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and sciences have been forgotten, loftier and more splendid than are now known to man; that nations may have forgotten the history of their own renown, and lost the records of their own civilzation; but it seems as if there were in Society a power by which that which is moral and that which is religious shall, under manifold shapes and obscurations, be retained and enforced.
For, though the life of each individual man is but short, and our generations are only thirty years in length, still the generation is not as a wave, wherein all the particles of which it is composed break at once, and simultaneously are lost; it is rather as the flow of a river, in which continuity is preserved from first to last, or as the rope in which the deficiency of one fibre is supplied by others. So it is with the life of Society; for all purposes of knowlelge, death actually makes no difference, the stream continues to flow, although old particles are evaporated, and new ones enter within it; the school abides the same, although the pupils, their education perfected, are called away, for other pupils are entered therein.
I would dwell upon this a little more. Because of the faults of the speculations of our latter time, I would urge it upon my readers more throughly.
It has seemed to be forgotten that man is in a school, in a state of trial; and therefore man has got into the notion that he can MAKE the “ Law," that which, in the previous part, we have shown to be truly and really the voice of God. So men have thought that they could make this that they call “Public Opinion," and that we have called Tradition. They call it so, because they think that it comes from the men of the present day; but we give it the other name, because we clearly see that it is an inheritance handed down (tradita) from the Past.
For as in an agricultural country, there is a certain amount of improvements,* as we call them, houses, and barns, and fez:ces, cleared and cultivated land, which no man can take away, but all must leave behind them; which descends from one generation to another, and the importance of which persons having been born to and with it seldom realize until they go to a new country; so is there in Society a certain amount of teaching upon various subjects, and of knowledge that descends from generation to genera
Among Political Economists, this is called “Fixed Capital.” The reasons for the names are manifest.
tion, that we call Tradition, and this knowledge men for the most part learn without appreciating or knowing its value, just as men inherit Fixed Capital without knowing what relation it has to labor and property.
We would dwell, as we have said, a little more upon this point. We would show how this provision is adapted to our nature. Is it not a fact that the mind awakens but a short time comparatively after birth, say a year or two years, so that then the child is capable of receiving impressions, opinions, ideas?
Certainly this is the case. It receives these, then, while the judgment is immature, the knowledge imperfect, the mind itself feeble; nay, this reasoning being continues more or less unripe for a period of twenty years, and this very period is the time in which most of its ideas are received. Nine-tenths of all the ideas we hold and act upon, during our life, then are impressed upon us.
This idea, I confess, was first fixed upon my mind by a conversation upon the Evidences of Christianity, in which a clergyman of some ability being asked, “Do you not believe Christianity upon its Evidences ?” answered, “No: I believe it because my mother taught me.” And, really, any one who will take the pains, may find, as I did, that it is the fact that nine-tenths of his opinions upon any one subject arise from this teaching.
He will find, too, that it is suited to his nature; that it is not for nothing that he is so long immature and unripe, but that it is a most gracious and beneficent arrangement of Providence, by which this World is a School to him, and that knowledge is conveyed to him that is suitable to his nature. Nay, more than this, he shall find that only that kind that is suitable to him, shall be received and taken up by it, all else rejected.
And this Tradition is a cord made up, as it were, of three strands; it is a stream from three sources, from the Nation, the Family, and the Church.
In each of these we shall see that it originates and continues to operate. Let a father and mother be honest, and their honesty shall, they know not how, communicate itself to their children. Let justice, or veracity, or high feeling, or natural delicacy, or any other moral idea, be a leading one of the parents, and the children, by this natural provision we have spoken of, shall take
And it shall continue in the family, and its traces be seen after seven generations; for the child, with undoubting mind and unresisting faith, shall receive it from the parents, and so shall it become an element in the channel of Family life, and flow therein, we had almost said, forever.
Let the pastor in his church have the high and lofty feelings that he should be endued with, and he shall find that by means of this, they shall communicate themselves from one to another; his flock shall receive them with unresisting faith, and years after he has laid in the grave his Good shall still be working.
Let the Statesman or the Magistrate think upon it, and he shall see the qualities of a Chatham, a Washington, or an Elizabeth enter into the channel of the life of a nation, and henceforth be, until the end of time, a formative power over the character of millions.
For the reverse of what the poet has said is true, “The Good that men do"—this it is that lives after them—6 but the evil is buried with their bones."
Two things more, in connection with this subject, I would observe. First, that of this teaching there are three authoritative teachers : the Parent, the Magistrate, the Pastor; and in reference to them none can fill their places, or do that which it is their business to do. For with the Child towards the Parent, in reference to this teaching, belief is easier than unbelief ; the child believes until the assertion of his parent be disproved, instead of disbelieving until it be proved.
And so it is with the Citizen in reference to the Magistrate as regards fealty, and the member of a church as regards his Pastor. These are things that in many cases are called prejudices by astonished Radicals and Destructionists, and yet are part of the morality of our position, and explain many matters in history and society that men wonder at as unaccountable.
A second thing I would remark: the peculiar mode of this teaching. It seems to have an inclination almost unconquerable for a “viva voce" or Oral instruction. The parent to the child shall teach more by a little simple talk, than by the best manual, written or printed. Conversation seems peculiarly the mode of this traditional teaching. With regard to the pastor, also, I have noticed that to speak with his people face to face has a predominant influence.
We have stated that these two influences are teachers, means, and instruments of a peculiar teaching. We are aware that men may dispute it, may even consider it an absurdity, and attribute to the aggregate of individuals that which we attribute to Society as a true and real organization.
We, however, submit two considerations that may help men to reach out to our apprehension of the matter.
And previously we will place before them our conception of the position of man. He is under one class of influences from which no being born into the world can be free, those of external nature -under the same class of influences to which the animals are subject, and they produce in him moral ideas, while in the animals we have no reason to imagine that they do so. This is one School.
There is another; that of Society, with its twofold influences, which we have just explained, of Law and Tradition, its authorized teachers of Parents, Magistrates and Priests, its indestructible organization or threefold school, to which these belong. Now the decisive question as to the true and real existence of these is not, “can men do without them ?" for men's speculations are far different from facts, and as a fact men have never been without them; but this it is—“the moral results that are produced by these means, are they producible otherwise ?"
Take a child in childhood, let him be completely isolated from Parents, from the Church, from Society, and will moral ideas arise spontaneously in his mind ? Will those feelings, opinions and beliefs, which we see kept, as it were, in solution in the stream of life, imbuing each individual, and thus passed down from one to another generation, will these arise in his mind spontaneously?
And as the answer, we have authentic records of perhaps a dozen of children, who were lost before their mind could be so influenced by the Family, the Nation, and the Church, and no moral ideas were developed in them, no intellectual ones—they were perfectly without them.
From which we draw not the opinion that moral and intellectual ideas are completely artificial—but two conclusions, first, that the innate principles of man's being are as those of a bulb or root; that there is a certain outward condition of things requisite. to call them forth, which, if it do not exist, they shall not and cannot be called forth. And secondly, that this outward condition is that state we call Society, with it's threefold schools and its triple magistrates, and that these are absolutely necessary as means of moral culture to the moral nature of man.
Thus, then, is man placed, and these are his advantages; he has a nature that is not as a beast's nature is, indifferent to good and evil; it is not the nature of a devil, wholly evil in itself, but it is in its nature and essence good-but fallen.
And in order that it may be led to Good, it is placed in Society subject to masters and teachers ordained of God, and a member of institutions that by Him are organized, and have their action upon the very roots of man's being. And these teachers teach and instruct in that which is Good; these institutions uphold it also.
And then the Law, in all its phases, enforces it. The Tradition brings to man, consciously or unconsciously, moral elements of Knowledge from the remotest shores of time, the most distant realms of space; and lastly, External Nature repeats and re-echoes all these teachings, from the smallest herb upon the mountain top; from the remotest star; from the stormy sea; from the calm streamlet in the sunshine; from the burning fires of the volcano, and the snowy peaks of the sky-piercing Himmaleh: spring and summer, autumn and winter, all natural objects and all natural scenes, when once the sense has been awakened, feed it with a perpetual influence.
Go, ye that think that man is a beast, to pick up his food as he may, to eat and drink, to live according to his own will, and then to die; ye that imagine that this world is a large pen for man the beast to live in, a self-acting patent pen, that supplies enough of food and drink-lull yourselves with this notion, act upon it, but still you shall find that it is not so; still you will find that all things witness unto God; and through them all he witnesses of Himself, his Will, and his Law unto man.