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that every existence, however great or small, that comes from creative wisdom, is perfect in itself, and made for admirable ends. Nothing is left to accident. All is made for progress.
If we look to the beginning of things, our reason leads to the belief “in the gradual development of the powers of nature, and in the adaptation of living beings to the progress of that development."
The earth, from a mass of inert matter, has become what we behold it. Endowed with inherent power, vegetation soon covered its surface with herbs, and fruits, and flowers; beautifying its valleys, and clothing its mountains with stately trees and fragrant shrubs. The rocks with rude features walled up the fearful precipices, and lined the subterraneous caverns. The elements were soon ruled in order, surrounding and filling it with their mysterious life and agency. The springs and rivers were opened ; the waters of the mighty deep were placed, and the tides were made to ebb and flow ; invisible air moved the rising vapor and the yielding tree; and heat warmed all into growth and being. Then came the
“powerful king of day,
Rejoicing in the east.”. And in its absence, the modest moon lighted up the earth with its milder rays, while unnumbered stars shone from the vaulted sky, and filled all space with gems of light. Seasons were measured, and time was marked by days and nights.
Thus was the earth prepared for man, and “ for every living creature after his kind.” It is not within our province, in this connection, to note the successive growths of ages of the natural world, or to trace the physical and mental causes which produced them. It is a study, however, fraught with beauty and instruction, an
“ Effusive source of evidence and truth.” So far as analogical examples will aid us in understanding man in his relations of destiny and duty, we shall avail our. selves of this source of truth, speaking as it does the language of divinity.
In discussing the important topics which we have chosen for consideration, it is our purpose to observe those rules of evidence which have been sanctioned by science. Our objects are those of truth and duty, and if we err, the reader must measure to us that favor which he would ask for himself, ascribing whatever may seem amiss to that weakness which is common to us all.
It has been a source of regret in all ages of inquiry, that no records of the early condition of man were made, or, if made, preserved. It is an obvious truth, that reconciles us to this want, that prescience was not given to man in his ignorance, and that we have no just reason to look for a record of knowl. edge from those who did not recognize its power, or foresee
It is quite true, as is stated by the learned Dr. Tytler, that “ all accounts of the early history of single nations trace them back to a state of rudeness and barbarism, which argues a new and infant establishment; and we must conclude that to be true with respect to the whole, which we find to be true with respect to all its parts. But to delineate the characters of this early state of society, to trace distinctly the steps by which population extended over the whole surface of the habitable globe; the separation of mankind into tribes and nations; the causes which led to the formation of the first kingdoms; and the precise times when they were formed - are matters of inquiry for which neither sacred nor profane history affords us that amplitude of information which is necessary for giving clear and positive ideas. But while we travel through those remote periods of the history of an infant world, making the best of those lights we can procure, we have the comfort of thinking that, in proportion as man advances from barbarism to civilization, in proportion as history becomes useful or instructive, its.certainty increases, and its materials become more authentic and more abundant.”
Society, as originally formed, was made up of families, each having its parental head. As man was fitted to associate with his kind, the next development was the social circle-friend with friend, and neighbor with neighbor. Increase of numbers led to diversity of interests, and tribes were formed, each assenting to conventional rules, and yielding certain rights to all, that they were unwilling to yield to each other. As it was with individual and family interests, there soon arose the greater interests of the separate tribes, and the nation was the result, - each tribe surrendering to all the tribes what none would yield to its neighbor. Every change opened to new wants and to new conditions. The mind naturally looked forward to provide for the advancement of society to its ultimate formation. Its progress was onward and upward. Nations were multiplied upon nations, - rising or falling in their might or greatness, in the same degree that they were true or false to their trusts.
At the present period, a large portion of the earth is controlled by the conventional powers of nations; and yet, of a population of a thousand millions, the Christians can claim but about one fifth of that inconceivable number.*
Nations have advanced in growth as independent existences, each having its own laws and institutions, according to its distinctive power and genius. They have become the conservators of commerce, science, and religion, throughout the world, and the subject of international law, though still in its infancy, is in rapid process of advancement. The individual is lost in the races, and the races make
great question of man's destiny - universal humanity.
It has become the true province of science to investigate not
* The population of the earth has been recently stated thus : Asia, .........585,000,000
Heathen, ......600,000,000 Europe, ..235,000,000
Of Africa,... .110,000,000
10,000,000 which America, 50,000,000
Romish Church, ..130,000,000 Oceanica, 20,000,000
Greek Church, .... 55,000,000
Protestant DenomiTotal, 1,000,000,000
nations, 65,000,000 * “Every generous emotion,” says an interesting writer, “is in its nature elastic, and naturally labors to widen the sphere of its influence: the first impulse
only the laws of inanimate matter, of the unmeasured regions of space, but of the immortal soul itself, in the recesses of its intellectual, moral, and religious nature. Man is studied as man, as father, husband, brother, friend, citizen, magistrate, legislator, and soldier. He is viewed as an element of the town, state, nation, world, and universe. Unlimited and unwearied, the spirit of inquiry seeks to know the rights of men in masses, as parts of a nation ; and the rights of nations, as parts of the world; and our relations to the world, as the children of God.*
In all ages, the influence of example has been acknowledged and inculcated. It is an incitement to sincerity, an encouragement to duty. The only legacy which the rude savage leaves to his children, or to his tribe, is a recital of his deeds, that they may be followed as the highest examples of good of which their nature is capable. The good man of the civilized world, in his parting blessing to those whom he loves best, speaks of examples of goodness as more precious to the forming man, than all the visible treasures of the earth. It is so with nations. The examples of nations influence nations, and each is held responsible, not only to its own subjects or citizens, but to the world, and to those eternal laws of right, which, in the process of moral change, will give equal freedom to the prince and to the slave.
Having made these remarks as introductory to the subjects treated of in the following pages, it is now our purpose to speak briefly of our own country, of the Republic of the United States of America ; of its duties to itself, and its responsible relations to other countries.
serves the virtuous mind to wake,
Taylor's Natural History of Society.
It is not the design of the author, however, to illustrate this great subject by a statement of abstract propositions, for this is forbidden by his limits; but rather to lead the reader into that atmosphere of thought which shall best prepare him to follow us in the investigation of those realities, those actual conditions of our country, as a matter of duty to ourselves, and to the nation and age in which we live.