Page images
[ocr errors]

here in Brooklyn, or in New York, or Philadelphia, or Boston, for any young man without the grace of God. I will even go further and make it more emphatic, and say there is no chance for any young man who has not above him, and beneath him, and before him, and behind him, and on the right of him, and on the left of him, and within him, the all-protecting grace of God. My word of warning is to those who have recently come to the city; some of them entering our banking institutions, and some of them our stores and shops. Shelter yourselves in God. Do not trust yourselves an hour without the defences of Christ's religion.

I stood one day at Niagara Falls, and I saw what you may have seen there, six rainbows bending over that tremendous plunge. I never saw anything like it before or since. Six beautiful rainbows arching that great cataract! And so over the rapids and the angry precipices of sin, where so many have been dashed down, God's beautiful admonitions hover, a warning arching each perilsix of them, fifty of them-a thousand of them. Be warel beware! beware! This afternoon, young men, while you have time to reflect upon these things, and before the duties of the office and the store, and the shop come upon you again, look over this whole subject, and after the day has passed, and you hear in the nightfall the voices and the footsteps of the city dying from your ear, and it gets so silent that you can hear distinctly your watch under your pillow going "tick, tick!” then open your eyes, and look out upon the darkness, and see two pillars of light, one horizontal, the other perpendicular, but changing their direction until they come together, and your enraptured vision beholds it-THE OBOSS!



O thou that art situate at the entry of the sea.-Ezek. xxvil: &

This is a part of an impassioned apostrophe to the city of Tyre. It was a beautiful city-a majestic city. At the east end of the Mediterranean, it sat with one hand beckoning the inland trade, and with the other the cominerce of foreign nations. It swung a monstrous boom across its harbor to shut out foreign enemies, and then swung back that boom to let in its friends. The air of the desert was fragrant with the spices brought by caravans to her fairs, and all seas were cleft into foam by the keel of her laden merchantmen. Her markets were rich with horses, and mules, and camels from Togarmah; with upholstery, and ebony, and ivory from Dedan; with emeralds, and agate, and coral from Syria; with wine from Helbon; with finest needlework from Ashur and Chilmad. Talk about the splendid state-rooms of your White Star and French lines of international steamers. -why the benches of the state-rooms in those Tyrian ships were all ivory, and instead of our coarse canvas on the masts of the shipping, they had the finest linen, quilted together, and inwrought with embroideries almost miraculous for beauty. Its columns overshadowed all nations. Distant empires felt its heart beat. Majestic city! "situate at the entry of the sea."

But where now is the gleam of her towers, the roar of her chariots, the masts of her shipping! Let the fishermen who dry their nets on the place where she once stood; let the sea that rushes upon the barrenness where she once challenged the admiration of all nations; let the barbarians who build their huts on the place where her palaces glittered, answer the question. Blotted out for ever! She forgot God, and God forgot her. And while our modern cities admire her glory, let them take warning at her awful doom.

Cain was the founder of the first city, and I suppose it took after him in morals. It is a long while before a city can get over the character of those who founded it: Were they criminal exiles, the filth, and the prisons, and the debauchery are the shadows of such founders. New York will not for two or three hundred years escape from the good influences of its founders,—the pious settlers whose prayers went up from the very streets where now banks discount, and brokers shave, and companies declare dividends, and smugglers swear Custom-house lies; and above the roar of the drays, and the crack of auctioneers' mallets is heard the ascription_“We worship thee, O thou almighty dollar!” The church that once stood on Wall-street still throws its blessing over all the scene of traffic, and upon the ships that fold their white wings in the harbor. Originally men gathered in cities from necessity. It was to escape the incendiary's torch or the assassin's dagger. Only the very poor lived in the country, those who had nothing that could be stolen, or vagabonds who wanted to be near their place of business; but since civilization and religion have made it safe for men to live almost anywhere, men congregate ip aities because of the opportunity for rapid gain. Cities are not necessarily evils, as has sometimes been argued. They have been the birth-place of civilization. In them popular liberty has lifted up its voice. Witness Genoa, and Pisa, and Venice. The entrance of the representa

no use.

tives of the cities in the legislatures of Europe was the death-blow to feudal kingdoms. Cities are the patronizers of art and literature,-architecture pointing to its British Museum in London, its Royal Library in Paris, its Vatican in Rome. Cities hold the world's sceptre. Africa was Carthage, Greece was Athens, England is London, France is Paris, Italy is Rome, and the cluster of cities in which God has cast our lot will yet decide the destiny of the American people.

The particular city in which God has given us a residence is under especial advantage. Imay this morning apostrophize it in the words of my text, and say: “O thou that art situate at the entry of the sea !” Standing at the gates of the continent, we try to keep that which is worth keeping, and we try to pass on that which is of

The best pictures are in our galleries for exhibition, and foreign orators stop long enough toʻspeak in our halls. The finest equipages may be seen on our Broadway, and making the circuit of our Central and Prospect Parks,--places fascinating with mosque, and fountains, and sculptured bridges, embowered walks, and menageries of wild animals, for the amusement of the people; while our Croton and Ridgewood aqueducts pour their brightness and refreshment into the hot lips of the thirsty cities. Thanking God this morning for the pleasant place in which He has cast our lot; and at this season of the year when so many of the offices of the city are changing hands, and so many new men are coming into positions of public trust, I have thought it might be useful to talk a little while about the moral responsibility resting upon the office-bearers in the city-a theme as appropriate to those who are governed as to the gov

The moral characters of those who rule a city has much to do with the character of the city itself. Men,


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

women, and children are all interested in national politics. When the great Presidential election comes, every patriot wants to be found at the ballot box. We are all interested in the discussion of national reconstruction, national finance, national debt, and we read the laws of Congress, and we are wondering who will sit next in the Presidential chair. Now, that may be all very well—is very well; but it is high time that we took some of the attention which we have been devoting to national affairs and brought it to the study of municipal government. This it seems to me now is the chief point to be taken. Make the cities right, and the nation will be right. I have noticed that according to their opportunities there has really been more corruption in municipal governments in this country than in the State and national Legislatures. Now, is there no hope ? With the mightiest agent in our hand, the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ, shall not all our cities be reformed, and purified, and redeemed? I believe the day will come. I am in full sympathy with those who are opposed to carrying politics into religion ; but our cities will never be reformed and purified until we carry religion into politics. I look over this city and I see that all our great interests are to be affected in the future, as they have been affected in the past, by the character of those who in the different departments rule over us, and I propose this morning to classify some of those interests.

In the first place I remark: Commercial ethics are always affected by the moral or immoral character of those who have municipal supremacy.

Officials that wink at fraud, and that have neither censure nor arraignment for glittering dishonesties, always weaken the pulse of commercial honor. Every shop, every store, every bazaar, every factory in your city feels the moral charac

« PreviousContinue »