Heaven upon Earth
HEAVEN UPON EARTH.
BY THE EDITOR.
The language of Man in his innocence, it is said, was music, which the voice poured forth in measures varying with the changes of the spirit; intonation and emphasis, the relations of sound and articulateness expressing more fully than arbitrary syllables can, the states of human feeling. That this may have been so primitively, and may hereafter be so again, seems to be illustrated by the fact that there are words in all the dialects of our Babel, which still affect us deeply from their harmoniousness. Such a word is Heaven. Spoken fitly, its mere sound soothes and lifts us, and it comes to us laden also with sweet associations. The fathomless twilight of dawn and evening,—noon's blue depths,—golden vapors piled high like snowy mountains,—the kingly glories of the sun,—moonlight bathing hill and valley,—the companies of stars—the silent air, where discordant noises sink to peaceful rest,—bright regions beyond the storm,—serenest calms above the tempest,—pure ether, which smoke and dust and earthly exhalations cannot dim,—thoughts of all radiant hours freight with their wealth this word. Yet holier symbols' cluster round it. Heaven is the home, through whose portals, ever wide, have passed our vanished joys; into its still void have gone up our sighs and prayers, the whispers of our secret interviews; like clouds have melted there from sight troops of ascending friends ; and through this pathway of angels opens forever the deepening splendors of the Eternal world. One day we may by experience learn, that the infant fancies of the race, repeated in the simple thoughts of every child, are nearer to the truth than the doubts of our maturer years; and by intercourse with happy spirits in the higher realms of the atmosphere, we may prepare ourselves for modes of existence which transcend the conceptions of space and time. But, not to intrude by premature conjecture upon the realities of the future, let us only say, that the hopes of order and beauty, which herald us to this unknown "Silent Land," cannot be mockeries. The visioned splendors of those palaces of peace are no mirage of heated imagination ; those welcoming bowers of joy are no calenture of homesick wanderers. The unfaltering prophecy of the soul is for perfect happiness, for harmonious co-operation, for communion of entire love. Are we so weak in faith, as to believe, that our evanescent dreams of Good can equal the graceful proportions of that living Good which in embryo is now actually growing, and which, in the fulness of time, shall be born ? Will Heaven, with its pure relations, its raptures and holy influences, its exhaustless interests and incitements, its perennial spring, never descend to glorify earth ?
We are so accustomed to Evil, that we become insensible to its unnaturalness. But Evil is the one great mystery. Good, and Truth, and Beauty are intelligible, self-luminous, eternally necessary. But wrong, and falsehood, and disorder are enigmas. How out of love came hatred, out of intelligence error, out of blessedness sorrow, out of creative benignity, chaos and conflict ? We cannot but conceive of absolute Being as Joy, diffusing itself in beauty forever. But whence death, blasting in ruins suns and shining worlds 1 How into the Universe of the All in All entered the first thought of failure, sin, enmity, disappointment ? How, from everlasting to everlasting, can there be anything but triumphant success in the works of the Omnipotent ? Evil is dreadful, not so much for the sensitive wretchedness which it occasions—though when we sum up the universal misery that through all the series of creatures, in proportion to their ascending scale of capacity, seems to increase in variety and intenseness, the contemplation of this accumulated suffering is most horrible ;—but evil is dreadful, as a seeming violation of Order. Evil is ugly, deformed, monstrous. How could it have been permitted ? Why is it tolerated ? It offends reason. It looks absurd and foolish. We feel a summons, as beings capable of wisdom, to extinguish it. Perfect order alone seems fit to us creatures; how then must disorder appear to Him who is truth ; how can he bear with a lie, a contradiction to himself? Still more dreadful is confusion, ending thus in grief, because it looks like want of Justice. What right has the all Blessed to allow crime, and crime's inevitable issue, remorse, shame, fear, horror ? To allow ? ay ! to cause. For from him, the First, originated the ultimates of existence. Is he not the cause of causes, the life of life ? Who, then, is the master-worker of Evil ? Ah ! How has that thought of hideous blasphemy crept, with its cold eclipse, over the radiant Love which lightened the soul ! Into how many benighted, darkened spirits has fallen that thought, as if it were the wail of a whole creation,—" the Almighty who made us, makes us to sin, makes us to suffer!" And who but the Omniscient knows the despair, mockery, savage will, which the fear of an Infinite Tyrant has engendered in human hearts. The diabolic rites of superstition faintly shadow forth the hell of evil passions, which the mere doubt of Infinite Goodness can let loose.
One thought answers forever this gloomy foreboding of Divine Injustice,—for carelessness, forgetfulness, indifference to his creatures in the Creator would be Injustice. If God does not will, does not purpose, does not work to produce the highest possible good of every existence, of all existences in increasing measure, then is he not a God at all; but the rational creature whom he has made can call him, the Omnipotent, to the bar of the conscience which he has inspired, and condemn him as not Good, but Evil. 'Power not directed by Wisdom, not governed by Love, is the Devil. One such fable as Prometheus, proves how divine is Love in the human soul. If there were no other God, Man would become a God. How much more does it prove, then, that the Divine is Love. And so comes to the human mind not the hope merely, but the certainty, that evil is relative, not absolute ; transient, not everlasting ; accidental, not essential; a means, and not an end. And with this certainty opens the glorious prospect of a growing Good casting off evil, as the opening bud shakes off its husk. Growth, that is the great reconciling thought. If evil can be overcome by little, then shall it utterly disappear. And though it be a riddle, and a wonder—yet is it only a mask, behind which smiles a countenance of unutterable loveliness. Cowardice and want of hope seem, then, to be the least tolerable weakness ; and a steady courage, which with youthful buoyancy, and a pliant strength, crushes evil beneath its angel feet, the only healthful manliness. An evil recognized is straightway to be removed. Or, rather, the law of growth of every existence is to be recognized, and by quickening the action of this vital principle, is all excess, incompleteness, disproportion, to be made to yield to symmetry and perfectness. In ever-widening circles, hand in hand, are successive tribes of creatures returning home to the One Good. Pilgrims together from night to day, from inertness to overflowing sympathy, each is to aid the other. Through this aid, disinterestedness flows in from the Living Good, to quicken creatures with the Eternal Life of Love. And so sorrows and sins are lost in the joy of mutual kindness, as motes are swallowed up in floods of sunlight.
This culture of disinterestedness, by the sympathies called out through suffering, has always been recognized as one of the ends of existing evil; its influence to awaken courage, generosity, devotedness, has been thought the most satisfactory explanation of its having been permitted ; and, indeed, according to prevalent theology, the condition of becoming purified from selfishness is undergoing temptation and trial. But, apart from the appearance of arbitrariness which offends our highest conception of the Infinite Being, in thus ascribing to him the creation of evil as a contrivance to produce good, to which reference will be made again ;— truths are involved in this acknowledged fact of moral discipline through sin and sorrow which are too often overlooked. In the first place, the natural effect of failure in the exercise of any power, in the gratification of any affection, in the recurring of a good in harmony with our desires, is selfishness, a turning inward upon our own griefs, a sense of isolation. Intense and continued misery freezes up the very fountain head of kindness; blights sympathy; chills humanity to the core; unmans, dwarfs us. And, on the other hand, success softens, sweetens, opens the long-pent floods of gratitude and hope, lifts the buried and prostrate powers, kindles self-respect and justice. It seems the natural effect of happiness to diffuse itself, to share its treasure of joy. The habitual selfishness of the world shows how penetrating is the dread of suffering. The most generous even now are the triumphant. The strong, who are sure of conquest, are magnanimous. The consciously weak are mean. The envious are they who do not dare to hope. The only fit atmosphere for virtue is gladness. Goodness and blessedness are eternally twins. Each brings the other. If, then,—as we do actually so often, though by no means always see,—Evil is the occasion of calling out fuller and ever fuller manifestation of Good, it is because there is such an overplus of Good throughout the Universe. The streams of life, dammed up in one passage, flow back upon the inward ocean with gathered volume, to pour themselves abroad through some opened channel. Disappointed in the loss of its own joy,—reason strong in the faith of order,—love pining for sympathy in happiness,—the energy of will demanding beauty and success,—the whole soul, in a word, blends itself with other existences. Unhappy in ourselves, we must mingle our lovings with the welfare of others, or we lose sanity, and, amidst the phantoms of a fevered brain, find the excitement which actual relations cannot give. We shed the withered leaves from our own boughs to enrich the soil for the budding plants around us. A man cannot live who ceases to hope for the good of others, if he has lost hope for self. Disinterestedness awakened by sorrow, then, only shows how full and strong love already is. The rough ploughshare has broken through the ground to the spring already welling beneath, and the hidden crystal waters gush upwards, flashing in the light. Love seeks happiness as the flowers seek the sun ; and from under the ruins of our fortunes the crushed feelings put forth their tendrils, to twine around some near support. Equally true is it, that repentance for past folly, conquest over present temptation, only reveal the living though latent justice of the heart. Yes ! Evil, in the form of suffering or sin, is indeed often the occasion of the appearance of Good. And the reason is, that all God's creation is forever newly animated with the power of his Goodness. The life of every existence is its peculiar form of good, its special force of love. It is a simple assumption, to say, that joy and success would not ensure yet fuller manifestations of Good. Many a demon has been changed back to his native shape by one drop of pure happiness falling on him, as he grovelled in the stye. The Circe that degrades man is low gratification, madly sought for want of high delights. We may well rejoice in the virtue so gloriously displayed by suffering individuals, by a suffering race. But we form, as yet, but faint conceptions of the glad, free, spontaneous, graceful goodness, which shall dignify truly successful men, a truly successful race. Do angels, does God, need sorrow and sin as the means of disinterestedness ? Why, then, man ? Is Hell a higher school of discipline than Heaven ? Shall we try to keep up the conflicts and difficulties of our earthly hell for fear of losing opportunities for purifying away our selfishness? Our happy hours garner the stores by which we bear the siege of sorrow. The remembered security of our childhood home, when the sky of parental love spread blue above us, the hope of a self-reared dome to shelter dear ones in mature life, are the angels which minister to us in the wilderness of care. Why dishearten ourselves with the thought that it is necessary to feed on husks in the days of famine, before we can arise and go to the Father, who never exiled us, and who, while yet a great way off, welcomes us. We seem to fear that a Heaven on Earth would make us spoiled pets.
A second truth is taught by the fact, that each new evil seems a new demonstration of the triumphant power of good, of forbearance, forgiveness, fidelity, mercy, which'it would be well for us to consider profoundly. Sin and sorrow, sorrow and sin, are knit by as indissoluble a bond of kindred as love and joy. If we do wrong, we are uneasy until we bear the commensurate pain. If we suffer, we feel a stern satisfaction in the thought, that our sufferings arc the counterpart of some injustice committed by ourselves or others, no matter when or how. The scales are even. Hence the irresistible prompting to confess guilt. Accounts must be squared. Hence the faith in atonement. Hence the halo crowning the head of self-sacrifice. Yes! the good, rich in inward peace, can afford to share the wretchedness of the bad. It is joy to lift upon our own back a brother's cross. It were easier to exchange our lot with him, than to sec him crushed beneath his load. How gladly would youth infuse its life-blood into the shrunken veins of age, and barter a portion of its own glad spirits for the rheumy anguish and torpor of disease. Soldiers on one battle-field, we can endure the parching of our own lips, while we pass the helmet, trickling with water, to our fainting comrade. To redeem our captive friend, we will plod over the weary sand-drifts, we will storm the fortresses of wrong, we will change costume, and take for the open air his gloomy cell. Now, looking at this law of retribution, so exact, so inevitable, so inexorable, coupled with the equally necessary law of compassion, do we never think that the Good arc the greatest sufferers. They know by contrast how very miserable misery is. The poor wretch, grown hairy and savage on a wreck, clustered with barnacles, his rags stiffened with the salt of washing waves, forgets in his despair his hideous deformity. But happy voyagers, homeward bound, with snowy canvass swelling to the sun, feel pangs of pity, as they see him on his rolling logs, which would lead them to plunge into the sea, careless of life, to place him on the deck where they stand safe. The cares, the labors, the responsibilities of our existence multiply with the increase of intelligence and goodness. The good cannot escape in their own joy from the memory of a brother's pain. The barefoot child, in the pelting storm at the palace door, is more to them than the glittering groups of nobles in the saloons. They tell us that the just in heaven will be happy, because they will forget their fallen friends,—become reconciled to their fall. Oh, mockery ! Tell us, if you will, that conquerors on battlefields can trample down the groaning forms of their fellow-soldiers as they march in triumph ; though this is false, for a conquering army, unless they are fiends, send relief-parties to succor the wounded and bury the dead; but tell us not that spirits, who win the good fight of faith, can ever leave in the living death of sin, cold, dark, desolate, the unfortunates, cut down by temptation. How is it on earth even now ? Does not every one, in just the measure of his love, pledge himself heart and hand to the great fraternity of lovers, the world over, to be faithful unto death in seeking and saving the lost. Let us follow that thought to the end. If in the degree of goodness is sympathy and longing to redeem, who is the Grand Sufferer ? With deepest reverence let us rather feel than think, and rather think than say : The Divine Love must make its own all the accumulated woes and struggles of his creatures. Would he inflict on a helpless thing, who never had the choice whether to exist or not, what he who made it would not bear ? Would a man of common manliness do so ? The Trinitarian, who is bowed down with overwhelming gratitude, that the Infinite Majesty should condescend to endure his griefs, does not surpass, but falls far short of the truth, if he supposes that only once upon Calvary the Being of Beings suffered. He feels each pang, he shares each disappointment. The martyrdom of all heroes is his. The great conquest of Love over Evil is his ever present energy, in every creature, throughout the Universe. By the fact of creation, the Infinite has sworn by Himself that All Shall Be Good. Shall not the earth and man be so, then ? Let us think, for a moment, what we ought to say of a man who tolerates the continuance of on evil which he has power to remove. Such a man is cither foolish or bad. It were Atheism to think God capable of similar weakness. We are so whelmed amidst these present fluctuating fortunes, that we do not think of the energy which would be concentrated upon a few remaining evils, were the most of those which now beset us once removed. Suppose only one savage tribe lingering amidst a race humanized, transfigured with the glory of goodness. And do we not sec, in anticipation, how the wisdom and lore of the earth would shine in a focus of light and warmth, to melt the icy wall of ignorance and cruelty which prisons them amidst the bloom of the surrounding Eden. And will happy spirits tolerate one outcast globe, one condemned society of souls, one single soul eternally lost ? So long as there is evil anywhere, its influence affects the universe. The destiny of creation is one. Above all, the blessedness of Infinite Love is in the joy of his children. There is nothing accidental in the hindrances, impediments, which produce sufferings and temptations and failures. Evil is incidental to the process of growth; and to its gradual extinction everywhere is promised the conspiring energies of all finite existences of the Eternal Being. A Heaven on Earth then folfcws as a necessity, from the fact that Good is Omnipotent, Love Everlasting; and that accumulated evil only combines against itself the unconquerable forces of hope and mercy. Were this planet the lowest state of hell, and men the meanest of demons, still there must come a time when the coral islands of successful effort shall rear their heads with groves and green plains above the unresting sea. Beauty shall here at last be consummate.
These illustrations of the Omnipotence of Goodness, and of the tendency of the Universe, as a whole and in its several parts, to perfection, may prepare the /vay for a nearer consideration of the Central Truth implied throughout the remarks. Doubtless there is an overhanging mystery in Evil, which human intelligence can never wholly dispel. But glimpses open upon us of the sea of light in which we float; and love hints solutions of its own sublime enigmas. Even faint apprehensions of the Law of Growth, which governs creation, may show the dignity of man's position and ministry upon earth.
Reasoning by analogy from human nature, theologians have always more or less clearly recognized a Tri-Unity of Goodness, Wisdom, Power in the Eternal Being. We necessarily conceive of the Essential One as Lover, Thinker, Creator; and by intuition of divine order, we see that Beauty is the deed of Truth, as Truth is the thought of Love. Existence, then, from everlasting to everlasting, is correlative to Being; the affection of good, through ideal justice, fulfilling itself in creation. The Divine One, by the very law of his own life, cannot be alone ; lie is the All-in-All from everlasting to everlasting; and the Finite Many forever, everywhere, correspond to the One Infinite. But this eternal necessity for multiplicity of existence is not always comprehended. Let us dwell on the thought for a moment. We may find that it radiates a light over the whole progress of the Universe, and illustrates the evil incidental to this continual development. Love, in its very nature, implies duality, multitude. Love is diffusive ; it demands recipients. Love is reciprocating ; it must sympathize, and be sympathized with in return. Love is attractive; it must unite, it craves union. The relations which we perceive between bounty and gratitude; the blessedness we experience in mutual kindness; our instinctive reverence for generosity, are not the accidents of limited spirits. There is no delusion in the profound conviction which thrills in every human soul that love is a Divine Life. What is true of it in us, is eternally true of it in all spirits, true of it in the Infinite Spirit. Infinite Love implies, includes innumerable, endlessly various modes, degrees, relations, of benevolent feelings. Infinite Wisdom is the Science of their forms, intercommunion, harmonies; and Infinite Power is their expression in act. Divine Goodness finds its joy in multiplying forever and ever existences who may receive and diffuse the joy of mutual affection ; it demands, as the sphere of its exercise, a universe of creatures, ascending series above series, from the simplest possible form of love, to the highest, purest, fullest sympathy with itself. Infinite Love and Truth and Beauty can be satisfied only when perfectly manifested, perfectly loved, known and cooperated with. The Divine can love himself only in and through a Universe, which in the multitude, variety, order of its relations, adequately mirrors his glory. What human words can even faintly speak forth the overpowering sense of the disinterested energy which constitutes the holy blessedness of the Good.
This thought, that love implies multiplicity, suggests, or rather includes, another thought, which, though most obvious and simple, is profoundly instructive. It is this. The condition of feeling and exercising love is the co-existence of different individuals. Infinite love, then, needs the related existence of endlessly numerous, diverse individuals, conjoined in every possible variety of intercommunion. Creation may be defined as the division and reunion of innumerable individuals ; and from the extreme and ultimate of individualization, must higher and ever higher forms and modes of union ascend to the Creator, who unites all in one by his pervading sympathy. Now what is the ultimate of individualization ? Is it not that mode of existence which we call matter? The penetrating thinkers of all times have arrived at the conclusion, that, in its elementary particles, the so-called passive world of matter is but an aggregate of forces. Individualization demands separatencss, therefore there must be repulsion ; and yet, if these elementary forces are modes of love, they must necessarily be attractive. Thus, from the abstract metaphysical ground we anticipate, what facts reveal of the twofold forms of action in the physical world. Attraction and repulsion must, in the nature of things, by everlasting necessity, be continually manifested in the simplest mode of existence; and by the same necessity, analogous forms of relation must be repeated through every ascending series of existence, up to those which at once divide and unite the highest creatures and the Divine. Unquestionably we here approach the grand mystery. It is easy to conceive of, in fact we cannot but perceive of Infinite Being, Infinite Force. But though we may admit in thought, what experience constantly confirms—the existence of Finite forces—the conception still involves a seeming contradiction, which lias led men often into Pantheism ; and, indeed, Pantheism is a conclusion which it is difficult to avoid, unless one profoundly considers the eternal necessity, already stated, of multiplicity. Multiplicity implies finite forces ; and these, as we have seen in the ultimate form of division, must be at once attractive and repellant. From the simplest crystal upward through every mode of mineral, vegetable, animal organization, to the sublime tendencies which bind the suns of the universe into one mighty acting and reacting whole ; from the lowest mode of chemical affinity upward through the marvellous laws of germination and fructification; through tho won. derful instincts which group the brutes in herds; through the all but divine affections which associate men in families and nations, and the, as yet, inconceivably sublime passions, which may organize societies of etherealized spirits into one grand, spiritual whole, is manifested, in ever brightening beauty, the reflected image of the Justice of God. Forever and ever sounds forth the Creator's benediction, " It is very good." Forever and ever echo, in response, the Sons of God in shouts of joy.
What light does the eternal necessity for multitudes united by love, or individualization as the means of sympathy, or repulsion as the condition of attractive power, cast upon Evil, and the growth of Good ? There have always been three theories of the origin of evil, of which each presents a partial view of truth, and so becomes the complement of the others. The first supposes that Evil is an arbitrary production of Good, as the instrument of discipline. But there is an instinctive repugnance, as has been already said, to attributing to the Infinite Wisdom caprice. Divine Truth finds its order in the impulse of divine affections. Freedom and Necessity are, in the Eternal Being, one and the same. The rectitude of Love is at once and forever the self-imposed obligation and self-originated desire of the Supreme. Goodness is his liberty and law. Intelligence in him is the perception of the just ; and his action is the efficient expression of his thought of good. Evil, so far as it is a creation of God, then, is of eternal necessity ; and the discipline of disinterestedness, which accompanies its existence, is the harmonious response in finite spirits to the essential harmony of all originating love in the Infinite Spirit. Evil could not have been avoided. The least possible evil has been permitted. The energies of Omnipotence, limited only by the impossibility of self-contradiction, are pledged to its annihilation, progressively, forever. We feel a loathing against the human will which produces evil as a means to good. Hence the detestation of inflicted pain, which every generous child experiences, and which, notwithstanding sophistry, prompts spontaneous conviction in mature minds that arbitrary punishment of all kinds and degrees is intrinsically unjust. The self-tormenter, scourging himself into purity, we should pity were ho less ludicrous. Any suffering, which is not the inevitable consequence of wrong, strikes us at once as absurdly inappropriate ; and in the degree in which love can alleviate even the natural results of transgressions, do we approve its exercise. Our first thought of common sense and kindness toward the poor wretch, bloated by indulgence, diseased by excess, impoverished by idle folly; is to cleanse, cure, clothe, feed him, and thus to surround him with pure influences and incitements to virtuous effort. We feel that our hold on the hardened criminal is slight, until looks and tones and acts of respectful mercy have won his confidence. God, we may be sure, permits no woe, trial, temptation, hinderancc, disappointment, which could have been removed. What created spirit can conceive even tho profoundness of his consciousness of all forms of ill ? Not from cowardice, nor weak effeminacy should we shun evif for ourselves and others ; but from love of beauty and joy. All discord is undesirable. Evil wastes too much power in overcoming it. Why should we suppose that the All-Blessed purposely afflicts, that the All-Blessing purposely produces sin, the worst of afflictions ? God creates evil, himself suffers evil, but from the eternal necessity of his own overflowing love.
Feeling the difficulties which surround the theory of an arbitrary production of Evil by the All.Good,men in all ages have resorted to a second theory of its origin, and have attributed it to the intermediate agency of Spirits; and when imagination spreads its quick wings through by-gone centuries, and attempts to trace the intermingling currents of existence, it is easy to conjecture that actual confusion, physical and moral, may be connected with the passions of hosts who acted long ere this planet first rolled on its track of light. What tragedies, what triumphs have sounded through the empty halls of the Past. These shining stars ! are they birthday, or bridal, or funereal torches ? The swell of fur-distant tempests may heave this little bark, on which we speed through fathomless oceans. It were superficial indeed to suppose that the fortunes of our race upon this floating speck are cut off from the destinies of the majestic whole. As well think a globule of red blood in our veins feels no influence of our general health. Yes ! mysteries may well be around and among us. The eye or car, preternaturally quickened in sensibility, sees dazzling radiance in the darkened chamber, hears thunders in the footfall upon thick carpeted floors. These senses veil and muffle our young spirits in kind protection from the wonders which crowd about our daily life. In conclaves of peace, in stormy controversies, beings of experience and power, trained through ages, may intermingle with human wars and legislation, infusing hope and despair, courage or dread, blindness or wisdom. Guardian friends may watch our faithfulness, while mocking fiends would instil poison in private hours; and angels, young in the growing tenderness of immortal love, may kiss the infant sleep of tempted innocence. When we see that the blood, and characters, and institutions of human progenitors are bearing their fruits in the men of to-day, we may certainly well admit that the endless ancestry of worlds upon worlds, which from everlasting have filled the now void spaces, have left their legacy of failure or success to us. And who can answer, when and where, we, these actually existing human spirits, commenced our pilgrimage. Accept as probable, as true, what poets and prophets have in vision revealed, of the influence of spirits, past or present, to produce evil here and now; and it no more shocks our sense of justice, that intelligent wills, not bodily visible, should affect us, than that we, intelligent wills, incarnate, should affect each other ; but the mystery still recurs, of bow sin and sorrow began in the creature that first swerved from its uprightness. The fact, that new evil may be begotten now by demons, docs not explain at all the mother evil, from whose spawn were bred these loathsome shapes of wickedness and horror. How did the Devil become the Great Adversary ? And not to devolve the responsibility upon the "children of darkness," who may ensnare us, which at least in some measure we must bear ourselves, how is it that we become selfish, however much assailed by bad thoughts ? Unless we can explain our actual perversity of will, at this moment, it is merely postponing the answer to the true problem, to refer back and back the origin of the evil. Can we explain our own sinfulness ? Think, for a moment, of the need that we should know ourselves as individuals, in order that we may love our kind, our God; and does not some explanation dawn upon this voluntary isolation, by which we repel the benignant sympathies everywhere drawing us to mingle our life with all life, and so to lose ourselves in universal joy. Must we first learn that we are far away in the cheerless night of sin, before, with comet speed, we rush to join the central orb ; and then, when nearly in our rapture merged in his blessedness, must we sweep back again into our cold, dark self-love, till waywardness, giving place to wisdom, and extravagant desire to constancy, fickle impulses to concentrated will, we become fit for communion with the train of worlds, who bear in their urns of beauty the bounties of the sun ? Must every spirit be separate from good, before it can become united to it; must it feel its finitencss, before it seeks full exercise of power in co-operation with other limited existences, and perfect freedom, by obedience to him whose law of love is liberty; must it commence in disorder, ere it can learn how order binds all creatures, by mutual dependance, into one living organization, and so through ignorance grow up to intelligent justice, and through destructive lawlessness, to power of creative beauty ? Does not the instant sense of forgiveness, which, like a sudden noon, floods the penitent; do not the tender pleadings of conscience, which melt our icy wilfulness, prove how gladly God would prevent us from sin and sorrow were it possible? Year by year, the slow deposite of experience spreads soil upon the barren rocks of our selfishness ; and upspringing flowers of gentle thoughts, whose seeds chance wind;) have sown, declare how prodigal of good is Providence. He would make us angels from the first, if he could do so. But the spirits, who come to blend their selfish discords in unison with him, must commence their journey, far away in the chaos of extreme individualism. We must be men, before we can be angels. Is it not a question worth considering, whether we do not pass up, by countless transmigrations, from the very ultimate of existence, before we can be men?
This brings us to the third theory, which attributes the origin of evil to matter; to what is, in this essay, defined as the ultimate of individualization. And how prevalent this view has been, let Asceticism answer. The Spiritualist has, in all ages, asserted, that matter is the repugnant element—the opposite of God—the eclipse of light—the passive load, or active will—the corpse of power—the tomb of being—the prison of the soul. The Saint's desire has been to escape its tyranny. Away with sensual songs, they are magic charms to transform us into brutes ; away with cares of outward circumstances, they are the meshes by which the wily tempter would entangle us in his fatal web; away with bodily efforts to produce perishable objects of regard, they desecrate the energies which should centre in the Eternal. The physical world is the region of diversity ; wisdom and virtue are to seek union with the One. Hence, abnegation of thought and will; hence, contempt of the science of facts and of all deliberate purpose ; hence, raptures longing by entrancement to be absorbed in God. The remarks already made, illustrate the portion of truth taught in this theory. Matter is full of antagonisms. Throughout, it manifests the simplest mode of evil, which is Discord, and the simplest mode of good, which is Harmony; and thus material Beauty, unity in variety, becomes the symbol of Goodness. Does not this most obvious thought reconcile the necessary evil of the Finite with the necessary good of the Infinite, and show the relations of the Universe with the Holy One ? Existing limitations are the means of growing unions. Accords are the blending of discords. The metaphysical view leads here again to anticipations, which observation justifies. When we read the traditionary fables of creation—of fierce disturbances, by which the elements disengage themselves from the primal chaos—of metamorphoses, by which monsters put on symmetric shapes, and order assumes control over hideous ruin, we cannot but admire the sagacity of early bards. Science confirms the gigantic visions of imagination. Astronomy recounts how whirling clouds of minute and numberless particles condense in fluids and solids, and by mighty explosions, and uproar and commotion which fancy can but faintly picture, arrange themselves in the balanced dance of planets and satellites around their suns. Geology takes up this Epic Poem of the Wars of Worlds, and shows, in melted masses, contorted strata, interposed metallic veins, sea floors heaved to mountain summits, and rocks crumbled to fine dust, by what tremendous conflict the undulating hills, indented bays, broad plains and winding rivers were moulded into these smiling landscapes. The vegetable, animal worlds, blend their voices in the strain, till, in concert, all creatures sing their thanksgivings for Peace. Earth is an open history of progressive harmonies; and centuries have borne their testimony, in lines of brightening grace, to the triumph of Good over Evil.
It is no delusion, to see in physical powers the symbols of our own affections, and to apply to their influence epithets distinctive of moral character. When the present era of scepticism has passed before the coming era of faith, we shall believe once again, and more clearly than preceding generations have ever done, that the Universe is alive with forces, and that these forces are emotions, which reflect in miniature our own. The woods and flowers may well be used by us as a symbolic language. The instincts of » the all but human animals claim our respectful sympathy, our aid for their culture. These very passions, now intelligent and free, which in wonderful combination constitute us, may have been wildly, blindly working their way, for myriads of years, to their actual union in persons. By slow discipline of pain and pleasure may we have been training to a perception and choice of order. Pain and pleasure are not arbitrarily connected with the relation between our desires and our condition. They are the natural and inevitable signs of peace or conflict with surrounding energies; and thus are the guardians of our well-being, and our guides to improvement. Sensation is probably, in some more or less feeble degree, universal ; and perhaps thrills of joy or grief, hope and dread, maybe the influences which quicken the germs of all organization. What is an organization but an alliance,— a friendly grouping, a society of many forces conspiring to one common end 1 The series of progressive organizations, from the zoophyte up to man, are a revelation, in truly sacred hieroglyphics, of the modes by which creation is re-formed in the likeness of the^Infinite Unity. In the endlessly various and harmoniously-related loves, ideas, and wills of God, are the vital causes of these progressive organizations ; the efficient reasons for the correspondence between increasing symmetry of bodily forms and higher manifestation of affection, intellect, and energy. Why do we not recognize the Divine significance of these laws of growth, by which all forces tend upward, from seeming passiveness and insensibility, to consciousness, freedom, justice, and the bliss of love ? Nature crowns her creations with the birth of Spirits, and these her youngest children she acknowledges as her rightful sovereign. For, in their power of intelligent affection, of reasonable will, they enter spheres of communion with the Infinite to which she cannot attain, and so become the medium of a good which transcends her utmost power. The Creative Art of Spirits surpasses nature. Their Societies are the highest form of organization; the brightest glory of the Being of Beings. Theirs is the godlike ministry of perfectly manifesting in Beauty the Wisdom of Good.
Thus—at the risk of wearying attention by the wide circuit traversed, of bewildering the mind by the mystical tone of the discussion, and even of exciting the ridicule of the careless—and with a most painful consciousness of superficiality and incompleteness,—has an attempt been made to prepare the way for a somewhat reverent consideration of Man's Mission and I Destiny. This essay is but a preface to such a consideration. Some preface seemed necessary. Our popular modes of thinking are so hopeless and tame ; we submit so timidly, with such cringing cowardice, to evil; so blasphemously inscribe to providential appointment the woes which our own stupid sloth and perverse transgressions breed ; so hover between a spirituality which loathes, or afflicts to loathe, material interests, and a worldliness which enslaves manliness to lust; so strangely teach, that suffering is the needed purifying baptism by which selfishness must be cleansed, while, by the necessity of our whole nature we seek joy, and find in happy homes and beautiful environments our purest culture ; so absurdly sever our religious aspirations from the business, and arts, and recreations of daily life ; so madly make this earthly life a long mistake, congratulating each other and ourselves when its weary drudgery is done, and we may be released from the treadmill ; and, worst of all, amidst squalidness, and all kinds and degrees of wretchedness, so utterly forget and disbelieve in the rich, glorious, abounding beauty which Man was born to produce ; that it needs a tuning of the strings to concert pitch before we touch the theme of Heaven On Earth.
BY THE EDITOR.
Morning brightens to full noon ; spring-buds open into summer fruit; youth every where matures; and the universal Law of Growth ensures a period of triumphant good upon this planet. What will Heaven Upon Earth be? Physically—a serene, pure, equable atmosphere—prolific soils, deserts redeemed, wildernesses blooming, marshy fens made meadows, wooded mountains, free circulation of waters—animals, harmless, docile, orderly arranged, and auxiliary to man; Socially—a Human Race made one in universal peace—co-operating in all continents and islands— grouped in happy societies of united families—with concerted worship, science, art—perfecting by culture natural beauty—calling out the latent energies of the mineral and aromal worlds—fulfilling the destinies of the vegetable and brute creations—applying mechanical inventions to facilitate production and exchange—diffusing intelligence and good influences by constant intercourse—glorifying land and sea with significant architectures, sculptured and pictured forms, commodious and graceful vehicles; Religiously, the lives of individuals, nations and mankind made worship, by obedience to Divine Order and faithful accomplishment of the plans of Providence—glorifying the bountiful Giver by grateful labor, symbolic structures and ceremonies, progressive science, justice, charities; the chamber, the social hall, the workshop, the college, the temple, the field consecrated to holy joy, and the Infinite Goodness dwelling in each and all. ' Such faintly seen far off is the Heaven on Earth, that in the fulness of time shall be, unless the prophecy of all ages, unless the promises held out by the universe, and the spirit in the soul are a mockery. Sneer on, sensual sceptic; smile, shrewd plotter for thy private gains ! shake thy oracular head, timid conservative! But brave hearts, and lovers, and reverers of the One Good, falter not an instant in your hope.
How will come this Beauty, Justice, Love, this incarnated Goodness of the Creator, this transfigured Mankind amidst glorified Nature?
There have always been three theories as to the origin of Good, aa there have been in relation to that of Evil; and classes of men around us advocate the partial truth in each. In the first place are the noble band of the Spiritualists. Their thought is, that God can alone bring order, where sin has caused derangement. They wait, they pray, for the descent of power from on high. Their language is, cease from restlessness, from ambition to be and do what is great, from philosophizing and social fuss; give up your contrivances, and subtleties, and pretensions, your theories of Church and State; keep the mind humble and patient, hush the pomp of eloquence and the vanity of teaching ; only leave open the soul to the intimate suggestions of divine love. Though those born of the spirit alone can come healing to this distempered race of Man. Unite yourself to the Central Power. Seek to be One with the Father as was the Beloved Son. Receive his Life, and through that medium have access to the Eternal world. The children of the Supreme, one in him, are, without seeking or effort, one with each other, the earth round,—a brotherhood of true men and women,—a body whose head is the Ever Living God. Interfere not with the ongoings of the designs of the Omnipotent. Be a centinel at your post, a ready servant hour by hour; follow the hints of the spirit; be simply true to present duties ; serenely abash presumptuous evil by steady faithfulness. Leave results and completions to the Infinite. It will be all well. When thou art holy, doubts, perplexities, half views, conflicting principles will give way to transparent truth. Then will you be wise, and so useful; from you, thus inwardly balanced, as a centre, will flow good influence ; round you will cluster congenial friends; nnd so spontaneous justice will ensure successful labor, with peace and joy in due season and measure. From many such centres, as from the growing brain are put forth organ after organ and limb after limb, will spring communities, nations, till Man, reformed in the Image of God, will appear; till, in sympathy with this recreated Humanity, earth and her productions by mysterious modes shall arise from existing chaos into the beauty of refreshed Eden. Then God will be All-in-AII.
Various, indeed, are the forms in which this essential faith in the Divine Energy as the only reconciling agency exhibits itself,—now in the literal interpreter of prophecy gazing for the sign in the skies of the advent; now in the mystic seeking fruit for food, and purest manners, amidst quiet scenes and selectest friends; now in the sterner prophet of justice, outwardly scarred by man's unkindness, inwardly melted by deep experience, awaiting the downfall of social wrongs; now in the New Churchman, reading angelic wisdom in the illuminated Word ; now in the Poet baring brow and chest to feel the breezes of the spiritual spring. But however various in form, the tendency of all these minds is one; it is to give themselves up, and to become the organs of the Divine Being. The Fakeer, with face blistering in the sun, and form stiffened in contortions,—the monk, with sackcloth upon his scourged and bleeding back,—the hermit, from his mountain cavern, thin and haggard,—would scarce admit the claim of the gentler ascetics of our age. But, softened only by the influences of the ' time, Spiritualism is to-day what it always has been, trustful in God, distrustful of Man and of Earth, sublimely teaching but one phasis of Truth. To-day as always, too, the nervous and finely sensitive are led to that dizzy verge, where reason, trusting the wings of fancy, falls crushed to earth; and in the impulsive passions long dammed burst downwards in destructive floods. And to-day as always, too, does profoundest experience say, God has made no mistake ; be worthily, fully a man ; the body is no fetler; earth is no dungeon; men are not felons; reason and will are no usurped insignia, but the anointed crown and sceptre of earth's latest born and dearest child.
On the opposite extreme are a second class of the Materialists—as they are generally denominated,—Circumstantialists, as they would be most accurately called, who hold that man's character, and intellect, and energy arc the results of his condition. Man receives impressions through the senses, which he assimilates into feelings and thoughts by vital processes, each element of the mineral, vegetable, animal worlds, electric and magnetic fluids, sunlight, air, affecting his dispositions, awakening his instincts. Surround him by pure and healthful influences, and he will be intelligent and energetic. Place beautiful shapes, hues, movements, sounds about him, and his impulses will be harmonious. The temperate climes of Circassia produce sinewy and pliant figures with soft complexions ; the frosts and winter nights of Greenland cramp and stiffen the form. The voices of the warmer regions are liquid ; of the colder regions are harsh. The Arab is brown as his own deserts, elastic as his steed. The American Anglo-Saxon is darker than his sire, and resembles more the Indian in stature and movement. And these outward traits correspond to internal qualities. Food, climate, and modes of exercise are expressed in the Organization. And organization is transmitted from the parent. The striking features of a family reappear in late generations. Equally transmissible are the appetites and tendencies. The child of the drunkard has a gnawing viper in his vitals, thirsting for fiery drink ; the child of the voluptuary is goaded by brutal lusts. So is it also with affections and intellectual biasses; they accompany the inherited organization. And the whole cast and tone of thought is shaped by the occupation. The sailor's restlessness, and buoyant enthusiasm picture the unsteady seas; the farmer's regular round of duties gives slowness of judgment, and patient progress like that of the seasons ; the citizen is critical, unapt to wonder, eager for novel excitement. The first great need, says the Circumstantialist, is Health. The body suggests trains of thought and feeling in perfect accordance with itself. Give opium to the blockhead, and he shall be a Poet in his fancies ; oppress the brain of the greatest genius, and he shall be maudlin and stupid. Foul airs and.stimulating drinks may madden the wildest to frenzy; the pinching of extreme want may tempt the once brave and honest to mean pilfering. To perfect health, you need sufficient and not drudging labor amidst salubrious air. How can you hope, then, to make men happy in themselves, or kindly to their brethren, or grateful to Providence, so long as they are penned up in our cities like beasts in slaughter-houses, lashed to irksome and monotonous toil like blind horses in a mill, cooped in filthy cellars and baking garrets, like slaves on the midland passage. How amidst the buzz and din, the smoke and dust, the hurry and jostle of these crazy bedlams of our actual industry and trade, can you look for manhood. What, but puny infants, distorted and half grown youths, intemperate, licentious, and quarrelsome adults, dens of prostitution, pawnbrokers, and gambling hells, apothecaries stores, alternating with confectionaries and grog shops, full penitentiaries, leading all to crowded cemeteries exhaling disease, can you expect from our present modes of life. We need more wealth, ampler production, more general diffusion of comfort, and means of enjoyment. It is worse than folly, it is mockery, to talk of goodness, and intelligence to the starving, ragged, houseless. Men's sins grow out out of their physical debasement. Poverty is the source of national wars, oppressions, injustice, and of private cruelty, meanness, selfishness. Let Reform begin with man's conditions.
Very various, too, are the classes of these Circumstantialists. Here is the Astronomer telling the tale of the earth's oscillations through thousands of years, and announcing an era of perennial spring and universal health and joy when the equator and ecliptic shall be again coincident. By his side is another, who declares that the situation and character of our planet prevents men from ever becoming more than the wretched, tantalized creatures, which they are and have been. Here, again, is the Physiologist with his diet, and the Hydropathist with his baths, and the Magnetizer with his paper, and the Pathetist with his sympathy, and the Phrenologist with his law of hereditary descent. And here, too, are the innumerable hosts of the Epicureans and worldly, of all shades of sensuality ; eager to seize for themselves the goods of outward existence which they believe to be real, come what may to the conscience and the soul, which seem to them somewhat unsubstantial. Materialism is now as ever, shrewd, well stored with facts, dexterous, hearty, hale ; but verging always to self-indulgence and coarseness, sceptical of the higher tendencies, insensible to the most subtile yet most powerful bonds of spiritual order, wasteful in transient enjoyment of robust virtue, disinterestedness, refinement, mistaking pleasure for peace, eating too often of the tree of good and of evil, and losing thereby the fruit of the tree of life.
Between these extreme parties, appear the Humanitarians, as we may call them, who blend, as they think, the truth taught both by Spiritualists and Circumstantialists, and show their harmonious relation through the medium of human agency. What, they say to the Spiritualist, is Holiness, but the life of God in the soul ? And is not that Love ? Ay! is not the essence of the Soul itself Love ? Put away distracting thoughts, bow the will, expel pride, be subdued and still before the presence of the Infinite ; and what is the voice of the Invisible ? Does not it speak of the Divine Being as radiant with benignity ? Does it not command in Virn exhaustless good will 1 It tells us of the mysteries by which the Only Good diffuses himself forever, /nulti plies his images, communicates his own strength and joy to countless hosts, and by divine sympathies organizes all creatures into a glorious whole, a counterpart of himself. It whispers, " Oh, finite child of the Infinite, thou art one of the innumerable multitudes of the Universe, one drop of blood in the circulations of this living All. Thou couldst not exist alone; thou wouldst mean nothing, correspond to nothing, be nothing. Now thou answerest to an affection and a thought of God, related by exquisite ties with all the ever varied, ever progressive forms of his love and wisdom. Isolate thyself, and thou passest out of the currents of existence. Thy part is to receive love, to diffuse it, and so to assimilate it into thy growing selfLove, and thou art immortal; thy destiny is interwoven with all creatures, with the Creator. Hate, if thou couldst do it, once heartily, entirely, and instantly thy place would be void, the Divine force would be no longer in thee; that which thou callest thyself, would end forever. And just in the degree of thy strife and selfishness is thy inevitable loss of power and bliss. Love, and all is thine; all spirits, all nature are one with thee, and thou with them art one with God. Therefore unite thyself to thy brethren and the world; do the full work of usefulness in thy day and land; obey the leadings of Providence and the inspiration of thy race ; increase the common love, light, beauty, joy, by thy own fidelity ; share, suffer, work, triumph, with them; be not before, nor behind, but wholly in thy time; be not above, nor below, but with thy fellows; love Man so truly, that even the most degraded form of humanity shall be venerable ; be thy conduct kind-ness, a service of thy kind ; so will the spirit of holiness make thee whole, and dwell in thee.
Again, says the Humanitarian, observe how perfectly adapted are the ties of life, throughout the circle of social relations, to lead up the soul to the All Good, when they are pure ; how they debase it, and cast it out from his presence, when they are impure. What worthy lovers ever ex. changed their betrothal kiss, without an expansion of the soul, which for the time lifted them above meanness into magnanimity, and gratitude to the Guide, who, by hidden ways has led them to each other, to find in perfect friendship, the complement of self. A parent's patience, which the child's perversity cannot alter, and its weaknesses make only more tolerant, is the brightest type to both, of God's forbearing mercy. And so through all the sphere of acquaintance and intercourse, in proportion to the quality and degree of mutual aid, is a sympathy called out in all hearts for the embracing love of God. Piety is natural, ample, then, in the degree of the harmony of social relations. And just so far as the social relations are choked up by jealous opposition, is the spirit of Goodness shut out. What is true of home ties is true of communal ones. A nation's conscience and judgment expressed in law, is the most sublime symbol on earth of eternal justice. Just in so far as oppression, violence, constraint, take the place of impartiality, and order, and peace, is the glorious face of heavenly equity veiled from men's hearts. Perfect love in communities, and among nations, would surround all souls with an atmosphere of the divine presence. Humanity governed by love, would be a visible glory of God. Let us put then away the temptations to vice, which are first the wants of the lower nature, and next the desire of social position corresponding to conscious power. Let us lead men up to Godliness, by saving them from brutality, and from self-love. We need the means to righteousness, which are just distribution of labor and profits, and harmonious social relations. To produce outward good, possessed without anxiety, liberally diffused, munificently shared, thou must be a fellow worker with thy brother Materialist.
Turning then to the Circumstantialist, the Humanitarian continues: do not degrade man by making him the slave of outward impressions; and do not degrade nature by making it a mere minister to enjoyment. Nature and Man are allies in one work of manifesting in Beauty the wisdom of Love. The bond between them once was, should be, once again shall be, holy. Honor nature, but make not too much of pleasure. Honor nature ; for the wonderful series of her creations are the majestic hieroglyph of the thoughts, of the loves of God ; and they prefigure instructively to the seeing eye the higher creations of human and spiritual societies. The gradations, which unite the orders of existence, insensibly ascend even to the Eternal; the lower pass into the higher by a spiral which has no end; the latter repeat the former on a larger scale, with freer movement; sublime is the accord throughout this mighty orchestra ; each note has its meaning in this choral hymn of creation. Worship before this manifest wisdom of God. Overlook nothing. Drink in the full harmony, till the heart overflows in joyful awe and confidence. Let nature's inspirations lead thee up to the fountain of Good, and so purify thy sense and thy self-love. Love the universe for its Beauty ; and as thou gazest on that glorious veil, it shall be lifted, and behind it shall smile out upon thee the serene and chaste aspect of Truth, and Truth is the form of Love reflected. Understand brother Mortal, thou must read this mighty scroll aright. This perfect and growing order teaches the lesson of infinite justice and infinite disinterestedness. If thou pervertest it to purposes of self love, thou makest instead hellish disorder. The charms thou mutterest will not then bring helping angels, but mocking fiends ; be selfish towards nature, and in strange metamorphosis all things shall be inverted to thee ; thy senses shall become uppermost, thy soul shall grovel, and downwards also by a spiral movement, shalt thou descend to brutal existence. To save thyself from this magic transformation, learn thy own power of self control, and what is higher, of self devotion. And to nurse this power, link thyself by acts of sympathetic labor and of bounty with mankind. It is secret, private pleasure which debases. The presence of fellow beings, as an enlarged conscience and self respect, induces purity and benevolence, and so a recognition of Him whose joy is to give.
Again, observe, says the Humanitarian, how the beauty of the world prompts you to sociality. You need a friend's hand in yours to enjoy with full satisfaction the morning or sunset. The smoke from a human dwelling brightens the charm of the prairie and forest. Man wishes his brother to share all delight. Every bud and faded leaf seems fairer, if it can be a memento between spirits. These wide plains and curving hills, look unmeaning, until families of happy mankind dot them with their habitations. The Earth cannot smile out in full beauty till the human race hand in hand girdle it. And alas ! how has selfishness, by lonely and capricious misuse of her bounties, defaced her charms. Man's track upon her surface is a scar. Deserts drift in with stern rebuke of our careless neglects; rivers dry up, being fed no longer by the rains which would fall on wooded mountains ; miasm, and foul exhalations, spread disease. Man was born at the right time upon the earth's surface, to complete, by his joyful activity, her culture. But his strifes and divisions have only mutilated her creations, and put back her growth. So far from being the sport of his conditions, the prey of accidents, Man was endowed with the most perfect organization which nature could attain to, that in him might concentrate all elements of beauty. Into his frame has entered the very distilled essence of all creatures, that by quick sympathy he might comprehend their tendencies and fulfil their longings. Nature would not oppose, but, with boundless sympathy co-work with him. His own folly has forced her into enmity, into kind restraint and punishment of his excesses. He was made for her interpreter, her king, the fulfiller of her destinies, and that by his creative art. For this end he needs the co-operating judgments of his fellows. Science, and deeper and holier than science, the love of the perfect, should have made him a poet in deed; they must make him so; genius and skill must become sacred ; all the power and affection of the human race must conspire, and then will earth revive again, and resume her progress. Let us, then, ends the Humanitarian, join hands the earth over in a society of working worshippers, perfecting each other's culture, completing nature's destiny, and so glorifying in lives of beauty the MakerofAll.
The Spiritualists, the Materialists are both right; their error is in exclusiveness, in their denial of one another; and the Humanitarians, if they understand their position, are always mediators between them by accepting what is good in the doctrines of each. Naturally this party has been large in all ages of the world, and constantly increasing; and never was it so large, so full of promise, so much needed as now. It embraces thousands in the Church and State, and in all modes of Social Reform. Its banner is Universal Unity ; and thus religion and life with all their relations and duties, are shown to be one. What is religion but making peace between the Divine, the Human and Natural ? This is man's appointed work; and its fulfilment will be Heaven Upon Earth.
Let us cast a glance at the justification of this mediatorial attitude of the Humanitarians between the Spiritualists and Materialists, which is given by Philosophy and History ; and then pass to a contemplation of the auspices of the present era.
And first, what is the testimony of Philosophy. The common analysis of man's endowments, into affection, intelligence, and activity, though it serves a good purpose for popular teaching, is neither complete nor exact; for in man, feeling, thought and energy, are each exhibited in three different modes, of which the first is spontaneous, the third enforced, the intermediate free. A few words will illustrate the truth of this. From his relations with the Divine Being comes man's spontaneousness, strongly manifested in childhood, but more and more constant and full in the degree of his cultivation and experience. This spontaneousness is an inspiration. We see it in the primitive affections, direct, quick, impulsive, asking no counsel, needing no law, self-justified, irresistibly attracting, of which the highest exhibition in life is holy and beautiful enthusiasm, filling the soul with a power of prophecy and hope and universal love, that no hinderance can daunt. We see it again in genius, intuitively recognising order, anticipating the result of experiment, announcing necessary relations, prefiguring the combinations which science discovers, filled with harmony, instinct with beauty, intent on the Ideal. We see it, lastly, in the exuberant vigor of health, in tact and skill, to which all facts are pliant, in the demonic force that lifts men and nations at given periods to great deeds which astonish themselves, and surpass their highest expectation. It is truly the presence of God in Man; and did man live wholly, purely, in this state, he would never know himself as apart from the Infinite. He would not be a person. He would not be Man.
This mode of existence is high; but there is a higher. And therefore is man born out of, and amidst nature, the world of limitations, in space and time, with a body amidst bodies, helpless, ignorant, inert. From his relation with nature comes the enforced mode of man's existence. The soul, in its human form, is welcomed into an ocean of light and sound, and shape and movement, every nerve impressed with new and endlessly varying sensations, breathed upon by innumerable influences. Unaware, inexpert, man finds himself hurried hither and thither amidst tremendous, though for the most part l>enignant forces, which he must learn to cooperate with and to govern, or be crushed. Feeling here shows itself as sensibility—thought, as perception of single objects—energy, as yielding to conditions. Did Man live only in this state, he would not know himself apart from nature; he would be nature, a thing and not a man, a portion merely, of unconscious and necessary creation.
But the Divine in the Soul contrasts dimly at first, but with ever increasing clearness, the eternal with the transient, principles with facts, the absolute with the accidental. A wonderful struggle begins between the angels of the Lord, as it were, and the angels of the world, between forces fresh from the Omnipotent, and finite forces reacting from the Universe; and in this two-fold consciousness of an inner world and an outer world, the Man awakes, awakes to the mysterious and awful knowledge of Self, of Individual Power, of existence a.s a Spirit. It is very possible, perhaps very probable, that the Force, which thus comes to Self Recognition, has been trained to this degree of capacity by long experiences in lower modes of existence. But, however that may be, in the most perfect organization, the most complete concentration of all nature's upward tendencies, does this force now appear as a Person among Persons. And here, feeling, strength, and energy, assume a new character, which is Freedom. Out of the sphere of material attraction and repulsion, man is born into that of sympathy and choice, amidst spirits like himself, out of blind impulse into reasonable will, acted upon and co-operating with other judgments and wills, out of necessity into responsibleness, private and social. Feeling, thought, and energy, become moral; and their work is one of reconcilement—a reception of the Divine—a diffusion of it through the Natural. Man is a minister of Good. He is not God, but a child of God ; not Nature, but a co-worker with her. He perceives the unity m variety of creation ; he recognizes the law of unity in his own intelligence and will; he feels that this law is Love, which commands him to unite himself in order and beauty and joy, with spirits and the universe ; and so ascend in communion to the One Sovereign Good, of whom all other unities are but symbols, to whose infinite perfections they all in harmony correspond.
Man's modes of existence, then, are three,—Celestial—Spiritual—Natural. He stands in three grand relations; with the Divine, by influxes of love, by ideas of truth, by the constant gift of power; with Spirits, by sympathy, conversation, co-operation ; with Nature, by sensation, contemplation, labor. He receives a threefold inspiration ; for the One Life flows into him directly from within, and indirectly through the spiritual and natural worlds. By continual reception and diffusion of influence, by alternate action and reaction, his unfolding powers are nourished and expand. His destiny is first to learn to know himself, as one of many in a Universe, and then to give himself away in ever enlarging communion with all creatures and with God, and so to become immortal. His peculiar endowment an Man, is the intermediate one of a spiritual nature, the special function of which is, rational liberty. By affections from within, and sensations from without, by ideas from the absolute and impressions from transient phenomena, by spontaneous impulse and enforced activity, he grows in character, intelligence, energy, and becomes an image at once of the Creator and the Universe. His love must pass into knowledge, and thence into deeds. And once expressed in actual results, he can fully comprehend it. judge it, detect its tendencies, whether limited or universal, and long for fuller, worthier love. He lives between expression and aspiration, between toil and prayer. His life is truly manly, when the soul is ever open to welcome Goodness, the energies ever pliant to embody it in Beauty. But to attain and preserve this state, he needs a true and disinterested spirit, and this he finds in intercourse with his kind. Let us regard somewhat closer this social nature of man.
We speak of our characters, our thoughts, our actions; but who are we, and how came we to be what we are. The prayers and struggles, the sorrows and trials, the patient studies, persevering experiments, hopes, longings of buried generations conspire in this mankind now busy in the present. The blood of ancestry flowing in our veins is but a symbol of deeper spiritual circulations of thought and will. We live the life of the past. The Soul of the Race quickens each one of us, all of us, and attempers our spirits. Every man of a nation, of a generation, is instinct with the same tendency, in different degrees; each, if duly trained, and placed in a fit sphere of action, would fulfil the other; all together would complete the mission which the preceding age bequeaths. Not only are we thus linked to society by inherited dispositions, but we are born amidst expressions of the conscience of the race. To each new coming era, the good words and deeds of ascended heroes shine down like constellations ; and aspirations and opportunities open before them like the golden depths of dawn. We come into an age, ready, expectant, prompting us to exertion, inviting devotedness. How marvellous is the influence of Institutions, Customs, Structures, Relics. Not dead they seem, but warmly alive; and venerable with experience they sit like white-haired, bearded ancients, to counsel, warm and cheer the errant band of young pilgrims entering upon life. How marvellous too is the ministry of language. We are enriched in our very infancy with the words into which millions upon millions have condensed and distilled their experience. A. Word!—what is it but a casket where, embalmed in the perfume of-truth and virtue, lies a talisman to guide us. We bind the maxims of sages upon our heads as a frontlet, and sew them into our phylacteries, till their pervading charm endues us with the skill to see and the strength to do, what brave men failed in centuries before. We are welcomed at birth into the congregated intelligence and goodness of ages and nations. And then how all-surrounding, all-penetrating, is the influence of existing society. We seem to be but fibres of the Universal Man. Our health, strength, joy, are one with the destinies of all men. The mere presence of human beings, how it affects us. In hidden ways, which no sense can detect, does the quality of spirits diffuse itself; we are exalted or depressed by the contagion of our brethren's characters; and look, tone, gesture, link our minds by subtle communications, on which troops of busy thoughts hurry to and fro, unlocking the very secrets of the citadel. In every face we behold some reflex of duty, some monition of honor, some effulgence of right. Darkened alas! the rays of the eternal sun may be too often ; but only more touching are they, as seen struggling amid the gloom. How through our fellows' sins and sorrows does Infinite Goodness plead with us to be patient, gentle, hopeful, with them, as he is. And how refreshing is the serene eye, the gentle heart-subduing tone, the warm, welcome hand of the good, shaming us from our lethargy, nerving us to new effort. My sin is reflected in awful and vast perspective in the surprised and mournful looks of friends ; my worth is imaged back from their approval in dazzling beauty. I know not the depth of my emotion till I would share it; and then, under the warm air of sympathy, its folded petals open, its odorous breath exhales. Our conscience is social. And so it is with intellect. The guess of one age or man becomes the certainty of a later time, when thousands have verified it; the scattered facts of many seekers are organized by classification ; rude blocks from many quarries are built into a glorious temple of knowledge. Slowly into the rushing flood do toiling myriads cast their little load of speculation and experiment, till above the waters tower at last the piers, till arches span the impassable river, and happy generations speed on their way. Discoveries bear the seeds of endless new suggestions. On the sturdy stock of some rough prejudice we graft the mellowest fruits of wisdom. Error teaches by contrast; and the pioneer in untrodden forests, perishing perhaps of want, hews the highway for nations to follow. Our knowledge is social. No one mind can be spared. Complete Science will come only when all men are fully cultivated. Still more apparent is this social nature of man in action. How indomitable are hosts, prompted by one impulse, led by one conviction.
Thus Philosophy teaches that man's life is a conjoint and not an isolated one, social not separate. Love prompts to union from within; necessity constrains union from without; conscience grows clear in the degree of reverence and loyalty; wisdom is established in proportion to the extent of acquaintance with all existent knowledge; strength and success are in concert. I am free according to the measure of my disinterestedness and reason. As I choose universal interests in place of selfish, local and ternporary ones, does ever fuller goodness and truth flow into me. The reason and will, formed by communion with my kind, become a spiritual body, which the breath of the Father of all animates and renews. Oh! if now, notwithstanding all coldness and meanness, we are so blessed by our race, what might not men become, if they would but confide in, hope for, stimulate each other; if now, notwithstanding the whims and partialities of even the sincerest thinkers, there is such advance in acquaintance with divine order, what wisdom might govern nations and mankind, were the powers of every mind respectfully encouraged, allowed to follow their native bent, directed to their favorite pursuits, and were the results of all combined ; if now, amidst all this conflict and competition, such wealth and splendor abound, what elegance, what exquisite beauty, what magnificent creations might glorify earth if Mankind were One. And now let us hear the testimony of History.
If Mankind were One, responds History. Ay! the grand tragedy, that sums up all lesser ones, is the separation of the Human Race. We live in Babel. Our language is confounded. There was a time, all traditions look fondly and sadly back upon it, when men were one family worshipping at one altar, sharing their intelligence, everywhere co-operative ; the golden age, the Eden, where Adam, the Universal Man, abode in innocence. It was doubtless in an era of the Earth, when the planet was in perfect health, and on portions of her surface which overflowed with luxuriant vegetation. As population multiplied, as appetite and sensual enjoyment grew excessive, and spontaneous production would no longer supply their wants, the first pain, disease, and anxiety were known. Then the first hint of nature should have been obeyed, and industry would have quadrupled the earth's productiveness more rapidly than man could have doubled ; for notwithstanding the gloomy assertions of one class of economists, Statistics show that even now capital and property are augmented in larger ratio than population. The easy labor of a united race would have spread over the globe a higher fertility than the fresh verdure of Eden. But Man was not ready to choose the right; and so he broke the beautiful order of providence, deranged the natural law of progress, fell. The Patriarchal clans extending, demanded the labor of the most dependant and helpless; the needy gave their service to those who had amplestores in exchange for their superfluities; lastly, the strong seized by force on the passive and gentle and made them their slaves. War, there is the hideous Cain, who with the brand of God upon his brow has stalked over the globe, ever anew repeating his blasphemy, "am I my brother's keeper." And sternly, yet mournfully, Heaven forever answers, " the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground; and now thou art cursed on the earth ; when thou tillest, it shall not yield thee her strength ; a fugitive and vagabond shalt thou be in the earth." War broke the unity of the Human Race; and ever since sorrow has been heaped upon sorrow, and ruin on ruin. And War originated in the unjust division of labor, and of the profits of labor. Wrong, in the lowest branch of human interests, has multiplied wrong through all higher interests, sowing all fields with dragon's teeth and bringing forth armed men. Oh ! why, when the lesson of history is so very, very simple, will we not learn. Till industry and its gains are equitably, kindly shared, no universal worship, universal science, universal art and joy can we ever have again.
Was it necessary, continues History, that Man should pass out of his simply spontaneous life, when at one with God and with Nature he lived in perfect harmony of all his powers, embosomed in beauty, surfeited with joy ? Doubtless it was necessary. It was in fulfilment of his destiny that he should learn to think and act as from himself, to form science and law, to create by industry and art. Reasoning from the individual to the Race, we see that this was n progress. Man, conscious and willing, is a brighter manifestation of God, and a richer addition to the universe, as well as wealthier in the range of his own affections and experience, than if he remains a passive instrument of God, a harmonious part of nature. But two ways were open to Adam ; one was ready obedience to the gentle promptings of divine love and wisdom, prophetic of the future, and suggesting present duty; the other a yielding like an animal to nature, till spoiled by her bounties, he should ask with false exercise of will and debased reason more than she could give, and be driven by necessity into the toil as drudgery, which might have seen his joy. Man chose the latter. As with individuals now the process is from instinct into wilfulness, and through sad experiences up to willing co-operation with all creatures and joyful devotedness to the Good ; so was it with the Human Race. It chose the hard way of separation and strife, which by dreadful disasters,and many failures, and long delays, will lead them to that happy triumphant Union, which they might have enjoyed from the first. The Union Of The Human Race, concludes History; it has been the one grand thought of all master-spirits in all ages and nations. Sometimes in hideous disguise this Idea has appeared under the form of Universal Empire, in great conquerors, an Alexander, or in these latter days a Napoleon, seeking to bind the fractured limbs of humanity with iron bars of force, seeing perhaps, perhaps not, that if the dislocations could be reduced, the skin united, and external oneness made, nature and the spirit by deeper processes of love would reknit the bones, replace the mangled muscles, and fill the frame again with life. Sometimes this Idea has taken the shape of Universal Science, Language, Measures, Laws; and marvellous has been the power of one true thought, real discovery, just institution to reunite Mankind. What instruments of Peace are Science and Literature. But the most pure manifestation of this Idea has been in the image of a Universal Church. Beautiful is the prophecy of the Christ, the Holy Spirit working in all hearts, of a brotherhood of the Children of God compassing the earth. Its announcement is the pledge of its accomplishment. Thou grand Prophet of Nazareth, how do thy loving soul, thy clear, direct, and simple intellect, thy singleness and comprehensiveness of aim, belittle by contrast the shrewd statesmen of all ages and nations. Thou wert justified, oh loveliest Son of Man, born truly of God in thy goodness, to make thy majestic claims. The gates of hell shall not prevail against thy church; for in thy life of Universal Humanity thou didst establish the Reign of Heaven.
What now are the signs of promise of this age ? They are so many and bright, that he must be cold and dull, care-driven, conscience-seared, timid, and selfish indeed, who does not feel that it is a privilege to have been born in this era of a great awakening. But they may be all summed up in saying, the inspiration of this age is the longing for Universal Unity,— Unity of Man with God in true religion,—of Man with Man in true society,—of Man with Nature in creative art and industry. When we measure the extent of Christian civilization, and its influence, merely by the character of the existing religious and civil institutions of Christendom, missionary labors and commercial enterprises may seem comparatively unimportant. But when having contemplated this fact, that the earth is now for the first time girdled and interlaced by lines of communication, with centres of colonization at near intervals which are rapidly increasing, we turn our thoughts to the Spirit of Life, which from the heart outwards is animating this great confraternity, we cannot but be awe-struck at this providential preparation. Let Christendom but be true to its great vocation, and bright through all shrouding fogs will appear to the eyes of hope, the sunny splendor of a renovated race. How the religion of reality is pushing aside the religion of creeds and forms. The dry litter of dead theologies is lifted by the springing verdure of active goodness. Catholicism, Protestantism, feel the quickening influence of the genius of the time. The interesting trait of the new movements in the Roman and Anglican churchqs is their deepened humanity. Bishops and priests are busy for the poor, the ignorant, the helpless; they espouse the side of the oppressed struggling for freedom; they advocate temperance ; they lecture on love as the basis of political economy. Ah ! had the Church been always true in carrying out as a principle, equity in place of alms-giving; on the basis of the religious brotherhoods, had she only reared large communities united in all the interests of life; what wasting years of bloodshed and confusion would have been spared. Asceticism' looks very stupid by the side of earnest charity; and bigotry sounds like mocking and madness when there are so many urgent wants to be relieved. The longing of the age is for a worship of deeds, a prayer of works, a sacrifice of usefulness, a consecrated earth, a universal temple. The People stand before the Priesthood crying, "Ye ministers of the all-Good, teach us not words but facts, not theories but duties. Let us have less confession of sin and more actual effort to be rid of it; less flattery of God, and more practical manifestation of confidence in his providence; less promise of heaven beyond the grave, more reality of it now. W» will spare polemics; show us how to be just. Why picture a hell of fire; when we are all living in a hell of injustice. Here are the wretched, the tempted, the weary, the hopeless ; they must be helped ; tell us how. Not by doles from the poor-box—we have tried that long enough ; it is worse than a farce. Not by the consolatory assurances, that Pauperism is of God's appointment, to be recompensed hereafter. We do not believe in this necessity of a permanent committee of beggars, and a standing social institution of misery. Here are slaves, they must be freed ; and if they are not fit for freedom, the more accursed the institutions which have depressed them, the more need of speedy deliverance. Show us the way to discharge this plain duty. Here are prisons which are social pandemoniums. How came our brethren into such temptations as forced them to self-degradation, and forgetfulness of others rights. We are to blame, who neglected them first, and then abused them. How shall we do away force once and forever, and securely remove these horrible places of torment, these gibbets, and chain-gangs, and gloomy cells, substitute kindness for revenge, and place the morally sick, where they ought to be, in moral hospitals. Here are fortifications, and armaments, and engines of murder, oh ye ministers of peace, and marshalled butchers, and decorated executioners; speak the word that shall put from among men this utter outrage of all common sense and common feeling. Show nations how to prevent wars by scrupulous justice, and magnanimity, and reciprocated benefits. Here is strife amongst fellow-workers, producers, distributors, the earth over, cheating, chicane, false swearing, broken pledges, universal duplicity, want of all confidence. In the name of heaven is this necessary? Did our Creator mean that life should be a lie? Then show us, ye his appointed servants! how to be kind and true. Give us the spirituality of honest work, and fair dealing, and mutual assistance. Bearers of the sacred ark lead the way. We are ready for the great battle with wrong." Beautiful is this reawakening of the genuine life of goodness. The design of the Creator opens upon us. The Order of the Universe, of Man, is Love. The vast communion of creatures rejoices in the reception and diffusion of joy. The service of God is multiplication of blessedness and beauty. Not fruitless will be these sublime convictions. They will hallow the labors of individuals, and sanctify the politics of Nations, and build the earth into a glorious House of God.
The Society, which this Religion seeks to form, becomes clearer. Great principles, long latent in the hearts of generations appear. " Freedom," " Equality," do not express the meaning of the social conscience. It is Humanity we crave, justice to human nature in every individual, in every community of every nation. The child must be welcomed into life, as one who comes to bring new hopes and purposes to his race, his genius recognised as a sacred trust, his claim to purest, highest culture, granted as inviolable. God and past ages give him, as his birthright, admission to the accumulated stores of goodness and wisdom and beauty. No accident of parentage can forfeit his title. Nay! if his parents were bad, through man's want of sympathy and guardianship, the more call, not the less, for kindness to this young creature, who comes by no volition of his own into a body made foul by a parent's sin. Every child should have the greeting of a young god. If so, then in the next place should there be a perfect system of culture of all his powers. This public school system, where a child passes from the cramping desk and the book, amidst hot close air, into streets reeking with obscenity and oaths, and homes which are dens of evil passions; this apprenticeship system, where the young are consigned to weary, monotonous drudgery in one or two petty details of a single branch of industry, stimulated by curses and blows, while at work, and then left to their own vagrant impulses, are but a poor mockery of a complete, symmetric unfolding of all the rich affections, noble talents and elastic energies of man. Let us have theory and practice united, where the busy limbs may strengthen the active brain, and kindly social relations may make all discipline delight. Impossible! Oh thou hopeless, creeping mole. It is a necessity. It must and shall be done. And next, the powers thus trained, must have a sphere of useful and happy action. Let man do what he has a taste for,—so long as strength is not wearied,— amidst agreeable companions,—cheered by conversation and beautiful environment,—for sure returns; and sloth will seem the heaviest punishment. It is thou who art dreaming, if thou thinkest present drudgery and squalidness inevitable. Let us away with this actual tantalizing, where fine powers are in the treadmill of narrow duties, and weakness breaks down under its load of responsibilities, where few know themselves and none know their neighbors. It is too dreadful a waste of the spiritual energies, which God gave^to bless at once the possessor and his associates. And when the powers with which each is endowed are rightly directed, by the concerted counsel and encouragement of friends, not by the enforced consent of rivals, let their exercise be justly recompensed. Away with this iniquitous traffic in wages, where the most needy are paid least; and the vilest labors, which only self sacrifice should perform, are heaped on the shoulders of the unfortunate, and the curse of contempt thrown in to fill up the burden. Shame on this Pariah system, breeding despair, and vice, and self abandonment, and division of classes and universal strife. Let a man be honored according to his usefulness ; let labors which are joy to perform be their own reward. And according to a man's quality and degree of activity in good, let him rise in the scale of social position. Let a man be known and loved for what he is, not for what he has ; for his character, not for his condition; for the wealth of his heart, not the gold in his strong box ; for the adornment of his intellect, its galleries of thoughts, its canopies of beautiful fancies, its rich feasts of wit, and not for the size of his house, and the glitter of his plate. Honor for worthiness, and let that long abused word worlh mean something else than dollars. Oh for the true nobility of living energy, the kingship of actual power to guide, the priesthood of recognized loveliness and hopefulness. The days of high reverence and genuine loya-lty draw nigh. And to crown all these resistless tendencies towards a true society, is the too long delayed, but fast growing acknowledgment of Woman's Rights. Spin your dull dreams, oh unworthy son, brother, lover, husband, father, of women imitating your bullying politicians, and coffee-room loungers ; but understand, that just in the degree of woman's influence, will all such brutalities disappear. Yes! the degrading brawls, and indulgences of Man, are the righteous penalty for his abuse of Woman. History proves one fact in letters of light, that according to the measure of Woman's Freedom has been the elevation of manners. How imagination lingers over a Zenobia, a Boadicea. The earth waits for her Queen. Away with this gewgaw trapping of the body to feed man's lustful eye, with this smattering of accomplishment to dazzle his fancy. Down deep in her pure devotedness is woman's power; in her quick intuition is her influence; in her pliant
grace, which beautifies all it touches, is her charm. Let Woman judge for herself her range of culture, her. sphere of action; and then will worthy mothers nurse a worthy race; and the unboasting command of love will ensure wide justice. To secure these great ends, but one way is open, Co-operation. No individual can secure them alone. The excessive individualism of the day is a' necessary reaction against past tyrannies. But the freedom, the full possession of oneself, which individualism seeks, can be found according to the law of man's social nature, only in concert with our kind. To be wise, to be religious, we must be independent in the lower relations, and in harmony with our fellows in all higher relations. To grow, man needs a congenial atmosphere, an appropriate sphere. The thought unspoken, unused dies. " Faith without works is dead." The great Associative movements of the age in England, France, Germany, and the United States, concentrate all these various rays of reform to a bright focus. The vast improvements in every branch of art ensure their success. In vain do we seek justice among nations, till we have dried up the bitter fountain of injustice in communities; and the collisions of man with man in communities grow out of disproportionate toil, unfair division of gains, partial culture, exclusion from social position, violation of the simplest rights. Let us organize all men's interests, and from these little centres shall peace and"triumphant beauty pervade the earth. Industry shall then be a communion with God in the glorifying of Nature, and Man shall be One. There is a Divine Order of human society; a justice so perfect, that every individual man shall be a member with all his brethren of a larger Man, which is the Nation; and Nations members together of the Universal Man, which is the reunited Race. In this true Adam the Infinite Spirit will be incarnate.
Nearer and ever nearer draws the day of fulfilment. How the songs of David "Let the beauty of the Lord be upon us;" how the visions of Isaiah "Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise;" how the promises of Jesus "Seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you;" how the crowning revelation "Behold the tabernacle of God is men, and he will dwell with them and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God" brighten in meaning, like clouds made glorious by the rising sun.