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nature, (and we cannot consent to such a sacrifice on any other condition,) humanity is thereby degraded in ourselves, Till we repent of the fatal act of suicide, we can never esteem humanity in any being for what it is, nor ourselves for what we are. We of necessity become incapable of great thoughts, feelings, and sentiments in respect to any subject whatever.
1. In applying the principles we have thus elucidated, we notice, in the first place, the great and almost universal error of humanity. Humanity is every where false to itself. In the regard of mankind, the merely accidental, the temporary, the changeable, and the finite, have supplanted the permanent, the changeless, the eternal, and the infinite. "What is life? 'Tis but a vapor," is the universal response. Yet life, with its mere accidents, is all to man. If we descend to a consideration of life itself, we find that even here the accidental, instead of the permanent, controls the regard of mankind. The principle which controls the race, with few exceptions, in respect to food, drink, and dress, for example, is not, as it should be, a sacred respect for the laws of life and health, but for appetite and custom, however injurious and absurd their directions. Humanity, for want of selfrespect, is thus guilty of perpetual self-degradation. Every individual, in exact proportion as he is controlled by a regard to the accidental, the temporary and finite, instead of the permanent, the eternal, and the infinite, becomes incapable of the great thoughts and emotions, together with the pure, expanded, and divine virtues, to which his nature is adapted, and the exercise of which his nature demands.
2. The real basis of very many of the leading institutions, civil and religious, together with that of the mass of the controlling principles and opinions of the age, next claims our attention. All legitimate institutions in church and state, institutions which have a valid claim to perpetuity, have their basis in the permanent elements of universal humanity, and not in any accidental circumstances. Now let the question be asked, on what do the leading opinions, customs, usages, and institutions, civil and religious, actually rest? and what would be the answer? Should we be guilty of slander, if we should affirm, that they generally rest upon accidents, and upon nothing else? Their claim to perpetuity is not that they ought to be, but that they are. How few individuals, for example, can say with truth, the position which we occupy in society, and
the opinions which we hold, we occupy and hold as the result of careful, original, and independent investigations of, and a sacred regard for, the permanent, the right, the true, and the good! Would not the true reason, in a vast majority of instances, be this? We are what we are, and where we are, because our fathers held the same opinions, and occupied the same position before us. The great thought of determining, from any original, independent investigations, what ought we to think? and where and what ought we to be? yet remains to be developed in our minds. As clay in the hands of the potter, we have most submissively received the mould and form which usage, which the mere accidents around us have impressed upon us. From our forefathers we have inherited a glorious nobility, that of never thinking for ourselves, and consequently of never being anything in and of ourselves.
The above remarks are, in a very special sense, applicable to bodies of men, associated together in civil or ecclesiastical relations. All such associations, especially those of the latter class, should have one heart, in this one important respect, a pervading desire and intention, to modify, mould, and conform, their opinions, their usages, and their organizations, to the perfect pattern of truth and rectitude. Every religious organization, not pervaded by this spirit, most fundamentally misrepresents Christianity. Every civil community, under the influence of the opposite spirit, is a disgrace to humanity. But where, either in church or state, does this spirit obtain a pervading influence? With a very few rare exceptions,
echo answers, where?" Where, for example, is the religious denomination, the mass of whom would not prefer existing error, however gross, to any new truth, however important in itself-truth, the reception of which would require an essential modification of its creed, or system of ecclesiastical organization? In such bodies the maxim generally obtains, that "whatever is, is right," and he to the church is the greatest of all enemies, "who tells her the truth," if the truth revealed has not already a lodgment in her creed.
3. The character of the great reformatory movements which constitute the leading feature of the age, next demands attention. All such movements professedly have one common basis, and aim, each in its particular sphere, at a common result, the direction of the regard of mankind, from the temporary, the changeable, and the finite, to the permanent, the unchangeable and the infinite; the dissolution of all
institutions and usages, resting upon mere accidents, and their re-organization in full and perpetual conformity to the fundamental laws, rights, and interests of humanity. This is the affirmed direction of every professed reform. It is the real direction of every real reform in church and state.
Here we have the proper test to be applied in determining the character of every such movement. If it has its basis in the permanent and unchangeable laws, rights, and interests of humanity, it demands our highest regard. If not, it is an object of mere temporary interest, or of no interest at all. The anti-slavery reform may be referred to in illustration. This movement, as we have before remarked, has professedly its basis in the eternal and immutable distinction between a person and a thing. It consequently wages a war of utter extermination with every institution, custom, and sentiment, in which humanity, in any condition, and for any reason whatever, is regarded and treated as an article of merchandise. How can the character of such a movement be determined? By à reference exclusively to the fundamental elements of human nature itself, to humanity, as it lies revealed in the depths of our own inner being. If we discover, among the fundamental elements of our own being, a reason why we should not be thus held, we discover a reason which does and must render the individual guilty of infinite wrong, who thus regards and treats any other individual of the race. If this movement has its basis in these elements, it will demand our high regard, while humanity remains what it is, and it will command that regard, as long as our real respect for human nature continues. We cannot contemn the movement, without ceasing our respect for humanity itself, for ourselves, and all other individuals of the race, because we are men. Opposition to such a movement, is a declaration of sentiment against humanity, a suicidal consent to its degradation. The moment we do this, we cease to be able to respect human nature for what it is, or ourselves for what we are. Our respect for both alike, what little remains after the perpetration of such a deed, has its exclusive basis in mere accidents. Humanity is united to us in such indissoluble bonds, that we cannot disesteem it in the least of the sons of men, without its being in a corresponding degree disesteemed in ourselves, and all the race besides. It is hardly necessary to add, that the above remarks are equally applicable to all the other reformatory movements of the age.
4. We are now prepared for a contemplation of the nature
and character of the elements in conflict throughout christendom, and of the great question at issue between the parties in these conflicts. There are in reality but two parties in christendom, either in Church or state. There are but two elements in conflict, and but two questions at issue. The elements are conservatism, on the one hand; and free, independent thought, on the other. The questions at issue are simply these: whether all institutions and usages shall stand simply because they exist, or whether they shall conform to and find their basis in the permanent laws, rights and interests of humanity. Every man, whatever his apparent position may be, really belongs to one or the other of these parties. He is the partizan of one or the other of these great questions. The following extract from the late Dr. Thomas Arnold of England deserves very special notice, as expressing, in a very forcible manner, the thought now under consideration.
"It seems to me that the real parties in human nature are the conservatives and the advancers; those who look to the past or present, and those who look to the future, whether knowingly and deliberately, or by an instinct of their na ture, indolent in one case and restless in the other, which they themselves do not analyze. Thus, conservatism may sometimes be ultra democracy, sometimes aristocracy, as in the civil wars of Rome, or in the English constitution now; and the advance may be sometimes despotism, sometimes aristocracy, but always keeping its essential character of advance, of taking off bonds, removing prejudices, altering what is existing. The advance in its perfect form is Christianity, and in a corrupted world must always be the true principle, although it has in many instances been so clogged with evil of various kinds, that the conservative principle, though essentially false since man fell into sin, has yet commended itself to good men while they looked on the history of mankind only partially, and did not consider it as a whole. I myself am conservative in all my instincts, and am only otherwise by an effort of my reason or prin ciple, as one overcomes all one's other bad propensities. I think conservatism far worse than toryism, if by toryism be meant a fondness for monarchical or even despotic government: for despotism may often further the advance of a nation, and a good dictatorship may be a very excellent thing, as I believe of Louis Philippe's government at this moment, thinking Guizot to be a great and good man who is looking steadily forward: but conservatism always looks backward and never forward, and therefore, under whatever form of government, I think it the enemy of all good."—Life, vol. i, p. 396, vol, ii, p. 19.
Christendom presents everywhere a very singular spectacle at the present time. The elements of society civil and religious are every where in conflict, and every where the parties in the conflict are really one and the same; the advancers on the one hand, and the standstillers on the other; the former urging on the correction of existing abuses, the extermination of error, whether new born, or hoary with the frosts of sixty centuries, and the universal reception of heaven-descended truth; and the latter "standing still with all their might."
There is no civil community, nor any great denomination
called Christian, within the circle of our knowledge, that is an exception to the above remarks. Every where too the principle, in conformity to which the conflict is carried, on, is one and the same. On the one hand, the appeal is made to facts, to reason, to the permanent rights and interests of humanity, and to original and independent investigations of the law and the testimony;" and on the other to authority, to usage, to creeds and councils, to accidents instead of the permanent and unchangable.
5. There is a sentiment often uttered by standstillers, and uttered too with an air of cowering triumph, which we will now turn aside to contemplate for a moment, a sentiment embodied in the question-" What have we at the north to do with slavery?" This sentiment, so often uttered by men calling themselves Christians and Christian ministers, indicates a retrogression in religious principle far behind the dictates of enlightened heathenism. "I am a man," said an ancient heathen, "and whatever concerns humanity concerns me." Aside from all other considerations which require us to lift our voice for "God, the slave, and liberty," there is one of a purely subjective reference, which presses upon us with infinite weight. All the elements of universal humanity, as they exist in our own, exist also in the soul of the slave. Can we be uninterested in the question involved in the extinction or vindication of his rights, to wit, whether these elements, in the possession of which alone we have a pre-eminence above the brutes that perish, can lawfully be esteemed and treated as articles of merchandise? We cannot refrain from a stern vindication of the immutable rights and interests of humanity in him, without consenting that the same elements in ourselves shall be classed with four-footed beasts and creeping things. No man can give utterance to the sentiment under consideration and respect himself or any other individual of the race, as man. The man that gives utterance to such a sentiment bears upon his forehead a mark infinitely more dark than that of Cain, the mark of a foul traitor to the dearest rights of universal humanity itself.
6. The true idea of education, and of an educated man and woman next claims our attention. The great want of universal humanity is a knowledge of truth, and a state of feeling and action in harmony with truth manifested to the mind. To this great end all the mental powers are, as designed by the Creator, in fixed correlation. The intellect is adapted to one result-the discovery and retention of truth,