History of The Scottish Nation Vol. 2

History of The Scottish Nation Vol. 2
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THE opening of the fifth century brought with it changes of transcendent magnitude and importance in Europe. For ages the arms of the South had overflowed the countries of the North, but now the tide of conquest turned, the North was bearing down on the South, and that haughty Power which had subjected to her sceptre so many tribes and realms, was about to suffer in her turn the miseries of foreign invasion, and taste the bitterness of a barbarian yoke. These changes were preparatory to the erection of a kingdom which was destined to flourish when the victories of Rome had crumbled into dust.
We must here pause in order specially to note the deadlock into which the affairs of the world had come at this great turning-point of its history. Its three leading nations are seen to be unable to advance beyond the point at which they had now arrived. Hence the necessity of bringing new races upon the stage if the human march was to go forward. This extraordinary position of matters must be taken into account and distinctly apprehended if we would intelligently follow the course of succeeding events; and especially we would understand the place of the Scots in general history, and the part they were selected to fulfill in the cause of Christian civilization and constitutional liberty. It is here that we find the key of modern history.
Till this epoch the business of the world had been left in the hands of the Jew, the Greek, and the Roman. These were its three leading nations. The march of all three was towards the same goal, but they approached it on separate lines. The world’s work was too onerous to be undertaken by any one of them singly, and accordingly we see it partitioned among the three, in fit correspondence with the age in which each flourished, and the peculiar idiosyncrasy with which each had been endowed.