Harvard Commencement, 1799.

My young friends who have now completed your literary course and are about to receive the honors of the University, It is scarcely possible that we can pass such an Anniversary as this without calling to mind the noble exertions of our pious and venerable Ancestors who founded the University in this place, our honorable and generous Legislators who have been its nursing Fathers, and the many munificent private Benefactors, those Friends of Science and Religion, who, with liberal hands, have greatly promoted and enlarged the means of education in this important Institution. While these Worthies occur to our minds in quick succession, our hearts cannot but be impressed with gratitude by a consideration of their kindness, liberality and public Spirit, who, while they have beneficently furthered the interests of the University have essentially benefited the Civil Community.

For more than a Century and a half has the prosperity of our Country been eminently promoted by this literary Institution. If we take a review of times long since past and those of more recent date, we shall find great numbers of those who have received their education in this University acting worthy parts in Society, and effectually advancing the happiness of their Countrymen, by labors which their advantages have enabled them successfully to perform—some as Instructors of Youth, a very difficult employment, but of the highest importance to the Community—others, as Ministers of Religion, diffusing that sacred knowledge, and promoting those morals, which make men good Members of Society, and fit them for a better world—others as Professional Men concerned with the fortunes and lives of those around them, and who by properly discharging the duties of their Profession are very useful Members of Society—others as Politicians, Legislators, and those in various important Civil Offices in the Community. Many of these have been highly distinguished in effecting our happy Revolution, in forming and establishing our State and National Government; and in securing the Independence of these United States against hostile aggressions and insidious machinations from abroad, too much encouraged by domestic uneasy Spirits. To these worthies, in concert with others, under the Smiles of Heaven our Nation is indebted for its present importance and happiness, and each individual for his freedom and the security of his invaluable rights. And to none are we more indebted for these blessings than to One whose name I could now with the greatest pleasure publicly mention, but which the rules of delicacy and decorum forbid me to utter in his presence.

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Such Worthies, my young Friends, has this University produced, whose talents, virtues and exertions have made them great blessings, both in Church and State. Stimulated by a laudable and glowing emulation, may you strive, with unremitted ardor, to equal and even surpass those of your Predecessors in this University, who either have distinguished or are now distinguishing themselves by their eminent Abilities, Accomplishments and Labors, happily employed in advancing the cause of Religion and Learning, the interests of their country and the good of Mankind.

You have enjoyed in this university many advantages for laying a solid Foundation of various kinds of useful knowledge, upon which if future industry be not wanting you will be able to raise such a superstructure as will capacitate you for being greatly serviceable to Society.—Your friends and your Country expect much from you, and with great justice. Do not frustrate their pleasing hopes and expectations by any misconduct, or by sloth and negligence. Be sedulous in preparing for those employments in which your minds may lead you to engage. And when you shall have entered upon them pursue them with assiduity and fidelity considering that talents and knowledge of business must be attended by these whatever your Departments may be, if you would hope to secure reputation and success.

You are now going forth from this Literary Society, soon to take various Stations in the Great Community; and I hope and trust you will not tarnish the reputation you have here acquired, but will so conduct in all respects as to do credit to yourselves, rejoice the hearts of your friends, and reflect honor upon this Seat of Science.—I doubt not you will show yourselves true Patriots and Friends to the Rights of Mankind—peaceable Citizens and Lovers of Order in Civil Society.—I am fully persuaded that you leave the University (where Federalism almost universally prevails) with a full determination, as far as your exertions and influence may extend, to support our excellent National Constitution which amply secures our invaluable Rights, and makes provision for maintaining that Order and good Government, upon which the peace and happiness of the Community essentially depend. And I have entire confidence in you that while our constituted Authorities shall conduct our great Political Concerns with that distinguished wisdom, unequivocal Patriotism and unshaken firmness which have hitherto marked their Proceedings, instead of calumniating them and their measures and exciting a Spirit of uneasiness, virulence and faction, you will cordially acquiesce in their Decisions, and encourage them all in your power by giving them that approbation and applause which their meritorious services claim.

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I cannot take my leave of you without calling your attention to the all-important Subject of Religion vital Piety and good Morals.

I hope and trust you are all Believers in that Sacred Code called the Bible, in which you have been instructed from your early years, and which is worthy of all acceptation, and that none of the writings of Infidels have unhinged your minds, or removed them from the hope of the Gospel. Revealed Religion will stand the strictest scrutiny, and those who have assailed its Foundations have but served to strengthen them, by the able Defences which they have drawn forth. May your minds be more and more established in the belief of the Authenticity of that Religion which is offered to us as a divine Revelation, and may your knowledge of its excellent doctrines and precepts daily increase!—But, my young Friends, do not content yourselves with mere speculation in these great and important concerns, but may it be your serious and constant care and endeavor that your hearts be deeply affected by them, considering that to this end the Revelation of divine truths has been made. May your minds be strongly impressed with gratitude to God and his Son the blessed Redeemer for the display of love, goodness, mercy and grace exhibited in the Gospel scheme of Salvation, so wisely and wonderfully planned, and so completely and gloriously executed. This will tend, through divine Influences, to lead you constantly to cultivate the religion of the heart, to form you to habits of true piety and holiness and to make you practical and devout Christians. Then will your conduct, directed by the best principles and motives, be highly honorable to you and promote your truest interests, both for time and eternity; and while you are reaping the greatest advantages for yourselves, you will be heartily disposed, whether as Members or Heads of Families, private Citizens, Professional men, or Politicians and public Officers to promote in the Community, to the best of your ability the interests of pure Religion and good morals, without the prevalence of which there can be no lasting prosperity and happiness in any Nation; and your example of unaffected virtue and piety may have some happy influence, at least in checking those Principles of Deism and licentiousness and consequent evil practices which prevail at the present time which we have too much reason to call the Age of Infidelity and irreligious depravity, whatever may have been the improvements in literature, Science, the arts and polite refinement. Happy would it be were our Country justly clear from the charge of being tainted with such principles and practices; but while Europe, and particularly one large Division of it, has been deluged by them, they have found their way among us and have too much pervaded even this Commonwealth, whose Inhabitants were formerly distinguished for sobriety of Manners, reverence of the Holy Scriptures, strict sanctification of the Lord’s day, and punctual attendance upon public religious services. In these respects how great is the degeneracy. Instead of sanctifying the Sabbath, and attending upon its worship and ordinances, what numbers are there who make it a day of business, or spend it as a season of pastime and pleasure, even forming parties and making excursions for their recreation, to the strengthening of their own depravity, and to the disturbance of those serious persons who are witnesses of their irregular conduct. (It is much to be lamented that many of our Magistrates have been greatly remiss in exerting what authority they have [far, very far from being too extensive] in checking this evil. Happy should I be could I say that none in high places of trust have by their example in very frequently absenting themselves from the House of God too much encouraged the neglect of the religious services of the Lord’s day, and sometimes by unnecessary travelling countenanced its profanation.)

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May you, my young Friends, when you go forth into the world instead of falling in with these too fashionable customs, be patterns of strict virtue, sincere Religion and undissembled piety; and may you endeavor, in every proper manner to check the growing evils which have been mentioned. Thus will you be the greatest ornaments and benefactors of your Country, and will exhibit the truest marks of your being the Friends of God.

(It is hoped that none in this Assembly will consider this religious advice as calculated to damp the innocent pleasures of this day of festivity and joy. Should any be ready to entertain such sentiments they may be assured that those who are influenced by the religious principles which have been recommended are the persons who have the truest enjoyment of all the blessings of life, and receive them with grateful hearts as bestowed by the Parent of all good through his Son the benevolent Friend of man. This consideration gives the sincerest relish to every innocent gratification while it guards against the abuse of favors. Indeed the Religion of the Gospel forbids no pleasures but such as are licentious and irrational which always leave a sting behind them whenever they are indulged.)

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(While I trust that all will free me from the charge of opposing or checking innocent enjoyments I hope there are none who will consider me as having indulged to the wildness of enthusiasm while inculcating the Religion of the heart. That Religion can be of little worth whose influence is not thus experienced; and it is by no means the Religion of the Gospel. That divine system is directly calculated to impress the heart and warm the affections as well as to regulate the life. And should any present be disposed to charge me with enthusiasm for urging what the Gospel itself strongly inculcates I would answer nearly in the language of Saint Paul to Festus ‘I am not enthusiastic my respected Auditors but speak forth the words of truth and soberness’!)

Nor let any censure me as delivering these sentiments at an unseasonable time. Providence has been teaching me for many months past by very painful and afflictive lessons the precariousness of life; and perhaps I may never have another opportunity of delivering before those who have been committed to my charge truths of such high moment and of giving before so large an Audience my attestation to the excellency of the Religion of the Gospel, so admirable formed for our benefit in all the changes of this transitory life, and for our consolation and support in the last trying scene; and which may with the greatest propriety be called an anchor to the soul both sure and stedfast. And could my feeble attestation, even in a small degree influence any to esteem and reverence the Religion of our blessed Savior and to conform to its precepts I should wish that my voice could extend far, very far beyond these walls;—“For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ for it is the power of God to salvation to every one that believeth.”

Finally, my young friends, that you may become distinguished Citizens of the United States—may serve your Country with fidelity and applause—may essentially promote the interests of true Religion piety and virtue in the Community, by which you will essentially subserve the public Good—and that your exit may be tranquil and your future reward glorious is my sincere wish and my ardent prayer to the Bestower of every good and perfect gift.

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Even Diamonds

We are all of us broken cracked,

shattered splintered partial panes

left jagged

in the puttied corners

of the windows

that are we

in a glass menagerie

who all throw stones.

Chipped and sharp

we clatter past each other

sometimes slashing,

sometimes scratching

as we pass,

sometimes blunting

with our glancing blows,

sometimes bleeding

from the re-etched wounds.

Yet sweetly in the wind

even slivers and odd pieces

can dance music in their striking,

even splinters can become

the variations of an orchestra,

and the pieces

colored individuality

may find themselves mosaicked

stained glass wonders

when the dark is sundered.

For those broken

gathered by that runic Wind

bound and lighted


an icon

of the restoration.

We are broken

all of us are broken


but a remnant of the plan,

pulverized and spun

splattered in the mud

tossed aside,

unable to align

to fit

the glazier’s grand design.

Yet even diamonds

must be smashed

and faceted

to release the glory

of their fire

in the light

that scatters

Glory’s fire.


D. Bruce Lockerbie is chairman of the Fine Arts department at The Stony Brook School, Stony Brook, New York. This article is taken from his 1976 lectures on Christian Life and Thought, delivered at Conservative Baptist Theological Seminary in Denver, Colorado.

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