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great harm ; but in their recognition, however imperfect, of the grandeur of the soul, lay the secret of their vast influence on human affairs.
In all ages of the church, the tendency of the religious mind to the exclusive thought of God, to the denial or forgetfulness of all other existence and power, has come forth in various forms. The Catholic church, notwithstanding its boasted unity, has teemed with mystics, who have sought to lose themselves in God. It would seem as if the human mind, cut off by this church from free, healthful inquiry, had sought liberty in this vague contemplation of the Infinite. In the class, just referred to, were found many noble spirits, especially Fenelon, whose quietism, with all its amiableness, we must look on as a disease.
In Protestantism, the same tendency to exalt God and annihilate the creature has manifested itself, though in less pronounced forms. We see it in Quakerism, and Calvinism, the former striving to reduce the soul to silence, to suspend its action, that in its stillness God alone may be heard ; and the latter, making God the only power in the universe, and annihilating the free will, that one will alone may be done in heaven and on earth.
Calvinism will complain of being spoken of as an approach to Pantheism. It will say, that it recognises distinct miods from the Divine. But what avails this, if it robs these minds of self-determining force, of original activity ; if it makes them passive recipients of the Universal Force ; if it sees in human action only the necessary issues of foreign impulse. The doctrine, that God is the only Substance, which is pantheism, differs little from the doctrine, that God is the only active power of the universe. For what is substance without power ?
? It is a striking fact, that the philosophy, which teaches that matter is an inert substance, and that God is the
force which pervades it; has led men to question, whether any such thing as matter exists; whether the powers of attraction and repulsion, which are regarded as the indwelling Deity, be not its whole essence. Take away force, and substance is a shadow and might as well vanish from the universe. Without a free power in man, he is nothing. The divine agent within him is every thing. Man acts only in show. He is a phenomenal existence, under which the one Infinite power is manifested ; and is this much better than Pantheism ?
One of the greatest of all errors, is the attempt to exalt God, by making him the sole cause, the sole agent in the universe, by denying to the creature freedom of will and moral power, by making man a mere recipient and transmitter of a foreign impulse. This, if followed out consistently, destroys all moral connexion between God and his creatures. In aiming to strengthen the physical, it ruptures the moral bond, which holds them together. To extinguish the free will is to strike the conscience with death, for both have but one and the same life. It destroys responsibility. It puts out the light of the universe ; it makes the universe a machine. It freezes the fountain of our moral feelings, of all generous affection and lofty aspirations. Pantheism, if it leave man a free agent, is a comparatively harmless speculation ; as we see in the case of Milton. The denial of moral freedom, could it really be believed, would prove the most fatal of errors. If Edwards's work on the will could really answer its end, if it could thoroughly persuade men that they were bound by an irresistible necessity, that their actions were fixed links in the chain of destiny, that there was but one agent, God, in the universe ; it would be one of the most pernicious books ever issued from our press. Happily it is a demonstration which no man believes, which the whole consciousness contradicts
It is a fact worthy of serious thought and full of solemn instruction, that many of the worst errors have grown out of the religious tendencies of the mind. So necessary is it to keep watch over our whole nature, to subject the highest sentiments to the calm, conscientious reason. Men starting from the idea of God, have been so dazzled by it, as to forget or misinterpret the universe. They have come to see in him the only force in creation and in other beings only signs, shadows, echoes of this. Absolute dependence is the only relation to God, which they have left to human beings. Our infinitely nobler relations, those which spring from the power of free obedience to a moral law, their theory dissolves. The moral nature, of which freedom is the foundation and essence, which confers rights and imposes duties, which is the ground of praise and blame, which lies at the foundation of self-respect, of friendship between man and man, of spiritual connexion between man and his maker, which is the spring of holy enthusiasm and heavenly aspiration, which gives to life its interest, to creation its glory, this is annihilated by the mistaken piety, which, to exalt God, to make him All in All, immolates to him the powers of the universe.
This tendency, as we have seen, gave birth in former ages to asceticism, drove some of the noblest men into cloisters or caverns, infected them with the fatal notion, that there was an hostility between their relations to God and their relations to his creatures, and of course persuaded them to make a sacrifice of the latter. To this we owe systems of theology degrading human nature, denying its power and grandeur, breaking it into subjection to the priest through whom alone God is supposed to approach the abject multitude, and placing human virtue in exaggerated humiliations. The idea of God, the grandest of all, and which ought above all to elevate the soul,
nas too often depressed it and led good minds very far astray, a consideration singularly fitted to teach us tolerant views of error, and to enjoin caution and sobriety in religious speculation.
I hope, that I shall not be thought wanting in a just tolerance, in the strictures now offered on those systems of theology and philosophy, which make God the only power in the universe and rob man of his dignity. Among the authors of these, may be found some of the greatest and best men. To this class belonged Hartley, whose work on Man carries indeed the taint of materialism and necessity, but still deserves to be reckoned among the richest contributions ever made to the science of mind, whilst it breathes the profoundest piety. Our own Edwards was as eminent for religious as for intellectual power. The consistency of great error with great virtue is one of the lessons of universal history. But error is not made harmless by such associations. The false theories of which I have spoken, though not thoroughly believed, have wrought much evil. They have done much, I think, to perpetuate those abject views of human nature, which keep it where it is, which check men's aspirations, and reconcile them to their present poor modes of thought and action as the fixed unalterable laws of their being.
Many religious people fall into the error, which I have wished to expose, through the belief that they thus glorify the creator. “The glory of God,” they say, “is our chief end ; " and this is accomplished as they suppose by taking all power from man and transferring all to his Maker. We have here an example of the injury done by imperfect apprehension and a vague, misty use ofScripture language. The "glory of God," is undoubtedly to be our end ; but what does this consist in? It means the shining forth of his perfection in his creation, especially in his spiritual offspring ; and it is best pro
moted by awakening in these their highest faculties, by bringing out in ourselves and others the image of God in which all are made. An enlightened, disinterested human being, morally strong, and exerting a wide influence by the power of virtue, is the clearest reflexion of the divine splendor on earth, and we glorify God in proportion as we form ourselves and others after this model. The glory of the Maker lies in his work. We do not honor him by breaking down the human soul, by connecting it with him only by a tie of slavish dependence. By making him the author of a mechanical universe, we ascribe to him a low kind of agency. It is his glory that he creates beings like himself, free beings, not slaves ; that he forms them to obedience, not by physical agency, but by moral influences ; that he confers on them the reality, not the show of power ; and opens to their faith and devout strivings a futurity of progress and glory without end. It is not by darkening and dishonoring the creature, that we honor the creator. Those men glorify God most, who look with keen eye and loving heart on his works, who catch in all some glimpses of beauty and power, who have a spiritual sense for good in its dimmest manifestations, and who can so interpret the world, that it becomes a bright witness to the divinity.
To such remarks as these it is commonly objected, that we thus obscure, if we do not deny, the doctrine of Entire Dependence on God, a doctrine which is believed to be eminently the foundation of religion. But not so. On the contrary, the greater the creature, the more extensive is his dependence ; the more he has to give thanks for, the more he owes to the free gift of his Creator. No matter what grandeur or freedom we ascribe to our powers, if we inaintain, as we ought, that they are bestowed, inspired, sustained by God; that he is their life ; that to him we owe all the occasions and spheres of their action and all