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need of tutors and governors. We can count on their good behaviour no farther than they are imbued with the principle of obedience ; and that is no obedience at all which is yielded only from private conviction and inclination. If our reason, love, feelings, inclinations, are on the side of authority, and go with its requirements, so much the easier will it be for us to obey ; but if we refuse to obey when what is commanded demands their sacrifice, we lack the principle of obedience. We must obey, whether agreeable to our feelings and convictions or
C. That appears to me to be pushing the matter rather too far. It denies to me the right to have any will of my own, and may make it my duty to act contrary to my own convictions,
B. It undoubtedly does not favor what is called the right of private judgment; but that is no solid objection. Private judgment and authority, in the same matter, are not reconcilable. The subject cannot be both subject and sovereign. The world for three hundred years has been trying to solve the problem, how authority can be authority and yet not be authority, - how men can be governed where all are governors and none are governed ; but it does not appear to have made much progress. Where the sovereign has the right to command, the subject is bound to obey, and has no right to have any will of his own other than his sovereign's will. We have no right over our sovereign, or to sit in judgment on our judge. Our will should be to conform to the will of God, expressed by himself through such organs as he has constituted, and we have no right to have any will or any conviction to the contrary,
F. Nothing is more sacred than a man's own convictions, and I know of no more intolerable tyranny than that which compels him to do violence to them.
0. It is because religion, or what claims to be religion, fails to respect our private convictions, because it tramples on the sacred rights of the mind, and prohibits free inquiry, free thought, free speech, and free action, that so many in the modern world are opposed to it. No man wishes to be without religion, and every one would willingly embrace a religion which should not demand the sacrifice of his manhood.
C. The priesthood seem to me to stand greatly in their own light. They do not appear to comprehend the age. The dominant sentiment of our age is the love of freedom, of hu
manity, and it will not submit to be directed by those who seek to repress its lofty aspirations and its noble energies. If the clergy would respect the age, it would respect them ; but it has sworn it will not bow its neck to the yoke of servitude, and surrender its conscience to those who will not respect its rights.
B. It was Lucifer, I believe, that Milton represents as saying, -
“Better to reign in hell, than serve in heaven.” But Lucifer finds less freedom in reigning than St. Michael in serving. The principle of license, and that of despotism, are one and the same, and the clamor for freedom usually indicates only impatience of law, and the desire for the predominance of mere will, - the essential principle of despotism. Your radical is always an ingrained despot, who, finding he cannot himself rule, resolves that nobody shall rule. Clothe him with authority, and he forthwith institutes the Reign of Terror. You never find your Robespierres as moderate in the exercise of power as even your Mirabeaus, your Ledru-Rollins as your Lamartines, your Thierses as your Guizots.
. That the dominant spirit of our age is freedom from all restraint may be true enough, but I have never read of an age, claiming to be civilized, in which there was less of the spirit of true liberty, or in which tyranny, under the form either of anarchy or of despotism, more abounded. The age not only has failed to establish liberty in any proper sense of the term, but has labored, not unsuccessfully, to render its establishment for a long time to come extremely difficult, if not absolutely impossible. The revolutionary efforts throughout Europe, in our day, to introduce democracy, have loosened the bands of society, to a great extent destroyed respect for law, and left authority no possible means of preserving itself and maintaining social order but the resort to physical force. I can prudently give a child who I know will not abuse it far more liberty than I can one who I know will use whatever liberty I give him only for his and my ruin. Government threatened in its very existence by a numerous band of restless spirits, who are constantly plotting against it, is obliged to resort to the most stringent measures of repression, measures which would be as unjustifiable as unnecessary, if the whole population were submissive and loyal.
The great mass of the people are easily imposed upon.
Let a number of men set up and continue for a certain length of time the cry, that religion is hostile to freedom, and they begin to think that there must be something in it. Where there is so much smoke there must be some fire. Religion certainly is opposed to license, it certainly does require us to practise self-denial, but this simply proves that it is the necessary basis of all true liberty. There is no liberty without justice, and justice is inconceivable without religion. What you call freedom of mind is its slavery, did you but know it. The mind was created for truth, and finds its freedom, as its food, only in the possession of truth. Without truth it has no free movement, no active force, no life, but necessarily droops, withers, and dies. A worse calamity is not conceivable, than to be doomed to be ever seeking the truth and never to find it. He who is so doomed has no resting-place, no repose. He has no solid footing; at every step, he feels the ground give way beneath him. Darkness is before him, darkness is behind him. He cannot see his hand before his face, and yet he must move on, for to stand still is to sink into the abyss; but whither, he sees not. He knows not where he is, or in what direction he is moving, or ought to move. It is idle to pretend that such a man has freedom of mind, for he has no mind at all, — cannot make up his mind on any thing.
My young friends do not at this moment appreciate what I am saying, for they have not yet felt the pressure of life. They are just entering what appears to them a career of free inquiry, - buoyant and hopeful, sustained in part by their animal spirits, and in part by the truths they have learned from their tutors and governors, and which they have not as yet wholly effaced from their minds. They are charmed, too, by the novelty of their situation and the freshness of their emotions, and borne onward by the excitement of the exercise. But the excitement will soon subside, the freshness will fade, the novelty will wear off, and the heart and soul will • for their appropriate food. It is dangerous tampering with the eternal laws of God; a day of vengeance is sure to come. If you are not among those, as I trust you are not, who cannot learn even in the school of experience, you will one day cease to find delight in the pursuit of what continues constantly to elude your grasp, and will fall back upon yourselves weary and disheartened ; a universal lassitude will succeed to your present buoyancy, your hopes will be withered, and nothing will remain for you but to seek forgetfulness in sensual gratification, or in the vice of avarice or ambition.
Strike out religion and morality, and nothing remains but our animal nature and its objects. The sensualist did not begin in gross sensualism. He began in soft and sweet sentiments, which, as he was conscious of no impure intention, he imagined to be pure, and such as he could safely indulge. Nay, he imagined it almost a sin to forego them.Day by day they grew upon him by indulgence, till they became too strong for ordinary virtue to repress, and then he found them to have been only the germs of beastly vices and grievous sins. The beginnings of all vice and crime are pleasant and sweet to our animal nature ; but all emotions or sentiments originating in that nature are vice and crime, when fully developed. “ Every man is tempted, being drawn away by his own concupiscence, (or lusts,] and allured. Then when concupiscence hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin ; but sin when it is completed begetteth death." The modern world followeth concupiscence, the inferior or irrational nature. It began in what is most pleasing and seductive in that nature, which it dignifies with the names of liberty and philanthropy. But these when taken as affections of the animal, not of the rational soul, can be followed only on condition that we gradually discard both revealed religion and natural. Hence you find that your modern reformers, notwithstanding their fine words and lofty phrases, tend with all their energy to establish the supremacy of the flesh over the spirit. Hence their breach with the past. The past bas labored, not indeed always with complete success, to institute and maintain a social and political order in which the rational nature should be supreme, and the animal be subordinate, and held, as far as possible, in subjection. This our reformers condemn ; they seek to organize society and the state on an entirely different set of principles, so that intellect and reason shall be the mere instruments of appetite and passion. It could 4 not be otherwise ; for the flesh knoweth not God, and, if followed, excludes God and the whole rational nature.
Freedom of inquiry, thought, speech, and action, rightly understood, are no doubt good things; but your friends who claim their exclusive possession have very little raight to them. All they understand by them is freedom to think, speak, and act against religion, without losing their reputation, or suffering any social or civil inconvenience. The pickpocket, the thief, the robber, the adulterer, the murderer, the traitor, wish, no doubt, as much, and with as much justice. I have never found unbelievers actuated by a love of truth ; I
have never found one of their number going forth in pursuit of it with a free mind, and an open heart, ready to receive it. They are all disciples of some master, and if they inquire at all, it is only to confirm their prejudices. I have no reason to think that I was, when among them, less candid, open, and truthful than the rest ; yet I never knew what it was to seek for the truth, till I became a believer. I sought to refute that doctrine, or to establish this, never distinctly to ascertain what is true doctrine ; and I embraced the truth only as it forced itself upon me. I had no intention, no thought, of becoming a Catholic ; I did not even ask myself whether Catholicity was true or false. Its truth burst of itself upon me, while I was busily engaged with something else ; and I accepted it only because I could not help it. It interfered with all my plans of life, with all my old habits, with all my associations, and was any thing but pleasant to flesh and blood. But it broke upon my mind with such clearness, distinctness, and force, that I had no power to resist it. I did not seek it, - it came of itself ; I did not find it, — it found me, and took me captive, and carried me away in spite of myself.
I have looked over no small portion of the literature of the modern Liberal world ; I have looked in vain for some trace of free, strong, and manly thought. Your most admired authors are cramped in their movements, narrow and superficial in their views, and generally weak and flippant in their expressions. They are strong only in their appeals to passion, and invariably fall far below the better sort of enlightened heathen. Out of the departments of physical science and mathematics, which do not require a very high order of intellect, the greatest names you can boast are Bayle and Voltaire, and these have been able to make no real advance on Celsus and Julian. Jean Jacques Rousseau was a sophist, a puny sentimentalist, and a disgusting sensualist, who set forth nothing novel that was not false. Your English deists, Lord Herbert, Tindall, Toland, Woolston, &c., are the dullest of mortals. I never could fairly read through one of their stupid productions. Your liberals have succeeded in shaking the faith of many, in sowing doubt and despair ; but I do not call to mind a single subject on which their lucubrations have thrown new light. They only repeat one another, and are tediously monotonous in error. What are the greatest of them by the side of such men as St. Athanasius, St. Basil, St. Gregory Nazianzen, St. John Chrysostom, St. Ambrose, St. Jerome,