« ZurückWeiter »
others shall, in the very outset, lose his own, and be the first to feel that servitude which he has induced.
You have engaged in a most arduous undertaking, which will search you to the quick ; which will bring to the severest test your spirit, your energy, your stability ; which will ascertain whether you are really actuated by that living piety, and honor, and equity, and moderation, which seem, with the favor of God, to have raised you to your present high dignity. To rule with your counsels three mighty realms, in the place of their erroneous institutions ; to introduce a sounder system of doctrine and of discipline; to pervade their remotest provinces with unremitting attention and anxiety, vigilance and foresight; to decline no labors, to yield to no blandishments of pleasure, to spurn the pageantries of wealth and of power—these are difficulties, in comparison of which those of war are the mere levities of play ; these will sist and winnow you ; these demand a man sustained by the Divine assistance, tutored and instructed almost by a personal communication with his God. These, and more than these, you often, as I doubt not, revolve in your mind, and make the subjects of your deepest meditations, greatly solicitous how most happily they may be achieved, and your country's freedom be strengthened and se
He afterwards saw his error; and in his fervent appeal in favor of a Free Commonwealth, published on the eve of the Restoration, held the following language:
“It is true indeed, when monarchy was dissolved, the form of a commonwealth should have been forthwith framed, and the practice thereof immediately begun, that the people might soon have been satisfied and delighted with the decent order, ease, and benefit thereof. We had been, then, by this time firmly rooted, past fear of commotions or mutations, and now flourishing. This care of timely settling a new government instead of the old, too much neglected, hath been our mischief."
To maintain that all Milton's political plans were wise, or all his expectations reasonable, is no part of our design ; but we pity the man who, knowing what he did and suffered in the cause of freedom, and how earnestly consistent was his language from first to last, cannot give him credit for sincerity, and sympathize with the elevated patriotism and noble aims with which he tore himself from the delights of study and those poetical pursuits to which only he looked for fame and an enduring influence over the hearts of men, to
enter on the ungracious task of political controversy, in which he was conscious that he “ had but the use of his left hand.”
A few sentences are enough to show how fully Milton understood the principles to which we owe our institutions, and on which they depend for success and permanence :
“I perceived that the right way to liberty was taken-that if discipline beginning from religion held its course to the morals and institutions of the commonwealth, the advance would be direct from these beginnings, by these steps, to the deliverance of the whole life of man from slavery.”—Defensio Secunda.
“ The property of truth is, where she is publicly taught, to unyoke and set free the minds and spirits of a nation, first from the thraldom of sin and superstition, after which all honest and legal freedom of civil life cannot be long absent.”—Reason of Church Government.
“ If men within themselves would be governed by reason, and not generally give up their understanding to a double tyranny, of custom from without, and blind affections within, they would discern better what it is to favor and uphold the tyrant of a nation. But being slaves within doors, no wonder that they strive so much to have the public state conformably governed to the inward vicious rule by which they govern themselves. For indeed none can love freedom heartily but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license, which never hath more scope or more indulgence than under tyrants. Hence it is that tyrants are not oft offended, nor stand much in doubt of bad men, as being all naturally servile; but in whom virtue and true worth most is eminent, them they fear in earnest, as by right their masters.”—Tenure of Kings and Magistrates.
“It is a work good and prudent to be able to guide one man ; of larger extended virtue to order well one house ; but to govern a nation piously and justly, which only is to say happily, is for a spirit of the greatest size, and divinest mettle. And certainly of no less a mind, nor of less excellence in another way, were they who by writing laid the solid and true foundations of this science, which being of greatest importance to the life of man, yet there is no art that hath been more cankered in her principles, more soiled and slubbered with aphorisming pedantry, than the art of policy; and that most, where a man would think should least be, in Christian commonwealths. They teach not, that to govern well, is to train up a nation in true wisdom and virtue, and that which springs from thence, magnanimity, (take heed of that,) and that which is our beginning, regeneration, and happiest end, likeness to God, which in one word we call godliness; and that this is the true flourishing of a land, other things follow as the
shadow does the substance; to teach thus, were mere pulpitry to them. This is the masterpiece of a modern politician: how to qualify and mould the sufferance and subjection of the people to the length of that foot that is to tread on their necks; how rapine may serve itself with the fair and honorable prétences of public good; how the puny law may be brought under the wardship and control of lust and will; in which attempt if they fall short, then must a superficial color of reputation by all means, direct or indirect, be gotten to wash over the unsightly bruise of honor. To make men governable in this manner, their precepts mainly tend to break a national spirit and courage, by countenancing open riot, luxury, and ignorance, till having thus disfigured and made men beneath men, as Juno in the fable of Io, they deliver up the poor transformed heifer of the commonwealth to be stung and vexed with the breese and goad of oppression, under the custody of some Argus with a hundred eyes of jealousy. To be plainer, sir, how to solder, how to stop a leak, how to keep up the floating carcass of a crazy and diseased monarchy or state, betwixt wind and water, swimming still upon her own dead lees, that now is the deep design of a politician. Alas, sir! a commonwealth ought to be but as one huge Christian personage, one mighty growth and stature of an honest man, as big and compact in virtue as in body; for look, what the grounds and canses are of single happiness to one man; the same ye shall find them to a whole state, as Aristotle, both in his ethics and politics, from the principles of reason lays down ; by consequence, therefore, that which is good and agreeable to monarchy will appear sooneșt to be so, by being good and agreeable to the true welfare of every Christian ; and that which can be justly proved hurtful and offensive to every true Christian, will be evinced to be alike hurtful to monarchy; for God forbid that we should separate and distinguish the end and good of a monarch, from the end and good of the monarchy, or of that, from Christianity."-Reformation in England.
By NEHEMIAH ADAMS.
The Life of the Right Reverend Jeremy Taylor, D. D. by
Bishop Heber. First American, from the third London
It is amongst the encouragements which we feel in underaking our new work, that the state of the religious and literary community here, is beginning to be such as to call for the lives, opinions, and the golden words of the older writers. For those who have been in the least conversant with the learning and wisdom of the fathers of English literature, have felt in returning to this generation a great change of atmosphere; as the hot and feverish days of summer, when there are no air currents to defecate the heavens, oppress the mountaineer, descending from the bracing winds, and the rich, far spreading visions of the summits. Book-making characterizes the present age, and many who are fitted for higher employment, are in humble servitude to the popular taste. There is to some extent a want of individuality of feeling, or separateness and independence of mind. Men in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries wrote as if they were in eternity. It was everlasting truth which filled their souls and overflowed with irrepressible feeling ;-" they could not but speak the things which they had seen and heard.” But the bookseller's price current is now to a great extent the rule of genius; for the state of the reading community affects authors just as any other market influences the mechanic or producer. Modern popular literature might well have for its emblem something like the late fashionable scrap box, whose superficies presents to the eye a large display of small pictures, the original designs of which are lost in their evident obsequiousness to their great substratum. The truth is, the world has gone after what it calls science, and the press groans with a multitude of books made to teach people as the why and the wherefore” of all things. It is to be hoped,
, when we have thus been sufficiently taught how things are
made or done, and Lyceums have spent their infusions of “ knowledge for the people," and Observation with wearied eye ceases to stimulate the minds of old and young with revelations of the everlasting secrets of nature, intermingling reproofs for being contented not to know every thing—that Reflection will resume her delightful reign ; that men will know more of the little springs of thought and feeling in their own souls, and walk in secret by the still waters, deserted though they now are in a great measure for the dusty highways of the world. We may be singular, but the present strained efforts of many to make us understand every thing connected with anatomy, mechanics, the air, earth, and heavens, is fatiguing to the mind. It is true, the world has gone after science. Even religion seems to have grown objective and scientific. The great absorbing topics in which she has lately been engaged, are questions which engender strife, respecting the will, dependence, ability, and the existence of sin. A large proportion of the sermons which have been preached upon great and solemn occasions, within a few years in this vicinity, have had for their object the elucidation of some difficult and abstruse subject in divinity, and on the Sabbath, a vast amount of light and heat have been expended upon the question, Whether a sinner can repent! We long for the time when great and holy men like Barrow, and Taylor, and Hooker, and Bishop Hall, will publish discourses of meditated thought concerning redemption, the unsearchable riches of Christ, and all the thrilling subjects of the great salvation; when the logic of the modern pulpit will be set on fire with an impassioned eloquence in the soul's behalf, and religious literature will be a rich and deep stream, like old Pactolus triumphing over his golden sands.
We cannot believe with some that the way to bring back the age of Reflection is to publish fragments, or selections, or even “ Beauties” of the old English writers. This it is true is most acceptable to a superficial generation, inasmuch as it saves the trouble of connected thinking, and enables many to feel that they are acquainted with a writer, when all which they know of him consists of a few striking expressions. It seems to be the popular rule to know a little of every thing,
a and this method of bringing the great masters of thought and language before the public, is a sure way to prevent them in many instances from being studied in their original connected form. The common plea, that to give men a taste of such