Слике страница

ness evinced? The present reward was not deemed exhaustive. Before the eye, resting afar, as on the still evening horizon of a troubled day, there beamed out softly the Elysian fields, with their tranquil rivers, on whose banks rested heroes, and their unfading flowers that breathed balm odors through the cloudless air. Every Pagan nation has had its mythology, and each mythology is essentially an attempt of the mind to shape out in visible form the several relations in which it believes itself to be joined with some external but invisible power. In one word, the conception of man as self-complete, as all in all to himself, as his own God, has been in all ages foreign to the mind of the race; perhaps of no phenomenon could it be more confidently asserted that it is a universal habit of mankind, than of the tendency to associate internal monitions with some great external reality or realities.

II. This seems to be a necessary and demonstrable case of the action of the great mental law by which a cause is demanded for every effect. As if impressed by God with a necessity of bearing testimony to His existence, every thing within the realm of finitude, from Arcturus and the Pleiades to the tiny moss that clings to the ruined wall, presents itself to us with an irresistible power to compel reference to a cause. If we are to retain faith in mind, we must believe that, in the region of the finite, this urgent necessity has a significance. Now, if the voice of the moral faculty is heard by the human soul as final, it is the one phenomenon within the bounds of conception which claims exemption from this law; it alone breaks the bonds of finitude. No such exemption can be pleaded; as surely as a monition of conscience is a phenomenon, so surely does it impel the human mind to seek its cause. The great historical fact we noted is thus at once confirmed and explained. It is seen that it was a resist

less necessity which in all ages urged the human mind to seek its Deity without. We do not hesitate to go further. We think it would admit of being shown that the law here acts in its most express form, and with clearest suggestion of intent. All nature bears the stamp of its Maker ; but conscience names His very name.

The above proofs, we are well assured, admit of being elaborated into an irrefragable demonstration, that consciousness teaches us to refer the commands of the moral faculty to an external authority; and if this is so, it will not be disputed that there is but One authority to which they can be thus referred. We conclude, then, that the doctrine of the dele. gated nature of conscience is grounded on evidence, of similar nature and like conclusiveness with that of its supremacy among our faculties : godliness is natural to man in the same sense as morality.

Pantheism is a theory of God, man, and the universe, which can not be denied to contain elements of great sublimity; atheism can say nothing of the world, but that, for the living, it is a workshop, and for the dead a grave; nothing of the soul of man, but that it is the action of organism, and that the possibility of its separate existence is a dream; but pantheism, whether delusively or not, and at least in its popular representations, admits a theory of the world which is sublime, and a theory of man which is exalted. When clothed in the chastened beauty of the language of Fichte, or wrapped in the poetic gorgeousness of that of Carlyle, these can scarce fail to awake enthusiasm ; and it is when, with express intention or not, such writers cast a passing glance of contempt on the apparently dead and rigid universe of one who refuses to say that the All is God, that an entrance is apt to be found for those general modes of thought which are of the nature of pantheism. It were well, therefore, to look fairly in the face the express or tacit assumption of the pantheist; to contrast, with all impartiality and calmness, his universe and his God with those of the Christian.

Ye make the great All a machine, say the pantheists, a dead piece of very superior mechanism; the tree Igdrasil of the old Norsemen was better than that; to look on the universe as godlike and god, how infinitely better is that? Let us consider. One mighty tide of force filling immensity, its waves, galaxies and systems, its foam sparkling with worlds, one immeasurable ocean of life, swelling in endless billows through immensity at its own vast, vague will; such is at once the universe and the God of pantheism. The pantheist is himself one little conscious drop in the boundless tide, in the all-embracing infinite. In the branching of the stars, this infinite rushes out; in the little flower at your feet, it lives. In all the embodying of human thought—in the rearing of nations and politics, in the building of towered cities, in the warring and trading of men—it finds a dim garment; in the beauties, and grandeurs, and terrors of all mythologies—the grave look of the Olympian King, the still and stainless beauty of the woodland Naiad, the bright glance of the son of Latona, the thunder-brows of Thor, the dawn smile of Balder—it is more clearly seen; the beauty which is the soul of art—the majesty that lives from age to age in the statue of Phidias, the smile that gladdens the eyes of many generations on the perfect lip and in the pure eye of a Madonna by Raphael-is its very self. You may look at it, you may, by effort of thought, endeavor to evolve it within you; but the drop holds no converse with the ocean, the great rolling sea hears not the little ripple on its shore; you can hold no converse or communion with your God; your highest bliss is to cease individually to be, to sink into unconscious, everlasting trance. What, now, do we behold, when we turn, with unsandaled foot, to look upon the universe and the God of Christianity? An immensity, to the bounds of which, urge them never so wildly, the steeds of thought shall never pierce, thronged with ordered myriads of worlds, all willed into existence and ever upheld by a Being, of whom tongue can not speak or mind conceive, but who lit the torch of reason, who hears the voice of man, and whose attributes are dimly mirrored in the human soul. Endeavor to embrace the universe in thy conception; let thought take to it the wings of imagination, and imagination open the oceanic eye of contemplation; view this stupendous illimitable whole. Then conceive God infinitely above it; filling it all with His light, as the sun fills with its light the dewdrop; as distinct from it as the sun is from the dewdrop; to whom the countless worlds of immensity are as the primary particles of water composing the dewdrop are to the sun. Then add this thought: that He, around whose throne the morning stars for ever sing, to whom anthems of praise from all the starchoirs of immensity go toning on eternally from galaxy to galaxy, hears the evening hymn of praise in the Christian home, the lowly melody in the Christian heart, the sigh of the kneeling child; and, when the little task of his morning sojourn on earth is over, will draw up the Christian, as the sun draws up the dewdrop, to rest on the bosom of infinite Love. Such is the universe, and such the God of the Christian, in what faint and feeble words we can image the conceptions. Is the universe of pantheism more sublime than this?

We must, however, pause. We have, in the preceding sentences, not unallowably conformed to those general ideas of God which must float in the general intellect. But in order to show what Christianity here affords us, we must endeavor to define, with briefness, but precision, the ultimate idea of God at which philosophy can arrive. We shall not enter into any proof of the fact, that the human mind can not conceive the infinite; that the sphere of thought is limited by the relative, the conditioned. We assume this point, or rather we accept regarding it, as what may now be considered final, Sir S William Hamilton's demonstration. We shall agree with the declarations on this subject, which he cites as those of a “pious philosophy:"_" A God understood would be no God at all;" "To think that God is, as we think Him to be, is blasphemy.” The general intellect of the race has always sought for, and believed in, supernal power; this grand characteristic may

be affirmed of all nations and ages; if some appearance of exception has been presented, it has been by no means of an extent or nature to invalidate the general evidence. This belief, however, has been either instinctive and imperfect or blind; either accepted at the instinctive bidding of those laws which will not permit man to consider phenomena causeless, and finitude final, or the faint echoes received without question or examination, of an original revelation. The general idea formed in all ages of the Divine, has admitted of being analyzed into two components; a personality either human, or strictly analogous to that of man, and a supplement of human power, beauty, and wisdom, by more or less skillful borrowing from those examples of force, loveliness, or design, which are manifested in nature, and were recognised to transcend human attainment. But as civilization advanced, and thought began to appear, the popular conceptions of divinity were submitted to philosophic examination, and proved to be unsatisfactory. To avoid detailed explanation, we shall say, in general terms, that philosophy, after careful

« ПретходнаНастави »