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from him on whom their own eyes were constantly fixed. They recognized no title to superiority but his favor; and, confident of that favor, they despised all the accomplishments and all the dignities of the world.
3. If they were unacquainted with the works of philosophers and poets, they were deeply read in the oracles of God; if their names were not found in the registers of heralds, they felt assured that they were recorded in the Book of Life; if their steps were not accompanied by a splendid train of menials, legions of ministering angels had charge over them. Their palaces were houses not made with hands; their diadems, crowns of glory which should never fade away.
4. On the rich and the eloquent, on nobles and priests, they looked down with contempt; for they esteemed themselves rich in a more precious treasure, and eloquent in a more sublime language - nobles by the right of an earlier creation, and priests by the imposition of a mightier hand. The very meanest of them was a being to whose fate a mysterious and terrible importance belonged — on whose slightest actions the spirits of light and darkness looked with anxious interest — who had been destined, before heaven and earth were created, to enjoy a felicity which should continue when heaven and earth should have passed away.
5. Events which short-sighted politicians ascribed to earthly causes had been ordained on his account. For his sake, empires had risen, and flourished, and decayed; for his sake, the Almighty had proclaimed his will by the pen of the evangelist and the harp of the prophet. He had been rescued by no common deliverer from the grasp of no common foe; he had been ransomed by the sweat of no vulgar agony, by the blood of no earthly sacrifice. It
was for him that the sun had been darkened, that the rocks had been rent, that the dead had arisen, that all nature had shuddered at the sufferings of her expiring God!
X. CHARACTER OF THE PURITAN FATHERS
OF NEW ENGLAND
I. One of the most prominent features which distinguished our forefathers was their determined resistance to oppression. They seemed born and brought up for the high and special purpose of showing to the world that the civil and religious rights of man, the rights of self-government, of conscience, and independent thought, are not merely things to be talked of, and woven into theories, but to be adopted with the whole strength and ardor of the mind, and felt in the profoundest recesses of the heart, and carried out into the general life, and made the foundation of practical usefulness, and visible beauty, and true nobility.
2. Liberty, with them, was an object of too serious desire and stern resolve to be personified, allegorized, and enshrined. They made no goddess of it, as the ancients did; they had no time nor inclination for such trifling; they felt that liberty was the simple birthright of every human creature; they called it so; they claimed it as such; they reverenced and held it fast as the unalienable gift of the Creator, which was not to be surrendered to power, nor sold for wages.
3. It was theirs, as men; without it, they did not esteem themselves men; more than any other privilege or possession, it was essential to their happiness, for it was essential to their original nature; and therefore they preferred it above wealth, and ease, and country; and that they might
enjoy and exercise it fully, they forsook houses, and lands, and kindred, their homes, their native soil, and their fathers' graves.
4. They left all these ; they left England, which, whatever it might have been called, was not to them a land of freedom; they launched forth on the pathless ocean, the wide, fathomless ocean, soiled not by the earth beneath, and bounded, all round and above, only by heaven; and it seemed to them like that better and sublimer freedom, which their country knew not, but of which they had the conception and image in their hearts; and, after a toilsome and painful voyage, they came to a hard and wintry coast, unfruitful and desolate, but unguarded and boundless; its calm silence interrupted not the ascent of their prayers; it had no eyes to watch, no ears to hearken, no tongues to report of them; here, again, there was an answer to their soul's desire, and they were satisfied, and gave thanks; they saw that they were free, and the desert smiled.
5. I am telling an old tale; but it is one which must be told when we speak of those men. It is to be added that they transmitted their principles to their children, and that, peopled by such a race, our country was always free. So long as its inhabitants were unmolested by the mother country, in the exercise of their important rights, they submitted to the form of English government; but when those rights were invaded, they spurned even the form away.
6. This act was the Revolution, which came of course, and spontaneously, and had nothing in it of the wonderful or unforeseen. The wonder would have been if it had not occurred. It was, indeed, a happy and glorious event, but by no means unnatural; and I intend no slight to the reverend actors in the Revolution, when I assert that their fathers before them were as free as they -- every whit as free.