Abbildungen der Seite

This is a faithful, though brief, account of the whole seminary; and what a blessing must-it prove to the continent of America in general, as well as to the province in which it is founded? What advantages may not the youth reap, amid so many opportunities of improvement, and so many incitements to industry; where the masters transact every thing by joint advice; where all possible regard to religion and morality is kept up, and the whole open to the visitation and frequent inspection of a number of gentlemen of rank and character?

May there never be wanting a succession of such gentlemen to take the trust and care of it; and may it continue, to the latest times, a shining light to the world around it and an honour to the province, as long as any memorial of virtue and letters shall remain among mankind!






YOU now appear as candidates for the first honours of this institution. The free spirit that it breathes permits us not to bind you to us by the ordinary ties of oaths and promises. Instead thereof, we would rely on those principles of virtue and goodness which we have endeavoured to cultivate. Suffer me, therefore, ere you go, to sum up all our former labours for you, in this place, by one last and parting charge.

Surely—to live is a serious thing! And you are now about to step into life, and embark in all its busy

It is fit, then, that you should make a pause-a solemn pause-at its portal, and consider well what is expected from you, and how you are prepared to perform it.

On the one hand, you will have all the dangers, and indiscretions of youth to grapple with, at your first setting out in the world. Raw and unexperienced in its ways, you will be apt to consider your.

[ocr errors]



[ocr errors]

selves as set loose from the reins of discipline, and to look abroad in it with conscious rapture, and the most buoyant hopes. The fulness of blood, the strength of passion, the constant call of pleasure, and the harlot-form of vice, will be apt to bear down that sober wisdom and cool reflection, u hich are your best guard. At every glance, elysian scenes and fairy prospects will open before you; seemingly so variegated with beauty, and stored with pleasure, that the choice will perplex you. But, alas! these lead not all to the bouers of joy! many will only seduce you from the path of virtue, by false appearances of happiness, and draw you on, through meades of unreal bliss, to the fool's paradise; a deceitful region, which proves at last to be but the valley of the shadow of death, where snakes lurk under the grass

And, mid the roses, fierce repentance rears

Her horrid crest*On the other hand, you will find the world inclined to make but small allowances for the slips of youth. Much-very much—will be expected from you. Your superior opportunities of knowledge, the many specimens of genius you have already exhibited, will give your friends and country a right to expect every thing from you that is excellent or praise-worthy.

Oh! then, let no part of your future conduct disgrace the lessons you have received, or disappoint hopes you have so justly raised! Consider yourselves, from this day, as distinguished above the vul

* Thomson.


and called upon to act a more important part in life! Strive to shine forth in every species of moral excellence, and to support the character and dignity of beings formed for endless duration! The christian world stands much in need of inflexible patterns of integrity and public virtue; and no part of it more so than the land you inhabit.

Remember that superior talents demand a supe. rior exercise of every good quality; and that, where they produce not this salutary effect, it were far better for the world to be forever without them. Unless your education is seen conspicuous in your lives, alas! what will be its significancy to you, or to us? Will it not be deemed rather to have been a vain art of furnishing the head, than a true discipline of the heart and manners?

If, then, you regard the credit of this institution, which will travail in concern for you, till you are formed into useful men; if you regard your own credit, and the credit of the many succeeding sets of youth, who may be fired to glory by your example; let your conduct in the world be such, at least, as to deserve the applause of the wiser and better part of it. Remember you are the first who have received the honours of this seminary. You have been judged doubly deserving of them. O! think, then, what pain it would give us, should we be disappointed in you, our first and most hopeful sons! What a reproach would it be to have it said that, under us, you had obtained all sorts of learning, and yet had not obtained wisdom-especially that wisdom, which has

for its beginning the fear of God, and for its end everlasting felicity!

But we have every reason to expect far better things of you. And, in that expectation, I shall beg leave to propose a few rules, which, being well observed, will contribute greatly to your success in life. They shall be confined to two heads.

Ist, How to live with yourselves, and your God. 2dly, How to live with the world.

Perhaps this may be deemed a very needless work at this time. But my heart

yearns towards


I cannot easily part with you. And though I should only repeat what you have often heard in the course of our lectures in this place; yet, being laid together in one short view, and delivered before such a number of witnesses, 'tis probable the impression may be so much the deeper. And, that it may be so, I shall not amuse you with high drawn characters and visionary precepts; the creatures of fancy's brain, worked up beyond the life. Such may allure the eye, but they will not sway the practice. They may induce despair, but they will not quicken industry. I shall, therefore, confine myself to the living virtues, as they are within the ordinary reach of humanity, when assisted by divine grace and goodness. For it is they alone that can influence the conduct, and excite to imitation.

First, then, in living with yourselves and your God, let it be your primary and immediate care, to get the dominion of your own passions, and to bring every movement of the soul under subjection to conscience, reason and religion; those three lovely

« ZurückWeiter »