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may we assert that the Reformation is the source of American liberty.
The last point to be discussed, which must be treated with more brevity than it deserves, considering its intrinsic importance and its value in the argument, is, that the American Revolution is under great obligation to the Reformation, owing to the direct influence exerted by that event, or its legitimate consequences, on the minds and souls, the habits and feelings, the principles and maxims, of those who were the chief actors in that vast and glorious achievement.
It is an interesting fact in our early history, that the first colony ever planted in North America was planted by the direct influence of the Reformation. Half a century before the landing of the Pilgrims, and a quarter of a century before Raleigh attempted to colonize Virginia, a colony was planted through the energy of the brave and devoted but unfortunate Coligny, who afterward perished in the massacre of St. Bartholomew's eve. In May, 1562, a colony was founded at Port Royal Inlet, now embraced by the county of Beaufort, S. C., and a fort built which was called Carolina, in honor of Charles IX., the subsequent murderer of so many thousand brave and unsuspecting Protestants. The object of this colony was to give a place of refuge to the persecuted Huguenots, who, from the time that Francis I. opposed the Reformation because he thought it destructive to monarchy, had been the objects of dislike and ill-disguised persecution. The object of its noble founder was to establish a vast French Protestant empire in the new world, which should fully imbody the great ideas of the Reformation. Had not this plan been frustrated by the frenzy and cruelty of Popery in the assassination of Henry IV., the revocation of the edict of Nantes, the bloody massacre of St. Bartholomew's eve, and their subsequent results, the project would probably have been successful; and America, instead of being an offspring of England, would have been a child of ancient and chivalrous France, to whose warm and generous impulses it has always had more affinity of feeling, than to the cold reserve and stately pride of the haughty and self-styled mistress of the ocean. And we may remark in passing, that it can be shown with undoubted clearness, that but for these same causes, by which the Reformation was so nearly crushed in France, the French Revolution in its bloody form would most likely never have occurred; the structure and character of the French government would have been entirely different, and the destinies of the world would not have been written in blood and hell-fire as we now see them recorded. These speculations, however, we forbear.
But although this effort was frustrated by the blind and bloody zeal of the Jesuits of France and Spain, we know that afterward, when France, by the revocation of the edict of Nantes, not only murdered thousands of her Protestant children, but drove more than five hundred thousand of her best and bravest subjects to seek beyond her limits an asylum of freedom to worship God, the new world became a place of refuge for the persecuted of the old. The children of the Huguenots in the struggle of the revolution retained their ancestral love of freedom; and in the halls of congress, and on some of the hotly-contested fields of the south, left the same testimony of the Protestant spirit of antagonism to tyranny, that yet speaks in the blood of their martyred fathers from the vine-clad hills of sunny and beautiful France. Thus the Huguenot spirit, which was in part the imbodied spirit of the Reformation, a spirit of high and ardent longing after freedom of thought, of speech, and of action, untrammeled by priestcraft or kingcraft, engrafted on a national and hereditary jealousy of England, produced in its influence on many of the colonists that indomitable love of liberty, and that steady resistance to the encroachments of British oppression, that were the animating spirit of the revolution.
But when we think of the men who gave character to the revolutionary struggle, we instinctively turn to the land of the Pilgrims, and on Plymouth Rock we see the fire kindled that proved the beacon of the world. Had New England not been what she was,
old England would not have been what she is ;-the rival instead of the mistress of America. The spirit of the revolution first appeared there, because it had been there planted by the men who forsook home and fatherland for "freedom to worship God." Its first imbodied organizations were there formed, for there had England first sown the dragon's teeth that were to spring up armed men. The first victims that bled on its green altar were the children of the Pilgrims. The first giant blow that sundered the bonds uniting the old world and the new, was struck on the soil that enshrined the hallowed dust of the Pilgrim fathers.
It is a curious fact, perhaps sufficiently authenticated, that in consequence of the civil and ecclesiastical oppression of Charles I., that monarch "who never said a foolish thing and never did a wise one,” while the same persecuting spirit was still rife that drove the Pilgrim fathers in 1620 to seek a grave in the wilderness, rather than a home in oppression, Oliver Cromwell and the immortal Hampden, in 1637, were actually on board a vessel in the Thames bound to New England. The vessel was prohibited from sailing
-. by an order of council, and Cromwell and Hampden ordered back,
soon to put the heel on that government that had thus placed an interdict on them.
Whether this be true or not, there was yet many a "village Hampden," and many a Cromwell, "guiltless of his country's blood," in that noble band of emigrants, and they left their own high and free spirit as their most priceless legacy to their children.
There is no one, who knows anything of the history of this period, that knows not, that the Puritan was at once the child of the Reformation and the child of liberty. From the persecutions of the infamous house of the Stuarts, whose maxim was, “No bishop, no king;" and from the free air of Genevan liberty and republicanism, they imbibed on the one hand a hatred of tyranny, and on the other a love of freedom. It is true there are those who make themselves merry at the expense of the Roundhead: and the whine, the cant, and the oddities of these men are all that they can see worthy of their notice. But they who do not look at men with the eyes dancing-master or a for, can see in the Puritan some of the noblest lines of the human character. Wherever we see him, we find the same great traits of lofty purpose, unshaken faith, patient reliance on the truth, and undying love of liberty. John Hampden, that pure and lofty spirit who combined the tongue of a Henry with the heart of a Washington, was a Puritan. John Milton, that man of fire, whose love of liberty was a consuming passion, and who would have been the greatest patriot and the greatest statesman of his age, if he had not been the greatest poet, was a Puritan. The men who enacted the most important parts in the two great revolutions of England, and by whose treasure and blood their most valuable results were secured, were Puritans. The Puritan imbodied the soul of the Reformation, and bequeathed it to his descendants, who in the Hancocks, the Adamses, the Otises, the Warrens, and the Franklins of the revolution were worthy of the lofty and unflinching spirit of their fathers.
Nor were these the only elements mingling in this mighty production of the advancing history of the world. “God sifted three nations for seed to sow this virgin soil.” There mingled with the conscript fathers of the republic, who traced their ancestry to the Huguenot and the Puritan, the children of the men who on the level plains of Holland wrested from the bigoted Philip the heritage of the Reformation. The descendants of these men inherited this glorious patrimony, and asserted it at Saratoga, White Plains, Monmouth, and Princeton.
Thus, in the Huguenots of the south, the Puritans of NewEngland, and the republican emigrants of the United Provinces in the middle states and New-York, all of them men cradled in the principles of the Reformation, and men who gave the tone to American liberty, we have the direct influence of the Reformation in producing, shaping, and consummating the struggle for the freedom of our fathers.
Nor was the coincidence of such training and such a part in the drama of the world's history merely accidental. These were men whom it is not hazarding too much to assert, that Popery, in her unmingled influence on a people, never could have produced. If she could, where are they? Has not a thousand years been long enough to bring them forth? Why then have they not appeared? Why have they been only the children of the Reformation? Is it not because the Reformation alone was capable of generating such men? What were the traits of character required by the revolution ? Were they not precisely that boldness, firmness, and independence of spirit produced by the Reformation ? From the very nature of the movements, were not the attributes of mind required for each, identical? Are not the men who achieved both, remarkably similar in character? And do we find such men coming forth as the legitimate offspring of Popery? Why is it thuson any other ground than the hypothesis defended in this discussion? But whether Popery could produce such men or not is an immaterial point in this argument: is it not true that in point of fact, the Reformation in its legitimate results did produce and mold the very men who achieved the revolutionary struggle? If so, this is all that we need for the establishment of this branch of our proposition.
We have thus shown, if we mistake not, that the Reformation, being a revival of the free religious spirit of the New Testament, tended at least to pave the way for the assertion and maintenance of the doctrines of the revolution, and being securely planted on the soil of America, inspired the love of liberty and prompted its demands; that, as a great movement of the human mind in Europe, endeavoring to free itself from the trammels of prescriptive authority, it found its first and fullest legitimate development in the birth of the American nation; and also, that in its direct influence on the mere individuality and personal character of those engaged in this struggle, it produced the men qualified for the crisis.
Combining these considerations, we are at liberty to conclude that the Reformation was in the sense before explained the source of American liberty.
This discussion is not one of barren, useless speculation. There are causes now at work in our midst that go to show that we are not done with the struggle of 1520. Let this land become deeply imbued with the pure and plastic spirit, with the piety, the morality, and the free soul of the Reformation, and the hallowed structure of our liberties, erected in such troublous times, may bless the eyes and gladden the hearts of future generations. But let the contrary be the case, and the star that rose like that of Bethlehem, to lead the weary wanderer westward to a glorious destiny, shall set in darkness and blood, the last hope of a wretched and downtrodden world.
Art. II.--Essay on our Lord's Discourse at Capernaum, recorded
in the Sixth Chapter of St. John. By SAMUEL H. TURNER, D. D., Professor of Biblical Learning and Interpretation of Scripture in the General Theological Seminary of the Protestant Episcopal Church; and of the Hebrew Language and Literature in Columbia College, New-York. Harper & Brothers, 82 Cliff-street, N. Y. 1845. The popular mind of this country, though commonly considered enlightened, is certainly not a very reflective mind. We read much; but do we think much? Newsprints, pamphlets, books, and publications of every imaginable sort, are continually passing through our hands. But do we stop to deliberate over their contents ? Does not the incessancy with which we have to keep swallowing down this endless variety of intellectual food, necessarily forbid any wholesome digestion of it? Then, again, our pursuits and our habits as a people rather indispose us to silent, accurate reflection. The very activity of which we boast is fatal to critical inquiries of a speculative nature; for it is chiefly a mechanical, out-door activity. We rise from our beds in the morning—perhaps catch up our Bibles, and read a chapter as we dress ; but the rattling of rail-cars, the giddiness of motion, the anxieties of business, the din and bustle which everywhere surround us, quickly dissipate the impression of what we read, and by noon it is well if we can recollect the place at which we opened.
Or, if ever we do study and search, it is generally for some result sensibly affecting ourselves, either immediately or more remotely. Knowledge is rarely acquired for its own sake.
“ This machine at which I am laboring, I wish to get a patent for, and make my fortune by it.” “This address which I am preparing, I expect to deliver to-night before an applauding assembly.” “This