« PreviousContinue »
address singularly engaging; her mind acute and formed for business; her diligence indefatigable; and the constant labor of her correspondence is hardly to be conceived. During forty-five years of widowhood, she devoted her time, talents and property to the support and diffusion of the gospel. To the age of fourscore and upwards, she maintained all the vigor of youth ; and though, in her latter years, a contraction of her throat reduced her almost wholly to a liquid diet, her spirits never seemed to fail. To the very last days of her life, her active mind was planning extensive schemes of usefulness for the spread of the gospel of Christ. Her most distinguished excellence was, the fervent zeal which always burned in her breast, to make known the glad tidings to all the dwellers upon earth. This no disappointments quenched, no labors slackened, no opposition discouraged, no progress of years abated : it flamed strongest in her latest moments. The world has seldom seen such a character. But she was not perfect: this is not the lot of mortals on this side of the grave. When the moon walks heaven in her brightness, her shadows are most visible. Lady Huntingdon was in her temper warm and sanguine ; her predilections for some, and her prejudices against others, were sometimes too easily adopted; and by these she was led to form conclusions not always correspondent to truth and wisdom.
In the month of November, 1790, her ladyship broke a blood vessel, which was the commencement of her last illness. On that occasion, being asked how she did, by lady Ann Erskine, she replied, “I am well! all is well, well for ever! I see, whether I live or die, wherever I turn my eyes, nothing but victory.” As death approached, she often repeated, with great emphasis, “The coming of the Lord draweth nigh! Oh, lady Ann, the coming of the Lord draweth nigh!" adding, "the thought fills my soul with joy unspeakable.”
On the very day of her death, she expressed to the Rev. Dr. Haweis, in the strongest manner, her desire to send
missionaries to Otaheite ; but, as this was impossible, she urged him, with affecting and powerful arguments, to do all in his power to accomplish so desirable an object. He promised her that he would, and the Christian world is not ignorant of his fidelity and liberality in fulfilling his promise. She had often in her life-time mentioned, that, from the moment that God pronounced the pardon of her sins, she had such a desire for the conversion of mankind, that she compared herself to a ship in full sail before the wind, and that she was carried on by divine influence to this glorious work. Almost her last words were, “My work is done. I have nothing to do but to go to my Father.” Her ladyship died at her house in Spa-Fields, June 17, 1791, in the eighty-fourth year of her age, and was interred in the family vault at Ashby-de-la-Zouch, in Leicestershire.
The Power of Christianity.-AMERICAN QUARTERLY
The other class of men to whom I alluded, have looked to the dissemination of pure Christianity as the only adequate means of raising men from their degradation-of calling all the powers of intellect and moral feeling into healthful action, and of directing them in their proper channels. This class of men have reasons for thus judging. They see in the history of the world, that Christianity has been the only thing which has taken the lead in reforming men. Other causes may have contributed to carry on the reformation which religion had begun; but none of them have had boldness or energy to begin. So far are they from it, . that they are constantly giving ground before the evil passions of men, and are wholly unable to keep up a standard of morals, and to prevent its fluctuation.
thusiasm in the pursuit of science, foreign dangers, or great national enterprises, may hold society together for a time, and give it a pleasing and flourishing aspect; but its internal energies, assisted by all that philosophy can furnish, are not able to maintain successfully the struggle with the causes of deterioration existing in the human character. India and Egypt, Greece and Rome are proofs of this position. They are not now what they once were. Certain causes, operating in combination, gave them for a while an artificial health ; but disease was in them, and there was nothing there to eradicate it. They soon grew sickly; decayed gradually, sometimes imperceptibly; and at last died.
In the two ancient republics, so famous for the literary legacies which they have bequeathed to us, there were, indeed, many splendid instances of intellectual cultivation; but in these very minds, which shine upon us from antiquity like stars from the distant and dusky horizon, there was no desire, and no benevolent principle to inspire the desire, to send knowledge down through all the ranks of society. Did Pericles, or Cicero, or the Antonines ever invent a system of free schools ? And what amount of argument may it be supposed would have been necessary to convince them that the common people had minds worthy of cultivation ? or that any system of general instruction was practicable or useful ? It is perfectly safe to say, in the most unqualified manner, that the mass of mind in a nation has never been so called into action as to constitute an enlightened community, where the Christian religion did not prevail.
This proposition asserts just what we might be prepared to expect, in view of the truths which pure Christianity brings to bear on man. It is itself knowledge, and that of the most awakening and ennobling kind. It presents objects and considerations which it requires the greatest effort to apprehend, and which are of immediate personal concern, and excite the deepest personal interest. It places before man an infinite God, creating and governing the world, self-existent, almighty, omniscient, abhorring sin, requiring of him supreme and constant love, uninterrupted obedience, the highest service of the whole soul and the whole body. It tells him of his own character, condition and destiny ; of the retributions of eternity, and the part he must share in them. It imposes a great work upon him, lays him under a solemn responsibility, and is continually urging him on to make the most of himself, of his time and his faculties. It teaches him that to his own master he standeth or falleth ; and that he must learn the truth himself, form his opinions himself, and himself abide the consequences of his own errors and misconduct. The Protestant feels that he has much more at stake than the papist or the pagan, and will, therefore, think more, know more, and have more character.
New Republics of the South. DANIEL WEBSTER.
I do not wish to overrate, I do not overrate, the progress of these new states in the great work of establishing a wellsecured popular liberty. I know that to be a great attainment, and I know they are but pupils in the school. But they are in the school. They are called to meet difficulties, such as neither we nor our fathers encountered. these we ought to make large allowances. What have we ever known like the colonial vassalage of these states ? When did we or our ancestors feel, like them, the weight of a political despotism that presses men to the earth, or of that religious intolerance which would shut up heaven to all but the bigoted? We sprung from another stock. We belong to another race. We have known nothing, we have felt nothing, of the political despotism of
Spain, nor of the heat of her fires of intolerance. No rational man expects that the south can run the same rapid career as the north ; or that an insurgent province of Spain is in the same condition as the English colonies, when they first asserted their independence. There is, doubtless, much more to be done in the first than in the last case. But on that account the honor of the attempt is no less; and if all difficulties shall be in time surmounted, it will be greater. The work may be more arduous—it is not less noble, because there may be more of ignorance to enlighten; more of bigotry to subdue; more of prejudice to eradicate. If it be a weakness to feel a strong interest in the success of these great revolutions, I confess myself guilty of that weakness. If it be weak to feel that I am an American, to think that recent events have not only opened new modes of intercourse, but have created, also, new grounds of regard and sympathy, between ourselves and our neighbors; if it be weak to feel that the south, in her present state, is somewhat more emphatically a part of America, than when she lay obscure, oppressed and unknown, under the grinding bondage of a foreign power ; if it be weak to rejoice, when, even in any corner of the earth, human beings are able to get up from beneath oppression, to erect themselves, and to enjoy the proper happiness of their intelligent nature ; if this be weak, it is a weakness from which I claim no exemption.
A day of solemn retribution now visits the once proud monarchy of Spain. The prediction is fulfilled. The spirit of Montezuma and of the Incas might now well say,
“ Art thou, too, fallen, Iberia? Do we see
The robber and the murderer weak as we?
I will detain you only with one more reflection on this