement.

Not that I would inculcate, that pain may never be inflicted on the individual who has done you wrong. It sometimes may and ought to be inflicted. But the motive to this infliction of pain, and the measure of pain to be inflicted, are to be looked for in the good it will produce, and not in the misery due to the offender. There are cases of personal injury where the will of the GREAT LAWGIVER is expressed. In every other instance, your own good, the good of the offender, or the public good can alone constitute a justifiable motive for punishing, or fix the measure of the punishment. And where neither of these ends can be answered, no matter of what crime an individual may have been guilty; no matter what punishment he deserves from God, his Maker and his Master, he deserves none from you.

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