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In these last extremities, we remember nothing but the respect and tenderness due to our common nature. What a scene then must a field of battle present, where thousands are left without assistance, and without pity, with their wounds exposed to the piercing air, while the blood, freezing as it flows, binds them to the earth, amidst the trampling of horses, and the insults of an enraged foe!
But we have hitherto only adverted to the sufferings of those who are engaged in the profession of arms, without taking into our account the situation of the countries which are the scene of hostilities. How dreadful to hold everything at the mercy of an enemy, and to receive life itself as a boon dependent on the sword. How boundless the fears which such a situation must inspire, where the issues of life and death are determined by no known laws, principles, or customs, and no conjecture can be formed of our destiny, except as far as it is dimly deciphered in characters of blood, in the dictates of revenge, and the caprices of power.
Conceive but for a moment the consternation which the approach of an invading army would impress on the peaceful villages in this neighborhood. When you have placed yourselves for an instant in that situation, you will learn to sympathise with those unhappy countries which have sustained the ravages of arms.
But how is it possible to give you an idea of these horrors 1 Here you behold rich harvests, the bounty of heaven, and the reward of industry, consumed in a moment, or trampled under foot, while famine and pestilence follow the steps of desolation. There the cottages of peasants given up to the flames, mothers expiring through fear, not for themselves, but their infants; the inhabitants flying with their helpless babes in all directions—miserable fugitives on their native soil!
In another part you witness opulent cities taken by storm; the streets, where no sounds were heard but those of peaceful industry, tilled on a sudden with slaughter and blood, resounding with the cries of the pursuing and the pursued; the palaces of nobles demolished, the houses of the rich pillaged, the chastity of virgins and matrons violated, and every age, sex, and rank, mingled in promiscuous massacre and ruin. Hall.
INSIGNIFICANCE OF THIS WORLD.
Though the earth were to he hurned up, though the trumpet of its dissolution were sounded, though yon sky were to pass away as a scroll, and every visible glory which the finger of the Divinity has inscribed on it, were extinguished for ever — an event, so awful to us and to every world in our vicinity, by which so many suns would be extinguished, and so many varied scenes of life and population would rush into forgetfulness — What is it in the high scale of the Almighty's workmanship? a mere shred, which, though scattered into nothing, would leave the universe of God one entire scene of greatness and of majesty? Though the earth and the heavens were to disappear, there are other worlds which roll afar; the light of other suns shines upon them; and the sky which mantles them, is garnished with other stars. Is it presumption to say that the moral world extends to these distant and unknown regions? that they are occupied with people? that the charities of home and of neighborhood flourish there? that the praises of God are there lifted up, and his goodness rejoiced in? that there piety has its temples and its offerings? and the richness of the divine attributes is there felt and admired by intelligent worshippers?
And what is this world in the immensity which teems with them; and what are they who occupy it? The universe at large would suffer as little in its splendor and variety by the destruction of our planet, as the verdure and sublime magnitude of a forest would suffer by the fall of a single leaf. The leaf quivers on the branch which supports it. It lies at the mercy of the slightest accident. A breath of wind tears it from its stem, and it lights on the stream of water which passes underneath. In a moment of time, the life, which we know by the microscope it teems with, is extinguished; and an occurrence so insignificant in the eye of man, and on the scale of his observation, carries in it to the myriads which people this little leaf, an event as terrible and as decisive as the destruction of a world. Now, on the grand scale of the universe, we, the occupiers of this ball, which performs its little round among the suns and the systems that astronomy has unfolded — we may feel the same littleness and the same insecurity. We differ from the leaf only in this circumstance, that it would require the operation of greater elements to destroy us. But these elements exist. The fire which rages within, may lift its devouring energy to the surface of our planet, and transform it into one wide and wastiug volcano. The sudden formation of elastic matter in the bowels of the earth — and it lies within the agency of known substances to accomplish this—may explode it into fragments. The exhalation of noxious air from below, may impart a virulence to the air that is around us; it may affect the delicate proportion of its ingredients; and the whole of animated nature may wither and die under the malignity of a tainted atmosphere. A blazing comet may cross this fated planet in its orbit, and realize all the terrors which superstition has conceived of it. We cannot anticipate with precision the consequences of an event which every astronomer must know to be within the limits of chance and probability. It may hurry our globe towards the sun— or drag it to the outer regions of the planetary system — or give it a new axis of revolution — and the effect, which I shall simply announce, without explaining it, would be to change the place of the ocean, and bring another mighty flood upon our islands and continents.
These are changes which may happen in a single moment of time, and against which nothing known in the present system of things provides us with any security. They might not annihilate the earth, but they would un-people it; and we, who tread its surface with such firm and assured footsteps, are at the mercy of devouring elements, which, if let loose upon us by the hand of the Almighty, would spread solitude, and silence, and death, over the dominions of the world.
Now, it is this littleness and this insecurity, which make the protection of the Almighty so dear to us, and bring, with such emphasis to every pious bosom, the holy lessons of humility and gratitude. The God who sittcth above, and presides in high authority over all worlds, is mindful of man; and, though at this moment his
energy is felt in the remotest provinces of creation, we may feel the same security in his providence, as if we were the objects of his undivided care.
It is not for us to bring our minds up to this mysterious agency. But such is the incomprehensible fact, that the same Being whose eye is abroad over the whole universe, gives vegetation to every blade of grass, and motion to every particle of blood which circulates through the veins of the minutest animal; that, though his mind takes into his comprehensive grasp, immensity and all its wonders, I am as much known to him, as' if I were the single object of his attention; that he marks all my thoughts; that he gives birth to every feeling and every movement within me; and that, with an exercise of power which I can neither describe nor comprehend, the same God who sits in the highest heaven, and reigns over the glories of the firmament, is at my right hand, to give me every breath which I draw, and every comfort which I enjoy.
IN REPROOF OF PITT.
Sir, I was unwilling to interrupt the course of this debate, while it was carried on with calmness and decency, by men who do not suffer the ardor of opposition to cloud their reason, or transport them to such expressions as the dignity of this assembly does not admit. I have hitherto deferred answering the gentleman, who declaimed against the bill with such fluency and rhetoric, and such vehemence of gesture; who charged the advocates for the expedients now proposed, with having no regard to any interest but their own, and with making laws only to consume paper, and threatened them with the defection of their adherents, and the loss of their influence, upon this new discovery of their folly and ignorance. Nor, sir, do I now answer him for any other purpose, than to remind him how little the clamor of rage and petulancy of invective contribute to the end for which this assembly is called together; how little the discovery of truth is promoted, and the security of the nation established, by pompous diction and theatrical emotion.
Formidable sounds and furious declamation, confident assertions and lofty periods, may affeet the young and inexperienced; and perhaps the gentleman may have contracted his habits of oratory by conversing more with those of his own age, than with such as have more opportunities of acquiring knowledge, and more successful measures of communicating their sentiments.
If the heat of his temper, sir, would suffer him to attend to those whose age and long acquaintance with business give them an indisputable right to deference and superiority, he would learn in time to reason rather than declaim; and to prefer justness of argument and an accurate knowledge of facts, to sounding epithets and splendid