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brought the final deadlock and overthrow. And for the general freedom of governmental institutions the world is indebted to the same agency. The Teutonic tribes did not bring it; they brought barbaric license. Chivalry did not bring it; that brought aristocracy and vassalage. Increasing wealth did not bring it ; that brought servility. Religious principle originated it, cultivated it, matured it, suffered for it, fought for it, and secured it. Throughout the middle ages it had been the function of Christianity to resist the tyranny of force. But the time came when a purer and deeper experience of its power was to renovate the state. He who is called "the morning star of the Reformation" brought also the dawning light of liberty; under a religious form he asserted freedom of mind for the people. Wycliffe's Bible was branded as a germ of sedition, and a Lollard was a' dangerous man. From that day the seed of civil liberty germinated in the soil of Christian principle. To Puritanism, say Hume and Hallam alike, is England chiefly indebted for her liberties; and all the earlier and much of the later stages of the progress were by struggles, not for civil, but for religious freedom. The one, be it remembered, but followed in the train of the other. So Calvinism, in its early history, was dreaded by the monarchs of Europe as no better than republicanism. “It was able,” says Froude, “to inspire and sustain the bravest efforts ever made by man to break the yoke of unjust authority." Freedom lay in it as a living germ.
a living germ. And the force which developed that germ into the massive trunk of New
England freedom was religious principle. It took such men as Latimer and Ridley and Rogers and Bilney to walk to the stake rather than yield the rights of conscience; such a man as Hampden to brave a monarch's writ, single-handed ; such men as the Ironsides to shiver that monarch's power on the battlefield ; such men as Brewster, Carver, and Bradford to forsake home and fatherland and press through a thousand sorrows to plant the choice vine in the fruitful land.
From time to time the statesman and the legislator also have come to the front, but only to formulate the unwritten law of the gospel and the Church behind them. Occasionally the excited skeptic has fumed against oppression and oppressors, often with a recklessness that meant anarchy and bloodshed, and at its best estate only floated like the foam and the bubbles on the deep, mighty current of Christian sentiment rolling resistlessly to the consummation. And whosoever shall gather up the names that actually mark that onflow will not find there the names of the world's politicians, but such names as those of Wycliffe, Luther, Tyndale, Calvin, Knox, Robinson, Roger Williams, Wilberforce, and Shaftesbury.
IV. Religious principle is needed to give vitality to free institutions when attained. The same influence that produced must preserve. If
If it took the living spirit to build up the body, when the living spirit departs the body is dead. The outward forms of republicanism are but a mechanism at best. We boast of constitution, laws, jury, ballot-box, habeas-corpus act,
and courts of justice. But the value of jury trial is just the value of the jurymen. The jury was, as one has said, the paralysis of justice under the Plantagenets, and under Charles II a blind and cruel system ; in the Reign of Terror the jury was the feeder of the guillotine; and many a lawyer in this country has seen it, at certain times and places, a mockery and a farce. Some of us have seen the habeas-corpus act become the attempted means of capturing a slave; we have not forgotten the obiter dictum of the Supreme Court in the Dred Scott case; and we can never forget how the bonds of the best of constitutions were snapped by a cyclone of reckless passion. The significance of the ballot is that of the balloter. Eighteen out of every nineteen votes made the first Napoleon consul for life; the third Napoleon was chosen president by a majority of six millions and his coup d'etat sanctioned by an overwhelming popular vote.
One of the most instructive scenes of human history was when, in the spring of 1794, Robespierre, the terrible man of blood, wearied with executions, mounted the tribune to plead with the atheistic assembly for the religion which he and they had blotted out. And as he stood and urged the restoration of religion as the only basis of republicanism and of freedom, and by his strange eloquence carried the assembly in loud acclamations and unanimous vote, “never,” says Lamartine, ,'had his attitude displayed such a tension of will or his voice such a tone of moral authority. He seemed to speak as a messenger of truth to men.” For with the reign of materialism and atheism, adds the same historian, “terror on earth succeeded justice in heaven. And when the scaffold was to give way to institutions, it was necessary to restore a conscience to the people. But a conscience without a God is a tribunal without a judge.” And one of the saddest of laments is the mournful admission of the same brilliant writer, the hero of the bright hopes of 1848, that freedom could not prosper in his beloved land because of the lack of the great moral basis of all free government.
Such allusions may seem far away to us. Yet we too have food for thought. Incredible as it seemed at the time, I remember to have used on the twenty-sixth of November, 1857, — and it is matter of record, — these very words : “ It may be that this nation is, like ancient Canaan, to be chastised with war, oppression, and convulsion, that the billows of passion are to surge across the land and sweep over all that we hold dear. The crack of the rifle may be heard on the prairies of Kansas, the booming of cannon may resound along the Ohio, and the tramp of armies along the seaboard. Human wrath has but to rise a little higher and some of these things shall be. Political corruption and judicial prostitution have but to sink a little lower, and the southern despot will indeed parade his slaves on Bunker Hill and the agitation of a free press will be silenced."
Strangely and terribly was the first half of these for. bodings fulfilled, and its fulfillment spared the last. The precipitate wrath of man praised God and saved
the state. For there was in this land, thank God! a New England zone, stretching from the East to the far West, over which the church and the schoolhouse, in fraternal fellowship, had scattered thick the seeds of light and liberty and loyalty to law, and over which, as the solemn boom of the midnight gun at Fort Sumter went rolling along, it waked wild echoes in every hamlet and every home, and stirred throbbing pulses in millions of patriotic hearts, and the land blossomed with banners and the air rang with martial music, as the descendants of the Puritans, from Maine to Minnesota, came thronging by the hundred thousand and “the hundred thousand more" to strike their strong strokes for their ancient heritage of “equal laws,” their peerless government, and the great hopes of humanity. And with them went the God of battles.
But our dangers are not all past. “Eternal vigilance” — yes, and the vigilance of the Eternal — still “is the price of liberty.” There are premonitions of a conflict wide and deep, beginning to spread through all localities and all employments, a conflict of class with class, pregnant with disaster. It is an exasperation in view of the growing inequalities of life. Call it colorlessly — a conflict between labor and capital, if you please, or color it, as the oppression of the poor by the rich or the envy of the poor toward the rich, or the conflict of idleness, ignorance, and often of misfortune, with industry, skill, and success. Still it is at bottom largely a collision between a heartless prosperity and a hardened adversity. It grows out of the lack of