Puslapio vaizdai
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ministering to our wants, far more apocalyptic to an enlightened eye than any yet contained in books.

The reader may deem the illustration beneath the dignity of the subject. The more is the pity for him in that case, since it is evilent that his eyes have been fixed upon the shows of things, rather than upon the enduring substance. It is not indeed a dignified thing to wait upon tables. There is no dig. nity in any labor which is constrained by one's necessities. But still no function exists so abject or servile as utterly to quench the divine or personal element in it. It will make itself inanifest in all of them, en lowing them all with an immortal grace, and redeeming the subject from the doininion of mere nature and custom.

But whether the illustration be mean or not, it is fully to the point. The divine life in every man, the life which is the direct inspiration of God, and therefore exactly images God, consists in the obedience of one's own taste or attraction, where one's taste or attraction is uncontrolled by necessity or duty, by nature or society. I know that this definition will not cominend itself to the inattentive reader. But let me leave my meaning fully expressed. I say, then, that I act divinely, or that my action is perfect, only when I follow my own taste or attraction, uncontrolled either by my natural wants or my obligations to other men. I do not mean that I act divinely when I follow my attractions to the devial of my physical wants and my social obligations ; but only in independence of them. If these things control my action, it will not be divine.

For example, I have what is ordinarily called a great love of luxury. That is, I have a spontaneous desire after all manner of exquisite accommodations for my body. I desire a com noulious and beautiful house, graceful and expressive furniture, carria ges and horses, and all the other appliances of easy living. But I lack the actual possession of all these things. I am utterly destitute of ineans to procure them. Yet my inextinguishable love for them prompts me incessantly to action. Now you perceive that my action in this case, being shaped or controlled by my want of all these things, cannot be free or spontaneous, cannot be divine as expressing myself alone. It will in fact be thoroughly servile. It will be abject toil instead of free action. That is, I shall probably begin by sing low minurl occupation, such as sawing wool or p»rterage. I shall diligently hoard every penny accruing from my occupa

may

very sure that

tion not necessary to my subsistence, that I may in time arise to a more commanding vocation, in which I may realize larger prices, and so on until I shall have at length attained my wishes, and achieved the necessary basis of my personality. This action, then, is completely undivine ; it does not originate in myself as disengaged from nature and my fellow-man, but in myself as still involved in subjection to them, and burning to become free. So long as this condition of bondage lasts, you be

my

action will be the action of a slave, and that the deference I pay to morality will be purely prudential. If the great end, which is my personal emancipation, can be better secured by strict attention to its maxims, of course I shall observe them. But if not, I shall be likely to use meum and tuum quite indifferently, feeling, as the children of Israel felt on the eve of their emancipation from Egypt, that the spoils of the oppressor are divinely due to the oppressed.

But now, on the other hand, suppose my emancipation accomplished; suppose me in possession of all natural good, and of all social privileges; suppose, in a word, that I am no longer in bondage to nature or society, having secured ample wealth and reputation, and become free, therefore, to act according to my own sovereign taste ; then you perceive, at a glance, that this love of luxury in my bosom, instead of leading me merely to the accumulation of wealth, would prompt me exclusively to creative action, or a mode of action which would enrich the community as much as myself. For, having now all that nature and society yielded for the satisfaction of this love, the love would not thereupon become extinct or satiated : on the contrary, it would burn all the brighter for the nourishment it had received, and impel me, therefore, to new and untried methods of gratifying it. Thus, instead of a mere absorbent or consumer, which my natural and social destitution rendered

me,

I should now become an actual producer of new wealth ; a producer, too, whose power would be as infinite as the love which inspired it was infinite, being derived from the infinite God Himself.

A man, then, does not truly act at all, does not act in any such sense that the action may be pronounced absolutely hiš, so long as his personality remains undeveloped; so long as he remains in bondage to nature or society. Before he can truly act or show forth the divine power within him, he must be in a condition of perfect outward freedom, of perfect insubjection to nature and society; all his natural wants must be NO. IX.

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supplied, and all social advantages must be open to him. Until these things are achieved his action must be more or less imperfect and base. You may, indeed, frighten him into some show of decorum by representations of God as an infallible policeman, intent always on evil-doers, but success in this way is very partial. The church itself, in fact, which authorizes these representations, incessantly defeats their force by its doctrine of absolution, or its proclamation of mercy to the most successful villainy, if only repentant at the last gasp. Not only the church, but the whole current of vital action defeats these safeguards. Thus, our entire system of trade, as based upon what is called “unlimited competition,” is a system of rapacity and robbery. A successful merchant like Mr. A. or B. is established only on the ruins of a thousand unsuccessful ones. Mr. A. or B. is not to be blamed individually. His heart is destitute of the least ill-will towards the man whom, perhaps, he has never seen, but whom he is yet systematically strangling. He acts in the very best manner society allows to one of his temper, or genius. He feels an unmistakably divine aspiration after unlimited power; a power, that is, which shall be unlimited by any outward impediment, being limited only by his own interior taste or attraction. He will seek the gratification of this instinct by any means the constitution of society ordains : thus, by the utter destruction of every rival merchant, if society allows it.

So much for Mr. A. or B. regarded as in subjection to nature and society, or as still seeking a field for his personality. But this is not the final and divine Mr. A. or B. The final and divine Mr. A. or B. will have subjected both nature and society to himself, and will then exhibit, by virtue of that very force in him, which is now so destructively operative, a personality of unmixed benignity to every one. The voice of God, as declared in his present instincts after unlimited power, bids him as it bade the Israelites of old, to spoil the oppressor, to cleave down every thing that stands in the way of his inheritance. But suppose him once in possession of that inheritance; suppose him once established in that good land which flows with milk and honey, and which God has surely promised him, and you will immediately find the same instinct manifested in measureless and universal benediction.

The Artist, then, is the Divine Man, -- the only adequate image of God in nature, — because he alone acts of himself, or finds the object of his action always within his own subjectivity.

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He is that true creature and son of God, whom God pronounces very good and endows with the lordship of the whole earth. It would not be difficult, in the writer's estimation, to show the reason why the evolution of this man has required the whole past physical and moral experience of the race, nor yet to show how perfectly he justifies all the historic features of Christianity, standing symbolized under every fact recorded in the four gospels concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. In some other place, or at least on some future occasion, the writer will undertake these tasks.

ART. IV. - VALIDITY OF INSTRUMENTS AND

CONTRACTS EXECUTED ON SUNDAY.

It is often said, especially when conversation takes a jocular turn, that among the old “ Blue Laws” of Connecticut, or rather of New Haven, was one which forbade husbands to kiss their wives, or mothers to caress their children, on Sundays. The prohibition to eat mince pies on Christmas is perfectly authentic, but no such Sunday act as that above referred to anywhere now appears of record. The circulation of the story must be explained as what the Germans call a myth, embodying the popular idea of the special stringency of Connecticut Sunday legislation. That species of legislation, however, was and is by no means confined to Connecticut, or even to New England. There is no more lasting and widely diffused memorial of the partial, but by no means inconsiderable, success of the Puritans, in their memorable effort to reconstruct society upon the Jewish model, than the laws for the observance of “the Lord's day,” which still maintain their place in the English and Scottish statute books, and which are yet to be found, in all their Jewish glory, among the existing legislative enactments of nearly every state in our American union. We must except, however, French Louisiana, and possibly one or two of the newer states.

It does not appear that before the time of the Puritans, any Christian community ever found it necessary to enforce by law so strict an observance of the Sabbath. Christianity, as it gradually supplanted Paganism, adopted many of its forms. Instead of imitating the austere, unsocial, un productive Jewish observance of Sunday, which consisted, so far, at least, as the law of Moses goes, in mere idleness, the more agreeable custom of the Pagans was adopted, among whom the solemn days were festivals, in which to religious worship were added games, amusements, and social intercourse. For an observance of Sunday like this, the natural disposition of men towards worship and social enjoyments was a sufficient guarantee without laws. To enforce an observance according to PuritanicoJewish ideas, it is no wonder that laws became necessary. We are not aware, indeed, that any of our Anglo-Saxon communities, whose natural temperament, by the way,— harsh, domineering, rapacious, enthusiastic, and exclusive, - peculiarly adapted them for imbibing and reproducing Jewish ideas, ever went the length of enacting that the man who gathered sticks on the Sunday should be stoned, though the great Cotton did go the length of proposing such a law for Massachusetts ; but they did provide, by enactments sufficiently stringent, for the exclusive devotion of the day to the propagation of Puritan ideas. By being put into the stocks on Sunday, — to say nothing of the discipline of week-days, - children, under this system, were gradually tormented into sufficient harshness of disposition and unfeeling austerity to qualify them for keeping up the system by inflicting on their own children what they, as children, had suffered.

In practice, as Puritanism has gradually faded out, these laws have lost a good deal of their efficacy, and are more and more, every day, disregarded with impunity. Massachusetts, especially, is greatly indebted to her Supreme Court for obstacles put in the way of those fanatics, who, from time to time, filled with new impulses of zeal, strive to avail themselves of existing enactments to go back towards the old theocracy which ruled this goodly state during the first sixty years of its colonial existence. In the year 1816, or thereabouts, at a time when Parker and Jackson sat together on the bench, shocked by the increase of Sunday travelling, some of our modern Puritans undertook to arrest all Sunday travellers, and, under a statute still in force, to subject them for their sins to certain penalties. But the Supreme Court put a damper on these proccedings by deciding, (13 Mass. R., 324, Pearce vs. Atwood,) in spite of the able argument on the other side by the late Governor Strong, that to issue a warrant and make arrests on Sunday for breach of the Sunday laws were just as much prohibited under the statute as any other

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