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ardous or random conjecture, nor attested only by a superficial glance at the history of man, but this principle is found out, and its existence demonstrated, in several legitimate ways. . . . . . Thus, then, it appears that induction from notorious facts, consciousness spontaneously active, and a philosophical analysis of man's nature, all lead equally to some religious sentiment or principle as an essential part of man's constitution. . . . . . It is, indeed, abundantly established that there is a religious element in man. - Discourse, pp. 14 - 19.


The main point asserted in this loosely written passage is the fact, that religious institutions spring from a special religious sentiment, element, or principle of human nature, and "which is an essential part of man's constitution." This is the first point to be disposed of. What are the proofs of this? These proofs, so far as we can collect them from Mr. Parker and others, are, 1. The existence of religious phenomena in human history; 2. The universality and indestructibleness of the religious phenomena; 3. The power of religion over our thoughts, passions, and interests; 4. Consciousness; 5. Philosophical analysis of man's nature.

1. The existence of religious phenomena in human history is unquestionable, and this existence proves that they have a principle and cause in man, or out of him; but to infer that this principle and cause are a special element of human nature is a plain begging of the question, at least, cannot be justifiable, unless it be first established that there is and can be nothing in human history which has not its principle and cause in human nature, a proposition which may, indeed, be asserted, but not maintained, as we shall show when we come to discuss the third fundamental proposition of the Transcendentalists. The history of the human race is inexplicable, save on the supposition of the supernatural intervention of Providence in human affairs.

2. The religious phenomena are universal and indestructible, we admit. Wherever you find man, you find the altar, the priest, and the victim, at least some sort of religious worship. But this simply proves that religion does not spring from accidental and temporary causes, but from a universal and permanent principle. Yet that principle may be divine as well as human; for God, to say the least, is as universal and permanent a principle and cause as man.

3. The great power of religion in all ages is freely conceded. It is able to control man in his most intimate rela

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tions, to control his thoughts and passions, to make him forego his strongest desires, his dearest affections, and his most pressing interests, to make him submit to what is most repugnant to his nature, to glory in being contemned, and to sacrifice himself with joy at its bidding. But this, though conclusive against those who contend that religion is the mere creature of human passion, caprice, fear, hope, ignorance, imagination, or interest, says nothing in favor of its origin and ground in a principle or element of human nature. Indeed, it is rather a presumption that it has its origin and ground in that which is superhuman and independent of man. For it is hard to conceive how that which originates in man, and depends. wholly on man, should be able to control him, and make him voluntarily abnegate himself.

4. Mr. Parker alleges that we are conscious of our own insufficiency, and that this consciousness is the consciousness of a religious element in our nature. It is true, he does not say this formally, but this is what he is required to say by the line of argument he is pursuing.

"We feel conscious," he says, "of this element within us. We are not sufficient for ourselves; not self-originated; not selfsustained. A few years ago and we were not; a few years hence and our bodies shall not be. A mystery is gathered about our little life. We have but small control over things around us; are limited and hemmed in on all sides. Our schemes fail. Our plans miscarry. One after another our lights go out. Our realities prove dreams. Our hopes waste away. We are not where we would be, nor what we would be. After much experience, men as powerful as Napoleon, victorious as Cæsar, confess, what simpler men knew by instinct long before, that it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. We find our circumference very near the centre, everywhere. An exceedingly short radius measures all our strength. We can know little of material things; nothing but phenomena. As the circle of our knowledge widens its ring, we feel our ignorance on more numerous points, and the unknown seems greater than before. At the end of a toilsome life, we confess, with a great man of modern times, that we have wandered on the shore, and gathered here a bright pebble, and there a shining shell, but the ocean of truth, shoreless and unfathomed, lies before us and all unknown. The wisest ancient knew only this, that he knew nothing. We feel an irresistible tendency to refer all outward things, and ourselves with them, to a power beyond us, sublime, mysterious, which we cannot measure, nor even comprehend. We are filled with reverence at the

thought of this power. Outward matters give us the occasion which awakens consciousness, and spontaneous nature leads us to something higher than ourselves and greater than all eyes behold. We are bowed down at the thought. Thus the sentiment of something superhuman comes naturally as breath. This primitive spiritual sensation comes over the soul, when a sudden calamity throws us from our habitual state; when joy fills our cup to its brim; at a wedding or a funeral, a mourning or a festival; when we stand beside a great work of nature, a mountain, a waterfall ; when the twilight gloom of a primitive forest sends awe into the heart; when we sit alone with ourselves and turn in the eye, and ask, What am I? Whence come I? Whither shall I go? There is no man who has not felt this sensation, this mysterious sentiment of something unbounded."-Discourse, pp. 16, 17.

Ergo, we are conscious of a special religious element which is an essential part of man's constitution; ergo, again, the religious phenomena depend on a fact or principle of human nature!

We have inserted this passage because it is a favorable specimen of Mr. Parker's style and method of argumentation. In reading it, one is led to ask, Is the writer of this, who allows man the ability only to know that he knows nothing, the same man who sneers at the notion of supernatural revelation, who assumes to sit in judgment on all ages and nations, on even our blessed Saviour himself,-who contends that man has an intuitive knowledge of God, and bears about with him absolute religion as the standard by which to try even the Christian religion itself,-and who tells us we may and ought "to approach the Infinite One face to face"?-p. 5. It is a great convenience to be freed from the necessity of maintaining consistency in one's own views.

But this is foreign to our present purpose. The point Mr. Parker was required to establish in this passage was, that we are conscious that the religious element, for which he contends, is an element or principle of our nature. "We feel this element within us." Does he prove this? Not at all. He simply proves that there are facts in all men's experience which prove that we are not sufficient for ourselves, and that, finding we are not sufficient for ourselves, we are very naturally led to ask if there is not a power above us. All this may be very true, but is nothing to his purpose. For, 1. He makes the fact of our own insufficiency a deduction from certain other facts which he enumerates and to which we

come by experience; whereas, the fact of our insufficiency should, on his ground, be a fact of immediate consciousness, arrived at without any aid of discursive reason at all. 2. The consciousness of our own insufficiency, according to the paragraph quoted, does not of itself give us religion, or the objects of religion. It does not give us God immediately, but is simply a fact from which we are led to ask if there be not a God, or, at most, from which we infer there is and must be something above and beyond us. But his doctrine is not that we may rationally conclude from the facts of our nature to the existence of God and the necessity or propriety of religion, but that religion is given immediately, without any process of reasoning, by a special law, element, or principle of our nature, bearing the same or an analogous relation to spiritual objects that the bodily senses do to material objects. Admit, therefore, that we are conscious of our own insufficiency, and that we may rationally conclude from this insufficiency to the existence of a power that is all-sufficient, this does not prove that we have a special religious element,-far less, that we are conscious of the existence of such element. 3. Even assuming that we are conscious, immediately conscious, which is more than Mr. Parker proves, of our own insufficiency, it does not follow that we are conscious of the religious element; for our insufficiency is not an element or principle of our nature. An element or principle of nature is something positive, constitutive of that nature; but insufficiency is a mere negation, and is not included in what our nature is, but in what it is not. Consciousness of it, therefore, is not, and cannot be, consciousness of an element within us, or an element of our nature," an essential part of our constitution."

5. According to Mr. Parker, philosophical analysis of man's nature gives us the element in question. This analysis, in his hands, gives us the sense of dependence; and the sense of dependence, in the last analysis, he tells us, is the religious element. But philosophical analysis cannot give us the sense of dependence as an element or principle of nature, for the best of all reasons, because it is not and cannot be such element or principle. The sense of dependence is a fact of human life or experience, not a fact, element, or principle of human nature. That our nature is dependent is a fact, but not an element or principle of that nature, for the same reason that insufficiency is not such element or principle. The word sense is, or may be, ambiguous. When we say sense of sight or

hearing, we mean a principle, or rather power or faculty, of human nature. But we cannot use the word in this sense, when we say sense of dependence, any more than when we say sense of danger. Sense in this case is not a power or faculty, is not an element or principle of nature, but a simple fact of experience. It means simply, that we mentally apprehend, perceive, or are conscious of the fact that we are dependent. It is an intellectual fact, a product of the activity of the intelligent subject, not an element of its nature. Consequently, it is idle to pretend, that, if the religious element be rightly defined the sense of dependence, it is an element or principle of our nature.

But Mr. Parker, though he officially defines the religious element to be the sense of dependence, tells us that he is not tenacious of that definition. "Others," he says, "may call it the consciousness of the infinite; I contend less for the analysis than for the fact of a religious element in man.” — p. 18, note. But, my dear Sir, how, unless you tell us what you mean by this religious element, are we to determine whether you have proved it to be an element of man's nature or not? We cannot allow you to write thus loosely. You affirm that there is a religious element in man, and that philosophical analysis of man's nature can detect it. If you have not determined what this element is, if you know not its characteristic, how do you know philosophical analysis can detect it? We hold you to your definition, or to the alternative you give us. According to you, it is the sense of dependence, or, at least, the consciousness of the infinite. The first it cannot be, and, if held to that, you are evidently wrong. We will give you the advantage of the second, but we will give you no other advantage. Say, then, the ultimate principle of religion is the "consciousness of the infinite." The infinite is not an element or principle of man's nature, for man's nature is finite. Consciousness is not a principle of nature at all, but simply the act or state of being conscious. It is a fact of life, not an element of nature. Consequently, the consciousness of the infinite, even admitting it to be a fact of our intellectual life, is no more, than the sense of dependence, an element or principle of human nature.

But perhaps we shall be told that it is not contended, strictly speaking, that the consciousness of the infinite is an element or principle of human nature, but that we are conscious of the infinite by virtue of a special principle or power

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