And how has it always been advancing; to the just
judgments of the past, adding the discoveries of successive ages!
The generations that hand the torch of truth along the lines of time, themselves become dust and ashes; but the light still increases its ever-burning flame, and is fed more and more plenteously with consecrated oil.1
How is progress manifest in religion, from the gross symbols of the East
to the sublime philosophy of Greece
, from the Fetichism of the savage to the Polytheism of Rome
; from the multiplied forms of ancient superstition and the lovely representations of deities in stone, to the clear conception of the unity of divine power, and the idea of the presence of God in the soul!
How has mind, in its inquisitive freedom, taught man to employ the elements as mechanics do their tools, and already, in part, at least, made him the master and possessor of nature!2
How has knowledge not only been increased, but diffused!
How has morality been constantly tending to subdue the supremacy of brute force, to refine passion, to enrich literature with the varied forms of pure thought and delicate feeling!
How has social life been improved, and every variety of toil in the field and in the workshop been ennobled by the willing industry of freemen!
How has humanity been growing conscious of its unity and watchful of its own development, till public opinion, bursting the bonds of nationality, knows itself to be the spirit of the world, in its movement on the tide of thought from generation to generation!