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years he was one of the most brilliant ornaments, to give formal expression to those feelings, which, in justice either to him, to ourselves, or to the community of which he was the pride, could not longer be restrained.
It is for you, gentlemen, to propose whatever in your judgment may be appropriate for the occasion.
NEITHER SECTARIAN NOR SECTIONAL,
THE GREAT REMEDY FOR SOCIAL AND POLITICAL
AN ADDRESS DELIVERED BEFORE THE YOUNG MEN'S CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION,
BOSTON, APRIL 7, 1859.*
I am not altogether without apprehension, Mr. President, in rising to perform the service for which you have so kindly announced me, that an address originally intended only as a plain and frank declaration of old-fashioned opinions, and more particularly as an earnest of my sincere sympathy with the young men who have honored me with an invitation to speak to them this evening, may fail of meeting the expectations of many of those whom I see around me. But I am here for no personal display, for no secular, rhetorical discourse. I yield the palm of eloquence without a struggle or a sigh, to those who already, during the present week, have waked the echoes of this hall, and of other halls in its vicinity, to a marvellous and magical music of words and thoughts to which I can make so little pretension. Coming here on the evening of a day which has been set apart in conformity with ancient usage for exercises of religion, and coming at the instance and for the furtherance of an association instituted for religious improvement, I shall not decline or evade the direct subject presented to me by the occasion, the audience, and the object. And if I shall have succeeded in awakening a worthier motive, or kindling a nobler aspiration, or prompting a more generous impulse in any youthful heart, I shall be better
* This Address was repeated before the Young Men's Christian Association of Richmond, Virginia, May 5, 1859.
rewarded than if I could have won the richest garland of the Olympian Games.
I know not, my friends, precisely by whom, or under what circumstances, the original idea of associations, like that which I have the honor to address this evening, was first suggested, or under what auspices that idea found its earliest practical fulfilment. It is said to have been in the city of London, in the year 1844, where some of the most eminent statesmen of the British realm have alternated with the clergy of all denominations, in delivering successive courses of lectures on moral and religious topics before a similar association. But I can conceive of few more enviable distinctions which any man, young or old, could · claim for himself, than to have been the original founder or the original proposer of such an organization. Nor, in my humble judgment, could any city of our own land, or of any other land, present a higher title to the grateful consideration of all good men, than that city, wherever it may be, within whose limits and under whose auspices, the first Young Men's Christian Association, or Union, was successfully organized and established.
The ancient metropolis of Syria has secured for itself a manifold celebrity on the pages of history. It has been celebrated as the splendid residence of the Syrian kings, and afterwards as the luxurious capital of the Asiatic Provinces of the Roman Empire. It has been celebrated for its men of letters, and its cultivation of learning. It has been celebrated for the magnificence of the edifices within its walls, and for the romantic beauty of its suburban groves and fountains. The circling sun shone nowhere upon more majestic productions of human art, than when it gilded, with its rising or its setting beams, the sumptuous symbols of its own deluded worshippers, in the gorgeous temple of Daphne and the gigantic statue of Apollo, which were the pride and boast of that far-famed capital; while it was from one of the humble hermitages which were embosomed in its exquisite environs, that the sainted Chrysostom poured forth some of those poetical and passionate raptures on the beauties and sublimities of nature, which would alone have won for him the title of “the golden-mouthed.” At one time, we are told, it ranked third on the list of the great cities of the world, -next only after Rome and Alexandria, and hardly inferior to the latter of the two, at least, in size and splendor. It acquired a severer and sadder renown in more recent, though still remote history, as having been doomed to undergo vicissitudes and catastrophes of the most disastrous and deplorable character ; - now sacked and pillaged by the Persians, now captured by the Saracens, and now besieged by the Crusaders ; a prey, at one moment, to the ravages of fire, at another, to the devastations of an earthquake, which is said to have destroyed no less than two hundred and fifty thousand human lives in a single hour. Its name has thus become associated with so many historical lights and shadows, - with so much of alternate grandeur and gloom, — that there is, perhaps, but little likelihood of its ever being wholly lost sight of by any student of antiquity. Yet it is not too much to say, that one little fact, for which the Bible is the sole and all-sufficient authority, will fix that name in the memory, and rivet it in the affectionate regard of mankind, when all.else associated with it is forgotten. Yes, when its palaces and
. its temples, its fountains and its groves, its works of art and its men of learning, when Persian and Saracen and Crusader, who successively spoiled it, and the flames and the earthquake which devoured and desolated it, shall have utterly faded from all human recollection or record, the little fact — the great fact, let me rather say ---- will still be remembered, and remembered with an interest and a vividness which no time can ever efface or diminish, that “the Disciples were called Christians first in Antioch;" that there the name of Christ -- given at the outset, perhaps, as a nickname and a by-word, but gladly and fearlessly accepted and adopted, in the face of mockery, in the face of martyrdom, by delicate youth and maiden tenderness, as well as by mature or veteran manhood - first became the distinctive designation of the faithful followers of the Messiah.
That record must, of course, stand alone, for ever, on the historic page. Christianity will never begin again. Christ has lived and died once for all, and will come no more upon these earthly scenes, until he comes again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead. But, should the numerous Associations and Unions which have recently sprung into existence as from a common impulse in both hemispheres, -bearing a common name, composed of congenial elements, and organized for the same great and glorious ends with that now before me, – should they go on zealously and successfully in the noble work which they have undertaken, --should they even fulfil but one-half the high hopes and fond expectations which their progress thus far has authorized and encouraged, - it may be, it may be, that the city from which they all took their first example and origin, if it can then be identified, - whether it be London or New York, - Liverpool, Edinburgh, or Boston, — Berlin, Geneva, or Richmond, --- will have no prouder or loftier title to the gratitude of man or to the blessing of God, than that there was set on foot the first Young Men's Christian Association, - that there the young men of the nineteenth century, by a concerted movement, and in so considerable companies, first professed and called themselves Christians.
Certainly, certainly, my friends, it is no common event in the history of the moral and religious progress of mankind, that the young men of so many of the great cities of the world should have simultaneously arrayed and organized themselves under the distinctive banner of the Cross, and should have openly adopted the baptismal designation of Christian Associations. The great body of young men, in almost all ages and countries, have, I need hardly say, been proverbially accustomed to shrink from any thing like Christian professions. They have thought it well enough for the old, perhaps, - after the pleasures and vanities of life had been exhausted, - to turn their attention to the grave and sober concerns of religion. They have recognized the good policy, doubtless, of beginning to devise means for securing safety and happiness in another world, when little or nothing more remained to be enjoyed or expected in this. But to be called pious, or even serious, in youth, has often been resented as a term of downright disparagement and reproach ; - while to have enlisted in the open ranks of a Christian Association would have been regarded, even by some of those present, not many years ago, as indicating a total and most deplorable lack of that manly, generous, and chivalrous spirit which could alone be relied on to render young men honorable, enterprising, useful, or even respectable in life.
And it must be admitted, in all candor, that young men, just emerging from the restraints of parental or scholastic discipline,