Our Social Capacities

From the Valentine Offering

How highly fraught with blessings to our race, is a right use of the social capacities. It is indeed the best gift of heaven, to the sons and daughters of earth! Take away this power of communicating thought, feeling and sympathy, one to an other, and existence would no longer be a blessing, but rather a curse. The holy and sublime emotions of love, friendship, and sympathy would be lost – the ties of brotherhood sundered – the joys of domestic life annihilated, and this bright beautiful world, with all its sunshine and gladness, would become a gloomy prison house filled with living, moving bodies, destitute of souls. Thanks to God for social powers – those powers which enable us to encourage each other in every good word and work – which open the rich mines of intellectual and moral good, alike to all who will put forth their energies to acquire the true and the beautiful in human life. But how many abuse and utterly pervert those noble gifts! Instead of using them to elevate and refine, they traduce and vilify, thus rendering miserable the otherwise blessed and happy. Instead of cultivating the best and Godlike principles of our nature, becoming more and more assimilated to the fountain of all purity and excellence, how often do we nurse the spirit of hatred, envy, malice, and revenge, making in our breasts a perfect hell?

Oh, could we realize always the power of one kind word, one pleasant encouraging glance of the eye may have over the future life and happiness of a fellow being, who is, perhaps, striving with his last strength to overcome temptation’s power; who is faint, it may be, and weary in the struggles of life’s great warfare, having none to care for or to stay his tottering steps, as he nears the awful precipice of ruin – could we, I say, realize that one kind word would snatch him from the fatal brink, think ye that we should be thus lavish with words which stir up the unholy passions of the human heart? No! no! far otherwise. Did we feel this in our hearts, how differently should we all live! How tender, how compassionate wayward and the sinful, striving to win them back to the path of rectitude and peace! Then would the wretched, over whom sin and cast its blight and curse, forsake the error of their ways, and, like the poor prodigal, return to their Father’s house, where there is no lack of any good thing. The tears of bereavement and agony would then be dried up, and the countenance; over which brooded disconsolate sadness, would again brighten with hope and cheerfulness, and our world become a second Eden – a paradise below!

“Speak gently to the erring, know They must have toiled in vain: Perchance unkindness made them so, Oh, win them back again.

Speak gently! – ‘tis a little thing Dropped in the heart’s deep weil;
The good, the joy which it may bring; Eternity shall tell.”


Lowell, Mass. 1846.

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