The Conservative Element In Christianity -- By: Charles White
BSac 9:35 (July 1852) p. 540
The Conservative Element In Christianity
Christianity1 has been represented as the most efficient agency existing in our world, as able to arouse and revolutionize all that ought to be excited and changed. Possessing such a wakeful, enterprising, renovating spirit, it becomes important to inquire, whether it holds along with it any sufficient, guiding, moderating principle, to prevent extravagances and violence.
Such a principle and power it contains preeminently within itself. It has a balancing, controlling provision, capable of keeping right, steady, straight onward, every human movement for the reform and elevation of man and society. Christianity is no less remarkable as a cautious guide, an efficient conservator, than as an aggressor and transformer.
Before entering upon a discussion of the conservatism of Christianity, it may be proper, as there exists a deep and extensive prejudice against everything which bears this name, to offer a preliminary observation, on the true meaning and use of the term. This word expresses no disrelish, distrust or resistance of actual melioration and advancement. Conservatism is no enemy to human progress. It is no lazy alarmist, uttering forebodings over what is to come; no
BSac 9:35 (July 1852) p. 541
croaker over the effacing of old landmarks and old customs; no retrospective seer that can discover nothing good except in the past; no prognosticator of evils inevitable on all the daring projections of enterprise. True conservatism would preserve enterprise from impracticable and fatal modes of action. It would save progress from losing a valuable portion of its force and accomplishment, by saving it from improvident expenditures of energy, by checking wasting experiments, by discouraging draining off-shoots of exertion, by teaching the avoidance of delaying obstructions. It operates to preserve all that has been gained, as well as to guard against all deductions and deteriorations upon existing and future gains. It is, in a word, an enemy to all bad moral investments; to all deeply hazardous and questionable moral enterprises; to undoing what is fairly and nobly done; to neutralizing what is already working out blessed consequences.
In treating, therefore, of the conservative element in Christianity, we set out with the important allegation, that there is contained in that element no discouragement to any excellence, any valuable progress, but only a happy influence against the whole modern doctrine, that inquires little and cares little^ concerning the means, provided the end be worthy; against rushes and plunges, that do evil along with endeavors at doing good; against intemper...
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