Page images

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 us. 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, and

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.”



Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. — PHILIPPIANS 3: 13, 14.

IT is a delightful feature of Paul's epistles that

though official and apostolic they are so pervaded by his personality. All the great truths he teaches seem to have passed through the alembic of his own experience, and we receive the divine message by the most human of messengers.

And thus as he goes on his extraordinary career, we look in upon the workings of his mind and heart. In these two verses he reveals the mighty motives which lay beneath that marvelous life-work. No higher standard or ideal can be set before a human soul. In the presence of such a model, it becomes those who are looking forward to a life-work of their own to pause and ponder.

We will, therefore, follow the several suggestions of the text, and consider


I. The first of these guaranties is a wise dissatisfaction with one's past achievements. “I count not myself to have apprehended.” We are to live in the future, and not on the past; to cherish a manly convic

tion that we have never yet been at our best, nor done our very best.

This rigid criticism of our own work and attainments means no disparagement of other men or even of other times. Humility and reverence walk hand in hand. Contempt is the daughter of conceit. The most helpful are most frankly beholden to other help, and the clearest mind most clearly sees how the world's arena has been trodden on every path by great personages — how the statesmen and the philosophers, the orators and the poets, the traders and the warriors, the explorers and the philanthropists, that are gone, have not always left even their peers behind. The palms that wave against the modern sky strike their roots deep into the alluvium of the ages.

In proportion to a man's veneration for the great and good, behind, around, and above, will be the rigidness of his self-criticism and his self-exactions. The sight of the “great cloud of witnesses” may be as humiliating as it is stimulating, for they have won the race which he has but begun. It was the lamentation once of a great sculptor that he was perfectly satisfied with his statue ; for he felt that when he could form no higher ideal than he had attained, his artistic life was at its ebb. But it was the stout claim of Johnson at seventy-five : “Pick out the best of my essays, and I will make it better.” Titian at ninety-eight began one of his largest paintings to prove that his powers had not failed, and he died at his work. When the enthusiastic Moses Stuart was reproached with having

« PreviousContinue »