Page images

Behold on the troubled waters a speck floating toward the distant shore it is the pilgrims' bark; and as it approaches, the December air is warmed with orisous of unrestricted piety, ascending from true hearts to that Being who is as present in the immensity of desert loneliness as in the proudest temple built by insect man. See! they near the strand: the little boat strikes the beach and one of the number springs upon the soil which is to be their future home. Hark! dost thou not hear the minstrel choir of stars once more entuned over a new world-birth? Then hast thou not a heart vibrating in unison with nature's music.

"Not as the conqueror comes,

They the true-hearted came !
Not with the beat of rolling drums,
Nor the trumpet that sings of fame.

"Not as the flying come,

In silence and in fear :

They shook the depths of their forest home
With songs of lofty cheer!

What sought they thus afar?

Bright jewels of the mine,

The wealth of seas, the spoils of war?

They sought a faith's pure shrine."

[ocr errors]

Thank God that our fathers did seek, on this desart shore, freedom to worship Him! Thank God that Felicia Hemans, inspired by admiration of their noble bravery, penned that spirit-stirring lyric, whose every line calls like a trumpet's blast, to us their sons now in a great moral battle-field. But the scene changes: the forest has' vanished as if by enchantment; and indeed, active indus try is the true and only enchantment employed by great'

[graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors]

souls to accomplish great achievements: by its potent ener gy the reluctant wild-wood has been found to recede before the advancement of art; and "fields waving with the fruits of agriculture and ports alive with the contributions of commerce," diversify the before unbroken wildness of nature. All is prosperity: earth yields gladly her blushing tribute: Heaven gilds brightly with its encouraging smile. But there's a Satan looking "askance with eye malign, "upon this growing Eden: man's arch-foe, Oppression, sees, and envies, and would destroy. This time God sent a Redemer before the ruin was accomplished.

Again the scene changes; it is a battle-field. There gleams the lurid flash, and a quick cloud succeeds, darkening the face of day, enshrouding the sun in its murky folds, and wrapping many a hero in his winding sheet. There peals a deep tone that "counterfeits the immortal Jove's dread, clamerous thunder-bolt." It is Bunker Hill, where right and liberty and hope made a triumphant stand against wrong and slavery and despair; where the fainting genius of humanlty caught another breath of Heaven's inspiration, and breathed it out, a blasting whirlwind, against the minions of quaking, death-struck despotism; where man took a new step, and like the fabled Titan, raised one more sacred mount to assist in the ascent to his desired independence.

It is now time to introduce our great actor. We have seen man struggling upward, buoyed by his elevated nature: we have seen the strong arm of tyrannic power strained to repress that noble aspiration: a crisis, for centuries hastening from the future has now reached the present. He has summoned strength in his new manhood, to assert his selfevident right. But who shall be his champion? who shall maintain that glorious declaration? who shall draw his

fearless sword against ancient error and established power, and rescue man from his degradation, and teach his enemy to fear and tremble? The work was mighty-the strife unequal-the interest at stake, all that was dear to the hearts of noble and enlightened men. At such a juncture of the world's affairs, Washington appeared upon the stage of action. Undismayed by the threatning aspect of all around and before him, unmoved by terror of the approaching storm, unshaken by the frowns of gigantic opposition, he marched boldly forward to his heaven-appointed task. When the tide of desolating war was rolling its black, greedy waves over the face of all our fair native land, his arm dauntlessly withstood its progress, and his voice, with impressive majesty, commanded, "Thus far and no farther shalt thou go!" Dark was the night, but the pilot of that tempestuous voyage lost not, in its dismal clouds, the pole-star of his hope it ever beamed above him: even the smoke of defeat could not quench its heavenly ray. Other men of perspicacious vision gazed wistfully into the midnight sky, and saw only solid dark; but his eye pierced through it to the light, and followed onward, through peril and apparent ruin, to safety and ultimate success.

Thus does the great God of nations anoint a priest and king where he wills to employ one. He appeared to Moses in a burning bush, the figurative description of a growing hope amidst the flame of passion, and told him, go back to his chain-chafed brethren and incite them to rebellious flight. An answer was given to all his fearful objections, and he went. The exode, the whole afterhistory of Judea, and the oriental religion of Christendom, tell the result of his patriotic labor.

God spake to Numa, and the king of a bandit horde went out and in solitude communed with nature and his soul, till

« PreviousContinue »