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not solely or mainly a delight in it for its ceives in them, not so much the variations own sake. The essential point to him was of taste from age to age, as the adventures this, that "literature has man for its sub of the human soul in its pursuit of the ject and man for its object;" that it is ideal and the absolute. It was natural, “the echo of life," " the expression of therefore, that he should attach but a secsociety;” that it "humanizes science," ondary importance to the perfection and and reproduces, under an ideal form, the finish of his own works. They were acts, life of humanity. He saw in literature not words; the acts of the teacher, the “that indefatigable messenger who, to the preacher, the apostle. His critical and general store of truth and utility, brings in historical works are reproductions of his the true and the useful transformed into lessons and lectures, or reprints of review the image of the beautiful — the beautiful, articles, contributed, not to magazines which is, perhaps, the true in all its truth, indifferent to doctrine, like the Revue des in all its lustre, with all its radiations." Deux Mondes, but to reviews devoted, Even in the study of style, he was still on like Le Semeur, to the propagation of the search for man. The analysis of moral and religious ideas. The greater expression,” he said, “is the study of the part of his books were, as I have already human mind; rhetoric itself is a form of said, not even published during his life, psychology. This is the serious side of but after his death, often from potes taken literaturc; and yet so many readers come by his pupils. In their composition as to it for nothing but pleasure and amuse- well as in their language they bear the ment." Art had its value, in his eyes, as mark of the imperfect conditions under the apocalypse of life, of nature, of man. which they sprang to light. Moreover, “Art,” to him,"js man bimself." “ The there was no time in Vinet's life during mission of art, as of christianity, is to which he gave himself entirely to literary bring us back to nature." Thus it is that work. He never forgot that his studies art is interesting to him only so far as it had in the first instance been undertaken leads to the study of man; and he feels with view to the pastorate, and not a an indistinctive distrust for the search year passed without his preaching or writ. after mere beauty of form. He sees “a ing on religious or ecclesiastical subjects. great snare" in the literary gift; he pro. With the single exception of the “Chrestests against the idea of a purely æsthetic tomathie,” the books he published during culture, because to be an artist and noth- his lifetime are all either collections of ing else "requires a degree of impartiality sermons, or treatises on religious or social in which conscience can hardly acqui- ethics, or polemical theology. Even his esce.” Throughout all his labors as the holidays and visits to watering-places were critic and historian of French literature, but another opportunity for giving play to we find him, with all his sensitiveness to his pastoral activity. Finally, he became the splendors of style, the wealth of im. for seven years (from 1837 to 1844) proagery, and the power and fertility of fessor of practical theology at Lausanne; genius, seeking for some other thing in the and his last two years, from 1845 to 1847, works that he appraises, above and beyond were almost entirely taken up with the their mere literary or artistic excellence. founding of a free church and a free TheoWhile some see in them the pursuit and logical Faculty. Amidst all the hurry realization of a certain artistic ideal, and and harass and difficulty of a life crowded others the product of given historical and with absorbing occupations, often with social conditions, and others, again, the heavy material anxieties and cruel trials, expression of the individual temperament with the cares of uncertain health, and and personality, Vinet watches ever for with the worry of incessant controversy, the revelation of the human soul, one and Vinet has neither the leisure nor the incliinfinitely manifold, occupied in the search nation to become an artist. He has left for truth. The thing that interests him in behind him some admirable passages, and the books is the permanent substratum of nowhere anything trite or mediocre; he moral truth contained in them. He per- I abounds in clever touches, in picturesque
and poetical imagery, in forcible and felici- self they are entirely conciliated. Theo tous expressions; and this for the simple logians do well to insist on the idea that the reason that he thinks his thoughts in his sacrifice of Christ was a voluntary act. But own way, and has a powerful mind and the merit of having willed the salvation of strong convictions; but, except a few man by His blood is no less of God. If the fragments like that on Bourdaloue, the There is as much love in one as in the other.
Son came to suffer, the Father sent Him. “ Discours sur la Littérature Française,” a few reviews and a few sermons, he The great speculative thinkers have produced nothing that could be called been either celibates devoted to the task finished. He had too much to say; and of thought (as. Descartes, Spinoza, Kant), he never had time to say it broadly and or men in a comfortable and prosperous completely out. Hence "his obscurities, position which left the mind at liberty, as inadequacies, and awkwardnesses. He was the case with Hegel. Vinet had to says himself, with perhaps an excess of struggle with poverty and illness. He had modesty:" I am not one of those writers married for love, and his affection for the who are born translated; somebody will noble woman he had chosen occupied a have to translate me. And somebody will great place in his life, and was the source translate me, if what I have written is of many joys and of many griefs. He had worth the trouble." It is not true that he but two children, both of them invalids, needs translating; but it is true that, to feeble in body and mind — a son, conunderstand and appreciate him, he de demned to a precarious existence and a mands a certain amount of effort and mediocre position, and a daughter, whom application. But one is amply rewarded he tenderly loved, and who was taken from for one's pains by the moral and intellec- him at the age of seventeen. Add to this tual profit to be derived from the contact. the political and religious conflicts in
But if Vinet was not, properly speaking, which he was engaged both at Bâle and a scholar, still less was hea philosopher. at Lausanne, and it is easy to see that the This is not saying that he was actually conditions were not favorable to speculaincapable of philosophic speculation; and, tive thought. Not only did he take no as a matter of fact, his writings contain pleasure in reasoning on abstract princimore profound thinking and more preg. ples, but it appears that he gave but little nant views of man and the universe than place to pure philosophy in his reading the works of many a fashionable philoso- and research; and in his writings it has phizer; but for systematic philosophy he hardly any place at all. The truth is, that had neither the taste nor, apparently, the under the pressure of his early beliefs, his necessary power of abstraction. His experience of life, and the cravings of an mind, soʻmarvellously at home in the com- affectionate nature, he had constructed a plexities, the subtleties, the transforma- theory of the conditions of the search for tions, the mysteries of human life, had no truth which allowed him to neglect the craving for the naked clearness of rational exercise of the pure reason, and make it truth, no sense of the rigors of absolute give place altogether to that of the praclogic. The reason, in him, was doininated tical reason. In this also he followed the by the imagination and the heart; and strong, bias of his nature, which, as it this domination was rendered more impe. found in literature not so much the reverious by the constant illness to which helation of the beautiful as the revelation of was subject from his twenty-fifth year on life and of man, so also sought in philosward, and which kept his moral sensibili- ophy not an abstract and logical structure, ties in perpetual tension. How resolutely a mechanism of thought, but an explanahe could set aside the exigencies of rea. tion of life in its entirety, a doctrine which son and of logic may be seen in the follow- should satisfy the whole man, heart as ing passage on the divinity of Christ and well as mind. He would not admit that the mystery of redemption :
the intellect is the only factor in the search
for truth. “ The mind which reasons and In order to feel the immensity of love and concludes,” he said, “is nothing without goodness that is involved in the work of re: the soul which divines. The intuitions of demption, it is essential not to lose sight of the soul are the data on which the reason the fact that, to avoid striking humanity, God strikes Himself in that which is dearest to
has to work,” " Love is, perhaps, the vi. Him. If God had been represented to us as talizing principle of knowledge." indifferent in the choice of a victim, where many bas impaired the scientific purity of would be the moral side of redemption? science by separating it too much from Neither justice nor mercy is satisfied by such life; in the man of science himself it has a course of action. But if God 'strikes Him. I too severely isolated the scientist and the
It has excluded from the domain himself the analysis of the pure reason; of scientific effort the human heart, human while, on the other hand, he does not interests, the human conscience. Reject- attribute to the conscience, singly and by ing these, the intellect deprives itself of itself, the same virtue that Kant does. its most legitimate and indispensable aux. With Kant the conscience is the revelailiaries; it flings aside, as it were, at ţion of the moral law which every one pleasure, some of the most essential bears within him. With Vinet it is, taken elements in the solution of the problem.” by itself, only the general sentiment of The essence of thought was, with Vinet, obligation, the confused print of the dioot the mere exercise of the reason, but vide hand which has been laid upon us ; “moral thought, the reasoning of the con- and we still need a fresh touch of that science.” It is on this authority of con. guiding hand to lead us to the truth. At science that he builds up the belief in this point Vinet's view approximates more God; it is in the consonance of Christian- nearly to that of Pascal; and, indeed, he ity with the affirmations of the conscience understood Pascal as no one had ever and the instiocts of the heart that he finds understood him before. He understood the demonstration of Christian truth. As how, in Pascal, doubt could co-exist with he himself so admirably puts it :
faith; since the scepticism of Pascal is What is conscience, if there be no God? nothing else but the incapacity of the What is conscience, if it be not the Agent and reason to penetrate, without the illuminaResident of God within us? If we are so un- tion of grace, into the region of morals
The whole of the philoshappy as not to be able to endure the idea of and religion. God, while yet we have not renounced the ophy, and the whole of the apologetics of idea of duty, we must of necessity, whether Vinet, may be summed up in the saying we like it or not, personify conscience, and of Pascal: “Le cœur a ses raisons que la confer upon it an authority over us.
raison ne connait pas.' But while Pas. Conscience is not ourselves; it is against cal, with the hard logic of a geometrician, us; therefore it is something other than our allows no modification of the doctrine of selves, But if it is other than ourselves, what can it be but God? And if it be God, we grace, and denies to man, apart from must give it the honor due to God; we cannot grace, not only the capacity of knowing reverence the sovereign less than the ambas- and loving, but the power of obtaining sador. If God has designed an end for us, even a glimpse of the truth, Vinet supthat end cannot be outside Himself.
poses a permanent revelation of truth
within the human heart, a testimonium In point of fact, while he spoke of the animæ naturaliter Christiana. And thus, conscience and the heart as the necessary as in literature it was man alone that incoadjutors of the reason, while he urged terested him, so philosophy is nothing to that the search for truth must be the effort him but a revelation and a study of the of the whole man – heart, conscience, human soul, especially on its emotional understanding - and not of the reason side. Reason without sentiment is an alone, Vinet was really making the reason the coadjutor of the conscience, and ad. of ideas.” It is as dangerous “to substi
empty form. Feeling is “the generator mitting it only to a subordinate and ancil. tute ideas for feelings as to substitute lary place, its task being simply to explain words for ideas;" for the reasons to be and justify the creed accepted by the adduced in favor of objective truth have heart. It is on this ground that Vinet their seat in the depths of the soul rather cannot, properly speaking, be called a than in the domain of the understanding. philosopher. You hardly ever find in him Finally, philosophy, leads back to the a rational deduction in its pure severity; Ego; all philosophies are subjective, all his reasoning is blurred by the haloes The “ moral state " alone is a reality, and of the heart and the imagination. No it is through its active energy that there doubt one can, by dint of a little determi- springs up in the darkness of metaphysnation, discover in him the broad outlines ical mysteries the dream we name philos. of the system of Kant — on the one hand, ophy." We are not, therefore, wronging the pure reason, incapable of knowing Vinet when we say that he makes but anything outside itself or of judging any- little account of philosophic speculation, thing except in accordance with its own and attaches a real value only to moral laws; and, on the other hand, the prac- facts. tical reason, which has power to construct
And if Vinet is not a philosopher, so the moral world and the universe out of the immediate intuitions of the con
• The heart has its reasons, of which the reason science. But Vinet never undertakes for knows nothing.
neither is he a theologian. The same these points. Partly as the result of his causes which diverted him from specula- suffering and over-burdened life, partly as tive philosophy, alienated bim also from the result of a certain intellectual timidity, theology, properly so called. It is, no he remained in a state of indecision, not, doubt, with an exaggeration prompted by indeed, as to the essence of his beliefs, humility that he writes to M. Lutteroth : but as to their form. In the words he “I am nothing but an amateur who, in his wrote in 1832, when declining a theolog. moments of leisure, visits the shores of ical professorship at Geneva, he seems to science as a stranger, without aitempting me to give a characteristic and complete to penetrate the interior of a country in account of himself in this respect:which he does not even know the roads ;
Your letter has only made me feel more but under this exaggeration there lies a
strongly my own incapacity. Of this inca. certain truth. The scientific requirements pacity you may form, so to speak, an a priori of bis intellect were as slender as the judgment, when I tell you that my studies at moral cravings of his soul vere great the Academy of Lausanne have been most He was not one of those for whom logical feeble, most insignificant ... that I find mysimplicity is a distinctive mark of truth. self committed to a career in which, if I have Truth and life, to him, were synonyms;
been to some extent useful to others, I cerand life is everywhere complex and mys: teen years I have not made as much advance
tainly have not been so to myself; that in four. terious, a thing felt and seen, but never to in theological learning as one single year of be demonstrated or explained. And if good hard study might have secured for me; metaphysical and moral truth escape the that physical suffering has consumed a great frigid precision of analysis, how much part of my leisure time, and that I have been more religious truth! Vinet shraok from but a poor economist of the rest. . .:
. You subjecting the things of faith - that is to want men who add to their virtue knowledge ; say, the things of the conscience and the you want scientific theologians, equipped from heart - to the scholastic formulæ of dog. head to heel. : : . I am not one of these. My matic theology, to the artificial subtleties intellectual and physical forces are alike beof exegesis. You may read the
whole of low the mark. But, above all, you want men his works from beginning to end without of faith, Christians complete in every point,
tried and faithful servants. Ahl sir, seek being quite certain what he thought on them elsewhere. You do not realize that he the essential points of Christian doctrine. whom you summon to your Holy War is a Of course he believed in the divinity of Christian scarcely started on the heavenly Christ, in redemption, and in the inspira- way; that there are gaps in his faith and tion of the Scriptures; but it would be deeper gaps in his life; that he does not go, impossible to say precisely what was his but totters; does not speak, but lisps; does view of the doctrine of the Trinity, or of not will, but only would. predestination, or expiation, or of ques. It is evident that Vinet here alludes to tions of Biblical criticism generally. He the torments of doubt of which he speaks speaks of the fall of Adam, and of Satan, in a letter of February of the same year: and of demons; but who would dare to affirm that he believed in the personality
I have not gone deep enough. I have only of the devil or the legend of Paradise skimmed the surface of the great problem. Lost? No; he accepted en bloc the tra- if the intellectual torments of others equal
The needs of the century demand far more, ditional phrases of Protestant dogma, but those through which I have passed. ...I he avoided going into their meaning, and will try to redescend into my Tartarus. I will kept as far as possible to the moral side seek out some one of those insolent doubts, of them, leaving the intellectual difficulty those fearful visions of the reason, from which enveloped in a haze of mystery. Hence I know of only one refuge.
Have we some of his friends and disciples, like M. reached the epoch when all must be said ? Chavannes, have been able to maintain Must all the secrets of unbeliel be revealed that Vinet remained all his life attached to Must we anticipate the objections which it has evangelical orthodoxy, while others show not owned to itself? I cannot answer. hiin diverging more and more from the The state of mind described in this let. orthodox standpoint, and rising more and ter remained with Vinet, in some respects, more into a spiritual mysticism which finds to the end. No doubt his distress abated, in dogma a partial and symbolical repre- and his faith became clearer and more sentation of ineffable realities of the invisi. serene ; but he never succeeded in answer. ble world. I think that those who take this ing the objections of the reason in the latter view are the nearer to the truth ; but name of reason itself, nor found in criti. I think also that Vipet himself never went cism the solution of the difficulties of so far as to formulate his opinions on Icriticism. He escaped them by resolutely retiring to other ground, by entrenching | neva, from which Vinet had recoiled. himself in the moral consciousness and in But the deeper he went into that notion moral facts, and finding in the agreement of objective authority which had seemed between the cravings of conscience and to him so solid, the more irresistibly it the provisions of the Gospel a sufficient was forced upon him that the doctrine basis for belief. But he would have been of the plenary inspiration of the Scriptures afraid - he who speaks of himself as “an cannot stand against the criticism of the ignoramus with a smattering of informa. sacred text, and that the doctrines of the tion" to accept one of those positions fall and the atonement, no longer resting "which require you to be systematically upon the incorruptible text of a written and officially convinced, believing, living; revelation, cannot endure the searching in which you represent, by virtue of your scrutiny of reason. Opce launched upon office, the sum total of your public teach this path, once driven to call in question ing." He found no difficulty in accepting the principle of authority, the idea of sin, a little later, io 1837, the chair of practical the belief in the supernatural, Schérer, theology at Lausanne -- that is to say, of with his imperious need of clearness and homiletic and catechetical theology; but of logical precision, could find no foothold he never would have accepted a chair of short of the extreme consequences of his dogmatic theology or of exegesis. He doubts - a universal scepticism, a recogwould not have considered bimself com- nition of the relativity of all knowledge, petent to fill such a post, and he would that of moral law amongst the rest. lo M. probably have shrunk from the necessity Gréard's beautiful little book on Schérer of scrutinizing and solving the problems the tragic story of this conflict of faith which had cost him such sore anguish and reason and conscience is told at and such visions of despair.
length. He now turned his whole theoAt the very momect of Vinet's death, logical learning and subtlety, his whole one of his dearest friends and companions dialectical acumen, to the task of destroyin arms, Edmond Schérer, was undergoing the faith which had been for fifteen ing that crisis of belief which Vinet had years his joy and his strength; and as he evaded by maintaining himself on the had taken for his original point of deground of practical Christianity, and giv. parture, not the individual conscience, but ing up the vain pursuit of rational Chris. the external authority of a book and a tian theory. Superficial observers have dogma, it was inevitable that when that imagined that Schérer and Vinet held the book was discovered to be fallible and that
religious conceptions, because dogina false, the authority of conscience Scherer, at the time when his orthodox should be involved in their fall. It was belief in the authority of Scripture was quite otherwise with Vinet. His attitude begioning to give way, used for once the with regard to the men and doctrines of language of Vinet, and sought a founda- the revival is a proof of this. He began tion for faith in the agreement of our by being very hostile to them, because he deepest feelings with the words of Jesus was shocked at the narrow dogmatism of Christ." But Schérer's was a mind of a the Methodist preaching, at the morose totally different type and temper from tenacity with which they denied the freethat of Vinet. He was not without the dom of the soul and its noblest aspira. mystical jostinct and inclination, but he tions, in order to leave no room for was essentially an intellectualist. Even anything but divine grace, and at the in the days of his greatest religious fervor, mechanical character of their conceptions he was dominated by his scientific and of faith and conversion. Later on, be critical tendencies; he was a philosopher was drawn to them by what he saw of the and a theologian. He adopted the Cal- fruits of their teaching, the ardent piety vinistic doctrines of the revival, because they awaked in those around them, the he perceived in them not only the aliment power of their faith. Amidst the estabof the religious life, but a rational expla- lished churches of the Swiss cantons, dation of the universe ; and he believed fast held in the slumber of traditional himself to have found in the theory of in- practices and the repetition of lifeless spiration, and the dogmas of the fall and formulæ, the revivalists had started a the atonement, the immovable foundations religious movement of extraordinary in. of religion and morality, the necessary tensity, and given to a crowd of hungry bases and buttresses of the laws of con- souls the boon of a personal Christianity. science. He did not shrink from accept. To Vinet this was the essential thing, an ing the professorship of dogma and individual faith sincerely accepted, sin. exegesis at the theological school of Ge. I cerely professed, made a principle of life.