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we are to inquire for no expedients, no substitutes, but hold fast to the law of love, and cleave to it, though the heavens fall. And here is the practical contrast between Christianity and the systems of human invention.
We hardly need say that this same contrast appears when we place the popular systems of the Christian world alongside of that of universal grace and salvation. There is a deep significance in the fable of one who was seen with a cup of water in one hand, and a censer of coals in the other; and who, on being asked what he inteded to do, replied, that he would quench the fires of hell with the water, and burn up heaven with the fire, that henceforth men might serve God from principle, and for the love of him, and not from the slavish fear of punishment, or the mercenary hope of reward. The constancy and persistence with which the religious teachers of this day appeal to all possible hopes and fears, as incentives to a religious life, will go far towards justifying the application of the sarcasm to their theory and practice. The gross and common idea of duty, is not that it involves its own good by a necessary law, and is to be practised for its own sake, and for principle; but it is that heaven is above, and hell is beneath, and religion is an expedient to get into the one and keep out of the other. It is a sort of insurance against hell-fire, and to take out a policy some time before death is a matter of unquestionable expediency. So firmly is this view of the matter fixed in the public mind, that the masses of the community find it impossible to conceive of religion in any other light, or to imagine any incentive to the performance of duty, on any other hypothesis than that, in the future world, there is a heaven to gain, and a hell to shun. No thought have they that the Great Master calls them to serve God for the love they bear him, and to do their duty as a matter of principle, not of policy. Hence it is that there are those--and they are not a few-among the loudest professors of religion, who cannot imagine why the man who rejects the idea of hell-torments, should be tenacious of duty, or what there is to restrain him from the vilest of sins. Nay, they do not hesitate to say, that if they believed thus, they would not serve God another day, but would riot in iniquity. Such men have need to be taught in the
very alphabet of Christianity, for they have yet to learn to discriminate between heathenism, as a religion of policy, and Christianity, as a religion of practical principle.
If this idea were confined to the "ignorant vulgar," the case would be less deplorable ; but it extends to the teachers in Israel, and the pulpit, in the great mass of its exhortations, appeals to policy and expediency, and ignores principle. Not long since, the writer of this article heard an eloquent and popular divine tell his congregation that he intended to speak the truth to them in great plainness; and they must not be offended with him, but remember that there was a great day of judgment, at which he expected to give an account of his ministry, and he must speak in full view of that tremendous day and all the responsibilities it involved. The plain English of which is, that the man intended to speak the truth, not because he loved it, not because it was a matter of principle with him to do so, but because he had an account to render, and good policy required that he should keep the balance on the right side. A man of sterling principle, a well instructed, Christian man, if he had seen proper to offer any apology for the frankness of his speech, would have said, “ Truth is a pearl of great price, and it must be spoken. I am a man of principle; and what duty bids me do must be done. I hate falsehood and deception, I love the truth, and I bow me down always to the supremacy of principle. Therefore I shall , speak the truth in all boldness. I cannot do the wrong. The principles of eternal justice are around me, and they bind me in bands that cannot be broken; and though I were alone in the universe with God, I would love and serve him still ; and though neither the eye of God nor man were upon me, to witness the deed, and though the judgment were not, and heaven and hell were blotted from the map of existence, still I would not lie. I would not falter in my allegiance to principle or to truth; for my righteousness I will hold fast, and I will not let it go.” Such a view makes duty a matter of principle. The other, places it upon the heathen basis of expediency.
It is a pleasing thought to the members of the denomination of Universalists, and one that may be fairly indulged, that although their fraternity, as compared with
some others, may be small, yet it has grown up from an attachment to principle. If we have churches and altars, they have been reared as a voluntary offering to the God of love. If our people assemble from week to week to worship God, it is for the love they bear him; for they are not driven there by the lash, nor led there by expedi. ency. And if our people are known at all for their integrity or their virtue, it is because integrity and virtue are with them things of principle. Whatever of fealty there may be in them to the religion of our common Lord, is the fealty of principle; for with them Christianity is a religion of principle, which rejects alike the lash of the master, and the greed of the hireling, and calls on all men, everywhere, to serve God for the love of him.
I. D. W.
The Man of Principle in Politics.
It is often said that a man of strictly moral principle cannot be a politician; at least cannot be a successful politician. The first part of the statement ought not to be true, if the second part is. Men of principle, men honest in purpose and action, true to conscience and duty, can be, and should be, politicians. In truth, they are the only men who ought to be tolerated in this important department of public action. They are the men required by the times, and the present position and wants of our country. The great and solemn questions of the day, which have for their subject-matter the political and social condition of the present and coming millions of our race, which have respect to the domestic and foreign policy of our own and other governments, to the commerce, legislation, power, progress, and influence of every portion of our earth, of every people, civilized and uncivilized, these questions, of such immense moment to the present and future welfare of mankind, demand honest and moral men, as well as intellectual and educated men; demand men true as steel-true to principle, conscience, honor, duty-men who cannot be bribed by all the gold of California and Siberia to do an unjust or wrong thing, or to be false or unfaithful to the ihing that is right. These, we say, are the men who ought to be politicians, and the only men who should be allowed to be; the only men in whose hands should be trusted those tremendous questions which involve the interests of nations and ages.
If sach men as these are not politicians, it is the fault of the people. If devotion to party and party measures is allowed to displace love of country and love of honesty, we must expect that all good men who have not courage equal to their honesty, will shrink away. No good and conscientious man will sacrifice principle and self-respect to the imperious demands of party policy and triumphs; and therefore he will not enter into the arena of strife, unless he has large combativeness, indomitable courage, and an overpowering conviction that duty requires him to do it.
Of course it will be seen that we refer to the legislative and executive departments of politics; to office-seeking and office-bearing ; to those positions in which the man helps to make or execute the laws, or holds a place of trust under them. To some extent it may be true that here men of high moral principle cannot be very long successful, as politics are regulated in these times. But it is not true altogether even here, which is but one de. partment of politics ; and to what extend it is true the people are responsible.
If a lofty patriotism, instead of a narrow partyism, were supreme, valued above all else-if integrity, purity of character, and unswerving allegiance to the right, com. bined with strength of intellect, clearness of judgment, and enlarged information—if these were made indispensable qualifications for office and place, then the saying in review would not be true to any extent in any case. And it is for the people to decide how soon it shall be thus, or whether at all.
But, leaving this, let us speak of those general relations which every man sustains to the question in review. To some extent all men are politicians. At least, every man who thinks and utters what he thinks respecting the laws, the government, and the administration of these-every man who talks with his neighbors, and acts in any way respecting these subjects, is to that degree a politician, and is morally bound so far to see that his conversation and action and general influence are of the right sort.
And this is an important view of the matter, and ought to be weighed carefully and seriously by all minds. There is no such thing as escaping our responsibilities, of whatever kind, so long as we live in this world. There is no such thing as remaining neutral, as being and doing nothing in regard to the great questions which agitate and affect the interests of the age in which we live. We must go one way or the other, for or against. We cannot stand still. Every man has some influence, which cannot sleep or be inactive. And the man who says, “ I belong to no party, I do not vote at all, I do not care at all how the election goes,"—this man does not escape his personal responsibility; he does not do nothing, as he supposes. If the right has failed, and he did not seek to prevent it, if the wrong has triumphed, and he did not battle against it, then, so far as he could have done, and did not, he is guilty, and his share of the evil will lie against his door in spite of him; and God, who sent him here to work, and not to be idle, will hold him responsible. This is clearly the fact. We are here, conscripts in the army of life, under the banner of God, and we must fight it out, or take the fare of cowards and deserters.
To a greater or less extent, therefore, every man is a politician; and, from the necessity of the case, is, to that extent, related to, and responsible for, the good and evil which is enacted in the name of politics. He cannot escape from this necessity if he would, and the man of highest principle does not wish to escape from it. He is willing to stand in his lot, and take what it brings to him, willing to bear that measure of the general responsibility, and do that part of the common work which falls to him. He has no desire to be neutral, or to sink into inaction when any important question is before the people, or any crisis in public affairs has come. When the time of action has arrived, he is at his post, ready to do duty.