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language in its efforts to express the spiritual. So much unfruitful controversy has sprung from this source-in spite of the repeated cautions of philosophical minds—that too much praise cannot be given to the author for again directing public attention to the subject. In his general theory there is nothing original: what we owe to himself, is the more immediate application of it to Christian dogma, and the forcible manner in which he has set forth its importance and deduced its consequences. His leading view may be thus described.—The bases or types of all words or forms of speech for the expression of spiritual ideas, are to be found in the objects and operations of the physical world; for simple states of consciousness are of course incommunicable, except through association with some outward sign which is a common object of perception to different minds. But the inherent power of the physical to represent the spiritual—the correspondence and as it were pre-adaptation of the outward to the inward worldimplies a secret and mysterious affinity between them, which finds its explanation in the original conception of the universe by a Sovereign Mind. This is a favourite idea with the author, which enters largely into the subsequent applications of his theory, and which he particularly insists on as distinguishing his view from that of Locke. In the main we think him right; but he has rather indicated than developed his idea: and in the absence of any sufficient analysis on his part, we crave the reader's indulgence for a few moments, while we briefly trace the process through which, as it appears to us, the imagery suggested imme diately by the gross impressions of material objects, is transformed and subtilized, and becomes continually a more refined and delicate exponent of spiritual agency.
The earliest states of mind requiring expression in speech, must have been such as were excited by outward objects of want, desire, aversion or fear. A latent instinct would most likely prompt the sounds, that associated themselves with those objects and were used thenceforward as their vocal designation. With the remembrance of the object not only the sound or word would be recalled, but the feeling, appetite, or passion under which it was originally given. By a double association, therefore, the word would denote at once an object and its associated feeling; and if, as must often happen, different terms should be applied to the same object, when viewed under different relations or blended with various states and gradations of emotion-some terms in which the expression of feeling was most intense and predominant, would in time be loosened off from their object, and be reserved and set apart as simple exponents of emotion, while others would retain undisturbed their primitive adhesion to the objective reality. Thus language would possess from the first a twofold office that of registering the impressions of sense, and that of expressing the emotions awakened by them; and while perception and memory continued, as for a long time they must, the sole or chief operations of the mind -its spiritual vocabulary, if we may so call it, would be limited to the few terms that would be yet needed as representative of the most prominent states of human consciousness. Imagination would come next into play, in the endless forms of myth and song-using the materials which sense and memory had already treasured up, and still further spiritualising them—and elaborating a rough terminology for those incipient efforts at abstraction and generalisation which are demanded by a quickened sense of moral truths and obligations, and by the mind's transference of its own consciousness to the laws and operations of the visible universe. With increased habits of reflection the facts of consciousness would become more distinct and clear, and specific designations be appropriated to them; till at length in many words the spiritual so thoroughly absorbed and dissolved the material element by which it was at first stimulated into existence, that the most sagacious etymologist can no longer detect any traces of it. When this conversion is completed, a reflex action takes place. The spiritual element of the mind having now acquired an independent force and consistency, repays with ample interest the tribute that it once received. It no more wants a ray from without to light up its dim machinery and buried laws, but throws back its own intellectual lustre on the face of the material creation. It is no more a passive recipient of external imagery, but reads the phænomena of earth and heaven in the light of its own higher thoughts. It gives speech to the silent hills and inarticulate woods, and opens with them a solemn
communing of love. · The poetry of the old world was objective and sensuous; that of the new is essentially reflective. There is no counterpart in antiquity to the poetry of Wordsworth, Shelley, and Tennyson.
But this action and reaction of what we distinguish as matter and spirit, implies--we think with Mr. Bushnell that the human mind must originally be something more than a vacant chamber or tabula rasa for the mere admission of images. It has evidently an activity of its own. It is clear, that the world without and the world within are corresponding utterances of the Infinite Mind. The most ancient philosophies speak of creation as a Word. The logos in our souls answers to the greater Logos of the external universe. Grammar is an expression of eternal
. laws; for men from their origin are linguistic natures and speech is a necessary development of their inward being. The physical bases and types of language have thus an inherent affinity with the spiritual ideas they are used to express. The adaptation is not arbitrary, but, if we may so express it, congenital. But as these types are fixed, while mind is ever-unfolding and progressive, they are always an imperfect medium for the representation of its most refined and exalted states-a medium whose clearness is unavoidably dimmed by some retention of the material element. The mind is ever soaring towards the Infinite; and language through constant accessions of significance and a constant process of refining, is ever striving to keep pace with it: but after all these efforts, the symbol falls immeasurably below the idea.
These views Mr. Bushnell has applied to a solution of the many vexed questions of dogmatic theology. Such questions, he shows, relate for the most part not to any essential truth of Religion, but to some interpretation of the material adjuncts which are indispensable to a definite apprehension of spiritual things. The central truth which is sought after, viewed from opposite sides of the field of vision and through different interposing media, draws into its resulting expression many of the accidental conditions of the contemplating mind. All creeds, for example, which are human attempts to express the Divine, are liable to this imperfection. They contain in them elements, due to the particular influences under which they were composed, that must be dropped to gain the purest conception of the truth desired. On this ground he contends that a multitude of creeds is an advantage; because one neutralises an other, and a comparison of all eliminates the excrescent adjuncts, and leaves a clearer and deeper impression of the residuum of central truth.
This idea, though novel and suggestive, must not be admitted without cautious limitation. As put forth by Mr. Bushnell, it is open to the serious objection of being unaccompanied, so far as we can perceive, by any precise statement of what must ultimately be appealed to, as a criterion of spiritual truth, and therefore, when extensively applied, of landing the inquirer in a negative result. When the material element is dropped on all sides, what remains ? Form, says the author, is indispensable to give us an apprehension of that which is necessarily formless. But take the form away, and what does it leave behind it as an object of thought? There is a spiritual, and there is a material, world—and language, built up of materials which the latter alone supplies, takes us across from one into the other. But into what does it convey us? What are the realities that encounter us in the realm of pure spirit? And how are we to apprehend and verify them? This is not brought out with sufficient clearness in the work before us. We are vaguely referred to the truths of Revelation, without any attempt to develope the eternal laws of consciousnessthose standing witnesses of truth within the mind, into which all belief in Revelation itself must ultimately be resolved. It is only by an appeal to some mental standard of this description, that we can distinguish those higher forms of expression which result from the immutable conditions of human thought, and in all languages of any cultivation have permanently incorporated themselves with universal truths, and may be safely taken as
a basis for the superstructure, of men's reasonings on spiritual things—from such as have plainly originated in the gross and limited conceptions of an early stage of mental advancement, and are chiefly valuable in an historical sense as indications of the road along which the mind of man has pursued its intellectual journey. Mr. Bushnell has nowhere expressed himself with sufficient distinctness to preclude the inference, that all symbols are in his judg
ment of equal value—that such, for example, as express the grossest anthropopathy, are as pertinent and acceptable, as those which have entered into indissoluble association with the universal truths of morals, psychology and religion, and spring as it were spontaneously from the deepest intuitions of consciousness, and which, if they do not express the whole truth, are still in the way towards it, and represent it with no serious error so far as they go. That this is no captious and groundless objection, will appear presently, when we come to speak of the second discourse.
There is another omission in Mr. Bushnell's book, which makes it difficult to apply consistently the doctrine which he has laid down for the interpretation of symbolical language. He nowhere states, in what light he views the Bible as a whole—and whether consequently he thinks we are justified-as we certainly should be in the case of any other book-in recurring to the known circumstances and mental condition of the parties employing its language, as a guide to its real meaning, or whether we are to regard all its narratives, without reference to the mind of the narrator, as objective realities embodying spiritual truths. The following eloquent passage, amidst much to which we heartily respond, is chargeable with a want of distinctness on this head :
“ There is no book in the world that contains so many repugnances, or antagonistic forms of assertion, as the Bible. Therefore, if any man please to play off his constructive logic upon it, he can easily show it up as the absurdest book in the world. But whosoever wants, on the other hand, really to behold and receive all truth, and would have the truth-world overhang him as an empyrean of stars, complex, multitudinous, striving antagonistically, yet comprehended, height above height, and deep under deep, in a boundless score of harmony; what man soever, content with no small rote of logic and catechism, reaches with true hunger after this, and will offer himself to the many-sided forms of the Scripture with a perfectly ingenuous and receptive spirit; he shall find his nature flooded with senses, vastnesses and powers of truth, such as it is even greatness to feel. God's own lawgivers, heroes, poets, historians, prophets, and preachers and doers of righteousness, will bring him their company, and representing each his own age, character, and mode of thought, shine upon him as so many cross lights on his