Page images

high trust imposed. The guiding Spirit of God led them on, and a thousand generations shall hail the Pilgrims as blessed.

The result of that meeting will ever be recorded with gratitude. There is sublimity in the very style of their first compact, and it comprehends the elements which we believe constitute a perfect government. It combines the extremes, monarchy and democracy, perfect obedience to God as King, and perfect and equal affection to every fellow-subject, and implies the adoption of all the noble principles in national government, demonstrated during a period of 6000 years. Did space permit, we might quote this interesting document, but must content ourselves with simply referring to it as found in Morton's "New England's Memorial,' and as quoted in other works easy of access. In that compact were embodied the principles which sustained the Pilgrims through fierce and terrible trials, which led them trustingly to look forward to the future, which nerved them in their stern rebukes to encroaching royalty, which constituted every man an Arguseyed sentinel before the Temple of Freedom, and flung out before the astonished nations a banner covered with the rich emblazonry of heaven! Here was found the germ of Christian Republicanism, as it had been in the process of evolution since the beginning of nations. It began to realize the living, glorious, immortal creation wrought into life by the inspired genius of man! Its beauty was bewitching as ever entranced a poet's soul, its Herculean form and strength would have awakened a complacent smile upon the rigid face of a Roman Censor! whilst the bounding current of immortality, and its countenance, the impassioned index to a living soul, proclaimed this offspring of ages to be the child of God!

It will be impossible to trace minutely the different steps taken by the Pilgrims and their descendants, in carrying into operation their magnificent theory. Suffice it to say, they were men liable to err, but their very errors were noble, and were corrected as soon as perceived. They remembered the injunctions of the beloved Robinson, and embraced the truth whenever discovered.

The principal interest which arises from the actions of the Pilgrims, is the fact, that they gave character, so far as fundamental principles are concerned, to the Republic which now embraces so large a portion of the Western Continent: and we are now prepared to glance over this result of the world's experiments.

Here it must be frankly acknowledged that, to a superficial observer, this government gives but little evidence of its high. origin, and that many stains deface its beauty. In these respects it does not realize what we have chosen to denominate Christian Republicanism. The fault, however, is not in its theory; that is as near perfect as is ever attained by the human mind: the Declaration of Independence contains that theory. The great difficulty consists in a departure from first principles, and the introduction of elements into the political system, at war with the letter and spirit of the theory. And is it necessary to enumerate the evidences of this assertion? The facts are thrust before us continually, and we are compelled to look upon them steadily, whilst the question falls upon our ear with startling power, Can our government survive?

Far be it from me to rank myself with religious bigots, or interested demagogues, croaking, like ill-omened birds, of coming ruin. The question of greatest importance here is, not whether the body politic is afflicted with some grievous diseases, ruinous if not checked; but does it possess such an expulsive energy as shall at length throw off these diseases, and restore its natural and healthful action? This is the true view of the subject, penetrating beneath the surface of things, and seeking for the real causes which are to produce the final result.

And in investigating this question, two considerations will throw light upon its answer. For instance, what is the relation of the individuals in our nation to what was demonstrated in Jewish history to be the only principle of national immortality? In theory we occupy an enviable position, but our practice does not agree with that theory; for it must be admitted, we are far from understanding perfect obedience to God, and perfect affection to our fellow men. Were this true, this

government, like a full fountain with its outgush of pure water,
would indignantly throw out of itself every thing hurtful and
poisonous. But that this is not so now, ought not to be a
cause of despondency; for if the heart of the nation is par-
tially under the control of this principle, and if causes are
accumulating and sweeping onwards irresistibly to make that
control perfect, we have cause to exult in the goodness of the
Supreme King of nations, who has brought us thus far, and
will not now forsake us. And this is believed to be the fact.
A thousand potent energies have awaked, and are bringing
their mighty enginery to bear on the moral character of the
nation. True, in the moral world there have been terrific
tempests, and lightnings kindling the heavens into one fearful
blaze of brightness, whilst clashing thunder has caused the
earth to rock. The stoutest heart has shrunk in dismay, and
trembled for the result. But that tremendous conflict is the
hope and omen of glorious things to come.
Truth fears it not,
for her triumph is certain.

"Truth crushed to earth shall rise again,
The eternal years of God are hers:

But error, wounded, writhes in pain,
And dies amid her worshippers."


This terrific conflict of the moral elements will result in the same manner as a conflict of the natural elements. The fierce shock of embattled clouds, discharging their pent-up wrath, with a crash deafening and terrible, passes away, leaving the atmosphere pure and invigorating. Thus the agitations which have clothed our moral heavens with blackness, convulsing all things, will finally leave us a spiritual atmosphere so pure and invigorating that the fundamental energy of our government shall spring into full activity, with power augmented and control supreme.

The Pilgrims have long since entered upon the enjoyment of rest above, but their influence is still abroad. The baptismal prayer of the sainted Robinson, and the divine fragrance. of importunate and effectual supplications for this nation, still live before the eternal throne.

[blocks in formation]

"The pilgrim spirit has not fled:

It walks in noon's bright light;

And it watches the bed of the glorious dead

With the holy stars by night.

And it watches the bed of the brave who have bled,

And shall guard this ice-bound shore,

Till the waves of the Bay, where the Mayflower lay,
Shall foam and freeze no more."

God also is moving among us, electrifying the lifeless, energizing the indolent, and concentrating at the seat of life of our government the expulsive energies of immortality. And this being true, shall we despair? Shall the ill bodings of false prophets paralyze our hopes and fill us only with "a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation ?" The thought is unworthy, and we cannot for a moment indulge it. We will frankly acknowledge the presence of disease in frightful forms; but so far from despairing, we fervently will trust that the expulsive principle breathed into this government at the passionate invocation of its founders, shall final y fling out of the system every thing noxious, and display it to the world in the rounded symmetry and proportion of unfading and deathless perfection.

But the anxious investigator as to the fate of this government, will find another joyous omen in the tendencies of the age. For long centuries the nations were wrapped in darkness, their degradation was extreme, and the tendencies of all things were to sink them deeper. The human mind, like an undisturbed ocean, was corrupting in its own stagnancy. Despotism in religion and state, brooded like a gloomy goddess over this ocean, reducing to quiet every rippling wave, which perchance might disturb its tranquillity. But there was an immortal energy in that deep, quiet sea, which soon was to expand, and heave the stagnant ocean into an incontrollable tempest. That tempest has long since arisen, and the mighty spirits of the storm have rode forth in glorious vindication of oppressed humanity. Then a tide toward human emancipation set in, which is steadily and majestically rolling on to its consummation. De Tocqueville has splendidly expressed

[ocr errors]

the resistlessness of this tendency in human affairs: "It possesses all the characteristics of a divine decree; it is universal, it is durable, it constantly eludes all human interference, and all events as well as all men contribute to its progress.' In fact, we live in a wonderful age, when all nations are starting from slumber, and are moving upwards. Some mighty orb seems placed above them, attracting all from their debasement up to itself.

But in this remarkable and joyous tendency of our age, is our nation alone unaffected? As that divine decree, above human interference, and aided by all events and men, moves on to its accomplishment, are we alone excluded? Mankind unite in assigning us the highest place in this sublime movement. We shall enjoy its highest fruition; we shall be placed upon its loftiest pinnacle. Then away with despondency. Let the bigot declaim, the demagogue denounce indignation, empty as his own hollow-heartedness, but let us not cease to remember our high origin. The movements of a world through sixty centuries gave our nation birth, the solemn prayer of the Pilgrim is our representative at the court of heaven, and the breath of immortality our high gift from God. And the regenerating power of this immortality is accumulating, and fast transforming American Democracy into Christian Republicanism. When this takes place, the last, the sublime experiment in government shall have reached its perfection, Christian Republicanism will then become the exquisite model for the world, and under its guiding light all nations fast rise to the fulfilment of their glorious destiny.


« PreviousContinue »