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Young Gentlemen of the Graduating Class : I have set before you, altogether inadequately, the conditions under which you go forth into life, inviting and hopeful as never before. Whatever the complications of the outlook, the path unfolds to the watchful eye and the firm foot. Now is the Spanish saying true: “The man is the son of his works.” Make it a goodly ancestry and a noble heritage. Or if life be a voyage, set your helm right from the first. For the sailors say well: “ He that is embarked with the devil must sail with him.” And they also say well: “Do good and cast it into the sea; if the fishes ignore it, God will know it."
So, then, do good work and do good; and be not eagerly ambitious. When you have filled your place more than full it will open out somewhere, most likely upward. So do not “hitch your wagon to a star " till you have calculated the star and are sure of your wagon. But work without wearying, rough it without whining, and wait without repining; and to this end imitate the one excellence of the Third Frederick of Germany – he had but one excellence; it was his fixed habit to regard events, however they concerned himself, with the calmness of a mere observer ; and so injuries and offenses which infuriated other men were judged by him without emotion. It saved him and will save you much trouble.
But I shall have failed of my purpose if I have not to some degree impressed on your minds the responsibility that comes with your opportunities. Interlocked
with the world at every point it is no time to live for yourself alone. It is your privilege to be not only diligent in business but fervent in spirit. Along and above your secular work throw yourself into every wise scheme and effort for the good of man. Hold fast to sound principle, living truth, righteous aims, and above all to Him, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the way, the truth, and the life. Thoroughly “believe your beliefs, doubt your doubts,” and work out your work. And God be with you all.
BACCALAUREATE SERMON, JUNE 26, 1892.
What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. — PSALM 56:3.
UCH was the spirit in which a good man, beset
with human infirmities, went through a checkered, adventurous, and often precarious career.
In the same spirit, long before, the warrior Joshua had entered on the conquest of Canaan, and the exile Nehemiah, long after, on the rebuilding of Jerusalem. So, also, a thousand years after the psalmist the great apostle said, “None of these things move me," as with opened eye and undaunted heart he looked down the long vista of dangers and sufferings, illuminated at the end with the gleam of the headsman's sword. My theme this morning is
be seen even among men a brute courage, a moral courage, and a Christian courage. The brute courage is of various kinds. There is a canine courage that in one form barks loudly from a safe place and in another clings ferociously till some hot iron burns it off ; the lupine courage that ventures forth only in packs to worry down some solitary traveler; the taurine courage that shuts its eyes, thrusts out its horns, and dashes reckless on ; the leonine courage that with open eye and phlegmatic nerve faces the foe unterrified,
Of these the canine is often seen in the malignant calumniator ; the lupine in the lynching mob or the banded conspirators for public wrong or personal abuse ; the taurine in the fanatic and the anarchist; the leonine in many a soldier insensible to fear.
Higher than any or all of these is the moral, the human courage, which alive with nerve and alive to danger calmly masters the nerve and meets the danger. It is the courage of the gallant officer. Said a stolid companion to his brother officer as the battle was about to open : “You seem to be agitated; are you afraid ?" “ Yes," was the answer; “and if you were half as afraid as I am, you would run away.” The manly courage often is exhibited in the battle of life. Some men baffled or defeated in their business or professional or public career are never extinguished but rise elastic and vigorously move on. But how often too the seeming strength gives way in the hour of adversity and proves to have no root in itself! Thus Ralston, the most brilliant of the California money kings, a man of nerve, energy, audacity, who had risen from being a Mississippi pilot to enormous wealth, unlimited credit, vast schemes, a palace residence, and unbounded hospitality, when the day of failure came drowned himself in the bay of San Francisco. He was the type of how many a moral failure !
But far above the highest form of genuine moral courage, indeed its basis, essence, and guaranty, is Christian courage. It rests upon a firm faith in God and his promises and it shows itself in the firm and fearless following of the path of duty. Do not confound it with indifference, heedlessness, recklessness, stolidity, obstinacy, or insubordination. It quietly surveys its surroundings and its openings, thoughtfully chooses its course, and then unfalteringly holds it to the end. It looks all around and it looks also beyond and above. It trusts in God and, in its best estate, while it sees all, it shrinks from nothing. It can dwell in the feeblest frame, it can calm the most excitable spirit, for it listens to the voice, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee,” and responds, “If God be for us, who can be against us?”
Such a courage as this let me commend to those who are looking forth expectantly upon the eventful journey of life. For, however hard to gain and hard to retain, it contains the “promise and the potency” of a life of peace, usefulness, and blessing. It is pressed upon us by the weightiest considerations, both negatively and positively.
I. Negatively. (1) Fears, forebodings, and anxieties are commonly misdirected. They are well termed “ borrowed troubles.” They do not belong to us and probably never will. How commonly are our forebodings a mere waste of emotion! The evils we most gloomily anticipate, how often are they averted, and those we fear not are the ones that overtake us. The dreaded consumption is intercepted by the fever. Accident forestalls the apoplexy or the cancer. He that fears the steamboat or the locomotive is killed by the horse's hoof, the falling tree, or the runaway. Hidden snakes in India destroy more lives than the