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A Catholic Review
LITERATURE, PHILOSOPHY, AND RELIGION.
Truth be concealed.' Jerome,
MANIFESTO OF PRINCIPLES.
He title we have selected for our Periodical, THE TRUTH-SEEKER, is not C) used in opposition to THE TRUTH-FINDER, but rather as synonymous
with it. It does not signify that no Truth is possest or found, neither has it reference to the opinions of its Conductor at all. The name denotes the nature of the work as an Organ for the discussion, discovery, and development of Truth, rather than the position of any individual writer. In a goldseeking age, we proclaim truth-seeking to be the better part, and the love of truth' to be the first and essential condition of finding it. The inscription over the portico of nature, and the gateway of knowlege, ever is-Seek, and ye shall find ; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.'
In the spirit of the Jewish sage, we exhort all men, every where, to get wisdom and understanding’; not implying their actual destitution of wisdom and intelligence, but that wisdom is a fountain and knowlege a stream, whereat all men may drink for ever-living and exhaustless waters flowing from the throne of God, upspringing from the infinite depths of His everlasting being.
In the words of the same Hebrew thinker, we say— Buy the truth and sell it not’; not meaning by this maxim that we possess no truth now, or shall, in a coming day, have attained to all truth, and thenceforth cease to be truthseekers ; but, simply, that of all commerce, the commerce in wisdom is the richest and noblest—that truth is a treasure more precious than fine gold, 'a pearl beyond price’-a treasure requiring the sphere of the infinite ages for the
unfolding of its splendor to the growing and progressing faculties of man. Hence truth-seeking is not the negation of truth-finding, since, as SCHILLER observes,
‘Ever Truth's bright bounds outranges man.' We hold, also, that truth must be purchased by toil and thought-tho even at this price it will not be revealed, save to its sincere and childlike worshipers; it is a sacred treasure equally concealed from the gaze of purblind prejudice and self-complacent laziness.
Truth, strictly, is the perceived harmony between phrase and fact—Reason's Echo to the voice of Pan. Hence, practically, truth must be to every man subjective that which to each seems best to express the Realities of Nature and the Laws of God. Whatever may be the sense, the impression, left on any individual soul, by unbiased contact with the word or the works of God, THAT must be his truth, calling for reverence as the sacred Revelation of God to him, and claiming constant and consistent obedience. our affirmations, or others in their denials, can never rise above human, individual assertion-i.e., our own Subjective Conviction—in any point whatever. If, therefore, party or passion, power or pelf, fear or favor, shall urge any man to let this conviction go--see that he do it not! Rather, bind it fast round his heart of hearts: if resulting from the search after evidence, then it has been bought of God, and must be regarded as a sacred truth and trust. Sell it not!
The impression on the God-made intellect is the result of God-made Laws; it is consequently the most sacred law, the highest rule of life. Hence the great duty of every man is to prepare himself conscientiously for the calm perception and cordial reception of that truth by which he is appointed to live. This is the primal duty—but how despised! Let us learn, then, to seek God and Truth-let our spirits lie in observant but reverential silence before Him, so that no disturbing passion, or darkening prejudice, may intercept the rays of truth, or prevent us from receiving the right impression. In short, let the soul, duly prepared, be Daguerreotyped in the sun-light of the Eternal! Thus, and thus only, can we worthily worship the highest in the highest way-intelligently and in truth.
A wise culture and harmonious growth, we hold, complete the conditions, and fulfil the ends, of all life. Men confess this when it concerns corn and cattle, fruits and flowers; but with reference to Human Life, the teaching of the accredited teachers is, that we should be as silent and submissive, as still and stereotyped, as quiet and contracted as possible; in short, that we should not grow, but congeal; not progress, but petrify.
Numbers of professly pious persons indeed, even represent the Deity as displeased with those discoveries in science, which, on the one hand, have unveiled to us the wondrous workings of His Power in the Past, and, on the other, revealed to our venerating gaze, glimpses into the glories and evidences of His Presence in Space-displeased with the study of Nature, the most authentic of his works, as tho this were not a revelation of Himself, written with the very finger of God-a Divine manuscript of creation, disfigured by no mortal amannensis and medium, but coming to us in its primitive purity, free alike from the corruptions of transcribers and the misconceptions of translators.
Nevertheless, the Culture of Human Reason, the insight into Truth, is manifestly the grand and final purpose of the Universal Parent. For this end,
in an era too remote for human measurement, was the primitive matter of the world created, and, thrö manifold revolutions, fashioned and furnisht for the habitation of Man. Naked and houseless he was placed upon its wild, uncultured surface, and his appointed task was to subdue it'-to subdue it by the Thought of his Brain and the Skill of his Hand, for the satisfaction of his daily needs and the development of his divine nature. For this end, in divers periods and parts, the divine faculties being enfeebled by oppression, or decaying from disuse, Poets and Prophets, Sages and Saviour, have been sent forth, to revive the declining life, and transfuse fresh blood into the collapsing arteries, of the world—to breathe a purer air into its poisoned lungs, and enkindle a more vital spirit in its fainting soul.
Holding these principles, we necessarily discard all one-sided views of doctrine, and demand that each writer shall stand on his own responsibility. We afford to Truth-seekers, therefore, fitting medium for tolerant exposition and unshackled enquiry, free from all sects and systems. The claim of infallibility, whether put forth by Pope or Protestant, we utterly despise. We stand or fall by these principles—That self-culture is the central axiom of all true ethics—That the duty of truth-seeking is paramount to all others—That it is a crime against God and against man to hold out favor or fear, gain or loss, with the view of deciding the judgments of men on any question of Truth—That it is a vice of the worst kind, leading to spiritual death, to give up the use of our own talent, the exercise of our own intellect, to priest or polity of any sort—That truth is necessarily a subjective perception; whence we deduce the duty of each individual to put aside all who dare presumptuously to step in between the Soul and God, and solemnly to settle for himself, according to the worth and weight of the evidence before him, What is Truth, and What is Error. The Protestant Churches. have hitherto, equally with the Roman, denied these great principles. All have overlookt the fact, that hope and fear are neither instruments of discovery nor tests of truth. The only difference is this--that once Rome had a monopoly of infallibility, and swayed the sceptre of spiritual despotism over willing slaves and undivided empire, whereas Protestantism is a competition of petty Infallibilities, exhibiting a partial union of sects in conjunction with universal contest. It is pure romance to regard the Reformed Churches as a Republic, in contradistinction to the mighty monarchy of Rome. A Republic involves equality of claim, and negatives all separate supremacy, all distinct ascendancy. But it is not so among the sects. Nearly all claim 'divine right'-not merely to judge for themselves, but for others ; each speaks of the rest, not as citizen of citizen, but as prince speaks of pretender. Accordingly factions usurp the name of 'Evangelical,' and establish · Alliances' which exclude other fractions of professing Protestants. In fact, each swelling sect in turn aspires to be Pope-copies the spiritual policy of the triple crown--and mimics, with its tin trumpets, the thunder-tones of its Italian Prototype. The Vestry apes the Vatican.
It should not be so amongst TRUTH-SEEKERS: they should unite in bringing about a wiser and worthier reformation; in enforcing the Morality of Enquiry, and in achieving the downfall of all sectarian and satanic intolerance ! To this grand object we dedicate our periodical and devote our powers. It is this New REFORMATION which must precede, and prepare for, the New Age of hope and joy for the emancipated millions. May the people flock to the uplifted ensign! Then indeed will their rest be great, and their reward glorious.
How vast its issues! It will rescue the phrase 'Love of Truth, from its profanation on the lips of fanatics and fools, and apply it, not to the vice of mental apathy, but to a virtue sects dream not of; not to a vow of faithfulness to sect or system, but to the moral and mental aptitude to relinquish prejudice for rational conviction ; in fine, not to the self-complacent feeling of fancied possession, but to the earnest aspiration of rational pursuit.
This Reformation will discard the angry intolerance with which men look upon doubt, and consecrate it as a mental state necessary and natural in passing from a lower to a higher point of intellectual progress. It will affix to all wilful favoritism in the treatment of evidence, a sentiment of stern disapprobation, and direct the feeling of moral responsibility towards keeping the Process of Enquiry perfectly free from bigotry or bias. Really believing in the truth, and that true religion is indeed reasonable—the LOGOS, or Reason of God, which was in the beginning with God'--men will cease to hoodwink the Intellect within them, and fearlessly look Truth in the face ! He who does not, will then be pitied as a coward, or branded as a criminal--traitor to Truth-infidel to Faith. Such a Revolution, by breaking up the selfishness of sects, by banishing the rivalry of creeds and the bribery of the pulpit, will unite the true Thinkers of the time in consentaneous action for the advancement of the race, and establish so glorious a Co-operation for the culture and development of the divine powers in man, that SOCIETY shall appear rather as the multiplication of One Individual, than as a mere aggregate of distinct units : it shall realize Paul's noble ideal of a CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY—an organization of many members fitly joined in one body, animated by one spirit, active to one end, and every limb in unison, serving and being served; its sympathetic circulation free as if flowing from one central heart, and its vital thought as if generated in one single brain! Thus the varied orders of Intellect, by rejecting repulsive antagonism for free association, would contribute to their mutual development; the material gathered by the PERCEIVING POWERS of one class, would pass on to the COMBINING FACULTIES of another-either to those of the Poet, to be woven up into the glowing fabric of poesy; or to those of the Philosopher, by whose generalizing skill the varied facts and forms of nature would be reduced to order, and exhibited in all the sublime simplicity of one grand and harmonious system! Thus may we hope, by union, to reach with rapidity results to which individuals can attain only by long and laborious steps; and in place of the tedious process of solitary vision, by uniting the powers of all (until the community shall resemble the symbolic creature of the Apocalypse, full of eyes behind and before), a new and deeper insight may be obtained into the Arcana of Existence, while round the sphere of life, the thousand eyes of this enlightened band of Truth-Seekers will spread a sort of Omnipresent Perception.
We seek especially to address • THE PEOPLE,' to promote their welfare, and assist thcir noble efforts at self-culture and self-instruction--because we think that the time has at length arrived when the higher truths of Philosophy and Morals may be proclaimed to them. This conviction is founded on their temperate habits, and their consequently more thoughtful dispositions. The great necessity, the primal condition of all educational efforts, namely, that the soil should be prepared for the seed, appears to be partially achieved.
To accomplish the great object of our enterprize, we shall divide our Magazine into the several departments of LITERATURE, PHILOSOPHY, and RELIGION.
The department of Literature will comprehend articles bearing on the social, moral, and spiritual unfolding of man; essays written in a poetic and attractive style, appealing alike to the sympathies and intellect of the reader; sketches of men who by their virtue and valor have surmounted the difficulties of life, and contributed to advance the cause of humanity; and poems of a high order, unallied to mere morbid sentimentality. We shall strive always to cultivate the faculty of the Beautiful in our readers, and to bind it to Goodness as to a bride.
It will give us real pleasure also to encourage the struggling and earnest in their efforts for individual development, and to aid in the solution of difficulties : this will, in fact, be a peculiar feature in our literary work, combined with inculcations of true self-reliance, and sturdy battlings with the Leviathans of the mental deeps, as absolute requisites to a brave and noble character.
In Politics we shall advocate the Rights of the People, not only to mental liberty, but to the material means of happiness : all unjust monopolies, antichristian privileges, and pernicious prerogatives, we shall sternly oppose; but while we shall not speak with unnecessary harshness of persons, we design to give the boldest and most determined utterance to Truth.
The Critical department will include the reviewing of important books, wherein we shall, by a fair and full analysis, expound the thoughts and views of the given author to the reader, weaving our own affirmations or denials in the web of our criticism. Besides copious ANALYTIC REVIEWS of the costly books of the present, we also propose to give RETROSPECTIVE REVIEWS of scarce or celebrated works of the past.
Knowing that a Sound Mind requires a Sound Body for its fullest and fairest manifestation—that the material and the mental are essentially associated, and exert a powerful reciprocal influence-we regard self-culture as inclusive of physical culture, and bodily temperance, or health of blood, as a natural condition of mental temperance, or health of spirit. Expositions of the great principles of diet, health, and longevity, therefore, and comparisons of the various competing medical philosophies-Allopathic, Homeopathic, and Hydropathic-will come legitimately within the scope and aims of THE TRUTH-SEEKER.
Under the Philosophical and Theosophical department, a variety of papers on subjects of great and general interest, will be admitted. Amongst the topics proposed may be enumerated Education, Social and National Economy, Intellectual and Moral Philosophy, Biblical Criticism and Theology--including inductive and Catholie expositions of Christianity, and analyses and examinations of the most celebrated writers against the truth as it is in Jesus.'
In defending Christianity-we mean the simple and unchangeable Christianity of Christ, not the complex and chamelion Christianity of the sects-our eulogy and our censure alike will be primarily directed to doctrines and deeds, not to persons or parties. Frauds, forgeries, and falsehoods, indeed, falling in our way, or crossing our path, will receive due exposure. But we do not wish, in defending the truth, to discard the temper of Christ. Our contributors, we hope,