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Title: An Appeal to the People in Behalf of Their Rights as Authorized - Interpreters of the Bible
Author: Beecher, Catharine E.
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "An Appeal to the People in Behalf of Their Rights as Authorized - Interpreters of the Bible" ***

     An Appeal to the People in Behalf of Their Rights as Authorized
                        Interpreters of The Bible

                         by Catharine E. Beecher

    Author of “Common Sense Applied to Religion,” “Domestic Economy,”
“Domestic Receipt‐Book,” “Letters to the People on Health and Happiness,”
                “Physiology and Calisthenics,” Etc., Etc.

                                 New York

                      Harper & Brothers, Publishers



Chapter I. Introduction.
Chapter II. The Augustine Theory of the Origin of Evil.
Chapter III. Questions Connected with the Augustinian Theory.
Chapter IV. The Difficulties Involved in the Augustinian Theory.
Chapter V. The Augustinian Theory in Creeds.
Chapter VI. Modes of Meeting Difficulties by Theologians.
Chapter VII. Theologians Themselves Concede the Augustinian Dogmas
Chapter VIII. The Augustinian Theory Contrary to the Moral Sense of
Chapter IX. The Principles of Common Sense Defined.
Chapter X. Common Sense Applied to Gain the Existence of God.
Chapter XI. The People’s Mental Philosophy.
Chapter XII. The Nature of Mind, or Its Powers and Faculties.
Chapter XIII. Nature of Mind.—Regulation of the Thoughts.
Chapter XIV. Nature of Mind.—The Moral Sense, or Moral Susceptibilities.
Chapter XV. The Nature of Mind.—The Will.
Chapter XVI. Constitutional Varieties of the Human Mind.
Chapter XVII. Nature of Mind.—Habit.
Chapter XVIII. The Nature of Mind Our Guide to the Natural Attributes of
Chapter XIX. The Nature of Mind Our Guide to the Moral Attributes of God.
Chapter XX. Additional Proof of the Moral Attributes of God.
Chapter XXI. Nature of Mind as Perfect in Construction.
Chapter XXII. Right and Wrong—True Virtue.
Chapter XXIII. Laws and Penalties—Sin and Holiness.
Chapter XXIV. Love to God And Love to Man.
Chapter XXV. Increased Civilization Increases Moral Difficulties.
Chapter XXVI. Humility and Meekness.
Chapter XXVII. The Standard of Right and Wrong Decided by The Risks of
Chapter XXVIII. The Destiny of Man in the Future Life.
Chapter XXIX. What Must We Do To Be Saved?
Chapter XXX. How Far Reason and Experience are Sufficient Without
Chapter XXXI. Augustinian Creeds and Theologians Teach the Common‐Sense
Chapter XXXII. Augustinian Creeds and Theologians Contradict the Common‐
Sense System, and Thus, Also, Contradict Themselves.
Chapter XXXIII. The Augustinian Theory Not In The Bible.
Chapter XXXIV. A Reliable Revelation From The Creator Impossible If It
Contains The Augustinian Theory.
Chapter XXXV. Tendencies of the Two Opposing Systems.
Chapter XXXVI. Tendencies of the Two Systems As They Respect the
Cultivation of the Moral and Intellectual Powers.
Chapter XXXVII. Tendencies of the Two Systems in Respect to Individual
Religious Experience.
Chapter XXXVIII. Tendencies of the Two Systems in Reference to the
Character of God.
Chapter XXXIX. Tendencies of the Two Systems as to Church Organizations.
Chapter XL. Tendencies of the Two Systems in Regard to Humility, Meekness
and a Teachable Spirit.
Chapter XLI. Tendencies of the Two Systems in Regard to Dogmatism,
Persecution and Ecclesiastical Tyranny.
Chapter XLII. Tendencies of the Two Systems as Shown in Controversy and
Chapter XLIII. Practical Tendencies of the Two Systems.
Chapter XLIV. Tendencies of the Two Systems in the Training of Children.
Chapter XLV. The People Rejecting the Augustinian System.—Position of
Chapter XLVI. Present Position of the Church.
Chapter XLVII. State of the Pastors of Churches.
Chapter XLVIII. The Position of Popular Education.
Chapter XLIX. The Position of Woman as Chief Educator of Mind.
Chapter L. Present Position of Young America.
Chapter LI. Present Position of the Religious Press.
Chapter LII. The Present Position of the Secular Press.
Chapter LIII. What The People Will Do?

                               [Cover Art]

TO The Editors of the Secular Press, THE TRUE TRIBUNES OF THE PEOPLE,


There is an obvious crisis approaching, in the religious world, on
questions of the highest moment. In past time such periods of change have
been preceded by a slow and silent preparation, in which multitudes have
been led into the same course of thought and feeling. Then, as the crisis
approached, some efficient leader lifted the last stone which sustained
the protecting dyke, and rode on the summit of the in‐rushing tide to
notoriety and influence. Thus it was in the day of Luther, in the day of
Wesley, and at other periods of religious movement.

At the present time there are indications of a great impending change,
which has been preceded by a long course of unobserved preparation. But it
is believed that, in this case, it is not to be exhibited, like former
ones, by leaders forming new sects and parties, amid more or less of
conflict and commotion, but by the agency of _the people_, and by a
healthful, quiet process, which, like leaven, shall gradually assimilate
surrounding particles till the whole be leavened.

The matter involved is the great question of questions, to each individual
for himself, and to every parent and educator for their children: “What
must we DO to be saved?”

It is the object of this volume to show that the answer to this great
question has, for ages, been involved in mystery and difficulty by means
of a _philosophical theory_ to account for the “origin of evil,” which, in
the fifth century, was forced on the people by popes and ecclesiastical
councils, and which has been sustained by persecution ever since—that this
theory is the basis of a system of religious doctrine incorporated into
creeds and churches, which is so contrary to the moral sense of humanity,
that theologians have failed to render it consistent and satisfactory,
even to themselves—that _the people_ are endowed with _principles of
common sense_ by which they can educe from the works of God a system of
natural religion far superior, which system is briefly set forth, and also
the tendencies of the two opposing systems—that _both_ systems are so
incorporated into church creeds, and into theological teachings, that they
are a compound of contradictions, and all the great religious
controversies have been efforts to eviscerate the false system from the
true, while through the long conflict, it is theologians who have proved
the noble confessors and martyrs for truth—that it is impossible to
establish the claims of the Bible, or of any other writings, as
_revelations_ from the Creator, when the Augustinian theory is made a part
of their teachings; so that the real question for the people, is “Bible or
no Bible”—that the leading theological teachers of the chief sects in this
country have virtually conceded that this theory is sustained neither by
common sense nor the Bible; and, finally, that the people are about to
cast off this dogma, which for ages has darkened the way to eternal life,
and by applying the principles of common sense to the Bible, thus
establish its agreement with the system of natural religion herein set

In conclusion, the indications of the predicted change are set forth as
they are manifested in the present position of theologians—of the
parochial clergy—of the church—of educational interests—of women—of “Young
America”—and of the religious and secular press.


The theory in question was introduced into the Christian church, as an
article of faith, in the fifth century, chiefly by the influence of
Augustine, an African bishop.

To understand how it was brought about, it is needful to bear in mind the
distinction between facts and the philosophical theories that explain the
_how_ and the _why_ of these facts.

Christ and his Apostles taught the fact that all men are sinners, and the
way to escape from sin and its penalties. As, at first, Christianity
prevailed chiefly among the uneducated, it was not till some three or four
hundred years after Christ, that the philosophy of these facts agitated
the churches. Augustine was a man of powerful mind and great learning, and
with other philosophers, speculated as to “the origin of evil,” or the WHY
and the HOW all men came to be sinners.

By the aid of a few misinterpreted passages in the Bible, the following
theory was introduced and mainly by Augustine.

The Augustinian Theory.

The Creator has proved his power to make minds with such “a holy nature”
that they will have no propensity to sin, by creating the minds of angels
and of Adam on this pattern. Adam having this holy nature, with no
propensity to sin, did sin, and, as a penalty, or in consequence, all his
posterity commence existence without this holy nature, and with such a
depraved nature that every moral act is sin and only sin until God
regenerates each mind. This favor is bestowed only on a certain “elect”
number, whose salvation was purchased by the sufferings and death of Jesus

The rest of the race, after death, are to continue an existence of
hopeless torment in hell.

This depraved nature is the “origin of evil;” that is to say, it is _the
cause_ of all the sin and consequent misery of our race in time and
through eternity. It is what is meant by the terms “total depravity,” and
“original sin” as used by theologians.

At first the pope and the church councils refused this theory, but
eventually, the Augustinian party triumphed; Pelagius and his followers
were persecuted and driven out of the church, and thus this dogma was
established as a leading feature in all the creeds and confessions of both
Catholic and Protestant churches.

So thoroughly has it been adopted that, since the time of Pelagius, there
has been little discussion among the great Christian sects on the theory
itself. These disputes have chiefly related to certain questions connected
with this dogma, which will next be noticed.


In discussing the topics of this chapter it is needful to refer to certain
religious sects and parties of this country in their relations to the

The first class may be denominated the old school Calvinists, embracing
the Old School Presbyterian churches, the Reformed Dutch and most of the
Baptist denominations.

Their views are ably presented by the theologians of Princeton and their
quarterly, and by the Baptist theologians of the Newton Theological
Seminary and the Baptist periodicals.

The second class may be called the new school Calvinists, embracing
Congregational and New School Presbyterian churches. These are ably
represented in New England by the Andover and New Haven Theological
Seminaries and their respective quarterlies; and out of New England, by
the Theological Seminaries of Union and Lane, and their quarterly at

The third class are the Arminian sects, including the Methodists and
Episcopalians, whose views are ably presented in their quarterlies and
other periodicals in New York and Philadelphia.

In what does the depraved nature transmitted from Adam consist?

In seeking a definite and clear answer to the question, what is the
depraved nature transmitted from Adam, we find so much vagueness and
mistiness, that it will be needful to state first what it _is not_, and
then it will be more easy to approximate to the affirmative reply.

We find, then, that theologians teach that this depraved nature does not
consist in any of those constitutional powers and faculties of mind, of
which God is the author. For they maintain that all that God has made is
perfect and right, and that he is not the creator of that which is the
cause or origin of sin, inasmuch as this would make him “the author of
sin,” which they expressly deny. This depraved nature, then, is something
which God did not create. This is what is affirmed when theologians say
that they do not teach a “physical depravity” which demands “physical
regeneration” on the part of God.

Then on the positive side, we find that this depraved nature is something
that mind can be created without, for God made the angels and Adam without

It is something which does not prevent sinful action, for Adam sinned
before it existed.

It is something which God can at any time remedy, at least to some extent,
by regeneration.

It is something which makes every moral act of every human being sin and
only sin until regeneration takes place.

It is something which man created himself, either _in_ Adam, or _by_ Adam,
or _before_ Adam.

It is something which man never can or never will rectify, so that he is
entirely dependent on God for the remedy.

It is something which most theologians describe as “a bias,” or “a
tendency,” or “a propensity,” or “an inclination,” or “a proclivity” _to
sin_, while its opposite is called _a holy nature_ which was created by
God, and which consists in a bias, tendency, propensity, inclination or
proclivity to holiness.

According to this, God created the holy nature of angels and our first
parents, and _man_ caused the depraved nature of all of Adam’s posterity.

Some theologians attempt to define it as an _unbalanced state of the
faculties_, while holiness consists in the perfect balance of the
faculties. This balanced state of the faculties conferred at his creation
on Adam has been withheld from all his descendants by a constitution
formed by God in consequence of Adam’s sin. Some theologians define this
depravity as _like_ a habit. Others hold that it is a state of _the will_,
sometimes called a _disposition_ or _ruling purpose_.

Some theologians teach that the presence of God’s Spirit, in the soul of
man is indispensable to its right action, and that his depraved nature is
the result of the “deprivation” of God’s Spirit, which was bestowed on
Adam, and is withheld from his descendants on account of his first sin.
According to this view, a holy mind is one which enjoys the presence of
God’s Spirit, and a depraved mind is one that is deprived of it.

Ability and Inability.

The next question connected with the Augustine theory is in regard to
man’s power or ability to obey God.

The old school Calvinists hold that man has no power of _any_ kind to obey
any of God’s laws acceptably until his depraved nature is regenerated by
God, and also that he has no power to do any thing that has any tendency
to secure regeneration. Every act and feeling is sin and only sin from
birth to regeneration.

The new school Calvinists hold that man has full power to obey _all_ that
God requires, but that owing to his depraved nature, he never will perform
a morally right act in a single instance, until regenerated, nor will he
do any thing that has any promise, or encouragement from the Word of God,
as tending to secure regeneration. He is as entirely dependent on God as
if he had no power of any kind. And as the inability, whether natural or
moral, is all owing to the depraved nature consequent on Adam’s sin, the
fact that man has power to do what he never will do, only adds to the
misery of the condition thus entailed.

The Arminian sects agree in the fact that the sin of Adam entailed such a
depraved nature to all the race, as more or less incapacitates for right
moral action until regeneration takes place.

The Episcopal Arminians hold to the Catholic view that baptism in part
remedies the effects of Adam’s sin, so that by the use of the means
afforded by a ministry regularly transmitted from the Apostles, the
unregenerate can gain eternal life.

The Methodist Arminians hold that depravity consists in the
“_deprivation_” of God’s Spirit which was given to Adam, and that the
death of Christ has so availed, that man now has some measure of this
Spirit restored before regeneration, so that all men have power, by the
use of certain appointed means of grace, to gain regeneration.

The main point where the Calvinists and Arminians differ is, that the
Arminians teach that man has an appointed mode for gaining regeneration,
and the Calvinists teach that he has not.

What is Regeneration?

The next question is, in what does that great change consist which is
called regeneration, and which is indispensable to salvation from eternal

The old school Calvinists say it is a new nature created by God which
naturally acts right, in place of a depraved nature which naturally acts
wrong and only wrong. With this new nature man has power to obey God
acceptably, and without it he has no power of any kind.

The new school Calvinists say that regeneration is a change of the
depraved nature of man by God, attended by a _choice_ or _ruling purpose_
to obey God in all things made by man himself. They teach also that man
can and ought to make this choice without any help from God in changing
his depraved nature, and yet, owing to this evil nature, he never will do
so till God changes it. Meantime God points out no certain way of
obtaining this indispensable aid from him.(1)

The Arminians teach that regeneration consists either in the implanting of
a new nature by baptism, and the use of other means of grace, or in the
restoration of God’s Spirit which was withdrawn from man on account of
Adam’s sin, and in some degree restored by Christ’s death.

What must we do to be saved?

The next question for a race thus mournfully ruined is, “What must we do
to be saved?”

In reply, the old school Calvinist says, you can do nothing at all.
Whoever is saved will be regenerated by God, without reference to any
unregenerate doings. It is all decided not by man in any way, but by the
“decrees” and “election” of God.

The new school Calvinist says, You _can_ do all that God requires, so as
to be perfect in every thought, word and deed, from the beginning of moral
action to the close of life, but you certainly never _will_ feel or do a
single thing that is right and acceptable until regenerated; nor will you
ever do any thing to which any promise is offered by God as that which
will secure his interference to regenerate. It is all decided, not by man,
but by the “decrees” and “election” of God.

The Arminians say you can obtain regeneration and eternal life, by the use
of the means of grace set forth in the Bible and by “the Church.”

True virtue, or right moral action.

The next question is, what is true virtue, or right moral action?

By _moral action_ is meant the act of mind in _choosing_, in distinction
from intellectual and other acts of mind.

The Calvinists, both old and new school, teach that true virtue, or right
moral action in man, is choosing to obey God’s laws after regeneration
takes place. Previous to regeneration, every choice is sin and has no
moral goodness or rectitude. Thus truth, honesty, justice, self‐denial for
the good of others, obedience to parents, are all sin in an unregenerate
mind, and true virtue in the regenerate mind.

The Antinomian Calvinist goes so far as to claim that _every_ choice of a
regenerate mind is right and holy, just as every choice of the
unregenerate is sin. Thus the practice of the most hideous vices and
crimes becomes virtue in the regenerate.

But all other Calvinists maintain that after regeneration we can and do
sin, though previous to this change no truly virtuous act is ever

The Arminians hold that true virtue consists in obeying God’s laws,
without reference to the question of regeneration. They do not hold, as do
all Calvinists, that all the doings of the unregenerate are sinful, and
thus have no promise or encouragement in the Bible as having an influence
to secure regeneration.


The difficulties involved in the Augustinian theory of “the origin of
evil,” result from these facts. Our only idea of a benevolent being is
that wherever he has the power to produce either happiness or misery, he
prefers to make happiness. Our only idea of a malevolent being is that
wherever he has this power he prefers to make misery.

Consequently, the affirmation that all the sin and misery of man is the
result of a depraved nature which the Creator has power both to prevent
and to remove, conveys no other idea than that God prefers to make misery
when he has power to make happiness, and thus is a malevolent being.

If God would make all minds perfectly holy, as theologians claim he has
power to do, all sin would cease. He chooses not to do so, but rather to
perpetuate the depraved nature transmitted from Adam, which is “the origin
of all evil.”

Now all classes of theologians who hold to the depravity of man’s nature
consequent on Adam’s sin, agree that this is the cause or origin of all
sin and its consequent suffering.

They all agree, also, that God has proved his power to make a perfectly
holy nature in the case of angels and of Adam, and that in consequence of
the first sin of Adam, every human mind begins to exist with a depraved
nature, according to a constitution of things instituted by God.

They all agree that God can regenerate every human mind, and that this
boon is withheld, not for want of _power_, but for want of _will_ on the
part of God.

The difficulty that they have to meet is this—How can the Creator, having
done thus, be regarded as any other than a malevolent being, the malignant
and hateful “author of sin,” and all its consequent sufferings?

The following exhibits the several modes of attempting to meet this

The Catholic Method.

The first mode of meeting this difficulty is called that of _mystery_ and
_sovereignty_. It is simply saying that there is no explanation to be
given. It is a mystery that God as a sovereign does not choose to explain,
and it must be submitted to in uncomplaining silence.

This is the Catholic mode which has been perpetuated by many Protestants.
It is the same method as is adopted in defending the Catholic doctrine of

All who do not resort to the Catholic mode of mystery and sovereignty,
endeavor to relieve the Creator from the charge of being the author of sin
by maintaining that _man made his own depraved nature_.

This they set forth in the following ways:

Mode of Augustine and of President Edwards.

Augustine, the father of this dreadful system, maintained that all men had
a common nature _in_ Adam, which was ruined by his act, after God had made
this common nature perfect. That is to say, every human soul existed as a
part of Adam, and thus his act was the act of each and of all. This act
vitiated the common nature of all, and thus Adam and each of his posterity
caused the depravity of their common nature. And thus, though God had the
power to create each mind as perfect as he created Adam’s, still he is not
the author of sin.

President Edwards, the great New England theologian, taught that all the
minds of our race so existed in Adam, and were so one with his mind, that
when he chose to eat the forbidden fruit, all his descendants chose to do
so too, and thus each man ruined his own nature, and God is not the author
of the evil.

The Princeton Mode.

The theologians of Princeton set forth the following as the mode in which
man caused his own depraved nature:

God created Adam with a perfectly holy nature. Adam sinned and ruined his
own nature. God had previously “made a covenant with Adam, not only for
himself, but for all his posterity, or in other words, Adam having been
placed on trial, not only for himself, but also for his race, his act was
in virtue of this relation _regarded (by God) as our act_. God withdrew
from us as he did from him; in consequence of this withdrawal, we begin to
exist in moral darkness, destitute of a disposition to delight in God and
prone to delight in ourselves and in the world. The sin of Adam therefore
ruined us; and the intervention of the Son of God for our salvation is an
act of pure, sovereign, and wonderful grace.”

The above is extracted from a standard writer of the Princeton Theological
Seminary, and expresses the views of the Old School Presbyterian church in
this matter.

It is simply saying that man made his own depraved nature, inasmuch as God
_regarded_ Adam’s act as our act _when it was not_, being performed before
we existed, and that he punished us by withdrawing from us, as he did from
Adam, and thus our nature becomes ruined and totally depraved.

The Constitutional Transmission Mode.

The next way in which man is made to be the author of his own nature is
called the _constitutional transmission mode_. It is as follows:

God made Adam with a perfectly holy mind, and then Adam sinned and ruined
his own nature. _In consequence_ of this act, God established _such a
constitution of things_ that Adam transmitted his depraved nature to all
his posterity, just as bodily diseases are transmitted from parents to

In this way _man_ is said to be the author of his own depraved nature,
meaning, by man, _Adam_.

In this case it is conceded that God had power to make such a constitution
of things as that all human minds would begin existence, as Adam did, with
perfectly holy minds, and that instead of this, he chose that such a
depraved nature should be transmitted to all as would insure universal
sin. And yet it is claimed that by this mode, man, and not God, is shown
to be “the author of sin.”

This is the mode adopted by most of the Andover and New Haven theologians.

Dr. Edward Beecher, in his work “The Conflict of Ages,” advocates the idea
that man ruined his own nature in a preëxistent state _before_ Adam. But
the evidence of this has not yet been presented.

Thus all who do not take the Catholic mode of _mystery and sovereignty_
maintain that _man made his own depravity of nature_, either _in_ or _by_
or _before_ Adam.

Condition of infants.

The most difficult point of all, is the probable condition of infants
after death. On the Augustinian theory they all have been ruined in nature
by Adam’s sin, and when they die, go with this depraved nature to their
final state. Augustine acquired the name of “_durus pater_” (cruel father)
because he was consistent with his theory and taught that these little
ones, if unbaptized, were doomed to endless torments.

But as humanity and common sense have gained ground this hideous tenet has
passed away, and few are now found who do not sacrifice consistency to
humanity, and allow that in spite of their total depravity, all infants go
directly to heaven and are forever blessed. Formerly some would confine
this favor to the “elect infants,” others to the infants of “elect
parents,” but few are found at this day who venture to teach that God
sends even one new‐born being to eternal misery for Adam’s sin.

The difficulties not removed but rather increased by these methods.

But the difficulties involved in the Augustine theory do not lie in _the
mode_ by which it came to pass that all men begin existence with depraved
natures, but in _the fact_, that God, having power to create all minds as
perfect as Adam’s, and also the power to regenerate all, has chosen not to
do so, and thus has preferred the consequent sin and misery to the
happiness resulting from making perfect minds.

This grand difficulty stands entirely unrelieved by the above methods. Nay
more, they all serve but to increase a sense of the folly and enormity of
the awful result, and to present our Maker as the cruel cause of all our
miseries, and the fullest and most awful realization of our idea of a
perfectly malevolent being.(2)

Illustration of the Augustinian Theory.

The following illustrates the case, though but very imperfectly, inasmuch
as any finite temporal evils are as nothing compared to the eternal
torments to which are assigned all of our race, whose ruined nature is not
regenerated before death.

A father places a poison in the way of his wife, forbids her to taste it,
but knows she will do so and that the consequence will be that all his
children will be born blind.

Then he places the children thus deprived of sight, in a dreadful morass
filled with savage beasts and awful pitfalls, with a narrow and difficult
path of escape, which it is certain no one will ever find without sight.
The consequence is, that a large part of his children sink into the
pitfalls and perish.

Then he justifies himself in these ways. To some he says, I have a right
to treat my children as I please, and I allow no one to question me on the
matter. All that I do is right and benevolent, and you must not inquire
how or why.

To all the rest he says, I am not the author of this evil, it is _the
mother_ of the children who took the poison when I forbade her to do so.
She either made herself blind by taking the poison, and then transmitted
the evil to her children as a hereditary boon, or she had “a common
nature” with her children and ruined all together, or they all “sinned in
her” and became blind before they were born. And so I am not “the author
of sin” in this matter.

To intelligent persons not educated in the belief of the above theory of
Augustine, and of these modes of explaining the difficulties connected
with it, this account of the matter will seem so incredible and monstrous
that they will demand evidence that the preceding statements are true. In
the next chapters this evidence will be presented.


The preceding chapters have presented the Augustinian theory of “the
origin of evil,” and certain questions connected with it which have been
debated by theologians; also the difficulties involved in the theory, and
the modes of meeting these difficulties.

The next aim will be to verify these statements by extracts from the
creeds and theologians of the great Christian sects.

Creed of the Catholic Church.

It is well known that the Catholic organization preceded that of the
Protestant sects. It is also well known that this church maintains that
the decisions of her pope and councils are _infallible_.

The following extracts, then, from the decisions of the celebrated
Councils of Trent at the period of the Reformation, exhibit the theory of
Augustine incorporated as a part of the Roman Catholic creed:

    _Extract from a decree of the Council of Trent._

    “Infants derive from Adam that original guilt which must be
    expiated in the laver of regeneration in order to obtain eternal
    life. Adam lost the purity and righteousness which he received
    from God, not for himself only but also for us.”

The catechism of the Council of Trent says:

    “The pastor, therefore, will not omit to remind the faithful that
    the guilt and punishment of original sin were not confined to
    Adam, but justly descended from him, their source and cause, to
    all posterity. Hence a sentence of condemnation was pronounced
    _against the human race_ immediately after the fall of Adam.”

John Calvin.

The celebrated John Calvin, one of the greatest Protestant theologians at
the period of the Reformation, wrote a complete _system_ based on the
Augustinian theory. This system has been perpetuated in all the various
sects which from him are named _Calvinistic_. The following extract gives
his views on this subject:

_John Calvin._

    “It is a hereditary depravity and corruption of our nature,
    diffused through all parts of the soul, which, in the first place,
    exposes us to the wrath of God, and then produces in us those
    works which the Scripture calls the works of the flesh.”

Of infants, he says:

    “They bring their condemnation with them from their mother’s womb,
    being liable to punishment, not for the sin of another, but for
    their own. For although they have not as yet produced the fruits
    of their iniquity, yet they have the seed inclosed in themselves;
    nay, their whole nature is, as it were, a seed of sin; therefore
    they can not but be odious and abominable to God. Whence it
    follows that it is properly considered sin before God, because
    there could not be liability to punishment without sin.”

    “The corruption of nature precedes and gives rise to all sinful
    acts, and is in itself deserving of punishment.”

Westminster Assembly.

The Westminster Assembly represented the Calvinistic sects of Great
Britain near the period of the Reformation.

The confession of faith and catechisms prepared by them have ever since
been received as a true statement of the system of religious doctrine, as
held by the Presbyterian, Congregational, and Calvinistic Baptist
denominations in Great Britain and America. The following presents the
Augustinian theory, as contained in their creed:

    “A _corrupted nature_ was conveyed from our first parents to all
    their posterity. From this original corruption, whereby we are
    utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and
    wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions.
    Every sin, both original and actual, being a transgression of the
    righteous law of God, and contrary thereunto, doth in its own
    nature bring guilt upon the sinner, whereby he is bound over to
    the wrath of God and curse of the law, and so made subject to
    death, with all miseries, spiritual, temporal and eternal.”

The Episcopalians.

The following from the Thirty‐nine Articles of the Church of England
presents the same doctrine, as held by the Episcopalians of Great Britain
and America:

    “Original sin is the fault and corruption of the nature of every
    man, that naturally is engendered in the offspring of Adam;
    whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is
    of his own nature inclined to evil—and this infection of nature
    doth remain in the regenerated.”

    “The condition of man after the fall of Adam is such, that he can
    not turn and prepare himself (by his own natural strength and good
    works) to faith and calling upon God. Wherefore we have _no power_
    to do good works pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace
    of God by Christ preventing us; that we may have a good will, and
    working with us when we have that good will.”

The Methodists.

In the Methodist Quarterly Review for July, 1857, the editor, in speaking
of the works of Arminius, says, p. 345, “Our denomination, _whose creed
agrees so completely with the teachings of this learned, accomplished and
holy man_, is bound to maintain the freshness of his precious memory.”


In the same article are the following extracts from the works of Arminius,
which, on so good authority, may be received as the views of the Methodist
churches on this topic:

    “The will of man, with respect to true good, is not only wounded,
    bruised, crooked and attenuated, but is likewise captivated,
    destroyed and lost, and has _no powers whatever_, except such as
    are excited by grace.

    “Adam, by sinning, corrupted himself and all his posterity, and so
    made them obnoxious to God’s wrath.”

    “Infants have rejected the grace of the gospel _in their parents
    and forefathers_, by which act they have deserved to be deserted
    by God. For I would like to have proof adduced how all posterity
    could _sin in Adam_ against law, and yet infants, to whom the
    gospel is offered _in their parents_ and rejected, have not sinned
    against the grace of the gospel.”

    “For there is a permanent principle in the covenant of God, that
    children should be comprehended and adjudged in their parents.”

Watson, the leading Arminian theologian, says that in the doctrine of the
corruption of our common nature and man’s natural incapacity to do good,
the Arminians and Calvinists so well agree, “that it is an entire delusion
to represent this doctrine, as is often done, as exclusively Calvinistic.”

Various Protestant doctrines.

The following extracts from the creeds of various European bodies of
Protestant Christians show the same doctrine. The Synod of Dort was a
great council of Protestant divines at the period of the Reformation. It
contained representatives from most of the large bodies of Protestants in
Europe. The following gives their views on this subject:

_Synod of Dort._

    “Therefore all men are conceived in sin and born the children of
    wrath, disqualified for all saving good, propense to evil, dead in
    sins, the slaves of sin; and without the grace of the regenerating
    Holy Spirit, they neither are willing nor able to return to God,
    to correct their depraved nature, or to dispose themselves to the
    correction of it.”

_Confession of Helvetia._

    “We take sin to be that natural corruption of man derived or
    spread from those our parents unto us all; through which we, being
    not only drowned in evil concupiscences and clean turned away from
    God, but prone to all evil, full of all wickedness, distrust,
    contempt and hatred of God, can do no good of ourselves—_no, not
    so much as think of any_.”

_Confession of Belgia._

    “We believe that, through the disobedience of Adam, the sin that
    is called original hath been spread and poured into all mankind.
    Now original sin is a corruption of the whole nature, and an
    hereditary evil wherewith even the very infants in their mother’s
    womb are polluted: the which also, as a most noisome root, doth
    branch out most abundantly all kinds of sin in men, and is so
    filthy and abominable in the sight of God, that _it alone_ is
    sufficient to the condemnation of all mankind.”

_Confession of Bohemia._

    “Original sin is naturally engendered in us and hereditary,
    wherein we are all conceived and born into this world.... Let the
    force of this hereditary destruction be acknowledged and judged of
    by the guilt and fault involved, by our proneness and declination
    to evil, by our evil nature, and by the punishment which is laid
    upon it.

    “Actual sins are the fruits of original sin, and do burst out
    within, without, privily and openly, by the powers of man; that
    is, by all that ever man is able to do, and by his members,
    transgressing all those things which God commandeth and
    forbiddeth, and also running into blindness and errors worthy to
    be punished with all kinds of damnation.”

_French Confession (Protestant)._

    “Man’s nature is become altogether defiled, and being blind in
    spirit and corrupt in heart, hath utterly lost all his original
    integrity. We believe that all the offspring of Adam are infected
    with this contagion, which we call original sin, that is a stain
    spreading itself by propagation. We believe that this stain is
    indeed sin, because that it maketh every man (not so much as those
    little ones excepted which as yet lie hid in their mother’s womb)
    deserving of eternal death before God. We also affirm that this
    stain, even after baptism, is in nature sin.”

_Moravian Confession._

    “This innate disease and original sin is truly sin, and condemns
    under God’s eternal wrath all those who are not born again through
    water and the Holy Ghost.”

The preceding is sufficient to establish the unanimous agreement of
Catholic and Protestant creeds and confessions in maintaining the
Augustinian theory of the depraved nature of all mankind consequent on the
sin of Adam, as it has been set forth in the preceding chapters.


Having presented the Augustinian theory, as it is set forth in both
Catholic and Protestant creeds, the next object will be to verify the
statements of the preceding chapters as to the _modes of meeting
difficulties_ adopted by theologians.

The first extract will show that Augustine taught that all men had a
common nature in Adam, so that his choosing to eat the forbidden fruit was
the act of each and all human minds which were existing in or with him at
that time. And thus that it was man and not God that caused our depravity
of nature.

The extract introduced to verify the above was written to St. Jerome, who
taught that all minds commenced their first existence at or near the birth
of each. This Augustine denied, and the passage shows not only that he
taught a common nature which was ruined in Adam, but also that all
unbaptized infants go to endless punishment for the sin thus committed in
Adam ages before they were born.

Augustine’s Mode.

    “How can so many thousands of souls which leave the bodies of
    unbaptized infants be with any equity condemned, if they were
    newly created and introduced into these bodies for no previous
    sins of their own, but by the mere will of him who created them to
    animate these bodies, and foreknew that each of them, for no fault
    of his own, would die unbaptized? Since, then, we can not say that
    God either makes souls sinful by compulsion, or punishes them when
    innocent, and yet _are obliged to confess that the souls of the
    little ones are condemned if they die unbaptized_, I beseech you
    tell me how can this opinion be defended, by which it is believed
    that souls are not all derived from that one first man, but are
    newly created for each particular body?”

Thus Augustine supposed that he escaped the charge of making God the
author of sin by teaching that God created all the souls of the race _in_
Adam, so that Adam’s sin ruined the nature of himself and his posterity
all at one stroke, while it made it right and just to send all unbaptized
infants to eternal misery.

The next extract is introduced to verify the statement made as to the
Princeton mode of making man the author of his own depraved nature. This
mode is the one adopted by most theologians of the Old School Presbyterian
church. It is thus set forth by Dr. Hodge, of Princeton, in his Commentary
on Romans:

Princeton Mode.

    “The great fact in the apostle’s mind was, that God regards and
    treats all men, from the first moment of their existence, as out
    of fellowship with himself, as having forfeited his favor. Instead
    of entering into communion with them the moment they begin to
    exist (as he did with Adam), and forming them by his Spirit in his
    own moral image, he regards them as out of his favor, and
    withholds the influences of the Spirit. Why is this? Why does God
    thus deal with the human race? Here is a form of death which the
    violation of the law of Moses, the transgression of the law of
    nature, the existence of innate depravity, separately or combined,
    are insufficient to account for. Its infliction is antecedent to
    them all; and yet it is of all evils the essence and the sum. Men
    begin to exist out of communion with God. This is the fact which
    no sophistry can get out of the Bible or the history of the world.
    Paul tells us why it is. It is because we fell in Adam; it is for
    the offense of one man that all thus die. The covenant being
    formed with Adam, not only for himself but also for his
    posterity—in other words, Adam having being placed on trial, not
    for himself only, but also for his race, his act was, in virtue of
    this relation, REGARDED AS OUR ACT.

    “God withdrew from us as he did from him; in consequence of this
    withdrawal, we begin to exist in moral darkness, destitute of a
    disposition to delight in God, and prone to delight in ourselves
    and the world. The sin of Adam, therefore, ruined us; was the
    ground of the withdrawing of the divine favor from the whole race.
    But such evil was inflicted before the giving of the Mosaic law;
    it comes on men before the transgression of the law of nature, or
    even the existence of inherent depravity. It must, therefore, be
    for the offense of one man that judgment has come upon all men to

Constitutional Transmission Mode.

Dr. Dwight’s system of theology is regarded as the fairest exhibition of
the theological opinions of the majority of the New England Congregational

While the Catholic mode, as taught by Dr. Woods so many years at Andover,
is probably adopted by many, the views of Dr. Dwight, and his successor,
Dr. Taylor, on the point under consideration, are taught now both at the
Andover and New Haven seminaries, and probably are adopted by the great
majority of the clergy in the Congregational and New School Presbyterian

These theologians maintain that man is the author of his own depraved
nature in this way. Adam sinned and ruined his own nature, and then, in
consequence of this sin, God instituted _such a constitution __ of
things_, that this ruined nature has been transmitted to all his
posterity, after the same manner as bodily diseases are transmitted from
parent to child. This constitution also was established when God had the
power to bestow on each human mind the same “holy nature” which he gave to
Adam. The following from Dr. Dwight sustains this statement:

    “The corruption of mankind exists in consequence of the apostacy
    of Adam. By means of the offense or transgression of Adam, the
    judgment or sentence of God came upon all men unto condemnation,
    because, and solely because _all men in that state of things which
    was constituted in consequence of the transgression of Adam_,
    became sinners.”

That is to say, God having the power to make all men with minds as perfect
as Adam’s before his fall, on account of Adam’s sin _constituted a state
of things_ that would insure the universal sinfulness of the whole race.

Dr. Taylor, the successor of Dr. Dwight as head of the New Haven school of
divines, teaches thus:

    “Men are entirely depraved by nature. I do not mean that their
    nature is in itself sinful, nor that their nature is the physical
    or efficient cause of their sinning; but I mean that their nature
    is the _occasion or reason_ of their sinning—that such is their
    nature, that in _all_ the appropriate circumstances of their being
    they will _sin and only sin_.”

He further states:

    “That sin is by nature owing to propensities to inferior good,
    with a difference between Adam’s mind and ours (though we can not
    assert that in which this difference may consist); that our
    propensities are the same in kind, though different in degree,
    from those of Adam; that _perhaps_ this distinction may consist in
    mental differences—or in superior tendencies, compared with
    Adam’s, to natural good, and less tendency to the highest good.”

Thus, on account of the first sin of the first pair, God constituted such
a state of things, that instead of perfect minds, such as God gave to the
angels and to Adam, all men receive such “a nature” as insures “sin and
only sin,” until regeneration takes place.

The next extracts will verify the statements made as to the mode adopted
by Catholic theologians.

Catholic Mode.

The Catholic mode is that of _mystery and sovereignty_, and is based on
the assumption that the mind of man, being utterly depraved, has no
capacity to judge of what is right and wrong.

According to this, the most abominable and horrible crimes are to be
considered virtues if God should commit them, or should teach us that they
are so.

Among the most distinguished of the Catholic theologians is the learned
Abelard, who teaches thus:

    “Would it not be deemed the summit of injustice among men, if any
    one should cast an innocent son, for the sin of a father, into
    those flames, even if they endured but a short time? How much more
    so if eternal? Truly I confess this would be unjust in men,
    because they are forbidden to avenge even their own real injuries.
    But it is not so in God, who says, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will
    repay;’ and again, in another place, ‘I will kill and I will make
    alive.’ Now God commits no injustice towards his creature in
    whatever way he treats him—whether he assigns him to punishment or
    to life.... In whatever way God may wish to treat his creature, he
    can be accused of no injustice; nor can any thing be called evil
    in any way if it is done according to his will. Nor can we in any
    other way distinguish good from evil, except by noticing what is
    agreeable to his will.”

Another celebrated Catholic theologian, “the good Pascal,” thus disparages
our natural sense of justice as “wretched,” and of no account before this
awful doctrine.

    “What can be more contrary to the rules of our _wretched justice_
    than to damn eternally an infant incapable of volition, for an
    offense in which he seems to have had no share, and which was
    committed six thousand years before he was born? Certainly nothing
    strikes us more rudely than this doctrine; and yet without this
    mystery, the most incomprehensible of all, we are incomprehensible
    to ourselves.”

Thus it is seen that Pascal concedes it as a truth that infants are to be
eternally damned for offenses in which they “seem to have no share,” and
that our sense of justice, which revolts from it, is “_wretched_.”

The Andover Theological Seminary was the first one established in New
England for educating ministers, and for nearly half a century Dr. Woods
filled the leading theological chair. The following is introduced, from
the CONFLICT OF AGES, to verify the statement that the Catholic mode of
mystery and sovereignty was the method adopted by him in training the
clergy of New England on this subject.

    “He [Dr. Woods] expressly teaches that there is in the nature of
    man, anterior to knowledge or choice, a proneness or propensity to
    sin, which is in its own nature sinful, ‘the essence of moral
    evil, the sum of all that is vile and hateful.’ He also teaches
    that God inflicts this ‘tremendous calamity’ on all men for the
    sin of one man. ‘This,’ he says, ‘has been the belief of the
    church in all ages.’

    “He then asks, ‘But how is this proceeding just to Adam’s
    posterity? What have they done, before they commit sin, to merit
    pain and death? What have they done to merit the evil of existing
    without original righteousness, and with a nature prone to sin?
    Here,’ he says, ‘our wisdom fails. We apply in vain to human
    reason or human consciousness for an answer.’ Nay more; he even
    admits that such conduct is ‘_contrary to the dictates of our
    fallible minds_.’ Yet he still insists that we ought not to judge
    at all in the case, but to believe that it is right because God
    has done it. ‘God has not made us judges. The case lies wholly out
    of our province. It is a doctrine which is not to be brought for
    trial to the bar of human reason. Mere natural reason, mere
    philosophy or metaphysical sagacity transcends its just bounds,
    and commits a heinous sacrilege, when it attacks this primary
    article of our faith, and labors to distort it, to undermine it,
    or to expose its truth or its importance to distrust.’ ”

The preceding serves to establish the correctness of the writer’s
statements as to the modes of meeting difficulties adopted by theologians.

In the next chapter we shall see that none of these methods prove
satisfactory even to theologians themselves.


Although each theologian claims that the mode of meeting difficulties
adopted by his school is satisfactory, yet as each maintains that all
other modes are unavailing, it comes to pass that a _majority_ of
theologians declare each attempt to make the Augustinian dogma consistent
with the moral sense of humanity an utter failure.

It has been shown that the Catholic mode is not to attempt to defend the
dogma. It is “decreed” by “the church,” which is the only infallible
interpreter of God’s Word, to be in the Bible, and it is to be received,
like the doctrine of transubstantiation, as an inscrutable mystery. This
is the mode also adopted by Dr. Woods and many other Protestants.

The following from the Princeton theologians presents their protest
against this Catholic method. They perceive that if they allow it in this
case, they have no excuse for denying the validity of the Catholic defense
of transubstantiation. And so they proceed to claim that imputing to
children sins that they never committed, and thus involving them in
endless misery, is the true mode, while the Catholic one is vain.

The Princeton Mode against the Catholic Mode.

The Princeton Reviewers, in opposing the Catholic mode, as defended by Dr.
Woods, say:

    “How is it to be reconciled with the divine character that the
    fate of unborn millions should depend on an act over which they
    had not the slightest control, and in which they had no agency?
    This difficulty presses the opponents of the doctrine (of
    imputation) more heavily than its advocates. God must produce such
    results either on the ground of _justice_ or of _sovereignty_. The
    defenders of imputation take the ground of _justice_—their
    opponents that of _sovereignty_.

    “Is it more congenial with the unsophisticated moral feelings of
    men that God, out of his _mere sovereignty_, should determine that
    because one man sinned all men should sin, that because one man
    forfeited his favor all men should incur his curse, or because one
    man sinned all should be born with a contaminated moral nature,
    than that, in virtue of a _most benevolent constitution_ by which
    one was made _the representative_ of the race, the punishment of
    the one should come upon all?”

That is to say, they affirm interrogatively that imputing sins to innocent
beings that they never committed, as the ground of penal inflictions, is a
better defense of God from the charge of being the author of sin and of
cruel injustice than the Catholic mode of _sovereignty and mystery_. At
the same time they discard the _constitutional transmission_ mode of
Andover and New Haven.

The following from President Edwards the younger, gives the argument of a
_constitutional transmission_ divine against the imputation mode.

The Transmission Mode against the Imputation Mode.

    “The common doctrine has been, that Adam’s posterity, unless saved
    by Christ, are damned on account of Adam’s sin, and that this is
    just, because his sin is imputed or transferred to them. By
    _imputation his sin becomes their sin_.

    “When the justice of such a transfer is demanded, it is said that
    _the constitution which God has established_ makes the transfer

    “To this it may be replied, that the same way it may be proved
    just to damn a man _without any sin at all_, either personal or
    imputed. We need only to resolve it into _a sovereign
    constitution_ of God.”

The Andover and New Haven theologians regard both the Catholic and the
Princeton modes as utterly unsatisfactory, and offer instead the mode of
_constitutional transmission_ as relieving the difficulties.

But Dr. Woods thus argues the case against them, and appeals powerfully to
“intelligent and candid men:”

Dr. Woods in behalf of the Catholic Mode against the Constitutional
Transmission Mode.

    “And is there not just as much reason to urge this objection
    against the theory just named? Its advocates hold that God brings
    the whole human race into existence without holiness, and with
    such propensities and in such circumstances as will certainly lead
    them into sin; and that he brings them into this fearful condition
    in consequence of the sin of their first father, without any fault
    of their own. Now, as far as the divine justice or goodness is
    concerned, what great difference is there between our being
    depraved at first, and being in such circumstances as will
    certainly lead to depravity the moment moral action begins? Will
    not the latter as infallibly bring about our destruction as the
    former? And how is it more compatible with the justice or the
    goodness of God to put us into one of these conditions than into
    the other, when they are both equally fatal? It is said that our
    natural appetites and propensities and our outward circumstances
    do not lead us into sin by any absolute or physical necessity; but
    they do in all cases certainly lead us into sin, and God knows
    that they will when he appoints them for us. Now, how can our
    merciful Father voluntarily place us, while feeble, helpless
    infants, in such circumstances as he knows beforehand will be the
    certain occasion of our sin and ruin?... What difference does it
    make, either as to God’s character, or the result of his
    proceedings, whether he constitutes us sinners at first, or
    knowingly places us in such circumstances that we shall certainly
    become sinners, and that very soon? Must not God’s design as to
    our being sinners be the same in one case as in the other; and
    must not the final result be the same? Is not one of these states
    of mankind fraught with as many and as great evils as the other?
    What ground of preference then would any man have?...

    “Let intelligent, candid men, who do not believe either of these
    schemes, say whether one of them is not open to as many objections
    as the other.”

The idea of a preëxistence of the race _before_ Adam, is not held by any

Thus it appears that whenever any person claims that each of these
attempts to make the Augustine theory, as held by the great Christian
sects, consistent with the moral sense of humanity is an utter failure, he
is sustained by _a majority_ of the most learned and acute theologians of
our age and nation.


Having presented evidence that both Catholics and Protestants of Europe
and America unite in holding the Augustinian theory of the origin of evil,
and also that theologians themselves find it indefensible, the next aim
will be to present a portion of the evidence to show that this system is
at war with the moral feelings and common sense of mankind.

There are remains of the writings of those who were the opposers of this
theory in the time of Augustine, which show the strong emotions called
forth at that remote period by the introduction of this doctrine.

The following is from one of the theologians of that day, addressed to the
author of the theory:

Julian to Augustine.

    “The children, you say, do not bear the blame of their own, but of
    another’s sins. What sort of sin can that be? What an unfeeling
    wretch, cruel, forgetful of God and of righteousness, an inhuman
    barbarian, is he who would make such innocent creatures as little
    children bear the consequences of transgressions which they never
    committed, and never could commit? God, you answer. What god? For
    there are gods many and lords many; but we worship but one God and
    one Lord Jesus Christ. What God dost thou make the malefactor?
    Here, most holy priest and most learned orator, thou fabricatest
    something more mournful and frightful than the brimstone in the
    valley of Amsanctus. God himself, say you, who commendeth his love
    towards us, who even spared not his own Son, but hath given him up
    for us all, he so determines—he is himself the persecutor of those
    that are born. He himself consigns to eternal fire for an evil
    will, the children who, as he knows, can have neither a good nor
    an evil will.”

The following is from the celebrated Dr. Watts, whose sacred lyrics endear
his name to the Christian world:

Dr. Watts.

    “This natural propagation of sinful inclinations from a common
    parent, by a law of creation, seems difficult to be reconciled
    with the goodness and justice of God. It seems exceeding hard to
    suppose that such a righteous and holy God, the Creator, who is
    also a being of such infinite goodness, should, by a powerful law
    and order of creation, which is now called nature, appoint young,
    intelligent creatures to come into being in such unhappy and
    degenerate circumstances, liable to such intense pains and
    miseries, and under such powerful tendencies and propensities to
    evil, by the mere _law of propagation_, as should almost
    unavoidably expose them to ten thousand actual sins, and all this
    before they have any personal sin or guilt to deserve it.

    “If it could be well made out that the whole race of mankind are
    partakers of sinful inclinations, and evil passions, and biases to
    vice, and also are exposed to many sharp actual sufferings and to
    death, merely and only by the original divine law of propagation
    from their parents who had sinned; and, if the justice and
    goodness of God could be vindicated _in making and maintaining
    such a dreadful law or order of propagation_ through six thousand
    years, we have no need of further inquiries, but might here be at
    rest. But, if the scheme be so injurious to the goodness and
    equity of God as it seems to be, then we are constrained to seek a
    little further for a satisfactory account of this universal
    degeneracy and misery of mankind.”

The following was written by an American divine at the time of the
commencement of the conflict in this country between the Old and New
School Calvinists. At that time this theory of a depraved nature was
accompanied, even in pulpit teachings, by the assumption of man’s total
inability to do any thing to gain salvation, and that Christ died, not for
all men, but only for “the elect.”

Dr. Whelpley.

    “The idea that all the numerous millions of Adam’s posterity
    deserve the ineffable and endless torments of hell for a single
    act of his, before any one of them existed, is repugnant to that
    reason that God has given us, and is subversive of all possible
    conceptions of justice. I hesitate not to say, that no scheme of
    religion ever propagated amongst men contains a more monstrous, a
    more horrible tenet. The atrocity of this doctrine is beyond
    comparison. The visions of the Koran, the fictions of Sadder, the
    fables of the Zendavesta, all give place to this; Rabbinical
    legends, Brahminical vagaries, all vanish before it.”

    “The whole of their doctrine, then, amounts to this: that a man is
    in the first place condemned, incapacitated, and eternally
    reprobated for the sin of Adam; in the next place, that he is
    condemned over again for not doing what he is totally and in all
    respects unable to do; and in the third place that he is
    condemned, doubly and trebly condemned, for not believing in a
    Saviour who never died for him, and with whom he has no more to do
    than a fallen angel.”

The elder President Adams at first designed to enter the clerical
profession, but was deterred by doctrinal difficulties, of which he thus

John Adams.

    “If one man, or being, out of pure generosity, and without any
    expectation of return, is about to confer any favor or emolument
    upon another, he has a right and is at liberty to choose in what
    manner and by what means to confer it. He may confer the favor by
    his own hand or by the hand of a servant; and the obligation to
    gratitude is equally strong upon the benefited being. The _mode_
    of bestowing does not diminish the kindness, provided the
    commodity or good is brought to us equally perfect and without our
    expense. But, on the other hand, if one being is the original
    cause of pain, sorrow, or suffering to another, voluntarily and
    without provocation, it is injurious to that other, whatever
    _means_ he might employ, and whatever circumstances the conveyance
    of the injury might be attended with. Thus we are equally obliged
    to the Supreme Being for the information he has given us of our
    duty, whether by the constitution of our minds or bodies, or by a
    supernatural revelation. For an instance of the latter, let us
    take original sin. Some say that Adam’s sin was enough to damn the
    whole human race, without any actual crimes committed by any of
    them. Now this guilt is brought upon them, not by their own
    rashness and indiscretion, not by their own wickedness and vice,
    but by the Supreme Being. This guilt brought upon us is a real
    injury and misfortune, because it renders us worse than not to be;
    and therefore making us guilty on account of Adam’s delegation, or
    representing all of us, is not in the least diminishing the injury
    and injustice, but only changing the _mode_ of conveyance.”

The celebrated Dr. Channing was educated a Calvinist. The following
exhibits his views on this subject, after embracing Unitarianism:

Dr. Channing.

He says of such views:

    “They take from us our Father in heaven, and substitute a stern
    and unjust Lord. Our filial love and reverence rise up against
    them. We say, touch any thing but the perfections of God. Cast no
    stain on that spotless purity and loveliness. We can endure any
    errors but those which subvert or unsettle the conviction of God’s
    paternal goodness. Urge not upon us a system which makes existence
    a curse, and wraps the universe in gloom. If I and my beloved
    friends and my whole race have come from the hands of our Creator
    wholly depraved, irresistibly propense to all evil and averse to
    all good—if only a portion are chosen to escape from this
    miserable state, and if the rest are to be consigned, by the Being
    who gave us our depraved and wretched nature, to endless torments
    in inextinguishable flames—then do I think that nothing remains
    but to mourn in anguish of heart; then existence is a curse, and
    the Creator is——. O, my merciful Father! I can not speak of thee
    in the language which this system would suggest. No! thou hast
    been too kind to me to deserve this reproach from my lips. Thou
    hast created me to be happy; thou callest me to virtue and piety,
    because in these consists my felicity; and thou wilt demand
    nothing from me but what thou givest me ability to perform!”

The following is from the pen of a celebrated writer educated in the
Baptist denomination, who finally became a Universalist:

John Foster.

    “I acknowledge my inability (I would say it reverently) to admit
    this belief together with a belief in the divine goodness—the
    belief that ‘God is love,’ that his tender mercies are over all
    his works. Goodness, benevolence, charity, as ascribed in supreme
    perfection to him, can not mean a quality foreign to all human
    conceptions of goodness. It must be something analogous in
    principle to what himself has defined and required as goodness in
    his moral creatures, that, in adoring the divine goodness, we may
    not be worshiping an ‘unknown God.’ But, if so, how would all our
    ideas be confounded while contemplating him bringing, of his own
    sovereign will, a race of creatures into existence in such a
    condition that they certainly will and must—must by their nature
    and circumstances—go wrong and be miserable, unless prevented by
    especial grace, which is the privilege of only a small portion of
    them, and at the same time affixing on their delinquency a doom of
    which it is infinitely beyond the highest archangel’s faculty to
    apprehend a thousandth part of the horror.

    “It amazes me to imagine how thoughtful and benevolent men,
    believing that doctrine, can endure the sight of the present world
    and the history of the past. To behold successive, innumerable
    crowds carried on in the mighty impulse of a depraved nature,
    which they are impotent to reverse, and to which it is not the
    will of God, in his sovereignty, to apply the only adequate power,
    the withholding of which consigns them inevitably to their doom;
    to see them passing through a short term of moral existence
    (absurdly sometimes denominated a _probation_) under all the
    world’s pernicious influences, with the addition of the malign and
    deadly one of the great tempter and destroyer, to confirm and
    augment the inherent depravity, on their speedy passage to
    everlasting woe;—I repeat, I am, without pretending to any
    extraordinary depth of feeling, amazed to conceive what they
    contrive to do with their sensibility, and in what manner they
    maintain a firm assurance of the divine goodness and justice.”

The following is the experience of the author of the Conflict of Ages:

Dr. Edward Beecher.

    “If any one would know the full worth of the privilege of living
    under, worshiping, loving and adoring a God of honor,
    righteousness and love, let him, after years of joyful Christian
    experience and soul‐satisfying communion with God, at last come to
    a point where his lovely character, for a time, vanishes from his
    eyes, and nothing can be rationally seen but a God selfish,
    dishonorable, unfeeling. No such person can ever believe that God
    _is_ such; but he may be so situated as to be unable _rationally_
    to see him in any other light. All the common modes of defending
    the doctrine of native depravity may have been examined and
    pronounced insufficient, and the question may urgently press
    itself upon the mind, Is not the present system a _malevolent_
    one? and of it no defense may appear.

    “Who can describe the gloom of him who looks on such a prospect?
    How dark to him appears the history of man! He looks with pity on
    the children that pass him in the street. The more violent
    manifestations of their depravity seem to be the unfoldings of a
    corrupt nature given to them by God before any knowledge, choice
    or consent of their own. Mercy now seems to be no mercy, and he
    who once delighted to speak of the love of Christ is obliged to
    close his lips in silence; for the original wrong of giving man
    such a nature seems so great that no subsequent acts can atone for
    the deed. In this state of mind, he who once delighted to pray,
    kneels and rises again, because he can not sincerely worship the
    only God whom he sees. His distress is not on his own account. He
    feels that God has redeemed and regenerated him; but this gives
    him no relief. He feels as if he could not be bribed by the offer
    of all the honors of the universe to pretend to worship or praise
    a God whose character he can not defend. He feels that he should
    infinitely prefer once more to see a God whom he could honorably
    adore, and a universe radiant with his glory, and then to sink
    into non‐existence, rather than to have all the honors of the
    universe for ever heaped upon him by a God whose character he
    could not sincerely and honestly defend. Never before has he so
    deeply felt a longing after a God of a spotless character. Never
    has he so deeply felt that the whole light and joy of the universe
    are in him, and that when his character is darkened all worlds are
    filled with gloom.”

The following is from the Rev. Albert Barnes, a leading New School
Calvinistic divine, and the author of a very popular Commentary on the

    “That the immortal mind should be allowed to jeopard its infinite
    welfare, and that trifles should be allowed to draw it away from
    God and virtue and heaven; that any should suffer for
    ever—lingering on in hopeless despair amidst infinite torments,
    without the possibility of alleviation and without end; that since
    God _can_ save men and _will_ save a part, he has not purposed to
    save _all_; that on the supposition that the atonement is ample,
    and that the blood of Christ can cleanse from all and every sin,
    it is not in fact applied to all; that, in a word, a God who
    claims to be worthy of the confidence of the universe, and to be a
    being of infinite benevolence, should make such a world as this,
    full of sinners and sufferers, and then, when an atonement has
    been made, he did not save _all_ the race, and put an end to sin
    and woe for ever;—these and kindred difficulties meet the mind
    when we think on this great subject. And they meet us whenever we
    endeavor to urge our fellow‐sinners to be reconciled to God. On
    this ground they hesitate. These are _real_ and not imaginary
    difficulties. They are probably felt by every mind that has ever
    reflected on the subject; and they are unexplained, unmitigated,

    “I have never known a particle of light thrown on these subjects
    that has given a moment’s ease to my tortured mind; nor have I an
    explanation to offer, or a thought to suggest, that would be of
    relief to you. I trust other men, as they profess to do—understand
    this better than I do, and that they have not the anguish of
    spirit which I have; but I confess, when I look on a world of
    sinners and of sufferers, upon death‐beds and grave‐yards, upon
    the world of woe filled with hosts to suffer for ever; when I see
    my friends, my parents, my family, my people, my fellow‐citizens;
    when I look upon a whole race, all involved in this sin and
    danger, and when I see the great mass of them wholly unconcerned,
    and when I feel that God only can save them and yet that he does
    not do it—I am struck dumb. It is all _dark, dark, dark_ to my
    soul, and I can not disguise it.”

This is but a brief specimen of the shuddering protest which has arisen in
all ages and from all sects, against this stern and awful dogma, and which
has poured its most powerful records from the shivering hearts of
theologians themselves.(3)


The preceding extracts exhibit a portion of the evidence to prove that the
Augustinian system is contrary to the moral sense of mankind, and that
theologians have failed, by their own concessions, to render it consistent
and satisfactory even to themselves.

The next attempt will be to show that _the people_ are endowed with
_principles of common sense_, by the aid of which they can educe from the
_works_ of the Creator, independently of any revealed _Word_, a system of
religion far superior to the one based on the Augustinian theory.

Our first aim will be to designate what is intended by “the principles of
common sense.”

It is claimed, then, that there are certain truths, the belief of which
exists in every rational human mind. This belief, in some cases, as all
must allow, results from the constitution of mind given by the Creator,
and not from any instruction or knowledge gained by other modes. Of this
class is the belief of every mind in its own existence, and also the
belief in the existence of other things beside ourselves.

There are other truths universally believed by every rational mind, where
there may be room for question as to whether this belief is acquired or
the result of constitutional organization. But this question is waived, as
of little practical consequence for the present purpose of this work.

The fact on which the name and classification of these truths rests is,
that the belief in them is _common_ to all rational minds, and is regarded
as so indispensable to true rationality, that whenever any person shows by
words and actions that a belief in any one of these truths does not exist,
he is regarded as deranged, that is to say, his _reason_ is said to be
more or less destroyed.

This, therefore, is the _test_ by which we are to distinguish these
principles of common sense from all other knowledge. They are truths which
are believed by all rational persons, so that the disbelief of any one of
them, evinced in words and actions, is universally regarded as proof of a
deranged mind. In such cases, a man, in common parlance, would be said to
have “lost his mind,” or to have “lost his reason;” inasmuch as he is
lacking in some of those peculiar features which constitute man a rational

In this work the question is also waived as to the number of truths which
are to be included in this class. In regard to certain of them there can
be no dispute. Of those involving any discussion, there probably will be
no occasion to speak in this work. The writer does not claim that the
common people, or that metaphysicians, when they speak of “common sense,”
always refer to what is here designated by this term.

All that the writer claims is that there are certain truths, the belief of
which is _common_ to all minds, either as the result of constitutional
organization or of acquired knowledge; and that these can be classified by
this _test_, viz., that men universally talk and act as if they believed
them, and when they cease to do so, are regarded as more or less insane.

Moreover, it is claimed that it is proper to call them _principles of
common sense_, because they are that kind of sense which is _common_ to
the whole race, and also they are _often_ referred to, both by
metaphysicians and by the common people, by this term.

In the following chapters it will be shown that by the application of
these principles, a system of natural religion can be gained from the
works of the Creator by the same methods that men employ in all the
ordinary concerns of life, and that thus we are as fully qualified to gain
religious knowledge and peace as we are to secure temporal comfort and


Having explained what is intended by the principles of common sense, the
next attempt will be to apply certain of these principles to gain a system
of _natural religion_; meaning by this term that religion which may be
gained from the _works_ of the Creator independently of any revealed Word.

In all systems of religion the first article relates to the existence and
character of the Deity to be worshiped and obeyed. The first principle of
common sense to guide us in this inquiry is this:

Every change has a producing cause.

In the widest sense of the word, _cause_ signifies something as an
antecedent, without which a given change will not occur, and with which it
will occur. This is the leading idea in every use of this word.

Then there are two classes of causes; the first are _necessary_ or
_producing causes_, and the second _occasional causes_.

A _producing cause_ is an antecedent which _produces_ a given change.

_Occasional causes_ are those circumstances which are indispensable to the
action of producing causes.

Thus, fire applied to powder is the producing cause of an explosion, while
the placing of the two together is the occasional cause of it.

The idea of a producing cause is one which probably is gained when we
first discover that our own will moves our own limbs and other things
around us. When we will to move a thing, and find the intended change
follows our volition to move it, then we can not help believing that our
own mind _produced_ this change. At the same time we gain the idea of
_power_ to produce this change, and the belief also that the thing changed
had _no power_ to refrain from the change.

Our only mode of defining the idea of a _producing cause_, of _power_ and
of _want of power_, is to refer to occasions when, by willing, we cause
changes, and thus become conscious of the existence and nature of these
ideas by experience.

So also we have no mode of defining our _sensations_ but by stating the
occasions in which we are conscious of them. For instance, _whiteness_ is
the sensation we have when we look at snow, and _blackness_ is the
sensation we have when we look at charcoal.

The same idea of causation and power in ourselves which we have when we
make changes by our will, we always connect with any thing which by
experiment and testimony we find, in given circumstances, to be an
invariable antecedent of a given change. Our minds are so made, that
whenever we find an _invariable_ antecedent of a given change, we can not
help believing that this antecedent _produced_ the change, just as we
believe our own will produces changes in our bodies and in things around
us. And if any person were to talk and act as if lie did not believe this,
be would be regarded as having “lost his reason.”

Moreover, whenever men, by frequent experiments, find that a given change
is _invariably_ preceded by a certain antecedent, they can not help
believing that the antecedent has _power_ to produce this change, and that
the thing changed has _no power_ to do otherwise. This idea of _power_ and
_want of power_ always exists whenever men find an _invariable_ antecedent
to some change. It is by finding what are thus invariably connected as
antecedents and consequents that men learn what are _causes_, and what are
_effects_, and what are the _powers_ of things around us.

Here, then, we have these as principles of common sense believed by all
men, viz.:

1. Every change (in matter or mind) has a producing cause as an

2. Every invariable antecedent of an invariable sequent is a _producing_
cause, and the thing changed has no power to refrain from that change.

3. A producing cause, in appropriate circumstances, has power to make a
given change.

Now every man, however unlearned, can judge for himself whether these
principles of common sense exist in his own mind, as here set forth. For
example, let any person take a magnet and discover, day after day, that
when it is placed near a piece of iron it draws it to itself; let him find
also, by testimony from others, that this is _invariable_ and fails in not
a single instance, and the inevitable result is a belief that the magnet
is the _cause_ of the moving of the iron, just as the mind is the cause of
the movement of our bodies. So also there is a belief that the magnet, in
given circumstances, has _power_ to move the iron, as our will has power
to move our body. So also there is a belief that the piece of iron, in the
given circumstances, has _no power_ to refrain from being thus attracted.

We see, then, that it is a universal fact, that when there is a change of
any thing, or any new mode of existence, every sane man believes there is
some _producing cause_ of this change. Even the youngest child exhibits
this principle as a part of its mental organization. And should a person
be found who was destitute of a belief in this truth, so that he should
talk and act as if things came into existence and were changing places and
forms without any causes, he would be called insane, or a man who had
“lost his reason.”

Our minds being endowed with this principle, we find the world around us
to be a succession of changes which we trace back to preceding causes,
until we come to the grand question, “Who, or what first started this vast
system of successive changes?” Only two replies are conceivable. The first
is that of the Atheist, who, contradicting his own common sense, maintains
that, in some past period, all this vast system of organization and
changes began to exist without any cause. The other reply is, that there
is a great, eternal, self‐existent _First Cause_, who himself never began
to be, and who is the author of all finite existences. This being, the
Creator of the heavens and the earth, we call God.

The next principle of common sense is that by which we gain a knowledge of
the natural attributes of the Creator. It is this:

_Design_ or _contrivance_ to secure a given end, is proof of an
_intelligent_ designer, and the _nature_ of a design proves the intention
and character of its author.

The mind, as has been shown, is so formed that it can not believe that any
existence can commence without some antecedent cause. The existence of
_unorganized_ matter, however, would be no proof that the cause was an
_intelligent mind_.

But when any existence is discovered where there is an adjustment of
parts, all conducing to accomplish some determinate end, no person can
examine and understand its nature and adaptations without the accompanying
belief that the cause of that contrivance was a mind endowed with the
capacity of adjusting means to accomplish an end, and thus an
_intelligent_ mind.

Nor is it possible, when the object which any design is fitted to
accomplish is clearly discovered, to doubt the _intention_ of the
designer. We can not help believing that it was the intention of the
contriver to accomplish the end for which his contrivance is fitted.

As an example to illustrate the existence of these principles, even in the
simplest minds, if a savage should find in the desert a gold watch,
nothing could lead him to believe that it sprang into existence there
without any cause. If he should open it and perceive the nice adjustment
of the wheels and all its beautiful indications of contrivance, he could
not believe that the mind of an animal, or that any but an intelligent
mind constructed its machinery. If he should have all its movements
explained to him, and learn how exactly all were fitted to mark the
passage of time, it would be equally impossible to convince him that the
contriver did not design it for such a purpose.

Very early childhood gives evidence of the existence of these principles.
An interesting instance of this is recorded by a celebrated philosopher,
who, to test the existence of these principles in the mind of his child,
planted a bed with seeds arranged in the form of the letters which spelled
the child’s name. When the green symbols had sprung from the ground and
were discovered by the delighted child, the father in vain endeavored to
force his belief that the letters came without _a cause_ and without _a
design_. “No, father. _Somebody_ planted them; somebody _intended_ to have
them come up and spell my name!” And thus infancy itself maintains the
principles which are our guide to the Great Source of all finite

Another principle of common sense lends us still further aid in arriving
at the natural attributes of the Creator. It is this:

Things are and will continue according to our past experience till there
is evidence of a change.

All the business of life rests on a belief of this truth. Our confidence
that the sun will rise, the seasons return, the ocean and rivers flow, the
mountains remain; and in thousands of other things that regulate our plans
and conduct, all depends on this implanted belief that things will
continue according to our past experience till there is evidence of a
change. A man who acted as if he disbelieved this principle would be
regarded as having “lost his reason.”

When, therefore, we have gained the idea that the Creator is an
_intelligent mind_, we necessarily believe that his mind is _such as we
have ever known in past experience_, that is, a mind _like our own_,
endowed with reason, intellect, susceptibilities and will. We can not
conceive of any other kind of mind, because we have never had any
experience or knowledge of any other kind.

The only respect in which we can conceive of the Creator as differing from
our own minds is in the _extent_ of those natural faculties which are
exhibited in his works.

Thus by the use of the principles of common sense we have gained the
positions that there is a Being who is the Author of all finite
existences, whose mind is like our own in natural faculties, while in the
extent of these faculties, as exhibited in his works, he is far beyond our


In the preceding chapter we have applied the principles of common sense to
gain evidence of the existence of a Creator, or Great First Cause, whose
natural attributes we can discover only by _the nature_ of our own minds.

This being so, our next step in seeking after God is to examine the
construction or nature of our own minds.

The only way to discover the nature of a thing is to examine what are its
qualities, how it acts, and how it is acted upon. This also is the same as
studying the _philosophy_ of things. For when learned men set forth any
branch of philosophy, they only teach the qualities of certain things, how
they act, and how they are acted upon.

Whoever, therefore, gives attention to the nature of mind so as to
discover its qualities, how it acts, and how it is acted upon, is studying
the philosophy of mind, or mental philosophy.

The _nature of mind_, _the philosophy of mind_, and _mental philosophy_
are terms all expressing the same thing.

Now, the only possible way in which any person can discover the nature of
another mind is by a knowledge of his own. We first learn by experience
the qualities of our own mind, how it acts and how it is acted upon, and
then, by a process of reasoning, we learn that there are other minds
around us, and that they have similar qualities.

The study of mental philosophy, then, is directing attention to the nature
of our own mind, and thus discovering the nature of other minds.

It differs from all other studies in this respect, that all men have the
materials of the knowledge sought in their own minds, and are required
simply to direct attention to their own mental states and acts.

This being so, the common people are as fully qualified to settle all
questions in regard to the nature or philosophy of their own minds as the
most learned and profound metaphysicians or theologians can be. All that
is requisite to success is, that they direct their attention to the
subject by suitable methods.

It will be found, on examination, that the common people have secured a
written system of mental philosophy as real as has ever yet been furnished
by any metaphysician or theologian, while it is free from the great
defects which render many works on mental science unpractical and

This—_the people’s system of mental philosophy_—it will be the object of
what follows to set forth.

In attempting it, we shall find that mankind, in the uses of every‐day
life, have arranged the various acts and states of mind into classes and
subdivisions, and have given names to these classes, and to the specific
acts or states included in these classes. These classifications and terms
are recorded by lexicographers in their dictionaries.

All words have that meaning which is attached to them by the people who
use them. The business of the lexicographer is, not to settle what meaning
ought to belong to words, but rather to state the meaning which men
actually attach to them in writing and speaking.

In setting forth the people’s system of natural philosophy as contained in
lexicographies, we find that almost every word is used to express several
meanings, similar in some respects and diverse in others. In consequence
of this, we only can attempt thus much for mental science, as for many
other subjects, viz., to describe the thing intended, and then to select
the word most frequently used to express this idea, as set forth in our

This, then, is the course pursued in the following pages. A description is
set forth of a given act or state of mind, sufficient to identify it from
all others, and then the word is selected from dictionaries of our
language which has most frequently been used by the common people in
expressing the idea intended. Thus every person who cares enough about the
matter to read and think, can decide as well as the most celebrated
metaphysician, whether the description given is _true to his own
experience_, and also whether, according to lexicographers, the word
selected is frequently used by man to express this idea.

The writer, in her first attempts to investigate the philosophy of mind,
examined the works of Stewart, Reid, Locke, Edwards, Brown, Coleridge,
Cousin, Jouffroy, Coombe, Spurtzheim and several others. More recently
some attention has been given to the writings of Sir William Hamilton,
Hickok and others. The result has been the conviction, that most of these
works contain the people’s system, more or less disguised with diverse
modes of classification and new technics, which tend to render the whole
subject misty and perplexing. And still more unfortunately, some of them
attempt the discussion of questions which are unpractical and often

As an example, certain metaphysicians have attempted to prove that there
is nothing existing but mind, and that all which we believe to be
realities without ourselves are not so, but merely ideas in the mind.

Other metaphysicians have attempted to meet their arguments, and to prove
that the world around us is a reality.

Both attempts have ended in books which seem to have no sort of
_practical_ influence either way. Men can not help believing that there is
an outer world, and that the men and things that affect our senses are
realities, and such arguments neither lessen nor increase this belief.

Meantime, the books written to prove or disprove this truth are
incomprehensible to most common minds, at least the writer of this work
has in vain essayed to understand them, or to find any person who could
communicate any clear ideas of their contents.


We have seen, in the preceding chapters, that our only mode of gaining a
knowledge of the natural attributes of God, is by the study of the nature
of mind. We have seen also that the only way to discover the nature of
mind is to examine what are its qualities, and how it acts and is acted
upon in _our own experience_.

When we discover what our minds actually do, we find out what they have
_power_ to do. The _faculties_ of mind are its _powers of acting_ as they
are exhibited in our own experience.

The following presents a brief outline of the powers and faculties of mind
as they have been classified and named by _the people_.

_Ideas_ is the word most frequently used to include _all_ the operations
and states of mind.

Our ideas are often referred to as divided into two classes, viz., ideas
gained by the senses, and ideas that pass through the mind without the aid
of the senses.

Intellectual Powers.

The power to gain ideas by the five senses is called _sensation_ or

The power to have ideas without the use of the senses is called

_Per_ is the Latin word for _by_, and _con_ is the word for _without_. So
we have _per_ceptions _by_ the senses, and _con_ceptions _without_ the

_Imagination_ or _fancy_, is the power to make new combinations of our

_Memory_ is the power of recalling past ideas, and of recognizing them as
having existed before.

_Judgment_ is the power of comparing ideas, and noticing their relations
to each other.

_Abstraction_ is the power of noticing certain parts or certain qualities
of things, while other parts or qualities are unnoticed.

_Association_ is the power of recalling past ideas according to certain
modes, called _laws of association_.

The above powers are usually classed together, and called _the
intellectual powers_, or _the intellect_.

The Susceptibilities, or Feelings.

The powers of feeling various kinds of pleasure and pain, happiness and
misery, enjoyment and discomfort, are called the _susceptibilities_, the
_emotions_ and the _feelings_.

When any thing is found to be the cause of pleasurable feelings, there
follows a desire to secure it, and it is called _good_. When any thing
causes pain, a desire follows to avoid it, and it is called _evil_.

These _desires_ to secure good and avoid evil are called _motives_ (or
movers), because they _move_ the mind to action in order to secure the
good desired or to escape the evil feared. The objects that cause such
desires are also called motives.

For example, _gold_ is called the motive that led a man to murder, and the
_desire_ of gold is also called the motive of that act.(4)

Desires are measured as _strong_ or _weak_ by our own consciousness. When
we desire two incompatible things and must choose one or the other, before
the act of choice we are conscious that one creates a desire which is
stronger than the other.

The only mode of deciding which desire is strongest, is by our own

The Will.

The power of choosing, or willing, is called _the will_. It is also called
the power of _volition_.

When several desires coexist, some of which must necessarily be denied in
order to gratify others, we ordinarily choose that object which excites
the strongest desire, as measured by our consciousness.

But it is often the case that we feel the strongest desire for that which
is not _best_ for us. Thus, when sick we have tempting fruit and nauseous
medicine before us, with power to choose either. Our intellect decides
that the medicine is best for us, but our strongest desire is for the

In such a case we have power to choose _either_ that which excites the
strongest desire or that which the intellect decides to be _best_, even
when it does not excite the strongest desire.

This power is the chief feature of a _rational_ mind in distinction from
an irrational mind.

And the belief that we have this power is to be placed as one of the
principles of common sense, because all men talk and act as if they
believe they possess this power. And if any person were to talk and act as
if he did not believe that he had power to choose in either of these two
ways, he would be regarded as having lost his reason.

Reason, or Common Sense.

Of the thoughts which continually pass through the mind, we find that some
are attended with a feeling of the real existence of the objects of our
thoughts, and others are not so attended. For example, we may think of a
man with a certain form carrying a dagger and going to commit murder, and
with this, a feeling that no such thing is really existing. Again, we may
have this same idea attended with the conviction that it is a reality.

This feeling of the _reality_ of the objects of our thoughts is called
_belief_, or _faith_.

Our minds are so made, that we necessarily believe not only that things
_are_ really existing at the present time, but that things _will_ occur
that are not now in existence. For example, we believe the sun will rise
to‐morrow morning in another place nearer toward the north or south than
it did the present morning. We believe the tide will rise higher or lower
on a coming day than it did the present day. And thus multitudes of events
are believed to be in the future.

Those things which really do or will exist, in distinction from those we
may think of but which do not and will not exist, are called _truths_, or

All our comfort and happiness depend on our believing _the truth_, meaning
by truth the _reality_ of things. To believe that things exist when they
do not, or that things are not existing when they are, involves certain
pain, disappointment and mistake.

Our great safeguard from this is that part of our mental organization
called _reason_, or _common sense_. This, as has been shown, consists in
the necessary belief of certain truths by all men.

The _test_ by which these truths are identified and distinguished from all
other knowledge, is the fact that usually all men talk and act as if they
believed them, and that when they fail to do so, they are regarded as
having “lost their reason.”

The truths thus necessarily believed are the foundation of the process
called _reasoning_, which is a mode of establishing other truths by the
aid of those already believed.

These principles of reason or common sense are often called by other
names, such as _intuitions_, _intuitive truths_, _first principles_, etc.

Thus all the powers of mind are arranged in the four general classes,
viz., _the intellect_, _the susceptibilities_, _the will_, and _reason_ or
_common sense_.

In regard to the power of mind called _reason_, what is claimed here is,
not that either the common people or metaphysicians have usually thus
clearly set forth what is here so described and named; but that all men,
learned and unlearned, allow that there are truths which are necessarily
believed by all mankind; that these are the foundation of all _reasoning_,
and that they _often_ are called _reason_. So when any one is found to
lack a belief in certain of these intuitive truths, he is said to have
“lost his reason.” And when any act or assertion is seen to contradict any
of these truths, it is said to be “contrary to reason.”

Therefore it is proper to put the belief in these implanted truths as a
distinct power of the mind, and to call it “the reason.” And as the belief
of these truths is _common_ to all men, it is also proper to call it
_common sense_.


A system of natural religion includes not only the existence and natural
attributes of the Creator, but his moral character and the duties owed to
Him, to our fellow‐beings and to ourselves.

To discover these by the principles of common sense, unaided by
revelation, we must again turn to our own minds as our only directory.
This demands a more enlarged consideration of many of the specific powers
and operations of mind, as developed by experience and observation.

Mode of regulating our thoughts.

The mode by which the succession of our thoughts is regulated is
intimately connected with several subjects to be discussed, and will,
therefore, first receive attention.

It will be found that our _sensations_ and _perceptions_ vary in vividness
and distinctness according to the strength and permanency of certain
feelings of _desire_ which coexist with them. For example, we are
continually hearing a multitude of sounds, but in respect to many of them,
as we feel no desire to know the cause or nature of them, these sensations
are so feeble and indistinct as scarcely ever to be recalled to the mind
or recognized by any act of memory; but should we hear some strange
wailing sound, immediately the desire would arise to ascertain its nature
and cause. It would immediately become an object of distinct and vivid
perception, and continue so as long as the desire lasted.

While one sensation becomes thus clear and prominent, it will be found
that other sensations which were coexisting with it will become feebler
and seem to die away. The same impressions may still be made upon the eye
as before, the same sounds that had previously been regarded may still
strike upon the ear, but while the desire to learn the cause of that
strange wailing sound continues, the other sensations will all be faint
and indistinct. When this desire is gratified, then other sensations
resume their former distinctness and prominency.

Our _conceptions_, in like manner, are affected by the coexistence of
emotion or desire. If, for example, we are employing ourselves in study or
mental speculations, the vividness of our conceptions will vary in exact
proportion to the interest we feel in securing the object about which our
conceptions are employed. If we feel but little interest in the subject of
our speculations, every conception connected with them will be undefined
and indistinct; but if the desire of approbation, or the admonitions of
conscience, or the hope of securing some future good stimulate desire,
immediately our conceptions grow more vivid and clear, and the object at
which we aim is more readily and speedily secured.

The mind is continually under the influence of some desire. It constantly
has some plan to accomplish, some cause to search out, or some
gratification to secure. The present wish or desire of the mind imparts an
interest to whatever conception seems calculated to forward this object.
Thus, if the mathematician has a problem to solve, and this is the leading
desire of the mind, among the various conceptions that arise, those are
the most interesting which are fitted to his object, and such immediately
become vivid and distinct. If the painter or the poet is laboring to
effect some new creation of his art, and has this as the leading object of
desire, whatever conceptions seem best fitted to his purpose are
immediately invested with interest, and become distinct and clear. If the
merchant, or the capitalist, or the statesman has some project which he is
toiling to accomplish, whatever conceptions appear adapted to his purpose
soon are glowing and defined, in consequence of the interest with which
desire thus invests them.

From this it appears that the _chief end_, or leading object of desire of
the mind, will in a great measure determine the nature and the succession
of its conceptions. If a man has chosen to find his chief happiness in
securing power and honor, then those conceptions will be the most
interesting to his mind that best fall in with his object. If he has
chosen to find happiness in securing the various gratifications of sense,
then those conceptions that most coincide with this desire will become
prominent. If a man has chosen to find his chief enjoyment in doing the
will of God, then his conceptions will, to a great extent, be conformed to
this object of desire. The current of a man’s thoughts, therefore, becomes
the surest mode of determining what is the governing purpose or leading
desire of the mind.

But there are seasons in our mental history when the mind does not seem to
be under the influence of any governing desire; when it seems to relax,
and its thoughts appear to flow on without any regulating principle. At
such times the vividness of leading conceptions, which otherwise is
determined by _desire_, seems to depend upon our past experience. Those
objects which, in past experience, have been _associated with emotion_,
are those which thus begin to glow in the distinct lineaments with which
emotion at first invested them.

In past experience, all conceptions which were attended with emotion were
most distinct and clear, and therefore, when such conceptions return
united with others, they are the ones which are most interesting, and thus
most vivid and distinct. Thus, in our musing hours of idle reverie, as one
picture after another glides before the mind, if some object occurs, such
as the home of our youth, or the friend of our early days, the emotions
which have been so often united with these objects in past experience
cause them to appear in clear and glowing lineaments, and the stronger
have been the past emotions connected with them, the more clearly will
they be defined. It appears, then, that there are two circumstances that
account for the apparent _selection_ which the mind makes in its objects
of conception. The first is the feeling that _certain conceptions are
fitted to accomplish the leading desire of the __ mind_; and the second
is, that _certain objects in past experience have been attended with

But there is another phenomenon in our mental history which has a direct
bearing on the nature and succession of our conceptions. When any
conception, through the influence of desire or emotion, becomes the
prominent object, immediately other objects with which this has been
associated in past experience begin to return and gather around it in new
combinations. Thus a new picture is presented before the mind, from which
it again selects an object according as _desire_ or _emotion_ regulates,
which, under this influence, grows vivid and distinct. Around this new
object immediately begin to cluster its past associates, till still
another scene is fresh arrayed before the mind.

In these new combinations, those objects which are least interesting
continually disappear, while those most interesting are retained to form a
part of the succeeding picture. Thus, in every mental picture, _desire_ or
_emotion_ seems to call forth objects which start out, as it were, in bold
relief from all others, and call from the shade of obscurity the
companions of their former existence, which gather around them in new and
varied combinations.

Thus it is shown that the chief mode by which we regulate the nature and
succession of our thoughts is by the _choices_ we make of our objects of
pursuit. Whatever we choose as our _chief end_, or leading object of
desire, becomes the regulator of our emotions, our desires and our
thoughts. Thus we have power to control our thoughts aright only by
choosing right objects of pursuit. We have power to regulate them in this
way, and but very little power to control them in any other.

The mere determination to think only on certain subjects in which we feel
very little interest avails but for a short time. Speedily the mind
returns to its natural course, and brings forward only those objects
connected with our chief objects of desire and pursuit.


Those susceptibilities of pleasure and pain which are affected by the
conduct of ourselves or others, in reference to rules of _right_ and
_wrong_, are called the _moral sense_, or the _moral susceptibilities_.

In order to a more clear view of this part of the subject, it is important
to inquire as to the manner in which the ideas of _right_ and _wrong_ seem
to originate.

The young child first notices that certain actions of its own are regarded
with smiles and tones of love and approval, while other acts occasion
frowns and tones of displeasure.

Next, it perceives that whatever gives pleasure to itself is called _good_
and _right_, while whatever causes unpleasant feelings is called _bad_ and
_wrong_. Moreover, it notices that there is a right and wrong way to hold
its spoon, to use its playthings, to put on its clothes, and to do
multitudes of other things. It thus perceives, more and more, that there
are _rules_ to regulate the use and action of all things, both animate and
inanimate, and that such rules always have reference to some plan or

As its faculties develop and its observation enlarges, the general
impression is secured that _all_ plans and contrivances of men are
designed to promote enjoyment or to prevent discomfort, and are called
good and right just so far as this is done. At the same time, all that
tend to discomfort or pain are called bad and wrong.

In all the works of nature around, too, every thing that promotes
enjoyment is called good and right, and the opposite is called evil and

At last there is a resulting feeling that the great design of all things
is to secure good and prevent evil, and that whatever is opposed to this
is wrong, and unfitted to the object for which all things exist. The
question whether this impression is owing solely to observation or partly
to mental constitution is waived, as of little practical consequence.

In the experience of infancy and childhood, the _law of sacrifice_ is
speedily developed. It is perceived that much of the good to be gained, if
sought to excess, occasions pain, so that there must be a certain amount
of self‐denial practiced, which, to the young novice, sometimes involves
disappointment and discomfort. It is also seen that frequently two or more
enjoyments are offered which are incompatible, so that one must be
relinquished to gain the other. It is perceived, also, that there is a
constant calculation going on as to which will be the _best_—that is,
which will secure _the most good with the least evil_. And the child is
constantly instructed that it must avoid excess, and must give up what is
of less value to secure the greater good. All this training involves
_sacrifices_ which are more or less painful, so that a young child will
sometimes cry as it voluntarily gives up one kind of pleasure as the only
mode of securing what is best.

It is perceived, also, that there is a constant _balancing_ of good and
evil, so that a given amount of enjoyment cancels or repays for a certain
amount of evil. When a great amount of enjoyment is purchased by a small
degree of labor or trouble, the _compound result_ is deemed a good, and
called right; on the contrary, when the evil involved exceeds a given
amount in comparison to the good, the compound result is called evil and

Thus is generated the impression that there is a law of sacrifice
instituted requiring the greatest possible good with the least possible
evil, and that this is the great design of all things.

The impression is, not merely that we are to seek enjoyment and avoid
pain, but that we are to seek the _greatest possible_ good with the _least
possible_ evil, and that in doing this we are to obey the law of
sacrifice, by which the greatest good _is to be bought_ by a certain
amount of evil _voluntarily_ assumed.

Moreover, the child is thus gradually trained to understand that _good_
and _evil_ are to be regarded in two relations. Any thing and every thing
is called _good_ when it in any way gives enjoyment to any being.

But if the good can be secured only by sacrificing a greater good or by
inflicting a greater evil, then, in this relation, the good is called evil
and wrong. Thus, in one relation eating a delicious fruit is a good,
because it gives enjoyment. But if such is the state of a child’s stomach,
that sickness and suffering will follow the act, then it is evil and

The early training of infancy introduces the first part of the great _law
of sacrifice_ in regard to _self_ alone. But as the intellect develops,
the existence of other minds is learned, and their happiness or suffering
become subjects of attention. Here the calculations of the _balance_ of
good and evil become more and more complicated. And the _two relations_
also become more definite and extensive. Whatever gives pleasure is always
called _good_ and _right_, until some evil is discovered as connected with
it, not alone or chiefly to self, but to others also. Then the compound
result is sought for, and if it is seen that, _on the whole_, what by
itself would be good and right if dissevered from its connected evil, does
involve _more_ evil than good, then it is called evil and wrong. But if
the balance shows so great an amount of good as pays for certain
incidental evils, then the result is called good and right.

The child also very early learns that the _character_ of those around is
estimated by their reference to this mode of regarding good and evil,
right and wrong. If a child simply seeks good to itself without any regard
to the amount of evil involved as a consequence, he is called a bad child.
On the contrary, those who make sacrifice of their wishes and plans to
avoid what would bring evil on others, are called good, generous, lovely
and virtuous. The youngest child soon perceives that its mother and other
friends are constantly making sacrifices for its own good, and bearing
inconveniences and trouble for the good of those around. And those who
perform such acts of benevolent self‐sacrifice are praised, and their
conduct is called good and right.

Thus arises a conviction or belief that the design or end for which every
thing exists is to make _the most_ happiness possible, and that those who
conform to this design are acting right, while those who do not are acting
wrong. Eventually there is established this conviction, also, that the
_voluntary sacrifice of self‐enjoyment_ to promote the _best_ good of all,
is the _highest_ kind of right action, and that those who practice this
_the most_ are the _best in character_.

The first feature of our moral sense, then, is, _that impression of the
great design of all things_ which enables us to judge of the right and
wrong in voluntary action. This also may be placed as one of the
principles of common sense. God has so formed our minds and their
circumstances, that the result is a universal _belief_ in every rational
mind that whatever secures the _most_ happiness with the least evil is
_right_, and whatever does not is _wrong_. The wanton and needless
destruction of happiness also men believe to be wrong. Their only
diversities of opinion are in regard to what will be _best_ and what will

The second feature of our moral constitution is what is ordinarily called
the _sense of justice_. It is that susceptibility which is excited at the
view of the conduct of others as _voluntary_ causes of good or evil.

In all cases where free agents act to promote happiness, an emotion of
approval arises, together with a desire of reward to the author of the
good. On the contrary, when there is a voluntary destruction of happiness,
there is an emotion of disapproval, and a desire for retributive pain on
the author of the wrong.

These emotions are instinctive, and not at all regulated by reason in
their inception. When an evil is done, an instant desire is felt _to
discover the cause_; and when it is found, an instant desire is felt _to
inflict some penalty_. So irrational is this impulse, that children will
exhibit anger and deal blows on inanimate objects that cause pain. Even
mature minds are sometimes conscious of this impulse.

That this impulse is an implanted part of our constitution, and not the
result of instruction, is seen in the delight manifested by young children
in the narration of the nursery tale where the cruel uncle who murdered
the Babes in the Wood receives the retributions of Heaven.

It is the office of the intellect to judge whether the deed was a
voluntary one, whether the agent intended the mischief, and whether a
penalty will be of any use. The impulse to punish is never preceded by any
such calculations.

Another feature in this sense of justice is the _proportion_ demanded
between the evil done and the penalty inflicted. That this also is
instinctive, and not the result of instruction, is seen in the nursery,
where children will approve of slight penalties for slight offenses, and
severe ones for great ones, but will revolt from any very great
disproportion between the wrong act and its penalty. As a general rule,
both in the nursery and in mature minds, the greater the wrong done, the
stronger the desire for a penalty, and the more severe the punishment

Another very important point of consideration is the universal feeling of
mankind that the _natural penalties_ for wrong‐doing are _not sufficient_,
and that it is an act of love as well as of justice to add to these
penalties. Thus the parent who forbids his child to eat green fruit will
not trust to the results of the natural penalty, but will restrain by the
fear of the immediate and more easily conceived penalty of chastisement.

So, in the great family of man, the natural penalties for theft are not
deemed sufficient, but severe penalties for the protection of property are

This particular is the foundation of certain distinctions that are of
great importance, which will now be pointed out.

We find the terms “_reward_ and _punishment_” used in two different
relations. In the first and widest sense they signify not only the
penalties of human law, but those _natural consequences_ which, by the
constitution of nature, inevitably follow certain courses of conduct.

Thus an indolent man is said to receive poverty as a punishment, and it is
in this sense that his children are said to be punished for the faults of
their father.

The violations of natural law are punished without any reference to the
question whether the evil‐doer intended the wrong, or whether he sinned in
ignorance, or whether this ignorance was involuntary and unavoidable. The
question of the justice or injustice of such natural penalties involves
the great question of the right and wrong of the system of the universe.
Is it just and right for the Creator to make a system in which all free
agents shall be thus led to obedience to its laws by penalties as well as
rewards, by fear as well as by hope? This question will not be discussed

Most discussions as to _just_ rewards and penalties ordinarily relate to
the _added_ penalties by which parents, teachers and magistrates enforce
obedience to natural or to statute law.

In these questions reference is always had to the _probable results_ of
such rewards and penalties in securing obedience. If experience has shown
that certain penalties do secure obedience to wise and good laws, either
of nature or of human enactment, then they are considered just. If they do
not, they are counted unwise and unjust.

So, if certain penalties are needlessly severe—that is to say, if a less
penalty will secure equal obedience, then this also decides so severe a
penalty to be unjust.

In deciding on the rectitude of the penalties of human enactments, it is
always assumed to be unjust to punish for any lack of knowledge and
obedience when the subject had _no power_ to know and to obey. If _a
choice to obey_ will not secure the act required of a free agent, then a
penalty inflicted for disobedience is always regarded as unjust. The only
seeming exception to this is the case where a person, by voluntary means,
has deprived himself of ability to obey. But in such cases the punishment
is felt to be right, not because he does not obey when he has no power,
but because he has voluntarily deprived himself of this power. And he is
punished for destroying his ability to obey, and not for violating the

These things in human laws, then, are always demanded to make a penalty
appear _just_ to the moral sense of mankind, namely, that the subject have
power to obey, and that he has opportunity to know the law, and is not
ignorant by any voluntary and improper neglect.

In all questions of justice, therefore, it is important to discriminate
between those penalties that are inherent as a part of the great system of
the universe, and for which the Creator alone is responsible, and those
additional penalties which result from voluntary institutions of which men
are the authors.

The next feature in our moral constitution is the susceptibility which is
excited by the intellectual judgment of our own feelings and conduct as
either right or wrong.

In case we decide them to be right, we experience an emotion of self‐
approval which is very delightful; but if we decide that they are wrong,
we experience an immediate penalty in a painful emotion called _remorse_.
This emotion is always proportioned to the amount of evil done, and the
consciousness that it was done knowingly and intentionally. No suffering
is more keen than the highest emotions of this kind, while their pangs are
often enduring and unappeasable. Sometimes there is an attending desire to
inflict retribution on one’s self as a mode of alleviating this distress.

This susceptibility is usually denominated _conscience_. Sometimes this
word is used to include both the intellectual judgment of our conduct as
right or wrong, and the consequent emotions of approval or remorse;
sometimes it refers to the susceptibility alone. Either use is correct, as
in the connection in which it is employed the distinction can ordinarily
be easily made.

This analysis of our moral constitution furnishes means for a clear
definition of such terms as _obligated_, _ought_, _ought not_, and the

A person is obligated or ought to do a thing when he has the intellect to
perceive what is _best_, and thus _right_, and the moral susceptibilities
just described. When he is destitute either of the intellect or of these
susceptibilities, he ceases to be a moral and accountable being. He can no
longer be made to feel any moral obligations.


The power _to choose_ exists in other animals as well as in man, so that
it is not this faculty which distinguishes our race from the brutes. It is
another part of our nature which elevates us above the lower animals,
which will now be described.

Irrational Free Agency.

We have seen that desires for good are measured as to their strength or
feebleness by our own consciousness, and that in multitudes of cases we
choose those things which excite _the strongest_ desire. A mind so
constituted as never to be able to choose any thing but that which excites
the strongest desire, would be entirely dependent on circumstances, and
thus the helpless sport of chance. This is the kind of free agency which
belongs to the brutes, and may properly be called _irrational free

Rational Free Agency.

In contrast with the above, we have already described the mind of man as
possessing the power to choose _either_ that which excites the strongest
desire or that which the intellect decides to be _best for all concerned_.

When there is nothing to excite desires, there is no power at all to
choose; so that motives are as indispensable to the action of the will as
physical causes are to the movement of matter. The more strongly desire is
excited the more the power of choice is increased. This gives rise to the
universal use of language which characterizes motives as stronger or
weaker according as desire is more or less powerful.

The greater part of our choices are for things which are _best_, so that
there is no conflict between what excites the strongest desire and what is
best for all. Thus to eat, drink, walk, sleep and perform most of the
daily duties of life, are cases where the strongest desire and what is
best coincide. In all such cases we choose that which excites the
strongest desire. And when we assign the cause or reason for our choice,
we say it was the strongest desire which was the _cause_; that is to say,
it was the _occasional_ cause of our choice. But our own mind is the only
_producing_ cause of its own volitions.

This exhibits the grand principle of _free agency_ in distinction from its
opposite, which is called _fatalism_, viz.:

_Motives are producing causes of desire, and are occasional causes of
choice. Mind itself is the only producing cause of choice, having power to
choose either that which excites the strongest desire or that which reason
and conscience decide to be best for all concerned._

In opposition to this, the fatalist maintains that every act of choice
follows the strongest desire, so that there is the same _invariable_
antecedence and sequence between the two as there is in material changes
between the necessary cause and effect. This being so, the mind has no
power to choose any thing but that which excites the strongest desire.

Now, this is a question which every person, learned or unlearned, can
decide. Have we power to choose any other way than as we do choose? Here
it is claimed that every human being _believes_ that we have this power,
and proves that he believes it by word and action. And if any person were
habitually to talk and act as if he believed children and men had no power
to choose right when they choose wrong, he would be regarded as having
lost his reason.

This, therefore, is placed as one of the principles of common sense, viz.,
_every rational mind has power to choose either that which excites the
strongest desire or that which the intellect decides to be best, even when
it does not excite the strongest desire_.

_Moral power_ is the power to control rational minds by motives.

When no desire for any good and no fear of any evil exists, the mind has
no power to choose. Excited desires (or motives) are as indispensable to
choice as physical causes are to any change in matter.

The stronger the desire for a thing, the _easier_ it is to choose it; and
the less desire there is for a given thing, the _harder_ it is to choose
it. This measuring of various degrees of power to choose, is a matter of
consciousness to every mind, and it is recognized in all languages. And we
find that all mankind, of all languages, recognize the fact that men have
power to choose what is _best_, even when it conflicts with the strongest
desire; so much so, that life itself has been relinquished for the good of
others, when there was little or no expectation of a future life, or of
any consequent good to self.

Moreover, it will be shown in a future chapter that our _highest_ idea of
virtue implies a conflict between the strongest desire and the conviction
of what is right and best on the whole; so that sometimes men choose what
is seen to be wrong and yet excites the strongest desire, and at other
times what is right or best, when it does not excite the strongest desire.

All self‐control, self‐denial and self‐government involve the idea of a
conflict between the decisions of reason and conscience as to what is best
and right, and the importunities of the strongest desire for what is not

Subordinate and General Purposes.

There is a constant succession of selections to be made between different
modes of securing happiness. A lesser good is given up for a greater, or
some good relinquished altogether to avoid some consequent pain. Often,
also, some evil is sought as the means of securing some future good, or of
avoiding some greater evil. Thus men endure want, fatigue and famine to
purchase wealth. Thus the nauseous draught will be swallowed to avoid the
pains of sickness; and thus the pleasures of domestic affection will be
sacrificed to obtain honor and fame. The whole course of life is a
constant succession of such decisions between different modes of securing
happiness and of avoiding pain.

In noticing the operation of mind, it will be seen that there is a
foundation for two classes of volitions or acts of choice, which may be
denominated _subordinate_ and _general purposes_.

A _subordinate purpose_ is one that secures some particular act, such as
the moving of the arm or turning of the head. Such volitions are
ordinarily consequent on some more general purpose of the mind, which they
aid in accomplishing, and which is, therefore, denominated a _general_ or
_generic purpose_. For example, a man chooses to make a certain journey:
this is the general purpose, and, in order to carry it out, he performs a
great variety of acts, each one of which aids in carrying out the generic

It can be seen that the general purposes may themselves become subordinate
to a still more comprehensive purpose. Thus the man may decide to make a
journey, which is a generic choice in reference to all acts subordinate to
this end. But this journey may be a subordinate part of a more general
purpose to make a fortune, or to secure some other important end.

It is frequently the case that a generic purpose, which relates to objects
that require a long time and many complicated operations, exists when the
mind seems almost unconscious of its power. For example, a man may form a
generic purpose to enter a profession for which years will be required to
prepare. And while his whole course of action is regulated by this
decision, he engages in pursuits entirely foreign to it, and which seem to
engross his whole attention. These pursuits may sometimes be such as are
antagonistic to his grand purpose, so as at least to imperil or retard its
accomplishment. And yet this strong and quiet purpose remains, and is
eventually carried out.

It is the case, also, that a generic choice may be formed to be carried
out at some particular time and place, and then the mind becomes entirely
unconscious of it till the appointed period and circumstances occur. Then
the decision becomes dominant, and controls all other purposes. Thus a man
may decide that, at a specified hour, he will stop his studies and perform
certain gymnastic exercises. This volition is forgotten until the hour
arrives, and then it recurs and is carried out.

This phenomenon sometimes occurs in sleep. Some persons, in watching with
the sick, will determine to wake at given hours to administer medicines;
then they will sleep soundly till the appointed time comes, when they will
waken and perform the predetermined actions.

In regard to the _commencement_ of a generic purpose, we find that
sometimes it is so distinct and definite as to be the subject of
consciousness and memory. For example, a spendthrift, in some moment of
suffering and despondency, may form a determination to commence a
systematic course of thrift and economy, and may actually carry it out
through all his future life. Such cases are often to be found on record or
in every‐day life.

In other cases, this quiet, hidden, but controlling purpose seems to be
formed by unconscious and imperceptible influences, so that the mind can
not revert to the specific time or manner when it originated. For example,
a child who is trained from early life to speak the truth, can never
revert to any particular moment when this generic purpose originated.

It is sometimes the case, also, that a person will contemplate some
generic purpose before it occurs, while the process of its final formation
seems almost beyond the power of scrutiny. For example, a man may be urged
to relinquish one employment and engage in another. He reflects, consults,
and is entirely uncertain how he shall decide. As time passes, he
gradually inclines toward the proposed change, until, finally, he finds
his determination fixed, he scarcely knows when or how.

Thus it appears that generic purposes commence sometimes so
instantaneously and obviously that the time and influences connected with
them can be recognized. In other cases, the decision seems to be a gradual
one, while in some instances the process can be traced, and in others it
is entirely unnoticed or forgotten.

It is in reference to such generic purposes that the _moral character_ of
men is estimated. An honest man is one who has a fixed purpose to act
honestly in all circumstances. A truthful man is one who has such a
purpose to speak the truth at all times.

In such cases, the degree in which such a purpose controls all others is
the measure of a man’s moral character in the estimate of society.

The history of mankind shows a great diversity of moral character
dependent on such generic choices. Some men possess firm and reliable
moral principles in certain directions, while they are very destitute of
them in others.

Thus it will be seen that some have formed a very decided purpose in
regard to honesty in business affairs, who yet are miserable victims to
intemperance. Others have cultivated a principle called _honor_, that
restrains them from certain actions regarded as mean, and yet they may be
frequenters of gambling saloons and other haunts of vice.

In the religions world, too, it is the case that some who are very firm
and decided on all points of religious observances and in the cultivation
of devotional emotions, are guilty of very mean actions, such as some
worldly men of honor would not practice at the sacrifice of a right hand.

On a Ruling Purpose or Chief End.

The most important of all the voluntary phenomena is the fact that, while
there can be a multitude of these quiet and hidden generic purposes in the
mind, it is also possible to form _one_ which shall be the dominant or
controlling one, to which all the others, both generic and specific, shall
become subordinate. In common parlance this would be called the _ruling
passion_. It is also called the _ruling purpose_, or _controlling
principle_. This consists in the permanent choice of some one mode of
securing happiness as the _chief end_ or grand object of life.

There is a great variety of sources of happiness and of suffering to the
human mind. Now in the history of our race we find that each one of these
modes of enjoyment has been selected by different individuals as the chief
end of their existence—as the mode of seeking enjoyment to which they
sacrifice every other. Some persons have chosen the pleasures of eating,
drinking, and the other grosser enjoyments of sense. Others have chosen
those more elevated and refined pleasures that come indirectly from the
senses in the emotions of taste.

Others have devoted themselves to intellectual enjoyments as their chief
resource for happiness. Others have selected the exercise of physical and
moral power, as in the case of conquerors and physical heroes, or of those
who have sought to control by moral power, as rulers and statesmen.

Others have made the attainment of the esteem, admiration, and love of
their fellow‐creatures, their chief end. Others, still, have devoted
themselves to the promotion of happiness around them as their chief
interest. Others have devoted themselves to the service of God, or what
they conceived to be such, and sometimes by the most miserable life of
asceticism and self‐torture.

Others have made it their main object in life to obey the laws of
rectitude and virtue.

In all these cases, the _moral character_ of the person, in the view of
all observers, has been decided by this dominant volition, and exactly in
proportion to the supremacy with which it has _actually controlled_ all
other purposes.

Some minds seem to have no _chief_ end of life. Their existence is a
succession of small purposes, each of which has its turn in controlling
the life. Others have a strong, defined and all‐controlling principle.

Now experience shows that both of these classes are capable, the one of
_forming_ and the other of _changing_ such a purpose. For example, in a
time of peace and ease there is little to excite the mind strongly; but
let a crisis come, where fortune, reputation, and life are at stake, and
men and women are obliged to form generic decisions involving all they
hold dear, and many minds that have no controlling purpose immediately
originate one, while those whose former ruling aims were in one direction
change them entirely to another.

This shows how it is that days of peril create heroes, statesmen and
strong men and women. The hour of danger calls all the energies of the
soul into action. Great purposes are formed with the strongest desire and
emotion. Instantly the whole current of thought, and all the coexisting
desires and emotions, are conformed to these purposes.

The experience of mankind proves that a dominant generic purpose may
_extend to a whole life_, and actually control all other generic and
specific volitions.

How the Thoughts, Desires and Emotions are controlled by the Will.

We will now consider some of the modes by which the will controls the
thoughts, desires and emotions.

We have seen, in previous pages, the influence which desire and emotion
exert in making both our perceptions and conceptions more vivid. Whatever
purpose or aim in life becomes an object of strong desire, is always
distinctly and vividly conceived, while all less interesting objects are
more faint and indistinct.

We have also seen that whenever any conception arises it always brings
connected objects, forming a new and complex picture.

Whenever the mind is under the influence of a controlling purpose, the
object of pursuit is always _more interesting_ than any other. This
interest always fastens on those particulars in any mental combination
that are connected with the ruling purpose and seem fitted to promote it,
making them more vivid. Around these selected objects their past
associated ideas begin to cluster, forming other complex pictures. In all
these combinations, those ideas most consonant with the leading interest
of the mind become most vivid, and the others fade away.

The grand method, then, for _regulating the thoughts_ is by the generic
decisions of the mind as to the modes of seeking enjoyment.

In regard to the power of the mind over its own _desires and emotions_, it
is very clear that these sensibilities can not be regulated by direct
specific volitions. Let any person try to produce love, fear, joy, hope or
gratitude by simply choosing to have them arise, and it is soon perceived
that no such power exists.

But there are _indirect_ modes by which the mind can control its
susceptibilities. The first method is by directing attention to those
objects of thought which are fitted to call forth such emotions. For
example, if we wish to awaken the emotion of fear, we can place ourselves
in circumstances of danger, or call up ideas of horror and distress. If we
wish to call forth emotions of gratitude, we can direct attention to acts
of kindness to ourselves calculated to awaken such feelings. If we wish to
excite desire for any object, we can direct attention to those qualities
in that object that are calculated to excite desire. In all these cases
the mind can, by an act of will, _direct its attention_ to subjects
calculated to excite emotion and desire.

The other mode of regulating the desires and emotions is by _the direction
of our generic volitions_. For example, let a man of business, who has
never had any interest in commerce, decide to invest all his property in
foreign trade. As soon as this is done, the name of the ship that bears
his all can never be heard or seen but it excites some emotion. A storm,
that before would go unnoticed, awakens fear; the prices in the commercial
markets, before unheeded, now awaken fear or afford pleasure. And thus
multitudes of varied desires and emotions are called into existence by
this one generic volition.

One result of a purpose to deny an importunate propensity is frequently
seen in the immediate or gradual diminution of that desire. For example,
if a person is satisfied that a certain article of food is injurious and
resolves on _total abstinence_, it will be found that the desire for it is
very much reduced, far more so than when the effort is to diminish the

When a generic purpose is formed that involves great interests, it is
impossible to prevent the desires and emotions from running consonant with
this purpose. The only mode of changing this current is to give up this
generic purpose and form another. Thus, if a man has devoted his whole
time and energies to money‐making, it is impossible for him to prevent his
thoughts and feelings from running in that direction. He must give up this
as his chief end, and take a nobler object, if he would elevate the whole
course of his mental action.

These are the principal phenomena of the grand mental faculty which is the
controlling power of the mind, and on the regulation of which all its
other powers are dependent.

The _nature of regeneration_, and the question whether it is instantaneous
or gradual or both, all are intimately connected with the subject of this


In the preceding chapters have been presented the most important mental
faculties which are common to the race. There are none of the powers and
attributes of the mind as yet set forth which do not belong to every mind
which is regarded as rational and complete.

But, though all the race have these in common, yet we can not but observe
an almost endless variety of human character, resulting from the diverse
_proportions_ and _combinations_ of these several faculties.

These constitutional differences may be noticed, first, in regard to the
intellectual powers. Some minds are naturally predisposed to exercise the
reasoning powers. Others, with precisely the same kind of culture, have
little relish for this, and little power of appreciating an argument.

In other cases, the imagination seems to be the predominating faculty. In
other minds there seems to be an equal balance of faculties, so that no
particular power predominates.

Next we see the same variety in reference to the susceptibilities. In some
minds, the desire for love and admiration is the predominating principle.
In others, the love of power takes the lead. Some are eminently
sympathizing. Others have a strong love of rectitude, or natural
conscience. In some, the principle of justice predominates. In others,
benevolence is the leading impulse.

Finally, in regard to the power of volition, as has been before indicated,
there are some that possess a strong will that is decisive and effective
in regulating all specific volitions, while others possess various and
humbler measures of this power.

According to the science of Phrenology, some of these peculiarities of
mind are indicated by the size and shape of different portions of the
brain, and externally indicated on the skull.

That these differences are constitutional, and not the result of
education, is clear from the many facts showing that no degree of care or
training will serve to efface these distinctive traits of the mind. To a
certain degree they may be modified by education, and the equal balance of
the faculties be promoted, but never to such a degree as to efface very
marked peculiarities.

In addition to the endless diversities that result from these varied
proportions and combinations, there is a manifest variety in the grades of
mind. Some races are much lower in the scale of being every way than
others, while the same disparity exists in individuals of the same race.

The wisdom and benevolence of this arrangement is very manifest when
viewed in reference to the interests of a commonwealth. Where some must
lead and others follow, it is well that some have the love of power
strong, and others have it less. Where some must be rulers, to inflict
penalties as well as to apportion rewards, it is well that there be some
who have the sense of justice as a leading principle. And so in the
developments of intellect. Some men are to follow callings where the
reasoning powers are most needed. Others are to adopt pursuits in which
taste and imagination are chiefly required; and thus the varied
proportions of these faculties become serviceable.

And if it be true that the exercise of the social and moral faculties
secures the highest degree of enjoyment, those disparities in mental
powers which give exercise to the virtues of compassion, self‐denial,
fortitude and benevolence in serving the weak, and the corresponding
exercises of gratitude, reverence, humility and devotion in those who are
thus benefited, then we can see the wisdom and benevolence of this
gradation of mental capacity.

Moreover, in a commonwealth perfectly organized, where the happiness of
the whole becomes that of each part, whatever tends to the highest general
good tends to the best interest of each individual member. This being so,
the lowest and humblest in the scale of being, in his appropriate place,
is happier than he could be by any other arrangement, and happier than he
could be if all were equally endowed.

This subject is very important, because some theologians present these
disparities of mental organization as indications of the depravity
consequent on Adam’s sin.


This chapter is introduced because some theologians claim that the
depravity of man consists either in _a habit_ or in something _like_ a

Habit is a facility in performing physical or mental operations, gained by
the repetition of such acts. As examples of this in _physical_ operations
may be mentioned the power of walking, which is acquired only by a
multitude of experiments; the power of speech, secured by a slow process
of repeated acts of imitation; and the power of writing, gained in the
same way. Success in every pursuit of life is attained by oft‐repeated
attempts, which finally induce a habit.

As examples of the formation of _intellectual_ habits, may be mentioned
the facility gained in acquiring knowledge by means of repeated efforts,
and the accuracy and speed with which the process of reasoning is
performed after long practice in this art.

As examples of _moral_ habits may be mentioned those which are formed by
the oft‐repeated exercise of self‐government, justice, veracity,
obedience, and industry. The will, as has been shown, gains a facility in
controlling specific volitions and in yielding obedience to the laws of
right action by constant use, as really as do all the other mental powers.

The happiness of man, in the present state of existence, depends not so
much upon the circumstances in which he is placed, or the capacities with
which he is endowed, as upon the _formation of his habits_. A man might
have the organ of sight, and be surrounded with all the beauties of
nature, and yet, if he did not form the habit of judging of the form,
distance and size of bodies, most of the pleasure and use from this sense
would be wanting. The world and all its beauties would be a mere confused
mass of colors.

If the habits of walking and of speech were not acquired, these faculties
and the circumstances for employing them would not furnish the enjoyment
they were designed to secure.

It is also the formation of _intellectual_ habits by mental discipline and
study, which opens vast resources for enjoyment that otherwise would be
for ever closed. And it is by practicing obedience to parents that _moral_
habits of subordination are formed, which are indispensable to our
happiness as citizens, and as subjects of government. There is no
enjoyment which can be pointed out, which is not, to a greater or less
extent, dependent upon this principle.

The influence of habit in regard to the _law of sacrifice_ is especially
interesting. The experience of multitudes of our race shows that such
tastes and habits may be formed in obeying this law, that what was once
difficult and painful becomes easy and pleasant.

But this ability to secure enjoyment through habits of self‐control and
self‐denial, induced by long practice, so far as experience shows, could
never be secured by any other method.

That the highest kinds of happiness are to be purchased by more or less
_voluntary sacrifice_ and _suffering_ to procure good for others, seems to
be a part of that nature of things which we at least may suppose has
existed from eternity. We can conceive of the eternal First Cause only as
we imagine a mind on the same pattern as our own in constitutional
capacities, but indefinitely enlarged in extent and action. Knowledge,
wisdom, power, justice, benevolence and rectitude, must be the same in the
Creator as in ourselves, at least so far as we can conceive; and, as the
practice of self‐sacrifice and suffering for the good of others is our
highest conception of virtue, it is impossible to regard the Eternal Mind
as all‐perfect without involving this idea.

The formation of the habits depends chiefly upon the leading desire or
governing purpose, because whatever the mind desires the most it will
_act_ the most to secure, and thus by repeated acts will form its habits.
The _character_ of every individual, therefore, as before indicated,
depends upon the mode of seeking happiness selected by the will. Thus the
ambitious man has selected the attainment of power and admiration as his
leading purpose, and whatever modes of enjoyment interfere with this are
sacrificed. The sensual man seeks his happiness from the various
gratifications of sense, and sacrifices other modes of enjoyment that
interfere with this. The man devoted to intellectual pursuits, and to
seeking reputation and influence through this medium, sacrifices other
modes of enjoyment to secure this gratification. The man who has devoted
his affections and the service of his life to God and the good of his
fellow‐men, sacrifices all other enjoyments to secure that which results
from the fulfillment of such obligations. Thus a person is an ambitious
man, a sensual man, a man of literary ambition, or a man of piety and
benevolence, according to the governing purpose or leading choice of his

There is one fact in regard to the choice of the leading object of desire,
or the governing purpose of life, which is very important. Certain modes
of enjoyment, in consequence of repetition, increase the desire, but
lessen the capacity of happiness from this source; while, in regard to
others, gratification increases the desire, and at the same time increases
the capacity for enjoyment.

The enjoyments through the senses are of the first kind. It will be found,
as a matter of universal experience, that where this has been chosen as
the main purpose of life, though the desire for such pleasures is
continually increased, yet, owing to the physical effects of excessive
indulgence, the capacity for enjoyment is decreased. Thus the man who so
degrades his nature as to make the pleasures of eating and drinking the
great pursuit of life, while his desires never abate, finds his zest for
such enjoyments continually decreasing, and a perpetual need for new
devices to stimulate appetite and awaken the dormant capacities. The
pleasures of sense always pall from repetition—grow “stale, flat and
unprofitable,” though the deluded being who has thus slavishly yielded to
such appetites feels himself bound by chains of habit, which, even when
enjoyment ceases, seldom are broken.

The pleasures derived from the exercise of power, when its attainment
becomes the master passion, are also of this description. The statesman,
the politician, the conqueror, are all seeking for this, and desire never
abates while any thing of the kind remains to be attained. We do not find
that enjoyment increases in proportion as power is secured. On the
contrary, it seems to cloy in possession. Alexander, the conqueror of the
world, when he had gained _all_, wept that objects of desire were extinct,
and that possession could not satisfy.

But there are other sources of happiness for which the desire ever
continues, and possession only increases the capacity for enjoyment. Of
this class is the susceptibility of happiness from _giving and receiving
affection_. Here, the more there is given and received, the more is the
power of giving and receiving increased. We find that this principle
outlives every other, and even the decays of nature itself. When tottering
age on the borders of the grave is just ready to resign its wasted
tenement, often from its dissolving ashes the never‐dying spark of
affection has burst forth with new and undiminished luster. This is that
immortal fountain of happiness always increased by imparting, never
surcharged by receiving.

Another principle, which increases both desire and capacity by exercise,
is the power of enjoyment from being the _cause of happiness to others_.
Never was an instance known of regret for devotion to the happiness of
others. On the contrary, the more this holy and delightful principle is in
exercise, the more the desires are increased, and the more are the
susceptibilities for enjoyment from this source enlarged. While the
votaries of pleasure are wearing down with the exhaustion of abused
nature, and the votaries of ambition are sighing over its thorny wreath,
the benevolent spirit is exulting in the success of its plans of good, and
reaching forth to still purer and more perfect bliss.

This principle is especially true in regard to the practice of rectitude.
The more the leading aim of the mind is devoted to _right feeling and
action_, or to obedience to all the laws of God, the more both the desire
and the capacity of enjoyment from this source are increased.

But there is another fact in regard to habit, which has an immense bearing
on the well‐being of our race. When a habit of seeking happiness in some
one particular mode is once formed, the _change_ of this habit becomes
difficult just in proportion to the degree of repetition which has been
practiced. A habit once formed, it is no longer an easy matter to choose
between the mode of securing happiness chosen and another which the mind
may be led to regard as much superior. Thus, in gratifying the appetite, a
man may feel that his happiness is continually diminishing, and that, by
sacrificing this passion, he may secure much greater enjoyment from
another source; yet the force of habit is such, that decisions of the will
perpetually yield to its power.

Thus, also, if a man has found his chief enjoyment in that admiration and
applause of men so ardently desired, even after it has ceased to charm,
and seems like emptiness and vanity, still, when nobler objects of pursuit
are offered, the chains of habit bind him to his wonted path. Though he
looks and longs for the one that his conscience and his intellect assure
him is brightest and best, the conflict with bad habit ends in fatal
defeat and ruin. It is true that every habit can be corrected and changed,
but nothing requires greater firmness of purpose and energy of will; for
it is not _one_ resolution of mind that can conquer habit: it must be a
constant series of long‐continued efforts.

The influence of habit in reference to _emotions_ deserves special
attention as having a direct influence upon character and happiness. All
pleasurable emotions of mind, being grateful, are indulged and cherished,
and are not weakened by repetition unless they become excessive. If the
pleasures of sense are indulged beyond a certain extent, the bodily system
is exhausted, and satiety is the consequence. If the love of power and
admiration is indulged to excess, so as to become the leading purpose of
life, they are found to be cloying. But, within certain limits, all
pleasurable emotions do not seem to lessen in power by repetition.

But in regard to painful emotions the reverse is true. The mind
instinctively resists or flies from them, so that often a habit of
suppressing such emotions is formed, until the susceptibility diminishes,
and sometimes appears almost entirely destroyed. Thus a person often
exposed to danger ceases to be troubled by fear, because he forms a habit
of suppressing it. A person frequently in scenes of distress and suffering
learns to suppress the emotions of painful sympathy. The surgeon is an
example of the last case, where, by repeated operations, he has learned to
suppress emotions until they seldom recur. A person inured to guilt
gradually deadens the pangs of remorse, until the conscience becomes
“seared as with a hot iron.” Thus, also, with the emotion of shame. After
a person has been repeatedly exposed to contempt, and feels that he is
universally despised, he grows callous to any such emotions.

The mode by which the mind succeeds in forming such a habit seems to be by
that implanted principle which makes ideas that are most in consonance
with the leading desire of the mind become vivid and distinct, while those
that are less interesting fade away. Now no person desires to witness pain
except from the hope of relieving it, unless it be that, in anger, the
mind is sometimes gratified with the infliction of suffering. But, in
ordinary cases, the sight of suffering is avoided except where relief can
be administered. In such cases, the desire of administering relief becomes
the leading one, so that the mind is turned off from the view of the
suffering to dwell on conceptions of modes of relief. Thus the surgeon and
physician gradually form such habits that the sight of pain and suffering
lead the mind to the conception of modes of relief, whereas a mind not
thus interested dwells on the more painful ideas.

The habits of life are all formed either from the desire to secure
happiness or to avoid pain, and the _fear of suffering_ is found to be a
much more powerful principle than the _desire of happiness_. The soul
flies from pain with all its energies, even when it will be inert at the
sight of promised joy. As an illustration of this, let a person be fully
convinced that the gift of two new senses would confer as great an
additional amount of enjoyment as is now secured by the eye and ear, and
the promise of this future good would not stimulate with half the energy
that would be caused by the threat of instant and entire blindness and

If, then, the mind is stimulated to form good habits and to avoid the
formation of evil ones most powerfully by painful emotions, when their
legitimate object is not effected they continually decrease in vividness,
and the designed benefit is lost. If a man is placed in circumstances of
danger, and fear leads to habits of caution and carefulness, the object of
exciting this emotion is accomplished, and the diminution of it is
attended with no evil. But if fear is continually excited, and no such
habits are formed, then the susceptibility is lessened, while the good to
be secured by it is lost. So, also, with emotions of sympathy. If we
witness pain and suffering, and it induces habits of active devotion to
the good of those who suffer, the diminution of the susceptibility is a
blessing and no evil. But if we simply indulge emotions, and do not form
the habits they were intended to secure, the power of sympathy is
weakened, and the designed benefit is lost. Thus, again, with shame: if
this painful emotion does not lead us to form habits of honor and
rectitude, it is continually weakened by repetition, and the object for
which it was bestowed is not secured. And so with remorse: if this emotion
is awakened without leading to habits of benevolence and virtue, it
constantly decays in power, and the good it would have secured is for ever

It does not appear, however, that the power of emotion in the soul is thus
_destroyed_. This is evident from the fact that the most hardened
culprits, when brought to the hour of death, where all plans of future
good cease to charm the mental eye, are often overwhelmed with the most
vivid emotions of sorrow, shame, remorse and fear. And often, in the
course of life, there are seasons when the soul returns from its pursuit
of deluding visions to commune with itself in its own secret chambers. At
such seasons, shame, remorse and fear take up their abode in their long‐
deserted dwelling, and ply their scorpion whips till they are obeyed, and
the course of honor and virtue is resumed, or till the distracted spirit
again flies abroad for comfort and relief.

There is a great diversity in human character, resulting from the diverse
proportions and combinations of those powers of mind which the race have
in common. At the same time, there is a variety in the scale of being, or
relative grade of each mind. While all are alike in the common faculties
of the human mind, some have every faculty on a much larger scale than
others, while some are of a very humble grade.

The principle of habit has very great influence in modifying and changing
these varieties. Thus, by forming habits of intellectual exercise, a mind
of naturally humble proportions can be elevated considerably above one
more highly endowed by natural constitution. So the training of some
particular intellectual faculty, which by nature is deficient, can bring
it up nearer to the level of other powers less disciplined by exercise.

In like manner, the natural susceptibilities can be increased, diminished
or modified by habit. Certain tastes, that had little power, can be so
cultivated as to overtop all others.

So of the moral nature: it can be so exercised that a habit will be formed
which will generate a strength and prominency that nature did not impart.

One of the most important results of habit is its influence on _faith_ or
_belief_. Those persons who practice methods of false reasoning, who turn
away from evidence and follow their feelings in forming opinions,
eventually lose the power of sure, confiding belief.

On the contrary, an honest, conscientious steadiness in seeking the truth
and in yielding to evidence, secures the firmest and most reliable
convictions, and that peace of mind which alone results from believing the

The will itself is also subject to this same principle. A strong will,
that is trained to yield obedience to law in early life, acquires an ease
and facility in doing it which belongs ordinarily to weak minds, and yet
can retain all its vigor. And a mind that is trained to bring subordinate
volitions into strict and ready obedience to a generic purpose, acquires
an ease and facility in doing this which was not a natural endowment.

Thus it appears that by the principle of _habit_ every mind is furnished
with the power of elevating itself in the scale of being, and of so
modifying and perfecting the proportions and combinations of its
constitutional powers, that often the result is that there is no mode of
distinguishing between the effects of habit and those of natural


The _natural_ attributes of any mind are the powers and faculties to be
exercised, while it is the _action_ or _voluntary use_ of these faculties
that exhibits the _moral_ attributes.

Having gained the existence of a Great First Cause by the use of one
principle of common sense, and the fact that this cause is an intelligent
mind by another, it has been shown that a third of these principles leads
to the belief that the natural attributes of God are like our own. We can
not conceive of any other kind of minds than our own, because we have
never had any past experience or knowledge of any other.

But while we thus conclude that the mind of the Creator is, so far as we
can conceive, precisely like our own in constitutional organization, we
are as necessarily led to perceive that the _extent_ of these powers is
far beyond our own. A mind with the power, wisdom and goodness exhibited
in the very small portion of his works submitted to our inspection, who
has inhabited eternity, and matured through everlasting ages—our minds are
lost in attempting any conception of the _extent_ of such infinite

Thus we are necessarily led to conceive of the Creator as possessing the
intellectual powers described in previous pages. He perceives, conceives,
imagines, judges and remembers just as we do.

So also all our varied susceptibilities to pleasure and pain exist in the
Eternal Mind. The desire of good and the fear of evil which are the motive
power in the human mind, exist also in the divine. Thus by the light of
nature we settle the question that the existence of susceptibilities to
pain and evil are not the results of the Creator’s will, but are a part of
the eternal nature of things which he did not originate or control.

All the minds we ever knew or heard of are moved to action by desire to
gain happiness and escape pain, and as we can conceive of no other kind of
mind than our own, we must attribute to the Creator this foundation
element of mental activity.

Thus we are led to attribute to the Creator all those susceptibilities
included in _the moral sense_, as described in previous pages. His mind,
like ours, feels that whatever makes _the most_ happiness with _the least_
evil is _right_; that is to say, _it is fitted to the eternal nature of
things_, of which his own mind is a part.

So also the Creator possesses that _sense of justice_ implanted in our own
minds, which involves the desire of good to those who make happiness, and
of evil to those who destroy happiness; and which also demands that such
retributions be _proportioned_ to the good and evil done, and to the
_power_ of the agent.

So also we must conceive of the Creator as possessing the susceptibility
of _conscience_, which includes in the very constitution of mind
retributions for right and wrong action.

Again, we are led to conceive of God as a _rational free agent_, with
power to choose either that which excites the _strongest desire_ or that
which is perceived to be _best on the whole for all concerned_, even if it
does not excite the strongest desire.

Again, we are to conceive of the Creator as possessing a belief in those
principles of reason which he has implanted in our minds, and made our
guide in all matters, both of temporal and religious concern.

Again, our experience of the nature and history of mind, leads to the
inference that no being has existed from all eternity _in solitude_, but
that there is _more than one eternal, uncreated mind_, and that all their
powers of enjoyment from giving and receiving happiness in social
relations have been in exercise from eternal ages. This is the just and
natural deduction of reason and experience, as truly as the deduction that
there is at least one eternal First Cause.

Again, all our experience of mind involves the idea of the _mutual
relation of minds_. We perceive that minds are made to match to other
minds, so that there can be no complete action of mind, according to its
manifest design, except in relation to other beings. A mind can not love
till there is another mind to call forth such emotion. A mind can not
bring a tithe of its power into appropriate action except in a community
of minds. The conception of a solitary being, with all the social powers
and sympathies of the human mind infinitely enlarged, and yet without any
sympathizing mind to match and meet them, involves the highest idea of
unfitness and imperfection conceivable, while it is contrary to our
uniform experience of the nature and history of mind.

It has been argued that the _unity of design_ in the works of nature
proves that there is but one creating mind. This is not so, for in all our
experience of the creations of finite beings no _great design_ was ever
formed without a combination of minds, both to plan and to execute. The
majority of minds in all ages, both heathen and Christian, have always
conceived of the Creator as _in some way_ existing so as to involve the
ideas of plurality and of the love and communion of one mind with another.

And yet the unity and harmony of all created things as parts of one and
the same design, teach _a degree_ of unity in the authorship of the
universe never known in the complex action of finite minds.

Thus a _unity_ and _plurality_ in the Creator of all things is educed by
reason and experience from the works of nature.


Having employed the principles of common sense to gain a knowledge of the
natural attributes of God, we are next to employ the same principles to
gain his _moral_ character; or those attributes which are exhibited in
_willing_. In other words, we are to seek the character of God as
expressed in his _works_ or _deeds_.

In our experience of the moral character of minds in this world, we find
that some of the highest grades as to intellect and susceptibilities, are
lowest as to good‐willing. How is it, then, with the highest mind of all?
Does he so prefer evil to good, that he deliberately plans for the
production of evil when he has power to produce happiness in its place? Or
does he sometimes prefer evil and sometimes good, with the variable humors
of the human race? Or does he always prefer good when it costs him no
trouble or sacrifice, but never when it does? Or is he one who
_invariably_ chooses what is _best for all_, even when it involves painful
sacrifices to himself?

In seeking a reply to these momentous questions, we return once more to
the principle of common sense before stated, _i.e._, _the nature of any
work or contrivance is proof of the character and design of the author_.

In examining the works of the Creator, we find that the material world
impresses us as wisely adjusted and good in construction, only as it is
fitted to give enjoyment to sentient beings. It is the intelligent,
feeling, acting minds that give the value to every other existence. If
there were no minds, all perception of beauty, fitness and goodness would

It is _minds_, therefore, which are the _chief_ works of the Creator’s
hand, and which give value to all others.

If the _nature_ of these minds is evil, then the author of them is proved
to be evil by his works. If their nature is good and perfect, then their
author is proved to be good and perfect.

Here again we are driven back to our own minds to gain the only
conceptions possible to us, not only of wisdom, but of goodness or

On examination, we shall find that we can form no idea of these qualities
which does not involve a _limitation of power_.

Our idea of power is that which we gain when we will to move our bodies or
to make any other change, and this change ensues. Our only idea of a
_want_ of power is gained when the choice or willing of a change or event
does _not_ produce it. Whenever, therefore, it shall appear that the
Creator wills or wishes a thing to exist or to be changed, and that change
or existence does not follow his so willing, we can not help believing
that he has not the power to produce it?

Again; our idea of _perfectness_ always has reference to power; for a
thing is regarded as perfect in construction only when there is no power
in God or man to make it _better_. When any arrangement is as good as it
can be, so that neither God nor man has power to make it better, we regard
it as _perfect_, even when there is some degree of evil involved.

We are now prepared to define what is included in the terms _perfect
wisdom_ and _perfect benevolence_, when applied to the Creator or to any
other being, thus: A perfectly wise being is one who invariably wills the
best possible ends and the best possible means of accomplishing those

An imperfectly wise being is one who does not invariably do this.

A perfectly benevolent being is one who invariably wills the most good and
the least evil _in his power_. An imperfectly benevolent being is one who
does not invariably will thus.

The _degree_ in which a being is ranked as wise and good is estimated by
the extent to which his willing good or evil corresponds with his power.

Thus it appears that, in a system where evil exists, the very idea of
_perfect_ benevolence and wisdom involves the supposition of a _limitation
of power_.

To return, then, to the question as proposed at the commencement of the
chapter—Is the Creator a being who prefers good to evil invariably, or is
he one who only sometimes prefers evil to good, and at other times prefers
good to evil, with the varying humors of man; or does he _invariably_
choose what is _best for all_, even in cases where it may cost personal
sacrifice and suffering to himself?

It will be the object of what follows to prove that the last supposition
is the true one.

In attempting this, we again take the principle of common sense, that
“_the nature_ of any contrivance proves the design and character of the
author.” Then we proceed to a review of _the nature_, first of mind, and
next of the material world, to prove that the design or _chief end_ of the
Creator is, not to make happiness irrespective of the amount, but to
produce the _greatest possible_ happiness with the _least possible_ evil.
In other words, we are to seek for proof that God has done all things _for
the best_, so that he has no power to do better.

In still another form, we are to seek for evidence, in _the nature_ of
God’s works, that he has ever done _the best he could_, so that the amount
of evil that ever was or ever will exist, is not caused by his _willing_
it, but by his want of power to prevent it; so that any change would be an
increase of evil and a lessening of good to the universe as a whole.

In pursuing this attempt, it will be needful to reproduce two or three
chapters of a work by the author, already before the public, entitled,
_The Bible and the People; or, Common Sense applied to Religion_.

In this work _the nature of mind_ is presented very much more in detail,
for the same purpose as that here indicated. What will now follow is a
brief review of previous chapters in that work, as a _summary_ of the
evidence there presented that the _chief end_ of God in all his works is
to produce the greatest possible happiness with the least possible evil.

Whenever we find any contrivances all combining to secure a certain good
result, which, at the same time, involve some degree of inevitable evil,
and then discover that there are contrivances to diminish and avoid this
evil, we properly infer that the author intended to secure _as much of the
good with as little of the evil as possible_. For example, a traveler
finds a deserted mine, and all around he discovers contrivances for
obtaining gold, and, at the same time, other contrivances for getting rid
of the earth mixed with it. The inevitable inference would be that the
author of these contrivances designed to secure as much gold with as
little earth as possible; and should any one say that he could have had
more gold and less earth if he chose to, the answer would be that there is
no evidence of this assertion, but direct evidence against it.

Again: should we discover a piece of machinery in which every contrivance
tended to secure a _speed_ in movement, produced by the _friction_ of
wheels against a rough surface, and at the same time other contrivances
were found for diminishing all friction that was useless, we should infer
that the author designed to secure the _greatest possible speed_ with the
_least possible friction_.

In like manner, if we can show that mind is a contrivance that acts by the
influence of fear of evil, and that _pain_ seems as indispensable to the
action of a free agent as friction is to motion; if we can show that there
is no contrivance in mind or matter which is designed to secure suffering
as its primary end; if we can, on the contrary, show that the direct end
of all the organizations of mind and matter is to produce happiness; if we
can show that it is only the _wrong action_ of mind that involves most of
the pain yet known, so that right action, in its place, would secure only
happiness; if we can show contrivances for diminishing pain, and also
contrivances for increasing happiness by means of the inevitable pain
involved in the system of things, then the just conclusion will be gained
that the Author of the system of mind and matter designed “to produce the
greatest possible happiness with the least possible evil.”

In the pages which follow, we shall present evidence exhibiting all these

The only way in which we learn the nature of a thing is to observe its
qualities and actions. This is true of mind as much as it is of matter.
Experience and observation teach that the nature of mind is such, that
_the fear of suffering_ is indispensable to secure a large portion of the
enjoyment within reach of its faculties, and that the highest modes of
enjoyment can not be secured except by sacrifice, and thus by more or less

This appears to be an inevitable combination, as much so as friction is
inevitable in machinery.

We have the evidence of our own consciousness that it is fear of evil to
ourselves or to others that is the _strongest_ motive power to the mind.
If we should find that no pain resulted from burning up our own bodies, or
from drowning, or from any other cause; if every one perceived that no
care, trouble, or pain resulted from losing all kinds of enjoyment, the
effort to seek it would be greatly diminished.

If we could desire good enough to exert ourselves to seek it, and yet
should feel no discomfort in failing; if we could _lose every thing_, and
feel no sense of pain or care, the stimulus to action which experience has
shown to be most powerful and beneficent would be lost.

We find that abundance of ease and prosperity enervates mental power, and
that mind increases in all that is grand and noble, and also in the most
elevating happiness, by means of danger, care and pain. We may properly
infer, then, that evil is a necessary part of the experience of a
perfectly‐acting mind.

So strong is the conviction that _painful penalties_ are indispensable,
that the kindest parents and the most benevolent rulers are the most sure
to increase rather than diminish those that are already involved in the
existing nature of things.

Again: without a revelation we have no knowledge of any kind of mind but
by inference from our experience in this state of being. All we know of
the _Eternal First Cause_ is by a process of reasoning, inferring that his
nature must be _like_ the only minds of which we have any knowledge. We
assume, then, that he is a free agent, regulated by desire for happiness
and fear of evil.

We thus come to the conclusion that this organization of mind is a part of
the _fixed and eternal nature of things_, and does not result from the
will of the Creator. His own is the eternal pattern of an all‐perfect
mind, and our own are formed on this perfect model, with susceptibilities
to pain as an indispensable motive power in gaining happiness.

We will now recapitulate some of the particulars in the laws and
constitution of mind which tend to establish the position that its
Creator’s grand design is “to produce the greatest possible happiness with
the least possible evil.”

Intellectual Powers.

First, then, in reference to the earliest exercise of mind in _sensation_.
The eye might have been so made that light would inflict pain, and the ear
so that sound would cause only discomfort. And so of all the other senses.

But the condition of a well‐formed, healthy infant is a most striking
illustration of the adaptation of the senses to receive enjoyment. Who
could gaze on the countenance of such a little one, as its various senses
are called into exercise without such a conviction? The delight manifested
as the light attracts the eye, or as pleasant sounds charm the ear, or as
the limpid nourishment gratifies its taste, or as gentle motion and soft
fondlings soothe the nerves of touch, all testify to the benevolent design
of its Maker.

Next come the pleasures of _perception_ as the infant gradually observes
the qualities of the various objects around, and slowly learns to
distinguish its mother and its playthings from the confused mass of forms
and colors. Then comes the gentle curiosity as it watches the movement of
its own limbs, and finally discovers that its own volitions move its tiny
fingers, while the grand idea that _it is itself a cause_ is gradually

Next come the varied intellectual pleasures as the several powers are
exercised in connection with the animate and material world around, in
acquiring the meaning of words, and in imitating the sounds and use of
language. The adult, in toiling over the dry lexicon, little realizes the
pleasure with which the little one is daily acquiring the philosophy,
grammar, and vocabulary of its mother tongue.

A child who can not understand a single complete sentence, or speak an
intelligible phrase, will sit and listen with long‐continued delight to
the simple enunciation of words, each one of which presents a picture to
his mind of a dog, a cat, a cow, a horse, a whip, a ride, and many other
objects and scenes that have given pleasure in the past; while the single
words, without any sentences, bring back, not only vivid conceptions of
these objects, but a part of the enjoyment with which they have been

Then, as years pass by, the intellect more and more administers pleasure,
while the reasoning powers are developed, the taste cultivated, the
imagination exercised, the judgment employed, and the memory stored with
treasures for future enjoyment.

In the proper and temperate use of the intellectual powers, there is a
constant experience of placid satisfaction, or of agreeable and often of
delightful emotions, while no one of these faculties is productive of
pain, except in violating the laws of the mental constitution.

The Susceptibilities.

In regard to the second general class of mental powers—_the
susceptibilities_—the first particular to be noticed is the ceaseless and
all‐pervading _desire to gain happiness and escape pain_. This is the
mainspring of all voluntary activity; for no act of volition will take
place till some good is presented to gain, or some evil to shun. At the
same time, as has been shown, the desire to escape evil is more potent and
effective than the desire for good. Thousands of minds that rest in
passive listlessness, when there is nothing to stimulate but hope of
enjoyment, will exert every physical and mental power to escape impending
evil. The seasons of long‐continued prosperity in nations always tend to a
deterioration of intellect and manhood. It is in seasons of danger alone
that fear wakes up the highest energies, and draws forth the heroes of the

Mind, then, is an existence having the power of that self‐originating
action of _choice_ which constitutes free agency, while this power can
only be exercised when desires are excited to gain happiness or to escape
pain. This surely is the highest possible evidence that its Author
_intended_ mind should thus act.

But a mind may act to secure happiness and avoid pain to itself, and yet
may gain only very low grades of enjoyment, while much higher are within
reach of its faculties. So, also, it may act to gain happiness for itself
as the chief end in such ways as to prevent or destroy the higher
happiness of others around.

In reference to this, we find those susceptibilities which raise man to
the dignity of a rational and moral being.

In the first place, there is that _impression of the great design_ of the
Creator existing in every mind, either as a result of constitution or of
training, or of both united, which results in a feeling that whatever
lessens or destroys happiness is unfit and contrary to the system of

Next there is the power to balance pleasure and pain, and estimate the
compound result, both in reference to self and to the commonwealth. With
this is combined the feeling that whatever secures _the most_ good with
_the least_ evil is right and fit, and that the opposite is wrong and
unfitted to the nature of things.

Next comes the _sense of justice_, which results in an impulse to
_discover the cause_ of good and evil, and when this cause is found to be
a voluntary agent, a consequent impulse to make returns of good for good,
and of evil for evil, and also to _proportion_ retributive rewards or
penalties to the amount of good or evil done.

With this, also, is combined the feeling that those retributions should be
applied only where there was _voluntary_ power to have done otherwise.
When it is seen that there was no such power, the impulse to reward or
punish is repressed.

Such is the deep conviction that such retributions are indispensable, that
where natural pains and penalties do not avail, others are demanded, both
in the family and in the commonwealth.

Lastly, we find the susceptibility of _conscience_, which, by the very
framework of the mind itself, apportions the retributive pangs of remorse
for wrong doing, and the pleasure of self‐approval for well doing. These,
too, are retributions never to be escaped, and the most exquisite, both in
elevated happiness and excruciating pain. The mind carries about in itself
its own certain and gracious remunerator—its own inexorable prosecutor,
judge, and executioner.

This same design of the Creator may be most delightfully traced in what
may be called the _economy_ of happiness and pain.

One particular of this is set forth at large in the chapter on the
_emotions of taste_.(5) Here we find the mind formed not only to secure
multitudinous enjoyment through the nerves of sensation, but that, by the
principle of association, there is a perpetual _reproduction_ of these
emotions in connection with the colors, forms, sounds, and motions with
which they were originally associated. Thus there are perpetually
returning emotions of pleasure so recondite, so refined, so infinite in
variety and extent, and yet how little noticed or understood!

Another indication of the same kind is the peculiarity pointed out on
former pages, where it is shown that securing certain enjoyments which
tend to promote the _general_ happiness increases both desire and capacity
for enjoyment, while those that terminate in the individual diminish by
possession. Thus the enjoyment of power, which must, from its nature, be
confined to a few, diminishes by possession. Thus, too, the pleasures of
sense pall by indulgence. But the enjoyment resulting from the exercise
and reciprocation of love, and that resulting from benevolent actions, and
that which is included in a course of perfect obedience to all the rules
of rectitude, increases the capacity for enjoyment.

Another illustration of the same principle is exhibited in the chapter on
Habit, where it is seen that the power of pleasurable emotions increases
by repetition, while painful emotions decrease when the good to be secured
by their agency is attained. Thus _fear_ serves to protect from danger
till caution and habit reader it needless, and then it decreases. And so
of other painful emotions.

It is interesting to trace the same design in the constitution of minds in
_regard to each other_. We find that the purest and highest kind of
happiness is dependent on the mutual relations of minds. Thus the
enjoyment resulting from the discovery of intellectual and moral traits in
other minds—that resulting from giving and receiving affection—that gained
by sympathy, and by being the cause of happiness to others, and that
resulting from conscious rectitude, all are dependent on the existence of
other beings.

Now we find that minds are relatively so constituted that _what one
desires, it is a source of happiness in another to bestow_. Thus one can
be pleased by the discovery of certain traits in other minds, while, in
return, the exhibition of these traits, and the consciousness that they
are appreciated, is an equal source of enjoyment. One mind seeks the love
of others, while these, in return, are desiring objects of affection, and
rejoice to confer the gift that is sought. The desire of knowledge or the
gratification of curiosity is another source of pleasure, while satisfying
this desire is a cause of enjoyment to those around. How readily do
mankind seize upon every opportunity to convey interesting news to other

Again: we find that, both in sorrow and in joy, the mind seeks for the
sympathy of others, while this grateful and soothing boon it is delightful
to bestow. So, also, the consciousness of being the cause of good to
another sends joy to the heart, while the recipient is filled with the
pleasing glow of gratitude in receiving the benefit. The consciousness of
virtue in acting for the general good, instead of for contracted, selfish
purposes, is another source of happiness, while those who witness its
delightful results rejoice to behold and acknowledge it. What bursts of
rapturous applause have followed the exhibition of virtuous self‐sacrifice
for the good of others from bosoms who rejoiced in this display, and who
could owe this pleasure to no other cause than the natural constitution of
mind, which is formed to be made happy both in beholding and in exercising

This same beneficial economy is manifested in a close analysis of all that
is included in the affections of _love_ and _gratitude_.

It has been shown that, in the commencement of existence, the young mind
first learns the sources of good and evil to self, and its sole motives
are desire for its own enjoyment.

Soon, however, it begins to experience the happiness resulting from the
relations of minds to each other, and then is developed the superior power
of _love_, and its importance as a regulating principle.

In the analysis of this affection, it is seen to consist, first, in the
pleasurable emotions which arise in view of certain traits of character in
another mind. When these qualities are discovered, the first result is
emotions of pleasure in the contemplation. Immediately there follows _a
desire of good_ to the cause of this pleasure. Next follows the desire of
reciprocated affection—that is, a desire is awakened to become the cause
of the same pleasure to another; for the desire of being loved is the
desire to be the cause of pleasurable emotions in another mind, in view of
our own good qualities. When we secure this desired appreciation, then
follows an increased desire of good to the one who bestows it.

Thus the affection of love is a combination of the action and reaction of
pleasurable emotions, all tending to awaken the desire of good to another.
This passion may become so intensified that it will become more delightful
to secure enjoyments to another than to procure them for self.

In what is thus far presented, we find that the desire of good to another
results solely from the fact that certain mental qualities are _causes of
pleasure to self_. Of course, this desire ceases when those qualities
cease to exist or cease to be appreciated. This kind of love is the
natural result of the constitution of minds in their relations to each
other, making it _easy and pleasant_ to live for the good of another in
return for the pleasure received from their agreeable qualities and

But the highest element of love consists in the _desire and purpose of
good to another without reference to any good received in return_. It is
_good willing_.

The desire of good to others exists as a natural impulse more or less
powerful in differently constituted minds. It is the cause of that
pleasure which is felt in the consciousness of being the cause of good to
another. But this natural impulse can be so developed and increased by
voluntary culture as to become the strongest impulse of the mind, and thus
the source of the highest and most satisfying enjoyments. In many minds
this becomes so strongly developed that securing happiness to others is
sought with far more earnestness and pleasure than any modes of enjoyment
that terminate solely in self.

This analysis lays the foundation for the distinction expressed by the
terms _impulsive benevolence_ and _voluntary benevolence_, or the _love of
complacency_ and the _love of benevolence_. The first is the involuntary
result of good conferred on _self_; the last is a voluntary act. It is
good willing toward others without reference to self. The first can only
exist where certain qualities are perceived and appreciated in another
mind. The second can result from voluntary effort, and become the subject
of law and penalties.

We can never be justly required to love another mind with the love of
complacency except when qualities are perceived that, by the constitution
of mind, necessarily call forth such regard. But the love of benevolence
can be justly demanded from every mind toward every being capable of

Here it is important to discriminate more exactly in regard to the
principle of _benevolence_ and the principle of _rectitude_.

It is seen that the benevolence which is the subject of rewards and
penalties as a voluntary act consists in _good willing_—that is, in
choosing the happiness of _other_ minds as well as our own as the object
of interest and pursuit.

But the principle of rectitude is more comprehensive in its nature. It
relates to obedience to _all_ the laws of the system of the universe—those
relating to ourselves as much as those relating to others. It is true
that, as obedience to these laws includes the greatest possible amount of
good with the least possible evil, both to the individual and the
commonwealth, the tendency of the two principles is to the same result.
But benevolence may be exercised without any regard to the rules of right
and wrong. Instead of striving to make the _most possible_ happiness with
the least possible evil, as our Maker’s great design demands, a course may
be taken that makes some happiness to some minds at the expense of vast
suffering and wrong to others. No mind acts right, even in willing
happiness to others, when it is done in disregard of those laws which
demand that we should make happiness the right way, that is, the way which
is _best for all_.

In the physical and mental constitution of man there is not a single
arrangement the direct object of which is to produce suffering. The
susceptibilities to pain seem designed to protect and preserve, while the
greater the need the more strong is this protection. For example, in
regard to physical organization, fire is an element that is indispensable
to the life, comfort, and activity of man, and it must be accessible at
all times and places. But all its service arises from its power to
dissolve and destroy the body itself, as well as all things around it.
Therefore the pain connected with contact with fire is more acute than
almost any other. Thus even the youngest child is taught the care and
caution needful to protect its body from injury or destruction.

Another fact in regard to the susceptibilities of pain is their frequent
_co‐existence_ with the highest degrees of enjoyment. The experiences of
this life often present cases where the most elevated and ecstatic
happiness is combined with the keenest suffering, while such is the nature
of the case that the suffering is the chief cause of the happiness thus
secured. The highest illustration of this is in the suffering of saints
and martyrs, when they “rejoice to be counted worthy to suffer shame,” or
when, amid torturing flames, they sing songs of transport and praise.

Even in common life it is constantly found that a certain relative amount
of happiness is felt to be more than a recompense for a given amount of
pain. This relative amount may be such that the evil involved, though
great, may count as nothing. Where there is a passionate attachment, for
example, the lover exults in the labor and suffering that will joyfully be
received as a proof of affection and will secure the compensating return.

It is a very common fact that painful emotions _are sought_, not for
themselves, but as ministers to a kind of mental excitement which is
desired. This is the foundation of the pleasure which is felt in tragic
representations, and in poetry and novels that present scenes of distress.
The little child will again and again ask for the tale of the Babes in the
Wood, though each rehearsal brings forth tears; and the mature matron or
sage will spend hours over tales that harrow the feelings and call forth
sighs. This also is the foundation of that kind of music called the _minor
key_, in which certain sounds bring emotions of sadness or sorrow.

Another striking fact in regard to the desire for pain is the emotions
that are felt by the most noble and benevolent minds at the sight of
cruelty and injustice. At such scenes, the desire for inflicting pain on
the guilty offender amounts to a passion which nothing can allay but
retributive justice. And the more benevolent the mind, the stronger this
desire for retributive evil to another.

Thus it appears that the mind is so made as to desire pain both for itself
and for others; not in itself considered, but as the indispensable means
to gain some consequent enjoyment.

The _highest kinds_ of happiness result from painful emergencies. The
transports of love, gratitude, and delight, when some benefactor rescues
suffering thousands from danger and evil, could exist in no other way. All
the long train of virtues included in patient toil for the good of others,
in heroic daring, in brave adventure, in fortitude, in patience, in
resignation, in heavenly meekness, in noble magnanimity, in sublime self‐
sacrifice, all involve the idea of trial, danger, and suffering. It is
only the highest and noblest class of minds that can fully understand that
the most blissful of all enjoyments are those which are bought with pain.

But the most cheering feature in the constitution of mind is all that is
included in the principle of _habit_. We see in the commencement of
existence that every action of mind and body is imperfect, and more or
less difficult, while each effort to secure right action increases the
facility of so doing. We see that, owing to this principle, every act of
obedience to law makes such a course easier. The intellect, the
susceptibilities, the will, all come under this benign influence. Habit
may so diminish the difficulty of self‐denial for our own good that the
pain entirely ceases; and self‐sacrifice for the good of others may so
develop benevolence and generate a habit that it will become pleasure
without pain. There are those even in this world, who have so attained
this capacity of living in the life of those around them, that the
happiness of others becomes their own, so that there is even less pain in
self‐denial for the good of others than for that of self. When this habit
of mind is attained by all, the happiness of the commonwealth will become
the portion of each individual, and thus be multiplied to an inconceivable


We have presented the “nature” of mind as the chief evidence of the grand
design of its Creator in forming all things, and thus also presented the
proof of his perfect wisdom, benevolence, and rectitude. We now will trace
the evidences of the same beneficent design in the nature of all social
and material organizations.

First, then, in regard to the domestic relations. We have seen that while
all happiness depends on obedience to laws, every mind comes into
existence in perfect ignorance of them, and without any power to learn
what is good or evil but by experience and instruction. The intention of
the Creator that each new‐born being should be taught these laws and
trained to obey them, is clearly seen in the first and highest domestic
relation. In this we see two mature minds, who have themselves been
trained to understand these laws, drawn by sweet and gentle influences to
each other. They go apart from all past ties of kindred; they have one
home, one name, one common interest in every thing. The one who has most
physical strength goes forth to provide supplies; the delicate one remains
behind, by domestic ministries to render home the centre of all

Then comes the beautiful, helpless infant, of no use to any one, and
demanding constant care, labor, and attention. And yet, with its profound
ignorance, its tender weakness, its delicate beauty, its utter
helplessness, its entire dependence, how does it draw forth the strongest
feelings of love and tenderness, making every toil and care a delight! And
thus, month after month, both parents unite to cherish and support, while,
with unceasing vigilance, they train the new‐born mind to understand and
obey the laws of the system into which it is thus ushered. Its first
lessons are to learn to take care of its own body. And when the far‐off
penalty of pain can not be comprehended by the novice, the parent invents
new penalties to secure habits of care and obedience. During all this
period the great lesson of _sacrifice_ constantly occurs. The child must
eat what is _best_, not what it desires. It must go to bed when it wants
to sit up. It must stay in the house when it wants to go out. It must not
touch multitudes of things which it wishes thus to investigate. And so the
habits of self‐denial, obedience, and faith in the parents are gradually
secured, while the knowledge of the laws of the system around are slowly

But the higher part of the law of sacrifice soon begins to make its
demands. The child first learns of this law _by example_, in that of _the
mother_, that most perfect illustration of self‐sacrificing love. Then
comes a second child, when the first‐born must practice on this example.
It must give up its place in the mother’s bosom to another; it must share
its sweets and toys with the new‐comer; it must join in efforts to
protect, amuse, and instruct the helpless one. And thus the family is the
constant school for training ignorant, inexperienced mind in the laws of
the system of which it is a part, especially in the great law of self‐
control, for the best good of self, and of self‐sacrifice for the best
good of others.

Next comes the discipline of the school and the neighborhood, when the
child is placed among his peers to be taught new rules of justice,
benevolence, and self‐sacrifice for the general good.

Next come the relations of the body politic, for which labors are demanded
and pain is to be endured according to the grand law of sacrifice, by
which the individual is to subordinate his own interests and wishes to the
greater general good, so that the interests of the majority shall always
control those of the minority.

Lastly, the whole world is to be taken into the estimate, and the nations
are to be counted as members of one great family of man, for which every
portion is to make sacrifices for the greater general good.

Thus, as age, and experience, and habits of obedience to the laws of
rectitude increase, the duties and obligations grow more numerous and
complicated. But the same grand principle is more and more developed, that
each individual is to seek the greatest possible happiness with the least
possible evil, for the vast whole as well as for each subordinate part,
while _self_ is to receive only its just and proper share.

The same great design of the Creator can be detected also in specific
organizations, by which minds so differ from each other as to fit them for
the diverse positions and relations that the common good demands. If all
were exactly alike in the amount of constitutional powers and in the
proportionate combinations, it can easily be seen that the general result
would be far less favorable to the happiness of the whole. But as it is,
some have the love of power very large, and seek to lead and control;
others have it small, and prefer to follow. Some have elevated intellect,
and love to teach; others have humbler capacities, and prefer humbler

These varied combinations also give scope to the virtues of pity,
tenderness, patience, mercy, justice, self‐denial, and many other graces
that could not be called into being without all the disparities, social,
domestic, intellectual, and moral, that we find existing. Meantime the
principle of habit and the power of the will give abundant opportunities
for modifying these natural peculiarities to accommodate to varying

To these indications of benevolent design may be added the “nature” of the
bodily system, and the “nature” of the material world without. In
examining the body we inhabit, so nicely adjusted, so perfectly adapted to
our necessities, so beautifully and harmoniously arranged, so “fearfully
and wonderfully made,” it is almost beyond the power of numbers to express
the multiplied contrivances for ease, comfort, and delight.

We daily pursue our business and our pleasure, thoughtless of the thousand
operations which are going on, and the busy mechanism employed in securing
the objects we desire. The warm current that is flowing from the centre to
the extremities, with its life‐giving energies, and then returning to be
purified and again sent forth; the myriads of branching nerves that are
the sensitive discerners of good or ill; the unnumbered muscles and
tendons that are contracting and expanding in all parts of our frame; the
nicely‐adjusted joints, and bands, and ligaments, that sustain, and
direct, and support; the perpetual expansion and contraction of the vital
organ; the thousand hidden contrivances and operations of the animal
frame, all are quietly and constantly performing their generous functions,
and administering comfort and enjoyment to the conscious spirit that
dwells within.

Nor is the outer world less busy in performing its part in promoting the
great design of the Creator. The light of suns and stars is traversing the
ethereal expanse in search of those for whom it was created; for them it
gilds the scenes of earth, and is reflected in ten thousand forms of
beauty and of skill. The trembling air is waiting to minister its aid,
fanning with cool breezes, or yielding the warmth of spring, sustaining
the functions of life, and bearing on its light wing the thoughts that go
forth from mind to mind, and the breathings of affection that are given
and returned. For this design earth is sending forth her exuberance, the
waters are emptying their stores, and the clouds pouring forth their
treasures. All nature is busy with its offerings of fruits and flowers,
its wandering incense, its garnished beauty, and its varied songs. Within
and without, above, beneath, and around, the same Almighty Beneficence is
found still ministering to the wants and promoting the happiness of the
minds he has formed for ever to desire and pursue this boon.

We are now prepared to meet the questions proposed, (_i.e._) is the
Creator a being who, with the varying humors of man, sometimes prefers
evil to good, and sometimes prefers good to evil, or does he invariably
choose what is _best for all_, even in cases where it may involve personal
sacrifices and suffering to himself?

In attempting to answer this question, we have set forth the evidence to
be found in the works of the Creator which establishes the position that
his _chief end_ or _ruling purpose_ is to produce the greatest possible
happiness with the least possible evil.

The question then reads, does the Creator destroy happiness and cause
needless pain, and thus thwart his own chief desire and great end; the end
for which he made all things?

The very statement of the question is its most forcible answer.

We have seen that we are obliged to conceive of God as possessing such a
social and moral nature as our own. This would lead him to desire the
veneration, confidence, love, and gratitude of the children he has

But he has formed their minds to hate selfishness and to admire and
reverence self‐sacrificing benevolence. Will the Creator then oppose his
own chief end and grand design by conduct which would make all his
creatures necessarily, by the nature he implanted, withhold their respect
and love, and feel only dislike and contempt? The very question involves
its own answer.

Add to this, that all those causes which our experience and observation
have shown to lead to wrong choices are necessarily excluded from our
conceptions of the Creator.

The Eternal Mind can not err for want of knowledge, nor for want of habits
of right action, nor for want of teachers and educators, nor for want of
those social influences which generate and sustain a right governing
purpose; for an infinite mind, that never had a beginning, can not have
these modes of experience which appertain to new‐born and finite

Again: Such is the eternal system of the universe, as we learn it by the
light of reason, that the highest possible happiness to each individual
mind and to the whole commonwealth is promoted by the right action of
every mind in that system. This, of necessity, is seen and felt by the
All‐creating and Eternal Mind, and to suppose that, with this knowledge,
he would ever choose wrong, is to suppose that he would choose pure evil.
It is to suppose the Creator would do what he has formed our minds to
believe to be impossible in _any_ rational mind. It is to suppose that the
Creator would do that which, if done by human beings, marks them as


The first article in every system of religion is, who is the God who
controls our destinies, and what is his character?

In attempting to answer this question by the light of nature,
independently of revelation, we have gained these positions. There is an
Intelligent Mind who created all things, whose natural attributes are the
same as ours in kind, but vast beyond our comprehension in extent. In
moral character, or that which is exhibited in choice or action, he is
perfect in wisdom, benevolence, and rectitude; that is to say, he is a
being whose chief end or ruling purpose is to do the best he can to make
the most possible happiness with the least possible evil.

This being discovered as the grand design for which all human minds are
created, we are thus enabled to decide as to what is the right and perfect
_construction_ or “nature” of mind, and also as to its right and perfect

In regard to the perfect _construction_ of mind, we must again refer to
the fact that in a system of things where both natural and moral evil
exist, we are obliged to suppose a limitation of power by the nature of
things, so that a system is perfect, not as excluding all evil; for as
evil does exist, a system without any evil is impossible. All that
remains, then, to constitute the idea of perfection, (as used in reference
to things as they are) is this, that whatever is created by God, is the
best possible in the nature of things.

The question then must be this, is the mind of man, _as a race_, the best
in construction, that is possible in the nature of things? Is our mind
made _as good as it can be_, so that no change is possible that would make
it better?

In replying to this question, we must regard the matter in two relations.
We have noticed, in the chapter on the Constitutional Varieties of the
Human Mind, that while there are powers and attributes of mind which are
common to all, there is an endless variety of character resulting from the
diverse _proportions_ and _combinations_ of these several faculties, and
also that there are diverse _grades_ of mind, each having these diverse
combinations. Some races of men are much lower in the scale of being,
every way, than other races, while the same disparity exists among
individuals of the same race.

Now when we compare individuals with each other, or when we compare races
in these respects, we regard them as more or less perfect in organization
with reference to the highest grade or species known to us. In this
relation some minds are to be regarded as imperfect and defective in
organization. And in reference to any one individual or race in this
relation, we feel that the organization could be improved.

But when we regard each mind as a part of a vast _system_, in which the
highest good of the whole will prove the highest possible good of each
individual part, we are to judge of perfection in the organization of mind
in another relation. If it is for the greatest happiness of the whole that
there should be grades and ranks in mental powers; if disparities and
varieties in organization give scope and exercise to virtues and modes of
enjoyment that would be impossible were all minds exactly alike, and on
the pattern of the highest in the scale of being, then the very points
which are imperfections in the individual relations, become perfections in
relation to the great whole. In this view, the lowest and humblest in the
scale of being, when acting in his appropriate place and according to the
great Creator’s design, is perfect in mental construction, and is fitted
to be happier in every respect than he could be if the whole system were
changed by placing him among the highest in mental organization.

Just as it is with the human system—the lowly foot is perfect and complete
in its place, though inferior in construction and service to the regal
head and cunning hand. And should the foot be endowed with the higher
gifts it would be a departure from its perfection in organization as
related to the whole. The question, then, of the _perfect nature_ of each
human mind requires that we regard each one as a part of an infinite
system demanding grades and ranks, and thus, also, relative disparities.
And having proved that the chief design of the Creator is to make the
_best possible_ system, we are necessarily led to the conclusion that the
lowest order of mind is as perfect in its nature, in relation to the great
whole, as is the highest of all.

From the above we gain this definition:

_A perfect mind_, as to _construction_ or _nature_, is one which is better
fitted to its position in the best _possible_ system of minds than it
would be by any possible change.

In this use of the words _nature_ and _perfect_ it is claimed that in the
preceding pages it has been proved that the mind of man is _perfect in
nature_. Our next inquiry will relate to the perfect _action_ of mind in
respect to that which is _voluntary_ or _self‐originated_. In other words,
we shall inquire as to the _perfect moral action_ of the human mind, as
discoverable by reason and experience, independently of revelation.


Having discovered the end for which mind is made, and thus gained the idea
of what is meant by perfectness, in its _nature_ or _construction_, we
next inquire as to what is the perfect _action_ of mind.

Here we must again recognize the distinction between two classes of mental
actions, viz., those acts which are _natural_ as resulting necessarily
from the constitution of mind, of which God is the producing cause, and
those which are _voluntary_ and of which man is the producing cause. The
first are _natural and involuntary_, the latter are _moral and voluntary_.

This introduces the second part of the system of natural religion, that
which relates to man’s obligations or duty toward the Creator, toward his
fellow beings, and toward himself. In other words, the question is, “what
is _right voluntary or moral action_?”

In seeking the reply to this without the aid of revelation, the following
particulars demand attention:

In all discussions on this question there is no mental analysis more
important than the distinction between the desire, or what _moves_ us to
choose, and the act of choice.

The mind is always moved to choice by desire for some good to be gained or
some evil to be avoided. The susceptibility or power of being thus led, in
popular language is called a “bias,” an “inclination,” a “propensity,” a
“tendency,” or a “proclivity” toward the object which causes the desire.
Thus the susceptibility to desire stimulating drinks is excited by
liquors, and this is called “a propensity” to strong drink.

The susceptibility to desire to amass money is called a bias, or
propensity to avarice. The only thing ever meant by a bias or propensity
to choose any thing is, that there are such susceptibilities that desire
can be excited for that thing.

But all such propensities or biases are _from evil_ and _toward good_ in
the widest sense of these terms. No rational mind ever desires pure evil,
but always desires good of some sort. On the contrary, it is one of the
implanted principles of common sense that _no rational mind will choose
pure evil_. Any man who should do this would be regarded as insane—as
having lost the distinctive feature of a rational mind.

But we find that desires are called _strong_, _imperative_, _powerful_,
and the like, not at all with reference to the question whether what is
desired would be _best_ for all concerned. They are measured, as to
strength or weakness, by the degrees of enjoyment their gratification
secures, or the amount of pain that self‐denial would involve. This
_measurement_ of varied degrees of pleasure and pain is a matter of
consciousness to every mind, and is constantly referred to by all races
and in all languages.

In this use of the term, the strongest desire often exists for that which
is perceived to be the _best_ good for all concerned. At other times the
strongest desire is for that which is seen to be the lesser good. When the
strongest desire is for that which is best, the choice is _easy_, and the
mind always chooses the _best_ good. But when the strongest desire is for
that which is not best, then choice is more difficult, and there is a
conscious struggle between the promptings of reason and conscience, and
the importunities of strong desire for the lesser good.

At such periods there is a conscious _power_ in every mind to choose
_either_ way, and sometimes we choose to gratify the strongest desire and
give up the best good, and at other times we choose the best good and deny
the strongest desire. Every human being has been conscious of this
struggle between excited desire and the dictates of reason, and all the
literature of the world refers to it as a universal fact. The terms _self‐
denial_, _self‐control_, _self‐government_, all are based on this
experience of all minds.(6)

Right Actions and Rewardable Actions.

The preceding furnishes the ground for the distinctions always recognized
between voluntary action which is _right_ as _best_ for all concerned, and
those actions which are deemed _praiseworthy_, _rewardable_, and

Whenever the dictates of reason and our strongest desire are coincident,
so that choosing what is right and best involves no struggle; then the
ideas of merit and of desert of reward, praise, and commendation are
wanting. We say such acts are right, but there is no merit in them, and no
proper ground for adding any other reward than that which naturally
results from choosing what we desire most, and which is best for us and
for all concerned.

On the contrary, when there is a struggle between a sense of what is right
and best, and the strongest desire, and a choice is made which involves
self‐denial and self‐sacrifice, we feel that the act is one which is
meritorious, and deserving of reward and praise.

Any voluntary action, then, is _right_ which is conformed to those rules
of rectitude which tend to secure _the most_ happiness for all, even when
there is no temptation to another course. But an action is _meritorious_
and _rewardable_ only when there is a reference to the rules of rectitude
in the mind of the actor and some degree of self‐denial. To choose what we
desire most, without any regard to what is right or wrong, even when it
chances that our choice is that which is _best_, and thus _right_, does
not meet our idea of a meritorious and praiseworthy act.

The greater portion of our choices are of those things which are good in
all relations, as best for self and best for all concerned. Thus when we
desire to eat, to drink, to breathe the pure air, to admire the beauties
of nature, to enjoy the society of friends,—to choose these and a thousand
other daily blessings, promotes our own best good and the best good of all
concerned. In all such cases choosing what we desire most is morally
_right_ in all relations. But no acts of choice are _meritorious_, except
as they involve a regard to law in the mind of the actor, and some degree
of self‐denial in conforming to rule.

The only cases where moral evil (or wrong choices) can exist, are where
desires are excited for some good, either for ourselves or for others,
which is not _best for all concerned_. In all such cases there is a
“bias,” “tendency,” and “propensity” to choose _good_ of some sort, but it
is not the _best_ good, and therefore to choose it would be morally wrong.
Thus there is a bias or propensity to what is good in one relation, but
evil in another; good as tending to give enjoyment, but evil as contrary
to a law which enjoins that the _best_ good should always be preferred.

In such cases the _desires_ for a good which is not for the _best_ are not
morally wrong, for they arise involuntarily from those susceptibilities
implanted by God, which are not to be exterminated, but only regulated by
law. The moral evil consists not in the _existence_ of such desires, but
in _choosing_ to gratify them at the sacrifice of the best good of self or
of others.

It has been shown that one result of the wrong action of mind is such a
change in its constitutional nature, that there will be a desire to
inflict evil on others as a malignant pleasure to the guilty mind. In
these cases such desires may properly be called _morally wrong_ because
they are the result of the _voluntary_ action of the sinful mind, and not
of the natural susceptibilities implanted by the Creator. As they result
wholly from wrong previous choices, the guilty mind itself is the author
of them and not the Creator of mind.

Here it is important to discriminate in regard to that natural impulse in
all minds which is excited by the infliction of pain on self or on others.
It is this natural impulse to inflict evil on the author of evil which is
the foundation of _justice_ in the family and in the civil state. Its
design is for the best good of all concerned, and it becomes evil only by
excess and misuse. So long as it is controlled by reason and conscience it
is good and only good.

In view of the above distinctions, there can be no moral evil in _desires_
for things which it would be wrong to choose, _except as these desires are
the result of previous wrong choices_.(7)

It has been shown that the principle of _habit_ renders it more and more
easy and agreeable to regulate our choices by the rules of rectitude. The
habit of sacrificing personal gratification to the rule of duty may be so
cultivated that what at first was difficult, and involved a painful
struggle, becomes easy. It is possible so to cultivate such habits that
our highest desires, and the dictates of reason and conscience, shall
continually be more and more coincident.

We can conceive of newly‐created beings as placed in such circumstances
that, for a considerable period, all their strongest desires may be
coincident with the best good of themselves and of others, so that there
can be no opportunity to practice self‐control in regulating their desires
by the rules of rectitude. In such a case, while acting simply from
impulse, without reference to rule, they would always act _right_, and yet
they would form no habits of self‐control, and thus would be liable to
fail at the first temptation where their strongest desire conflicted with
the known law of rectitude.

The preceding statements are made in order to arrive at correct and
discriminating definitions of certain fundamental terms on which the whole
question of the “depraved nature” of the human mind will be found to turn.

Right in Tendency and Right in Motive.

Mankind in all ages and in all languages speak of certain acts as right or
wrong in reference to their _tendency_ or their effect on human happiness,
and without reference to the intention of the author. Thus they affirm
that the stealing and selling of men is wrong, whatever may be the motives
of the slave trader.

Again, they speak of acts as right or wrong in reference to the _motive_
or _intention_ of the author. Thus they say a man who sacrificed his
wealth and reputation, rather than to violate his conscience, acted right
as to _motive_, although he was mistaken in his views of duty, so that his
act, as it respects its tendency, may have been wrong.

Right General Purpose.

Again, it has been shown that a man may form a _general purpose_ to act
right in obeying all the laws of God as discoverable by reason or
revelation. This general purpose may be a quiet, abiding principle, so as
to regulate the thoughts and emotions, and may control most of the
specific choices of a whole succeeding life. The _main purpose_, or _chief
end_ of such a man is to bring all his thoughts, words, and actions into
perfect agreement with the rules of rectitude. In reference to this and
his consequent conduct, his would be denominated a _virtuous character_.

No one will deny that this is a correct statement of the use of terms by
mankind in every‐day life. Thus then we have gained the following
definitions as established, not by metaphysicians and theologians, but by
_the people_.


_A right moral act_, as it respects its _tendencies_, is one in which the
thing chosen is for the _best_ good of all concerned.

_A right moral act_, as to _motive_, is one in which the _intention_ of
the actor is to conform to the rules of rectitude.

_A meritorious_ or _praiseworthy act_ is one in which there is some
_sacrifice_ of feeling, either immediate or remote, in order to conform to

_A virtuous act_ is one in which that which is chosen is right, both in
_tendency_ and in _motive_.

_A virtuous character_ is one in which a general purpose exists to obey
all the rules of rectitude. The _degree_ of virtue is dependent on a
correct judgment of what is right or wrong, and the strength or measure of
the general purpose in controlling all other purposes. Some men carry out
a general purpose much more steadily and consistently than others, and
some men have much more correct ideas of what is right and wrong in
conduct than others.

The _natural character_ of a man is that which results from his
constitutional powers and faculties of mind, of which God is the author.

The _moral character_ of a man is all that results from _his own willing_.

Our highest idea of a virtuous character, as gained by experience and
observation, is that of a mind so trained to habits of self‐control and
obedience to rule, that it has become easier to obey the laws of
rectitude, than to gratify any excited desire, however imperative, which
is seen to violate law.

Thus, then, it is shown that a virtuous character consists, not in the
_nature_ of the mind which is given by God, but in the _purposes_,
_habits_, and _feelings_ generated by voluntary acts, of which the man
himself is the author; God being the cause or author, of this virtue only
as he is the Creator of mind and of all its circumstances of temptation
and trial.

In regard to the formation of a virtuous character, as a matter of
experience, it usually results from a slow and gradual process of training
and development. The general purpose to obey all the laws of rectitude
originates, as a general fact, not as a definitely formed purpose, whose
time of inception can be distinctly marked. Yet it is not unfrequently the
case that persons who have passed a life of unrestrained indulgence, by
some marked and powerful influence, are suddenly led to a decided and
definitely marked purpose of virtuous obedience, and carry out this
purpose with great success.

Any such sudden change, in popular language, would be called “the
commencement of a new life.” And when this sudden change takes place under
the influence of motives presented in the Bible, it is called by one class
of theologians the “new birth” or “regeneration.”

Is True Virtue Possible before Regeneration?

In the discussions which are to follow, it will be found that almost every
point debated involves, as a foundation question, “what _is_ true virtue?”
And the grand question at issue between the system of common sense and the
teachings of all theologians who uphold the Augustine theory, is this: _is
true virtue possible to an unregenerate mind_? Theology says no, common
sense says yes. Theology teaches that previous to regeneration every
voluntary act of every human mind is “sin, and only sin.” Common sense
maintains, on the contrary, that every voluntary act which is in agreement
with the best good of all concerned, when the _intention_ is to act right,
is virtuous without any regard to the question of the regeneration of the
mind. In other words, theology teaches that true virtue is the right
voluntary action of a mind after its “nature” is changed by God, and
common sense teaches that true virtue is the right voluntary action of any
mind without any change in its nature.

The discussion of this point involves the further consideration of certain
mental experiences which will shed some light on the subject. It will be
found that in case of all persons who are said to “act on principle,” or
to be “conscientious persons,” that, in the greater portion of their
voluntary acts, they have no _conscious_ immediate reference to the rules
of rectitude. There seems to be an unconscious general purpose to act
right on all occasions, which becomes obvious only when a case occurs
involving a seeming violation of the rules of rectitude. At such times the
mind becomes conscious of its ruling purpose. But the greater portion of
all the daily acts of life have been decided upon as in agreement with the
all‐controlling general purpose, and a man chooses to do many things in
which he has no _conscious_ reference to rule. And still such acts have,
in past time, been subjects of reflection in reference to the question of
right and wrong, and have been decided to be right, and it is in
consequence of this decision that the mind no longer considers these
questions with a conscious reference to rule.

The distinction between what is denominated “a man of principle” and an
“unprincipled man,” is simply this, that the former is one who has formed
habits of self‐regulation by the rules of rectitude, and the latter has

This mental analysis is important in reference to deciding the character
of _a virtuous action_.

A virtuous act, as defined above, is one in which the thing chosen is
right and the motive is right. But it is not indispensable that the person
who performs the act should be immediately _conscious_ of a reference to
rule in each right specific volition. It is sufficient that the mind be
under the control of a _ruling purpose_ of rectitude, so that all the
subordinate minor purposes are in fact regulated, though unconsciously, by
this purpose.

It is at this point that the class of theologians who make regeneration to
include a voluntary act on the part of man, are in antagonism with the
experience and common sense of mankind. Such maintain that every act of
every human being is “sin, and only sin,” until a ruling purpose is formed
to obey God as the chief end, and one also which is actually _more_
efficient and stronger in controlling the ordinary acts of life than the
purpose to gratify self. Previous to the existence of this general
purpose, they maintain that every act of self‐denial or self‐sacrifice for
the good of others is “sin, and only sin.” According to their theory,
choosing that which is right because it is right, is not a virtuous act
until a ruling purpose of universal obedience to God is formed.

That is to say, it is the _ruling purpose_, or _the want_ of a ruling
purpose to obey God in all things, which decides the character of every
specific act of choice. Thus if a child is trained to be honest, truthful,
and self‐denying, and succeeds very often in conforming to such
instructions, there is no true virtue in any such acts until a _ruling
purpose_ of obedience to God is generated, which is habitually _more_
controlling than the impulses of self‐indulgence. This is the point where
_the people_ and _theologians_ are at issue.

The people insist that every act is virtuous when the thing chosen is
right and the intention is right, even before the mind of a child has
attained a ruling purpose of universal obedience. Theologians say no; such
acts are “sin, and only sin,” in the sight of God.(8)

It will be shown hereafter that the theory of theology on this subject is
not carried out consistently in practice, but that in the early training
of little children theologians contradict their own theory and adopt that
of the people.

Perfectness in Construction and Perfectness in Action and Character.

In a previous chapter we have seen [p. 103] that our idea of _perfectness_
in moral character and action always has reference to _power_. In a system
where evil is actually existing, we regard a contrivance or an action as
perfect when there is no power in God or man to make it better, even when
evil is involved. A being is perfect in character and in action when his
purpose is to do the best possible for all concerned, and when this
purpose is carried out to the full extent of his power.

We have shown in the preceding chapter that the mind of man is perfect in
_nature_ or _construction_ as being better fitted to its place in the best
possible system of mind than it would be by any change possible either to
God or man.

The preceding pages of this chapter enable us to point out what is the
_perfect moral character_ of minds which are perfect in construction. It
consists in _a ruling purpose to discover and to obey all the laws of the
Creator, which is carried out to the full extent of power in the one who
thus purposes_.

It has been shown that the Creator himself is limited by the eternal
nature of things to a system which, though the best possible, makes him,
in one sense, the author of some evil, both natural and moral. He is the
author only as the Creator of all things, and thus the author of all the
consequent results of creation, even of those that are morally evil. In
this sense alone is he the author of either natural or moral evil.

The infinite and eternal mind of God is limited, not by want of wisdom and
knowledge, but by the eternal nature of things of which his own existence
and natural attributes are a part. But finite minds are limited by a want
of knowledge and wisdom which can be the result only of _experience and
training_. For the want of this knowledge and training every finite mind,
so far as we can discover by reason and experience, must inevitably
violate the laws of God. And yet any mind may be perfect in moral
character and action in exactly the same sense as God is perfect, (_i.e._)
it may form and carry out a purpose to conform to the laws of the existing
system of things _to the full extent of its knowledge and power_. When
this purpose is formed and carried out to the full measure of ability, the
finite creature becomes “perfect, even as our Father which is in heaven is

Common Sense Theory of the Origin of Evil.

What then is the cause or origin of evil as taught by reason and

_It is the eternal nature of things existing independently of the will of
the Creator or of any other being._

What is the cause of the existence of this created system? It is the will
of the Creator.

What is the cause or reason why God willed that this system should be as
it is, with all the evil that exists? It is because it is the best system
possible in the nature of things.

What is the cause or reason that any given event, however evil, is not
prevented by God? It is because any change that would prevent it, would
alter the best possible system, and thus make more evil than the one thus


The _laws of God_, in regard to voluntary action, are those _invariable_
arrangements in mind and matter by which happiness or pain are connected
with certain feelings and actions.

Thus it is an _invariable_ arrangement that pain shall be connected with
touching fire, and pleasure with seeing the light. So in regard to the
intellect; pleasure is _invariably_ connected with the exercise of wit and
humor, and disgust with folly and fatuity. So the moral sense is
_invariably_ pleased with truth, justice, and integrity, and pained by the

Whenever, therefore, we discover what _invariably_ affords pleasure or
pain, we discover one of the laws of God.

To discover these laws, and to believe in them, is as indispensable to the
right action of mind as light is indispensable to perfect eyes in order to

The first lesson of every new‐born spirit is to discover the laws that
relate to its own enjoyment. Whenever a child chooses any thing which
secures enjoyment without harm to itself or to others, it is acting as its
Creator designed, and this action is therefore right. And whenever it
chooses what will cause needless pain to itself or to others, it acts
wrong. Most of the choices of a little child are of what is right as
giving enjoyment without harm.

The grand law of God, as learned by experience, is that every mind must
_sacrifice_ the lesser for the greater good in gratifying its own desires.
When the interests of others are not concerned, the child must always
choose not what it desires the most, but what is best for itself. It is
the first labor of the educator to make a child understand and obey this
first part of the law of sacrifice.

But where the feelings and interests of others are involved, the law of
God is, that the lesser good of the individual shall always be sacrificed
to the greater good of the many. Each mind of the great commonwealth is to
act, not to make self‐gratification the first thing, but to make the
greatest possible happiness with the least possible evil for the whole
commonwealth the predominant purpose. And such is the system of the
Creator that whatever is for the best good of the whole is for the best
good of each individual.

Thus it appears that _obedience to the laws of God_, _physical_,
_intellectual_, _social_, _and moral_, is to be chosen as the ruling
purpose of each mind. And this is _the mode_ by which all rational beings
are to promote the end or design for which all things are made, (_i.e._,)
happiness‐making on the greatest possible scale for the great

NOW it is very certain that no human mind is able, by its own solitary
investigations, to discover all the physical, intellectual, social, and
moral laws of God.

Many of these laws we can learn by experience, but for the greater portion
we are dependent on the instruction of others. Therefore _truth_ on the
part of educators, and _faith_ on the part of the learners are as
indispensable to the right action of mind as is light to the right action
of the eye in seeing. Not a “dead,” merely intellectual belief, but a
“saving faith” that controls the feelings and conduct.

We now are enabled to define the kind of _inability_ as to obeying the
laws of God, which inevitably attends every mind that commences its
existence in this world. As yet there have never been perfectly _true_
educators of young minds, while perfect _faith_, that is to say, “saving
faith,” in the teachings that are true is as much wanting. The young child
can not be made to understand, and therefore can not believe, or have
faith in many of the laws of God and the penalties connected with them.
This no one will deny.

Several Classes of Moral Actions.

There are several classes of moral actions. The first class includes those
which _in all cases_ destroy the best good of man. Of these are wanton
cruelty to helpless creatures, and ingratitude in returning needless evil
for good. In regard to such the mind, by its very constitutional impulses,
revolts from them and feels them to be wrong without any process of
reasoning. So also all those actions that in all cases cause enjoyment
without evil, are instinctively felt to be right without any reflection.

But there are many actions that are entirely dependent on circumstances
for their moral character. Thus to punish a little child in one case would
be cruel and wrong, in another it might be benevolent and right. To take a
woman, when not married to another, for a wife is right, but wrong if she
is married. And so with thousands of other actions.

Again, some actions that do no harm to any individual at a given time, are
wrong because they would be destructive to general happiness, if generally
allowed; or, in other words, they are wrong in _tendency_. Thus, in a
given case, a lie might do a great deal of good and no immediate harm. And
yet it would be wrong, because leaving it to every man’s discretion when
it was _best_ to lie would in the end destroy all confidence in human

Again, many of the laws of God can be discovered only by long experience
of many communities. As soon as experience has shown that any practice
will do more harm than good, then the law of God is discovered and it
becomes obligatory. Thus the question of polygamy has been settled. Thus,
too, the vending of alcoholic drinks has been decided to be wrong as a
general practice.

Here comes up the distinction between wrong choices that deserve blame and
punishment, and those that do not. In the natural system of the Creator
all violations of law are followed by the natural penalties without any
reference to the motives, knowledge, or ability of the agent. All
questions among men, as to blame and retribution, have reference to the
_adding_ of other penalties and rewards in the present or future state. It
is only in regard to such that the questions of blame, of justice, and of
mercy are to be debated. Without revelation we have no evidence that the
natural penalties of law are ever suspended, either as a matter of justice
or mercy. In the case of great crimes and wrongs, that _additional_
penalties are to follow in a future state is what all men fear, and this
it is which induces self‐inflictions to secure pardon for sin.

Now these are distinctions existing in all rational minds, and are
continually referred to in every‐day life. But it is impossible for any
but an omniscient being to decide on all the motives that regulate the
actions of others, while even our own motives are often so hidden and
complex that we are blinded as to their true character.

The language of common life does not always recognize these distinctions.
When a wrong action is done the actor is called a wrong‐doer, and is
blamed for the deed. And the fact that he believed that he was acting
right, and even that he practices self‐denial in performing what is
imagined to be a duty, though it palliates, does not ordinarily end all
displeasure. For in multitudes of cases the ignorance of duty results from
pride or selfish neglect of inquiry. And few are competent to decide how
far the ignorance is a misfortune and not a fault.

It is owing to this fact that most of the language of life assumes that
all violations of law are blamably wrong, and are to be punished here or
hereafter. In the most common use of the term, “sin is the transgression
of law.” At the same time men recognize the distinction between sins of
ignorance and willful sin.

Sin and Holiness.

The preceding, then, warrants the definition of _sin_ as “_the
transgression of law_,” whether known or unknown. The question of the
rectitude of penalties _added_ to the natural consequences of violated
laws, is confined to those sins which are attended by a knowledge of law
and ability to understand and obey.

These distinctions and definitions are important because a large class of
theologians maintain that sin is the voluntary transgression of _known_
law, and make this definition the foundation of their assertion that all
men have power to be perfect in conformity to all law, meaning by this all
the laws of God that they _know_ and _believe_. On this theory _sin_ is
the transgression of _known_ law, and not of that which is unknown. And on
this theory one way to keep children from sin would be to keep them in
ignorance of God’s laws.

The writer maintains that this limited use is not the common meaning.
Mankind do not stop to settle the question whether men were ignorant of
what was right, before they decide that they sin. Often such ignorance
results from an unwillingness or indolence that prevents attention, and
few can decide how far our ignorance of law results from guilty neglect.
It is true that when a perfect and innocent inability to know law is
proved, the _added_ penalties of statute law are remitted. But still the
_natural_ penalties are unremitted.

The word _holy_ in its original use signifies _set apart_ or _consecrate
to the special service_ of some deity. Thus the vessels of a temple, the
priests and the building are called holy in this sense. In reference to
moral acts or choices, this term is used as recognizing the fact that a
mind may be voluntarily consecrated or devoted to the service of God by
right action, or obedience to his laws. God himself is called holy on the
supposition that there are rules of right and wrong in the nature of
things, independent of his will, and that his will is conformed to these
rules, while men are called holy in reference chiefly to the will or
service of their Creator.

In the Creator holiness signifies perfect voluntary conformity to that
which is _for the best_ according to the eternal nature of things. In men
perfect holiness is perfect conformity of will to the laws or _will_ of
God, both absolutely and in motive or intention. A mind is consecrated to
God when its _ruling purpose_ is to obey him in all things. In this use of
the term holiness in man, is what can not be _created_, as it is a
voluntary act of his own mind.

The question whether Adam was created with “a _holy_ nature,” while his
posterity begin existence here with an “unholy nature,” must be settled by
a clear definition of the words employed.

If the term “nature” refers to the construction of the mind itself as made
by God, a holy nature must signify that organization and combination of
the natural powers of mind, which is the best possible for a mind in its
appointed place in the best possible system.

If, on the contrary, the term “nature” refers to that character of mind
consequent on its own volitions, then a holy nature can be caused or
created only by man himself as the sole _producing cause_ of his own
volitions, God being the author or cause of this nature only in the sense
in which men are causes of voluntary action in other minds, viz.,
_occasional causes_ by the use of _motives_ or objects that excite


In a former chapter we have noticed the analysis of the principle of
_love_. It is needful to refer to this again, as intimately connected with
the question of the right moral action of finite minds.

We have seen that love is a complex exercise, its first element being
agreeable emotions in view of certain qualities and actions. Combined with
these emotions co‐exists a desire of reciprocated regard, that is to say,
a desire to be the cause of similar agreeable emotions to the one loved.
These are constitutional impulses not at all consequent on any volition or
choice, and as the involuntary element of love, are properly called
_involuntary love_. Such love can not be justly demanded except where
those qualities are, or can be, perceived which naturally awaken agreeable
emotions. In cases where the qualities exist that would naturally awaken
affection if noticed, and the want of it is owing to inattention, a proper
regard to such qualities can be justly demanded. But this is the only
particular in which involuntary love can be made the subject of law and

But the main element of love, as practically estimated among men, is such
a desire of good to the one loved as involves the _good willing_ or
voluntary effort to please and gratify. If a friend simply is pleased with
our good qualities, and wishes to please us with his naturally agreeable
traits in return, it is of little value in comparison with the truer love
which is shown in _voluntary_ efforts to please and make happy. This last
is the main element of true affection, and properly is called _voluntary
love_ or _good willing_. Theologians express this distinction by the terms
the _love of complacency_ and the _love of benevolence_.

Thus we have gained these definitions:

_Involuntary love_ toward God and toward men consists in agreeable
emotions in view of admirable qualities.

_Voluntary love_ toward God and toward men consists in _good willing_, or
the voluntary effort to please and make happy.

To “love our neighbor _as ourselves_” must refer solely to voluntary love,
for we have no regard to our own agreeable qualities in the love of self.
Self‐love is simply the desire and will to please and gratify self. This
then is _the kind_ of love that can properly be demanded of all. Each one
can justly be required to will or choose to please and gratify others the
same as we do ourselves. Each can be required to estimate the happiness of
every other mind as of the same value as his own, and to exercise _good
willing_ for others as we do for our own enjoyment. From this primary
principle necessarily results the law demanding that the good of the
commonwealth shall always take precedence of any individual concern. If we
are bound to value the happiness of each mind as _equal_ in value to our
own, the inevitable result is that we are to estimate the happiness of
_many_ minds as of _more_ value than our own, so as always to make our own
enjoyment and wishes subordinate and secondary to the general good.

Still more are we to regard the feelings and wishes of our Creator and
Supreme Lord. He has infinite susceptibilities of enjoyment and suffering,
and thus whatever retards or promotes his wishes and plans must be of as
much more value as his powers of enjoyment and suffering are greater than
ours. The _love of good willing_ then should have first reference to God
as the one whose will and wishes are of more value than any other being in
this relation alone. Still more are we bound to regard his will and wishes
as first in value, because his chief end and aim is the most possible
happiness to all the creatures he has made. To will to please God as the
chief end of our existence is the same as to choose to make the most
possible happiness, not only to him, but to all his creatures.

Involuntary love is valuable as rendering it easier and more agreeable to
labor for the welfare of others. Those whose interesting traits please us;
those who, as children or friends, contribute to our enjoyment, and those
who in any way give us pleasure, it is far easier to will for their
enjoyment than it is to do so for those who do nothing to please us, and
perhaps only give us discomfort, anxiety or disgust.

This exhibits an indirect way of securing the love of good will toward
those who neither please us by their agreeable qualities, nor are causes
of enjoyment to us in any way. Involuntary affection may be so strongly
excited toward one whose qualities or conduct cause delight to self, that
the desire to please that friend may become more animating than the desire
for any personal gratification. Should such a friend be deeply interested
in the happiness of his children, or of any other persons, whose character
and conduct may in no way please us, still the desire to gratify such a
friend may lead to good willing to those whom he loves, for his sake, in
order to please and gratify him.

Thus it is that love to parents tends to produce “peace and good will”
among children, who, in their little broils, are restrained by the desire
to please their parents, when love to each other fails.

Here we have a view of the importance of _right conceptions_ of God’s
character, in order to secure the perfect action of finite minds,
especially in the first stage of existence.

It has been shown that the rules of right action are to be gained, in many
cases, only by long experience and by a course of reasoning. Often, too,
general rules (such, for example, as that we are _never to lie_, even to
save life, or for _any_ reason,) must be obeyed when a person can see
immediate evil, and no good to self or to any one by obedience. Now it is
impossible for a rational mind to choose _pure evil_. There must be _some
good_ in an object to excite desire, or it is impossible to choose it. But
pleasurable emotions toward an all‐wise Creator, whose benevolence and
wisdom excite love, delight, and confidence, may be such that _to please
him_ gives abundant motive to obey the rules of right he enjoins when no
other good can be perceived except that obedience will please him. And the
more we perceive in him that excites admiration, love, and gratitude, the
more strength of motive is gained.

It has been shown that a choice or act is _virtuous_ in all relations,
when it absolutely is best for all, and when it is done in reference to a
rule of rectitude, or _because_ it is right. The motive or reason of a
choice decides whether or not it is virtuous.

Now as the Creator’s will and the rules of rectitude are the same, when we
say that any act, in order to be virtuous, must have reference to God’s
will, the question comes up, is an act virtuous _because it pleases God_,
or does it please God _because it is virtuous_? _i.e._, because it
conforms to those rules by which his chief end in creation is secured, and
which rest on the eternal nature of things.

The last is the principle here assumed. God’s great end is the highest
happiness of his creatures. Obedience to his laws is the mode for securing
this end; his own actions are right as they conform to this end; and the
actions of all his creatures are right only in the same relation.

So God’s “glory” consists in the highest happiness of his creatures, which
can only be secured by their obedience to his laws.

This makes it clear that choosing as our chief end to obey all the
physical, social, and moral laws of God, as learned by experience, is the
same as loving God with all the heart, and our neighbors as ourselves. It
is also living for God’s glory as the chief end; and it is being a truly
righteous, virtuous, and pious man.

This distinction between voluntary and involuntary love enables us to
discover certain dangers that result for want of such discrimination. Men
may conceive of the Creator as desiring to be loved, admired, and
glorified, just as selfish conquerors, like Alexander and Napoleon have
done. In this view all their aims would be to excite agreeable emotions
toward God by the contemplation of his various attributes. And thus they
might be so absorbed in the indulgence of such delightful emotions as to
become entirely heedless of the wants and the wishes of those around them.
This kind of experience would cultivate selfishness instead of

On the contrary, choosing to obey all God’s laws for happiness‐making on
the largest scale, and viewing the lovely and glorious attributes of the
Creator as _means_ to this end, would induce the only true virtue, while
it is the true mode of pleasing our Maker and increasing his enjoyment.

The preceding furnishes the mode of harmonizing a great variety of
expressions that may properly be given in answer to the great question,
“what must we do to be saved?” as we gain this answer independently of

The first answer is, “believe in God’s teachings—or have faith in God.”
This means, take the laws of God as revealed by reason and experience, and
_obey_ them, and you shall be saved. It is a _practical_ and not a mere
intellectual belief that constitutes this “saving faith.”

The next answer is, “repent,” or “repentance toward God.”

The word repent is used to signify, sometimes, simply remorse or pain for
wrong‐doing. In another sense it signifies that sorrow for wrong‐doing
which includes reformation. It is ceasing to disobey law and commencing a
life of obedience. It is in this sense that men are saved by repentance.

Another answer is, “thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,
and thy neighbor as thyself.” This has been shown to signify, thou shalt
choose as the chief end of life to make happiness the right way, that is,
by obeying all the physical, social, and moral laws of God. “This is the
love of God, that we keep his commandments.”

Another answer is, “make it thy chief end to glorify God.” Inasmuch as
God’s glory consists in the exhibition of his character as a benevolent
being, all who promote his chief aim by making happiness according to his
will, are living to glorify God.

Another answer is, “live a truly virtuous life.” It has been shown that
true virtue consists in _obedience to the great law of sacrifice_ by which
the lesser personal good is sacrificed to the greater good of all

Thus faith, repentance, love to God and man, making it our chief end to
glorify God, living a virtuous life, all signify one and the same thing,
(_i.e._,) choosing to find out and to obey all the physical, social, and
moral laws of God as our chief end or ruling purpose.

The _righteous_ are those who have formed such a purpose, and who exhibit
its results in their daily life.

The _wicked_ are those who have not formed such a purpose, and do not
exhibit it in their daily life.

In the common language of every‐day life, when a person is intensely
interested in any pursuit, it is said to be “his life.” And when a man
changes from a vicious to a virtuous course he is said to “begin a new

Thus it would be in agreement with the ordinary use of language to call a
new‐formed purpose to obey all the laws of God the commencement of a new
life. And as the beginning of natural life is the commencement of a life
of _impulsive choices unregulated by law_, the commencement of a life of
_obedience to law_ would, by a figure of speech, very naturally be called
“a new birth.”

We have seen, in previous pages, that the formation of a ruling principle
or governing purpose is sometimes the result of a slow process of
educational influences, and sometimes it is a marked and sudden change. In
the history of mind we find, as a general rule, that it is the slow
process of educational training that secures a virtuous character in
childhood, while the more sudden and marked changes are incident chiefly
to more advanced life.

The term “_regeneration_” is used by theologians as meaning the formation
of a ruling purpose to love and obey God, by man himself. By some, this
change of mind is regarded as in all cases instantaneous, by others as
sometimes a gradual and sometimes an instantaneous change.

The preceding still farther exhibits the fact that the whole foundation of
religion and of morals rests on the answer to the question, what is _true
virtue_ or _right voluntary_ action?


From the preceding it appears that the more our race advances in
civilization, the more numerous and complicated are the laws of God which
must first be discovered and then obeyed.

By advance in civilization is signified increase in the capacities of the
human mind for varied enjoyments, and increase in the appropriate supply
of these capacities. The early history of the race resembles the early
period of individual life, when the chief enjoyments are those of the
senses. The refined and varied pleasures of taste are but little attained
except by cultivation. So also the higher pleasures of the intellect and
of the moral nature are dependent on culture.

As every new avenue to enjoyment is opened, and every new capacity
developed, there are inevitably resulting difficulties and temptations
which, experience soon shows, must be regulated by laws and penalties.
From this results the endless multitude of civil and statute laws, in
addition to the various domestic and social rules enforced in the family,
the school and the neighborhood.

All these laws and rules will be found to be only specific applications of
the great law of sacrifice which demands that, in all cases, every mind
shall choose what is best for self and best for the whole. The great
democratic principle that the majority shall rule is but one mode of
applying this general law of sacrifice.

In this aspect we can perceive how it is, that every attempt to develop
any faculty of enjoyment in any created mind, and every effort to provide
aliment for such developed capacities is right, as in agreement with the
grand end designed by the Creator; provided it is done according to the
great law of sacrifice disclosed by reason, viz., that individual
enjoyment be made subordinate to the general good, and that no greater
good be sacrificed for a less, either for self or for the commonwealth.

In this light, music, drawing, painting, sculpture, architecture, the
drama, poetry, laughter, all things that impart enjoyment to any mind are
_right_, provided no higher good is sacrificed in enjoying them. Nay,
more; all these modes of imparting enjoyment may become positive duties,
in cases where they do not interfere with some higher good.

This view of the subject still further illustrates the nature of that
inability which exists in _all_ finite minds in discovering and obeying
the laws of God.

There are only two conceivable modes by which we can learn these laws; one
is by the _experience_ of finite beings; the other is by _revelation_ from
the Creator. To learn what is right and wrong by experience involves not
only the certainty, but the necessity, as it respects the absolute right,
of wrong‐doing; for no one, however right the motive or intention may be,
can discover what will cause more or less good or evil but by experiments
in which the evil as well as the good is detected by experience.

To learn what is right and wrong in all the thousand and million
complications of life by revelation, would involve the necessity of a
direct revelation every hour of every day, to every individual of the
race. But the only conceivable mode by which revelations from God are
possible, is by miracles and prophecy, which are interruptions of the
ordinary uniformity of nature. It is the fact that the laws of nature are
uniform that alone makes miracles possible, so that incessant revelations
by miracles would destroy such uniformity, and thus destroy the only
conceivable mode of communication from the Creator.

This being so, the only possible method by which mankind can discover what
is right and wrong in the greater portion of their actions is by an
experience involving, more or less, wrong‐doing as a part.

There are _general rules_ of right and wrong which can be communicated
both by God and man, but these rules are to be _applied_ by men to the
numberless and ever‐varying circumstances of life, involving still the
same necessity of _experience of evil_ in order to detect the _relative_
amount of good to be gained in the varied courses offered for pursuit to
which these rules are to be applied.

Now the grand difficulty, as it respects both God and man, as before
shown, is the positive inability of undeveloped mind to understand much of
what is right and wrong. This difficulty meets the mature mind as really
as it does the infant’s; for while many of the general rules evolved by
reason and experience are clear, and easily perceived, there are endless
varieties of cases in which the _application_ of these rules is a matter
of uncertainty. For example, that men are to be honest and speak the
truth, are rules universally appreciated. But then come the questions
whether this and that thing _is_ honest, or whether in this or that
emergency it may not be right to say what is false. The higher men advance
in civilization, and the more means and modes of enjoyment are discovered,
the more complicated become the questions of right, and the more frequent
the temptations to wrong.

All that can be done is to cultivate the conscience and train the
reasoning powers of mankind, so that by means of the experience of life,
as developed by individuals and communities, regard to the rules of right
and wrong shall keep pace with the increasing civilization.

With these distinctions in the mind, we can perceive that _sin_, in its
widest sense, including transgression of _unknown_ law, is inevitable in a
perfect system of finite minds, while in the limited sense, as
transgression of _known_ law, it is not so.

So also we can see, that without the intervention of the Creator to teach
us, it is an impossibility for any human being to live without sin; so
that this intervention is impossible except to a limited extent, without
an entire change in the eternal nature of things to which God’s own will
is conformed.


We have seen that we can learn what is right and wrong only by aid
received from the experience of our fellow‐beings around us.

But in order to this, there are certain virtues which are both difficult
and indispensable. In studying the history of mind, it will be seen that
the higher the grade of intellect and the greater its culture, the
stronger is the love of intellectual supremacy and the more energetic the
pride of opinion. It is a fact which none will dispute, that, as the
general rule, having some exceptions, the class of minds most highly
endowed by native talent and acquired culture, are most unwilling to take
the attitude of _learners_ toward their associates, and still more toward
their inferiors in these endowments. When this pride of intellect and of
opinion is combined with benevolence of disposition and with sensitiveness
of conscience, there is nothing more difficult than to “become as a little
child” in learning truth and duty. For the more benevolence and
conscientiousness, the greater the unwillingness to be put in the wrong.

And yet, in the smallest sphere of life, between every individual and his
neighbors, thousands of questions of right and wrong turn on how our words
and actions will affect the happiness of those around; and there is no
possibility of settling such questions but by leaving every person at
liberty to communicate freely what does, or does not, give them pain or
pleasure, and thus teach others how to make happiness and save from pain.
In order to this, it is indispensable that every one be made to understand
that our chief aim is to make happiness the best and right way, and that
for this end we wish to have a perfectly free expression of wishes and
opinions. For if it is perceived that irritability and alienation result
from such a course, all those around us will conceal their feelings and
opinions, and thus, for want of a true knowledge of circumstances, we
shall “walk in darkness,” because we are not willing to be told the truths
that put us in the wrong or expose our mistakes.

The same free expression of opinion and protest against all wrong, are as
indispensable to the discovery of those rules of right and wrong, that are
to be evolved from the general experience. Every man, woman and child in
the commonwealth, should be perfectly free to set forth their opinions,
experience, and reasoning, for the purpose of finding out what is best for
the whole. Nor should they be withheld by the fear that such a course
would place a parent, a brother, a friend, or a party in the wrong, and
expose those dearest to us to blame. For the true happiness of each and
all is to be secured by a knowledge of the truth, and often such knowledge
can be gained only by exposing the evil results of courses that are
pursued by the best and most conscientious persons.

In carrying out this principle, there must be discretion exercised as to
_time_ and _manner_ of performing the duty; and there are some
_limitations_ to be recognized, which are matters of _expediency_. For
example, a man must seek the best time to expose what is wrong, and he
must seek to do it in a manner that will secure the good aimed at with the
least possible evil. And if it can be done better by the agency of
another, the aid of that other should be invoked.

So in regard to limitations, what is strictly personal should be confined
to the party who alone is concerned. What relates solely to the family
concerns should be confined to the family. Nor should any wrongs or
dissensions be brought before the public except those in which the public
welfare is involved.

But with these limitations it is the demand of reason and common sense,
that every man, woman and child freely protest against all that they
believe to be wrong in opinion or conduct.

In taking such a course, every man’s success in discovering and
propagating the truth will depend very much on the spirit with which it is
attempted. If it is done in a self‐sufficient, dictatorial, and
denunciatory mode, the inevitable result will be to arouse those passions
and prejudices which are most effectual in blinding the mind in
discovering truth.

If, on the contrary, it is attempted with the humility, meekness and
benevolence which are befitting ignorant, fallible and short‐sighted
beings, encompassed with such appalling difficulties and dangers, the most
favorable of all influences will be exerted to secure a patient and candid

Still, so sensitive are men to all implications of their motives or
conduct, so unwilling are they to acknowledge themselves mistaken, that
the faithful discharge of the duty of protesting against wrong, will
always be attended with more or less of ill‐will and bad passions.

In view of the above, if we were to predict what would be the _first_
preliminary teaching of a messenger from the Creator imparting to us the
true way of happiness‐making, we should say, reasoning from the experience
of life, it would read thus:

“Blessed are the _poor in spirit_;” that is, those who feel their poverty
of mind as to the knowledge required for right action.

“Blessed are they that _mourn_;” that is, those who are troubled by this

“Blessed are the _meek_;” that is, those that can quietly and patiently
bear reproof and fault‐finding.

“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness;” that
is, those who are as earnest to find the right way of happiness‐making as
the hungry and thirsty are for food and drink.

“Blessed are the _happiness‐makers_.”(9)

“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake;” that is,
those who are willing to _suffer_ for the right.


It has been shown, that the more the capacities of men are cultivated, and
the sources of enjoyment multiplied, the more complicated become the
varying questions as to right and wrong moral action, and the more our
reasoning powers and our conscience need to be cultivated in order to
decide correctly.

Just as fast as men increase in the number and extent of the capacities
and resources of enjoyment, will questions of right and wrong multiply,
and rules be evolved, every one of which will rest on the grand law of
_sacrifice_, which demands of every individual that he shall give up
private feelings and choose what is _best for all concerned_.

These difficulties and complications are still more increased, if we are
to take into account an immortal existence, and the influence which
conduct and character in this life may have on a future eternity. What is
best for each individual, and what is best for the commonwealth in such
vast relations, involve questions far beyond the reach of human
capacities, which only infinite wisdom can answer.

In all questions of right and wrong, for individual and for public
interests, the degree of danger and risk involved, always is the ruling
consideration. The greater the danger of the commonwealth, or of the
individual, the greater are the demands for sacrifices on the part of all
concerned. What would be right in circumstances of ease and safety,
becomes the height of selfishness and crime in hours of peril and

To illustrate this point on a humble scale, let it be supposed that a vast
and dangerous morass is filled with a multitude of travelers, of all ages
and all degrees of intelligence, who can press through it to their homes
only by difficult, dark, and circuitous paths. In addition to its
morasses, pit‐falls, swamps and fens, each path is beset with venomous
reptiles, and its woods with ferocious beasts, while it is the young and
tender who are the special objects of pursuit to these terrific foes. In
such a community, and amid such dangers, all decisions of right and wrong,
as to what was owed to others or to one’s self, would be entirely diverse
from what would be demanded were all in their safe homes. Sleepless
nights, constant watching, painful toils, incessant vigilance, would be
the imperious duty of every one, who could render any service. Amusements
and sports, that in other circumstances would be wise and right, would be
allowed only just so far as they tended to give relaxation or repose of
mind and body to those who needed them, and only for the great end of
securing a safe and speedy escape to all.

Now suppose that, in these circumstances, some of the wanderers are taught
that there were no such dangers, that the paths were all safe and certain,
and that every one of them would sooner or later arrive safely at home.

Others are taught that there probably is some danger and some doubt as to
the amount of risks, yet as no one knows much about the matter, on any
alternative, it is very wise to be careful and prudent.

Another class are taught that all these terrific dangers do exist; nay
more, that it is certain that some are to be lost in pit‐falls, some torn
with wild beasts, some poisoned to death with venomous reptiles, and some
for ever lost in bleak and cold morasses.

Meantime, who should be the lost and who the saved, and the _number_ of
the lost, would be entirely dependent on the care, vigilance, labors and
sacrifices endured by each, not only for self, but for others.

It can easily be seen, that in these three classes there must be an
entirely different standard for deciding all questions of right and wrong.
What would be right and wise, in case there is little or no danger, would
be folly and crime amid such terrific perils. In one case, each would have
little concern or responsibility for any but self; in another case, all
benevolent minds would be overwhelmed with anxiety for others as well as
for themselves.

This being so, it is claimed that the deductions of reason as to the
future immortality of man, and his risks and dangers beyond the grave, are
indispensable to deciding multitudes of moral questions of the highest
moment, while every person’s standard of morality must be regulated by
their decision of this question.


It has been shown, that the teachings of reason as to the immortality of
the soul, and our risks and dangers after death, are indispensable to a
true standard of morality, and to the decision of innumerable moral
questions of the highest moment.

The next attempt, therefore, will be to set forth what can be learned by
reason and experience, independently of revelation, in regard to the
future destiny of man.

The first question relates to the existence of the soul after death, and
its immortality. Here we have to guide us that great principle of common
sense, which regulates mankind in all the practical business of life,
viz., _things are, and will continue according to past experience, until
there is evidence of a change_.

By the aid of this, we go forward in all practical affairs, believing that
the beings and things around us are continued in existence till we have
evidence that they are not. If any man were to talk and act as if every
person was destroyed, and every town and village annihilated, as soon as
the evidence of his senses failed, he would be deemed one who had “lost
his reason.”

This same principle tends to the belief that the soul of man continues to
exist after the dissolution of the body. We have _no evidence_ that the
separation of soul and body is an event that either injures or destroys
the spiritual part. On the contrary, there are many analogies in nature
that would lead to the impression that death gives new strength and powers
to the disembodied spirit.

This being so, we have the same reason to believe that the soul of man
exists after death as we have for believing that our friends are living
when they leave us on a journey, and we have no evidence of their death.
We can not see them, hear them, or feel them, and yet we believe they are
living, we know not exactly where, because we have no evidence of their
death. And so, after the dissolution of the body, though all evidence of
sense as to the existence of their immaterial part ceases, we believe the
same thinking, sentient spirits continue to exist, because we have no
evidence that they have ceased to do so.

We have perfect evidence that the body ceases to exist as a body, for it
moulders to dust. We have no evidence at all that the soul is either
injured or destroyed. Such a thing as the destruction or annihilation of a
spirit was never known or heard of from any quarter of earth or heaven.

We therefore conclude, that at the moment of death the soul is still
existing with all its powers unchanged.

The same argument goes on still further, and leads to the immortality of
the soul. We know of no cause or reason for the destruction of the soul at
any future period. We never have known or heard that any soul ever ceased
to exist. And so we infer, that the soul will keep on a perpetuated
existence, by the same principle as that which leads us to believe the
earth and the heavens will remain to future ages.

In regard to the _character and condition_ of departed spirits, again we
have the same principle to guide us. Without revelation, the _past
experience_ of mind is our sole beacon to give light as to its future

Our next inquiry, then, is, what does the past experience of mind teach us
as to its condition beyond the grave? In pursuing this inquiry, we must
recall, in brief forms, some of the points of mental experience set forth
in previous chapters.

Some of the most important of these relate to the principle of _habit_ by
which the exercise of all our faculties becomes more and more easy by use.
This is true of the intellect, by which we gain our knowledge of what will
secure _the most_ happiness; of the _social_ nature, by which we give
happiness to other minds and receive the same from them; of our _moral_
nature, by which we are guided to justice, equity, and the rule of
conscience; of our _voluntary_ nature, by which we regulate all our other
powers. Each and all are developed, strengthened, and facilitated in right
action, by being exercised according to the laws of God.

The legitimate use of all our faculties induces also not only increased
facility, but increased _enjoyment_. The more the intellect is trained,
the more agreeable its exercise. The more our social nature is developed
by use, the more its powers are developed and its _blessed_ influence
increased. The more our moral nature is exercised, the more vigorous
becomes our sense of justice and the sensibilities of conscience, and the
more pleasing their exercise. And the more the will is exercised in
controlling every other faculty by the rules of rectitude, the more easy
and delightful is this power of self‐control.

The influence of habit in regard to the great law of _sacrifice_ for the
_best_ good of all, is especially to be regarded. Such is its power that,
in many cases, self‐sacrifices that at first were annoying, or even
painful, become sources of the highest and noblest enjoyment.

Another not less important influence of habit is, in regard to those modes
of enjoyment which are most important to the commonwealth, and most
happifying. The pursuit of these increases both desire and capacity for
gratification, while those less important and more dangerous, if made the
leading object of pursuit, diminish capacity while desire is increased.
Thus the happiness gained in giving and receiving affection, in causing
happiness to others, and in rectitude of action, all increase both the
desire and the capacity for these important and elevated modes of
enjoyments. Nor is there any danger of excess in forming habits in these
directions. But the pleasures of the senses and the pursuit of power,
honor, and other enjoyments that terminate in self, are liable to excess,
and this excess diminishes the capacity for enjoyment, while the ceaseless
craving of desire remains.

Thus it appears that a mind that forms habits of happiness‐making
according to right rules, becomes more and more strongly drawn to that
course by finding more and more enjoyment in it, while a mind that pursues
as a chief end the enjoyments that terminate in self, constantly loses
capacity for such good, and yet the desire for it drives on to vain and
cheerless efforts.

Another ominous fact in our mental nature is, the effect of habit in
diminishing the control of the voluntary power. When any excessive or
illegitimate mode of exercising the faculties becomes a ruling passion,
the _change_ of a habit thus formed becomes more and more difficult in
exact proportion to the continuous repetition. Even when men see and feel
that a habit is formed that increases their sorrow and diminishes their
enjoyment, and that another course would render them every way nobler and
happier, they find their purposes of change often are powerless. The
control of the will continually yields to the force of habit, and so they
are hopelessly driven on in their fetal pursuits.

Again, the effect of wrong action on the susceptibilities is as ominous as
it is on the power of choice. We have seen that the design of painful
emotions is to stimulate to the formation of good habits, and that when
this legitimate object is not effected these emotions continually decrease
in strength and vividness, so that the designed benefit is lost. Thus
_fear_ is designed to induce habits of caution, but if no such habits are
the result, danger ceases to excite this emotion, and a man becomes at
once fearless and careless. So with sympathy in the sufferings of others;
if no habits of benevolent efforts to relieve are induced, that
sensibility diminishes, and men become at once unsympathising, hard and
cruel. So it is with _shame_; if it does not lead to habits of honor and
duty, the susceptibility continually diminishes. And so it is with
_remorse_; if habits of rectitude are not induced by its emotions, the
conscience becomes “seared as with hot iron.”

But the most deteriorating effect of wrong action is seen in regard to
that fundamental point of the mental constitution which makes it a source
of happiness to be the cause of happiness to others. It is a universal
fact that the tendency of disagreeable emotions is to lead to the
infliction of pain on others. This propensity to inflict pain on whoever
is the cause of pain, when regulated by the rules of rectitude, is the
source of justice in the family and state, and leads only to good. But
when it is indulged and unregulated, it is the most fearful feature in our
mental constitution. The records of history exhibit many monsters of our
race, whose mental constitution has become so disordered by habits of
fatal indulgence, that all love of happiness‐making for others seems
destroyed, and the baleful pleasure of tormenting becomes a ruling

Another feature of our mental conformation which directly bears on this
subject, is the fact, that all those good qualities and benevolent acts
which naturally tend to please and awaken the desire of good to others,
may become sources of pain and ill‐will. This is the case when the lovely
and benevolent traits of other minds are contrasted with opposite traits
in self. Thus it is that the selfish, cruel and malignant hate and are
powerfully repelled from the generous, just and virtuous, while the good
as instinctively fly from the wicked.

The natural result of these features in the nature of mind, is a continual
tendency toward a separation of the good and the bad, the righteous and
the wicked.

According to the teachings of experience, a mind that forms habits of
selfishness and sin is constantly tending to a deterioration of its nature
in all directions. And the course of obedience to the grand law of self‐
sacrifice for the _best_ good of all, becomes more and more difficult and
improbable. As the natural result the good are more and more attracted
toward each other, and the bad are more and more repelled.

These tendencies, so plainly exhibited here, reasoning from experience, we
infer are to continue after death, until the final result must be the
entire exclusion of the evil from the good, whenever power exists to
compel the separation. This power, all must feel is held and will be
exercised by the Author of all minds, whose great plan, so far as reason
teaches, can be carried to perfection only by such a consummation.

One point in the history of our race has a mournful pertinence to this
question. We find that the improvement and the safety of the great
commonwealth is always, more or less, promoted by the ruin of individuals.
Multitudes are deterred from evil courses by the miserable end of those
who pursue them; so that the good are often preserved by the destruction
of the bad.

So, too, we find exhibitions of the fact that minds are utterly ruined,
and ruined _for ever_, so far as we can perceive. The man who has
stultified his intellect, ruined his health, seared his conscience, and
blunted all his generous and benevolent sensibilities by a course of
debauchery, cruelty and crime, is a wreck as total and irretrievable, so
far as we can see, as a watch whose springs and pivots are crushed beneath
the hammer, or a human body whose every lineament is effaced beneath the
rushing locomotive train.

The common language of life expresses such mental facts in precisely the
same terms as are applied to physical catastrophes. Thus, a man who is
given up to debauchery, intemperance and crime, is said to be a “total
wreck”—“entirely destroyed,”—“utterly ruined.”

Add to this the teaching of experience, that when men are bad, the
increase of blessings only increases indulgence and crime. At the same
time punishment does not tend to reformation. The more men suffer for
their folly and guilt, the more hardened they become. The victims of
licentiousness and intemperance, though they suffer such miseries, have
ever been regarded as the farthest removed from the probabilities of

Add to all this, the deductions of reason as to the moral nature of the
Creator and Governor of all minds. He has power to separate the good and
bad; his great design, of which we here see only the _tendencies_, makes
it indispensable to the perfect happiness of the good that they be
separated from the bad—a _perfectly_ happy commonwealth can not be
attained where the bad form a part—while the _sense of justice_ exists in
God on a scale far above ours, demanding _added_ penalties for the known
and willful destruction of happiness. He, like his children on earth,
feels that craving for retributive justice, which can never rest till the
guilty and remorseless monster receives the just recompense for his
cruelty and crimes.

These teachings of reason and experience lead to the conclusion, not only
that there is to be a grand consummation in which all sin and suffering
shall be ended in a perfected commonwealth, but also to the conclusion
that those excluded from this community of the good are to continue their
existence in sin and its natural results for ever.

That any portion, either of matter or mind, is to be annihilated, can not
be inferred from any past experience. All that we can learn are the laws
of perpetual _succession_ and _change_. One single fact of annihilation
has never yet been made known to man by any process of reasoning, or any
recorded experience.

There is another question in reference to this awful subject, which is of
deepest interest. Although the deductions of reason lead to the doctrine
of the eventual separation of mankind into two distinct communities, the
good and the evil, what are its teachings as to the _immediate_ state of
each individual soul after the event of death?

Here, as before, we have only the nature and past history of mind, from
which the future is to be deduced. In this world we have found the changes
in the character of individuals and of communities to proceed by slow and
imperceptible movement. We have nothing in the past to lead to the belief
that this slow process of discipline, culture and change may not proceed
on for ages. As in this life, multitudes have the impress and direction of
character given in early life, so that the first few years determine all
their future history in this world, so the career of this short life may
fix the future through eternal years. And yet the process of change to the
full consummation of character may involve ages.

In studying the works of the Creator, we find that every thing goes
forward on a system of _developments_. Nothing comes into being in full
perfection, and unless there is an interruption of the natural tendencies
of things, every thing reaches its full and perfected state before its
existence ends. And the nobler, larger, and grander the existence, the
slower it proceeds to its consummated perfection. The oak and the palm
demand centuries ere they reach their perfected prime. The highest grades
of animal life are slowest in gaining their full development. The horse,
the elephant, and the camel, are going forward to perfection for years
after the feebler tribes that started with them have perfected and

Guided, then, by the analogies of experience, we should infer that _mind_,
the noblest work of its Creator’s hand—mind, that begins its career in
such low and feeble development, is not to form the mournful exception to
the general rule.

On the contrary, we infer from all past experience, both of matter and
mind, that the soul, when it lays aside its outer covering, proceeds
onward in its career of development. And if its period of progressive
development is proportioned to its relative value in comparison with all
other created things, the fleeting years of this life in relation to the
ages previous to its prime, may be but as the first days of puling infancy
to the whole career of manhood.

But this subject is imperfectly treated, if we neglect to consider the
fact, that the soul, so far as we can perceive, is _disembodied_ at death.
We have perfect evidence, that the material part is destroyed, as to its
organized existence. We have the same sort of evidence that the soul
continues to exist, and will continue to exist, as we have that the sun
exists when all evidence of sight ceases. But what is the experience of a
disembodied spirit, we have no means of learning. It may be that its
powers of knowledge and action are greatly increased, when freed from its
earthly prison. If this be so, the experience of this life leads to the
inference that its dangers and temptations are increased in exact
proportion. Increase of civilization is only increase in sources of
knowledge and enjoyment, and each addition brings new temptations, new
rules, and the need of new penalties. It may be the same in the future

We can suppose the body a veil to hide our mind from another, and that
death makes every soul “open and naked,” in all its thoughts and feelings,
to every other disembodied spirit. What would be the effect of such a
revelation, no one could say. But we should fear rather than hope.

If men are exasperated by words that exhibit only a portion of the scorn,
contempt, and disgust felt toward the base and mean, not only by the pure
and good, but by the wicked themselves, such a _full revelation of all
minds to all minds_ presents a theme for awful forebodings to the guilty.
And even the purest might tremble to encounter such an ordeal. But over
such terrific conjectures rest the darkness and silence of the grave.

The following, then, are the deductions of reason and experience as to the
future condition of our race after death.

The soul, at the dissolution of the body, remains unchanged in its tastes,
habits and character. The _tendencies_ indicated in this life are
continued indefinitely, and eventually will result in the separation of
the good and the bad into two separate communities, the one, being
obedient to all the laws of God, will be for ever and perfectly happy, and
the other are to reap the natural results of disobedience, and whatever
added penalties the best good of the universe may demand.

The final consummation in which this separation will be achieved, may be
at the distance of ages, and in the meantime all those minds that have
passed, or will pass from this life, are in the same process of culture,
discipline, and upward or downward progress, which exists in this life.
Whether these advantages and temptations will be greater or less in the
disembodied state, we have no data for inference or conjecture.

The conduct and character formed in this life will have an abiding
influence on the character and happiness of every mind through eternal


We have considered the risks and dangers of the future state, as taught by
reason and experience, and also as the foundation of a true standard of
morality. We have seen that the true mode of escape from these dangers is
_the formation of a truly virtuous character_, or in other words, _it is
making it our chief end to obey all the laws of God_.

The next question is, what are the teachings of reason and experience as
to the most successful modes of securing true virtue, or voluntary
obedience to all the laws of God?

This brings up the inquiry as to the _causes_ of voluntary action, and of
the power which one mind has of securing right or wrong volitions in

In a previous chapter was pointed out the distinction to be recognized
between the _producing_ cause and the _occasional_ causes of volition.

Mind itself is the _only_ producing cause of its own volitions. Excited
desires, and those objects which excite desire, are the _occasional_
causes of choice.

The question is, in what sense can any being be the cause of virtuous
actions, or virtuous character, in another mind?

Here we must recur to the fact that the Creator, as the author of all
minds, and of all the things that excite desire, is the cause, in one
sense, of all the volitions and of all the characters of all finite minds.
It is in this sense that, in the Bible, the Jehovah of the Old Testament
says, “I make peace and _create evil_.” No other being but the Creator can
be regarded as the cause of volitions in this sense, viz., as the author
of all minds and their circumstances of temptation.

There is a second sense in which the Creator is never the cause of sinful
action in any mind. It is this: creating or modifying our
susceptibilities, or arranging temptations with _the design_ or
_intention_ of producing sinful action. This is established by proving,
that the chief end of God is to make the most possible happiness, and that
sin is the needless destruction of happiness, resulting from disobedience
to the laws of God.

The only sense, then, in which God can be called the author or cause of
sinful volitions in the minds of his creatures, is the fact that he is the
author of all created minds and of their circumstances of temptation.

In regard to man, there are only two conceivable modes, in which he can be
the cause of sinful or virtuous character in other minds.

The first mode is so to combine circumstances of temptation as to affect
the most excitable and powerful sensibilities, or to remove those objects
and influences that sustain moral principle, or by a long course of
training, to form habits and induce principles. The combinations of motive
influences that one mind can thus bring to bear on another, as temptations
to right or wrong action, are almost infinite.

Another mode is by _changing the constitutional susceptibilities_. This
can sometimes be effected to a certain degree by education, and the
formation of habits. It can be still more directly effected through the
physical organization. For example, a child may be trained to use coffee,
tea, alcohol, or tobacco, till the nervous system is shattered, and then a
placid temper becomes excitable, an active nature becomes indolent, and
multitudes of other disastrous changes are the result.

When these two modes are employed with the _design_ to induce wrong
action, then men are blameable causes of sinful action and character in
their fellow men. God, as above shown, never thus causes sin. When these
modes are employed with the _intention_ to induce virtuous actions and
character, then both God and man are causes of right moral action in

Thus, it appears, that in the formation of virtuous character and habits,
God, educators and self are the three combining causes, each being
indispensable to the result, and thus each dependent on the others. God
decides the nature and combinations of our susceptibilities and our
circumstances of temptation. The educators of mind also modify the
susceptibilities, and regulate the temptations. Self, as the producing
cause of volition, decides the nature of our own volitions, and thus also
coöperates to regulate circumstances of temptation.

The attainment of virtuous character, therefore, depends conjointly on
God, man and self. It has been shown that God _invariably_ does _the best
he can_ to secure the most perfect action possible in all minds.

The blamable causes of all failure in right and virtuous action are self
and the finite educators of self. The unblamable causes are God, educators
and self, so far as they are faithful in doing _all they can_ to educate

With these preliminary considerations, we proceed in the inquiry as to
those modes which in past experience have been found most successful in
securing virtuous character, or voluntary obedience to the laws of God.

The first cause of right moral action is a _knowledge_ of and _faith_ in
the physical, social, intellectual and moral laws of God. It is
impossible, in the nature of things, that a new‐created mind should be
possessed of such knowledge and faith. All that is possible, so far as we
can learn by reason and experience, is that there should be a slow and
gradual development not only of each individual mind, but of the whole
race, as each generation, in turn, receives by instruction the experience
of the one previous, and transmits it with its own experience to a
succeeding generation.

The next thing that has been found efficacious in forming virtuous
character is the formation of uniform _habits of obedience to parental
rule_, in the early periods of existence. To secure this, _invariable
steadiness in government_ has been found indispensable. If a child finds
that sometimes he is to obey and sometimes he is not, there is always a
temptation to struggle against law. But if a parent’s laws, rewards and
penalties are as steady and sure as those of God, in due time the child
submits as cheerfully to the domestic rules and commands, as he does to
the laws of nature. He is no more tempted to contest parental commands
than he is to attempt to stop the flow of a river or the falling of rain.
In this way a habit of submission to law is generated, which makes all the
future discipline and training of life comparatively easy. A child learns
cheerfully to obey a heavenly Father, just in proportion as he thus obeys
his earthly parents.

The next thing taught by experience is that children should be instructed
as fast as possible in the _reasonableness and benevolence_ of all the
laws they are required to obey. Obedience is made easy and sure just in
proportion as a child is made to perceive, that such obedience is _best
for himself and best for all concerned_.

The next thing which experience has shown to be most effective in securing
obedience to law, is _love_ on the part of the educator, and corresponding
love in return from the child. To gain the love of a child an educator
must exhibit all lovable traits, and confer benefits, so as to call forth
at once admiration, gratitude and affection. This renders it easy to the
child to conform to the rules and wishes of one so beloved.

Sympathy with a child in all its trials and in all its enjoyments, still
further increases this power of another mind in right guidance.

This sympathetic influence is greatly increased by the power of a virtuous
_example_—especially if this example is exhibited by a beloved friend and
benefactor, who would be gratified by thus guiding a dependent mind.

Another influence that tends to secure virtuous action is the bearing of
pain and hardships even when it is not voluntary. Those children who are
trained in a cold clime and on a hard soil, and who are early trained to
hardships, find it far easier to conform to rule, and to bear sacrifices
for the general good, than those whose lives have been a course of
uninterrupted ease and indulgence.

To these, add the social influences of the example and sympathy of a
surrounding community. Where all around are practicing virtuous
conduct—where all admire and praise only what is good and right—it is far
easier to secure obedience to the rules of rectitude, than where the
example and sympathy of surrounding minds are opposed to virtue.

But the most powerful of all influences in securing virtuous action, is
the principle of love and gratitude toward some noble benefactor, who
saves from some terrible evils at the expense of great personal suffering
and sacrifices, and who seeks his reward in the pleasure of redeeming
those thus benefited, from the snares and ruin of sin. And the greater the
evils averted, and the more severe the suffering on the part of the
benefactor, the stronger the influence thus gained to secure virtuous
character and action in the one thus rescued.

These are the influences which experience has shown to be most effective
in securing virtuous character.

When the question is asked, “What must _we_ do to be saved?” it may be
answered in reference to all concerned in the matter; that is to say,
“What must self do—What must our fellow‐men do—What must the Creator do,
to secure obedience to his laws, and thus to save from sin and its

In view of the above teachings, each one for himself must seek, first,
_knowledge_ of the laws of God, and of their rewards and penalties as
discovered by the experience of mankind. In order to do this, each must
take all means to gain _true_ teachers, and to receive their teachings in
true _faith_, that is, that _practical_ faith, which includes the purpose
of obedience. Each must cultivate the intellect, the reason and the moral
sense, in order to judge correctly in receiving and applying the rules of
rectitude; each must seek to discover the reasonableness and benevolence
of these laws, and form _habits_ of steady obedience; each must seek to
discover and rightly to appreciate all the good and lovable qualities of
all who institute and administer laws, from the Creator to all subordinate
rulers and governors in the domestic and civil state; each must seek the
society of those whose sympathy and example would encourage and promote
virtuous conduct; and finally, each must make obedience to all the laws of
God the _chief end_ or ruling purpose. These are briefly the reply to the
great question in relation to self.

We are next to consider this question in relation to what men must do to
_save others_.

Here we are to take into account two subjects previously illustrated; the
first is that great law of _sacrifice_, by which each individual must make
his own wishes and welfare subordinate to the higher interests of the
great commonwealth; the second is the fact that all questions of right and
wrong are dependent on the _risks and dangers_ that threaten the
commonwealth. In cases where there is little peril or evil, each
individual has little responsibility for others. On the contrary, when all
are exposed to terrific dangers and hazards, every individual is bound to
think and care as much for the danger of each one as for his own. And just
as much as the interests of all are of more value than those of one, so
much _more_ should each place the public welfare above that of self.

In a preceding chapter have been exhibited the risks and dangers of our
race in reference to the future life. These are such, that without any
appeal to revelation, every man of humanity and benevolence must feel that
to save his fellow‐beings from such dangers should become immediately his
leading object of pursuit, his _chief end_.

In pursuing this as the main object of life, each individual is bound to
follow the teachings of experience as to the most successful modes as set
forth above. Each one, then, should become a _teacher of the laws of God_
to all who are in ignorance, to the full extent of his power, and set
forth all the motives to induce obedience; each should strive to exhibit
all those qualities and deeds which will excite admiration, love and
gratitude, in order thus to gain influence over other minds and guide them
to virtuous conduct. Each should confer benefits and practice self‐denying
benevolence toward others and thus gain still farther influence. Each
should strive to exhibit that _example_ and that _sympathy_ that are so
effective in leading others aright.

In regard to those who are the educators of the young, each must strive to
maintain that _invariable steadiness in governments_ which is so effective
in forming virtuous habits and in rendering obedience to the laws of God
more and more easy.

Finally, it should be the aim of each to establish such a _community_
around all who are being trained to virtue, that every social influence
shall repress vice and encourage virtue.

Next, we are to consider the great question in reference to the Creator.
What then must God do to save our race from sin and its miseries? What
would reason and experience teach us to expect he would do to secure
obedience to his laws?

In answering this question we must again refer to the causes which
experience has shown to be most effective, for we can conceive of no
other. We have examined the evidence that the Creator has given to each of
his children such a constitution of mind and body, and such circumstances
of temptation and trial as is _best on the whole_, as a part of an
infinite _system_ whose results are to develop through eternity. At the
same time it has been shown that God is limited, by the eternal nature of
things, to a course in which _some_ evil must exist, so that all that is
requisite to his character as perfectly benevolent, is that this evil
should be reduced by him to its least possible amount.

To suppose that God can impart at creation of each mind all the knowledge
of the millions of rules needed for all the myriads of new relations, of
myriads of beings through all eternity, is to suppose an impossibility in
the nature of things.

If it be maintained that the Creator is not thus limited by the nature of
things, but, as theologians teach, could make mind perfect in all needed
knowledge as in all other respects, at the first, then we have the greater
contradiction involved in the fact, that a perfectly benevolent being
chose for his children ignorance and sin in preference to knowledge and

To say that it may be _best_ to create minds destitute of all needed
knowledge when the want insures infinite wrong and suffering, and when
there is power to create the knowledge that would insure perfect
happiness, is simply a direct contradiction. It is saying that _less_
happiness may be _greater_ than _greater_ happiness. For by “what is for
the best” we understand “that which secures the _most_ happiness.” And
saying that making misery where there is power to make happiness in its
place, is _best_, means nothing else but the assertion above, that less
happiness is greater than greater happiness; or that _less_ is _more_ than
_most_, which is a contradiction, inconceivable and absurd, so that no
mind can either comprehend or believe it.

Now, every theologian of every school and of every sect maintains that
“God does all things _for the best_.” Every one who believes in a
benevolent Creator does the same. This is simply saying that God does the
best possible; that is to say, there is no power that can make a better
system than God has made, or administer it with more wisdom or
benevolence. He has chosen the best possible and so he can not do any

These things being granted, the teachings of experience would lead us to
suppose, still farther, that the Creator must do all that is possible to
maintain _invariable steadiness of government_. We can see that this,
which is so important in family government, must be still more so in an
infinite family. For this end, the natural penalties for wrong doing, must
be as _invariable_ as the rewards for well doing.

Again, the Creator must instruct his creatures in his laws and their
rewards and penalties to the full extent of his power. That is to say, he
must provide well‐trained educators of mind, as fast and as fully as is
possible in the nature of things, having in view the results of eternal
ages to guide his decisions.

Again, to secure voluntary obedience, he must add to the natural rewards
and penalties of his laws, the other class of motives which experience has
shown to be most effective. Thus, he must present himself to his creatures
as a being possessing all those qualities which call forth the delightful
emotions of admiration, reverence and love; he must show himself as a
constant benefactor, and as one who “does not willingly afflict or grieve
the children of men.” He must manifest his love to his creatures by word
as well as by deed. He must come personally to provide for their wants and
cheer them with his care. He must show his tenderness and sympathy in
their trials and sorrows as well as in their joys. And if they are exposed
to great dangers and evils from which they can be redeemed by self‐
sacrifice and suffering on his part, this highest and most effective proof
of love must be exhibited.(11)

To this must be added, a manifestation of his _chief __ desire_, so that
when love and gratitude ask, what can we do to please our benefactor in
return, the answer shall be, obey his laws, and work and suffer for the
good of all, as you see your Heavenly Parent does for you.

Finally, he must bring around each of his creatures the powerful social
influence, not only of his own sympathy and example, but those also of a
perfect commonwealth, where all shall be perfect as is the Father of all.

This is what we should evolve by the light of reason and experience, as
what the Creator must do to save our race. Whether he has done all this,
is a question that belongs to that system of religion which we can gain
only by revelation from God.(12)


The preceding chapters present the system of natural religion, as it may
be gained by experience and those principles of reason or common sense
with which all men are endowed.

Whether mankind ever have, or ever would, fully evolve this system of
religious belief without any aid by revelation from the Creator, is a
question which we can not readily decide—inasmuch as the claim of
Christianity is, that from the first, our race have been instructed by
revelations from God, which have been more or less preserved in traditions
and written records. It is certain that the elimination of this system, by
unaided humanity, is dependent on the development of both the intellectual
and moral powers, just as much so, as the physical discoveries of Newton,
Copernicus and Columbus were dependent on the intellectual progress of the

In reference to the question of the necessity or importance of revelations
from the Creator, it is interesting to examine how far those nations that
have been most advanced in intellectual development, have secured this
system of common sense, independently of the revelations contained in the
Bible—revelations which also have been more or less incorporated by
Mohammed into the Koran.

In a brief review of the pagan systems, that of Boodhism occupies the
first place, as one which has had longest and largest control over
civilized pagandom—one which has been most unimpeded by resistance, and
one which now controls _one half_ the human race.

We have seen that the common‐sense system teaches an eternally self‐
existent Creator, perfect in knowledge, wisdom, power and benevolence,
administering a perfect system by laws—his chief design being to produce
the most possible happiness with the least possible evil. It teaches also,
that the right _voluntary_ action of mind, as a part of this system,
consists in _good willing_ toward the Creator, toward self, and toward our
fellow‐beings, _according to the laws_ of God, so as to secure what is
_best_ for all concerned—making it imperative that self be made
subordinate to the public good. It teaches also, that the most effective
mode of securing this right action is, first, by imparting a _knowledge_
of these laws and their sanctions, and thus influencing mind by the
motives of _hope_ and _fear_; next, by the motive influences of _love_,
_gratitude_, _sympathy_ and _example_, as mutually exercised by God, our
fellow‐men and self. Finally, it teaches that all questions as to what is
right and wrong, are to be regulated with reference to the risks and
dangers of a _future life_, and not with chief reference to this life
alone—and that in this estimate the interests of self are to be made
subordinate to those of the commonwealth.

We will now notice how far the system of Boodh corresponds with that of
common sense.

This religion(13) is one in which there is no intervention of any supreme
God, or any self‐existent being, or any Creator; on the contrary, all
souls and all the universe exist from eternity. All souls from eternity
have gone on transmigrating from one body to another, rising or falling in
the scale of existence according to their merit or demerit. Boodh is a
general name for a divinity or god. There have been innumerable Boodhs in
different worlds and different ages, but in this world only four. These
four are beings who have risen by merit through various transmigrations,
and then became incarnate in human bodies. At last they were annihilated,
none of them being now in existence—so that this world for centuries has
been without any God.

The last Boodh of this world was Gaudama. He passed through innumerable
transmigrations in four hundred millions of worlds, and attained immense
merit. At last, he was born into this world the son of a king, about six
hundred years before Christ. The moment he was born he exclaimed, “Now am
I the noblest of men; this is the last time I shall ever be born!” He
remained forty‐five years as Boodh of this world—performed all sorts of
meritorious deeds, promulgated excellent laws, and then was annihilated.
Ever since, this world has had no God, and will have none for eight
thousand years, when the next Boodh is to appear. The first three Boodhs
left no laws or sayings. Those of Gaudama, the last Boodh, were reduced to
writing A. D. 94, and these are the _Bedegat_, or Bible of the Boodhists.

These teachings of Gaudama are so obligatory, that disbelief of them is
the only crime that incurs _eternal_ punishment.

According to this system, true virtue or rewardable merit, consists in
obeying the teachings of Gaudama. These teachings relate first to sins to
be avoided. The five general laws are, not to kill, not to steal, not to
commit adultery, not to lie, and not to drink intoxicating liquors. These
are subdivided so as to include all sins of similar kinds under each head.
For example, the first law includes even the killing of animals for food,
also capital punishments and war.

Sins are divided into these three classes: first, those of the body, such
as killing, theft, fornication, etc.; those of the tongue, as falsehood,
harsh language, idle talk, etc.; and those of the mind, as pride,
covetousness, envy, heretical thoughts, etc.

These writings of Gaudama strongly denounce the evils of pride, anger,
covetousness, and all inordinate appetites. Men are exhorted to avoid
excess in perfumes, ornaments and laughter—also strong drink, smoking,
opium, night wanderings, bad company, idleness, anger under abuse,
flattery to benefactors, annoying jests, and all that leads to strife.

For all such sins the most awful conceivable punishments are to follow in
a future state, and for millions of ages.

Rewardable merit is of three kinds:

1. Obedience to all the preceding precepts and prohibitions, and the
performance of all duties _fairly deducible_ from them, such as integrity,
gentleness, lenity, forbearance, condescension, veneration to parents and
love to mankind in general.

2. Alms‐giving and votive offerings. This includes feeding priests,
building temples and accommodations for priests and for travelers, making
roads, tanks and wells, planting fruit and shade trees, feeding criminals
and animals, and finally, giving alms to all classes of men in need.

3. Prayers and reading the Bedegat, or religious books. Of this last kind
of merit, there are three kinds: the first is the senseless repetition of
prayers and reading; the second, reading intelligently; the last, is
performing these exercises with strong desires and feelings. Prayers are
not addressed to any God, as there is none existing now for this world.
Gaudama, at his death, advised that, in addition to obeying his laws, his
relics and image should be worshiped, and temples be built to his honor
till the next Boodh came.

Votive offerings of fruit, rice and flowers are made to priests or placed
in temples. The prayers consist of the repetition of soliloquies that
express our liability to bodily evils and to mental suffering, and our
inability to escape. Also of protestations of this kind, “I will not lie;”
“I will not steal;” “I will not kill,” etc.

There are four Sabbaths or days for public worship each month, when the
people go with votive offerings and prayers to the temple of Gaudama, but
they have no general united worship.

The Boodhists have a hierarchy very much like the Catholic church, with
varied grades and ranks. The priests are required to practice celibacy,
and are mainly supported by voluntary gifts from the people.

They reside in buildings erected especially for them, and as celibacy and
the avoidance of women are enjoined on all, these establishments very much
resemble Catholic monasteries. Few of the priests preach, and only by
special request, after which, presents are made to them. They attend
funerals only when invited, and then expect presents. Part of them spend
some time in teaching novitiate priests, but most of them, regarding work
as unprofessional, spend their time in sheer idleness. It is the rule that
each priest perambulate the streets every morning till he receives boiled
rice enough for his daily wants. The higher class of priests avoid this.
In Burmah the priests are at the rate of one to every thirty persons, and
they are well supported by the people, and without interference from the
government to enforce it.

As to the motives that sustain this religion, there being no God to the
Boodhist, all motives arising from relations and regard to him are
excluded. All the motives presented appeal to hope of good and fear of
evil to _self_. Those who attain a certain measure of merit in obeying
Gaudama’s teachings go to some of the celestial regions, according to
their attainments. These consist of twenty‐six heavens, one above another,
which offer various degrees of enjoyment according to merit obtained.

There are eight principal hells; four that torment with cold and four with
heat. In the other hells are other sufferings, although not connected with
heat and cold. Worms bite, bowels are torn out, limbs are racked, bodies
are lacerated, they are pierced with hot spits, crucified head downward,
gnawed by dogs, torn by vultures. These are described with minuteness in
the _Bedegat_ and often depicted by the native artists in drawings,
reminding one of Dante’s Inferno illustrated.

For killing a parent or a priest a man will suffer in one of the hells of
fire for inconceivable millions of ages. Denying the doctrines of Gaudama
incurs _eternal_ suffering in fire. Insulting women, old men or priests,
receiving bribes, selling intoxicating drinks and parricide, are punished
in the worst hell.

Merit gained by any good conduct in these hells enables the person to rise
even to the celestial regions.

The souls of all the universe have existed from eternity, transmigrating
for ever, and thus rising and falling in the scale of existence according
to the degrees of merit at each birth. This is decided not by any deity
but by immutable fate. In passing through these changes the amount of
sorrow is incalculable. The Bedegat declares that the tears shed by one
soul in its various changes are so great that the ocean in comparison is
but a drop. Sorrow is declared to be the inevitable attendant of all
existence, and therefore “the chief end,” and the highest reward of
Boodhism is, _annihilation_.

The system of Boodhism commenced about six hundred years before Christ,
and has pervaded eastern, central and southern Asia about as long and as
fully as Christianity has pervaded Europe. The Burman empire, where this
account of that faith was obtained, presents the most favorable results of
this system on the character and condition of its votaries.

In China, Buddhism (another name for Boodhism) is the popular religion.
With it is associated Confucianism, which is a system of morals and
politics instituted by Confucius, B. C. 550, which teaches nothing in
regard to any God or a future state. With them co‐exist the sect of
Laotze, which is a kind of rationalism. Most of the temples and priests
are those of Boodh or Budda, but there is no such organized priesthood as
in Burmah, nor is this religion maintained by governmental power. It is
also considerably modified by the more ancient system of polytheism.

In Thibet and Tartary, the religion of the Grand Lama chiefly prevails,
which is one form of Boodhism.

In western India, Brahmanism is in constant warfare with Boodhism, and the
two systems are perfectly antagonistic. Brahmanism teaches one eternal
deity and three hundred and thirty‐three millions of other gods, with
hosts of idols representing them; Boodhism has no deity at all, and only
one image, that of Gaudama. Brahmanism enjoins sacrifices; Boodhism
forbids killing. Brahmanism requires atrocious tortures; Boodhism
inculcates fewer austerities than even Popery. Brahmanism makes lying,
fornication and theft sometimes commendable, and describes the gods as
excelling in such crimes; Boodhism never confounds right and wrong, and
never excuses any sin. Brahmanism makes the highest good or chief end of
man to be absorption into the supreme deity; Boodhism makes _annihilation_
the highest hope and aim of existence. These two systems, together with
Mohammedanism, so prevail in Hindostan that the distinct results of each
can never be compared. These are the prevailing religions in the most
advanced pagan nations at the present time; and of the two, Boodhism is
the best, and probably has been the most fairly tested in Burmah.

In past ages the two most highly developed heathen nations were those of
Greece and Rome, and of their religion we have the fullest records. It is
not probable that any one will consider their system of religion superior
to this now exhibited of modern paganism.

The result is that the most highly developed heathen nations, as yet, have
attained but very imperfectly the system of common sense.

No heathen religion ever taught an eternally‐existing Creator, perfect in
knowledge, wisdom, power and benevolence. None ever taught that the chief
end of our Creator is happiness‐making on the greatest possible scale.
None ever taught that this also is the chief end for which man is created.
None ever taught that right moral action, or true virtue, consists in
_good willing toward the Creator, toward self, and toward our fellow‐
beings, according to the laws of the Creator, so that every mind shall
make the good of self subordinate to the general good_. None ever taught
that all questions of right and wrong, or what is for _the best_, are to
be decided with reference to the risks and dangers of a future life. None
ever presented communion with, and the care, sympathy, sacrifices, and
example of a “long‐suffering” Creator, as motives to secure virtuous self‐
sacrifice from his creatures. If all this is taught by revelations from
God in the Bible, it is what was never taught by any other religion yet
known on earth.

In the history of the heathen world, we find anxious inquiries on these
subjects pressing on every thoughtful spirit. Who made this world with its
profound and ceaseless sorrows? Are there contending deities, and are the
malignant powers in the ascendant? If there be one supreme Creator of all,
is he propitious or hostile to a race so guilty as ours? Does he feel any
pity or sympathy for our profound ignorance, our infinite sorrows? Can we
do any thing to gain his help in our darkness and misery? Where do we go
when we die? Does our short and painful span of being end in eternal
night, or are we to go on in another career of similar suffering and
change? When we lay our beloved ones in the grave, shall we ever meet them
again, or is “the only proper utterance of a broken heart, _vale, vale, in
eternum vale_?”

These have been the mournful questionings of every age and every race,
while the wisest sages of the wisest nations, without a revelation, have
been unable to give any satisfactory reply.

Greece and Rome were the most civilized of all ancient nations, and they
give us Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and Cicero, as their best and wisest
men, who most deeply pondered these great questions. Aristotle held to one
superior deity, but taught that the stars are true and eternal deities.
Cicero leads to the belief of many gods, and approves of worshiping
distinguished men as gods. Socrates held to a plurality of deities, and
also to transmigration. He held that the common sort of good men will go
into the forms of bees, ants, and other animals of a mild and social kind.
Plato held to two principles, God and matter, and that God was not
concerned either in the creation or government of this world. He argued
for the immortality of the soul on the ground of its _pre‐existence_, and
concludes some of his speculations thus:

“We can not of ourselves know what will be pleasing to God, or what
worship to pay him; but it is needful that a lawgiver be sent from heaven.
Such an one do I expect, and O how greatly do I desire to see him, and who
he is!”


In the former portion of this work the Augustinian theory, with the system
based on it, has been presented as it is taught by creeds and theologians.
In contrast with it, has been presented the common‐sense system of
religion as evolved by reason and experience.

The evidence will now be presented, to show that those who teach the
Augustinian system, at the same time teach the main points of the common‐
sense system; and where the two systems are contradictory, that they teach
_both_ sides of the contradiction, at once affirming and denying the same

A leading feature of the common‐sense system is, that the _nature_ of the
human mind is our only guide to the natural attributes of God.

It will now be shown that leading theologians and metaphysicians of the
Augustinian school teach the same.

The Calvinistic theologians of New England have been universally
acknowledged as among the most acute and profound metaphysicians in the
world. At the head of these stands President Jonathan Edwards. In
reference to our modes of gaining a knowledge of God, he says:

    “If respect to the Divine Being is of any importance, then
    speculative points are of importance, _for the only way we can
    know what he is, is by speculation_.”

Dr. Woods, for near half a century a leading theological teacher of New
England, says:

    “All our particular conceptions of God may be found to take their
    rise from _the conceptions we form of created intelligences_.”

Dr. Emmons, a distinguished New England divine, says of man:

    “In the very frame and constitution of his nature he still bears
    the natural image of his Maker. In a word, man is the living image
    of the living God, in whom is displayed more of the divine nature
    and glory than in all the works and creatures of God upon earth.”

Dr. Taylor, the New Haven divine, says:

    “The only ultimate source of knowledge, and ultimate umpire of
    truth, is _the knowing mind_.”

The celebrated Scotch metaphysician, Sir W. Hamilton, says:

    “We can know God only as we know ourselves.”

In proof of this from the Bible, these writers quote from the Apostle
James, that “men are made after the similitude of God.”

Another leading feature of the common‐sense system is the position, that
we can discover the chief _end_ or _design_ of the Creator, by _the
nature_ of his works, and that this end is to produce the greatest
possible happiness with the least possible evil.

It will now be shown that leading theologians teach the same.

President Edwards, in his _Dissertation concerning the end for which God
created the world_, teaches that

    “What God had respect to as an _ultimate end_ of his creating the
    world, was _to communicate of his own infinite fullness of good_.”

He teaches that God is in no way dependent on his creatures for happiness,
but that his enjoyment consists in outpouring his own good to his vast

No one can read that essay without perceiving that, though disconnected
passages may make a different impression, the above is a correct statement
of the doctrine of that dissertation.

It is supposed that this view has been assented to by most of those
American and European theologians who most strenuously defend the
Augustinian system.

The end or design of mind being ascertained, its _right mode of action_ is
thus determined. Accordingly we shall find that the great New England
divines and metaphysicians, though they use different language, all
express the same idea in defining true virtue or holiness.

Thus President Edwards taught, as his son states, that

    “Every voluntary action which, in its general tendency and
    ultimate consequence, leads to happiness—happiness _in
    general_—happiness _on the largest scale_—is virtuous; and every
    such action which has not this tendency, and does not lead to this
    consequence, is vicious.”

Here let it be noted that President Edwards expressly teaches that it is
not voluntary happiness‐making, irrespective of the amount, that
constitutes virtue; but it is “happiness _in general_—happiness _on the
largest scale_.” This corresponds exactly with the common‐sense system,
demanding that happiness‐making be on the _greatest possible scale_, and
in order to this, it must be _according to law or rules_.

Dr. Dwight, whose system of theology is accepted as the most satisfactory
exposition of the new school Calvinistic views, teaches that

    “True virtue is the love of doing good, or the love of promoting
    happiness. Its excellence consists in this, that it is the
    _voluntary_ and only source of happiness in the universe. God
    wills our happiness; it is, therefore, right, it is virtuous in
    us, to seek to promote it both here and hereafter.”

In this case, the language of Dr. Dwight is not so discriminating and
clear as that of President Edwards—for he does not show so clearly as does
President Edwards that his real meaning is voluntary happiness‐making _on
the largest scale_. In this, and all the following quotations from other
writers, it is a fact, as gained by their _combined_ expressions, that the
distinction made by President Edwards was accepted, and that by the “love
of doing good,” or the “love of promoting happiness,” is intended that
_voluntary love_ or _good willing_ which seeks not merely some good, but
the _best good_ of all.

Dr. Taylor, the distinguished successor of Dr. Dwight, teaches the same
doctrine, as is so abundantly manifest in his published writings, that no
quotations will be deemed needful.

The Westminster Assembly’s Catechism teaches that

    “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him for ever.”

The glory of God can be secured only by true virtue in himself and in his
creatures; and if this consists in voluntary happiness‐making on the
greatest possible scale, then the chief end of man, as taught in that old
standard of orthodoxy, is exactly the same as is taught in the system of
common sense. Man is to make happiness on the greatest possible scale,
guided by the laws of God—and thus doing, he will “glorify God and enjoy
him for ever.”

The same theologians also teach that the laws of God are our guide as to
what is good and evil, and that true virtue, or right action, is secured
only by obeying these laws. They hold, therefore, the doctrine of common
sense, that all true virtue consists in voluntary obedience to the will of
God as manifested in his natural and revealed laws.

The next point of agreement is in the proposition, that God always has,
and always will do what is “_for the best_”—so that it always is and will
be, out of his power to do better—inasmuch as _to do better than best_, is
a contradiction and absurdity. Every theologian, in one form of words or
another, maintains that God always has done, and always will do, _the best
he can_, so that he has no power to do better. This being so, it is the
same as teaching that the past, present and future existence of sin and
misery, is what is inevitable in the best system which God has power to
create, so that any change in God’s plans, laws, and their results, would
imply an act of folly and malevolence on his part.

This does not imply that the sinful conduct of man is what is desired or
intended by the Creator—nor does it imply that sin was desired or intended
by God as the “necessary means to the greatest good.” Instead of this, it
is clear that if it had been _possible_—_i.e._, if God had the power—to
create all minds with _all the knowledge and all the motives_ that would
secure perfect obedience to law from all the race of Adam, there would
have been more happiness. The universal obedience of all free agents to
all God’s laws for making happiness on the greatest possible scale, would
secure perfect happiness to all, while every act of disobedience would
lessen the amount. To deny this is the same as saying that less happiness
is more than the most happiness, which is absurd.

The result is, that sin is not the fault of the Creator, but is the
inevitable result of the commencement of finite, ignorant, inexperienced
minds, and is what neither God nor man could prevent, in a perfect system
of finite, free agents.

At the same time, it is the fault of all free agents who sin when they
have adequate knowledge and motives. And it is only sins against _known_
law and appropriate motives which are the proper subject of penalties _in
addition_ to the natural consequences of wrong doing.

It is claimed, therefore, that when theologians teach—as all do—that “God
orders all things for the best,” they really teach, in another form, the
common‐sense doctrine as stated above.

Having gained the teachings of leading theologians as to the nature of
true virtue or right voluntary action, we also gain their definition of
wrong moral action, or _sin_. In the words of President Edwards, “Every
_voluntary_ action which in its general tendency and ultimate consequence
leads to happiness—happiness _in general_—happiness _on the largest
scale_—is virtuous; and every such action which _has not this_ tendency,
and _does not_ lead to this consequence, is vicious,” or sinful.

That is to say, every volition that tends to lessen the general happiness,
is vicious or sinful, and every violation of God’s physical, social and
moral laws, has this tendency. Thus the Bible definition of _sin_ is the
one accepted by theologians—_i.e._, “_sin is the transgression of law_,”
without reference to the question whether the law is known or not. _True
virtue_ is voluntary obedience to law, and _sin_ is the voluntary
transgression of law. These definitions then are a part of the Augustinian
system as much as they are of the common‐sense system.

The next point of the common‐sense system taught by theologians, is that
our moral power to obey God—_i.e._, power to choose according to law
instead of impulse—is proportioned to our knowledge of law, and the
motives of fear, hope, love and gratitude, as they are employed by God and

This doctrine is taught by all theologians, except those who hold that the
sin of Adam so ruined the human mind, that there is no power of _any_ kind
to obey God, except as he gives new capacities. No quotations will be
given to establish this point, because, it is believed, that no one will
question it.

No quotations are needed to show that the Augustinian creeds and
theologians agree with the common‐sense system, in teaching that the soul
is immortal—that our destiny in a future state depends on our conduct in
this life—that there is to be an eternal separation of the righteous and
the wicked, whose immortality will be happy or miserable according to
their characters.


The preceding chapter shows the agreement of distinguished Augustinian
theologians with the leading points of the common‐sense system. We next
are to notice the particulars in which these theologians and the
Augustinian creeds contradict the common‐sense system, and thus, also,
contradict themselves.

The grand point, which involves these contradictions, is the dogma that
all mankind have a _depraved nature_ consequent on the sin of Adam, which
makes it certain that every voluntary act of every human mind is “sin, and
only sin,” until this depravity of nature is more or less rectified by the
Spirit of God. The opposite of this is the common‐sense doctrine that all
men have a _perfect nature_, created by God, which is unchanged and not in
any way depraved by the sin of Adam.

As involved in this common‐sense view, _true virtue_ consists in the
_right action_ of a perfect nature, as it now is. In opposition,
Augustinianism teaches that true virtue consists in the right action of a
depraved nature _after_ it has been more or less renewed by the Spirit of

Common sense claims that the indispensable requisites to secure right
voluntary action are, _knowledge_, _training_ and _motives_, for which we
are dependent on God, on man, and on self, conjointly. In opposition,
Augustinianism claims that knowledge, training and motives are of no avail
to secure true virtue, until the damage done by Adam’s sin to the nature
of every human mind, is more or less rectified, and that for this we are
entirely dependent on the Spirit of God.

Common sense claims that man, at birth and through life, is entirely
unable to obey many of the physical, social and moral laws of God, for
want of adequate knowledge, training and motives; but that he is fully
able to obey these laws as fast as he has the appropriate knowledge,
training and motives, and that before regeneration he does perform truly
virtuous acts. Augustinianism, in opposition, claims that man never obeys
the laws of God acceptably until the Spirit of God more or less rectifies
the depraved nature consequent on Adam’s sin, and that previous to this
influence of the Spirit, every voluntary act is “sin, and only sin.”(14)

Common sense teaches that the commencement of “a new life” consists, not
in the change of the nature of man, but in the commencement of a _ruling
purpose_ to obey all the laws of God, which purpose may be an unconscious,
gradual process by educational training, or it may be an instantaneous and
conscious act. Augustinianism teaches that “regeneration” or the “new
birth” consists in the re‐creation or change of the nature of mind, so as,
more or less, to remedy the depravity consequent on Adam’s sin.

Common sense teaches that every volition of every mind, which in act and
intention is conformed to the laws of rectitude, is truly virtuous in
every proper use of the term, without any reference to the question either
of a ruling purpose or a change of nature. Augustinianism teaches that
every volition of every mind is sin, and only sin, previous to the act of
regeneration accomplished by the Spirit of God.(15)

To illustrate the above by examples, suppose that a child is trained to
deny itself, to relieve suffering, or to make others happy. In its earlier
efforts this is very difficult, though by practice the principle of habit
renders it more and more easy. Common sense teaches that the first act of
self‐denial for the best good of others, in which the aim or intention is
to do right, is truly virtuous. For the thing done is right, and the
motive or intention is right. But Augustinianism says no; such an act is
“sin, and only sin,” previous to regeneration, though it is true virtue
after regeneration.

Again, a young man is trained to abhor meanness and deceit and to suffer
any thing rather than to violate his plighted faith. He is brought into an
extremity where, by a false statement, he can escape poverty and disgrace
to himself and his family. He sacrifices all rather than to violate his
word and honor.

If he is not a regenerate man, Augustinianism says this act is not truly
virtuous, but is “sin, and only sin.” Common sense says, it is a virtuous
act in every sense of the term as used among men.

We have shown by quotations that Augustinian theologians teach that man’s
nature is the only guide to the nature of God, and, as his work and image,
is perfect in construction. At the same time they teach that man’s nature
is so totally depraved that it never acts morally right, in a single
instance, until it is regenerated by God, and that all sin is the natural
result of this depravity of nature.

In consequence of this contradictory starting‐point, they proceed to other
contradictory instruction. For example, in the education of very young
children most theologians, of whatever school, teach them that to speak
the truth, to obey parents, to deny one’s self for the good of others, is
right, good and virtuous. They teach that when little children act thus,
before regeneration, they not only act virtuously, but that God approves
and loves them for it. In doing this, they use the words _good_, _right_
and _virtuous_, in the ordinary sense in which men understand these terms.

But at the same time, the same theologians are teaching from the pulpit
and the press, that every voluntary act of every child is “sin, and only
sin,” previous to regeneration; that there is no good, right and virtuous
act in an unregenerated mind, and that God feels no approbation or
complacency in such acts or the unregenerated as the above, which are
called virtuous, but are really sin.

It is manifest that the educational training of the young must be
radically diverse just in proportion as one or the other of these two
systems prevails.

On the Augustinian theory, there is no hope of any right moral action, or
truly virtuous conduct, until the depraved nature transmitted from Adam is
regenerated. On the common‐sense theory, every attempt of a parent or
educator, and every effort of a child to secure what is best and right
with the intention thus to secure it, is truly virtuous, and every
repetition is valuable as tending to secure virtuous habits and character.

On the Augustinian theory, religious instruction is only an appointed mode
by which God chooses to regenerate a depraved nature. It is a process for
securing a new nature from God. On the common‐sense theory, religious
training is a process for securing the development and right action of
mind by the influences of knowledge, training and motives, and without any
change of its nature.

It is also clear that these two systems must be very diverse in reference
to the interpretations of the Creator’s will as gained by reason or by
revelations from God.

On the Augustinian theory, mind is so totally depraved as to be incapable
of interpreting correctly, either the natural teachings of reason and
experience, or the recorded revelations from God. Owing to this,
_authorized interpreters_ of God’s will are indispensable. This makes the
whole human race dependent on a class of men authorized by God to
interpret his natural laws and revealed will.

On the contrary, the common‐sense theory claims that every mind, in
proportion as its powers are cultivated and developed, has the means of
discovering the end for which all things are created, and of interpreting
the teachings of reason and experience, and also of interpreting any
revealed records of God’s will.

It thus appears that theologians and creeds that adopt the Augustinian
theory contradict themselves mainly in these two points:

First, they teach that man’s nature _is_ depraved and that it is _not_

Next, that previous to regeneration, men do not perform any truly virtuous
acts, and yet that while unregenerated they do perform such acts.

The quotation from creeds and theologians, in preceding chapters, is proof
that they teach that man’s nature is thus depraved, and that previous to
regeneration he never performs a single truly virtuous act. This and the
preceding chapter present some of the evidence that they teach the

The following is submitted as still further evidence of such

In the first place, it is allowed by all, that the Augustinian creeds and
theologians teach that man, as _a race_, including every individual, has a
depraved _nature_. The question, then, all turns on the meaning of the
word _nature_, and whether they affirm its depravity _in the same sense_
as they affirm that in nature man is the living image of the living God
and our only guide to a knowledge of him.

It is claimed that they do use the word _nature_ in one and the same sense
when they affirm that man’s nature _is_ and _is not_ depraved. In proof of
this we must resort to our lexicographers who have collected the various
senses in which mankind use the word _nature_. And here we must again
recognize the fact that the true meaning of every word is settled simply
by ascertaining _what meaning men attach to it when they use it_.

In examining our dictionaries, we shall find that the word _nature_ is
used sometimes to signify every thing that God has created; as when it is
said, “all nature speaks its Maker’s praise.” Sometimes, by a figurative
use, the Author of all things is called Nature, as when it is said that
“Nature paints the flowers and spreads her repasts.”

No one will claim that either of these is the sense in which the word is
used in reference to the nature of the mind of man as a race.

The leading and primary signification of the word _nature_ is that which
is intended and understood when we say that “the _nature_ of a design or
construction is proof of the character and intention of the author.” It is
in this sense that men use the word when they speak of the nature of
animals, the nature of trees, and the nature of the soul.

In this use, it has but one signification, and that is, _those qualities,
powers and faculties which are discovered by experience and observation_.
Or in other words, when we discover the qualities of a thing, how it acts,
and how it is acted upon, we learn its _nature_.

In regard to all other existences except mind, the only mode of
discovering _their nature_ is to ascertain by experience and observation
how they _invariably_ appear and act. Thus we decide that it is the nature
of water to run down hill by finding that it _invariably_ does so; and
that it is the nature of smoke to rise in the atmosphere by observing that
it _invariably_ ascends.

Owing to this, mankind often use the word _nature_ as signifying _that
which is according to ordinary experience_. That is to say, the same word
is used to express the _qualities and powers_ of things, and also to
express that _invariable experience_ by which we learn these qualities and
powers. What is according to our ordinary experience we say is according
to nature, and what is contrary to ordinary experience is contrary to

Thus it is according to nature for water to run down hill, and it is
contrary to nature for it to run up hill.

It is mind, in distinction from matter, which has the power of _willing_,
and this is a power which never is exercised _invariably_ one way or

But theologians have practiced this fallacy on themselves and others. They
first assume, what is contrary to fact, that mind _invariably_ chooses one
way, and that is _wrong_, from birth to regeneration. This being assumed
without proof, they claim that the _nature_ of the human mind is thus
proved to be depraved, and totally so.

Having thus, as they imagine, established its depraved voluntary nature,
they claim that, like all other things, the mind _must act according to
its nature_, which, being wholly depraved, all its moral acts are
consequently depraved.

This is what logicians call _arguing in a circle_; _i.e._, they prove that
it acts _invariably_ wrong because it is totally depraved, and it is
totally depraved because it acts _invariably_ wrong.

But common sense denies the starting assumption; _i.e._, the _invariably_
wrong volitions of every mind from birth to regeneration. On the contrary,
it is claimed that every choice which secures enjoyment without violating
law, is right, and that whenever a mind chooses what is right, with the
intention to act right, the choice is a truly virtuous act, and that all
men make such choices very often before regeneration.

Whatever is according to ordinary experience in the qualities and action
of mind, is said to be according to its nature. It is according to the
nature of mind, then, sometimes to choose what is good, right and
virtuous, and at other times to choose what is evil and wrong, according
to its knowledge, temptations and habits. Such a case never was known as a
mind that _invariably_ chose wrong.

In view of the preceding, it is maintained that the word _nature_, as
applied to mind, as settled by lexicographers, is always used to signify
the same as its _constitutional powers and faculties_, and that this is
the sense in which it is employed when we say “the _nature_ of a
construction or design is proof of the character and intention of the

We are now prepared to show that theologians use the word nature in this
same sense when they affirm that it is totally depraved, and when, at the
same time, they teach that it is the image of God, and our only guide to
his nature and character.

We shall first present the evidence that they use the word in this sense,
when they teach that every human mind is so depraved in nature that from
birth to regeneration every moral act is sin, and only sin.

The first item of evidence is the fact that all the other meanings of the
word, in our dictionaries, except this, can be shown to be _not_ the ones
in which theologians use the word in reference to men as a race, so that
this use is the only one remaining. They must use it in this sense, as the
only one left, all others being necessarily excluded.

Again, the mode by which they attempt to _prove_ that man has a depraved
nature, shows that they use the word in this sense. For they exhibit the
_wrong action_, or sinful feelings and conduct of the race, as the chief
proof. Their argument is this: the _nature_ of a thing is proved by its
qualities, how it acts, and how it is acted upon. The human mind
_invariably_ acts depraved, therefore its nature is depraved. No one will
deny that theologians always present the wicked feelings and conduct of
children and of men as the proofs of a depraved nature.

It is true, that in doing this they misstate facts, and maintain that
_all_ the actions of men are sin, and only sin. This contradicts
experience and common sense, which affirm that the human mind sometimes
acts right and sometimes wrong, from the first; showing that the nature of
mind is such that it naturally acts right as well as wrong. But this
attempt proves that they used the word in the sense here stated.

Again: that theologians use the word in this sense, is manifest from their
attempts to relieve the character of God from the charge of being “the
author of sin.” They can not deny that the nature of a contrivance proves
the character and intention of the author, and that, if God is the author
of man’s depravity by a wrong _construction_ or _nature_ of mind, it would
be proof that he is the author of all the sin resulting from it, and thus
a depraved character.

Instead of denying this use of the term, they allow it, and then try to
make man himself the author of this depraved nature, either _by_, or _in_,
or _before_ Adam. That is, they allow that man’s mind _is_ wrong in
construction, but claim that he himself is the author of this wrong.

Again: that theologians use the word nature in this sense, is proved by
their description of the depravity intended by them. When they are urged
to point out what the depraved nature of man consists in, they always
state something which shows it to be wrong in _construction_, and which is
exhibited in the wrong _action_ of mind.

There are these following methods of describing this depravity, viz.:

1. It is called a _bias_, _propensity_, or _inclination_ to sin.

2. It is called an _unbalanced_ state of the faculties.

3. It is called a _habit_ of sinning formed in a pre‐existent state.

4. It is called a wrong _combination_, or _proportion_, in the mental

5. It is called a state resulting from the _deprivation_ of God’s Spirit.

It will now be shown that each and all of these equally involve the idea
of that malformation or wrong construction which proves its author

The first is the most common method. On this view, it is claimed that the
minds of angels and of Adam were constructed with such a _bias_ or
tendency to good as secured their perfect action for a given period. The
mind of man, on the contrary, begins existence here so constructed that it
has a contrary _bias_ to evil; so that it never, in a single instance,
chooses right till regenerated.

The angels and Adam had a _holy nature_, meaning a _bias_, which God
created. Mankind have a contrary bias, which is a _depraved nature_, and
of this, man is the author, either _in_, or _by_, or _before_ Adam. And
they all allow, that if God had created this depraved bias, or depraved
nature, he would be “the author of sin.”

The second mode is, the claim that man’s depravity consists in an
_unbalanced state_ of his faculties or propensities. The angels and Adam
were created by God with the proper balance, and this is the holy nature
made by God. Man is born with an unbalanced state of the faculties, and
this was created by man himself, either _by_, or _in_, or _before_ Adam.
Now the balance of the faculties is as much a part of the construction of
mind as any thing else, and if God created this depraved, he is proved to
be depraved.

The third mode is, the claim that the depravity of man’s mind consists in
a _habit of sinning_. On this view, God created man’s mind aright, in all
respects, in a preëxistent state. In this normal condition of mind, every
propensity was toward not only _good_, but to the _best_ good, while there
was sufficient _knowledge_ of right created also, to save from all
mistakes of judgment as to what is best and right. In this perfect state
_some_ minds began to sin, and thus formed a habit of sinning, and were
then sent into this world to be reformed.

Here it is plain, that the depravity intended is depravity of
construction. For _habit_, as men use the term, expresses the fact that
repetition in the use of any faculty _increases its power_. It is a change
in the constitutional _construction_ of mind induced by use. For example,
a child has little constitutional power of mind to reason or to calculate
figures. By use, this deficiency of construction is modified.

_Habit_, then, modifies the constitutional organization of mind.

This mode of describing the depravity of mind teaches the misconstruction
of constitutional organization as much as all the others, but it furnishes
another mode by which it was induced, so as to make man the author in a
way that is comprehensible, and not absurd.(16)

The fourth mode is the claim that the depravity of the human mind consists
in the _disparities, or varieties, of constitutional organization_.

It has been shown that such disparities, as parts of a vast system in
which the best good of the whole is the best good of each part, are
indispensable to the perfect construction of mind in relation to that

But the depravity claimed is, that which is common to _every_ mind, and is
so total that not a single mind, however highly endowed, ever, even in one
case, acts virtuously till regenerated. Thus the best in mental
construction are as totally depraved as the worst. At the same time, it is
clear that it is constitutional malformation that is taught, and nothing

The fifth mode of describing the depravity of mind is that it consists in
the _deprivation_ of God’s Spirit.

The result of this deprivation is thus described by Dr. Hodge, of the
Princeton Calvinist school of divines:

    “In consequence of this withdrawal we begin to exist in moral
    darkness, _destitute of a disposition_ to delight in God.”

Arminius, the chief theologian of the Methodists, describes it thus:

    “The will of man, with respect to the _true good_, is not only
    wounded, bruised, inferior, crooked and attenuated, but is
    likewise captivated, destroyed and lost; and has _no powers
    whatever_, except such as are excited by grace.”

Thus the presence of God’s Spirit in Adam’s mind, according to Dr. Hodge,
insured a “disposition” to delight in God, which was lost by its
withdrawal. According to Arminius, this withdrawal so affected the whole
race, that “in respect to the _true good_” the will of man has _no powers
whatever_, except such as are excited by grace—that is, by a measured
return of God’s Spirit, withdrawn for Adam’s sin, which return was
purchased by Christ’s death.

It is clear, that it is the powers and faculties of mind that are meant
here, in this explanation of the depravity of man’s nature.

Thus it is shown that every attempt to explain what depravity consists in,
by theologians, results in their teaching a _constitutional malformation_,
which proves the author of the construction to be depraved.

We will now present the evidence, that theologians contradict themselves,
and deny that they use the word _nature_ in the sense of constitutional
organization or construction, and maintain that they use it in some other

In all creeds and all theological teachings, the authors expressly
disclaim that they maintain any thing which makes God “the author of sin.”
And they allow, that making God the creator of a depraved nature, would
make him the author of sin. Therefore, to escape the difficulty, they
claim that God is the author of one nature, which is perfect and in his
own image, and that there is _another_ nature which man himself made,
either _by_, or _in_, or _before_ Adam, which is depraved. Then when they
are driven to identify the nature that God made and the nature that man
made, they are again at fault. Man really has but one nature, and that is
the nature which is discovered by his qualities and actions, as learned by
experience. There is no other nature conceivable, and no other idea that
men ever attach to the word when applied to the mind or soul of man.
Therefore, theologians really do use it in the sense which they deny, for
there is no other.

Again, theologians deny that they teach “physical depravity” and “physical
regeneration,” and the only intelligible sense of this disclaimer is, that
they do not teach depravity of construction and the reformation of this
depravity of construction. But, as before shown, when they describe the
depravity and regeneration, they make out what actually is physical
depravity and physical regeneration, and nothing else.

Again, when they attempt to describe what they mean, one class of
theologians—_i.e._, new school Calvinists—teach that the whole depravity
consists in a want of “_right willing_.” And this is exactly what the
common‐sense system teaches—_i.e._, that the depravity of man is in the
wrong _action_ and not in the wrong _construction_ of mind. And yet when
they are charged with holding the Pelagian doctrine of perfect mental
construction, they deny it, and say they teach depravity of nature.

As an example of this, is presented the following extract from the
writings of Dr. Bennet Tyler, the president of a theological seminary
established to sustain the New England theology of the President Edwards’
type, in opposition to the supposed Pelagian innovations of the New Haven

    “God has endowed you with understanding to perceive the rule of
    duty, with conscience to feel obligation, and with _will_ to
    choose between good and evil. Possessing these powers, you are
    complete moral agents, and have _all_ the ability to obey the
    commands of God that you ever will have, or ever _can_ have—we do
    not mean that all the powers and faculties of his (man’s) soul are
    so impaired that he _could not_ do his duty if he would, but that
    he _will_ not do his duty when he can.”

In reading the above, one would suppose that there was nothing wrong at
all in the construction of the human mind, and that the whole difficulty
consisted in _not willing_ aright—that is, that the depravity is not in a
wrong _nature_, but in the wrong _action_ of a perfect nature. And yet, at
the time of this writing, the author was the leader of an effort to oppose
this very doctrine, which was supposed to be taught by the New Haven

In a recent work by the chief theological teacher of the leading Baptist
Seminary,(17) we find similar contradictory statements. He thus writes:

    “_Regeneration_ is not only characterized by the sacred writers as
    a _creative act_, by which the subject of it becomes a new
    creature in Christ Jesus, and a generation from above, by which
    the soul is brought into new spiritual life; but also a washing, a
    bathing, effected by the Holy Ghost, by which the polluted soul is
    cleansed; as an illumination, by which it is filled with the
    knowledge of God, and qualified to appreciate spiritual things.
    The eye of conscience is cleared, the desires and affections are
    renewed and flow into new channels, and the selfish views,
    prejudices and motives, which formerly reigned in the soul, are
    superseded by faith, love and hope, resting in Christ, and leading
    to every good work. The _entire spirit_ is readjusted morally, its
    aspirations, tendencies and relations to God are rectified, and it
    enters, so to speak, upon a new life.”

In this passage, regeneration is called “a creative act” changing the
_conscience_, the _desires_, the _views_, the _prejudices_ and the
_motives_—so that “_the entire spirit_ is _readjusted_,” and all its
“aspirations, tendencies and relations to God are rectified.” It is not in
the power of language to express _a change_ in the _faculties_ and
_constitutional elements of mind_ more entirely than this; and yet the
very next paragraph reads thus:

    “But all this pertains to the moral condition of the soul,
    affording _no evidence that its essence has been changed; that any
    faculty or constitutive element has been added, any fresh vigor or
    new principle of existence infused_.”

But the most remarkable illustration of self‐contradiction among
theologians, involved in every attempt to maintain a depraved nature
consequent on Adam’s sin, is found in the teachings of Dr. Taylor, the
leader of the New Haven school of divines.

In his _Concio ad Clerum_, in 1828, one aim probably was, to meet the
charges against himself, of teaching the Pelagian tenet, that man’s
depravity consists, not in nature, but in action. In reference to this he
writes thus:

    “Men are entirely depraved by _nature_. I do not thereby mean that
    their nature is itself sinful, nor that their nature is the
    physical or efficient cause of their sinning; but I mean that
    their nature is the _occasion_ or _reason_ of their sinning—that
    such is their nature, that in all the appropriate circumstances of
    their being they will _sin_ and _only sin_.”


    “It is important to say that sin is by nature, owing to
    propensities to inferior good, with a difference between Adam’s
    mind and ours—though we can not assert that, in which this
    difference may consist;—that our propensities are the same in
    _kind_, though different in _degree_ from those of Adam; that
    perhaps this distinction may consist in mental differences, or in
    superior tendencies, compared with Adam’s to natural good, and
    less tendency to the highest good.”

In the above extract, it is as clear as language can make it, that Dr.
Taylor taught, in 1828, that in men sin _by nature_ is owing to
propensities to inferior good, which are “different from Adam’s,” who was
created perfect, and that this is “the occasion or reason” of their
sinning, and that “such is _their nature_, that in all appropriate
circumstances of their being, they _will sin, and only sin_.” This must
mean the _construction_ of mind. He does not claim to describe, certainly,
what this difference is between the nature of Adam and that of his
descendants; but he maintains that while Adam’s nature was not so created
by God at first, the nature of _all_ his descendants is so depraved, that,
as the result, they “sin, and only sin,” till regenerated.

But, in contradiction to this, is presented the extract below, sent by Dr.
Taylor to the author, in a letter in which he was attempting to show that
he did not teach the depravity of man in his _constitutional_ faculties.
And he claims that what he thus writes is what he has “_always_ taught:”

    “I have _always taught_ that man, after the fall of Adam, was as
    truly created in God’s image as was Adam; that Christ was tempted
    in _all_ points like as we are; that the stronger are our inferior
    propensities, if we govern them, as we can, by the morally right
    act of the will, the greater is the moral excellence of the act. I
    _do not_ maintain that man has full power to _change_ his depraved
    nature without divine aid—for I have never supposed that he has a
    depraved nature in ANY sense, or a corrupt nature, much less a
    sinful nature, _to be_ changed; but rather, that _in nature_ he is
    like God. In discussions I have always opposed the use of language
    by your father and Mr. Barnes, of a _corrupt nature not sinful_.”

Now it is not possible to make these two extracts any thing other than
exact contradictions. For in one he teaches that men are so totally
depraved _in nature_, that “in all the appropriate circumstances of their
being they will _sin, and only sin_.”

In the other, he says of man, “I have never supposed that he has a
depraved nature, _in any sense_, or a corrupt nature, much less a sinful
nature, to be changed; but rather that _in nature_ he is like God.”

If it is asked, “How is it possible that a man, at once so honest and so
acute, can thus contradict himself and not perceive it?” it may be
replied, that he has done it no more than does every other theologian and
every creed that teaches at once, that the _nature_ of man is so depraved
at birth that every moral act is sin, and only sin, till regeneration—and
yet, that God, the Creator of all minds, is not the author of the sin
resulting from such a depraved nature.

And theologians are not peculiar in self‐contradictions. _Every error is a
contradiction to some principle of common sense._ Thus it is a fact, that,
as all men believe and maintain, by a necessity of nature, the principles
of common sense, every _false_ principle or error which they defend, is a
flat contradiction to some of their other declarations on other occasions.
Meantime, it is the great mission of all free and fair _discussion_ to
bring men to see their own inconsistencies, and to forsake all which are
shown to be _contrary to reason and common sense_.


In the preceding chapters it is shown that theological creeds and
teachings maintain the common‐sense system, and at the same time the
contradictory Augustinian system. In other words, it is shown that the
Augustinian theologians contradict at once our common sense, our moral
sense, and themselves.

It will next be shown that the Augustinian theory _is not contained in the
Bible_, and that theologians conflict with each other in regard to this
point also.

There is _only one_ passage in the Bible which was ever claimed by _any_
one as teaching a depraved nature _consequent on Adam’s sin_. That passage
is Romans v., from the 12th to the 19th verse:

    12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death
    by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have

    13 For until the law, sin was in the world; but sin is not imputed
    when there is no law.

    14 Nevertheless, death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them
    that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression,
    who is the figure of him that was to come.

    15 But not as the offense, so also is the free gift. For if
    through the offense of one many be dead, much more the grace of
    God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ,
    hath abounded unto many.

    16 And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift. For the
    judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many
    offenses unto justification.

    17 For if by one man’s offense death reigned by one; much more
    they which receive abundance of grace, and of the gift of
    righteousness, shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.

    18 Therefore, as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men
    to condemnation, even so by the righteousness of one the free gift
    came upon all men unto justification of life.

    19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by
    the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

In this passage these things are taught:

    1. By one man sin entered and death by sin, and so [_i.e._, by one
    man] death passed on all men, _for that all have sinned_.—Verses
    12, 13, 14.

    2. Through the offense of one many _have died_.—Verse 15.

    3. The judgment was by one to condemnation.—Verse 16.

    4. By one man’s offense _death_ reigned by one.—Verse 17.

    5. By the offense of one, judgment came on all to
    condemnation.—Verse 18.

    6. By one man’s disobedience many were made sinners.—V. 19.

There are three modes of interpreting this passage, and the question all
turns on whether the _death_ spoken of is _natural_ death or _spiritual_.

Interpretation of the Apostolic Age.

The first interpretation is that of the Apostolic age and onward to the
time of Augustine. It is briefly this:

Adam is a type of Christ, and as by Adam’s sin natural death came on all
who are his _natural children_, (for they all, like Adam, have _sinned_
and suffer death as the consequence,) so by one man, Christ, spiritual
life comes to all who are Christ’s _spiritual children_.

This simply teaches that Adam as the head of a sinning race, who suffer
death in consequence of his sin and their own, is an emblem or type of
Christ, the head of a holy family, who by him receive spiritual life.
Condemnation and natural death come from sinning, both to Adam and to all
the children brought into being by him. Justification and spiritual life
come from Christ to all whom he has caused to become his spiritual

For abundant proof that this was the interpretation of this passage, from
the apostles to the time of Augustine, the author refers to Dr. E.
Beecher’s _Conflict of Ages_, book v., chapter 2.

Augustinian Interpretation.

The Augustinian interpretation is this: The sin of Adam caused a _depraved
nature_ and consequent spiritual death to all his descendants. So also the
obedience and death of Christ have purchased or caused a _holy nature_ and
spiritual life to all who are regenerated.

Princeton Interpretation.

It has been shown that the Princeton theologians teach, that though all
men did not sin _in_ Adam, or sin at all, before they were born, yet God
_imputes_ Adam’s sin to them, and _regards_ and _treats_ them _as if_ they
had committed it.

Their interpretation of this passage then is briefly this:

As by, or on account of, Adam’s sin a _condemning sentence_ came on all
men, so by Christ’s obedience a _sentence of acquittal_ (_i.e._,
justification) came on all who are regenerated.

According to these divines, verse 12 does not refer to a depraved _nature_
nor to _actual sin_, but only to the fact that all suffer the penalty for
Adam’s sin through all time and eternity, unless they are regenerated. The
Princeton school of divines are the most strongly Calvinistic in
maintaining the total depravity of man and his entire inability to perform
any truly virtuous act previous to regeneration.

Here, then, we have these results:

The Augustinian theory of _the depraved nature_ of man, consequent on
Adam’s sin, contradicts the common sense and moral sense of mankind,
contradicts the creeds and teachings that contain it, and is not taught in
the chief passage in the Bible claimed as teaching it, as interpreted by
the whole Christian world in the first four centuries, and by a large body
of Calvinistic divines who teach total depravity at the present time.

Whoever, then, denies that this passage of the Bible teaches this doctrine
is sustained by the whole Church of the Apostolic ages and by a great body
of the highest Calvinistic churches at this day.

There are some other passages that may be referred to as relating to this
subject. The first is Romans, chapter ii., 6 to 16:

    “Who will render to every man according to his deeds: to them who
    by patient continuance in well‐doing, seek for glory, and honor,
    and immortality; eternal life: but unto them that are contentious,
    and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation
    and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that
    doeth evil; of the Jew first and also of the Gentile; but glory,
    honor, and peace to every man that worketh good; to the Jew first,
    and also to the Gentile; for there is no respect of persons with
    God. For as many as have sinned without law, shall also perish
    without law; and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged
    by the law; (for not the hearers of the law are just before God,
    but the doers of the law shall be justified. For when _the
    Gentiles, which have not the law_, do _by nature_ the things
    contained in the law, these having not the law, are a law unto
    themselves, which show the work of the law written in their
    hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts
    the mean while accusing, or else excusing one another;) in the day
    when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according
    to my gospel.”

Taken in its connection, the word _nature_, as used in this passage,
evidently is used in its primary and chief meaning, to signify the
constitutional powers or organization of mind. “The work of the law
written in their hearts,” “their conscience also bearing witness;” these
are what are referred to when it is said, “the Gentiles do _by nature_ the
things contained in the law.” And it is _doing_ those things which secures
“glory, honor and peace”—“to the Jew first, and _also to the Gentile_.”

Another passage is Ephesians, ii., 1‐3:

    “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
    wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this
    world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit
    that now worketh in the children of disobedience: among whom also
    we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our
    flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and
    were _by nature_ the children of wrath, even as others.”

In this passage the apostle is addressing those who in a succeeding verse
are told, “remember that ye being in times past _Gentiles_ in the flesh:”
this being so, they are those who, the same writer says, “do _by nature_
the things contained in the law.”

The signification of nature in this passage must be _that which is
according to ordinary experience_. That is, _according to ordinary
experience_ mankind “are children of wrath,” _i.e._, subject to the
wrathful penalties of disobedience to the laws of God. But by the
influences brought by Christ, “a new life” is secured, which is a life of
intelligent and _voluntary_ obedience to law, an obedience which the
natural penalties of law could not secure, but which the _knowledge_ and
_love_ of God, as manifested by Christ, do secure.

One other text merits attention: 1 Corinthians, chapter ii., 14. “But the
_natural_ man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are
foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are
spiritually discerned.”

In this passage the “_natural_ man” must signify “man as he is found in
our ordinary experience.” The idea evidently intended, is that mankind, as
a race, do not understand or obey the truth as it is taught by Christ and
the Spirit of God. The fact is affirmed that without Christ and the divine
Spirit to aid, man as a race does not come to such knowledge of and
obedience to the laws of God as secures eternal life.

In reference to most other texts quoted to prove a depraved _nature_, it
will be found that they simply affirm depraved _action_. Men, in the
Bible, are described as wrong‐_doers_ by their own wrong _willing or
choice_ and not by a depraved _nature_. Sometimes they are said to choose
wrong and sometimes right, and their wrong willing no more proves a
depraved nature than the right willing proves a holy nature.


The object aimed at in this chapter demands attention to the following

Before we can gain a reliable revelation from our Creator, we are obliged
to establish the truth that there is such a Creator. Our only mode of
doing this is by the method already set forth in chapter 10, and for which
we are dependent on our reason or common sense.

Having, by the aid of reason, arrived at a knowledge of the existence and
character of the Creator, we next inquire as to the mode by which we can
receive direct revelations from him.

Here we find that we are again wholly dependent on reason or common sense.
The principle on which we alone rely for revelations from God is this:


The conviction of the wisdom and power of the Author of this vast and
wonderful frame around us is such that, whatever changes may occur in its
established order, must be felt to be by his permission.

To illustrate this, suppose a man appeared, claiming to be a teacher sent
from God. In proof of this, he commands a mountain to be uptorn and thrown
into the sea. Now, if this phenomenon should follow his command, it would
be impossible for any who witnessed it, to refrain from believing that the
Author of Nature performed this miracle to attest the authority of his

In order to insure this belief in the interference of the Creator, there
must be full evidence that there can be no deception, and that the
miraculous performance is entirely beyond human power and skill. Men
always talk and act on the assumption that _such_ miracles are from God,
and all rational minds so regard them.

We have shown that the chief cause of a wrong action of mind, is that it
commences existence in perfect ignorance, while all those causes which
experience shows to be indispensable to its right action, to a greater or
less degree are wanting.

The grand want of our race is _perfect educators_ to train new‐born minds,
who are _infallible teachers of what is right and true_.

We have presented the evidence gained by reason and experience that the
Creator is perfect in mental constitution, and that he always has acted
right, and always will thus act. This being granted, we infer that he
always has done _the best that is possible_ for the highest good of his
creatures in this world, and that he always will continue to do so.

We proceed to inquire in regard to what would be the best that is possible
to be done for us in this state of being, _so far as we can conceive_.

Inasmuch as the great cause of the wrong action of mind is the ignorance
and imperfection of those who are its educators in the beginning of its
existence, we should infer that the best possible thing to be done for our
race, would be to provide some _perfect and infallible teacher_ to
instruct those who are to educate mind. This being granted, then all would
concede that the Creator himself would be our best teacher, and that, if
he would come to us himself in a visible form, to instruct the educators
of mind in all they need to know, for themselves and for the new‐born
minds committed to their care, it would be the best thing we can conceive
of for the highest good of our race.

We next inquire as to the best conceivable mode by which the Creator can
manifest himself so as to secure credence.

To decide this, let each one suppose the case his own. Let a man make his
appearance claiming to be the Creator. We can perceive that his mere word
would never command the confidence of intelligent practical men. Thousands
of impostors have appeared and made such claims, deceiving the weak and
ignorant and disgusting the wise.

A person with such claims, were he ever so benevolent and intelligent, but
having had no other evidence than his word to support them, would, by
sensible persons, be regarded as the victim of some mental hallucination.

But suppose that a person claiming to be the Creator of all things, or to
be a messenger from him, should attest his claim by shaking the earth, or
turning back the floods of the ocean, it would be impossible for any man
to witness these miracles without believing, that the Author of all things
thus attested his own presence or the authority of his messenger. We have
shown that the very organization of mind would necessarily force such a
belief on all sane minds.

One other method would be as effective. Should this person predict events
so improbable and so beyond all human intelligence, as to be equivalent to
an equal interruption of experience as to the laws of mind, as time
developed the fulfillment of these predictions, the same belief would be
induced in the authority of the person thus supernaturally endowed.

In the case of miracles, the evidence would be immediate and most powerful
in its inception. In the case of prophecy, the power of the evidence would
increase with time.

_Miracles and prophecy_, then, are the _only_ methods that we can conceive
of, that would, as our minds are now constituted, insure belief in
revelations from the Creator.

But if every human being, in order to believe, must have miracles, there
would result such an incessant violation of the laws of nature as to
destroy them, and thus to destroy all possibility of miracles.

The only possible way, then, to establish revelations to the _race_, is to
have them occur at certain periods of time, and then have them adequately
_recorded and preserved_.

The Bible is a collection of books written at different periods of the
world’s history. These books profess to be records of the various
manifestations and teachings of the Creator to mankind. It is claimed for
them, that their authority is established by miracles and prophecy, _with
all the evidence that is possible, so far as we can conceive_, and that
there are no other books in the world having any _such_ evidence of
authorized revelations from God.

No attempt will be made to set forth this evidence, which, it is claimed,
is peculiar to the Bible. The point here attempted is, to show that, were
the Augustinian system contained in these writings, it would destroy their
claims as _reliable_ revelations from God, even allowing that miracles and
prophecy attested their authority.

All must allow that it is _possible_ to have such things given in a
revelation from God as would destroy its reliability. For example, suppose
it were a fact that a revelation, supported by miracles, taught that
_there was no God_. This would necessarily destroy its authority as a
revelation from God.

Suppose again, that it taught that the Creator, who wrought the attesting
miracles, was a liar, and loved to deceive his creatures; this would also
destroy its reliability as a guide to truth.

Suppose again, that it taught that the Creator was a being who preferred
evil to good, and chose to have his creatures ignorant and miserable, when
he has power to make them wise and happy. This also would destroy the
reliability of any revelation from the Creator, even were it sustained by
undisputed miracles and prophecy.

This last is precisely what the Augustinian system _does_ teach, and, as
its advocates claim, it is a part of a revelation from the Creator,
supported by miracles and prophecy.

In opposition to this, it is maintained that this system is not to be
found in the Bible, and that were it there, all the miracles and prophecy
conceivable could not prove these writings to be revelations from the
Creator, which are _reliable_ as our guide to truth and happiness. A
Creator who wills ignorance and misery to his creatures, when he has power
to will knowledge and happiness in their place, is not a being to be
believed or trusted as our guide to truth and happiness.

It is in this light that the Augustinian theory, as a part of the Bible,
brings the question fairly before _the people_, as “_Bible or no Bible_?”


The preceding chapters have presented the distinctive features of two
systems which, in their main points, are shown to be contradictory, while
both are exhibited as incorporated into the chief creeds and theological
teachings of the Christian world.

It is the object of this chapter to point out the _tendencies_ of these
antagonistic systems.

It is maintained, that the common‐sense system, resting as it does on
implanted principles common to all minds, is evolved and held very much in
proportion to the development of the reasoning powers and the moral sense.

That part of this system which relates to man’s duties and best interests
_in this life_, without reference to a future state, has been more
harmoniously evolved by the wise and good of all ages and nations than any
other. Thus, in the teachings of Confucius, Zoroaster, Gaudama, Solon,
Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Seneca, and the Antonines, who are among the
chief heathen sages, we can find nearly all the moral duties of man, to
himself and to his fellow‐man, which are to be found in the Bible. It is
true that there are diversities and deficiencies in all; but a large body
of pure morality could be made up from their united teachings. The account
given of the system of Boodhism in a previous chapter is one illustration
of this fact.

But, while it is comparatively easy for the good and wise heathen to
reason out what is _best_ for man in this life, as taught by experience,
the grand failure is in _motives_ which will secure _obedience_ to the
rules of virtue. “We see the right and yet the wrong pursue,” has been the
universal lament of humanity.

The character of the Creator, as “the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and
gracious, slow unto anger, of great kindness;” “who doth not _willingly_
afflict or grieve the children of men;” who “like as a father pitieth his
children;” who is “a father of the fatherless and a judge of the widow;”
“a God without iniquity, just and right;” “a judge of the fatherless and
the poor;” who “shall judge the world with righteousness;” “a righteous
God, who trieth the heart and the reins;” who “will regard the prayer of
the destitute;” who “knoweth the wants of the heart;” “who knoweth our
down‐sitting and up‐rising, and is acquainted with all our ways;” who is
“a righteous Lord who loveth righteousness;” “whose judgments are all
right;” whose “word is right;” whose “word is truth from the beginning;”
who is “plenteous in mercy and truth;” such a character as this, as it is
recorded in the Jewish sacred books, was never evolved or set forth by the
wisest and best sages of all the earth, unaided by these writings.

That such a Being regards our race with long‐suffering compassion, and
came himself to earth, by his teachings, example and _self‐sacrificing_
love, to save us from sin, this was never even _imagined_ by any of the
heathen sages of earth.

The _power of motive_, secured by a belief in the omnipresence, sympathy
and love of such a God, never was attained by the unaided reasoning of any
human being.

The fact that the soul survives the dissolution of the body, and that the
good go where they are happy, and the wicked where they are punished, has
been more or less clearly evolved by the heathen world. In some nations,
as for example the followers of Boodhism, this doctrine is quite definite
and distinct, but with most heathen nations all their notions on this
subject are dim, shadowy and unpractical.

It is those nations alone, who have had access to the Bible, who have ever
attained the _powerful motives_ which are found in the system of common
sense. And yet, as has been shown, these influences have been, to a great
extent, nullified by a contradictory system.

It is claimed, that the system of common sense is the one on which the
revelations of the Creator, contained in the Bible, are founded. This
being so, those who are most developed in their reasoning powers, and who
also yield the most reverence to the Bible, are those who are most
powerfully protected against the pernicious tendencies of the antagonistic
system of Augustine.

Thus, a system which is antagonistic to reason and common sense, has, by
ecclesiastical authority and perversion, been fastened most firmly on that
class of minds who bring all their cultivated powers to its defense, while
at the same time the very cultivation of these powers, and their reverence
for the Bible, tend to the destruction of the same system. We consequently
find the strongest defenders, and the strongest antagonists of the
Augustinian system, in those sects who were educated within its

If common sense and the Bible are to conquer this false system, it must be
done by those whose common sense and reverence for the Bible are most
effective and most prominent. And yet this class of persons are the ones,
who would the most vigorously apply their energies in the defense of a
system in which they have been trained from infancy, and which is
sustained by all the power of public sentiment, and church organization.
This being premised, the tendencies of the two antagonistic systems will
now be set forth.


The system of common sense rests on the assumption that there are
principles of right and wrong founded on the eternal nature of things,
existing independently of the will of the Creator in his own eternal mind,
and by which his character and conduct may be judged.

The human mind is constructed in accordance with these principles, as the
embryo image of the Eternal Creator. By the aid of these principles, we
discover the design and character of God in the _nature_ of his works, and
can perceive what is right or wrong in moral action as tending to fulfill
or oppose this design. Thus we are enabled to understand and to adore the
rectitude, wisdom and goodness of our Creator, as manifested either in his
works or in more direct revelations from him.

According to this system, all voluntary action is right which produces
happiness without violating the laws of God. Thus every person who is
making self or others happy in the _best_ way, guided by the teachings of
experience or by revelations from God, is fulfilling the great design of
our Maker, and thus pleasing him by promoting his chief desire.

On the contrary, the Augustinian system assumes that the human mind, being
totally depraved, is entirely disqualified to judge of the character and
ways of God. Nay more, it assumes that there is no standard of right and
wrong by which we can judge of the rectitude of the ways of God.

According to this theory, the fact that God wills a thing is what makes it
right; so that any thing is right if God does it, and true if he says it,
however contrary it may be to our moral nature and common sense.

In the teachings of moral science, founded on this theory, it is
maintained that God has formed our minds to feel certain emotions of
approval or disapproval in view of certain relations and actions, which
are right or wrong only as agreeing or disagreeing with his will. But as
the mind of man is depraved, this constitution is no certain guide, and we
are dependent on direct revelations from God to teach us what is in
agreement with his will. Yet here again we are at fault; for such is our
depravity that we are disqualified to _interpret_ these revelations,
except as we are regenerated by God.

Accordingly, man has no means of judging of the designs or character of
his Maker—nor, while unregenerate, as most of our race are and have been,
has he any sure means of discovering the will of God, either by reason or
revelation, saving as he may find infallible priestly interpreters.

Tendencies of the Two Systems in Regard to the Cultivation of the
Reasoning Powers and Moral Sense.

The common‐sense system, resting on the assumption that _happiness‐making,
according to the laws of God_, is the chief end of man, naturally leads to
the development of the intellect and reason in order to discover these
laws, and to the devotion of all our powers to happiness‐making, according
to these laws. This being so, every thing that tends to make enjoyment and
diminish evil without violating law, is valued as good and right. All
noble, generous, self‐sacrificing and honorable sentiments and acts are
regarded as right, pleasing to the Father of all, and tending equally to
promote the best good of ourselves and of all our fellow‐beings. In this
light we become _one_ with the Father and with all good beings just so far
as we obey all the physical, social and moral laws of our Creator, and
thus conform to his will, and add to his happiness. Thus the direct
tendency of this system is to promote an earnest desire, first to discover
all that is true and right, and then to follow it. And such efforts
naturally tend both to develop our highest powers, and to bring the mind
into harmony and communion with the Father of our spirits.

On the contrary, the Augustinian system, resting on the assumption that
all the plans and ways of God are a mystery beyond our comprehension; that
man, by nature, has no power to understand what is right or wrong in God’s
dispensations; that what we call goodness and virtue in unregenerate minds
is not so in God’s sight; that every act of every unrenewed mind is sin,
and only sin; that until regenerated we never do any thing to move God to
re‐create our ruined nature; all this in its _tendency_ leads to
recklessness, hopelessness and neglect of all virtuous efforts, as useless
in regard to our highest interests. As before intimated, these tendencies
are more or less counteracted by the teachings of common sense and the
Bible. Still, such tendencies must always be, more or less, effective and


The Augustinian system, assuming that true personal religion consists in
the exercises of “a new nature,” tends to introverted mental efforts, in
order to discover whether the signs of such a nature exist in ourselves.

As, on this theory, it is certain that man will do nothing to change his
fallen nature until the Spirit of God is given to aid, the great attention
and effort must be directed to those methods, which “the church” decides,
or experience has proved, to be connected with the bestowal of this
spiritual gift.

Not knowing clearly what the depraved nature is, which is to be changed,
nor the certain signs of its existence or re‐creation, nor any certain
mode of securing the desired change, there is a perplexing variety of
vague instructions as to “what we must do to be saved?”

In illustration of this, the following from an article by the editor of
the Methodist Quarterly, shows how Wesley and his followers instruct on
this subject:

    “I have continually testified, in private and in public,” says
    Wesley, “that we are sanctified as well as justified by faith.”

This being first stated, the great question follows, _what is that faith_
by which we are justified and sanctified? The answer is this:

    “It is a divine evidence and conviction, first that God hath
    promised it in the holy Scriptures; secondly, that what God hath
    promised he is _able_ to perform; thirdly, that he is _able and
    willing_ to do it _now_. To this, is to be added one thing more: a
    divine conviction _that he doeth it_. In that hour it is

That is, in order to be justified and sanctified we must have a divine
evidence and conviction that God is _able_ and _willing_, and actually
_does now_ give the justification and sanctification we seek. In other
words, in order to gain what we seek we must believe that we have gained
it. In order to get a blessing we must believe that we possess it.

Thus it is, that one of the largest sects of our country is instructed by
its founder and his most intelligent and learned followers, as to the way
of salvation from everlasting and inconceivable misery. It will be
remembered, that this class of divines teach that the depravity of man’s
mind consists in the _deprivation_ of God’s Spirit, which is withheld from
all the descendants of Adam on account of his sin.

The following presents the mode of instruction in which the author was
educated. It is contained in a letter from Dr. Nettleton, a celebrated
revival preacher, who often resided with the author’s father during
revivals in which they were co‐laborers. This letter was written to oppose
the views of the New Haven divines, who maintained that, although in
consequence of Adam’s sin, there is a tendency or bias to evil so powerful
as to insure “sin, and only sin” till regeneration occurs, yet that _the
act_ of regeneration consists in a choice or purpose on the part of man

In reference to these views of Dr. Taylor and others, Dr. Nettleton says:

    “They adopt a _new theory of regeneration_. It has been said by
    some that regeneration consists _in removing this sinful bias_,
    which is anterior to actual volition; this they deny. But whether
    we call this propensity _sinful_ or not, all orthodox divines who
    have admitted its existence have, I believe, united in the opinion
    that regeneration _does_ consist in removing it,” [which the New
    Haven divines denying, they are excluded from the “orthodox”
    ranks, in the view of Dr. N.]

He continues thus:

    “No sinner ever did or ever will make a holy choice prior to an
    _inclination_, _bias_ or _tendency_ to holiness.

    “On the whole their [_i.e._, the New Haven divines] views of
    depravity, of regeneration and of the mode of preaching to sinners
    can not fail, I think, of doing very great mischief. This
    exhibition [_i.e._, that regeneration consists in _man’s choice_]
    overlooks the most alarming feature of human depravity and _the
    very essence of experimental religion_. It is directly calculated
    to prevent sinners from coming under conviction of sin....”

    “The progress of conviction ordinarily is as follows: _Trouble and
    alarm_ first, on account of _outward_ sins; secondly, on account
    of hardness of heart, deadness and insensibility to divine
    things,—_tendency_, _bias_, _proneness_ or _propensity to sin_,
    both inferred and felt; and this the convicted sinner always
    regards, not merely as calamitous, but as _awfully criminal_ in
    the sight of God. And the sinner utterly despairs of salvation
    _without a change in this propensity to sin_. And while he feels
    this propensity to be thus criminal, he is fully aware that if
    God, by a sovereign act of his grace, does not interpose to remove
    or change it, he shall never give his heart to God, _nor make one
    holy choice_.”

The great point taught by Dr. Nettleton and his associates was, that man
has a depraved nature consisting in a bias or propensity to sin,
consequent on Adam’s sin, for which we are “awfully criminal in the sight
of God,” and which man himself will never remedy; that regeneration
consists in the change of this bias by God, and that until God does make
this change man will “never give his heart to God nor make one holy
choice.” And yet his sermons, as the writer heard them month after month,
abounded in pungent addresses to sinners, commanding them in God’s name to
“give their hearts to God,” and maintaining that their inability to do so
was owing to their own fault and _unwillingness_ to do so.

At the same time, the New Haven divines, in the same pulpit, were urging
_their_ views, showing that regeneration consisted in “choosing God and
his service;” that man was fully able to do this, and yet that owing to
his depraved nature, he never would do it, until that nature was in some
way changed by God. Meantime, on their view also, every voluntary act,
previous to regeneration, was “sin, and only sin.” Nor had God pointed out
any sure mode of obtaining from him the gift of regenerating grace. They,
however, urged that the results of _experience_ proved that regeneration,
though not promised to unregenerate doings, is, as a matter of fact,
bestowed more frequently on those who use “the means of grace,” such as
prayer, reading the Bible and frequenting religious meetings, than on
those who do not.

The points of difference between the New Haven theologians and their
opponents, seemed to be, that the former taught that regeneration was the
act of man himself in choosing God’s service; while Dr. Nettleton and his
associates taught that it consisted in the change of man’s _nature_ by
God, and not in what was done by man himself. The New Haven theologians
have been more definite in their attempts to explain the exact nature of
regeneration than any other class. They all agree, however, that man never
will, in any case, become regenerated until God in some measure rectifies
the injury done to human nature by Adam’s sin; that God points out no
definite way to secure this aid; and that previous to regeneration every
moral act of man is “sin, and only sin.”

As to the signs or evidence of regeneration, those who teach that man’s
depravity consists in the _deprivation_ of God’s Spirit, on account of
Adam’s sin, often lead to the expectation of some sudden “light and joy,”
as the first evidence of regeneration. Such, also, follow Wesley’s
direction, and try to believe that they _are_ justified and sanctified, in
order to become so. Others point out certain emotions toward God or toward
Jesus Christ as the proof of the commencement of a new nature.

Some divines lead to the impression that the new nature consists in a
mysterious indwelling of God in the soul, or a union of our nature to his,
so that when it takes place, there is a natural outflowing of good
feelings and good works, as there was of evil before this union. But they
point out no intelligible way of gaining this union.

The Catholic church teaches that regeneration is conferred by the rite of
baptism, and that thus a seed or some mysterious principle is implanted,
which is developed by use of the forms and rites of “the church,” and
exhibited in “good works.” The Episcopal churches, more or less, retain
this view in the teachings of their clergy.

“_Saving faith_,” or the “faith which justifies,” is described by
religious teachers with most singular and inconsistent forms of
expression. If any person will make a collection of the various diverse
explanations of this indispensable requisite to eternal life, it would
prove a most mournful illustration of vague teachings in reply to the
great question, “What must we do to be saved?”

The following extract was prepared by a very intelligent theological
student at the request of the author, in reference to the great question,
“What must we do to be saved?” as set forth in a recent work, highly
recommended for its clear and practical views on this great matter. This
work, entitled “_The Higher Christian Life_,” exhibits not only the
author’s views of what regeneration consists in, but his views of another
subject that has greatly interested many minds in the religious world,
under the name of _Christian Perfection_:

    “I have examined, as you requested, the book entitled ‘_The Higher
    Christian Life_,’ with a view of gaining the author’s definition
    of ‘conversion,’ or ‘regeneration,’ and his directions for
    securing it, and also his idea of what the ‘second conversion’
    consists in. His view of the first conversion, or regeneration,
    _is the generally entertained one_, _i.e._, _it is the pardon of
    our sins_. This pardon is instantaneous and entire. The moment a
    soul believes in Christ, and accepts his atonement, that moment it
    experiences _a complete sense of pardoned sin_.

    “Luther experienced this when, after fasting, and watching, and
    struggling under the weight of sins unforgiven had brought him to
    the brink of the grave, these words were brought home to his mind,
    ‘I believe in the forgiveness of sins.’ From that moment ‘joy
    filled his soul, and he arose quickly from the depths of despair
    and the bed of sickness.’

    “_Second conversion is the cleansing from sin_, which the author
    says ‘is a work of indefinite length,’ and in this particular
    alone differs from the first conversion.

    “But, in the examples cited by him, the experience of this second
    conversion has been as instantaneous as the first. Luther,
    climbing Pilate’s stair‐case on his hands and knees, for the
    purpose of gaining holiness, was brought to his feet by the truth,
    ‘The just shall live _by faith_.’ ‘Then,’ Luther says, ‘I felt
    myself born again. As a new man I entered by an open door into the
    very Paradise of God.’

    “So in all the other examples of this author, the apprehension of
    _Christ as the way_, is instantaneous; and yet he says ‘the work
    of Christ remains yet to be done in the future.’ In this point
    only does it differ from the first conversion, that it is not all
    done in an instant, although, as I have said before, his examples
    all make the impression that in both cases the work is

This extract is not given as a _correct_ exhibition of the views of this
author, for it may not do him justice. It is given to show how vague and
indefinite are the teachings of religious writers and preachers on this
subject. Here is a book recommended for its _clear views_ by the highest
class of minds. It is read and re‐read by an intelligent, well‐educated
young man, who is studying theology in one of our first seminaries. He
then gives this author’s view of regeneration, as that which he supposes
to be contained in that book, and also as “_the one generally

And what is this answer to the great question, “What must we do to be
saved?”—a question on which the happiness of endless ages is suspended.

_It is the pardon of sin_, which “is instantaneous and entire.” This is
something which God does, and this, as it would seem, is regeneration.

Next it is stated that “the moment a soul _believes in Christ and accepts
his atonement_, that moment it experiences _a complete sense of pardoned
sin_.” Here one must ask, “what is signified by believing in Christ and
accepting his atonement? Is this also regeneration, and if so, does it
consist in the intellectual assent to the proposition that Christ as God
suffered and died, and by this act secured the pardon of our sin?” There
is nothing given to decide these queries.

Next, it is stated that this act of faith is followed by “_a complete
sense_ of pardoned sin.” Is _this_ regeneration, or is it a _part_ of it?
There is nothing given to decide this question.

It is certain that the young man, totally failed in his efforts to secure
any _clear_ and _definite_ conceptions of the author’s meaning, exactly as
has been the case with the writer herself, for whom the above extract was

It has been the privilege of the writer, often to listen to the preaching
of Dr. Bushnell, one of the most popular of all our religious teachers. On
one such occasion during the present season, the object of his sermon
seemed to be to teach what was that _true knowledge of God_, which he
urged on his hearers.

He stated that it was not merely an intellectual apprehension of his
character and deeds, but something which every soul must gain in order to
secure eternal life, something, as it seemed, which he deemed

He finally enunciated this, which seemed to be his idea of this
indispensable experience: “_It is the return of God into the human soul_.”

In enlarging on this, he described something which was so vague and
indefinite as to make it useless to attempt to state the impression made.
Afterward, aid was sought from one of the preacher’s constant and most
intelligent hearers. “Does Dr. Bushnell believe in a preëxistent state,
when God, in the manner set forth, was _in_ the soul of each human being?
If not, what does he mean by a ‘return of God into the soul?’ ” After some
discussion, this intelligent parishioner concluded that his meaning
probably was, that when we desire and intend wholly to submit our wills to
that of God, and to be guided wholly by him, we become in this respect
_one_ with God. And this is what is meant by God’s _return_ into the soul.
At what _previous_ time this state of union was experienced, and then
lost, so that regeneration is its “return,” seemed to remain, as it
respects information to be gained from parishioners, a matter of hopeless

In a family of whom eight are ministers of religion, and several are
theological professors, the one who has seemed most fully to agree with
the writer in explaining the nature of regeneration, is the _Star
contributor to the Independent_.

It has been shown that Phrenology is antagonistic to the Augustinian
theory of implanted evil propensities, by teaching that every faculty,
when developed and regulated aright, tends to the best good of the race,
so that the extinction of any faculty or propensity would not be an
improvement, but rather an injury to the constitution of mind.

In regard to this brother, here referred to, the system of Phrenology was
embraced by him before his theological education was commenced, and was
never relinquished. In consequence, his mode of explaining the nature of
regeneration has been diverse from most accepted methods of theological
schools. And yet, when the writer, applied both to his published articles
and to some of his most intelligent, regular hearers, to ascertain if the
common‐sense view of regeneration, as here stated, was in perfect
agreement with her brother’s views, it seemed difficult to decide.

In reading some of the Star Papers, the common‐sense view of regeneration
is clear and unmistakable; in others, there are statements as to the
_distinctive_ nature of Christian character, which seem to be both
additional and diverse. The result is, an uncertainty as to the exact idea
of what regeneration consists in, as taught by this brother.(19)

The editors of the Independent quote the following sentence from _Common
Sense Applied to Religion, or the Bible and the People_, as a statement of
“the doctrine of the new birth,” which is “not materially different” from
that held by “the fathers and mothers of New England for eight successive

    “The ‘second birth’ is the sudden or the gradual entrance into a
    life, in which the will of the Creator is to control the self‐will
    of the creature, while under the influence of love and gratitude
    to him, and guided by ‘faith’ in his teachings, _living chiefly
    for the great commonwealth_ takes the place of _living chiefly for
    self_. For this, the supernatural aid of the Holy Spirit is
    promised to all who seek it, and without this aid, success is
    hopeless. But the grand instrumentality is _right training_ by
    parents and teachers.” (Common Sense, etc., p. 333.)

Let this statement, by the Independent, of what the new birth consists in,
as held by the fathers and mothers of New England, be compared with the
preceding account of “conversion,” given by a young theologian, born in
Connecticut, and educated at Yale College, as the “generally entertained
one,” and the case is rendered increasingly difficult and perplexing.

In the view of the author, _all_ theologians do so far hold the common‐
sense theory of regeneration, that when they find a person whose will
seems to be entirely subjected to the will of God, while “under the
influence of love and gratitude to Him, and guided by faith in his
teachings, _living chiefly for the great commonwealth takes the place of
living chiefly for self_”—such a person is regarded by them as
_regenerated_. At the same time, bound by the Augustine system, they give
other views of the nature of regeneration, which are vague and
conflicting, as has been illustrated in the preceding pages.(20)

From all this results endless anxiety, doubt and distress, in
conscientious minds, from uncertainty whether their depraved nature has
been changed, and from perplexity in view of the multifarious modes of
teaching in regard to the nature and signs of regeneration.

From this, too, results false confidence and indifference to right and
wrong conduct, in those who imagine they discover in themselves the signs
of a regenerated nature, which will, as they are led to believe, secure
heaven without reference to the amount of good or evil deeds.

This same incertitude as to what regeneration is, has also tended to
induce the fanaticism, extravagance and absurdities often connected with
religious excitements.

The idea that there is to be some mysterious change in the soul by the
gift of God’s Spirit; that this is to be gained by prayer; that the
evidence of this change is to be found in sudden and great mental
agitation; together with the belief that an _eternity_ of misery or bliss
is depending on such a change; and that death is the end of all hope—all
this tends to great extremes of distress and excitement.

Tendencies of the Common‐Sense System.

In contrast to these tendencies of the Augustinian system, in regard to
individual religious experience, we notice those of the common‐sense
system. According to the latter, the _first birth_ brings man into
existence as an undeveloped being, with perfect and wonderful capacities
of knowledge, enjoyment and self‐control. The first period of existence is
necessarily a period of _experimenting_, in which mind is dependent on
others for most of the knowledge indispensable to right action, and also
for the training of the physical, social and moral habits. It is
impossible to choose aright, intelligently, until a child learns _what is
right_, and this is a slow and gradual process. In some cases, by a
careful training, early virtuous principles and habits may be so induced,
that there can not be any marked period in which the mind comes under the
control of _a ruling purpose_ to obey all the rules of rectitude as
disclosed by reason and experience, or by revelations from God.

In other cases, the child may grow up to manhood entirely unregulated by
any such purpose, while self‐gratification, unrestrained by rules, is the
perpetual aim. In such cases, a sudden change, in which the man forms and
carries out a ruling purpose to act righteously and virtuously, in all his
relations to man, to God and to himself, may take place. This change, in
the language of common life, would be expressed thus: “The man has begun a
new life; he is a new creature.” And by a figurative use of language, the
change might be called “a new birth,” or, in theological language,
“regeneration.” In such a case, the chief desire or ruling passion would
be, to discover and to obey all the physical, social and moral laws of the
Creator, as they are taught by reason and experience, or by revelations
from God.

Such an experience would be properly expressed by the terms, _faith_ in
God, _love_ to God, _repentance_ toward God, _as these terms are used by
men in common life_. Thus “regeneration,” according to the common‐sense
system, becomes an intelligible, rational and practical matter.

In case of a revelation from God by a prophet or messenger, confidence in,
and obedience to, the teachings of that messenger, would be practical or
saving faith, both in God and in his messenger also. Thus, if Christ is
proved to be a messenger from God by miracles, whoever _practically
believes_ in Christ, believes in God also. And just so far as a man
understands Christ’s teachings _aright_, and _purposes_ to obey him, and
_carries out_ this purpose, just so far he has faith, and love, and
repentance toward God and toward Christ. And as men are named by the name
of those they obey, every man is a _true Christian_ just so far as he
understands Christ’s teachings _aright_ and _obeys_ them.

In this view of the case, the true “_signs of regeneration_” would be each
person’s consciousness of the great end and purpose of his life, and the
fruits or results of this purpose in an habitual obedience to the
physical, social and moral laws of God, as learned by reason, experience
and revelation. Thus the answer to the great question of life becomes
clear, harmonious and practical, furnishing the means for every person to
judge of his own character and prospects.


It has been shown (chapter 24) that _emotive_ love, in view of noble and
interesting traits of character, affords a most powerful motive in
securing _voluntary love_ or _good willing_ according to the laws of God.
This is the grand reason why it is so important that all his creatures
should regard their Creator, whose laws they must obey, as perfect in
every noble and lovable quality. This would render it easy and delightful
to obey his will.

The principle of gratitude is the strongest in our nature, in calling
forth desires to please another. This renders it so important that we
should regard our Maker, not only as noble and lovely, but as the
dispenser of innumerable and constant favors to ourselves and to those
whom we love.

The highest emotions of love and gratitude are evoked when a noble and
lovely benefactor condescends to humiliation, suffering, and even to death
to rescue from great calamity. And the greater the danger and suffering
from which this goodness rescues, the stronger the gratitude and the
desire to please the benefactor.

In this view we can conceive of no way in which our Creator could so
powerfully influence his creatures to virtuous self‐sacrifice for the
general good in obedience to his laws, as by such an exhibition on his

It has been shown [Chapter 28] that by the light of reason and experience
alone, we infer that our race are exposed to dreadful risk and danger of
evils, which to _some_ will prove interminable. If, then, it can be made
to appear that our Creator has submitted to great humiliation and
suffering to rescue us, and that his _chief desire_ is that his creatures
should obey his beneficent laws, the strongest conceivable motives would
be secured to lead to glad obedience to the rules of virtue. And having
shown that the chief end of our Creator is to do all in his power to make
the most possible happiness, we should infer that he had made or would
make such a manifestation of his character to his creatures. And were this
revealed to us as done, such a revelation would properly be called “glad
tidings,” as that which was best fitted to save men from sin and

According to the system of common sense, our Creator is presented as the
Almighty Father, who forms each finite mind an embryo image of his own all
perfect mind, with the great design of making all the happiness possible.
Although the highest happiness of each and of all, depends on the perfect
action of every mind, such action is not possible in the nature of things
except as a knowledge of his laws and of the motives to secure obedience
are made known by finite educators, who must first be trained themselves
by a long and slow process. Thus every mind is dependent for its final
success in attaining perfect obedience to law, and for perfected
happiness, on God, on finite educators and on self.

In carrying forward the development and education of our race, the Creator
always has done and always will do the _best that is possible_ for the
good of all. And yet, so far as reason and experience teach, some will be
_ruined for ever_. The deteriorating process begun in this life, and its
baleful results, will continue for ever.

The great consummation, when those that are hopelessly ruined will be
separated from the good, is at an indefinite period ahead, and may be many
ages, while the same process of labor and training are proceeding in the
unseen world, and yet so that the conduct and character formed in this
life have a _decided influence_ on the whole course of existence that

Thus when the good man dies we may hope that his upward career is
eternally secure. But when the wicked die there must be “a certain fearful
looking for of judgment and fiery indignation.”

The Creator does, has done, and will do _all that is __ possible_ to save
all that _can_ be saved from this doom, and as the highest possible
motives we can conceive to secure this end, would be the appearance of our
Creator in human form as a teacher of his laws, an example of virtue and a
self‐sacrificing Saviour, we infer that he has done or will do this, at
the time and in the manner which is best fitted to the great end in view.

The Augustinian system presents a view of the character and conduct of the
Creator in mournful contrast to this.

Our only idea of a perfectly benevolent being is that of one who prefers
happiness to suffering, and who does _all in his power_ to promote one and
prevent the other. Our only idea of a malevolent being is, that he wills
misery when he has full power to make happiness in its stead. Our only
evidence of the _moral_ character of a being (or that exhibited in
_willing_) is _the nature_ of his works. On the Augustinian theory, all
the chief works of the Creator’s hand, the immortal minds, which alone
give value to any other existences, are depraved so totally that there is
no really good act done by any one of them till created anew.

In other words, the Creator, having full power to make every mind perfect
in nature, and who still has power to re‐create all with perfect natures,
has instituted a system by which the sin of one man entails a depraved
nature on a whole race, while the evil as yet has been remedied only in
the case of a small, “elect” number. All the rest are doomed to eternal
misery for conduct which is the certain consequence of this misformed

To save men from the punishment of the sins consequent on their depraved
nature, Christ, the most perfect and only unsinning being that ever
visited earth, undergoes deep humiliation and excruciating sufferings.

To call such conduct as this _just_, or _kind_, or _merciful_, is a
violation of all our ideas of the meaning of such terms. What kindness is
there in giving existence to _any_ being on such terms? What blessings are
all the comforts and enjoyments of this life, so soon to be snatched away,
thus making the contrast of future misery so much the more horrible? What
mercy is there in any mode of rectifying a wrong so needlessly inflicted?
What mercy, or what justice is there in adding to all the miseries of our
race the sufferings of so noble and lovely a being as Jesus Christ, when
all, and more than all, effected by his agonies, could be so much more
justly and reasonably secured by regenerating all the minds thus
needlessly ruined in their nature? This strange and mysterious transaction
only adds to the terror and gloom that shroud such a Creator, whose
character can be learned only by the _nature_ of his works.

To call all this a _mystery_ is a misuse of terms, for there is no mystery
about it. More direct, clear, and open injustice, folly and malevolence,
can not possibly be expressed in human language than that here set forth
and ascribed to God.

Every mind instinctively asks, why did not the Creator give us a perfect
nature when he has the power to do so? Why does he not stop all the sin
and misery resulting from the depraved nature of man by regenerating all,
when he has power to do so? How can we either respect or love a being who
has done such awful and endless wrong to our race, and for no conceivable
good made known to us? What cause of gratitude for the sufferings and
death of Christ to save the few of us who alone are to escape from such
needless and intolerable evils?

Meantime, the various theories invented to relieve the baleful impression
thus made as to the character of our Creator, only add new difficulties.

To say that this perpetuated mode of bringing ruined minds into existence,
is a penalty for a single sin of the first pair, thousands of years ago,
what a violation of all our ideas of justice! To say that this transaction
is _just_ because Adam was “_regarded_” by God as “the federal head” of
our race, and that he “imputes” the sin of the father to all his
descendants, what is this, to our conceptions, but puerile folly added to
the baldest cruelty and injustice?

To say that we all “sinned _in_ Adam,” thousands of years before we were
born, and are punished by a ruined nature, so far as we can conceive of
such an absurd proposition, what is this penalty better than inflicting
endless tortures on myriads of new‐born infants for their first ignorant
and unconscious sin?

To say that _man_, or _Adam_ is the author of all this ineffable wrong,
because it is done by “a constitutional transmission” from parent to
child, of which God is the author, when he had full power to make each
child perfect in nature, what is this but adding to cruelty and injustice
a mean subterfuge in order to cast the blame on Adam and his race?

The mind turns from a God so represented, with horror and dismay, and it
is only by concealing this system, by representations that are _perfectly
contradictory_, that the baleful impression is lessened.

The view of God’s character thus presented by the Augustinian theory, not
only lessens the power of motive which the common‐sense view of the
Creator’s character affords, but brings a powerful positive influence to
turn the human mind from that love and obedience toward God which is so
indispensable to peace and happiness.


It has been shown that the common‐sense theory teaches that all mankind
must, in order to eternal happiness, be trained by human agencies to
choose what is _best_, guided by the laws of God, as learned by experience
or by revelation.

Under the guidance of this general principle, _associated_ bodies would
result, whose aim would be discussion and instruction to discover and
perpetuate a _knowledge_ of the rules of rectitude, and to secure all
those _motives_ which experience has proved to be most effective in
securing obedience to these rules. In other words, the chief end of such
associations would be to find out what is _best_ and thus right, and also
the _best_ modes of securing right action.

The experience of mankind has shown that the most effective way to extend
and perpetuate any religion is to have a body of men supported who shall
give their chief energies and time to this object. Social gatherings at
regular periods have also been found effective to this end. In short, were
a system of religion established, founded _exclusively_ and _consistently_
on experience and common sense, it would include sabbaths of interrupted
worldly affairs, social gatherings to promote worshipful obedience to the
Creator and a body of men educated and sustained for the express purpose
of discovering, instructing in and perpetuating the intellectual, social,
moral and religious interests of humanity. Such a ministry would be not
dogmatic teachers, but leaders in discussions and investigations.

The great aim of all these arrangements would be to discover by inquiry
and discussion what is best in all human interests and affairs, in view of
the immortality of man, and the risks and dangers of eternity, and also to
devise the best modes of influencing all to right action.

Were this life the end of our being, and were all questions of right and
wrong to be settled in reference to the well‐being of our race in this
short span, no such separate class of religious leaders and organized
instrumentalities would be needful. But if men are to be _trained_ to act
with reference to the invisible state as the _chief_ concern, then
organized instrumentalities to resist the overruling tide of worldliness
become indispensable.

The full tendencies of such organizations, based _exclusively_ on the
principles of common sense, must be a matter of speculation merely, for
the world has had no experience of this kind. As yet we have only the
experience of mankind as to systems in which the teachings of common sense
have been combined with contradictory influences of false dogmas, which
have been sustained by the strongest organizations, civil and

We will now trace some of the tendencies of the Augustinian system as they
have been exhibited in the history of church organizations.

It has been shown that the Augustinian theory of a depraved nature is the
foundation doctrine alike of the Catholic and the Protestant churches. All
agree that man by nature is so miserably misformed that the gift of the
Holy Spirit purchased by Christ to re‐create is his sole hope of escape
from everlasting perdition, while there is little or no ability to
understand or obey God’s revealed will until this gift is imparted. From
this originated a priesthood as the medium through which this renewing
gift is to be obtained, and who are the only authorized interpreters of
God’s revealed will. The transmission of this power through the rite of
ordination, preserved in direct succession from the apostles, is the
leading point in the Episcopal organization. Still more is this carried
out to extreme results in the Catholic church.

Both organizations assume that “the church” which has this power, does not
include _the people_, but is the priesthood alone. It is the ecclesiastics
of these churches who are to interpret the Bible for the people, and the
people are to receive these decisions as from God. This is the _theory_,
while common sense and the Bible have more or less modified its practical
adoption, especially in the Episcopal churches.

The Puritans of England were the first among the Protestants who organized
churches as consisting solely of those who “profess” to be “regenerated”
on the theory of the renewal of the depraved nature derived from Adam. To
this profession in most cases must be added an examination by persons who
are regenerated in order to ascertain whether the true signs of a new
nature, according to their pattern, really exist. Such churches are a
close corporation, having a minister to preach and administer baptism and
the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, and deacons, elders, or committees to
decide who shall be received as regenerate or turned out as unregenerate.

Among the Puritans and their descendants originated another practice which
has become prevalent, by which the churches thus organized as regenerated
persons, also claim the right of infallible interpreters of the Bible, so
far as to exclude all from their communion who do not profess to agree
with their interpretations. That is to say, all persons, in order to be
admitted to their corporation and to the Lord’s table, must not only
profess to be regenerate in the nature transmitted from Adam, but must
confess that they interpret the Bible according to the notions of the
church they seek to join.

It will now be shown that most of our large denominations in this country
are so founded on the Augustinian dogma that were _the people_ all to give
up this theory the whole basis of sectarianism would be destroyed.

The Congregational and Baptist denominations are severed simply in
reference to the rite of baptism as the mode of admission to their
regenerated churches. The Congregationalists hold that baptism should be
administered by sprinkling, and to the infants of church members as well
as to adults joining the church. The Baptists hold that baptism should be
administered by immersion, and only to adults who join the church. This is
all that divides the two sects.

Of course, if all the people ceased to hold that churches are to consist
of persons whose nature received from Adam is re‐created, all churches
associated on the theory would be ended, and so these disputes about modes
of admission would be ended.

Again, the Presbyterians and Congregationalists separate on the question
of the appointment and duties of the _officers_ of their churches. The
Congregationalists manage by church committees. Each church is the sole
tribunal in its own affairs, thus being strictly democratic. The
Presbyterian churches manage the business of each church by _sessions_ or
_elders_ appointed by the church, and when they fail to give satisfaction,
an appeal is made to a Presbytery consisting of ministers and elders of
several churches.

Thus again, if churches organized on the Augustine theory of the
regeneration of a depraved nature should cease, this dispute in regard to
_church officers_ would end, and the Presbyterians, Congregationalists,
and Baptists would find all ground for separation gone.

Again, the old and new school Presbyterian churches separate on questions
relating to man’s ability to regenerate himself and in regard to what is
the nature of regeneration.

This all depends on the fact of a depraved nature transmitted from Adam to
be regenerated. If this dogma is relinquished by the people then these two
sects will have no ground for division.

Again, the Methodists differ from the other Augustinian sects chiefly in
regard to the officers and management of churches organized on the theory
of a depraved nature received from Adam, which is to be regenerated. And
if such organizations were ended the ground of separation between the
Methodists and the preceding sects would be removed.

Again, the Episcopalian sect is founded on the idea of a succession of
ordained priests through whose agency the gift of God’s Spirit to renew
our depraved nature and to impart the true interpretation of his
revelations is to be obtained.

If, then, the people discard the dogma of a depraved nature consequent on
Adam’s sin, and assume that they have perfect natures, and are authorized
to interpret the Bible for themselves, the chief ground for the existence
of this as a separate sect will be removed. The Catholic church also would
soon be ended as a distinct sect were all the people of that church to
discard these and all opinions and practices immediately or remotely based
on the Augustinian dogma.

The preceding will serve to illustrate the position that the tendency of
the common‐sense system is to unite all men in efforts to discover and to
obey all the laws of God for making happiness the _best_ way for time and

On the contrary, the Augustinian system tends to organize mankind into
sects contending, not for truth and happiness, but for certain outward
rites and forms of organization.


The result of receiving _church_ interpretations as infallible, whether of
priests or regenerated laity, is the assumption of a similar infallibility
by each person who thus accepts them.

This is accomplished by a very singular fallacy, thus:

The regularly ordained priests, or the regenerated priests and laity of
the _true_ church, are claimed to be the only persons qualified to
understand and interpret the meaning of God’s revelations. The question
then is, _which is the true church_? The Catholic says, “Mine, and no
other.” The Episcopalian says, “Mine, and no other;” and so says the
Presbyterian. The result is, each man decides that the true church is _the
one that agrees with his views of what the Bible teaches_.

Having thus decided that the church that agrees with himself is the true
church, the man proceeds, not only to receive reverently the decisions of
his church, but assumes that every other man is bound to do the same.

The Catholic receives one set of interpretations from the church that he
himself has infallibly decided to be the true church. The Protestant
receives the creeds and confessions of the church he has infallibly
decided to be the true church, whose regenerated ministers and members are
qualified to understand the Bible, as no unregenerated man can do.

Being thus sustained by his own claims as a regenerated person, and also
by the claims of the church he adopts as the true one, there is little
foundation for poverty of spirit, humility and meekness. How can a man
feel “poor in spirit,” as destitute of the knowledge requisite for right
action, when he has his own regenerated mind and the guidance of the
regenerated true church? How can a man be meek when others strive to
enlighten him by showing that he is in the wrong, especially when such
efforts are those of the unregenerated, or those shut out of his true

How can a man become very humble and lowly in his own conceit, when, in
contrast with most of the world, he alone can feel and act virtuously or
understand truly God’s revelations?

The natural tendency to pride, self‐sufficiency and dogmatism is still
further increased by the assumption that humility consists mainly in a low
opinion of “the nature” with which we are endowed. Thus, while assuming
infallibility in one aspect, they still can claim to be humble and lowly,
because they abhor and despise their depraved nature and its results in

At the same time, the most remarkable self‐deception is practiced in
regard to their own Christian graces. These all being supposed to spring
from a regenerated nature imparted by God, they disclaim all honor or
merit, and give all the glory to God, who has wrought these graces from
their dead and sinful nature. By this method they imagine they attain a
true humility and lowliness of spirit.

But every man of great genius, and every woman of uncommon beauty,
understand as truly as the professedly regenerated person, that their
gifts are from God, and are willing to give all the glory to him for thus
distinguishing them from their fellow‐creatures. And the ascription of all
the power and glory to God does not save the professedly regenerated
person from self‐complacency and pride any more than it does the genius or
the beauty.

And yet we find religious writings abounding in such disclaimers and
ascriptions, which are evidently regarded as proofs of humility and
lowliness of spirit. It is true that such expressions do often flow from
the hearts of the really humble and contrite; but the fact that a person
regards and acknowledges God as the author of his own extraordinary gifts,
that raise him above his fellows, is no _proof_ of humility, while it is
often so regarded.

In contrast to this tendency of the Augustinian system, the common‐sense
view teaches that while our nature is noble and perfect in
construction—the embryo image of its Maker—it is destitute of that
knowledge, experience and training, for which it is equally dependent on
God and on man. And as the requisite knowledge can be gained only by the
aid of those minds around, whose happiness is affected by our conduct, it
is clear that a willingness to learn from any quarter and to be told our
mistakes by any person, is the natural result of an earnest desire to find
out and obey the truth. And a consciousness of our own liabilities to
mistakes, and a certainty that there is no one “that liveth and sinneth
not,” tends to induce compassionate sympathy for the failings of others,
and an indisposition to force opinions on them by any other mode than calm
statement and argument.

At the same time, an earnest desire for inquiry and discussion is
generated, which naturally leads to patient investigation, courteous
demeanor towards opponents, and to all the graces that wait on a gentle,
humble and truth‐loving spirit.


It has been shown that the Augustinian system, teaching as it does man’s
depraved nature and destitution of any principles of right guidance in his
own mind, makes him wholly dependent not only on revelations from his
Creator, but on infallible interpreters.

Thus we find that wherever this system became dominant there has coëxisted
the claim that _the people_ are not to decide, each one for himself, what
are the teachings of reason, experience and revelation as to truth and
duty. Instead of this, first it was popes and councils, in which the laity
had no voice; next, as among the Puritans, it was the church, including
both the clergy and the regenerated portion of their flocks.

From this resulted religious persecutions, in this manner: Men are to obey
God as their first duty. _The church_ is God’s mouth‐piece to interpret
his commands to mankind. If men refuse to obey God, speaking through his
church, they must be forced to do so by pains and penalties. And as in
view of eternal happiness and eternal misery, all earthly interests are as
nothing, every temporal consideration must be put out of account.
Moreover, whoever leads men to disobey the church and thus to disobey God,
and so to peril not only their own eternal welfare, but that of others,
commits a greater crime than is done by violating any human ordinances.
Therefore, the heaviest penalties should be employed to enforce obedience
to the church, and the church must take precedence of the civil

Thus it came to pass that the more sincere, conscientious and benevolent a
person was, while holding these views, the more surely would he become a

The pages of history give many mournful illustrations of this truth. One
of the most striking will be here introduced.

Isabella of Spain, by whose generosity this western world was discovered,
was one of the most gentle, conscientious, benevolent and lovely
characters that ever adorned a throne.

She was trained to believe the church to be the representative of God on
earth, and her father confessor, Torquemada, the originator of the
Inquisition, was the guide of her conscience. By his commands the
Inquisition reared its horrid dungeons. By his counsel the industrious,
cultivated and chivalrous Moors, the most useful of all her subjects, were
driven from their native soil. By his commands the Jews were brought to
the cruel alternative of giving up their religion or relinquishing all
that made life dear. And thus the historian narrates this dreadful tale of
religious persecution:

    “The experiment of conversion was tried upon the Jews, and it
    utterly and totally failed. In the first place, their position in
    Christian society was a source of continual discussion. ‘If we
    admit them to public offices, we have gained nothing,’ said the
    mercantile classes. ‘If we exclude them,’ said the clergy, ‘what
    motive is held out for the rest to join us?’ But as a religious
    experiment, the failure was even more complete. The fathers were
    nominal converts, and nominal converts the children continued to
    be. Ostentatiously they attended mass; but in their own houses
    their Sabbath was kept, their ritual was read, their psalms were
    sung. Meantime, intercourse and intermarriage with Christians
    became more fatally easy than it had been before. Shunned by the
    middle classes, they intermarried with the ’blue blood’ of the
    nobility, they entered the priesthood, and ascended the highest
    steps of the Catholic hierarchy. Nay, they became, more than once,
    inquisitors, and wielded against their foes with cynical hatred
    the terrors of the Holy Office. Of the Inquisition there is no
    space to speak here;(21) sufficient to say that the ‘New
    Christians’ were the chief cause of its institution, and that
    during the eighteen years that Torquemada held office, ten
    thousand persons were burned alive.

    “But two thirds of the Jews of Spain had remained unconverted; and
    with them the Inquisition had nothing to do; for they were under
    special laws and under royal protection. But Torquemada had not
    forgotten them. Working on the pride of Ferdinand, on the
    conscience of Isabella, he persuaded them to sign the celebrated
    Edict of Exile. They were to leave Spain in three months. They
    were to take neither silver nor gold with them. If it pleased God
    to change their hearts, the church would most willingly receive

    “Ruinous alike to banisher and banished, this edict had cost a
    struggle. Isaac Abarbenel, wealthy, learned, high in royal favor,
    rushed into the queen’s audience‐chamber, on hearing what till
    then had been carefully concealed from his nation, threw himself
    at her feet, and doubtless won her over for the moment. To
    Ferdinand he offered thirty thousand ducats. But, in the wavering
    of debate, Torquemada appeared suddenly. ‘Judas,’ he said, ‘sold
    his master for thirty pieces. Your Majesties, it seems, want
    thirty thousand. Here He is; take Him; and what ye do, do
    quickly!’ Dashing a crucifix on the table, he left them. The omen
    was clear, and the die was cast.

    “To the Jews one road of deliverance was still left. To renounce
    the outward garb of their religion, never again to pass the
    threshold of a synagogue, never to chant a Hebrew hymn nor keep a
    Hebrew Sabbath; to change every household custom, to break all the
    rules of life, dear from the nursery and clung to on the bed of
    death; to repeat a false creed, to enter an idolatrous temple, to
    kneel down with God’s enemies;—this road was open, though treading
    it they would have trampled on their fathers’ tombs. Yet, on the
    other hand, thousands had taken that course; and would tell them
    that strict adherence to the laws of the land they lived in,
    abstinence from all that might offend, performance of harmless
    superstitions, bowing down for a season in the house of Rimmon,
    that this was a course plainly marked out by Providence. The loss,
    too, that they would suffer in exile was immense; and we must
    estimate this loss before we can estimate the worth of those who
    chose to suffer.

    “We have seen the Jews of France leave it, enter it, leave it
    again, and count the value of their sojourn at exactly the price
    at which reëntrance could be bought. It was a market‐stall, a
    field for acquisition; but it was not the seat of Jewish learning,
    it was not the resting place of their fathers for many

    “Now Spain was something more to them than this. It was no foreign
    soil, passed and repassed with the indifference of a stranger.
    They had lived there for twelve hundred years. They had seen the
    Teutonic forest‐creeds moulded and melted into the new faith of
    Rome. They had seen the Ishmaelite sweep that faith away. By him
    they had been welcomed as brothers. With him they had lit the lamp
    of science when all the world was dark. Then they had seen the
    Cross rise from the northern mountains, and the Crescent wane and
    wane before it. By the kings of Christian Spain their worth had
    been acknowledged; they had fostered their trade; they had called
    them to their councils; they had befriended and loved them.
    Persecution and jealousy had driven many of their brethren to
    accept another creed; but the new Christians were Jews still; they
    had married their daughters to the proudest nobles of a race where
    the peasant was proud; and not a duke in all Spain could despise
    them without despising his own mother’s blood. Spain, too, was the
    land where Jewish wisdom had unfolded and blossomed. Their
    physicians and their astronomers were the first in Europe. Their
    poets and their philosophers were eminent among their nation. The
    psalms of Jehuda Halevi were sung in the synagogues of the Rhine.
    Aben Esra had eclipsed the fame of the great Eastern school of
    Pombeditha; above all, Spain claimed the son of Maimon, the great
    prophet of the Exile, famed from the Seine to the Euphrates as the
    second Moses.

    “Such, besides escape from utter ruin, were the temptations to
    apostacy. And those who issued the decree fully hoped that
    apostacy would have been its result. Every means was taken. ‘In
    the public squares, in the synagogues, Catholic preachers
    thundered forth invective against the Hebrew heresy.’ They might
    thunder—they were not heard.

    “ ‘Come,’ said their priests and elders, ‘let us strengthen
    ourselves in our faith and in the teachings of our God, against
    the voice of the oppressor, and the scorn of the enemy. If they
    destroy us—well; if they will let us live—well; but we will not
    depart from the Covenant, neither make our hearts froward; but we
    will go forth in the name of the Lord our God, who saved our
    fathers from Egypt, and brought them through the Red Sea.’

    “The spirit of Moses and of Joshua rested on the aged rabbis, and
    their words prevailed. Few in number and bold in cowardice were
    those who yielded. They made ready for this second Exodus where no
    Canaan glistened in the distance. Forced to sell their possessions
    in three months, forbidden to sell them for gold, they were glad
    to exchange large houses or estates for an ass or mule, or for
    such trifling articles of travel as the wish to be first at the
    spoiling might induce purchasers to supply.

    “Eastward, westward, northward—to Africa, to Portugal, to Italy
    and the Levant,—half a million Jews went forth. Eighty thousand
    sought shelter in Portugal, but did not find it. Thousands fell
    into the hands of the barbarians of Fez. They were sold for
    slaves; they were left to starve on desert isles; their bodies,
    yet living, were ripped open for the hidden gold. Thus writes
    Rabbi Josef:

    “ ‘And there were among them who were cast into the isles of the
    sea, a Jew and his old father, fainting from hunger, begging
    bread; and there was none to break unto them in a strange country.
    And the man went and sold his little son for bread, to restore the
    soul of the old man; and when he returned to his father, he found
    him dead; and he rent his clothes. And he went back to the baker
    to take his son; but the baker would not give him back; and he
    cried out with a sore and bitter cry for his son, but there was
    none to deliver. All this befell us in the year Rabbim—for the
    sons of the desolate are “Many”—yet have we not forgotten thee,
    neither have we dealt falsely in thy covenant. Hasten to help us,
    O Lord! For thy sake we are killed all the day; we are counted as
    sheep appointed for the slaughter. Make haste to help us, O God of
    our salvation.’

    “Or listen to the chronicler of Genoa, who saw them as they
    drifted eastward:

    “ ‘This expulsion,’ he says, ‘seemed to me at first a praiseworthy
    act, done in the cause and for the honor of God. Yet, when we
    remember that they were not brute beasts after all, but men made
    by God, surely it must be owned that some little cruelty was
    shown. Their woes were very piteous to see. The first who starved
    were the infants at the breast; then the mothers, carrying their
    dead children till they fell down and died with them. Many
    perished of cold and of squalor. Unused to the sea, countless
    numbers died from sickness; many were drowned by the sailors for
    their wealth; the poor, who could not otherwise pay their passage,
    sold their children. Lean, pale, with eyes deep‐sunken, like
    ghosts from the dead, hardly moving enough to show that they were
    alive, they came into our city to find shelter for three days; for
    our ancient laws forbade a longer stay. Yet for the repair of
    their ships, and for health’s sake, a short respite was granted.
    They were allowed to live on the Mole, while they made ready for
    their long voyage eastward. Thus the winter passed, and many of
    them died. The spring came, and ulcers broke out that had been
    hitherto kept under by the cold, and all that year there was a
    plague in that city.’ ”

This mournful narrative exhibits one of the most sublime examples of
religious faith and conscientious self‐sacrifice to what was deemed truth
and duty in the persecuted. At the same time, when the avaricious
Ferdinand relinquished thirty thousand ducats, and the tender and
benevolent Isabella turned a deaf ear to such prayers and sufferings from
her people, there can be no doubt that conscience ruled the persecutors
also. Even Torquemada himself may have been acting from the most
conscientious and benevolent motives in all the disastrous influences he
brought to bear on his royal mistress.

This passage of history also teaches that honesty, and sincerity, and
conscientiousness will not avail without a _knowledge of the truth_. Nay,
more; had these persecutors been less conscientious, the natural instincts
of humanity or personal interests would have mitigated or withheld the
cruel doom.

It is in this light that we are enabled, in spite of their mistakes in
opinions, to look upon theologians as among the noblest sufferers and
confessors for what they believed to be truth. From the time of Augustine
and Pelagius to the present day nothing can be more clear than that the
combatants on both sides were actuated by a sincere love to God and to
man, each believing, as sincerely as did Saul of Tarsus, that in these
conflicts they were verily doing God service, and that all they were
called to suffer was for the true church of God and the salvation of their

But the main purpose for which this record of history now appears is to
illustrate the natural tendency of the Augustine theory in leading to
dogmatism, persecution and ecclesiastical tyranny.

The tendency of the common‐sense system can not be illustrated by history,
for unfortunately Christendom has never yet had an opportunity to test by
a fair experiment its true tendencies. We can only imagine what would be
the results were all ecclesiastical restraints and teachings based on the
Augustine theory removed from our pulpit ministries, our hymns and
prayers, our religious literature, and, most of all, from long established
habits of thought and feeling.

Then all our religious organizations would have for their leading aim, not
to maintain some outward rite or modes of organization, but to promote
free discussion for the discovery of truth and harmonious coöperation to
promote happiness according to the laws of God.

Then the ministry of the Word would be committed to men distinguished not
only by natural endowments, acquired knowledge and skill in debate, but
also ensamples to their flocks in the virtues of humility, meekness, and a
gentle and teachable spirit. Then the points that would divide men into
parties would be chiefly _practical_ questions, so that where no agreement
in opinion could be secured, each would peaceably try a fair experiment
and eventually bring the results forward for the general good.

Then every individual would be free to protest against all that he
believes to be injurious and wrong, in regard to individuals, to the
family, to the church and to the state, and be met in his efforts as a
benefactor rather than an opposer or an enemy.


It is the aim of this chapter to show that the chief controversies and
chief sects of Christendom have resulted from the Angustinian system, and
from attempts to eliminate it from the system of common sense with which
it has been combined.

The dogma of a depraved nature consequent on Adam’s sin, was a
philosophical theory introduced to account for the prevailing sinfulness
of the human race. The attempt of Pelagius and his associates to oppose
this dogma, was met by civil and ecclesiastical power and persecution.
“And thus,” says the historian, “the Gauls, Britons and Africans by their
councils, and the emperors by their edicts, demolished this sect in its
infancy and suppressed it entirely.”

For long ages after this, no attempt was made to oppose the system based
on this theory in any of its branches. The doctrine that man, being so
depraved in nature as to be incapable of knowing or judging aright, and
having no standard of right and wrong but express revelations from God,
resulted in the unresisted claim of popes and church councils as the only
authorized interpreters of the Bible.

Then began the powerful influence of _education_. Every child was trained
to believe the doctrine of a depraved nature as a part of the word of God,
to be received with unquestioning submission. Thus the most powerful
influences were enlisted to enchain the feeble and plastic mind of
childhood at the starting‐point of thought and reason. It was also taught
by theologians to all the young ecclesiastics as a _system_, thus adding a
new force to early educational training by the authority of the church,
with all its solemn and awful sanctions.

The idea that every man is to receive the teachings of Christ,
uncontrolled by church authority, as _he_ understands them, and that he is
a Christian just so far as he _understands aright_ and _obeys_ them, found
no advocates for long centuries. Meantime the ecclesiastics, as the only
infallible interpreters of God’s word, and the only source by which to
gain regenerating influences, abused the influence thus acquired, to build
up the awful prelatic power that ruled Christendom for ages. At last, with
many other abominations, the regular sale of indulgences to commit all
manner of crimes at fixed prices, brought intolerable follies and crimes
to a crisis.

Then Luther and his compeers arose and waged war, not against the root of
these evils, but against those inevitable branches, the infallibility of
church interpretations and the substitution of outward creeds, rites and
forms for the spiritual principle of love to God and man exhibited by
obedience to the Creator’s laws.

Luther claimed that he and all men were bound to interpret the Bible for
themselves, and not to submit their judgment to any pope, council or
ecclesiastical power. And he claimed that the Bible teaches that man is to
be saved [justified], not by outward forms, but _by faith in Jesus
Christ_. But retaining the doctrine of man’s ruined and helpless _nature_,
his ideas of _faith_ and of the _mode_ of attaining it, were vague and
conflicting. Thus originated the long conflict between Catholic and
Protestant Christianity, involving some of the most bloody and cruel wars
and persecutions that ever afflicted humanity.

Next came Arminius and his associates, who, still clinging to the fatal
root of a totally depraved nature, labored to devise _some_ way in which,
in spite of this ruin, man could do something to secure regeneration from
God. For, as shown in the early chapters, Calvinism maintained that man
was utterly helpless, and that _all_ the doings of the unregenerate were
sin and only sin, and therefore utterly unavailing in gaining regenerating
aid from God. Hence originated the long conflict between Calvinism and
Arminianism, which has been continued to this day.

Both these schools of divinity rested on the dogma of an entirely depraved
nature, but their tendencies were diverse.

Calvinism, maintaining the utter helplessness of man, tended to despairing
inefficiency. If man really could do nothing, why should he attempt any
thing to secure salvation?

On the other hand, Arminianism, promising help through certain forms,
rites and influences conveyed by ecclesiastics, tended to a reliance on
rites and forms. If man is to be saved by these instrumentalities and can
do nothing himself except through them, then, these being secured, the
natural tendency must be to rest in them.

These two diverse tendencies finally resulted in an equal torpor and
indifference to religion in both parties, which was interrupted on the
Arminian side by Wesley and Whitfield, and on the Calvinistic side by
Jonathan Edwards.

Wesley and his co‐laborers taught anew the Protestant doctrine of man’s
independence of ecclesiastical interpretations and church forms, and the
necessity of an immediate and higher spiritual life. From his efforts and
those of Whitfield originated the great Methodist denomination in Great
Britain and America.

In this sect is carried out the theory of regeneration, not as a slow
process of educational training, but as an instantaneous change,
manifested in excited sensibilities. As the depravity consequent on Adam’s
sin consists in the “deprivation” of God’s Spirit, and regeneration is the
return of this gift, to be secured by prayer and other “means of grace,”
we find their prayers, hymns and preaching all conformed to this theory.
They gain grace when the Spirit comes, and when it departs they “fall from

While Wesley and Whitfield, in Great Britain, appealed directly to the
people in combatting the Arminian tendency to forms and laxness, Jonathan
Edwards addressed the leaders of metaphysical thought in his profound and
acute writings. He attempted to meet the universal paralysis consequent on
the Calvinistic doctrine of man’s inability, amounting almost to the loss
of a consciousness of personal freedom.

His aim was to restore to man a sense of ability and responsibility. Thus
originated his theory of _natural ability_ and _moral inability_, which
amounts simply to this: that man has _natural_ power to obey all that God
requires, but that he so lacks _moral ability_, on account of his depraved
nature, that it is certain that he never will make a truly virtuous choice
till he is regenerated, and regeneration is not to be secured by any
unregenerated doings.

From this resulted the division into the _old_ and _new‐school
Calvinistic_ parties in the Congregational and Presbyterian churches.

Lastly, the New Haven divines, while in some of their writings they held
exactly the views of President Edwards, and claimed to have made no
innovation, in others they came exactly to the Pelagian ground,
maintaining that man “has not a depraved nature _in any sense_, nor a
corrupt nature, much less a sinful nature,” “but rather that in nature he
is like God.”

This is the same doctrine as was held by Pelagius, and if it were only
carried out consistently and not contradicted, would be the entire
elimination, root and branch, of the Augustinian system.

From this resulted a theological controversy that has agitated the
Presbyterian and Congregational churches for the last thirty years.

There are two denominations which all the Augustinian sects agree in
excluding from their fellowship as not entitled to the name of Christian
sects, which have had great influence in undermining the hold of the
Augustinian theory. These are the _Universalists_ and the _Unitarians_.

The former do not formally deny the Augustinian theory of a depraved
nature consequent on Adam’s sin, but leaving it undisputed, gain great
influence by it. They allow that God has power to restore man to his
original perfectness, and then maintain that the very idea of a benevolent
being, who is the loving parent of all his creatures, makes it certain
that he will do so. For, as shown before, our only idea of a benevolent
being is, that he _wills_ to do _all in his power_ to secure that which
will make the most happiness with the least evil. As, therefore, all the
Augustinian sects concede that God has power to make all minds perfect at
the first, and to regenerate all minds that are ruined through the sin of
Adam, Universalists maintain that the very idea of the Creator as a
benevolent being necessarily involves the certainty that he will in the
end, bring all the creatures he has made to a state of perfectness, both
in mental _construction_ and mental _action_. This argument is
unanswerable, and the people very extensively are led to so regard it, and
to adopt this view of the future state of our race.

The question, with this sect, all turns on whether it is possible in the
nature of things for God to construct mind on a more perfect pattern than
that of the human mind; and whether it is possible, in the nature of
things, to make the best possible system of minds that are free agents,
and yet save _all_ of them from perpetuated disobedience to the laws of
that system and the consequent suffering of the natural penalties.

It has been shown that the common‐sense system teaches that it is not
possible, so that it must be by revelation only, that man could gain such
a doctrine as the eventual perfect holiness and happiness of the whole
human race.

While the Universalists gain great power by not contesting the Augustinian
dogma, the Unitarians have taken the ground of a full recognition of the
Pelagian doctrine of the perfect _construction_ of the _nature_ of man. At
the same time they have, as a sect, almost universally adopted the
Universalist doctrine of the eventual salvation of the whole of our race.

Both these sects have embraced men of great popular talents, who have
widely influenced the public mind, in their attempts to lessen confidence
in the doctrines and sects based on the Augustinian theory.

Meantime, in the scientific world, mental philosophy has made great
progress in clear analysis and accurate definitions. The Scotch school of
metaphysicians, headed by Reid and Stewart, have clearly developed and
established in a popular form, the _principles of reason_ and _common
sense_; though as professors in a Calvinistic university and community,
they never ventured to apply these principles to the investigation of
religious theories as to the “depraved nature” of the human mind. They
passed over the whole question in utter silence.

Still more recently has been developed the system of Phrenology, which is
based on the _constitutional diversities_ in mental faculties. This system
has effectively warred on the theological theory of implanted evil
propensities, by teaching that every faculty, when developed and regulated
aright, tends to the best good of the race, so that the extinction of any
faculty or propensity would not be an improvement, but rather an injury to
the constitution of mind.

At the same time, by the influence of our schools, our colleges, our
pulpits, our popular lectures and our wide‐spread periodicals, both
religious and secular, the mind of all classes has been rising to a larger
development, and to clearer and more discriminating views of mental and
moral science in every department. Thus the people are gradually throwing
off the chains of ecclesiastical authority and assuming that liberty of
thought and action, which their Almighty Father designed as the chief
birth‐right of all his intelligent offspring.


In the preceding pages it has been shown that the common‐sense system
presents an intelligible, practical and consistent standard of right and
wrong, by which we can judge clearly of the character and conduct, both of
the Creator and of his creatures.

The mind of the Creator existing from all eternity, independently of his
own will, is the pattern of perfectness in the construction of mind. He
has formed and sustains a system fitted to his own perfections. The chief
end of this system is happiness‐making on the greatest possible scale. In
order to this, his _laws_, by which the most possible good with the least
possible evil will be secured, must be discovered and obeyed.

Accordingly, all that tends to secure happiness without evil is right, and
all that needlessly lessens or destroys happiness is wrong. Every effort
to discover the laws of God and to obey them is right and pleasing to him
as promoting his chief desire and great end. This view furnishes a
foundation for clear conceptions in every practical question of right and
wrong. What is _for the best_ as discovered by reason and experience? This
is the great question, when we have no direct revelation from God. And
even when revelation intervenes, it must be only in regard to _general
rules_, leaving it still a matter of experience and discussion in
_applying_ these rules to the multitudes of varying cases in human
experience. Thus, for example, a command to be honest toward all, leaves
innumerable questions to be settled as to what _is_ honest and fair in the
multiplied cases arising between man and man.

But we always have the great principle of common sense to guide us, that
_whatever is for the best is right_, leaving it for reason and experience
to settle what is and what is not for the best.

But in contrast the Augustinian system, in many ways, tends to becloud the
mind in regard to practical questions of right and wrong.

Thus the assumption that there are no principles in the human mind that
enable us to judge of the character and conduct of God; that we have no
means of learning what is the object or end for which all things are made;
that man is so depraved as to be disqualified to know what is right and
wrong, except as taught by revelations from God; and at the same time
disqualified to interpret such revelations until regenerated, or by the
help of a priesthood; all this tends to create the feeling of incertitude
as to any question of right and wrong, while the abuses of priestly
interpretations have so often set the Bible in opposition to our moral
sense and common sense as greatly to increase the evil.

Add to this, the assumption that there is no true virtue in any acts of
the unregenerate, but that all their moral deeds are sin, and only sin,
and the perplexity is increased as to what is right and what is wrong
moral action.

Again, the fact that salvation from eternal misery is possible only to
those who have gained a new “nature,” while it is often seen that some of
those received into churches as having this new nature, are not so
charitable, amiable, just or honest, as many who are not thus admitted,
and the mind is still more beclouded as to the real nature of right and
wrong in practical conduct.

Again, the manner in which this new nature is recognized by those
appointed to decide who are regenerated and who are not, in order to admit
to or exclude from churches, still farther increases the difficulty. The
questions often propounded on such occasions relate mainly to certain
states of feeling toward God or Christ, or to certain doctrines involved
in the Augustinian theory. If replies to these are satisfactory, the
candidate is pronounced regenerated and received to the church.

Meantime, ever since the days of Luther, the doctrine of “justification by
faith,” in opposition to “salvation by works,” has been assumed to be the
foundation principle, both of Protestantism and of true piety, while there
has been great indistinctness of conception as to the true meaning of
these terms. At the time of the great conflict between Romanism and the
Reformers, the grand evil to be combated was a reliance for salvation on
the prescribed outward rites and forms of the church without any reference
to an internal spiritual principle. The attempt of the Reformers was to
substitute for these outward forms that spiritual principle which consists
in a _ruling purpose to discover and to obey the will of God according to
the teachings of Christ_, whom they regarded as “God manifest in the
flesh.” They recognized the fact that no man ever did or ever could live
without some violations of the laws of God, so that no man could be saved
on the ground of perfect obedience to law. Instead of this they assumed
that man could gain eternal life by “becoming a new creature in Christ
Jesus,” meaning by this that “new life” which consists in ceasing to live
to please self, and living to please God in Christ as the chief end of
life, by earnest conformity to his will as learned either by reason and
experience or by the Bible.

This is what they intended by faith in Jesus Christ. And the opposite
doctrine of “salvation by works” was that which the Romish church was
urging, viz., conformity to her outward rites and forms.

But in process of time, and for want of clear conceptions and clear
teaching, it came about that the real good works, commanded by Christ, as
a part of the love of God required, were confounded with the rites and
forms, and outward deeds commanded by the church, and which may be
performed without the principle of love to Christ, which is exhibited in
obedience to his teachings. The result has been that the teachings and
writings of many Protestants often make the impression that the good works
of a pure morality are of no avail and often very much in the way of a
man’s final salvation. Thus has arisen the distinction often made between
good _moral_ men and good _religious_ men. This classification rests
entirely on the Augustinian dogma, that until the depraved nature received
from Adam is regenerated, all the moral acts of men, however virtuous and
excellent, are “sin, and sin only.”

The true meaning of “justification by faith and not by works,” is that men
are not to be saved by _actually finding out_ in all possible cases what
is for the best and then _doing_ it, which no man ever did or ever can do
without mistake; but rather by _a ruling purpose to discover and to obey_
all the laws of the Creator. This last is the _spiritual_ principle in
opposition to mere _outward acts_. It is _practical_ faith in God which is
to save the soul of man. All, therefore, who believe Christ to be God are
“justified” by _faith_ in Christ. That is, they are regarded and treated
as just and righteous, when they have this internal principle of obedience
to Christ, even though they are never free from actual transgression of
law, either known or unknown. Thus the ancient patriarchs were saved by
faith in Christ, he being the God of the old dispensation as much as of
the new.

That this is the sense in which the Reformers used the words
“justification, or salvation by faith,” in opposition to “salvation by
works,” may easily be proved. At the same time, it is as easy to show that
they used this term in another sense also. But at this time no reference
will be made to any other use than the one under consideration. Their
other use of this term in reference to the atonement of Jesus Christ will
be referred to hereafter.

The preceding exhibits the several ways in which the Angustinian theory
tends to becloud the mind in regard to practical questions of right and
wrong. These tendencies have been more or less counteracted by the
implanted principles of reason. Still more have they been rectified by the
steady and clear teachings of the Bible, which never, when truly
interpreted, contradict either the moral sense or common sense of man, but
rather strengthen them and guide them aright.


It has been shown that the common‐sense system results from the implanted
principles of mind, so that no person can be entirely free from its

The Augustinian system has also been shown in its Calvinistic and Arminian

The Calvinistic form, making it certain that, owing to the depravity of
nature consequent on Adam’s sin, every moral act is sin and only sin,
while there is no revealed mode of securing regeneration, leads to
hopeless inefficiency and neglect of religious advantages. The Arminian
form, maintaining the efficacy of certain rites and ceremonies in securing
regeneration, tends to a disastrous dependence on outward observances.

Those parents who are trained in the Calvinistic school, usually _begin_
education more or less on the common‐sense theory that children can and do
please God when they are obedient, gentle, kind, self‐denying and
conscientious. Prayers and hymns are also taught to the little ones that
make this impression.

But when advancing years bring the pulpit and other Calvinistic influences
to bear, these impressions, more or less, fade away, and are followed by
the depressing feeling that nothing that a child does is either good or
pleasing to the heavenly Father till the “wicked heart” is changed by God,
and that there is no definite, practical mode of securing this change. The
consequence, in many cases, is, that all prayer and all attention to
religious instruction ceases, and a desperate course of worldliness and
departure from all recognition of God ensues. In other cases, the natural
result of this Augustinian theory is more or less counteracted by
conscience, common sense and the Bible.

On the other hand, the Arminian view of the efficacy of rites and means of
grace sanctioned by God as the mode of securing regeneration, has led to
great stress on the use of those rites and forms. The Catholic and a
portion of the Episcopal church, have taught that the rite of baptism was
the appointed mode of remedying the depravity engendered from Adam. And so
indispensable was it deemed to the salvation of infants, that not only
laymen, but women were allowed to administer this rite at the approach of
death, when no priest could be obtained, lest the infant soul should go to
endless perdition with the taint of Adam’s sin unremoved.

There have been great dissensions in the Episcopal church as to the
efficacy of baptism. Some have taught that regeneration was imparted by
this rite. Others have taught that this rite secured the implanting of “a
seed,” or some new mysterious principle, which if cherished and cultivated
by the church, would result in Christian character. Those who hold this
view, rely chiefly on the training of children in the church as the
appointed mode of securing their salvation.

That branch of the Arminian school which left the Episcopal church under
Wesley and his associates, were driven off by the laxity and want of
spiritual life consequent on these tendencies to reliance on rites and
forms. In place of this, they urged the doctrine of instantaneous
regeneration, to be gained by certain means of grace. According to these
teachers, regeneration consists in the return of God’s Spirit to the soul,
which is withheld in consequence of Adam’s sin. The tendency of this view
was to lessen reliance on educational training and to exalt the importance
of other means of grace by which regeneration seemed to be secured, and to
which the Bible, as was claimed, promised success.

Thus, in the Arminian sects, where the efficacy of rites and forms by a
regularly ordained and authoritative priesthood has been relinquished,
educational training has conformed more to the Calvinistic view. As
eternal salvation depends on securing regeneration, every thing is made
secondary to those methods by which regeneration is to be gained.

The Episcopal Arminians, therefore, depend more on educating the young
aright, and have little dependence on revivals, while the Methodist
Arminians look less to education and more to revivals and other modes of
securing religious excitement.

But the foundation difficulty alike of the Calvinists, the Episcopal
Arminians and the Methodist Arminians, is the assumption that
_regeneration of a ruined nature_ is the thing to be sought, both by
children and by adults, as the indispensable prerequisite to salvation,
and that “the means of grace” are not for the training and development of
a perfect nature, but to gain from God the cure of a ruined and helpless

In contrast to this, the common‐sense system recognizes all that is
practical in any of the three methods. It teaches that man’s _nature_ is
perfect, and yet that he is utterly helpless without the _knowledge_,
_training_ and _motives_, for which he is dependent alike on God and on
man. It teaches that this nature can be trained to “a new life” by
educational instrumentalities and by a slow and gradual process. At the
same time it teaches, that when men have lived a worldly life there may be
a _sudden_ change of character by _voluntarily_ commencing a life of love
and obedience to God, in place of a life of unregulated self‐indulgence.

Since the days of Pelagius and Augustine, there has never been any large
body of Christians who have trained children on the common‐sense system
dissevered from the Augustinian theory. This experiment is yet to be tried
before its full and proper tendency can be truly developed.

The Unitarian sect, who reject the Augustinian dogma, also reject some of
the fundamental principles of the common‐sense system, especially that on
which the whole system of moral and religious duty and motive rests, _the
dangers of the race_ in the invisible world, and the _power of motive_
secured by “God manifest in the flesh” as the long‐suffering and self‐
denying Creator, coming to aid his creatures by his teaching, sympathy,
example, and abounding love.


It is the object of what follows to present the evidence that _the people_
are rejecting the Augustinian system, while they are retaining the system
of common sense, as that alone which is taught in the Bible.

Preliminary to this, a brief statement of the prominent points of these
systems, where their antagonism is most practical and apparent, will be

The Augustinian system teaches that on account of Adam’s sin, man is born
with a _nature_ so _totally depraved_, that he never performs any truly
virtuous acts till this nature is regenerated; that the true church of God
on earth consists only of those who are thus regenerated; and that a
visible church consists of an organization of persons who profess to
possess a nature that has been re‐created, so that they perform truly
virtuous acts, as the unregenerated never do.

In opposition to this, the common‐sense system teaches that man is born
with a perfect nature, so that he can and does act virtuously without any
change in this nature; also that the true church of God on earth consists
of all those whose chief end and earnest purpose is to discover and to
obey all his laws; and a visible church consists of any who associate by
some outward organization to aid each other in attempts to discover and to
obey the laws of God.

The evidence that the people are rejecting the former, and assuming the
latter view as that which is taught in the Bible, will now be presented
under these heads:

The present position of theologians;

The state of the church;

The position of the pastors of churches;

The state of popular education;

The position of woman;

The position of Young America;

The position of the religious and secular press.

Present Position of Theologians.

In attempting to portray the present state of the theological world, it is
needful first to distinguish between a class which may distinctively be
termed theologians and the much larger class which are pastors of the

The two classes are so commingled that it would be impossible to draw any
line so exact as to arrange all in these two classes; for sometimes the
same person is both theologian and pastor. Still there is foundation for
classification as distinct as ordinarily exists in regard to other
professions where men combine diverse pursuits.

In attempting this classification, it must be noticed that the religious
world is divided into great denominations, each having its theological
schools, its colleges, its theological magazines and its religious

All these are conducted by men whose business is not that of pastors, and
yet a great majority of whom were educated for this office by a regular
theological training. Meantime, their position, professional reputation
and daily bread depend on maintaining the particular peculiarities in
doctrine and practice of a given sect. By this is meant, that should they
publicly avow a renunciation of the peculiarities that distinguish their
sect, they would suffer in the public estimation of their supporters, and
be immediately removed from their professional employment. It is this
class who are usually among the chief leaders of each denomination, and
who therefore are exposed to all the difficulties and temptations which
beset those whose power, influence, profession and pecuniary support are
more or less connected with a _conservative_ course in all matters of
religious opinion—difficulties and dangers to which a pastor is much less
exposed, so long as he maintains his hold on the confidence and affection
of his people, who are his chief protection against theological
persecution of any kind.

The first class depend on a whole denomination for reputation and a
livelihood; the last class depend chiefly on their own people. The first
class, on every practical question, must regard the views and opinions of
a sect, as leaders and guardians of the interests of a great organization,
whose very existence depends on the dominance of certain opinions. The
latter class must chiefly regard the highest spiritual good of the souls
committed to their care.

Thus, for example, the Baptist theological professors, and editors of
religious periodicals, must maintain that baptism by immersion is the only
scriptural mode of admission to the visible church of God and to the
sacrament, or give up their influence, reputation and professional
livelihood. And they must sustain the organized interests of that sect as
its most trusted and talented leaders. Moreover, the very existence of the
sect and of their position as its leaders, depend on the maintenance of
this tenet, for it is this alone that separates them from the
Congregational sect.

In like manner, the Congregational theological professor and editor must
maintain that form of church organization or give up his post. And so the
Presbyterian, Episcopal and Methodist theological professors and editors
are equally bound.

This representation does not necessarily imply any thing invidious. If it
is regarded as a duty to keep up the sectarian divisions, which, as has
been shown, all result from the Augustinian dogma, then men must be
supported to do it by theological schools and periodicals. And when men
are put into positions for the express purpose of sustaining the peculiar
views of a sect, it is not honest for them to hold these positions after
they can no longer conscientiously do the work they are hired to perform.

But each pastor is the leader of his flock; and their opinions and
practices are more or less at his control as their religious teacher. And
so long as he can carry his people with him he is independent of every
other ecclesiastical power. True, he may be censured, deposed and excluded
from a given sect or party, but his people only have to declare themselves
independent, and that they choose to retain him as their religious
teacher, and no one can harm him as to his professional employment or his

Thus it is that the pastors of churches have fewer of those difficulties
to meet which restrain the chief theological leaders of a sect.

We are now prepared to notice the present position of theologians in this

It has been shown that the chief theological conflicts, since the days of
Augustine, and also the chief sects, have resulted from attempts to throw
off the dogma introduced by him in some one of its developments. Thus the
conflict headed by Luther was against the substitution of external rites
and forms resulting from man’s helpless depravity for an internal
principle of love and obedience.

The conflict commenced by Arminius was to maintain man’s ability to do
something by his own efforts to gain eternal life, in opposition to the
utter inability taught by Calvinism.

The conflict commenced by Wesley and his associates, was to rouse men from
a resting in outward rites and forms and educational training, by making
instantaneous regeneration a practicable aim, and one to be secured by the
use of “the means of grace.”

The conflict commenced by President Edwards was to remedy the Calvinistic
tendency to hopeless inefficiency and waiting for God to regenerate, by
insisting on man’s ability to obey all that God requires.

The conflict led by the New Haven school of divines, was, in fact, an
attempt to cut up the Augustinian system by the root, in maintaining that
sin consists in the _wrong action_ of a right nature, and not in a
depraved nature and its inevitable results.

All these controversies have been carried on, more and more, in the
audience of _the people_, who, in the meantime, have been continually
advancing in mental culture and knowledge.

Especially has this been the case in this country, where religion has been
freed from civil restraints. Several of the religious sects have been so
divided on these matters as to involve civil suits to settle questions of
property, thus bringing theologians and lawyers on to the same arena. And
thus discussions on theological points were reported in secular papers.

This was the case in the rending of the Presbyterian church into the Old
and New‐school sections. During this controversy, some of the most honored
and talented of the clergy were suspended from their pulpit duties and
threatened with dismission from theological professorships, solely on the
charge of denying certain points of doctrine of the Augustinian system.
And the highest judicature of the nation was called to decide whether the
men thus charged had, or had not so departed from orthodox creeds as to
warrant the loss of place and income.

In this discussion, the endowments of colleges, of theological schools,
and of church property, were so at stake, that the laymen all over the
land were obliged to inquire into and understand the merits of a
discussion strictly metaphysical and theological.

In Massachusetts, at one time, the whole State was excited by the question
whether there were any other _churches_ except the _congregations_ that
worshiped together and supported the minister. This question was argued
before the highest court of the State, and decided in the negative, while
for years the controversy was prolonged.

Meantime, the study of mental science has been introduced into both
colleges and schools all over the land, and the sons, and even the
daughters of our farmers and mechanics, have gained clearer and more
discriminating views on such subjects than can now be found in the
writings of Aristotle, Plato, and the wisest men of past ages.

Phrenology, also, has drawn maps of the mental faculties, so that even the
senses have been trained to aid in metaphysics.

The pulpit, the press and public lecturers now, when they refer to the
_intellect_, the _susceptibilities_, the _will_, _the moral powers_, and
use other metaphysical terms, are understood by all.

In short, the human mind has developed in all directions, until it is
impossible any longer to conceal absurdities under cover of hard names and
metaphysical abstrusities, especially when the practical concerns of this
life, as well as the life to come, are equally involved.

Meantime, the most vigorous and acute minds in the various opposing sects
and theological schools, have been exhibiting, in magazines and
newspapers, the difficulties and absurdities each finds in the creed and
teaching of all who differ, while it is the laymen who read and pay for
these periodicals. In these, and many other ways, the discussions which
once were confined to metaphysicians and theologians, have come before the
people, and the Augustinian system has been more and more clearly
exhibited as contrary to the moral sense and common sense of mankind.

A few years since, Dr. Edward Beecher published the _Conflict of Ages_, in
which, with a calm and Christian spirit and in a popular form, was set
forth the difficulties consequent on the Augustinian system, which for
ages have agitated all Christendom.

In this work, it is shown that there are “principles of honor and right”
which all theologians agree in maintaining that God must and does regard
and obey; that these principles are violated by God on the supposition
that he has brought mankind into being in this world with a depraved
nature; and finally, that all theories as yet invented by theologians to
relieve the Creator from such an imputation are failures, except the
theory, which is there presented, of _a pre‐existent state_, according to
which, mankind were created with perfect natures, which they ruined by
sinning, and came into this life to be restored to their former perfect

Much that appears in the early portion of this work is from this source.
Still more has been gained from that work in the clear manner in which it
is there proved, that the Bible does not teach that the sin of Adam had
any effect on “the nature” of the human race, and that the interpretation
given to the passage in Romans v., which is the chief one claimed as
teaching this doctrine, not only has been interpreted wrong, but is
contrary to the rendering of the whole Christian world from the apostles
to Augustine.

In other words, the _Conflict of Ages_ came before _the people_ with the
claim, that the Augustinian theory of a depraved nature consequent on the
sin of Adam, as taught by all theologians of the great Catholic and
Protestant sects, is contrary to the moral sense of mankind and entirely
unsupported by the Bible.

This work was read, not only by theologians and pastors, but by
intelligent laymen, to an extent never known before of a strictly
theological work.

And what was the ground taken by theologians of all schools? They were
bound to show to the people, in opposition to this work, if they could,
that this Augustinian dogma _was not_ contrary to the moral sense of
mankind, and that it _was_ taught in the Bible.

But not a single attempt of this kind has ever been made. This universal
_silence_ is as direct a confession of inability to reply as ever was
known in the theological world. All that ever has been attempted has been,
to show that the theory of a preëxistent state, offered by that author,
affords little or no relief, and is without scriptural authority.

The words of a distinguished theologian and editor of a theological
quarterly, addressed to the writer, express the case exactly: “Your
brother has succeeded in throwing us all into the ditch, but he has shown
us no way to get out.”

That is to say, so long as the doctrine of a _depraved nature_ that
insures “sin, and only sin,” in every unregenerate mind, is maintained,
there is no _satisfactory_ way yet devised of proving the wisdom and
benevolence of God, by the concessions of theologians themselves.

At the same time, the _Conflict of Ages_, in removing the chief passage in
the Bible relied on for proving that _in consequence of Adam’s sin_ the
nature of all men has become depraved, has equally removed the evidence
most relied on to prove that there is any such _depravity of nature_
taught in the Bible at all.

This universal, tacit concession of theologians of all schools, in
reference to this famous passage of Scripture, had no little influence in
bringing before the public the volume entitled _Common Sense Applied to
Religion, or the Bible and the People_ before referred to.

In this work, the _principles of common sense_ and the _nature or
construction of mind_ are by the author exhibited more at large than in
this volume. And the common‐sense system of religion as thus educed is
also set forth, though less completely and extensively than in this work.

The laws of language and interpretation also are introduced into that work
for the purpose of showing (in the second volume not yet published) that
the common‐sense system is also taught in the Bible.

But preliminary to this, it was seen to be important to apply the
principles of common sense to prove that the Bible is a collection of
_reliable_ records, of _reliable_ revelations from the Creator to mankind.

It was seen also, that if the Augustinian system is really taught in these
writings, _it is impossible to prove them to be reliable revelations_ from
God, as is set forth at large in chapter 34 of this present volume.

For this reason, in the Addenda to the first volume the Augustinian theory
is introduced, and very briefly shown to be, not only contrary to the
common sense and moral sense of mankind, but also without support from the

Before publication, this work was sent to a large number of those regarded
as among the most acute and profound theologians of the several classes
described herein, with the request that if they detected inaccuracies as
to _facts_, or _fallacious reasonings_, they would point them out for
revision. In making this appeal it was stated that the writer had little
taste for metaphysics or theology, and had been driven to them in the
stress of great sorrow and under a tremendous pressure of motive as
narrated in the Introduction.

Several of those thus addressed, returned criticisms and remarks in reply.
The book was then issued, in which the author appeared not in the attitude
of a teacher, but as an inquirer. And the closing inquiries were:

Are these principles of common sense accepted?

Is _the system_ of natural religion evolved by their aid accepted?

Is the Augustinian theory of depravity, as tried by these principles and
the rules of interpretation, supported either by reason or the Bible?

The work, as thus revised, was again sent to these same theologians, and
it was noticed in most of the periodicals.

The result was the same as was accorded to the arguments of the _Conflict
of Ages_. Some criticisms on style, language and minor matters appeared in
the notices of the book, but the above main questions thus submitted were
met with an ominous _silence_.

None of the theologians of any school has pointed out any misstatement of
any specific fact; nor have they attempted to dispute the principles of
common sense set forth, or the results of their application in the
_system_ thus evolved. Nor have they attempted to show that the passage in
the Bible on which the Augustinian theory chiefly rests, is sanctioned by
the interpretations of the apostolic ages, or that the interpretation of
it in the _Conflict of Ages_, is incorrect.

Moreover, in the columns of the Independent, in reply to their notice of
her work, the following statement was made by the author:

    “The case stands thus: I am aiming to present, in a short and
    popular form, in my next volume, the _evidence_ that, in the
    Bible, we have _reliable_ and _authoritative_ revelations from the
    Creator, and to educe from these documents the true answer, not
    only to the question, ‘What must _we do_ to be saved?’ but to the
    grand question of my own profession, ‘What must we do the most
    effectively to train the young mind to virtue and immortality?’

    “At my first step I am met by ‘Young America,’ with such an
    honest, amiable, and powerful leader as Theodore Parker. Regarded
    as holding the creed in which I was educated, and most of my life
    have advocated, I am thus interrogated:

    “ ‘Is not the Creator the author of the constitution of mind?

    “ ‘If the Creator _had power_ to make it right and yet has made it
    wrong, is he not proved by _his works_ (the only mode of learning
    his character) to be unwise and malevolent, and is not a
    _reliable_ revelation from such a being, to teach the way of
    virtue and happiness, impossible?

    “ ‘Do you not claim that the Bible teaches that God _has proved_
    his power to make mind perfect by creating angels and Adam with
    _perfect minds_, and at the same time, as a penalty for the sin of
    the first parent, has made such a constitution of things, that
    every human mind comes into existence with a ruined and depraved
    nature, that never _can_, or never _will_, act right till God re‐
    creates it, while as yet, for the great mass of mankind, he never
    remedies this wrong?

    “ ‘Do you not claim that the Bible teaches that no human being has
    any right and acceptable feelings or actions till God thus re‐
    creates the mind?

    “ ‘If the Bible _does_ teach thus, we can find a nobler Creator
    and more perfect system of religion by the light of nature without
    any revelation at all, while the God of the Bible, by its own
    showing, is _proved_ unworthy of confidence as a teacher of the
    way to virtue and happiness.’

    “Pressed by these questions, I have searched the Bible in vain to
    find any such doctrines in its pages. I find nothing of the kind,
    and so I acknowledge that I have been in the wrong, and relinquish
    the Augustinian dogma in which I have been educated, as
    unsupported either by reason or revelation; and first privately
    and then publicly ask for _any evidence_ to sustain it.

    “I come before the public, not as a teacher of metaphysics or
    theology, but as an _inquirer_ for the truth. I state, as nearly
    as I am able, the difficulties I have met, and take every possible
    method to avoid mistake and misrepresentation in regard to the
    opinions of both those with whom I agree and those from whom I

    “I assume that theology is capable of improvement; that Protestant
    divines are no more infallible than Catholic; that a humble and
    teachable spirit is the distinctive mark of a Christian teacher;
    and that the courage and manliness that can acknowledge mistakes
    is not only more Christian, but even in the eye of the world, is
    more honorable and dignified than any assumption of infallibility,
    however well sustained.

    “In publicly meeting such an amount of talent, learning, and
    influence as seems now to be arrayed against me, I deem that it in
    no way implies a presumptuous or self‐confident spirit. I concede
    that many of those I thus meet are my equals or superiors in
    natural abilities, and certainly all are so in learning. I believe
    also they are men of conscientious integrity, and that, probably,
    most of them, would go to the stake rather than knowingly to
    sacrifice their allegiance to truth, duty, and God. And I believe
    that if I have any special mission in this matter, it is to
    illustrate the truth that _common sense_, without any unusual
    talents or learning, united to a sincere desire to learn and to
    obey the truth, are sufficient for all men and all women, in all
    important decisions for this life, and as much so for the life to

    “Nor do I regard this as a resort to old and _unpractical_ meta‐
    physical abstrusities. It rather involves that great _practical_
    question of life, before which all others fade into
    nothingness—that question which meets every parent and every
    teacher for every child—which meets every human being, as in
    sorrow, or disappointment, or sickness, or death, the soul asks
    from its Creator help and guidance for the dread and eternal
    future. Instead of leading to metaphysical and theological
    abstrusities, my hope is to entice from their dark and sorrowful
    mazes to the plain and cheerful path of common sense.

    “The great question involved is, have _the people_ a reliable
    revelation from the Creator in the Bible, and are they qualified
    to decide what are its true teachings on that great question of
    life, ‘What must we do to be saved?’

    “And at the same time, the great practical question for my sex is
    no less at issue, ‘How are we best to train the mind of childhood
    to virtue and eternal happiness?’ These questions surely are
    capable of being, and should be, discussed in the language of the
    common people, and not in those scholastic and metaphysical terms
    which they can not, and will not seek to comprehend.

    “In these circumstances I endeavor first to meet the charge of my
    friends of the Independent, that I have misrepresented the views
    of that class of theologians with whom they fraternize, and with
    whom I claim to agree.

    “I offer the following as the exact words in which I have heard
    the New Haven divines express their opinions, and which, on my
    application, were sent to me as a correct statement of their
    views, as taught for more than a quarter of a century, in the New
    Haven School of Theology.

    “They maintain that ‘man, _after_ the fall of Adam, was as truly
    created in God’s image as was Adam; that Christ was tempted in all
    points like as we are; that the stronger are our inferior
    propensities, if we govern them, as we can, by the morally right
    act of the will, the greater is the moral excellence of the act.
    They do not maintain that man has full power to _change_ his
    depraved nature without divine aid, for they have never supposed
    he has a depraved nature _in any sense_, or a corrupt nature, much
    less a sinful nature, to be changed; but rather that _in nature_
    he is like God. In discussions, they have always opposed the use
    of language by my father and Mr. Barnes of a corrupt nature, not

    “I present this as an exact statement of my own views, and I claim
    that, on the point of the native character of the human mind, it
    is the _Pelagian_ ground in opposition to the _Augustinian_, and
    that no _third_ ground is possible. If I am wrong in either
    particular, I ask to be enlightened by the editors of the
    Independent, and by the New Haven divines themselves. I claim also
    that, so far as I can see, this is the _only_ ground on which the
    argument above stated, as that of ‘Young America,’ can be
    successfully met.

    “I understand the editors of the Independent that they occupy the
    Augustinian ground, and I therefore appeal to them, as well as to
    the theologians of Princeton, Andover, Union, and Lane, to
    instruct me and the public _wherein_ I have misstated their views,
    and above all, to instruct us how, with this dogma fastened to it,
    the Bible can be sustained against the above infidel argument. In
    reference to this, should any thing be attempted, I offer these
    questions for attention:

    “Is there any passage in the Bible that teaches that the minds of
    the angels or of Adam were not made exactly like those of the
    descendants of Adam, and subjected to the same slow and gradual
    process of acquisition and development?

    “I have looked and inquired in vain to find any such passage, or
    to find any person who ever found one.

    “Is there any passage in the Bible that teaches that the _nature_
    or constitution of the mind of man is not _the best that is
    possible in the nature of things_? I have never been able to find

    “Is there any passage in the Bible that teaches that man has
    received a _ruined nature in consequence of Adam’s sin_?

    “I have read long arguments from Dr. Hodge of Princeton, proving
    that there is no such thing taught in Romans v., the only passage
    ever claimed to teach this doctrine that I ever heard of. My
    brother, Dr. E. Beecher, thus concludes a long argument on this
    subject in the Conflict of Ages: ‘The doctrine that our depraved
    natures or our sinful conduct have been _caused_ or _occasioned_
    by the sin of Adam, is not asserted in any part of God’s word.’ ”

The high, moral and intellectual character of the gentlemen to whom this
appeal was thus made, forbids the idea that they would allow such
statements and arguments and appeals to go unnoticed if they felt able to
afford any light in reply to these questions. It was their highest duty as
teachers of theology, if they could do it, to show how to answer the
argument of “Young America” against the Bible as containing the
Augustinian dogma; to show that the passage introduced above as a specimen
of the Pelagianism taught by the New Haven divines either _is not_ the
doctrine they teach or is not Pelagianism; to show that there _are_ some
passages in the Bible that teach that the nature or the constitution of
man is not the best possible in the nature of things, and _is_ different
from that of the unsinning angels or unfallen Adam; and finally, to show
that there _is_ some passage in the Bible that teaches that the depraved
nature of man was caused or occasioned by the sin of Adam.

Not only the professors and editors thus addressed, but all the
theologians of all schools, so far as the writer can learn, have
maintained a profound _silence_ on all these questions. The _Independent_
also declined any _discussion_ thus: “We have no intention of surrendering
our columns to a _theological_ or _psychological controversy_ such as
might be introduced by the communication we now publish.”

The writer after this, in several cases, suggested to some of the most
active and intelligent minds in some of the above theological seminaries,
to endeavor to secure a full discussion of these topics in their lecture
rooms, and was told, in reply, that all such efforts were decidedly

She also addressed notes to several editors of the secular press to see if
their columns could be used for the purpose. From the one whose past
freedom led to the expectation of an affirmative answer, the reply was,
that he had promised his orthodox friends that he would not _needlessly_
introduce _heresy_ into his paper, and that the greatest of all heresies
was _common sense_!

Finally, on consulting one of the most shrewd and best informed publishers
in regard to the future volume, he expressed the opinion that “in whatever
else theologians differed, they were all united in the determination that
the investigation proposed by the author _should not be permitted_.”

This being so, the author has concluded, and the public probably will
conclude, that the most profound and acute theologians of this country
have relinquished the idea of attempting any farther defense of the
Augustinian dogma.


The word “church,” as used in this article, refers chiefly to those close
corporations which claim to be regenerated persons, whose depraved nature,
transmitted from Adam, has been so far rectified by re‐creation, that they
are, more or less, in the practice of true virtue, of which the
unregenerate world are supposed to be totally destitute.

In this sense they claim to be “the saints,” “the righteous,” “the elect,”
“the children of God,” “the salt of the earth,” “the light of the world,”
“a holy nation,” “a peculiar people.”

While the members of these churches do not claim that all who do not come
into their organizations are of the opposite class, they do, by their
profession and admission to such churches, claim to be of the regenerated
class, to whom the above terms of the Bible are to be applied, while the
great majority of mankind, not in these organizations, are called by them
“the world,” “the unregenerate,” “sinners,” “the wicked,” and by other
similar terms.

So long as the great body of the people were guided chiefly by
ecclesiastics, and were thus trained to believe that heaven was to be
gained by some unintelligible “change of nature,” imparted by priestly
agency, or by some supernatural intervention of God’s Spirit, these claims
were regarded with mystified fear and doubt.

But the more intelligence and discussion have spread among the people, the
more such claims have been questioned and distrusted.

Many things have combined to increase such distrust. Among these may be
mentioned the discussions already noticed, conducted by theologians
themselves, by which the absurdities and inconsistencies maintained by
each, were exposed by all the others.

Another cause of distrust has been the great variety of _tests_ and _signs
of regeneration_. One class of religious teachers claim a certain kind of
experience as indispensable to admission to the church. A second class
reprobate this sign and set up another. A third class depreciate both and
insist upon still another. And thus it is made apparent, that theologians
do not agree among themselves what the “depraved nature” of man consists
in, nor what are the true signs or evidence of its “saving change.”

Another cause of distrust has arisen from attempts to carry out a system
of church discipline. Some churches expel persons for interpreting the
Bible in a different mode from themselves or their creed. Others expel
their members for vending alcoholic drinks, or for dancing, or for holding
slaves, or for marrying the sister of a deceased wife. Meantime, the sins
of pride, anger, covetousness, avarice, worldliness, evil temper,
unfairness in business, hard dealings with the poor, and many other
developments of selfishness, often are made no bar to full and honorable

Again, in churches and sects that are most strenuous in attempting to
maintain by church discipline a uniformity of interpretation of the Bible
conformed to their own, it has come to pass that orthodoxy of
interpretation is sometimes _practically_ placed before morality of
conduct. Thus, if a member of a church or a minister is suspected of
denying the supreme divinity of Christ, or the depravity and need of
regeneration of _nature_ in man, a great agitation is produced, and
attempts are made, by church discipline, to rectify the evil as very
dangerous. In the meantime, a slanderous tongue, or dishonest dealings, or
selfish worldliness, excite less concern, and arouse to less effort. The
inevitable result is an impression that churches and ministers place
conformity of interpretation to their own creeds or opinions before
morality, and consequently the feeling is engendered, _that church
organizations, founded on the Augustinian theory, tend to immorality_.

This impression as to the immoral tendency of such church organizations,
has been increased by the fact that in times of special religious
excitement, that class of men in many cases, become most prominent as
leaders in prayer meetings and other public ministries whose character for
consistency in private life, or in business matters, is low. It is
perceived that this fact does not prevent these men from being regarded as
religious men, and as superior to others, who, living exemplary lives, are
unable or unwilling to take any conspicuous place in religious movements.
And when the period of excitement is passed, it is found that these
leaders in revival seasons are no better in their private life and
business dealings than before.

It is also sometimes the case that men of high character and position, can
not be reached by church discipline as are the humbler members, and thus
sin is made respectable by its association at once with talents,
influence, wealth and church membership.

In addition to this, the fact that so many ministers and churches have
taken such an antagonistic course in the public movements to remove
intemperance and slavery from our land, has led to open attacks on
ministers and churches in the newspapers, in public lectures and in many
other ways, in which their inconsistencies have been held up to public
ridicule as well as to more serious denunciation.

So long as the “change of nature,” which fits man for heaven, was regarded
as a supernatural mystery which no one could understand or explain, while
the approved signs of regeneration were submitted only to ministers,
deacons, elders and church committees, the matter was exclusively in their

But as soon as the nature of regeneration began to be explained
intelligibly, and men adopted the common‐sense view, that the _true_
church consists of persons who not only believe in Christ intellectually,
but believe _practically_, _i.e._, that they are those who _obey_ Christ,
the case bore a different aspect. “These are the persons,” they say, “who
organize on the assumption that they are regenerated because they obey
Christ’s teachings, while so many virtuous persons are shut out as
_totally_ and _entirely_ disobedient,—as never feeling or acting truly
virtuously in the sight of God in a single instance!”

The more this questionable assumption has become apparent, the more has
been the disturbing influence on both the church and the world.

Multitudes of serious, virtuous and conscientious persons, who are really
living Christian lives and making it their chief concern to obey the great
Master, have refused to join associations that make such dubious claims.

Still more has been the revulsion from those churches which demand as
terms to admission professed belief in certain modes of interpreting the
Bible contained in a creed. They, holding the Protestant doctrine that
every man is to interpret the Bible for himself, responsible to no man or
body of men, can not thus resign their religious liberty.

Meantime, the Christian profession has ceased to be a cross in any way,
and has rather become honorable. Those who have been taught that a
_purpose_ or determination to obey Christ was regeneration, have in many
cases formed such a purpose, confessed belief in the needful creeds and
joined the church in great numbers, before they had time to ascertain
whether they had moral strength to carry out this purpose. They find on
trial that they have not, and then discover that though there is an open
door to _enter_ the church there is none for exit that is not
discreditable, and so they remain.

Others come into the church for worse motives, to secure the confidence,
respect and trust that is accorded to that profession. Thus it has come to
pass that the class, denominated “the world,” has been growing in
Christian character and practical virtue, while, as a body, “the church”
has been deteriorating.

The writer, in her very extensive travels and intercourse with the
religious world, has had unusual opportunities to notice how surely and
how extensively the conviction of this fact has been pressed on the minds
of the best class of Christian ministers and laymen. More than twenty
years ago, one of the most laborious Episcopal bishops of the western
States, in reply to inquiries as to the state of religion in his large
diocese replied, “the world is growing better and the church is growing

More than ten years ago, a distinguished lawyer, who had extensive
financial business to transact, himself an honored and exemplary member of
the church, stated to the writer that he was decided in the conviction
that the better class of worldly men were more honorable and reliable in
business matters than the majority of church members. When asked to
account for this, the reply was that religious men were chiefly interested
to get to heaven, which in their view was to be secured “by faith and not
by works,” and so good works became a secondary concern. But the chief
concern of worldly men is to succeed in this life, and they have learned
that honesty is the best policy in attaining their chief end.

This statement was repeated to another exemplary church member, who, as a
bank officer and lawyer of distinguished integrity, was said to transact
more business than any other man in the north‐western States. He remarked
that the above was exactly his own opinion, and, moreover, he stated that
a friend of his, also a church member, who, he said, did more business
than any other man in Central New York, had expressed to him the same

These statements were repeated not long ago to a business man, an
exemplary member of an orthodox church in Boston, and he expressed the
same opinion. In repeated other instances that need not be enumerated, in
various sections of the country, the same opinion has been expressed by
intelligent and consistent members of the church, whose prejudices would
naturally lead them to the most favorable view of the case.

Such impressions have not been decreased by the recent multiplied
defalcations, forgeries, and other business dishonesties that have
occurred in the last three years among church members and officers of
religious charities in high places of trust.

To all this add the fact, that a large class of men of exemplary private
life, who are spending their time, money and influence for the relief of
human woes and the redress of social and political wrongs, are at the same
time openly attacking the church as the chief bulwark of these wrongs,
while all the delinquencies of ministers and churches are freely discussed
and denounced by them _before the people_.

The result is, that a large portion of the most exemplary and intelligent
part of the church feel themselves to be in a dubious and false position,
and are daily querying whether _professing_ to be a _peculiar_ people is
not doing more harm than good; and whether it would not be better that the
influence of good men should rest on their _unassociated_ individual
character, and not on organizations making such high profession where the
light of goodness is obscured by associated darkness.

Great doubt and skepticism, both in the church and out of it, have thus
arisen also as to _what real religion consists in_, and as to what _are_
the true claims of the church and its ministry.

Multitudes who would enter the church if it was regarded simply as an
association of persons to support the ordinances appointed by Jesus
Christ, and to aid each other in obeying his Word, turn from its present
position and claims with distrust or disgust. At the same time ministers
and church members, feeling these difficulties, have more and more
relinquished the Augustinian theory as the basis of their organization,
and are advancing to an open avowal of the common‐sense ground, _i.e._,
that the real invisible church of Christ embraces all those who
acknowledge him as their Lord and Master, and make it their chief aim to
understand and to obey his teachings, and that a _visible church_ is any
association of persons who organize to aid each other in this object, by
sustaining a ministry and worship as _they_ understand to be most in
agreement with the teachings of Christ.

The Episcopal church, both in Great Britain and in this country, although
as strictly Augustinian in its articles as any other, has taken the lead
of all others in practically renouncing that system. Any man can more
readily secure all the privileges of membership in that church without any
confession of faith or public profession of a “change of nature,” than in
any of the other Augustinian denominations, and this is probably one great
reason of its prosperity in this country.

Any sensible man of good moral character, who should state in a respectful
and candid spirit, that he could not conscientiously submit to
acknowledging in any form, the rights of any man or body of men to decide
for him in regard to the interpretation of the Bible; that according to
his understanding of its teachings, he was bound to acknowledge Jesus
Christ as his Lord and Master in all matters of faith and practice, and to
associate himself with other avowed followers of Christ by some form of
open acknowledgment; that as he understands the New Testament, the rites
of baptism and the Lord’s Supper were instituted as forms of such
acknowledgment and communion, and that he wished thus to connect himself
with the Episcopal church without any creed, confession or acknowledgment;
it is believed, that in such a case, there are few ministers and still
fewer laymen who would not think it right to gratify such a desire. It is
believed that there are many, also, of the highest standing for intellect,
piety and position in the Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist and
Congregational churches, who have so far thrown aside the system of
Augustine, that they also would receive such a man to their communion on
these terms.

In this state of feeling among laymen the developments of sectarianism,
which, as has been shown, all relate to matters of rites and forms,
resulting from the Augustinian theory, have become more and more
suspicious and offensive. Especially is this the case in the newer States,
where union and harmony among good men are most needed.

In the volume, of _Common Sense Applied to Religion_, page 342, statistics
are introduced from the reports of three of the largest sects of this
country, the Old and New school Presbyterian and the Congregational
churches, showing that, owing to their sectarian divisions, _nearly one
third_ of their churches are without ministers, and _nearly one half_ of
these churches have not over fifty members, the majority of these being
women, while the _relative_ amount of ministers to churches is constantly
decreasing. Not only in the large, but the smaller towns, the struggle to
build churches and support ministers among the various sects, that differ
only as to rites and forms, is most mournful, making a taxation both on
the East and West for their support which is incredible.

Each denomination is trained to regard itself as “the church of God” and
to labor for its increase as a service to God’s cause, while the extension
of other sects is not so regarded. Although few intelligent Protestants
now believe that any forms or rites are indispensable to salvation, each
sect regards its own peculiarity as of very great importance. And as all
the large sects are divided only on modes of baptism or of church
organization there is a constant tendency to magnify these points of
difference. Were it not for this, in small places and in new settlements,
all would unite in one large, harmonious church, that could not only
support its own ordinances, but send of its surplus to supply the
destitute. Instead of this, the feuds, envies, jealousies and bickerings
between small and struggling churches, of from four to twenty diverse
sects, are an occasion of reproach and contempt to the world, and of
mortification to all honorable and pious minds.

So in regard to education, each sect is now acting _as a sect_, in
starting new colleges and seminaries, or in endowing those already
started, and this often with little reference to the supply provided by
other sects. For example, in Ohio there are _twenty‐six_ endowed colleges,
in Indiana there are _eleven_, and thus at the same rate in other new

Besides endowments to support professors, vast sums have been spent in
buildings, many of them unused for want of pupils. After each sect has
thus gained its colleges, it must struggle to find pupils, and thus
multitudes of young boys are pressed into a Latin and Greek course, not at
all demanded in their future pursuits, and often forsaken before the
college is ever reached. The waste of educational benefactions in these
ways is enormous.

These expenditures are all to be met by the laity, and the more the nature
of these sectarian divisions is understood, the more distrustful are the
people in regard to these profuse expenditures to keep up such divisions.
Multitudes of intelligent laymen contribute simply because their clergymen
urge it, and entirely without intelligent approval of these things. To
their own view, Christianity, as exhibited by contending sects, is a
source of more evil feeling, contention and needless expense than of
compensating benefits, and distrust and misgiving increase and abound.

In such a position of the organized church, one of the most remarkable
indications to be noted is the occurrence of a “revival” among all sects,
in which _the __ people_ take the lead, and theologians and pastors
willingly resign their wonted place. All badges of sect are dropped, and
the dogmas of Augustine, from which they originated, are thrown aside. The
system of common sense is recognized, and its intelligent and harmonizing
influence secures, for the first time, the respectful attention of worldly
men toward religious developments, which in all past time have been
regarded by them with suspicion or scorn.


That portion of the clerical world who, as pastors, are most nearly in
connection with the people, are necessarily affected with the influences
that touch theologians, and also with the condition of their people.

They find that what they have been trained to regard as a _fundamental_
doctrine of the Bible, has ceased to be defended by those who have been
their teachers in theology, and who are the leaders of their sect.

They find their own minds very greatly in doubt as to many points taught
them in their theological training. They find intelligent laymen refusing
to enter the church, whom they feel to be as really followers of Christ in
heart and life as any in their churches, while they see many professors of
religion as selfish, worldly and unprincipled as most of the world around,
and yet they can not exclude them.

They find intelligent young men coming to them expressing a desire to obey
Christ and to unite with his followers in efforts to “be good and to do
good,” but unable to subscribe to the creed of the church in regard to a
depraved nature and associated tenets, while by one expedient or another
these pastors waive the difficulty and receive them into their churches.
They find intelligent mothers and Sunday‐school teachers throwing aside
the Augustinian dogma, and training their little ones to believe that they
can love and serve their Saviour with their present nature and faculties,
and that every attempt to conform to the rules of duty is well‐pleasing to
God, and a step forward in the path to heaven.

They find intelligent Christian mothers wishing to bring their children to
the communion with no other profession than that they desire and intend to
obey their Saviour in all things.

In this state of things, some of the most successful and intelligent
pastors have decided, in such cases, to cut loose from their creeds and
confessions, and to receive to the communion any young children whom their
parents believe and feel to be thus prepared for it.

The position assumed by the parochial clergy in the great revival of the
past year, has been a remarkable index.

_The people_ of all sects and creeds came together to express their wish
and intention to serve the Lord Christ by obedience to his word in heart
and life, and their pastors sat with them as equals in all respects before
the common Father. They related their experience; they exhorted each other
to persevere; they united in prayers for help and guidance, and their
pastors ceased to urge attention to those “doctrines” founded on the
Augustinian theory, which in former revivals were made so prominent.

There are incidents that have come under the personal observation of the
writer the past year in regard to the parochial clergy which are very
ominous on account of the character of the persons involved, who not only
are among the first in intelligence and influence, but may properly be
denominated, in reference to the leading class of pastors, “representative

In one case, a young man of great intelligence and moral worth, who might
properly be regarded as a “representative man” of the better portion of
“Young America,” informed the writer that he and his wife had accepted the
general invitation of their pastor to receive the communion. Inasmuch as
the doctrines of the creed of that church were not accepted by him, the
inquiry was made whether this step was taken with the approval of his
pastor, and the reply was in the affirmative.

The inquiry was then made, on what ground he united in this ordinance. The
reply was, substantially, that he wished to be good and to do good, guided
by the teachings of Christ; that he wished to be united in feeling and
action with good men, who cherish the same aims, and also to make it
manifest that he was associated with that class; that he regarded this
sacramental ordinance as instituted for this very purpose, while his
minister, as a consistent Protestant, did not insist that he should
interpret the Bible according to his creed or be shut out from this

In another case, an intelligent mother who had trained her children
exclusively on the common‐sense theory, informed the writer that she had
taken them to the Lord’s Table with the consent of one of the most
distinguished pastors of the land, without any examination or admission to
the church. She simply narrated to him her own opinion that her children
from early years had learned to love the Saviour and to be conscientious
in daily efforts to obey his teachings; that they and she felt that they
were commanded by their Saviour openly to acknowledge themselves as his
followers, “even to the death,” if need be, in order to fulfill all
righteousness, and that they did not and could not believe the creed of
that church, nor in the right of any man, or body of men, to exact such
belief under penalty of exclusion from the table of their Lord.

The pastor welcomed these lambs of the fold with their mother, and felt
that had he driven them away it would have been in defiance to their
Saviour’s word, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid
them not.”

In still another case, one of the most honored Congregational pastors of
New England openly declared to friends of the writer that it was in vain
to try to preach this Augustinian system any longer; that _the people
would not hear it_, and that he should have to preach to bare walls if he
attempted it any more.

Many other similar incidents that have come to the knowledge of the writer
in different quarters of the country, might be added, but the above will
suffice as illustrative indications of the present position of pastors.


It is a significant fact in regard to the religious training of the young
in this country, that the most influential leaders of popular education,
especially in its earlier stages of improvement, have been laymen, and
laymen who reject the Augustinian dogma, and all organizations founded on
it. And yet they are men who believe in, and have exhibited by their
example, the great duty of love to God and love to man, in a life of
obedience to the physical, social and moral laws of God.

Meantime, the laws of the land which forbid any exclusive favor to any
religious sect, do, in fact, forbid any religious training in common
schools that conflicts with the common‐sense system. It has been shown
(chapter 39) that the larger Christian sects are all founded, in their
distinctive features, on the Augustinian dogma. This being so, the law
that excludes distinctive sectarian teaching excludes the Augustinian

In regard to smaller sects, not Augustinian, the distinctive doctrine of
the Unitarian creed is such a _unity_ in regard to the Creator as forbids
the idea of more than one divine person who has all the attributes of God.
This, it has been shown in chapter 18, is contrary to the common‐sense

The distinctive doctrine of the Universalist creed forbids the idea of the
perpetuated existence of sinful and miserable beings; this, also, is
contrary to the common‐sense system, as shown in chapter 28. Thus the
chief sects that are not counted as Augustinian or Evangelical, are also
excluded from introducing their distinctive tenets into the common schools
of the people.

Moreover, while the people, in the schools under their control, thus
forbid by law any religious training which conflicts with the common‐sense
system, they permit prayers to God and the use of the Bible, _provided_
the privilege is not used, in opposition to the spirit of the above law,
to introduce distinctive sectarian tenets.

It is also very noticable that in Great Britain the most influential
patrons of popular education, and writers on the training of the young,
have, though members of the established church, vigorously opposed the
Augustinian system. Archbishop Whateley has written a most powerful
argument, and one which none have attempted to answer, in favor of the
common‐sense view of church organization. He also has given all his
influence to the establishment of schools for the people, in which every
parent and child shall, as far as possible, be _free_ in regard to
religious matters.

The beloved and honored name of Arnold, dear to every liberal educator of
every sect and name, has set the example of a religious training that is
based entirely on the common‐sense system. And probably there is not a man
living or dead whose influence has been so extensive in guiding public
opinion on this subject. Without openly denying the articles, or forsaking
the established church, Whateley, Arnold and their associates have warred
on the Augustinian theory and its offsets more energetically and
effectively than any two men that can be named.

Thus, it appears, that the people themselves, and the chief leaders in
popular education, have decided that no teaching that conflicts with the
system of common‐sense shall be introduced into the common schools.


One of the most important indices of religious change is the advance in
the character of female education during the last thirty years.

Fifty years ago, to read, write and cipher, and a few accomplishments,
were all that were attempted in the school education of women. A little
history and one or two other branches were added in some of the higher

It being assumed that the _equal_ culture of _all_ the faculties, so as to
insure a _well‐balanced_ mind, is the chief aim of all education, it is
probable that the mental culture of women in this country for the last
thirty years has approached nearer to the true standard than was ever
known in the experience of any other nation.

The training to the handicraft of the needle, even if only for ornament,
the measure of domestic duty that most young girls learn to perform, the
culture of the musical taste and the art of drawing, the combination in
female schools of mathematics, languages and general knowledge, and the
immense variety of culture from lectures and general reading, all have
tended to develop the female mind on a scale of advancement and equable
culture never before known.

The result is a generation of women well trained for high and independent
thought and action. At the same time, it is probable that there never
before was so large a proportion of the best educated women who were so
decidedly conscientious and religious.

It is granted by all, that it is to woman more than to man, that is
committed the chief business of training the human mind at its most
important stage of development. It is granted, also, that in order to
success in culture, both physical and mental, it is the first step to
understand _the nature_ of that which is to be trained and developed. The
first question, then, to every woman, in reference to her first duty is,
what is _the nature_ of the minds given us to train?

In this light, it is as if a gardener were to receive some rare and
delicate plant with directions from his lord to train it with the utmost
care; his first inquiry would be, What is its nature? Does it require sun
or shade? Does it need a moist or a sandy soil? Is it a climber, or a
shrub, or a tree? Or, it is as if a young machinist should receive from
his master a collection of wheels and springs, and a great variety of
delicate machinery, with the direction to put them together and adjust
them for right action. His first inquiry would be, what is the _nature_ of
the thing to be thus arranged? For what _end_ or _purpose_ is it
constructed? What is the _mode of working it_ which will best accomplish
the end designed?

In like manner woman receives from her Lord the delicate physical form and
immortal spirit of her child to train _aright_ for an existence never to
end. She asks of those who are her Lord’s messengers for this very end,
what is _the nature_ of this wonderful and delicate organization? What is
the _end_ or _purpose_ for which it is made? What is the _mode_ of
_training_ which will best accomplish the end designed?

The preceding pages exhibit the kind of replies that for ages have met
these heart‐wrenching queries of womanhood. From most, it is shown, she
hears that the _ruined nature_ of her offspring is such that she can do
absolutely nothing to secure any right development. Others tell her that
no one knows what was the end or purpose for which the mind of her child
was made. Others tell her that no one knows what are _right_ means in
regard to the training and action of mind. Others tell her that the mind
of her child is constructed wrong, and that nothing can be done to secure
its right training and development, but in some way to induce its Maker to
re‐create it.

Meantime, also, her teachers are in conflict as to what is the difficulty
with the _nature_ of her child, and what would be its right action, and
what is to be done to secure its right development. At the same time, the
greater portion of the teachings on this great matter are so enveloped in
abstruse theological and metaphysical technics as to baffle the wisest in
their attempts to gain clear and definite ideas from them.

In this state of the case many sensible mothers and teachers, all over the
land, have adopted a course dictated by their own common sense and their
experience of the _nature_ of mind, as discovered in their attempts to
train it. In pursuing such a course, many of them have taught simply the
system of common sense, leaving out entirely the Augustinian
contradictions. They have in various forms of language taught their little
ones after this fashion: “Your heavenly Father made you to be happy and to
make others happy. In order to this, he wishes that you should always have
what you like best, except when it would injure you or others. But when
what you like best and want the most, is not _best_ for you or _best_ for
others, you must always choose what is _for the best_, and in so doing you
act virtuously and please and obey God. And just so far as you do all that
is best for yourself and for others, guided by the teachings of Christ,
and with the desire and purpose to obey him, you become a virtuous, pious
and holy child, and a true Christian.”

In taking such a course as this, many mothers and teachers find themselves
in antagonism with the teachings of the pulpit, the Sunday School and the
great body of religious books, and yet they persevere. And sometimes they
take their children from the Sunday School because the home training is
there so directly assailed. And they would, in some cases, keep them from
the church also, were not the theological technics so effective in
protecting childhood from all comprehension of a large portion of pulpit

It is such intelligent, cultivated and pious mothers and teachers that go
to their pastors with their perplexities and troubles, and not
unfrequently find that tender sympathy which those only can give who have
suffered the same kind of distress.


By the term “Young America,” as it is used at this day, seems to be
intended that class of youthful minds who are striving to free themselves
from all past ecclesiastical and conventional restraints, and who are
aiming to think and act with entire freedom on all subjects.

The most active and efficient of this class are those who by general
reading and study have both strengthened their reasoning powers and been
most affected by the causes before described, which have tended to lessen
respect for the church founded on the Augustinian theory of such a
depraved nature transmitted from Adam, that all unregenerate doings are
“sin, and only sin.”

These young minds find the power of the pulpit, the church, the religious
press, and the religious training of the family, the school and the
college all combined to enforce this doctrine. They feel galled and
indignant at the chains which they find around them; and trained to
interpret the Bible as teaching this doctrine and the system based on it,
they secretly revolt from the authority of that book. They feel that the
ministers and churches which sustain this doctrine are the grand
impediments to freedom of thought and opinion, and the chief fortress of a
system which to them is hateful in theory, and, in their view, destructive
alike to a true manhood and a pure morality.

But if they speak out their feelings they will be denounced as infidels
and avoided as dangerous persons. What is more trying still, the mother
they love so much will be distressed, their father will be equally grieved
and perhaps offended with their self‐conceit, and all their Christian
friends will be disturbed and displeased.

Under these conflicting influences there exists a constant conflict
between their honest convictions and desire for truth and independent
action, and their gentle and generous impulses. This is the condition of
multitudes of young minds, who to please a mother, a father, a sister or a
friend, attend church and listen in silence to much that they do not
believe and to some things which they abhor. Others quietly withdraw from
all religious ministries, on the plea that Sunday is more profitably spent
by them in quiet strolls or reading at home, while the real trouble,
secretly burning in their hearts, is scarcely breathed aloud.

Of this class of minds not a few are found in our theological seminaries.
And here they encounter new difficulties. As the system of Augustinianism
is developed as the basis of their professional training, they attempt to
meet it with some discussion. In this they find little or no
encouragement. _Free discussion_ seems to be deemed inadmissible, and
those who urge it find themselves in an uncomfortable minority, who are
regarded rather as agitators than as manly and independent seekers after

But the most powerful influence on the most influential class of “Young
America,” as highest in intellectual and moral development, has been the
practical working of _two false principles_.

The first of these is, that _organizations_ to promote truth and
righteousness are of more consequence than truth and righteousness. Thus,
to a Catholic, the reputation and interests of _the church_—that is, the
clergy—are to be regarded first, so that its pope and priesthood are to be
shielded from the public exposure of whatever crimes they may commit, lest
the influence of the church should suffer. Thus, in Protestant
ecclesiastical organizations, the sins of their chief leaders are
sometimes covered and palliated, lest their church and order be
discredited. Thus the college faculty are sometimes sustained by parents
or the public in unjust proceedings, lest the respect and confidence of
the pupils or the public toward them should be impaired. Thus, also, the
officers of benevolent associations are tolerated and shielded from odium
for conduct that should receive universal disapprobation. In such cases,
the _end_ is made secondary to the means—the instrumentalities to promote
virtue receive more regard than virtue itself. This, among “fishers of
men,” is making taking the fish secondary to the care of the net.

The other false principle is, that men are to be restrained from
protesting against wrong, in cases where it would make great trouble and
difficulty to individuals or to communities involved in it.

That men are to use discretion and consult expediency as to the _time_ and
_manner_ of exposing and denouncing wrong, is one of the teachings of
common sense. But that men are to protest against wrong only when it makes
little or no trouble to any one, and be silent when contention and trouble
would result from such protesting, is a principle that would have
inhibited the spread of Christianity by the apostles, of the Reformation
by Luther, and of every other great reform.

The extent to which wise and good men have adopted and acted on these
false principles has probably done more to undermine faith in the Bible
and the church than all other causes united.

The tendency has been to generate the feeling that the great organizations
based on the Bible and aiming to extend its authority, are really little
better than associations to sustain the power and the influence of a
certain privileged class, at the sacrifice of not only truth and
righteousness, but of manly freedom of thought and speech.

The extent of real infidelity, not only in our colleges, but among the
young mechanics of our shops and manufactories, the young farmers in our
fields, the clerks in our offices and stores, and Young America all over
the nation, is little imagined by those, who, on the field of
conservatism, are striving to repress free discussion. There are seething
and glowing fires gathering for vent, which such attempts are as vain to
restrain as are bands of cobwebs to confine an outbursting volcano.

In speaking thus confidently of the present position of woman and of
“Young America,” it seems proper to notice the opportunities that have
been furnished to attain some knowledge in this direction.

During twelve years of service as principal of institutions at the East
and West, in which nearly a thousand young girls from the most influential
classes and from nearly every State in the Union have been under her
training, the writer gained no little insight into the varied experiences
of the young. Later in life, ill health and other causes led to frequent
reunions with former pupils all over the land, who as mothers, wives and
sisters sought sympathy and counsel. Thus was gained the private history
and the personal acquaintance of their husbands, brothers and sons, in
many professions and in various colleges.

In many cases the sons would disclose to a candid and sympathizing friend
mental experiences and histories of themselves and their companions,
which, from motives of tenderness, were hidden even from the most kind and
judicious parents. The affiliated societies that bring the most
influential young men of different colleges together, their meetings for
anniversary and club reunions, have generated a common pulse, as it were,
through the great body of the most highly educated and most influential
young men in the land; so that learning what affects a small portion
teaches also what affects the whole.

These intimations indicate but a small portion of the opportunities which
have led to the opinions expressed in this and the preceding chapter.


To any one who examines the religious press of the different sects of the
present time, it is clear that there never was a period in which the
_ecclesiasticism_ founded on the Augustinian theory was more a leading
object of effort. At the time that the Bible Society and other benevolent
religious associations originated, the tendency of the different sects was
to a harmonious union for the great end of sending the gospel to the
destitute. At that time, questions in relation to the modes of ordination
and baptism, and as to church officers, seemed to vanish as matters of
small concern to all whose chief aim was to save the lost. But now the
reverse tendency is manifest. Every sect is engaged in magnifying the
importance of its own distinctive peculiarity, in getting up publishing
houses to disseminate its own peculiar modes of religious teaching, in
raising funds to build churches, and in building up its own distinctive
schools and colleges. And this is done not so much, as it would seem,
because the salvation of ignorant and guilty men depends on these
sectarian peculiarities, as because the extent, respectability and
influence of a sect will be thus promoted. Every editor of every religious
paper, therefore, is a chief leader in an effort to build up a sect, which
as before shown, originates from the Augustinian dogma.

It is an established maxim in law and all administration of justice, that
where a man’s property, character, and professional success are involved,
he is barred from testimony as an incompetent witness. And it is deemed no
disparagement to the most honorable and high‐minded men in the community
to be dealt with on the assumption that such personal interests so bias
men’s judgment that they can not be trusted.

Now it will not be denied by any one, that our religious periodicals are
all supported by the differing sects with the express understanding that
each shall advocate the views of the sect that especially patronizes it.
And should any editor become convinced that the opinions he was appointed
to advocate are false, he could not honorably retain his office without
declaring his change of opinion, and this declaration would inevitably
result in the loss of his professional character and income among his
friends and supporters.

For example, if the editor of the Independent were to become convinced
that churches organized on the Congregational mode were unscriptural, and
should attempt to defend such a view, he would either resign his post or
be removed from it. The same would be true in regard to the editors of the
Presbyterian, Episcopal, Baptist and Methodist religious magazines and

So in regard to the professors of our theological schools, who are the
chief supporters of theological magazines. They must all teach the
Augustinian dogma of a depraved nature transmitted from Adam to all his
descendants, or resign their professional reputation, their office and its

These being facts, it may properly be affirmed that the religious press in
this country is barred from the full and free discussion of the great
question of eternal life, “What must we do to be saved?”

One of the most remarkable indications of this fact is the course pursued
by the leading religious periodicals of each sect in noticing the work
before referred to, _Common Sense applied to Religion, or the Bible and
the People_. In that work, and in an article in the Independent, as well
as by private letters, an appeal was made to their editors, who, many of
them, are personal friends of the writer, to instruct her and to instruct
the public wherein there was any failure in that work, either in setting
forth truly the principles of common sense and the rules of
interpretation, or in deducing by these principles the _system_ of common
sense, or in proving that the Augustinian dogma and the system founded on
it were contrary to the common sense and the moral sense of mankind, and
unsupported by the Bible.

As these editors are not only honorable and Christian gentlemen, but among
the most acute and profound metaphysicians in the world, it would be the
height of ill manners to assume that, discerning any failures, they
refused to specify them, either in private or in public, except for the
reasons intimated. No editor whose periodical is supported by a sect for
the express purpose of maintaining its distinctive peculiarities, could
indorse that work as correct in its statements and arguments without
giving up the basis on which the existence of that sect depends which
supports his periodical.

In these circumstances the editors of the Independent fairly and openly
avowed that they could not open their columns to “a psychological and
theological discussion” of this sort. And every editor of every other
religious periodical tacitly made the same declaration by _entire silence_
on the main subject of the volume—the very principles, involving the
existence of the sect for whose defense they were appointed.

So manifest was this position of these leaders of the theological world,
that the most intelligent and best informed publishers came to the
conclusion that whatever else theologians differed about, they were all
united in the determination that such a discussion of these points as was
sought by the author should not be permitted. And even the editors of the
secular press were urged not to allow their columns to be used for such


The most decided index of the coming agency of the people, in throwing off
the Augustinian system, is the present position of the secular press.

It has been shown how much the religious press is restrained in liberty of
opinion and expression, so that it is probable that there is not a
professedly religious paper in the nation that could controvert the
_distinctive_ doctrines of the sect that patronizes it without losing its
character and income.

But the secular press is far less encumbered with such difficulties. The
progress of this great power toward the discussion of such subjects has
been very striking. At first there began to be seen simple reports of the
religious anniversaries in some secular papers. This proving popular, next
there came notices of missionary and benevolent operations. Then notices
of the sermons of distinguished clergymen were given, and then whole
columns of daily papers were occupied with sermons from ministers, without
regard to denomination. Finally, the great “revival” became a topic of the
secular press. Reports of religious meetings, the number who were counted
as converts, and all the details connected with this great popular
movement were chronicled in the secular almost as fully as in the
religious press.

The comments of editors, also, on this subject, were usually respectful,
candid, and in many cases very able and discriminating. The result has
been, that inasmuch as the religious press circulates chiefly among “the
church” and the secular press among “the world,” the gospel has been
preached to sinners far more by secular than by religious editors. And it
may be assumed as a fact, that the secular editors of this nation have far
more power and influence in guiding the religious opinions and moral
conduct of “the world” than either the clergy or the religious press, and
probably more than both combined.

In this state of the case, all the interests of the religious press are
opposed to free investigation and discussion, and all the interests of the
secular press are as powerfully interested to promote it.

In appealing, therefore, from the theological world to “the people,” it is
the editors of the secular press—the true “_Tribunes_ of the people”—who
will render the verdict, and this verdict is awaited with very little
doubt or apprehension in regard to its nature.

The questions submitted for decision are not so comprehensive as those of
the volume referred to in which theologians chiefly were invoked, and
which they have as yet declined to answer. The questions submitted to _the
people_ are briefly these: Does common sense, or does the Bible teach that
every human being possesses such a depraved nature as never to perform any
truly virtuous act until this nature is re‐created by God? and are the
churches organized on the assumption that its members are diverse from the
world, in that they, as regenerated persons, perform virtuous acts as no
unregenerated person ever does, sanctioned by common sense or by the


It has been shown that the Augustinian dogma of a depraved nature is the
foundation of all the large sectarian organizations in this country, and
of the contentions, evil passions and waste of property resulting from
such divisions among Christians.

It has been shown that the leading theologians have ceased to defend this
dogma, that the pastors of churches are practically evading it, that the
educators of the young are throwing it aside, and that the people in all
directions are rejecting it.

This process of eliminating the Augustinian system from the system of
common sense and the Bible, with which, for ages, it has been entwined,
thus far has gone on as the result chiefly of the development of the
intellectual and moral nature of all classes, but especially of the
_common people_. A period has now arrived in which the question has become
so far an intelligible and a _practical_ one, that the two great
principles of society indicated by the words _conservatism_ and _progress_
are arranging and accumulating antagonistic forces for an open and decided
manifestation on this great question. What will be the precise nature of
this manifestation no human mind can predict. But the distinctive
principles of the two parties furnish some data for anticipating some
future results, as they may occur in the several classes referred to in
preceding chapters under the following heads:

What Theologians will do?

In attempting to indicate the probable future course of theologians, it is
important to notice the relative positions of persons trained to sustain a
_system_ of doctrines, and of those who seek for truth and duty without
any such commitment.

Most theologians grow up from infancy under a system of doctrines
inculcated both from the pulpit and in the family. This enlists all the
strong and inveterate influences of early education in its favor. Next,
the collegiate pulpit instructions and associations all favor the same
system. Next, the theological school brings the young under the direct
training of the most acute minds, whose express business it is to teach
all methods of supporting and defending that _system_. Here the young
minister is taught how to construct his sermons so as most effectually to
bring the popular mind under its control, and so as to most effectively
oppose all antagonistic sects and teachings.

Finally, the office of a clergyman involves such ecclesiastical relations
as subjects a man to constant espionage, and to ecclesiastical discipline
and ejection if he adopts any views that would essentially modify the
_system_ in which he is trained.

If, therefore, any theologian or pastor finds himself doubting as to any
doctrine, he perceives that it is so interlocked with the _system_ of
which it is a part that he is at once brought face to face with the
question, Shall I give up _the whole system_ in which I was educated, all
the lectures and sermons framed on that system, all my ecclesiastical
connections, my professional character and my salary?

It is as if a man should find himself in some emergency upholding by a
single timber a portion of a building which so interlocks with every other
portion that he can not let it go without throwing down the only house
that can shelter himself and all he holds dear. In such a case a man must
come to a decision as to whether the piece of timber _ought_ to be
removed, and _when_ and _how_ it should be done, with an anxiety,
deliberation and forecast that would be inappropriate to a man who finds
only a disconnected stick of timber in his way. This illustrates the
relative position and difficulties of theologians in contrast with those
which impede the common people in the search after truth and duty.

In this view of the case it would be unreasonable to expect that
theologians _as a class_, though among the wisest and best of men, are to
be leaders in any great or sudden change in religious opinions. On the
contrary, it is to be anticipated that they will be the most earnest,
energetic, and at the same time honest, defenders of time‐honored
religious dogmas, which it is their professional business to uphold. Nor
is it any implication of their talents, learning, honesty or piety to
suppose that they will be among the last to perceive the fallacies and
evils involved in whatever _system_ they defend.

Yet there are considerations which indicate that the experience of the
past is not to be the exact image of the future. The progress of mind is
as distinctly marked among theologians as it is among any class of
society, and this being toward the system of common sense, involves the
waning of the dogmatic spirit of infallibility and the increase of that
humble and teachable spirit, which is alike the mark of true philosophy
and of Christianity.

In the infantile development of our race mere physical prowess was deemed
the chief virtue and was the grand aim of all manly culture.

In the next higher stage of development _intellectual power_ became the
object of highest veneration and assiduous cultivation.

The advent of a still higher stage of development is now dawning, which is
best illustrated by the docile spirit of a little child, which feels
exalted by taking a low place, which understands that true dignity and
magnanimity consists, not in assumed infallibility, but in a modest and
humble acknowledgment of ignorance, of mistakes, and of the need of
knowledge and guidance, not only from God but from men.

It is believed that it is not too much to expect that this stage of high
development is to be found even among that class most unfavorably placed
for the attainment of it.

Should this be the case, there will soon be the _conservative_ and the
_progressive_ parties among theologians; the one holding on to both of the
contradictory systems, and maintaining their infallibility; the other,
openly cutting loose from all that conflicts with their common sense and
moral sense, will manfully and honestly confess their fallibility and past

Between these two parties will be a third class, who either from policy or
from timidity, or from inability to form decided opinions, will maintain
entire silence as to any thing involving entire commitment to either

What the Pastors will do?

The pastors of the people are that class in which the division of
_conservatism_ and _progress_ must most immediately and most distinctly
appear. And the reason is, that the question to them is a _practical_ one,
more so than it can be to any other class of men.

It is their business and calling to teach men what they must do to be
saved, and every week they must appear before the public to give their
opinions on this very question.

In this situation, the conservative class will include all who have taken
the opinions of their theological teachers as an act of memory, with very
little original thought or investigation. These, being helpless as to any
ability to investigate or to reason independently, will continue to preach
and teach in the same round as was given them in their course of
theological study. Such will be alarmed and distressed at the changes in
opinion all around them, and will mourn over them as departures from the
good old paths of truth and safely. Such will be sustained chiefly by the
old and conservative portion of their parishes, while the most active
minds, both young and old, will become more and more restless and
dissatisfied, or forsake entirely such ministrations.

In the progressive class of pastors, there will be a marked division. The
first will include those who have clear and decided perceptions of truth
and duty, and at the same time a full conviction that outspoken frankness
and honesty is not only a duty, but the best policy.

Thus, when they find their minds perplexed and doubtful as to the system
in which they have been trained, they will, if called to speak, frankly
say so. If they advance to a new position, and yet are not clear in regard
to certain connected topics, they will say so. If they are clear that the
system of Augustine is false, root and branch, they will say so, and carry
out all the results involved in this position. In short, they will go
forward in a perfect faith in truth, honesty and freedom of speech.

Nor will they consult “expediency,” except as to the _time_ and the
_manner_ of making known their change of opinion.

The other portion will adopt the policy which assumes that peace and quiet
in holding error is more important than truth which involves trouble and
contention. Such will conceal their real opinions under forms of
expression that will deceive the conservative portion of their people, by
making the impression that they hold to old creeds and formularies, in the
sense in which they formerly did, when they do not. They will use the
stereotyped forms of orthodoxy, knowing that those of their people who are
alarmed at supposed changes, will be quieted by impressions which are
false. And they will do this, believing it to be Christian expediency,
although it is a course exactly opposite to that pursued by Christ and his

What the Church will do?

In regard to church organizations, it has been shown that there are two
diverse principles on which these organizations may be perpetuated. The
first is the Augustinian, in which the principle of union is a supposed
change of the nature transmitted from Adam, enabling a man to perform
truly virtuous acts, as none ever do who are not thus re‐created. The
second is that of common sense, in which the principle of union is the
acknowledgment of Jesus Christ as Lord and Master, and the purpose to obey
him in all things; or, in the words of the Episcopal formula, “a church is
a _congregation_ of faithful men, in which the pure word is preached and
the sacraments duly administered according to Christ’s ordinances.” This
definition, in order to represent the common‐sense view, assumes that
“faithful men” are persons who believe in Christ’s authority, as the Lord
of all, and who purpose to obey him.

It has been also shown, in a previous chapter, that the church
organizations based on the Augustinian theory, are gradually modifying
their practice so as more and more to recognize the common‐sense

It is believed that this process of quiet change is to be greatly
accelerated by _discussion_. The people are not aware that the mode of
church organization and discipline now most prevalent is an _innovation_,
which has existed less than two centuries, and chiefly in this country,
and that there can be found no authority for it, either in the Bible or
church history. The word “church,” as used in the New Testament, in the
original Greek means _congregation_, and includes all who unite in one
assembly to worship.

No case can be found in the Bible of any such organization as corresponds
with that which is now called by the name of “church,” as distinct from
the “congregation.”

These being facts, the whole matter of church organization and discipline
is soon to become a matter of general discussion, the result of which, of
course, can not be predicted in any details. But it is certain that the
more discussion there is, the more the common‐sense system will become
dominant. And it is certain that the portion of the people connected with
churches will more and more demand discussion. They will assume that their
pastors are not to be their authoritative, dogmatic teachers; but their
leaders in worship and ordinances; their presiding officers in
discussions, and the administers of much of that kind of knowledge needed
by the people, to enable them to act independently in interpreting the
Bible for themselves.

What Women will do?

The great principle of Protestantism, in distinction from Catholicism, is,
that every person is to be an independent interpreter of the Bible,
responsible to no man or body of men; and that every person is to
_protest_ against all that conflicts with this right.

This principle carried out consistently, makes theologians and pastors a
class sustained by the people, not as dogmatic teachers of their own
opinions, but as persons set apart for the purpose of gaining and of
communicating to the people all the knowledge needful to fit them to use
their rights as _authorized interpreters of the Bible_.

But though all Protestants hold this principle theoretically, by far the
larger portion have never practically adopted it, but, as a matter of
fact, go to theologians and pastors for their _opinions_, and not for the
_knowledge_ on which opinions are to rest. Thus it is that ecclesiastics
control the faith of a large portion of the Protestant churches, as
authoritatively as do the pope and priests control that of the Catholic

We have seen, in the case of Isabella of Spain, one of the most
benevolent, conscientious and lovely of women led on to the most unjust
and cruel deeds, simply from practically adopting the principle, that her
religious teachers must be authoritative guides of her opinions, and that
her own common sense and moral sense must bow to ecclesiastical dictation.

The present time is one in which the women of this country must decide in
regard to this same principle and on practical questions of the deepest

It has been shown, that with small exceptions, the Catholic and Protestant
theologians and clergy unite in teaching a depravity of _nature_ in every
human being, involving these questions:

Are we so depraved as to be incapacitated to interpret the Bible, and made
dependent on ecclesiastical and regenerated persons to interpret for us?

Does the _invisible true church_ consist only of those whose _nature_ has
been re‐created, or of those who, without any newly‐created nature, truly
desire and purpose to use all their natural powers according to the
teachings of Christ?

Does a “_visible church of Christ_” consist of persons possessing a newly‐
created nature, by which alone any truly virtuous acts can be performed,
or does it consist of persons who unite to sustain the public worship,
ordinances and teachings of Jesus Christ?

Are children to be trained to believe that all their feelings and actions
are “sin and only sin,” till they receive a new nature from God, or be
taught that whenever they choose what is _right_, with the _intention_ to
do right, they act virtuously and please God?

Are children to be allowed to come to the table of their Lord and Saviour
as soon as they can understand the nature of the ordinance, and wish and
intend to obey Jesus Christ in all things, or are they to be excluded
until church officers decide whether the signs of a _new nature_ are to be

Are women and children to be excluded from the Lord’s table because they
interpret the Bible diversely from the church with which they worship?

These are the practical questions involved in the doctrine of the depraved
nature of man, as taught by the clergy of the great Christian sects.

It has been stated that many intelligent and pious women in various parts
of our country have already quietly assumed their rights as authorized
interpreters of the Bible on all these questions, have cast off the
Augustinian theory, and thus, in fret, have set themselves in opposition
to the clergy, except so far as the clergy themselves have come to the
same results. The writer, in this work, has done little more than has also
been done by many pious and intelligent mothers and teachers, except to
define, methodize and publicly express opinions which other women have
_practically_ adopted in training children, as the result of their own
experience, common sense and study of the Bible.

Some of the leading organs of the High Church party in the Episcopal
church, and thus the most strenuous defenders of ecclesiastical
infallibility and authority, in noticing the writer’s volume, _Common
Sense Applied to Religion_, previously referred to, ask with _naive_
simplicity, what right has a woman to apply common sense to religion, or
to have any opinions except as she is taught them by the church, at the
same time sneering at the idea, that “the dear people” are competent to
understand and interpret the Bible for themselves.

This shows that the issue is now fairly presented and understood. The
ecclesiastical party, more or less, openly claim that the only authorized
interpreters of the Bible are the ordained priesthood, or the regenerated
church. On the other hand, the people, and women, as that half of the
people to whom the training of the human mind is especially committed,
maintain that they are ordained to this office by a Higher Power and by
the imposition of a nobler hand than any who boast an uninterrupted
apostolical succession.

Moreover, it is claimed that every well‐educated, pious woman of good
common sense, who has trained young children, is _better_ qualified to
interpret the Bible correctly, on all points pertaining to such practical
duties, than most theologians possibly can be. And the reasons are, that
she is free from those biasing difficulties which have been pointed out as
embarrassing theologians, while all her employments and all her culture
eminently tend to aid rather than to embarrass her judgment on such

Add, also, that the Bible was written for common people, and not for
metaphysicians, and in the language of common life, and not in theological
terms, and that if it teaches the system of common sense, it is better
fitted to the apprehension of those whose training has been practical
rather than scholastic.

Finally, the promises of aid from the Author of the Bible, is to the meek
and lowly of heart. “_The meek_ will he guide in judgment; _the meek_ will
he teach his way.” That the position of those accustomed to rule and teach
is as favorable to the cultivation of a meek, humble and teachable spirit
as that of those trained to learn and to obey, few will maintain.

These facts being so, it is believed that ere long the greater portion of
the most intelligent and conscientious women in this country, will
gradually and quietly take this course. They will perceive that they are
bound, not only to assume and exercise the distinctive rights of
Protestantism, as authorized interpreters of the Bible, but to _protest_,
by word and deed, against all that opposes the exercise of these rights.

In accordance with this, they will respectfully and privately express to
their pastor and fellow‐Christians their _protest_ against the Augustinian
system, as involving a dreadful slander on their Lord and Saviour, vailing
in mystery and gloom his lovely character, which is the light and life of
the soul; they will protest against every creed or confession or church
ordinance that is based on this system, as an indorsement of this fatal
slander; they will protest against being regarded as members of a church
in any other sense than as persons united with a _congregation_ to sustain
the worship and ordinances instituted by Christ, and to aid each other in
obeying his word; they will make it clear to all concerned, that they do
not claim to possess any other _nature_ than that received from God at
birth, nor to be regenerated in any other sense than that they now desire
and sincerely purpose to obey Christ in all things.

They will, moreover, protest against the exclusion of themselves or their
children from the Lord’s table, for interpreting the Bible diversely from
the church with which they worship, and against the interference of church
officers to examine them or their children in order to ascertain their
mode of interpreting the Bible or the any other signs of regeneration,
than the expressed desire to unite with the congregation in the worship
and ordinances appointed by Christ.

Should such a course as this result in exclusion from the Lord’s table,
those thus protesting can depart peaceably to some church which could
conscientiously receive them on such terms. And if no such church is to be
found, they can quietly relinquish the privilege, until such time as it
can be enjoyed without a sacrifice of principle and religious liberty.

If those thus protesting act consistently, they will accord to the church
excluding them the same liberty to interpret the Bible, in regard to duty
on this subject, as they claim for themselves. The church in cutting them
off may feel as conscientiously bound to the course they adopt, according
to their way of understanding the Bible, as those do who protest and
withdraw. And if the true spirit of Christ, the spirit of humility,
meekness and love prevails, such disruptions will occur without
contentions or ill feelings on either side.

But in churches embracing many who possess very little of this spirit and
cherishing the claim of infallibility,—first in deciding which is the true
church and next in maintaining its dogmas,—there would result a mode of
dealing with such _Protestants_ very similar to that of former ages. This
would lead to agitation and discussion. But even on this trying
alternative more good than evil might be hoped, especially if those who
protest and withdraw, maintain the meek, peaceable and quiet spirit
required and exhibited by their Master.

What Young America will do?

The higher the development of humanity, the more the capacities for
enjoyment and suffering are increased, and the more civilization
multiplies the means and modes of gratifying increasing desires, the
stronger becomes the deep‐felt anxiety in regard to the invisible future.
Are all these capacities, so infinite in their tendencies, to expand for
ever, only to be wrenched and crossed and baffled as they are in this
life? What are our dangers? What are we to do to escape them? This is more
and more the agonizing demand of humanity.

It has been shown that a system of doctrine has been forced upon
Christendom which has shrouded this great question in mysterious gloom. It
has been shown also that the great _organizations_ of the religious world
are so vitally based on this system that its renunciation involves their
certain dissolution. And though the advance of humanity has, more or less,
modified the opinions and practice of the individuals embraced in such
organizations, still the _principle_ remains unchanged. Consequently any
formal, open attack on this principle involves the combined antagonism of
all the most powerful religious organizations of society.

_Free_ discussion is not to be expected in our theological schools, where
the young men know that they can not be recommended for license if they
fail to adopt the creed of their sect. Nor can it be found in our
colleges, most of which depend for patronage on, or are pledged to the
interests of a sect. Nor can it be expected in our pulpits, where the
minister teaches and the people have no chance of rejoinder or
disputation. Nor can it be expected of the religious press, which is also
bound to sustain sectarian interests. What power is there then which can
contend against such portentous combinations, sustained not only by the
prestige of ages and all the innate forces of long‐drilled organizations,
but by the honest and conscientious convictions of the great majorities
thus enrolled?

It is _the power of truth evolved by free discussion_, and mainly as it is
and will be administered in the hands of _Young America_ and _the secular

The young men of the nation have the control of their literary societies
in our colleges and seminaries, and of the popular lyceums and other
associations, where every member has a vote in deciding what shall be
discussed; and here the battle will be fought for religious liberty and
the Bible.

In this conflict there will appear two distinct classes. The first will be
those of shallow capacity and acquirements, who, perceiving themselves to
be in the party of reason and common sense, will imagine that they have
acquired this position, not by the progress of the age, brought about to a
great extent by the discussions, the labors and sufferings of wise and
good men, many of them distinguished as metaphysicians and theologians,
but that it is all owing to their own remarkable genius and independent
thought. Thus they will become “heady, high‐minded,” rash and
contemptuous. Of these, some will be borne away to utter skepticism,
immorality and final ruin. Others, unable to reason correctly, and
bewildered by the conflict, will swing around to the opposite extreme, and
enter a church where they can rest their faith on a priesthood claiming to
be heaven‐inspired, which shall decide all questions of faith and practice
for them.

But the nobler portion of Young America will understand truly their great
mission, and, taught by the mistakes and darkness of the past, with a
modest and humble sense of their own inability to go forward without help,
both from God and their fellow‐men, will seek for truth, duty and
happiness in the appropriate path of _calm_, _honest_, _fair_ and _free
discussion_. And their generous hearts and strong arms will be shield and
buckler even to the feeblest who may enter the lists.

What the Religious Press will do?

This question is the most perplexing of all, at least to those who have
attentively marked the recent developments in the religious world.

What is there that more clearly defies at once the moral sense, the common
sense and the teachings of the Bible, than the system of slavery as it now
exists in this country, and yet a majority of not only editors, but of the
ministers of Christ, in some of our most intelligent and large
denominations, openly refuse freedom of discourse on this subject; nay,
more, some of the religious papers are openly justifying the slave trade,
which politicians, even those without any pretensions to religious
principle, have placed as piracy, the highest civil crime.

And the last year has witnessed the deliberate crushing of free debate on
this subject, in one of our largest and most effective benevolent
associations. And some of those whose whole lives have exhibited them
among the most amiable, conscientious and exemplary men, are to be found
upholding such a course.

Who then can predict what will be the course of the religious press, when
every editor must maintain the distinctive tenets of a sect, or at once
lose his professional character and his income?

It is very easy to predict what will be the course of those who will make
no sacrifice for truth. A large portion will neither read, or think or
discuss, or, so far as they have power to prevent, allow others to do so.
Some will take this course in the satisfied belief that they, and the
church which they have infallibly decided to be infallible, can never err.
Others will avoid all discussion for fear of being convinced of mistakes,
obliging them, if acknowledged, to sacrifices of pride, character and

Others will make some show of discussion, so far as to use the disgraceful
arts sometimes resorted to, in order to satisfy and blind ignorant and
unreflecting readers. Unfair and garbled quotations, misstatement of
facts, depreciating implications of character and motives, invidious
allusions to family or party connections, the use of unpopular terms,
which humbler minds have been trained to regard as designating the most
dangerous and destructive heresies, these, and many other discreditable
methods, will probably be employed to stave off discussion, or to nullify
its power.

But there is a class of minds who have access to the religious press, and
can more or less control its action, who are far above such humiliating
littleness and dishonesty. In regard to these, such are the influence of
education and long‐trained habits of thought, that an entire change of a
_whole system_ must be a gradual process. And when sermons, lectures,
books and pulpit ministries have all been in accordance with one system,
they can not be modified to meet another without many practical
difficulties. Nor can men, whose professional associations with
ecclesiastical bodies and with parishes impede them, settle many practical
questions involved in any change of views, without demanding _time_ for
reflection, examination and consultation.

In this position of affairs in the religious world, a measure of
retention, and even of protracted silence, in many cases, may be wise and
justifiable. And charges of compromise, or of cowardice, or of
intellectual deficiency, in such cases, would be false, ungenerous and
unjust. All this should be taken into account in judging of the future
action of those who control the religious periodicals and literature.

What the Secular Press will do?

The answer to this question is much more clear than the preceding one,
inasmuch as the secular press, to a great extent, is free from the
embarrassments that restrain the religious press.

It has become so manifest that the great body of the people are determined
to enjoy perfect liberty of conscience, and to defend the right of free
discussion in religion and morals, as well as in politics, that it is
clearly for the interests of editors, not committed to sectarianism, to
uphold these rights.

The distinguished popularity and success of that Daily which now boasts
the largest circulation in the nation, is a most significant fact. Its
career began long before the religious world had its distinctive tenets
rudely assailed by any but ecclesiastical hands, and long before the
secular press ventured to bring its common‐sense maxims to bear on
religious topics.

Single‐handed, it fearlessly opened its columns to discussions on
Fourierism, women’s rights, intemperance, slavery, religious doctrines,
and all other matters that concerned the public weal, giving every party a
fair chance to speak for itself. The religious world took the lead in the
outcry and alarm against this course. But _the people_, and even a large
proportion of the _religious people_, sustained this attempt at fair and
free discussion, so honestly and fearlessly pursued, until the battle was
fairly won. And now it is probable that the larger proportion of the most
candid and intelligent editors of the secular press perceive that their
pecuniary interests, in regard to free religious discussion, are in the
same direction as their reason and conscience.

This being so, it is probable that the most powerful, fair and effective
discussions of the grand question of life hereafter, will be found more in
the secular than in the religious press, at least for a considerable
period of time.

Should this be so, there would probably be an improvement in _modes_ of
discussion in several respects.

Among these may be anticipated an advance in a spirit of Christian
humility, charity and of gentlemanly courtesy in dealing with the
character and motives of those whose opinions, either in religion or
morals, are discussed. The true spirit of Christian charity demands that
we endeavor to present the best rather than the _worst_ construction of
our opponent’s character, motives and arguments.

A true humility implies such a self‐distrust, and such a sense of our need
of aid in discovering truth, not only from God but from our fellow‐men, as
will be indicated in a modest and unimpassioned exhibition of opinions and
arguments, and a courteous reception of all criticisms and counter
arguments. With this spirit the weakness or mistakes, or sophistries of an
opponent would be exhibited more in sorrow than in triumph or scorn.

A true gentlemanly courtesy would enforce the same rules of delicacy and
good breeding in public encounters as are regarded by well‐bred persons in
the drawing room. This would necessarily banish all allusion to personal
or family failings, and all invidious or disrespectful modes of address or

No one who is familiar with the controversies on doctrine and morals, as
conducted in the religious papers, can doubt that there is room for
improvement in all these particulars.

Such improvement is to be anticipated, not on account of any mental or
moral superiority of the conductors of the secular press, but rather from
the fact that they are free from many of the embarrassments and exciting
influences already pointed out as surrounding those who conduct the
religious periodicals.

Another improvement to be anticipated is the withdrawal of the great
questions in debate from the mists of metaphysical and theological
technics to the clear, popular language of common life.

In the preceding pages it is shown that the most important questions of
religious truth and duty can be discussed in the language of common life,
so as to be made intelligible to all persons of ordinary education, who
are sufficiently interested to give their attention to matters which
demand intellectual exertion. Men will find that they must “_labor_ to
enter into the strait gate,” intellectually as well as morally, and that
they are to “_work_ out their own salvation with fear and trembling,”
while thus they will learn to understand the nature of the encouraging
assurance that “it is God that worketh in us _to will and to do_ of his
own good pleasure.”

When, therefore, the secular press and the popular lyceum take up these
great questions they will insist that the discussions shall be carried on
in popular language, so that the labor demanded shall not be increased by
the unknown tongue of theological and metaphysical science.

Again, there will be an improvement in the mode of conducting such
discussions, by the banishment of all adventitious topics and the firm
grasping of the one great fundamental point in debate. It will be insisted
that the question is not at all whether Arminians or Universalists, or
Unitarians hold this or that opinion, nor whether advocating such and such
views would injure the cause of this or that institution, or sect or
individual; nor whether this or that person has certain faults, or is a
proper advocate of some innovations; nor whether undesirable results would
follow from expressing certain views, but simply _what is the truth_, so
far as it can be discovered by honest statements and fair discussion.

The grand question in debate is not whether men are _depraved_ in
_character and action_ as they appear in the history of the world. All
parties agree in the _fact_ of such dreadful depravity. The question is in
regard to the _philosophy_ of this fact, that is to say, What is the
_cause_ or reason of this depravity?

Here it will be found that two classes exist in all the great Protestant
sects, viz.:

Those who hold that the cause is a depraved _nature_, [signifying what men
mean when in common life they use the terms, _nature_, _organization_,
_construction_ or _constitution_,] and those who deny that any such
depraved nature exists. These two opposite opinions, ever since the third
century, have been expressed by the terms, _Augustinian_ and _Pelagian_.

The case is now so fairly and clearly before _the people_, that every
theologian who has capacity and training sufficient to understand an
argument must knowingly do one of these things:

1. Deny depravity of _nature_ and allow that he is a Pelagian; or

2. Affirm such depravity, take rank as an Augustinian and then meet the
argument which, on this assumption, destroys all evidence of the
benevolence of God, and renders a _reliable_ revelation from him

3. Withdraw from all discussion either by entire silence, or by hiding in
the fogs of metaphysical and theological technics, or by the disgraceful
arts of debate practiced to alarm and delude the ignorant.

Heretofore the editors of secular papers have practically conceded that
the religious disputes and conflicts that agitated the churches were
matters out of their province and to be turned over to the clergy and
religious editors. And inasmuch as most of these contentions have related
to matters of rites and forms, or to abstract doctrinal points having
little _practical_ bearings on the daily life, such abstinence seemed
appropriate. But the progress of the age has at last fairly brought the
organized church front to front with the unregenerate world on the
greatest of all _practical_ questions‐a question with which every editor
of every secular paper has as deep a personal and family interest as has
any religious editor, or any doctor of theology, or any parochial pastor.

Is it _a fact_, or is it not, that every man at birth is so depraved in
_nature_ that every one of his moral acts is _sin_, _and sin only_, until
a change in this _nature_ is wrought by the creative power of God, and
must all young children be educated on this assumption?

The training of the family, our institutions of education, the church
organizations of the great religious sects, all depend on this question.
The answer to it must be _yes_ or _no_, for no third supposition is
possible. Every _intelligent_ man then must speak out in the affirmative,
or in the negative, or else hide in silence or in the mists of deceit.

In this view of the case, it is believed that the educated class of
powerful and cultivated minds, who are, by their position and talents, the
leaders of the secular press, will not turn this matter over to their
theological contributors, but will take the case into their own hands, and
fearlessly and earnestly meet their high responsibilities.

Thus they may prove not only the most effective leaders in the
intellectual and moral advance of humanity, but the protectors of many
suffering, struggling minds, who unaided would sink in the conflict before

In this exhibition of the position of the religious world, the attitude of
this work is very remarkable. It is in open and direct antagonism with
_all_ the religious _organizations_ of the Christian world, and that too
in regard to the very fundamentals on which each of these organizations
depends for its existence. All the Augustinian sects are against the
position of this work, that the mind of man is _perfect in nature_, and
should they adopt the Pelagian ground _consistently_, every one of them
would either come to an end, or change the very basis of its organization.

The only sect that openly and consistently avows the Pelagian view, is the
Unitarian; but this organization is founded on the distinctive tenet of
such a unity in God as forbids the idea of a plurality of eternal, self‐
existent Persons, having the highest attributes of God. This is contrary
to the system of common sense, as exhibited in this work, page 100. The
Universalist organization is based on the doctrine that none of the human
race will continue sinful for ever, and thus insure the natural
consequences of sin. This also is shown to be contrary to the system of
common sense, as presented in this work, page 177.

The great body of persons, as yet unorganized, who agree in resisting the
claims of the Bible as containing reliable revelations from the Creator,
and thus _authoritative_ rules of faith and practice, will be arrayed
against such claims maintained in this work, as one of the inevitable
results of the application of the principles of common sense.

Consequently, the whole religious organizations of the world, who rest
their faith on the Bible, are antagonistic to this work, while those who
repudiate the authority of the Bible are equally so.

Still more remarkable is the fact exhibited in this volume, that the
writer, in a family circle embracing so many theologians and pastors,
appears before the public as antagonistic to most, and supported openly by
not one of them.

What then is the foundation of that confiding and cheerful equanimity with
which all this imposing array of organizations and individual talents,
learning and influence is regarded? It is, first, confidence in truth and
the God of truth, and next, the intimate knowledge gained by the writer,
of the _characters_ and the _mental experiences_ of some of the most
powerful minds that are leaders of this host, and at the same time a
similar knowledge of some of the noblest minds, who are most effectively
influencing that great portion of the popular mind which is not embraced
in these organizations. Whatever may be the opinions of these powerful
classes, who may in form and position appear antagonistic, they will never
be leaders in any attempt to crush perfect freedom of thought and
expression, or to restrain that free and earnest discussion which is

Nay more, if the distinctive feature of a follower of Christ is to be
humble and teachable in spirit, “meek and lowly of heart,” and if that
highest form of human development is dawning, when moral magnanimity shall
take precedence of intellectual power in human estimation, then the world
will soon behold what as yet has been deemed impossible, great and learned
men, even doctors in theology, nay more, even men that have written books,
resigning the claim of infallibility, and confessing that they have made

The hope of this, moreover, is sustained by the character and position of
some, who not only stand high in the theological world, but are among the
most revered and beloved in that family circle, where the golden chain of
perfect love has never for a moment been sundered by the widest
diversities of opinion or the freest discussion of differences. What has
transpired in one Christian family, it is believed, may be but the emblem
of what is yet to prevail among the true children of Him, “of whom the
whole family in heaven and on earth is named.”(22)


    The work often referred to in the preceding pages, was written, at
    first, on a more limited plan than now appears. After a portion
    was printed, it was perceived that the discussion contained in
    this volume was indispensable, and the title at first designed for
    the _whole_ work, became inappropriate to the first portion when
    issued alone. In making a change, the result has been, that the
    work has sometimes been advertised by its first name, the BIBLE
    AND THE PEOPLE, and sometimes by its second name, COMMON SENSE
    APPLIED TO RELIGION, and sometimes by both together.

    Hereafter, the title of the first volume will be COMMON SENSE
    APPLIED TO RELIGION. This volume is the second portion. The final
    portion, not yet published, will be entitled THE BIBLE INTERPRETED


Note A.

The new school divines agree with the old school in teaching that previous
to regeneration every moral act is _sin and only sin_, and that God has
made no promises to unregenerate doings, which would obligate him to re‐
create the soul, in return for such performances.

On the contrary, they urge man himself to change his own heart, as that
which is possible without any aid from God. And the interference of God to
regenerate is represented by them as an act of sovereign, elective mercy,
unbought by any labor or striving on the part of man.

Still, they encourage the use of the means of grace as the way in which
God ordinarily meets the sinner, in bestowing this gift. They urge that
_experience_ proves, that though regeneration is not _promised_ to the use
of the means of grace, it is more frequently bestowed on those who use
them than on those who neglect them.

Note B.

There are three points on the subject of the future state, which need to
be discussed separately.

The first is, will there be an eventual separation of the human race, at
some final consummation, so that from that point, through all eternity,
there will be two separate communities, the good being perfect in
character and happiness, and the bad reaping the natural results of their
evil tempers and conduct _for ever_?

The second is, does our conduct in this life have an influence in deciding
our _degrees_ of happiness or misery in a future state, so that we reap
the natural good or evil consequences of all we do here _for ever_?

The third is entirely independent of the other two, and is this: Is the
_eternal_ condition of _every_ human being fixed _at the hour of death_;
or is there with _some_ a continued process of culture and discipline, and
of upward and downward progress in a future state, extending to the day of
final separation and consummation?

That _some_ may become so good in this life as to insure an eternal upward
progress, and that _some_ may become so bad as to insure a perpetual
downward progress, may be true, and yet, to others new opportunities may
be given.

It is by _revelations from the Creator_ alone that these points can be
effectually settled. It is shown in chapter 27, that every system of
religion or morals must be decided by these questions. Therefore, these
questions, and the authority of the Bible on these points, must become the
subject of renewed and earnest discussion.

Note C.

The doctrine of the Atonement can be regarded simply as a fact without any
reference to the philosophy of it, _i.e._, the mode or _cause_ of this
fact. _Jesus Christ came into this world to save men from sin and its
inevitable penalties, by his teachings, sufferings and death._ This fact
may be received without any attempt to explain the _why_ or the _how_ it
came to pass, or how it is made efficacious, which are the _philosophy_ of
this fact.

In regard to this philosophy, various theories have been incorporated into
creeds and theological systems.

The most common theory at the present time, in this country, is, that the
sufferings and the death of Christ avail to sustain the justice and the
laws of God as effectually as would the infliction of eternal misery on
all who are regenerated. That is to say, if by repentance and reformation,
without an atonement, men should escape all the penalties for past sin,
the result would be that God’s justice would be impeached and his laws be
nullified, just as human lawgivers become unjust and their laws are made
void when all penalties are remitted. This difficulty, it is supposed, on
the common theory, was met by the sufferings and the death of Jesus
Christ, as a _vicarious substitute_ in behalf of those saved. That is to
say, this atoning sacrifice operates to preserve the justice of God and
the efficiency of laws, as effectually as would the eternal punishment,
from which all regenerated persons are thus rescued.

This mode of explaining the _why_ and the _how_ may be relinquished and
another mode adopted, or no theory at all may be deemed needful, while
belief may remain in the great _fact_, that Jesus Christ wrought out the
salvation of those who are saved, by his advent, sufferings and death, and
that they could be saved by no other mode.

It is very important to recognize this distinction between the _fact_ and
the _philosophical theories_ invented to explain the fact; because it is
frequently the case that the denial of a theory is regarded as a denial of
the great fact, when such is not the case. All may agree in the fact when
very diverse theories are held to explain it.

Whether our Creator actually has come in human form into this world, and
exhibited an example of _self‐sacrifice_ and _suffering_ for the general
good, is what we may infer as _probable_ by the light of nature, but which
we can _fully prove_ only by revelation.

Note D.

Whether the Creator ever communes with the human spirit except through the
material organizations, is one on which reason and experience furnish no

No record is to be found of any communications from the Creator to mankind
that were not made either by visible forms or intelligible sounds, or by
visions and dreams in sleep. All the revelations recorded in the Bible
were by some one of these methods.

This being so, the system of common sense neither affirms or denies the
direct access of the creative mind to the minds of his creatures. It is a
question to be settled solely by revelation.

Note E.

This mode of explaining the depravity of mind is to be found in the
_Conflict of Ages_. On page 90 the following passage exhibits the author’s
idea, both of a _perfectly constructed mind_, and of a _depraved mind_:

“So there is a _life of the mind_. It involves an original and designed
correlation to God, and such a state of the affections, passions,
emotions, intellect and will, that communion with God shall be _natural_,
habitual, and the life of the soul. He who has been so far healed by
divine grace as to reach this state, has a true idea of the _normal_ and
_healthy state_ of the soul. And if he finds that there is that _in the
state of his moral constitution and emotions_ which seems to lie beneath
his will and undermine its energy to follow the convictions of reason and
conscience, and that by divine grace _this has been changed_, and an
energy not only to will but to do good is supplied, is it to be wondered
at that, in some way, he should come to the conclusion that there is in
_his nature_ or _moral constitution_, _depravity_ or _pollution_, anterior
to the action of the will?”

The theory which this author adopts is, that the “normal” state of man’s
“_nature_ or moral _constitution_” was created in man by God in a
preëxistent state, and that man’s “_depravity_ or pollution anterior to
the action of the will” consists in “a habit of sinning,” generated in
this preëxistent state.

This habit of sinning was not a part of the perfectly‐constructed nature
made by God. Man himself introduced it into his own mind, thus rendering
it so depraved that every moral act is sin, and only sin.

_Regeneration_, according to this theory, consists in a change of the
“state of the moral constitution,” whereby “an energy not only _to will_
but _to do good_ is supplied.” That is to say, the “habit of sinning” can
be lessened or removed by some supernatural change of the “moral
constitution” by God. And yet all men are born with this depravity which
God _can_ remedy, and _will not_, except for a select few.

It is manifest, therefore, that this writer holds to a depravity of
_nature_ in the true and proper sense of the term, signifying constitution
or _construction_.

This being so, his theory puts it out of his power to prove the
benevolence of the Creator, or to establish any revelation from him as a
_reliable_ guide to truth and happiness.

For it is the _nature_ of any created thing which proves the character and
intentions of its creator. If then all human minds are depraved in
_nature_ or “constitution,” the Creator of these minds is thus proved to
be depraved, and no revelations from him can be _reliable_. He prefers sin
and evil to virtue and happiness, and of course his teachings can be no
guide to truth, virtue and happiness. Thus, by his own theory, this author
is debarred from any proof of a preëxistent state by revelation.

On page 20 it is further stated that “inasmuch _as the mind of man is
depraved_, and there may be _danger in trusting_ its unrevised,
uncorrected decisions as to these principles [of honor and right], it is
of great importance, for purposes of revision, carefully to study those
developments of benevolent, honorable and just feelings, towards which the
human mind, _after regeneration_, and under the guidance of the Holy
Spirit, is found most directly to tend.”

This passage shows that this depravity of the “moral constitution,”
generated in a preëxistent state, in the view of this author, is such that
there is danger in trusting our mental decisions as to the principles of
honor and right at first implanted by God, but vitiated and impaired by
the “habit of sinning.” This danger, it is suggested, is lessened “after
regeneration,” so that regenerated persons are thus entitled to guide
their unregenerate fellow‐men in matters of truth and duty. This lays the
foundation for the claims of a regenerate church and clergy to superior
authority in deciding on the interpretations of the Bible. The tendencies
of such claims to pride, dogmatism and persecution, are pointed out in
chapter 41.

Note F.

The following extract from the _Views and Experiences of Religion_, _by
Henry Ward Beecher_, is an example of the vagueness and uncertainty
referred to. It is part of an article entitled _How to Become a

“The moment you realize this goodness of Christ, his helpfulness to you,
his lenient, forgiving, sympathizing spirit, then you know what _faith in
Christ_ means. If such a Saviour attracts you, and you strive all the more
ardently, from love toward him and trust in him, then you are a Christian:
_not a religious man_, but _a Christian_.

“A man may worship through awe, or through a sense of duty, and I think
there are hundreds of men in the churches who are _only religious men_,
and _not Christians_. A man who feels toward God only awe or fear, who
obeys merely from a _sense of duty_, who is under the dominion of
_conscience_ rather than of love, may be religious, but he is _not a

There is nothing said in this article of any need of any new creation of
_the nature_ of the mind; nor is this Augustinian dogma to be found in any
of this author’s published works.

In this article, written expressly to give clear views of what it is to
become a Christian, and _how_ to do it, we find it taught “a man who feels
toward God only awe or fear, who obeys merely from a sense of duty, who is
_under the dominion of conscience_ rather than of love, may be
_religious_, but _he is not a Christian_.”

Suppose, then, a person with a strong sense of justice and great natural
benevolence, is trained to believe the Calvinistic form of the Augustinian
system, so that God appears to him only the awful, incomprehensible author
of this dreadful system, and Jesus Christ, this same God, so united to a
man (as this transaction is usually represented) that the human soul alone
bears all the grief and suffering involved in the expiatory sacrifice
demanded. Suppose, also, that, in this view, unable to feel any emotions
but fear and awe, he says, “_There must be a dreadful mistake somewhere_.
I can not fathom it; but I can and will do this: I will trust the word of
Jesus Christ as to the character of God, and I will _obey his teachings
conscientiously_ in all things, as nearly as I am able;” and this
determination is carried out in his life.

Is such a man a Christian, or is he not? Guided only by the above extract,
it would be very difficult to decide, or to state what is this author’s
view of regeneration; nor is there any thing in his published writings to
remove the vagueness and uncertainty caused by such teachings as are
embraced in the above extract, as to what _change_ makes a man a true

According to the system of common sense (as explained chapter 24, and also
on page 258) to form and carry out a ruling purpose to obey the laws of
God, as made known by Jesus Christ, is loving God and Christ in the only
way in which love can justly be made a subject of command. And when a man
forms and carries out such a purpose, he is “under the dominion of
conscience,” and is a true Christian.

The point where this writer seems to fail, in this extract, is, in a want
of the distinction, pointed out in the chapter above mentioned, between
_voluntary_ and _involuntary_ love. A person may be “under the dominion of
conscience,” by a purpose to obey all the laws of God, and for want of the
true view of God’s character, as exhibited in Jesus Christ, may experience
only emotions of fear and awe in performing such obedience.

It is the true, _efficient_ purpose to obey Christ which constitutes a man
a Christian. It is right views of God’s character, as seen in Jesus
Christ, that gives new _strength_ to carry out such a purpose.

“When we were yet _without strength_, in due time Christ died for the
ungodly,” thus giving new motives of love and gratitude, in addition to
those of fear and awe. Not until all the false theories that hitherto have
vailed the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ are cast away, will the full
meaning of the above text be fully understood.

Note G.

Among theologians and pastors there are two classes now existing, in all
the great Protestant sects, the one holding to a _real_ depravity of
_nature_, and striving to make such a fact consistent with common sense
and with the ideas of benevolence and justice in the Creator; the other,
holding only to a depravity of _action_ and of character, resulting from
such action in this life, are striving to evade open antagonism with the
Augustinian theory.

No third position being possible, every man is necessarily Augustinian or
Pelagian; either holding that man _is_ depraved _in nature_, or that he is

In the first class, is one whom, above all others, the writer would prefer
to meet in a discussion on this great question. It is one who is
remembered in early life as the honest, serious, book‐loving boy; next as
the earnest Christian and faithful student, winning the highest honors of
a collegiate course; next as a student of theology called to several of
the highest city pulpits, even before finishing his preparatory course;
next, even in youth, the president of a flourishing western college,
taking a decided stand on the slavery question, defending the _freedom of
the press_ with its first martyr, and very nearly sharing his fate; next
resuming the pastor’s office, mainly to gain more freedom to write and
publish his peculiar views, which he well understood would encounter all
the organized interests of Christendom, and place a drag‐chain on all his
personal and professional interests; finally, one who, as scholar,
metaphysician and theologian, in the writer’s view, has never been
surpassed, while he never has, and never will, resort to a cowardly or
unfair mode to weaken or escape an argument. Thus much, if not allowable
toward a brother, may be permitted toward an antagonist.

It is this brother who for years has been laboring to sustain the
Augustinian dogma by a theory which—could it be proved—is the only one yet
devised that is at once rational, intelligible and actually secures the
end designed. For if it were a fact that the _nature_ of mind is depraved,
and if it were possible to prove that our race originally, in a
preëxistent state, were created with a perfect nature, ruined themselves,
and were born into this world for purposes of pardon and redemption, the
grand difficulty _would_ all be remedied, and God _could_ be exhibited as
wise, just and good in spite of this mournful fact.

But it is _the fact_ of the _depraved nature_ of the human mind, where the
writer and this brother are at issue, and not on any theory to relieve the
difficulties incident to that fact.

The argument of this work, to prove that there is no possible mode of
proving the benevolence of God, or of proving that the Bible is a reliable
revelation from him, to any man who teaches that the _nature_ of the human
mind is depraved in _any_ sense that can be made intelligible by human
language, _this_ is the place where the author of the Conflict of Ages, in
due time, will meet this discussion fairly, openly and honorably.

In the second class, mentioned above, is another brother, whom the writer
believes to be as decidedly on the Pelagian ground. Whether he yet fully
understands his position, is not affirmed by one, who has, for so short a
time, fully understood her own bearings in this matter. But ere long, the
only question remaining for him will be, whether he shall openly attack
this strongly‐entrenched error, this wholesale slander on his Lord and
Master, or take the Tract Society mode of evading discussion. All who best
know the writer of the _Star Papers_, best understand that any question of
_expediency_ will relate, not to the fearless, outspoken exhibition of his
opinions, but only to the _time_ and _manner_ in which it shall be done.
He must soon perceive that it is as much his duty openly to attack the
_African_[A] enslavement of Anglo‐Saxon _minds_, as it ever was to combat
the Anglo‐Saxon enslavement of African _bodies_.

It will be noticed that this public appeal to family friends was not made
until all other theologians, especially obligated to meet this discussion,
had evaded it, and some of them by unfair, ungentlemanly and unchristian

[Transcriber’s Note: Obvious printer’s errors have been corrected.]


    1 Note A.

    2 The theory of Dr. E. Beecher, as it has not been accepted by any
      denomination, is not referred to here.

    3 Most of the extracts in this and the preceding chapter are furnished
      by Dr. E. Beecher in his Conflict of Ages.

    4 In scientific language, the _object_ of desire is called the
      _objective motive_, and the _desire_ itself is called the
      _subjective motive_.

    5 These references are to portions of the volume before mentioned
      which are not introduced into this work.

    6 Metaphysicians have mystified this subject thus:—They say “the will”
      (or choice) _invariably_, “is as is the greatest apparent good.” But
      when it is inquired, does “greatest good,” as here used, signify
      that which the intellect decides to be _best far all concerned_, and
      thus _right_, or does it signify that which causes the _strongest
      desire_ as measured by our own consciousness? It will be found that,
      in this metaphysical statement above, it means _both_. This leads to
      the same sort of confusion as would result from using the word
      _straight_ to include the two ideas of both _straight_ and
      _crooked_. With such an enlarged, but improper, definition, it could
      truly be said that men _invariably_ go _straight_, and as truly that
      they also _invariably go crooked_.

      The only way in which the expression, “the will is as is _the
      greatest apparent good_,” can be true, is to use the term to include
      both what is the greatest good as judged by the intellect, and also
      the greatest good as causing the strongest desire, thus making one
      word express two _diverse_ ideas.

      It is this want of discrimination in the use of the term “greatest
      apparent good,” by President Edwards, which accounts for the fact
      that one class of the most acute metaphysicians regard him as the
      defender of free agency, and another class, equally acute, maintain
      that he teaches the exactly opposite doctrine of fatalism. It is by
      this deceptive use of the words _greatest apparent good_, and
      _strongest motive_, that such _invariableness of antecedence_ and
      _consequents_ is made out, as is the proof of _producing causes_ and
      _necessary effects_ in the material world. Thus results the idea of
      _irrational free agency_, making the mind of man like irrational
      brutes, inevitably and necessarily controlled by the strongest
      desire, (or strongest motive) and destroying all idea of _rational
      free agency_.

    7 This is a very important point in regard to the question of a
      _depraved nature_.

    8 This refers to those theologians who teach that regeneration
      consists not in a change of _nature_ but of _purpose_.

    9 In the Greek, the word in the New Testament translated
      “peacemakers,” is more correctly rendered “happiness‐makers.”

   10 Note B.

   11 Note C.

   12 Note D.

   13 This account is taken from Rev. Howard Malcom’s _Travels in Asia_.

   14 The Arminians hold that Christ’s death has purchased the return of
      God’s Spirit withdrawn for Adam’s sin, and that owing to this aid,
      man has some power to obey God previous to regeneration, so that all
      the doings of the unregenerate are not sin.

   15 Those new school Calvinists, who teach that regeneration consists in
      the formation of a ruling purpose by man himself, hold that this
      never takes place until the Spirit of God more or less rectifies the
      depraved nature consequent on Adam’s sin, and that previous to
      regeneration every moral act of every mind is “sin, and only sin.”

   16 Note E.

   17 “State of the Impenitent Dead,” by Alvah Hovey, D.D.

   18 From the article on Sanctification, in the magazine _Beauty of
      Holiness_, January, 1859.

   19 Note F.

   20 In regard to the author of the _Conflict of Ages_, the writer is
      still uncertain whether he would or would not assent to the common‐
      sense view of regeneration, here stated, as exact and complete, or
      whether he supposes that the “habit of sinning, generated in a
      preëxistent state,” is changed by some direct operation of the
      Spirit of God on the “nature” or faculties of the human mind, which
      is antecedent to any right voluntary action on the part of man, and
      without which, every moral act of every unregenerated mind is “sin,
      and only sin.”

      These personal references are introduced to illustrate more
      effectively the vague and diversified teachings of theologians and
      religious teachers in answer to the great question, on which they
      claim that an eternity of blessedness or misery is depending.

   21 The extent to which Judaism had spread among the upper ranks is
      strikingly shown by the fact that one of the first inquisitors,
      Peter Arbues, was assassinated by a conspiracy formed of the chief
      officers of the Arragonese government, who were most of them,
      according to Llorente, of Jewish blood or connections. The
      Inquisition, however, was odious on other grounds, as a royalist
      institution, like our Star Chamber.—See Llorente’s _History of

   22 Note G.

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