Joseph McKee.

Responsibility as applied to the professions and callings of daily life. A sermon preached ... in ... Newark, N.J. ... [also a sermon from The American National Preacher v. 30. an address to the young online

. (page 2 of 7)
Online LibraryJoseph McKeeResponsibility as applied to the professions and callings of daily life. A sermon preached ... in ... Newark, N.J. ... [also a sermon from The American National Preacher v. 30. an address to the young → online text (page 2 of 7)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

a gnarl, a bend, which distorts and deforms both. Man must
always be governed and restrained. Look at a child ! It has
hardly gained strength to erect and hold itself up, before its^will
expresses itself in actions and wishes which show you how much
the neck of childhood needs, absolutely needs a yoke, a curb — a
rein — a guiding and controlling power to keep that child in the


right way — to check it when it goes wrong, and to discipline it
unto subjection to the law of right and duty, rather than the law
of self-will and inclination. But does the child outgrow the need
of this yoke ? Does lie not grow stronger, and sturdier, and
firmer set in tlie opposition of his will, to all wholesome advices
and restraints ? Is not this the natural tendency ? And the
young man, full of the ardor and impulse chart^cteristic of his
age, does he not need a yoke — a disciplinary and controlling
power of some kind? AVhere would his passions, his temper, his
appetites, hurry him, blindfold and headlong had he no safe-
guard — no check or restraint ? And the man, the wise, saga-
cious, practical man, who has outlived the follies and fervors of
youth, has he, therefore, outlived the necessity of imposing upon
the neck of his inclinations and passions a yoke — a bond — a
fastening to hold him to the law of duty, and high and holy en-
endeavor, rather than to the law of self-indulgence and self-
interest ? And the old man — the very old man — who has passed
his seventy or eighty mile-stones on his way to the realm of the
dead, will it do for him to throw otf the yoke ? Is it safe for him
to unloose from his neck the reins — to throw off all the restraints
human and divine laws impose upon him? If it were safe — if
the law of right had become the fixed law of this life — if his
steps have been so confirmed in the paths of virtue and piety
that they could not stray into wrong or forbidden paths — yet still
does the old man need this yoke as much as ever. Does not age,
with its infirmities and dependence — with its temptations to com-
plaint and fretfulness — to irritability and impatience, and misan-
thropy, need the wholesome restraints of the Christian Yoke, to
hold it uncomplaining and unmurmuring on its declining way —
to keep it calm, and patient, and serene, and hopeful, till the last
great change shall come, and death itself shall unloose the yoke.

But need I stop here to argue the truth of the sentiment ex-
pressed in the text — that all men — but especially the young, do
need, imperatively need, some sort of discipline and restraint —
Bome coercion of their own wills — a yoke to bind and fasten their
activities and energies in the right, line of endeavor — to regulate
and restrain all their faculties of thinking, willing, and doing within
the right path — the grand highroad of religious duty that leads
to God and blessedness. "Will not every honest mind acknowl-
edge, and that, too, with a strength of conviction forced from
the profoundest depths of self-consciousness, that the human
soul is in a disordered, wayward, and fallen state — wrong in all
its natural propeusions, and passions, and dispositions, and, there-
fore, unfit to guide and govern itself — unable, without a leader
and a guide, out of itself to begin or end the journey of life
aright. \

While man was a sinless being — while he was a dweller beneath
the clear sky of Paradise— his faculties did all spontaneously de-


velope themselves, in exact and beautiful harmony with the law
of holiness and love, through which God in His beneficence and
wisdom works out the happiness of His intelligent creatures
throughout the vast universe. But in laying down rules for the
conduct of life oioio — in chalking out the course of education and
discipline which will best develope his natui-e — "we must never
forget that that nature now^ is nature in its fallen state — a nature
inclined to evil— a nature which though upright as God made it,
it has by the abuse of its free-agency, by voluntary transgression,
ruined and disabled its original powers and capabilities for good
— a nature, which though jarred and disordered in all its higher
and nobler instincts, still it is a nature which God our Father
seeks to restore again unto Himself, and to the dominion of his
own most holy law by the discipline of labor, trial, suffering,
and the still higher discipline of the cross.

Human life is educational and disciplinary. It is a period of
probation and preparation. Nor can we understand all its grand
ends and uses, till we have fully grasped the idea of its why and
wherefore upon the earth. Improvement, and not enjoyment,
ought to be the end and aim of our lives.

" Life is combat — life is stiiving,

Such our destiny below !
Like a scythed chariot driving

Through an onward pressing foo,
Deepest sorrow, scorn and trial,
Will but teach us self-denial !

Like the Alchemists of old —
Pass the ore through cleansing fire ;
If our spirits would aspire,

To be God's refined gold."

Correction, amendment, right moral and spiritual development
is the true business, and ought to be the great labor and strug-
gle of our earthly life. Earth, this sin-shadowed earth, is the
place for labor and toil. Heaven, the holy and calm heaven,
the place for rest and. fruition. And he who strives and expects
to find rest and enjoyment oiily in this life, but lays himself to
sleep upon a bed of roses, whose thorns will sooner or later pierce
him to the quick. Labor, discipline, and the patient wearing of
the yoke, is the true way of life — a way whose ending is lost
amid the beatitudes and blessedness of heaven. But the human
soul prefers to fullow its own impulses. It dislikes to submit its
own will to any higher will. Subjection is painful to it. Domi-
nation, rule and ])Ower over others, it delights in. It dislikes
obedience. It spurns labor. Wayward, self-loving, and*- self-
willed, it seeks its own, and not that which promotes the liap-
piness of others, or even its own highest ultimate good.

And how shall a young soul, setting fbrthonJJ*^ journey of
life, be broken in — be habituated, to bit-^'"-^!'"i^lle, and check —


to the healthful, and wise restraints of virtue and goodness?
"When shall the taming- and training process begin ? Can it be
commenced and carried forward hopefully, unless it is begun early
— begun in youth? With the Prophet, we believe it is good for a
man to bear the yoke in his youth. Perhaps no greater calamity
can befal a young man, than to be lord of himself — his own mas-
ter — to acknowledge no will, no law, no authority, higher or more
obligatory than his own. This was one of the main elements of
Lord Bvron's misfortunes — one of the most productive sources
of that waywardness and self will, which marred and spoiled his
whole life. Speaking of Lara, whose father died when he was
but a child, he says :

" Left by his sire, too young such loss to know,
Lord of himself, that heritage of woe,
That fearful empire which the human breast,
But holds, to rob the heart within of rest,
With none to check — and few to point in time
The thousand paths that slope the way to crime!
Then, when most required commandment — then —
Had Lara's daring boyhood govern'd men.
It skills not — boots not — step by step to trace
His youth through all the mazes of the race.
Short was the course its restlessness had run,
But, long enough, to leave him half undone."

Now here we have the secret element of all that frowardness
which manifested itself in so many ungainly forms in the life and
history of that majestic but erring man. And we may lay it
down as an axiom that whenever we find a yonth restift' under
wise and just restraints, or irreverent and reckless of the opinion
or good feelings of others, there is an obliquity in the moral na-
ture of that youth, that will, sooner or later, unless checked, work
out evil and sorrow to himself and others. In Byron's own
words, to be lord of ones-self — to own no interest, no law and
no restraint, but his own self will — is to a youth, a " heritage of
woe." And hence, indeed, one of the deepest sources of sympathy
for the young, who in early life are deprived of a father's wise
and kind restraints.

But let ns enquire concerning that discipline — that particular
and peculiar kind of yoke, that can manage and shape human
life and character aright, so as linally to evolve the perfection and
symmetry of the soul, bring it ultimately into everlasting har-
mony with goodness, the end of its creation. Let us begin with
the beginning of life and notice in their natural order the several
yokes, which all human souls must successively put on and wear,
according to their age and condition, before the habits of the
soul's life can be permanently conformed to the law of holiness —
the law of its happiness.

First, then, the yoke that must be put on tiie earliest is, the
yoke of parental obedience — implicit, unquestioning obedience.


And grievously does that parent sin against God and the soul of
the child God has committed to his care, if he neglects to enforce
daily and habitually this great law of his child's social and
moral welfare. Is it not a melancholy sight — indeed, does it
not excite one's indignation and ]nty — when you p?o, as one often
does see, a spoiled and petted child — the little tyrant of the family,
governing and ruling both the lather and the mother — subjecting
them to its capricious will — making them the pitiable slaves of a
foolish and mismanaged child — a four or five year nld despot !
How often do you see a child yon could have loved, had it been
left unspoiled in the innocence and childish simplicity of its na-
ture, and trained to that teachableness, and obedience, which
always mark an interesting and promising childhood. But sit half
an hour in that family circle ! See how concerned and timidly
the mother puts forth her commands, fearful they shall be openly
disobeyed and she be put to shame by her young child in the
presence of strangers. And mark the egotistic teasing, selfish,
obstinate, overbearings of the young one. By turns it is noisy —
by turns fretful and sullen — a being, which God gave as a blessing,
a light, a very joy to that family home, has by the ill-timed in-
dulgence and mismanagement of its parents, been changed and
metamorphosed into a shame and a reproach, and a prophet of
future evil to itself and others. Alas ! how has the glorious
image of God, stamped upon that young child's nature, been de-
faced by a bad and foolish home training ! You can plainly see
that instead of the seeds of kindness, gentleness, modesty, and
self control, cast by parental hands into tliat y^^uug soul before
you, the dragon's teeth have been sown. You cannot smile upon
such a childkindly. You cannot speak to such a child lovingly.
Its iVowardness and self-will repel you. And when ycm — when
others — when patient and painstaking instructors of the young,
all turn away with a moral aversion from this unhappy victim of
parental mismanagement and folly, who will pity and help it ?
Who, indeed, will or can 'I Shall we hope that some kind angel —
some unseen, unearthly one, from the realm of the blessed — some
guardian genius, such as of old men did believe watched over
children and folded around them the wings of protecting love,
shall watch and wait, and find some period, some favorable hour,
to throw over that young child's nature, the regenerating and re-
novating forces of a lovelier and more genial life ? Shall we dare
to hope, that that work which is the father's and mother's work,
shall be done by any other than the father's and mother's own
hands i Shall we expect the blessing of the God of Families
upon that household where the father and the mother, instead of
being the priest and priestess of the household, are its victims —
where, instead of keeping the yoke of a wise and gentle obedieiicc
around the necks of their children, they wear the yoke of a child
tyrant around their own^ Solemn, indeed, and heavy is the re-


Bpousibility of the office of the instructors and educators of the
young. Oh ! they do need wisdom, and patience, and Divinest
sympathy to fit them and sustain them in their toilsome and
difficult work. How much of authoritativeness and absolute
command must be exercised in that small kingdom, a school-room,
where twenty, thirty, forty, or a hundred active and inquisitive
young minds are ever on the stretch to know or to do some new

And here, too, the youth who has been trained to habits of do-
cility and submission in the home government of the family, who
has worn naturally, and gracefully, and reverently, the yoke of
parental authority, is most likely to be benefitted by the efforts
of an industrious and conscientious instructor. Oh ! how unfit
for the relative duties and business of life, is that young man or
woman, who in the discipline of the family and the school has
never been accustomed to wear the yoke of a dutiful and loving
obedience ! My young friends — you who are scholars and learners
— you who now hear me, let me speak plainly and frankly to you.
Is it not better and infinitely more becoming for a manly and noble
boy, or a large-hearted and good girl, to say 1 will reverence and
obey my parents ; I will look up with respect and confidence to
my teachers and parents, whose instructions and advice, if I heed
them, can make me wiser and better. Is not this, I ask you,
better than to be an obstinate, indocile, and unloveable girl, or a
coarse, bold, bad and obstinate boy — the Anarch of the family —
gruff and coarse, and unmannerly, mistaking impudence for man-
liness, and a vulgar swaggering air for the deportment of a gen-
tleman. It is a most common error, and a dangerous one it is,
that schools and masters are tlie educators of our youth. Their
instructors they are : but their educators in the high, and holy
sense of the word they are not. The training of the feet, and of
the hands, and of the eye, and the eai-, by music masters, and
dancing masters, and drawing masters, is not education. The
knowledge of the ancient and modern languages, and the sciences
and fine arts, as taught by the- iK^^it and most accomplished in-
structors is not education. That is something which neither the
schools, nor books, nor masters, can give. The body is trained,
and in many cases trained well, and so is the intellect. It is plied
with tasks, and books, and lectures, and made strong, and sharp,
and wise, and fit for the all absorbing ends of life ; that is, for
buying and selling, and making merchandize, and the accumula-
tion of material good. l]at wiiere are the professors of benevo-
lence, justice, truth, touiperanco, humanity, charity, and piety?
Where are those accomplishments tauglit? Who studies them?
What are the text l)Ooks ? Where are the institutions and pro-
fessors of thes;>, of all aocomplishments the most exalted, because
the divinest (. Ycni, my hearers, let me say to you respectfully,
who are parents are these ])rofessors, and your homes the insti-


tiitions where piety, and justice, and benevolence, and humanity
are to be taught, not from lectures, and homilies, and cate-
chisms merely, but from the mystic book of your own daily lives.
i^ot in colleges and halls of science, but in your households, you
the father and the mother being the educators, and your lives and
example the lessons.

But when the young have passed the period of training and
tutelage in the family and in the school, have they then done with
the 3'oke ? Is it proper for them to cast off all obedience to re-
straint and authority ? Far from it. There come yet harder les-
sons to be learned — there are severer rules to be obeyed — there
is another yoke ready for the neck, and happy is the youth who
is read}^ to bear it patiently and truly. It is the yoke of work,
labor, industry — the burden which the occupations and profes-
sions of active life impose ; and this yoke all must bear, as they
value the peace, prosperity, and dignity of their future lives.

There arc not, as some persons seem to think, a few favored
children of the earth — the destined heirs of good fortune — the
hereditary owners of such broad domains and ample resources,
that they can afford to make life a long sunny day, an everlasting
Saturday, a schoolboy's holiday. If any do have the vanity to
live an easy, laborless life, without effort of any kind, without the
application of their powers to some good and useful purpose,
they soon fall into public contempt and personal littleness, no
matter what their surroundings or position may be. Because a
young man or a young woman is born to affluence, is that any
good reason why he or she should be vain or idle? Is it not, in-
deed, the very strongest reason why they should strive by energy
and perseverance in some noble line of endeavor to build up a
personal character, in some degree commensurate with the out-
ward fortunes which the good providence of God has given them
to enjoy ?

No, my young friends, if you would be truly influential and
respected, labor diligently, and with all your skill and might in
whatever industrial employment or profession the good provi-
dence of God has called you to work. This is duty."" There
is true honor and dignity in this. Ko employment is mean which
is honestly and industriously pursued. When the enemies of
Epatninondas, one of the most renowned men of his age, appoint-
ed him a street scavinger, '-''If my ^#ce," said he, " lo'ill not do
me honoi\ I vjill do honor to my ofvce?'' And so he did, by the

» Alas ! there is a most morbid dislike for work among all classes — and as morbid a
wish to be gentlemen. I have seen it stated that recently in Boston, an advertise-
ment for a young man to work in a store, had 18 applicants; while one for a gentle-
man to travel and play on the banjo received 409. I say work. It ia honorable.
There is true dignity in it.


conscientious and careful manner in which he discharged its ap-
])ropriate but humble duties. An industrious man is usually a
virtuous man. Hercules was an honest worker. His draining
of marshes, and punishment of tyrants, and destruction of ser-
pents and wild beasts, what are they, and the thousand and one
fables told of him, but the fact that be was a true benefactor of
his r&ce, an improver of the social condition of men. The idler
has never yet done any thing for the world's good ; and in no one
instance has his name^ like to Yulcan's, or Hercules', or Orpheus',
or Arachnes's been, embalmed in mythus. It has rotted from
among the memories of the ages. Bear the yoke of labor in
your youth. Ours is a work-day world. Its only oasis is the
Sabbath. Cherish that. But loorh. Worh for yourself. Work
for your family. Worh for the fworld.

But you say, I do not know how to begin ; I want capital ; I
want fi'ieuds ; I do not know how, or where, or when to set
out, and make a beginning. Well then, these are embarassing
difficulties to be sure. But I do not know that it is right to say
it is a hard condition ", for this is but another yoke which it is
good for a young man to bear in his youth — the yoke of adverse
and straitened circumstances and conditions of life, for it is nobler
to achieve ones fortunes, with God's good providence aiding, than
to inherit them — nobler to acquire energy, and strength, and
self-reliance, and manly independence of character by a severe
and close coiubat with the evils and disadvantages of outward
social condition, than to run the risk of being enervated and
personally insignificant by entire reliance upon friends and in-
fluence, and capital which others have accumulated for you.

But when the young have learned the great laws of obedience
and industr.y, is that all? Must the neck still bow itself to re-
ceive other yokes or restraints '^ It must. For men ai"e not only
members of families, and workers, and producers, in this great
world-hive; but as youth merges into manhood, they become
members of states and of civil communities, they become citizens.
And now the yoke of subjection to civil authority must be borne
with a self-sacriticing and patriotic spirit. Bat when the family
and the school have done their proper and legitimate work, the
state linds the majority of her subjects order-loving, obedient, and
willing and ready to come u}) to to her help, in maintaining law
and order, and the mercantile blessings of peace and good gov-
ernment. But from whence uome her outlawed and disobedient
children, who crowd her prisons, her jails, and poor-houses, and
penitentiaries? Do they not come from disorderly, ill-governed,
and mismanaged households — from dwellings where the Sabbath
was a weariness, where religion was turned out of doors, where
all their members lived as seemed to them best in their own
eyes, and their youths were lords of 'themselves ?


But, finally, is this all ? Does obedience to parents — respect
to instructors — diligence in some honest and useful calling, and
loyalty to the State comprehend the whole of our duties as men ?
Are there no other yokes ? Is there any other yoke, the assump-
tion and bearing of which will not afflict and constrain, but set
the young man free and lift him up into the full and joyful con-
sciousness of entire pei'sonal freedom — perfect emancipation from
the power and thraldom of all that is gross, or degrading, or evil
in the tendencies of his nature, a perfect freedom to will and to
do that which is right, and well-pleasing before God ? Yes, there
is such a yoke — a yoke worn by devout and good men without
irritation, and without constraint — a yoke which is easy, and a
burden which is light. It is the yoke of Christ. It is the yoke
Christ offers to all his true and willing disciples through all the
ages. Wear hut that yoke^ now^ and heamn will he all around
you. It is because men do not wear that yoke, that earth is earth
— a low, dark, world of sin and suffering. Oh ! glorious, indeed,
would this house of our human life be, did we all but live as the
children of God ; obedient, trustful, fraternal, loving children of
the same great household of human souls, bound each to each,
and all to God our Father, by the blessed and everlasting bonds
of faith and love ! Did every man but wear this yoke, its re-
demption would be achieved. Order and peace, and the holy calm
of the holy worlds wonld fall upon the human race, and earth be
but one of the majestic apartments — one of the glorx^/us rooms in
our Father's house of many mansions.

Do you ask me what is this yoke of Christ's ? I answer. It is
the life — the spirit — the temper — the love of Christ. It is hu-
mility ; it. is forbearance; it is faith; it is charity; it is meek-
ness; it is forgivingness : in one word, it is self-consecration —
the consecration of your thoughts, your words, your bodies, your
entire life unto God, a living sacrifice. This is what Christ your
Redeemer, God manifest in the fiesh, taught to his disciples and
the world. It is the giving up of your will to him who " willed
and all things were.'' It is the yielding up of your heart to that
mighty heart of love, pulsating from the centre to the farthest
verge of being : the God who made you, and the throbbings of
whose love to you, you may hear in every beat of that heart of
yours, and feel it in every generous and uplifting aspiration, that
struggles in your soul for utterance and expression. Tell me, my
young friend, when is a boy the loveliest ? Is it not when con-
fidingly and trustful he walks, hand in hand, unquestioningly
beneath the care of a wise and loving father, his will resigned
to his father's will, his father's smile his joy, his father's word
the law of his conduct, his father's life the model of his own. Oh,
how happy that boy is ! Happy in his father's love, happy in
his own obedient, loving spirit. Ileaven is all around him, for the
heaven of trust and love is within him. And so, too, will it be


witli yon, if as the children of God's mercy and providence you
wear the yoke of obedience to the will of your Father in heaven —

2 4 5 6 7

Online LibraryJoseph McKeeResponsibility as applied to the professions and callings of daily life. A sermon preached ... in ... Newark, N.J. ... [also a sermon from The American National Preacher v. 30. an address to the young → online text (page 2 of 7)