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1st. The universal spirit of investigation, both practical and speculative, both public and private. Such a spirit never existed before. That, which prevailed in Greece and Rome, was practically unconnected with the only two departments, which could have given depth, solidity and breadth to its foundation, or durability to its constitution : viz. religion and political philosophy. Besides, the inquiries of the ancients, with few exceptions, were restricted to theoretical matters; and employed a very small portion of the community. They proudly styled the rest of the world—Barbarians—little imagining, that many of those barbarians, would arise at a future day, to prove that Classic Antiquity, was never blest with practical wisdom, in religion and government, in political economy and education. The spirit of inquiry, which arose out of the progress of Christianity, was likewise extremely limited. “It is known (says Villers) that the fathers of the Church, who exerted every resource of their minds, in the controversy on tenets, did very little, or even nothing, for the moral Sciences.” The investigating spirit of the primitive Church, was naturally, we may almost say necessarily, limited to its great object, as a religious Society—the conversion of the Gentile, and the refutation of the Heathen, the Jew and the Heretic. Pagan antiquity had its Augustan age of inquiry, from Thales to Seneca ; but it perished. The ancient Christian world had its age of inquiry, from St. Paul to Cyril of Alexandria ; but this likewise perished. The modern world still enjoys its age of inquiry : and, notwithstanding the chances and changes, allotted to nations, we may venture to predict, that the spirit of investigation, created in the age of the Reformers, shall never perish. It cannot perish; for it is felt to be the cause of God, the cause of the people, the cause of mankind, the cause of posterity. It is eminently practical ; it is universal. By this—were given to the Protestant nations, “beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness." By this, they still live, move, and have their being. It lives with us, and by the help and blessing of heaven, it shall live with our children, and with our children's children. By this, our ancestors lived for their God, for their country, for their descendants. By this—we, their offspring, now live for our God, for our posterity, for our country. By this—the generations yet unborn, arising each in his appointed season, shall live for their God and our God, for their country, and their children.
2dly. The second grand result of the Reformation is to be found in the system of Education. There are two features in this system, which distinguish it, from that of all other periods. First, it is universal, in theory and obligation : and it is undoubtedly very general, in point of fact. A determined, unwavering effort is continually making, in every possible form, to reduce the theory of the scheme to matter of fact. The time, therefore, must come, and it is now fast approaching, when every community, which acknowledges the political, moral and social principles of the Reformers, shall be universally educated. The second feature of the Reformed system of instruction is, that sound common sense, practical patriotism, as a duty to God, and not merely to the country, the business of life, public, social and private, constitute the base, on which the edifice rests. Education is no longer in the hands of the Church, or the schools of philosophy. It is a matter of national policy : an affair of the people: the business of every individual.
3dly. The third grand result of the Reformation is properly a consequence of the preceding; but has become a permanent and powerful cause of security, durability and improvement in the whole system. I refer to the diffusion of knowledge. Here, as in the case of education, the theory and obligation are universal, and the practice general: with a steady approximation to the actual perfection of the theory. And this perfection is in a course of daily fulfilment, not only from the constant improvements in education, but from the universal influence of the press, the insatiable demand for practical knowledge, and the transaction of all business, public, social and private, civil, literary and religious, in the language of the people. Such education, and such diffusion of knowledge, were unknown to the ancients, and even to the moderns; until the principles of the Reformation had remodeled society and government.
4thly. A fourth leading result of the Reformation is a distinguishing feature of modern society, in Protestant countries, especially in our day, and in these United States and England. I mean the universality of social and individual effort. Formerly, the community was a mere bystander, a mere spectator, as to all that was going on. The
government, a few ancient, well-endowed institutions, and a handful of individuals, were the only agents. Now, the people are every thing, and do every thing, through the medium of a vast multitude of organized associations, religious and benevolent, political, civil and literary, commercial, agricultural and mechanical. What department of knowledge or business is there, indeed, in which the people are not at once the final and the efficient cause, from the country Sunday school, to the supreme ecumenical council of each denomination ; from the village society, to the Parliament of England, or the Congress at Washington ?
5thly. I name, as another most important result of the Reformation, religious liberty and equality. In our country, the theory and practice are perfect. In other Protestant countries, there is a constant tendency and a well directed effort, towards a full recognition of the theory, and a wise, discrete application of it, in practice. Success must crown the efforts of these resolute, faithful Reformers. Universal toleration, leaves religion where it ought to be, in the hearts and minds, in the families and assemblies of the people. Intolerance is the apple of discord. It makes religion an engine of state, an affair of polemics, a fountain of bitter waters, ever overflowing in social dissensions and jealousies.
6thly. I shall mention only one more leading result of the Reformation. It is the system of popular rights, now so well understood in theory, by Protestant nations; so firmly established by the practice of some; so anxiously desired and labored for by the rest. These rights depend for their security and duration, on the investigating spirit, on education, on the universal diffusion of knowledge, on the system of social effort, and on religious liberty and equality. But these popular rights have now acquired, such consistence and organization ; such individuality of being, and yet such universality of influence; such constitutional certainty, and such depth of hold on the interests and affections, on the sentiments and opinions of the citizen and community, that they, in turn, exert an agency of incalculable power and value, on every possible relation of man, in Christian, civilized and Republican countries.
Such are the principles, which have conferred on Protestant communities, in my judgment, constitutional durability, untiring energy, and inextinguishable enthusiasm, in the cause of improvement, and pre-eminently in the cause of Science, in its noblest and most comprehensive meaning. Such is the moral machinery, by which the Reformation has realized in Moral Science, the thought of Archimedes; for it has moved the world of living men.
Such the principles,
which suggested to Henry of Navarre, and to the grand pensioner
De Witt, the conception of a Supreme International Tribunal: and if it ever exist, like the modern law of nations, it will be due to the system of the Reformers. Such the principles which have enabled them to found the only Empire of thought, free, rational, regulated, that ever existed : a Protestant, Confederate Republic of opinion and feeling, unrivaled in public and private liberyt, intelligence, and happiness.
The fortunes of this, or of that country may fluctuate. Public calamities may embarrass and retard the progress of one or another. Usurpation or tyranny, conquest or treason, may oppress and trample down for a time, different members of this great international confederacy. Man may have sworn that they shall perish, and that no day of national Resurrection shall ever dawn for them. But, like the witnesses in the Apocalypse, that died, and yet lived, they shall arise, and live again. The Angel, that hath the everlasting Gospel, to preach unto every kindred and tongue, and people, bears testimony that the spirit of life shall again enter into them.-Never, indeed shall the Reformation be, in the language of Byron, "the Mother of Dead Nations." Her children shall live to the end of time.
Our country is the youngest child in the family of Protestant nations. And, when we contemplate our unexampled progress in freedom, intelligence, happiness and virtue, may we not say, that the Reformation, like Isaac of old, has given the birthright blessing of the first born to the youngest? And shall we ever part with that blessing, the blessing of National Independence; of civil, political and religious liberty; of the investigating spirit; of universal education and knowledge; of a free press; of individual enterprise and social effort; of a glorious past, and a still more glorious future? No, never!
What then shall be our destiny? As a free people, it is written in characters, that the world may read, from the great Lakes, to the Gulf of Mexico, from the Atlantic, to the Missouri. As an educated, investigating, practical people, it is recorded in letters of light, on the countless institutions for social and individual improvement, that bless and adorn our land. As a Christian people, it stands forth in sculptured language, on the thousands of temples, which flourish side by side, in harmony and emulation, within our happy borders. As a peaceful people, it is registered, as
with the pen of prophecy, on our national, social, individual character; on our sense of justice, and our sentiments of philanthropy; on our consciences—as Christians; our principles—as Americans; our feelings—as men. As a free, as an educated, as a Christian, as a peaceful people, I experience the settled, the delightful assurance, that our country shall live to the end of time. As soon would I believe, that there is power on earth, " to pluck up the iron-bound shores of New England, with all their towns, and plant them on the banks of the Miami:”-As soon would I believe, that the commonalty of England will again pass under the iron yoke of the feudal system: as soon would I believe, that the goodly heritage of the Pilgrims can ever be another Sahara, or that the pine forest of the South can become the land of the hill, the valley and the brook, as to believe that this people shall ever cease to be free, educated, Christian, peaceful.
Let the age of Miracles return, and I may despair of the fortunes of my country, as free, educated, Christian, peaceful. Let that age begin with the day, when the sons of God, shall present themselves before him, and Satan shall again be permitted to lay waste the patrimony, and smite with Egyptian plagues, the hearts of the faithful. Let the Archangel, terrible and mighty, though fallen, go forth to barl down on our devoted land, tủe tempest of his wrath and malice. Let him afflict us, as Job was smitten, in flocks and herds, in children and person. Such trials to a Christian people, strengthen faith, and animate hope. Such trials blast not a free people, with the paroxysms of despair; but summon forth into being, the unconquerable energies of patriotism. Such trials to an educated people, open the way to hidden springs of knowledge and improvement. Such trials to a peaceful people, only enhance their love of peace; for the grief-stricken heart flees to retirement and tranquil. lity. At the overshadowings of such afflictions, I should never tremble for my country, much less should I despair; for the spirit of the Martyr and Confessor would arise, and shine, more and more, unto the perfect day. But let the arch fiend, in the delirium of ferocious malignity and ruthless envy, strip us of the Religion of the Reformers; of our freedom, our education, our love of peace. Let him erase from our memory, the recollections of a free and noble ancestry, the prospect of a future, enriched and endeared by all that is precious in glory, and lovely in virtue. Let him sweep from our land, as with the besom of destruction, the