« AnteriorContinuar »
reached, and when in a clear, melodious voice he repeats the chorus, "Blessing and honor and glory be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne and to the Lamb for ever and ever," you can hardly restrain yourself from shouting “hallelujah,” like a Methodist.
This strange fascination Mr. Chapin wields, alike over young and old. Most of the popular speakers of our day have a class which it is their peculiar forte to please. But Mr. Chapin pleases all. The high and low, the rich and poor, the cultivated intellect and the untutored mind of the laborer, the aristocrat and the democrat are alike charmed by the wonderful beauty of his eloquence. Without adulatory flattery, he compliments the virtues of the generous, and, without giving offense, chastises the defects of the parsimonious. With a keen knife he removes a vice as a skillful surgeon excises a tumor, having first made the patient see that it is absolutely necessry for his health. If he applies an acrid irritant, you are confident that the deep-seated disease could be removed in no other way, and are satisfied.
As a poet, the world only regrets that he has written so little. Who has not read and admired that sweet poem—“Oh bury me not in the deep blue sea ?” Half of his prose is in measured periods, and all of it tinged with the rich blush of his splendid imagination.
We were to glance at his character as a minister of the gospel. It is well known that Mr. Chapin is an able champion of the doctrine of universal salvation. We have neither time nor inclination to inquire now what is the foundation of his belief. That he is sincere in it, probably few will dispute; and it makes him a better man and more like a christian, than many who profess a more orthodox faith. By his own congregation, at least, he is deemed an earnest laborer, and by others, a mistaken workman in the great harvest. By all it is admitted that he is extensively useful. His idea of religion is well given by himself, in the following passage:
“ It must be understood that being religious' is not a work apart by itself, but a spirit of faith and righteousness, flowing out from the center of a regenerated heart, into all the employments and intercourse of the world. Not merely the preacher in the pulpit, and the saint on his knees, may do the work of religion, but the mechanic, who smites with the hammer and drives the wheel; the artist, seeking to realize his pure ideal of the beautiful; the mother, in the gentle offices of home; the statesman, in the forlorn hope of liberty and justice; and the philosopher, whose thoughts tread reverently among the splendid mysteries of the universe.
It is needed that men should feel that every lawful pursuit is sacred and not profane; that every position in life is close to the steps of the divine throne; and that the most beaten and familiar paths lie under the awful shadow of the Infinite; and they
about their daily pursuits, and fill their common rela. tionships, with hearts of worship, and pulses of unselfish love, instead of regarding religion as an isolated peculiarity for a corner of the closet and a fraction of the week, and leaving all the rest of time and space an unconsecrated waste, where lawless passions travel, and selfishness pitches its tents.”
We leave the diversity of theories for those who take a deeper interest in metaphysical disquisition than we, and turn to the contemplation of his character as a reformer. If we have rightly estimated his talents and training, he is the man, of all others, who would be selected to lead the sympathies of a progressive age. His main efforts have been directed in two channels: one, the relief of the poor, the degraded, and the outcast about him; the other, to the cause of temperance generally. In pleading the cause of “humanity in the city,” no one has labored more faithfully than Mr. Chapin. He seems acquainted with every phase of their wretched life. He enumerates the causes of their destitution, and points them to the remedy. Their miserable condition comes home to his philanthropic spirit, and spurs him to vigorous action. No matter how low-sunken
be the victim of appetite or lust, he reaches out the helping hand, with a dollar in it, and says, “ Brother, take courage, you may yet be a man." The assurance inspires the wanderer with new life, and he forgets, for a time, that “no man cares for his soul,” or his body either. He takes confidence, and goes on his way rejoicing
For the young men of New York Mr. Chapin has always manifested a deep and lively interest. Many of his public lectures have been exclusively for their benefit. The cause of temperance has ever found in him one of its most ardent supporters. In his own city he fought the license law with all the force he could bring to bear upon it. He took the ground that it was a legalized system of crime. He maintained that if any shops should be licensed, they should be the low kennels, which could tempt only those who were already, comparatively speaking, past hope. He has also lectured much upon the subject in other places, and stands among the first of speakers upon the platform of temperance.
In Mr. Chapin's sermons we find frequent allusions to slavery, which evince hostility to the system, but he has not made that a special branch of his labor. We should be slow to believe that a man of his honesty and humanity would withhold his influence from the right side of the question.
As has been intimated, Mr. Chapin is now settled in New York. He labored for a number of
in Richmond, Virginia, and in Boston and Charlestown, Massachusetts. He is a little more than forty years of age, and is now hale and hearty, in the meridian of his usefulness.
The remarkable man who is the subject of this sketch, was born a slave in Maryland. His exact age is not known, though it is supposed that he is between thirty and forty years old. His mother died when he was quite young. His father was a white man, according to rumor, his own master. He was early compelled to witness and experience the bitterness of a life of bondage. Speaking of a time when he was quite young, he says:
“I have often been awakened at the dawn of day by the most heart-rending shrieks of an own aunt of mine, whom her master used to tie up to a joist, and whip upon her naked back till she was literally covered with blood. No words, no tears, no prayers, from his gory victim, seemed to move his iron heart from its bloody purpose. The louder she screamed the harder he whipped ; and where the blood ran fastest there he whipped longest. He would whip her to make her scream, and whip her to make her hush; and not until overcome by fatigue, would he cease to swing the blood-clotted cowskin. I remernber the first time I ever witnessed this horrible exhibition. I was quite a child, but I well remember it. I never shall forget it whilst I remember anything. It was the first of