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Breathe thou on us of that mysterious art,
She plucks the thunderbolts from out the skies,
And Oh! that thou wouldest raise another three,
Beat down the lawless monster! make him bow!
So shall glad peace return, and with her bring
Sceptered in shame—a dastard deity,
But that's a dream. Though joy at sight of thee
Merge in reality; and on we press,
But let it come! Time! let thy coursers fly!
But baply come again and on thee pour
Hail! then, thou beauteous child of long desire,
The brightest jewel in the crown of Yale,
L. M. D.
Paul on Mar's Hill.
REVOLUTIONS are not the logical effects of fortuitous and unnatural causes ; nor yet the wayward, illogical effects of natural causes. They are natural products of natural law; natural law of whatever character being but the peculiar providence of God.
Of this proposition the physical world affords a most fitting illustration. She has not bequeathed to us, her offspring, an unwritten history. Each age has left unwasting testimonials of its being; and every epoch with nicest care has impressed upon imperishable tablets, the types of all it brought peculiar. The aggregate rock is the records of the one's ordinary toil: the individual fossilforous strata, of the other's sudden transitions and characteristic creations. The evidence of the latter is not less certain than the former.
Humanity, like the earth, has made a transcript not only of her common, uneventful life, but also of her special and tremendous reformations, and the new attendant organizations adapted to the altered conditions, under which they were to exist. In the whole she has frankly confessed her own degradation : for her violent transitions have ever been but selfaccusations, because manifestations,—now of resolute opposition to the ruinous march of her native forces,-now of desire to rouse them from fatal lethargy. In this degradation consists the necessity of revolution. For the powers of life intoxicated by its spirit, either wage, like the giants in the old myth, an unnatural war against the heavenly around YOL. XIX.
and above them; or sink into ruinous slumbers, like the charmed * wanderers in the Lotus-eating clime. From either of these conditions no gentle influence, however constant, is sufficient to remove them; for passion is strength incarnate; and Lethean slumbers less profound than death.
In treating of the condition of the world at the time of Paul's appearing in Athens, the Jews may properly be passed in silence. Nor are they to be considered as referred to in the general observations made upon nations, inasmuch as the crisis in their history had passed : and the new life was already animating her body politic and religious.
Faith is the substratum upon which every condition of life rests; and Nature, like a wise master-builder as she is, fashions the whole structure in keeping with its foundations. If the one be substantial and symmetrical, she builds the other so; but if insecure and at odd angles, still does she observe this law. There is that upon which faith depends for its quality. It is the character of the conception of the object of faith. Doubtless Adam knew God as he was. Not less certainly did his descendants lose that knowledge. Man's original faith stood in the full perfection and vigor of the oak with the growth of centuries, till temptation,—the source of the Fall,--like a fresh and vigorous vine, year by year increasing itself by new shoots and adorning itself with new foliage, had clasped it in a too strong, a fatal embrace. Swiftly its branching arms, through which the Spirit, "like a mighty rushing wind,” had swept, until they trembled in its fearful presence, decayed and dropped ; the trunk itself slowly wasted by the elements, disappeared ; when, at the time of which we speak, its deeply sunk roots, clinging closely to the earth, deriving thence a sickly life, were all that remained. The superstructure of Society—in its limited relations of individuals and more general relations of nations—taking shape from such a foundation, could not be otherwise than an infirm, unsightly mass. Above it, ignorance and superstition reared their clouded crests, and covered with a “worse than Stygian darkness," whatever of good life may have retained. Through the darkness, at gloomy intervals, had some Poet or Moralists arisen, like a Pharos, the last, the forlorn hopes of the world; but they served only to show how dark was the night in which humanity was slumbering. If revolution has proved a necessity for ordinary reformations, here it was doubly so. It alone could dig up the false foundations of society which had been settling and strengthening age after age, and
* Tonnyson, Vol. 1.
replace it by one new and true; it alone could tear down her distorted edifice and build one more perfect in its stead ; and under its influence alone could the night of her error be dissipated.
But revolution must needs have a birth-place, and that not always a manger. In the choice of Athens, as the origin of this change, this was signally true. The reasons for her choice are obvious. Leaving behind her central position, which had commanded the commerce of the world ; and the influence which her magnanimous polity toward other nations, as well as the preëminent excellence of her internal polity, had given her, there was no one consideration, more mighty perhaps than any other, in effecting her selection. The East was by far less enlightened than the West, and proportionately more attached to old forms and associations. In Western nature science and the arts had developed a generous enthusiasm : which, while it left them an even more than proper regard for custom and tradition, still urged them ever onward to the attainment of higher excellence and nobler good. There was a hope that a flame kindled upon such material, would not go out, but should prove a “light to the nations.” Another reason and second only to this, was the power she possessed in her unparalled refinement and learning. Even at this late period her glory had hardly culminated; for,* “flattered by the triumvirate and favored by Hadrian's love of the Arts, she was at no time so splendid as under the Antonines.” The temples of a thousand years and the structures of Phidias and Praxiteles,f stood in undecayed magnificence, beside the regal piles of that present age. The spirit of Pythagoras still animated her Science and Philosophy. Pericles and Thucyides were still living in eloquence and History; and poetry still was breathing the inspiration of Homer and the Drama. Such was Athens, when Paul, the greatest of human reformers, entered it. Coming as such, this was a fitting time for his entry ; for though Philosophy would yet cling stubbornly to its ancient tenets ; and unbelief wage sullen war with demonstrated truth; yet the mind, not of Athens only, but of the world, was peculiarly restless from dissatisfaction with present attainments and unavailing search for greater ; of which, the fact that “All the Athenians and strangers which were there, spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell or to hear some new thing," is indubitable evidence.
The antagonism of strong forces never fails to awaken emotions of sublimity in his mind, who contemplates it. It is so when protracted and
devoid of the thrilling displays of concentrated efforts. But especially is it so, when through an age grown hoary, each having been ceaselessly engaged in recruiting new and dread elements from every source; by every discipline inuring the new and old to severest toil, they at last stake their tremendous issues on a single struggle. If that struggle be of cosmic forces, the heart will leap up, if it is not stone. Mind in contest with mind, elicits an instinctive interest, and so is a cause of increased excitement to the feelings. But in the contest between the moral and immoral, the heart feels a deep personal concern, which rouses the emotions naturally excited by contemplation of strife into unparalleled vigor of action. In the struggle of which we are about to speak, were blended not only the most effective of these, but also another, which, as it was more powerful to elicit sympathy, would render the occasion of far deeper interest. Of the contending forces, the one was strong as age, and learning, and the prestige of "pomp and circumstance” could make it. The other came, in youth, not with the “excellency of man's wisdom," and in the prophet's humble garb. Every feeling of the heart is enlisted for the latter.
In imagination I seem to see them now—the glory and the boast of Athens-pressing toward the court of the Areopagus. And methinks the living come not alone. That life from the sacred dust of the Ceramicus, and spirits of the mighty dead, swarming from the sides of Delphi and Pamassus, and the banks of the Illissus, are present in this hour; for it is a “pregnant time.”* The crowd is hushed and still. The careful quiet, the inquiring look, the expectant attitude index the emotions of the soul. I see the “bubbler” on the wide nostrum. There is no applause. Truth, not display, is the object of desire. He speaks. There is no eulogy of “splendid, happy Athens.” † It is simple and severe condemnation. It is couragé greater than Hercules—logic sterner than the schools—morality higher than Philosophy's. It is God, for the first time here in action, thought, or feeling.
Our object thus far has been, to show that Paul's appearing upon Mars Hill, was the crisis not only in Athens, but the world's history, (the preparation for which it had been made in the death of Christ;) the precise point from which we may date all truthful radical reformation; and by this fact its grandeur as an occasion.
From this point our subject naturally affords two topics—the characteristics,
* Sydney Vendy's “ Roman.”