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conscientious. There is a better truest expediency in their ultimate sense in which we do right in not and extended operation. And as a committing ourselves to others. The part of this operation it should be phrase should not always seem re- observed, that so soon as any consi. proachful, since we read of One who derable number of men come to act “ did not commit himself” (oux &rlo. thus independently, their influence, TEU&v) unto the multitude, “ because instead of being thrown away, must he knew all men.” We put too become exceedingly effective and much faith in men when we of salutary. Let all parties understand course identify our judgment or will that besides those who can be count. with theirs. We have no right to ed in their ranks, there is a reserved throw off our personal responsibility body who can be won only by the in political affairs upon a faction, integrity and wisdom that mark their any more than on a church in reli- men and measures. It must then gion. It is not patriotic nor man- become more obviously the interest ly to surrender our opinion and of every party to bear such a charchoice, or to have none of our own, acter, by most successfully aiming when we are entitled to maintain at the good of their whole country, them.
rather than at any factious and infeBut it is said, that by such a course rior advantage. Parties will still as we recommend, one throws away exist, made up mainly of such as his influence,—that his single effort, know not how to think or act withbeing alone, is lost, whereas in con- out them; yet they will find a salu. cert with others it would contribute tary check and guidance among as to the result, and might secure it. many as may move independently There are cases in which such a con- yet harmoniously toward the public sideration is legitimate and impor- good. The history of our elections tant, but it is not the only one to be shows that a few men may hold a regarded here. The present effect casting vote between contending of such a course, or its bearing on hosts. Let but a fiftieth or a hun. the success of a particular measure, dredth part of the freemen of this is not of the highest consequence. land take their individual positions, It
may be better that a man should aloof from the control of every facthrow
away his influence, than wield tion,--and the crisis may come it effectually, yet in a manner which which will put the nation's destiny sanctions a growing and alarming into their hands. evil,-better that he should act sin. Something more, therefore, is due gle-handed, or not at all, than that from conscientious citizens, than he should make himself efficient as merely to lament the prevalence of the tool of a demagogue, or the slave party spirit, as an evil which can of a prejudiced and corrupt multi- not be remedied nor alleviated. So \tude. His first care should be, his far as they partake of it, the remedy conscientious use of whatever influ. is in their own hands. It is at once ence he has, whether other men desirable and practicable for them conspire to carry out or frustrate to speak and act and vote, not as that influence, and he will be hap- partisans, but as individual friends pier, though his favorite measure of their country, as citizens who fear should altogether fail, though the God, and regard their responsibility candidate he approves should be ut- to him in their use of the privileges terly defeated, than in any success he has given them, and who esteem to which he could otherwise contric truth and righteousness to be the pabule. To act thus is not to disre. ramount interests both of individuals gard all expediency, but to maintain and of communities. If these words certain principles which carry the of ours shall stimulate any of our readers to such republicanism, we people have received at least one have done the “ state some ser- signal rebuke for the fierce and revice.”
lentless violence of party feeling. And if other dissuasion from party We had seen factions run high, and spirit were needed, besides the mis- dash against each other with noise chiefs that have been named, we and fury. At last a brave old man would say, that God has summoned rode on the top of the wave, the idol the American people to the correc. of the multitude, the chief of a trition of this evil. He has suffered
He has suffered umphant majority. One month was party spirit to prevail so far as to be allowed for victory. We shall not
. come, in a degree, its own punish- soon forget the day when the bells ment. The people have been alarm- rang out their joyous peal in wel. ed and ashamed on account of ex- come of him whom the nation de. cesses and frauds, to which nothing lighted to honor, nor that other day could have led but the madness of when the same bells tolled in an. partisanship. It is the common fore- nouncement of his more imperious boding of thoughtful men, that if summons to another world. At other grounds of apprehension for once bitter reproach and intempethe harmony and liberty of this na- rate applause were silenced. Partion in years to come were removed, tisans felt themselves fearfully ada most formidable danger remains in monished. The lesson, if it has the rage of parties, as it has been been disregarded, can not yet be forwitnessed in other republics, and gotten. Now, as then, God would sometimes in our own. We can not have us remember that, more mobe insensible to the necessity there mentous than all political contenis for reformation here, before we tions, there is a conflict going on may indulge confident expectations between truth and error, between as to the purity or permanency of righteousness and sin, in which ev. our institutions. Nor can it be yetery man individually participates, forgotten,—the singular dissonance and that far above all factious in our public affairs reminding men leaders, the Lord reigneth, and that of it from time to time, that this “the Lord—he is God.”
THE RELATIONS OF MAN TO THE MORAL LAW.*
A DISTINGUISHED writer on moral lations are fixed and unchangeable. science, President Wayland, main. Guilt and innocence depend upon tains, that an action may be wrong the knowledge of these relations in itself or naturally wrong, and and of the obligations arising from not morally wrong; or that what
them. As these are manifestly susa person can not do lawfully, he ceptible of variation, while right may do without contracting guilt. and wrong are invariable, the two “Right and wrong," he says, “de. notions may manifestly not always pend on the relations under which correspond to each other.” In his beings are created; and hence the opinion, a person may in certain obligations resulting from these re. cases fail to do that which from
the conditions of his being he is un* The Elements of Moral Science, by der obligation to perform,' and yet Francis Wayland, D. D., President of be innocent. This position we conBrown University, and Professor of Moral
Unless we are Philosophy. Chap. III, Sect. 2d, pp.
sider untenable. 88-98.
greatly mistaken, there is nothing which can wholly justify the volun. equivocal dictate of conscience to tary doing of an act by a moral disregard them. agent which is contrary to his obli. Should this proof be furnished, gations, or which it is in any sense the following points will be estab. wrong for him to do.
lished, in the light of which, the Whoever will consult the chapter actual relation of man to the moral referred to in President Wayland's law will be obvious. work, will see that his opinion is Innocence and guilt are coextenfounded on two groundless hy. sive with right and wrong in human potheses, namely, that mankind may conduct. sustain relations of which they have The guilt of an agent, in a given
a at the time no. hint or are necessa- case, is not measured by the actual rily ignorant, from which neverthe- results of his misconduct, but by less obligations arise ; and that they the resistance of his will to his duty. may be totally ignorant of obliga- Man is to-day responsible for that tions arising out of their known rela- amount of virtue and well doing tions. Every transgression of such only, for which he now has a caobligations is, he thinks, wrong- pacity. but not necessarily morally wrong. We say then that man sustains This depends on the cause of the no practical relations, none in represent inability of the agent to spect to which he is called to act, know the rule of rectitude. If his or out of which obligations arise, of ignorance is owing to his own pre- which he has at the time no intimavious misconduct, our author con- tion or is necessarily ignorant. The siders him responsible (liable to cause of his inability to perceive punishment) for all the misdeeds the relation—whether it be natural that he ignorantly commits. But imbecility, want of opportunity, or if his ignorance is not owing to his his own previous neglect or perown fault, he considers him inno- verseness-can not in any way
afcent. In the former case wrong fect his present obligations. Whatand guilt are correlative; in the ever may be his present disposition, other they are not—the agent does and effort, he can not now know, a wrong act without criminality. for example, that there is a GodConfident of the correctness of these then he sustains no practical relaviews, our author is emboldened to tion to God. The heathen, who take another position, not indeed have never heard of Christ, are not more indefensible, but more mani. naturally, any more than they are festly at variance with sound phi. morally, obligated to believe in him. losophy, namely, that man is con- The want of Christian faith is not stantly responsible for all that ca- a moral wrong in them; neither is pacity for virtue, and all that use- it a natural wrong; that is, they fulness, to which he would have bring no evil on themselves or on attained by a life of uninterrupted others, and transgress no law, by obedience to God. Such, we are hot believing in Him of whom they persuaded, is not the relation in are thus ignorant. They neither which man stands to the moral law; do what is forbidden to them, nor in proof of which we shall endeavor neglect what is required of them. to show, that man sustains no prac. Faith in Christ in their circum. tical relations, of the existence of stances, is not required by the conwhich he has no intimation or means ditions of their being ; nor is any of present knowledge ; and that he duty arising out of the Christian can not be so ignorant of the obli- revelation. Their obligations are gations arising from his known re- confined to the narrower circle of lations, as to be impelled by an un- natural religion-to the relations
which they perceive, and which subject. When such an intimation they now have ability to perceive. is wanting, the mind not only does Their duty is measured by the rules not perceive, but can not yet perof rectitude applicable to perceived ceive the existence of the relationand perceivable relations. By obe- and conscience does not bind itdience to these rules, they would the rule of rectitude does not rebe prepared to receive Christ as quire it—to act in harmony with soon as they should discover his that relation, or to pay it the slightexistence. But at present they sus- est regard. This was not the posi. tain no relation to him which tion of Saul of Tarsus in respect imposes obligations on them, so to Christianity. He did not indeed that their want of Christian faith is perceive the Messiahship of our wrong, and, if it can be traced back Lord. But he had a hint, an inti. to some past misconduct of theirs, mation, and evidence at hand, of criminal. Thus universally, rela. the truth of this claim of Jesus of tions, of which man is necessarily Nazareth. The claim he knew he ignorant, are not yet sustained by had not fairly investigated, so that him in any practical sense ; they he could not with a pure conscience are still in futurity as the sources reject it. His ignorance of the re. of obligation, like the filial relation lations of Christ as the son of God, in infancy; and no obligations now was not in fact total—for this inti. exist in regard to them. A found- mation was sufficient to bind his ling may arrive at manhood in ig. conscience not to reject Him withnorance of his origin, and be daily out farther inquiry. The position, associating with his parents without therefore, that man sustains no ne. knowing them in this relation. It cessarily unknown relations from is then in no sense wrong for him which obligations arise, will bear to treat them as indifferent persons. to be modified by substituting for The conditions of his being do not “necessarily," totally, or absolutely. require him to act the part of a son Whoever is totally ignorant of a to them. A knowledge of the rela- relation is under no obligation in tion might promote the happiness of respect to it; for total ignorance both parties, but while that knowl. excludes every intimation of its exedge is wanting, there is nothing istence, and implies that the mind naturally wrong, any more than is now unable to perceive it. That there is moral turpitude, in his treat- the moral law takes no cognizance ing them as mere neighbors. In a of the conduct of men beyond the practical point of view, they are limits of those relations of which to him nothing more than neigh. they have some hint, seems no less bors. And so in respect to them; obvious than the exemption of an if they do not know him to be their idiot, or brute animal, from human son, and if they have no present obligations. Total ignorance, as means of knowing it, they are not
we have defined it, that is, ignounder any kind of obligation to per- rance from which the mind has no form parental duties to him, not present means of relief, is incom. even if they were the guilty authors patible with the existence of a of this mutual ignorance. They do relation in that practical sense not now sustain to him the relation which makes it the source of obli. of parents in any practical sense.gation. When a relation is not perceived, But it is also maintained, that a no obligation arises from it, unless person may so far mistake the obthe mind of the agent has some ligations arising from his known rehint or intimation of its existence, lations as to be innocent in disrewhich binds him to investigate the garding them. Total ignorance of
an obligation does undoubtedly va- if these acts are contrary to the cate the obligation ; but is such immutable law of rectitude, would ignorance of the obligations of a he not break that law by refusing person possible? Can conscience to do what he believes, though errobe wholly deceived in respect neously, to be required by it? Is to the moral character of an act, not the papist, if he feels bound by which a person is bound by the conscience to worship the virgin conditions of his being to do or to Mary, obliged to worship her, or refrain from doing? Is it possible, disobey God in fact though not in in other words, for man to do what form: For refusing to do what he it is wrong for him to do, and not believes to be his duty, is really a at the same time transgress some refusal to obey God. Thus the known rule of moral obligation, notion, that conscience may unhesand contract guilt ? We think not. itatingly impel us to act unlawfully, It is not to be believed, without exalts the erring judgment of man examination, that our Creator has to the rank of a supreme lawgiver. made us susceptible of being incited This notion does violence to the by an unequivocal sense of duty, to common sense of mankind. It some. perform actions opposed to His will times happens that the fires of relior our own well being and useful. gious persecution rage, when broth.
That man is often hurried er delivers up brother to death, and on by passion to do things contrary parents their children. In such to his obligations, persuading him- cases the delusion of the mind is self that they are lawful, is a fact very strong. But is it complete? of familiar observation and expe. Does the persecutor entertain no rience. But the question is, whether secret suspicion, that his conduct is he can do such an act with a per. not, in all respects, right? Is he fectly pure conscience. Does he truly conscientious ?
Is it possiunhesitatingly believe on reflection, ble for him to feel, on reflection, in the rectitude of his conduct? Is that there is no doubt of the recti. he impelled by an unequivocal voice tude of his conduct? If so, he is of conscience to do what is wrong, placed under the necessity, either or to neglect what is required of of refusing to obey God, or of dehim “ by the conditions of his be- livering up his kindred and neigh
bors to the fires of persecution. This hypothesis sets up the judg. The common sense of mankind re. ment of man even when erroneous, volts at such a conclusion. How. as the rule of rectitude. Whether ever superstitious and ignorant a an act is naturally right or wrong, persecutor is, they consider him the agent contracts guilt, if he does guilty ; they believe he acts more it with a hesitating conscience. “He from passion than intelligent conthat doubteth is damned if he eat.” viction, and if he would honestly Rom. xiv, 23. Hence, if he is fully ask himself whether he has ever convinced, that he ought to do a duly examined the moral nature of wrong act, he ought in fact to do it. his present conduct, he would feel He must otherwise do what he be. self-condemned. lieves to be wrong. He must choose This hypothesis contradicts also to sin against God, which is ac- the representations of the Bible retually sinning; or else he must do specting the conduct of the pagan that, which in itself ought not to be world. The murder of superandone. He ought to lie, to steal, to nuated parents, the exposure of incommit murder, to worship idols, fants to perish in the streets, the to persecute heretics, if he sincerely sacrifice of human beings to false believes it to be his duty ? What gods, and all the cruelties of idol