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right and wrong among all classes, and every where we have the school and the church, the teacher and the preacher, as the great fountains of light and truth to the nation. The result of such training is not to be questioned or overlooked. The observing stranger has passed through our country, and describes it as “a land of wonders, in which every thing is in constant motion, and every movement seems an improvement; a land where no natural boundary seems to be set to the efforts of man; and what is not yet done, is only what he has not yet attempted to do.” It is the mind of a whole nation teeming with purposes for advancement in knowledge and in the power which knowledge gives. As a people, activity is our element. Idlers find themselves alone. They can meet with neither company nor countenance. The mind of every man is acting on the mind of his neighbor, thus stimulating the faculties of both to accomplish new objects and make new discoveries in the still unexplored regions of nature and of art. In illustration of this quickened and irrepressible activity, let us refer to one or two of those inventions which, acting in correspondence with the spirit of our age, are destined to work an entire change in the condition of nations, whether “Barbarian or Scythian, bond or free.”
It has been well observed that when great improvements are about to be made in human affairs, some powerful agency is provided adequate to the end, and adapted to the occasion. Prior to the reformation came the art of printing; that being an era in the history of the world, in which a new impulse was to be given to the spread of knowledge among civilized nations. We are now on the
We are now on the verge of another era, in which "the field is to be the world;" in which Christianity is to be carried over every sea and through every land of the globe; in which, to use the language of prophesy,' “ many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” For the accomplishment of this great end, we need some new instrumentality for speeding communication between the various regions of the earth; and which, for all moral purposes, shall bring the most distant nations into close neighborhood one with another. We see this wonder-working power in the recent applications of steam and electricity, which are fast annihilating both time and space. By means of the one, our vessels move on the waters in the face of the winds, and with a speed that outstrips thern; and our cars pass over the land with a swiftness that leaves our vessels far behind them. By means of the other, intelligence is sent to the terminus of the railroad, though distant thousands of miles, giving notice that the cars have just begun to move. It is through these newly discovered agencies, that seas and lands, although hitherto unexplored, are soon to become the pathways of truth and knowledge; and the good news of "Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace and good will towards men,” are to be borne "to the utmost borders of the earth.” A new longevity is bestowed on man, for the length of his life is to be measured by his power of doing good; and he can now accomplish in a day what formerly would have cost the tedious labor of months. The lever is prepared for human hands which is to do more than the lever of Archimedes. It is not only to move the world, but to transform and cover it with the light of truth. And where were these inventions first made available for the great purposes they are now answering? Whatever may be said respecting the claims of Holland to the credit of having invented the art of printing while cherishing the seeds of a republic; it cannot be denied, that in our own land of freedom, the Steamer and the Telegraph have been nurtured into activity and usefulness; and the work has been done mainly, not by men of any privileged class, but by those who sprung from the multitude; and whose faculties, sharpened by a sense of self-reliance, persevered against ridicule, wrong, and even want, till their object was gained.
The same spirit of achievement is seen in other branches of knowledge, which has so happily displayed itself in the useful arts. The time has gone by when even the mocker would dare to ask, Who reads an American book? How rapidly our Bench and our Bar have risen to eminence during the last half century; and how liberal have been their contributions to the great store-house of legal knowledge, is acknowledged wherever jurisprudence is understood and appreciated. If I may speak of my own profession, our divines, according to their numbers, have done their part to vindicate and illustrate the great truths of the Gospel. But our distinguishing achievement in religion is that in which as a people we yet stand alone. Nor is it to be traced simply to the wisdom of our divines, or of any one profession or class of our citizens. It is the result of public sentiment pervading the land. We have severed the Church from the State. We have withdrawn and secured religion, the holiest boon of heaven, from corrupting alliance with civil authority. We have discovered, if discovery it can be called, that religion is best supported when self-supported. We have brought to the proof of successful experiment, what was long ridiculed as a dream, that those who enjoy the blessings of Christianity, will best sustain her worship and ordinances by their voluntary offerings. We ask neither establishment nor toleration from the State. We require nothing but protection for all worshippers, and in any form of worship which conscience approves, and which will not disturb the peace and safety of others. I dwell on this subject the more because it so well exemplifies the fearless and truth-loving spirit of inquiry which belongs to our nation. The belief that religion could be sustained only by the patronage of the State, was indurated by the rust of ages. It formed an article in Protestant as well as Papal creeds. The Reformation, with all its power in dispelling delusions and removing abuses, had failed to create a reformed and scriptural faith on this important point, important both to the peace of the State, and the purity and prosperity of the Church. In this country we broke down ecclesiastical establishments when we broke away from colonial dependence. We made the Church independent of the State when we wrought out the independence of the nation. We have based the claims of religion for support on her own excellence, as she herself reveals it to the hearts of men; and now, having watched the working of our system for more than half a century, we find the result to be most propitious. We find it in the liberality with which the ministry and ordinances of the Gospel are sustained. In no land throughout Protestant Christendom are the clergy, as a class,