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ency darker than the gloomiest night that ever clouded the path of earthly sorrow. It is not calamity, it is no worldly disappointment, it is not affliction, it is not gries, that I speak of; nor is it any of these that gives the greatest intensity to this doubt; it is a developement of our own nature; it is the soul's own struggling with the mighty powers with wbich it is made to grapple; it is the longed-for and almost felt inmortality, struck from our eager grasp,
-the light gone out,
- the heaven of our hope all overshadowed and dark. Yes, it is the consciousness of infinite desires and capacities, all blighted and broken down ; it is the aspiring which suns and stars cannot bound, all shrunk and buried in a coffin and a grave! In short, it is the proper and legitimate state of a mind following the premises of the case to their just result; and not that worldly condition of the mind, which is no more fit to judge of this subject than childhood is to judge of the interests of an empire. And now I say, Is it hard to believe that God would interpose for humanity, so circumstanced? Is it incredible that he should send a voice into that deep and dark struggle for spiritual life and hope ?
I appeal to you, my brethren. I appeal to the youth who are before me. It is thought that this age is witnessing an unusual developement of infidel principles. One whole nation, indeed, has fallen a victim to them. And what is new and striking, it is said has a kind of fascination for youth. But I hold that this is an age, too, which is witnessing an extraordinary developement of sensibility in the young. This arises from an earlier, I had almost said, a premature education ; from an exciting literature; and from the character of enterprise and expectation which now invests all the interests and prospects of society. But I ask, Is this an age, when you can safely break the great bond of faith and hope? If you were a dull and sluggish youth, or a youth amidst rude and barbarous times, it might not yield me the argument which I now seek. But I know that in this age, ay, and in this assembly, there is many a youthful heart, whose daily experience is the strongest possible proof of the need, and therefore of the likelihood, of a divinely sanctioned religion. Ay, I know, and many a sorrowing parent in this land knows, that the period of youth cannot be safely passed without it. Those thronging passions, those swaying sympathies of social life, the deeper musings of solitary hours, the imaginations, the affections, the thoughts, unuttered and unutterable, — all the sweeping currents that bear the youthful heart it scarcely knows whither, -all show that it cannot be thrown without infinite peril, to drift upon a sea of doubt.
Humanity, in fine, and especially in its growing cultivation, has 100 hard a lot, it appears to me, if God has not opened for it the fountains of revelation. Without that great disclosure from above, human nature stands, in my contemplation of it, as an anomaly annidst the whole creation. The noblest existence on earth is not provided with a resource even so poor as instinct. On the heart that is made to bear the weight of infinite interests, sinks the crushing burthen of doubt and despondency, of fear and sorrow, of pain and death, without resource or relief, or comfort, or hope. The cry of the young ravens, the buzzing of insect life in every hedge, is heard ; but the call, that comes up from the deep and dark conflict of the overshadowed soul, dies upon the vacant air; and there is no ear to hear, nor eye to pity. Oh! were it so, what could sustain the human heart sinking under the burthen of its noblest aspirations? “The still, sad music of humanity," sounding on through all time, would lose every soothing tone, and would become a wail, in which the heart of the world would die!
And why inust any man think that the world is left to that darkness and misery? Because he cannot believe, that a communication has been made from heaven in the only conceivable way in which it can be made and proved; by miracles. For I affirm, that, if that great preliminary difficulty were over, all difficulties would vanish before the stupendous proofs of a revelation. He that thinks, then, that the world is left to nature's darkness, thinks thus, I repeat, because he cannot believe in miracles; because he cannot admit that the order of nature which is itself not an end, but a means to an end, may be interrupted for the greatest of all ends ;- because he will not admit, that the infinite Power is superior to the laws itself has made ; because he will not allow, in his philosophy, that liberty to the Infinite Parent, in changing and adapting his provisions to the wants of his children, that he allows to every earthly parent. Is this the childlike and trustful, the deep-searching and discerning, the expansive and unprejudiced spirit of true philosophy, or is it the shallow and skeptical spirit of bondage to the mere outward forms and
processes of things, regardless of their higher meanings and ends ?
Here for the present I leave the subject. I have not undertaken in this discourse to prove the truth of Christianity; but, if I have succeeded in removing the great obstacle, - in · opening the door to the argument, the conclusion, I think, will easily follow. I have not undertaken to prove that there have been miracles; but I do hold myself entitled to say, as the close and inference of this discourse, that I should wonder if there had not been miracles. The philosophical presumption is for, rather than against them. Nature is for, more than it is against them, - its mechanical order only being against them, while its whole spirit is in their favor. Man's necessity, God's mercy, is for them ; and against them is what? What is against all legitimate wisdom and conviction ? Why, only a doubt, - which is mostly vague and irresponsible, - which, because it is a doubt, holds itself scarcely bound to give a reason, -- and which, though it is a doubt, sits immovable, as if it held the very seat of knowledge, and throne of reason.
To allow it to sit there undisturbed, is to yield more deference to a shadow, than to the very substance of reason and truth.
Art. VIII. — The Library of American Biography. Con
ducted by JARED Sparks. Vol. V. Life of John Eliot, the Apostle to the Indians. By Convers Francis. Boston: Hilliard, Gray, & Co. 1836. 16mo.
A Worthier literary enterprise has not been projected amongst us than this “ American Biography.” Mr. Sparks was fortunate in the first conception of the plan, nor has he been less so in the execution, the subjects chosen, and the contributors obtained. The time, too, is propitious. The country is not so new as to make the catalogue scanty of those deserving such memorial, or to give to their biographies a contemporaneous character; nor yet is it so old as to preclude system and considerable completeness in the undertaking. An editor, so well versed in our annals as Mr. Sparks, and, we may add, so judicious in selection, and indefatigable in accomplishment, with such assistance as it appears he can command, need not despair of providing some satisfactory notice of all the really important and conspicuous names that occur in the first three quarters of the two centuries of our history. The time has arrived, we may suppose, when such names may be put into the balance, with the hope of impartiality, as far down at least as the origin of the present constitution. Political or other prejudice does not now reach back beyond that period. Contemporaneous biography, though a good service in its time, yet, for obvious reasons, needs to be re-written long after, in most cases in which it proves worthy to have been written at all. The whole extent, therefore, of our brief American antiquity seems open to this excellent enterprise, inviting a thorough survey. We trust the editor finds encouragement to persevere in a project so well begun.
A complaint has proceeded from a high critical quarter, that, the Novel species being on the decline, literature is running too much to Biography ; meaning that we are likely to be overrun with lying and gossiping memoirs of men, women, and children, who may be very good or very wicked in their spheres, but have no special claims to be commemorated beyond the narrow circle in which they move. If all the types of the Harpers and their kind should be withdrawn from fiction, and go to practising their wondrously rapid permutations upon “Real Lives" and "True Narratives,” then, , doubtless, would be a time for all insignificance to be magnified, all low things to be exalted, a little one to become a thousand, and the reign of foolish tattle and pompous imposition be more extended and potent than ever before. Evils of this sort do impend; neither is the peril new. But, while we would not have all writers write lives, or the lives of all who have lived be written, still we would mark some goodly number of names in every age of every people to be fully chronicled, and we would reserve some of the most philosophical and choice minds to do it. Such lives furnish some of our best books. They are the best chapters of history. Biography recognises buman individuality, what the individual is and does; and we esteem the characters and doings of individuals as such, quite as instructive and healthsul subjects of contemplation as those of masses and organized bodies of men ; less needful indeed in the study of policy and expedients, but more so in that of humanity, and the higher expressions of the moral sentiments. And wbile we would pay due honor to the great moral energy and achievement of the present times, as manifested in the resolves of Societies and the reports of Executive Committees, we are also well pleased to go back with Mr. Sparks and his coadjutors to the times when men moved more of their own motion, and were more individual in character and action, - times when the established relations and ordinary sympathies of life sufficed for union, - and the separate energies, conscience, and vocation of a man served for guidance and machinery, - more simple and natural, however less wonderworking and omnipotent.
None who know any thing of the character and apostleship of Jobn Eliot will deny, that he holds a rightful place in this "American Biography”; and those, who may never have heard of him before, will be satisfied by the work of Mr. Francis, that the place in the series could not have been better filled. Mr. Eliot was a young Puritan preacher in England; but being made uncomfortable there on account of his Non-conformity, he came to New England, and was established as teacher of the church in Roxbury, Nov. 5th, 1632, as colleague with Mr. Welde,* who appears to have been settled there a few months before. He exercised a long and faithsul parochial ministry. He became early and deeply interested in the moral condition of the Indian tribes of his neighbourhood,- an interest“ inspired by his sanctified love of doing good, and increased probably by bis belief, that the Indians were the descendants of the lost tribes of Israel.” He visited them and received their visits; preached to them, and taught them the facts and principles of the Christian faith ; studied their language, and used it in his intercourse with them, and finally translated the whole Bible and several other books into it, and made an Indian Grammar. He acquired a great influence over many of the chiefs and people, and made many converts.
He labored to introduce the arts of civilized lise among them. In due time he collected a great portion of his converts from various tribes into a settlement of their own, called Natick, where a church was formed and municipal authorities were instituted, still under the paternal and apostolic guidance of Eliot. We can easily im
* Mr. Francis makes Eliot the first minister of Roxbury. It is of no moment to correct the slight error, but we believe the highest chronological authorities assign the priority to Welde. VOL. XXI. - 30 s. VOL. III. NO. I.