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takes hold upon our senses, and sits robed on its seat in human form. But suppose that, by some chemical process, we ourselves had gathered that cloud together, and set it in the sky, would there have awaked in us an humble adoration, as we gazed ? As its piled heights Aashed down splendour upon us, would not the spirit of self-complacency, rather, have moved in us? Then, it had been our cloud !Alas! alas ! there has been more than one mad Dennis, who has cried, That's my thunder - This land of liberty, this land of all sovereigns,' is filled with the cry Nothing but thunder !'
So, where all the representatives of Law are of our own election, they keep not our reverence, and through our want of this, Law itself becomes a mere thing of convenience, a somewhat upon which to make experiments, a caterer to the selfconceit of man, and, thus, Obedience in time dies, and Order, which holds all in place, is broken up. But if we learn to look upon these ministers as creations of the Law, and not as from ourselves,
-as servants of the Law, and not servants of the people,--a sanctity is thrown around them as its ministers, and Law itself is the more revered. The effect of this, is a more willing Obedience, a feeling of fitness in gradations, a kindly relationship in Orders, a natural connexion from the head to the foot.
Let this sense of patient and wise subjection to authority, this spirit of right Obedience, once possess a man, and its influence inay be easily traced through his internal state, and liis character, as it appears in its outward relations. It was Pride that rebelled against God; it is Humility that restores man to Obedience; and as the same spirit that prepares a man for heaven, fits him for his duties and relations here, so humility, shown forth through obedience, brings out all his good affections, and imparts a beauty and sentiment, and a wise calmness to every station and relation of his life.
Gradations in society, formed by Law and made permanent by it, and not, as where all is thrown open to every man, being shifting and chance distinctions, rising and sinking like the waves, impress the mind with the sense of all-pervading, allarranging, authoritative Law. Its invisible spirit is through Orders, made manifest every where in the connexions of life; each one stands in his place, and there fulfils his duty in obedience to the comniand of the awful Power; man lives and acts under a wholesome reverence, whose cause and mode of working upon himself, he may not comprehend, while yet it spiritualizes him, and acts in him for good. The consciousness is thus kept up in him, that he is living under a power which he cannot over-master, or change at will, and that he stands in certain relations not to be broken through for his mere pleasure and ease ; and this makes him better comprehend the finitę nature, and the dependence of created man.
There being something of permanency and distinctness in his condition, the mind adapts itself to it, and apprehends its connexions with clearness. Habit begets contentedness; and contentedness and a ready apprehension of such things as are immediately around bin, though they be few and simple, impart a wise discernment to the general character, not easily to be deceived. The affections are also strengthened; for, where habituated to it, we come to love even that wbich, in itself considered, is indifferent, and to be unconscious of that which would otherwise give pain. Thus attachments grow around the occupations, the cares, the pleasures, and all the intercourses of daily life; and where quiet attachments grow, there will sentiment, to refine the character, spring up.
I care not how humble this station may be; the fact that it is an inherited one endears it to a man. His father, and his father's father lived here before him; the tools of trade and husbandry which he uses, they had handled ; his bomeliest labours are sanctified to him, and refining affections mingle with his daily toil. I am aware that this is an age in which such a condition of mind and heart is little set by,--that sharp, and alert, and pushing spirits, look upon such a meek and contented soul, with something like contempt, and that taking delight in such views of human nature is set down for romance.
Did it never occur to those who speak thus floutingly, that the conditions and characters in life to which the romantic mind turns oftenest, must, from this very fact, have something in them peculiarly connected with and congenial to the finer parts of our nature ? That which we call romance, although it may be an excess in us, stands in close relation to the highest attributes of man. There must be something well in that to which we unconsciously go in our moments of quickened imagination and softened sentiment; and on the other hand, something radically defective in that from which, in such moments, we as instinctively turn away: There is a beauty and a wisdom in a contented spirit, of which the world knows little now.
These clear distinctions of ranks have the further effect of producing in each man a certain pride in his particular Order ; not a hard, but a softened pride, softened by the filial affections and gentle remembrances, of which I have spoken ; a desire, also, of doing well, not only for the sake of his individual character, but for that, too, of the class to which he belongs.
Further, each one is in the way of having a just understanding of the Rights of his Class; for the line being distinctly marked, it is plain when he bimself oversteps it, or when another treads upon it. Now, selfish as we are, a discernment of our own rights gives us a clearer apprehension of the rights of others. Indeed, our very selfishness puts us in more need of the former, that we may not misjudge the latter; for where we know our own bounds, conscience may keep us within them ; but where they are not at all, or but indistinctly seen, selfishness will be ever disposing us to push beyond our fair limits.
A sense of Security, while within our Order, disposes us to allow to those below or above us, whatever they are entitled to, according to their several places. Hence the ease, the kind courtesy (where rank is not questioned) with which he of the nobler, treats him of the humbler order, and hence, the respectful return.
My christian friend, you to whom wealth and a cultivated mind have given advantages over that poor, aged, christian woman,—who can do little more than spell out her Bible,—did there not stir in you, while you stood talking with her, a feeling for her humble condition ?-a protecting benevolence? And as you heard her patient, meek spirit utter its thankfulness for all God's goodness to her, did it not come like gentle and unconscious rebuke from her to you? Did you not reverence her in her lowly, earthly condition ? Did you not reverence her the more for it? Did you not go away more humble, more revering, than you would have gone from one ranking with yourself?-And do you not believe that she took more heart-comfort in pouring out her soul to you, than she could have taken in so doing to one in the same condition of life with herself? Did not the earthly relation of rank which she bore to you, run on in grateful sympathy with that humility of soul in her which came from and related back to an infinitely high Power ? Were you not both the better for the difference in your conditions ? I know how you will answer me.
And I know, also, what reply you would make, should I question you respecting any honourable and respectable quality in a fellow-creature standing in a like difference of rank to yourself.
We may be assured, that where these distinctions are regarded from custom and old association, and reverenced as marked out by Law, existing rather as a sentiment in the community, than as an arbitrary rule, (and here old Law is transformed into a sentiment) pride on the one side, and a base feeling on the other, are kept out; for the tone of sentiment which is awakened has in it no touch of these. Thus, strange as it may seem, there is a feeling of respect called out in him of the superior rank, towards the individual respectable in his rank below, as well as in the lower, towards him in the rank above. And this feeling runs along the electric chain which connects the lowest peasant with the solitary monarch upon his throne. And what a blessing it is to him, thus lifted up over his fellows, with none above him but God and the Spirit of Law, to be held in sympathy with men, by reverence for his kind:
Of place 'twixt high and low.
Law in this form, is no longer a mere outer political rule, guiding public affairs only, and protecting men against wrong; it blends itself in kindly, congenial working, with the finest feelings in man's individual being, his private relations, his solitary, cherished thoughts, and with his social joys and employments; -it falls into the stream of his religious influences, adding to them, producing congruity, and giving continuity, through this congruity, to the healthful action upon his soul.
That has been called the best form of Law, which leaves man the most to himself, which allows him to forget, save where he openly and purposely violates it, that he is under Law.
If by this were meant, that the less of Law there is in the form of arbitrary, teazing enactments or dark oppression, the better, I would not deny it. But where its all-pervading spirit reaches man, intermediately, through his callings in life, and
through the established distinctions of society, and thus brings him under its steady, diffusive and multiplied influences, softened by the media through which it passes, becoming emotion to the heart and reverence to the mind, made one with his religion, his household, his toils, there it imparts a unity, steadiness, and spirit of respect to his character, which must be for his common good, in his private relations, and in those more abroad.
Established Orders lead also to a more social disposition among men, and from the very circumstance, too, of the well defined limits by which each is set off.
Here, all within their particular Order, are so far, not theoretically and in name merely, but in very deed, on an equalityan equality, too, not exacted, but unconsciously and cordially granted. Being of the same Order makes them a brotherhood; and the fact that they stand in a nearer connexion with one another than with those of any other class, gives them to feel nearer and freer with one another individually: there is more unbending, more free-heartedness, more open joy of countenance and voice, more ease in act. They have bonds of union in their peculiar employments, ties in their peculiar amusements, and characteristic thoughts, habits, and feelings of intercommunion, as insignia of their caste, which hold them together as one
Now, with all the differences of characteristics, which the humbleness or dignity of the several Orders must create, this same principle of intimacy within each order will prevail from the highest to the lowest of them. And thus we find the great community divided up into many small communities, each happy in itself, and the happier because it is by itself. For it will forever hold true, however cosmopolitan we may grow, that we shall be happier within our own peculiar circle, than with the world at large.
I have already shown that this principle of Orders, does not cut off kindly interchange between individuals of different orders, modified by the mutual relation in which these orders stand. And I would appeal, for confirmation, to those who remember the earlier state of our domestic relations, when the old scripture terms of, 'master and servant' were in use. I do not fear contradiction when I say, that there was infinitely more of mutual good-will then, than now; more of trust on the one side, and fidelity on the other; more of protection and kind care, and more of gratitude and affectionate respect in return; and,