The Unfailing Moral Standard

- from "Toleration" by John Bigelow

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THERE is a disposition in all of us to entertain an exaggerated sense of responsibility for the consequences of what we do or leave undone, and of individual importance in carrying on the affairs of creation. Not content with simply doing our duty as we understand it and leaving it to the Lord to fashion results, we worry when things do not go as we think they should, and denounce ourselves or our associates for not having done more or otherwise than we or they have done.

We fancy our country is going to destruction when our party or our views do not prevail, and sigh for the sagacious, the patriotic, the holy men of whom death has bereaved us, or for a form of government that seems to us better suited to the needs of our people and time, despairing of the Lord's power to bring order out of confusion, the welfare of the many out of the selfishness of all; and entirely overlooking the need of the providential abuses we deplore. Much of our solicitude about our family, about the education, training and associations of our children, about the health and worldly provision for the welfare of our kindred, friends, neighbors, and country, is more or less infected with this delusion in regard to our individual power and importance.

The exercise of those affections or motives which are in harmony with Divine order will constrain us to do what we think best calculated to promote the happiness and welfare of our family, friends, country, etc., while the indulgence of those affections which are in conflict with Divine order will dispose us to subordinate the welfare of family, friends and country to our own; to disregard the law which requires us to do unto others as we would have them do unto us, and instead, to try to become a law unto ourselves.

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