|Peter Cooper's Letter to the Trustees, April 29, 1859||page 3|
That students may become pre-eminent
as I do, that the students of this institution may become pre-eminent
examples in the practice of all the virtues, I have determined to give
them an opportunity to distinguish themselves for their good judgment
by annually recommending to the Trustees for adoption, such rules and
regulations as they, on mature reflection, shall believe to be necessary
and proper, to preserve good morals and good order throughout their connection
with this institution.
The great garden we keep
is my desire, and I hereby ordain, that a strict conformity to rules deliberately
formed by a vote of the majority of the students, and approved by the
Trustees, shall forever be an indispensable requisite for continuing to
enjoy the benefits of this institution. I now most earnestly entreat each
and every one of the students of this institution, through all coming
time, to whom I have entrusted this great responsibility of framing laws
for the regulation of their conduct in their connection with the institution,
and by which any of the members may lose its privileges, to remember how
frail we are, and how liable to err when we come to sit in judgment on
the faults of others, and how much the circumstances of our birth, our
education, and the society and country where we have been born and brought
up, have had to do in forming us and making us what we are. The power
of these circumstances, when rightly understood, will be found to have
formed the great lines of difference that mark the characters of the people
of different countries and neighborhoods. And they constitute a good reason
for the exercise of all our charity. It is these circumstances that our
Creator has given us the power, in some measure, to control. This is the
great garden that we are called upon to keep, and to subdue, and have
dominion over, in order to find that everything in it is very good, that
the right use and improvement of everything is a virtue, and the wrong
or excessive use and perversion of everything, a sin. We should always
remember that pride and selfishness have ever been the great enemies of
mankind. Men, in all ages, have manifested a disposition to cover up their
own faults, and to spread out and magnify the faults of others.
I trust that the students of this institution will do something to bear back the mighty torrent of evils now pressing on the world. I trust that here they will learn to overcome the evils of life with kindness and affection. I trust that here they will find that all true greatness consists in using all the powers they possess to do unto others as they would that others should do unto them; and in this way to become really great by becoming the servant of all.
These great blessings that have fallen to our lot as a people, are entrusted to our care for ourselves and for our posterity, and for the encouragement of suffering humanity throughout the world.
Thirst for knowledge virtue
this great responsibility, I desire, by all that I can say and by all
that I can do, to awaken in the minds of the rising generation an undying
thirst for knowledge and virtue, in order that they may be able,
by wise and honorable measures, to preserve the liberties we enjoy.
Fearing a possibility that my own religious opinions may be called in question, and by some be misunderstood or misrepresented, I feel it to be my duty, in all plainness and simplicity, to state the religious opinions that have taken an irresistible possession of my mind. At the same time, I require, by this instrument and expression of my will, that neither my own religious opinions, nor the religious opinions of any sect or party whatever, shall ever be made a test or requirement, in any manner or form, of or for admission to, or continuance to enjoy the benefits of this institution.
One God and Father
this qualification, I would then impress, as with the last breath of my
life, a fact which I believe to be the most exalting that the mind of
man is permitted to contemplate, know, or understand I mean the
ennobling truth that there is one God and Father of all, who is over all
and above all who is forever blessed in the plenitude and fulness
of his own infinite perfections; that this God is in very deed our
Father; that he has created us in his own image and
in his own likeness; that we may become one in spirit, and
co-workers with Him in all that is good, great and glorious,
for time and for eternity.
What can be more exalting than for the child to behold an infinite parent causing all the elements and essences of the universe to become his ministers — to organize, and individualize, and immortalize undying spirits, capable of knowing Him through an endless progress in knowledge and wisdom and power over the material universe forever; to fee! that our Father in heaven has given to us, as individuals, an immortality and an endless growth, under laws so wise and good as never to require to be altered, amended, or revoked?
The life he has given us in his wisdom is an intelligent life a life of accountability through our consciences, where every act becomes a part of ourselves, to live in our recollection forever.
I would impress the fact, that our Creator has used the best means possible in our formation or creation, and has given us the world, and all that in it is, with life and breath, and all things richly to enjoy. He has given all these blessings wrapt up in our capacity for an endless improvement and progress in the knowledge of our Creator, and in the power he has bestowed to receive and communicate happiness to ail his intelligent creation. So that when we come really to know and feel that our God is love to realize that He is indeed the Infinite of all that is good; when we come to see that he is drawing all the elements and activities of the universe into himself, and constantly elaborating them into higher forms of grandeur and beauty, and thus calling every intelligent creature to wonder, to love and adore forever.
In this God I believe
To give increasing happiness
Beings formed to rise
In this God I believe.
I believe that he is a Spirit in whom we live, move and have our being;
so that, if we ascend into the heavens, he is there, and if we descend
into the depths of the earth,
behold! he is there. I believe that he is filling immensity with his
presence, comprehending all things within himself, and working all things
after the good pleasure of his own will; that he is the same yesterday,
to-day, and forever, and that he changeth not. I believe
that God is love, and that love worketh no ill. I believe that love
must continue to use all its power through all eternity to give ever
increasing happiness to all the creatures that he has made. Such
a God I trust I shall come to love with all the heart, soul, might,
mind, and strength. I believe that God is so in all and through
all; that what may be known of him is clearly seen, being understood
by that which he has made, even his eternal power and Godhead: and that
he is without variableness or shadow of turning. I believe that he will
always work by wise and unalterable laws.
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