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SERMÓN BY TllOF. SWING, OF CHICAGO. Give me iioither poverty nor riches lest Ibefull andrieny Tíwe, and say, Who is tne Lord? Oí U;t I )u poor and stcal, and thuH profano he name of niy Qod.-J'ni'. rrt., 8-9. "What is called a " middle class " has long existed in the world ; has been so large in numbers and so great in influence, and for the most part so happy, that there must be a certain philosophy of that condition. Such a constant and immense form of human lifc caimot be the result of chance, but must be rather a part of the method of Him who placed man rqxm tliis planet. It will give dignity to this elass, and will help you to JVi'l that it possesses a special signifiCftiicë of intrinsic worthif you will mark huw nnmipresent it has boen in earth's liistory. In the days of themagnifieent Solomon this prayer of Agur rises up and tells us that just below the ijnmen'se riches of the Hebrew Kings there moved a multitude which were neither up to the levol of monarchs nor down at the level of beggars; a multitnde not .so lefty as to need no God, and not so low as to disgrace onc. So around all the rich ones of any nation may be seen the homes of the moderate proportyhold0r. This prayer of Agur diseloses the fact that the middle class had shown its virtues long enough to mankind to créate the petition that the Lord wonkl place the suppliant in that estáte. To fall below it would be to fall into sore temptation ; to seek to rise above might lead to an undue pride of life. The prayer reveáis the existence of á second estáte as far back as history runs. Evidently, however, the moderate men of the past were in smaller numbers tlian in modern times, for the centrali.iition of power led to a ccntralization of monoy by means of despotic taxation, and confiscation, and conquest, and henee the men of moderate property were few and the beggars and slaves many. In our times the suppres.sion of tyrants and the progress of the ideas of industry and equality havo enlarged the middle class, and have made it surpass in ïiumber all the beggivrs below it and all the wealthy above it. The constant presence of this class, its quality in all times, and at least its immense numbers, make it worthy of our study. If an old saint prayed that God would place him in this middle class and keep him there, we who now live may well look into the merit of such a religious petition. The moderate-property man should a priori be the most fortúnate, because all through nature the law of the golden medium runs. Nature dislikes excesses. It is fond of averages. A shrub below the f orest gets too little light : a tree above the forest is blown clmra. The trees, therefore, stand shoulder to shoulder in the great woods. A soil excessivoly poor grows nothing, and a soil excessively rich will grow only mushrooms, that have no leaf, nor flowcr, nor fragrance. The rose and the wheat must wait for the thin soil to be made rich or for the luxuriant soil to be dopleted by sand or clay. Thus the fields seem to send up the prayer for neither poverty nor riches. . But there is safer ground tlian such anulogy. It is not probable that the Creator of the world would mako that the worst condition which must absorb the millions, and if we find two other conditions, tl' at of poverty and that of enormous wealth, which are beine constantly emptied into the middle elass of liberty, and industry, íind education, it may be inferred that God lias not made most pitiable tbat estáte in which the most millions are to be gröupéd. Let us pass from what should be anticipated to what may bc actually obsorved. Beason may err as to what shonld be, but itcannpt err so easily as to what is and lias been ; and, tlius arguing, the trnth would appear that the middle olass has been and is the happiest elass. The debate, of conrse, does not He between the middle elass and the lo west, bnt wholly between the middle and the highest. All those competent to bear testimony have, npon j tion, declared that the most enjoynient lias not, as a fact, followed those who have possessed the most gold. Why the human heart shonld not be happy aceording to the property it possesses I cannot argne hero, for no one can enter the soul of a OroasTis, ancient or modern, and learn why ho shonld not be happier tlian the man of modest home by his sido ; but, as a simple fact, tho nien who have borne witness have, for some reason, arranged themselves npon the other side. Those who have composed our songs ; those who have composed onr philosophies ; those have witten our romances and our dramas, have loved to lócate the best hours of man in a home of the plainer style. These artists of the heart have put more vines apd flowers on the outside than they lijïf heaped up gold-plate or jewels within. It may be observed, too, that no sooner have the extremely rich built their splendid palaces than they at once project some country place a hundrod times as simple, to which they can fly when thev long for a certain fr.llness of joy and peace. Let us not fhid fault with tliem, for you and I would accept of a city palfice any moment were the temptation placed well before us. Indeed, though there are tliree classes, in fact, the beggar, the middle class, and the moneyed prince, there is only one class in essence', for all would accept of) millions instead of lmudreds, were thé choice set before tliem. But all are weak, all are human, and what I seek this morning is a philosophy of the middle class, which is better than we are - a pliilosophy which is struggling like a Christ to lift us up to its height. To retm-n ; the deep thinkers and the j tremely rich have borne witness to the eharm' of moderate meiuis, and have thus confessed that there, was a condition as good as their own, even though they had hol the moral power to fling away enough gold to make thcm descend into it. It has always come to pass that the families "f moderato jiropevty havo been in the beginn'mg and the end of eaeli nal ion the nation's chief hope. Nations have died by raising one-half of their number up to aristocracy, and by sinking the othcr half to beggary. The nations have all died between these two milistones- the vanity óf the highest and the broten hearts of the lowest. ïlie tendency is for the ehildren of the extremely rich to enter upon a career of either indolence or more positive sin. They are set aside from the struggle of existence, and by the law of nature begin to declino. Beholding this decay of the highest, civiüzation and religión make tlieir new reqnisition : for men and women upon the class : neatli, and give ns the phenoraenon of a higher class ahvays fading away, and of civilization appealing to the common people for salvation. Society is like the : rose-tree or the vine. In the gay summertime some ambitious branches ! top the rest; some leaves and roses rise high above the garden wafl, but wintar ! comes, and the loftiest foliage and twigs die first. They cover the ground with their rmn, but the central vine, the ! lower order, clings raodestly to the wall, and in the spring time every inch of it Irarsts forth in new life. Not otherwise that living, mysterious plant - society. The children óf the rich fall. Their leaves, once so gaudy, fall upon the earth and are hidden in its dust, and the nation, when it wishes a new spring time of all its hopes and powers, looks fuvther down the garden wall to where the plant is still full of all the rich juices from whic hroses and grapes are made. It thus appears that the prayer of Agur involves ono of the laws of individual and national life. Not only is the plain, huml)lo condition the happiest, and on this account worthy of being woven into a most sacred prayer, but it stands as a fundamental law of human triumph, and henee may be inserted in our spiritual potitions with a twofold earnestness, the one from the happiness of self, the other from the welfare of mankind. It may be well a matter of wonder that a heart hidden away in a nation so oíd and so small as the Hebrew kingdom should have found a prayer so wonderful in wisdom. But he had seen the evil ho lamented and the good he sought. He had seen David and Soloinon pass from honor to dishonor, from glory to shame ; and had seen the rags also of the beggar, and, between the two, the haggy home, and near by the tears of the beggar on one liand, and on the other near by a rnined throne, he knelt down and poured forth this wise request, to give him a home but shield him from the palace and the rags. If our meditation this morning be true, then a duty springs up to our sight, namely, to seek to be numbered in that middlc throng so potent in public and private good. If any of you are beggars by reason of vice or indolence, throw away at once those monsters, and attempt to climb to that eondition where hope dwells and where toil is transformed by expectation into a pleasure. If any of you possess riches which have checked life's industry and which are oreating for you a train of sinful or foolish wants, and which, after you, will palsy the industry of yonr children, then distribute the great fortune before you die, whüo you can direct the million, and basten down and tenderly let your children down to that zone on the mountain side where blows the perfumed brcath of perpetual spring. The vale is too sickly and the sunimit too cold. Are you already in the " middle class ? ' and, bless God,perhaps we are all there ; then mark well the deep meaning of that lot, and make no effort to climb a height on which all have beeome dizzy and from which all have at last fallen. Eemember the intellectual power, the mental harvest of arts and sciences Tvhich has always waved upon that soil; and remember the supreme happiness which the rich and the lofty have found at last to bless the plain man's home. Are you a man of industry, of integrity ; are you j compelled to take up each day the honorable warfare of earth ; are you compelled to labor for the siipply of the best wants and to support beings the mostdear? then you the nation loves, you civilization loves, you religión loves, and, throwing their arms around you,. they all say: "We depend upon you. We look to'those who have neither poverty nor riches."


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