Life-Schools of Love
Certainly love is the force by which, and home the place in which, God chiefly fashions souls to their fine issues. Is our mere body fearfully and wonderfully made? A greater marvel is the human mind and heart and conscience. To make these, homes spring up the wide world over. In them strength fits itself to weakness, experience fits itself to ignorance, protection fits itself to need. They are life-schools in which the powers of an individual are successively awaked and trained as, year by year, he passes on through the differing relations of child, youth, parent, elder, in the circle.
— William Channing Gannett (1840-1923)
Our Distant Posterity
Astronomers tell us that some of the stars are so far above us that a ray of light takes thousands of years in traversing the intervening distance, and that therefore, if one of them should be suddenly blotted out of existence, the light which it has been emitting for many generations past would keep on coming to this world for many future generations, and no one on the earth would be aware of its destruction till the last ray which it emitted just before its destruction should have had time to arrive — that is to say, till as many thousand years from now as a ray of light requires for traversing the distance. In the meantime it would continue to illumine the night, not only for us, but for our distant posterity.
So when a good man dies,
For years beyond our ken,
The light he leaves behind him lies
Upon the paths of men.
— Edwin C. Sweetser (born March 16, 1847)
Hatred and Love
It is a curious subject of observation and inquiry, whether hatred and love be not the same thing at bottom. Each, in its utmost development, supposes a high degree of intimacy and heart-knowledge; each renders one individual dependent for the food of his affections and spiritual life upon another; each leaves the passionate lover, or the no less passionate hater, forlorn and desolate by the withdrawal of his object. Philosophically considered, therefore, the two passions seem essentially the same, except that one happens to be seen in a celestial radiance, and the other in a dusky and lurid glow. In the spiritual world, the old physician and the minister—mutual victims as they have been—may, unawares, have found their earthly stock of hatred and antipathy transmuted into golden love.
— Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter (published March 16, 1850)
From Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments
We hold it for a fundamental and undeniable truth, “that Religion or the duty which we owe to our Creator and the Manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence.” The Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate. This right is in its nature an unalienable right. It is unalienable; because the opinions of men, depending only on the evidence contemplated by their own minds, cannot follow the dictates of other men: It is unalienable also; because what is here a right towards men, is a duty towards the Creator. It is the duty of every man to render to the Creator such homage, and such only, as he believes to be acceptable to him. This duty is precedent both in order of time and degree of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society. Before any man can be considered as a member of Civil Society, he must be considered as a subject of the Governor of the Universe: And if a member of Civil Society, who enters into any subordinate Association, must always do it with a reservation of his duty to the general authority; much more must every man who becomes a member of any particular Civil Society, do it with a saving of his allegiance to the Universal Sovereign. We maintain therefore that in matters of Religion, no man’s right is abridged by the institution of Civil Society, and that Religion is wholly exempt from its cognizance. True it is, that no other rule exists, by which any question which may divide a Society, can be ultimately determined, but the will of the majority; but it is also true, that the majority may trespass on the rights of the minority.
— James Madison (born March 16, 1751)