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as yet are happily confined to a few speculative theorists and unreflecting fanatics, were to pervade the population generally, the entire structure of society, all the securities of property and order, would fall at once to the ground. It is time for men of reflection to look deeply into this subject, and to exert themselves to rectify and keep right the public sentiment respecting it. The only danger that threatens our political institutions, and through them the very existence of civilization, is the prevalence in certain fashionable circles of literature, and the diffusion thence through all the channels of popular reading, of false metaphysics. Errors, once exploded, are again circulating under new names, and, thus disguised, are fraudulently claiming the attractive merit of novelty and originality. Fanciful abstractions and artificial general terms have before usurped the authority of truth. The Baconian philosophy expelled them for ever from the departments of physical science. They have not yet been wholly dislodged from moral and political science. That achievement remains to be accomplished. The old controversy of the Nominalists and Realists is to be waged once more to a final issue. What are mere names, words used only for convenience, expressive of generalizations which as such have no actual existence, must again be shown to have no claim to the character of realities. The phantoms of language must be dispelled from the sphere of human knowledge, and none but real things be allowed to wear the honors of philosophy, or to take to themselves the sacred name of truth.

Truth, right, justice, love, worshipped as absolute existences, are idols. Their only real essence is in God; and, derived from him, in the souls of his children. Their only perfect and adorable existence is in God. They are possessed of supreme authority only as they exist in unerring perfection in Him. In matters that relate to ourselves, as insulated individuals, they are to be obeyed with reverent allegiance, when they utter their edicts through our own souls, in all cases in which we are not provided with an express communication of the Divine will.

But respecting interests in which others participate, of a social and political nature, it is dangerous to introduce or to countenance the practice of appealing to the authority of abstract ideas. There will always be more or less opposition to the decisions

No. 139.

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solved to reduce every form of government and social institution into an agreement with them. Circumstances gave them an opportunity to show the consequences, when men undertake to tear down the fabric of society in order to reconstruct it according to their own theoretic views of justice, liberty, and order.

If the absolute right were an independent and distinct object or existence, that is, if it existed in a form and shape, external to all particular minds, and on which all could turn and look, then might men endeavour to frame their institutions in precise conformity with it. But, in point of fact, the right, truth, justice, and, in short, whatever we characterize as general ideas, exist only in the minds of men or other moral beings, and in each mind with different degrees and sorts of apprehension. The consequence is, that when many persons, acting together, profess and imagine themselves to be acting upon the same principles, because they use the same terms, they are in reality acting upon different principles, according as those terms signify different combinations of thought and sentiment in their several minds. Hence, collision, confusion, contention, arise. Passions are roused; intolerance is evoked ; violence ensues.

Each individual, identifying his own views of righteousness with the absolute and supreme law to which alone they severally and all acknowledge allegiance, becomes utterly uncompromising. The authority of absolute right and truth, of course, overrides all other authority, nullifies all other obligation ; and he who makes it the only rule of his actions follows his own ideas wherever they lead him. The law of the land, the institutions of society, sacred as well as political, the most venerable and universally received axioms and sentiments, the word of holy writ, the voice of revelation itself, all temporal and personal consequences to himself or to others, are for ever disregarded and defied. The French Revolution stands forth in the annals of mankind, an awful monument and exhibition of the consequences that naturally ensue, nay, of the results that must follow, when a people rebels against the established order of society, tramples upon the authority of civil law, discards the sentiment of allegiance to government, and pursues, with an entire abandonment, what is called the absolute right.

If, in our own country, the ideas on these subjects which

as yet are happily confined to a few speculative theorists and unreflecting fanatics, were to pervade the population generally, the entire structure of society, all the securities of property and order, would fall at once to the ground. It is time for men of reflection to look deeply into this subject, and to exert themselves to rectify and keep right the public sentiment respecting it. The only danger that threatens our political institutions, and through them the very existence of civilization, is the prevalence in certain fashionable circles of literature, and the diffusion thence through all the channels of popular reading, of false metaphysics. Errors, once exploded, are again circulating under new names, and, thus disguised, are fraudulently claiming the attractive merit of novelty and originality. Fanciful abstractions and artificial general terms have before usurped the authority of truth. The Baconian philosophy expelled them for ever from the departments of physical science. They have not yet been wholly dislodged from moral and political science. That achievement remains to be accomplished. The old controversy of the Nominalists and Realists is to be waged once more to a final issue. What are mere names, words used only for convenience, expressive of generalizations which as such have no actual existence, must again be shown to have no claim to the character of realities. The phantoms of language must be dispelled from the sphere of human knowledge, and none but real things be allowed to wear the honors of philosophy, or to take to themselves the sacred name of truth.

Truth, right, justice, love, worshipped as absolute existences, are idols. Their only real essence is in God; and, derived from him, in the souls of his children. Their only perfect and adorable existence is in God. They are possessed of supreme authority only as they exist in unerring perfection in Him. In matters that rel

In matters that relate to ourselves, as insulated individuals, they are to be obeyed with reverent allegiance, when they utter their edicts through our own souls, in all cases in which we are not provided with an express communication of the Divine will.

But respecting interests in which others participate, of a social and political nature, it is dangerous to introduce or to countenance the practice of appealing to the authority of abstract ideas. There will always be more or less opposition to the decisionsNo. 139.

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VOL. LXVI.

of those who frame the laws. Things will be done, policies adopted, provisions enacted, very much against the judgment of numerous minorities. Unless individuals yield, and continue faithfully to render, their allegiance, when occasionally overruled, they cannot demand or expect it from others when they rule, and all government, law, order, security, and civilization, the entire social state, must come to an end. If each individual's sense of right is to prevail over the law, when the two happen to be in conflict, the result will be, that the law will bind only those whose private views it expresses, and becomes of course a perfect nonentity.

The question, then, arises, What shall be done, when unrighteous institutions, political establishments adverse to freedom, justice, and truth, exist over and around us? If unwise and oppressive laws are enacted, — if the policy of the government is, to our apprehension, in violation of the

great principles of the moral law, — what shall we do? There are two courses that may be taken, and we are to choose one or the other.

We may enforce a direct application of our ideas of absolute right and truth to the institutions and order of society, and demolish whatever is repugnant to them, at every hazard, however deeply rooted, or however complicated by manifold tissues with the existing and transmitted state of things. This is one course. The French Revolution is the most conspicuous instance of it in history. But all the other instances were of the same character, and terminated in similar disastrous results. There is no case where men have attempted to pull down and remodel the fabric of society, to adapt it to any speculative and abstract notions or schemes, that has not proved an utter and ruinous failure.

The other method is, withholding the hand of violence, to rely upon gradual efforts, made in a spirit of patience and moderation ; to devote our energies to the promotion of knowledge and virtue, of a cultivated intelligence and benevolent affections through the bosom of society, trusting to them to transmute insensibly, as is the case with the

of the great laws of nature, and with a silent interior energy, the institutions of society into forms of benignity, freedom, and righteousness. To give an opportunity for this influence to diffuse itself, all extravagance of action or of language must be avoided. The public mind must not be irritated or dis

processes

tempered by keeping it fixed upon the contemplation of existing evils, but a hopeful spirit must be breathed into it. The efforts of philanthropy and benevolence ought to be to clothe their cause with the strength of encouragement; and to invigorate the hearts of those who work together for good with the only energy that can secure success, an energy that may be literally said to descend from heaven itself, derived from an assurance that Providence is working with them, and that therefore all is well and going on well. If those who love their race, and desire to promote its freedom and happiness, direct their efforts, in this spirit, to purify and sweeten the fountain-head of all social and political life, in the minds and hearts of individuals, their labors will not be in vain. The hope of mankind is, not in what may be done in the political sphere, which, among us particularly, occupies a much more inconsiderable portion of human experience than is imagined, but in education, in refinement of manners and sentiments, in prosperous industry, in a cheerful, genial, and beneficent tone of feeling, and in the purifying and elevating power of moral and religious truth. Let these things be sought after, and just laws, free institutions, and good government will necessarily follow. In the mean while, it is essential to preserve, throughout the community, the principle and sentiment of allegiance to the state, which will become more important and valuable, as a gradual amelioration of the laws, and an increasing conformity of the government to the improving character of the people, will more and more justify and deserve that allegiance.

Art. IV.-1. Nieboska Komedyia. Paryż. 1835.

. 2. Przedświt Paryż. 1845.

“ This literature, more than the existing literature of any people, deserves the attention of serious men ; for this, above all other, bears upon itself the stamp of reality. It is serious, earnest, noble ; noble both by the spirit which inspires it, and the aim after which it strives. Every work is at the same time a deed. It is the life of the man himself that animates

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