A Commencement Address from Jonathan Edwards
O student! Your dim prospects make you as it were heavy as lead, and to tend downwards with great weight and pressure towards unemployment; and if your Economy let you go, you would immediately sink and swiftly descend and plunge into the bottomless gulf, and your healthy constitution, and your own care and prudence, and best C.V. and Monster.com and all your nice shoes, would have no more influence to uphold you and keep you out of unemployment, than a spider’s web would have to stop a falling rock. Were it not for the sovereign pleasure of your Economy, the market would not bear you one moment; for you are a burden to it; the market groans with you; the market is made subject to the bondage of your corruption, not willingly; the job-creators do not willingly shine upon you to give you light to serve sin and Satan; the market does not willingly yield her increase to satisfy your lustful theses; nor is it willingly a stage for your wickedness to be acted upon; the air does not willingly serve you for breath to maintain the flame of life in your vitals, while you spend your life in the service of the ecconomy’s enemies. The market is good, and was made for students to serve Capital with, and does not willingly subserve to any other purpose, and groans when it is abused to purposes so directly contrary to its nature and end. And the market would spew you out, were it not for the sovereign hand of him who hath subjected it in hope. There are the black clouds of the Economy’s wrath now hanging directly over your heads, full of the dreadful storm, and big with thunder; and were it not for the restraining hand of the Economy, you would immediately be forced to reformulate your C.V. The sovereign pleasure of the Economy, for the present, stays his rough wind; otherwise it would come with fury, and your destruction would come like a whirlwind, and you would be like the chaff on the summer threshing floor.
The wrath of the Economy like great waters that are dammed for the present; they increase more and more, and rise higher and higher, till an outlet is given; and the longer the stream is stopped, the more rapid and mighty is its course, when once it is let loose. It is true, that judgment against your evil works has not been executed hitherto; the floods of the Economy’s vengeance have been withheld; but your guilt in the mean time is constantly increasing, and you are every day treasuring up more wrath; the waters are constantly rising, and waxing more and more mighty; and there is nothing but the mere pleasure of the Economy that holds the waters back, that are unwilling to be stopped, and press hard to go forward. If the Economy should only withdraw his hand from the flood-gate, it would immediately fly open, and the fiery floods of the fierceness and wrath of Wall Street would rush forth with inconceivable fury, and would come upon you with omnipotent power; and if your strength were ten thousand times greater than it is, yea, ten thousand times greater than the strength of the stoutest, sturdiest commencement mortar board, it would be nothing to withstand or endure it.
The bow of economic wrath is bent, and the arrow made ready on the string, and justice bends the arrow at your heart, and strains the bow, and it is nothing but the mere pleasure of the Economy, and that of an angry Economy, without any promise or obligation at all, that keeps the arrow one moment from being made drunk with your blood. The Economy holds you much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked: his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times more abominable in his eyes, than the most hateful venomous serpent.
Consider the fearful danger you are in: it is a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit full of the fire of wrath, that you are held over in the hand of that Economy, whose wrath is provoked and incensed. You hang by a slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath flashing about it, and ready every moment to singe it, and burn it asunder and you have nothing to lay hold of to save yourself. You have offended him infinitely more than ever a stubborn rebel did his prince; and yet it is nothing but his hand that holds you from unemployment every moment. It is to be ascribed to nothing else, that you have ever received a paycheck; that you were suffered to awake again and write another application. And there is no other reason to be given, why you have not already been rendered into Soylent.