a higher and a better state of being

One of the earliest theories respecting the progress of society, has been the regular tendency of our race to decline and degradation.

This theory, the result partly of tradition and partly of poetic fancy, carries back the mind to a golden age of primeval excellence, and represents the progress of mankind as a continual departure from. Those occasional exhibitions of6 lofty virtue and of noble self-devotion which mark the establishment of new States and Empires,—the stern integrity of Regulus,—the high-souled magnanimity of Fabricius,—it regards only as the ineffectual struggles of exalted minds to check the downward tendency of our race, and as swept away by the resistless current of human corruption.

This theory was transmitted even from remote antiquity,—interwoven with the superstitions of that early time, by the implicit of each successive age, and destined to exist till that religion of which it was the offspring, should be crushed beneath the wider and the nobler system of Christianity.

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