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seemingly extravagant doctrine, that the image of
pagan Rome is revived among us, and has received life and power again in the very midst of Christendom, I may proceed to delineate some of the features of this image ; and to show their strict resemblance with those of their progenitor and prototype.
There is a Liberty-in name the same-proclaimed to the Christian world, as the fruit of Christian belief and practice. But the liberty which we proclaim to ourselves, and which we are making more and more the object of our idolatry, and the palladium of our citadel, is altogether founded upon a heathen model, and upon Grecian and Roman principles. We "inhale during the ardour of youth the maxims and the spirit of classical freedom ;"*—and our motives to it are all selfish, and none of them self-denying; but such as may be engendered and fed by the study of heathen philosophers and poets, and the historians of their unceasing wars of jealousy and aggression, and civil dissensions. And reformation.”- Fleury, Discours sur l'Hist. Eccles. depuis 600 jusqu'à 1100, sect. 25.
“Voyons donc comment on étudioit la philosophie, et commençons par la logique. Ce n'étoit plus, comme elle étoit dans son institution, l'art de raisonner juste et de chercher la verité par les voyes les plus sures : c'étoit un exercice de disputer et de subtiliser à l'infini."--Id. Cinquième Discours, sect. 8.
"Et en verité il est étonnant que les Chrétiens ayant entre les mains l'Ecriture sainte, ayent crû avoir besoin d'Aristote pour apprendre la morale. .... Les pères avoient méprisé ce philosophe, quoiqu'ils l'entendissent parfaitement. .... Au contraire nos docteurs du douzième et du treizième siècle, qui en faisoient leur oracle, et le nommoient le philosophe par excellence,” &c.— Id. ibid. sect. 9.
See also Hooker's Eccles. Pol. bk. iii. s. 8. * Alison's History of Europe, vol. i. p. 41.
how has this principle operated and shown itself, in the French Revolution for example, where it once attained to ripeness ? Religion was never once alluded to by the popular party ;--classical images; reference to the freedom and spirit of antiquity, formed the great means of public excitation ; the names of Brutus, and Cato, and Scipio, and Themistocles, were constantly flowing from their lips; the national assembly never resounded with such tumultuous applause as when some fortunate allusion to the heroes of Greece or Rome was made ; the people never were wrought up to such a state of fervour, as when they were called on to follow the example of the patriots of the ancient republics.”*
I shall show, in a subsequent Essay, that we are rehearsing over again all the leading principles of the French Revolution ; it is sufficient in this place to observe, that it is pride and selfishness and the love of power which constitute liberty, according to our notion and aim, and that the whole question is among us, as it was among the Romans and Greeks, which party shall have the reins of government and its advantages, and what shall be the number of the tyrants. The same pride rules among us, and has been shown in our embassies to China, which demanded, when Timagoras the Athenian, who was sent by them as ambassador to the King of Persia, had the imprudence to degrade his country by the act of prostration, that he should be condemned to die on his return. The proud and petulant republicans, whose element was war and bloodshed,
* Alison's History of Europe, vol. i. p.
and who understood not the arts of domestic life and peace in their own countries or families, were selfapplauded for calling the Asiatics barbarians, because their own ignorance and self-conceit prevented their seeing or believing the contradiction of it, in the exercise of the domestic arts and accomplishments, and the active performance of the social duties of life, and peace, and happiness.
Our aim, like the Greeks, is to extol and exalt human nature. The human mind and spirit must not be broken, or degraded. Boys must not be chastised with the rod, because it lowers their spirit and dignity; and no motives of fear or force must be used to elicit application and good conduct, but learning must be pursued because it is profitable and pleasant,—and it must be made palateable and amusing for this purpose ;-and right conduct must be shown to be our interest, and be followed from conviction and reason. Self-love and self-indulgence are better habits than the love of
parents, and obedience ! because the reason is left free, and exercised, and indulged! As if the indulgence of reason and self-will were not sure to lead to pride and a tyrannical spirit; and the indulgence of self-love and appetite to the perversion and abuse of reason.
Are we a people then that approve the precept, “ Happy are the poor in spirit ?” or this, “ Happy are the proud ?” Are we then more Christians ? or, are we more nearly heathens ?
We extol and exalt human nature; and we revive and re-establish the Greek and Roman worship of man, and the deification of humanity. There is a new ele
ment revived in our philosophical creed, and set side by side with our Christian profession, a “Faith in Humanity.” The spirit of the phrase is in every mouth; but it is by no one more openly enunciated than by Dr. Channing :-
“ It shows a want of faith in God and humanity to deny to others and ourselves free scope, and the expansion of our best powers.
“ What I most lament in these apprehensions is, the utter distrust of human nature which they discover.”
“There is sprung up a faith, of which antiquity knew nothing, in the final victory of truth and right, in the elevation of men to a clearer intelligence, to more fraternal union, and to a purer worship. This faith is taking its place among the springs of human action, is becoming even a passion in more fervent spirits. I hail it as a prophecy which is to fulfil itself.
.. We are beginning to learn, that the intellectual, moral, social world has its motion too, not fixed and immutable like that of matter, but one which the free-will of men is to carry on, and which, instead of returning into itself, like the earth's orbit, is to stretch forward for ever. This hope lightens the mystery and burthen of life. It is a star which shines on me in the darkest night; and I should rejoice to reveal it to the eyes
“ I have thus spoken of the present age.
* The Present Age; by Dr. Channing. Bristol, Philp and Evans; London, Simpkin & Co., pp. 22, 24, 34. The reprint of this particular address in England, and the general circulation of Dr. Channing's works, show that the sentiments are popular elsewhere than in America.
These sentiments are current and popular among us, though not in general so openly expressed. Man is deified and worshipped. Man is become the fellow and fellow-worker with God, as Dr. Channing frequently expresses it. God in Christ condescended to brotherhood with his saints on earth,- and we exalt ourselves to brotherhood with God in heaven. God in Christ clothed himself with our flesh, and purified and sanctified it, and admitted those whom he purifies in like manner, to a participation with this his nature,-we have taken the fallen nature of man, and made it an image of God, and worshipped it.
This proclaiming of liberty to human nature, is a proclaiming liberty to our passions, as well bad as good; as the proclaiming liberty and dominion to our reason, is a licence to youth and folly, to set itself against age and authority and real wisdom.
Therefore age and authority are derided and disesteemed, parents are ridiculed and despised, and are to be instructed by their children. It is said that children ought to be taken away from the contamination of their homes and parents, and be educated by the state. This also is of Greece.
Therefore antiquity is slighted :—not the antiquity of Greece and Rome, and classical antiquity,-because the human mind, especially the proud and untamed and ill-directed mind, is so servile that it must find a master: -but ancestors and rulers are derided and slandered and degraded, and we have no reverence or respect for our fathers by nature or office, our domestic, our spi