602 POLITICAL SCIENCE.
and excess in pleasure ; and below even these is a loss of faith
in religious realities, a want of belief at once in God and in
moral virtue. This may take the positive form of absolute
denial of any divine existence, united with contempt .for ele-
vated motives of action, which made the full-blown ancient
tyrant; or the painful scepticism that wanders from one creed
or philosophy to another, doubts everything, and is too
irresolute to have fixed principles of action. The Greeks
after the age of Alexander show these traits to a sickening
degree. All ancient faith was gone ; prudential morality was
the highest principle of character. The nobler men studied
philosophy, and there was no field for them in the public
world. The same feelings, especially that of sceptical despair,
appear at Rome and greatly help on the corruption of society.
Indeed, it would seem to be made out, both on historical and
on a priori grounds, that all heathen religions are doomed to
be destroyed by natural and moral philosophy revealing
their inconsistencies with the physical world and with the
highest principles of morals. It is idle to hope that political
institutions which need support from religion and morals
can maintain themselves when both give way.
The question must now be asked, whether the institutions
the uiMitn- of modern society have any such independence
frnwUTn ',on- , , , , ... < ,
f.Misiiunmu ? upon faith and moral principle, that their energy
could survive an age of atheism and profligacy? Can mod-
ern society, in its superior wisdom and with the experience
of the past all stored up for its use, be able to steer its way
sagaciously and successfully without any religion at all; and
can morality have its clue sway when it is a mere conviction
concerning what is wise and good, apart from the motives
which the Christian religion, presents to mind and heart?
On a subject requiring long discussion we can offer but one
or two considerations.
The history of the past docs not authorize the opinion that
nations carry down within them any great amount of wisdom
from one generation to another. At least they cannot be
thought capable of duing this without carrying dawn with