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mean, our author's relation to the Christian Church. Our admiration of his genius and our deep conviction of the worth of his labors are brought into collision with our want of sympathy with him in this particular. It is generally understood, and has constituted the chief ground of complaint against him, that Mr. Emerson is not a Christian in the usual and distinctive sense of the term, that is, not a believer in a special and miraculous revelation. It would be easy to blink this fact, seeing it is not made prominent in his writings; but we think it more honest to meet it fairly. We are not disposed to underrate its importance. Though it may not destroy our interest in his writings, we feel that it must qualify essentially their general influence. Mr. Emerson, if we understand his views on this subject, regards Christ as a mere teacher of moral and religious truths, -a reformer, not distinguished from other teachers and reformers except by the greater number of followers that have chanced to rank under his name, and the longer continuance and wider spread of his doctrine and influence in the world; a Jewish Socrates or Plato; a little more perfect, perhaps, in his character, and a little wiser in his precepts, than those Greek sages, and perhaps not; at any rate, sustaining essentially the same relation to the rest of mankind. The Christian Church is a school or sect, founded by Jesus, in the same sense in which any other school is founded by any other philosopher. On this point we are at issue with him, and the difference between us is heaven-wide. We utter the deepest conviction of our soul, when we pronounce this view to be utterly inadequate and radically false. We profess our inability to comprehend how a mind, with any pretensions to philosophic culture, can be satisfied with it; how so acute a thinker as the writer of these Essays can overlook the violence it does to that fundamental principle in philosophy, which requires an adequate cause for every effect, or can fail to perceive that, in its anxiety to avoid a miracle, it substitutes a greater wonder for a less. For what more wonderful, than an effect without a cause? The most philosophical view of Christianity is that which best satisfies the law of cause and effect, in other words, which best explains the facts in the case. What are the facts in the case? Here is this mighty power, the like of which has never, before or since,

been exerted in human affairs; a power which has wrought, for nearly two thousand years, with beneficent. effect on the human condition, embracing and embraced by the most civilized nations of the earth, and constituting the chief source of their civilization ; a power which has ministered and still ministers comfort and peace and the means and motives of virtue to millions of human souls; which countless millions have clung to, and still cling to, as their chief dependence and highest good and everlasting hope; a power which has done more than any other to beautify and gladden the earth, which has tamed the wild passions of men, brought rest to the heavy-laden, taken the poor and weak and the sinful by the hand, and filled the world with gentleness and peace. Whence came it, and by what means was it introduced into the world? Did the philosophers and potentates of the earth, --- the collective wisdom and patronage of man, combine to produce it? They combined for centuries, with all the force that was in them, to oppose and put it down. It wanted patronage, it wanted the intellectual aids which are usually thought requisite for the diffusion of truth, it wanted all those conditions which give success to human efforts. It grew from nothing that human sagacity could point out as a probable cause of such a result; from nothing but that Divine Providence, which can make "the foolish things of this world to confound the wise, and the weak things of this world to confound the mighty."

common faith But we come

We said Mr. Emerson's dissent from the was not made prominent in these Essays. here and there upon a passage, like the following, from which it is impossible not to infer it.

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"People forget that it is the eye that makes the horizon, and the rounding mind's eye which makes this or that man a type or representative of humanity with the name of hero or saint. Jesus, "the providential man," is a good man on whom many people are agreed, that these optical laws shall take effect. By love on one part and by forbearance to press objections on the other part, it is for the time settled, that we will look at him in the centre of the horizon, and ascribe to him the properties that will attach to any man so seen.'

We have no objection to the term "providential man." Strictly interpreted, it involves, perhaps, all that is essential

in the idea of a special revelation. But when we are told that the value attached to the name of Christ is the result of an "agreement," we demand to know how this agreement came about. In what age of the world, in what Congress of nations, was it so settled? The agreement is not a voluntary, but a necessary one, and cannot be accounted for, but on the supposition of an adequate, that is, a Divine cause. Will Mr. Emerson explain to us how it has happened that this man, of all others, should have this position in the centre of the horizon? Why have we no churches in the name of Plato, or Seneca, or Plotinus? The case of Plato deserves special consideration. If ever philosopher could have succeeded in establishing a divine authority in the world, it was he. Among them that are born of women, there has been no greater philosopher, seldom a more perfect man. Why have we no church, embracing half the earth, in the name of Plato? It is not for want of systematic efforts, on the part of his disciples, to secure the prevalence of his doctrine. As soon as the Christian sect began to look formidable, the attempt was made by the most cultivated and powerful of the earth, to run Platonism against Christianity and to secure to the Pagan religion, seconded and interpretated by that philosophy, the ascendancy over the new and growing faith. All the genius, all the wit, and no small part of the virtue and piety of that time were devoted to the cause. The Emperor Julian gave to it all his learning as a philosopher, all his patronage as Emperor, and all his influence as a man. A Christian by birth, and still, after his conversion to Paganism, a better Christian in his practice than the Christian Emperors who preceded and who came after him; a man of singular abstinence and sobriety, who lived as frugally and as industriously on the throne of the world as the poorest Christian in his dominions; he devoted himself, with all the weight which such a character and such a position could give, to the work of building up Platonic Paganism at the expense of Christianity. History has shown us with what result. All the power and wisdom of man availed not to reinstate the Olympian gods in their ancient seats, and of that philosophy which the sinking cause had summoned to its aid only so much survived, or 9


ever came into general circulation, as had been engrafted on the Christian doctrine by the Fathers of Alexandria. The very books which contain it would have been lost forever, had they not been preserved by the Christian Church. Such is the difference between a Church and a School of philosophy; and such the difference between the founder of a sect and the Church's Christ!

But while we condemn this view of the Christian revelation, we are far from denying to Mr. Emerson all participation in the Christian faith. On the contrary, we affirm him to be a true Christian, in that sense in which one of the Fathers, we believe it was Jerome, declared Seneca to be a Christian, as an asserter, that is, of Christian truth and Christian principles. Among the distinguishing features of Christianity, we are ready to say the distinguishing feature is its humanity-its deep sympathy with human kind and its strong advocacy of human wants and rights. In this particular, few have a better title to be ranked among the followers of Jesus, than the author of this book. Humanity is the distinguishing feature, also, of his writings. Not the humanity now in vogue, which views mankind in the lump and has respect only to the race; but a genuine regard for individual man. The solidaire view of the human race is not the doctrine of these Essays. It is not the Christian view of man. We do not call it anti-Christian, but we find no support for it in the Gospel. The words and actions of Jesus do not look that way. They point in a different direction; they emphasize the individual soul. It is not society in its collective capacity, but man in his personal and private capacity, that Christianity contemplates and addresses. So far, then, as this point is concerned, we affirm that our essayist has drunk more deeply of the Christian spirit, than some who in these days put forth peculiar pretensions to the Christian name.

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Mr. Emerson is by no means a denier of the Christian faith. If he errs in rejecting the form of revelation, he is very far from rejecting its substance and its spirit; very far from being a general unbeliever. That name belongs properly to those who reject not only the idea of a revelation, but everything that revelation contains, everything connected with the spiritual world. Mephistophiles de

scribes this class, when he designates himself as the spirit "that always denies." Mr. Emerson is not one of these spirits. We should rather characterize him as the spirit that always affirms. We lay great stress on this distinction. No prejudice, it seems to us, can fail to perceive the difference between such a writer and that class who deal wholly or mostly in negations, such as Byron, Rosseau, Voltaire. He is not a denier, but an affirmer; a sincere and consistent affirmer of moral and spiritual truth. It is of great consequence what a man believes, but of still greater consequence is it, that we do believe something with real and intense conviction. He who embraces a few great principles, with heart and soul, though he reject much that is worthy to be received, has a better title to be called believer, ay, and Christian too, than one who yields a feeble and politic assent to all that tradition prescribes, without converting the smallest portion of it into spiritual life. In this view, we pronounce the writer of these Essays a believer. One shall not easily find so great faith, no, not in Israel, as some of them manifest. We particularize the chapter on "Spiritual Laws," and that on "Compensation." It is this that constitutes the chief value of his writings, and makes him, although not generally ranked in that category, a more efficient teacher of morals, than most of those who Without any system, for system is, once for all, no feature of his intellect, but with keen perceptions in his mind, and noble sentiments in his soul, he inculcates the great virtues of truth and justice, with a persuasiveness not parallelled in any modern writer known to us. What preaching can be finer than the following passages from the Essay on Compensation?



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Always pay; for, first or last, you must pay your entire debt. Persons and events may stand for a time between you and justice, but it is only a postponement. You must pay at last your own debt."

"For every benefit which you receive a tax is levied. He is great who confers most benefits. He is base, and that is the one base thing in the universe, who receives favors and renders none." "The league between virtue and nature engages all things to assume a hostile front to vice. The beautiful laws and substances of the world persecute and whip the traitor. He finds that things are arranged for truth and benefit, and that there is no den in the wide world to hide a rogue. There is no such

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