Puslapio vaizdai

man as man.

This is as express as language can well be. Men are so made that they cannot be deceived, and their minds are touchstones on which are to be tried all words and thoughts. Do not imagine that the writer means to assert this only of a few gisted or singularly privileged individuals. No such thing. He intentionally asserts it of all men, for he continues :

“What these men are all ought to be. What these men are all can be. For God has made men of one nature, and has not left himself without a witness in any heart. It is within the capacity of all men to reach this point of faith. .... We have a religious nature, an inborn capacity for receiving truths of God, and heaven, and immortality, and all unearthly things. This is not intellect; it is not reasoning. It has nothing whatever to do with these. It cannot depend upon them. It is faith, the power of apprehending the unseen and invisible, the power of rising from earth to heaven. We hold that this [faith) is most peculiarly a faculty of

It is that which makes him man, that which raises him above and separates him from all other creatures.Ib. p. 7.

The fact that the writer calls the power by which we are enabled to affirm the truth in religious matters faith, and distinguishes it from intellect and reasoning, affects not our position; for he calls it a faculty of man, the constituent element and distinctive characteristic of man as man. It is therefore human, is man himself, under a given aspect, and inseparable from his nature. His testimony is, therefore, all we could ask. Mr. Parker may not admit his authority, but that is nothing to us. He is a Transcendentalist; and it is Transcendentalism, not Mr. Parker, we are mainly concerned with.

The writings of Mr. Emerson, who is as high authority on any point of Transcendentalism as we can quote without going abroad, contain not a little to the same effect. He teaches expressly that the soul is the source and measure of truth ; that a man is never to look abroad, but to consult in all cases only his own soul, the tendencies of his own nature, and in all his judgments of truth and goodness to listen to himself, and to take himself as their rule or standard.

“Whoso,” he says, “ would be a man must be a non-conformist. He who would gather immortal palms must not be hindered by the name of goodness, but explore if it be goodness. Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of our own mind. Absolve yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of the world. .... What have I to do with the sacredness of traditions, if I live wholly from within? .... But these impulses may be from below, not from

above. .... They do not seem to me to be such; but if I am the devil's child, I will live from the devil. No law is sacred to me but the law of my nature. Good and bad are but names very readily transferable to this or that; the only right is what is after my constitution, the only wrong is what is against it." Essays, 1841, pp. 41, 42.

“That which I call right or goodness is the choice of my constitution ; and that which I call heaven, and inwardly aspire to, is the state or circumstance desirable to my constitution ; and the action which I in all my years tend to do is the work for my faculties.” Ib. p. 114. “ In the book I read the good thought returns to me, as every truth will, the image of the whole soul. To the bad thought, which I find in it, the same soul becomes a discerning, separating sword, and lops it off. We are wiser than we know. If we will not interfere with our thought, but will act entirely, or see how the thing stands in God, we know the particular thing, and every thing and every man. For the Maker of all things stands behind us, and casts his dread omniscience through us over things." — Ib. pp. 231, 232. Let man, then, learn the revelation of nature and all thought to his heart; this, namely, that the Highest dwells with him.. . . . If he would know what the great God speaketh, .... he must greatly listen to himself. .... The soul makes no appeal. The faith that stands on authority is no faith. .... Great is the soul..... It believes always in itself. .... It calls the light its own, and feels that the grass grows and the stone falls by a law inferior to and dependent on its own. Behold, it saith, I am born into the universal mind; I, the imperfect, adore my own perfect. I am somehow receptive of the great soul, and thereby Í do overlook the sun and stars..... Thus viewing the soul, .... man will come to see that the world is the perennial miracle the soul worketh.” — lb. pp. 243 - 245.

These passages, taken almost at random, and to which many others may be added, equally to our purpose, require no comment. The standard is assumed to be in man, to be man, man's constitution ; and all a man has to do, in order to be in conformity with truth and goodness, is to conform to himself, to his own constitution, his own thoughts, tendencies, and impulses. Hence the celebrated maxim of the Transcendental school, - "Obey thyself."

” All this expressly asserts or necessarily implies that man is the measure of truth and good

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Mr. Parker also assumes this as the ground of his argument from the existence of the sentiment in man to the existence of the object which it demands, out of man. He defines religion to be a sentiment natural to man, that is, springing from man's


nature. But this sentiment, as its object, requires God to love, reverence, and adore. Therefore, God exists. His argument drawn out in form is, whatever natural want man experiences, for that want there is an external supply. Man wants an object to love, reverence, and adore ; therefore, such object is. He wants truth, therefore there is truth; God, therefore God is. You may always conclude from the internal want to the external supply. “This general rule,” he says, “ may thus be laid down ; — that for each animal, intellectual, affectional, and moral want of man there is a supply,” — and what may be well to bear in mind, — “a supply set within his

- " reach, and a (natural] guide to connect the two." - pp. 188, 189.

It is on this ground that he holds sentiment to be as authoritative, if not even more so, than reason. Detect in man a sentiment or a want, no matter what, and you may at once say that that which will supply it really exists and is within his reach. Now, this conclusion is valid only on condition, so to speak, of the truthfulness of human nature. It assumes that human nature conforms in all things to eternal and unalterable truth, and is in itself a test or touchstone of what is true and good; that is, as we have said, man is the measure of truth and goodness. Truth is what conforms to my nature. “Right or goodness,” says Mr. Emerson, “is thai which is after my constitution ; wrong, that which is against it.” If this does not make man the standard, the measure, we know not what would. Hence, Mr. Parker says again, “the truth of the human faculties (that is, conscience and sentiinent, as well as intellect and reason) must be assumed in all arguments ; and if this be admitted, we have then the same evidence for spiritual facts as we have for the maxims or the demonstrations of geometry.” — p. 20, note.

But it may be objected that Mr. Parker does not make man the measure, for he holds up absolute religion and morality as the standard. “ Religion,” he says, “is the universal term,

' and absolute religion and morality its highest expression. Christianity is a particular form under this universal term ; one form of religion among many others. It is either absolute religion and morality, or it is less ; greater it cannot be, as there is no greater." - p. 240. Here evidently the standard is as

sumed to be not man, but absolute religion and morality.

But the objection is invalid ; for Mr. Parker makes man

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the measure of absolute religion and morality. Absolute religion and morality are declared by Mr. Parker to be “ something inward and natural to man,” p. 241, — “religion as it exists in the facts of man's soul,” — " the law God made for man and wrote in his nature,” p. 243, in a word, that wbich “ answers exactly to the religious sentiment, and is what the religious sentiment demands,” p. 239. If it be asked, then, What is absolute religion and morality ? the answer is, That which answers exactly to the moral and religious sentiments, wants, or facts of the soul. Conceding, then, that absolute religion and morality are the standard by which particular forms of religion and morality are to be judged, yet man is himself the standard or measure of absolute religion and morality; which not only answers the objection, but confirms our general assertion, that man is assumed to be the measure of truth and goodness.

That man is assumed to be the measure of absolute religion and morality is also certain from the fact that they are assumed to be matters of intuition. Man is the measure in all cases of intuitive knowledge, as Mr. Parker concedes, p. 263. But the great truths of absolute religion, or absolute religion and morality, (for Mr. Parker uses the two phrases as equivalent,) are declared to be “ matters of direct personal experience,

matters of intuition,” p. 247. Therefore man is assumed to be their measure.

This conclusion would follow from the ordinary and proper sense of intuition, that of knowing by immediate apprehension of the object known ; in which sense it is distinguished

; from science, which is discursive, and from faith, which depends on testimony. But it follows a fortiori from intuition as understood by the Transcendentalists. They understand by it, as near as we can seize their sense, the sentiment, feeling, or want of the soul, regarded, not as the characteristic of the subject, but as the intimation or indication of the object which will satisfy it. The sentiments are wants, but wants are indications of something wanted. What is thus indicated is said to be known by intuition, or to be a matter of intuition. The religious sentiment, for instance, is a want; but, as a want, it demands God for its supply. It is therefore in itself an intimation, an indication, of God. Therefore the existence of God

, is a matter of intuition. To say that any given object is a matter of intuition is, then, simply saying it is what is demanded by an internal want or sentiment, and what answers to that sen


timent or want. The intuitions depend, then, entirely on the wants of the soul, and are determined by them. The objects are known to be, not because intellectually apprehended, but because the internal sentiments demand them and are satisfied by them. Ascertain, then, the sentiments or wants, and what

. will satisfy them, and you have ascertained what is matter of intuition. The sentiments are, then, the measure of the truth and goodness of the objects, that is, the authority we have for saying the objects are, and that they are good. The sentiments are admitted to be facts of the soul, permanent, unalterable, essential; therefore the soul itself; therefore man, under a given aspect. Consequently, the assertion, that absolute religion and morality are matters of intuition, not only invalidates the objection we are considering, but also confirms our assertion, that the Transcendentalists hold man to be the measure of truth and goodness.

But we have not yet seized the precise sense in which the Transcendentalists hold man to be the measure of truth and goodness. They distinguish, or attempt to distinguish, between man as person, and man as impersonal soul or nature, and predicate the measure of man in the latter sense, not in the former. This is an important fact, and must not be overlooked, if we would attain to a right understanding of Transcendentalism.

According to the Transcendental view, man is twofold : personal, as Peter, James, or John; impersonal, as simple human nature, a force, or aggregate of forces, underlying the personality. Of the first they make no great account. It is the latter which they call “ Impersonal Reason,” “ Spontanei

ty,' ” « Instinct," "Nature," " the Soul,” “the great Soul,'

“ (the Over-Soul," " the Divine in Man,” and which is

supposed to enlarge its proportions as it frees itself and recedes from the restrictions and limitations of personality, and to expand at last into the infinite God, the background of all being, the substantiality of all existences, whether material or immaterial — to which they refer when they speak in such lofty terms, and predicate such glorious attributes of man. Man, as mere person, is weak, and falls into the silliest errors, the grossest absurdities, the most degrading and debasing superstitions ; but as the impersonal soul, as freed from all personal restrictions and limitations, he is great, grand, noble, sublime, a god, walking the earth in majesty, and the master of all things. If

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