« PreviousContinue »
ure, should make us swerve a hair Were they not thus adapted, did from the path of rectitude. And they not harmonize with the reality let me say, that a little more can- of things—did they tend to pain, dor, or more of that deep thinking rather than to happiness, I have which you so highly recommend, some doubt whether the happiness. would correct your idea of the true principle would have received such happiness-principle, as held by its unqualified condemnation by your intelligent advocates.
philosophers. And when, in some Mr. A. I never will admit that connections, you so extol the noble as a principle in morals. Man, qualities and tendencies of your own godlike man, is something more, or system, I have fancied I saw you he is something less, than a mere expose the cloven foot of this same motive grinder, or, as Carlyle calls happiness-principle. It would not it, a mere balance for weighing hay be a difficult matter to find the very and thistles, pains and pleasures. thing in the works of your favorite
Mr. B. Well, permit me to cor- Carlyle ; his French Revolution and rect your conception of the princi. his Chartism are full of it, and it ple; for I apprehend that if we is impossible for him or any other look at things and not at terms only, man, to write upon such subjects we shall not be so wide apart here and not tacitly recognize it. In his as you suppose.
Follow truth and last work, “ Past and Present," p. 25, duty, we both say, without regard is the following: “They (quacks) to consequences. We both
that are the one bane of the world. the mind is such a thing, that it can Once clear the world of them, it see truth-that it does this, either ceases to be a Devil's-world, in all by the faculty you call Reason, or fibres of it wretched, accursed; by what some call the Inner Light, and begins to be a God's-world, or by what others call Reflection- blessed, and working hourly towards truth, moral, spiritual truth it can blessedness.” Also, p. 27, “When know. So far we are agreed. Here a Nation is unhappy, the old Prophet you stop, and protest that farther was right and not wrong in saying than this we should not go in our to it: ye have forgotten God, ye inquiry; and can not with safety have quitted the ways of God, or or advantage." I too am willing to ye would not have been unhappy." stop here-to leave entirely out of And the same idea is conveyed view the utility of virtue, and sim- more than fifty times in this same ply inculcate the duty. But I do book. And if you call this “stomnot believe it hazardous or wrong ach-happiness," inasmuch as it has to take one step more in our rea- reference to governing and feeding soning, and inquire-Why do we men; then let me ask, why will spontaneously feel that certain truths you, night after night, till the oil is are truths ? that is right that is gone from your lamp, sit reading duty ? Why do we feel, and intui- with glistening eyes the works of tively see,
the truthfulness, the beau. your Carlyle? “O such thoughts, ty, the righteousness, the goodness heaven-born, soul-inspired, they riv. of certain actions? You say, “ Be- et a man to his chair !” exclaim cause we are so made !" Undoubt- you. Will you do yourself the kindedly. And do we not find our. ness to think a little more deeply selves so made that these things upon that answer? If the belief of would not so appear, were they not this principle tends necessarily to adapted to our spiritual nature ? selfishness, I have not yet discovAnd do we not see this adaptation ered it. Moses, Paul, Christ him. in their tendency so directly and so self, alluded to it approvingly. The certainly to ennoble and bless us ? more a man loves the true, and
the good, and is stimulated by this goodness, truth, beauty, every where love to pursue them, the better he operating in nature and in the soul is. To say of men, they delight in of man. External nature is but the iniquity, is to rank them with fallen emblem or garment of the Deity, spirits. To say that they delight and serves to body Him forth to the in holiness, is to rank them with eye. But it is the eye of reason celestial beings. But as you will which sees Him, and the soul that not listen to any thing in favor of feels his presence, while conscience this principle, I propose another continually whispers his voice in topic-your idea of a God. I grant our hearing. God is within us and you are peculiar in your views of around us. The truly pious soul the Divine existence, and also re- feels his presence, hears his voice, specting several important subjects and sees him working every mointimately connected with it. Trans. ment. Men of genius, of true spircendentalism, if I comprehend it, itual insight, have ever taken this is rather a religion than a philoso- view of God. They have seen phy. Your principal oracles often through the dead matter of the repeat the idea, that religion is the world, and looked directly upon one chief fact in regard to man. God. Poets, prophets, sages, and And all your writings have a direct all the devout of every age and na. bearing upon this point.
tion, have viewed all objects which Mr. A. It is time some we call material only as the symraised their voice in its favor; for bol, or visible manifestation of the religion, except in what is outward Eternal Spirit. Some have had a and ceremonial, has well nigh been faith which saw every thing as a banished the civilized world. Your part of God, the keenness of their sensual systems of faith as well as spiritual vision scarcely noticing philosophy, have left little hope, or such a thing as matter. Not only belief, or spirituality in the soul. was God the animus mundi, and You have separated God from his
"All but parts of one stupendous whole, works, seated him upon a throne
Whose body Nature is, and God the soul," somewhere in infinite space, at an immeasurable distance from man, but all was God, and God was All. and taking it for granted that He Pantheism, a word full of denial had retired from the business of and scepticism to superficial minds, inspiring the heart, working mira. is one of the highest products of cles, and controlling all things, you the devout spirit of man. It has have taken the work of religion into been well said that Spinosa was your own hands. And truly you God-intoxicated, transcending time make noise enough about it. God's and space, all forms and appearvoice in the soul is hushed; the ances, God to him was All and in earnest, rapt spirit is wanting. Your All. Few have sufficiently disenreligion is empty and hollow-heart- tangled themselves from flesh and ed, a product of the senses and not sense, and from the influence of a of the soul. It has not the silent wrong education, to rise to such a strength of the river, but the rust- height in the spiritual world. Some ling noise of the brook rushing over of the ancients, and some at the its stony bed. You take a false present time in Germany, and posview of God, and consequently your sibly in other countries, have be. worship is idolatry.
come thus spiritual. But while I Mr. B. Do favor me with a clear admire their spirit, and long for statement of your idea of God. their attainments, I confess I fall
Mr. A. God is Good, or Good. short of their faith. While I see ness; or the animating Principle of God in all things, I do not, strictly
speaking, see all things to be God. the grass, the tree, the flower; ani. For example, I can see God in mating and inspiring the soul ; prothat rose, as the animating principle ducing new forms of beauty ; work. which gives it its exquisite and es. ing, as he has eternally worked, thetic form and tint, yet I can not works of wonder and goodness. If say, that rose is God. But I do say, the sensual philosophy had not so God is to be loved and worshiped benumbed the soul, men would see in the rose. If we have the inner this. It is seen by those you call eye to see the beauty of such ob- heathen. The wild Indian hears the jects, so far we love, admire, and whisper of the Great Spirit in every therefore worship their Maker. Still breeze ; listens to it coming from more clearly do we feel God pres. every dell and cave of his moun. ent in the human soul. Man's tains ; sees God in the forest, acconscience is God's voice directly knowledges his hand in giving him speaking to him. Yielding our. his fishing brooks and hunting selves up to its clear and truthful grounds. To the earnest Arab soul notes, we are right. O that all the star that shines upon
his desert would listen to it, and obey ! path is but the eye of God. As the
Mr. B. As we are upon that sun warmed and fertilized the vine. feature of transcendentalism which yards of the ancient Persian, he worgives coloring to your whole sys. shiped the kindly influence-God. tem, I wish you to be more explicit The Ganges fertilizes his rice-fields, upon one point, viz. In your view, and the inhabitant of Hindostan pays is God, in such a sense separate to it the homage of the heart. Those from men and nature, that, as a eastern people, situated in the gardistinct being, He controls, gov. den of the world, have always been erns, rewards
and punishes his a devout people. Not mere dead tures? You know the prevailing matter, but the spirit of beauty and idea of God in enlightened coun- goodness, which animated surroundtriesma being distinct from his ing nature, has always been worworks; who exercises a providence shiped by them. In their simple over them; who takes cognizance of way, with childlike and sincere emothe moral conduct of men, pleased tions of wonder, they have bowed with all right affections and pur. before the Eternal in these manifes. poses of men, and displeased with tations of himself. their wrong conduct.
Mr. B. Really, you must have a Mr. A. If you insist upon a di- transcendental eye, for it is somerect answer, I would say, No. The thing more than a poet's, to see so vulgar notion that God, as a person, much beauty and true piety in those after creating the world and the uni. eastern idolaters. You doubtless see verse, and setting causes in opera. the same in the Chinese, in their tion, or establishing laws for the worship of those half dozen fat hogs continuance of all things, retired kept as gods at Canton. The funefrom his works to watch their ope- ral pile, the hook-swinging, the inration, and occasionally to interfere, fanticides, and the thousand disgust. particularly in his moral kingdom, to ing and horrible rites of Bramah, all give a little instruction, or to correct must come up to your mind with pesome of the grosser wrongs of men, culiar attractions, in as much as you I do not believe. This view is prac- think them sincere acts of devotion. tical atheism ; it virtually excludes But it was not my present design to God from nature and from the soul. ascertain your views of religious Whereas God, for he is omnipres. worship. I wished first to underent,-is constantly operating every stand your idea of God. where and in every thing; growing Mr. A. I wish to say that I would
In fact you
not be understood to mean that the the universal prevalence of scepti. great mass of those nations are truly cism. At times you seem clothed spiritual. But there is among them in sackcloth, in view of the infidelity the recognition of an omnipresent of the age. You profess the most Deity, and there are real worship- ardent desire to revive belief and
The great body of people in earnest spiritual life on the earth, every country are idolaters. They and yet if the great mass of people worship the image or form rather could be made to understand and than God, the living principle of embrace your views, there would be goodness. But, to come back to nothing to restrain them from the the point, I believe God does mark worst of crimes. You remove from the conduct of men. How can it man the piercing
eye of a con be otherwise, when He is every scious God; you place him under where present in his works ? And po government but certain natural that the obedient are rewarded and laws, and if he will risk (as he most the wicked punished, is a matter of surely will) the natural consequenconsciousness to every one.
Not ces of vice in this life, there is no a law of man's nature can be viola. more for him to fear. ted without internal discord and mis. discard all appeals to fear as a means ery, while all is harmony and sweet of moral government, maintaining peace when man falls in with the that man should be so educated that eternal reality of things. The true what you call his natural love of prophet, poet and philosopher,—for truth, beauty and holiness, will be they are the same, have always sufficient. If you succeed in ma. represented the soul of man as king this feature of transcendental. a divinely constructed instrument, ism believed, it needs no prophet to a true Æolian harp, which, rightly foresee that it will sweep every ves. tuned, gives forth heavenly music; tige of pure religion from the world. but, disordered by sin, its sounds Not what you call religion, for there are harsh and discordant.
will always be minds alive to the Mr. B. Wherein are your senti. beauties of nature and art, and ments different from the doctrine hearts enraptured with the works of that man receives the full punish- God, in which consist your religion ment of his sins in this life? How and religious worship. But the mass often, contrary to all human experi- of mankind are never sufficiently re• ence, in the face of what every fined in their sentiments to appre. wicked man knows to be true in his ciate your sentiments, and keep de own case, is it asserted that, by the re vout on your plan.
vout on your plan. They will enjoy morse of conscience and the evil con- the beauties of nature, but will never sequences of sin in this life, men are arrive, in their admiration of landequitably and fully punished! If I scapes and beautiful thoughts, at understand your idea of God, you what you would call earnest spiritual do not consider him a being distinct life. It is much to be desired to from man and nature, possessed of have the heart softened and enno. personal intelligence, susceptibility bled in the contemplation of the and will, but a kind of vivifying prin- works of God. There may be true ciple every where and at all times worship in this; but how many, who, operating. I do not wonder that you like Byron, feel exquisitely every object to producing evidence of God's form of poetic beauty, are hostile to existence, for your God, or rather religion, when she lays a restraint principle, must be seen intuitively, upon their passions! Much which if seen at all, and this too by a fac. you say in this connection is good ulty purely transcendental. You and important to be said, but it never complain of the want of faith and of will be all that man needs. If we
stop with mere poetic beauty, with arrest the progress of doubt and de. the religion of romance, we shall nial. soon be destitute even of this. There Mr. B. Here again I must call is no man who can not feel in some for explanation.
for explanation. You apply the degree the beauty and grandeur of epithets divine, inspired, and godcertain objects. So far you would like, to men unknown to sacred his call him religious : so far he wor. tory. But from your idea of God, ships your God. We might as well of worship, of man's reason, I sup. call him so far religious, as he loves pose we are to understand that you a dish of turtle soup or a bottle of call Plato, Shakspeare, and certain Madeira ; for while the one may in writers of our day in Europe and dicate a higher refinement than the America, inspired, in the same sense other, both are equally involuntary, in which Isaiah, David and Christ and both may exist in bad as well as were inspired. That is, they have in good men. David, Job and Isaiah, genius, true spiritual insight, and utto whom you often refer, all saw ter what the heart spontaneously God in his works, all “mused on responds to as truth. nature with a poet's eye;" but this Mr. A. Exactly so! Yet there was not all their religion. They had are all degrees of inspiration. And deep repentance for sin, for sin we consider Christ much more incommitted against God as a being, spired than any other man, and it is and not a mere principle. There owing to this that his religion is suwas faith in those men, but a faith perior to all others, and is received widely differing from your faith in the most enlightened countries. You appropriate the poetic beauty Much of it will doubtless live through of the Bible and of nature to your all time. When the poet or sage system, and leave out of view those utters true spiritual thoughts, we say truths which are most necessary for he is inspired. His thoughts are the man to believe.
voice of God; they are beyond comMr. A. You must be aware that, mon ideas, and we know not what owing to the difference in genius and else to call them. We read them, education of men, we must always they strike us as true, beautiful, have both the exoteric and the eso. good, and we spontaneously ex. teric doctrines. The inspired sages claim, “Surely this is the voice of of Greece found this to be necessary. God !” Hence we can see by the There must be a statute religion for light of reason, that David bad more the mass, certainly till they are ele. inspiration than Moses, John far vated immeasurably above what they more than the other apostles, and have ever been. Hence we never Christ so much more than all others, wish to controvert the common no. that they may well call him Master. tions respecting the Bible, inspira. I trust we have a few in our own tion, religious forms, &c., since day, some even in New England, these are necessary for a season. who listen attentively to the eternal But infidelity is chiefly among the oracle within, and utter divine re. educated. During the last century sponses. The Dial is a clear indi. it prevailed in its worst forms in the cation that there is still faith, genius higher circles of France, and even and inspiration among us. throughout Europe and America. Mr. B. I give you credit for The sensual philosophy led to this clearness and candor, whatever I result. We wish to reach this class may think of your common sense.
Let the doctrines of Py. This is no mysticism. To place the thagoras and of the still more divine Dial and the Bible, as it respects Plato be expounded and taught, with their inspiration, on the same footslight modifications, and we shall ing, is certainly intelligible, and in Vol. I.