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and leads the shaggy-maned horse by the yoke round his neck, and the untamed bull of the mountains; and he learns oratory and perception quick as the wind, and civil polity, and is able to extricate himself from every difficulty, to escape being exposed to the air and keen driving showers of the barren and homeless hills; he comes upon nothing of the future without being able to extricate himself: from deatb alone he can effect no
Again, it is clear that a belief in an especial protection from on high has ever been deemed indispensible to ennoble human motives, and furnish adequate support in time of danger. Cicero says the immortal gods provide not only for the general necessities of men, but also for those of each man in particular, extending their protection not only to whole continents and cities, but also to each of their inhabitants ; so that such men as Curius, Fabricius, Metellus, Cato, Scipio, and Lælius, never rose to their great merit without divine aid. Hence it was, he continues, that all the poets, and especially Homer, have assigned certain divinities to their heroes, in order to accompany them, and assist them in all their adventures, as in the case of Ulysses, Diomedes, Agamemnon, and Achilles. And that disposition to regard men as the instruments of a supernatural power to fulfil divine decrees, is well represented in the dying words of Patroclus to Hector : “Rejoice now, Hector, for Jove has given you victory." The ancients did not think that it derogated from the glory of a hero to ascribe his triumphs to an over-ruling power. Sylla imputed all his success to fortune; thinking, says Plutarch, that such an opinion added an air of greatness and even of divinity to his actions. Zenophon records the argument of Socrates in combating Aristodemus, who held an opinion like modern sceptics, that the Deity was above condescending to take any interest in the concerns of men. Sophocles, in a magnificent passage of the Electra, paints the impotent prosperity of the wicked. And with what force and majesty does the genius of Demosthenes proclaim like truth to his desponding countrymen ! "Truly, 0 Athenians, I should regard Philip as a most formidable and overwhelming advesary, if I believed him acting justly; but it is not possible, O Athenians, that a power should be permanent which is marked with injustice, and perjury, and falsehood.
Diodorus affirmed that piety towards heaven is essential to the magnanimity of a nation; and Plato said, with equal justice, that the spirit of reverence is a better inheritance than gold. Plotimus taught that God should be praised in the things we understand, and admired in those which we understand not; while Socrates, catching some rays of still brighter inspiration from afar, felt that “a mortal nature could never rise to such greatness as to despise the force of animals of superior power, to pass over the sea, to build cities, to found states, to observe the heavens, to behold the circles of the stars, and the courses of the sun and the moon, their times of rising and setting, their eclipses, and return of the equinoxes, and the solstices, and the pleiades, the winter and summer, the winds and the showers, and the destructive path of the lightning, and to immortalize the events of the world by monuments, unless there were indeed a divine spirit in the soul from which it possessed such knowledge; that, therefore, man passes not to death but to immortality; and that instead of experiencing a loss, he will become capable of pure enjoyment, independent of a mortal body, unalloyed and void of every uneasiness ; and when once delivered from this prison, he will arrive where all things are without labor, without groans, without old
age, where there is constant peace and calm, a state of contemplation and loving wisdom, in which one was not to address a multitude, but truth itself, which flows round on all sides.”
Thus we see that the nations of old were conscious of immortality, and of an overruling Providence. But we have a more sure word of testimony unto which we will do well to take heed, until the day dawn and the daystar arise. We are the creatures of a moment, but the heirs of eternity. Neither ourselves, our acts, nor our God are accidents. No race or nation, art or science, discovery or invention, but is divinely subordinated, in its right time and place to the accomplishment of its particular mission. There is much meaning in Baxter's axiom : "Man proposeth, but God disposeth." Let us apply this thought to human pursuits in general, and to Commerce in particular.
Why did not Jehovah plant the Jewish institutes on the steppes of Asia, and unfold the diviner splendors of Christianity in the central solitudes of America ? The omnipotent and omniscient God is the last to waste his strength or misemploy his wisdom in acts which are incompatible with the highest good of the greatest number of his creatures. The order of his government, and the disbursement of his resources, are especially designed to teach us the grace of common sense, so that, while we devoutly implore heavenly assistance, we may discreetly husband its earthly use.
The celestial guide which rose on the view of the wise men in the east, led them westward towards the sea, and has ever since been the pole-star of human progress. Civilization has always moved “o'er the western main," while Commerce has been its chief instrument aad perpetual channel. The grandest throne of power is water, not land. The banner nation of the world, whose ascendency is most pervading and complete, is the one in whose hand lies the scepter of the seas. All civilized people have ever lived where great rivers formed free avenues to thought, and the grandeur of oceans was at once the field and nutriment of national power. There is no wealth, material, mental, or moral, that is not identified with exchange. Without diversity, there can be no development; and out of the widest difference, the highest and most harmonious unity is a natural result. This is made legitimate by the law of God, instances of which appear at every advance of human progress.
All the active races of antiquity occupied the shores of the Mediterranean. Its maritime climate, blending oceanic softness with continental rigor, teemed with the densest and most diversified population. Cities studded its coasts ; fleets plowed its billows; mental and commercial wealth coursed along its mirror of all grandeur for ages, when as yet the pagan Olympus reflected in its depths, and the goddess of beauty emerging therefrom, were the only faith and hope those vast multitudes enjoyed. But a new era dawned with a splendor that eclipsed mythologic fables and Jewish traditions. At the eastern extremity of this central sea, at an equal distance from the three continents, and in the exact center of the known world, God raised the sublimest curtain of his purpose, and unfolded the glory of redemption. The promised land was first selected as the sanctuary of religious truth during the reign of polytheism, and as the theater for the preliminary wonders of salvation, in order to prepare its way from afar among men, and subordinate to its service the most intellectual and active influences of which history preserves a memorial, and mankind has enjoyed the fruits.
God and the whole destinies of nations are sometimes most manifestly on board a single ship, struggling with adverse elements far out on the deep. Take a well-known illustration. About thirty years after the ascension of Christ, a vessel from the east came into the harbor of Syracuse, and, after a delay of three days, proceeded towards the great western port of her destination. Suppose there had been at that time an enterprising commercial journal published at Puteoli. Suppose a news-boat were kept on the lookout, and a telegraph from Rhegium, the southern city of the peninsula, transmitted every arrival to the editor's chair. Word comes, is put on the exchange bulletin and published to the common eye: "Ship Castor and Pollux, from Alexandria, Captain Zebulon, is coming up, with a cargo of wheat consigned to Barter, Gain, and Co., of this city, and lot of prisoners under Colonel Julius, bound to the imperial dungeons of Rome." Probably there might have been a little talk about the wheat in the Mark Lane of that day, but who
reflected on the real import of that simple and common place dispatch ? Who had the profound sagacity to see concentrated in that single, transient craft, the wealth of Africa, genius of Asia, and power of Europe ! In that hold lay the sifted treasure of the primitive university and granary of nations; every seed of which, to the end of the earth, is predestined to spring with a potency and productiveness that will shake like Lebanon. That citizen of Tarsus, the central city of the central continent, with fetters now corroding his flesh and eating like aspics to his soul, has absorbed into his magnificent nature the solidity of the north and the splendor of the south; a sea of glass mingled with fire; all treasures that genius can create or industry acquire; with the superaddition of that infinite superiority which grace alone confers; and all this aggregate of mental and spiritual endowment he bears in bonds to the throne of the Cesars, that thence he may rend the chains of the world. Each separate link wel with his tears or tinged with his blood, like the iron that pierced his Lord, scattered in fragments by the outburst of latent divinity, shall give hope to the despairing everywhere, the highest freedom to both faculty and limb. European power has its fitting representative in the centurion, first cowering in the storm and finding safety in the wisdom and forbearance of the piety it persecutes, and then, percbance, exulting in the arbitrary might of martial force, by which another victim is added to the lust of dominion and the pride of kings.
Christianity came to Rome at the auspicious hour, when all antecedent powers had been wrought into effective instrumentalities for the widest and most rapid diffusion of the gospel. With pickax and spade, her legions had been toiling for centuries to construct spacious roads, by means of which apostles might compass the ends of the earth. Whatever may be the selfish aim of man, his skill and power are predestined perpetually to construct improved supports to the weary wings of the heavenly dove, as she speeds from shore to shore with the tidings of love and peace. She was first pulled in at the window of the ark, because that craft admitted no other rest; but the ships Solomon laid under contribution to religious purposes were differently rigged, and the celestial emblem voyaged at mast-head. In modern times, Providence evermore simplifies natural elements, and recombines their potencies in almost supernatural energy, so as to send the sanctuary of all ennobling influence, “tramp, tramp, along the earth, splash, splash, across the sea;" and that dove, quickened and fortified by the contact, flies, as the lightning darts, from clime to clime.
Look at the seat of this society, its surrounding facilities, sublime duties, and chcering results. Old Johnny, the Britisher, had a pretty respectable son, called " Jonathan America." At what time, and for what “manifest destiny" was this youngster born? A few facts connected with our own history will yet further illustrate the divine use of Commerce.
The tide of civilization bad flowed from the Euphrates to the Thames, accumulating all diverse elements as it swept from clime to clime, from sea to ocean, a mighty amalgam, to be recompounded on a yet remoter and grander field, for a sublimer use. On the 13th of May, 1607, an English colony was planted at Jamestown, Virginia. These were aristocratic Cavaliers, sent out under the auspices of a decorated knight, Sir Walter Raleigh. In 1620, a colony of den,ocratic Roundheads, lead by a parson, also departed for the new world, and in the north, like their predecessors of the south, found a domain well fitted for their use. Neither as the special paradise of dignified laziness, nor as the asylum of privileged bigotry, bad God made this continent. In 1609, Hendrick Hudson, an Anglo-Dutchman, in the service of the East India Company of Holland, sailed from the Texel for the discovery of the north-west passage to India, and landed on the North River Flats, a long way above Manhattan Island. This grand blunder won from the States general a patent for the exclusive trade of the Hudson, and in 1621 this metropolis of New-Netherlands was built. About the time Hans Hendrick accomplished his commission so well, the London Company directed their chief to explore some stream running from the north-west, for the purpose of finding a passage to the Pacific Ocean. Accordingly, Admiral John Smith the first sailed up the Chickabominy as far as he could in flat-boats, and ran into a nest of Indians, who did themselves the pleasure to kill and scalp the whole expedition, save the immortal John, and would have served him ditto, but for the tender mercies of Her Royal Highness, Mademoiselle de Pocahontas. Never mind; sublime purposes are struggling into fulfillment. A succession of colonies are planted, national independence is declared, and both civil and religious freedom are won. Now we behold the ultimate design of Providence more clearly unfolding. The chivalrous south and puritanic north have sprung into the matured development of hereditary character and local prepossession. From the first, and always, they are antagonistic in spirit and pursuit. Bring an ultra Northener, with his one idea, and an ultra Southerner, with his one idea, suddenly together, with no mitigating conservatism between, and they instantly explode, to the great damage of contemptible littleness on both sides. But the Dutchman has vis inertia enough in his make to moderate anything; and Infinite Wisdom put him at the outset in exactly the right situation to the primitive elements and prospect've relations of all this mighty land and conglomerated population. The Hollanders were the pioneers and masters of Commerce on every ocean ; and the emporium of trade they founded on our shore, God designed to become the center of all commercial enterprises amongst mankind.
The third President of the United States, perhaps least solicitous in bebalf of maritime prosperity, did most to promote it. Mainly by his influence, Louisiana was purchased, and thus we came in possession of the Mississippi, with its myriad tributaries. Simultaneously with this, an anomalous craft moves out amidst distrust and jeers from the foot of Courtlandt-street, to find its strange way against wind and tide, impelled by a momentum hitherto impracticable or unknown. Why the steamboat at this time, and in this place? Young and feeble as is our trade, we own more inland navigation than all the world besides, and divinely directed genius has given us at the right moment the mighty instrument of aggrandizement we most of all need. These rivers of God, rendered fruitful by Fulton's creation, shall accumulate our greatest wealth, and guaranty our firmest liberties. The little North and the little South may prate in vain ; for when their impotent impertinence demands, “Sball we rend this national compact!” a power
infinitely grander and more conservative than they, the great West, towers like a Colossus amidst pigmies, and exclaims in thunder, “No! you shall not divide the Union !" Every puff of the tiniest engine that winds its way to the foot of the Rocky Mountains, answers to the merry cry of seamen weighing anchor on board the hugest craft at New Orleans or New York, “No you shall not break a single strand of the triple cable of patriotism, religion, and Commerce, destined to bind all America in one grand brotherhood !"
The exact middle of the nineteenth century arrives, and finds two startling and siguificant events transpiring at the same moment. The first is a thrilling cry from the far-off Pacific, resounding everywhere, “Gold, gold!" Why then, and in that particular region? Because the old antagonists, Feudalism and Freedom, are in the arena, hot for the fight, and portentous clouds darken the scene. Most opportunely, that which for six thousand years has been kept hid, is suddenly revealed. The combatants are charmed into peace, or disertated by spectators. The Anglo-Scotchico-Irishico-Frenchico, Dutchico-Americans, who will go to the mouth of the cannon, or the month of hell, any time, for a dollar, rush after the glittering prize, and in self-defense plant free institutions on the Pacific, as on the Atlantic coast. Thus will they make the mightiest mountain terrace of our continent the well-proportioned pedestal to Liberty's central altar for all mankind.
The other fact to which we alluded was, that, just preceding this new outbreak of emigration, one who for many years has been identified with Fulton's invention and sphere, laid the keel of the first successful steamship ever registered in this port. She was not dispatched for Havre, or Bremen, or Liverpool, but for New Orleans. Why? Because the “ Crescent City" was predestined to form the first link in the most stupendous chain of Commerce under heaven. Where is the mind capacious enough, and armed with prophetical audacity enough, to conceive and announce the magnitude of Western trade in America, as it shall swell and waft towards its first home and latest seat of predominant power, New York ?
But the past is a warning as well as incentive. The republic of Venice built itself upon maritime prosperity, grew rich, forgot God, and perished. Italy refused to use the priceless treasure of hearenly truth as its Author requires, and her wharves, like her altars, are rottenness only. The Spanish Peninsula imitated the fatal example, and her national power sank like lead in the deep with the shattered Armada. The supreme sway of the seas passed into the hands of England the very year her sons first settled in America. Since then, filial emulation has fully shared that glorious supremacy; and now the word of God and the welfare of nations is intrusted entirely to the devout fidelity of those speaking our mother-tongue, and swaying almost the entire tonpage of the world. Let us fear lest Tyre shall be at once our type and history. If we are loyal to our Maker, our growth can never outrun our stability; but if we are recreant to our highest duty, prosperity will surely become our speedy ruin.