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the promotion of true religion all those means which the progress of society had placed within their power. They thus gave the impress of Christianity to the changes which were going forward ; and that their labors formed by far the most important link in the chain of events which is denominated the Reformation, may be evident from the fact, that nowhere, but in Protestant countries, have the blessings resulting from the social changes, to which we have alluded, been fully realized. Catholic countries have been comparatively uniinproved, except where their condition has been changed by the influence of Protestantism in their vicinity.
These few remarks are, we presume, sufficient to show the importance of moral effort at the crisis of a social revolution. But, if we mistake not, physical and intellectual changes very similar to those which characterized the Reformation, are at this moment going forward in the midst of us.
First; Important changes have of late taken place in the physical condition of man.
The natural wealth of man consists in his power to labor. This every man in a greater or less degree possesses. The less numerous class, in addition to the power to labor, possess also a portion of capital. Hence, as labor becomes more valuable, every man may become richer; that is, he is able to command a larger amount of such things as may gratify his desires. Almost every man among us may now, if he will, command the means of a very comfortable living. An industrious and virtuous artisan may provide for his family advantages, which, a few years since, were considered the attri. butes only of those above the level of mediocrity. The cause of this change may be easily stated. Labor is valuable to the employer in proportion to the amount of results that it will accomplish. Now, it is well known, that, within the last fifty years, increased skill has rendered human labor vastly more productive than it ever was before. A greater amount of the product of his labor may, therefore, be reserved to the operative, while the capitalist receives at the same time a larger interest upon his investment.
It is interesting, also, to observe the manner in which this increased value has been given to human labor. In some cases, division of labor has enabled one man to do as much as could otherwise be done by two hundred. In other and more numerous cases, a still more gratifying result has been produced, by the increased skill with which science has taught us to employ those qualities and relations with which the all-merciful God has seen fit to endow the universe around us. The most important of these are, the gravitating power of water, and the expansive force of steam. It is by a most beautiful adaptation of the former, that you, in this city, employ a little waterfall, without cessation, and almost without cost, to carry the means of cleanliness and health to every family within your borders. In various other parts of our country, you may behold a single individual, by means of machinery connected with a similar waterfall, executing, with the utmost perfection, what could not otherwise, in the same time, be performed by many hundreds.
But specially am I astonished in contemplating the results of steam; that new power which the last half century has placed within the control of man. Whether we consider the massiveness of its strength, or the facility of its
adaptation, we are equally overwhelmed at the results which it promises to confer upon society. Probably half a million of men could not propel a boat two hundred miles with the speed given to it by a dozen workmen with a powerful engine. On the Liverpool and Manchester railroad, two men, with a locomotive engine, could easily do the work of a thousand, with a speed five or six times as great as human strength could, at its greatest effort, accomplish. Beside this, there can be but very little doubt, that steam will, at least in Great Britain, to a very great extent, supersede the employment of brutes for draft labor, and thus enable the same extent of land to sustain more than double its present number of human beings. The same kind of result is in all cases produced, either by the introduction of valuable machinery, or by improvement in the means of internal or external communication. The instances which I have selected, are merely intended as specimens of a class of agents which Providence has, within a few years, taught us to employ for the improvement of our condition. It ought also to be distinctly borne in mind, that probably only a very small number of the most important of these, has yet been discovered; and that, of those which have been discovered, the application is but yet in its infancy. Sufficient, I trust, has been said, to illustrate the obvious tendency of improvements in the arts, and to show how utterly incalculable are the benefits which they have evidently in reserve for us. The manner in which all these changes affect the laboring classes may be thus briefly stated. The comforts of living are procurable only by human labor. If, then, by means of improvement in the arts, the labor of the human race is able to produce this year, twice as large an amount of the comforts of living as was produced last year, then every man may have twice as much to enjoy: and may, therefore, be this year in circumstances as comfortable as those of a man of twice his wealth the year before. With the labor of last year he may earn twice the amount of comfort, or he may possess the former amount of comfort with half the amount of labor. A little reflection will, I think, teach any one, that these are precisely the results to which the movements of society are tending. It will, I think, also be evident, that the forces are similar to those exerted upon the condition of man at the time of the Reformation, except that they affect more permanently, and to a greater degree, a much larger portion of the community.
The immediate effect of these changes upon the condition of the larger classes of society must be evident. They place within the power of every man a larger share of enjoyment, and a greater portion of leisure. They thus give to every man, not only more time for intellectual cultivation, but also the means for improving that time with increased advantage. And if they do not render a man better educated himself, they render him sensible of his own deficiency, and awaken in him the desire, and furnish the means, of bestowing education upon his children. And hence, although the modes of education should undergo no improvement, there must result a more widely extended demand for mental improvement, and a more perfect and more powerful intellectual development.
But, secondly; The means of cultivating the human mind are also in a course of rapid improvement. Time will allow me only to allude to a very few considerations, connected with this branch of the subject.
First ; The object of education is becoming better understood. It has, in many places, ceased to be considered enough to infuse into the pupil certain sentences, or even certain ideas, which some time before had been infused into the instructer. It begins to be admitted, that education consists in so cultivating the mind, as to render it a more powerful and more exact instrument for the acquisition, the discovery, and the propagation of truth, and a more certain guide for the regulation of conduct. Hence it is now frequently conceded that education may be a science by itself, regulated by laws which require special study, and in the practical application of which, something more than a common degree of intelligence may be at least convenient. A higher degree of talent will thus be called to this profession, in every one of its branches. Division of labor will also produce the same beneficial results as in every other department of industry. And hence, as the object is better understood, as higher talent is engaged to promote it, and as that talent is employed under greater advantages, wo may expect, in the rising and the succeeding generations, a more perfect mental development than the world has yet seen.
Again; It has, within a few years, been discovered that education may be commenced much earlier in life than was before considered practicable. Who would have supposed, unless he had seen it, that any thing valuable could have been communicated to an infant only two or three years old ? Specially, who would have supposed that the memory, the judgment, the understanding, and the conscience of so young a child, were already so perfectly formed, and so susceptible of improvement ? But recent experience has demonstrated, that a very valuable education, an education which shall comprise instruction in the elements of many of the most important sciences, may be acquired before a child is old enough to be profitably employed in muscular labor, and even while the care of it would be expensive to the parent. It has thus been made the interest of every one in the neighborhood of an Infant School, to give his children at least so much education as may be communicated there. And if I am not much mistaken, the instruction now given to infants, in these invaluable nurseries, is more philosophical, and does more towards establishing correct intellectual and moral habits than that which was attainable, when I was a boy, by children 12 or 14 years old, in grammar schools of highly respectable standing.
Allow me also to suggest an improvement, which, though not yet in practice, must soon follow in the train of the others of which I have spoken. I allade to the application of the science of education to the teaching of the operative arts. At present, a boy spends frequently seven years in acquiring a trade. His instructer, though a good practical artist, is wholly unacquainted with the business of teaching. Few will doubt that a man, who, with a knowledge of a mechanical art, should devote himself exclusively to teaching it, might, in a few months, communicate as much skill as is now acquired in as many years. The result would be, in the end, far greater excellency of workmanship ; and, what is still better, much more time for obtaining an
education might be allowed to young men before they devoted themselves to the employments of life.
From these facts, the tendency of the present movements of society is obvious. It is, to furnish more leisure than formerly to the operative classes of society, to furnish them more extensively with the means of education, and to render that education better. They must, from the very nature of things, become, both positively and relatively, far richer, and much better informed, than they have ever been before. Now, as social power is in the ratio of intelligence and wealth; the astonishing progress of the more numerous classes, in both these respects, must be producing more radical changes in the fabric of society than were witnessed even at the period of the Protestant Reformation.
But these changes are going forward with accelerated rapidity in our owu country. With profuse liberality, a bountiful Providence has scattered over our territory all the means of a rapid accumulation of wealth. Land, rich and unexhausted, adapted to the production of every article of luxury and convenience, stretches through every variety of climate. To peculiar natural advantages of internal communication, we add still greater capabilities of artificial improvement. The amount of our unappropriated water-power is incalculable ; and in regions where this is less abundant, inexhaustible beds of fuel offer every facility for the employment of that incomparable laborer, steam.
This country also presents peculiar facilities for intellectual developinent. The political institutions of other countries rather retard than accelerate the progress of mental cultivation. With us, the absence of all legalized hereditary barriers between the different classes of society, presents to every man a powerful inducement to improve himself, but especially his children, to the utmost. In other countries, the forms of government, being unyielding, do not readily accommodate themselves to a change in the relations of society. Ours are constructed with the express design of being modified, whenever a change in the relation of the social elements shall require it. The history of our country, since the adoption of the federal constitution, has furnished abundant proof of the truth of these remarks. Every change in the state governments has been from a less to a more popular form. This at least shows, first, that the power is passing from the hands of the less numerous, to those of the more numerous classes of society; and, secondly, that there is nothing in the nature of our institutions to prevent its thus passing. It is our duty to provide that it be wielded by intelligence and virtue.
I hope sufficient has been said, to show that the period is rapidly advancing, when all, but especially the more numerous classes of society, will enjoy much more leisure for reflection, will be furnished with a vastly greater amount of knowledge, both of facts and of principles, and will be educated to use those facts and principles with far greater accuracy, and with far better success.
We will now briefly consider the encouragements which these facts present, to an effort for the universal diffusion of Christianity.
l'irst; The increase of wealth, and especially the consequent increase of leisure, among the more numerous classes, is in many respects greatly favorable to the progress of religion. Moderate labor invigorates, excessive labor enfeebles, the intellectual faculties. He whose existence is measured by unbroken periods of either slavish toil or profound sleep, soon sinks in passive subjection to the laws of his animal nature. Lighten his load, and his intellect regains its elasticity, he rises to the region of thought, breathes the atmosphere of reason, rejoices in the discovery of truth, and feels himself a denizen of the universe of mind.
Again ; The progress of education is rendering the human understanding a more successful instrument for the investigation of the laws of nature, both in matter and in mind. Hence has the progress of discovery been so rapid during the last half century-and we believe that the work has but barely commenced. We apprehend that the boldest imagination has never yet conceived of the exactitude and the extent of that knowledge which we shall acquire of the qualities and relations of the universe around us; and of the skill to which we shall yet attain, in subjecting them all to the gratifi ion of human want, and the alleviation of human wo. Now, we believe that God made this universe ; that he created every particle of matter, and impressed upon it its various attributes. We believe that this same Being also created mind and inspired it with its moral and intellectual capacities; and we believe that the attributes of matter and the capacities of mind, are all formed to harmonize with the moral laws contained in his holy oracles ; so that in the end there shall not be found, throughout the wide universe, a floating atom which does not give testimony to the truth of revelation. Thus, to use the words of Foster, “ Religion, standing up in grand parallel with an infinite variety of things, receives from all their testimony and homage, and speaks a voice which is echoed by creation.”
Thus far, every discovery of science and every invention in the arts, has uttered its voice in favor of the Bible. Who can contemplate the relation of the various forces which move a steam engine, and the laws by which they operate, without seeing that all was devised by Infinite Wisdom, for just such a being, physical and intellectual, as man, to accomplish just such purposes as Infinite Goodness bad intended? Who can contemplate the social circumstances under which man enjoys the greatest amount of happiness, without being convinced that the very constitution of man requires obedience to precisely such precepts as are contained in the Bible; that man is rewarded and punished on the principles which are there delineated; in other words, that the moral system of the Bible is the moral system of the universe ? A striking illustration of the truth of the general principle to which I refer, may be found in the history of political economy. This science has been, to say the least, very successfully cultivated by men who had no belief in the Christian religion. And yet, reasoning from unquestionable facts in the history of man, they have incontrovertibly proved that the precepts of Jesus Christ, in all their simplicity, are the only rules of conduct, in obedience to which, either nations or individuals can become either rich or happy. So far as science has gone, then, every new truth in physics or in morals has furnished a new argument for the authenticity of revelation. Thus will it be to the end. Phi