Law, Commerce, and Religion
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For the Boston Investigator
Law, Commerce, and Religion.
Mr. Editor:—In all my reading experience, I believe it has never been my lot to read such a jumble of dogmatism, inconsistency, and confusion of ides, as are set forth in the article of Eliphalet Kimball, in the paper of July 30th. Sir, I think you will agree with me, that when a person writes an article for a paper, he should bear in mind, that some poor soul, hungering for knowledge, may, perhaps, find it, and mentally masticate it, only to find when he has finished his repast, that the has found no sustenance in it.—His ideas should, therefore, be clearly expressed, and entirely free from dogmatism. Things which are in their very nature improbable, should be left an open question. But the contrary is the case in Eliphalet’s letter.
For instance, he declares—“It (the Universe) is boundless—it is eternal—design and chance are be the nonsense of fools,” &c. Now, leaving chance entirely out of the question, as Eliphalet Kimball is so positive on the other points, he would confer a great favor on me, if he would prove the eternity and infinity of the Universe, want of design in Nature, &c., with the certainty of a mathematical demonstration. Mr. Editor, I confess myself an Atheist of twelve years’ experience; and after reading on those subjects, pro and con, I must still admit that my belief in the eternity and infinity of the Universe, is with me only a matter of faith. On subjects of which we can have no positive information, I make it my rule to try to agree with that side which can muster the strongest arguments. In Eliphalet’s letter, I find no argument at all. It is all hot-headed dogmatism, without a shadow of proof to support it, and is, therefore, valueless in point of information.
I may be very dull of comprehension, but honesty to my own convictions compels me to confess that I do no understand how society could be kept in perfect working order, if we were to “abolish all artificial law, and let Nature take her course.” I do not see how “natural law would regulate society as it does the human body,” and respectfully solicit information thereof. To my way of thinking, as there will always be some persons of inferior organizations, some persons through those inferior organizations are incapable of the higher and nobler impulses, and aspirations of our nature—so will there always be a necessity for the good to make laws to protect themselves in their lives and properties from the bad.
There are a great many other ideas set forth in that letter, which it would be useless for me to follow, as it would take up too much of your valuable space. I will merely mention a few items which I consider at variance with fact. He says,—“The followers of Jesus are not good by nature.” This denunciation includes all Christians, which I think not correct.
“Good persons are no Christians.” I believe among Christians, as among all other systems, there are good and bad. “An aristocrat is never a worthy man—he is ignoble,”—“Napoleon, the noblest (?) man in the world, was entirely free from aristocracy, and despised it in others.” Yet, Sir, Napoleon was the world recognized head of aristocracy—a monarch and a king maker.
Again, he says,—“Beasts and savages are not fools enough to believe in religion and law, [what nonsense!] and are good enough to live without that.—Christians and civilized men appear to consider themselves inferior in goodness to savages and beasts.”—To which last quotations, I would remind friend Kimball of what Voltaire remarked to Rousseau, on a similar subject, viz.:—“That the author seems so enamoured of Nature, the only wonder is, why he does not walk on all fours.” I wish, Mr. Editor, some abler pen than mine would analyze that letter, and also another, written by “Amicus,” in which he would have us stifle our veneration for the remains of the great and good, and have us adopt a practice of reducing the bones of our beloved friends to a powder to manure a potatoe field, (for fear Nature would run short on materials!)—a doctrine altogether too repulsive to our nature to be ever adopted.
Yours, Mr. Editor, in the cause of everything that helps to develop our finer feelings.
Amsterdam, (N. Y.,) Aug. 4, 1862.
Tyro, "Law, Commerce, and Religion," The Boston Investigator 32, no. 16 (August 20, 1862): 122.