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But the style here is secondary. The purpose of the book is alone of importance to anybody. My object is to plant the great religious beliefs of mankind fairly and firmly on a new foundation, to legitimate them on fresh grounds, to commend them by new illustrations, and to press them home upon a class of minds from which they have slid away. My aim is positive, purely positive and purely practical. I have written as a believer, out of the deepest reflection and the firmest conviction of which I am capable. Perhaps the chapters which reveal my method at work more clearly than any others are those on "Moral Inspiration," "The Moral Ideal" and "Immortality." The essay on "The Educa
tion of Conscience" lays bare the process by which I arrive at my results, the philosophic principle I start from, and the kind of conclusion I arrive at. But the last two chapters, "The Soul of Good in Evil" and "The Soul of Truth in Error," show, I think, better than any, the spirit of faith in which the whole essay was written.
Now the point that concerns me and such as are concerned in the matter at all is the truth or the falsity of this method, the validity of my funda mental principle. And what I earnestly desire of my critics is a thorough discussion of that on grounds of reason. Let incidental judgments and interpretations go; pass separate illustrations by; seize the cardinal idea and show whether it be rational or irrational, a whim or a verity. Forget, if that is not asking too much, my own mental, moral and literary infirmities, as exhibited in the pages of my book, and take the heart of them as I have pinned it conspicuously on my sleeve; that is what I want; that is precisely what I do not get from anybody yet, not even from Mr. E. P. Whipple, and it is precisely what I hoped I should get from you. My complaint is that you, too, treat me as an unbeliever, a disorganizer, a destructive in the one effort I have made as a believer, an organizer and a builder.
Tue possible consequences of such opinions as the book contains it is impossible for me, and I think for anybody, to surmise. Whether the children or the children's children of those professing the faith I have attempted to outline are likely to be Romanists or secularists is a question too remote to speculate about. It is possible that I may be travelling in the footsteps of Mr. Brownson, though I certainly cannot see his goal with the eyes that are in the front of my head. The majority of Christendom would regard that contingency as a fortunate one. I care nothing about it. Is my rationale rational or not? That is the point of moment, and that is a point of moment, for those who have a stake in these discussions. If my rationale can be shown to be irrational I shall not contend for it, but gladly abandon it to its fate. Two words more and this long letter shall be ended. You say that I have "intoxicated hundreds of rash people and unsettled them in a faith that tended to humble and restrain them," and have
"left hun freds of others in a doubt which may be very proud, out cannot be very comforting." I am very sorry to know that. My aim has been very different; for the aim alone I am responsible. It is a satisfaction to me to know that I have been successful in settling, I will not say hundreds, but a few, in a faith that both humbles and restrains, imparting at once inspiration and solace, and these are my witnesses.
To your intimation that I have "neither pride nor comfort in my own conclusions," I should like to rejoin at some length if it was becoming. Pride in my own conclusions I think and hope I have not. Comfort in them I certainly havemore comfort and peace than I ever had before, as much as it is possible for one to have who thinks, feels or endeavors after much in a world like this. My faith has an organic and shaping power. Every earnest faith has. It possesses attractions for others than the " eccentric aud ultra," as I have good reason to know. Practical minds more than others give attention to it and labor to work out its results in society; this, too, I know by observation and acquaintance with social movements at home and abroad. This knowledge encourages me to be
O. B. FROTEINGHAM.
lieve that my efforts, however humble, are in
NEW YORK, Jan. 18, 1873.
Entered according to act of Congress, in the year 1872, by DAVID G. FRANCIS
In the office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington.