« ElőzőTovább »
of able and faithful teachers. May He multiply to your families and to your persons, every genuine blessing; and whatever discipline may be appointed to you in this world, may the blessed hope of the resurrection, which He has planted in the constitution of the human soul, and confirmed and manifested by Jesus Christ, be made good to you beyond the grave. In this faith and hope, I bid you farewell.
Your affectionate servant,
RALPH WALDO EMERSON.
RIGHT HAND OF FELLOWSHIP
AT ORDINATION OF HERSEY BRADFORD GOODWIN, 1830
The ancient custom of offering a new pastor the expression of the sympathy of the churches is no unsuitable rite in the ceremonies of ordination, and hath a deep foundation in reason. There is no sympathy so strong as that which exists between the good, and this fellow-feeling Christianity has done all to foster. Whilst men are in the moral darkness which vice produces, each individual is a sect by himself; each is a self-seeker, with his hands against every man, and every man's hands against him. Each, forgetful of all other rights and feelings, is straining every nerve to build up his own sordid advantage, and tearing down his neighbor's hạppiness, if need be, to build up his own. His eye is blind, his ear is deaf to the great harmonies by which God yoked together the social and the selfish good of his children.
Just in proportion as men grow wiser and better, their efforts converge to a point. For as truth is one, in seeking it, they all aim to conform their action to one standard. When intelligent men talk together, it is remarkable how much they think alike, how many propositions are taken for granted, that are disputed, word by word, in the conversation of ignorant persons. The more enlightened men are, the greater is this unanimity, as is attested by the common wonder when two minds of unquestionable elevation come to opposite conclusions. As it is with the mind, so is it with the heart. As two minds agreeing with truth
do mutually agree, so, if their affections are right with God, they will be true to one another.
Christianity aims to teach the perfection of human nature, and eminently therefore does it teach the unity of the spirit. It is, not only in its special precepts, but by all its operations, a law of love. It does, by its revelation of God and of the true purposes and the true rules of life, operate to bind up, to join together, and not to distinguish and separate. It proclaimed peace. But it speaks first to its own disciples, “Be of one mind,” else with what countenance should the church say to the world of men, Love one another. And thousands and thousands of hearts have heard the commandment, and anon with joy received it. All men on whose souls the light of God's revelation truly shineth, with whatever apparent differences, are substantially of one mind, work together, whether consciously or not, for one and the same good. Faces that never beheld each other are lighted by it with the same expression. Hands that were never clasped toil unceasingly at the same work. This it is which makes the omnipotence of truth in the keeping of feeble men, — this fellowship in all its servants, this swift, consenting acknowledgment with which they hail it when it appears. God's truth, - it is that electric spark which flies instantaneously through the countless hands that compose the chain. Truth - not like each form of error, depending for its repute on the powers and influence of here and there a solitary mind that espouses it — combines hosts for its support, and makes them co-operate across mountains and oceans, --- yea, and ages of time. This is what was meant in that beautiful sentiment of ancient philosophy, that God had so intimately linked all wise men to each other that, if one should only lift his finger in Rome, all the rest were benefited by
it, through Egypt or Asia. This is what was meant by that one body in Christ, of which all his disciples are the members. Sir, it is this sentiment which is recognized in the ancient and simple rite of the churches.
God has bound heart to heart by invisible and eternal bands, by oneness of nature, of duty, and of hope. To us is “ One Lord, one faith, one baptism.” And, in acknowledgment of these divine connections existing between us, the Christian churches, whose organ I am, do offer you, my brother, this right hand of their fellowship. They greet you, by me, to the exalted relations on which now you are entering. They give you a solemn welcome to great duties, to honorable sacrifices, to unremitting studies, and to the eternal hope of all souls. They exhort you to all pious resolutions; and they pledge to you, by this sign, their sympathy, their aid, and their intercession.
They say to you that, so long as in purity of heart you do the work of God in this vineyard of his, you
are not alone; but you shall be secure of the love and : the furtherance, not of these churches only, but of all
righteous men. In every hour of perplexity or affliction, they shall encourage and aid and bless you, by desire and by word and by action. And when the day of success comes to you, and you see around you in this garden of the Lord, the fruit of your virtues and the light of your example and the truth you teach shine forth together, in that day a kindred joy shall touch our hearts, - we shall be glad with you, and give thanks with you, and hope for you.
Sir, it is with sincere pleasure that I speak for the churches on this occasion and on this spot, hallowed to all by so many patriotic and to me by so many affectionate recollections. I feel a peculiar, a personal right to welcome you hither to the home and
the temple of my fathers. I believe the church whose pastor you are will forgive me the allusion, if I express the extreme interest which every man feels in the scene of the trials and labors of his ancestors. Five out of seven of your predecessors are my kindred. They are in the dust who bind my attachment to this place, but not all. I cannot help congratulating you that one survives, to be to you the true friend and venerable counsellor he has ever been to me.
I heartily rejoice to see their labors and a portion of his resting on one who comes with such ability, and, as I trust, with such devout feeling to the work. Suffer me then, as for them, to offer you my hand, and receive with it, my brother, my best wishes and prayers for your success in your great undertaking and for your everlasting welfare.