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THE VARIETIES OF HUMAN GREATNESS.

A

DISCOURSE

ON THE

LIFE AND CHARACTER

OF THE

Hon. NATHANIEL BOWDITCH, LL.D., F.R.S.,

DELIVERED IN

THE CHURCH ON CHURCH GREEN,

MARCH 25, 1838.

BY ALEXANDER YOUNG.

BOSTON:

CHARLES C. LITTLE AND JAMES BROWN.

1838.

“ His, mihi dilectum nomen manesque verendos,

His saltem accumulem donis, et fungar amico
Munere !—Non totus, raptus licet, optime præses,
Eriperis. Redit os placidum, moresque benigni,
Et venit ante e pectore vivit imago."

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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1838, by CHARLES C. LITTLE and James Brown, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.

TO

THE CHILDREN

OF

MY DÉPARTED PARÍSHIONER AND FRIEND,

THIS DISCOURSE

IS

AFFECTIONATELY INSCRIBED.

If any apology should be deemed necessary for the freedom and frequency with which I have introduced into this Discourse quotations from the old writers, (most of the longer ones having been omitted in the delivery), 1 would plead in my defence the following judgment of Coleridge :

6 Why are not more gems from our early prose writers scattered over the country by the periodicals? Great old books by the great old authors are not in every body's reach; and though it is better to know them thoroughly than to know them only here and there, yet it is a good work to give a little to those who have neither time nor means to get more. Let every book-worm, when in any fragrant, scarce old tome, he discovers a sentence, an illustration, that does his heart good, hasten to give it."

DISCOURSE.

1 CHRONICLES, XXIX. 12.

IN THINE HAND, O LORD, IS POWER AND MIGHT ; AND IN THINE HAND IT IS

TO MAKE GREAT, AND TO GIVE STRENGTH UNTO ALL.

In nothing, as it seems to me, is the sovereignty of God more strikingly displayed, than in the diversities of personal endowment, and the consequent varieties of human greatness. Man, with his limited and short-sighted wisdom, aims, in all his plans and operations, and especially in his modes of intellectual and moral culture, at uniformity. If he could have his own way, and there were no conflicting and counteracting influences in nature, he would, in his systems of education, run us all in the same moulds, shape us in the same unvarying and inflexible forms, and send us out into the world exact counterparts and copies of one another. But Divine Providence, in the plenitude and profusion of its power, seems, throughout the whole extent of creation, to pursue an entirely opposite course, and to delight in variety. The naturalist tells us that in the vegetable kingdom no single leaf is exactly like its fellow, and we know on whose testimony it is that we believe that

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