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Henry james-the-old-and-new-theology... london-1861



The Swedenborg moment and movement in America. Henry James 1811-1882. Religion and Philosophy united. ... ... Contents : ...

The Swedenborg moment and movement in America. Henry James 1811-1882. Religion and Philosophy united. ... ... Contents :
1- The Old and New Theology, Part 1
2- The Old and New Theology, Part 2
3- The Church of Christ not an ecclesiasticism : a letter of remonstrance to a member of the SOI-DISANT New-Church.
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Henry james-the-old-and-new-theology... london-1861 Henry james-the-old-and-new-theology... london-1861 Document Transcript

  • I can never believe that a man may not be saved by thatreligion which doth but bring him to the true love of God, andto a heavenly mind and life.-Richard Baxter. Jesus Christ has not revealed His religion as a theologyof the intellect, nor as an historical faith; and it is a IItiflingof the true Christian life, both in the individual and in thechurch, to require of many men a UlllUlimity in speculativedoctrines which is unattainable, and a uniformity of historicalbeliet: which can never exist. The true Christian life is theconsciousness of bearing a part in a great moral order, ofwhich the highest agency upon earth has been oommitted tothe church. Let us not oppress this work, nor complicate thedifficulties with which it is surrcunded,-not making theheart of the righteous asd, whom the Lord hath not made sad,nor strengthening the hands of the wicked by promising himlife.-Essays and Reviews. LEsprit de sYII~me est Ie tombeau de la verit6. Tolerate no belief that you judge false and of injurioustendency: and arraign no believer. Resist every false doc-trine: and call no man heretic.-B. T. Ooleridge. WouldlIt thou the life of sou1ll discern! Nor human wisdom nor divine Helps thee by aught beside to learn: Love is lifes only sign. The spring of the regenerate heart, The pulse. the glow of every part, Is the true love of Christ our Lord, As man embracd, as God adord. The Ohriltian Year.
  • ADVERTISEMENT.THE following pages were reprinted in this country some time ago, partly at the suggestionof an eminent scientific man, whom Mr. Emersonspeaks of as being "a philosophic critic, with aco-equal vigor of understanding and imaginationcomparable only to Lord Bacons;" and by whomthey were intended to have been introduced to theEnglish reader. Circumstances of a peculiar naturehowever have frustrated that intention; and HenryJ ames little book, if it be read at all, must find itspublic by its intrinsic worth alone. This is to beregretted; for there is so much that is startling inthe book-our author is so trenchant, so vehement,so Luther-like in his merciless onslaught on whathe regards as the enslaving influence of creeds, andthe tyranny of e<l6~i~~~~l- farms, that we repeat-edly feel the need ~( ~~~)ess-angry interpreter to . ~p~"V .. ,{. ~" . . til ~­
  • ADVERTISEMENT.show us that he is not more than superficiallyrepugnant to those feelings of true Christian ten-derness, so beautifully expressed for us in InMemoriam. Leave thou thy sister when she prays , Her early heaven, her happy views, Nor thou with shadowed hint confuse A life that leads melodious days. Her faith through forms is pu»e as thine, Her hands lUe quicker unto good : 01, sacred be the flesh and blood To which she links a truth divine. Believing that in Christianity the very Bread ofLife is offered to all believers, and that its mightyconsolations are indeed fitted to wipe away all tearsfrom the eyes of men, his utmost indignation isaroused that "multitudes of tender, generous, andprofoUndly religious minds in all sects" should be" consciously starving and perishing upon the slen-der fare which is hebdomadally serveQ. out tothem." He believes that this spiritual destitutionamong religious people arises mainly from sectseach exalting their peculiar formulas "and shibbo- [ vi ]
  • ADVERTISEMENT.leths in place of the universal Gospel; settingnarrow bounds of their own invention to the infi-nite love and mercy of God. All excommunicativecreeds he regards as withholding, theoretically, thebenefit of our Lords Life and Death from somewhom He has owned; and hence he is driven todenounce them as real hindrances to Catholic Com-munion, real barriers between God and man. There is, it must be admitted, much in the fol-lowing pages that will find no sympathy amongEnglish churchmen-much that, on the contrary,will .excite their strong disapprobation. In hisopposition to merely ceremonial religion, the authorseems to go to the full length of Quakerism, and toclaim for the church a complete dispensation fromall ritual service. In this country we are little indanger of falling into this error: indeed, in thereligious society in which that idea has been mostfully realized, a deep sense of its futility is moreand more apparent. If, as Selden says, "the way.to find out truth is by others mistakings," we mayperhaps congratulate ourselves that the experiment [ vii ]
  • ADVERTISEMENT.of a Church without a ritual has in the course of afew generations, and in spite of great intensity ofChristian life amongst its members, proved a failure. Mr. James affirmative idea of the church is thatof Swedenborg. " The church must needs vary asto doctrine; one society or one man professing oneopinion, and another, another. But as lotng aseach lives in clfaTity, he i8 in the church as tolife, whether he be as to doctrine or not; andconsequently the Lords church or kingdom is inhim."· This passage from Swedenborg may betaken as the key-note of the whole book, whichaffirms above all that the true following ofthe Lord, and life in Him, is that alone whichconstitutes us members of His body, the church." No matter," says the author, "how much a manmay misconceive the literal text of scripture; nomatter how full of absurd traditions or superstitionshis ecclesiastical memory may be, so long as heprofesses to believe in the Lord, and avoids evilsas sms, he is a perfectly proper recipient of the • Arcana. Celestia. [ viii ]
  • ADVERTISEMENT. Christian ordinances, let them be administered where or by whom they may; as proper a recipient,• let me add, and one as precious in the Lords sight, as if, i.nstea4 of his own native ignorance on these subjects, he possessed the angel Gabriels plenary illumination." How these views of the true scope of the church affect his stand-point in relation to all the polemical disputations of the sects will be seen in the sequeL The reader will scarcely be surprised if in his view they become dwarfed to the scanty dimensions of what Thomas Carlyle calls " Semitic and Anti-Semitic street-riots." It would be beyond the purpose of this preface to endeavor to show how the catholic spirit of this little book is in strict accord with the convictions of the best theologians of the past and present. Have they not all aimed to draw men of various opinions under one banner, and enlist them in a common cause? and if at times they have been apparently unsuccessful, they have not abandoned the still small voice of entreaty for the thunder of denunciation, and hurled anathemas against those [ ix ]
  • ADVERTISEMENT.whom their arguments have failed to convince.They have remembered « that the separatist men~tioned in the Gospels was casting out devils in the •name of Jesus when the Apostolical College couldnot cast them out,"· and that when John told the • The Peculium. By Thomas Hancock. From this admi·rable work, by & member of the reforming party in the church,we cannot .refrain quoting the following pregnant words." A revival of the catholic church must bear bleBBing for allmen, all peoples, all places, all future time. This thought it~ which makes me dread lest we should, by any fault of 01llll,cripple this catholic work by mere secta.rian limitations. Theadversarys work is always close to the Redeemers work;wherever we lee the good seed falling, we may be sure thatthe sower of tares is not far off. Brethren, we do not belongto ourselves, we are not our own witnesses: we belong to thewhole world, our witness is in every mans conscience. Ourcaue is not Protestantism, Puritanism, Quakerism, norMethodism,-but ONE Body. Brethren, every man, woman,and child in this world was created by the Father to be bap-tiEed into the holy catholic and apostolio church. JesusChrist has given all mankind to her; He has given all man-kind a claim upon her. <?ur charity, as her children, ought tobe greater than the charity of other men; our toleration oughtto be wider, more tender, more inviting than the toleration ofSeparatists. She, the living representa-tive of Jesus in the world, ought to be to men all that Hewas. No assumption, no pride, no nntender or insulting x
  • ADVERTISEMENT.Lord that they had forbidden him, the answer ofDivine Love was, Forbid him not: for he that isnot against us is for us. Our memories are full of the names of saintlymen and women of the most divergent views, towhom Christendom unanimously accords the sealof true discipleship. The mention of S. Augustine,Tauler and Luther, Cudworth and George Fox,Madame Guyon, Wesley, Simeon and Arnold,Channing and Bunsen, certainly suggests to ourminds very different and opposing creeds, but theirmemories are all sweet with the heavenly incenseof a devout life: they all laid their varied talentsand powers at the feet of a common Lord. At the present moment, it seems very necessarythat the idea of its true catholicity should be placedstrongly before the church. The fact that a booklike E,saY8 and Review8, remarkable for littlebeyond its earnest protest against the principle ofmere outward authority in various provinces ofphrases, ought to pass her lips in her dealings with theSamaritans who surround her." [ xi ]
  • ADVERTISEMENT.biblical criticism, and against mere speculativeopinions being made barriers to church communion,should be capable of shaking our national churchto its centre, seems a melancholy proof that weneed to spell over again the very primer of theEnglish Reformation, and learn, in the words ofone of our greatest divines, that "he is the trueChristian that is indeed posseBBed of the life ofChristianity in opposition to all those that are butlightly tinctured with the opinions of it j" nay,rather that "he that endeavours really to mortifiehis lusts, and to comply with that truth in his life,which his conscience is convinced ofj is neerer aChristian, though he never heard of Christ, than hethat believes all the vulgar articles of the Christianfaith, and plainly denyeth Christ in his life."· It seems that in the days of Cudworth, so it isnow, that nothing is "more necessary for Christiansin generall, or more seasonable at this time, then to • Cudworth, in that masterly Sermon preached before theHouse of CommoDll, March 31st, 1647; a production, com-pared with which our current episcopal theology sooms, for themost part, like mere purblind gropings in semi-pagan. darkn8BB. [ xii ]
  • ADVERTISEMENT.stirre them up to the reall establishment of therighteousnesse of God in their hearts, and thatparticipation of the divine nature, which the Apos-tle speaketh of. That so, they might not contentthemselves with mere phancies and conceits ofChrist, without the Spirit of Christ really dwellingin them, and Christ himself inwardly formed intheir hearts. Nor satisfie themselves with themere holding of right and orthodox opinions, asthey conceive; whilest they are utterly devoidwithin of that divine life, which Christ came tokindle in mens souls; and therefore are so apt tospend all their zeal upon a violent obtruding oftheir own opinions and apprehensions upon others,which cannot give entertainment to them: which,besides its repugnancy to the doctrine and exampleof Christ himself, is like to be the bellows that willblow a perpetuall fire of discord and contention inChristian commonwealths; whilest in the meantime, these hungry and starved opinions, devoureall the life and substance of religion, as the leankine, in Pharaohs Dream, did eat up the fat." [ xiii ]
  • ADVERTISEMENT. Smith of Cambridge reads us the same greatlesson, in his noble discourse, The TT"Ue Way 01Method of attaining Divine Knowledge. "Divinetruth is better understood, as it unfolds itself ill. .the purity of mens hearts and lives, than in allthose subtile niceties into which curious wits maylay it forth. And therefore our Saviour, who islIle great Master of it, would not, while He washere on earth, draw it up into any system or body,nor would His disciples after Him; He would notlay it out in any canons or articles of belief, notbeing indeed so careful to stock and enrich theworld with opinions and notions, as with true piety,and a God-like pattern of purity, as the best wayto thrive in all spiritual understanding. His mainscope was to promote a holy life, as the best andmost compendious way to a right belief. He hangsall true acquaintance with the Divinity upon doingGods will: If any man will do His will, he shallknow of the doctrine, whether it be of God. " If we could but enter into full sympathy withthe lofty spirits of theae divines-the spirit of [ xi... ]
  • ADVERTISEMENT.Catholic Churchmen in all ages-we should moreseriously lay to heart "the great dangers weare in by our unhappy divisions." Hatred andprejudice and persecution for the sake of opinionwould be avoided as sin; we should know more ofthe true unity of the spirit in the bond of peace;and when we repeat the solemn words, I believe inthe communion of saints, we should not desirethe exclusion of those who differ from us on ques-tions of inspiration, or miracles, or church authority,or any disputed point of doctrine or ritual, but weshould be " all of one heart and of one soul, unitedin one holy bond of Truth and Peace, of Faith andCharity, with one mind and one mouth," glorifyingOne Blessed Narne. Our little systems have their day; They have their day, and cease to be: They are but broken lights of Thee, And Thou, 0 Lord, art more than they. Fifth Sunday in Lent, 1861.
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY. PART I.THE summary form which the gospel took at the hands of Jesus and his apostles, was thathe, the crucified and risen man, was the true Christof God: and all they who believed this gospelwere declared his people. The old controversy is now past. Noone anylonger pret~mds to deny that Jesus was the Christ.We all believe it traditionally. So true is this,that the original formula has lost all meaning forus. We never think why Jesus should be theChrist, nor dream of finding the gospel in that fact.But there it lies, and there only. The truth thatJesus was the Christ, when all the facts of his lifeare viewed in their bearing upon Jew and Gentile,really represents to my understanding an infinitegoodness and wisdom. It involves no mystery.Spiritually viewed, it is indeed the complete anti-dote to darkness on the whole field of human [ 1 ] i
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.destiny, or of mans relations to God. For itspiritually imports that the divine power and gloryshall be manifested in man, only when man shallhave become emancipated from his natural andsocial thraldom, and made o,bedient exclusively tohis inspirations.• Just in proportion then to ones joy in thisuniversal truth, in this veritable gospel, is his dis-gust at those shabby little queries which the varioussects propose to him instead, namely, whetherhe believes in infant or adult baptism, or both;whether he believes in the regenerating efficacy ofthe rite upon children when administered by anauthentic priesthood; whether he believes in apartial or universal salvation of man; whether hebelieves in short in the gospel of Papacy, Episco-pacy, or Presbytery. Ones attitude on any or allDf these points may be a· sufficient evidence toanother of his general intelligence or stupidity,but clearly it has no bearing upon the revelationof the divine name in the suffering and glorifiedoutcast of Nazareth. In fact all the sects set theircandidates upon an inquisition into his own ortho-doxy, rather than into the truth of the gospel.Hence a thousand falsities get lodged in thememory which would never have obtained accessthere, had the mind been originally directed to . I 2 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY. inquire into their truth simply without regard to their orthodoxy. • What then, because the sects are not respected, shall the truth suffer loss 1 By no means. The feeling is universal among those who repugn sec- tarian peculiarities, that they are not therefore less, but the more related to the living church. It is always and simply ludicrous to hear persons of this class charged with infidelity by the sects. Iam sure that no one making the charge wouldeasily do so, if he could anticipate the half-com-passionate, half-mirthful feeling it excites in thoseexposed to it. An esteemed clerical friend recentlysaid to me, in speaking of some reformers whosezeal in his opinion exceeded their wisdom, "thesereformers must first of all come into the church,and then we will take care that all the reformsthey ask for take place." I enquired of him whichchurch he meant, the Romish or Episcopal, thePresbyterian or Baptist 1 "I mean none of these,"he replied with what appeared to me an embar-rassed air, "I mean the universal or invisiblechurch." Ah, said I, the reformer will probablytell you that he is already in full communion ofthat church, and that it is precisely on that accountthat he disclaims every impertinent shibboleth alikeof Rome, Canterbury, or Geneva. [ 3 ]
  • THE OLD .AND NEW THEOWGY. It is even 80. Never was there a time when the immense reality symbolized by the church foUnd• so spontaneous a homage from cultivated intellect as at present. The possibility, and not tha~ alone, but the rapidly approachirig advent, of a divine life for man, is avouched by thousands of guileless Simeons cheerfully singing their N un.c dimittis. The temper of these persons, too, such as I have known them, towards the ritual church is destitute of acrimony. They originate no propaganda apart from the progress of science: they seek to turn no one away from the rites which custom has sancti- fied to his memory: they study, many of them, the beautiful humanitary or universal meaning en- closed in these rites and ceremonies, thus bringing forth in an instructive manner things which at the same time are both new and old: and they exhibit a serenity under misconstruction and reproach which claims the homage of a cordial respect. In fact, the idea of the church is experiencing a larger evolution. A growing conviction besets men that the ritual church is not a finality, but a means t.o an end, and that this end is a truly divine or perfect life for man on the earth. It is well that the literal church should have got established; it is very well also that it should have claimed and been allowed priority of the State, because the life [ 4 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY. which it symbolizes is superior to that symbolized by the State. But having got thus established, it was bound to cease thinking of itself, and to begin the inauguration of that perfect life for whoseinterests alone it existed. Failing to fulfil this obli-gation, it fell into intestine division and anarchy,and is now no longer a ruling element in Christen- dom, but a sect among the sects zealously contend-ing for the public favor. Thus the history of the old ecclesiasticism begetsitself a new and more spiritual conception of thechurch. For the inevitable concession which itmakes, and its daughters make, to the democraticsentiment everywhere, the pretension they all maketo regard the condition of the poor and to modifyoppressive legislation in that behalf, only provethat the vital idea of the church is a humanitaryone, and that its true end accordingly is not itsown aggrandizement, but the elevation of universalman. Thus while the world is losing all regardfor mere ecclesiastical interests, and zeal in this.direction is confined to official persons and theirfollowers within the church, the great mass of thetitular church, especially the Protestant half, isactively intent upon the varied reforms of the day,and seeks in the rich humanitary promise of thefuture, the fulfilment of the chUrchs mission. [ 5 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY. It is impossible that they whose eyes have oncebeen opened to discern the true powers of theworld to come, to discern the profoundly humansubstance which underlies and vitalizes all theshadows of Church and State, should ever proveforgetful of the lesson, and go back again to theworship of symbols. At all events it is impossiblethat the sectarian notion of the church should evergain the empire of the human mind. This notionis always and purely selfish. The mark of a sect-and you see it in all from the Romish down to theMormon one-is its disposition to separate itselffrom the ordinary lot of humanity, to esteem itselfobedient to the divine will, and all dissidents fromitself contrary to that will Accordingly the obviouscriticism which sectarianism invites the world over,is that it presumes a contrariety between God andman which is not merely disclaimed by everyadvance of science, but which is directly oppugnantto the mission of Jesus. The sectarian conception of the relation betweenGod and man is notoriously disclaimed by science,or the organized observation of nature and society,because every advance of science demonstrates theperfect unity of God and man, by slwwing thewlwle realm of nature divilnely accommodatedto the development of mans power, and to the [ 6 1
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.aggrandizement of his passional and intellectualwistence. Our ecclesiastical dogmas teach theopposite of this. They place God in the attitudeof exacting something from his own dependentcreature, and they place the creature consequentlyin a meritorious attitude towards Him, in theattitude of serving Him for a reward. Sciencedemonstrates that the only becoming temper ofmind on our part towards the Divine, is that ofboundless exultation in the riches of HiB benefi-cence, and of determined activity towards thefullest possible realization of it. Sectarianism, onthe other hand, declares that God looks upon uswith aversion, save as we are connected with itself;being stayed in HiB purpose of summary destructiononly by the intervention of a third party: and thatour proper position towards Him therefore is oneof trembling and abject supplication. Every dayof the week the sun comes forth to illustrate thebenignity of the Universal Father, and the wavingof leaves, anu the murmur of brooks, and thelaughter of corn on the hill-sides, and the ringingmelody that ascends from the whole physical crea-tion, and the myriad-fold success of human enter-prise in the realms of traffic and art, all attest andconfirm the illustration. Much more eloquentlyeven does the grander temple of the human heart r 7 J
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.proclaim the same benignity. For we find all ofits various affections when left to their unpervertedflow, bringing forth fruits of invariable joy andpeace. But on Sunday, sectarianism diligentlydenies all that the busy week and a peaceful hearthave taught us. For instead of confinning theirtidings of the life which comes everywhere unboughtand even unsought, of the glory that is on everycreature both great and small which the divinehand has fashioned, it reports a life universallyforfeited and never to be regained save in a limitedmeasure, and through the purchase of inconceivablesuffering. But the sectarian conception of the relation be-tween man and God not only falsifies the teachingsof science, it falsifies also the mission of Jesus.Doubtless the sectarian is unaware of such an effect,because his idea of the Christ is modified by theexigencies of his own ecclesiastical polity, and doesnot reflect therefore the exact truth of history.But clearly no unbiassed reader of the gospels willdemur when I say, that the Christ denied anycontrarious relation between God and man. Heindeed affirmed such a relation between God andthe sectarian man, or the man who like the Phari-see separated himself from the ordinary lot of hu-manity, and claimed if not a monopoly, at least a. [ 8]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY. priority in the divine favor. But the affirmation of contrariety in this direction, is an emphatic denial of it in every other, and is tantamount in fact to the declaration of a perfect unity between man as l7U(,n and God. For if to separate oneself from ones kind virtually be to separate oneself from God, so conversely to be at one with ones kind, must imply the being at one with God. But let us take a closer view of the fundamental discrepancy between the Old and New theology. By the Old theology let me premise that I mean that which under every form of superficial differ- ence remains substantially the same in all the sects,from the old Romish down to the modern Sweden-borgian. I say that the theology of all these sectsis substantially the same under whatever varietiesof doctrinal drapery, because in all alike it beginsthe conception of God as a person finited fromman by space and time, and consequently makesritual or dramatic religion permanent, makes itindeed the only possible religion. The New theology, on the other hand, is not soeasy to define, because it appeals exclusively to therational understanding instead of the memory. Itis not a new credo or formulary, but rather thespirit of all creeds and the substance of all formulas.It disavows every sect, because it authenticates all [ 9 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.mankind in avouching God to be the inmost andinseparable life of every man great or small, wiseor stupid, good or evil This theology claims tobe the spiritual or impersonal meaning of all theliteral or personal facts of the four gospels: claimsto shew ,how the birth, life, death and resurrectionof Jesus Christ, tiymbolized that complete lordshipof nature which universal man shall ere longachieve, by virtue of his essential or indwellingdivine force, Doubtless thiA theology, being spiri-tual, constitutes its own evidence, and can neitherbe much advanced nor much retarded by ratiocina-tion, By its very terms it excludes all outward or miraculous attestation, appealing only to the scien- tific intellect or the intellect devoid of prejudice. Not only its existence but the grounds of that existence in the nature of God and man, have long been set forth even to tedium in the humane and philosophic page of Swedenborg. But it derives no lustre even from his shining endowments.- * It is by the way much to be regretted that an ecclesiasti-cal sect should have seen fit to nucleate itself upon this long-suffering old philosopher; because from the nature of the casea sect has necessities which no writings are adequate to meetsave in so far as they are destitute of humanitary interest,or confess themselves unworthy of general attention. ButSwedenborgs writings palpably exclude all sectarian ambi-tions, affording matter only of universal or scientific interest. [ 10 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY. Having thus posited our combatants, let us nextascertain what is the precise bone of contentionbetween them. This decidedly is no· other thanthe religious problem itsel£ What the Old andNew theology differ about is the true signijicanceof the religious instinct in man. When we surveythe history of the race, we find that the church hasalways claimed a 8upernat1/ral basis, or shedcontempt upon the merely natural life of man.Wherever ritual religion, or the sensuous worshipof God, has existed most purely, that is to say,least modified by social refinement, it has alleged aprofound disjunction between God and the merelynatural or carnal man. And the bearing of thisfact upon human destiny accordingly, or in otherwords, the philosophic import of the religiousinstinct, has always aroused the liveliest activityof the human intellect. Now, to make a long story short, the more youfix your attention upon this fact, the more inevi-table one or other of the following conclusionsHence the sectarian attitude of his 89i·di8Unt disciple shouldno more be allowed to prejudice him in public regard, bysuggesting a low estimate of his scientific value, than theclimbing parasite is allowed to prejudice the hearty and un-conscious oak, whose robust age shall live down a thousand ofits deciduous generations. [ 11 1
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.will appear to you, namely; 1. That creation is afailure and the destiny of the creature consequentlyextremely dubious, if not decidedly wretched: or,2. That the natural life is not our essential life, butrather the form or mould by means of which thatlife becomes pronounced or defined. The Old theology affirms the former of theseconclusions. It declares that creation failed at itsvery inception, and that the destiny of the creatureconsequently is not normal, but medicated or re-medial Thus it abandons the field of natureutterly, and removes mans destiny to anotherworld, where it exhibits him subject either to thehospitalities of heaven or the inclemencies of hell.He never regains his normal status in either ofthese conditions. Heaven is at the best always ahospital to him. Hell at the best is always a prisonto him. In either state alike he bears the sears ofhis original fall, and drags the chain of an eternalservitude or dependence. The New theology on the other hand, whichalso calls itself Christian, though in an exquisitelythorough and internal sense, affirms the latter ofthese conclusions. It denies that creation everwas or ever can be a failure, but declares that thenatural life of man is intrinsically subordinate tohis true or divine life, and that the office of religion [ 12 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.hitherto in depressing the former, has been neces-sary simply as a means of introducing him to anacquaintance with the latter. The true life of man,which comes from God, which is God in him, andwhich is therefore an infinite life welling up fromt.he fountains of his inmost spirit, cannot of coursebecome manifested to mans consciousness so longas the outward or bodily life governs his activity.While the natural life controls his spirit, or governshis action, man cannot realize the life he has inGod. He may believe in it as a tradition: he maybelieve that God originally created the fathers ofhis race: he may believe in God moreover as anoutward and finite person living clear away in somecelestial limbo, and that he shall receive at Hishands after death the life promised to obedience,just as he might receive any other sen~ible gift.But he has no belief in God as a present life,because appearances do not warrant it. For thequality of our present life is undivine, is such as to make the divine benignity appear partial, which ofcourse destroys its divinity. Infidelity is thusalmost the best tribute which the superficial or uncultivated mind can now render to the divine perfection, because the marvels of its power still lie so far beneath the surface of things, and yield themselves up only to reHection. Go speak to your [ 13 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.footman or the cook in your kitchen, both of whomare maatered by their mere bodily necessities, bothof whom toil year in and year out all their days,for no other end than to keep the baae breath ofnature in their bodies: go aak these persons whetherGod is a very present life to them 1 Will not theirinstincti~e loyalty to God or the perfect life, makethem laugh in your face, or else put on that ex-pression of stupid and idiotic aasent, which hasbecome almost the sole expression of the humancountenance, when divine things are mentioned 1There can be no doubt on this point, as everyones experience bears me witness. So long as thenatural life controls mans spirit, he cannot realizethe life he haa in God. Religion consequently hasalways borne a protest against this life being con-sidered our true life. It has always appealed tothe instincts of infinitude within us, to depressor dishonor the natural life, in hope of one dayachieving another which shall befit our illimitableaspirations. Thus the New theology differs from the Old.While the latter makes self-denial an end, theformer makes it a means to an end. While theone declares the natural life to be absolutely evil,and therefore to be cast out, the other declares itto be simply servile or ministerial, and therefore to [ 14 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY. be reduced to order or subjection. In short, the Old theology views the religious problem aa signifi- cant of despair for man; the New as significant of hope and consolation. It is true that the Old theology, in words, allows its disciples a hope of the divine clemency, provided they exhibit a certain differential attitude from other men towards a certain scheme of recovery provided by God: but the difference in question is so faintly shaded, and liable besides to so many intrinsic attenuations, aa to afford no practical comfort to the modest and sober-. minded, while it frequently heightens a previous self-conceit into fanaticism. The different bearing of the two theologies upon the divine character, is especially deserving of note. The Old theology makes creation a voluntary procedure on Gods part, or a distinct exhibition of w11l, and hence makes God imperfect or finite. For will haa no other foundation than want, and to feel a want in any respect is to feel so far forth insufficient to oneself, and to be insufficient to one- self is the very citadel and armoury of imperfection. The New theology, on the other hand, makes creation a purely spontaneous procedure on the part of God. That is to say, it declares God crea- tive, not through any effort of will, but in Himself, thus without effort. God is e8sentiaUy active, [ 15 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.active in se, or in His very self, and not as we arethrough our natural passions or wants. And tobe active in oneself, and not by pressure of onesnature, is obviously to be creative. Hence the Newtheology declares that God creates or gives beingto the universe, not by his will, but by HimselfHe alone it is, and not His will, as discriminatedby the Old theology from Himself, which createsor gives being to things. It is precisely here that the immense scientificadvantage of the New theology appears, for inmaking God creative in se, or by dint of his essen-tial perfection, it neceBsa7-ily mal~eB the creatureHis image; and so binds science to the celebrationof the divine infinitude. The harmonies of crea-tion are the theme of science, and if these harmonies,according to the New theology, only reflect thosewhich are uncreated or absolute, it follows of coursethat science hM at bottom no other task than theillustration of Deity. Thus the New theology linksscience to the altar of God, and endows her radiantpriesthood with sole and plenary power to interceptcursing and bring down blessing from on high.The Old theology, with a fine instinct, subjects itspriesthood to a perpetual baptism or purification,because it is merely a symbolic priesthood, minis-tering a quasi divine benediction to a quasi divine [ 16 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.people. The New theology disallows every baptism,or denies the relevancy of purification, because herpriesthood, being exclusively a scientific one, is final,ministering a true divine benediction to a trulydivine people, that is to universal humanity, with-out respect to creed or complexion. The Old theology moreover in affirming creationto be strictly voluntary on the part of God, leavesthe creature in very insecure relation to Him. Forit is notoriously the attribute of will to be fickleor inconstant. A fixed will-a will pertinaciouslyanchored upon any thing or event, to the intole-rance of any other thing or event-is the definitionof insanity. Surely then, unless our continuancebe grounded in something else than the divine will.unless it be grounded in the essential and immut-able perfection of God, we have a wretchedly inse-cure hold upon existence. The immaculate sanityof that will stamps our existence ephemeral Infact, the old theology in denying any rationalprinciple to creation, denies it also any rationalprognostic. In excluding an exact diagrwsis fromits field of vision, it of course excludes an. exactprognosis, and consequently confutes its own pre-tension as a true rationale of creation. For anevent contingent upon pure will confesses itself irra-tional, or immethodical, and consequently permits [ 17 ] s
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.no account of itself .And this is virtually the as-pect of creation as represented by the Old theology.It affirms substantially though not in words, thatGod created us in sport, or merely for the displayof His arbitrary will, a will irresponsible even toHis own essential perfection: that having givenus faculties of the most admirable temper, and anapprehension of perfection so vivacious and profoundas to beget the most burning aspirations towards it,He has after all left these aspirations unbacked byany proportionate power, and so made both themode and the duration of our existence simplylawless, or what is the same thing dependent uponHis own will. The New theology, on the other hand, assertB avery secure relation between creator and creature.It denies that creation is an exhibition of thedivine will, strictly so called, and affirms it to bean operation rather of the essential perfection ofGod, an outgrowth of His very selfhood, so tospeak, in which case of course it is the very image of reason, the very model of order. It claims that the whole being of God, not His power merely but His love and wisdom, in short His total selfhood, is implicated in creation, and consequently that the creatures welfare is as assured as Gods own perfection. [ 18 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY. N ow both these theologies, that which is rapidlysetting and that which is as rapidly rising, claimthe name of Christian, though the latter in a muchmore eminent sense than the other. In ordertherefore to compass an intelligent judgment oftheir quarrel, let us ascertain the precise point ofview in which they severally regard the Christ. Every person knows that it is possible to con-template Jesus in two aspects, either a literal orfixed one, which was that cherished by his imme-diate disciples up to the period of his death, becauseit related him to their sensuous and superstitiousconceptions of Deity: or a spiritual and expansiveone, capable of growing with the growth of thehuman mind, and relating him therefore to themost advanced and scientific conceptions of Deity.This latter aspect was apparently the more con.genial one to his own spirit, and was plainly pro-vided for by the entire tenor of his parabolic ormystical instruction. Thus with the early disciplewe may still regard the Christ after the flesh orcarnally, and look upon his word as purely literal,as having an import only to the ear. Or we maywith Paul cease to know him after the flesh, view-ing his words only as spirit and life, or as addressingthe spiritual underStanding of the hearer instead ofhis omnivorous memory. In short we may view [ 19 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY. him simply on his finite personal side, or as to all those limitations which made him a Jew, andbrought him into collision with that desperatepeople: or we may view him on his infinite andspiritual side, that is as to that temper of mindwhich lifted him out of all private or partial affini-ties, and gave him unity with universal man. Inthe former case we leave him a mere finite person,although greater in degree than other persons. Inthe latter case we exalt his finite personality into atype of universal truth. Now the Old theology contemplates the Christexclusively in the former or limitary aspect. Itmakes his worth to us a purely outside and arbi-trary thing, attributing to him the poweJ; of liter-ally influencing the divine will, and so preventingany person that pleases him suffering an otherwiseinevitable damnation. It takes every fact of hislife and death at its prima facie or obvious value,and affirms in the roundest of terms that unless weyield him a certain voluntary submission, unlesswe make a certain personal surrender of ourselvesto him, we shall suffer inconceivable sorrows. Thusit makes the noble battle which Jesus fought withthe ignorance and superstition of his people, abattle in behalf of his own personal glory, not inbehalf of universal man. He seemed a man of [ 20 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.the purest benevolence, and cherished sympathiesso universal as to provoke the keenest disgust fromhis bigotted kindred. But all this was subordi-nate to an ulterior selfish aim. He indulged thesesympathies not for their own sake simply, or as afinality, but as a means to an end, or by way ofwinning a title to universal dominion. Henceconsistently the Old theology forever crowds usGentiles, us Christians, back to that narrow J udeanplatform, and makes us simulate first every tediousfeature of the Jewish or personal opposition toJesus, and then every tedious feature of Jewishor personal submission to him, before it allows usany hope of his favor. For once in the history ofhumanity, for once in all time and space, it allowsthe Deity to break the sullen monotony of Hisdispleasure, and take delight in a man. But onceonly. The snow-flake upon the river which is amoment white, then gone forever, is a miracle ofperpetuity compared with the transitory clemencyit ascribes to Deity. It denies that Jesus camemerely to reveal a grandeur of perfection in Deityto which mankind were strangers by ignoranceand unbelief, a perfection which is never more andnever less whether men believe it or not. No, hisgospel is not a revelation of the uncreated andunchangeable divine perfection; it is rather the [ 21 1
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.affirmation of a certain change induced upon thedivine mind by Jesus ; the product of a certainsoftening operation which he effected upon thehitherto unmalleable properties of Deity. He camenot to show God magnanimous, but to make himso. He enabled God to be merciful and just Heactually empowered God to be Godlike. Conse-quently it is o1).ly in so far as he is concerned thatGod is great and generous. It is only as shut upto his phisique that the universal Father appearsarrayed in any human or attractive qualities..Hence whoso does not catch the divine favor aslet down through the chink of his personality-apersonality whose historic reality moreover is ne-cessarily unknown to the vast bulk of the race-must need pocket the loss eternally. It is easy enough to see that this Old theologyso affronts the common sense of men, so outragesour conceptions of the divine perfection, that itnecessitates its own decease.- It discharges Deity .. I am aware that a certain diligent tra.nJ!mutation of ortho-doxy is going on in New England, by which it is evisceratedof its immemorial contents, and yet avouched to be the samegospel. But somehow, in spite of the extreme zeal and goodfaith embarked in this enterprise, no displlSllionate observer ofthe process can help feeling that the solid nutmeg aroma ofthe old orthodoxy is rapidly dissipating into Ii. thin flavorofba.sswood. [ 22 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY. of every amiable and dignified attribute, and therein discharges man of all homage towards Him save that of abject fear. It representa.l Him as forever gloomily devising vengeance towards men for an infirmity induced upon them by the very nature which He himself gives them, ~d then as stayed in His sanguinary purposes not by any merciful relentings, not by any touch of sweet human pity, but only by the superior allurements of another victim, whose superhuman nature enables him to assuage a superhuman thirst of blood.. I am per-• fectly familiar with the special pleading by which the apologists of the Old theology seek to palliate the naked deformity of its dogmas in this direction. One indeed gladly acquits them of a personal com- plicity with dogmas of which they are ashamed: but they cannot alter the logical import of the dogmas themselves. On the showing of the Old theology it is undeniable, that the sufferings of man for an offence involved in his very nature, and therefore inevitable to him, are actually bought off from the framer of that very nature by the suf- ferings of a being above man. Accordingly the relation between God and man indnced by this transaction is not one jot more genial and human than it was before.. It is simply the relation of indifference which the vulture is under to the dove, [ 23 I
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.which the tiger is under to the lamb, when onceits hunger has been effectually appeased. Of course in taking this view of Christianity theOld theology does but caITy out its fundamentalview of creation. It holds creation itself to be aproduct of will eXGlusively, or to have originallyproceeded from the mere arbitrary fiat of Deity,and consequently absolves its subsequent historyfrom all responsibility to the laws of order orreason. For if you concede an irrational begin-ning to a phenomenon-a beginning, that is, iVhichbears no ratio to the human understanding-you •may postulate any disorderly development or ter-mination for it you please. Your premises exemptyou from accountability. The New theology in taking a profounder viewof creation, takes also a less superficial vie" ofChristianity. For in making creation to start fromthe essential perfection of God, or His most inti-mate selfhood, it of course makes the whole tenorof its developments strictly orderly, or consonantwith the highest reason. Thus in affirming Godhimself as the sole source of life to the universe,it denies any absolute superiority among His crea-tures, denies that anyone person possesses anyMsolute claim to the supremacy of other persons.For from the fact of the precisely equal creature- [ 24 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.ship of all, whatever BUperiOrity one may exhibitto another must attach not to himself but to the Creator, must be not a passive but an active supe-riority, the BUperiority of genius, of power, of func-tion. Hence the New theology pronounces thecurrent literal view of Christianity absurd andBUperstitiOUB, save as the basis or continent of a.spiritual view. It regards the Christ not fromperson, which is to finite him, but from spirit,which is to give him infinitude. It views the re-corded incidents of his life, death and reBUrrection,not as possessing a merely historic and BUperficialvalue, but much more a philosophic value assymbols or exponents of universal truth. Theperson of Christ it says belonged of course onlyto the Jews. His spirit belongs in a most eminentmanner to entire humanity. The Gentiles had nopersonal relations to him, nor any personal know-ledge of him. He was dead and buried beforethey had heard the authentic mention of his name.He was heralded to them only as a spiritual re-deemer. The quarrel which the Jews had withhim as the desecrator of their law, as the blas-phemer of their national God, as the contemnerof their most honored priests and rulers, was allunknown to the Gentiles; or if known could notbe appreciated by them, because they knew nothing [ 25 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.of the fanatical sanctity the Jew· arrogated to him-self. It was therefore only by his humanitarydoctrines and deeds, only as the vindicator of uni-versal man from spiritual tyranny and oppression,that the Christ could have appealed to Gentilesympathy. They cherished his memory, not be-cause they supposed him to entertain any personalregard for them over his own brethren, but simplybecause he avouched a Deity higher than theirthought had yet conceived, a Deity great enoughto bleBl! all his children alike, and extremely pronetherefore to despise every laborious claim to dis-tinction which the technical saint preferred to thetechnical sinner. Thus while the New theology concedes theunprecedented personal virtue of the Christ, andhis legitimate historic influence, it at the same tim~interdicts him any persQ1l.,(J,/,. claim upon our spirirtual allegiance. Without going into the philosophicground of this interdict, which imports that thespiritual idea of man is witlwut the idea ojperson, let it suffice to say here that the Newtheology in making it is exactly consistent with itsown fundamental axiom, which is that God givesbeing to the universe by Himself alone, and hencethat every man is what he is solely by the indwell-ing of God, or to the exclusion of all desert i l l [ 26 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.himself: Accordingly whatsoever grandeur of en-dowment may have hitherto befallen any person,the lesson conveyed by it accrues to the benefit ofuniversal man, and not to that of the perdon him-self. For inasmuch as God is one and his creatureone, no person is great on his own independentaccount, but only by virtue of his identificationwith the most enlarged humanity, only in so far ashe represents universal man. Hence the greatProvidential men who have diversified the page ofhistory and turned its level march into,a glitteringpageantry, claim no passive or personal but, onlya functional superiority to other men, a superioritywhich grows out of their humanitary obedience,which is imposed upon them in fact by the neces-sities of human destiny, and thus subjects them .equally with all other persons to the issues of thatdestiny. The sacredness of Deity does not-exceptto the sensuous or brute understanding, still domi-nated by the mere shows of time and space-arisefrom any antagonism he presents to llil, becausewhere, as in this case, one party is all, and the othernothing, antagonism is simply impossible: but onlyfrom His boundless furtherance and beneficencetowards us. He is great and adorable not by Hisinvincible distance from us, but by His intimate~earness, by stooping as it were to our native [ 27 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.littleneSs and lifting us to the dimensions of Hismajesty. Did He measure His strength by ourweakness-did He aggrandize Himself by ourdiminution-He would be detestable, not adorable.Rather, it is impossible to say what emotion hewould excite, because the creature of such a powerbeing of course proportionate to its creator, couldhave no sentiment in common with Gods creature. Hence the prime ministers of Deity, they whospeak the most directly from His inspiration, com-mend themselves to our recognition chiefly by ahumanitary temper. The sole personal distinctionthey claim over others is that of a spotless humility.The measure of their veracity as stewards of divinemysteries, is the sense they entertain of their perso-nal insignificance, of their precise personal equalitywith other men. Thus the New theology estimatesheroic or exceptional men not at their obvious andfinite value, but at their humanitary, prophetic,and infinite worth. It glorifies them by resolvingwhatsoever is personal and superficial about them,into what is universal and substantial. Preemi-nently therefore is it bound to observe this methodwith Jesus, for every incident of his life owns suchan inseparable humanitary flavor, all his wordsand deeds--when viewed according to the spiritwhich animated them-are so grandly human and [ 28 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.impersonal, as to force upon us the conception oftheir typicality, and make a literal interpretationin fact derogatory.- In thus discriminating between the Old andNew theology, I beg that you will acquit me ofany intention to reflect upon the persons of thosewho make up the existing sectarianism. Surelyno suspicion of the kind should attach to me, whileI expressly disclaim all personal aims or interestsfor the New theology. This theology so far as Iapprehend its meaning, knows no persons, confersno personal consequence, receives honor from noman. Having a purely scientific basis, settingforth only what is eternally and infinitely goodand true, it of course drops from view whatsoeveris peculiar to any CUltU8 under the sun, whatsoeveris merely finite and differential in every worship,and preserves that which is unitary and essentialin all, namely, the spirit of the worshipper. It is • Probably the highest tribute ever paid to the personalityof Jesus, was that recently enacted by a distinguished Gennanscholar, in attempting, very unsuccessfully however, to resolvethe entire recont of his personal history into a humanitarymyth. This good man finds the evangelic facts so full of sheermanline88, so full of the widest human meaning and promise,that he resolves henceforth to deny them actuality, and regardthem simply as a rythmic dance of the human intellect cele-brating the oncoming splendors of the race. [ 29 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.a doctrine of universal man in relation with God,not of persons. It declares that no name kno~on earth is known in heaven, because as I havealready said the spiritual idea of man is destituteof the idea of person. Person or name to thespiritual understanding means quality. Henceyou perceive that ·the New theology is bound toshed every ritual, Pagan and Christian alike. Itmakes baptism superstitious and sacraments pr<rfane, whenever either claims a literal sanctity. Itanoints man, and consequently supersedes thepriest.- Denying then as I do thus clearly that the Newtheology has any sectarian schemes to promote:affirming for it, as I do, 80 divine, 80 humane, a * I have indeed heard as I have intimated in a previousnote, of attempts made both in England and this country todramatize the New theology, and give it a decorous Sundayoutfit and institution, as though it were only some new editionin larger type of the old ecclesiasticism. But these attemptsare so incongruous with every rational perception of its drift,and they logically involve, whether they have actually begot-ten or not, so many and such tiresome controversies, as towhether for example the new ministry be an institution oftrine or of simple dimension-whether the ministers tie to theflock be strictly conjugal or not-as to how the new ministryand the new ordinances become more efficacious than the old-and how far the spheres of new Jerusalem children may beprejudiced by those of the old J emwem-that the whole pre-tension tumbles off into mere ecclesiasiastical wantonness. [ 30 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.temper, as to put a bmnd of perfect infamy uponevery person, however conventionally sacred, whoshould accept compulsory homage, or attempt toexalt himself by the subjection of others: you willnot suppose me capable of any hostility to thepersons, whether lay or clerical of the old eccle-siasticism. Its standards do indeed defame thehumane perfection of God. And it thereforenecessarily places the worshipper, in so far as itis operative, in a sinister and servile attitudetowards Him. But I should abhor to believe thatit is thus operative upon a large number of thosewho are nominally incorporated with it. I greatlyprefer to agree with the candid old Swedenborg,than whom no one has done ampler critical justiceto the existing sectarianism, and who yet remarks inhis Apocalypse Explained § 233, that the greater part of the Christian church is wholly unaffected by its prevalent errors, there being very few of its members who cherish the spirit of its doctrine. Yet no unprejudiced person will deny that the tendency of sectarianism, where it exists unchecked, is to beget and inflame hostile relations between man and God. It plants i~lf upon the stupid and fallacious testimony of the natural conscience concerning the relations of man to God, and by reaffirming that testimony perpetuates the most [ 31 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.grovelling superstitions of the human mind. Letme make my meaning perfectly clear. Conscience, or the knowledge of good and evil,is a phenomenon which marks the in&.ncy ofhuman culture. It has its origin in the limitationwhich the senses impose upon the infantile con-sciousness of man. For the very act.ivity of thesenses being contingent upon the principle of con-trast or bipolarity in nature, as for example thecontrast of light and darkness, pleasure and pain,motion and rest, growth and decay; life and death,in short good and evil: so they impose upon mana limitary consciousness, the consciousness of aselfhood limited by his own body and by hisfellow-man. - But a profound instinct of the soul wages eter-nal war with this finite consciousness. The soulof man incessantly affirms a posit.ive good, or agood unlimited by any evil; affirms a positivelight, or a light without any oppugnancy of dark- .. Those who are curious in the symbolism of the sacredwritings, may .like to know that this finite or natural eelf-hood of man is what is represented, according to Swedenborg,by the Eve of the garden of Eden. The BeDlIll&1 principleand its necell8lUY power in the infantile development ofman, is what is symbolized by the Serpent, and his influencewith Eve. [ 32 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.ness; affirms a positive life, or a life which 18without any contrast or antagonism of death.- But of course so long as mans senses dominatehim, and he regards himself accordingly as identi-fied with his natural and moral conditions, he canonly refer this perfect good, this positive life, awayfrom himself, away from humanity, to some fardistant and different being. And inasmuch as herightly regards his exclusion from this tree of life,or perfect gooJ, to his natural selfhood dominatedby the teaching of the senses, so consequently heheaps up reproach upon that selfhood, and subjectsit to all manner of laborious discipline, in order toget deliverance from the doom of nature. LikeAdam, who said, "the woman thou gavest me, shedid give me of the tree," etc., so man lays all theblame of his conscious death upon his natural se~and by instituting a rigorous rule over all its issues,hopes at length to elicit from it some redeemingvirtue. .. This inatin<:t of the soul is symbolized by the tree of life,standing in the centre of the garden, of which alone man isdestined to eat and live. This life will take place as soon as:man sball a.cknowledge the divine Humanity, or what is thesame thing, cease to conceive of God under sensible conditions,or conditions of time and space, that is, as an outward andfinite person: which conception is the parent of all super-stition. [ 33 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY. Here precisely lies the fundamental error of man,in identifying himself with his natural conditions,and in seeking consequently to achieve perfectionby cultivating these. His perfection is alreadyprovided and secure in God, or essential man, andonly wait.<! his belief of the fact--only waits thecessation of his effort.<! to bring it out of his finiteor natural conditions-to flow into his conscioU&-ness. To seek righteousness, to seek infinitude,by the diligent cultivation of his natural affections,by the rigid discharge of his social duties, was toseek it, as Christ taught, where it is not to befound, and to encounter despair and death instead.To identify himself with the law of nature or thelaw of society, and to expect life or peace in sodoing, is to separate himself from God. The truei9cret of his happiness accordingly, and the solecondition of his righteousness, is at once to denytheir supremacy, and fling back with utter scorn every opprobrium and menace they cast upon his deathless and immaculate soul. He is not required to ascend into heaven to bring life down to him, nor yet to descend into the earth to bring it up thence: he is required to do absolutely nothing, either difficult or easy, but simply to believe in God within bim, ceaseless life of his life, insepar- able soul of his soul. [ 34 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY. This was the true purport of the gospel accord-ing to the Lord Jesus Christ, the deliverance ofman from the evil conscience imposed upon himby the tyranny of nature and 80ciety. And themethod of deliverance is as plainly indicated. Itdoes not consist in the subjects striving with newzeal and intensity to fulfil the letter of the law, forJesus and his apostles shew that the law is spiritual,and disdains therefore any merely literal fulfilment.But it consists in the subjects utterly renouncingthe letter as a source of righteousness or life, anddespising alike its favor and its frown. Sectarianism indeed admits all this in terms,but renders it practically nugatory, by immediatelyproceeding to erect the Christ himself into a dead-lier lawgiver even than Moses. It admits veryfreely that any man who has broken the morallaw, may find relief in Christ, not indeed fromhuman vengeance, but at least from any immortalpenalty assumed to be due to his offence. Butthen it proceeds not merely to impose in the nameof Christ certain obligatory observances upon hisfollowers throughout all time, but also to exactfrom them a habit of submission and deferenceto his presumed personal will, which is not onlyutterly repugnant to the character of the Christand our common humanity, but actually saps the [ 35 ]
  • THE OLD .AND NEW THEOLOGY.whole truth of his mediation, by exalting thewhilom factor or agent into a principal, by con-verting the profeBBed friend and benefactor intoan inexorable tyrant You have been wont to smile at the old fablewhich represents an umpire swallowing the oysterfor whose possession two parties are contending,and then gravely handing over to each of the liti-gants a shell. But it is precisely this treacherousattitude which sectarianism ascribes to the Christ,under pretext of doing him special honor. For itrepresents the Christ as coming to mediate betweenGod and man, and as forthwith incontinently a~sorbing all the grace of the one, and all the virtueof the other. This is an unheard-of pretension,that a mediator to any dispute should himselfbecome a third part,y, and be allowed to make theacceptance of his mediation obligatory on eitherside, by the threat of unspeakable sufferings tothe disobedient The bare truth indeed of Christs mediation,viewed as a literal fact, discharges the relationbetween man and God of all essential discrepancy.For of course no mediation is possible, where oneof the parties is altogether right, and the otheraltogether wrong. Mediation in such a case wouldbe a gross affront to the superior party. For a [ 36 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.mediator is not of one side only. His functionsupposes a due proportion or equality betweenthe principals. Some misunderstanding of theirmutual relations exists on one side or the other,threatening to be permanent, when a mediatoroffers himself to remove it, by demonstrating theiressential accord of interests. A.ccordingly had anyessential contrariety existed between God and man,the mediatorial pretension of the Christ would havebeen preposterous or misplaced. He might in thatcase have declared himself a partisan of either side,but the vital nature of their disagreement musthave utterly precluded the function of mediationor reconciliation. It was the peculiar infamy of the legal dispen-sation, according to Christ and his apostles, thatit separated between man and God, giving theformer whenever he Sincerely attempted conformityto it, such a conscience of sin as violated the deep-est instincts of his soul, and turned his filial desiresinto practical hate. And the Christ claimed it ashis peculiar glory to break down and remove thislegal separation of the parties, so restoring to thechief of sinners a conscience of perfect repose toward God. I do not read of his having any mission apartfrom this. I do not understand him as seekingany ulterior selfish end, in what he undertook [ 37 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.to do. I see no trace whatever of any designto elevate himself above the level of our ordinaryhumanity by his enterprise of benevolence: and itis needless to say that if any such trares appeared,their obvious effect would be to depress him as farbelow that level, as he had aspired to rise above it.In short I find no quarrel whatever between himand man as m.an. The only quarrel he wagedwas that against the Scribe and Pharisee, againstthe privileged or sectarian man, the man whofattened upon the infamy of his kind, and whosehope towards God was the measure of his fellow-mans despair. Let me be perfectly understood. I say that theChrist maintained no quarrel with man as man atall, but only with the conventionally righteousman, the man whose goodness appeared only incontrast with his neighbors evil He never said aword in commendation of the current morality.He justified no saint or Pharisee, he condemnedno sinner. On the contrary he invariably justifiedthe sinner and condemned the Pharisee, declaringthat the conventionally first among men should belast in Gods kingdom, and the conventionallylast first. It was not the condemning power of the lawwhich, to Christs regard, separated man from God. [ 38 ]
  • THE OLD .AND NEW THEOLOGY.It was its justifying power. Its condemning powerwent no further than to inhibit a finite righteous-ness, or a righteousness which stood only in thedifference of one man to another. It did not ex-clude an infinite righteousness, or the righteousnesswhich comes from God. On the contrary it .shutthe subject up to that. For Gods righteousnessbeing infinite, that is, dating from the inmost self-hood of the subject, the man of upright aims, theman who respected himself and could not thereforedespise others, would covet no external distinction,would patiently allow any amount of literal orconventional infirmity. His central repose wouldeasily tolerate whatever superficial perturbation. But the law considered as a justifying powerwas diabolic. It was the very citadel of hell. Forhe who was satisfied with its approbation, whoasked nothing more of God than the righteousnessit signalised, who aspired to the divine communionby the purely negative method of differencinghimself from others, was at heart full of selfil:!hness,full of malignity towards his fellows, and conse-quently in mortal antagonism with God. Godis one, and his creature one. He therefore who should aspire to please God by distinguishinghimself in any the most infinitesimal shape fromanother, affronts His fundamental perfection, sms [ 39 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.against His holy spirit, excludes His most vitalinfluence. Hence it was the legally condemned, notthe legally justified person, the sinner not the saint,the harlot not the Pharisee, :with whom the Christfound himself in most genial and friendly relation. But how does sectarianism expedite this anti-or rather supra-legal mission of the Christ. Byactually erecting him into a sturdier Moses thanhe whose function he came to displace, by actuallyturning his gospel into a subtler legality than thatbelched forth from Sinai; in short, by actuallyconverting the Christ himself from a friendly andefficient mediator into an eternal and remorselessbarrier between God and man. For this is thecharacter which sectarianism undeniably assigns toChrists mediation-perpetuity, so that the partiesto it never come into direct friendly relation, butremain in themselves immitigable foes to the endof the chapt~r. What a preposterous conceptionof mediation in this! A mediation which is for-ever unaccomplished-which not only never re-stores the original status quo, the primal amicablerelation of the parties, but actually exhausts thatrelation and necessitates one of incessant enmityinstead, by making its own function eternal ! I beg my reader to give his earnest attention to this criticism, for it concerns the vital truth of [ 40 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.Christianity. And in order that the truth may bemore fully seen, let me dwell a moment longer onthe point in question. I t will be conceded that the sectarian statementof Christian doctrine involves this fundamentalprinciple, namely, that an essential hostility existsbetween man as man and God. Every sectariancreed assumes the fact as indisputable, that an in-trinsic contrariety exists between the divine andhuman natures. And the Christ is said to havereconciled the two by virtue of certain sufferingswhich he, considered as a partaker of the highernature, submitted to endure in the lower one. Now this hypothesis has quite as little justifica-tion in the letter of Scripture as it has in its spiritor reason: but before proving this, I wish to showyou very conclusively that if you admit the foun-dation fact which sectarianism claims, namely theintrinsic hostility of the divine and human natures,you completely undermine the peculiar remedialvirtue which this same sectarianism assigns to thesufferings of Jesus Christ. For if an essential hostility obtains between Godand man, then any suffering which a divine personshould experience in the human nature, mightperhaps express truly enough his own privateconviction of the demerit of that nature, but could [ 41 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.by no means be viewed as a general expression onthe part of the nature itself, since he was only apartaker or subject of the nature, and by no meansabsorbed it in his own personality. But even inthis case, even within the limits of his own per-sonality, it is impossible to see how the sufferingsChrist endured can express the reconciliation ofthe two warring natures. It is simply a mi.."Use oflanguage to say that his human nature could bereconciled by the imposition of sufferings; andif we make the divine nature the one to be recon-ciled, and especially through the sufferings of theother, we not merely make the human nature thesuperior ele,ment in the transaction, because theimmutable one, but we expressly contradict boththe entire scope and the specific language of scrip-ture, which represent man as the party to bereconciled. Of course we can admit the fact thatJesus suffered submissively all the evils which thehand of man laid upon him; but unless you lookupon him simply as a symbolic or representativeperson, it is impossible to regard this fact as ex-pressing a reconciliation of the two natures. Ifyou look upon him as a mere private person, whosesignificance is purely obvious or bounded by theliteral incidents of his history, then his sufferings have no meaning beyond himself, and express no [ 42 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.general fact of his nature but only a feature of hisprivate individuality. They drop at once from a scientific or rational, to a mere personal interest. They are facts not of life but of disease. Besides: the circumstance which sectarianism makes chiefly prominent in its view of Christs atonement, namely, the dignity of the sufferer, does really destroy the validity it assigns to his sufferings. For the human nature being the one which is to become reconciled or submissive, thenof course such submission can only take place whenit is self-prompted or spontaneous, and not coercedby the influence of the higher nature. Preciselyin so far therefore as you assume the Christ tohave acted from the prompting of his divine nature,do you deny even to his own private biographythe reconciliation of the two natures, leaving thehuman exactly in statu quo. The difference onthis point between our modern theology and thescriptures is very significant. The latter invariablymake the force of Christs suffering whatever thatforce may be, dependent upon his human nature:the former upon his divine. Thus the sectarian hypothesis of an essentialhostility between God and man, irreparably dam-ages the only view of the Christian atonementwhich it is ever employed to support. [ 4S ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY. But the hypothesis has no foundation in thegospels. The gospels nowhere assert an essentialor intrinsic contrariety between the divine andhuman natures. They indeed assert the fullestpossible contrariety between God on the one side,and human nature as legally exhibited-exhibitedin subjection to outward law-on the other. Butto what end was this done 1 In order to cut manoff from hope towards God 1 By no means, butrather to give him hope by denying the law to bea fit witness of their relation. Surely I need notinsist on this point. Every reader at all familiarwith the scriptures, perfectly knows that the wholescope of Christs mission was to deliver those whowere under legal condemnation, who through fearof the death denounced by conscience or the morallaw, were all their lifetime subject to bondage.You may search the gospels through, and you willfind no intimation that Christ conceived of any danger to man from God. He does not offer himself to man as a shield against the divine dis- pleasure. On the contrary, he offers himself as a minister and proof of that perfect and unchanging love of God, which the spirit of their law truly revealed, but which the absurd and superstiti- ons glosses and traditions that overlaid its letter, greatly obscured. Jesus and his apostles did indeed [ 44 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.denounce the divine vengeance upon the TUler8 ofthe people. Why 1 For their infractions of themoral law 1 By no means. But only for thebigoted and calumnious opposition they manifestedtowards himself, towards the hum.ane and benefi-cent truths he came to avouch concerning theuniversal Father, and His relations to man. No, I repeat it, you may search the gospelsthrough without finding one single word to justifythe popular misconception of Christianity, con-sidered as a SY8tem of reUef p1ovided fO1 I1l.aInagaVnst the divine displeasure. As I have alreadysaid you will find ample stress laid in the NewTestament upon the corruption of human natureas measured by the moral law, or the finite con-science of man. But the inference the apostlesdeduced from this revelation of the law, was--notthat man was thus viewed by God, and shouldtherefore indulge no hope towards Him, but onlythat the natural conscience, or the moral law, wasa whoUy unsuitable bond of C01I/TI,OOtion betweenGod and man, and therefore offered no disparage-ment to the claims of Jesus, as the true Christ.The law was made an incessant weapon of aMaultupon Jesus, being disingenuously perverted to thesupport of that corrupt morality and those inhumandistinctions between brethren, which he stedfastly [ 45 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.denounced. The scribe and the Pharisee, whosat in the seat of Moses and enjoyed the highesthonors of the nation, maintained their place andauthority by a zealous profession of regard for theMosaic law and .institutions, so that he who criti-cised the temper of their nue, always found himselfdexterously tripped up as the enemy of Moses andthe prophets, and so exposed to popular prejudiceaed hatred. It is an infernal game, and is playedas heartily though not so successfully in this dayas in that when it nailed Jesus to the accursed tree.For he fell a victim to nothing but this cantingconservatism, the conservatism of a set of men who,in his own words, laid grievous and intolerableburdens on the shoulders of other people, but fortheir own part never touched a finger to them. Jesus and his apostles, then, looked this speciouspretence of the successors of Moses, full in the face.They said, "Yes, the laws and institutions of Mosesare good, but you have made them of no effect,have made them utterly worthless by your tradi-tions. For the law of Moses breathes nothing butperfect good-will to all mankind. It denouncesevery species of injustice and oppression betweenman and man. Yet you do not hesitate to makeuse of this humane and peaceful law, to originateand foment the most arrogant and unjust distino- [ 46 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.tiona between yourselves and others. To be sureyou reply very glibly, that these others are sinners,inasmuch as they break the law, while you arerighteous, inasmuch as you keep it, and that youare therefore justified in exalting yourselves abovethem. But this is a fatal mistake. For the law isnot kept unless you keep it in spirit. You may beblameless in every literal commandment it enjoins,and yet if this obedience be accompanied by aspirit of contempt or unkindneolS towards thosewho do not keep it, you violate it in spirit muchmore flagrantly than they do whom you foolishlydenounce as sinners. These very persons them-selves, the objects of your contempt and hatred,are spiritually much better affected to the law than you are, inasmuch as the modest man is more humane than the haughty one, or as he to whom much is forgiven, loves more than he who feels himself above forgiveness. Thus the law itself of which you boast refuses to give you shelter, and points you out in fact as its most signal scandal" Here it was, and here alone, that we find Jesus alleging any contrariety between God and man. It was only when confronting the Pharisaic or sectarian man, the man who trusted in himself that he was righteous and despised others, that we find him denouncing the divine vengeance. And [ 47 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.you see at a glance how necessarily he must de-nounce it in that direction, how in the exact ratioof his humanitary sympathies he must have detestedthe pride, which could find an argument of its ownelevation in the degradation of another. For herewas a law every word of which expressed a perfectlove for mankind, a law which covered all therelations of man to man, not even omitting his re-lations to the dumb animals which did him service,and then forbade everything ~e injustice or o}}-preBBion in any of these relations. It was a lawprescribing the nicest and exactest justice betweeneach and all men: and hence the spirit of it, theintention of it, the t~mper of it, could only be aspirit or temper of perfect love. But as the lawconfessedly came from God, of course its spirit mustbe the spirit of God. With what face thereforecould they claim to be Gods children, or what isthe same thing, partakers of his spirit, who habi-tually regarded the law as a ground of distinctionover others, and so perverted it to the service ofevery vain and malignant lust. Such persons wererather the children of the devil or the very oppo-site of God, and would find themselves foreverexcluded from his kingdom when it came. I recently attended the obsequies of a friend,who was not technically a member of the church, [ 48 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.but who nevertheless I believe had a great tradi-tional respect for it. The minister made prayer,the especial burden of which was that God "wouldgive the survivors a realizing sense of sin." Nopetition met my ear, nor any shadow of petition,that we might outgrow this puerile fear of death,and look upon its pompous ceremonial as a solemncheat, but merely the iterate and reiterate desirethat we might have "a profound conviction of oursinfulness in Gods sight, and might cordially viewourselves as miserable offenders," etc., etc. Suchwas the sole tenor of the exercises both precatoryand hortatory. Meanwhile a sullen gloom investedthe assembly, and the face of the unconsciouscorpse, over which had gathered an expression ofcomely and placid repose amounting almost tosweetness, alone shone responsive to the hopefultexts of holy ~t, which ever and anon gemmedthe dismal night of the burial-service. The faceof the dead seemed actually to beam a soft rebukeupon the Surpliced infidelity which gave it socheerless a requiem. Surely the conspicuou,s purpose of Christs mi&-sion was to discharge man of a conscience ofsin, and I cannot withhold my amazement there-fore at the audacity which asks in his name acontinuance, much more an aggravation of this [ 49 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOWGY.conscience. I know not indeed how I could contrivea more flagrant insult to the memory of Jesus thanto suppose his glory needing to be enhanced bythe contrast of my shame. This is thQ very tem-per which in our sane moments we ascribe to thedevil, and which accordingly when detected inourselves, we at once remit to him. Can we notdo better then, than attribute to Jesus the centraltrait of his great adveraary 1 I read over his his-tory from beginning to end, and I find a depth ofhuman tenderness in it which I cannot find in anyother life of man, and which fills me with an emu-lation so salutary as to give me a fellow-feelingeven with the worm of the dust. Why, the vilestof the vile came to this man as the babe comes toits mother, fearing no rebuke, expecting indeedthe milk of an unprecedented consolation. It wasonly this which gave him his divine charm, thathe opened up a realm of peace in man, where thethunders of conscience where never heard, andwhere the arrows of a superstitious and inhumanfaith fell powerless. He spake as no man spakebefore, nor scarcely since, in that he revealed alife to which sin and infirmity were all unknown, because it exhibited the infinite and finite-God and man-in intimate unity. Take away this majesty from Jesus, take away the revelation and [ 50 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.ratification he offered of the souls deepest life, andyou take away all his distinctive power, all thepower which he does not share with every punymoralist that ever chattered, with every pettypolice magistrate that ever consigned a felon tothe galloWs. I do not hesitate to say that the most inefface-able conviction of every human soul, is that of itsinward righteousness, its own intimate alliance withGod, whatever be the outward defilement it hascontracted. Noone not an idiot justifies himselfoutwardly, or pretends that his outward relationsare by any means equal to his· aspirations. Nosensible man feels that his circumstances befit theideal he worships. Nor, while the race of manpeoples the earth, will anyone I presume accounthimself fully to have actualized his ideal: for atthat rate the process of life would confess itselfstopped. But every man affirms his inward right-eousness, and clings to it with a tenacity which allthe forces of the universe intensify. The duties we impose upon ourselves towardsGod and man are a standing proof of thi~ habit,are a standing evidence of our inward worth, forwhence do they derive their force, their obligatori-ness, but from the soul? Why do you not blamethe animal, or call him a siMer 1 Because being [ 1>1 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.destitute of an inward selfhood, you acquit him ofself-respect, or of having the control of his ownactions. But because man has this inward being,or acts from himself, you expect him to do rightlywithout any outward compulsion. Hence youblush at the mention of reward for doing yourduty, because reward would imply that the dutywas done without the souls delight. So too the self-prostration and denial which a manexhibits under the operation of the ritual religioussentiment, is in every case an expression of hisinmost and vital self-repose. If he really believedhimself the morsel of meanness his confessionsindicate-if he really believed that God saw himin the abhorrent guise under which he is pleasedto paint himself-he would instantly wither andshrivel as a plant whose roots are imbedded infrost. He would vanish into instant unconscious-ness. No, these elaborate confessions are natureB mildresource against an infantile or sensuous theology. Our infantile theology, in identifying us with the outward or finite life, identifies us with all the ignorance, all the folly, all the vice and unclean- ness that mark the early stages of .that life. It does not say to us, "Your true life, your real self- hood is from God, is divine, and can take no con- [ 52 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY. tamination from this lower life by which it is merely seeking to manifest itself." On the contrary it says that this lower life, so replete with baseness, so simply pas...~ve, is our inseparable life, and that God views us therefore with abhorrence, and rejects us from all alliance with himself. A. very pretty temper of mind, for men to ascribe to the fountain. of all perfection! God angry with a person for being empty of all goodness, of all knowledge, of all power! Angry with a person for not displaying His own exclusiveattributes, a person too, whom He himself summons into existence, and who there- fore is completely dependent upon Himself for all that he has been, is, or shall be! What incredible petulance! What incredible inhumanity to ascribe to God! I would rather be a pagan suckled in a creed outworn, than such a Christian. I would renounce my own father as cheerfully as I would eat my daily bread, did I conceive him capable of a petty malignity like this. A.nd yet I should be infinitely ashamed to assign any original virtue to my father, to assign him any virtue which was not very purely though faintly typical of the divine. It is in order therefore I repeat to escape thetrammels of this lisping theology, that our .divineinstincts set us upon the construction of a pietisticrighteousness. When our creeds shut us up in [ 53 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOWGY.nature, and remorselessly subject us to her doom,the souls unconquerable instinct bids us constructa righteousness out of the acknowledgment of thesevery truths, and look upon ourselves as justified ifnot by morality at least by piety, if not by ouracts of virtue, why then at least by our humilityand self-abasement on these accounts before God.For the soul disclaims the imputation of evil as.the azure depths of heaven disclaim the clouds.The clouds are born of and belong to the earthalone. They may indeed obscure the heavens fora while to earthly sight, but we have only to liftup the eye of science, to discern a stainless ether,and a repose incapable of perturbation. So thesoul of man sheds the stain of evil, making itattach only to his outward and transient and cir-cumferential self, which self accordingly he dailydisciplines and renounces from the ground of acentral purity. In fact the bare confession of awrong action, whenever genuine, is a tacit assertionof the subjects general righteo~ess, for he canonly feel the action to be wrong by virtue of itscontrariety to his habitual spirit. If the actionhad not been exceptional with him, if it had beenhabitual to him, he could not have sincerely dis-approved it, for no man could live, believing theOTdinary tenor of his life to be wrong. [ 54 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY. So fares it then with the old Sectarianism! Itutterly misconceives the mission of Christ in sup-posing it to imply the degradation of humanity, oran e&lential antagonism between God and man.Instead of affirming the testimonies of science, andvindicating as mans unquestionable birthright everyaccession of dignity and power thence accruing tohim, it seeks to perpetuate that legal separationbetween God and man which Christ annulled, byendowing this same Christ with an eternal literality,and so imposing him as another outward law uponhumanity. The effect of this teaching is to inflameinstead of mitigate hostile relations between Godand man. For it is not possible that any pe~ncan permanently interpose between them in theway of holding them united, save upon the tacitconvention that the parties thus conjoined areintrinsically unworthy of each others confidence.God and man stand in the relation of creator andcreature, of fountain and stream, and therefore tosuppose any foreign intervention requisite to en-force their perfect amity, is simply to falsify thetotal truth of their relation. Such being the main defect of the ritual church,it is bound either to assume an advanced positionon this vital topic, or else decline before the lightof science as a farthing candle declines in the blaze [ 56 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY. of the mid-day sun. Among us it is wisely accom- modating itself to the new spirit. For the ascend- ancy of the democratic principle here modifies theology not less than other things. Having no establishment, our clergy cannot contro~ but must always follow, the popular inspiration, unless in- deed they become teachers of science, in which case of course their eminent position would no longer be merely typical but real. Hence the tendency we perceive on all hands towards Congregationalism or the throwing off ecclesiastical responsibility, and the recognition of the individual consciousness in religion. The same tendency is seen in Europe inthe spread of the "voluntary principle," and theintestine commotion which is rending both theRoman and English churches asunder. N or, Itake it, will the tendency halt until it becomeswallowed ,up in the distinctive genius of that newand better economy, call it Church or call it State,which is properly the unity and fulfilment of both,for its function is to bring down heaven to earth,or what is the same thing, to sanctify the secularlife of man. [ 156 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY. PART II.EVERY attentive reader of the gospels will have remarked, that the controversy between Jesus and his antagonists, was a controversy be- tween the most enlarged humanity on one side, and a well-established orthodoxy on the other. The battle which he fought, was the battle of universal man against the principalities and powers of this world, who sought to make humanity a stepping-stone to their exaltation. It was not as commonly reported, a battle between God on the one side and man on the other: for the Christinvariably declared God to be the unchangeablefriend of man, infinitely more ready to shew himfavor than man was to ask it. It was a battlebetween God considered to be thus friendly touniversal man, on the one side, and a set of men,or rather a nation of men, on the other side, whoarrogated His special friendship to themselves, onthe ground of a certain ritual righteousness whichdistinguished them from the rest of mankind. In fact, the doctrine of the Christ is nothingmore and nothing less than a. revelation of the [ fj7 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.essential unity of God and man. He acknowledgedno other mission than the vindication of humanityfrom the stigrria of unrighteousness before God, noother joy than to persuade the conventionally vilestof men of the infinite righteousness he had in God.No matter what the occasion may have been, youfind him invariably identifying himself with theinterests of the most enlarged humanity, and readyto sacrifice every private tie which in any wayinvolved a denial of the universal brotherhood ofthe race. But what is the use of dwelling on thepoint 1 Every one who reads the scripture fororiginal instruction, and not merely for the confir-mation of some traditionary opinion, recognizes inJesus the God-anointed champion of humanityagainst established injustice and superstition. If then the mission of the Christ claimed thishumanitary character, we may be very sure thatthe sovereign touchstone of his church will be itspossession of the same spirit. We may be verysure that the interests of humanity will occupy thefirst place with it, and personal or private interestsa very subordinate place. Suppose then we apply this test to the existingor sectarian church: we shall at once discover itscomplete destitution of the spirit of Christ. Instead.of a zeal for humanity in it, you perceive only a [ 68 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.zeal for the person of Jesus himself. In fact, as Ishewed on a former occasion, the church makesJesus under the name of a mediator, a perpetualbarrier to the cordial intercourse of God and man.Let me make this charge plain by an example.Suppose me, then, influenced by the ~raditions andcustoms of the society in which I live, to apply toany of our clergy for the benefits of church com-mUnIon. He thereupon proceeds to question meas to my fitness, and in the course of his inquiryseeks above all to be satisfied on this point, namely,whether I am willing to receive the divine blessingonly for the sake or through the merits of JesusChrist. He tells me that God abhors me person-ally, and will not look upon me apart from Jesus.He is not content to tell me what Christ himselftells, that there is no such thing as merit in Godssight, or any ground of boasting in one man overothers, since all goodness comes from God. Farfrom it! A doctrine like this would prostrate thewall of separation between the church and theworld, giving the latter despised personage in facta very fair chance of salvation. But he is verycareful to tell me what Christ does not tell me,namely, that God entertains a personal aversion tome, that I am in fact in my natural person intoler-ably odious to him, and can expect no particle of [ 59 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY. favor at his hands whioh is not purchased by the expiatory sufferings of J esuB. This is the essential rallying point of orthodoxy, and accordingly if my memory prove well-posted up here, my way istolerably clear to church-membership. Now you perceive from this example that ortho- doxy here interposes a third person between Godand my soul, between my life-fountain and myself.It does not merely give me the pith or philosophicsubstance of the doctrine concerning the Christ, toenlarge my knowledge of the divine perfection,but it represents this identical person who livedand died near two thousand years ago, as stillstanding in bodily form lietween God and myself,and modifying every instinctive impulse felt byeither party towards the other. Such is the exactpretension of orthodoxy in behalf of Jesus Christ.He exhausts the worth of human nature, 80 thatno man created by God can ever appear tolerableto God, unless shining with his reflected lustre. Itis a dry personal pretension, wholly unrelieved,wholly unenriched, by ideas. That is, I am nottold of a universal or humanitary meaning underthis Jewish fact, for the sake of which meaning itis worth my while to cherish the memory of thefact. By no means. The fact is left in its nakedhistorical detail; is held to be of a purely private [ 60 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.or personal significance; is held in truth to be anexceptional fact to the whole history of the race.Nothing similar or second to it h88 ever takenplace. Other men have died, and there W88 anend of their personal consequence, an end to theirpersonal relations with men in the flesh. But thisman is represented 88 a still living person, 88 puttingforth a claim upon the obedience of living men sopurely persona~ and therefore arbitrary or irra-tional, as to confess itself backed by the alternativeof endless suffering. Such is the sum of orthodoxy, the setting up apersonal pretension. Instead of abiding the testtherefore of a conformity to the spirit of Christ, tothat spirit of humanity which animated all hislabors, that spirit of peace on earth and good willto all men which W88 exhibited 88 much in hiscondemnation of the Pharisee 88 in his clemencyto the publican; it completely violates it by con-verting Jesus into a monster of self-seeking, andturning all the grace of the gospel into a mereargument of his personal supremacy. It representsthe whole benificent work of the Christ to havebeen undertaken with a view to his own ultimateglory. Whatever mercy may have been in it, noone shall reap the benefit of it without an entireprostration of his personal will to that of J esU8. [ 61 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY. For mercy was not the end of the work, it was only the means to an end, which end was the establishing his personal empire over the human mind. It is extraordinary that sectarianism does not observe the complete contradiction it offers the gospel, by this stupid personal idolatry of the Christ. Nothing but the blinding force of preju-. dice studiously fostered explains it. For suppose I should go to-morrow to any of our churches, commending the temper of a certain man, who, having at much inconvenience to himself, rescued a little child from drowning, should thereupon claim the childs future personal service, on pain of heavy suffering: would not their God-given intelligence instantly pronounce the mans temper diabolic, and absolve them of any emotion towards him but that of hearty disgust 1 Yet how incon- sistent all this would be! For this is the precise temper our orthodox standards ascribe to the Christ. They represent him as at first doing usa signal favor, but then as taking advantage of our grati- tude, to bind us to his unlimited personal service under pain of unspeakable suffering. Certainly nothing can be more inhuman than this pretension. It outrages every instinct of hu- manity, to ascribe perfection to a person who claims [ 62 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.my worship under penalty of death, under penaltyof everlasting misery. It is a purely diabolic claim,which all humanity disowns with loathing andcontempt. In fact orthodoxy lives the little lifeyet left it only by a dexterous appeal to the sen-suous imagination, only by flattering the instinctsof a low prudence or expediency. Contemning thespirit of humanity, all that is best and loveliest inhumanity disowns it. It holds no longer the ghostof a sceptre in its shrivelled and trembling clutch.The whole business of the world transacts itselfwithout it. Look at any of the great theatres onwhich the drama of life is enacting, say the AmericanCongress, or the British HoUBe of Commons. Doesany sign appear that God is not in direct relationwith the interests there discussed, that He is onlyremotely concerned with the immense issues thereevolving? Does not every man there feel that inadvocating the truth he perceives, and demolishingveteran prejudice and error, he is fighting Godsbattle aB directly aB it WaB ever fought on earth?Suppose anyone to arise on any of these arellaB tointerpose a bit of formal theology: would it notact like the touch of a torpedo, palsying the entirelife of the Assembly? Now in no propriety ofs~ech can God be styled the author of palsies,because He is the source of life, and hence that [ 63 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.must be a very inverse manifestation of His truth,whose invariable effect would be to paralyze thehonest business of the world. But every private man in the tenor of his dailylife, registers his practical contempt of orthodoxy.No man goes to market, goes upon change, entershis study, invites his friend to dinner, educates hischildren, even pays for his pew in church, or sendshis parson a Christmas turkey, believing that Godis indifferent to his way of doing these things,and sees him altogether by proxy. No! the mostorthodox professor in town refutes his professionevery hour and every instant, by ~Piring to directrelation with Deity, or what is the same thing,endeavoring to shape his conduct according to thedictates of perfect wisdom. Every man practicallyaffirms the reality of his own life, and whetherreligious or profane expects you to suffer if youseriously diminish his enjoyment of it. The proxyrelation of God to him never enters his head saveby an effort of memory, and can never becomeconsubstantiate with his intellect any more than astone taken into his stomach can become consub-stantiate with his blood. The doctrinal changes also taking place withinthe sects themselves, once the strongholds of Cal-vinism, in announcing the decrepitude of sectarian [ 64 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY. Christianity, announce also that the field is pro- gressively clearing for the great final controversy between humanity on the one hand as represented by science, and spiritual despotism in high places on the other, as represented by the Roman Church,and its principle of outward authority. The Churchof EI,lgland is becoming roused even before oureyes to shake off every vestige of this clingingabomination, and assert the inherent superiority ofman to ecclesiastical domination. The doctrinesof grace, as they were once called by that subtileirony wherewith nature manages to christen everyfalse pretension, are completely exploded in .allthe length and breadth of New England. Andthe Presbyterian Church in our midst is alreadydivided betweell the old and new faith, one halfcontending for the sinners unlimited ability torepent whenever he pleases, thus slyly affirmingthe intrinsic dignity of human nature. For it isabsurd to suppose anyone capable of repenting ofthe evil he has done, unless his heart be reallyuncontaminated by it. Such then is the condition of the old Sectarian-ism. It is without a living root, without any theleast basis in the private or public necessities ofhumanity. It has indeed a certain visible estab-lishment, a certain tangible personality III the [ 65 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.number of dependents who at present derive aliving from it: men of estimable characler nodoubt, and well entitled to be heard in defence ofa parent who at least is no way niggardly to them.Of course I except these interests. So far as theyare concerned the church has yet a function in theearth, a function however inherited from the pastBut apart from that it is a total impertinence, atotal irrelevancy to humanity. Professing to beidentified with the vital and universal interests ofman, it allows the whole current of his aspirationsand thoughts, almost the entire sweep of his legis-lation and action, to avert themselves from it, andis obliged to put up with the tribute of a brief andextremely formal Sunday recognition. The prime mark then of a true church, will beits conformity to the spirit of Christ, its regard tothe great humanitary end he had in view, ratherthan the promotion of his mere personal conse-quence. Every modest man disdains personalhomage. No modest man desires to be regardedin any other light than as a minister or servant ofthat divine Humanity which tabernacles in all menequally though variously, and which therefore for-bids all personal supremacies, all private boasting.What could be more abhorrent to your feelings,what crucifixion more poignant, than to find a [ 66 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.crowd of persons about your steps every day, solici-tous t.o worship you, or to do your bidding simplybecause it was yours 1 Would you not feel theincessant insult, the incessant betrayal, offered tothat divinity which was common to you both, andindignantly spurn therefore a homage implyingyour votarys degradation 1 To be sure you would,if you have any spark of manly modesty in yoP,if your bosom has ever known an emotion of thattrue humility which springs from an acknowledg-ment of the sole being of God. Why then offer such a homage to the memoryof Jesus, to whom it is particularly preposteroussince he disclaimed on all occasions the pursuitof his own glory. He came to do the will of theuniversal Father, and surely it cannot be his willthat one brother should enjoy the servile and syco-phantic devotion of all the rest. What sort ofbrotherhood is that which stands in the perpetualand enforced subordination of one to another1 Andwhat sort of paternity would that be which toleratedfor a moment such a fraternity 1 The mussulmanexclaims fifty times a day, Great is Allah, andMahomet is his Prophet! Do you suppose thissort of recognition agreeable to a true humanitarysaint, like Jesus? Do you suppose it pleases himto hear you say Lord, Lord, day by day and year [ lJ7 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.after year, and yet persistently fail to do the thingshe spiritually commands to be done, namely, theunloosing of every yoke, the disuse of superstition,the abolition of poverty, of disease, of sin, in shortthe satisfaction of every human want 1 If so, thenmy friend, let me assure you that no service everoffered to any Egyptian task-master was ever sopoorly paid, as yours is going to be at the handsof this same Jesus. For remem~er that he distincily and on all occa,.sions made the humanitary temper of his followersthe sole test of discipleship, the sole principle ofdiscrimination to be observed on that great daywhen he should come again in a1l his paternal gloryto separate between the sheep and the goats. Youwill easily recall the very impressive passage inMatthews gospel, where he represents himself as ashepherd dividing the Rheep from the goats, anddescribes the consternation of his professed followersin being cast out of his kingdom, because under avery sincere and bustling devotion to his personalglory, they had masked an utter insensibility to hisspirit, had utterly failed to honor him because theyhad not honored equally the humblest of men. Notthose he says who call him Lord, or confess himpersonally, but they who do the will of God, or co~­fess him spiritually, shall be accepted in that day. [ 68 1
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY. Think of that, professing Christians, you whohave been wont to esteem yourselves the onlyfriends of Christ, and to pity the poor Hottentotand South Sea Islander as outcasts from his know-ledge; it is you who are going into everlastingcontempt, not they. It is you who shall weep andgnash your teeth to find yourselves excluded fromthe divine kingdom, and every despicable anddishonored thing admitted. How often have Iheard our thoughtless clergy read this passage, andothers of like import, and then go on to apply itsdenunciations to the h1Ulot, the thief, the drunkard,or other obvious and conceded reprobate. Theyare extremely fond of doing this, extremely fondof representing Christ as peculiarly pitiless notmerely towards the reprobate portion of the com-munity, but towards the reputable classes also whodo not make a profession of serving him. Theyrepresent the business of Christ upon earth to havebeen to get himself honored, to build up a greatname, and accordingly are lavish of threats towardsall those who feel no interest in that enterprise.Verily they have had their reward! Never since the world has stood was a fair famemore outraged than that of Jesus has been byecclesiastical usage. Look at his gospel. Do youfind the slightest token there of his having any [ 69 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.quarrel with the conceded sinner 1 Does not hiswhole quarrel lie on the contrary with the concededsaint, with him who in the eyes of all men wasrighteous 1 Do you find him on any occasionpromising to honor those who made much of hisperson-promising to favor those who should callthemselves by his name 1 On the contrary doeshe not, whenever looking forward to his second orspiritual coming, pronounce that profession or call-ing the one thing odious and dangerousl Trulyit is so. His whole controversy is repre~ntedas lying with his professing followers, those whoprofess to be the children of God. He had noquarrel in his first coming but with those whoprofessed to be Gods people par excellence, anddespised the claims of others. So also he representshimself at his second coming as having no quarrelbut with those who under the profession of honor-ing him, have only heaped upon him all manner ofpersonal adulation, all manner of interested personalsycophancy. How should it be otherwise 1 Howshould the true Christ or anointed of God, themessenger of the universal Father, entertain anyquarrel with mankind at large 1 Why, you per-haps may ~ay, mankind at large is vicious anddebauched; mankind at large is overrun with foullustll of murder, avarice, revenge, lying, and so [ 70 )
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.forth. Granted: but do you conceive this state of things to constitute a just casus beUi, a justground of anger on the part of God 1 I, for my part, do not. It seems to me that only a very dubious Godwould feel anger under these circumstances. TheGod who owned mankind it appears to me, couldfeel under these circumstances no other emotionthan that of the tenderest pity, and an instantresolve to do all He possibly could for their relief,or improvement. At all events such was the atti-tude invariably ascribed to the God and Father ofthe Lord Jesus Christ, by his illustrious son andservant. According to him God had no otherfeeling but infinite compassion for the vilest ofreprobates, no other feeling but infinite scorn forthe sanctity that deemed itself comparatively ac-ceptable to Him. Gods quarrel is never with thesin of mankind, but only with its righteousness.Sin offers no obstruction to the advent of Hisrighteousness. But if men are already righteous,they need no nghteousnpss of Hia bestowal. Thewhole need not a physician, but only they thatare sick. You cannot conceive this point too .sharply.The one thing which God hates is never the sin ofmankind, but only its righteousness. For its sin [ 71 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY. is a.lways remediable; but its righteousness never. If ye were blind ye should /w,ve IW sin,. but1WW ye say we S88 ,. therefare your sin remaineth. Perhaps you will refer me to many passages ofthe scripture wherein God is represented by hisprophets and messengers as denouncing sin. U~­doubtedly, but always the sins of his professingpeople, in order to prove them not his people.The scriptures show the design of God from thebeginning to have been, io be glorified in humanity,to be revealed as one with universal man, and todisown therefore any s.pecial progeny. Thus itexhibits Him throughout as utterly exhausting andshaming the pretensions of any particular peopleto be cons~dered his in any sense wherein otherswere not his. Instead of a blessing therefore, thereligious preeminence of any nation has been aninvariable curse to it, as involving mental stateswhich demand implacable judgments. It is afearful thing to be self-called to the service of theHighest, or what is the same .thing, to aspire to anearness of communion such as others. may notboast. Farewell in such case hours. of ease andsweet domestic bliss, and welcome only laboriousdays, days of cruel privation .to nature, of cruelblight to all her soft endearments, of utter deathin fact to all her blooming and varied life! Look [ 72 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.at the Jew, that touching monument of religiousconst~cy, that riven and blasted column toweringstill above all time to shew how deceitful is thefavor of the gods. Certainly the day will come whenaccording to old prophecy the Jew shall be es-teemed humanitys tmest soldier: when the thanksof all heart.l shall be given him for that long nightof ignominy and sorrow he has endured, standingalone in the breach between God and man, callingupon God to hear him and be faithful, while Godremains forever inflexible and pitiless, as knowing noother way to help man than through man himself The ch4rch of the Future then, or the spiritualchurch, will know Christ no more after the flesh.It will treat all those questions touching his perso-nal character and endowments, all those questionsthe object of which is to postulate for him a superiorintrinsic worth to all other men, as the merestgossip, and plant itself instead only upon his repre-sentative or humanitary significance. It will indeedknow no man any more in his mere outward anddifferential character, in those respects wherein hestands finited by his own body and his fellow-man;but only in his inward and ideal character, in thoserespects wherein he stands infinited, or freed fromall outward law, by the spirit and power of theliving God. [ 73 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY. Thus, the true church, or what is better, Godstrue life in man, will vacate all ritual worship, suchworship as is prescribed by the will of anothermerely, and does not spring from the heart of theworshipper. Ritual worship is essentially dramatic,has always an end outside of itself, never expressesthe real desire of the heart, but simply the interesteddeference of one will to another. It is essentiallyservile or mercenary, reflecting not the assured lifeof the votary, not his fulness of joy and peace, buthis present destitution of life, and his hope of even-tually realizing it through the bounty of another.It is a price we pay either to purchase a favor notyet granted, or else to secure one already received,and is therefore by its very nature altogether pru-dential Thus if you go into any of our churches,you find everywhere immense stress laid upon therites which Christ or his apostles are variouslyalleged to have enjoined upon our observance,such as baptism, the Lords supper, a demure beha-vior on Sundays, regular attendance upon publicworship, and habits of private prayer; and youwill be informed how important it is for you toobserve this ritual, if you would not have yourname left unwritten in the book of life. Thus theargument by which the worship is enforced, is neverits adaptation either to your natural affections or [ 74 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY. your taste, but exclusively its bearing upon yourfuture destiny. But if the coming church, the coming life, thus vacates ritual worship, it will also vacate ritualrighteousness, or that sort of righteoUsness whichflows from ritual obedience. In the expiring church the highest title to consideration lies in a devout habit, a habit of devotion to some will above onesown. In that church no sanctity is so venerated,as that which consists in an address and behaviorscrupulously designed to please some other partythan the subject himself, namely God, practicallyconsidered not as the friend of man endowing himwith all ~hings, but as his enemy, exacting a certaintribute on pain of endless excoriation. Hence thevery highest sanctity may be compassed in thatchurch, and has often been compassed, by men ofthe moirt. truculent character, men of so little sweet-ness either natural or acquired, that you wouldwonder at any divine power pretending to savethem, men of pride and sleepless ambition, withevery lust starved down to ferocity, and held inchain like so many hounds, ready to spring forthwhen the hour of deliverance sounded, and run riotover the universe of creation. This is too true. The very highest ritual right-eousness consists with-I am very far indeed from [ 75 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.saying that it is generally accompanied by-a heartof impenetrable hardness, an intellect of the utmosttenuity, and a life of complete selfishness. I haveknown distinguished fathers and mothers in ourChristian )srael whose presence was like mildewupon flowers, and who sent you away with thefeeling of having been defrauded of half your vitalelectricity. They were fathers that begot nothingbut their own vapid arrogance, and mothers thatsuckled nothing more tender than their own strap-ping self-conceit. For there is nothing humanizing-nothing elevating-in personal devotion, afteryou reach a certain stage of culture in the race. It is well for me when my will is purely sensual or devilish-when it insists upon over-riding every- thing to compass a momentary gratification-when in short I am an. infant in culture and manifest the disposition of an infant-then it is well for me to obey the will of a superior. Devotion then is, both profitable and honorable. And in the earliest periods of human history accordingly we see it most abounding. But when Art is fairly born, when nature has begun to evince her cordial subjection to man, and men perceive in themselves a depth of divine re- sources which infallibly engenders self-respect, they then begin to perceive an essential contrariety [ 76 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.between the worship which God approves and thatapproved by men, between that worship whichsprings up spontaneously in the soul, and legiti-mates or seeks every living form of expression,and that which is prescribed by tradition and en-forced only by considerations of future profit andloss. They perceivethat this devotion to the willof another person-this devotion to God consideredas an outside and therefore finite person-wasadapted only to a very sensuous and puerile de-velopment of life, when they were incapable ofself-control, and were held consequently in bondageto the beggarly elements of this worlds wisdom, inbondage to tutors and governors, and chains, and dungeons, and gibbets, and all the other machinery of brute force which still disfigures the earth. They perceive too that this devotion kept pace always with a very faulty behavior! that they were never so assiduous at church, or at prayer-meeting, or other technical channel of grace, as when they had been driving an exceedingly close bargain with their neighbor, or behaving with some other pecu- liar obliquity, which suggested their desert of a good whipping. Their devotional zeal in fact was always in the exact measure of the baseness they attributed to themselves. Thus they perceive that this ritual worship is adapted only to the sensuous [ 77 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.and servile mind, only to that period of humandevelopment when appetite and passion are in-flamed by compression, by the want of propergratification, when genius is still undeveloped ordormant, and when self-respect consequently liesconcealed within the rude husks of an Ishmaelitishself-will. It is impossible when men begin to apprehendthat God is a spirit, and that his kingdom accord-ingly is exclusively within them, that they shouldnot speedily dismiss that sanctity which stands inmeats and drinks, and the observance of sabbathsand baptisms and sacraments. When I perceiveGod to be no longer a mere outside and finite per-80n, but the very life of my life, more inseparablefrom my inmost self than my soul is from mybody; when I perceive that neither height nordepth, neither the highest heavens nor the lowesthells have power to sever me from his profuse andbenignant presence, it seems a purely superfluousand therefore ridiculous thing, to attempt com-mending myself to him by any thing I Can do,especially by any thing I can do in the way offavorably differencing myself from other persons.I am profoundly ashamed of such differences. Ihurry them out of sight with palpitating haste,lest the great God behold and spue me out of His [ 78 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.mouth for thinking to purchlli3e His.priceless bounty,for deeming that His Holy Ghost may be boughtand sold. How sad it is to witness the complacency withwhich the sectarian heaps up his family-worship,his private devotions, his social concerts of prayer,his Sunday exercises, fancying full surely that thusand not otherwise does ones soul fatten for theskies. Of course sincerity always attracts yourrespect wherever it appears: but if superstitionmean the worship of that of which one is ignorant,where can we find it in livelier play than here 1Would one ever dream that this man was worship-ping the giver of life 1 Would it not rather seemthat he was worshipping the withholder of it, fromwhom nevertheless he was resolved one day toextract it by the irresistible forceps of prayer 1And how more than sad is it to witness the way inwhich our sectarian newspapers exploit this igno-rance, and fill their coffers week after week bypandering to every virulent form of Pharisaism.It was but the other day I encountered in one ofthem, a remark of this nature in an article onamusements. I am answerable for the language,but the sentiment is strictly preserved. "Wouldyou like, dear reader, to die in a ball-room ortheatre 1 Would you like to go up meeting your [ 79 ]
  • TliE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.Judge, arrayed in the garments of profane pleasure,with a jest upon your lip, and a heart full of fren-zied mirth 1" Of course for the comfort of the thing, one wouldwish to die neither in a theatre nor a church, norany other public place, but at home under the eyeof his familiar friends. But for the morality of thething, I do not see why one should meet God lesscMerfully in a ball-dress than in a shroud. If Godbe really the great human heart which He claimsto be, and which at bottom all men worship, I seeno reason to suppose Him discriminating betweenListon and Whitfield, between sock and surplice,between fools cap and mitre. Does this virtualdefamer of the divine Humanity suppose Godcapable of insulting a taste which He himselfimplants, the taste for amusement, even for themost frolicksome and unrestrained amusement tooupon occasion 1 Does he suppose God so essentiallytreacherous, as to allow a poor dependent creatureof His own to visit a place, in which it would com-promise his everlasting welfare to die, and then cut him off there like a forlorn rat in a trap 1 Is the God of our worship then after all of a feline instead of a human quality, and does the highest religious performance lie in watching and dodging him like a mere grimalkin 1 Is it the aim of the [ 80 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY. sectarian always to escape the divine hand, and never to fall into it 1 Conceptions like these, how- ever Christian they may be in name, are at bottom only a baptized Paganism. Surely a man should be ashamed to worship a being of inferior quality to himself. Surely he should be ashamed to wor- ship anything short of essential and perfect Man. I know not how the current Pharisaism affects you, my hearer, but I, who poBBibly have been more familiar with it, and have known its deadly power to BOW discord between man and his inmost life, hate it as I hate the obscene jaws of hell In the exact ratio of one~s faith in Gods unsullied love, must be his loathing of the way in which itis daily and devoutly blasphemed by these untir-ing caterers to popular bigotry and cant. Ratherthan that our children should grow up to theinheritance of these falsities, rather than that theirfair souls should be warped and defaced by theseinsanities, it were a thousand times better that thevery name of God-no longer symbolic of peaceand hope for man, but only of his degradation anddespair-should be forgotten, and that of the Lord,or perfect man, alone held in reverence. But even here let us strive to do no injustice.It is not the fault of the worshipper that he offerssuch base incense to Deity. It is the fault only of [ 81 ] 7
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.the sensuous and unscientific conceptions of Deityin which he has been nourished from infancy.The traditional religion of man, the natural Pagan-ism of the heart, still represents God as he stoodpictured to the earliest and rudest imagination ofthe race, not as a spirit of irifinite and universalgoodness and beauty-for upon the early earthwhere were goodness and beauty to be seen 1-butas a person like ourselves, finited by a corporealorganization, and having all our own wants overagain, only infinitely intensified in degree. Nowone cannot worship God in this personal aspect,and long preserve the lineaments of manhood. Ifyou make mans homage due to a person, nomatter whether you call that person God or man,you consign man to spiritual slavery, which isdeath. For the very meaning of spiritual life, thevery meaning of that life wherein man excels thebrute, and which is therefore properly called thehuman life, is that it proceeds from within towithout, that it has no outward object or source,but only an inward one. If therefore you conceiveof the spiritual subject as living to any outwardobject, as obeying· any law but that of his ownspontaneity, as being obliged to consult the willof any other person before he acts or speaks, it isevident that you so far forth deny his spirituality, [ 82 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY. and bring him back to the base bondage of Nature. He must in that case inevitably cherish the spirit, and betray the manners of a slave, not the easy, careless jollity of the negro, whose master is for- bidden by his own interests to exact anything but a. limited obedience, but the sad and cowering and morlified demeanor of one who obeys a will which is infurite, and which exacts therefore a consuming devotion. But I have been digressing. The coming church, as I have shewn you, will disallow all ritual righteousness, all that base figura- tive righteousness which stands in an interested or servile devotion to the will of another, or flows from foreign prescription. It will disallow all that righteousness which has any respect to the mere personal will of Jesus or Mahomet, of Vishnu or Confucius, and recognize only that which consists in every form of beautiful action, and which flows simply from being a man. The question was once asked by him whom the expiring church professes to honor, What shall a man give in exchange for his soul1-as if the possession of his soul were. cheaply purchased by the loss of all things beside. Yet the old church treats the human soul as if it were a superfluity, as if it were of no account in comparison with mere bodily joys. For you will observe that although ill terms they admit the [ 83 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.worth of the soul and propose its salvation, yet ifyou listen to their explication of the theme, youwill find that by the soul they invariably meanthe body, and by the salvation of the soul nothingmore than deliverance from bodily torment. Thesoul in man is the inner, animating, and directingforce of his body. What gives dignity to man is,that he unlike all other existences possesses a soul,that is to say, finds his principle of action exclu-sively within him. In the infancy of human cul-ture, in the infancy of Art, this soul, this principleof action in man, is overlaid by the senses, or bythe necessity of providing for his bodily and socialsubsistence; and the machinery which becomes or-ganized for this purpose, the machinery of govern-ment, of classes, of institutio1ls of all sorts, maytherefore easily endanger his soul, if he is not onhis guard, by itself becoming his principle of action. It was to save the human soul from this dangerthat Jesus Christ lived and died, acted and suffered His life was one unbroken and unfaltering protestin behalf of the human soul, against governmentsand priesthoods and institutions of all sorts, whicharrogated to themselves the right of controllinghuman action. The kingdom of God, said hisantagonists, stands in this and that appointment or institution, in these and those observances. The [ 84 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.kingdom of God, said Jesus, comes without anyobservation, stands in no observances whatever, forit is within you. The time is past, he continued,for these old superstitions, for the worship of Godon this mountain or on that, as if he were somephysical form limited to time and space. No, Godis a spirit, not having flesh· and blood therefore, oran external existence, but only an internal one,and accepting consequently only an internal orspiritual worship, a worship which is identical withlife, and recognizes therefore no outward law ormeasure. I learn from a late number of the North Ameri-can Review, that Prof. Agassiz, in recently lecturingupon the structure and growth of the caterpillar,and its transformation into the chrysalis and butter-fly, took occasion from the regularity of the process,to deduce a lesson of shame to man. "The lec-turer," says the Reviewer, "particularly directedthe attention of his delighted young listeners tothe perfect uniformity and regularity in the life ofthis insect, not an individual devi!1ting from theregular order of his species, or failing to accomplishthe ends of his existence. To this regularity, saidthe Professor, man forms the only lamentable ex-ception in nature. Owing to his freedom he oftenerrs, violates law, and fails to fulfil his destiny. [ 85 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY. Boys. he continued in a low earnest ton~ and his peculiarly winning manner, I hope that 110 one of you will fail to accomJlish the ends for which he is created, but may you all like the caterpillar, ever live in perfect obedience to all the la.ws of your being." The proverb tells us that the good Homer some- times nods, and it is indeed palpable that Prof. Agassiz has here done great injustice to himself, I will not say as a philosopher, for I presume he makes no claim in that ditection, but as a natu- ralist. It seems to me that if I were a naturalist,and were to find everything in nature completelysubject to its control, except man who inceBBantly rejected its control: if I found that there hadalways been this precise difference between manand the brute, that the latter instinctively acknow-ledged the supremacy of nature and the other asinstinctively denied it: I could not help conclud-ing that the brute belonged wholly to nature, andman to a sphere above nature. Looking at thehuman phenomenon I should say, here evidentlyis something which nature does not contain, some-thing whose origin and destiny fairly transcendthe sphere of the senses, or run into the infinite.But I should by no means feel authorized to inferfrom the circumstance of mans d~stiny being [ 86 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.invisible, that he had power to defeat it. I shouldJay the little caterpillac fulfils its destiny under my eyes. Why may not man fulfil his quite as surely beyond them 1 The caterpillar obeys his physical organization indeed, and man very often &buses his. But this difference of conduct by no means implies that one fulfils, and the other defeats his destiny; it only implies that they have a totallydifferent destiny, that the destiny of one is natural,and the other supernatural Such, it strikes me,would be the conclusion which an unsophisticatednaturalist would come to in the premises. Butthe temptation now-a-days to sentimentalism is allbut irresistible, and poor man consequently oncereckoned the image of God, is now happy in beingallowed to set off or serve as a foil to the superiorglory of the caterpillar. Suppose you should overhear a caterpillar moral-izing, a fine plump specimen perhaps of his race,verging to the term of his caterpillar existence,declining into the fragile grave of the chrysalis.Suppose you should hear him saying, "Whatlevity, what frivolity attaches to the race of cater-pillars! While everything else obeys the laws ofits organization and finds repose in death, the cater-pillar kicks against its doom, and finally burstsforth a fickle foolish butterfly, disdaining the sober [ 87 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.undulations of its old existence, and ihaming the,decent drab of its former associates by colors of thegaudiest tint. What a lamentable perversity or.this argues in the caterpillar, and how vastly lllicharacter would be improved if he would simplybe content to die caterpillar as he was born cater-pillar, and so cease perplexing the level uniformityof nature." The caterpillar might reason in this. way, butsurely you would tell him that his murmuring wasvain, that the caterpillar could not help throwingoff the organization to which he was born, andaspiring through a quasi death to a superior exist-ence. You would say to him, it belongs to thecaterpillar nature to do this thing, and it makestheir glory in the eyes of higher existences thatthey do it, so that instead of complaining of it you should rejoice in it as your true crown of honor. So the philosopher would bid the naturalist ceasecomplaining of mans deviations from the control ofmerely natural and civil law, because these devia--tions express also his invincible destiny. Mans destiny is supernatural, because his origin is 80; and it is only because this destiny has not been scientifically authenticated, because it has been made at best a peradventure, being represented as contingent upon the arbitrary will of other powers, [ 88 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.that he has been tempted to assert it in this abnor-mal and merely destructive way. If our theologicand philosophic naturalists therefore, would ceaseclassing man with caterpillars and kangaroos, andlook upon him as destined to tabernacle a higherlife than natures, he would at once and of his ownmomentum cease to deviate either from natural orsocial obligation, because his acknowledged spirit-ual freedom would no longer require that mode ofassertion, nor indeed tolerate it. But what is the use of talking 1 The expiringchurch, mother and daughters alike, has chosen itspath, and cannot now be turned from it. It hasutterly failed to apprehend the temper of its Master,or to second his zeal for the welfare of universalman. Not indeed literally, but spiritually, it hassold its Lord for filthy lucres sake, has accommo-dated his doctrine to the support of every politicalinstitution which degrades and denies the soul ofman, by claiming to itself his whole allegiance.The existence of the soul in man is in fact a meretradition. Practically the church deems him amere body. Thus it has completely lost sight ofthe peculiar hope of Christianity, which was theestablishment of Gods kingdom on the earth, orthe empire of goodneBB and truth over the wholefield of human relations, and substituted instead [ 89 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.the gross and mechanical conception of a bodilyresurrection after death, and heavenly happinesssecured by simple locomotion, or change of out-ward place. The consequence of this debasementin the church is, that the human soul is left with-out a champion, or rather ill left to the exclusivechampionship of the irreligious classes. For as itwas of old in the letter, so it is now in the spirit.As Jesus found no favor with the devout andhonorable of the earth, as his retinue was chieflymade up of the outcast and disreputable; as hisweary feet found no bath so grateful as the tearsof a. repentant harlot, nor any napkin so soft asher flowing hair; as his truest recognition, hisrecognition under every circumstance of ignominyand abandonment, even when he hung powerlessand expiring on the cross, came from the heart ofa thief: so his great doctrine of the supremacy ofman to institutions, or of the supreme worth of thesoul, being formally denied by the church, findspractical succor and vindication only with thosewhom the church theoretically despises and ex-cludes, namely, merely secular men, mere men of theworld, in some cases men of business, in others menof pleasure, but in both cases alike men who find theprinciple or end of their action within themselves,and hold nature and society responsible to them. [ 90 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY. Let no one misunderstand me. I surely would be very sorry to say that either the man of busi- ness or the man of pleasure has any pretension to be considered the complete man, the man of destiny. I merely say that now while the technical church is faithl~ss to the spirit of its founder and barters its celestial birthright away for a mess of pottage, for the patronage of governments, that spirit is not yet wholly extinct in the earth, but finds a certain shelter, a certain hospitality among the Gentiles, or in the man of purely secular aims, in the manwho strives to realize the highest possible enjoy-ment of the present life. And then I further saythat this man is nowhere visible at present in hisintegrity or unity, but is seen only in a dividedform, here a portion of him in the man of business,or the man who seeks to attain a complete emanci-pation from nature and society; and there a portionof him in the man of pleasure, the man who seeksto reap the highest satisfactions which nature andsociety are yet empowered to yield him. Themere man of business presents a very harsh andunhandsome aspect to his fellows, because thewholly chaotic or unorganized nature of our publicand private interests, throws him in fact exclusivelyupon the obedience of the intellect, and rendershim a mere slave to prudence. So also the man [ 91 I
  • THE OLD AND NE THEOLOGY.of pleasure presents an equally vicious and oftendisgusting picture, because the same social disabili-ties throw him upon the obedience of his passionsmerely, and render him the puppet of every casualimpulse. But with all this infirmity upon them, and I amsure no one has a more lively sensibility to it thanI have, these men do yet carry the world forward ;for as I said before they stand in an attitude ofcommand towards nature and society, and seem toexpect the obedience of these powers. They do insome sort represent the true humanity, representthe lordly position with respect to these powers ofthe true man when he comes, and hence we cannotbut respect them, and ratify in some degree the popular superstition which regards success as the test of merit. Now, as I conceive, the coming church, the coming divine life, will find its readiest acceptance with this order of men, and will reconcile their present antagonism by destroying the excess which pertains to either when viewed by himself alone. For the church of the future, as I understand the scriptures and the tendencies of history, is a church which shall bring down Gods life to earth, and fill the present scene with the tokens of the divine power. It is destined to introduce a universal [ 92 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.righteousness, to turn the entire earth into a templeof Deity. But how shall it do this unless sciencegive it resources for conquering the natural mind,which the old church did not possess 1 What pre-vented the old or ritual church from being a finalone 1 Why is ritual Christianity infallibly boundto be swallowed up of spiritual Christianity 1 It is because the old church, or ritual Christianityis destitute of any scientific basis, because it derivesno support from the nature of man so to speak, .but only from convention or authority. The dog- mas of the church ha.ve no power beyond the confines of the church itse~ because they proceed upon a denial of the natural life, the natural sentiments, and therefore provoke the hostility of the natural mind. It is the amply justified con- clusion from all the missionary labor of the world that you cannot spread dogmatic or literal. Chris- tianity among heathen nations, because it is always found to violate their sentiment of justice, or their ideas of right and wrong. The missionaries, when they speak of an innocent mans death being accepted by God in full satisfaction of the penalty due to the sons of the world, always provoke the contempt of the heathen. They think the Chris- tians God not so good as their own deities who invariably treat the innocent as innocent, and the [ 93 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.guilty as guilty. Red Jacket, who figured exten-sively on the frontiers of this State during the lastwar with Great Britain, and who was a man ofgreat natural shrewdness, delighted to attack themissionaries and prove to them the superiority ofthe Tuscarora. theology. And I remember to haveheard, that when once he was called to defend oneof his tribe by the name of Tommy Jemmy, whosereputation was as ragged as his name, from a chargeof murder, tried by the late Judge Spencer, heexercised the Judges logical acumen amazingly bypushing home the inconsistency of his conduct withhis creed, in condemning this poor criminal to thegallows, and yet worshipping a Deity whose chiefrevelation of himself lay in making the innocentsuffer, and letting the guilty go scot free. But some one may say why did not the learnedJustice blunt this tomahawk criticism, by at oncealleging that this view of the Christian atonementwas not universal among Christians, that it in factwas only one of the numerous philosophies of thegospel, without being the exact gospel itself, whichexact gospel was that Jesus of Nazareth, crucifiedand risen again from death, was Gods tnie Christ orprophet. Surely, says the enquirer, a reply like this,while it would have strictly accorded with the truth,would also have effectually met Red Jackets charge. [ 94 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY. Undoubtedly it would. I think such a replywould have effectually silenced Red Jackets criti-cism. But would it at all have weakened RedJackets objections to Christianity considered asan absolute religion 1 Assuredly not, because RedJacket, and by Red Jacket I mean the unprejudicednatural understanding everywhere, infallibly seeksa theory of the gospel, infallibly asks why this sameJesus is alone to be regarded as Gods true prophet 1I say the understanding infallibly asks this, becauseit is the understanding, and conversant with thereason of things, or the ratio which one thing bearsto another. When theref?re you allege a certainexclusive relation between Jesus and the universalFather-a relation which does not represent, butexcludes universal man-the understanding at onceseeks to penetrate the law, or ratio, of the relation,and if it be balked, it unhesitatingly pronouncesthe allegation irrational, that is incredible. Ifyou allege the orthodox theory of the relation, itexplodes that instantly, as we have seen, on theground of its immorality: if you allege the Uni-tarian theory, it explodes that just as rapidly, byshewing that this theory vacates the prime featureof singularity which characterizes the scripturalaccount of Christs relation to Deity, and thereforerefutes itself. And if finally you allege a purely [ 95 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.arbitrary arrangement or appointment on the partof God, it at once ceases to hear you, because theunderstanding identifies God with the highestreason, or rationality, and denies him all arbitraryor capricious action. You cannot satisfy the want of the natural un-derstanding, because you cannot shew any reasonin the nature of things why one person, why oneman should have a nearer relation to Deity thanany other man, especially why he should have anearer relation than all other men put together.If the Deity be a universal or infinite power, theunderstanding is completely destroyed by the at-tempt to finite him, or to present him in fixed orexclusive relation with one form of existence. Ifthe Deity be a universal or infinite life, the under-standing inexorably demands that He be equallynear to every form of existence, and be at the sametime utterly uncompromised by any. Hence thechurch cannot satisfy the natural mind, the naturalunderStanding, until it gives over the personalglorification of Jesus Christ, and devotes itself onlyto his spiritual glorification, or what is the samething, to the worship of that humanitary spiritwhich indeed dwelt in him most richly, but whichbeing impersonal, refuses to be identified with anyperson whatever. [ 96 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY. This was the science which the old church lacked, the science of human unity. And it was this lack which has made it impotent to the conquest of the human mind. When pressed with the difficulty of conceiving an exclusive relation between the infinite creator and a finite person, it could not say that this relation was merely symbolic or represen- tative, because science had not yet empowered it to descern that humanitary substance of which such a- symbol could be predicated. Science had not yetaffirmed the distinctive genius of humanity, hadnot recognized its essential supremacy to nature.Hence the old church instead of looking upon thegospel as designed to glorify that distinctivelyhuman and highest aspect of our life which Christrepresented, and to which he held its natural andsocial interests in rigid abeyance, regards it as amere ~bute to the personal worth of Jesus, as amere argument of his private consequence. The church of the future, the spiritual church,possesses this science, the science of human unity,the science of man, and consequently it will nolonger affront and revolt the human understanding.For science has at last brilliantly solved the pro-blem of human destiny, and demonstrated in athousand superb and palpable forms the truth ofimmemorial prophecies, that that destiny involves [ 97 ] 8
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY. the complete subjugation of nature. In other words science has made this gener.ilization, that humanity is an active force, is a living power, and hence disclaims any merely passive or finite charac- teristics. Accurate observations of Man shew us that the merely physical or natural attributes of humanity, and also its merely moral attributes, do not include man, do not exhaust him. It is seenthat there is a force in him superior to his natu- ral force, and superior to his moral force, which exhibits itself in controlling these lower forces, or making them completely subservient to itself. And inasmuch as science discovers this force only in man, as it perceives no traces of it in the mineral, vegetable or animal forms of existence, it makes no hesitation in declaring it to be exclusively human, or proclaiming it as the distinctive mark of hu- manity. Science names this force selfho<?d, pro- prium, individuality, genius, inspiration, or what not, 80 long as it is seen to constitute the peculium of man, to constitute his true subjectivity, and so ally him with God or the infinite. The private or personal life of man is passive, consisting in his physical and moral relations, in his sympathies with outlying nature and his fellow- man. This is the field of the finite consciousness, and the sphere of our finite enjoyment, the sphere [ 98 ]
  • THE OLD .AND NEW THEOLOGY.of our happiness. When. all my relations to natureand my fellow-man are harmonic, then I am happy.No bird of the air, no beast of the field, no flowerof the garden, is so brimful of enjoyment as I amthen, because none of these are capable of suchvaried relations as I am, nor consequently capableof such varied happiness. But happiness is not my chief want, is by nomeans my profoundest thirst. Much as I prizehappiness, I prize righteousness infinitely more.Much as I prize harmonic relations with the finite,or with nature and society, I prize much moreharmonic relations with Deity or the infinite. Imay experience very agreeable relations with natureand society, so that my cup shall overflow withhappiness, but wo be unto me if this be all mypossession. For what shall hinder the dismalestforeboding of reverse, even under the happiestoutward conditions 1 My relations with natureand my fellow-man are intrinsically fickle, variabl~perishable; and just in proportion therefore as Iprize their exquisite sweetness, am I liable to beinvaded by this horrid dread of change. What Iwant is, to be above these apprehensions, to feelsecure of this Paradise, to feel my right in short tounlimited enjoyment. In one word, in .order tomake even my happiness secure or perfect, I want [ 99 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.righteousness, or such an inward repose, such acomplete mastery of the entire field of the inwardand infinite, as shall lift me above all fear of casu-alty, or change, as shall make all change in factsimply and surely propitious. How then shall I attain to this inward repose,to this conscious harmony with the infinite, to thisirrefragable righteousness. By the diligent cultiva-tion of my natural and social affections 1 Assuredlynot. My righteousness comes in no such way.For it is simply my interest to cultivate the mostagreeable relations with nature. And it is simplymy duty to cultivate the most agreeable or har-monic relations with my fellow-man. I should bea. fool if I did not do what my interest dictates.I should be a knave if I did not do what my dutyprompts. And does mans righteousness consistsimply in not being a foo~ in not being a knave 1Have I no ideal beyond my vindication from follyand knavery 1 Has the infinite God no higherrighteousness, no more positive glory, to bestowupon me than this, that I always act as interestand duty bind me to act 1 What a shabby concep-tion of the divine power, of the divine righteousness,do I exhibit when I conceive of it as consistingin the making me morally righteous merely, orrighteous only through the denial of evil 1 [ 100 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY. o no! God is infinitely greater than this. I am really ashamed to plume myself upon a succeBBful obedience either to interest or duty. I am really ashamed to feel my aspirations satisfied in doing what it would be sheerly idiotic and discreditable for me not to do. I am ashamed to think of God as incapable of doing anything more for me, than to keep me from stealing, from committing adultery and murder. If such be the case, if the end of my creation be the manifestation of the divine glory in the perpetual opprobrium of my nature, then I am sorry that I ever was created, sorry that I should ever know the divine glory to have so shallow a basis, as to consist simply in overcoming its own creature. But the whole idea is abhorrent. It is the mere mud of sensuality, There is no foundation for it in the nature of God or man. I loathe, as I said before, that justification of myself which stands in my moral purity, in my purityfrom indecency and villany and which consequentlyleaves my less fortunate fellow-man out. This isan entirely outside and derivative purity, which noway satisfies the cravings of my inner man, whichno way appeases the really infinite hunger of myspirit. I want an inward purity, a purity whichstands in no relations of difference I am under toman or the finite, but in those of unity I am under [ 101 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.to God, or the infinite. I want a positive or in-finite righteousneBS, one which shall utterly exhaustthe antithesis or antagonism between me and others,and give me instead the broadest unity with allforms of existence. I want no personal righteous-neBS, no righteousneBS which stands in my differenceto the publican and sinner, but one which shallutterly obliterate by its overpowering splendor allthose petty differences among men, and recreatethem afresh in the lineaments of its own absorbingunity. In short I want the righteousneBS of Godhimself, not the filthy righteousneBS which flowsfrom the fulfilment of any law whatever, physicalor moral, but the perfect righteousneBS which springsfrom the faith of the Divine Humanity, or the aIrsolute unity of the divine and human natures. Now this righteousness, this justification comesabout in no mystical way. It is in the intensestdegree a rational proceBB. That is to say, it comesabout only in the way of believing truth. It is ajustification by faith exclusively, and not by anysensuous or mechanical proceBB. It is simply abelief of the truth concerning the divine Humanity,a humanity so genial and intense as to constituteGod henceforth the total life of His creatures, andconsequently to rob the creature of all lower andleBSer dependence. [ 102 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY. But how does the truth Come about 1 How isit brought home to our understandings 1 By theprogress of science. When science is at yet in itsinfancy, or perhaps still unborn, then as natureapparently dominates man at her ple8Bure, wenecessarily distrust the power above nature. Wedistrust the gods. AB nature afHicts us in tenthousand ways, which our scientific resources areas yet inadequate to remedy, we of necessity lookupon the secret powers of nature as inimical to us,and dread nothing so much as to be confrontedwith the gods. But as science advances in therevelation of human power, as it shews nature tobe instead of a tyrant, amyriad-€yed and myriad-armed servant to us, we lay aside this distrust, andlook upon her secret forces as charmingly friendlyto us, as intending in fact our consummate bene-diction. And as this testimony of science becomesever more explicit-as it finally proves nature tobe merely the appanage and shadow of man, to beactually nothing more than the contents and bag-gage, so to speak, of his senses-we at last growconvinced that a complete harmony or unity existsbetween the power from which nature springs, andthat to which it tends, a complete harmony or unity between God and man. I n short we grow convinced of Gods humanity, become convinced [ 103 ]
  • THE OLD .AND NEW THEOLOGY.that God is essentially human, that he is essentialman, and consequently learn at once to claim himas the very centre of our righteousne88, as the verysource of our strength. While we were under the dominion of the carnalor natural understanding, God was our weaknessand our destruction. Religion-ritual religion-is the disease of the carnal or uninstructed mindIt is the confeBBion which the immature man makesof his immaturity, of his subjection to nature, ofthe disproportion which still exists between hisessential and his phenomenal selfhood, or betweenhumanity and his own private interests. His in-stincts or his ideas assert perfection, assert infini-tude: but his experience, his senses, report onlyimperfection, only finiteness or limitation. Havingthus no sensible basis or anchorage for these ideasof infinitude, he refers them away from humanity,away from himself to some being utterly distinctfrom and antagonistic to himself, whom conse-quently he acknowledges or worships with everylavish form of pomp, with incense, with pictures,with music, with architecture. It is only in contrast with this huge and over-powering natural Deity, who absorbs in himselfall perfection, that we shrivel away into all mean-ness and unrighteousness. We no doubt cloak [ 104 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY. our real sentiments towards him, under a profuse outward devotion and sycophancy; but hatred of the intensest sort reigns in our hearts. The carnal natural, or unscientific mind cannot be anything else than enmity to God.. As long as God purports to be an outside person, having interests antago- nistic to mine, creating me only to obey his plea- sure, creating me only to be his slave in everything but the name, I must neceBBarily hate him. It cannot be otherwise. The life of the true God within me burns with incessant hatred towards this monstrous and stifling projection of my own ignorance. It is science accordingly which establishes the truth of the divine humanity. And it is the belief of this truth alone which gives us righteousness, which delivers us from the damning apprehensionwe are under of a power superior to us, and atthe Bame time essentially unsympathetic or hostile.While I believe myself the creature of such a power,while I believe that an inveterate disproportionexists between my essential and phenomenal self-hood, I cannot feel repose of soul. I feel myselfalways in an enemys country, and liable at anymoment to find my vital supplies cut off Butwhen I become rationally persuaded that no suchdisproportion exists, that he whom we have hitherto [ 106 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.called God is very and essential man, incapable ofdesigning any but the most humane counsels, any-thing but the intensest aggrandizement of unive188lman, I am relieved from this superstitious dread,and at once claim from nature an undeviatingallegiance. My righteousne8B shines forth as thenoon-day. I feel justified now at the very centreof my being, not by any miserable and mercenaryconformity to outward law, giving me a delusivedistinction from other men, but by a simple faithin Gods humanity, giving me an infinite horrorof being distinguished above the vilest thing thatstill bears the name of man. I repeat then that this righteousneBB-this life-of God in man, involves no hocus-poCU8, no spirit-ual jugglery, by which I become pOBSeBBed of it andyou do not. It is the mortal enemy of sectarian-ism or fanaticu.m. It utterly derides every sensibletoken of the divine presence, in affirming Hisomnipresence. Thus it completely explodes thepretensions of a visible church, or a church whichdoes not embrace entire humanity. It turns thePope into a mere fOBBil, capable only of obstructingthe progreBB which he no longer promotes. And itdisqualifies Episcopacy and Presbytery even moreeffectually. As J eBUB represented its coming, itwill allow of no outward indication, no saying La ! [ 106 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.it is here, or Lo! it is there. It is utte~y indif-ferent, he said, to prescription, as irresponsible toprevious expectation as the lightning which flashesat one moment on the one side of heaven, and thenext on the other. We achieve it only in oneway, not by making much of our moral differencesfrom other men, but by sinking all regard for suchdifferences, by sinking all private designs uponDeity, and identifying ~ur hopes with humanity,with the great life which bears us upon her bosom,and feeds us with the milk of her unitary andeternal destiny. The source of our joy is not aprivate truth or persuasion, available to your spiri-tual Stylites, intent only upon his own impudentaggrandizem~nt : it is a public truth borne in uponus from all the winds of heaven, by all the argosiesof science, returning from the exploration of naturefull-freighted with her massive contributions tohuman good. We realize it from the noiselessmarch of history, from the incessant progress manis making towards the complete subjugation ofthe earth he inhabits. For every days enterpriseshows us that nature is a storehouse of unlimitedbenefaction to man. We find that science makesno advance but in the ceaseless direction of humanwelfare, in the ceaseless vindication of mans essen-tial dignity: we find that the things which we [ 107 ]
  • THE OLD AND NEW THEOLOGY.have aU along called evil and noxious, have atbottom a heart of the tenderest love to man, andexist only for the purpose of developing the other-wise inconceivable resources of his divine andomnipotent geniUs. • [ 108 ]
  • THE CHURCH OF CHRIST NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM. A LETTER OF REMONSTRANCE.SIR, You and I are equally persuaded, doubtless,that a new church, which according to the tenor ofancient promise, is destined to be the crown andconsummation of all past churches, is now formingin the earth; and if we have equally reflected uponthe characteristic scope and genius of this church,as depicted·in the almost transparent language ofprophecy, we must be equally convinced that it isfull both of sympathy towards every existing formof use or goodness; and of mercy, gentleness, pa-tience, towards every form of ignorance and un-conscious error. For, what is meant by a church, to which thevoice of inspiration does not hesitate to apply the my~tic name of New Jerusalem 1 What is meant [ III ]
  • THE CHURCH OF CHRIST by a church which may truly be styled the crownand consummation of all past churches; or whatis the same thing, which shall express Gods full pleasure in humanity 1 Clearly it is not meant tobe a mere rival or competitor to any other church.Clearly it is not meant to be a better church of thesame kind as already exists. Churches of theexisting sort have only dwindled ever since thestately days of Moses and Aaron. Starting fromthat gorgeous prime, they have descended throughthe diminished pomp of the Romish ritual, andthe Anglican attenuation of that, until the acmeof desquamation seems at length attained in thepinched and wintry ceremonial of our own Con-gregationalism. And even if this sort of churchshould be revived, and redintegrated in its fullMosaic splendor, would it be a work worthy of God 1Will the divine name be written as legibly underthese skies on stone and mortar, on ephod andbreastplate, as on the fleshly tablets of the busyhuman heart 1 I think not. I think indeed thata church which by dint of holding its breath, orarresting the transit of the divine influx, shouldswell itself to more than Papal or even Mosaicresonance, would only swell itself away from thewhole divine meaning it ever contained For .thetrue meaning of every visible divine institution has [ 112 ]
  • NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.been, to serve as a witness merely to the invisibleDivine, whom the heaven of heavens canoot con-tain, much less therefore any house or polity ofmans invention. Consequently any visible church,technically either "old" or "new," which shouldprofess to constitute Gods true abode on earth,would only repeat the Jewish mistake, and incurthe like public contempt. Besides, when we talk of the crown and consum-mation of a thing, we do not mean any rival orhostile thing on the same plane with itself; wemean some discretely higher thing, say its facultyof use or action. Thus when we talk of the crownand consummation of a plant, we mean its floweror fruit, assuredly not some other and hostile plant.In like manner the crown and consummation ofan animal body is its will or faculty of voluntarymotion, not some new and rival form of animation.And the crown and consummation of the humanorganization is not any new and superior organiza-tion which is to supersede the old, but its facultyof virtuous activity, or the fruit of a holy life. Infact, the crown and consummation of any naturalthing, is always the use it effects, is always thesuperb fruit it bears. Thus the crown and con-lmmmation of the mineral kingdom is not somenew and precious form of mineral existence, but [ 113 ] Q
  • THE CHURCH OF ClIRISTthe vegetable form to whose development all itsuses ale tributary. And so in like manner thecrown and consummation of the vegetable kingdomis not some rare and splendid form of vegetation.but on the contrary the animal form, to the devf-lopment of which the vegetable kingdom is whollysubservient. And so again the crown and consum-mation of the animal kingdom is not some newand glorious form of animality, but the humanform, to which all the realm of animal existence istributary or subordinate. In all these cases we seeprogressive development to be the intention andmethod of nature. We never see her returningupon herself, or stopping short in her career toamend the work she has made, and bring out asecond edition of the same performance. We seeher going straight onward from the foundation ofher edifice, through all its successive grades orstories to its roof and skylight, and stopping onl)when the faultless house stands before you radiantin beauty, and inexpugnable in strength. Analogically therefore, when we look for a newchurch in the earth which is to be the crown andconsummation of all past churches, we are not wlook for a mere second edition of the existing ecclf-siasticiRm: we are not to look for a new and rivalecclesiastical organization to that of the old church: [ 114 ]
  • NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.we are not to look for a new and competitive priest-hood, nor for a new and competitive baptism, norfor a new and competitive eucharist. This sort ofnewness the church experiences usque ad nauseamevery few yeal8, upon the occasion of the outbirthof every new sect. No, in looking f9r that newchurch which is to be the crown and consummati~nof all past churches, we are to look for the incor-ruptible spirit of which these past churches havebeen only the preparatory and perishable letter, forthe ripe and perfect fruit of which they have beenthe temporary and unconscious husks. In shortwe are to look for a spiritual church, which beingidentical with the broadest charity in the life ofman, must alwaYl:! refuse to become identified withparticular persons, particular places, or particularrituals of worship. Such of necessity is the character of the churchof Ohrist. It is a spiritual economy, and is there-fore identical with all that is humble and tenderand easy to be entreated in the soul of man.Heaven is not more distant from earth, than issectarianism, or the desire to separate oneself fromothers, distant from the mind of the true church-man. Instead of saying to Oalvinist or Oatholic,to Methodist or Episcopalian, "Stand aside, wepossess a holier priesthood than you, and put forth [ 115 ]
  • THE CHURCH OF CHRISTa more acceptable baptism and eucharist than you," the true churchman taking counsel of the divinelove in his heart, says, "Draw near, my brother,and let us worship together. There is but one priesthood known on high, the priesthood of good-ness, and one baptism and communion, that which~tes instead of dividing the household of faith.The two outward ordinances which we have receivedfrom the Lords hand are uniting, not dividingordinances j they are 80 divinely large IlB to accom-modate all heavenly truth, and hence to unite intheir equal embrace every true worshipper of God,in every clime, and of every name under heaven.He consequently who claims that they are adaptedto symbolize only the truth he professes, or thatthey lend themselves more willingly to his worshipthan to that of other and less instructed men, vir-tually claims to possess all truth, and in so doingproves that he is himself an alien from the entirespirit of truth. No, my friend, let us worship to-gether, calling upon one and the same blessed Lorda.nd Redeemer. You possibly do not know manyof the spiritual things contain~d within the ob.scurity of the literal scriptures j but all savingklWWledge is amply contained in the letter ofsacred scripture, and is to be drawn exclUBivelyfrMn it,. and you doubtless are IlB sincerely zealous [ 116 ]
  • NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.of the honor of the letter as I can claim to be.But even if it were otherwise, even if the commondoctrine of the church were not deducible fromthe letter of scripture, but only from its spiritualcontents, I yet know so little of those contentscompared with what is to be known, that the dif-ference between my knowledge and your ignorancein this respect sinks into absolute nought. Andyet on the other hand I know so well the mag- nanimous and divine spirit of all that truth, thus contained invisibly to natural sight within the literal page,-I know so well the boundless love and charity with which it is all aglow, that I could never think of making any amount of superior information I possessed, a ground of glorying over others, or a warrant for expecting a greater com- placency on Gods part to my worship than yours. On the contrary, the spirit of all truth is goodness, the substance of all faith is charity, and hence the more I feel the spirit of truth, the less I value all merely external and intellectual differences among men, and the more I value all cordial and vital agreement.". Now no one can doubt that this is the attitude of the true churchman. Every one in whom the church truly exists is a regenerate man, is a form of charity, and nothing can be more intolerable to [ 117 ]
  • THE CHURCH OF CHRISTsuch a man, than the attempt to separate himfrom others, or give him an ecclesiastical elevationabove others. He cannot be persuaded by anyamount of sophistry, or any force of clerical domi-nation, long to falsify his fundamental instincts inthis particular. He will go on to suffocate andsuffer, until at length he throws off the incumbentmass of ecclesiastical pride and dotage, and emergesfor ever into the lustrous air and warm sunshine ofGods boundless love. The true Christian allowsothers to separate from him as much as they please,as much as their unfortunate narrowness makes itinevitable to them; but he feels it nece88arJ toseparate himself from no one. His mission is oneof love, and therefore of fusion and unity, insteadof separation or disunity. Hence although heclaims the right to worship on Sundays withwhomsoever he pleases, and to employ for thatpurpose any improved form of worship, he yettakes care to deny all ecclesiastical separation onthat account from those around him, professing hissteadfast allegiance to the same Lord whom theyequally profess to obey. He does not attempt toconstrue his arrangements for an improved socialworship, into a fact of public significance, nor doeshe claim for what is purely conventional and tran-sitory that public importance which is due only to [ ll8 ]
  • NOT AN ECCLESIASlICISM. what is spiritual and eternal. Hence he remamsin ecclesiastical unity with the people around him,being content to enjoy unimpaired his spiritualfreedom, and the freedom of external worship withwhomsoever and wheresoever he pleases. The only legitimate newness of the Christianchurch consists in a newness of spirit among itsmembers, not a newness of letter. The letter ofthe church consists unalterably in its two ordi-nances of baptism and the Lords supper. A newliteral church therefore must disown these ordi-nances, must exhibit new ordinances, instinct withnew meaning. Clearly Swedenborg never contem-plated such a church. Never once in the wholecourse of his writings, has he criticized the admini-stration of the Christian ordinances, or declared itdefective, save in respect to the withholding thecup from the laity in the Roman church. Hewaged no war whatever with the church as anecclesiasticism, though I doubt not he had his justProtestant predilections, but only as a corruptspiritual economy. He complained of it only inthat respect wherein the Lord complains of it,namely, as being destitute of the life of charity,and being therefore to all heavenly intents andpurposes dead or inactive. Accordingly you nevPf.find him proposing so cheap and superficial a [ 119 ]
  • THE CHURCH OF CHRISTa remedy for so grave a disease, as the creation ofa new ecclesiastical organization. How should anew ecclesiastical hierarchy mend matters 1 Thecomplaint was not against a particular set of per-sons, as contrasted with another set. The Glomplaintwas not that certain persons called Gods churchwere worse men spiritually than certain other per-Rons; which other persons must therefore be formedinto a new ecclesiastical body, and made to super-sede the old one. By no means. The complaintwas that the entire mind of man, as ecclesiasticallyexhibited, was in spiritual ignorance or darkness,and hence the remedy befitting this condition couldnot be a change in the personal administration ofthe church, or a change in the persons composingit, but an entire renewal of its spirit. What thechurch wanted was not a new body, or a new literalconstitution, but exclusively a new spirit, the spiritof unfeigned love. Hence you never find Swedenborg discussingany questions of ecclesiastical polity, or urging anymeasures of ecclesiastical reform, except that ofthe administration of the eucharist in the Romanchurch. He thought, indeed, that from the cir-cumstance of that church exalting a life of charityin its doctrines more than the reformed churchesdo, it would more easily receive the new truths [ 120 ]
  • NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.than any other church, provided it would rectifyits administmtion of the eucharist, and dismiss theworship of saints. But all this of course was matter .of private opinion. You always find him treatingall questions of ritual or exte~al difference betweenchurches as of no spiritual significance, save ascontributing indeed to the greater unity of thechurch, when charity was its spiritual bond. Heinvariably represents the true Christian, or theman in whom charity dwells, as gratefully andreverently observing the institutions of public wor-ship established in his nation, and on no occasionwhatever does he represent him as finding theseinstitutions inadequate to his need So also when-ever he talks of the external of the church, he doesnot represent it as consisting in a Sunday ritual,or a correct liturgical form, but exclusively ingoodness of life. " The church of the Lord," says hein 403 of .A. rcana Explained, "is both internaland external: the internal of thechurch consists ofcharity and faith thence derived, but the externalof the church IS THE GOOD OF LIFE, or the WORKSof charity and faith j" that is, all those thingswhich charity and faith opemte in our social re-lation!. Consistently with this definition, you findhim throughout his writings making no ecclesiasti-cal complaint of the church, but only a spiritual [ 121 ]
  • THE CHURCH OF CHRISTcomplaint, as to its destitution of charity. Thushe says the existing array of divided churches, asCatholic and Protestant, and the various subdivi-sions of the~ again, would be perfectly conformableto the divine mind, were they only animated bymutual love or charity. "THE THINGS OF DOC-TRINE," he says in his Oelestial .A. rcana, 1790,"DO NOT DISTINGUISH CHURCHES BEFORE THELORD,"-that is to say, the Lord knows no differ-ence between a church professing true doctrineand one professing false-" but this distinction iseffected BY A LIFE ACCORDING TO THE THINGS OFDOCTRINE, all of which, if they are true, regardcharity as their fundamental, for what is the endand design of doctrine but to teach how man shouldlive? The several churches in the Christian worldare doctrinally distinguished into Roman Catholics,Lutherans, and Calvinists. This diversity of namearises solely from the things of doctrine, and wouldnever have had place if the members of the churchhad made love to the Lord, and charity towardstheir neighbor, the principal point of faith. Thingsof doctrine would then be only varieties of opinionconcerning the mysteries of faith, which THEY WHOARE TRUE CHRISTIANS would leave to every one tobelieve according to his conscience, whilst it wouldbe the language of their hearts THAT HE IS A TRUE [ 122 ]
  • NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM. CHRISTIAN WHO LIVES AS A CHRISTIAN, that is, as the Lord teaches. Thus one church would be f01"YMd out of all these diverse ones, and all dis- agreements arising from mere forms of doctrine would vanish ; yea, all the animosities of one against another would be dissipated, and THE KINGDOM OF THE LORD WOULD BE ESTABLISHED ON THE EARTH." Think of that, my sectarian friend. These old Christian sects whom you propose to supersede, Catholic, Calvinist, and Lutheran, with all their subdivisions, were they only enlivened by charity or mutual love, would present no ecclesiastical ob- stacle to the divine truth, but would really consti- tute the Lords kingdom on earth, would constitute the true and spiritual church which is identical with that kingdom. How much wider the sym-pathies of this great man were, than they arerepresented to have been by those who make use of his name to originate a new ecclesiasticism !Let us sing a few more brief hymns to the sameblessed tune, from the same general repository. "Allthe members of the primitive Christian church,"he says, A. a. 1834, -<, lived one amongst anotheras brethren, and mutually loved each other. Butin process of time charity diminished, and at lengthvanished away; and as charity vanished, evils suc-ceeded; and with evils falsities also insinuated [ 123 ]
  • THE CHURCH OF CHRISTthemselves, whence arose schisms and heresies.These would never have existed, if charity hadcontinued to live and rule : JOT in BUch ca8e theywould not have called 8chism by the name of8chism, nOT heresy by the name oj heresy, butthey would have called them doctrines a.greeableto each persons particular opinion, or wa.y of think-ing, which they would have left to every onesconscience, not judging or condemning any fortheir opinions, provided they did not deny funda-mental principles, that is, the Lord, eternal life,and the Word, and maintained nothing contraryto divine order, that is, to the commandments ofthe decalogue." "The false principle within thechurch," he says, A. O. 2351, "which favors evilsof life, is that goodneBB or charity doth not con-stitute a man of the church, but that churchmembership is effected by truth or faith." .ABman becomes internal and instructed in internalthings, externals are as nothing to him, for hethen knows what is sacred, namely, charity, andfaith grounded therein." Again he says in A. O.3122, "The regenerate man makes no account ofthe things of faith or truth;" that is, of course,holds them to be wholly subordinate to a life ofcharity. " Faith, in the Word, means nothing butlove and charity: hence doctrines and tenets of [ 124 ]
  • NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.faith are not faith but only appurtenances of it.-A. 0.2116. " Love to the Lord cannot possibly be separatedfrmn love to the neighbor, for the Lords love istowards the whole human race, which he desiresto save eternally, and to adjoin entirely to himself,so as for none of them to perish: wherefore WHO-SOEVER HAS LOVE TO THE LORD, HAS THE LORDSLOVE, and cannot h.elp loving his neighbor."-A. a. 2023. "When it is said there is no salvation in anyname but that of the Lord, it means that there issalvation in no other doctrine; that is, IN NOOTHER THING THAN MUTUAL LOVE, which is thetme doctrine of faith."-A. a. 2009. " The essential of worship is hearty adoration ofthe Lord, which does not exist save in so far as theheart be principled in charity or neighborly love..All true worship is adoration of the Lord, for theLord is never present in external worship unleBBinternal worship be contained in it."-A. a. 1150. "Many say that there is. no internal worship without external, when yet the truth of the case is, that there is no external without internal.- A. a. 1175. " The new church is to be established only among those who are in a life of good."-A. a. 3898. [ 125 ]
  • THE CHURCH OF CHRIST "The church is one, notwithstanding its diversi- ties of doctrine, when all acknowledge charity as the eB8ential of the church, or, what is the same thing, when they have respect to life as the end of doctrine, that is, when they inquire HOW A MAN OF THE CHURCH LIVES, and not 80 much what are his 8entiment8."-.A. O. 3341. ., The church must needs vary as to doctrine,one society or one man profe!lSing one opinion, andanother, another. But as long as each liveB i11charity, HE IS IN THE CHURCH AS TO LIFE, whethe1he be as to doctrine or not, and consequently, theLords church or kingdom is in him." -.A. O. 3451. "Doctrinals are not designed to direct thethoughts so much as the life, for what is theirend but that a man may become what they teachhim to be 1"-...1.. O. 2982. Again, in his latest work, entitled "The-.rrueChristian Religion," 784, when expressly describingthe formation of the church, he says, "that thiscannot be effected in a moment, but in proportionas the false8 of the fornwr church are removed;and this must first take place among the clergy,and by their means among the laity." Now, surely, this whole strain of observation isinconsistent with the notion of any just stigmaattaching to the Christian church, considered as [ 126 ]
  • NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM. an ecclesiastical constitution, and utterly forbids the conception of the new church, therefore, as a new and militant ecclesiastical polity. Noone, indeed, can read Swedenborg at all intelligently, without being convinced that the Christian ordi- nances of Baptism and the Holy Supper were never given by the Lord for the purpose of sym- bolizing a particular creed, or celebrating a certain doctrinal consensus on the part of his professed followers. They were given to be a sign or memo- rial of the universal spirit which, under all varieties of doctrinal and ritual observance, reigns among his followers, namely, a regenerative spirit, a spirit which proceeds upon the putting away the evils of the natural heart as sins against God, typified by baptism, and tlie consequent reception of goods and truths from the Lord, typified by the eucharist. These ordinances have thus a most universal scope, being addressed solely to the foreshadowing of the great facts of life in which all Gods children are, one, and not in the slightest degree to the fore- shadowing of those minor facts of doctrine, as to which all Gods children, simply because they are his children, must eternally differ. It is this universality of scope in the Christian ordinancelii which fits them to symbolize the new or spiritual and universal Christian church; because what this [ 127 ]
  • THE CHURCH OF CHlUSlchurch primarily regards is the life of charity, or aspiritual new birth in man, and the ordinances ofbaptism and the supper are the express imagesand types, are the divinely appointed signs :andseals of this regenerate life. No matter how mucha man may misconceive the literal text of scripture,no matter how full of absurd traditions or super-stitions his ecclesiastical memory may be, so longas he professes to believe in the Lord, and avoidsevils as sins, he is a perfectly proper recipient ofthe Christian ordinances, let them be administeredwhere or by whom they may; as proper a recipient,let me add, and one as precious in the Lords sight,as if, instead of his own native ignorance on thesesubjects, he possessed the angel Gabriels plenaryillumination. We may well fee~ therefore, howmerited a scorn shall one day betide any commu-nion which excludes such a man from it in theLords name. We may well feel what scorn shallespecially betide any corporation, which, assumingthe sacred name of New Jerusalem, yet seeks todivert these divinely appointed vessels of the Lordshouse aside from their benign and universal uses,to the service of its own ecclesiastical pomp andvanity. Now, my friend, if the spirit of the new economybe as I have described it, if charity be the all of [ 128 ]
  • NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.the true Christian church, the all of its life and theall of its doctrine-and I defy anyone rationallyto gainsay this-then it is highly incumbent onthose who profess to be devoted to the interestsof true Christianity, to inquire what hinders thespread of it among men. Let us proceed brieflyto do this. Now, mark! the inquiry we propose to make isnot as to the obstacles which defeat the spread oftrue religion in the world generally. Undoubtedlythe main obstacle to the spread of true religion inthe world, is a very prevalent indifference to theconcerns of mans spiritual history and destiny,growing out of the unsanctified lusts of self-loveand the love of the world. This obstacle you andI, in common with all the rest of the world, expe-rience to the life of true religion in our souls. Truereligion is of so heavenly a genius, its temper is sohumane, so instinct with the vital breath of charity,that it necessarily encounters the stupid antagonismof the natural heart in all of us, and is alwaysobliged to conquer, therefore, wherever it takespossession. But this is not the point we are nowto consider. It is a most interesting point, doubt-less; but we have one still more interesting beforeus, which is this: what obstacles exist in the mindsof religious people-people who are sincerely [ 129 ) 10
  • THE CHURCH OF ~LqTanxious to know and do the will of God-tothe reception of new-church light, as that lightstands diiiclosed in the remarkable writings ofSwedenborg 1 This is our question. We findmultitudes of tender, generous, and profoundlyreligious minds in all the divided Christian sect.B,who are consciously starving and perishing uponthe slender fare which is hebdomadally served outto them; and we ask what is it which hindersthese persons immediately receiving the stupen-dous consolations of the new and spiritual church 1 Now, my friend, permit me to say that I thinkthere can be but one answer to this enquiry, andit is, that these personl are continually taught tolook upon the new church, not as a spiritual andtherefore universal church, but simply as a newChristian sect, and upon the writings of Sweden-borg, consequently, as tbe ravings of a fanatical ordisordered brain. I say, these persons are taughtto take this view of the new church pretensions.And if you ask me how they are thus taught, Ianswer, by the purely ecclesiastical aspect which isgiven to the new church idea, by so many sincerebut inconsiderate admirers of Swedenborg. The technical or self-styled new church assumes before the world simply the attitude of a new ecclesiasti- cal organization, or a new organization for external [ 130 ]
  • NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM:.worship, claiming a new clerical order, and a morevirtuous or valid administration of the Christianordinances than pertains to any other sect. Thusthe world is led to consider the new church, not asa new and regenerate life of man, not as a life ofspiritual conformity to the divine will, to be exem-plified only in the broadest charity, or in everyform of domestic, social, civil and religious use, butonly as a new visible sect, having a local habitationand a name, and capable, therefore, of being geo-metrically de£ned and demonstrated. And, accord-ingly, when you go to a person whose thoughts areexercised about in£nite truth and goodness, or whoBuffers in soul from the violence which is done tothese interests by the spirit of sect-when you goto such a person and set before him the claims ofthe new church to his regard, be replies at once,-" Do you mean by the new church the sect thatworships in such or such a place, and seeks toprocure itself a name by outwardly separatingitself from all other worship 1 Because if youmean that, 1 really do not see that you promiseme any improvement. The persO,llS who composemy present ecclesiastical connection are very goodpersons generally, very good neighbors, very goodcitizens; and besides all that are too niodest toclaim before the world any peculiar ecclesiastical [ 131 1
  • THE CHURCH OF CHRISTnearness to God, as the sect in question does. Ihave no fault to find with my ecclesiastical con-nection, consequently, at least, no such fault aspromises to be remedied by °a mere change ofconnection. In short, my troubles are not at allecclesiastical, but spiritual. One ecclesiasticism isquite as good as another to me, were the vital spiritof it only divine. What I lack in them all is thatclose internal fusion or sympathy of the members,which could not fail to be felt in them all if charitywere their life and not an unchastised ambition formutual preeminence. How should I be helped,then, by going among the people in question 1Do they not pretend to offer God a more accept-able worship than the Presbyterians or Catholicsor Episco.palians? Do they not claim a newministry? Do they accept Presbyterian or Metho-dist baptism? Will they allow Bishop Wainwrightor Dr. Dewey to administer the Lords supper tothem? If all these things are so, will you tell mewherein this self-styled new church differs in spiritfrom all the older sects, unless, perhaps, in beingrather more sectarian? And if it do not differ inspirit from the older sects, why then, of course itis nothing new under the sun, but something onthe contrary-very stale, flat, and unprofitable. Anew church must prove itself such by ne1cmesS of [ 132 ]
  • NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.8pirit, by a spirit of universal charity-a charitywhich shall loathe to be preeminent even overPagam and Turks, let alone its fellow-Ohristiana.Any spirit short of this, any spirit which virtuallysays to sincere Christian worshippers of whatevername,- Stand aside! we claim to offer a moreacceptable worship than you! is an extremelyancient spirit, is as ancient at least as that unhappyPharisee we read of in holy writ, who approachedthe temple of divine worship, saying, Father, ITHA.NK THEE that I am not as other men, &c.,and who therefore went down to his house con-siderably disadvantaged from other men." I say therefore, because if a man so mistakes thedivine character as to suppose Him a respecter ofpersons, and to give Him thanks accordingly forprivate or personal favors, it is manifest that themans worship is animated by self-love, and thedivine name consequently grossly profaned. Ofcourse it is the dictate of true religion to refer allgood. to the Lord, and all evil to the devil: buttrue religion dictates no comparisons or contrastsbetween ourselves and others, nor indeed does shetolerate any such comparisons, declaring them, onthe contrary, utterly incompatible with her heavenlytemper. When. I feel disposed to thank God forgreater ecclesiastical privileges than my neighbors, [ 133 ]
  • ·THE CHURCH OF CHRISTor what is the same thing, a nearer access to Himthan my neighbours enjoy; whenever, lookingupon Dr. Potts or Dr. Hawks, I felicitate myselfupon the knowledge of a rival priesthood superiorto theirs;. or whenever, looking upon the ordi-nances of the universal church as administered bytheir hands, I congratulate myself that they aremore efficaciously administered elsewhere-it is nolonger religion which animates me-it is no longerthe blessed spirit of charity, but the accursed spiritof sect, or a temper of genuine self-love, which, ifleft unchecked, must issue in confirmed diabolism. Do not misunderstand me. It is very far frommy intention, because it is very far from my desire,to cast disparagement upon any institutions ofsocial worship. It seems to me entirely properand inevitable that those who sympathize witheach others views of Christian doctrine, shouldcome together at suitable times and places forsocial worship. Nothing could be more delightfulthan an assembly of this sort, when animated solelyby a spirit of charity towards all other assemblies,and having nothing to gain by disparaging themin public estimation. An assembly like this, unitedin cordial adoration of the Divine Love, and intentonly on celebrating His ineffable perfection, wouldIlf,and in an attitude of the tenderest sympathy [ 134 ]
  • NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.towards all other assemblies. Jt would neverdream of impugning the truth of their worshipby publishing itself as the only true church of Godin New York; but it would strive on the contraryto shew them the riches of spiritual consolationwhich are embodied in the Christian ordinanceswherever administered, and prove how every par-ticular of their own worship is fragrant with theinward acknowledgment of divine mercy and peace.No, let us worship together in this spirit to ourhearts content, and under whatever orderly routinebefits our taste. Let us have architecture, let ushave music, let us have singing, let us have preach-ing, and the concerted voice of prayer; let us have,in short, whatever graceful and glowing forms maybe deemed suitable to express a worship so cordialand therefore so cheerful, so rational and thereforeso profoundly reverential, as that which is inspiredby the new truths must necessarily be. All thisis right and sweet and beautiful; and I cantimagine anyone but a sour and surly sectarianobjecting to it. No one, indeed, can object to it,unless he be disposed to deny freedom of worshipaltogether. Every one, on the contrary, must seethat it is a suitable and decorous thing for personswhose intellects are forming upon the same generalclass of truths, to seek each others sympathy in [ 135 ]
  • THE CHURCH OF CHRISTpublic or social worship. But what every one hasa right to complain of as an unsuitable and inde-corous thing, is for this company thus comingtogether for worship to arrogate to themselves thename and authority of the Lord, in any such senseas prejudices the equal right of any other worship-ping assembly to do the same thing. I believevery truly in the interior truths of the Scriptureas they .are unfolded by Swedenborg, and I instructmy family in the knowledge of those truth~ so faras their tender understandings are capable of re-ceiving them. Have I thereupon the right to saythat my family worship is one whit truer or moreacceptable in a heavenward way than that of mynext door neighbor, who never heard of any inte-rior sense in the Scripture, or if he h~ deemsit a very great snare and delusion, and steadilyworships, notwithstanding, according to the plenaryPresbyterian platform 1 Assuredly not. Shall thetruth of any mans reverence and worship of thegreat Being who creates and redeems and preserveshim, hinge upon his possessing adequate conceptionsof the divine perfection~ and offering a homagetherefore which shall be worthy of those perfections 1God help the best of us in that case! say I. Forthis is to place worship in a new ground entirely-no longer in a sense of the profound wants of the [ 136 ]
  • NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.heart-no longer in the deep and cordial andoverwhelming sense of our own deficiencies, of ourown relative nothingness and vanity, and of Godsboundless sufficiency-but rather in ones intellec-tual acquisitions, in the sentiment of possessing asuperior illumination to other people. But if I have no right to defame my neighborsfamily worship on the ground of its utter uncon-sciousness of the new truths, if I have no right tosuppose that the Lord views my family worshipwith more complacency than he does that of myPresbyterian neighbor; what right have I andthose who socially worship with me, to supposethat He views our social worship with any morecomplacency than He does that of the Baptists,Catholics, Unitarians, Presbyterians, or Mahome-dans 1 What right have we to claim in our socialcapacity, a comparative nearness t.o God over othersocieties, which we have no right to claim in ourfamily capacities! If I myself, with all my heartydelight in the new truths,. do not contribute anyelement to my family worship which makes itcapable of disparaging my neighbors family wor-ship before God, do pray tell me how any fifty orfive hundred of us assembling for social worship,shall contribute any element to that worship whichshall have the effect to disparage any other sincere [ 137 ]
  • THE CHURCH OF CHRISTworship before God 1 If I have no right in myprivate devotions to stigmatize my neighbors de-votions as old and worthless and dead, what righthave I to do so in my public worship 1 Whatright have I to advertise my public devotions asnew and living and valid, and his by implication,as old, spiritless, and unprofitable? Of course it is perfectly proper for people whosympathize in any particular views of divine truth,and who desire to express that sympathy in formsof social worship, to advertise their place of meeting,for the benefit of all persons interested. Or if wewish to assail the popular doctrines by means oflectures, sermons, and so forth, let us clearly ad-vertise our intention. But let us not put forthimmodest hand-bills, informing the world that herethe true church is to be found, and inferentiallytherefore not anywhere else in the city, underpenalty of affronting the most intimate spirit ofthat church. You may very properly say to the world, if youplease, that you are about establishing, or havealready established, external Christian worship insuch a place on an improved basis, or with a spiritmodified by new church light. Bnt to say thatany amount of such worship gives you the slightestclaim to the worlds recognition as the" new Jeru- [ 138 I
  • NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM. salem," as the grand end and achievement of all divine promise and prophecy, gives you the slightest right to arrogate to yourselves one particle of the consideration which belongs to that divine and im- maculate economy, is to say what only a complete ignorance of the spirit of that economy prompts. The new church in man, is a regenerate life, a life of brotherly love or charity, a life which is no more consistent with the claim of superior ecclesiastical merit before God, than it is with that of superior moral or physical merit. I am ashamed to go before God saying that I am a better man morally than John Smith, and that I should like therefore a superior celestial position to his. Why am I thus ashamed 1 Because the plea insultingly im- plies that God is a respecter of persons, thus, that one of His creatures is less dependent upon Himthan another. By what infatuation is it, then, that one is not ashamed to do ecclesiastically, thatwhich he is thus ashamed to do personally 1 Oneis not ashamed every Sunday to claim before theworld, and challenge the worlds recognition of thefact, that he is ecclesiastically much nearer to Godthan the Catholic bishop Hughes, the Presbyterianbishop Phillips, or the Unitarian bishop Bellows.What, I ask, is the explanation of this scandalousincongruity 1 [ 139 ]
  • THE CHURCH OF CHRIST The explanation is to be sought in the prevalenceof totally erroneous or sectarian views of the church.The sectarian idea of the church is, that it is pri-marily a visible corporation, hierarchically consti-tuted, whose life lies in Sunday worship, and whoseproper activity consists accordingly in promotingall the resources and interests of that worship.According to this conception of the church, a manis what he is, chiefly by virtue of his connnectionwith that visible body; that visible body standsbetween him and God, and is the medium of thedivine blessing to him, so that he may be calledupon to honor it as his spiritual mother, with pre-cisely the same propriety that he may be calledupon to honor God as his spiritual Father. Wefind the conception everywhere diffused, and hearit expounded and enforced from all sorts of pulpits ;but the only consistent and worthy representativeof it is the Roman Catholic church. No personwho holds this theory of the church, who holds theecclesiastical conception of it, and maintains it ea;0JIIJimw, has any logical right to disclaim the pater-nal authority of bishop Hughes, and must eitherin this world or the next filially submit himself toit. He may call himself a Protestant against thechurch of Rome, and may protest till he is blackIn the face; but when he at last finds that the [ 140 ]
  • NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.church of Rome is the only logical exponent of hisidea of the church,-when he finds that all logicand all experience and all testimony go to substan-tiate her sole claim to the name of church in thisview,-when, in short, it comes to the choice ofthe church of Rome or no church at all of thatsame general type or pattern; he will infalliblyswallow the nauseous medicine, I havent a doubt. I cannot, indeed, understand how anyone whoholds to the ecclesiastical conception of the church,can for an instant deny the paramount claims ofthe Romish hierarchy upon his allegiance. If thechurch of Christ possesses of necessity an ecclesias-tical constitution, or, what is the same thing, aninseparable external organization, based upon the distinction of clergy and laity, then the Romanchurch is the only true church, because it alonepermanently secures such an organization. Hadthe Protestant been as stoutly pushed a tergo as the Catholic has been pushed by him, and as he himself bids fair to be pushed in the future, he must long ere this have acknowledged that the only consistent ecclesiasticism is that of Rome. The Roman Catholic makes the church to consist wholly in the pope and his inferior clergy, just as the old theories of the State left out the people, or as the little boys when they form amateur military [ 141 ]
  • THE CHURCH OF CHRIST companies, make them to consist wholly of captains, lieutenants, and corporals. We may smile at this infantine simplicity on the part of the church, or weep over its boundless spiritual arrogance, as we please, but it affords nevertheless the only i¢allible recipe for the churchs perpetuity, considered as an ecclesiastical institution. If we want conviction on this point, we have only to refer to the utter disorganization which the hierarchical idea, or thechurch considered as having an inseparable ecclesi-astical organization, encounters at Protestant hands.The Protestant democratizes the idea of the church,making it to consist not of one power alone, not ofthe clergy simply, but of the clergy and peoplejointly. But this theory by commixing the twoorders, and leaving their respective parts whollyundefined, like a military company whose officersand privates should possess a joint authority, isdestructive of all discipline, and has actually endedin the complete disorganization of the church, asan ecclesiasticism. What is your own ecclesiasticalpretension in fact but a proof of this 1 Your ownsect is a striking fruit and exemplification of thepurely disorganizing tendencies of Protestantism.In the first place, a handful of laymen reared inthe bosom of Protestantism, and united in nothingbut a profession of faith in the remarkable writings [ 142 ]
  • NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.of a very remarkable man, combine by mutuallybaptising each other, to establish a new ecclesias-tical organization which shall have the effect tosupersede all the older organizations, and vacatealike t~e authority of their priesthoods and thesanctity of their sacraments. But as these personscan legitimately claim no other warrant for thisnew organization than their own wills; as theyexhibit no diviDe sanctions for it in the shapE ofnew baptisms or other sacraments distinguishingthem from the old organizations; as, in short, theyare only a new Christian sect to all the recognizedintents and purposes of a sect, they cannot of coursepropagate any but sectarian offspring, and musttolerate every schism and division and heresy whichmay subsequently arise to rend their own bowels,and deliver them in their turn an easy prey todissolution. Accordingly I know no sect so young that gives such unequivocal proofs of senility asyour own; I know no sect so inconsiderable inpoint of numbers, which has already bred so many "doting questions and strifes of words." For this result I say you are indebted only to your inherent Protestantism, or the mother that bore you. :For as Protestantism was not a new church, spiritually considered, but only a new form or modification of one and the same ecclesiastical spirit, so your more [ 143 ]
  • THE CHURCH OF CHRIST limited movement exhibits no spiritual advance upon the older Protestant sects, but only a highly rational and comfortable modification of their ritual observances. Thus you have no right to glory over the Protestant sects, through which ~ your own ecclesiastical validity is derived; just as they have no right to glory over the Catholic church,seeing that whatsoever hierarchical virtue theypossess, is but a puny rill of that once affluent butnow moss-grown and dishonored fountain. Neitherof you has the slightest reason for boasting overthe other, save on the ground of a spiritual supe-riority, or a more eminent life of charity; andeminence in that life is scarcely consistent withecclesiastical or any other sort of boasting, beingidentical in fact with the greatest personal humility. Do I- complain of these unhandsome quarrels,however 1 Do I regret the grand original fact ofProtestantism 1 Do I regret the great subsequentfacts which have marked her history, and developedher true or characteristic tendencies 1 God forbid !I look upon them all as facts full of blessed signifi-cance for the true church of God, for the true lifeof God in the soul of man. Had we not hadCatholicism in the first place, or an ecclesiasticaleconomy paramount to the civil and politicalregime, the human mind must have lacked the [ 144 ]
  • NOT AN ECCLESlASTICISM.necessary germ or egg of the true idea of the church.We could never have conceived in that case of thedivine life in man, as destined eventually to controland sanctify his civil and natural life. Had wenot haQ Protestantism again, we should have hadno disorganization of this primary and beneficentgenu, nor consequently any development of themiraculous spirit which infonus it. I have indeedno doubt that the Providence which governs humanaffairs is altogether divine, for I see throughout allhistory the unswerving march of a great spiritualend or purpose, which is so high above mansthought as to find its stepping-stones alternatelyin his wisdom and his folly, and so high above hisbest affections, as to make his very vices contributean equal furtherance with his virtues, to itB finalevolution.. f I need not say to you that I look upon this endor purpose of the Divine Providence, as identicalwith that new church of which the world has solong and so reverently read in ancient prophecy,and of whose advent the roseate dawn is at lengthflushing the entire mental horizon of humanity;that new and everlasting church, the crown andconsummation of all past churches, which is consti~tuted solely by a regenerate life in all her members,or a heart full of love to God and love to man. [ 145 ] 11
  • THE CHURCH OF CHRISTIt is identical with what the mystical scriptures callthe New Jerusalem, meaning by that carnal symbolnothing indeed appreciable to the carnal eye, "norat all germane to the carnal heart, but a trulydivine life in the soul of man. " It is also called anew church, both because it is the crown and ful-filment of all past churches, and because a churchin the spiritual idea invariably signiiies a regeneratelife in man, or the life of charity. This church isnot aristocratically constituted like the RomishChurch, nor yet democratically like the Protestantchurches. It is not made up of clergy alone, norof clellq and people jointly; but simply of goodnessand truth in the soul of every individual member.It is not made a church by any amount or anyexactitude of ritual worship, any more than I ammade aather by the number of kisses I give mychildren. No man can say of it 10 here! or 10there! any more than he can limit the path ofthe lightning which now shin:es in one part of theheavens and now in the opposite. For as all her "members are born of God, they can only be spi-ritually discerned, and hence the new church mustpeIlistently disclaim all identification with parti-cular persons, particular times, or particular places. Unlike the typical "churches, this perfect church finds its t.mest abode and expression in the indi- [ 146 ]
  • NOT AN ~IASTICISlLvidual soul. The existing ecclesiaBtical politiell,both Catholic and Protesta.n~ stand between Godand the individual man, claiming to be the mediumto him of the divine blessing. The true church,on the contrary, derives its most general or aBBO-ciated form from the individual life of which it iscomposed, only from the purer individual fibres ofwhich it is the gross aggregation. It consequentlyconfesses a total inability to confer life, or do any-thing else but receive it. There is no stone so dead,no dolt so absolute, in respect to whom this newchurch claims or is conscious of one jot of supe-riority. Because her first, second, and third estate,or her beginning, middle, and end, are unmixeltdependence, and beget nothing accordingly batunmixed humility. She is only what her individus:lmembers make her; and as they are all regeneratemen, or men in whom charity rules, and self-seekU::gis dead, so she of course can only be a stupendousform of charity, whose life lies not in receiving,but only in communicating. No baptisms and no sacraments give admissionto this church, but only those things which allbaptisms and sacraments do but typify, namely,charity and a faith which itself is charity. All thebaptisms and sacraments that ever were adminis-tered, and all the priesthoods ever consecrated, veil [ 147 ]
  • THE CHURCH OF CHRISTtheir servile heads before the true divine presencein the soul of the humblest of men, confessing theirutter impotence to approxima.te their subject: tothat suprema bliss. Nay, more j were the Lordhimself once again in finite form upon the earth,and the actual administrator of the Christian ordi-nances, they would still remain utterly inoperativeto give the slightest. approximation to his spiritualpresence. For all true approximation in thatdirection is spiritual, depending upon the existenceof neighborly love in our hea.rt:.l, and a new andtrue church therefo~e will place her distinctivemarks, not in the possession of any baptisms orsacraments or other ca.rnal observances of any BOrt,but only in the sincere and saintly life of hervotaries. It is totally impossible, if she be a truechurch, if she be anything else than a spuriouschurch, or a mere representative economy, that shecan have any manifestation apart from the manifes-tations of charity in the daily life of her members.If charity teaches her subject to blow trumpetsbefore him in the public streets, proclaiming thathe is a regenerate man j if it teach him to invitepublic attention by printed handbills, whenever heseeks to celebrate the Divine Perfection by praiseand prayer j if it teach him to advertise himself asGods true child, in contradistinction to others who [ 148 ]
  • NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.only falsely profess to be so; if it teach him toacknowledge the divine life only in those whoentertain the same theological opinions 88 himself,or read the same theological books: why then, ofcourse, the greater church will do the same things,that is to say, will soon render the name of "newchurch" the synonyme of whatsoever is sectarianin temper, or vulgar and disreputable in manners.But if charity prescribe no such behavior to hervotaries; if the truly regenerate man, or the manin whom charity rules, be, from the very nature ofthe case, the least conscious of the difference be-tween himself and other men, and the least disposedto magnify such difference; if he be disposed tohide the shortcomings of his brother, and discoveronly the things that make for peace and universal unity; if he perceive in the law of God a heightand depth, a length and breadth of spiritual perfec-tion, which laughs to scorn the bare thought of meritin Gods sight, and makes our truest wealth to lie inthe unaffected consciousness of our utter want: whythen, of course, the new church will everywhere inten-sify these individual characteristics until she utterly sink from all identification with persons or places or rituals, and stamp herself 88 one only with what- soever is pure and unsullied in human inspiration, and manly, just, and generous in human conduct. [ 149 ]
  • THE CHURCH OF CHRIST In short, the true or final church is not in theleast degree an ecclesiasticism, is not in any out-ward sense a hierarchical institution. Were it so,it would have existed from the beginning of theworld, for the world h8.8 never been without authen..tic hierarchies, or true ecclesiastical institutioIl&I do not see what rea.sonable fault is to be foundwith either the Jewish worship, or with that of theCh.zmian church, if they are to be replaced onlyby other external worship. The Jewish priestsreflected, no doubt, the prevalent arrogance andselfishness of the national hope, but, I presume,were otherwise a superior class of men. And theChristian priesthood, although the temptations in-cident to their conventional elevation have servedto devel~pe among them many of the subtler formsof evil latent in the undisciplined human heart,have yet, on the whole, been lustrous with manyvirtues. You will occasionally find one amongthem with a conscience like the hide of a rhino-ceros, and a lust of dominion able to surmount thetallest star, and annex it to the bishopric of hisconceit. And, what is remarkable, the smaller thesect, the plentier you find this sort of men, 8.8 ifthe divine Providence purposely limited a stomachso gigantic.to the meagerest possible pasture. But,on the whole, what sweetness h8.8 baptized the [ lliO I
  • NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISlLclerical function in the past! What fortitude, whatself-denial, what patience, what labor in seasonand out of season, have been the heritage of thegreat ma.es of these men! What stores of learningthey have accumulated; what splendid additionsthey have made to the best literature of every land;how they have enriched the sciences by their ob-servation and studious enquiries; how they havekept the flame of patriotism aglow; how they haveencouraged the generous ambition of youth, anddirected it to worthy and useful ends; how theyhave dignified the family altar, and cherished thepurity of woman, and diffused through society thecharm of honest and gentle manners: all thesethings must be cordially acknowledged by everyone competent to speak on the question. Wherewould be the sense of ousting such a body of men,native, as it were, and to the manor born, inherit-ing a grace and dignity from their time-honoredplaces, embalmed in the kindly reverence andgood-will of the community, only for the purposeof introducing a new and undisciplined body, honestand well-intentioned, no doubt, and in many re-spects intellectually well qualified; but aggreBBiveby the very nece88ity of their birth, contemptuousand insulting by the inseparable theory of theiroffice 1 [ lIH ]
  • THE CHURCH OF CHRlST All the world will bid God-speed to the new3.lpirantB, provided they will honestly and modestlyapply such teaching-faculty 88 they posseBB to thedissemination of original truths on the su~ject ofmans relations to God and his fellow-man. Butif they are not content with this-if they immo-destly claim to be a newer and more authenticpriesthood as well; if, instead of simply sheddingnew and grateful light on previously insolubleproblems, they 8eek a private end also, which isthe exaltation of their oum order in public regard,and to this end represent baptism and the Lord88upper to P088es8 a different virtue, a divinerunction, under their administration than underthat of the existing priesthood: then the insultedcommon sense of the public will conclude thattruth informed and urged by such a temper canhardly be worth a reasonable mans attention; andthat if we can never attain t<> a newne88 of 8pih-itin religious matteI"B without necessitating a >corres-ponding newne88 of letter also, the sooner we aban-don all hope of spiritual progreBB the better, and BOget well rid for ever of the interminable quarreland fatigue. But let us go a little deeper int<> the problem.Let us inquire the meaning of th~ great phenome-non which we call THE CHURCH; let us inquire in [ 162 ]
  • NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.what sentiment of the human soul it takes its rise,and to what rational issues it inevitably points. Ifwe thoroughly master these inquiries, we shall haveno remaining doubt as to the genius of the truechurch of God in heaven and on earth. The vis formativa in the church, the foundationstone of all religion, is a certain sentiment in thebreast of man of disproportion or disunion betweenhim and God, between him and the Infinite. Thissentiment underlies every church in history, under-lies the entire religious life of the world. It hasgiven shape to all mans distinctive hope, to all hisaspiration, to all his best activity. He has the ideaor inward sense of infinitude, of perfection, of a lifewhich is not derived from without, and which isconsequently above all vicissitude or perturbation,and he feels in all his bones that this is not thelife which nature gives him. Hence a conflictbetween him and nature, between the ideal withinhim, and the actual without him. For man alwaysfeels himself bound to realize his ideas. To makethe ideal actual, to bring forth the dim and nebu-lous radiance of the soul into clear bodily shapeand act, is the very distinction of human life. Thebrute obeys only the life of the senses. Man, whenhe is truly man, when he is emancipated from thepurely animal life to which his inherited tendencies .[ 153 ]
  • THE CHURCH OF CHRISTcondemn him, obeys his ideas, acts from within,from the impulse of taste, from the inspimtion ofGoodness. His life lies in clothing the outer worldwith the glory which he brings from the inner, orin making his ideal actual. Hence, when hecherishes the idea of So life higher than he yet ex-periences, he inevitably aspires, aims, and hopes tomake it actual. Did he not 80 aim, aspire, andhope, he would perish. For the idea is there tobe realized. It is not there merely to mock himwith its stem impo88ibilities; it is not there simplyto taunt him with his hopele88 infirmities; but, onthe contrary, to educate his. nascent and UDBU8-pected powers, to stimulate his hopes, and leavehim no rest until he has amply actualized it. Man, then, has the idea of infinitude, of perfeo-tion, of a life infinitely superior to that whichnature gives him. And hence, the beginnings ofthe church in him, the beginnings of his religiouslife, or of his attempts to conciliate the Infinite,involve a. conflict between him and nature. Naturegives him So life underived from within, derivedfrom past ancestry,-a life depending on a. myriadexternal things, and hence subject to a myriadpains, disquiets, and disappointments. His soulwhispers to him of a. hi~her life than this, the life of God, a life which flows wholly from within the [ 154 ]
  • NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.subject, depending upon no outward circumstances "whatever, controlling a.ll outward circumstances infac1; and subject therefore to no pain, no disquiet,and 00 meanness for ever. By all the attraction ofthe latter life over the former, he aspires to placateit, to draw it nearer to him, to win its blessedness.And he knows no way so direct, so full of influencetowards this end, as the denial of the natural life,or the persistent mortification of its desires, ambi-tions, and splendors. This life, he says practically,which I derive from nature, shall not be my life.I hate it, I abhor it, I banish it. I know of aserener, of a freer, of a higher life than this, andall my instincts bid me crave it. Hence I will killthis mortal natural life within me. It ma.y forlong years yet invest my body, but my soul shallhave no participation with it. My soul 8hall mournin itsjoys and rejoice in its sorrows, if so be thatI may thus get deliverance from it. Hence it is that you see the church throughouthistory disclaiming any natural basis, built uponthe practical denial of nature. Hence it is thatyou see the religious life, under whatever skies itmay flower, involve more or less of asceticism.This makes the unity of all churches, Pagan andChristian, Jew and Gentile, that they all declareman to be separated from God by nature, and not [ 155 ]
  • THE CHURCH OF CHRIST, connected with Him. They ~l affirm the necessity of regeneration. They all say, of course not in the same, but equivalent terms, Ye must be bom again before ye shall see the kingdom of God. Accord- ingly, in the earlier and ruder stages of human history, you find the eminent parts of divine wor- ship to consist in sacrifices and offerings, the sacri- fice or offering up t<l the Deity of some natural possession greatly prized by the worshipper. The dumb instinct of a paramount spiTit/.l..al unity be- tween God and man, led the latter to cast incessant dishonor upon his natural affections, which were felt somehow to obscure tha.t higher bond. Hence it was common, in some regions, for the parent to sacrifice his child as his dearest natural possession. In others, the most shocking mutilations and lace- rations of the body have been practised. In others, the most beautiful virgins in the community were sacrificed. In others again, the lower sacrifices of animals t<lok place, and, as it was believed that the costlier the sacrifice the more grateful it was to the gods, 80 hecat<lmbs, or an offering of a hundred bulls at once, came into vogue. On all sides the Deity was felt to antagonize the merely natural man, and every curious and cunning effort was made, therefore, to anticipate his will by the volun- .tary mortification of natural desire. [ 156 ]
  • NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM. You have heard, no doubt, of the famous ring ofPolycrates, king of Samos, which being thrown byhim into the sea with a view to propitiate thedivine friendship, came back to him in the bellyof a fish. The letter of his friend Amasis, king ofEgypt, which had induced him to sacrifice the ring,is worth quoting. "Amasis says thus to Polycrates :It is pleasant to hear that ones friend prospers,yet your exceeding good fortune pleases me not,knowing as I do that the Deity is a jealous being;and I could wish that both myself and those I loveshould be fortunate in some of their doings, and inothers miscarry, and so pass their lives in changes of fortune, rather thap be always fortunate; for I never yet heard talk of anyone who with good fortune in everything, did not come to his end miserably with an utter downfall. . Do you there- fore follow my advice, and in respect of your happy chances do as I tell you. Look out well for the most precious thing you have, and that which you would most take to heart the loss of; and then away with it in such sort that it shall never more come before the eyes of men. And if after this, your success should not take turns, and go evenly with your mishaps, still remedy the matter in the way here proposed." Herodotu8, iii. 40. Her~ upon Polycrates threw his ring which he valued [ 167 ]
  • THE CHURCH OF CHRIST very highly into the sea, and when Amasis learned that it had been restored to him by It fish, he at once renounced the friendship of a man so clearly marked out for misfortune. In reading this touching letter of Amasis, king of Egypt, one fancies that he is listening to a stmm of modem piety, so exactly akin is the true reli- gious instinct in all time and all space. It wasnever better illustrated than in thi~ document of long mummied royalty. Its starting point or in-spiration is the conviction of Gods dissatisfaction with the merely natural life, and its method ofconciliation is as Amasis describes it, assiduously " to seek out the most precious thing one has, thepossession dearest to ones heart, and then awaywith it in such sort that it shall never come beforethe eyes of men." Thus the Roman Catholicascetic under the fervent inspiration of this temperbetakes himself to convents and nunneries, andunder its ordinary exhibitions to fasting and pen·ance. And the Protestant ascetic under the sameinfluence devotes himself to the ministry or themissionary enterprise, and persistently denies him-.self the delights of music and the dance. Theopera is a snare to him, and the theatre little shortof certain destruction. Ritually of COUI"l!le or intheir ecclesiastic practice, both the Catholic and [ 158 ]
  • NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.Protestant Mcetic differ very widely from the Paganworshipper. But they are all very closely allied inspirit, since they all alike aim to please God by anincessant depletion of the flesh, or an incessantmortification of natural desire. Such then is the universal attitude of the churchof God throughout the past, an attitude of aversiontowards the joys of the merely natural life. Suchis the invariable aspect of the religious sentiment,ere it has degenerated M among us into sentimen-tality and cant, an aspect of patient and profoundself-sacrifice as to all the things men naturallycovet. Churches may exhibit inter 8e the greatestpoBBible ritual and political diversity, but none ofthem has any claim to be considered a churchunleBB it be baptized with this spirit. This is thereason, independently of its denial of the Lordsdivinity, why the Unitarian church gets so littleuncultivated recognition, and impresses so slightlythe popular imagination. Its theory of Christianitysoftens the depravity of human nature~ which de-pravity to the popular mind is the neceBBary anti-thesis of the divine magnanimity, and .the verynucleus therefore of gospel consolation. Hence Unitarianism never gets beyond the respectableclasses. Even where it conquers the bedroom andparlor floors, it leaves the attics and kitchen all the [ 169 ]
  • THE CHURCH OF CHRIST more obstinate Baptifilt and Methodist. It is a. good profeBSion for those in whom culture andprosperous circumstances have somewhat overlaidthe natural discrepancy between flesh and spirit,or self-love and brotherly love, so enforcing a milderand more decorous doctrine upon that subject.But evidently the chief historic praise of U nitarian-ism is negative, consisting in its destructive criti-cism of some Calvinistic errors, and in its stillfarther toning-dmvn the prevalent ecclesiasticalidea of the church, and so preparing the way forthe recognition of the Lords spiritual advent. From this survey, then, it is evident that the-constituent principle of the church is the convictionof the inadequacy of the merely natural life of manto attract the divine complacency.· The obvioussentiment which underlies all mans religious life,is that of a total disproportion between God andhimselfconsidered as the subject of nature. Humannature universally confesses a conscience of sin, andhence regeneration becomes the prime necessityand aspiration of the religious profeBBion. Thesetwo words, a conscience of sin, and an ardent desirefor a new birth-Bu~ up the entire ecclesiasticaldevelopment of the race. The church has begottenand maintained only these connected convictions,and consequently when you ask it for any distillctive [ 160 1
  • NOT AN ECCL»lIASTICISM:.life, for any life which shall confess the operationof its own peculiar spirit, it consistently refers youon the one hand to the tears of humble penitence,and on the other to the anticipations of cheerfulfaith. It disclaims all present vital satisfactions.I t is content to transact a ritual or forensic approxi-mation to God through the periodical ministrationsof its clergy, and patiently postpones the directrealization of its faith and hope to a post-1n<Yrtemexistence, or the dawn of the souls to-mOITOW. Now, the great service which Swedenborg hasrendered the intellect, is in brief this: that he haspenetrated the darkness which overlays the originof the religious instinct, and proved that all itscroppings out, so to speak, in the forms of peni-tential wo.rship, are so many effects of strictly in-telligible spiritual causes. That is to say, he hasproved that all the facts of mans ascetic experience,all the facts of his properly ecclesiastical conscience,all those facts which imply Gods physical exteriorar-tion to man, belong to the infancy of the souls life,and bear therefore the same relation to its maturity,as the rude and gnarled trunk of a tree bears to itsexquisite bloBBOm and tender fruit. Let me makethis clear. The soul, according to Swedenborg, is an organic or ilUbstantial existence in human form. I t is, [ 161 ] lZ
  • THE CHURCH OF CHRISTindeed, a much more substantial or real existencethan the body, because its substance is the DivineLove which alone is creative. The Divine Love isnot the attribute or quality of a material subject.God is not a finite, physical subject, of whom weproperly say, as we say of ourselves, that He feelsan emotion of love. He IS Love. His existenceis not first given, and then His character or per-sonality. He is not first a passive existence, aswe are, and only afterwards and upon occasion acharacteristic and active subject of that existence.He has no nature apart from His personality, asyou and I have. His personality absorbs his nature.He is personality itself, thus essen~ially active, oractive in Be, instead of obeying an outward motive.In short, the Divine Love is not emotional, butcreative, and hence His operation, or going forth,is not arbitrary, wilful, irrational, but on the con-trary strictly rational and formative, proceedingfrom ends by means to effects. It is exerted onlyin creating subjects or forms receptive of itself, andhence its procession is invariably from within to without, and not the contrary: it is not like thepower of a carpenter or sculptor modifying pre- existing materials, and proceeding therefore from the circumference to the centre of his work: it re- sembles rather the phenomenon of natural growth, [ 162 ]
  • NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.which proceeds upon the liberation under suitableconditions of an invisible spiritual germ, and itssubsequent orderly expansion into root and stem,branch and leaf, flower and fruit. In short, thedivine power is the power primarily of an inwardand spiritual life, and only in strict subordina-tion to this the power of an outward and naturalone. God is a spirit, and his creation therefore mustbe primarily spiritual. He is essential Love andWisdom, and His creatures therefore must be as totheir essence, derivative forms of love and wisdom.But one cannot be born spiritual: he can onlybooOme so. I am not made loving and wise byvirtue of my natural generation, but by virtue ofculture, or the patient subjection of my outwardlife to the inspirations of interior goodness and truth. Hence time and space become necessaryelements of the creatures self-consciousness. Hisspiritual evolution exacts ~ external or inferiorfield of existence, by means of which this culture ~r self-discipline may take place; and Nature, orthe world of time and space, is the fruit of this exaction. Accordingly while the mind is under the dominion of Nature, and supposes the laws of time and space to be absolute, man is in a state of spiritual infancy, incapable of forming a single [ 163 ]
  • THE CHURCH OF CHRISTright conception on the subject of the Divineexistence and character. This is not the place totrace the historic steps by which the mind of man,through the grad~l preponderance of self-loveover charity, lapses under this dominion of nature.Weare here only concerned with the fact of thelapse, in order to show how neceBBarily all thesubsequent judgments of the mind, in regard toGod and Ris relations to us, become colored by it.I flimply take the fact of such lapse, then, as in-dubitable by every one who has duly estimated thesubject, and I say that so long as it remains fullypronounced, that is, 80 long as the mind looks uponthe laws of physical existence, or the laws of timeand space, -as absolute, it neceBBarily regards themas essential to all existence, and consequently tothe Divine. Conceiving of himself as a purelyphysical existence, and at the same time perceivinga life or being superior to, and creative of, himself, man instinctively inve~,> this superior being with all excess of physical attributes, by intensifying in its favor the only elements of existence known to himself under the names of time and space. Man himself occupies seventy years more or less of time, and six feet more or less of space; his Creator, therefore, being so superior, must occupy a great deal more of both: yea, being perfect, He must [ 164 ]
  • NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM:.,occupy all time and all space, and so be avouched eternal and infinite. Of co~e, then, in the souls infancy, the Divine Perfection is exclusively material, being identical with the utmost possible amount of time and space. And equally, of course, therefore, in this state of things, when spiritual love and light in the soul are so completely overlaid by natural love and light, the more devout one is, or the more he acknowledges the Divine, the greater must be his conviction of the disproportion between God and himself. Mans affections and intelligence are completely domi- nated by the things of space and time, turning him in fact into a mere form of self-love; but as, in this state of ignorance, he necessarily attributes to God an infinitely greater subjectiqn to the same laws, so consequently God becomes to the carnal imagi- nation a huge overshadowing form of self-seeking, intent upon His creatures incessant diminution. Hence, I repeat, the profounder ones conviction of the Divine existence is at this period, and the pm- founder his conviction of his own dependence, the deeper will be his sense of their irreconcilable antagonism, and the more he will strive to hide the implacable enmity of his heart under the proffer of a servile and interested devotion. Such being the attitude of a purely natural mind [ 165 ]
  • THE CHURCH OF CHRISTtowards God, it is very easy to see how the peculiarecclesiastical development of humanity comes about. Man looks upon God only as a larger self, or as a great corporeal existence, full of superfluous and ebullient self-love, and capable, therefore, of very mischievous determinations towards His insignifi- cant creatures. It necessarily follows from this that every true revelation of God to the natural mind, every revelation of Himself at all adapted to popular credence, must consult these carnal concep- tions, and wear an extremely accommodated aspect. The final elevation of the mind out of nature de- pends upon this merciful descent and accommoda- tion of Divine Truth to carnal conditions. Hence you find Gods name or glory in the earlier stages of history associated with some exclusive people,,and His worship made purely sensuous, or at best,merely representative of spiritual things. This.people may be a capital type or figure of the true or spiritual people; but if they pretend to be any- thing more, if they pretend to fulfil the spirit as well as the letter of the Divine promise, they be- come an insufferable stench in the nostrilB, com- pared with which Gentiledom were sweet andvernal. A spiritual tie with minds so carnal mustof course be preposterous, and hence the Deity isalways revealed as in eminent spiritual hostility, [ 166 ]
  • NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.as in the lnost pointed private antagonism andquarrel, with the very people upon whom Hisname is publicly written. God is exclusivelyspiritual, being essential Love and Wisdom, andtherefore He incessantly repugns physical attri-butes, seeking to elevate His creature to morespiritual conceptions. But this can be done onlyin the most gradual manner, only in so far as thecreature himself, by virtue of the discipline to whichhe subje~ts the principle of self-love in his bosom,regains his primal status, or becomes spiritua.llypronounced by becoming a form of brotherly love,or charity, and thus learns to conceive of God nolonger as a huge physical and passive existence,but as the sum of spiritual and active perfection,as the perfection of character or personality, inshort, as perfect Man. Meanwhile, therefore, Godcan consent to place His name upon any specialpeople only with a view to the utter abasement ofits pride or carnal righteousness, only with a viewto demonstrate, by the contrast of its proper vileness,the character of the true and spiritual worship Hecraves. Hence, I repeat that you will always findGod revealed as in intimate spiritual hostility toevery church or people with whom his name isoutwardly identified. The total pith and authen-ticity of every divine institution upon earth, stands [ 167 ]
  • THE CHURCH OF CHRISTin its purely insubstantial or promissory character,--stands in it3 being a figure or emblem of divinerthings to come. For abundant illustration on thispoint read the history of Gods" chosen people"in the Old Testament, and observe how, whenJesus came offering a full and direct revelation ofthe Divine Spirit, he provoked the measurelessscorn of that deluded and self-righteous people.In fact, as we very well know, he was obliged tohide the pure spirituality of his mission even fromhis own kindly but unintelligent followers, wasobliged to wrap it up in apologue and parableand mystic action, and finally bequeath it to theworlds memory in the disguise of two ceremonialrites, baptism and the eucharist, under penalty ofhaving it utterly obliterated and forgotten. Had it not been accordingly for these two carna.lordinances, snatched by the Lords hand from thewreck of the Jewish worship, and modified intosymbols or memorials of His own blessed spirit,the church of Christ, that great multitude in earthand heaven ransomed from sin and death by hismajestic suffering, could have had no embodimentin nature, no material basis of existence, and hencecould never have come to spiritual consciousness.For as nature is the seminary of the spiritualworld; as no conscious spiritual existence takes [ 168 ]
  • NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.place without a previous natural germination; so,consequently, had it not been fDr this provisionaland symbolical embodiment of the church affordedby the two rites in question, it must have utterlylacked all natural body or germ, must have re-mained for ever unincarnate, for the simple reasonthat the spirit of Christ was so infinitely above thatof his followers, that its only true incarnation inthe fruits of a regenerate life, or the works ofcharity, was absolutely impossible. Such is theentire philosophy of religion considered as a CUltU8,and not as a life; such the sole justification of thechurch regarded as an ecclesiasticism, and not as aliving society or fellowship. Swedenborgs whole labour, accordingly, is vir-tually given to the extrication of the Divine spirit,which is latent in these carnal ordinances of theChristian church. He shews that they are utterlyworthless save for their spiritual contents, andvindicates their existence and use only on theground of this mystic significance. The spirit ofChrist was Divine and Infinite Love. Now thisspirit becQmes possible to finite man only throughthe hu~iliation of his natural lusts, only in so faras he puts away evils of life from a sentiment ofreverence towards God or Infinite Goodness. Hemay put away these evils apparently, that is, in [ 169 ]
  • THE CHURCH OF CHRISTobedience to merely prudential motives, motives ofoutward profit and 10llll, but all this does not invitethe Divine Spirit. To put away ones evils truly,one must put them away from an interior motive,or a sentiment of their contrariety to Supreme andInfinite Goodness; and just in proportion as onedoes this, the Divine spirit, the spirit of InfiniteLove, flows into him interiorly, and builds him upinto a living and miraculous tabernacle; immortallyadequate and pliant to the Divine inhabitation. But who was there at Christs day to comprehendor receive these truths 1 How totally averse werethey to the entire strain of the Jewish mind! Andhow little prepared the Gentile mind also was fortheir entertainment, may be augured from the factthat Christs professed followers had scarcely gotstanding-room in Gentile tolerance, before theybegan to give his mission a palpably secular de-termination, and merged the glimmer of spiritualpromise it exerted in the lust of a mere earthlydominion. Indeed, for that matter, we may say,how few minds are even now prepared to receivethese high spiritual verities! You will doubtlessfind numbers of very amiable people professing tobe "converted," and able, moreover, to put theirfingers on the time and place of its transaction;but how rarely do we find our men of intellect [ 170 ]
  • NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.living in the habitual acknowledgment of the Divine _name, or putting away their native evils from anyother than worldly ends! The pride of intellectsays, "Be ye yourselves as gods, determining goodand evil;" and in missing humility consequentlywe miss all true exaltation. The house that towershighest towards the skies must first go down thedeepest in the earth; and the life that lays thesurest hold on heaven, is that which has the mosthonestly subjugated hell. If, therefore, the mind of man be still so carnaland stupid, how was it possible for the Lord tohave communicated the grand mystery of the spiri-tual birth, at that early day, in any other than afigurative or symbolic manner 1 Clearly the thingwas impossible, without fatally disgusting even themost adhesive of his few and perplexed disciples.Either the great arcanum must have remainedwholly untaught, the very effort being abandoned;or else it must be taught in accommodation to themental stature of the race, that is, carnally orfiguratively. Accordingly, Christ instituted the tworites of baptism and the supper, one symbolizingthe negative or initiatory side of the regenerativeprocess, the other the positive and consummateside of it. Baptism was designed as a sign ormemorial of the elimination or putting away of [ 171 ]
  • THE CHunCH OF CHRISTnatura.l evils requiElite in spiritual regeneration;and the eucharist, or the mystical feeding on thebody and blood of the Lord, as a sign or memorialof the influx of Divine goodness and truth conS&-quent upon such elimination. They were bothalike mere signs of this regenerative process, merememorials of it, destined to survive until hi1!mystical second coming; that is, until he shouldcome in the power of his Spirit, to claim the spiri-tual allegiance of his worshipper, or, what is thesame thing, take possession of his heart and under-standing. Now, what must we say of a self-styled newchurch which, in face of all these palpable facts,and while avowedly acknowledging the spiritualadvent of the Christ, does not hesit2l.te to graspthese literal symbols or memorials of his truth,and convert them into its inseparable and eternalsubstance 1 Why, we can only say with the Apostle,"that he is not a Jew who is so outwardly, andthat circumcision is truly nQt of the letter, but ofthe spirit." The sole glory of the Christian sacra-ments lies not in themselves, but in their spiritualsignificance. When, therefore, that thing whichthese sacraments signify is, by your own avowal,come, why seek to re-enact the accomplished sym-bol1 Especially, why should you claim a more [ 172 ]
  • NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.authentic hold upon the symbol, than they whodeny the Lords second or spiritual advent, andwho, therefore, very pertinently cherish his ap-pointed memorials 1 If your hold upon these ordi-nan~s be really more authentic than that of theEpiscopalian and Baptist, it can only be becauseyour relation to Christ is more carnal and sensuousthan theirs. These ordinances were intended onlyfor the carnal mind, or those who had no spiritual-apprehension of the Divine Truth; and if, therefore,your administration of them exhibit any specialfitness, it must lie wholly in your spiritual inferi-ority to the older sects. But the whole pretension is unfounded. A me-morial is of value only during the absence of thememorialist. When he returns to us, and exhibitsevery day and hour the love of his llllveiled heart,the memorial grows instantly wan and faded, andfalls of necessity into disuse. How sinister a com-pliment should we seem to pay to his friendship,if we persisted in cherishing a gift after the giverhad made himself wholly ours! He would say, " Clearly, the gift has been prized not for my sake purely, but for some private en,d; otherwise its value would cease by my re-appearance." It was so with the Christian ordinances. Their worth was inestimable during the long spiritual night which [ 173 ]
  • THE CHURCH OF CHRIST invested the church from the time of the apostles to the splendid Pentecost of the last century; for they served, as Swedenborg says, to secure anorderly spiritual connection for their subject, and protect him from the incursion of heterogeneousinfluences. But since that great Pentecost, sincethe passing away of these old heavens and theformation of new, and the consequent immediateintercourse of the Lord with man in nature, to whatecclesiastical end can these ordinancesminister1The truths of the new heaven are internal anduniversal truths, as intelligible and acceptable tothe Turk as to the Englishman; they are spiritualtruths, as applicable, therefore, to the conscience ofthe Hot1{lntot and Laplander as to the Frenchmanor American. Accordingly, the new heavens, asSwedenborg reports them, are made up of Gentilesand Christians alike ; and hence mere ecclesiasticalChristianity, Christianity which stands in ortho-dox ritual observances, has utterly lost all celestialvalidity. A man may be, as to his ecclesiastjcalmerits, a stanch Roman Catholic, or a stanch Pres-byterian, or a stanch" New-Churchman," and bearevery infallible ear-mark of these several persua-sions; but, however various the form of these men,it is evident that their spirit is one, the spirit ofseparatism or sect, and this spirit must necessarily [ 174 ]
  • NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.exclude them all alike from the new heavens. Theonly spirit which qualifies one for admission to thatharmonious company, is the spirit of mutual loveor charity; and where this spirit does not exist,the new heavens are not only invisible, they arealso incredible. If you doubt this, go and intro-duce the subject of the new heavens, the heavensto which charity alone gives admission, to thelearned attention of anyone in whom the ecclesi-astical spirit prevails, and you will infallibly "hearthings easy to be understood." No doubt, secta-rians of every complexion will always find falseheavens of every name, new and old, suita,ble totheir exact temper; but the truth of the angelicheavens is no more prejudiced by the number ofspurious ones, than is the worth of bullion prejudicedby the existence of any amount of brass and tinsel But I must draw to a close. No observantperson can doubt that what is ordinarily calledInfidelity is rapidly on the increase in this country,and that it is chiefly fed by the immigration fromContinental Europe. Religio~ bas been so muchidentified with the secular power in Europeancountries, the churcb has been so pliant a tool ofthe state, that the popular mind, in reacting againstthe tyranny of the one, unhappily finds itself ar-rnyed in equal hostility also to the other. We [ 175 ]
  • THE CHURCH OF CHRIST .seem destined to reap some of the fruits of thisreaction. Multit.udes annually resort to these hos-pitable shores for a livelihood, who cherish a reso-lute contempt for the name of religion, and willnaturally do all in their power, legally, to diffusesuch contempt. In this state of things, what is theremedy 1 We have no political remedy, of course,since our Constitution allows the utmost freedomof opinion and speech. Indeed, the separation~tween the civil and ecclesiastical power is ournational distinction. It constitutes the legitimateboast of the American church, that it disclaims thealliance of the secular power, or refuses to protectitself by civil penalties. Hence our only relianceagainst the encroachments of infidelity, must ne-cessarily be in the divine truth of our religion itself,and the clearer exhibition of its spirit in our ownlives. Religion is the affirmation of a higher lifefor man than that derived from nature-a life ofgrowing conformity to infinite goodness and truth.All good men necessarily therefore enrol themselveson ita side, as feeling the very life of their soulsbound up with its prosperity. The effect of everyconflict, accordingly, between religion and infi-delity, must be to bring good men of every nameinto clearly pronounced union, and reciprocal know-ledge, and appreciation. [ 176 ]
  • NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM. Religious wars are over, doubtless-at least inthis land. For where no special ecclesiasticism istolerated by the state, every possible casus belliis averted by anticipation. The only warfare herelegitimated is that of opinion, which sheds no blood,and leaves no scars save upon the intolerant, orthose who deserve to bear them. A mans opinions,when they are freely formed, are expressive of hiswill or his vital attitude towards eternal Goodness.If, accordingly, he cherish an opposite opinion tomine in regard to, religion or any other interest,it does not become me to blame him for so doing,but on the contrary, to insist upon his entire free-dom in the premises. Blame is called for onlywhen his action grows disorderly and hostile tospciety. The best definition of religion ever given,is that which makes it to consist in loving Godsupremely and o~ neighbor as ourselves. I amsure that no man fit for the society of men, canseriously quarrel with religion thus avouched. Ifhe does, it must be at the deliberate compromise ofhis own character, in confessing himself indifferentto every humane aspiration. Would anyone feeldisposed to resort to legal penalties against such aperson 1 On the contrary, would not one feel the sincerest pity for him, and cheerfully do his best to soothe and placate him 1 [ 177 ] 13
  • THE CHURCH OF CHRIST Thus, infidelity will not be able to assail religionitself, without infinitely discrediting its own aims.What Will it be compelled to do, therefore, by wayof keeping itself alive 1 It will assail certain acci-dental peculiarities now attaching to the religiousprofession, certain Romish, Presbyterian, or Episco-palian, or Methodistic features, nowise belongingto the divine form itself, yet able, very often, to doher discredit in the eyes of the thoughtless. .Aninsincere profession, a worldly temper, Pharisaicscrupulosity, superstitious regard for ceremonialobservance~ unreasonable dogmas, and what not,are sure to show themselvetl wherever a sectarianspirit eXists, and it is a blessed infidelity whichshall help us to correct such abuses. The moreyou strip religion of its purely ecclesiastjcal 8.lddeciduous features, or, what is the same thing, themore you identify her with t~e spirit of mutualand universal love which unites the men of all sects together, the more you bring her essential and eternal beauty into relief When I am assured that my looks are not so captivating as my neigh- bors, and my manners not near so graceful as they might be, I then identify myself all the more gladly with the harmless spirit within both looks and manners--a spirit which gives to looks and manners in any case, indeed, all their honest and [ 178 ]
  • NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM:. permanent charm. So, when we convince the eccle- siastic that he has paid too much deference "to the mint, anise, and cummin" interest of religion, he will be sure, out of pure contrition for his folly, tQ cling all the more resolutely to the weightier , interests of judgment and mercy which are its vital self. Here, then, we discover the remedy against infidelity, and perceive it to consist in the revival of pure and undefiled religion. We shall stop the IJlouth of the infidel, not by argument, but by exhibiting more and more of the spirit of true, religion, and less and less of the spirit of Roman- ism, Episcopaey, Presbyterianism, Methodism, and New-churchism. There is no sadder sight to every goo<! man than a mere Romanist, or a mere Epis- copalian, or a mere ecclesiastic of any name. One feels how hard it must be for the poor human soul that deliberately buries itself under that rubbish, ever again to reach the upper air, and breathe the heavenly breath of charity. Every truly religious man in every sect feels alike on this point. Every instructed person perceives that the ecclesiastical, temper is totally out of place in this country, be- cause our polity resolutely ignores all ecclesiastical form, committing this subject to the purely private judgment of the people. Hence it is that a man [ 179 ]
  • THE CHURCH OF CHRISTis invariably felt to cut such a sorry figure amongus, when he talks loudly about the church! thechurch !-meaning by that word some meagreand arrogant Romanism or Episcopacy or N ew-churchism, instead of the great brotherhood ofthose who, under whatever name, cultivate thespirit of Christ-a spirit of perfect love, becauseof perfect humility. People of this sort may well dread the advanceof infidelity. It is certain to ingulf them. I tis,indeed, directly aimed at tHeir destruction. Theman who uses the doctrine of Christ only for thepurpose of separating and dividing those who arein spiritual unity, belongs in heart to the infidelcamp, and will finally enrol his name there. Butto the Christian· without guile, to the man whofsteems charity above knowledge, and brotherlylove before self-love, infirlelity presents no t€rrors.He knows very well that every man of like temper with himself must remain for ever unsednced byits chatter, and that for all others, or for those whonalt knowledge above charity, faith above love, itis of small consequence what name they go by.They will be very BUre never to go by an unfashion-able one, whether it be Christian or Infidel. Howmany persons are there in every sect, who are byno means of the sect, but who believe substantially [ 180 ]
  • NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.in the views here set forth-men who hide theirRomanism, and their Episcopacy, and their Method-ism, away from the Divine eye aR zealously as theywould hide any other carnal vanity, and rejoiceonly in the spirit of mutual love which is the badgeof Christian discipleship! Is it too much to hope that persons of this stampin all the sects may be coming into closer reciprocalknowledge, and that ere long they may be brought -into open and joyous communion 1 I think not.But, at all events, I am sure that until that con-summation ensue, we shall have no formal cuUusbefitting these high spiritual latitudes, nor anychurch consequently which has the least right tobe above fear as to what man can do unto it.Man can destroy, and will destroy, every churchwhich lives by the allegation of a superior divinesanction to that possessed by other churches. Onthis point, the very citadel and centre of his free-dom, man will tolerate nonsense no longer. Hewill cheerfully promote the welfare of all the sects,because they all express a lawful latitude of humanopinion in regard to divine things, and guaranteethe soul consequently against stagnation and death.Their accordant existence, moreover, tends not onlyto adorn the outward life of the community, by thevaried impulse they give the arts, but to develop [ 181 ]
  • THE CHURCH OF CHRISTalso its inward life by the constant occasions theyafford to the exercise of charity or mutual love.But for this very reason society will no longertolerate sectarian discords. The harmo~y of thesects is so full of social advantage, that it would besuicidal in society to permit the slightest infringe-ment of it on any side. In fact, the developmentof the true or spiritual church of Christ, is absolutelycontingent upon the rigid social equality of thesects. Nor indeed, is there any likelihood of anyof them so far forgetting their own interest, as toattempt transcending this equality, unless it be theRoman Catholic. The Latin poet has said, N atUrram expellas furca tamen usque recurret, andthe theory of the Roman church undoubtedlyobliges it to aspire after universal dominion. It isthe only church, except the Mormon, which laysits sacrilegious hand upon the soul of its subject,and binds him to its will in this world by claimingan absolute power over the destinies of his spirit.All the other churches claim a strictly accordantrelation with the state. The Romish church aloneclaims a paramount relation, and hence it willvery well bear to be very well looked after by everyone who has the states welfare at heart. ThePope may doubtless continue to send his swarminglegions over, and scatter the trinkets of his official [ 182 ]
  • NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.vassalage with a profuse hand; he or his subordi-nates may timidly begin to test the public toleranceby foolish and agressive prayers in the public news-papers for the "convers:on of the United States"to Popery, or by pompous and puerile ecclesiasticalproceilSions in our public thoroughfares, withoutrufHing the popular indifference one feather. Butlet them not misconstrue that indifference to theextent of provoking any public recognitio~ of theirhierarchical claims. Let them not se.ek to compassever so covertly any political ratification of theirecclesiastical supremacy, or their very existence asa church will be instantly jeoparded. Beaten andprostrate on her own arena, and in the very noon-tide of her pride and vigor, the Catholic churchhas doubtless a claim to pass the serene and un-perturbed evening of her days in these tolerantclimes; but of course so long as she consents, likeall her sister sects, to eat the bread of politicalhospitality merely, and does not claim to be the mistress of the feast. It cannot be necessary inthe nature of things to fight the same battle twiceover, and it is too entirely ridiculous that thisvirgin hemisphere should be expected to inheritthe quarrels of the older one, or exhibit the slightest solicitude for the lapsed estate of this dowager ecclesiasticism. [ 183 ]
  • THE CHURCH OF CHRIST After what has gone before, you will not be surprised to hear me say, that I look upon the revival of what may be called "the church senti- ment" in these days, as of very precious augury.All that is to be desired in addition is, that thesentiment be somewhat better instructed by meansof an enlargement of the popular conception of thechurch. One daily meets with tender, humane,and noble persons, who are heart-sick of the miser-able scepticism which dogs our current literatureand theology, and who would gladly do anythingthat should promise to bring back ·a devout andbelieving spirit to society. For every person, infact, who has begun to feel the faintest glimmer ofspiritual day-dawn in his soul, knows that withoutfaith in .God, human life is devoid of all dignityand charm, and that we shall never begin to graspthe shining ideal which has animated and sustainedso many generations, until we attain to a childlikedocility of mind in regard to divine things. Theonly mistake on the subject is, that many of thesepersons suppose that the end desired is to be at-tai~ed by a social retrogression instead of advance,or by reorganizing the old ecclesiasticism insteadof utterly abandoning it for a more spiritual con-ception of the church. When the Lord came tofulfil the promise of the earthly Jerusalem, he did [ 184 ]
  • NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.not proceed to do so by reorganizing that carnaleconomy, or infusing new life and sacredness intoits cmmbling walls, but by turning away the atten-tion of his followers to a new and spiritual house,wbich should eventually come down from God outof heaven, and gather in its ample bosom all thetrue flock of the Divine Shepherd. So also, in theresurrection, we do not find that a man is raised inthat material body which had been buried, andlong since undergone resolution into its componentearths and gases, but in a new and spiritual andtherefore incorruptible body, befitting his enlargedsoul. Accordingly, now while we are looking fora resurrection of the church, and looking for it toowith entire confidence, we have no right whateverto expect it in any formal guise, or as the redint~­gration of any existing ecclesiastical interests, butonly in a spiritual guise, or as that divine spirit ofcharity which is common to all the churches, andgives to all their solid and sole hold upon publicrespect. One would gladly realize all the poeticcomfort contained in the charming phrase, "MotherChurch." But surely we do this best, not by de-grading the church into a wrinkled old crone, forever looking back to the conquests and coquetriesof her youth, and mourning over the joys that·are gone, -but only by exalting her into "the ever [ 185 ]
  • THE CHURCH OF CHRISTyoung and ever fair" reality which that blessedsymbol paints. The word "mother" suggests tothe imagination all that is most unselfish, mostuncomplaining, and most beneficent~ in humannature. The mother forgets herself and her owninterests utterly in zeal for the welfare of herchildren. She finds her best happiners in develop-ing their affections and nascent sensibility, in being totally spent for them, instead of binding them to her service. She is lost in the love of her offspring, and is never unhappy so long as their bosoms overflow with contentment. She willingly leavestheir discipline and correction and their intellectual growth to the father, and is wholly blest in quicken- ing their affections and laying a foundation, for enduring happiness. Of course, no possible eccle- siasticism can fulfil the bursting promise of this symbol It is only the true or spiritual church, the church which exist.s under all ecclesiastical disguises, and becomes visible only in the good of life, that can pretend for a moment to do so. Were the church utterly divorced in the popular estima- tion from the ecclesiastical pretension, were it once fairly elevated to the spiritual conception, the days of its true glory would instantly begin, never more,to end. Then for the first time we should know the blissful meaning of the phrase "Mother Church," [ 186 ]
  • NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.because we should then find a mother whose in-terests were inseparably one with the most variousand advanced culture of her offspring, and whosetotal spirit, therefore, was one of mutual love andtolerance. The recent accessions in this country and Eng-land to the Romish church from other communions,do not indicate, as is sometimes foolishly said, anyrevival of vigor within that church. They simplyindicate a fastidious individual reaction here andthere against the spirit of the age, a spirit which isdaily leaving that church higher and dryer uponthe sands of popular neglect, and exposing it tothe inevitable fate that awaits all tmrely parasiticlife. The Catholic church exists now in the condi-tion of a mere scabies upon the life of the nations,or the body politic, and can no more become againincorporate with that life, than a scabies thrownoff from the natural body cap. again become incor-porate with it. T4e homage it receives from indi-viduals here and there in other communions, is nodoubt soothing to its pride; but this homage com-municates no strength to it, being expressive infact only of utter weakness on the part of the giver,or utter inability to keep pace with the inflowinglife of God into the nations. Suppose all theimbecile and recusant life of Christendom should [ 187 ]
  • THE CHURCH OF CHRISTtake refuge in the Romish communion, as it veryprobably may, would that church be any thestronger, or only the weaker for the infusion 1The larger the army, if cowardice and poltroonerybe its spirit, the surer its overthrow. There isnothing strong but innocence, which is charity,and charity does not vaunt itself, does not puffitself up, does not behave itself unseemly, norprompt its subject to thrust himself upon a publicwhich is tired of him. When one is no longer ofuse but to oneself, he had better die and be for-gotten, as every homage .he receives after thatevent, being offered to the memory of his oldrenown, is inw~dly a present rebuke. Had LouisPhilippe come over to this country after his fallfrom power, he would have received from the in-dividual courtesy of our people the most lavishpersonal consideration. They would have dinedhim and supped him, and caressed and flatteredhim out of all measure: they would have felt,indeed, a cordial sympathy with his heavy losses,and many individuals, no doubt, would have avoweda sharp and bitter disgust at the upstart and pro-testant influences which overthrew him. But wouldLouis Philippe, think you, have been senselessenough to imagine that all this patronage of hisfallen majesty promised to reinstate him? I fancy [ 188 r
  • NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.not A king in rags is a Rplendid bait for a luxu-rious benevolence, and a man of Louis Philippesknowledge of the world would have understood thecase at a glance. Let the Catholic church takea lesson from the illustration. It is seldom sosplendid a mendicant knocks at the door of ourecclesiastic sympathies, and the scarlet and queenlymemories she trails in the dust furnish an irresis-tible lure to our sensuous pity. But for this veryreason she is apt to get herself patronized by theleast instructed and most wilful tempers in ProteB-tantism, mere wanton Quixotes, who, in their zealfor reaction, would place mans eyes in the back ofhis head, and who look upon windmills, and goodhonest mutton, and all the other insignia of mansprogressive industry, as inventions of the devil torob the past of its glory. Can this sort of patron-age be anything else than degrading to its object 1 In fact, does not all patronage imply that its objectis below its subject 1 But this is a degression.- No, the American church, the only church whichis at all congruous with the genius of our polity, is not a new ecclesiastical form, but a new spirit breathed, if they will allow, into the old forms. It can have· no formal quarrel, of course, with the old churches, because these formal ecclesiastical dif- ferences are exactly commensurate with the needs [ 169 ]
  • THE CHURCH OF CHRIST of its own sp~tual unity. It has no purely formal interests of its own, because, being exclusively a spiritual .economy, and therefore identical with charity or brotherly love in the universal soul of man, ·it equally authenticates every form, Paganand Christian, Jewish and Mahommedan, whichadmits of this spirit in its votary. Every nation must p08BSess a church, or a spiritual substanceinto which the life of heaven may Bow; because itis evident that the merely political life of thenations is subordinate to an interior or higher life,-is in fact but the carnal covering or clothing ofthat life, and hence disclaims. all i1l~mediate con-tiguity with the Divine. But if every nation musthave a church or spiritual substance, as every bodymust have a soul, it follows also that this churchor spiritual substance must be fully commensuratewith its political form. Thus the church in. theseU"nited States must disown every organizationwhich falls short of our political proportions. Itsdoors must be, at the very least, as wide as thedoors of our political house; otherwise we shallexhibit the disreputable picture of a body largerthan its soul, or a church less celestial than itscorresponding State. As our political dimensionsmake us a city of refuge for all the materiallyoppressed of the earth, so our ecclesiastical dimen- [ 1oo ]
  • NOT AN ECCLESIASlICISM.SlOns must make us a city of refuge for all thespiritually oppressed. Politically we overlook thenative differences of our refugees, absorbing themall alike into our own higher nationality. And ofcourse, therefore, ecclesiastically we can show nopartiality, nor recognize any of thfl existing churchesas authentic, but must elevate them all alike to ahigher spiritual level or unity. Thus we shall at last hail the introduction of anew and eternal morality. The present ecclesias-tical morality, were there any life remaining in it,would be sheerly detestable. The Catholic, thePresbyterian, the Jew, the New-churchman, theBaptist, th~ Mahommedan, the Mormon, fanciesthat no one is secure of the Divine complacencyout of the pale of his own creed, and expectsaccordi~gly a heaven which shall inspire harps ofonly one string. In so far as this man is a con-sistent or strict ecclesiastic, he necessarily regardsall men as good who belong to his own communion,and all men as evil who reject it. For, of course,no one supposes that God saves any but good men,or condemns any but bad ones. It is very truethat few ecclesiastics are logical enough to go tothis unhandsome extreme, for, as I said before, theold ecclesiastic morality is nearly lifeless, exhibitingonly an occasional expiring flicker in some heartless [ 191 ]
  • • THE CHURCH OF CHRIST theologic adventurer, or mere odious residuum of ignorance and insolence in the shape of certain Catholic newspapers. But this unhandsome ex- treme is nevertheless logically inherent in the very heart of the sectarian theory. The consistent Catholic, or the consistent New-ehurchman, ne- cessarily supposes every one liable to the Divine wrath, who intelligently refuses to become identified with their ecclesiastical interests j otherwise they would deny to those interests all Divine sanction. And hence, as I said before, inasmuch as no one can suppose God to approve any but good men, or,condemn any but bad ones, the consistent eccle- siastic or man of the past. church, whatever name he assumes, makes the distinction of good and evil to attach t.o men only as they stand related, positively or negatively, to his own piimy pre- tensions. The true or spiritual church pronounces this morality untenable, and affirms the distinction of good and evil henceforth among men, not as they stand related to any ecclesiasticism under hlven, but only as they stand related to the spirit of God, the spirit of brotherly love or charity. A man shall have whatsoever ecclesiastical ties he pleases: he may be Catholic or Protestant, Christian or Mahommedan, and call himself after the old or [ 192 ]
  • NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM.the New Jerusalem, as suits his fancy: and no onespiritually enlightened will deem him so far eithergood or evil. For he who is spiritually enlightened,he who is of the Lords new and living church,knows that no good or evil is predicable in theDivine sight, save of the presence or absence oflove in the soul. He who loves his neighbor ashe loves himself, is a good man in Gods sight,whether he be Turk or Christian ecclesiastically,and will go, as fast as his expansive lungs permit,to the heaven of good men. He who loves himselfmore than he loves his neighbor, is a bad man inGods sight, whether he be dubbed ecclesiasticallyPope or Rabbi, and unless he repent, will infalliblygo to the heaven of bad men. Such is the temper and such the eternal moralityof the true spiritual church, the only church whichpossesses political basis and ratification in theseUnited States. Our political constitution excludesall purely formal churches, every church that isvisibly different from others, from its recognition,and so authenticates only an inward church, or achurch which stands in the spirit of charity orbrotherly love, and which may exist therefore underthe most opposite ecclesiastical forms. The vege-table or animal spirit of the world expresses itselfin very various shapes, here in the shape of II. [ 193 ] 14
  • THE CHURCH OF CHRISTcabbage, and there in the shape of a. peach; herein the form of a doIikey, and there in the form ofa horse. But the spirit is one under all thesevaried manifestations, namely a spirit of love andaccommodation to all mans varied material uses.So the religious spirit in humanity may beget herea Papacy, and there a Presbytery, or an Episcopacy,without any necessary compromise of its own unity.It is a spirit of love and accommoda)ion to allmans varied intellectual uses, and hence not onlytolerates but exacts every various and even eccen-tric formal manifestation. He who quarrels withthis largeness of the worlds spiritual administration,he who would have its religious Providence authen-ticate only some special form, some narrow Romeor narrower Jerusalem, must at some period orother of his spiritual pilgrimage, quarrel withnatures largeness also, and find his diet made upperhaps of unmitigated cabbage, and his empirerestricted to unmitigated donkey. Who can tellto what smallness one may decline, that obstinatelyrenders himself insubmissive to the Divine Provi- dence which governs the world? Nature is but the servant of the soul, and will not always tran- scend the souls demands in the services she renders. The new church then, or the church of the American latitudes, IS as it were a. spiritual Ark. [ 194 ]
  • NOT .AN ECCLESIASTICISM. rising high at>ove the waters of oblivion which are fast covering the ecclesiastical eminences of the old world, and opening its hospitable doors to every element which can add life and vigour and beauty to the manhood Qf a regenemte em. It legitimates every existing ecclesiastical form which the spirit of charity legitimates, that is to say, every form which is compatible with the existence of brotherly love in its subject, and so elevates the religious lifeto a higher platform than it has yet known. Thusfar, then, in all outward respects our ecclesiasticaldevelopment amounts to a disorganization or solu-tion of the things that have gone before: what our ,subsequent crystallization will be as to the mereforms of worship, I am not able to predict. Ofone thing I am profoundly and joyously certain,namely, that the glory of Gods former house willbe utterly eclipsed in the more spiritual splendorof that which is coming. This will be true, doubt-·less, even of ~ts sensuouS things, or its programmeof social worship. Its divine spirit will breathenew sacredness and sweetness even into the estab-lished ritual, and new forms vivid with the beautyof charity will be begotten adequate to every newwant. But the distinctive fact of the church is notan improved Sunday worship, or a new holidayapparatus, but exclusively an improved daily life. [ 195 ]
  • THE CHURCH OF CHRISTThe saint of the new church will not be the manwho prays the most, and builds the most hospitalsand churches, and undergoes the most self-sacrificeof any kind ; for eminence in these things is almostsure to beget pride, or a sense of superior merit, inthe votary: but the man who cheerfully aboundsin social uses, who diligen,tly pursues his lawfulcalling, who trains his children to noble and patientlabors, who dodges no juries and shirks no politicalresponsibility, but manfully confronts every duty,aspiring with his whole heart to be worthy of thegreat and beautiful society in which God has placedhiJp. The most vernacular and intelligible ex-pression for Gods own perfection is USE, and thedivinest form of man consequently is that whichhe derives, not from his father and mother, for thisdoes not endure, but from his own frank and cordialand complete adjustment of himself to the varioususes, domestic, civil, and religious, which societydevolves upon him. This is mans spiritual form,and it endures to all eternity, growing evermoreinstinct with Gods own power, and this is the formto which alone the true church has respect in man.The new church life therefore will begin/rom Godas well as tend to God. Under the old and typicalcreation represented by Moses, religion was not life,but a something superinduced upon life; it was a [ 196 ]
  • NOT AN ECCLESIASTICISM:. solace under trial, a refreshment after .toil, and stood embodied in Sabbatical observances. The Sabbath, or day of divine rest, ended the week, shedding the dews of its consolation upon the heads and hearts which the previous six days toil had bruised and wearied. But the new and true creation in Ohrist Jesus reverses this process. It identifies religion with life, inspiring man to labor, not with any hope of winning the Divine favor, but with the confidence of its present and inaliena!:>le pos- session. Hence Christianity discards the Sabbath, or day of refreshment after six previous days of toil, and substitutes the first day of the week as the Lords day; thus signifying that under the new and final economy man will work no longer to life but only from it, no longer with a servile but only with a filial spirit, or that all his secular. activity is henceforth to be baptized with the temper and blessing of heaven. I remain, yours, etc. FINIS.
  • NOTE. SINCE the preceding sheets were printed, that portionof them entitled, "The Church of Christ not an Ecclesi·asticiam," has been published in a considerably expandedform, by the Swedenborgian publiaher, Mr. White, ofBloomsbury. In that form it is, however, less likely tobe read beyond the borders of the sect, to which, asclaiming to be the New JeruaaJem, or New Church of theApocalypse, it is specially addrelllled.
  • LIST OF RECENT PUBLICA.TIONS. I. HEOLOGIA GERMANICA. Translated from the Ger-T man by SUSANNA WINKWORTH. With a Preface by thenev. C. KINGSLEY, and a Prefatory Letter by Baron BUNSEN.The Third Edition, with Corrections and Additions. Fscap.8vo, price 5s. cloth. II. YRA GERMANICA. Translated from the German byL CATHIlRINE WrNKwoRTH. First Series, Hymns for theSundays and Chief Festivals of the Christian Year, NewEdition, price 5s.; Second Series, the Christian Life, SecondEdition, price 5s. An Edition of the FIRST SERIES OF "LYRA GER-MANICA," with about 225 Illustrations from original Designsby E. Armitage, J. Flaxman, M. Lawle88, C. Keene, L. Marks,and J. Leighton, engraved on Wood under the superintendenceof John Leighton, F.S.A., in Fcp. 4to, price 21s. HI. YRA SACRA: being a Collection of Hymns, Ancient andL Modem, Odes, and Fragments of Sacred Poetry. Com-piled and edited by the Rev. B. W. S.A.VILE, M.A. Fcp.8vo,uniform with "Lyra Germanica" and •• Lyra Domestica." IV. HE CHURCH OF THE FUTURE. By the late BaronT BUNBEIi, D.D., D.C.L., &c. Post 8vo, 98. 6d. v. HRISTIANITY & MANKIND: THEIR BEGINNINGSC AND PROSPECTS. By the late Baron BUNSEN, D.D.,D.C.L., &c. Being a New Edition, corrected, remodelled, andextended, of "Hippolytus and his Age." 7 vola., 8vo, £5 58. VI.E SSAYS AND REVIEWS. By the Rev. F. TEMPLE, D.D., Head-Master of Ru~by; ROWLAND WILLIAMS, D.D.,Vice-Principa1, Lampeter College; BADEN POWELL, M. A.• lateProf688or of Geometry, Oxford; H. B. WILSON, B.D., Vicarof Staughton; C. W. GOODWIN, M.A.; MARK PATTISON, B.D.,Rector of Lincoln College, Oxford; BENJAMIN JOWETT, M.A.,Regius Professor of Greek, Oxford. 8vo, lOs. 6d. LONDON: LoNGMAN, GREEIi, LoNGMAN, AND ROBERTS. ,