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ful it may seem to earthly eyes, is not that spiritual glory which will beam more fair in its immortality, when the earth will have faded away, and all that framework of society, which gives occasion and play to the virtue that is between man and man, shall have been gathered in by death, alike its origin and its end. It is the confession that, however the soul of man may wing the atmosphere of earth, it has now no pinions on which to ascend into the sunless serenity of celestial light.
And now we must be silent, nor attempt to define the new birth of the spirit. “In what way,” says Coleridge,“ or by what manner of working, God changes a soul from evil to good, how He impregnates the barren rock with priceless gems and gold, is to the human mind an impenetrable mystery in all cases alike.” Only this shall we say, that by faith the soul lays hold of and unites itself to Jesus, finding in Him all that for which it has sought; His mysterious sacrifice sufficient to make atonement for guilt, His righteousness a spotJess robe in which it may sit forever at the banquet of the Almighty King, His name the harmonizing of all contradiction, the solving of all doubt, the open secret of the universe.
In a passage which he who has once read can hardly have forgotten, so softly pathetic is it, so richly and melodiously beautiful, Mr. Carlyle sets, as it were, to lyric music the joy of the wanderer's heart when he attains final peace. The inheritance of the Christian is likewise peace, though of another nature from that which visited the scathed heart of Teufels. dröckh. This is no reward of proud self-assertion, no rapture of philosophic dream: on the Christian, from the eternal heavens, there now streams down the smile of a living Eye. The emotions which befit his state have, from the olden time, been voiced in a mild anthem, whose divine simplicity and angelio
music are beautiful as the morning star, and to which we may imagine the saints of God, in the future eternity, attuning their harps, when memory wanders back to the little earth, and they think of that humility which is the highest glory of the finite. In that anthem the Hebrew minstrel sung of himself as a stricken lamb resting in Jehovah's arms. of the Christian is to feel the circling of those arms, as he lies in the light of that countenance.
We are compelled to be very brief. We can but add a few fragmentary remarks, which we pray readers to regard rather as partial indications of what might be said, than as any unfolding of the momentous and inspiring themes to which they relate. We should like to discuss, first, the ethical value of this theory of conversion in that precise point where it contrasts with pantheism ; next, the mode in which it tranquilizes the mind which is agitated by a sense of the sorrowful mysteries of human destiny, and the dark paths of divine justice; then, the Christian theory of work; and, lastly, the Christian theory of heaven. We can but offer one or two words on each.
We accept from the hands of Mr. Carlyle and Goethe the far-trumpeted doctrine of self-renunciation; we listen to Fichte, and to the whole of that lofty spiritualistic school of which he may be considered the head, and bear witness to their emphatic and eloquent proclamation of the sin and blasphemy of selfishness, and we boldly assert that it is in Christian conversion alone that self-renunciation is attained, that self is actually conquered. Of all that holds of pantheism, of the genius-worship of the day, of the idealistic or emotional religiosity now so common, of all which professes to work in the human bosom a benign and self-conquering revolution by the evolving of any hidden nobleness lying there, or reference to any perfect
internal light hitherto obscured, we affirm that it utterly fails to approach the root of the evil. When laid down in the most perfect and plausible philosophic form, these views are thus powerless, and, in application to practical life, the perils which encompass them are obvious and unavoidable. To denounce the sensual life is no great achievement or novelty in ethics ; a moderately enlightened Epicureanism has always done that. But how can I apply the term of self-renunciation to an act which is really and merely the assertion of self, of spiritual self, that is ? What is this more than the purchase of a lofty and delicious pride, by the sacrifice of the garbage of sense? Self, on every such theory, leaves the coarse dwelling of sensual pleasure, but it is only to rear for its own royal abode, a palace of gold and cedar. And if the commands of a serene spiritualism may, in the case of the philosopher, repel the advances of sense, who that has ever cast his eye over life can refuse to concede that they would be all unheeded on that wild arena; while the absence of any precise definition or applicable test of the spiritual and divine in the individual breast, would leave a broad avenue, the more inviting that it was lined by academic plane-trees, to all manner of delusion, extravagance, and absurdity.
This is a delicate, soft-stepping, silken-slippered age, patronizing the finer feelings and a high-flown emotional virtue; vice has cast away its coarse and tattered garment, and, though finding no great difficulty in obtaining admittance into good society, must come with sleek visage, in a spruce, modern suit, glittering with what seems real gold; the religion that languishes in luxurious aspirings or dreams, is very widely approved of. But does not an elevated and insidious but fatal pride tend to pervade the moral atmosphere of the time? We will glow in lofty ardor over the page of Fichte, Carlyle,
Schiller or Goethe, but it is a balmy and consoling air which breathes its mild adulation through our souls; for is it not our own nobleness which is so gratefully evoked? We will worship in the Temple of the Universe, with a certain and proud homage, like that of the stars, and winds, and oceans; but our lordly knees must not be soiled by getting down into the dust. We will perform with Goethe the great moral act of self-annihilation, and wrap ourselves, with much ado, in the three reverences : but it were strangely bigoted to weep like an old Puritan, because we can not leap from sin our shadow. Christianity, we proclaim, is pervading the age more deeply than ever before; not now as a constraining and antiquated form, but as an essence and life; not, indeed, with remarkable definiteness, not troubling itself to answer such minor questions as whether Christ's history is an actual fact, or whether Paul was an inspired preacher or a moral genius troubled with whims, but with a grand expansiveness and philosophic tolerance, sweet to remark; casting a respectful and even deferring glance toward its plebeian ancestor of Judea, in whose steps, however, an enlightened descendant can not exactly walk. As of old, it remains true that Christianity alone preaches humility, and that this preaching is ever the special offense of the Cross; rather tread the burning marl in pride than receive mercy only from God. But for the fallen finite being, this is the true position toward the Infinite; from this Christianity can not swerve. We proceed to our second point.
There is a pain which arises from inability to recognize the facts of divine justice, and from human sympathy with that part of mankind which rejects the Christian salvation, and meets the doom foretold. It is a sorrow which we believe never on earth departs entirely from noble minds, and is, perhaps, not intended to depart; that sympathetic ago!y which,
in virtue of our human unity, we feel with every brother sufferer, whatever his sin, is doubtless designed to be one of our most mighty incentives to spread the Gospel and to urge its acceptance. But, if Christianity does not altogether remove this pain, it does more to that end than any other system; if there are clouds in the heavens which not even the telescope of faith can yet resolve into worlds of light, it can open a prospect infinitely more glorious and consoling than presents itself to the unaided eye. If we might conceive any sentence as written over the throne of God, kindling the eyes of the cherubim, it would surely be this: “God is Love." Christianity came, as were, with the intimation that such words were inscribed by the hand of Eternal Truth ; faith, gazing from the far station of earth, might be unable to decipher the separate letters, and might see them only as blended into one star-beam, falling through time's night, but even in that beam there was infinite consolation and infinite hope. What does philosophy say of the future of the race ? Either it dismisses, as the vagary of superstition, all idea of the possibility of the future visiting of sin by retribution, and thus leaves unstilled man's instinctive and indestructible apprehensions, and unaccounted for a dumb yet adamantine array of facts. Christianity at least postpones the difficulty ; it refers it to eternity and to God. It bestows the sublime privilege of waiting upon the Most High; it permits the weak and wildered creature of finitude to watch the unfolding of the schemes of almighty Wisdom under the eye of almighty Love; and it is not presumptuous to think that one great fountain of that felicity, on which, as on an ocean stream, the souls of the blessed will eternally float, will burst forth in the sudden discovery of the might of that love, and the depth of that wisdom, in the disposal of every fate. When God wipes away all tears