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miracles,-miracles, whether of mercy or of judgment ? “And yet hears himself summoned.” By whom 1 On what authority ? “To coöperate with an unfolding creation." To do what? How can one coöperate with creation, if there is no creation? If there is a creation, the author's doctrine of evolution is false. But to coöperate with an unfolding creation in doing what? In unfolding creation? But to unfold creation, if it is unfolded, is the part of the Creator, a portion of his work necessary to complete creation. Is man summoned to aid the Creator to create ? Or shall we say the creation develops itself, and man is summoned to take his share in the work of development? But self-development is inconceivable, and certainly inadmissible by the realist, who excludes the ideal; for development is the actualization of the ideal, the fulfilment of the primitive type or idea. The development necessarily depends on the power on which its subject itself depends. If creation depends on God, he is the developer. If it develops itself, it depends on itself, that is, is independent, self-existent. But an independent, self-existent creation is a contradiction in terms. God is independent, self-existent, and therefore is, as the schoolmen say, actus purissimus, and incapable of development. “Becomes a hero.” If the first requisite is insisted on, no man can be a hero. If only the last, since, if it means any thing, it can mean only coöperating with the actual in what the actual is actually doing, -any man can be a hero who swims with the current, and does not resist his age, country, or neighbours. Cheap heroism that!
“Emulous only to discharge the duty which humanity intrusts to his fidelity.” So man receives his duty from man, and not from God! Man, then, is the subject of man! Is this what Mr. Channing calls Liberty? "His aim is to be made a minister of Providence in his own time and land." Does the author use Providence and Humanity as convertible terms? If not, here is a mistake. The man is the minister of him to whom he owes his duty,—from whom he receives his ministry. The author, then, unless for him God and man are identical, should say, in order to be consistent with himself, “his aim is to be made a minister of” man “in his own time and land.”
But we pass to consider “ CHRISTENDOM, the second division of the Discourse.
“II. CHRISTENDOM.—Planted firmly on this ground of realism, we at once recognize that we are members of the fraternity of nations pervaded by one spiritual life, which is so rightly called Christendom. Let him who is prompted, from the basis of natural science or of arbitrary speculation, to break up, fuse anew, and remould modern civilization after his own image, attempt it. The race will gain good, alike from his truths and his errors; and he will learn self-forgetfulness from seeing how easily the growing Tree of Life absorbs into its mighty trunk the litter of his theories and the soil of his good sense. The realist will strive only to aid the development of Christendom, by blending with it his best life. There is no question now as to the quality or mode of the peculiar inspiration which makes a collective unity out of nations so various in blood, language, tendency. It is enough for our present purpose, to acknowledge that the LIFE of Jesus has been the fertilizing germ of the institutions and manners, of the literature, philosophy, and art, of the worship and conscience, of our progenitors; enough to own, that the idea of a DIVINE HUMANITY, manifested through Jesus, is yet vital, -elevating the mind of this generation to an ever higher thought of that image of God, which man, collective and individual, was designed to be, and prompting classes and nations to brotherhood by an ever warmer consciousness of the unity of mankind; enough to believe, that the promise of a HEAVEN UPON EARTH, which was the first and last word of Jesus, is in time to be realized, by the inward exaltation of those nations to a piety and humanity like his own, and an extension of their refining sway over the entire globe through the instrumentality of peace. We are assured-are we not?—that some portion of a DIVINE CHRISM anoints us to the work of redeeming man universal from brutal. ity by the miraculous power of good-will. Manifest tokens abound, that providential agency impels Christendom, as a whole, and in its several communities, to Integral Culture and Unlimited Diffusion of good. Shall we hesitate with grateful reverence to give ourselves up to this heavenly leading?"-pp. 5, 6.
Christendom is here rather vaguely defined “the fraternity of nations," though what nations we are left to conjecture. The author's realism, we here see, enables him to assert that the life these nations are living is the “ one spiritual life," and of course the true life, real life, the life they ought to live. This it can enable him to do only on the condition that it accepts as right and just all actual life. All actual life is right and just. But these nations live an actual life. Therefore, their life is right and just. We must take life here in the concrete, as including the facts as well as the principles of life; for the author's realism, we have seen, excludes the ideal, and therefore the abstract. The
author then plants himself firmly on the actual right and justice of the whole actual life of his fraternity of nations, and really asserts a universal optimism. Whence, then, we repeat, the necessity of reform? If the actual is right and just, and may, as the author evidently maintains, be taken as the criterion of what is right and just, therefore true and good, we cannot understand his ceaseless and most urgent demand for social reform, and we wish he would explain it.
* The race will gain good, alike from his truths and his errors." What advantage, then, of truth over error ? and wherefore labor to correct error and disseminate truth? How long is it since error became profitable to the human race? The author holds that “to break
anew, and remould modern civilization” is an error, is uncalled for, and yet he says, let those undertake it who will; and although it cannot be seriously attempted, as everybody knows, without infinite confusion and disorder, fierce wars, terrible crimes, and inconceivable suffering, it will be only a useful experiment! Modern philanthropists have queer hearts, and can contemplate crime and misery with a wonderfully serene brow and marvellously quiet nerves.
“ The realist will strive only to aid the development of Christendom, by blending with it his best life.” Here the author plainly tells us, that all that can be rightly demanded is development, and yet he demands reform. Reform and development are not the same, nor are they compatible one with the other. Development preserves the primitive type or idea, and seeks to fulfil or actualize it; reform seeks to restore the primitive type, which has been lost, or to impress a new and different one. It re-forms, and necessarily presupposes the destruction of the old form; for the materia formata must be reduced to materia informis before it can receive a new form or a new impression of the primitive form, since there is no intercommunication of species. You must melt your wax anew, before you can give it a new impression of your old seal, or an impression of a new one. If, then, you demand reform, you oppose development; if you demand development, you oppose reform. If you are a reformer, you must “break
fuse anew, and remould modern civilization, and your place is with those who you say are in error; if you are a developmentist, you must stand opposed to them, and your success must be their defeat, and their success must be your defeat. How, then, can you regard their movements with indifference,--say, let them go on, -and pretend that the race will gain by their errors as well as by your truths? Have you really no opposition to their erroneous method,-really no confidence in your own true method ?
We are not indulging in mere verbal criticism. Mr. Channing and his friends avowedly demand social reform ; and it is evident from their declamations against the past, from their condemnation of the whole present, and their untiring efforts to substitute a new order of society for the existing one, that, when they say reform, they mean reform. Yet when they philosophize, when they undertake to defend their movements, and fix the bases of their operations, they confound reform with development, and assert the continuous progressiveness and progress of man and society. But their logic is no better than their doctrine; for it refutes itself. If there has been the progress asserted, if man and society have been continually growing better and better, reform is uncalled for; if reform is called for, the doctrine of progress asserted is false, and the progress alleged has never taken place.
“The realist will strive only to aid the development of Christendom, by blending with it his best life." But the life, we have seen, is already the true spiritual life, and the fraternity of nations” is actually all we can ask. What • need, then, of further development? They live the true life ; what more can you ask of them? And by what right do you, a realist, planting yourself firmly on the actual, and excluding the absolute principles of idealism, go to the ideal and demand its actualization And, furthermore, have you considered that to actualize the ideal is the province of the actual that is above it, and not of the actual that is below it? The painter is above his picture, whether the pictare in his idea, or the picture on his canvas. If there is a higher ideal for man and society than that already actualized, it is God, not we, who must actualize it. No man—as we often say -can lift himself by his own waistband.
We will not affect not to understand what the author means by blending his best life with that of the fraternity of nations ; for he has told us that man interchanges his real life with his fellow-men,--which, with some important qualifications, we accept. But, if the life blended is not better than the life it is blended with, it cannot aid the development contended for. My life must be better than the actual life of these nations, or I cannot improve the quality of theirs by blending mine with it. Now will the author tell us where he gets a life better than the actual life he wishes to develop? We know he has said that our real life is just in degree to our full communion with the divine reality, and "this life we interchange with fellow-men.” But his doctrine is, that we commune with this divine reality only in its evolutions. This reality is in the centre of our race, and it is, if not only, yet principally, with God in man that we commune,--through the divine humanity that we reach him and receive life from him. That this is his doctrine, he will not deny. Consequently, we can receive no more divine life than is in the life of the race, that is, than the race is actually living. The highest degree of this life actualized—and he is confined by his own principles to the actual--is the actual life of Christendom, or “the fraternity of nations, of which we are assumed to be members. Now we demand how the realist, by communion with this life, which is for him the divine reality itself, can get a life better than that life now is? If he can get no better life, what aid can he give to its development by blending with it his own best life? Nemo dat, quod non habet. If he has no better life, he can communicate no better life. If he can communicate no better life, he cannot improve the actual life of the fraternity of nations.
The author has been deceived by his silent assumption that the doctrines of the church all symbolize great philosophic truths, or principles of the natural order. We, as members of the church, are said to live a divine life by communion with the church, and by that communion only. This, Mr. Channing supposes, is merely a symbolical way of expressing a great natural fact, or truth of philosophy. The church here symbolizes humanity in its relations to God, and life by communion with her means, when translated from the symbolical language of faith into the language of science, life by communion with God in man, or the communion of man with his race. When it is said the Christian derives divine life from God through association with the church, the scientific meaning is, that man derives divine life from God through association with humanity. Hence the necessity of association as the mode or medium of divine life. But were we to concede all this, it would avail the author nothing, because no Christian ever dreams of deriving from his association with the church a higher