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resulting from it. Various benevolent institutions in New England and in other parts of the country,-our Missionary Societies, Domestic and Foreign, our Bible, Tract, Education and Temperance Societies, and our Associations for establishing and supporting Literary and Theological Seminaries, have been in successful operation for a considerable length of time. Now to new-model these institutions, so as to bring them directly under the control of the church at large, or of any particular ecclesiastical bodies, would be a work of a very serious nature, and of very difficult accomplishment. And certainly, such a work should not be entered upon in haste. In these great concerns, it is of the highest moinent that rash and perilous attempts at innovation should be avoided. Even if our various institutions, in their present state, are liable to some exceptions, and if the love of preëminence, or party spirit, or indiscreet zeal may take occasion from them to introduce pernicious irregularities; still there is urgent reason to be cautious, and to guard watchfully against the mischiefs that would be likely to result from sudden changes. This all sober men acknowledge to be of vast consequence in regard to civil institutions. And why is it not of equal consequence in regard to charitable institutions, especially those which have been long established and extensively patronized, and which, by the wisdom of their measures, and by the success which has attended them, have secured the confidence of the public? If the Episcopalians, and Presbyterians, and Methodists in our country, who have a settled ecclesiastical organization, are in whole or in part, disposed to carry on their benevolent operations in an ecclesiastical form; we will be so far from throwing any obstacles in their way, that we will most gladly do all in our power to contribute to their success by our good wishes and by every act of fraternal kindness, only asking that they would not interfere with the liberty of others. But before attempting any material changes in those benevolent institutions which have been established on the Voluntary Principle, and have been long in successful operation, it should well be ascertained, that there are important evils which attend our benevolent institutions, or result from them, in their present form, and that these evils are the genuine fruit of what is peculiar in the present scheme of action. It should also be ascertained, thai neither these evils, nor others of equal magnitude, would be likely to result from the other scheme, which is proposed to come in place of the present. If, after careful and
patient and repeated consideration, it shall be found expedient that an important change should take place in the plan of our benevolent societies—a change which will bring them directly under the supervision of ecclesiastical bodies ; let the change be attempted with such kindness and gentleness, and be carried into effect with such moderation and judgment, that no rupture or collision shall take place among brethren, and no wound inflicted on the feelings of the Christian community, and what is of paramount importance, that no check be given to benevolent feeling and benevolent action, and no obstacle cast in the way of the conversion of the world. If there are sufficient reasons for changes in our mode of doing good; intelligent and pious men can certainly understand those reasons, and in due time, be prepared unitedly to adopt any changes which promise to advance the welfare of the church, And be it remembered, as a principle of primary consequence, though at the present time, most grievously neglected, that men of sense will be much sooner convinced by sober and weighty arguments, than by empty declamation and sophistry, and more easily persuaded by kindness and gentleness, than by wrath and violence. If we apprehend, (I speak in the name of those who have such an apprehension,) —if we apprehend that serious evils will result from the present plan of operation, and that valuable improvements may be made; let us with great sincerity and frankness, but with modesty, communicate our views to others, and let the matter be well considered and weighed; and let no attempt be made to introduce a change, before the way is prepared for it. And it will not unfrequently be found that, even after the subject has been some time before the public, the safest, and most effectual way, yea, the only way, to bring about an important change is, to introduce it by parts, a little now, and a little more by and by ; as the British Parliament have done. This tends to prevent alarm and the burst of excited passion, diminishes the force of opposition, and begets quietness and confidence. It is especially important, not only as a matter of practical wisdom, but as a Christian duty, to keep at a great distance from all bitter or harsh reflections upon
those who are not convinced by our arguments and who adhere strongly to the plan of action to which they have been used. Invincible reluctance to change, is not among the worst things in human nature. Nay, it often results from the most praise-worthy principle. And though we may think it exists in a very faulty degree, and though it may occasion us trouble, and may stand in the way of the accomplishment of our favorite objects; we should still treat it with the utmost forbearance and lenity. And if, after all our appeals to reason, benevolence, and piety, we are not so happy as to find, that the time has come, when the proposed changes can be peaceably and harmoniously effected; then, instead of giving way to fretfulness or sourness of temper, let us cherish feelings of perfect good-nature. And as others may not be so pliable as we wish, and may not bend to the new plan of benevolent action, which we should prefer, let us learn to be pliable ourselves, and quietly go along with them a while longer, in the old way, thus avoiding the evils of division and strife, and keeping the unity of spirit in the bond of peace,
AUTHORITY, A SOURCE OF MORAL OBLIGATION.
By Rev. L. P. Hickok, Prof. of Didactic Theology, Western Reserve College, Ohio.
A PREVAILING spirit of insubordination to law fearfully characterizes the present day. It is evinced in the thousand individual cases where inclination, ambition and interest trample upon authority-in the frequent appeals to a false code of honor–in the frenzy and corruption of contested elections—in the violent assumption of law by reckless men into their own hands, and wreaking private hate by a tumultuous and summary vengeance—and in the excited commotions of a collected and frantic populace, rushing like a tempest over all law to its object amid scenes of riot, conflagration and blood. Yea, in addition to the licentiousness openly advocated by some shameless lecturers both male and female, there are not wanting instances where the influence of a christian name and profession is directly applied to the dissemination of principles which sap the foundations of all authority, and prostrate the salutary restraints of civil legislation. All witness the prevalence of this disorganizing spirit, and all the wise and good deplore it.
Perhaps this result was to have been expected from the progress of free principles, and the operation of a free government. It is human nature to take extremes, and thus it might have been anticipated that many minds, when loosed from the point of passive obedience, would swing over to the opposite point of licentious indulgence. But if from the nature of man such an anticipation were rational, it by no means diminishes the danger from the fact itself. There can be no safety in leaving this spirit to its unhindered action, and permitting it to move on to its certain issue, with no vigorous efforts in counteraction. The Repository, it is true, is not the proper medium for reaching the great mass of disorganizers and levelers, still in the higher and purer atmosphere where it moves, it is not to be presumed that there are none, who, if they do not directly throw all their influence against the majesty and authority of law, are yet entirely prevented, and from confused or perverted views absolutely disqualified, from standing out its firm supporters and defenders. A thorough, honest and serious discussion of the subject in these pages can hardly fail to subserve the interests of patriotism, philanthropy and religion. The present Article is designed as a small contribution to this object.
Conscience may be reached, and a sense of obligation awakened from two sources, the nature of things, and, authority. The first is by a direct intuition of right, or a reflective perception of expediency, in things themselves—the second is by the legislation of a sovereign enactment. One has the approbation or remorse of natural conscience for its sanctions, the other has the additional retributions of positive rewards and punishments. Both have a direct appeal to the ultimate principle of rightthe first, to the rightness of the precepts--the second, to the rightness of the authority. Both lay inviolate obligations upon conscience, but from two distinct sources. One insisting, thus saith nature—the other, thus saith law. One inquires, How reasonest thou ?—the other, How readest thou ?
The present design includes the latter only, and accordingly we will consider to some extent the nature of authority as a source of human obligation.
Two inquiries will cover the ground we propose to occupy, viz.
1. Why is authority necessary as a source of obligation ? II. What is the test of legitimate authority ?
The necessity of authority in the direction of human conduct is the main point of controversy. It is strenuously denied that there is any necessity for it in the government of man. Law has no claims to obedience for its own sake. Man is fully competent from his own reason for all the purposes of self-government as a member of civil society, and thus all authority is at the best superfluous. If it require what the man does not approve, it is tyranny ; if it require only what he does approve, it is useless. All that man needs is instruction, not authority; he must be convinced, not commanded.
From this general assumption originate a variety of differently modified theories. One affirms that pleasure or happiness is the only good, and this is found in the gratification of his constitutional susceptibilities, and thus while it is right to follow natural appetite, this too is a sufficient directory. Gratify it when it craves, and stop when it is satiated. Another, on the same principle that pleasure is the only good, admits that a wakeful discretion is necessary, lest its possession be more than counterbalanced by subsequent suffering. But it is earnestly asserted that every man's own faculties are abundantly competent to make the estimate and guide the conduct. Another would so cultivate the social sympathies and natural sensibilities that they shall preserve the order and peace of society. Another assumes that a proper appeal to man's natural sense of justice and reciprocal rights, and especially to the feelings of kindness and benevolence are sufficient for all the purposes of social regulation without any positive enactments and still another, more elevated in its conception and plausible in its argumentation, asserts that man is endowed with reason which cannot but be in conformity with universal truth, and all right legislation therefore must be in harmony with it. Obedience to all law will thus exactly coincide with the dictates of pure reason in each individual, and render him the inost free when he is the most obedient.
All these, however, from the more refined and elevated system of Jean Jacques Rousseau's social contract, down to the gross and insane schemes of Robert Dale Owen and Frances Wright Darismont, involve as fundamental, the principle that man is singly competent to all the purposes of self-government as a member of civil society, and that he needs nothing and should yield obedience to nothing but the law of his own nature within him. All authority in accordance with this law of nature is superfluous, and all that transcends it partakes of the very essence of tyranny, and is to be unconquerably resisted. Man