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tion! At this affecting moment, then, when we are assembled to pay the last tribute of respect, let us seriously meditate upon our duties, let us consider, earnestly and anxiously consider, how we shall best preserve those signal blessings which have been transmitted to us—how we shall transmit them unimpaired to our posterity. This is the honour which would have been most acceptable to these illustrious men. This is an appropriate mode of commemorating the event we this day mourn. Let the truths of the Declaration of Independence, the principles of the revolution, the principles of free government, sink deep into our hearts, and govern all our conduct.
National independence has been achieved, once and for ever. It can never be endangered. Time has accumulated strength with a rapidity unexampled. The thirteen colonies, almost without an union, few in numbers, feeble in means, are become in a lapse of fifty years, a nation of twenty-four states, bound together by a common government of their own choice, with a territory doubled by peaceful acquisition, with ten millions of free inhabitants, with a commerce extending to every quarter of the world, and resources equal to every emergency of war or peace. Institutions of humanity, of science, and of literature, have been established throughout the land. Temples have risen to Him who created all things, and by whom all things are sustained, not by the commands of princes or rulers, nor by legal coercion, but from the spontaneous offerings of the human heart. Conscience is absolutely free in the broadest and most unqualified sense. Industry is free; and human action knows no greater control, than is indispensable to the preservation of rational liberty.
What is our duty ? To understand, and to appreciate the value of these signal blessings, and with all our might and strength, to endeavour to perpetuate them. To take care that the great sources from which they flow, be not obstructed by selfish passion, nor polluted by lawless ambi
tion, nor destroyed by intemperate violence. To rise to the full perception of the great truth, “ that governments are instituted among men to secure human rights, deriving their authority from the consent of the governed,” and that with a knowledge of our own rights, must be united the same just regard for the rights of others, and pure affection for our country, which dwelt in the hearts of the fathers of the revolution,
In conclusion, allow me to remind you, that with all their doings was mingled a spirit of unaffected piety. In adversity they humbled themselves before Him, whose power is almighty, and whose goodness is infinite. In prosperity they gave Him the thanks. In His aid, invoked upon their arms and counsels with sincerity of heart, was their reliance and their hope. Let us also be thankful for the mercies, which as a nation, we have so largely experienced, and as often as we gratefully remember those illustrious men to whom we are indebted, let us not forget that their efforts must have been unavailing, and that our hopes are vain, unless approved by Him; and in humble reliance upon His favour, let us implore His continued blessing upon our beloved country.
DELIVERED AT RUTGERS COLLEGE, ON THE FOURTEENTH
OF JULY, 1829.
GENTLEMEN OF THE PHILOCLEAN AND PEITHESSOPHIAN SOCIE
THE occasion which has brought us together is calculated to awaken earnest and anxious reflection. Youth is the season of preparation for manhood. In a short time those who are in a course of training for the duties of life, will, in the order of Providence, succeed to the charge which is now borne by their seniors; and distributed among the varied employments of social and civilized existence, be called by their own strength, each in his allotted sphere, to sustain, preserve, and improve the advantages which are derived to them from their predecessors. To fit them for the task which is thus to devolve upon them, is the design of all education.
In what manner, and by what means this great design may be most effectually accomplished—what are the methods most likely to aid in forming a wise and virtuous man, an honest and useful citizen, is a question of great interest, which cannot be too deeply pondered. An eminent man of antiquity has remarked, with equal beauty and force, that" a state without youth, would be like a year without the Spring.” But what avails the Spring, if its blossoms perish without producing fruit or seed? If sporting for a while in the gaiety of the season, and charming the senses with their bloom and fragrance, they disappoint the hope which forms their greatest value, and dwindle, fade and die, as if they had never been ?
The insect obeys the law of its ephemeral existence; it spreads its wings in the sunshine, rejoices in a moment of life, and then flutters and disappears. The brute animal is governed by its appetites, and guided by its instinct. It is neither acquainted with its faculties, nor capable of improving them. The individual and the species, for successive generations, move on in their appointed course, without undergoing any sensible change, as little subject to degeneracy from any neglect or folly of their own, as they are able, by their own efforts, to exalt or improve their nature. They live, and they die—they sink into inanimate matter, and are lost in the uninformed mass.
But man is endowed by his Maker with moral and intellectual powers, which not only distinguish him from all the visible creation, but absolutely separate him from any affinity with it. His bodily frame is dust, fearfully and wonderfully made ; but still a portion of inanimate matter, which cleaves to the ground! His bodily powers, his sensual passions and appetites have their dwelling upon the earth, in common with the animal creation. His intellect-his
power of “ large discourse, looking before and after,”—aspires to communion with intelligence, and seeks its kindred beyond the limits of this life. His animal nature may truly say to the worm, “ Thou art my brother, and to corruption, Thou art my sister and my mother !" His intellectual and moral faculties have no fellowship upon earth.
These faculties are the talent which his Maker has given to man. By means of them, he is enabled to exercise dominion over the earth, and to subdue it to his own enjoyment and happiness. By their means too, it is intended that he shall exercise dominion over the earthly parts of himself—that he shall regulate the exercise of his corporeal powers, subdue his passions and appetites, and live upon the earth, as if he were not of the earth, enjoying the bounties of Providence with cheerful gratitude ; doing good to his fellow men, and exalting, by rational discipline, his
own character, and the character of his race.—This is his greatest glory—this is his highest happiness—this is his obvious duty.
The faculties which thus constitute the high and distinguishing privilege of man, exalting him above all that surrounds him, and placing him but “a little lower than the angels,” are progressive and improveable. It is true, also, that the bodily powers are capable of some improvement. But the measure of their growth is limited ; and, comparatively, it is soon attained.—Their highest perfection seems to continue but for a moment. The intellectual and moral capacity, on the contrary, flourishes more and more with culture—becomes continually enlarged and invigorated, and yields a daily and increasing harvest, even when the bodily powers are visibly declining.
When the bloom has forsaken the cheek—when the beautiful smoothness of youth has yielded to the furrows of age, and the step has begun to lose something of its elasticity and briskness—the cultivated and disciplined mind, nourished by wholesome food, and enlivened by exercise, is still advancing in its career, extending the sphere of its beneficent influence, and, as it were, supplying, by its own graces, the ravages which time has made in the external form, The light within, if duly trimmed and fed, continues to spread its lustre with unabated, and even increasing splendour, when the frame that encloses it has lost its freshness, and begun to grow dim from age.
But we must also remember, that these faculties are liable to debasement and degeneracy. They will rust from sloth and indolence—they will decay from want of exercise and nourishment—and they will be smothered and destroyed, if subjected to the dominion of our passions and appetites. That is an empire they cannot endure. They were intended to be masters—and they will not submit to exist as slaves. The sluggard suffers the light of his intellect to go out. The drunkard drowns and extinguishes it. The one