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“Rationem nobistanta cum permicie datam.”—CIceno, De Nat. Deor., III. 27.
“We know the arduous strife, the eternal laws,
THE preceding review, though one of portions only from ancient history, leaves us in the midst of lights and shadows so mingled, that they seem to have no outlines. There is but a single principle by which we can possibly attempt to trace the cloudy horizon or the clearer upper sky, - which is, that we are not reading of the past alone, but of the unceasing wisdom and the inexhaustible goodness of Him to whom the past and the present are both as one.'
It is through dependence on the providence of God that the progress of man is seen to be secure. Empty confession will not make it plain, much less will emptier denial” make it doubtful, that there is a perpetual approach amongst men towards a state of greater power and higher virtue, though none can yet foretell its relative or its absolute perfection. The times through which we have passed throbbed heavily with errors and pains, now beyond conception, as well as memory. Even the place which each nation was appointed to fill, apart from or in connection with the other nations of the earth, seems to have been untenable except for a season, while the powers of those to whom it was given were fresh and aspiring. It was with them all as with Orpheus, when, after the fervor of his song had persuaded savage beasts, and prevailed against the infernal powers, he could not keep Eurydice, but turned back to the depths of hell, as if forgetful of the heights of heaven. Yet the actual advance from a system like that of India, to one like that of Greece, was none the less wonderful because the Greek became the subject of Alexander or of Rome. After the fall there was to come another rise, not at once indeed, or universally, but to such as were fittest amongst mankind to bear translation from the lower spheres in which their ancestors had lived and died. Even when the smoke was thickest and nothing but ashes seemed left to feed the flame, we know that the smouldering fire was waiting a breath to leap and spread throughout the world. The trials of heathenism prepared the mercies of Christianity.” This progress of mankind towards better things, the great characteristic of ancient as of modern times, depends upon a twofold law. One of its parts may be called the outward, because it has the most open 3 “Trace any of these,” as and in wonder ; so much will there Southey said, in another connection, be to humble the pride of man, to “backward link by link, and, long abate his presumption, and to call influence upon the circumstances and the capabilities of a nation or an individual; the other part may be styled the inward, as being the most powerful over the desires with which the heart of one or the hearts of many may be occupied. The two have their eternal names: liberty and religion. Parted, the one is apt to be comparatively powerless, and the other sure to be comparatively worthless; but united, they are the precious and the mighty principles of civilization.
I “Philosophy, baptized cherche les progrès de l'esprit hu
In the pure sountain of eternal love, - -
V Has eyes indeed; and, viewing all she sees main, et Je ne - ols presque auto As meant to indicate a God to man, chose que l'histoire de ses erreurs.” Gives Him His praise.”—Cowper. Disc. en Sorbonne, II.
* Like that by Turgot: – “Je
before we are lost in the series of for and confirm his faith.” The causes, we shall be lost in thought Doctor, Ch. CLXX.
It is plain there was no religion to operate upon any people save one of those we have here revisited. A few faint imaginations of the Deity nowhere led to worship in spirit and in truth; * and even the race to whom the knowledge of their Creator was most openly communicated were wavering and disobedient amidst all their blessings and all their trials. Faith with the heathen was the downward stream that rocks might hinder and bending banks delay; but its waters were not again to find their source high up amongst the mountains. It is only as a part of history" that the religion of antiquity survives: and still it murmurs through the hordes of human beings whom, chained to fears and sins, it drove through
life to their repulsive graves.
The inward law of
* “Longum est enim singulorum sententias exsequi: qui licet diversis nominibus sint abusi, ad unam tamen potestatem, quae mundum regeret, concurrerunt. Sed tamen summum Deum quum et philosophi et poetae et ipsi denique qui deos colunt, saepe fateantur ; de cultu
tamen et honoribus ejus nemo un-
progress was sealed to men who knew nothing of their creation, their existence, or their immortality. The outward law, as we have styled liberty, was better known and much more effectually practised. Indeed, the work that it enabled mankind to accomplish in ancient days was the very highest improvement of which our race was susceptible before its redemption. The evils done by a priesthood, as in India, were repaired by the labors of a people, as in Greece. The degradation and the despair which religion in ignorant or perverse hands prescribed" were changed into some kind of hope and of elevation through the pursuit and the development of liberty. Yet the principle we have thus uplifted seems to sink, as if too imperfect to be the basis of civilization. It was incomplete; everywhere confined to individuals or classes, and everywhere disjoined from religion, from the law which would have been its soul, and without which it was itself doomed to imperfection and extinction. Without moral powers, in other words, without the capacity of knowing and the love of obeying the laws of God, there can be no rightful and fruitful use of liberty amongst men. If these premises be correct, there is but one conclusion, undeniable and unavoidable. The liberty so defective and the religion so pernicious, in ancient times, were the foundations of an insufficient civilization. The bodies and the minds of men on earth are not the only subjects of culture or enfranchisement, while there are hearts to purify and souls to raise towards Heaven. Physical cultivation might have been far greater than it really was, without attaining to its true development, that is yet, indeed, to be accomplished, in which there shall be no taint and no expression of sensuality. Had there been ten Homers where there was but one, or could Socrates have lived in the midst of sympathizing, instead of having died at the hands of scornful men, there would have been the more earnest longing for the light to be revealed from the village, the lake, and the mount of Judea. The ancient world was weak at the moments of its greatest apparent force, and ignorant at those of its greatest apparent knowledge.” Unless religion provides the desire, and liberty adds the ability, to be strong and wise, there can be no abiding civilization at any period. It is to read of the prostration of heathen civilization that we turn from the other nations of antiquity to Rome. If it be true, as once before surmised, that the Almighty ordained the improvement of His creatures in this world to be begun by their own hands, it must be equally believed that they were to labor alone no longer than was necessary to prove the inefficacy of their instruments and the vanity of their toils. The great good to be hoped for, though men knew it not, was that they should be humbled. The new people gather by the Tiber, afar from
6 See Locke on the Reasonable- ton's Divine Legation of Moses, ness of Christianity, Works, Vol. Book III. sect. 2. VII. pp. 135 et seq.; and Warbur