The Mediatorial Life of Jesus
A LETTER TO REV. WILLIAM ELLERY CHANNING, D. D., JUNE, 1842.
REVEREND AND DEAR SIR:--My apology, if an apology be needed, for addressing you on the Mediatorial Life of Jesus, is in the position which you occupy among the friends of liberal inquiry, the influence your writings have had in forming my own religious opinions and character, and the generous friendship which you have long shown me personally, in good report and in evil.
You, sir, have been my spiritual father. Your writings were the first to suggest to me those trains of thought, which have finally ended in raising me from the darkness of doubt to the warm sun-light of a living faith in God, in the Bible as God's Word, and in Jesus Christ as the mediator between God and men, and as the real Saviour of the world through his life, death and resurrection. I can never cease to be grateful for the important services you have rendered me, nor can I forget the respect and indulgence you have shown me notwithstanding all my short comings, and the steadiness with which you have cheered and sustained me, when the world grew dark around me, and hope was dying out of my soul.
You know, sir, somewhat of the long and painful struggles I have had in working my way up from unbelief to the high table-land of the Christian's faith and hopes; you have borne with me in my weakness, and have not been disposed to condemn me because I was not able, with a single bound, to place myself on that elevation. You have not been one to despise my lispings and stammerings; but while others have treated me rudely, denying me all love of truth, and all sense of goodness, you have continued to believe me at bottom honest and sincere. From my heart, sir, I thank you. I feel that you have been a true friend, and that I may open my mind and heart to you without reserve. You will receive with respect whatever comes forth from an ingenuous heart, whether it find a response in your own severer judgment or not.
You know that many years ago I was a confirmed unbeliever. I had lost, not my unbelief, but my hostility to religion, and had even to a certain extent recovered my  early religious feelings, when a friend, now no more, read me one day your sermon on Likeness to God, preached at the ordination of Frederic A. Farley, Providence, R. I., 1828. My friend was an excellent reader, and he entered fully into the spirit of the sermon. I listened as one enchanted. A thrill of indescribable delight ran through my whole soul. I could have leaped for joy. I seemed suddenly to have found a Father. To me this was much. I had never known an earthly father, and often had I wept when I had heard, in my boyhood, my playmates, one after another, say "my father." But now, lone and deserted as I had felt myself, I too had become a son, and could look up and say, "my father"—around and say, "my brothers."
The train of thought then suggested, pursued with fidelity, led me to believe myself a Christian, and to resume my profession as a Christian preacher. But when I first came into this community as a preacher, my Christianity was pretty much all comprised in two articles, the divinity of humanity, and the brotherhood of the race,—which I had learned from your sermon. These two articles suffered me as a preacher to dwell only on the dignity and worth of human nature, and the importance of making this dignity and worth acknowledged in all men, however high or however low. But this I thought enough. I was honest, I was sincere in avowing myself a Christian, all deficient as I now believe my faith was; and consequently, I could not admit the justice of the charge of infidelity which was brought on all sides against me. So far as sincerity of purpose and honesty of conviction were concerned, I knew myself a believer, and thought I had a right to be treated as a believer. You were one of the few to acknowledge that right.
In looking back, sir, on the ten years which have passed, or nearly passed away, since I had the honor and the pleasure of first meeting you personally, I am now satisfied that I came among my Unitarian brethren with a faith quite too contracted for the wants of a real Christian, and with my bosom torn by two contrary tendencies. I had a strong tendency to religion, and to religious faith; but at the same time, unconsciously, another tendency, of quite an opposite character. This last tendency, really the weaker of the two, was almost the only one noted by the public, and hence, the almost universal accusation of infidelity of which I became the subject. This last tendency has shown  itself in my efforts to find the grounds of religion in human nature, to discover in the pure reason the evidences of religious faith, and to resolve the providences of God, as manifested in extraordinary men, prophets, and messiahs, into the ordinary operations of nature. But, in my preaching and writings, I have given altogether more prominence to this tendency that it really had in my own mind, in the persuasion that by so doing, I could recommend the Gospel to unbelievers. I am now satisfied that in this I not only exposed myself to undeserved reproach, but committed a great mistake as a matter of mere policy. The best way to convert unbelievers to the Gospel, is to preach the Gospel, the whole Gospel, and nothing but the Gospel. Preach God's truth as he has revealed it, in simplicity, and with fidelity; it will not fail to do its work. Nevertheless, though injustice was done me, by a misconstruction of my motives, yet this tendency which had originally made me an unbeliever still subsisted to a considerable extent, and under its influence I sometimes uttered things irreconcilable with my present views of the Gospel.
The truth is, sir, that I have come but slowly and perhaps reluctantly into the Christian faith. I embraced at once the two articles I have named, but I have been slow to go far beyond. I have disputed the ground inch by inch, and have yielded only when I had no longer any ground on which to stand. The debate in my mind has been going on for the last ten years, which have been to me, taken as a whole, years of much severer internal conflict than they have been of external conflict, severe as this last, as you well know, has actually been.
You must permit me to say, that from the first, I have had some misgivings. In my happiest moments my thought has never been clear to myself, and I have felt that there was more in it than I had mastered. With more than tolerable powers of utterance, both as a speaker and as a writer, I have never been able to utter a thought that I was willing to accept when reflected back from another mind. Neither friend nor enemy has ever seemed to understand me; and I have never seen a criticism from a friendly or an unfriendly hand, with but one single exception, in which there was the remotest allusion to the thought I seemed to myself to have had in writing the piece criticised. Discovering that I was not understood, or rather, that I was misunderstood, I have from time to time changed my point of  view and my phraseology, with the hope of being able to communicate my real thought. All in vain. I have only gained a sneer for my versatility and frequent changes of opinions. I have at times wondered at this; but I am satisfied that it was owing to the contrary tendencies at work in my mind, and to the fact, that I had not fully mastered what I wished to say, and therefore had only lisped and stammered, instead of articulating clearly and distinctly.
You must pardon me, for saying so much of myself. I have wished to confess, explain, and then forget. The difficulties under which I labored, I think, through the blessing of God, I have finally been able to overcome. I think I see wherein my past faith was defective, and why I have heretofore been unable to speak so as to be understood. I think, moreover, that I am now able to solve several problems which have troubled other and greater minds than mine, to throw light on several questions connected with Jesus as Mediator, and to point out the ground on which both Unitarians and Trinitarians may unite as brothers, with "one Lord, one faith, one baptism."
I have sir, finally attained to a view of the plan of a world's salvation through a Mediator, which I think reconciles all conflicting theories, discloses new wisdom in that plan, and enables us to take, in its most obvious and literal sense, without any subtlety or refinement, what the scriptures say of Jesus, and of salvation through his life. The Gospel becomes to me now a reality, and the teachings of the New Testament throughout realities, having their corresponding facts in the positive world. The views to which I have attained appear to me to be new, grand, and of the greatest importance. If I am not deceived they enable us to demonstrate with as much certainty as we have for our own existence several great and leading doctrines of the church universal, which have heretofore been asserted as great and holy mysteries, but unproved and unexplained. I think I can show that no small portion of the Bible, which is generally taken figuratively, is susceptible of literal interpretation, and that certain views of the Mediator, and his Life, from which, our Unitarian friends have shrunk, are nevertheless true, and susceptible of a philosophical demonstration. I think sir, I am able to show that the doctrine that human nature became depraved through the sin of Adam, and that it is redeemed only through the obedience of Christ; that the doctrine which teaches us that the  Mediator is truly and indissolubly God-man, and saves the world by giving literally his life to the world, are the great "central truths" of Christianity, and philosophically demonstrable.
This, if it can be done, you will admit is important, and must involve a theological revolution. My purpose in writing you this letter, is to call your attention to the method by which it can be done, and to ask your judgment on that method. If I am right, I know you will rejoice with me, for the result will prove to be that higher manifestation of religious truth which you and so many others have been looking for, and asserting, must come.
Before I proceed to lay before you the important views themselves, I must be allowed to say a word as to the means by which I have attained to them; I do this that I may not arrogate to myself what does not belong to me. I have little other merit in attaining to these views, than that of following out to their legitimate conclusions, certain philosophical principles, which I have been assisted by others to obtain. The great principle which underlies the whole, I became master of about one year ago. I saw, at once its immense reach in the region of metaphysics; but did not see at the time very clearly its importance in the social world, or the religious world. Leroux, in his work on L'Humanite, discovered to me its social applications. In endeavoring to point out, in a sermon a few Sundays since, this social application, which seemed to me to give new significance to the Communion, I perceived suddenly the theological application, of the principle in question, and the flood of light it throws on long-controverted dogmas. This theological application, which I am about to point out, is all that I claim as original with myself, and all that I claim as novel in the views of which I speak.
I really then have done nothing, and pretend to do nothing, but to make an original application of principles which have been discovered for me by others. I say this, because I am sometimes accused of plagiarism, and sometimes lauded for being original. I have never yet claimed to be an original thinker; I have no ambition to be thought an original thinker. I might perhaps have deserved the credit of originality some twelve or fourteen years ago. I lived then far away from books and from the society of intelligent men; but men have gained great credit in this city since I have been here, by doing little more than echo the doctrines  which I then put forth, or which may be found at least in germ in what I, an untutored backwoodsman, then wrote and published. But since I came into this community, I have read what I could, and have sought to obtain a knowledge of just views, and to present just views to the public, without caring whether they originated with me, or with others. But in fact many views which I have put forth, and which it is presumed that I must have borrowed from others, have really been original with me. This is the case with certain doctrines on property which I hold in common with the Saint-Simonians, also certain views as to the influence of property on politics and legislation, which are similar in some respects to those of Harrington, &c.
But after all, the great inquiry of every man should be for the truth, and the truth he should be willing to accept, let it come from what source it may. Our own reputations for originality should never weigh one feather. The only truly original mind after all, is the mind that can readily assimilate and reproduce from itself the truth that comes to it. In the doctrines I am about to present, I claim no originality. I merely claim originality for the process by which I demonstrate their philosophical truth. The doctrines have been taught ever since the time of Jesus; they have never, before this attempt of mine, so far as my knowledge extends, been demonstrated. What I have to offer on the main subject of this Letter, I shall take the liberty to arrange under three general heads.
First.--Whence comes the Mediator? Second.--What is his work? Third.--What is the method by which he performs it?
These three inquiries will cover the whole ground that I wish at present to occupy, or that is necessary to enable me to bring out all the peculiar views I am anxious to set forth concerning Jesus as the Mediator and Saviour of the world.
First.--Whence comes the Mediator? I should not detain you a moment with this inquiry, were it not that there is a tendency in some minds among us, to rank Jesus in the category of ordinary men. I do not say that any among us question his vast superiority over all other men of whom history retains any record, but in this superiority they see nothing supernatural, no special interposition of Providence. Jesus was a man of greater natural endowments, and of more devout piety, truer and deeper philanthropy than other men. He has exerted a great and beneficial influence on  the world, will perhaps continue to exert a beneficial influence for some time to come; but he is divine, it is said, in no sense in which all men are not divine, in no sense in which nature is not divine. He had a larger nature, and was truer to it, than other men, and this is all wherein he was distinguished from other men, or had any special divinity.
Persons who entertain this view, speak of him in very respectful, I may almost say, in very flattering terms. Their praise is high, warm, and no doubt sincere. But they do not seem to regard him as having been, in the strict sense of the term, a "providential man." He is providential only in that vague and unsatisfactory sense in which all nature, all men, and all events are providential. They do not look upon him as having been, in the plain, ordinary sense of the terms, sent from God to be the Redeemer and Saviour of the world. They give a very loose explanation of the text, "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son to die, that whosoever should believe on him might not perish, but have everlasting life." Jesus was the "Son of God" as all men are sons of God, and in no other sense, and "was given" as all men are given, and not otherwise. This is a conclusion, you are aware, to which some among us have come.
The same tendency which leads thus far, leads even further. It not only reduces Jesus to the category of ordinary men, but, as might he expected, it does the same by Moses and the prophets, by the apostles, and, indeed, by all who have generally been regarded as having been specially sent from God for the instruction and improvement of mankind. These men have not spoken to us from God, words given them by a higher power, and in the Name above all names, but out of their own hearts, from their own deep but natural experience. Their utterances are, no doubt, worthy of our respect. We may be refreshed by reading them, as by all genuine utterances, in which men are true to their great natures. The Bible, of course, ceases to be a book divinely inspired, a book authoritative, fit to be appealed to as decisive on matters lying beyond human experience; though it remains a very good book, containing many striking passages, much genuine poetry, some fine myths, some touching narratives, even some philosophy, and worthy to stand on the scholar's shelf with Homer, Shak[e]speare, Thomas Brown, and Emanuel Swedenborg. 
This tendency might go further still. The state of mind and heart which leads us to wish to exclude all special providence or interposition of the Deity from the person of Jesus, and the Bible and its authors, would, if followed to its legitimate result, lead us to exclude God from the moral world altogether. When excluded from the moral world, he of course will not be retained in the natural world, and then is God wholly excluded from the universe. We are then without God, and God, if he be at all, is only an Epicurean God, who reposes at an infinite distance from the universe, disturbing himself with its concerns not at all.
It seem to me, sir, that this tendency, which neither you nor I have wholly escaped, is a tendency to resolve God into the laws of nature,--the laws of the moral world, and those of the natural world. Now what is this but a tendency to sink God in nature, to lose him entirely, that is, to become atheists? I do not mean to say that you or I have been affected by this tendency to any very great extent, but you know that it has manifested itself in our midst. We have found it in our friends; we have met with it in our parochial visits; we have seen it in the doctrines put forth by men who profess to have outgrown the past; and indeed it has been the decided tendency of the literature and science of Christendom for the last century and a half. Men have deified nature, boasted the perfection and harmony of her laws, forgetful that there are such things as volcanoes, earthquakes, noxious damps and poisonous effluvia, blight and mildew. They shrink from admitting the doctrine of Providence. In reading ancient history they seek to resolve all that is marvellous or prodigious into natural laws, and some entire religious sects are so afraid of the interposition of God, that they say men are rewarded and punished according to the "natural laws." They see no longer the hand of God, but great Nature.
But I need hardly say to you that this whole tendency is anti-religious, and productive, in every heart that indulges it, of decided irreligion. The scriptures everywhere represent the agents and ministries of our instruction and improvement as sent by a heavenly Father. Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Isaiah, Peter, James, John, and Paul, are always called of God, and sent. They come to us not of their own accord; they speak to us not in their own name, but as ambassadors for God. God gives to each a special mission, and sends him on an errand of love and mercy to his tribe,  nation, or race. This is the only view compatible with religion.
When we resolve God into the laws of nature, whether as called the laws of the moral world or of the natural world, we have nothing remaining but nature. Nature, when there is no God seen behind it, to control it, to do with it as he will, in fact, that wills to overrule its seeming evil for real good, is a mere fate, an inexorable destiny, a dark, inscrutable, resistless necessity. It has no freedom, no justice. It sweeps on regardless of what it crushes or carries away before it; now with its lightnings striking down the old man in his sins, and now the infant in its innocence. Where is the ground for religious emotion--religious exercise? All is fixed, irrevocable. What shall we do? or wherefore attempt to do any thing? We may fear and tremble at the darkness before and behind us, but wherefore love, or be grateful? We may be anxious about the future, but wherefore pray? We may wish to be forgiven our sins, but who can forgive them? What is the ground of penitence and pardon?
Prayer, many amongst us have felt, is quite useless, if not improper, saving as a sort of aesthetic exercise, saving its spiritual effect on the one who prays. Forgiveness of sins men have seemed, to a very great extent, to consider as altogether out of the question. They either seek on the one hand a scape-goat, a substitute, some one to suffer for their sins, in their place, or they say God leaves us to the natural consequences of our deeds. There is no God, who of his own free grace, pardons the sinner, and receives and embraces the returning prodigal.
In fact, sir, not a few among us, though they admit, in words, that there is a God, do virtually deny his existence, by failing to believe in his freedom. You have contended for human freedom, and declared that man is annihilated just in proportion as his freedom is abridged. You may say as much of God. Freedom and sovereignty are one and the same. It has been felt that God has hedged himself in by natural laws, laws of his own establishing, so that he is no longer free to hear and answer prayer, or to comfort and forgive the penitent. God acts undoubtedly in accordance with invariable and eternal laws, but these laws are not the natural laws, not laws which he has enacted, but the laws of his own being; that is to say, he acts ever in conformity with himself, according to his own immutable will. The  laws which he is not free to violate are not laws out of himself, but which he himself is. That is to say again, God is not free to be other than himself, and in this fact he is proved to be absolutely free.
This tendency to resolve God into nature, is unscriptural and fatal to religion. Either we must give up all pretensions to religion or follow an opposite tendency. Either we must give up all ground for piety, or suffer Providence to intervene in the affairs of the world, and of the human race. We must also guard with great care against all disposition to revolt at this intervention. The true religious theory requires us to regard the authors of the Bible as supernaturally endowed, as sent specially by our Father on special missions, and the Bible therefore as a supernatural book, belonging to a different category from that of all other books.
According to this view, we must regard Jesus, not as coming, but as sent, not as raising himself up to be the Mediator, but as having been raised up by the Father in heaven. He is from God, who commends his love to us by him. It is God's grace, not human effort or human genius, that provides the Mediator. It is impossible then to press Jesus into the category of ordinary men. He stands out alone, distinct, peculiar. This much, I must be permitted to assume in regard to Jesus, if I am to concern myself with Christianity at all. In answer then to the question, Whence comes the Mediator? I reply, from God, "who so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son to die, that whosoever should believe on him might not perish, but have everlasting life."
Second.--But, assuming that God sent the Mediator, what did he send him to do? What was the work to be done for human redemption and sanctification? In other words, what is the condition in which the Gospel assumes the human race to be without Christ, and from which God, through the mediation of Christ, is represented as saving it? A great question this, and one on which I feel that I cannot so fully sympathize with your views as I once did. You say, in the sermon to which I have already alluded, that "In ourselves are the elements of the Divinity. God, then, does not sustain a figurative resemblance to man. It is the resemblance of a parent to a child, the likeness of a kindred nature." I am not sure that I catch your precise meaning in these sentences, but from these and from your writings  generally, I infer that you hold man to be created with a nature akin to that of the Divinity. In other words, man is created with a divine nature, and therefore the human and divine must be at bottom identical. This is the doctrine I have been accustomed to draw from your writings, and which is termed, amongst your admirers, the doctrine of the divinity of humanity.
This doctrine, which you have set forth on so many occasions, with all the power of your rich and fervid eloquence, I must needs believe is the real parent of that deification and worship of the human soul, which has within a few years past manifested itself among our transcendentalists. Men more ardent but less discriminating than yourself, have seized upon this expression, "in ourselves are the elements of the Divinity," and have inferred that God is nothing but the possibility of man. In your mind, I presume the expression only means that it is in ourselves that we find the germs, not of God, but of the idea of God. Others, however, have interpreted you differently, and have gone so far as to say that God is merely the complement of humanity; and some whom we have been loath to call insane, have not illogically though absurdly proceeded to say of themselves, "I am God;" "I and my Father are one,"--thus interpreting of the human soul, all that is said in the Bible of Jesus, of the Logos, and therefore by implication all that is said of the infinite God.
You will not understand me to intimate that you have had any sympathy with this extravagant, not to say blasphemous conclusion, which not a few of our friends have drawn from what they have supposed to be your premises. I know well that while you have wished to defend the freedom of those who have drawn it, and to do justice to the moral purity of their characters, you have shrunk from the conclusion itself. Yet, you must allow me to say that I feel that you have in some measure warranted this deification and worship of the human soul. Assuming the divinity of human nature as the starting point, as you do, I see not well how a logical mind not restrained by an abundant stock of good sense, can avoid coming to this conclusion. I must confess that I cannot see how one can avoid it, save at the expense of his consistency.
I certainly shall not deny that there is something divine in man; but I do deny that what is divine in man is original in his nature, save as all nature is divine, inasmuch as it  is the work of God, and made at bottom,--if one may so speak, and mean any thing,--out of divine substance. But neither you nor I have ever intended to favor pantheism. We do not therefore confound nature with God, any more than we do God with nature. I see not, then, how it is possible for man in any intelligible or legitimate sense of the word, to be naturally divine. The two terms seem to me to involve a direct contradiction. There is something divine in the life of man, I am willing to own; but this divinity which you find there, I think, has been communicated to man, superinduced upon his nature, if I may so speak, by the grace of God through our Lord Jesus Christ. The error which I seem to myself to find in your view of man is, that you assume his natural likeness to God, that he contains, as essential elements of his nature, the elements of the Divinity. I am unable to reconcile with this fact of possessing divine nature, my own experience, or the recorded experience of the race. Man, if so lofty, so divine, having himself the elements of God, and therefore of infinity, should not be so foolish, so weak, and so wicked as we know him to have been in all past ages, and as we find him to be even in ourselves. It does well enough now and then for declamation to talk of man's likeness to God, but alas! few there are who have not been obliged, by painful experience, to exclaim with the Hebrew prophet, "it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps."
Allow me to say, that I think it is an error to assume that Christianity takes the divinity of humanity as its point of departure. Christianity seems to me to assume throughout as its point of departure, man's sinfulness, depravity, alienation from God and heaven. It treats man everywhere as a sinner, as morally diseased, morally dead, and its work is always to restore him to moral life and health; not to a consciousness of the greatness and divinity of his soul, but to righteousness, to a spiritual communion and union with God. And after all, is not this view the true one? Is not man a sinner? Who is there of us, however exalted or however low our estate, cultivated or uncultivated our minds, however pure and blameless may be our lives, that does not bear on his heart the damning stain of sin? Who has not exclaimed, nay, who does not perpetually exclaim, "I am a sinner; the good I would I do not, and the evil that I would not that I do. 0 wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" The  universal conscience of the race bears witness to the fact that all men sin, and come short of the glory of God. All religions are so many additional witnesses to this fact, for they are all so many methods dictated to man, or devised by him, for getting rid of sin, and placing himself at one with God.
This much you, I know, will admit, however it may or may not be reconcilable with what you say of man's divinity. But I think Christianity goes further than this. It assumes not only that all men are actual sinners, but also that human nature itself has been corrupted, is depraved, so that men by nature are prone to do evil. This is the doctrine which I know you have opposed; but I think I can present it in a light in which you will not refuse to accept it; because I see how I can accept it, and find also a place for the doctrine which you yourself have so much at heart.
This doctrine of the depravity of human nature is, you will admit, a doctrine of universal tradition. With me tradition is always good evidence when its subject-matter is not intrinsically improbable. This is, I am aware, a broad principle, but I am able to demonstrate its soundness. The pure reason is always incompetent to decide on questions which go out of the department of mathematics. In what concerns the race, tradition is the criterion of certainty, only we must not forget that the individual man must be free to sit in judgment on the question, what is or is not tradition. The doctrine of human depravity is admitted on all hands to be a doctrine of universal tradition. If men were not universally conscious of its truth, of its conformity to what they know of themselves, how could they universally believe it? If it were false, it would be right in the face and eyes of what each one knows of himself, and we should naturally expect to find it universally rejected. Men cannot even by your rich and kindling eloquence, which is seldom surpassed, be made to believe, to any great extent, in your doctrine of the divinity of humanity. Even those of us the most anxious to embrace it, find ourselves unable to do so. We are too conscious of our own weakness and unworthiness. If the opposite doctrine were not more true to our experience, we should find equal difficulty in believing that.
Moreover, the Scriptures seem to me to teach very clearly that the actual sins of mankind, are not all the difficulties in the way of our salvation, that are to be overcome. I will say nothing now of Genesis; I confine myself to the New  Testament. Paul teaches, beyond all question, that all men died in Adam, that through Adam sin entered into the world, and by sin a corruption of human nature. It was through the disobedience of one man that many, the many, that is, all men, were made sinners. Thus John, when he points to Jesus, says, "Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world." He does not say sins, but sin, that is, the original depravity of human nature.
Experience also, I think, indicates at least that there is in all men, even now, an under-current of depravity, by virtue of which men, if left to themselves, delight in sin rather than in holiness. Children are not always the sweet innocents we sometimes pretend. The little rogues not unfrequently show animation, spirit, intelligence, only when doing some mischief. Moreover, if human nature were not depraved, if it were what you represent it, and if there were no sin but actual sin, how could there be even actual sin? How comes it to pass that men, pure by nature, and possessing in themselves the very elements of God, do no sooner begin to develop their pure and godlike nature than they sin? What is it that works in us, and manifests itself in our acts? Is it not human nature? Since then the workings of this nature are unquestionably sinful, must not the nature itself be depraved?
I am willing to admit that the doctrine of human depravity, has assumed a form which is somewhat objectionable. Not indeed because it has been said to be total, that is, extending to and over all the faculties of the human soul. For the human soul is not many, but one, and acts ever as a unity. It would be grossly absurd then to assume that one phasis of it could remain undepraved while another was depraved. Sin also blunts the intellect as well as corrupts the heart. They who have pleasure in unrighteousness are easily deluded. They are the pure in heart who see God. But the error has been in assuming perfection as the point of departure for man and nature, and therefore in considering the imperfection we now see in man and nature to be the result of a fall from a perfect state. A fall from such a state is inconceivable. But man being originally created imperfect, as he must have been, naturally, if not inevitably, sinned, and this sin necessarily corrupted human nature.
I say necessarily. Grant me what you will not deny, that the first man, whether called Adam or not, sinned, and the doctrine of the inherent, hereditary depravity of human  nature follows inevitably, necessarily. This may seem to be a strong statement, but I can justify it.
The old doctrine on this subject, is that God made a covenant with Adam, by virtue of which Adam became the federal head of humanity, so that all his posterity should be implicated in his transgression. I do not like the term covenant. Say that God so created man, and subjected him to such a law of life, that the first man could not sin without involving all his posterity in his sin, and you will say what I believe to be the strict truth. But how can this be? Shall the innocent be involved in the fate of the guilty? They are so in nature, and in this life, to some extent, in providence. This world does not realize our conceptions of justice. Hence the promise and the hope of another. But this is not the point.
Philosophy has succeeded in demonstrating,--what everybody has always believed without perceiving its full significance,--that we are dependent beings, and are in no case and in no sense able to live by and in ourselves alone. Man can no more live by himself alone, than he can exist alone. Cut him off from all communion with nature, and could he live? Cut him off from all communication with other men, with his race, would he not die? Does not man die in solitude? In perfect solitude could he ever be said to live, that is to live a human life? Could any of his affections, moral, religious, social, or domestic, be ever developed? Certainly not. Here then is a fact of immense importance.
Let us begin by distinguishing life from being. To be is not necessarily to live. Inorganic matter is, but we can hardly say that it lives. To live is to manifest. But no being except God the self-existent, and the self-living being, is able to manifest itself by itself alone. There is no act, no function that man can perform in a state of perfect isolation. He cannot think without thinking himself as the subject of the thought, and thinking something not himself as its object. He has the capacity to love, but he cannot manifest it, that is live it, without loving; and he cannot love without loving something, some object. This which I say of love I may say of all of man's capacities, whether physical, intellectual, sentient, or sentimental. To deny this, and to assume that man can in any case be his own object, were to assume that man is capable of living in himself alone; which would imply that he, like the infinite God is self-existent and self-living. 
If to live is to manifest ourselves, and if we cannot manifest ourselves without communion with an object which we are not, it follows that our life is at once subjective and objective. A man's life is not all in himself. It is in himself and in his object--the object by means of which he lives. This, if we say man is a dependent being, insufficient for himself, is what we necessarily affirm.
Now man's object, by communion with which he lives, is other men, God, and nature. With God and nature he communes only indirectly. His direct, immediate object is other men. His life, then, is in himself and in other men. All men are brought by this into the indissoluble unity of one and the same life. All become members of one and the same body, and members one of another. The object of each man is all other men. Thus do the race live in solido, if I may use a legal term, the objective portion of each man's life being indissolubly in all other men, and, therefore, that of all men in each man.
It follows necessarily from this oneness of the life of all men, that no one member can be affected for good or evil, but the whole body, all humanity in space, time, and eternity must actually or virtually be affected with it.
Assume now, that the first man sinned, and it is a fair presumption that he did sin, to say the least. This man must have been the object by virtue of communion with which his children were enabled to live. They could not live without an object, and he must be that object. Life is indissolubly subjective and objective. He must furnish the objective portion of their life. This portion of their life must partake of his moral character. He had polluted himself by sin. This pollution is necessarily transmitted by virtue of the fact that he is their object, to them, who corrupted in the objective portion of their life, must needs be corrupted in the subjective portion.
Adam's sin must necessarily have been transmitted to his children, not solely by natural generation, as some have contended, but by moral generation. Nor could it stop there. His children must have been the object of their children, and thus have transmitted it to them. These again must have transmitted it to a later generation; and thus, since the preceding generation furnishes always the objective portion of the life of the succeeding generation, it must necessarily be transmitted from generation to generation  forever, or till the race should cease to exist; unless the current were arrested and rolled back by a foreign power.
Bearing in mind this law of life, which philosophy has succeeded in demonstrating without once suspecting its application, and I think you will agree with me in accepting the doctrine in question, in believing that Paul meant what he said, that all die in Adam, and that through the disobedience of one man all were made sinners, and that, therefore, death hath passed upon all men. I think, also, that you will agree that the church generally, with which we have both warred on this point, has been right in asserting original sin, and the innate, hereditary depravity of human nature. The church seems to me to have erred only in considering this depravity, hereditary by virtue of a covenant or imputation, on the one hand, or by natural generation on the other. It is hereditary by virtue of the fact stated, that the preceding generation always furnishes the objective portion of the life of the succeeding generation, and without the objective portion the subjective portion would be as if it were not.
This principle of life which I have set forth is one of an immense reach. It shows at a glance the terrible nature of sin. In sin this principle is reversed, but is not destroyed. It operates for evil as, when in its normal condition, it does for good. By virtue of this principle, sin, whatever its degree, however great or however slight, by whomsoever committed, necessarily propagates itself, and must continue to propagate itself eternally, if not arrested by the sovereign grace of God. Humanity has originally in itself no more inherent power to overcome it than a body once set in motion has to arrest itself. How little then do they know of the true philosophy of life, who treat sin as if it were a light affair!
I am now prepared to answer the question, what is the work to be done? It is to redeem human nature from its inherent depravity, communicate to it a new and divine life, through which individuals may be saved from actual transgression, and raised to fellowship with the Father, by which they shall become really sons of God, and joint-heirs of a heavenly inheritance.
Third.--Having now determined the work there was for a Mediator to perform, I pass in the third and last place to consider the method by which he performs it; and I think I shall succeed in demonstrating the truth of the four following positions which are held by the church generally. 
1. Man naturally does not and cannot commune directly with God, and therefore can come into fellowship with him only through a Mediator.
2. This Mediator must be at once and indissolubly, in the plain literal sense of the terms, very God of very God, and very man of very man; and so being very God of very God, and very man of very man, he can literally and truly mediate between God and men.
3. Jesus saves man, redeems him from sin, and enables him to have fellowship, as John says, with the Father, by giving his life literally not only for him but to him.
4. Men have eternal life, that is, live a true normal life, only so far forth as they live the identical life of Jesus. "He that hath the Son hath life;" "he that hath not the Son hath not life;" "except ye eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man ye have no life in you."
These are strong positions, and such as we Unitarians have not generally embraced in a very literal sense; but I think I can show them to be not only tenable, but positions that we may accept without giving up any thing we now have, that we really value. They may require us to enlarge our faith, but not to alter or abandon it. Nay, they are virtually implied in what we are every day preaching.
Jesus says, in answer to a question put to him by Thomas, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." These words have a profound significance, and a literal truth, which I confess I for one have been but slow to comprehend. I confess, sir, that I have honestly believed, that we might have a very sufficient Christianity without including the historical person we call Jesus; not indeed that I have ever failed, in my own view of Christianity, to include him. But I have taught from the pulpit, and from the press, that Christianity did not necessarily and could not be made to stand or fall with the fact whether there ever was or was not such a person as Jesus. This I now see was a grave error. Christ, the literal person we call Christ, is Christianity. All begins and ends with him. To reject him historically is to reject Christianity. This is the truth which they have had who have accused some of us of advocating the "latest form of infidelity," though under other aspects we who have been so accused, have been much further from infidelity than our accusers.
The fact is, sir, that the language, in which the catholic or universal church clothes the doctrines I have set forth in the  propositions enumerated, has prevented a large number of us from seeing the realities concerned. Many of us have even believed that there were no realities there, that the doctrines of the church do not concern realities at all, but mere covenants, bargains, imputations, legal fictions, &c. Finding no reality under the symbols of the church, we have concluded them to be empty forms, with which it were useless for us to attempt to satisfy the wants of either our minds or our hearts. We consequently rejected them, and sought to find what we needed in the everlasting truth and nature of things. All well enough up to a certain point; but we sought it unfortunately in the abstract truth and nature of things, not in real life. Consequently Jesus became to us a law, an abstract principle according to which man was made. This has been the case with myself in nearly all that I have written. In my New Views, Jesus has for me a high representative value. But having once attained to the principle represented, to the everlasting truth signified, I felt that the representative became as unnecessary as the scaffolding after the temple is erected.
On the other hand were our Unitarian friends of what has been called the old school. These with great truth hung on to the person and life of Jesus, and accused us who sought to resolve Jesus into an abstract law of the moral world, of rejecting Christianity altogether. But they did not help our difficulties. True they retained a personal Jesus, but they did not seem to us to retain any great matter for him to do; and when they talked of the importance of his life they failed to show us that importance. With the best intentions in the world, we could not see how, except in words, they made out that Jesus was any thing more than a very exemplary sort of a man, a very zealous and able reformer, whom we should do well to respect and to remember along with Plato, Alfred, Luther, and Swedenborg. We felt that there must be a deeper, a more permanent Christ than this, and we sought him, as I have intimated, in abstract philosophy.
You, sir, I know have said much of the life of Christ, and have spoken of its intimate relation to Christianity; but I confess that I do not find its importance according to your views, save as an example, and as well fitted to give force and efficacy to his instructions. You seem to me to make Jesus the way, and the truth, an example for man to imitate, and a teacher, through his life as well as through  his words, of the truth; although I find, in what you say of him, I admit, almost a presentiment of the fact that he is the Life. Now I apprehend that Christendom feels very deeply that Jesus was something more to humanity than a picture hung up on the cross for the world to gaze at, and something more, too, than a teacher of truth; for as a mere teacher, I apprehend he has slight claims to originality. I have been unable to find a single doctrine, a single precept, absolutely peculiar to the New Testament. It will hardly do to stop with Jesus as an eminent teacher and true model man. We have all felt, nay, we all feel, that something more was necessary. As a model man, he serves us very little purpose, because we see him in but a few of the relations of life, and because his perfections are above, altogether above the reach of us human beings. If none could be Christians but those who can be in all respects what he was, we should have no Christians. Taken as a mere teacher, the Gospel histories become to us almost a farce. The little that is brought forth in this way hardly justifies the prodigies recorded.
Allow me to say again, that I think there is a significance in what Jesus says, when he says, "I am the way, the truth and the life," which those of us who have asserted the abstract Christ, and those of us who have reduced Jesus to the capacity of an exemplar and teacher of truth and righteousness, have not attained unto,--a significance which once attained unto, will save the one class of us from our alleged coldness, and the other from our abstractions, and give to us all what we and the world need--LIFE.
I begin by assuming that the finite cannot commune directly with the infinite. Like does not and cannot commune with unlike. Moreover, the finite when regarded as depraved, all will agree, cannot commune, hold fellowship with infinite holiness. Man then could not commune directly with God; both because finite and because sinful. Then he must remain ever alienated from God, or a medium of communion, that is, a Mediator, must be provided. And this Mediator must of course be provided by the infinite, and not by the finite. It would be absurd to say that man, unable to commune with God, can nevertheless provide a medium of communion with him. God must provide it. That is, he must condescend, come down to the finite, down to man, and by so doing, take man up to himself.
The Mediator, or medium of communion must needs be  both human and divine. For if it do not touch man on the one hand, and God on the other, it cannot bring the two together, and make them one. Moreover, it must be really, literally, and indissolubly human and divine, God-man; not figuratively, symbolically, or mythically, for the Gospel deals only with realities. Types and shadows disappeared with the Mosaic dispensation.
Now, if you will recall what I have said of life, and the law of life, you will see at once how truly, and how literally Jesus was this Mediator between God and men. To live is to manifest one's self, and no being, except the self-living being, God, can manifest itself save by communion with some object. Life, then, in all beings, but the Unbegotten, is at once subjective and objective. This is the principle of life, which philosophy has demonstrated beyond the possibility of cavil.
Jesus, you admit, to say the least, was an extraordinary personage. I have already shown in this letter that he does not belong to the category of ordinary men. He is special, distinct, peculiar. Say now that God takes humanity, in the being we term Jesus, into immediate communion with himself, so that he is the direct object by means of which Jesus manifests himself. The result would be LIFE; that life, like all derivative life, at once subjective and objective, must necessarily be, in the strictest sense of the terms, human and divine, the life of God and the life of man, made indissolubly one. For God being the object, would be the objective portion, and man being the subject would be the subjective portion, which united is God-man. Here is the Mediator at once God-man, and that in no figurative sense, in no over-strained, refined sense, but all simply and literally, as the most simple-minded must understand the terms.
According to this view, it is the life that mediates; that is, the Mediator is the living Jesus, not Jesus the latent, the unmanifested, and, therefore, to all practical purposes the same as no Jesus at all. The living Jesus, the life, is the Christ, and the Christ is then, what Paul and the church have always asserted, God manifest in the flesh. How true, now, is what Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the Life!" All those passages which speak of Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the only begotten of the Father, become now literally true. Christ is literally the Son of God, begotten of the Father by spiritual generation, and being  born from the immediate communion of the human and divine, is in the strictest sense in which you can use the terms, very God of very God, and very man of very man; and as God, distinguishable, as the church has always contended, from God the Father only as the begotten must needs be distinguishable from the unbegotten.
If I am right in this, Jesus lived not as we do, merely by virtue of communion with other men and nature, but by virtue of immediate and unrestrained communion with God. The Scriptures nowhere represent Jesus as living an independent, and underived life. He is begotten of the Father; he is the Son; and he says expressly that he lives by the Father. I need on this point make no quotations. He never professes to live without the Father, but professes to live always by the Father and in the Father.
Now Jesus being at once God and man in his life, answers precisely the condition of a Mediator between God and men. God and man are nothing to us save so far as they are living. They exist for us only so far forth as they live. Jesus is all to us in his life. The Jesus men saw and communed with was the life of Jesus, the living Jesus, that is to say, the Christ. Being human he was within the reach of human beings, and being at the same time indissolubly God, by communing with him they necessarily communed with God. Whoso touched him, laid his hand on God. "Have I been so long with thee, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? He that hath seen me, hath seen the Father."
It is the life that mediates. Jesus, I have said, so has said the church, saves the world by communicating to it his life, not as a life for them to look at, to contemplate as an example, and to seek to copy, to imitate, but for them literally to live, to be their life. This is now quite explicable. Jesus was placed in the world in the midst of men. Men communed with him while he was in the flesh. Then by the very principle of life already stated, he must have become the objective portion of their life. Then his life literally enters into and becomes an inseparable portion of the life of those human beings, say his disciples, who lived in and by communion with him. He was the object to his disciples; then, the objective portion of their life, by virtue of which their subjective life was developed.
But the human race lives, as we have seen, in solido; all are members of one and the same body, and members one  of another. There is a oneness of life which runs through them all, making them so strictly one, that the whole must feel whatever affects any one. The slightest vibrations in the heart of the least significant member are felt through the mighty heart of the whole. Consequently, the very moment that this new life of Jesus was communicated to the disciples, it was communicated virtually to the race. The disciples became objects with which others communed, and by means of their communion with others, necessarily imparted this life to others, by virtue of that very principle of life by which they had received it, and by virtue of which, when reversed, we have seen the sin of Adam necessarily extended to all his posterity. By the fact that one generation overlaps another, and thus becomes its objective life, the generation in which Christ appeared must necessarily transmit it to its successor, and that successor to its successor, and thus generation carry it on to generation, so long as the succession of generations should last.
This doctrine of the transmission of the Life from generation to generation, is denied by no sect, to my knowledge, except the Baptists, who seem to me to mistake more fundamentally the real character of Christianity, than any other sect to which the Protestant reformation has given birth. In all other churches it is borne witness to by the doctrine of infant baptism. Children are baptized because it is felt that there is a sense in which the children of elect or believing parents are born into the kingdom. Infant baptism, then, has an important meaning. It is the symbol of a vital doctrine of Christianity, which is, to my understanding, rejected by all those who admit only baptism of adults, on voluntary profession of faith. The same doctrine of the transmission of the life from man to man in time and space, by what I have termed spiritual generation, is borne witness to by what is termed apostolic succession. Without meaning to accept this last doctrine, in its episcopal sense, I must say that I see a great truth which it covers. This divine life was communicated to the world through the apostles, and mainly through those who succeeded them in the ministry. A virtue evidently, according to the principle of life, must have been communicated by the apostles to their successors. They who have not received this virtue cannot be true ministers of Jesus. For how can I communicate to others the divine life of Jesus, if I have not myself received that life? The doctrine of apostolic succession  teaches us simply that the church has held that this divine life is communicable from man to man by spiritual generation. Hence with singular propriety has she called her clergy, spiritual fathers. Every true clergyman is the father of his flock, and verily begets in them a true life. The error of the church has been in supposing that this life could be communicated by laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Probably, however, at bottom, nothing more has ever been meant by this, than that the communion between us who are to minister at the altar and the apostles, and through them with Jesus, must be real and unbroken. And if the view I have taken be true, this communion depends on no arbitrary ceremony; it is real, and the very principle of life itself prevents it from being interrupted in any case whatever. Perhaps also, if we were really filled with this divine life, as we should be, we might impart somewhat of it, merely by the laying on of hands.
We see, now, how Jesus can be literally the Mediator between God and men, and how by the fact that he lived in communion with men, he must communicate his life to the world, to human nature, so that it must become henceforth the life of humanity, a new life, by virtue of which the human race comes under a new dispensation, and is able, so to speak, to commence a new series. Assume what we have assumed, that this life is at once human and divine, we can readily perceive that its introduction into the life of humanity would redeem humanity from the corruption which was by Adam, so that what Paul says must be literally true, "As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." And this discloses the necessity of regarding the life of Jesus as supernatural, superhuman. The life of any man would pass into the life of all men as I have shown must have passed the life of Jesus; but unless that life was a life above that of humanity, it could not redeem humanity, and raise it to a higher life. The merit of the life of Jesus, and the reality of the redemption by him, must be then in exact proportion to his divinity. To deny his divinity would be the denial of all in Christianity worth affirming.
Happily this divinity is easily demonstrated; at least, we can easily demonstrate the supernatural, the superhuman character of the life of Jesus. It is historically demonstrable that the life of Jesus was altogether superior to the age in which he lived. He must then have lived in communion  with an object which that age, and therefore nature, could not furnish; that is to say, in communion with an object above the world, above nature, superhuman. Here then is his supernatural character established at once. Then the introduction of his life into humanity, was a redemption of humanity. He becomes then our Redeemer, the Father of a new age.
Nor is this all. By virtue of the fact that the life of Jesus has passed into the life of humanity, humanity is able to commune with God. Through Jesus who is our life, we have access to the Father, may come into communion, as John says, into fellowship, with him. Then we may live in communion with God, and consequently be every moment deriving new life and strength from him. Thus the life of Jesus does not grow fainter and fainter as echoed by generation after generation, but stronger and stronger, as the path of the just grows brighter and brighter into the perfect day. Hence his life becomes more powerful unto life than the sin of Adam was unto death, and so through Jesus we shall be more than conquerors. This is what Paul means when he says, "not as the offense so is the free gift; for if by one man's offense death reigned by one, much more they which receive abundance of grace shall reign through one Jesus Christ." "But where sin abounded grace did much more abound." Life is stronger than death and must be ultimately victorious, especially since by virtue of the indwelling Christ, which is our life, we have access to the Father and can renew our life at the Fountain of Life itself day by day.
I intended to adduce a large number of passages of Scripture in support of these views, but I have not room, nor is it necessary. These passages will readily occur to all who are familiar with the writings of John and Paul. They always speak of Christ and Christianity as the Life. "That," says John, in his first Epistle, "that which was from the beginning which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of Life; (for the Life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you, that eternal Life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) that which we have seen and heard, declare we unto you, that ye may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his son Jesus Christ." This is quite to my purpose. But here  is a passage more so still. Jesus says, "As the living Father hath sent me, and as I live by the Father, even so he that eateth me shall live by me." As the living Father has sent me. The Father hath life in himself, and needeth not others in order to be able to live. This self-living Life hath sent me. As I live by the Father. Here is the assertion of the fact that Jesus lives by communion with the Father, and therefore of the fact that his life is indissolubly God-man. Even so he that eateth me shall live by me. Eating is merely a figurative expression for partaking, receiving. It is not the literal flesh, for the flesh profiteth nothing, that we are to receive and assimilate, but the spirit, the very life of Jesus. To those who thus receive him, he is the object with whom they commune, and they live by him precisely as he lives by the Father; and as he by living by the Father lives the life of God immediately, so they by living by him do live the life of God mediately.
This view gives new meaning to the doctrine of brotherhood. You have done much to make us all feel that what ever our condition in life, or position in society, we are all brothers, members of one and the same great family. But the doctrine I am bringing out goes even further, and shows us that the relation subsisting between men is actually more intimate than that which we ordinarily express by the term brotherhood. All men are not only members of one family, but they are all members one of another. The life of each man is indissolubly in himself and in all other men. The injury done to the life of one man is an injury done to the life of all men: the least significant member, however incrusted with filth or polluted with sin, cannot suffer but the whole body must suffer with him. Regard for our own welfare and disinterested regard for others may combine then to ameliorate the moral, intellectual, and physical condition of mankind. Here is the doctrine that shall give power to the preacher, the philanthropist, the genuine reformer, whether moral or social.
This intimate relation of all men in the unity of one and the same life, explains the Eucharist or Communion. That rite of the church is not merely commemorative of the last supper of Jesus with his disciples. All Christianity clusters around it, centres in it; for all Christianity is in this one word communion. Jesus was the living bread which came down from heaven to give life to the world. This Life, the new Life, Eternal Life, the Life by living which we are  redeemed from sin and united to God, could be communicated to the world, only by virtue of a communion between Jesus and his disciples, and to the rest of mankind in time and space only by communion with them. The great fact here affirmed is that the life of Jesus is communicated to the world, and spread from man to man according to the very principle of human life itself. It becomes human life, and men become one with Jesus, and one with God, just in proportion as it is lived. Then in order to enable all men to live this life, we must seek to facilitate the means of communion for all men in both time and space. This translated into practical life will be the organization of all our domestic and social institutions in obedience to the strictest order and most unrestrained freedom compatible with order. Nay, our domestic and social order, instead of being a check on freedom, should be so organized as to be the support of freedom, or of man's uninterrupted communion with man, according to the normal wants of his nature and his life.
We may now understand and accept what is said of the dignity of human nature. Taken as we find it to-day, in the bosom of Christian civilization, it unquestionably has a recuperative energy, even, if you will, a divine worth. My objection to what you have alleged of human nature, is that you affirm it of human nature originally and universally. You and the church in some respects agree. Both speak of human nature today, without intimating that the mission of Christ has in the least affected it. If human nature were always what you say, I cannot conceive what need there was of a Redeemer; if it be now what the church generally affirms, that is, inherently and totally depraved, I am equally unable to conceive what the Redeemer has done. If there be any truth in the doctrine of life as I have set it forth; if there be any truth in the alleged fact that the Life of Jesus was a new life, a life above the human life of the age in which he came; then assuredly has the coming of Jesus redeemed human nature, and communicated to it higher and diviner elements. Human nature is not to-day what it was before the coming of Jesus. In speaking of human nature, meaning thereby the powers and capacities of man, we must have regard to chronology. It is false, what we say, that human nature is the same in all ages. The law of human life is the same in all ages; but that life is never the same for two successive generations, or else where were the idea of progress, without which the whole plan of Providence  would be inexplicable? To assert that human nature is the same to-day that it was before the coming of Christ, is to "deny the Lord that bought us;" because it either denies that Jesus has come at all, or that he has come to any effect.
The coming of Jesus has communicated a new life to the race, which by means of communion of man with man shall extend to all individuals. This new life has not as yet, we all know, wholly overcome and effaced the death which was by Adam; but it is in the heart of humanity, an incorruptible seed, I had almost said, a seminal principle of divinity. The humanity of to-day has in its life, which is the indwelling Christ, the Christ that was to be with us unto the end of the world, a redeeming power, a recuperative energy, by virtue of which it is able to come into fellowship with the Father, and thus work out its own salvation. The possession of this principle, this energy, this life, literally, as I have endeavored to prove, the Christ, is that wherein human nature differs now from what it was before Jesus came. Then it had in its life no redeeming principle, now it has. This divinity is not it, but Christ formed within it, the hope of glory. Human nature in some sense then I own possesses to-day the divine worth you claim for it; not by virtue of its own inherent right, but by virtue of its union through the law of life to Christ, who is our head, and who is one with God. This union virtually complete, is actually incomplete.
To complete it, and therefore to make all men one in Christ, and through him one with the Father, thus fulfilling his prayer, as recorded in the seventeenth chapter of John's Gospel, is the work to be done, towards which Christian civilization is tending, and to which all true Christians direct all their efforts, individual and social. We may be even far from this glorious result as yet, and we may even be in ourselves weak and inefficient; but the Life is in the world; Christ has entered into the life of humanity; the Word has become Flesh, and dwells among us; and as individuals and as a race we may do all things through Christ strengthening us. We can effect this, because God works in us both to will and to do. By communion with Jesus, we derive life, as I have said, from God himself; we are led by the Spirit of God, are sons of God; clothed upon with a life, majesty, and power, before which the empire of darkness and sin must be as chaff before the wind. We are placed at one with God. All things then are for us. The winds are our  messengers, and flames of fire our ministers. Even the spirits shall obey us. Who can set bounds to our power, since our strength is not ours, but God's; since our life is hid in God, in whom we dwell, and who through his Son dwells in us.
O, sir, I believe it will prove to be literally true, what Jesus said, "he that believeth on me, greater works than these shall he do." We know little of the power, of the moral force with which to overcome the world, true fellowship of man with man in the life and spirit of Jesus will give us. God is for us, who can be against us? Here, sir, is my hope. The world lieth in wickedness; man preys upon man; discordant sounds of wrongs, outrages and grief and death strike my ear on every hand; but I despair not; Christ is our life, because he lives we shall live also; Christ is our life, a true life, and I fear not but life will finally swallow up death in victory, and the new heavens and the new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness, become a glorious reality, an everlasting inheritance for the generations of men.
Longer I would detain you; I would endeavor to show that by virtue of the law of life which binds in one indissoluble whole all the individuals of the race in space, time, and eternity, the mission of Jesus must therefore necessarily be retroactive, extending back to the first born man as well as forward to the latest born; thus giving a meaning to what is said of his preaching to the spirits in prison, to the inhabitants of the world before the flood, and also a meaning to the practice of baptizing for the dead, of which Paul speaks. But this would carry me too far for my present purpose. I can only say, that this law of life appears to me to be a key to most of the mysteries connected with our faith. It throws a flood of light on many, very many points, which have hitherto been dark and perplexing. It gives to the whole Gospel an air of reality; nay, makes it a living reality. We get rid of all types and shadows, symbols and myths, representative, symbolical, or mythical interpretations. We are able now to take the Gospel as it is, with docile minds, and in simplicity of heart, in its plain obvious sense, without any mystical refinement or philological subtlety.
For myself, sir, I value the view I have presented, because it removes all doubts with regard to the origin of the Bible. Here is a doctrine of Life contained in the New Testament, which has been asserted, preached, believed, denied, controverted,  for eighteen hundred years, unproved, unexplained, and pronounced by all the world to be inexplicable, and held to be a mystery by its most devout and enlightened believers. The latest discoveries of philosophy furnish us a key to this mystery, and instantly it is plain, simple, demonstrable. Now, am I to believe that man could have found out and written, what it has taken the race eighteen hundred years of close study to be able to begin to see the reasonableness of? Believe so who can; I cannot. In this simple fact alone, I see that in writing the New Testament there was employed a superhuman mind, and a mind which after eighteen hundred years of growth none of us can equal. For I see there depths which philosophy is yet in no condition to sound. But when every discovery in philosophy but tends to make more apparent and certain the truth of the Book, can I for a moment hesitate to believe that these depths, when sounded, will be found to contain the richest treasures of divine love and wisdom? The Bible is therefore removed at once out of the category of ordinary books, and I can clasp it to my heart as the Word of God, in which is recorded the truths I am to believe, and contained ample authority for asserting them. Though I have come slowly to this conclusion, do not believe that I have come so slowly as my writings would seem to indicate, as they who know me best can readily testify. I have seemed to the world to have altogether less faith in the Bible than I have really had, because, as you well know, I have for these last ten years been laboring to bring under religious influences, a class of minds to whom the Bible is an offense rather than an authority. All I say now is that the view I have presented, shows so much wisdom and beauty in the New Testament, so much and so profound truth, altogether beyond the age in which the book was written, that I feel more deeply than ever its supernatural character; and am more and more willing to yield to it as an authority. I can take it now all simply, and do not feel called upon to refine away any portion of it.
I have now, I feel, a doctrine to preach. I can preach now, not merely make discursions on ethics and metaphysics. The Gospel contains now to me not a cold abstract system of doctrine, a collection of moral apothegms, and striking examples of piety and virtue. It points me to Life itself. Metaphysical studies have indeed brought me, through the blessing of God, to the understanding of the doctrine, but having come to it, it suffices for itself. I now need to know  nothing but Jesus and him crucified. I can shut up all books but the Bible and the human heart, and go forth and preach Christ crucified, to the Jew a stumbling-block, and to the Greek foolishness no doubt, but to them that are called, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. I have something besides abstract speculations and dry moral precepts, or mysterious jargon to offer. I have the doctrine of Life, the Word of Life to proclaim. I have an end to gain; it is to bring men into communion with each other, so that the Word of Life may have free course among them, and be glorified in binding them together in that love wherewith God hath loved us.
I feel too, that I can now go and utter the very word this age demands. That word is COMMUNION. The age is waiting for it. It is sick of divisions, sick of mere forms, wearied and disgusted with mere cant; no better pleased with mere metaphysical speculations; impatient of dry disquisitions, and of cold, naked abstractions. It demands Life and Reality. Away with your formulas; away with your seeming and make-believe! Life and Reality; give us Life and Reality! Life and Reality we can give, for such the Gospel now proves itself to be. The doctrine that man lives by communion with man, and through the life derived from Jesus with God, will bring us together on one platform, in the unity of life itself, and the church will become one in Christ, "from whom the whole body fitly joined together, and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love;"--the church shall in very deed become one and universal, and be the living body of our Lord, and the race will speak with one tongue, have one faith, one Lord, one baptism. The great doctrine of Life may now be preached, and whoso preaches that will bring the world to the Life, and through the Life save it from death and raise it to God.
Nor is this all. With this doctrine of life, I feel that I may go forth in a higher name than my own. I was wrong some time since, as I was understood, in saying that man should not presume to speak to man authoritatively in the name of God, although I was right in my own thought. What I wished to protest against was, an artificial priesthood, the members of which by virtue of their membership, should deem themselves authorized to speak to us, nay, to command us in the name of God. My protest was against  man-made priests, priests after the order of Aaron, whose authority is in their gown and band. These were the priests I said we must destroy, and for saying which my wise countrymen abused me from one end of the Union to the other. But priests in this sense, I say now, away with. They are dumb dogs that will not bark. They are foolish builders that daub with untempered mortar; blind leaders of the blind; spoilers not feeders of the flock. Yes, away with them, if such there be. Let us have priests after the order of Melchisedec; priests anointed with an unction from the Holy One, whose tongues are touched with a live coal from off God's altar; whose authority is engraved by the great head of the church on their very hearts. These are the priests that we want, and the only ones we want,--priests of God's calling, not man's.
Nevertheless no man should attempt to preach unless he may speak in a higher name than his own. Man is a poor, frail worm of dust, and what is his authority worth? Let me speak in my own name, who will hear, nay, who ought to hear? I feel, and so does every man feel, when he rises to preach, that is, if he have any humility, that he is insufficient and altogether unworthy. How can I speak? These are older, wiser, more learned, nay, it may be, better than I. Have I the presumption to stand up to instruct, to warn, admonish, rebuke, exhort? Nay, I cannot. I cannot preach; I can only reason, discuss, or dispute; I must not speak from the height of the Christian pulpit, as one having authority, but from the level of the multitude I address. Every minister, worthy of the name, has felt this. For years I felt it, and never pretended to preach. I addressed the people who came to hear me. I discoursed to them as well as I could, but did not preach. I could not preach. I had no authority to preach; except the laying on of the hands of the presbytery, and that I felt was not sufficient. But now I feel that I have authority, because now I can say "the doctrine is not mine." I have God's truth to preach, and I go to preach it not in my own name, nor in the name of any man, nor any set of men, but on the authority of God's Word. So far as I am true to the doctrine, so far as I am faithful to the Life, I know God will speak through me, and give efficacy to the word.
More I would say, but enough. I have addressed you with freedom, but I trust not with disrespect. I have spoken freely of myself, for I have wished to make certain  explanations to the public concerning my faith. I have spoken earnestly, for the view which I have presented of the mediatorial Life of Jesus has deeply affected me. I have been verging toward it for years; some of my friends tell me they had obtained it some time ago from my public communications; but I myself have not seen it clearly until within a few weeks. Had I seen it earlier, the obscurities and seeming inconsistencies with which I have been charged, I think would never have occurred. I have found it a view which clears up for me my own past, and enables me to preserve the continuity between the past of humanity, its present, and its future. More than all this; it has touched my heart, and made me feel an interest in the Gospel, in my fellow men, and in the upbuilding of God's kingdom on the earth, deep as my interest has long been in these subjects, which I have never known before. What before was mere thought has now become love; what was abstraction has become life; what was merely speculation has become downright, living earnestness. God is to me my Father; Jesus my life; mankind my brethren. I see mankind practically divided, worrying and devouring each other, and my heart bleeds at the wrong they do each other; and I have no thought, no wish but to bring them back to unity and fraternity in Christ Jesus; so that we may all be one. My early profession I therefore resume, with a love for it I never felt before. I resume it because my heart is full and would burst could it not overflow. I must preach the Gospel. Necessity is laid upon me, and woe is me if I do not.
Forgive the liberty I have taken, and believe me, as ever,
Yours, with sincere respect,
O. A. BROWNSON.
Source: The Works of Orestes A. Brownson, vol. IV, edited by Henry F. Brownson (Detroit, 1901), 140-172. Originally published in pamphlet form (Boston, 1842).