« VorigeDoorgaan »
in this article, to furnish the requisite means for securing a similar intellectual feast in future. Persons of very good common sense, sometimes wonder what use the pastor who only preaches “docirinal discourses,” or “revival sermons,” can have for many books. The range of topics suggested in this article, thoroughly and elaborately discussed from the pulpit, would solve the
question for such preachers, and lead the congregation to supply that of which otherwise they might not see the necessity.
In urging upon the attention of our readers a wide range of topics for pulpit discussion, we are sustained by an argument of no inconsiderable weight. It is an age of great activity in the general diffusion of knowledge. Never before has the press thrown off such a variety of material for interesting the public mind. The period is indeed not wanting in theories, but it is eminently one of facts. Books and periodicals are rendered amusing and instructive by the amount of facts gathered from observation and history. The argumentative style of the seventeenth century, whether for good or evil we will not inquire, has given place to a style of writing everywhere interspersed with, and illustrated by, realities gatliered from history and observation. The newspaper press, and the current literature of the day, abound in this kind of material. There is abroad in the community an insatiable appetite for knowledge of this sort. Popular lectures, in all parts of the country, have contributed extensively to promote this state of the public taste. Its existence cannot be questioned. In a country where the popular will is law, this condition of society must be met; and so far as it may be done without compromising the character of our sacred things, it must be gratified from the pulpit. The style of preaching adopted by Edwards and Bellamy, while it may meet the wants of the church, and fasten convictions upon the impenitent and lead them to Christ, will not attract our untaught and skeptical youth, and gather them into the house of God, that they may be placed within reach of the Gospel. The state of the popular taste, if it cannot be gratified to some extent by the discussion of topics such as we have described, and is compelled to choose between the sound, discriminating, austere manner of preaching the Gospel which prevailed in the last century, and the flashy, fervent style that abounds in anecdote, will prefer the latter. Anything but a dry manner and a monotonous style, is the language which indicates the spirit of the times. If this state of the popular taste can be gratified, while, at the same time, the great truths of the Gospel are not lost sight of, nor at all thrown into the back-ground; if at the same time that it keeps its hold on the affections of the people, it may be made the great instrument of spreading before them that knowledge of God, which is to be derived from his works, and his providence along
with his word, the pulpit may be made to wield an influence upon the destinies of our country, more powerful, and no less salutary, than in its past history.
But if the pulpit must fall far behind the press, in its contributions to the general intelligence of the people on moral subjects, there will be a strong tendency to fall into comparative disesteem, except among the truly pious.
THE IDEA OF HUMANITY IN ITS PROGRESS TO ITS CONSUM.
By Rev. L. P. Hickor, D. D., Prof. of Theology, Theo. Sem., Auburn, N. Y.
Human life is never isolate. It has connexions with that which went before, and will connect itself with that which shall come after; and in the same age reciprocal influences hold all together, and thus human life, in one stream, pours onward from generation to generation. Some force inherent in humanity impels it to action, and some end, towards which its action is tending, must be ultimately reached by it.
It is not steam, nor money, nor majorities, but Ideas, that must rule the race.
A good and great idea, put forth in its clearness and comprehensiveness, is more powerful than fleets and armies. Human society has its law of progress, and a true idea of this is necessary to any philosophy which would apply its teachings to human improvement. In this we shall find the secret, silent, but resistless force which urges on the current of social relations, the law by which its action is directed, and the end to which it is tending, and that its working may neither tire nor cease, until it shall attain the consummation it is seeking. The changes and revolutions by which nations are agitated, are so many indices of where and how this perpetual energy beneath is working. The stormy sea is not without its law, through all its chafing waves, and swelling tides, and rushing currents. If we may grasp this grand idea, and make it available as our rule for working upon human nature in its improvement, it can neither be of small importance, nor of limited use to the philosopher, the politician, nor the Christian philanthropist. What we seek to attain, therefore, is, the idea by which we must expound all human progress.
It will be demanded, that we first find what humanity is ; then, that we attain the inner force which impels its movement; and, finally, that we apprehend the law by which its course must be guided to its consummati n. We may, in conclusion, make the application, as ace shall permit. Our first in
is for the constitution of humanity itself. The a... ! has its end in the gratification of the Sensory. In this all desires spring, and in the attainment of its object, desire is satisfied, when the animal rests until some new craving of the sense returns. A sensory may be more or less comprehensive in its susceptibilities of desire for different objects ; its sensibility may be more or less refined in reference to the elevation of its objects; and it may be connected with either an instinctive or an intelligent capacity for determining the adaptation of objects to its wants; but none of these things at all change its constitutional kind of being. In the highest perfection of them all, it is still a sensory with its end in its own gratification. Happiness is its only law; and the life, whether it be mortal or immortal, is that of the animal only.
The Rational has its end in the excellency of its own being. Its own intrinsic dignity demands that its action should ever be in accordance with its true worthiness. Hence its impulses are never the promptings of passion, but the Imperative of reason; not what a sensory may crave as a desire, but what a spirit may claim as a duty; not at all what it wants to do as a gratification, but what it ought to do as worthy of itself. It has the knowledge of its true end of action in its own excellency, and thus a conscience : it has capacity to originate action in this causality of its own imperative, and thus a will. Inasmuch as this inherent excellency is perpetual, its imperative must be perpetual ; and thus there is a neverceasing causality for action, and an ever-present requisition that the action be directed to its right end. Neither rest nor lawless action may be known by a pure spirit.
This spirituality of being may be infinite in its own excellency, and thus absolute in its imperative, and it is God, evermore acting for his own glory: or it may be finite, and merely a creature in its Maker's image; yet as finite spirit, is the same law written inward upon its own being, that it should act worthy of itself, in obedience to the imperative of its own conscience. Where authority imposes an imperative beyond its own inner law, this must stand in à superior rationality; and the obligation to obey reaches the finite spirit, even in this, only through its own conscience. The conviction is immediate, that as finite rationality it can no otherwise act worthy of itself, than that it should implicitly obey the behests of the Absolute Reason.
Such action, evermore in accordance with its own true dignity, fulfils the end of the spiritual. It is not a termination in rest, as in the animal, but a full and even flow in unceasing tranquillity. The satisfying of its own imperative is holiness; and in the attain
ment of this comes the bliss of the spirit. The animal does not seek its object of desire that it may rest; it seeks its object only for the happiness in its own gratification, and rest follows from it. Even so does not the spirit urge obedience to its imperative, that it may find its bliss ; it obeys solely for the holiness which satisfies the obligation, and the even flow of blissful tranquillity ensues.
And now man is animal, and the most perfect among animals. He has a sensory the same in kind, though more comprehensive in its objects, and more refined in its susceptibilities, as is possessed by his fellows of the stall, and an understanding judging according to sense, beyond what is merely instinctive, as have also other animals, only that his is more extensive and more conclusive than theirs. Man, thus, has the law of the animal within him, impelling him, through the thousand desires of the sensory, to act for his happiness. But, moreover, man is rational, and possessing within himself all the prerogatives which belong to the world of spiritual beings. The imperatives of this higher excellency of the spiritual become the law written within, and throw their inflexible bonds upon the agency, that it should accord with the dignity of his own
, rational being, and thus that he be holy. He is not all animal, and thus wholly a brute; he is not all spirit, and thus wholly an angel. Man is spirituality incarnate.
Humanity is thus compounded being. In the sensory, however comprehensive and refined, is the end of the animal only; in the spirit, however degraded and depraved, is still the rational, with the imperatives of its own worthy end pressing their unchanging obligations : and human nature is the complex union of the iwo. Everywhere through the race of mankind, the law in the members and the law of the mind” are rightfully or wrongfully interworking with each other. And these two are all that belong to humanity, as having any end of action, embracing within them every element of the race that can be brought within human consciousness. And precisely in this complexity of humanity are found all the peculiarities which give so much difficulty to the study of human agency, and such wide discrepancy in the interpretation of human responsibility. It is not the sense or the spirit; but through all the tribes and generations of man, it ever must be the sense and the spirit. All philosophy which seeks to subject hu. man nature to science in any direction, must include the elements of the sensory and those of the spirituality, and preserve a careful discrimination between them. Personality may reside wholly in the spirit, and have its right of possession in, and its dominion over, the sense; but humanity is constituted of both.
A second inquiry is for the inner force which impels the social movement.
If we take the sense, and look into its constitutional being, an irrepressible and tireless energy is at once seen in operation, which THIRD SERIES, vol. III. NO. 4.
must produce a ceaseless movement. Awakened animal susceptibilities are perpetually craving; and, like the daughters of the horse leech, cry, “Give, give, and are never satisfied. If the sense be satiated in one quarter, its clamorous desires come up from another direction ; and if the appetites, on whose supply nature is dependent, are provided for, another set of susceptibilities, a little in advance of these, stand ready to stimulate the action to a further attainment. Not merely what shall each man eat and drink, and wherewithal be clothed and sheltered; but in the answers to these, an endless series of wants wake up in unbroken succession. The attainment of conveniences succeeds at once to the supply of necessities; and to these follow the effort for the elegancies, the luxuries, and the fanciful superfluities of life, without number, and all still further to go their fitful round of changes, through the caprices of fashion. The individual must tax his powers and resources for his own supply, and then associated labor and capital must come in to attain what single-handed industry could never reach.
And then society itself has its own wants, and creates many more factitious demands; and in it an unquenchable spirit of competition, and enterprise, and ambition, is enkindled, pouring itself through all the busy walks of industry and marts of trade, and spreading itself in commercial transactions which whiten every sea and visit every shore. Deep interests are created, and fierce passions are engendered, amid such wide-spread schemes for human attainments, and out of the collisions of discordant interests, broils, and insurrections, and bloody wars disturb the peace of neighborhoods and of nations, and send desolation over wide portions of the earth. Then come in the wants of military tactics and strategy, of diplomatic talent and political wisdom, and the action goes out upon the high field of international law and governmental rights and interests. Nations thus augment their wants, and urge each the other onward in the progress to higher attainments, and lay their far-reaching schemes for future prosperity and improvement, which must tax the toil, and absorb the revenues of coming generations. Surely, the heaving masses of earth's population may never rest, while such volcanic fires perpetually burn in the bosom of humanity.
But this is not all. The spiritual, also, has its deep and strong agency; and its mighty working is manifest through all the tribes of mankind. Impelled by the wants of his constitutional being, man must live in society. It is an idle dream, that men once lived apart, as the solitary dwellers among the rocks, and in the caves of the mountains, and that as they found the inconveniences of seclusion, they came together, and instituted civil government, with its constitutions and laws, and that therefore all right to authority in the State is based upon the figment of a social compact. The State, in its rudiments, is in humanity itself; and the