The Greatest Writer of the 19th Century » Brownson's Writings » Introduction to Brownson's Quarterly Review, January, 1844

Introduction to Brownson's Quarterly Review, January, 1844

At the close of the volume for 1842, I was induced to merge the Boston Quarterly Review, which I had conducted for five years, in the Democratic Review, published at New-York, on condition of becoming a free and independent contributor to its pages for two years.  But the character of my contributions having proved unacceptable to a portion of its ultra-democratic subscribers, and having, in consequence, occasioned its proprietors a serious pecuniary loss, the conductor has signifed to me, that it would be desirable for my connexion with the Democratic Review to cease before the termination of the original agreement.  This leaves me free to publish a new journal of my own, and renders it, in fact, necessary, if I would continue my communications with the public.  I have no fault to find with the conductor of the Democratic Review, Mr. O'Sullivan,--a gentleman for whom I have a very high esteem.  His conduct, so far as I am concerned, has been honorable, and even generous; but my self-respect prohibits me from living on another's generosity, or by means of an engagement profitable only to myself.  I am, moreover, not unhappy to terminate an arrangement, into which I reluctantly entered, and from which I never really augured a favorable issue, and to return home, and, as it were, meet my old friends around my own fireside, where we may talk over matters at our ease, and in our own familiar way.

I have never been at home in the Democratic Review; I have felt, all the while, that I was among strangers, speaking to a strange audience, who knew not my face, and recognized no familiar tones in my voice.  We were not, as the Mesmerizers say, in communication.  No magnetic chain of sympathy united us, and no household feeling could spring up between us.  They looked upon me as a stranger, as an intruder, and seemed to be all the while wishing for my expulsion.  Under such circumstances, I received as little pleasure as I gave.  Joyfully, then, I return home, and, resuming my old familiar speech and dress, meet again the kind and constant friends, who have always stood by me, and cheered me on, from first to last.

Never had a periodical a better list of subscribers, than had the Boston Quarterly Review, during the whole term of its existence.  They were few, but they were serious, honest, earnest, affectionate.  I felt, and still feel, though the faces of most of them are unknown to me, that they were my warm personal friends.  They might, or might not, always agree with me; but they were always patient and respectful listeners; always appeared to be willing to hear what, and all, I had to say.  When a clamor was raised against me, which fetched its echoes from one end of the Union to the other, not one of them, to my knowledge, deserted me, or stopped his subscription, because he found me advocating offensive doctrines.  Many of them have signified a wish, that I would speak to them again though a journal of my own, from my own chair, not from that of another.  Many of them, I trust, I shall meet again; for the bond that unites us, I feel, is proof against time and distance, and against good fortune and evil.  It is to them, to the little public that knows me, to whom my voice is familiar, and to whom familiarity has softened its natural harshness, that I chiefly address myself, in this Introduction; and not to a stranger public, who know me not, or only know me by uncertain report.  I come into the circle of my friends, to exchange kindly greetings, and to allow my heart to expand, and to overflow with the warm sentiments, which have, since I went abroad, been pent up, struggling in vain for utterance.

We meet again, then, dear friends, after a short separation, and, I trust, unchanged.  You may have heard strange rumors of me, but I come back what I was.  The heart may be sadder, and less buoyant; but it beats still for the same great moral and social end, and retains all its old faith in God, in Christ, and human capacity.  Believe none of the idle rumors which may have reached your ears.  As you have known me, so will you always find me.  You have known me too long, and too intimately, to give in to the false notion, that I am constantly changing my opinions.  They who have not known me formerly, as ye knew me, and who gathered my views from isolated extracts from my writings, or from the views of my presumed associates, beginning now to understand really somewhat of my doctrines and purposes, may very well fancy that I have changed, because they do not, upon a better acquaintance, find me what they had figured me to themselves; but you, who have read me from the first, were always able to find in my writings the germs, at least, of the doctrines and sentiments, which they now approve, and suppose I have but recently come to entertain.

Yes, I deny that I have changed, though I own that I seem to myself to have advanced.  I am looking the same way, and have continued on in the same direction; but I believe, that I am further along than I was.  When I first began speaking to the public, I was young, inexperienced, ignorant, though perhaps not remarkably modest; my views were in the process of formation, rather than formed, and my mind, if not void, was at least in a chaotic state.  I would fain hope, that years and constant study have, in some degree, reduced the primitive chaos to order, and ripened what was crude.  My views have, in general, become more fully developed, and sytematized; I seem to myself to understand myself better, to know better what I would effect, and what means I must use to effect it.  The young dreamer, the visionary speculator, let me hope, has ripened into the sober, practical man.  If this be to change, I doubtless have changed; but in this I have only changed, as all change, who are not incapable of profiting by experience.  But in all else, I seem to myself to be what I was.  I bring to this new periodical, the same love of independence, the same free thought and free speech, the same unreserved devotion to liberty, the same unquencable desire for individual and social progress, and the same power to live or to die for it, that made me so many enemies, and so many friends, in the Boston Quarterly Review.

So much, I have felt that I might, without egotism, be permitted to say of myself, in returning to the field of my former labors, in a Review of my own, through which I may speak out, in my own tones, when and what I please.  Of the plan of this journal, of its leading purposes, and the general doctrines it will support, I may speak more fully, and at greater length.

The name I have chosen, is not chosen from a selfish vanity, but because it is honest and appropriate, and tells the public the simple truth.  This is my Review; I am its proprietor; its editor; intend to be its principal, if not its sole, writer, and to make it the organ of my own views of truth, on all the great or little topics, on which I shall judge it worth my while to discourse.  It will be the journal of my own mind, and, doubtless, reflect all its various and varying moods.  It may support, and oppose, first one existing party, sect, or school, and then another.  It will be bound by none, but be free to approve, or to criticize, one or all, just when and where its editor judges proper.  I will be held responsible for nobody's opinions but my own, and nobody shall be held responsible for mine, unless he chooses to be.  All parties, sects, and schools, must be free, so far as I am concerned, to accept what they like, and to reject what they dislike; to praise me when they please, and, when they please, to scold me to their heart's content.

This said, so that we may start fair, I will add, that this Review will have certain fixed principles and leading doctrines, which its readers may always expect to find recognized and supported in its pages.  I do not start it with uncertain and fluctuating views, with doctrines, that will be taken up to-day, and abandoned to-morrow.  I have my doctrines determined, and have prescribed to myself a course, from which no departure need be expected, or apprehended.  In this respect, this journal will differ from the Boston Quarterly Review.  When I commenced that Review, my views were still, to repeat myself, in the process of formation, rather than formed; and I aimed at exciting inquiry, rather than at positive instruction.  The greater part of my essays were conceived and written with the view of promoting liberal inquiry and philosophical investigation; not with the view of teaching any regular system of doctrines, on any subject whatever.  My great and leading design was, to awaken the public mind, and to prepare it for the reception of profounder and more kindling views of the Destiny of Man and Society, than those I found generally embraced by my countrymen.  The community appeared to me to be asleep, overcome by a mental vis inertiae; and the first thing they needed was, to be aroused, by bold and startling appeals, to a sense of their danger, and stimulated to new and more vigorous efforts for their salvation, moral, intellectual, and social.

This first work, evidently, could be necessary only for a time; as soon as the public were awakened, it would cease to be useful, and another work would need to be commenced,--that of POSITIVE INSTRUCTION.  The sleeper awakened asks, "What shall I do?"  This question the Boston Quarterly, during the last two years of its existence, it is true, to some extent, attempted to answer; but timidly, and with many misgivings, for I was not yet quite sure of my public, and still less of myself.  It was not till the last half year of its continuanace, that I succeeded in working myself into the clear light of day, and became able, in my own estimate of myself, to pass finally, in my public communications, from the inquirer to the teacher.  Then, only, could I feel, that the fetters, which had bound my soul, and against which I had struggeled in vain for twenty-five years, were broken, and that I was free; then, only, was it, that the scales seemed to fall from my eyes, and that I could see where I stood, and what must henceforth be my direction.  The mist vanished, and I could see men in their due proportions and proper forms,--not merely "as trees walking."  Then commenced with me a new intellectual epoch, which must, to some extent, give a new phase to my writings.  This new phase will be represented in this journal, as it has been, in relation to some special subjects, in my contributions, the part year, to the Democratic Review.

When I commenced the Boston Quarterly Review, in 1838, I was still under the influence of the French Eclectic school of philosophy, founded by M. Cousin.  That school found me in a state of transition from Naturalism to Supernaturalism, and, for a time, took fast hold of me,--completely subjecting me, and making me its slave, though not always its willing slave.  It was long before I could master it, and recover the free action and development of my own mind.  I think I have finally mastered it; but I must not be understood as having rejected it.  I am still a disciple of that school, though a free disciple, not a slave.  What I hold to be good in it, I have made my own; and I feel myself able to accept its good, without being obliged to accept also its evil.  I think I see its truth, and its error; where and why it has succeeded; where and why it has failed.  I have obtained a clear, consistenet, well-defined system of philosophy, satisfactory to my own mind; but, in obtaining it, I have assimilated no small share of the teachings of that school, and I cannot but feel myself largely its debtor.  It is, men may say what they will of it, the great metaphysical school of modern times, and its founder will rank, in the history of philosophy, along with Abelard, Descartes, Locke, Leibnitz, and Schelling.

In forming my own system of philosophy, I have also been greatly assited by the Saint-Simonian schook, in which I reckon, thogh differing, more or less, among themselves, Bazard and Enfantin, Leroux, Lerminier, and De La Mennais.  As a metaphysician, the last mentioned of these may not deserve a very high rank, but he deserves honorable mention as a social and religious philosopher.  Lerminier does not appear to have nay very well defined system of his own; he is more of an erudite, than of a philosopher; yet his Philosophie du Droit contains many valuable and original suggestions, which no student of philosophy will do well to neglect.  Leroux is, indisputably, a great man; his, so far as I am able to judge, is the greatest name in contemporary French literature.  His resources are immense; his reading is various and extensive; his views, if his judgments are sometimes hasty and unwarranted, are original and profound.  Yet, as some of the German writers say of him, he is a philosopher, rather than a metaphysician, and more admirable for his broad and generous generaliziations, than for the depth of acuteness of his analysis.  His genius carries him to the study of theology, and one is half tempted to believe, that he aspires to the founding of a new religion.  He appears to struggle hard, sometimes almost ludicrously, not to be a Christian, and he apologizes to his readers for venturing, now and then, to speak well of Christianity; but, though ranked, and apparently choosing to be ranked, by the Catholic clergy, among the adversaries of our religion, I much doubt, whether any writings will do more than his to recall the age to a living faith in Christianity, or to unfold the deep significance of the dogmas and symbols of the Church.  I have profited much by them, and they rarely fail to bring me near the Church, even where they seem designated to remove me farther from it.

The German philosophers have afforded me very little satisfaction.  It is true, that I have made no profound study of them; but, so far as I know them, I claim no affinity with them.  I feel, and own, the eminent analytic ability of Kant, but I am forced to regard his philosophy as fundamentally false and mischievous.  His Critic der reinen Vernunft, if taken in any other light than that of a protest, under the most rigid forms of analysis, against all modern philosophy, is sure to mislead, and involve the reader in an inextricable maze of error.  Hegel is no better, if so good.  His system, originating in the earlier teachings of Schelling, is, under other forms, nothing but a reproduction of the old French Atheism; and Schelling, rising from the tomb and breaking the silence of near forty years, has recently, at Berlin, entered his solemn protest against it, and pronounced it insufficient, and a failure; but, as it would seem, without being able to substitute any thing solid, or new, in its place.

In my own philosophic studies, I have found it necessary to go back to Plato and Aristotle, and to follow the main current of philosophy, down through the Alexandrians, the Fathers of the Church, the Schoolmen of the Middle Ages, and to resume its problems, very much where they were found by Bacon and Descartes.  I am far from saying, that no advance has been made since the Scholastics; I would by no means underrate, or speak lightly of, the labors of modern philosophers; but I dare affirm, that all the labors of philosophers, from Bacon and Descartes down to Schelling, Cousin, and Leroux, have resulted in amassing materials for philosophy, rather than in philosophy itself.  These materials are various, rich, invaluable, but the philosophy which is to solve, for us, all the great problems of life, is yet to be constructed, and on a foundation laid by no modern philosopher.  I am not so vain as to pretend, that I am able to construct this philosophy; but I do feel that I am able to contribute somewhat towards its construction; for I think I see very distinctly, not only what must be its final cause, but what is, and must be, its foundation and method.  And to contribute my share towards its construction, at least to rally and stimulate the workmen, is among the chief motives for commencing this new periodical.

IN THEOLOGY, six years ago, I had worked my way up to a considerable distance from zero, where I found myself in 1829; but I still retained, unconsciously, some traces of former Naturalism and Pantheism.  I believed, that I was a believer.  But there were weighty problems, remaining unsolved, and which I was unable to solve; I had but a feeble glimpse of the mediatorial character of Christianity, of the Gospel as a divinely provided system of means, designed to be, to fallen man, the wisdom and the power of God, to keep the law, according to which he was originally created; I had no just appreciation of the real nature, rights, and offices of the Church, and no clear conception of the profound significance of her principal dogmas and sacraments; I could at best only stammer my faith, which, though sincere, through my want of distinct articulation, seemed to many, and not without some reason, as good as no faith at all.  I may deceive myself, but I believe, that, if there are mysteries still remaining, as there are, and always will be, I have, finally, got rid of all naturalistic and pantheistic tendencies, and attained, at least, to the power of distinct utterance.  I accept with my whole heart, without any prevarication, mystification, or mental reservation, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, in the ordinary sense of the Christian word; and I hold the Church to be the depositary of the sacred Traditions, and the medium through which the Divine Life of Jesus, or the Holy Ghost proceeding forth from the Father and the Son, is transmitted from generation to generation, and communicated to the world, for the redemption and sanctification of sinners.  I hold, that the Church is a divine institution, an inspired body, founded on the Rock of Ages, and that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it; that it is the ground and pillar of the truth; and the authoritative representative of the will of God on earth.  Moreover, I hold, that the Gospel, deposited with the Church, contains the principles of all truth, and that the whole furture of mankind, dating from its promulgation by Jesus and the Apostles, consists in developing these principles, and in reducing them to practice.  Here, in the Gospel, is the foundation of the true Philosophy of Life, and the principle of the solution of every problem, theological, political, social, or ethical.  In order to ascertain the truth, or to labor, freely and successfully, for its development and application, it can never, in my judgment, be necessary to go out of the Church, or to look beyond the Gospel.

But this statement, distinct and explicit as it is, requires, in the present state of the religious world, some farther developments, in order to escape misapprehension.  The true THEORY of the Church is, I believe, that, through all the successive stages of its existence, it is Apostolic, retaining, always, and everywhere, the same authority over faith and discipline, which the Apostles themselves had; and that its mission is not merely to preserve the memory of a work done, completed, but to continue, and carry on to perfection, a work commenced.  It has, indeed, received the law, from which it can in no wise depart, but a law which it is to develope and apply, by virtue of its own continous inspiration,--received from the indwelling Holy Ghost, the Spirit of Truth,--to all new questions that come up, and to all old questions, coming up in new forms, or under new relations.  ITS MISSION IS THE CONTINUED EVOLUTION, AND REALIZATION IN LIFE, OF THE TRUTH CONTAINED IN THE PRINCIPLES OF THE CHRISTIAN DISPENSATION, which continued evolution and realization constitute the continued progress of mankind.

Now, I am far from pretending, that the Church, in point of fact, has altogether overlooked this theory; on the contrary, I believe that she has always asserted it, and, to some extent, acted on it, and it is by her authority that I dare undertake to maintain it; but she seems to me to have asserted it with too much feebleness and timidity, and with numerous and almost suicidal concessions to the spirit which finally broke out in the Protestant schism.  Instead of boldly asserting her high prerogatives as the Body of our Lord, and maintaining it to be her right, and her duty, to develope and apply the truth, according to the exigencies of time and place, she has left it to be believed, that the Gospel, instead of being given her merely in germ, to be subsequently developmed and applied, was given her as a perfect code drawn out in all the minuteness of detail, and that her sole mission is, to preserve the original deposite unaltered, unenlarged, undiminished.  I look upon this as a fundamental error, and one which has had, and cannot but have, the most disastrous consequences.  The Church has failed to assert, at least to maintain, her absolute independence, which is essential to the successful accomplishment of her mission in carrying on the progress of the race.  She has, on the one hand, yielded too much to the doctors, who would confine her to ancient tradition, and to primitive usage; and, on the other, through weakness, timidity, or, perhaps, through the necessities of the times, too much to the civil authority,--suffering the civil ruler to invade her province, and, by his edicts, to restrain her free action and independent development.

I am well aware, that the reproach I here bring against the Church, is of an opposite character to that which is brought by Protestant sects.  I say nothing here of the alleged assumptions and invasions of the Bishop of Rome, whom I undertake neither to accuse nor to defend; but, in speaking of the Church herself, I dare affirm, that her error, or the cause of her not having more completely succeeded, is not in the arrogance of her pretensions, but in the extreme modesty of her claims; not in asserting, but in not asserting, her independence in regard to tradition, written or unwritten, and in face of the civil authority.  So far as she has asserted this two-fold independence, she has done well, been faithful to her Lord; so far as she has not asserted it successfully, or so far as she has temporized with, or succumbed to, either the temporal power, or antiquity, she has been wanting to her mission, and unfaithful to Him whose Spuse she is.  The great evil in the Church has been, what I call, the Protestant spirit.  Protestantism asserts the supremacy of the Written Word, not as the principle, but as a full and perfect code, needing, and admitting, no farther developments, and, therefore, tends to subject the Church to Antiquity; it also asserts, in practice, if not absolutely in theory, the supremacy of the temporal power, and thus tends to subject the Church to the State, or to convert it into a mere function of the State.  So far as it comprehends itself, it is a direct protest against the progress of the race, an attempt to keep the Church stationary in her action and influence, and is, therefore, anti-christian.  By taking away from the Church her legitimate control over faith and discipline, it denies to the Church all right to advance, and seeks to keep, or to carry, the Christian world back to the very point from which it started.  Unquestionable, this was not the secret intention of the Protestant leaders, but it is what is implied in their principles, and is of itself, to all who believe in the glorioius and kindling doctrine of progress, a full and utter condemnation of Protestantism.  It shows also, that these leaders broke away from the Church unnecessarily, because they did not fully comprehend her theory, and its absolute necessity as the condition of human progress.

But, if the Church herself neglected to assert, or but too feebly and timidly asserted, her independence, in face of the State, and especially of Antiquity, this was much more the case with the philosophers and free-inquirers in her bosom.  These seem to have had no conception of her independence, of her right and ability, to accept all new views, or new applications, of truth; and so, whenever they attained to a new view, or discovered a new application, of truth, instead of seeking to bring it out, in harmony with the teachings of the Church, or showing how it was necessarily evolved from her admitted principles, and authorized by the analogies of faith, they brought it out independently, in opposition to her express dogmas, so that she must needs reject it, or prove suicidal.  But in rejecting it she became, practically, the enemy of free thought and free speech, and, therefore, tyrannical and oppressive.  Hence the war which has so long been waged between the Church on one side, and the philosohers and free-inquiers on the other,--a war not necessary in the nature of things, but caused by the failure of the Church to assert her own independence, and of these philosophers and free-inquirers to perceive that the successful assertion of this independence, would be the successful assertion of religious and philosophical freedom.

The evil, resulting from this misapprehension--shared in some degree by the Church herself--of the profound significance of the true Church theory, has been great and manifold; but it is not irremediable.  Assert now, freely, fearlessly, and vigorously, the entire independence of the Church in face of Antiquity, so far as concerns the development and application of the principles of the Christian law,--which is all that any believer in Christianity can ask,--assume the truth and sufficiency of these principles,--which is what they, who believe in Christ at all, must assume, and do assume,--and all ground of hostility on either side is effectually removed.  There is ample provision for the largest liberty of thought and speech; and the authority of the Church remains standing, in all its plenitude and vigor.  There is full scope for the boldest inquiries and the most unreserved utterance, provided only, that the inquirers take care, before giving utterance to their speculations, to examine them in their relation to the principles on which the Churhc is founded, and then to set them forth in their harmony with those principles, or as neccesary evolutions from them, which they must be, if they are true, according to the assumptions we have already made.  The only restraint there is or can be, in this case, is merely a restraint on hasty judgments and crude speculations, a restraint demanding no surrender or suppression of truth, but merely patience in forming, and modesty in uttering, one's own views; which would by no means be a mischievous restraint, but a salutary restraint, and one very much needed.

With this view of the case, I find myself able to submit to the authority of the Church, without surrendering one iota of my freedom as a man, or my independence as a philosopher; for, with this view, I see that submission to the Church is the condition of mental liberty.  "If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed."  But I have never been able to say this of the practical Church theory of any of our Protestant sects.  Formerely, I knew not, that, under this relation, the Protestant communions differed from the Catholic, and I then felt, that, in order to maintain freedom of thought and freedom of speech,--which no consideration could induce me to surrender, for they are manifestly the indispensable conditions of human progress,--I must go against all existing Church organizations, and strike boldly for a New Church; but now, after a more thorough investigation of the Catholic Church than I had previously made, having ascertained that her real theory is, at bottom, contrary to what my Protestant education had led me to expect, favorable to freedom and progress, I find in the old Church, theoretically considered, all I had hoped from a new Church, and have, therefore, no longer any occasion to call for one; which, were it necessary, as it is not, might, with merely human means, be somewhat difficult, not to say impossible, to obtain.

But my readers must not misinterpret me.  There is no truth in the report, that I have joined, or am intending to join, the Roman Catholic Church.  I am free to confess, that I accept the general theory of that Church, as the true theory of the Church of Christ; but that theory itself prevents me, in the present state of the religious world, from seeking to unite myself to the Roman Catholic communion.  In consequence of the error I have pointed out, and which the Roman Church has not as yet wholly corrected, she has but an imperfect claim, practically considered, to what, if I may so speak, is after all her own theory.  She suffers her rights to lie in abeyance, is too Protestant, and not sufficiently Catholic, to be held exclusively as the Church.  She does not fulfil the conditions of her own theory.  Nor is this all.  She can no longer claim to be the exclusive depositary of the Divine Life, which redeems and sanctifies.  Even she herself would shrink from saying, that no one, out of her bosom, can possibly be saved.  The great doctrine of Progess, owing to her neglect, has, in some measure, been wrested from her, and is now sustained by individuals not within her pale; she has no longer an exclusive right to the theory of the Church which I have set forth; and, therefore, notwithstanding her unquestionable apostolic descent, externally considered, her high antiquity, and general soundness in the faith, she must take her stand, very nearly, on the same level with other communions.  In consequence of her failure to maintain her absolute independence, and to fulfil her office in the free development of the principles of the Gospel, and their application to practical life, the whole Christian world, regarded as a polity, has been thrown into a state of disorganization, and needs now to be reorganized.  In the labor of reorganization, which is, at the present moment, the great desideratum, all, who have seized the elements of Christian truth, whether in one communion or in another, or, technically speaking, in none, must be permitted to take part.  If the Roman communion does what she may, and what she should, that is, assert the two-fold independence, of which I speak, she will become the nucleus of reorganization, and ultimately absorb all other communions into herself; but, they, who most distinctly asssert, and most strenuously insist on, the true theory of the Church, will be this nucleus, and assimilate to themselves all existing churches; because the vital principle, the organic force, of the Church, is the indwelling Life, or Spirit, of Christ, not the mere fact that she is the depositary of past revelations and inspirations.

Now, I look forward to this reorganization of the Christian world, to a time, not far distant, when the Church will reassert, and effectually, her independence; become really one and Catholic; her spirit one; faith one; discipline one; and for this, without conferring with flesh and blood, I pray and labor, from the very position where God in his Providence has placed me.  Let all others do the same, and gradually, but effectually, will spring up a unity of spirit, which will induce unity of faith, which, in turn, will induce unity of organization and discipline.  This reorganization will, in some soert, no doubt, be a new organization, and will differ, in many important respects, as to forms, from the old; yet, strictly speaking, it will not be new, but the old transformed.  Here, in brief, is my Catholicism, on which I shall have, in the progress of this work, much to say.  To speak technically, I am neither Protestant nor Romanist.  I belong neither to the Protestant world, nor to the Roman world.  I look upon Protestantism as a blunder, and as having proved a decided failure; on the other hand, I look upon Roman Catholicism as substantially true, under the relation of theory, but upon the Roman Catholic Church, under the relation of practice, as having but imperfectly fulfilled her mission.  Theoretically considered, she forms the basis of reunion; practically considered, she is herself more or less Protestant, and schismatic.

In laboring for the rehabilitation of the Church, and for the union of all men under one and the same religious organization, with one and the same religious faith and discipline, we must accept and obey the LAW OF CONTINUITY.  The Present and the Future must be always regarded as intimately linked with, and evolved from, the Past.  I, therefore, make it my law, to accept, always and everywhere, the Traditions of the race; but, nevertheless, with a reserve in favor of progress.  I accept them as a patrimony inherited, rich and precious indeed, but incomplete, and, therefore, to be corrected and enlarged, or, as we Americans says, improved, by the labor of each succeeding generation.  The hostility many feel to tradition comes from the mistake of regarding it as already complete, and, therefore, as a law that must bind us, and as an inheritance which must supersede all necessity of any acquisitions of our own.  While we accept tradition with all sincerity and reverence, we should carefully avoid this fatal mistake, which would be a bar to all farther progress.  In accepting tradition, we must regard it as our duty to carry it on, by supplying its deficiencies, and enriching it by new discoveries.  We must guard against the error of believing, that the canon of authentic tradition is closed, and that the human race must henceforth feed solely on its past inspirations.  If the theory of the Church, I have set forth, be true, God has provided for a continous inspiration; not, indeed, an inspiration overriding the past inspirations, or superseding their necessity,--as innovators rashly and falsely pretend,--but an inspiration continuing the past, in one unbroken current, with an ever enlarging volume.  Here is the ground of my dissent from the general principle of Protestantism, which condems us to feed only on inspirations made in the past, and of which the canon is closed; and here, also, is one reason why I cannot unite myself to the Roman communion, which seems only half conscious, that, as the Church of Christ, she must be the medium of a continous inspiration, not merely the keeper of these past inspirations.  "He goes farther than we do," said a learned Catholic Doctor of one of my essays in the Christian World, "and claims Divine Inspiration for the Church, which we have not done."  The Catholic Doctor was right; and, in reply, I must tell him, till his church cna with truth claim to be the medium of a continous inspiration, it cannot be said to fulfil the conditions of the Church of God.

This doctrine concerning Tradition and the Law of Continuity, while it associates me with all, who, at home or abroad, are enlisted in the great army of progress, separates me, of course, from the several classes of ULTRAISTS, with which our age and country abound.  These Ultraists have, no doubt, kindly sentiments, and their ends and aims, regarded in themselves, may be good and commendable; but, by cutting themselves loose from the past of humanity, decrying all its past labors, and refusing to accept what is, as their piont of departure for what should be, they are struck with impoteence, and doomed to perpetual barrenness.  They deprive themselves of ancestors, and must remain without posterity.  Humanity disowns them, for they disown all that she has hitherto accomplished.  They are foolishly attempting to build without materials, and their fabrics can be only castles in the air.  Whatever respect the wise man may have for them as individuals, he can have no part or lot in their labors.  For myself, I have learned to reverence the past; and I see nothing for me, nor for any one, to do, but to labor to carry onward the work humanity has commenced, and, thus far, not unsuccessfully prosecuted.  Man was not a blunder, and his creation has not proved a failure.  No radicalism in church, state, philosophy, or morals, but should be formally and solemnly eschewed.  No efforts to create an entirely new order, instead of carrying forward, to its perfection, the old, can be wisely, or safely, countenanced.  Humanity is a mighty river,--to repeat a figure I have just used,--flowing on ever with a constantly increading volume, in the same direction, from out of the infinite abyss, to its unknown ocean; and whatever would interrupt its on-flowing, or divert its course, is evil, and only evil.

This principle compels me to take the Conservative side in politics, the side which I have always taken, since the commencement of the Boston Quarterly Review, the thousand voices of the country, vociferating to the contrary, notwithstanding.  I have never, at least, since my early youth, taken the Radical side, and placed myself in the attitude of a destructionist, and a revolutionist.  I hold, and I believe I have always held, though I care little what I may have held, that here, in this country, at least, the existing order is to be preserved; and that no alteration is to be attempted.  No amelioration even, not authorized by it, and capable of being evolved from it.  Our fundamental institutions are to the statesman, what the Gospel is to the churchman,--the law which he is to develope and apply, but in no case to change, or to set aside.  We may seek progress, but only progress under and through existing institutions.  This is the law I prescribe to myself, and what I mean by CONSERVATISM.

I not only take the Conservative side, but I contend, that our institutions come under the denomination of a CONSTITUTIONAL REPUBLIC, and not under that of a DEMOCRACY.  The established political order in this country is not the democratic, and every attempt to apply the democratic theory, as the principle of its interpretation, is an attempt at revolution, and to be resisted.  By a Democracy, I understand a political order,--if that may be called order, which is none,--in which the people, primarily, and without reference to any authority constituting them a body politic, are held to be the source of all the legitimate power in the state.  The people are above the Constitution, and, instead of being governed by it, are its creator.  The constitution is, and can be, only a rule, which they lay down for themselves, and which it is optional with them, whether they follow or not.  It is, under the relation of government, as good as no government at all.  In a Constitutional Republic the great body of the people may be citizens, and share in the administration of the government; but they can administer the government only under the Constitution, and can hold and exercise power only by its authorization.  The Constitution may be alterable, but only by its own authority, by virtue of its express provisions.  This I hold to be the actual character of our political institutions; and so holding, I must needs resist the attempt to convert them into a democracy, and seek to rally the sound and reflecting portion of the community to their support, as they are.

But, while contending earnestly for the constitutional theory, in opposition to the democratic, I contend, wiht equal earnestness, that the government, by whomsoever administered, shoud be administed for the good of the whole people, especially of the poorer and more numerous classes.  It is here, in relation to the end for which government should be administerd, that democracy has its legitimate, and only legitimate place.  So far as we understand, by democracy, the constituion and administration of the government for the interests of the great mass of the people, so as to break down all factitious distinctions of class or caste, and to maintain all, not theoretically only, but practically, equal before the law, I am, of course, a democrat; any farther than this, or in any other sense than this, I am not, and never have been, a democrat.  The great social end I have always aimed at, in all my publications, and to which my whole life is consecrated, is the moral intellectual, and social amelioration of the less favored classes, on whom falls the principal part of the burdens of society, and who receive very few of its honors, or its advantages.  To this end, I am called to labor by my sympathies as a man, and by my faith as a Christian, not to say by my profession as a Christian minister.  But laboring for this end is one thing, laboring to establish, or rather to realize, the political theory, which derives all power from the people, who are to be its subjects, and leaving them free to do whatever they choose, is another, and, unless I greatly deceive myself, a very different thing.

This political theory, I have never accepted, and never can accept, till I am convinced that government is no longer necessary.  It is utterly incompatible with government itself.  Yet I do not object to this theory, because I have no respect for the genuine voice of the people, when and where it makes itself heard.  I am not conscious of any want of respect for the real voice of the people; and my general principles, without rendering me a slave to it, require me to pay it great deference, and to dissent from it only with great modesty, and when forced to do so by a higher voice than that of Humanity herself.  The great mass of the people I am accustomed to regard as honest, and as desirous of making justice prevail in the state; and I have little fear, that, where they really judge, their judgments of what is justice, would not, for the most part, be sound and worthy of acceptance.  But, even where universal suffrage obtains, the voice of the great mass of the people is rarely, if ever, heard.  What passes for their voice is only the voice of the corrupt and intriguing few, who contrive to manage them, and to cheat or wheedle them out of their votes.  A slight glance at practical politics will suffice to satisfy any ordinary observer, that this talk about the voice of the people is all moonshine, and that the excellence of the democratic theory consists in its affording the trafficking politicians a fine oportunity to talk in favor of liberty and equality, and thus to satisfy the people with the semblance, while withholding the reality.  The confidence, which these politicians have in the people, is in the facility with which they may be gulled.  Little confidence do they, in reality, place in the people.  Would they willingly trust the people?  Would they willingly let the people into their secret caucuses, into their councils to contrive ways and means of plundering the simple and unsuspecting?  Would the pure patriots, the democratic sages of Lindenwold and elsewhere, let the people know their various speculations and contrivances, by which they cheat, swindle, the laboring classes out of their hard earnings, to enrich themselves and their associates?  NO; there is nothing that these men more distrust than they do the people; for there is nothing from which they would have more to dread, than from the popular vengeance, which would overtake them, were the people really to know them.

When I find men, who are steeped in corruption, gorged with the "spoils" of the people, holding themselves up as the especial friends of the people, and loud in their advocacy of the democratic theory, and in their condemnation of all who question its soundness, I am irresistibly led to the belief, that there is something in the theory itself peculiarly favorable to the prosecution of their corrupt designs, and I want no better evidence to assure me of its utter hostility to the legitimate ends of the government.  What we want is not windy professions about liberty and equality, noisy rant and frothy declamations about democracy, but substantial freedom, however secured, for each individual to perform, without let or hinderance, his special function in the social body, whether it be the function of the head, of the hand, or of the foot.  The real enemies of this substantial freedom, are your democratic politicians, who with their lips praise the people, and with their hands pick their pockets, or those who act as jackals to the dainty chiefs who are too exalted to plunder--except by proxy.  For these and their masters democracy is, no doubt, a glorious doctrine; but the people of this country will, ere long, yet not till it is too late, I fear, find, that, in following the lead of these towards democracy, they recede from all wise and equitable government, and from all moral and social soundness.  It is because democracy affords an ample field to these political spoilsmen, that I chiefly distrust it, and demand the preservation of our constitutionalism, as some protection, against them, of the mass they flatter and plunder.

I have stated the great social end, for which we should labor, to be, the moral, intellectual, and physical amelioration of the poorer and more numerous classes.  This is the end I have all along had in view, and to which all my labors have been directed, for the last twenty years.  Whatever changes may have come over me in that time, or whatever modification my views have undergone, I have experienced no change in regard to the great end which every true man must labor to gain.  That my views have from time to time been essentially modified, as to the means of gaining this end, it were worse than folly to pretend to deny.  He who really has an object to gain, independent of his own reputation, will change his views often as to the means to be adopted; but changes of this kind imply no fickleness or want of stability; they imply merely an enlarging experience, or more practical wisdom.  There is fickleness only where there is frequent change of purpose.  In laboring ostensibly for this end, it would be easy to manage, to manoeuvre, to gather a party, and make oneself a reputation; and I should feel humbled, indeed, if I felt that I wanted the ability to do so.  But I have believed from my early youth, and I have been confirmed each day in my belief, that it is never lawful to attempt to gain even a good end by ignoble or unworthy means.  I have never suffered myself to seek an honest end, by any but honest means.  It requires--reference being had to the gullibility of the public--no extraordinary capacity to be able to devise, and successfully prosecute, a low, crooked, serpentine policy, which may raise oneself high in the estimate of one's contemporaries: but after all cui bono?  A reputation, gained in this way, is too cheaply won to be worth a brave man's ambition, and is too foul a reproach to him who wins it,--to say nothing of its deteriorating moral influence on himself and others,--to satisfy any one who feels that he is placed here only to be good, and to do good.  The most rigid morality should govern us in the choice of means, as well as in the choice of ends.

Yet, in laboring to accomplish the end in question, the exercise of the highest wisdom, in the choice and application of means, is not only laudable, but obligatory.  I have learned that we must work with such materials as we have.  One method of accomplishing the end stated is, undoubtedly, to awaken the spirit of the laboring classes themselves, and to induce them to strike, boldly and resolutely, for their own elevation.  But this method will not be found sufficient.  Quicken the spirit of these classes, create a great social movement, and you have only invited ambitious, selfish, intriguing demagogues to mount upon the wave, and float into place and power.  The cause of the people cannot be advanced in opposition to the more wealthy, intelligent, and influential classes.  Any policy, that tends to create a horizontal division of society, will never result in any social amelioration.  In all communities, there is a portion of the community, who, by their wealth, talents, education, manners, position, if not by their virtues, have a commanding influence.  Against the combined resistance of these, no real practical reforms can be successfully attempted, unless by a more than human power.  These must, to some extent, be coworkers with us.  While we refuse to truckle to any class, or to compromise the cause of truth and justice, in order to win the cooperation of any one, while we meet all in a firm and independent spirit, and with a manly bearing, we must still so meet them as to command their aid, in working out our reforms, and in carrying our measures.

I am more disposed to appeal to the more favored classes themselves, than I am to the less favored; for I rely more on the sense of duty and love of sacrifice, than I do on the sense of interest.  It is easier to induce a man to sacrifice himself for another, than it is to induce a man to do what is really for his own interest.  I look to the educated and more influential classes, and I believe it to be the true policy of the Reformer, to enlist them on the side of the people.  In the very bosom of what are called the aristocratic classes, notwithstanding all their pride, pretension, and folly, I can find warmer friends of the people, than I can in the ranks of the people themselves.  There is, moreover, such a solidarity of interests, in every community, that what is really for the interest of one class in the long run, is for the intest of all, and may, with some little pains, be made to appear so to all.  The worst enemies of genuine reform and progress, are rarely those who stand on the topmost round of the social ladder, but those nearer the foot struggling to reach the top.  Your "people's friend," who, when poor, vapored about liberty and equality, and told you to beware of those who live in fine houses, on fashionable streets, is sure himself to live in one of those same fine houses, as soon as he can command the means.  What he condemned was from the first the object of his ambition, and he condemned it, only because he was unable to reach it.  I wish to see a greater degree of social equality, fewer factitious distinctions, and a more equitable distribution of the products of labor; but I hope to effect it, and will effect it, through the aid of the more influential classes themselves.

But, to secure this aid, we must resort to moral and religious influences.  The first thing to be done is, to recall the age to a living Christian faith.  We cannot proceed a single step, till we have got men to feel their moral accountability to a greater than man, and that nothing is gained, unless they gain the approbation of the Moral Governor of the Universe.  There must be in men's hearts a faith which looks beyond time and sense, which looks only to what is true, beautiful, and good, and which joys in the most painful sacrifices.  We must equalize wealth by raising the soul above the love of it, and help the poor by producing in them that state of the affections, taht religious exaltation of the soul, which will lead them to count the wealth of this world as mere dross, or as dust in the balance, if they can but gain those durable riches, which will not take to themselves wings and fly away, if they can but lay up treasures, "where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, nor thieves break through and steal."  Christianity has once brought men to count poverty, and want, and suffering in the cause of truth, justice, humanity, the greatest of all blessings, and in so doing changed the face of the world; and it can, and will, do so again.  I dare avow, in the very face of this infidel age, in whose infidelity I once shared, my full and firm faith in the truth and power of Christianity to work out, for us, the highest social good here, as well as to secure us the blessedness of heaven hereafter.  The attempt to reform the world, and to regain the long lost Eden, by human agencies, human philosophies, political economies, workhouses, and "cash payments," has been made, and failed, and always will fail, repeat we the experiment as often as we may.  God leaves men, now and then, as it were, to themselves, to their own wisdom and strength, which are but weakness and folly; but He is jealous of His own honor, and His glory He will not give to another.  Our own devices, our own schemes and systems, wrought out with infinite pains, may appear unto ourselves worthy of all praise; but the High and Holy One holds them in derision.  The great moral power, that overcomes the world, is religious faith.  At its touch, the great, the wealthy, the proud, become meek and childlike, and pour out their wealth like water, to help onward the good cause; genius, and talent, and learning, lose their arrogance and selfishness, and, bowing low at the foot of the cross, know only Christ and him crucified; regardless of honor or fame, they bring their rich gifts to the altar, and sacrifice all for the glory of God, and the redemption of men.

Here is my hope for the world.  There is a higher Power than that of man; a mightier Reformer than human agency.  It is God's will to work out for us a great and abiding social good, in the establishment of his kingdom on the earth; but He will do this, only in his own way, by "that man whom He hath ordained," and by whom "He will judge the world in righteousness."  The Gospel kingdom is the only possible medium of renovation and growth.  But, blessed be God, it is all-sufficient, and all that we have to do is, to return under its dominion; and its principles, entering our hearts, will make us mighty to the pulling down of the strong-holds of iniquity, and in overturning the thrones of oppression and blood.

Entertaining these views, the great object with me is, and must needs be, to reenlist men on the side of the Church, and to bring them once more under the dominion of the Gospel.  We have been, for the last three centuries, Catholics no less than Protestants, trying to solve the social problem, without the aid of Divine Wisdom, or resort to the means Divine Grace has provided; and God has confounded our speech, and brought our labor to nought.  It is time to abandon our folly, and, ceasing from our insane efforts to amelioarate the condition of our fellow-men, by appeals to their selfishness, or by seeking in our social arrangements to neutralize the selfishness of one by the equal selfishness of another, to look to the Great Father of all for wisdom and strength, and to the moral efficacy of the mediatorial kingdom of his Son.

In the Boston Quarterly Review, I labored, mainly, to enlist the Church on the side of Reform, in the cause of the masses, as the condition of saving itself, and rescuing the age from infidelity; in the present work, the formula is somewhat changed; I accept the Church as the Body of our Lord, as the divinely appointed medium of individual and social regeneration and progress, and must, therefore, labor to enlist men on its side, under its banner, as the preliminary condition of Reform.  In this, I shall have for enemies the wordly wise, the selfish, the unbelieving, and the indifferent, a formidable host, well marshalled and led on by the great Enemy of all righteousness.  But I shall not be alone; I shall be only one in the still mightier army of the Faithful, and shall be encouraged by the saints and martyrs of all ages, whose prayers I dare invoke, and dare believe will be effectual with the Great Head of the Church, to whose service I have been consecrated, and to which I would consecrate myself anew, and without reserve.  Weak and less than nothing as I am in myself, through Him strengthening me, I can do all things.  In His name, which is above every name, I send forth this humble work, and with a firm reliance on Him, that he will not suffer me to send it forth in vain.  Through Him it shall be a trumpet-voice, to rally the scattered friends of Truth, Justice, Liberty, COuntry, Humanity, under His banner, and unite them in one living and indissoluble body.  It dares, in the face of an unbelieving world, to raise the standard of the Lord, to unfurl the banner of the Gospel, and to call upon all to unite for the glory of God, and the salvation of men.  It calls, in the name of Christ the Crucified, of Christ the Risen, of Christ the Ever-present, of Christ the Almighty, the human race to a RELIGIOUS FUTURE. May God give energy and success to the call, and His be the praise and glory.

With these remarks I send this first number forth to the public, in the full conviction that the work will do somewhat to supply a want which all feel, and in the hope that it will meet a favorable reception from the justice and generosity of my countrymen, whose servant I am.