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outliving is its own imperfect, provisional interpretations of this changeless Word of God. The sun and stars do not change, but astronomical science is always changing. Christianity does not alter, while man's account of it alters continually. But it does not alter whimsically, accidentally, from good to bad, or from bad to worse, or from evil to evil. It changes from literal to spiritual, from formal to essential, from husk to kernel, from partial to universal, from temporary to eternal; and, in this, it obeys a common law which conditions science, politics, and literature, - the law of the human mind, - in which are deposited the moulds and the method of truth.
Dr. Bushnell has attempted to show that the vicarious sacrifice of Christ is the illustration of a universal law of humanity, by which we are all suffering vicariously, or in place of each other. Dr. Bushnell is right: and every doctrine which hopes to prove itself a permanent part of Christianity must find its place under some universal truth; that is, must find its foundation in human nature, which is the image of God. And that is the providential drift of all useful and effective thinking in our time. It is a pity that Rationalizing should bave got a bad name from being first used to denote crude fruits of reasoning. All science, all philosophy, all theology, are rationalizations; that is, the products of reason applied to the problems of thought. "The danger is that it will not be rationalism, but reason applied a little way, and eked out by prejudice, or cut off by impatience, for the rest. A true rationalism accepts all the facts of life, whether revealed by the senses or the soul or the spirit. It undertakes to account for the existence of religion, as well as for the existence of economy or politics. It no more ignores the fact of conscience, of universal yearnings for immortality, of Christ's sublime and holy presence in history, of the existence of the visible and invisible Church, than any other more tangible or intelligible facts. It is a broad and thorough rationalism that is finally to make the gospel of Christ, its miracles and its supernatural origin and power, a part of the higher philosophy and diviner science of
humanity. Christianity is a copy of the eternal reason; and human reason will finally clear itself enough of prejudice, superstition, sensualism, and sin, to see its own reason sublimed and glorified in the Word of God.
The liberal sects in Christendom are the sects that accept human nature as God's natural revelation, with which all supernatural revelations must accord, however they may supplement its teachings or advance its development. The ordinary sects of Christendom are based upon distrust of human nature. They put man's nature and God's nature at antipodes, and then make the gospel of Christ a treaty between hostile powers. They deny thie integrity of the divine image in the human soul, and point at what they call its fragments, as if God's image, made of something more brittle than glass, had tumbled from its pedestal and broken into splinters in Adam's fall. The Church has been patching and welding this broken figure ever since, in hope of making it presentable at the judgment of its original Maker. We do not conceal the fact, that this view of things had its excuse, nay, its reason. Human character has passed for human nature, and has often and largely been depraved enough to justify the superficial or the figurative in calling human nature depraved. But it is the precise error which a physician would make, who, finding sickness common, should pronounce the human organism an ill-planned or a diseased and imperfect work. Medicine has partaken the folly of theology, and treated the human body as if its laws could be amended or disregarded; as if drugs and bleedings and cordials.could take the place of food and diet, exercise and air. But how swift and glorious the reform in this science, and how typical of the reform in theology ! We must come back to human nature at last in all things, because it is coming back to God. Theology in the liberal sects says, in the face of the schools and the creeds and the vast majority, The gospel of Christ is the key to human nature,and the key was made for the lock, not the lock for the key. Human nature is the foundation of theology; and no reading of Christianity which denies this can survive the ever-growing protest of that nature against it.
VOL. LXXX. - NEW SERIES, VOL. II. NO. I.
Of course, those who attempt to adjust their views of religion and of the gospel of Christ to their views of nature and of man, to the certainties of science and the social and political lights of the new age, know perfectly well that they temporarily lose point in gaining breadth; that they dilate religion in life, and take away a large portion of its acrid power to sting the conscience and purge the heart. But so it is with all great reforms in thought and in practice. You cannot inaugurate political liberty without indulging some license. When you create a president and congress, you do away a court and parliament, with all the showy and impressive insignia of government. Your judges are unwigged, and wear no scarlet. You have none of the king's beefeaters, and none of the gold rods and silver rods of monarchical state. You have, too, a good deal that an imperial police would suppress; for Freedom has her nuisances and her litter. But you have Freedom herself, - substantial order based on love, not fear; a rising mass of thrifty, happy people; a country like our own, mean and unsightly as its political symbolism may be. It is so, too, with that religious liberty which rests on the sacredness of human nature. Its advocates and mouth-pieces, its pulpit and its literature, dare not suppress, with insolent intolerance, many things which Orthodoxy might curse in the name of its God; because its modesty in the presence of human nature forbids the utterance of these bans. Liberal Christianity deals with fundamental principles. It teaches self-respect. It invites man to see God in his own soul. It looses him from the threats and fears, the manacles and strait-jackets of severe and cruel creeds, and then bids him use his new-found spiritual liberty in worshipping the God of love. And, when it comes to a question of influence, we can only express an absolute confidence, that, for two reasons, that influence is immeasurably the best in Christendom: first, that it attracts the noblest, bravest, and most generous natures to its ranks; and, second, that it works by love and trust, and produces their fruits in the life and character of as elevated and enlightened a class of Christian believers as the world has ever seen.
But the time for excusing and the time for expounding the philosophy of Liberal Christianity has gone by. The time for proclaiming it universally has come! It is not man, but God, that announces this new dispensation of the Christian religion. It is not man, but human nature, that indorses it. It is in the literature, science, politics; in the secret or open thought; in the blood and will, - of the age. We have had little hand in bringing the world where it is; little to do with making Liberal Christianity what it is. God and humanity have pre-ordained it. Science, politics, art, economy, liberty, could not rise to their present pitch and leave Theology where she was. The daylight proves the bush to be no ghost. The world cannot, in the light of the nineteenth century, accept the theology of fifteen or ten or even three centuries ago; nay, it has outgrown that of the last generation. It must have a theology which does not deny or disagree with what it knows to be true from other sources than revelation. It cannot tolerate a religion which is less noble than its own instincts and culture. Alive itself, it will not bear in religion with what is dead, and ought to be buried.
Liberal Christianity has prepared itself, under God's providence, for this crisis. It has a faith, a form of Christian doctrine, which honors buman nature and human progress, is allied with all that is hopeful and promising in the grand humanitary and political movements of the age. And this faith it longs, after a half-century of secluded trial, to present to the minds and hearts of those five million Americans (to speak within bounds) who have outgrown and flung away all the old and outworn creeds of the past. Without one word of unfraternal disrespect for those who are content with Trinitarian and Calvinistic divinity, and with a full recognition of their services in days gone by, we plead the cause of those millions who are orphaned and desolate, wandering in a wilderness of doubt and denial, floundering in sloughs of scepticism, given over to new superstitions, to pure naturalism, to spiritualism or millenniumism, to any thing that is hopeful and generous, for want of that prime necessity, a religious faith. It is our full faith, that God has placed in our keeping the most glorious and recent dispensation of the gospel of his Son; that the hour for proclaiming it by a thousand voices has struck; that the ear of the world waits to catch its music. If we were silent, the very stones would cry out. This gospel will not perish; this glorious light will not go out in darkness. Shall we continue to prove ourselves worthy to be its apostles and its children?
Art. II. — FICÀTE.
J. G. FICATE's Leben und Literarischer Briefwechsel. Von seinem
Sohne. Zweite sehr vermehte und verbesserte Auflage. Leipzig,
1862. 2 Bände. J. G. Fichte's Sämmtliche Werke. Herausgegeben von J. H. Fichte.
Bände 1-8, Berlin, 1845; 9-11, Nachgelassene Werke, Bonn, 1834. HERE we have the collective writings of Fichte, and also bis life, all done, – the editing and the biography, — with pious and affectionate care, by his son. These publications afford greatly increased facilities for forming acquaintance with this philosopher, and seem to respond to a growing desire felt and expressed in Germany - now that Schellingism and Hegel- . ism have had their day, and all the names stand somewhat in the retrospect of the past — to return anew to the study of his thought.
Rammenau, a little village in Upper Lusatia, near the boundary line that divides Lusatia from the Meissen territory, was the birthplace of Johann Gottlieb Fichte. The people of this neighborhood were a hardy and substantial peasantry, little changed since the Reformation; very slightly cultured in books, but virtuous and full of active industry. The education was in the family; the patriarch of a house becoming, for character and wisdom, the model for his posterity. Fichte's ancestors, the more immediate ones certainly, passed for very upright men, of strong will and solid speech. His descent was from a Swedish cavalry-officer, who, at a time in