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will, and having discovered it, to act in obedience to it, in the face of the whole universe, if it be that it stands between us and that obedience ;-that also must be kept in view.” Tried by this Ideal within him, the author sees nothing around him but emptiness and barrenness, with the exception of some insignificant material things, and " leaving it for others to trumpet the praises of the times," he “confines himself to an enunciation of its evil features.”
Accordingly, in the social and domestictendencies of the Age" he sees little but self-conceit and exaggeration, material standards of respectability, rival upholstery, emulative millinery, and the heart eaten out of love and home by vain strivings after appearances and fashionable measures of living and expenditure. There is much truth in all this, but it is so far from being the whole truth, that it stands considerable chance of being rejected as altogether false. The nineteenth century will hardly recognize its own likeness in this perplexing picture. "It does nothing but run up and down the land, bedecked with its phylacteries, like a hen that has laid her virgin egg, and knows not what to make of it, strutting noisily about, and cackling, with endless repetition, 'Look at me! Admire me! I have laid my egg-I am the Nineteenth Century !! "
In the “Morality" of the age he sees only an outward polish and an inward looseness ; and Cider Cellars, Casinoes, Walhallas, and the licentiousness of the streets, so distress his moral perceptions that he cannot get their corruption out of his eyes. We earnestly trust that what is unquestionably true and needed in his protests will not be injured by its one-sidedness—but we must say that what exactly is meant by Casinoes, and Walhallas, will be a mystery to multitudes.
In "the Education and Position of Woman,” he sees only " frivolity and vanity," "Crochet and Berlin wool work," "antimacassar and doylies," and a system that aims to create “luxurious, gay-coloured butterflies," "accomplished yet ignorant; fashionable, yet vulgar to the core; eye-dazzling, but heart-sickening; a race who are entitled to the name of fine girl,' or elegant creature, but can never, without mockery, bear the hallowed name of woman.”
In “ Literature” he sees only “flippancy and comicality,” mechanisms and materialisms, and mere beauties of style.
In “Religion” he finds that “the God of Englishmen is a union of Mammon and Public Opinion; their Heaven Success in life; their Hell' Not getting on.
We give the author credit for excellent purpose, and in his analysis of our moral state there is much truth of perception and force of rebuke, but some more genial perception of the good that belongs to the Age would have saved his book from the fate that we fear awaits all Jeremiads.
An author, too, that assumes so high a tone challenges the utmost severity of moral criticism. We must say, then, that we do not think that such Morality as this is likely to mend the Age :
“The character of King David has ever been a stumbling block to men; they have not been able to understand how he could be an adulterer, a murderer, a debauchée, and yet the man after God's own heart.—David had one of the strongest and most vigorous souls ever sent upon the earth. The consequence was, that when the scum and residue of his fleshly excesses fastened upon his soul it had strength to rise against them, enter into conflict with them, and cast them away. The bodily sin had not its corresponding influence upon his powerful soul, and therefore to the God of soul was no sin ; and thus the high active-souled adulterer could be the man after God's own heart !"
We do not know why the author should close this passage with a note of admiration, unless it was to anticipate and neutralize any such mark which his critics might be tempted to affix. As far as we can understand the doctrine of the passage, it is, that, the more spiritual a man is by God's gift and inspiration, the more safely, and the more innocently, he may set at nought moral Principle, and the Law of holiness. We have not so learned Christ. Holy impulses and a strong soul are not charters of licentiousness, but measures whereby to number the stripes to be inflicted on low indulgence.
And an author who demands in a book “ simply recorded thought," ought not to have made the demand in a passage, which shows that it might not be impossible to satisfy him with less :
“ The next fact that must also force itself upon any man who comes to survey this literature from the older ones, or from the oldest of all, God's living literature of nature, and not from the conventional estimates of its dignity and worth, will unquestionably be the extreme scarcity of thought; a scarcity almost amounting to a total absence. That a book is, or should be, simply recorded thought, does not appear to be accepted in these days. We can find traces of a certain plausible argumentativeness ; of considerable reflection in the practical branches of Literature; and even of empirical thought, forced upon the utterer by the progress of this* subject; but can rarely or never find any trace of a fierce ebullience of reflection that arose within the deeps of the soul, fermented therein until it gained its points of overboiling, and then only issued forth into public view when it had burnt its way out, so to speak, and could not any longer be contained.”
* So in the book : possibly a misprint for “ his."
Art. VI.-HISTORY OF JESUS.
A History of Jesus. By W. H. Furness. Boston : 1850.
12mo. pp. 291.
We took up this book with a lively hope and expectation. No religious publication is more needed than a Life of Christ which, while it supplies all the information, and mere learning, necessary for an elucidation of the records, will also make us feel the moral Power that came into the world, and show us a living Energy of the spiritual God, in whose presence, and beneath whose spell, we lose all wonder that it was deemed sufficient for the regeneration of mankind. The Life of Christ that is needed is a Life that will explain the power of Christ's Religion. We have none such in our language. Perhaps Neander's is the nearest approach to it in any language. Ware's “Life of the Saviour” was written for children, with an express intention of accommodation to their understandings, and Christianity cannot be worthily represented in this way. There are obvious indications of the mind letting itself down, and lowering its temperament, and so falling into the unintentional levity of making its theme less than itself. Milman's most instructive life of Christ, in the first volume of his History of Christianity, is all that could be desired, so far as external matters are concerned--but of spiritual intensity there is none; he never seeks to penetrate to the soul of Christ, even so far as to give a unity to his character and conduct ; and if the Gospels were withdrawn, and only that Biography left, no one would understand the wonderful results that have ensued. We had good reason to anticipate that Mr. Furness, if he attempted the difficult task, would furnish a life of Jesus, sufficient in information, and eminently successful in the delineation of the living Glory, that was the power of God unto Salvation. He has long exerted a mind of no ordinary spiritual sensibility on this high theme. Many years ago he published a work, entitled “Remarks on the four Gospels,” in which his principal object was to reach
the springs of Christ's life, to unfold the perfection of his character, and show the moral harmony that pervaded the most mysterious manifestations of its loftiness and beauty. In later years he re-issued this work, greatly enlarged, under the title of “ Jesus and his Biographers.” Meanwhile, Lives of Christ, both critical and practical, have been appearing in remarkable abundance, and, in their several ways, of an exhaustive fulness. When Mr. Furness, with such aids, and after such repeated trials and preparations, returned a third time to his great task, we looked for a complete work. We had hoped for a book that would enable us to put into the hands of young people a quickening exhibition of the living energies of Christianity, and be a treasure to our children's children. We acknowledge an entire and startling disappointment. Almost all difficulties of an historical kind are purposely evaded. The story of Christ's life is not told, but only remarked upon. A succession of sketches of moral impressions of Jesus makes up the volume, with no more array of events and details than is sufficient to illustrate and verify the moral view. Even the spiritual delicacy and sensibility that were the peculiar charms of his former volumes, are not apparent here. Often in an attempt to remove the deadening power of customary words, he uses a familiar phraseology, which, to employ a strange expression of his own, “belittles" the narrative. Mr. Furness has a strange theory of Miracles. He holds them to be as natural to Christ, as the commonest powers that we possess are natural to us. This view he has elaborately supported in his former publications, but here he proceeds upon it without systematically laying it down, and the consequence is, that all that he says upon miracles bears the mark of mere arbitrariness. His idea is, that what we call miraculous power is only the natural accompaniment of faith and spirituality. If so, then how were miracles natural to the Apostles before the after-facts of the Resurrection had conveyed to them either faith or spirituality? If so, why then do we not witness now some approaches to miraculous power correspondent to the higher measures of faith and spirituality? Why has the holiest of believers no more power over physical causes, or to introduce a higher spiritual cause so as to suspend