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our country, and show how little that general thinking and knowledge, so much boasted of, extend beyond the thinking done for us in the morning newspapers, or in the sage reflections and predictions of those foreign correspondents who are paid for their valuable political philosophy at a stipulated price per column. In this
way, for example, do our political letter-writers and declaimers often talk of the degraded and benighted Prussians. They would condole with this grievously-oppressed nation, because some of its inhabitants have not enjoyed the felicity of neverending political excitement, nor possessed the glorious right of being every year befooled into the notion that they really elect their chief magistrate. Poor benighted Prussia ! whom some among us so ardently longed to see “regenerated” by the infidel mob of Berlin! Why her smallest university has a library possessing more valuable volumes than could be gathered from the collected colleges of our land. Poor benighted Prussia ! with its bigotted rulers ever shunning the light which beams so gloriously on ourselves—afraid, too, of knowledge, and, yet, instead of spending their millions in glorious wars for the development of destiny, or for extending the area of freedom, tyrannically establishing schools and universities throughout all her borders, and despotically requiring every child to receive an education such as is not obtained by one in four in many parts of our own country-to say nothing of other portions of our more free and favored land, where, by the most stringent laws, a large class of our population are expressly prohibited from learning even to read and write. Benighted Prussia ! that sends forth from its teeming press three volumes to our one in every department of science, history, and philosophy. But, alas, it is still benighted Prussia! She had no unrestricted penny press, such as is so powerfully aiding the cause of morals, religion, and an elevated literature, in many of our own cities. The Prussian authorities chose to restrict the precious right of uttering railing lies and stirring up seditious mobs against the government, and forth with we, who, in some of our states, have the most severe laws against incendiary publications, we commiserate the Prussians, because they had not our glorious liberty of the press ! What is more than all this-many of our religious men were actually rejoicing in hopes that this evangelical - king, and his learned and religious minister, would be driven into exile by the pantheistic and atheistic crew that formed the ruling power of the late mob of Berlin. It is well to force ourselves, at times, to look at things from a point of view opposed to our inveterate prejudices. It is not pleasant thus to speak of one's own country; yet he is her truest friend who most faithfully reproves her for that boastful spirit, which, although ever babbling of 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 dig. nity 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 froin 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 mass. It becomes an atom-for this is not a term of dimension merely—an atom without relations, having no löyos 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 lyrwotov xai' dhozov, 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 aluve, 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 jnverse 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 pre sent, 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 noitɛvua, 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 depravíty, 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 con: ceive, 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, cr 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 inay 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 dan. ger-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 az 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 som then will there be presented a demon form of anarchy and animality, an irresponsible power for evil, immensely beyond any