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It must undermine truth and morals themselves. For although some few philosophers of higher intellect, and greater strength of mind, may look to a distant end, and, guiding themselves by some fixed star, may stretch across the ocean in a straight course, not feeling their way along the shore, or accommodating themselves to every bend and winding, or shaping their voyage by the ever changing bearings of the nearest and most trifling objects and interests, as did some of the leading Epicureans, yet the multitude of the small craft, whose appointment and science are not so costly and perfect, must steer by the nearest land-marks, and must ply by: the oar; and must be governed in all their course and determinations, by present views and impulses. For. the whole foundation is the right of private judgment; and if we may think for ourselves independently of God, more surely may we of men; and if we are set free from God as our judge, then philosophers ought not to. be our masters. So every one must have an equal right to judge himself: however fresh his freedom, or short his study, or shallow his intellect. Freedom is the first and best acknowledged of the rights of man: it perfects all things and is perfect. Therefore all things must yield to it. It is the beginning and end of all action and argument; therefore all things are conclusive and consistent. Laws and governments may be resolved into present and particular convenience, rules of action into impulses, society into individuals, the earth into atoms, the universe into its elements,-but this one rule of right shall stand certain and fixed, and ultimate and
elemental—the right of private judgment in morals and religion,-liberty, free-thinking.
M. Guizot, the great social philosopher, the champion of human reason, has at length fairly described what philosophy is.—“I now call philosophy,” says M. Guizot,
every opinion which admits not, under any name or form, a faith obligatory to human thought; and in religious as well as other matters, leaves it free to believe or not to believe, and to direct itself by its own labour.” So now the prerogative and pretensions of reason being acknowledged, our task becomes more straightforward and easy. If we have no obligatory faith in revelation, we must be left to our own private judgment and will; for to reject the wisdom of God and to obey man, would be a very blind credulity. Our own wisdom therefore, our individual wisdom and strength of mind, the wisdom of each child in age or in knowledge, must be our guide, and our will, in all subjects which imply conduct and action. Such are all branches of morality and religion : the subject of both which is self-government, and our own actions. But it is a first principle in justice and government, that no man shall be a judge in his own
How then can a man pass a just judgment and sentence upon himself, when he is free to make and change the law for himself according to his will, in his own case, and for his own use, and upon
present occasion! This is perfect liberty and democracy in morals; and it is as practicable as the existence of pure and permanent democracy in a state, together with high civilization and irreligion. When children will
pull out their own teeth, just to produce regularity and symmetry in their mouths; when criminals will not only adjudge themselves to the stake, but also light the faggots, and endure the fire without complaint; when Ulysses shall pass by the shores of the Syrens unconfined, except by his own choice and will and selfpossession,—and we are all like such an Ulysses, then may we enjoy a pure democracy in morals as in government, and not turn every man his hand first against his brother, and then to self-destruction.
When such a time should arrive; when we should be such masters of ourselves, and such wise and just masters, that we should all do that which was right and good, as well for our neighbour as ourselves, according to the code of Christian precept, -we should not be fitter then for a democracy, than for a monarchy or aristocracy; but for no government. When every one might do that which was right in his own eyes, because every one's eye was single, and looked only to that which was right,—then we should want neither king, nor democracy, nor earthly government over us,—the Lord our God would be our King.
Out of a silly confusion of self-sacrifice with selfishness,—the laying down our life for a friend with selfinterest and gratification,—and a shallow argument, that because virtuous and upright conduct produces happiness, therefore the pursuit of happiness must lead to virtue and rectitude,-men have re-edified and revived the image of the dead and deadly heathen doctrine of “the selfish system of morals.” They have not discovered that “right” pursued from duty and obe
dience, is different from “ right” pursued from desire and choice :- that it is different in effect, as well as in principle. And all this is sanctioned and sanctified under the name of liberty :-as if liberty were made for man, and man for liberty; and that this were a truth and a treasure hid and laid
ages, for this age, for modern invention and discovery. “Man was not made for liberty, and can no more live in it than fishes in the air, or birds in the water.” The utmost that can be done, and this religion does for him, is that “it takes him from one evil servitude, and places him in another which is good.”* Without this servitude or another, he can never pursue or devise for himself a course of virtue, or secure his happiness by seeking after it. Liberty must lead him on to rebellion against God, against man, against the feeble laws which he himself has imposed, to rebellion against himself. Liberty is Self triumphant against morals.—Liberty is sin.
Christian ethics directs us in the proper use of our desires : as love of honour, + power, I knowledge, love of rest and peace; hope, fear, love, joy,|| admiration, fellowship; and guides them to the proper objects. It does not profess to teach us to act without motives. The selfish system of morals can only mean, that we act by passions and affections. This is no discovery.- It is only a confusion. Self-interest or self-love cannot be the rule ; for it is the thing itself which is to be corrected.
* Sewell's Christian Morals, p. 178.
It is not to be destroyed, but improved; to be corrected, not to reign paramount. To say that we are to act right from desires and motives, is no discovery ;-to say that all motives are equal in merit, is confusion ;to say
that a man can exercise self-denial and self-interest at the same time, is shallow philosophy :- to say that we are to purify and perfect our desires, and sacrifice our present to our eternal interests, till it becomes a pleasure and a present impulse to do so, is Christianity.
One axiom of these last times is, that books are better than men; that wisdom is better learned in the closet among tables and indexes, than in the world and its occupations, in the business of life and its realities, and among men. They do not yet perceive, that the letter is dead; and that it is action and experience which alone gives life to any truth, which is worth the name of truth, that is, to the subjects of conduct and action. It requires experience, and exercise in the particular subject, to enable a reader to comprehend the meaning and appreciate the reasoning of his author; and a writer cannot carry a reader far out of his depth, or lead him into deep water with safety, till he has learned to swim. As face answereth to face, and the heart of man to man, and we interpret motives and reasonings in others by the index and standard and the workings of our own minds, so we colour our author with the complexion of our own opinions, and sound him with the depth of our own understandings; and so reach and reject, and alter and choose, and use him so far and in such manner as we like, according to our preconceived intention or ability.
Yet all are thought equally capable, and are held