Vicarious Sacrifice
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Vicarious Sacrifice, Grounded in Principles of Universal Obligation

By Horace Bushnell

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IT will commonly be found that half the merit of an argument lies in the genuineness of its aim, or object. If it is a campaign raised against some principle or doctrine established by the general consent of ages, there will always be a certain lightness in the matter of it that amounts to a doom of failure. If it is, instead, a contribution rather of such help as may forward the settlement of a doctrine never yet fully matured, or at least not supposed to be, the genuineness of the purpose may be taken as a weighty pledge for the solidity of the material. Nothing, meantime, steadies the vigor and fixes the tenacity of an argument, like that real insight which distinguishes accurately the present stage of the question, and the issue that begins already to be dimly foretokened. It quiets, too, in like manner, the confidence of the public addressed, and steadies the patience of their judgments, if they can discover beforehand, that it is no mere innovator that asks their attention, but one who is trying, in good faith, to make up some deficit, more or less consciously felt by every body, and bring on just that stage of progress in the truth, which its own past ages of history have been steadily preparing and asking for. No investigator appears, in this view, to be quite fair to himself, who does not somehow raise the suspicion, beforehand, that a hasty judgment allowed against him may be a real injustice to the truth.

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