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past, and to intimate that the Christianity of the past has ceased to have any interest for the present generation, and that the knowledge and belief of it are no longer needed for the soul's growth, for its redemption and union with God, we must own we cannot go with him. Christianity results from the development of the laws of the human soul, but from a supernatural, not a natural, development; that is, by the aid of a power above the soul. God has been to the human race both a father and an educator. By a supernatural, — not an unnatural — influence, he has, as it has seemed proper to him, called forth our powers, and enabled us to see and comprehend the truths essential to our moral progress.
The records of the aid he has at different ages furnished us, and of the truths seen and comprehended at the period when the faculties of the soul were supernaturally exalted, cannot in our judgment be unessential, far less improper, to be dwelt upon by the Christian preacher.
Then again, we cannot dispense with Jesus Christ. As much as some may wish to get rid of him, or to change or improve his character, the world needs him, and needs him in precisely the character in which the Gospels present him. His is the only name whereby men can be saved. He is the father of the modern world, and his is the life we now live, so far as we live any
life at all. Shall we then crowd him away with the old bards and seers, and regard him and them merely as we do the authors of some old ballads which charmed our forefathers, but which may not be sung in a modern drawing-room? Has his example lost its power, his life its quickening influence, his doctrine its truth? Have we outgrown him as a teacher ?
In the Gospels we find the solution of the great problem of man's destiny; and, what is more to our purpose, we find there the middle term by which the creature is connected with the Creator. Man is at an infinite distance from God; and he cannot by his own strength approach God, and become one with him. We cannot see God; we cannot know him ; no man hath seen the Father at any time, and no man knoweth the Father, save the Son, and he to whom the Son reveals him. We approach God only through a mediator; we see and know only the Word, which is the mediator between God and men. Does Mr. Emerson mean that the record we have of this Word in the Bible, of this Word, which was made flesh, incarnated in the man Jesus, and dwelt among men and disclosed the grace and truth with which it overflowed, is of no use now in the church, nay, that it is a let and a hindrance ? We want that record, which is to us as the testimony of the race, to corroborate the witness within us. One witness is not enough. We have one witness within us, an important witness, too seldom examined; but as important as he is, he is not alone sufficient. We must back up his individual testimony with that of the race. In the Gospel records we have the testimony borne by the race to the great truths it most concerns us to know. That testimony, the testimony of history, in conjunction with our own individual experience, gives us all the certainty we ask, and furnishes us a solid ground for an unwavering and active faith. As in philosophy, we demand history as well as psychology, so in theology we ask the historical Christ as well as the psychological Christ. The church in general has erred by giving us only the historical Christ; but let us not now err, by preaching only a psychological Christ.
In dismissing this address, we can only say that we have spoken of it freely, but with no improper feeling to its author. We love bold speculation; we are pleased to find a man who dares tell us what and precisely what he thinks, however unpopular his views may be. We have no disposition to check his utterance, by giving his views a bad name, although we deem them unsound. We love progress, and progress cannot be effected without freedom. Still we wish to see a certain sobriety, a certain reserve in all speculations, something like timidity about rushing off into
an unknown universe, and some little regret in departing from the faith of our fathers.
Nevertheless, let not the tenor of our remarks be mistaken. Mr. Emerson is the last man in the world we should suspect of conscious hostility to religion and morality. No one can know him or read his productions without feeling a profound respect for the singular purity and uprightness of his character and motives. The great object he is laboring to accomplish is one in which he should receive the hearty coöperation of every American scholar, of every friend of truth, freedom, piety, and virtue.
Whatever may be the character of his speculations, whatever may be the moral, philosophical, or theological system which forms the basis of his speculations, his real object is not the inculcation of any new theory on man, nature, or God; but to induce men to think for themselves on all subjects, and to speak from their own full hearts and earnest convictions. His object is to make men scorn to be slaves to routine, to custom, to established creeds, to public opinion, to the great names of this age, of this country, or of any other He cannot bear the idea that a man comes into the world to-day with the field of truth monopolized and foreclosed. To every man lies open the whole field of truth, in morals, in politics, in science, in theology, in philosophy. The labors of past ages, the revelations of prophets and bards, the discoveries of the scientific and the philosophic, are not to be regarded as superseding our own exertions and inquiries, as impediments to the free action of our own minds, but merely as helps, as provocations to the freest and fullest spiritual action of which God has made us capable.
This is the real end he has in view, and it is a good end. To call forth the free spirit, to produce the conviction here implied, to provoke men to be men, selfmoving, self-subsisting men, not mere puppets, moving but as moved by the reigning mode, the reigning dogma, the reigning school, is a grand and praiseworthy work, and we should reverence and aid, not abuse and hinder him who gives himself up soul and body to its accomplishment. So far as the author of the address before us is true to this object, earnest in executing this work, he has our hearty sympathy, and all the aid we, in our humble sphere, can give him. In laboring for this object, he proves himself worthy of his age and his country, true to religion and to morals. In calling, as he does, upon the literary men of our community, in the silver tones of his rich and eloquent voice, and above all by the quickening influence of his example, to assert and maintain their independence throughout the whole domain of thought, against every species of tyranny that would encroach upon it, he is doing his duty; he is doing a work the effects of which will be felt for good far and wide, long after men shall have forgotten the puerility of his conceits, the affectations of his style, and the unphilosophical character of his speculations. The doctrines he puts forth, the positive instructions, for which he is now censured, will soon be classed where they belong: but the influence of his free spirit, and free utterance, the literature of this country will long feel and hold in grateful remembrance.
The Nature and Extent of Religious Liberty. A Sermon preached at the Church in Brattle Square, on Sunday morning, June 17, 1838. Boston: I. R. Butts. 1838. 8vo. pp. 19. — This sermon was called forth by the prosecution and conviction of the editor of an Infidel paper, in this city, for the alleged crime of Blasphemy, — a prosecution and conviction on which the press throughout the country has very freely commented, and concerning which it has, with very few exceptions, expressed but one opinion, that of unqualified condemnation. Our own opinion on the matter can hardly be called for, since we have given at some length, in a previous number of this journal, our views of religious liberty in general. We are decidedly opposed to all prosecutions for blasphemy. Blasphemy is an offence, if an offence, which brings along with it its own punishment, and the horror it excites is in all cases sufficient to render the blasphemer impotent to injure society.
The author of the sermon before us has been thought to take sides against religious liberty, to have by no means given a true and faithful account of its nature and extent; and certain are we that the definitions and explanations he gives are sufficient to legitimate the most perfect system of religious tyranny. Yet we are inclined to believe he is by no means the enemy of religious liberty, and not at all disposed to check freedom of inquiry or freedom of utterance. Through the whole sermon there seems to us to run a singular confusion of ideas. In the first place the author does not distinguish the moral restraints which every man should feel in regard to the formation and utterance of his opinions, from the restraints which may be imposed and enforced by civil society. In strictness a man may have no moral right to be an atheist, because it may be true that no man, who maintains a pure heart and properly exercises his intellect, can fail to find convincing proof of the existence of a God. But it does not follow from this that civil society has a right to prohibit atheism, or to punish the promulgation of atheistical opinions. A man has no moral right to hate his neighbor. Every man is bound to love his neighbor as himself; but shall civil society therefore pass penal enactments against hatred to one's neighbor, and attempt by positive law to enforce love to one's neighbor? Not all that is morally wrong can be prohibited by law, nor all that is morally right enforced by law. Civil society is restricted in its action to the suppression merely of those outward acts which interfere with the equal rights of all its members. If the belief and propagation of atheism abridged or impeded the exercise of the right to believe and propagate theism, then would it be within the duty of government to prohibit and labor to eradicate it. But such is not the case. He who adopts a given belief, and seeks to propagate it, infringes by that no one's rights, so long as others are left free to believe and maintain an opposite belief. No one's rights are injured, and therefore government has no occasion and no right to interfere.
The author of this sermon, in the second place, also seems to confound the utterance of certain opinions with the manner of their utterance. We know him too well to believe that he would in any case check free utterance; but he does not believe that men have a right under plea of religious liberty, of the right of conscience, to make gross and wanton attacks on the cherished sentiments of the community. But in this two things are confounded which should be kept distinct. First, religious liberty, the civil right to form and utter without any restraint our own opinions. This right is sacred, and the author of this sermon, we presume, would hold it so. Let it then be held so; let it not be questioned. Second, the right of a man to make gross and wanton attacks, not on public opinion merely, but on public sentiment, the most cherished sentiments of the community. Now this has no necessary connexion with the question of religious liberty, and only serves to confuse and mislead the mind when treated in connexion with it. We say at once, that no man has a right to make gross and wanton attacks on the cherished sentiments of the community, and that civil society is competent, if it be thought expedient, to pass and enforce laws against them. All we ask on this