LECTURE Published: March 16, 1860.
A lecture was delivered on this subject last evening, in the German Presbyterian Church, Sixth-street, near Second-avenue, by Dr. Hitchcock. The lecturer commenced by stating the problem to be to determine the laws of civilization. There are three erroneous theories: 1. The Pantheistic. 2. The Humanistic. 3. The Materialistic. These all agree that barbarism was the original state of man. The true philosophy of history stands opposed to all these, and, giving to man his proper freedom, discerns all the workings of the divine hand.
The first great law of civilization is the Divine intuition, inspiring and shaping it. Was the first state of man barbarism, a crude capacity with a tardy development, or a God-given civilization? Most certainly the latter. But self-consciousness reports a schism within us, which theology calls sin, and it was the fall of our first parents into this sin which was the beginning of barbarism. Then came the other form of civilization, the Redemptive, and around this all history centres. AUGUSTINE well says, “The history of the world is the history of redemption.”
The second great law is, the genius of the races. The one great race is divided, historically, into strikingly different races; the three great lobes of which are the Hamitic, the Shemitic and the Japhetic, each of which had its work to do. The best races are the mixed; and what nature has to do in this country in the making of a new amalgam, it is not yet time to say. The ballot-box is to permeate everywhere, for the only proper self-government is the Anglican.
The third great law is, the shaping pressure of outward causes. Man is everywhere, more or less, in bondage to nature. The civilization which Noah had, he got from a former age, and the trouble was to keep it from being burnt out by the South or frozen by the North; it must be temperate then, and Asia proving too rank, it was transplanted to Europe. And here, in our own country, we see our circling oceans, our fertile prairies and our keen air setting their features upon it.
The fourth great law of civilization is, its dependence on moral stamina. Why do nations die? One epitaph will answer for all: “They died of immorality, and immorality is suicide.” Our mother England has lasted fourteen hundred years, and there is no wrinkle on her brow; it is the result of moral, Christian, Protestant stamina. And as Americans, it is for ourselves to say what shall be our longevity.