DUTY TO OUR OWN GENERATION.
Preached in St. George’s Church,
DECEMBER 12, 1850,
BY STEPHEN H. TYNG, D. D.,
PUBLISHED BY THE VESTRY OF ST. GEORGE'S CHURCH.
Transcribed by Wayne Kempton
Archivist and Historiographer of the Diocese of New York, 2012
For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God,
fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers.—Acts, xiii. 56.
I DO not select this text to speak of the character of David. I wish to consider the description which the Apostle gives of individual duty, and personal responsibility and influence, as illustrated in the example of David. David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers. It is the duty and responsibility of serving one's own generation, of which I desire you to think this morning, as a subject eminently appropriate to the particular occasion and reason of this day.
There are attainments and responsibilities in every generation of men, in every portion of their earthly dwelling, which are peculiar to itself; and the duties of the individual arise very much out of the circumstances of advantage or discouragement, and the instruments of power and means of influence which these attainments of his own generation present. These are, therefore, to be particularly considered as illustrating the personal duty which arises from them.
 The particular circumstances of the birth of man are the result of the power and providence of his Creator. Whatever they may be, so far as the individual subject is himself concerned, they are an absolute divine appointment. He is introduced into relations which he has not sought. All the advantages which attend his condition are a gift of Divine bounty to him. The restrictions which are imposed upon it are equally the will of a supreme Divine authority over him. Various may have been the agency, and most remote some of the instruments, by which these advantages and restrictions may have been severally prepared, for his possession or endurance; but so far as he is concerned, they are all completely the decrees of an authority above; and they involve a personal responsibility, under which he must work, and which he has no power to remove. In this appointed field, the greatness and the usefulness of man are to be the product of his own fidelity. The circumstances in which he is placed, are but the whetstone to his faculties. It is the conjunction of his talents, his need, and his opportunities, which generates his eminence, and his influence for the welfare of his race. All that honorably distinguishes his character while living, and all that embalms and immortalizes his memory after death, is the progeny from this parentage. Give him, the native energy of inborn genius, and the creative power of personal necessity, and the honest fidelity of purpose to fill up the measure of his opportunities, and then, the position of birth most of all to be desired, and presenting the highest advantages for him, is amidst the attainments and circumstances of his race, at a period in their history, and in a location in their dwelling, which furnish the fairest field and the most adapted instruments to stir up the gift that [4/5] is in him, and to enable him to work out, with the utmost encouragement of opportunity, and the greatest likelihood of success, the glorious career and issue for which he was designed.
These advantages do not depend wholly upon his own possession of adequate mental powers and moral purposes. The noblest powers may be wasted and concealed, and rendered comparatively useless to man, from the want of adequate occasion, and means of exercise and exhibition. Birth, a hundred years sooner or later in the history of the race, or in one national locality rather than another, may make all the difference to the same powers of mind, of success or failure, of oblivion or renown. They are the attainments of his own generation, which essentially mark the direction and limits, of the course of the individual man, and shape out the duty and responsibility which are imposed upon him.
This leads me to the practical illustration of this subject, which constitutes my present design. I view this country and this age—the present generation in the history of man, in the special location of these American States—as offering the highest advantages of human birth thus far ever attained by man. How glorious is the privilege, to a man who desires to leave the deepest impression of his mind and energy, in the advancing elevation and happiness of his race, to have been born in a nation, the institutions of which are the perfection of all past experiments in the social relations of man,—furnishing the surest hope yet given, of his future elevation and improvement in every attainment which can dignify and adorn humanity,—at a time in its history, exhibiting a point in this course of improvement, which offers the [5/6] most glorious view yet acquired of what man can do,—and the highest ground for anticipation of what he really will do,—to exalt his own condition, to bless succeeding generations, and to fulfil the great destiny for which he was designed. I view the coming generation of Americans as certain to occupy the most important and responsible position ever held by the sons of Adam; as having an influence to exercise, and a work to accomplish,
"Such as earth
Saw never: such as heaven stoops down to see."
Birth in such circumstances, and at such a time, brings the highest privilege which birth can bring. The man thus born, in possession of the fairest field and the most adapted instruments ever given to man by the Being from whose hands he came, for influence upon the wellbeing of his race, is to be congratulated as highly favored. He is the master of the labors of generations which have preceded him; and he may well come to offer the tribute of his thanksgiving to the God who has fixed the bounds of his habitation, and to learn the divinely imposed responsibility upon him, for the benefit of his own generation, and of those who are to come after him.
These United States have a vast moral mission to fulfill for God, among men. This nation is a commissioned messenger from heaven to the residue of earth; set up and designed, with the most accredited testimonials of a Providence on high, to proclaim and illustrate truths which the world has never understood before; appointed and qualified to demonstrate the possible peaceful self-government [6/7] of men; to exhibit the entire consistency of unlimited personal freedom with the public order of society; to display to the residue of the world, the freest and the most perfectly balanced scheme for the guidance of the mutual relations of men; to teach the purest Christianity to the human race, the actual revelations of the Creator's mind, the simple Gospel of man's salvation, unencumbered by traditionary human forms, and unrestricted by arts of man's device; and to offer to all nations an inestimable opportunity for the moral and intellectual improvement of the family of man. For these great purposes have the privileges of this generation been conferred. For these great purposes have the responsibilities of this generation been imposed. And we are to serve our generation by the will of God, by maintaining and perpetuating the privileges which we have thus received.
I. Protestant America, in its peculiarly Protestant character, has been the object of a particular Divine Providence from the beginning of its history; and one great duty to the present generation is to perpetuate the acknowledgment and the influence of this fact. Secreted among the treasures which have been laid up for the later ages of man, this noble continent was discovered and brought under the notice of civilized men, at the very juncture when its vast theatre was to be demanded for the new exhibitions to be made of the Divine purposes; exhibitions for which earth presented no other adequate field.
All Europe had been stirred up by the previous excitements of the Crusades, and the controversies of the Reformation. Men had been aroused from the slumber of [7/8] ages, to realize that they were designed to be something more than the tools of despotism, or the victims of titled licentiousness. Extensive and long-protracted agitations had sundered the crust which covered the secret bosom of human want and consciousness, and had opened the elements long smouldering there, in a crater never again to be closed by man. The art of printing had given to human thought, motion and permanency and power; wings of light, and tongues of fire. The mariner's compass had calmly, but effectually, triumphed over the ocean's wastes. Beautiful emblems both, of a Divine majesty ruling in silence; of a Divine power working untraced; of a steady, unyielding process of aggression and conquest now to be commenced, greater and more wonderful than the battles of the warrior had ever accomplished, without their confused noise, and garments rolled in blood! "No speech! no language! their voice is not heard! and yet their line is gone out through all the earth,—their words to the end of the world."
The first agents in the discovery of this continent were Papists, deeply imbued with the delusion that the Bishop of Rome rightly possessed the keys of earth, and granted its territory as his own domain to whomsoever he pleased. In his mighty name was this land to be possessed, and by his authority was it to be ruled! But this was far from the issue of Divine appointment. There was every human probability that France and Spain might divide the whole continent between them. Spain was suffered, in its southern section, to try over again the old experiment upon a new soil—that reign of bigotry, cruelty, and terror, beneath which the whole earth had groaned so long that the rising majesty of new and purer principles might [8/9] be the more effectually displayed in these northern lands, by their immediate contrast with the wretched imbecility and degradation every where seen to result from the system of oppression which they had superseded. Her repetition of that experiment was made amidst the highest possible advantages, in a new field glowing with the richest natural attractions. Succeeding generations have displayed the heritage of sorrow, which there, as every where, has followed the dominion of Romish delusion and darkness, and marked its history with blood.
But another family of the race of man was in Divine preparation, to be the agents in bringing out the hidden purposes of the Creator upon the field of glory for which this northern portion of the continent was prepared. Not quite yet, however, were they ready. England was to be pressed beneath a still heavier weight of tyranny, before the very marrow of her excellence, from whence the fatness of this nation was to grow, should be obtained. This settlement was not to be a sudden process. It was not a mere adventure for gain. It was the colonizing and transplanting of agents and principles of immortal truth; of agents and principles to be strengthened by an unceasing contest with outward difficulties. And the sifting of England for the best and most efficient agents in this appointed work, was a slow proceeding. They must be men who felt the stern inward power of self-reliance; the majestic connexion of the human mind with its Creator; the glory of its destiny and privilege in fulfilling his appointed plans; the inestimable value of pure, Scriptural truth, and its indispensable necessity in the work which was here to be done; who were to be employed in opening this new world, so sterile upon its surface, so rich in [9/10] its heart, and so exalted in its destiny. And after the Tudors and Stuarts had travelled over the nation with their threshing wheels of oppression sharpened to the utmost point of human invention, and had made, by this very operation, the Protestants of their day, angular enough, and indurated enough, for the purposes to be accomplished by them here; then an unseen hand lifted the curtain, and loosed the bond; and a voice of Divine power proclaimed aloud,—"There is much land to be possessed arise—go!" The field was now ready, and the qualified agents for its occupation were now provided. And it was a glorious mission; and they were fitting messengers who were appointed to it. The feebler descendants of these Anglo-Saxon Apostles of liberty and truth have abused them by their reproaches, and dishonored them as much by their professed extenuations and apologies. But the greatness, and the glory, and the power of that generation still abide, heeding no assault, and asking no defence. Never was there an embassy of greater consequence to mankind, than the faithful Protestant band who were the parents of these northern colonies. The time, the circumstances, the agents, and the purposes of these North American settlements, combined to indicate the Providence which has here constituted this most important shelter and defence of pure Christian truth. The acknowledgment of this providence is an inestimable privilege to this generation; a privilege which we are bound to remember and to perpetuate; and for the advantage and improvement of which, we must be held responsible. We are to maintain the Protestant character of this nation. With a just toleration in the conscientious worship of the Divine Being for whose providence we stand, we are to give no [10/11] countenance to either a national or individual denial of him. We are to hold no compromise with the lawless infidelity which would rob our children of the word of God, and our nation of his Sabbath; and poison the very fountains of social peace and order by annihilating all reverence for that pure religion which our fathers brought us. We are to insist upon the fact, in every relation in which it can be approached, that this nation is a Protestant nation, preserved, hedged, and fertilized by the hand of God, for the dominion of order, purity, and truth; and that this appointment must be, and shall be, faithfully and solemnly maintained.
II. The same Divine Providence has given to this generation an unlimited extent of territory, to be organized and made ready, as the asylum of rational liberty for the world; the ark of refuge for the oppressed of all nations; and we are to serve our own generation by maintaining the openness and provision of this gift. The extent to which this territory may stretch I am unable to define, even in my own imagination. A writer in a popular foreign magazine sneeringly says, "A considerable portion of the people of the United States are evidently convinced that they are the instruments of Providence in the civilization and population of the new world; and look forward to the time, as by no means remote, when their descendants and form of government shall spread north and south, to the exclusion of British rule and Spanish American republics—from Greenland to Panama." I confess myself among the portion thus described, in the general terms of the description at the least; nor can I see how the original European [11/12] settlement of this land is to be justified, upon any principles which do not equally cover the extending of the dominion and purposes of that settlement to the utmost extent of occupable reach. How much happier and better for humanity, and for Mexico herself, would it have been, had that whole abused and wasted territory been colonized and controlled, by those who were able to improve and cultivate it, for the honour and the advantage of man; had the peaceful and improving institutions, Protestant liberty and religious toleration, which distinguish and honour this nation, been allowed to put a final end to the series of sanguinary revolutions through which that wretched people have passed, and through which, we may justly fear, they will still pass, till the reign of their darkness shall be over.
The importance of our actual westward extension cannot be overrated. The colonizing of California is an unequalled wonder in the history of the world, whether you consider the rapidity of its progress, the moral dignity of its settlement, even in the midst of the overwhelming confusion of its multitudes tumbling in from every quarter, the wisdom displayed in its organization by the first generation of its inhabitants, in the first year of its occupation, or the incalculable results to which its settlement must lead, in the moral and commercial history of the world. By this process of settlement, this continent must soon become the highway to the opening riches of Eastern Asia, and the great road also on which moral and intellectual influence is to travel thither. So that either for the purposes of earthly gain, or of religious usefulness to man, we may hope the stormy doubling of the southern Capes will soon come to an end.
 Now, I call this whole extent of territory a gift to this generation; an attainment from a far higher power than the mere power of man, for purposes most important to the interests of man, and most near to the honor of his Creator. Let the suffering inhabitants of the old world come: we may reel a little beneath the burthen on this Atlantic strip, but it will be to gather strength and greatness by the effort. Let every sorrowing refugee feel, the moment he has reached our shore, that he is an American, born in that auspicious hour, and entitled to an inheritance for himself and his children after him, to be made dependent upon nothing but his own fidelity in sustaining and defending American principles of liberty, order, and truth, and carrying out in his own efforts, the great and noble purposes for which America has been opened and provided. With this extending territory we may safely invite the hardworking men from all the earth. We may tell the whole crowd of sufferers under foreign despotism, that there is a Goshen for them here, and that God has sent us before them to preserve life. Here they may cast away the iron which has entered into their soul, and rise to the manhood of their Creation, free, honored, and useful to mankind.
III. Upon this vast extent of territory, this generation has received the establishment of the most rational and orderly freedom; and we are to serve our generation, by every effort to maintain and preserve it. There are here no more limits placed upon personal independence of will, and action, and property, than the security of the social bond absolutely demands. Never was there [13/14] greater personal freedom given to man in a civilized state. Probably there never can be, in accordance with the maintenance of public order and individual security. No surveillance can here be exercised over his domestic life. No encroachment is allowed upon his family, or private relations and rights. He neither feels nor fears the intrusion of official agents upon the seclusion of his fireside; the mean graspings upon his person or his habitation, of arbitrary authority, unaccountable and supreme, and the more hateful from the very baseness of the agency employed. And yet there is a majesty in the law, which no other land on the earth can equal; a power, not augmented by tinselled robes or bristling guards, or official display, but which has its throne in the dignity of the conscience, and rules by the affectionate, reverential consent, and the united, determined support, of the vast organized majority of society. Painful but noble demonstrations have been given of this power, and of the deliberate determination of the people thoroughly to sustain it, even though the lives of infatuated individuals shall be made a sacrifice in the effort. It is this dominance of complete order in the midst of the widest freedom, which has so astonished the eyes, and bewildered the judgments of Europe, in observing us. The metropolitan police of the immediate neighborhood of London alone, is said to be ten thousand men, to guard the peace of little more than two millions of inhabitants. Probably the whole police force of the United States, for near twenty millions of people, is not so large; and yet nowhere on earth is private repose more secure, public decorum more guarded, or official authority more strictly reverenced. This is a wonderful attainment. It [14/15] seems almost an atmosphere of order. It pervades, more or less, every portion of the land. It is especially, and considering its heterogeneous population, remarkably, the characteristic of this city. How striking, too, is the demonstration which was given of this rule of order, in its calm and instinctive adoption, in the first conventions on the Pacific shores, where, though society seemed to be an unlicensed mob, the noble principles which have dignified and elevated the older portions of the nation, were immediately exalted, almost unopposed, as the basis upon which the new republic should be formed. It was the silent, but majestic influence, of the principles which first established themselves amidst the snows of New England, reaching across the whole intermediate extent, to rule also on the western ocean.
This secured and consolidated freedom is an attainment, for the perpetuation of which we are deeply responsible to our generation. But its perpetuation must depend upon reverence for the majesty of the law; upon the wisdom, caution, and mutual forbearance of the various sections of our people, in their different territories, and with their sometimes conflicting interests; upon the solemn determination of all classes to resist "all sedition, privy conspiracy, and rebellion;" to protect and maintain the execution of the law, against the power of individual opposition, or organized anarchy, however temporary evil or individual injustice may seem to arise from its administration.
Over this glorious prospect of human freedom, one sad and heavy cloud has been slowly passing; but certainly passing, as I still must hope and believe. This cloud of inherited slavery, a burden not sought or [15/16] voluntarily assumed by the people of this nation, but imposed upon them, and transmitted to them, by a colonizing parent, has been gradually and rapidly narrowing its shadow, until within the few past years. We were encouraging ourselves with the hope that the evil would be soon finally and for ever removed. We were content to wait, and hope patiently for its complete extinction, in the course which had been so successfully and happily commenced. But a violent eagerness for the immediate overthrow of the evil has, I fear, in its operation, materially retarded it, and thrown new difficulties in the way, of very peculiar and painful force. And yet, notwithstanding this discouraging interference, I would never lose sight of the purpose, by every equitable, constitutional, and Christian means, to extinguish the dominion of human slavery for ever. Unlimited and immediate emancipation upon our own soil, I believe to be impossible, and certainly ruinous to one class involved, if not equally to both. But there is one manifest remedy; and I must still labor, and hope, and pray, for the time to arrive, when the general sense of the nation shall perceive its interest and duty, by a complete and generous colonization of Africans in Africa, to loosen every bond; and thus to perpetuate, as may be so readily done, on the largest scale, and with the most glorious results, the principles of freedom, Christianity and civilization, upon that densely peopled continent, as they have been established in the rising republic of Liberia,—a community whose organization is scarcely less an honour to the United States, than the settlement of our own Pacific shores.
Of the frequent threats of national rupture and political destruction [16/17] which are heard in connexion with this subject, I shall not trust myself here to speak. Agitating as they are, I cannot suppose they will be urged, or allowed to proceed, to an actual accomplishment of purpose thus declared. I cannot believe that the gracious blessing and protection of God, over a nation which he has so remarkably fostered, have been so utterly withdrawn, that the continuance of this great Union, the last earthly shelter of the wretched, from the evils both of despotism and anarchy, is to be made dependent upon the perpetuation of suffering on the one side, or the threats of violence on the other. Slavery cannot be violently or immediately broken up in those States in which it has been inherited; and the continuance of the Union seems to me the appointed, and the only possible instrument for the prevention of this violent issue. Many months would not elapse, I fear, after the protection of that Union was thus fatally rejected, before the tragedy of St. Domingo would be repeated, on the soil which had thus cast off the guardianship of national defence; and the destruction of either one or the other of the two races involved, would be the inevitable result. To gain the final universal abolition of slavery in the United States, is one of the responsibilities we have to this generation, and to those who are to succeed us. To accomplish this result, in connexion with the great principles and purposes of our national confederacy, and in furtherance of them, is certainly another. But the maintenance of this Union, for the great moral ends in human welfare which it is to accomplish, and to secure the still greater extent of human freedom which it is intended to perpetuate, I esteem an object [17/18] for us, paramount in its importance, and for which every sacrifice is wisely made, but the final surrender of righteousness to wrong.
IV. Unlimited opportunities of public education form another privilege of inestimable value, which this generation has received; and we are to serve our own generation by the most liberal purpose and efforts to perpetuate it. The provision for this public education was a fundamental principle laid deeply imbedded under the free institutions of our country. It started with the very origin of the nation. But six years elapsed from the erection of the first European habitation in Boston, before the foundation was laid for that noble university, which is the oldest and the most extensive in our land. This principle has been valued from this beginning, as one of the most important distinctions of the nation. The school-house and the college have followed the emigrating settlement, from the first establishment of the villages on the Atlantic coast, until they have reached the Pacific shore. And Oregon, the oldest settlement there, is now sending her earnest applications across the mountains, for an increasing supply of still more elevated teachers for her rising and craving population. Americans will not be untaught. No separation from the propitious circumstances of their early national training; no pressure of labor or difficulty, in struggling for a new maintenance, even in the wilderness, can persuade them to sit down in contented ignorance, or to allow a new generation to grow up, unguided by the knowledge which their fathers had. The present public school education in the older States is the most perfect model for such an effort, [18/19] that the world has ever seen. It is, indeed, the very first attempt which has ever been made, to give universal education to a nation,—and it is an effort of surprising dignity and success. The poorest man, who supports his family in a single room, upon the wages of his daily labour, may give to his son, without a dollar's cost to him, an education as entire, as the money of the rich can purchase. This is free, public education; at the cost of the people, for the children of the people;—the liberal preparation, and the noble purpose of America, for the sons and daughters of Americans. There is no such thing on earth beside. What other nation is there, which provides this universal opportunity of public instruction? Which taxes the property of all, for this common purpose of education for all? Which lays the Bible, the sacred word of God, at the foundation of public education? Which points the poorest laborer's son to the highest position of eminence and usefulness, and bids him to strive honorably and faithfully to obtain it?
And yet the mere education of books and schools is but a part of this great plan. The idea of public education, includes the whole provision for the religious, moral, economic and social training of our population, especially the laboring portion of it; the universal purpose to elevate and set up, upon a sound and practical eminence, the working classes of men;—the disposition not to envy their exaltation, but to rejoice over all that they can do, individually or collectively, to advance the prosperity, and to honor the reputation of the nation; all these are parts of the same great system of public popular education. One living principle pervades the [19/20] whole system,—a principle which is in striking contrast with the social plans of older nations. The organization of society in Europe operates upon the fixed system to keep the poor men down; to compel them to occupy permanently the lower place. If individuals do occasionally break through the bondage of inherited restrictions, and elevate themselves to personal independence and importance, it is because the influence above them cannot prevent it. The elastic expansion of their native powers within, has proved mightier than the superincumbent pressure of the weight above them. There certainly have been glorious instances of this—instances which have honored humanity; and displayed the more remarkably in this very triumph over surrounding disadvantages, the powers bestowed upon man by his Creator. But the purpose, as well as the operation of society in America, is to encourage and help the poor man's elevation. In our view, it is a wretched characteristic of a nation, that its poor people must be always poor. Accordingly, we take off all the weights, if possible, and open the path to honor and usefulness; and urge the man to arise and reap a harvest, which is as much his own as the property of another. The social principle of Europe for every laborer is fixed depression. The social principle of America is active encouragement.
This inherited system of universal education which this generation has received, devolves upon us a most important responsibility. As years pass this responsibility grows the heavier still. The real strength of our country is in its extending advances in the intellectual and moral elevation of the people, under the blessed influence [20/21] of Christian truth, and sound Protestant instruction. What the character of the few in the two extremes of society may be, is comparatively a secondary consideration. Our national character is formed and decided by the character and habits of the working classes of men. What they are, the nation is. If they are God-fearing, and self-respecting, and mutually improving, and truth loving, such is the public aspect and reputation. And it is the privilege and duty of our nation to educate and exalt, to the utmost degree of virtue, intelligence, and prosperity, this whole multitude of our citizens; that we may say with truth, Americans are not more free and equal in the theory of their institutions, than they are in actual character, attainments, and usefulness to mankind.
V. Another attainment of our generation upon which all the preceding bear most intimately, is an increasing sympathy among our people with the residue of mankind. For this we may well offer our thanksgiving; and we are to serve our generation by all our efforts to perpetuate it. There would have appeared to be much in our location and early settlement to create a national selfishness. There has been much in our historical experience to break up this tendency to exclusion, and to call out a tender concern for the sufferings and wants of the remaining portions of the earth. Every such exercise of general or national benevolence gives to the community just what habitual acts of kindness give to the individual; an increasing desire to be useful, and a strengthening wisdom and ability to accomplish the desire.
 The cost of all the bread which was sent to famishing Ireland, was a very small price for the increased sympathy with suffering which the act displayed and called into exercise among our own people. If the gift was valuable to Ireland, it was of far greater value to America.
A striking characteristic of the present age, is the universal agitation and excitement of the human mind. The whole moral and mental world of man is heaving and breaking loose from its former bonds and bounds. The people of all nations are anxious, disturbed, enquiring. There cannot be said to be a stagnant people known upon the globe. Christian Europe and Mahommedan and Pagan Asia seem equally in a crucible, a melted mass, waiting for some impression to be received, or some new mould in which the nations are to be cast. Men are everywhere reaching after a new and a more perfect system of human government and social relations. The rights of men, as such, have been discovered and considered. Nor will they consent, for a long period to come, to be held in bondage by man, or to be bought or sold at the will of their fellow-men. One great instrument in creating this agitation, and giving direction to its demands, has been the triumphant progress of this nation, and the liberal settlement and display which it has presented of the liberty and advancement which may be obtained and enjoyed by man. With this observation have been connected most of the questions which have raised the contests of this age. These are all moral questions; questions which refer to human rights, and social possibilities, [22/23] and obligations. The strifes and wars of earth are not now the mere contests for soil, but wars of principle, conflicts for liberty of thought, and speech, and action. In all these contests, the people of this country have acquired the most intense and wide-spread sympathy. Our interests in Europe, and our anxious waitings for weekly intelligence from thence, is not that we care whether, ten thousand miles square of territory has changed its owners or governors. All such questions are soon passed by, as trifling and unworthy of thought. But the claims of men for free education, for liberty to the oppressed, for righteous conduct among men, for the maintenance of integrity, benevolence, and truth, awaken universal and lasting concern. Not only do these Atlantic cities feel the impression, but there is not a distant village in the mountains, where men are not aroused to listen upon this subject, and waiting to hear. In the meanwhile, every possible facility of communication among men has been increased. The wonders which the magnetic needle opened, the application of steam to navigation has immeasurably enlarged. The apparently impossible rapidity of communication which the locomotive steam-engine realized on land, the magnetic telegraph has distanced in an incalculable proportion. The human body may increase in any way the celerity of its motions. The appointment of this latter age is, that the action of the mind shall greatly and constantly precede it. The ocean has been made like a paved highway, for the journeyings of man. Its passages have become as regular and as certain as the motions of the cars upon the solid ground. Men of different and distant [23/24] nations are thus brought constantly together. They cannot be kept apart. Many are running to and fro, and every branch of human knowledge is increased. Thus sympathy is called out from sources, and directed into channels entirely new. But lately, for instance, Hungary was a territory comparatively unknown to us; an interior wilderness, the very names and origin of whose inhabitants were almost as strange to us as are still the inhabitants of interior Africa. Now, the wrongs, and sorrows, and bondage of Hungary, struggling in vain for freedom, are felt as if they were our own. A few years only have passed since the shores of the Pacific were to us an unknown land. A few years more only will elapse, before we shall penetrate the mighty rivers and regions of China and Japan, from those very shores, densely peopled as our own possessions. The whole world is thus opening to our influence. We enter upon it everywhere with hope, and with few obstructions. No intervening hostilities forbid our traversing the globe. When we do traverse it, there is not a people on the earth who do not welcome our flag, and rejoice to gain information of the wonderful land which it represents. The oppressing despots of the earth may loathe America. The oppressed sufferers of the earth reverence, honor and desire her. We have a mission, thus, to exercise in the world. Every facility is furnished to accomplish it, while there is nothing in the way of its perfection. The laws and the language of pure religion, of liberal government, of free institutions, may be carried throughout the earth. And they surely will be.
A temporary darkness may still cover portions of emerging Europe; but [24/25] man is yet to be made free. It may cost another sad effusion of human blood, and another reign of sorrow there. But the glorious issue will be worth the suffering. Already the common language and the combined influence of England and America have nearly belted the globe. The eastern penetrations of Britain for trade and dominion are rapidly coming round, to meet our western course. We may meet and unite together on the beautiful Pacific. The power given to these two nations of the Saxon race is a remarkable fact of this age. The keys of the earth have been committed to their charge. The printing press, the steam-engine, the telegraph, the coal beds, and even the mines of the earth, have been thrown into their hands. To a great extent, their interest and work on the earth are common. Both of them combined may regenerate the globe. Their united mission is to elevate its whole population to Gospel light and truth; to rational liberty and to prosperous trade. And all this, we may reasonably hope, will soon to a great degree be realized. The pressing advances in the course of invention, discovery and settlement, for the last twenty-five years, allow almost any extent of expectation, and make no calculations for the future appear extravagant. The new republics forming on our western coast are in this accumulation of wonders—the most important and remarkable, as connected with these anticipated results. How happy was the name given to that ocean, on which, probably, the great and final achievements of this moral victory are to be seen! O, that the omen may be permitted to abide! Let no warfare disturb its pacific waters! Let no streams of human blood [25/26] mingle with its translucent depths! Carrying still westward our acquired sympathy for suffering man, let us press forward, everywhere, to elevate and save,—nowhere to destroy. Let the attainments of the generations past be honored and fulfilled, by the generous and faithful discharge of the responsibilities accruing upon us for generations to come. Thus, in maintaining and spreading the glorious Gospel of Christ, in connexion with every instrument of national extension and power, shall we be serving our generation according to the will of God, and preparing a highway for the Savior's passage in triumph through a redeemed and rejoicing world. Thus may we justly come and offer our annual thanksgiving to the God of our fathers. Thus may we be ourselves laid unto our fathers at the last, in joyful hope for the welfare of our land when our own work of life is finished. Thus may earth have reason to rejoice over the discovery and history of a continent and a nation, whose influence has been an unspeakable blessing to mankind.