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out aloft and solitary in the confines of the horizon, so Republican France, and all regenerated nations, in all coming ages, will send their sons on a pilgrimage of generosity, chivalry, truth, and liberty, to thy tomb.
Some historians profess to have discovered a law that renders the permanent prosperity of nations a moral impossibility. They tell us that all flesh is grass, and the glory of man is as the flower of grass, both of man as an individual, and of man associatedthat nations, like billows, rise and decline—that all things have their ebbing and flowing.
It is true that the flower blooms only to fade. It is true that all things earthly are changing, changeable, and passing away, except the tendency to change. That alone is immutable. The history of man seems to be rising or falling. Birth, progression, decay-manhood, its vigor, maturity, and decline. And so brief is manhood's stay on the summit, that we cannot tell when it reaches the highest point, nor when it begins to go down. And must it be thus with every nation ? Like a tree, is there a time for a nation to be born, take root, spread its branches, yield its fruit, and then decline, decay, fall into oblivion ? Is it a fixed law of the universe, that communities, like individuals, of which they are composed, no sooner attain their manhood, than they hasten to decrepitude and decay? Has the all-wise Creator ordained that nations may advance, grow till they reach their meridian glory, and that, then, without a pause, they must decline ? I do not believe there is any such law in existence. I do not believe that Ineffable Goodness has ordained any such statutes concerning the fall of nations. Again and again the Sacred Scriptures promise ever-enduring prosperity to the Hebrews, if they would continue steadfast in their obedience. There was then no necessity for them to decline. It is admitted that the law of progress and decay belongs to physical objects ; but it is denied that it does necessarily attach to the intellect, and to moral and religious subjects. It is admitted that the mind may fail in some of its external expressions or functions—as in the failing of the memory --that brilliant intellect may sometimes degenerate-grow feeble for the want of exercise or by dissipation, or be oppressed with the infirmities of age. But it is earnestly denied that this is always so, or that it is absolutely necessary; and if it is admitted, as it must be, that in any solitary instance a great mind goes on improving, or even holding its own, during the entire period of the body's decline from its highest maturity to death, so that at the moment of dissolution the soul goes out on its pilgrimage from the body to the regions of eternity unimpaired; then, we have enough, from this solitary instance, to prove that it is possible for mental, moral, and spiritual excellence to remain unimpaired to the moment of death ; and, consequently, what is possible of one mind is possible of many minds—of the minds of a whole nation. And as moral goodness is not affected essentially by the material organization with which the soul is encompassed while in this world, so the mind and its habitudes of goodness and piety, are not, by any inexorable fatality, subjected to the physical laws that govern the decay and dissolution of its material habitation ; and in a mind that not only remains without decay, but goes on improving, both in intellectual strength and moral excellence, up to the moment of its elimination from the body, we have all the essential elements of prosperity and perpetuity. The developments of a nation in wealth, in arts and arms, are its Physiques. These belong to its material organization. These are things that are subject, in some degree, to changes, like those of the seasons of the year. But the intellect, the moral and spiritual habitudes of a nation, may be preserved as indestructible as individuality in morals—as imperishable as individual immortality. It is
"mind, mind alone,
It does not matter who has wealth, nor where it is. It is mind that governs it. It does not matter what becomes of the magnificence or vanity of material things ; the mind lives, and its habitudes of virtue and piety, or their opposites, are its eternal costume. It is true of the individual physical man, that he is born, grows to greater or less maturity, and then falls into feebleness, and finally into the grave. And it is true of individual man, moral, intellectual, spiritual, that there is a time when he begins to exist, and that he progresses thenceforward, either in holiness or moral turpitude ; but it is not true that he ever ceases to exist. Every soul that has ever been born into the world is still alive. Not a single intellect that has ever emanated from Jehovah, has been or ever will be annihilated. This world does not comprise all man's history. Man is not a mere animal or vegetable, that comes forth in obedience to certain physical laws, grows, ripens, and rots—then, indeed, we might fold our hands and wait our destiny, content with Napoleon's philosophy : “It is written in Heaven.” But since this world is obviously not man's goal-not the fruition but the embryo of his existence—since a thousand arguments, and a thousand and one experiences, prove that this world is probationary, and in order to a righteous retribution, some shadowings forth of which only are now visible---since it is the way of Providence to carry on the government of human things in successive and gradually advancing dispensations, as a preparation for the appearance of the new heavens and the new earthsince a law of progress is inherent in intellect-since mind in thousands and millions of instances continues to advance and expand to the last moment of its continuance in the body-since individual mind and personal virtue do, in millions of instances, continue to advance, to expand, to grow higher, and more and more perfect, without any pause at any mundane height, and never decline—since this is confessedly true of individual virtue and individual intellect, in at least some of the persons that compose communities; and that, too, not of a few or an insignificant number, is it not palpable that a nation, composed entirely of such, may continue to advance in everything excellent without any decline.
While I deny that there is any necessity of Fate for a nation to fall from its glory, I admit there is danger that the cup which intoxicated Babylon, Tyre, Carthage, Athens, and Rome, may intoxicate us. There is danger that the dizzy heights which they knew not how to keep, may so turn our heads that we may not be able to stand on them. But there is no fatal necessity that it should be so. We are able to stand, but free to fall. While there is danger that wealth and refinement will lead to luxury, vice, degradation, and decline, we possess in Christianity all that is necessary to counteract any such tendencies. The mental vigor and tender charities of the gospel are sufficient to resist the law of decay seen so palpably in the once proud and powerful States of the old world. The Bible, and the Bible alone, can preserve the monuments of our greatness from becoming the monuments of what has been. The intellectual and moral elevation and active benevolence of the gospel, are abundantly sufficient for the glory and perpetuity of a nation. If it be asked, whether it shall ever be said of us, as of the republics of former times, that we were a great people in our day, but that, like them, we have gone glimmering into the dream of things that were—“a schoolboy's tale, the wonder of an hour”-I reply, the answer to this inquiry is in the hands of us and our children. God has left all our future in our own hands. If we can succeed in giving to our native born, and to the millions of the old world cast upon our shores in their infancy and youth, an effective education-including under this term such training as shall render their faculties prompt'and active; personal independence and yet subordination, sobriety, neatness and industry-such solid knowledge as shall enlarge to the utmost the means of subsistence, by enlarging the capacities of usefulness to their fellow-citizens—such knowledge of themselves as shall inspire them with hope and with the confidence that they are men-FREEMEN—whose bodies and minds and families are really the objects of divine and human benevolence and such moral and religious instruction as shall inspire them with just views of crime, and associate the idea of happiness with that of honest independence—as shall fill their hearts with a sense of the Divine Being and of their final accountability to Him, and with sentiments of fervent charity towards and sympathy with their fellow-men ; if by the continued prosecution of agriculture and of the true principles of trade and commerce, we can develop
adequately our vast national resources ; if we can succeed in fully developing our moral and intellectual energies, and with these, the material resources on which the maintenance of their healthy activity depends, then our Republic will stand to the end of time; and when the sleeping dust of ages and of empires rises to meet the Son of God, the star-spangled banner shall still be floating in the breeze. Yes, my brethren, in the cultivation of our valleys—in the ores of our mountains—in the commerce of our rivers, lakes, railroads, and sea-boards—in the purity and preeminent influence of women-in the vigorous prosecution of our systems of public instruction—in the universal diffusion of knowledge—in the sublime morality of the Bible—in the purity, vitality, and benevolence of the gospel of Christ, we have the elements of unshaken permanence in our institutions. And I have not a doubt, but that, in spite of the sinister predictions of speculative historians ; in spite of the dreams of aristocratic philosophers, and the ill-omened vistas of monarchists, whose wishes are father to their forebodings; in spite of our rapidly increasing population ; in spite of the intrigues of a few disappointed, restless, selfish, narrow-minded politicians, that the United States, in every essential particular as she now is, will occupy, for ages upon ages to come, an ever-increasingly glorious position amongst the nations of the earth. And to show that our hope of republics is well founded, I propose to notice still further a few grounds of doubt, and then glance at some of the elements of their permanence.
1. Let it not be argued that we must fall, sooner or later, because all preceding States and Kingdoms have either already fallen, or are in a rapid decline. The past is a good school, but not an infallible prophet. The past is only in part the cause of the present, and of the future. “As no two leaves of the forest are exactly alike, nor any two human faces, so neither are any two ages or countries exactly alike. The past may have its semblance; but it never has its exact likeness in the present. The human body is so far the same, as to preserve its personal identity from infancy to old age, and yet its particles are ever changing. The elements of society now are in part the same as the elements of society in ages past; and in part they are different, and in some things wholly unlike and superior to those of any former age. The religious faith of modern times, especially in our country, where there is no unhallowed, adulterous connection between Church and State, is purer than was known in the ancient world : and the religious faith of a nation has a greater influence, direct and indirect, upon its prosperity, than all other
The predicates, therefore, of no past age are to be applied, without considerable limitations, to the present. And as the history of no other nation corresponds to the past and present of the American people, so neither should it be considered as any prophecy of their future. The ages of the world and the generations of men that have rolled past to the bourne of those before the flood, are all alike in many respects; and yet each is possessed of some peculiar feature, that gives it a distinctive prominence in the annals of the universe. It is not in classic lore only, that such distinctions have obtained as have been denominated the golden, silver, brass and iron ages; such distinctive appellations are found in sober history, which is indeed nothing less than philosophy teaching by example. Even in the history of the wonderful dispensations of infinite mercy to our race, we find the distinction of Adamic, Patriarchal, Mosaic, Prophetic, and Apostolic periods, ages, or dispensations. The world, like individuals, seems to have its infancy, youth, progress, and end. What years are to individuals, centuries are to the world. Sometimes, for generations, and even for centuries, a kind of intellectual and moral sleep has hung over the earth, and the human family remained dormant. And then, again, it has pleased the Divine Ruler, who permits the world to be governed in a great degree by impulses, to call forth a spirit of advancement in light and knowledge, in arts and sciences, and even in our holy religion. In the stormy times of Cromwell, whose history is yet to be written, and who was one of the purest and best and ablest men that England has ever produced, there was a strength of intellect, an earnestness, and a grasp of mind and character, that made such men as Howe, Baxter, and Milton, and a host of their compeers, tower high amid their generation, and stand forth to all coming times, as the beacon-lights of freedom of thought and of conscience.
The Crusades was an age of strange and almost unaccountable excitements. It well nigh paralyzes belief to read of the tide of living men that Europe poured forth upon Asia for a useless achievement. Millions laid their bones to bleach on the sands of Syria; but the result was, that the arts, sciences, literature, and civilization of the East were brought into half barbarous Europe. The Protestant Reformation was an age of intense religious excitement. The discovery of this continent was the embodiment of an age intensely excited to make discoveries. The results of the civil wars of England, of the Crusades, of the Reformation, and of the discovery of this continent, were not foreseen by the respective agents of these different stupendous events. The immediate actors in carrying out these parts of the world's history, never dreamed of what has resulted from their labors. The mysterious directions of Providence seem first to blind genius as to any consciousness of its own greatness, and then by it, to accomplish the greatest, most unlooked for, and yet most beneficial results. So it has been with the English in Asia and China, and with the Americans on this continent. And hence, history should be regarded by us not merely as the annals of political events, but as the progress of science, inventions, and literature, and of all the great interests of