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The subject is certainly one of deep interest. The public mind has been and is still exercised upon it, and struggling with it, and just now more than ever. The true analysis of man's moral or spiritual nature, and its mode of development, lie at the foundation of Morality and the State, and are closely allied to certain important questions in theology. The public mind cannot safely be relied upon to act with intelligence and wisdom in great affairs of State, until the State comes to be regarded as something more than a mere human compact, and public life as something higher than a mere game of ambition and selfishness.
The facts disclosed in human consciousness must be made to harmonize with the teachings of divine wisdom; subjective and objective morality must and can be reconciled. In God's works there can be no conflicts; all must agree, all must harmonize; all apparent conflicts must arise from our ignorance. Hence, the intelligent Christian knows that Christianity has nothing to fear from such discussions; they can only tend to elaborate the truth ; a sharp presentation of error may be the very means of leading to a clear perception of the truth.
It is wrong, therefore, to assail with bitterness, unkind words, and all uncharitableness, a writer, because his opinions may not accord with our own, or may be in conflict with long cherished dogmas. Dogmas are good in their place; but truth is more priceless than all dogmas. The two modern writers who have exerted and are still exerting upon the thinking minds of England and America, more influence than all other writers, are Coleridge and Carlyle. Now, this patent fact could not exist unless these men, with all their errors, had got hold of some vital truths hitherto overlooked ; some new views of humanity, not hitherto developed; views approved by consciousness, and hence the ground of their power. This fact should lead all earnest and honest minds to reflection, to an effort to discover what of error there may be in their own opinions, and what of truth in those they condemn. Earnest minds do not knowingly labor in the cause of error; they have their faith, and to them it is God's truth. All systems are, and must be, affected with more or less of error; and no system can be built up out of unadulterated falsehood ; there must be truth at the bottom of all speculations upon the State, morality and religion. God only knows the whole truth, unmixed with error, and man can only claim that divine prerogative, when he ceases to be fallible.
I have written this work with no feelings of hostility to Evangelical Christianity ; my object has rather been to reconcile its teachings with those of human consciousness. If, therefore, any reader discovers reasona ings coming in conflict with his own cherished views, and sapping some of his venerated dogmas, let him not deal in hard and unkind epithets, but let him be assured that in my view there is here no vital conflict with the truths of revelations, only with the errors of dogmas, enunciated by human minds. If I am in error, let the effort be to expose it, so that out of this discussion the cause of truth may be advanced.
This work is especially submitted to the young men of these United States; to the consideration of those who are to do its thinking, shape its policy, and discharge its public functions, in the hope that it may contribute to form in them a spirit of manly independence and character, the result of a moral development wrought out by the application of the unchangeable principles of everlasting truth and right; minds thus trained will work in the State for right ends by noble and righteous means.
The reader must not expect to find here any effort at fine writing ; the professional and judicial duties of the author have trained him to regard things and ideas as of more importance than words and expressions. If I have succeeded in clearly expressing my own thoughts, and making myself understood, it is all I have aimed at; it is all that there is of valuable in any style. The clear expression of thoughts should be the object of all language ; then the reader will be enabled to think as the writer thought. In this respect, French writers are model writers; they express themselves with more sharpness and distinctness than writers in any other language; hence the study of French is more beneficial to the English and American mind than that of the German. The French mind is wonderfully analytical ; stripping a thought of all incumbrances, until it stands forth as clear and distinct as the outline of an Italian landscape.
But I must conclude with a single remark. If I were to dedicate this work to any one, as I shall not, I should feel bound to dedicate it to one, without whose aid it never could have been produced ; one whose intelligent and wise ways have created for the author all the endearing sweets of Home, and afforded him all the studious leisure of the celibate—a leisure so valuable to the professional man, and indispensable to continuous mental culture and patient and productive thought.
GALLIPOLIS, Ohio, August 1st, A. D. 1858.
Knowledge—its meaning and sources.
1. Its meaning ....
2. Its sources are three
3. Faith ...
Faith founded on evidence
Faith founded on revelation..
Obligation-its meaning and character.
Its meaning, to bind, constrain
Its meaning as applied to nature.
Its meaning as applied to man...
Applied to man, it implies punishment and reward