BY WILLIAM C. JASON, D. D.
Principal State College for Colored Students, Dover, Delaware
[Note 45: An address delivered before the Wilmington District
Epworth League Convention.]
"Nature," says one, "is like a woman; in the morning she is fresh from
her bath, at noon she has on her working-dress, and at night she wears
Nature is most charming in the morning. The following extract from "A
Picture of Dawn" is a tribute Edward Everett pays to the morning.
"As we proceeded, the timid approach of the twilight became more
perceptible; the intense blue of the sky began to soften; the smaller
stars, like little children, went first to rest; the sister beams of the
Pleiades soon melted together; but the bright constellations of the west
and north remained unchanged. Steadily the wondrous transfiguration went
on. Hands of angels, hidden from mortal eyes, shifted the scenery of the
heavens; the glories of the night dissolved into the glories of the
dawn. The blue sky now turned more softly gray; the great watch-stars
shut up their holy eyes; the east began to kindle. Faint streaks of
purple soon blushed along the sky; the whole celestial concave was
filled with the inflowing tides of the morning light which came pouring
down from above in one great ocean of radiance; till at length, as we
reached the Blue Hills, a flash of purple fire blazed out from above the
horizon, and turned the dewy teardrops of flower and leaf into rubies
and diamonds. In a few seconds, the everlasting gates of the morning
were thrown wide open, and the lord of day, arrayed in glories too
severe for the gaze of man, began his state."
Nothing but the morning itself is more beautiful than this sublime
The best of the day is the morning. The brain is clearer, the nerves
more steady, the physical powers at their best before the sun reaches
its zenith. Weariness waits for noon, and the wise man chooses the
morning as the period for his most exacting toil.
Of all the year, the spring-time is the fairest. Nature wakes from the
restful sleep of winter. Grasses grow, flowers bloom, trees put forth
their leaves, birds build their nests, and he who hopes for harvest lays
the foundations of his future gain. The whole year is lost to him who
sleeps or idles away the seed-time. Late planting will grow, perhaps, if
excessive heat does not kill the seed or wither the shoot; but before it
comes to fruitage the frosts of autumn will blight it, flower and stem
and root. Man cannot alter God's plan. There is a time to sow and a time
Life has its seasons also--its spring-time, its winter; morning, noon,
and night. The Scriptures enjoin us to work while it is called day; for
the night cometh when no man can work. In the parable the rich man who
went on a journey appointed each servant a task. To each of us is
entrusted some treasure; each is commanded to work. To labor is man's
appointed lot. This is his supreme mission in the world. He cannot avoid
it. Even the servant who sought to evade his responsibility went and
digged in the earth.
Resisting the forces which tend to destroy life; surmounting the
obstacles to substantial success; breaking down barriers, commercial,
civil, social, political, and becoming a factor in the best life of his
community--the peer of any in mental and moral qualities, a
representative and an advocate of the principles of justice and
equality--this is the work of a man.
Such efforts do not tax the muscles only. They call forth the energies
of the entire being. Foresight, calculation, enterprise, courage,
self-control; fertility in resources; the ability to recognize and
embrace an opportunity, are all required. The inspiration must come from
above. All the powers of mind and body must be enlisted. Flagging
energies, lashed by an indomitable will, must persevere.
"Life is real and life is earnest" wrote the poet. He who does not take
life seriously has woefully failed to comprehend its significance. Toil,
service, sacrifice--these are the words which tell the true story of a
life. Willingly, it should be, but if not so, then reluctantly man must
toil, serve, sacrifice. For noble ends, it should be, but if not so,
then for base ends, he must toil, serve, sacrifice. With buoyant,
hopeful spirit, or with cheerless, heavy heart; toil, service,
sacrifice is the Divine decree, irrevocable, eternal.
* * * * *
It is my privilege to address the members of the Epworth League but my
thought embraces young people everywhere, especially those of my own
You live. A definite responsibility is thereby placed upon you. Not as a
burden to be borne with sadness, but rather as an act of beneficence has
the Creator called you into being and sent you forth upon your mission
in the world. He sends you to a world full of beauty. Sunshine,
fragrance, and melody are about you. Yet you may not be conscious of it.
Blindness or perverted vision may cloud the sky and fill the earth with
shadows. The clamors of selfish interest or lawless passion may change
the harmony into perpetual discord and din. Evil associations, impure
thoughts, and unholy practises create false ideas of life.
"Faults in the life breed errors in the brain,
And these reciprocally those again;
The mind and conduct mutually imprint,
And stamp their image in each other's mint."
Yet for him who hath eyes to see, the world is full of beauty. Nor
beauty only; but design is everywhere manifested, revealing the presence
of a supreme Intelligence and immeasurable love in fitting out for man a
perfect habitation. Whatever of wretchedness the world holds is
man-made. It is proof positive of a purpose to make man happy that so
many instruments of pleasure are placed at his hand. Each sense and
organ has its objects of exercise and enjoyment. Every natural
instinct, desire, and appetite is recognized, and its proper, legitimate
indulgence provided for. Blessed are they who find life joyous and who
choose it, not from a fear of death, but for what there is in life--who
can say: "I find death perfectly desirable, but I find life perfectly
You have life and you have youth. You live in life's morn; the
spring-time of your existence is upon you. Quick perceptions, swift and
keen intelligence, strong limbs, rich, pure blood, and a hope that
"springs eternal," are a portion of the heritage of youth. With
faculties unimpaired by age or excesses, you awake to an existence which
shall never end, and begin a destiny which shall be whatever you, by the
use or abuse of those faculties, shall determine.
Hereditary influences count for something. Environment has much to do
with the shaping of a life. Yet a responsibility without evasion rests
upon each individual soul. Not one is saved or lost without his own
voluntary contribution toward that end. It is an awful responsibility,
commensurate with the rewards offered to integrity and fidelity. The
thought that you must stand at the judgment-seat and answer for this
life should impress the most thoughtless with the importance of
Young people are the life-blood of the nation, the pillars of the state.
The future of the world is wrapped up in the lives of its youth. As
these unfold, the pages of history will tell the story of deeds noble
and base. Characters resplendent with jewels and ornaments of virtue
will be held up for the admiration of the world and the emulation of
generations not yet born. Others, thoughtlessly or wilfully ignoring the
plain path of duty, dwarfed, blighted, rejected of God and man, will be
sign-posts marking the road to ruin.
Think not that moderation will escape notice; you cannot slip by with
the crowd. Exceptional instances of vice or virtue attract more
temporary notice; but the thought, tone, and general sentiment of a
community give the inspiration and the impulse to those who outstrip the
masses in the race for the goal of honor or of shame. None so humble but
he has his share in moulding the destiny of the race. At the last, a
just balance will determine your share of praise or blame.
Young people should recognize their own worth and resolve to act a noble
part. "Let no man despise thy youth," says the Word. Despise not thou
thy youth. Fully appreciating your high privilege and your rich estate,
go forth into the world's broad field of battle, determined to make no
misuse of your day of opportunity. Be bold, vigilant, and strong. Be
true to the noblest instincts of your nature and have strong faith in
"Call up thy noble spirit;
Rouse all the generous energies of virtue,
And, with the strength of Heaven-endued man,
Repel the hideous foe."
"Manhood, like gold, is tested in the furnace:
A fire that purifies is fierce and strong;
Rare statues gain art's ideal of perfection,
By skilful strokes of chisel, wielded long."
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