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neutral, nothing indifferent, or trivial, which helps to fashion souls and takes hold on the vitalities of our inner life, and thought, and feeling. Go where we may; do what we will; assume whatever style and stamp of character we choose: place ourselves in every possible social condition, high or low, rich or poor, we do throw off from us, and draw after us, and receive upon ourselves in return, trains of influences, which are infinite in their number and consequences, influences which mould and modify character, and therefore determine immortal destinies. The outworked results of this law we cannot estimate now, either with respect to ourselves or others. Not until the day of the revelation of all secret and hidden things, shall we know the full amount of good or evil, which had its starting point in the moral workings of our own lives, or of the lives of those who made with us the journey of life. We have no means of analysis or observation, by which we can solve the problem.
Now the workings of this law of mutual influences, we cannot evade, because such is the moral and social constitution of our nature. The human soul is so plastic, its susceptibilities so delicate, its sympathies so subtle and acute, that one mind cannot come in contact with another mind, without both giving and receiving influences of some sort or another.
We cannot be thrown into the society of our fellow-men by the calls of business or pleasure; we cannot be united to them by the ties of kindred, and family, and friendship, without leaving our moral mark after us--the godlikeness we have caught by reflection from the life of our Saviour, or the dark shadows and stains which sin, and pride, and passion, have cast upon our moral
This machinery of moral causes, ever in active and unceasing play in forming character, is truly inexplicable and wonderful. The very thoughts that are now rising up and struggling for expression in my own mind-the thoughts, too, that are rising up and drifting through your minds now, in your seats, as you sit here, all calm and unexcited, may produce the most important results on other minds in other ages. (Like those rivers that sometimes sink and disappear, running for a time in concealed and under-ground channels, gathering force as they go, and then gush up to the sunlight again in irrepressible fountains of living water, scattering themselves in a thousand directions over fields far away from the place where they disappeared; so may our thoughts and doings this day, and all the days of our lives run under ground, as it were, and come flashing up after long intervals in multiplied and manifold forms of virtue or vice, of beauty or deformity, of worship or impiety.
For example. If under the impulse of a holy and generous thought you do this day make the resolve to live a better and more consistent Christian life, and if you do actually express that
resolution in action, by repressing the uprisings of anger, pride, passion, and every form of sin. If you chasten your spirit into obedience. If you mould your life and conduct after the divine model of the Lord Jesus Christ, then you will set in action through your family and through your neighborhood, unacknowledged it may be, and undiscoverable by human eyes, but spread you will, the vital forces of a godly and spiritual life-forces that are destined to make the pulses of many a soul to beat hopefully and happily with the excitement of devout thoughts; nay, more, that shall make some other soul the spring and source of blessed influences to others, onwards and around, in an endless progression of usefulness and goodness.
You cannot live and die a good man, even in the lowliest and humblest walks of human life, without leaving your moral likeness struck into the memory of some one, who has seen and recognized in you, the beauty and divinity of goodness. Your example shall wake up the aspirations of some other soul, and that shall move another, and that other one shall send the accumulated moral movement on, and on, and on, to some other soul, what soul you know not, I know not. It may be the strong athletic soul of a second Washington, or the earnest and dreamy spirit of some future Bunyan, or the mighty and majestic mind of another Milton, speaking as with the tongue of an Archangel, of chaos, and night, and creation; of man, and sin, and redemption, until he commands the audience and the homage of all nations and of all times. Yes, those very mental and moral characteristics of your life to-morrow, originated and produced by your to-day resolves, may run along the nerves and tissues of a hundred generations, and, for aught you know to the contrary, be worked up into the moral texture of another Washington, or a Bunyan, or a Milton, or a Voltaire, or a Danton, or a Napoleon, or a Robespierre.
My hearers, we are all too inconsiderate here. (We think too lightly of our own individual personal influences on each other. The greatly good, the awfully wicked and profane, the powerful, i the learned, the wise, the mighty, the rich, we say have influence. But we, we are too weak, too insignificant, too busy, while we go the daily round of our obscure and common lives to do either much good or much harm to our fellow men. Our faults and follies will die with us, and our virtues, if we have any, will soon perish out of the history of the race. But it is not so. Each does act alone, and by himself, and powerfully too, in modifying the lives and characters of others. We have, indeed, of late put so much confidence in collected associated efforts for the good of mankind-so accustomed ourselves to the heavy machinery of social benevolent movement in the church and elsewhere, that we have come to regard this, as the only lever by which the moral world is to be moved. This is a gigantic error. We all know that the most vigorous public efforts in the direction of virtue and
humanity fail, when the heart and life of the doer are not in them nor in harmony with them. We often see the personal, well known character of an individual exerting a secret influence for mischief and evil, and much more powerfully too than any good influence he can exert, through the instrumentality of the most eloquent and able speeches. We must know that the sentiments that the man utters are the honest expressions of his own moral life before they can influence us. If his life and his precepts are in marked antagonism, he is as a teacher of morals powerless.) It is the life and not the lip, the every-day home character and not the stage performances of the man, that go down the deepest into the heart of social life for good or evil. It is not the mere force of collected public effort, but the individual, personal influence, each giving the right tone to these efforts that must regenerate society.
III. But while I say this, I admit that the many associated and in many cases, the well directed labors of societies for the suppression of vice, and the amelioration of human wretchedness are among the boast and glory of the age. One association after another lays about it manfully. This one belabors that vice, and that one some other. Still comparatively little is accomplished. The blows of each tell upon the social wickedness of any given period, nearly as much as the blows of the Geologists' hammer upon the stability of the mountain rock. The error lies here. We are all in too great a hurry to reform others before we have thoroughly reformed ourselves-before we have acquired such a conception of right and duty as will spread itself with a felt omnipresence over the entire field of human responsibility. The world is not to be made morally better by mere associated labor companies, as one would drain a marsh or clear a forest. A work profounder, deeper, and more earnest than all this is needed. Each must be the actor and the subject, the reformer and the reformed, before the great heart of the world can be cleansed. Did every man realize for himself that his conduct is not narrowed to the sphere of his individual movements, but that it takes hold on all time, on all place; nay, more, that it passes forward into all the ages of the future, strengthening the moral discipline of some soul, confirming those habits of order, reverence, and selfgovernment, that will fit that soul to strike a seraph's harp with a seraph's devotion, or sink it into a deep and yet a lower gulf of misery, thrust in upon its own unhallowed thoughts, and surging passions, amid the hauntings of conscious guilt and the agonies of hopeless despair? Did every man realize this, how soberminded and blameless each would strive to be in his deportment and intercourse with all around him?
Did every man but realize this one solemn truth, My thoughts, my example, my actions, are all indestructible and eternal as my soul-I say, did every man but realize this, our world might blow the trumpet of jubilee for its ransomed captives, and the whole universe of mind break forth into singing and gladness. Then
would every man feel that a stain upon his own or his neighbor's soul was not like a breath stain upon glass, or a finger-stain upon a book-a temporary obscuration of its brightness-an accident that can easily and hastily be remedied, but as a guilt stain and a hurt which nothing can either remove or heal but the power of Redeeming Love, the all-sufficient and cleansing virtue of the blood of the Lamb of Calvary.
Finally, if this be so, and it is a fact every man can easily prove or disprove by his own observations, our human life is not to be gauged merely by great deeds done, or by bold and prominent traits of character. The most effective energies of nature are all noiseless and gentle.) The power, for example, that binds atom to atom, and world to world, and wheels the planetary systems of this vast universe in their appointed paths, is yet so gentle as to roll together the dew-drops and poise them each glittering on its own blade of wheat in the sunshine. It is not the fervid heats of the summer sun, nor the loud-voiced winds, nor the heavy rain-storms, nor the electric fires, leaping from cloud to cloud, that carry forward the vast interests of terrestial life. But it is the low, soft breezes, and the gentle showers, and the warm, kind sun, and the quiet dews that clothe the earth with verdure and fill the habitations of man with plenty and gladness.
Though every man is a teacher to his neighbor, yet it is not the man that wields the thunderbolts of Sinai as a terrorist, that makes the profoundest and widest impressions. It is by the exhibition of a pure Christlike love for man, and for his spiritual interests. It is by the right culture and reform of our own moral and intellectual natures, by the undimmed beauty of our lives, by infusing into the thoughts of others aspirations after goodness and heaven, by scattering around us the seeds of truth and right doing, in the humble, lowly and reverent trust, the good Husbandman and Shepherd of Israel will enable us to gather in our sheaves to the harvests of celestial blessedness with songs of praise and everlasting gladness. This is the kind of teaching that will go down the deepest into the human heart, and evolve from the most abandoned materials of humanity, thoughts, desires and hopes, clothed with celestial beauty. This is the resurrection voice that will start up earthly and stupid slumbering souls with the vital forces of the Christian life burning and glowing within.
What is it that has changed the moral aspect of the Christian world during the last 1800 years? Not simply the great sacrifice on Calvary. But the words of surpassing power uttered on the Mount of Olives-by the banks of the Jordan-by the sea sidein the streets of Jerusalem-by the well of Samaria-at the table of the Pharisee-beneath the sycamore tree at Jericho, and in that sad hour that preceded the scenes of Gethsemane. It is the mysterious energy of these words that has wrought such changes in the moral aspect of the world, and wherever they have been re
peated, whether on the banks of the Tiber, or of the Thames-of the Hudson or the Ganges, they have become centres of refinement and human progress, and wherever they have been believed in and obeyed, they have excited a new life, even the life of God in the soul. And to cherish these thoughts in our inmost hearts, and to express them truly and lovingly in our actions is the grand mission of our lives. Wherefore let us see to it, that our lives are on the side of right, and goodness, and humanity. It will not do for us to cheer on, and to strengthen by our example and our influence, some weak brother in the direction of a bad habit, or of a wrong way of life, and when he falls a victim in the struggle, to seat ourselves down, and like the old prophet in the bitterness of unavailing regret over the man we have deceived, to say, "Alas! my Brother." And if we are vain, showy, irreverent, unworshipful, lovers of pleasure more than we are lovers of God-hasting after this world's honors as our chief good, we will have our imitators--the diligent disciples of the same school of fashion, or frivolousness, or pleasure, to which we belong. So, too, if we are humane, gentle, spiritual, earnestly, and thoughtfully seeking after the kingdom of God, and its righteousness-if our piety be the free, unstudied outgoings of our hearts-zealous, without being fanatical-reverential, without being superstitiousearnest and constant, without hypocrisy, and guileless, we must from the law of influences we have thus far endeavored to illustrate, make vice abashed in our presence, and the profane, and the abandoned, though we utter not a word, feel, nay, even mourn the loss of virtue, for there is in true goodness, an awfulness and severity of beauty, which claims even the homage of a lost archangel. This power of Moral Influences, is a talent entrusted to us all. It is this that makes every man his brother's keeper-every man the guardian and fashioner of his neighbor's life and manners to a certain extent, and by the right or wrong use of which, we are instrumental in introducing the kingdom of light and life, or the kingdom of darkness and death-spreading around us circles of ever widening, and ever onward influences for good or for bad-dropping into some soul thoughts that will send it upward and heavenward, or cause it to gravitate downwards, and still downwards into abysses of self-shame and moral desolateness.
And now in conclusion, I would say to Young Men-to all who are beginning life's mystic march-you who are to be the example and the guides of the generation that is to follow you tell me, if the doctrine I have attempted to unfold be true-and no man can disprove it—are there not grave and weighty responsibilities resting on you to be virtuous, upright, sober, right-living, and rightdoing men? The youth of any community express the moral state of that community, for intelligence, virtue and goodness. If the heads of families in a community, love order, virtue, piety, and