"A survey of the world and its various races in successive ages leads one to infer that God has some plan of national character, and that one nation exhibits the development of one trait, while another race gives prominence to another, and subordinates the first. Thus the Egyptian people were eminently a priestly race, devoted to science and occult lore; the Greeks developed the imaginative powers, excelling in the fine arts; the Romans were warlike, and the embodiment of force and law; the Babylonians and Persians magnificent, like the head of gold in Daniel's vision; the Arabs predacious, volatile, and imaginative; the Turks stolid, bigoted, and impassible; the Hindus are contemplative, religious, and metaphysical; the Chinese industrious, peaceful, literary, atheistic, and self-contained. The same religion and constant intercommunication among European nations has assimilated them more than these other races could ever have become; but everyone knows the national peculiarities of the Spaniards, Italians, French, English, etc., and how they are maintained, notwithstanding the motives to imitation and coalescence. The comparison of national character and civilisation, with the view of ascertaining such a plan, is a subject worthy the profound study of any scholar, and one which would offer new views of the human race. The Chinese would be found to have attained, it is believed, a higher position in general security of life and property, and in the arts of domestic life and comfort among the mass, and a greater degree of general literary intelligence, than any other heathen or Mohammedan nation that ever existed, or indeed than some now calling themselves Christian, as Abyssinia. They have, however, probably done all they can do, reached as high a point as they can without the Gospel; and its introduction, with its attendant influences, will ere long change their political and social system. The rise and progress of this revolution among so mighty a mass of human beings will form one of the most interesting parts of the history of the world during the nineteenth century, and solve the problem whether it be possible to elevate a race without the intermediate steps of disorganisation and reconstruction."
Page:The Chinese Empire. A General & Missionary Survey.djvu/446
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