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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. Bushnellthat 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. 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 com
posed, 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
field of knowledge, to give him the most complete and manifold view possible of every truth. He has not only the words of Christ, the most manifold of all teachers, but he has gospels which present him in his different words and attitudes; and then, besides, he has four-some say five-distinct writers of epistles, who follow, giving each his own view of the doctrine of salvation and the Christian life (views so unlike or antagonistical that many have regarded them as being quite irreconcileable). Paul, the dialectic, commonly so called; John, the mystic; James, the moraliser; Peter, the homiletic; and perhaps a fifth in the Epistle to the Hebrews, who is a Christian templar and Hebraizer. The Old Testament corresponds. Never was there a book uniting so many contrarious aspects of one and the same truth. The more complete, therefore, because of its manifoldness; nay, the more really harmonious, for its apparent want of harmony.'-Pp. 59, 60.
From this passage, taken by itself, it might be imagined, that the author had sufficiently answered the question proposed; but from the ensuing comparison with the poetry of Goethe, and the allusion to "those august and magnificent forms of Scripture"-incarnation, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, atonement as blood, &c.,-we are still left in doubt, whether we are to accept the Bible as poetry, or are to look on these dogmas as something objective and real. We have still to ask, is its manifestation of divine things a simple reflection of the human mind filled with the light of religious inspiration, or is it the display of a vast supernatural apparatus from age to age, for the formation of the religious sentiments of mankind? We conclude, that the latter is Mr. Bushnell's opinion. But the subject he has opened, is too vast to be shut in by such arbitrary limits. The language that utters strong religious emotions, demands a qualified interpretation, not only in relation to the objects of the invisible world, but also to the events and the personages that are called up by remembrance from the dimness of the past.-We wish distinctly to guard ourselves from the imputation of denying the possibility of an intermixture of superhuman signs and agencies in a course of human history; but in a discussion professing to open from its very depths the whole question of the symbolism of religion-it strikes us as a serious omission, that the author should never have touched on the test of a distinction between the subjective and the objective in its nar
ratives; since, if we are not to probe the power of influences external to the Bible as a literature, and determining the conditions of its formation, we are obviously incompetent to appreciate the force and pertinency of the symbolism that is so deeply interwrought with every portion of its contents.
With the limitations now indicated, we think there is much that is just and worthy of attention in Mr. Bushnell's preliminary dissertation. Its influence will work most beneficially towards a less dogmatic and a more spiritual interpretation of the Bible; and our opinion of it is not the less favourable, because, without at all weakening the foundation-stones of Christian faith, it is capable, in the hands of thoughtful readers, of a still wider and more fruitful application.
The three discourses on the Divinity of Christ, on the Atonement, and on Dogma and Spirit-are included under a common title-God in Christ; and the author's principles find their application in his showing, how contradictions insuperable by human understanding, are inevitably involved in every attempt to bring down the infinite into the finite, and to blend the divine with the human. On this ground he puts himself in prominent opposition as well to the old orthodoxy as to its natural re-action, Unitarianism. Although at opposite poles, he argues that both agree in a common principle of rationalism, and make the same mistake of attempting to confine within the limits of a logical definition, what is necessarily too vast for human comprehension. On his replies to the orthodox we shall not dwell. To us they seem unanswerable. Our curiosity is rather drawn to the position which he assumes in relation to the Unitarians. He takes up
the three following grounds against them: (1,) the simple statement of Scripture, affirming the incarnation; (2,) the impossibility of any direct communion between God and man, apart from the intervention of a being at once divine and human; (3,) the inevitableness of the contradictions which constitute the objection, and the existence of which (the necessity for the interference being pre-supposed) is an indication rather of truth than of falsehood. The first point we shall not here discuss with him, not because we think it unassailable, but because we have only time to say