Historical Geography And Ethnography -- By: E. C. Tracy
BSac 11:42 (April 1854) p. 217
Historical Geography And Ethnography
Translated from Rougemont’s Essai d’une Géographie de l’Homme1
1. Man And Nature
We have, all a feeling, more or less distinct, that nature has great influence upon us. It seems to us that her action is adverse to our liberty, and oftener prejudicial to us than for our advantage. Under the influence of an instinctive fear that she excites, we shrink from a thorough examination of the relations that exist between her and man. We feel that we cannot too much enlarge the interval which separates rational from irrational existence; and are impelled to believe that the best thing for us is, to withdraw ourselves from every physical influence as much as possible. Yet the study of history, the study of nature, and the study of man, all lead us, though by different paths, to the consideration of this delicate subject. Multiplied investigations
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have led to the conclusion that the influence of nature is even far greater than has been generally supposed; and, by a secret tendency towards materialism, the greater number of men of science have shut their eyes to all those facts which establish the superiority of man, and have given prominence, on the other hand, to such as prove his dependence; they have narrowed down more and more the sphere in which man is free, and have ended by declaring that the soul is the slave of the body — that there is no soul. Historical geography, then, the object of which is to investigate the influence of countries upon nations, is certainly one of the most perilous domains of science; and he that trusts himself there, without the Christian faith for his guide, is likely to go astray.
Our understanding is naturally either too limited or too blind to grasp, at once, the opposite extremes of truth, or to avoid continually sacrificing the soul to the body, or the body to the soul, spirit to matter, or matter to spirit, the infinite to the finite, or the finite to the infinite. Christianity alone, overthrowing, at once, the degrading falsehoods of materialism and the noble errors of the idealists, proclaims to the world realism and its mysteries. The “unknown God” whom it reveals, is God become man. It teaches that man receives into his heart the spirit of God, which renews and sanctifies the body as well as the soul; that, when time shall be no longer, the soul shall again dwell in its human body, and man, risen from the grave, shall be forever man; that the earth participates in all the fortunes of our race; that faith hath the promises of the life that now is as well as those of the life that is to come; and, even as under the Mosaic dispensa...
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