« AnteriorContinuar »
Now every reasonable person will readily grant that whatever may be the primary idea or principle in the government which a nation has adopted, all the laws and civil institutions which are also adopted in that nation should conform to that idea. For if they do not, there must be a direct inconsistency between the primary and the secondary institutions of the nation. There will arise an internal conflict, first, between the laws themselves; next, between the practical consequences which flow from those laws; and, lastly, between different portions of the nation; who will think that either the one or the other class of laws are better adapted to their wants. The house will be divided against itself; and, sooner or later, will fall. History furnishes us with many examples of this inconsistency and of its fatal effects. The growth of modern legislative assemblies in Europe, for example (just so far as they gain power); diminishes the power of the monarchy. In England we see the monarchy has become merely nominal. In France it has been twice destroyed. This is in consequence of the inconsistency of an absolute monarchy on the one hand, and of a representing assembly making laws on the other. So also we see the people in the Commonwealth of England, and in France after the first Revolution, losing their power, and the Republic destroyed, in consequence of placing monarchical powers in the hands of the first magistrate. The existence of monarchical powers in the hands of a magistrate are inconsistent with the existence of legislative power in the hands of the people. Either this despotic magistrate must be reduced to an officer of the law only, or the people will become the mere subjects of a monarch.
In the idea of a republic, then, is included the idea of a conformity or consistency between the sovereignty which the people hold in the government and their capacity to exercise that sovereignty. If the people have not both the intelligence and the virtue which is necessary to self-government, how can a republic be maintained ?
It is in consequence of this obvious necessity in republics of a higher degree of intelligence and public virtue than is necessary in monarchies, that Montesquieu makes the following remarks,* which are even more strikingly true now than a century since, when they were published.
It is in republican government that the whole power of education is required. The fear of despotic governments naturally arises of itself amidst threats and punishments; the honor of monarchies is favored by the passions, and favors them in its turn; but virtue is a self-renunciation, which is ever arduous and painful.
“Now, government is like every thing else; to preserve it we must love it. Has it ever been heard, that kings were not fond of monarchy, or that despotic princes hated arbitrary power? Every thing, therefore, depends on establishing this love in a republic; and to inspire it ought to be the principal business of education ; but, the surest way of instilling it into children, is for parents to set them an example. People have it generally in their power to communicate their ideas to their children; but they are still better able to transfuse their passions.”
* Spirit of Laws, book iv., chap. 5.
The idea of a republic includes in it, therefore, the capacity of the people—by means of religious and intellectual education—to exercise justly the sovereignty with which they are invested. In vain will either an ignorant or corrupted people seek to acquire or maintain republican institutions. There is a positive antagonism between the possession of civil power requiring the highest exercise of reason, and the want of that intelligence and integrity which are essential to the right use of reason itself. This antagonism renders the destruction of a republic inevitable, unless the people happily rise to a voluntary correction of the evil, and fortunately attain a successful reformation.
The idea of a defined republic, also includes in it a reference to the specific objects held in view, and the degree of civilization prevalent in the age. In the Republic of the United States the specific object is declared to be to form a Union, establish JUSTICE, insure TRANQUILLITY, provide a DEFENCE, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of LIBERTY. All of these may be included under the general phrase,
For without both of
-CIVIL AND RELIGIOUS LIBERTY. .
these neither union, justice, tranquillity, the general welfare, or freedom can exist;—for without these there must exist a government more or less despotic, which again implies ignorance ;-which again implies a want of those profound religious principles and high intellectual powers, without which a nation can neither maintain harmony, nor understand justice, nor tolerate freedom.
The Republic of the United States also exists in an age of the highest Christian light and civilization. The intelligence and virtue, therefore, which it must possess in order to maintain republican institutions, must be of no common measure or low degree. It must attain the highest measure of that natural light which science has revealed in developing the works of creation, and of that spiritual light which God has revealed in the scriptures of truth. At least such must be the ultimate measure of an education suited to this republic, in this age. We have now come to these conclusions :The idea of a republic, is the idea of a people governing themselves. This includes,
, also, the idea of a people possessed of that intelligence and virtue which is essential to self-government. The Republic of the United States is founded on the principle of civil and religious liberty. Education in the United States must, therefore, conform to the highest standard of modern science and of Christian civilization. An AMERICAN REPUBLIC must, then, be founded on an AMERICAN EDUCATION; an education arising out of the nature of its institutions; imbued
with the knowledge of its era; and filled with all that is free, true, hopeful, and glorious in the New Testament, revealed through Christ.
THE MEANS OF PERPETUATING CIVIL AND RELIGIOUS LIBERTY.
6 Add to your faith, virtue; and to virtue, knowledge."
2 Peter, ch. 1, v. 5.
The idea of a republic, I have said, is substantially that of a people governing themselves, and therefore implying the capacity for self-government. This again implies the necessity of an education for the whole people; an education adapted to develop the entire faculties of man,--whether intellectual or spiritual: for we must ever recollect, that the American republic has asserted new principles of government, and therefore demands an AMERICAN What are these new principles? They are, that the rights of all constitute the basis,—and the happiness of all, the object of government. These principles are the joint fruits of the progress made in civilization and Christianity. The first springs from science; the second is the child of the Reformation. These are the principles we have derived from the founders of the American nation ;-and which, we trust, will long survive the crumbling institutions of other lands.