صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

cured to these institutious. Efforts are making to extend these advantages to our new settlements and to the destitute throughout our land. Many and ingenious are the methods devised to furnish education to the poor and neglected, to the blind, and even to those styled idiotic. Herein is matter for grateful praise.

Likewise the increased facilities of intercourse between different parts of a country and between different countries, af fords ground for rejoicing. Railways, steamboats, telegraphs, cheap postage, all improvements in the safety and speed and convenience of traveling, are blessings. They are all civilizers. They promote the interchange of thought. They make publications, discoveries, and inventions widely available. They are a net-work of union, promoting acquaintance, friendship, and brotherhood. They convey light into the realms of darkness. They speed the philanthropist and the missionary, the Bible and the tract on their way. They dissolve prejudices, soften the rigors of despotism, and will be worked into God's plan to carry light, liberty, and salvation to the ends of the earth.

We should rejoice moreover that there are many true and fearless servants of God, who lift up their voices against abounding wickedness. There are men of God in Church and State who will not see the divine law and the rights of humanity trampled upon without raising the note of remonstrance and alarm. These are our true and intelligent patriots, who understand that sin is a reproach to any people, and who seek the good of their country in the only way in which it can be permanently secured; for it is righteousness which exalteth a


We should rejoice that there are so many benevolent enterprises, and that they have been so far successful. Scarcely any class of our fellow creatures are uncared for. There are asylums for the poor and aged, for the blind and the insane and the orphan. There are institutions for vagrant children and for reclaiming the vicious. There are associations and efforts for the suppression of intemperance, for the recovery of the inebriate and the emancipation of the slave. There are various missionary organizations. Benevolence is at work devising new methods of effort, constantly multiplying her means and increasing her resources; and her endeavors meet with ever-growing success. Gladness has visited many an aching heart. Many a victim of error and sin has been reclaimed. Light has been poured into many a heathen mind and strong-hold of superstition. And these operations shall go on shedding their benign and saving

influences, until the day-spring from on high has visited all people.

We have been speaking of the doings of benevolence, charity. We mean Christian charity. Christianity is the soul of all these undertakings. The Bible first gave the idea. Christ gave the example. The cross, Redeeming love, gives the motive power. Rejoice that Christianity has done so much for us, that it has done and is doing so much for the nations, that, according to the promise of God, it shall pursue its benignant way, triumphing over all obstacles, scattering darkness, sin, and misery, and shall yet cause the whole earth to bloom in virtue and loveliness as the garden of the Lord.

Some of our readers might deem it better suited to the spirit of the times, had we largely eulogized and congratulated our country. We are wont to hear of our unparalleled growth, and strength, and resources, and prosperity, of our enterprise and our brilliant future. We have a fair and favored and promising country. None more so. And with it we have self-conceit sufficient; it needs no nursing. It needs to be supplanted by the fear of God. We have declared ourselves independent, independent almost of the Almighty. Behold in that late noble steamer-the Arctic-a symbol of our pride. She was a gallant vessel, stately and strong. She could plough the waves. She could weather the storm. She could pierce the fog. Confidence seemed the language of her bearing, of her majestic movement, of her ribbed strength of timbers, of her mighty machinery, and of every countenance on board. Suddenly there is a collision and a crash. The Arctic-the American steamer-cannot be harmed. Send help to that propeller. Ah! proud vessel, look to thyself. That humble propeller shall reach the port, and thou shalt sink in the abyss of waves. And so, my noble country! thou art not invulnerable. Disown thy God in proud self-sufficiency, and He may consign thee to the doom of perished empires.


MANKIND may be divided into two classes, Conservatives and Radicals; the former holding the world back, and the latter urging it onward. Perhaps a third class may be added-men of the golden mean-men in whose composition Conservatism and Radicalism are about equally blended. Their Conservatism is the centripetal, their Radicalism the centrifugal force; the resultant of the two forces a beautiful orbit around the central sphere. But few men are thus evenly balanced. In most there is an inclination toward the one or the other extreme, sufficient to indicate the two classes first named; and however marked the difference between them, we confess to some sympathy with both. Not with the ultra Conservative, who puts his corn in one end of his bag and a stone in the other when he goes to mill, because his father and grandfather, did so before him; nor with the ultra Radical, who imagines he is turning the world upside down, when, in fact, he is only turning upside down in it; but with those in both classes who are able to see that Mr. Stand-still and Mr. Go-ahead are both right, and both wrong. Nothing is stable but change.

The Conservative and the Radical are both necessary and permanent forces in society. The former is only anxious to preserve the old spirit, which he thinks endangered by the new forms; the latter only wishes to secure the new forms, willing to retain the old spirit. Neither can dispense with the other, neither absorb the other. They are each mutual and useful checks upon the other. They are like two men ploughing together: the one urges the machine forward, the other by pressing upon the handles retards its motion; yet neither the driver nor the holder would make much progress in ploughing alone. Look where you will, you see a combination of the two elements. You see it in the centrifugal and centripetal forces among the stars; you see it in the weight and fly wheel of the clock; you see it in the engine and breaks of the railcar; you see it in the mobility and inertia of matter; you see it in government, in the checks of the different departments upon each other. Indeed, every man is a Conservative. Every man is a Radical, who has the root of the matter in him.

Seeing, then, that all men are Conservatives and all Radicals, and assuming now, that there are and ever have been crookednesses in the world which need to be straightened; leaving out of account the extremes of both schools-ultra Conservatives, such as in the days of the eccentric Jeremy Bentham deified English Law, or opposed its improvement; when "the king, as he placed the golden crown on his anointed head, and the noble, as he gazed on his stars and ribbons; the fat bishop as he pocketed his tithes, and the lean dissenter as he paid them; the judge in his scarlet robes, and the barrister in his wig of horse-hair; the merchant as he paid his onerous duties to the government, and the yeoman as he liquidated the ruinous rents of his landlord; the clod-hopper as he took his shilling for twelve hours of exhausting toil, and the culprit as he hung on a cross-tree for killing the hare which poached on his beans; all, high-born and low-born, patrician and plebeian, rich and poor, wise and foolish, were ready to make oath that the common law of England was the perfection of reason, and to swear at Jeremy Bentham for doubting it"-passing by all such; passing by, on the other hand, ultra Radicals—those who, as Carlyle says of Voltaire, "have a torch for burning, but no hammer for building;" whose element is a tempest; who resemble the wild lion of Africa, when, in the midnight thunder storm which drives the mighty elephant in dismay to a retreat, he bounds from his den, and roars and gambols through the forest in ecstasy and delight; passing by all such, and resolving ourselves into Conservative-Radicals and Radical-Conservatives, let us proceed to ascertain, if we may, some of the principles which underlie every legitimate and successful Reform.

In the first place, then, Reform, to be successful, must be needed. That such necessity will at times exist, may be inferred from the ignorance and depravity of man, and from the fact that Society is not a mere conglomeration, but a growth. From its infancy to manhood there is, there must be, progress, and progress implies Reform. Under the old dispensation there was an Elijah, and on the introduction of the new, there was one who rose in the spirit and power of Elijah. John the Baptist was a Reformer, a Radical Reformer. He laid the axe at the root of the tree. He said, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. He cried, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come. He rebuked a king, saying, It is not lawful for thee to have her, though he lost his head for it. And if we come down to the Reformation in the sixteenth century, or the Reforms of the last eighty

years in England, such as the Abolition of the African slavetrade, and Law Reform, Religious Toleration, Catholic Emancipation, Parliamentary Reform, and Abolition of negro Slavery, and Corn Law Reform; or if we look at the various evils, social, political, and moral, which afflict our own country at the present time, we shall be convinced that Reforms are a stern necessity in the progress of nations; an important remedy for old evils, and preventive of new. As Lord Bacon has well remarked, "He that will not apply new remedies, must expect new evils, for time is the greatest innovator; and if time alter things to the worse, and wisdom and counsel shall not alter them to the better, what shall be the end?" The natural outactings and on-goings of depravity when unguided and unchecked, tend, as in the days before the flood, to fill the earth with violence, and create a necessity for Reformers. And who shall they be? Not those who are well to do in the world, who from indolence and ease choose to remain undisturbed in their comfortable quarters, and hence have not an eye to see nor a heart to feel the miseries of their fellow men; but they who from their character as modified by the gospel, or from their position as fellow sufferers with the guilty and unfortunate, are constrained to gird themselves for the ungracious task of ameliorating human woe. It must needs be that evils will arise calling for a remedy; but let them be real, and not only real, but of such magnitude that the remedy shall not be worse than the disease. That there may be such uncalled for attempts, none will deny; that such have been, some, doubtless, will admit. Among them may be named the Bloomer Reform, the Phonographic Reform, the One Line System in Music, etc. Admitting these to be real improvements, which is questionable, are they so great as improvements as to warrant the evils attendant upon the change? To change simply for the sake of change is unprofitable; to kindle a bon-fire simply to see it burn, or to make one's self conspicuous in the light thereof, is vain-glorious and foolish. We repeat, then, a Reform is legitimate only when it is needed, and so much needed as not to cost more than it is worth.

Another condition of successful Reform, is, it must be gradual. In this it differs from a Revolution, a Rebellion, or an Insurrection. These may be effected in a day. Touching Reforms the divine economy is, "first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear." Men ought to do right, and only right, and do it now; but Reform implies delinquency, and time to remove it. Moses, "because of the hardness of their hearts," suffered men to put away their wives. When

« السابقةمتابعة »