Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 18.djvu/213
General Joseph Eggleston Johnston. 213
uous plan in the rise and fall of empires. Hence the Prophet ascribes to Him the "wisdom and might" which are necessary to this sove- reign administration ; and in " removing and setting up kings." He alone " reveals what is in the darkness " by means of " the light that dwelleth with Him."
Our relations to God are not alone those of the individual. Observe that we are born in the bosom of relationships, so that no one liveth or dieth to himself. From the first breath we depend upon others for the preservation of that life which from others was derived. Until in adult years we assume our own position in the world, we are under the law of the household and yield subjection to the authority of the parent. In this primary commonwealth man finds himself face to face with God, not in the isolation of his indi- vidual being, but in the association with others where joint duties are imposed and correlative obligations are assumed. Indeed, in all the stages of life we drift upon the current of our social instincts into associations of various kinds, and the guilds thus constituted, as they turn upon a common interest, are all animated by a common spirit ; which gives to each a communal character and form. Countless as may be the units of the human race, they co-exist as the factors of a constituted whole. The threads may be single, but they are woven into a texture which combines them all. How minute soever each may be when separated and alone, it is indispensable to the integrity of the fabric, whose beauty and strength would alike be impaired by the slightest flaw. The Providence, therefore, over the individual necessarily aligns him with the society to which he belongs ; and thus the Divine rule is extended over the whole breadth of history through all ages. Thus we find men distributed into races and nations, each enclosed within corporate limits, under such environ- ment and acted upon by such influences as to evolve a composite character.
It is thus we speak of race and national characteristics that differ- entiate entire communities as clearly as the personal traits which dis- tinguish the individual. It is a most interesting study to investigate the elements of which this aggregate character is composed, and to enumerate the subtle influences by which it has been fashioned. But whether the analysis be successful or not, we are obliged to accept the obtrusive fact that there is, for example, such a thing as na- tional integrity and honor, quite as sensitive as that of the individual