Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 18.djvu/214

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page needs to be proofread.


214 Southern Historical Society Papers.

and for the assertion and protection of which, as all history attests, the most desolating wars have been waged.

No less true is it, that organized societies are invested with trusts, greater or less, for which they are held responsible before God. Just as individuals are thrown into different providential positions, are endowed with different capacities, and are called to the exercise of different functions, so it is with kingdoms and nations. Why, there is China, with her four hundred millions of people nearly one-half the population of the globe yet without adding a fraction to the general history of the world. There is Africa, stretching its length between the Tropics and beyond them, occupied for thousands of years by naked savages engaged in internecine and tribal wars ; yet, so far as the broad record of mankind is concerned, the Dark Continent might just as well have been sunk in the depths of the two oceans which wash its borders utterly dead, without a history.

Going back to what is termed the history of the past, look at the monotonous continent of Asia, with its ancient colossal empires, fol- lowing each other in almost funeral procession, without diplomatic intercourse, each swallowing its predecessor, and without breaking the dead level of Asiatic civilization, until it was impinged by the progressive people of Europe. Here again is this Western Hemis- phere on which we dwell, and where from the beginning the Red man has roamed through primeval forests ; so far as history is involved, it might as well have emerged only three hundred years ago from the waters of the sea to become the home of a ripe civilization and of its immortal records.

Now, in contrast with all of this, look at little Palestine, of no larger extent than one of the smallest States of this Union, yet the historic pivot upon which the Old World empires were balanced. What an illustration of the sovereignty which allots to nations the trusts which they are to fulfil that around this little Hebrew State Tyre and Sidon, Egypt and Syria, Babylon and Persia, Greece and Rome, should revolve as satellites, finding their significance in its history, as the moons of Jupiter find their office in attending the orb around which they sweep ! Who can interpret these anomalies in the divine admin- istration ? Only He who knows His own purpose in the creation and distribution of races and nations, can explain why the few and the weak should be chosen for the highest achievments. In what we fondly style the philosophy of history, the attempt is made to fix the