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progress, is ever itself the greatest obstacle to its true realization in the steady growth of national virtue and national wisdom.
A predominant trait of the modern radical philosophy is its strong tendency to an extravagant individualism. Indeed, this is even boasted of as being in fact a characteristic excellence of the age. Our lecturers are continually following each other in the remark, that in former times of darkness the individual man was of little account, whilst the state was everything. Now, it is said, the individual is, at length, advanced to his proper dignity. We deny the assertion and demur to its pretended philosophy. The Almighty alone exists per se. The true dignity and worth of every created thing, and of every created intelligence, is found in its settled relations to the organism of which it is a more immediate member, and in the relations of that organism to higher, and so on evermore as we ascend upward in the vast scale of organized being. Here alone the true worth of the individual is discovered. It is sunk, marred, and utterly lost when severed from such connection. It then falls from the high dignity of organic membership into the nameless and valueless condition of a fragment,-a fragment of a disorganized heap or It becomes an atom-for this is not a term of dimension merely an atom without relations, having no loyos or reason, and even incapable of being truly named. The chief of the ancient philosophers doubts whether true being even can be justly predicated of anything thus viewed. At all events, to use his language, it may be rightly called äyrwotov xai ahoyor, irrational and unknowable ;-having no science, because viewed aside from all relations, from all membership, from all organic existence. Thus regarded, man has no rights, because these are inseparable from organic obligations. His very individuality perishes when this suicidal paralogism separates him from all those organisms of the family, the state, and the church, in which, and through which, God designed that his true dignity as an individual should be most effectually brought out. :
It is, in fact, by making much of the state, and other organic relations, that the individual or personal obligations are most prominently manifested; whereas the opposing philosophy, in utter inconsistency with its own pretensions, is ever running into the abstract, and magnifying those easy, impersonal virtues which inflate the soul with a gaseous self-conceit, because they require no defined practical duties aside from oratorical commendation of themselves, and a self-righteous and malignant censure of everything else that does not assume the same false elevation. Thus it is loud in praise of humanity, philanthropy, universal benevolence, or love of being in general, whilst it makes but little or no account of the true individual or domestic excellencies, such as the personal "charity that edifieth (or
buildeth up) instead of "puffing up," personal gratitude, parental affection, conjugal love, filial piety, the social feelings of neighborhood, attachment to home, reverence for the church, loyalty to the state, and, in this way, the love of the whole through the members, instead of that irrational and unnatural mode which utterly reverses the process which God has established.
This tendency to a hideous individualism, in the very worst sense of the term, is not confined merely to the false theoretical philosophy of the day. It is exhibiting, in some quarters, the most dangerous practical results. Its necessary tendency is to disorganization, to experiments on the infinite divisibility of society. Families, states, and churches, lose their cohesion, and begin to crumble before it. Self, selfishness in its worst form, self-determined if not self-determining wills-in other words, the absolute claim of each individual to be bound by no laws and no organic relations to which he has not given his own self-creating and self-imposing assent,-this is the certain result if carried out in all its political and social bearings. We have called it a hideous individualism, because its tendency is to animalize and barbarize humanity. Through the organisms that God has appointed, man is ever gradually getting above his lower individual life into something higher, and which can be reverenced on that very account. On the other hand, as a mere fragment of an ever fluctuating mass, he must become more selfish, more irrational, (because viewing himself aside from binding relations), more unscientific and unphilosophical in every department except that of the merest physical knowledge, and, in this way, and as a necessary consequence,-ever more and more animal. It is the characteristic of the rational nature, that it strives to exist, ev ar It ever tends to live its whole life, the past in the present, and these as containing virtually the ever developing future. The animal nature, on the other hand, lives in the present; and just in proportion as it is animal, does the present become its all in all; until the prospective and retrospective reason vanishes, because present influences immensely magnified fill the whole angle of vision; or, in other words, the soul becomes all sensorium. The age, with all its boast of thinking, is, in some respects, verging rapidly to this. The very things on which we found our claim to superiority over all others, our facilities of intercourse, our rapid transmissions of intelligence, our swarms of newspapers, our never ending excitements, all increase the tendency. They leave no room for sober thought; in other words, they stifle reason by making us live wholly in the passing present, crowding upon us, without intermission, the ever shifting scenes of its panorama unnaturally magnified and hideously distorted as they pass.
Hence it is, that while in the true organisms which God has
ordained, the feeling of accountability is ever quickened in proportion as the true idea of membership is acknowledged and reverenced; so, on the other hand, man viewing himself, not as a member, but as a mere floating particle of a mass, or a mob, or of societies that approach the nearest to these, is ever more animal, more depraved, and with less of the power of conscience and accountability, in the inverse proportion to the numbers with whom he is thus selfishly and atomically associated.
The rational man, we have said, ever lives the past in the present, and thus he gets a steady law or constitution of the soul, ever controlling present animal influences by past associations which have become, in a measure purified, by the abstraction of the sensual, the selfish, and the individual,-leaving only the pure rational residuum. So also in respect to nations. Mobs, or masses, or states resolved into mobs and masses, can have no true history, because they have no coherency, no growth, no past existence living over in the present, (which must form the law of the national as well as of the individual soul,) of course no law but present severed influences,-if we may give the name to that which takes no form from what precedes, and can, therefore, impart none to that which is to come.
It is also frequently said, that the main design of Christianity was to counteract this ancient heathen view which magnified the state, and to bring out the idea of the individual importance. This, to be sure, with those who are fondest of the position, is very far from being connected with any thought of eternity. They have reference to this life, and this life only. But take it in the highest sense,-How, we ask, did Christianity enhance the importance of the individual man? Manifestly by revealing a higher organism than those social or politicial systems, which it was never intended to supersede-the higher organism of the church-that celestial rolevua, or citizenship, which was to have its place among visible societies on earth, whilst its Head abode in heaven. It was the introduction of a new and higher order of organic life, to resist more effectually than the others could do, that principle of death, or tendency to decomposition, which had been introduced by human depravity, and which ever threatens to resolve society into a disorganized mass of separate, selfish, individual-right-asserting, and warring atoms.
We have spoken freely of some of the radical tendencies of the times, not because there are not many aspects of our age, as of all ages, most full of hope to every believer in Providence and Christianity, but because right in this quarter, do we conceive, lies our greatest danger, and, therefore, right here should be the loudest warning cry. We are in no peril from ultra conservatism. We are in no danger from too high a reverence for
law. We run no special risk of becoming too fond of the associations of the past. We are in no danger at all of too severe laws for the punishment of crime, or of their being too rigidly enforced. We are in no danger, at present, of that frightful monster, the union of church and state.
We are in no danger of feudalism, or of large permanent landed estates, whilst the laws of descent, and the spirit of speculation, and the restless passion for rambling and pioneering, are continually smoothing the highest waves of inequality, and ever, in one or two generations, bringing those who have been on the topmost swell to a level with the lowest. It is safe to say, too, that we are in no danger of too much Christianity. But we are in danger of infidelity; we are in danger of radicalism; aye, and of socialism, too, much as a certain class of conservatives may affect to sneer at it. We are in no great danger of any aristocracy, except the ever dissolving one of wealth, but we are in danger--shall the writer dare to utter it,--we are in some danger of rather too much democracy. Our fair republic, as long as its fundamental ideas of representation and constitutional stability are rigidly maintained, may be held to be one of the truest and purest organic forms through which the spirit of law has ever breathed. But we are in danger of bringing it to the condition of an immense bloated mass, having no law of life in the whole, or any of its parts, but the spasmodic motions of the present opinion, expressed in the present physical force, ascertained in any way that may please the present accidental demagogues of the day. In spite of all our checks of representation, we are fast becoming an unmixed democracy. This might do for so small a state as Athens; for these they daily saw each others' faces, and there was in this some slight check of accountability. But let the time come when a public sentiment, or something assumed to be such, got up by corrupt partizans, sustained by a reckless press, perseveringly proclaimed to be the will of the democracy, (and in this way actually becoming that will, as far as outward expression is concerned, because few dare to resist it at the hazard of being thought unpatriotic,) babbling about destiny, and, under this unmeaning phrase, hiding schemes of gigantic .wickedness for which no man feels directly accountable because it is all thrown on this invisible agent-when such a sentiment, we say, thus borne by an irresponsible influence throughout our vast territory, shall be felt to be the real sovereign power, if we may not call it law of the land, superseding all other law, be it constitution, be it judicial precedent, be it all that connects us with past generations-when this is then will there be presented a demon form of anarchy and animality, an irresponsible power for evil, immensely beyond any
thing that ever sprang from the turbulence of the ancient demo
The French revolutionists, it is said, have been making progress, and will doubtless continue to do so without interruption. But let us look to ourselves, and see, if we can, what progress we have been making, and whether we can really expect better things from France. Now, there is no doubt of our progress in steam, and railroads, and magnetic telegraphs, and in the multiplication of school books, and newspapers, and lecturers. But what of progress in the only thing that deserves the name, and without which all else is only a more rapid march to evil,-progress in the growing power of conscience both national and individual, progress in public morality, in the extended feeling of national moral accountability, progress in rationality, in triumph over impulses and animal recklessness, over demagogueism, and the power of political cant, and a blind party spirit that bows down the neck with a more galling and degrading yoke than was ever imposed on the Carolinian slave or the Russian serf? There is no need of extravagant general statement, or of any railing invective, or of any minute detail. The matter may be easily tested in a spirit of truth and soberness. Let any serious well-informed man look back for a quarter of a century, present to himself a few plain questions, and then let conscience give the answer. Let him ask himself-Are we, as a people, more rational and less animal, than in the more youthful and immature years of the Republic? Are we less under the power of unreasoning impulses? Have we, as we have grown older, been more and more inclined to bring all questions of public policy, especially so grave a one as that of peace or war, directly to the eternal law of right and wrong? Do those even, who oppose such a proceeding, or any other evil measure, have the manly virtue to put it solely, or even mainly, on the ground of conscience, or is it not the case, that the very expression, conscience-men, has become a contemptuous by-word among parties? Has there even been manifested a lower vileness than this, in men who pronounce measures unnecessary, unconstitutional, wicked, and unjust, and yet can meet in caucus and gravely resolve that party policy demands their support? Has it been easier, or more difficult, of late, to get up a spurious public sentiment? Have our elections, and especially our presidential canvass, been becoming every year more and more pure, more rational, more dignified, more evincive of a ruling desire to call out the highest, and purest, and best tried mind of the nation? Have the political destinies of twenty millions of souls been regarded every year with a growing conscientiousness, and a more solemn feeling of responsibility as the awful charge increases in importance; or have these tremendous interests been regarded