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very discordant and miserable. But when, like the wise and skillful mechanic, the enlightened members of humanity shall give a truer form and better direction to these mental equilibriums, the whole race will experience more happiness and easier progression. All this is mathematically certain. Now, therefore, as you will perceive, conservatism and even intolerance (in a certain sense) are not to be dogmatically condemned, nor yet progression or mental independence; but only their wrong development and misapplication. This is the matter to study and to determine.
The application of the foregoing will be seen when I come to tell you, that I am now impressed to review Dr. Bushnell; not on the ground or presumption that his conservatism is wrong in itself, but that it is exceedingly at fault in its present mode of manifestation. I speak now as mankind's advocate. In conducting this review, let it be remembered, I am not contending with the local positions, private opinions, and confidential statements of an individual; but with an individual definition of the various positions, doctrines, and principal conclusions, which, unquestionably, are entertained and inculcated in different forms by the most enlightened members of the Christian sects.
That Dr. BUSHNELL is, in several respects, the Martin Luther of to-day,—in the church of which he is a recognized orthodox member,-is evident from the resemblance he theologically presents to that early reformer. Therefore, not as Dr. Bushnell, be it remembered, but as the leader and embodiment of a new and more liberal form of conservatism, do I approach the great Question which he defined and amplified in his recent lecture.
In the lecture—to which I above refer—it was very clearly, frankly, and ingenuously acknowledged, that the greatest question of this era is : that which is suggested by the modern “Rationalistic Theories of Religion as opposed to Super
natural Revelation and Faith.” A more lucid version would render the question in substance this: “Whether Rationalism should be permitted to supplant Supernaturalism, and preside henceforth over the minds of the people, and give direction in all matters pertaining to religious teaching, discipline, worship, and social organization ?" This is the plain statement of the question as I am impressed to apprehend it. It is exceedingly simple ; but none the less important. And it is enough to say, by way of special criticism, that Dr. Bstated this powerful problem at length; with much clearness, beauty, and force of expression ; with much originality of appreciation and method; and, above all, it was almost wholly free from that presumptuous and dogmatic style, which most clergymen employ, in describing the tendencies of the various innovations and the claims and positions of the reformers of the day. He was frank in his statements; noble in his realization of the present colossal proportions of the Progressive Party; and fraternally disposed toward those who think differently from himself. And yet, it would not be improper to remark, that, although his language and method were free from uncharitableness and every species of church denunciation, still there was betrayed some severity toward the Progressive reformers, in the tone and alternating modulations of his voice. I mention this fact merely to show, that, inter.nally and privately, he experienced sensations of opposition to the different forms of social reform and Progress; from which we may also safely infer, that he desires to establish a species of infallible Conservatism, or theological immutability, contrary in effect to all free thought and mental independence. A man may be very artistic and guarded in the choice of language by which to express his thoughts, and the expression of the muscles of the face may also be considerably controlled by the will; but how true it is that the eyes and voice are the never-failing indexes of the soul's paramount sensations !
As I am impressed, Dr. B-proposes, to reconcile, by a course of philosophical argumentation, the various forms of what he terms “ Infidelity” with the received claims of “Christianity, as a system of salvation or redemption." He thinks he can, or earnestly prays that he may be able to, show conclusively “that the miracles, the incarnation of God in Christ, redemption, special providence, and prayer,” are all perfectly consistent with established system and reconcilable with unchangeable principles. In other words, he thinks he can demonstrate that there is nothing which can prevent a reasonable reconciliation between "natural and revealed" religion ; between modern Rationalism and the supernatural system of Revelation and faith.
Now one of two things, is certain ; either Dr. B-. does not fully realize or comprehend his own position in the premises, or else, he is not sufficiently single-minded to the demands of truth, and faithful to the silent convictions of his own soul. Because, in the matter of reconciliation, which he has in contemplation, there is surely nothing intrinsically opposed to the fundamental teachings of Rationalistic Christianity.* The Harmonial Philosophy—or modern spiritualism -has done this to the perfect satisfaction of its most enlightened students and believers. Miracles, the Incarnation, Redemption from sin, through the exercise of the Christ principle, Special Providence through angelic ministrations, and Prayer even, are all embraced, by the Harmonial Philosophy, as explainable upon unchangeable principles, which have proceeded from Deity into and through the universe. If Dr. B-. designs to assume this rationalistic method of explaining supernaturalism; why—I ask—does he excite the apprehensions of his hearers by describing the various forms of an insinuating and potent “Infidelity,” which loads the mental
* The reader may not altogether like this name ; but I follow my impressions in conforming to the use made of it.
atmosphere we unconsciously breathe with pestilential infections and dangerous skepticism? If he apprehends no intrinsic antagonism between “ Pantheism,” when properly interpreted, “ Physicalism, Geology, and the Sciences," and the system of a Supernatural Revelation and its corresponding teachings; then-I inquire—why does he, in stating the great question, create a general prejudice against these features of modern Rationalism? Why create a false issue in the premises ? Why not say frankly, that, in his opinion, the position of the Harmonial Philosophers or Spiritualists, is substantially correct; but that he would prefer to receive the new doctrines with some modifications, and to clothe them, in order to make them his own, in his own peculiar and classical nomenclature? If he sincerely believes the two forms of faith to be reconcilable, and not incompatible; then I hesi. tate not to affirm, that Dr. B. has created a useless question of distinction, without a difference, and an issue almost wholly false, in the minds of his people. But if, on the other hand, Dr. B- means by the system of Christianity, that definition of supernaturalism which is generally accepted as orthodox in all Protestant countries, or among all enlightened sects; then he has undertaken a work destined to be utterly valueless to the thinking world—because, he would be striving to prove that possibilities and impossibilities are merely twin-brothers in the great rationalistic or supernaturalistic system of the All-wise Creator.
To apprehend Dr. B. as admitting, however remotely, the general doctrines of rationalistic Christianity, would be, as I am impressed psychometrically to regard his mind, very distasteful and disturbing to him. He would prefer, doubtless, to be apprehended or interpreted,—(for it seems to me that many of his statements require considerable interpretation,)—to mean this: that he does not reject any scriptural definition of Christianity, nor any portion of the scheme of
"redemption” therein disclosed. Nay: but at the same time, he must be understood to be the special architect of his own theological temple; the rearer and framer of his own theology and Christianity. He believes firmly in the purity and divinity of the Bible-materials. But with those materials no one can construct or erect a spiritual Zion to meet his wants, except himself! Hence he differs quite conspicuously from all his brethren; not however intrinsically and really, but externally and apparently. This fact alone makes him a modern Luther; a reformer, not in spirit and in truth, but merely in the form or symbols of Christianity. Let us, then, do Dr. B-. the justice to apprehend aright what he designedly signifies by Christianity. He means precisely what any
other Bible-believer means. And let us, also, do him the justice to comprehend his meaning correctly, when he asserts, in substance, “that Infidelity, in its many and varied forms, is pervading and permeating the minds of the people.” He means in reality precisely what any other churchman means by that term, viz.: any thing opposed to the form of conservatism which he has erected, or which is now in the process of erection, in his own particular mind. Again I say, that I
. I feel no inward opposition to the principle of conservatism, considered as a law of mental equilibrium; only to its misapplication. And I repeat, that I am impressed to regard Dr. B as the leader and embodiment of a new and more interesting form of Conservatism than has ever been constructed from the fossil vestiges of oriental theologies. But this theological superstructure,—which he now contemplates and designs to erect in his own mind, and in which he supposes he will always find Christianity in its purest and highest form,is happily not yet completed. It is now in the process of formation. And the hopes of the True Reformer, concerning the future usefulness of the mental labors of this Martin Luther to the world, must be suspended on the mere possi