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Corinthians, not in its totality, but in such portions, and in such manner, as the weakened understand. ings and benighted consciences of his hearers would enable them to receive it. This, then, is, undoubtedly, a proper and innocent use of expedi. ency
But again, there may be a choice not only in respect to the succession of the several parts, but also in respect to the manner in which the whole or any part of the truth shall be presented. Thus, for instance, suppose that in the discussion of the subject of slavery there were no wrong in apply. ing opprobrious epithets to fellow-citizens, and to Christian brethren; inasmuch as the use of these epithets would disincline men to receive what we believe to be the truth, would not both wisdom as well as Christian charity suggest the expediency of laying them aside ?
Again, it is frequently the case that we wish to inculcate a duty upon another, to which he is particularly adverse, and of which the obligation de. pends upon principles with which he is not familiar. In such a case, while he will not hearken for a moment to the precept, he may be willing attentively to consider the principles on which it is founded. Here I see no reason why I may not inculcate the principle, and leave it to work out its result, instead of directly inculcating the precept. For instance, I find a man violently enraged, and burning with vindictiveness towards another who has injured him. It is his duty to forgive the offender. But the suggestion of this duty might only enrage him the more. May I not, then, in. stead of inculcating the duty directly, unfold to him our relations to God, how much we have sinned against him, how much we all need his forgiveness, and how much and how often we have all offended our brethren and needed their forgiveness? I well know, that if these sentiments once gain possession of his mind, his wrath will be quelled, and he will not dare to ask forgiveness of God until he has exercised forgiveness to his brother. This is almost precisely what our Lord himself has done, when he taught charity to the Pharisee with whom he was dining, Luke vii. 39–49. So when he was called upon to interfere in the case of the brother who was defrauded of his inheritance, Luke xii. 13–20. Thus also he inculcates the duty of forgiveness, Matt. xviii. 23–35. Here he gives a very general precept, but explains the principle at length. A beautiful instance of this kind of expediency is also seen in 2 Cor., 8th chapter. St. Paul is desirous of inculcating upon the Corinthians the duty of liber. ality. He does not, however, as he had a right to do, make use of his apostolical authority; he does not demand this or that portion of their income; but he merely tells them what other churches had done, and adds, “ Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, though he was rich, yet for your sakes became poor, that ye through his poverty might become rich.'
Indeed, if we were disposed to generalize this idea, we might easily show that the gospel of Christ is rather a system of princi. ples than of precepts. It is a treasure-house of elementary and all-controlling moral truth. This
th it presents to the understanding, and presses un the conscience, leaving it to every individual
to carry it into practice according to the peculiari. ties of his individual situation, provided only he do it honestly, earnestly, with pure love to God and ardent charity to man.
This form of expediency--the inculcating of a fundamental truth, rather than of the duty which springs immediately out of it, seems to me innocent. I
further: in some cases it may be really demanded. Thus, suppose a particular wrong to have become a social evil, to have become interwoven with the whole framework of society, and to be established by positive enactment and imme. morial usage ; suppose that all departments of society have become adjusted to it, and that much instruction is necessary before any party can avail itself of the advantages of a righteous change; suppose also the whole community to be ignorant of the moral principles by which both the wrong is condemned and the right established. In such a case, the wrong could only be abolished by changing the sentiments and enlightening the consciences of the whole community. Here it seems to me that it would be not only allowable, but a matter of imperative duty, to inculcate the principles on which the duty rested, rather than the duty itself. The one being fixed in the mind, would necessarily produce the other; and thus the end would be in the most certain manner accomplished.
It is in this manner that the New Testament has generally dealt with the various forms of social evil. Take for instance civil government. At the time of Christ and his apostles, the only form of government known in the civilized world, was a
most abominable and oppressive tyranny. Yet the New Testament utters no precepts in regard to forms of government, or the special duties of rulers. It goes
further. It commands men everywhere to obey the powers that be, so far as this could be done with a good conscience towards God. But it at the same time inculcates those truths concern. ing the character, rights, responsibilities, and obligations of man, which have been ever since working out the freedom of the human race; and which have received, as I believe, their fullest de. velopment in the principles of the American Decla. ration of Independence. Indeed, in no other manner could the New Testament have become a system of religion for the whole human race, adapted to meet the varying aspects of human depravi. ty. If it had merely taught precepts, whatever was not forbidden must have been taken as per. mitted. Hence, unchecked wickedness would soon have abounded, and the revelation of God must have become a nullity. But by teaching principles of universal application, it is prepared to meet every rising form of moral deviation, and its authority is now as all-pervading as at the moment when it was first delivered. Our Saviour, as it appears to me, carries out this principle to the utmost, when, setting aside as it were all other precepts, he declares that our whole duty is summed up in these two commandments, “ Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and thy neighbor as thyself; for this is the law and the prophets.” That is, I suppose him to mean that cherishing these principles in our hearts and car.
rying them out into all our actions, we shall do the whole will of God without any other precept.
I have thus, my dear brother, endeavored, in as distinct a manner as I am able, to develop my views on the subject of expediency. I have done it with great diffidence, because I know it is one from a misconception of which great misunderstanding is likely to arise. It seemed, however, to be required by the nature of our discussion; and I hope that what I have suggested may throw some little light upon the subject. I know of but few points in casuistry which at the present mo. ment require a more thorough examination. It is from a misconception here that Jesuitism has arisen
a on the one hand, and fanaticism on the other. The Jesuit, whether Protestant or Catholic, believes himself at liberty to use any devices whatever, to accomplish a good design ; or, in other words, he declares that the end sanctifies the means. The fanatic, provided his end be good, considers himself at liberty to deride the dictates of reason, and use the means which have the least possible tendency to accomplish the end which he has in view. He declares that he has no regard for consequences. He seems, however, to forget that the end which he has in view is a consequence, and that it must be a consequent, that is, an effect of certain causes, which, in the providence of God, are ordained to produce it. If, therefore, he has no regard to consequences, and sets in action causes without regard to their effects, he is as likely to produce any other end as that which he intends. I think, besides, it may sometimes be observed that while men are so entirely reckless of the consequences of their con