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Nature, indulgent, provident, and kind,
The great Architect of the Universe made all things well, and designed them for good. Man was the lofty cap-stone of the climax of creative wisdom, animated by the pure breath of Jehovah, and placed upon earth to enjoy the rich and liberal bounties of nature. This enjoyment was not designed to be selfish, but to be rendered purer and more complete, by association and social intercourse. As a finishing touch to the magnificent plan of man's happiness, woman was ushered into bis Paradise, to smooth his pathway, and shed a softer and more mellow bliss around him. The design of their mutual creation, was to impart consolation to each other and their progeny, and to glorify God in all their actions. This obligation still rests upon the family of man-how to discharge it, is an important inquiry.
The great plan of Usefulness is suspended by a triple cord-a right disposition, intelligence, and wealth. With these, every man and woman will be useful. The first is the grand filament of the cord, around which the others are twined. The second is within the reach of all in our community ; the third is in the possession of more than apply it to its legitimate purpose —that of aiding the cause of humanity, alleviating misery, and increasing happiness.
The family of man is composed of teachers and learners; the idle and industrious ; the evil and the good. The original purity of human nature has been stained with sin—but man is still endowed with full power to discern, and choose good or evil. He has a strong propensity to adhere to the latter, with a clear knowledge of the fearful consequences of rejecting the former. It is the province of the good and philanthropic, to correct the vices and follies, and ameliorate the wretchedness and misfortunes of those around them, and induce them to eschew evil and learn to do well. To be enabled to do this, we must learn the duty we owe to our God, ourselves, our families, and our fellow creatures; and then nobly fulfil this duty, by precept and example.
What good we learn, we can teach to those who are below us in the grade of intelligence, although we may be destitute of wealth. In what we are ignorant, we can find willing teachers to instruct us; and can continually expand our sphere of Usefulness, and thus fulfil the design of our creation. If we have the disposition, a large store of intelligence, and an abundance of wealth ; our Usefulness will be extended to a greater circumference, and scatter blessings all around.
The humblest individual can be useful, if he wills to be so. The sphere of Usefulness has a wide range—from the scavenger in the street, to the loftiest pinnacle science can rear-one extended endless chain, with all the links dependant upon each other—and, in the absence of vice, would be a harmonious connected whole -a golden chain, that would reach from earth to heaven.
To be truly useful, we must correct our own hearts, and keep our own garden free from weeds. Without good examples, our precepts will be powerless. This done, we should seek every opportunity to direct others to the path of wisdom.
The sabbath school presents one of the widest fields of Usefulness, ever opened for cultivation. Criminally ignorant is that adult, who is not able to teach some one or more, found in this juvenile nursery of mind. Upon the correct cultivation of the rising generation, depends the salvation of our country, and the perpetuity of our religious and civil institutions. A mass of heterogeneous and heterodox materials is accumulating amongst us, with fearful rapidity. The combined powers of monarchy and hierarchy, have drawn their mental swords against us, and thrown away the scabbards. Widely disseminated intelligence, alone, will save us from the burnished steel. The story of our Liberty has been told to millions in the old world, and has weakened the tenure of kings, and made their thrones tremble. Upon our death depends their life. A dreadful struggle is rolling on us; an angry storm is gathering ; a fearful crisis coming. Upon the rising generation of our land, depends our existence as a free people, and the triumph of liberal principles over the world. Individual responsibility should be more deepl: felt. Each man and woman is a thread in the triple cord of Usefulness. Every thread that is added, strengthens this cord—forbid, Almighty God, that any shall be detached, to weaken it. Let the moral and religious tone of the community be pure and healthy ; pauperism, poverty, vice, misery, and wretchedness, will recede, as surely as does the morning fog before the rising sun. Seek first the kingdom of heaven and all needful earthly blessings will flow in upon us.
Let all examine, anxiously, where, when, and how they can be most useful; learn their appropriate sphere of action, and then nobly, faithfully, discreetly, kindly, and in the name of the great Jehovah, perform their duty.
The intricacies of the first steam engine, constructed under the direction of Fulton, were so numerous and novel, that but few could be found, competent to take charge of them; and those who did assume the responsibility, were cautioned not to open the wrong valve.
The intricacies and complexity of the machinery of human nature, as far exceed those of Fulton's steam engine, as they did those of a jack knife. To understand fully, the philosophy of the human mind, is an acquisition, as rare, as it is difficult and interesting. Many who have undertaken to fathom its depths and mark its soundings; have found themselves with field notes, involving problems they could not solve or demonstrate, surrounded by mysteries they could not comprehend or unfold. The combined powers of Physiognomy and Phrenology, can never make a chart, that will represent, fully and truly, all that lies beneath the ever-moving surface of human nature. The current of circumstances will produce its varying changes, the phenomena of mind will ever keep in advance of those who profess to unravel and demonstrate its arcana. It requires a Locke, to unlock the secret valves of its steam generators and more than an angel, to fully explore its secret chambers. Human nature is little understood, because most persons neglect to open the valve of self examination. Ignorant of their own mental arrangement, and of the ever-revolving circuit of their own immortal minds; men often open the wrong valve, start on false premises, and arrive at erroneous conclusions.
This ignorance of human nature, which is far more extensive than the casual observer would suppose, often paralyzes the best intentions of benevolence and philanthropy, by generating error, not unfrequently imbibed, by imparting unsound instruction to the rising generation, or permitting them to grow up carelessly, perhaps ignorantly.
In external matters of business and money-making, men are more careful to open the right valve; bringing into action, judgment, skill, and taste. Their mechanic must understand his business; their physician his practice; their counsellor his profession; their book-keeper his duties; but, when the machinery of the immortal mind is first put to work, unskilful engineers are too often employed, who open the wrong valve, and derange the noble work that came from the hands of the Architect of worlds, perfect in all its parts.
Parents and teachers, who do not correctly understand the machinery of mind, are ever in danger of opening the wrong valve, and of doing irreparable injury. Nor does the danger stop here. Ignorant pilots, incompetent engineers, and blind leaders of the blind; are ever urging their services, assuming the high responsibility of managing the valves of the mind, when matured by age. They are found in the walks of private life, and in all the departments of political, moral, and religious economy.
The great object of every philanthropist is, to improve and better the condition of the human family.