Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The New Zealand Evangelist

The Prospects Of The Human Family

The Prospects Of The Human Family.

The human family consists of 860 millions of souls, speaking more than 2,000 languages. It has been divided into five classes—the Circassian race, the Mogul-Tartar race, the Malayan race, the Ethiopean and the American races. The Circassian race, with their small, finely modelled head, fine hair and symmetrical form, inhabit all Europe, except Lapland, Finland, and Hungary. The Mogul-Tartars occupy all Asia north of the Persian table-land, and the Himalaya range—the whole of Eastern Asia from the Brampoutra to Behring's Straits—together with the Arctic regions of North America, north of page 224 Labrador, and Hungary. They have “broad sculls, high cheek-bones, small black eyes, obliquely set, long black hair, and a yellow or sallow complexion.” The Malayan race, with their “dark complexion, long course black hair, flat face, and obliquely set eyes,” occupy the Indian Archipelago, New Zealand, the Chatham Islands, the Society group, and several other of the Polynesian Islands, together with the Phillipines, and Formosa. The Ethiopian, with their “black complexion, black, woolly, or frizzled hair, thick lips, projecting jaw, high cheek-bones, large prominent eyes,” occupy all Africa south of the Sahara, half of Madagascar, the continent of Australia, Mindanao, Gilolo, the High Lands of Borneo, New Guinea, Timor, and New Ireland. The American race occupy all America, from 62° of north latitude to the Straits of Magellan. They are of a reddish brown, or copper colour, with long black hair, deep set black eyes, and aquiline nose. Inhabiting different climates, from the frozen soil of the Arctic Zone to the burning sands of the Equatorial regions; fed upon different food, suited to the climate; occupied in different pursuits, both physical and mental—these different races, though sprung from the same stock, have gradually acquired those features both corporeal and mental, by which they are at present distinguished.

Is it possible that the human family thus composed, severed by language, separated by oceans, and placed at such unequal distances from the goal of civilization—can ever be combined into one harmonious community, striving in one common cause, and aiming at one common end? When we look at the white—the self-constituted aristocracy of the species—reared under civil and religious institutions, and claiming the superiority due to piety and learning, we can scarcely conceive them to belong to the same family, as the other races upon whom the light of science and revelation has not yet been permitted to shine. The difficulty, however, gradually disappears when we contemplate civilized man in his page 225 principles and conduct as an individual agent. The Christian citizen with his household, or his cargo of slaves—the gold-thirsty colonist with his ferocious blood hounds—the crafty statesman with his minions of corruption, and the conqueror with his battalions equipped for bloodshed, are not less striking anomalies among a civilized and Christian people; than the African bartering his kindred for gold—or the Indian burning the widow and drowning the child—or the cannibal drinking the blood and eating the flesh of his species. Civilization has, doubtless, improved the condition and softened the manners of the white man; and law, with its brawny arm, keeps him within the pale of social order and duty; but with all his knowledge and cultivation, and all his lofty pretensions, he is a savage at his heart; entrenched in power, he withholds from his brother the natural inalienable rights of his species; armed with authority he denies to ignorance and crime the very means of instruction and reformation; fortified with his tenure of parchment, he has even refused to the outcast—to the heart-broken penitent—to the feeble and aged saint, a spot of barren earth on which he may pour out his soul in the agony of contrition, or breathe a dying prayer to the God of grace and consolation. This is civilized man in his individual phase. This is the legislator decked in his little brief authority. This is the heartless miscreant wearing the Christian badge, and “doing what he will with his own.” It is not then by the arts of civilised life, or the extension of industry or of commerce, that we can hope to reclaim and refine the savage. This process is too slow in its steps, and too superficial in its agency. It is by the more summary process of the schoolmaster and the missionary, that the red and the black man must rise to the rank, and high above it, of his white oppressor. It is by statutes which no Solon has devised—by laws which no tyrant has yielded to fear—by influences “not of man,” that the outcasts of social life, now steeped in ignorance and crime, will be brought back into the page 226 folds of civilization, to rival in secular virtues its more favoured occupants, if not to outstrip them in those loftier acquirements, which civilization neither teaches nor appreciates.

While the nations to whom the possesion of the earth has been given are yet sunk in ignorance, idolatry and superstition, and are yielding only by imperceptible concessions to the laws which reason, and concience, and revelation have enjoined; and while the empire of Truth and Reason—of Peace and Love is seen only in the far distance, as something to which we are making an inappreciable advance,—the material world exhibits to us the same phase of transition, the same slow and measured approach to some new condition, at which it is destined to arrive. The flood of life, which is now rushing from the crowded haunts of civilization, in search of food or freedom, will in time spread itself over all lands now preparing for its reception, and there will be no spot on earth from which the voice of gratitude and praise does not arise. The great features of the earth are doubtless permanently moulded. Its everlasting hills—its boundles continents—its swelling seas—and its mighty rivers, may be fixed and immutable; but its barren steppes—its interminable deserts—its wildernesses of wood and of sand, must yet smile with vegetation and swarm with life. The diluvian wave may yet spread over arid plains the rich sediment which it bears. The volcano may yet cover with its crusted mud the very regions which it has scorched; and its lava stream may turn the irrigating current, which it stems, over the barren plains that have been scathed by its fires. The mighty forests on the Orinoco and the Amazons which now wave unseen, will yet become the coalfield of generations un-born; and the mass of vegetation which annually dies among its trunks—the verdant carpet which every returning sun withers on the savannas and Llanos of the west—and the very flowers which there blush unseen, will add their tribute to the great store of combus-page 227tion. The Condor of the rock; which no eye but One has descried within its cleft of basalt, or upon its peak of granite; and the tiny Humming-bird, whose brilliant drapery no eye has admired, will be consigned to the same mausoleum of stone, and re-appear in some future age to chronicle the era of their birth.

Let not the Christian Philosopher view these anticipations as at variance with the truths which he cherishes and believes. If the inspired Historian of Creation has withheld from us the eventful chronicles of the world previous to its occupation by man. Inspiration has been equally silent respecting the revolutions it has to undergo. Science has carried us back to primceval time, through long cycles of the past, to disclose to us views at once terrible and sublime. It is our only guide to the events of the future, and whatever may be the catastrophes which it predicts, or the secrets which it may disclose, it can teach us no other lesson than that which we have already learned—“that the world and the works that are therein shall be burned up,” and that there shall be “a new heaven and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.”