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to give the mind power over the outward world, to make it superior to events, to suffering, to material nature, to persecution, to death. I see it everywhere aiming to give the mind power over itself, to invest it with inward sovereignty, to call forth within us a mighty energy for qur own elevation. I meet in Christianity only discoveries of a vast, bold, illimitable character ; fitted and designed to give energy and expansion to the soul. By its doctrine of a universal Father, it sweeps away all the barriers of sect, party, rank and nation, in which men have laboured to shut up their love ; makes us members of an unbounded family; and establishes sympathies between man and the whole intelligent creation. In the character of Christ, it sets before us moral perfection, that greatest and most quickening miracle in human history, a purity, which shows no stain or touch of the earth, an excellence unborrowed, unconfined, bearing no impress of any age or any nation, the very image of the universal Father; and it encourages us, by assurances of God's merciful aid, to propose this enlarged, unsullied virtue, as the model and happiness of our moral nature. By the cross of Christ, it sets forth the spirit of self-sacrifice with an energy, never known before, and in thus crucifying selfishness, frees the mind from its worst chain. By Christ's resurrection, it links this short life with eternity, discovers to us in the fleeting present, the germ of an endless future, reveals to us the human mind ascending to other worlds, breathing a freer air, forming higher connections, and summons us to a force of holy purpose becoming such a destination. To conclude, Christianity everywhere sets before us God' in the character of an infinitely free, rich, boundless grace, in a clemency which is not overcome by evil, but overcomes evil with good ;" and a more animating and ennobling truth, who of us can conceive ? I have hardly glanced at what Christianity contains. But who does not see that it was sent from heaven, to call forth, and exalt human nature, and that this is its great glory ?-Works, p. 388-390.
There is no new doctrine here. There is no heresy, that we are aware of. But there is the manifestation of a new spirit in. religion. It rings upon the ear like the sound of a trumpet. It is a voice to shake the earth. Well may the writer say that he has " no anxiety to wear the livery of any party.” The low ambition would be disappointed, if he had. Sectarianism would no more own him than he owns it. Sectarianism and mental freea dom can never co-exist. If his mission be the establishment of the one, he must assail and if possible destroy the other. “ For this, amongst the rest, was I ordained." Let him
preserve his own independence then, that he may the better achieve that of others. He seenis fully aware of the importance of so doing. “I fear the shackles which a party connexion imposes. I wish to regard myself as belonging, not to a sect, but to the community of free minds, of lovers of truth, of followers of Christ, both on earth and in heaven. I desire to escape the narrow walls of a particular church, and to stand under the open sky, in the broad light, looking far and wide, seeing with my own eyes, hearing with my own ears, and following truth meekly, but resolutely, however arduous or solitary be the path in which she leads. That is the true determination, “ thy foot there." In hoc signo vinces.
What a magnificent thing is religion when thus exhibited. This is not the place to go into the theological proof of the correctness of the exhibition; to give chapter and verse for it; but the reader will find such proof forthcoming, if he refer to our author for it; in the sermons especially it will be found in abundance. The very statement, assuming the divine origin of Christianity, carries presumptive proof along with it. There is the image and superscription of divinity. Why have not priests told us this before? Why do not preachers of all denominations proclaim it now? Because the honester portion of them have been slaves as well as enslavers; and of the others, power was the object, not truth and freedom.
Dr. Channing has taken the right course to make intelligent and true hearted men believe Christianity, and love Christianity. He deals with them in a frank and manly way. He exposes the real causes of their doubt, disgust, and alienation. He does not call names and fulminate judgments. He enters into no compromise with error, makes no appeal to prejudice, gives no quarter to imposition. He is a single-hearted man; and his sole aim is the glory of religion in elevating and blessing humanity. While he would rescue theology from the withering grasp of professional theologians; he also sees and censures the culpable neglect of it by those who should have interposed to preserve or rescue it from the debasement. We extract his description of the evil; not only as being in itself just and impressive, but because his strong sense of that evil is a clue to much of the peculiarity of his own character, preaching, and writings :
It is, we fear, an unquestionable fact, that religion, considered as an intellectual subject, is in a great measure left to a particular body of men, as a professional concern; and the fact is as much to be wondered at as deplored. It is wonderful that any mind, and especially a superior one, should not see in religion the highest object of thought. It is wonderful that the infinite God, the noblest theme of the universe, should be considered as a monopoly of professed theologians; that a subject, so vast, awful, and exalting, as our relation to the Divinity, should be left to technical men, to be handled so much for sectarian purposes. Religion is the property and dearest interest of the human race. Every man has an equal concern in it. It should
be approached with an independence on human authority. It should be rescued from all the factions which have seized
it particular possession. Men of the highest intellect should feel, that, if there be a God, then his character and our relation to him throw all other subjects into obscurity, and that the intellect, if not consecrated to him, can never attain its true use, its full dimensions, and its proper happiness. Religion, if it be true, is central truth, and all knowledge, which is not gathered round it, and quickened and illuminated by it, is hardly worthy the name. To this great theme we would summon all orders of mind, the scholar, the statesman, the student of nature, and the observer of life. It is a subject to which every faculty and every acquisition may pay tribute, which may receive aids and lights from the accuracy of the logician, from the penetrating spirit of philosophy, from the intuitions of genius, from the researches of history, from the science of the mind, from physical science, from every branch of criti. cism, and, though last not least, from the spontaneous suggestions and moral aspirations of pure but unlettered men.
• It is a fact which shocks us, and which shows the degraded statė of religion, that not a few superior minds look down upon it as a subject beneath their investigation. Though allied with all knowledge, and especially with that of human nature and human duty, it is regarded as a separate and inferior study, particularly fitted to the gloom of a convent, and the seclusion of a minister. Religion is still confounded, in many and in gifted minds, with the jargon of monks, and the subtleties and strifes of theologians. It is thought a mystery, which, far from coalescing, wars with our other knowledge. It is never ranked with the sciences which expand and adorn the mind. It is regarded as a method of escaping future ruin, not as a vivifying truth through which the intellect and heart are alike to be invigorated and enlarged. Its bearing on the great objects of thought and the great interests of life is hardly suspected. This degradation of religion into a technical study, this disjunction of it from morals, from philosophy, from the various objects of liberal research, has done it infinite injury, has checked its progress, has perpetuated errors which gathered round it in times of barbarism and ignorance, has made it a mark for the sophistry and ridicule of the licentious, and has infused a lurking scepticism into many powerful understandings. Nor has religion suffered alone. The whole mind is darkened by the obscuration of this its central light. Its reasonings and judgments become unstable through want of this foundation to rest upon. Religion is to the whole sphere of truth, what God is to the universe, and in dethroning it, or confining it to a narrow range, we commit very much such an injury on the soul, as the universe would suffer, were the Infinite Being to abandon it, or to contract his energy to a small province of his creation.'--Essay on Fenelon, pp. 55–58.
It will appear, by the extracts which we have already made, not only that Dr. Channing considers freedom and independence of thought to be essentially connected with religion, but also that he regards the whole frame and structure of revelation, and indeed of nature, as put together on the principle of utility. That is to say, he regards whatever is external as framed and arranged for the purpose of ministering to the greatest ultimate good of the mind within us. There is, in his theology, no object ulterior to the happiness of man. He does not think the Deity like Jonathan Edwards, who, as Robert Hall once said, would have delighted in having the groans of the damned set to music and sung to him. All things in earth, heaven, and hell; all natural objects and all supernatural works; all history, science, and experience; every thing seems to him to be created and ordained that it may minister to the developement of the faculties of the mind, and through that developement to the production of the noblest, the purest, the largest, and the most lasting happiness of humanity. On this principle he expounds all precepts and enforces all duties. There are no arbitrary obligations for the performance of useless and unprofitable acts, in his moral philosophy. He denies the validity of the sentence of divorce, pronounced by so many ecclesiastical courts, between religion and morality. He thinks that revelation has joined them with its blessing, and that the union is indissoluble. If this be as true as it is obviously good, and of that we cannot doubt, how much time, and labour, and money, and suffering, are wasted by almost every class of religionists.
There is a marvellous combination in Dr. Channing of the maximum of fearlessness with the minimum of offensiveness, No man can be more free from whatever indicates, or tends to excite, the Odium Theologicum. His boldness is often very startling, even to those who are not accustomed to be startled easily We do not refer now to his doctrinal tenets, which are those of a not very numerous party, but to various positions for which he is personally responsible, and which seem likely to excite prejudice and animosity amongst all parties. An instance may be adduced from the last of his publications which has come to hand, the “Remarks on Associations." The design of this pamphlet is to check “ the disposition which now prevails to form Associations and to accomplish all objects by organized masses.” He points out, with great acuteness, the evils incidental to this popular mode of procedure, and the cases in which those evils overbalance the particular good which the cooperation is intended to accomplish. After discussing the philosophy of the subject, he investigates the merits of several of the most flourishing Associations in Boston and its neighbour hood ; and amongst the rest, those formed for enforcing the ob
servance of the Sabbath. Now if there be one subject on which, more than another, the religionists of Great Britain and America are intolerantly superstitious, it is on this. A traveller who arrives in Edinburgh late on the Saturday night, and negleets the precaution of taking his trunk out of the office, must sanctify the sabbath in his dirty shirt; and the conscience of the Corporation will not (or did not, very recently) allow the removal of filth from the streets on the Sunday morning, however early the hour or noiseless the manner of that very needful operation. In London, the distresses of the nation have been ascribed to the profanation of the Sabbath, at a very numerous and respectable meeting, both of conformists and non-conformists; where, moreover, a zealous gentleman was greatly applauded for having attempted to prevail on his Majesty's Secretary of State for the Home Department to close the parks against the citizens on Sundays. Every sinner who goes to glory by the gallows, and truly it seems to be the King's highway to heaven, is made to confess to Sabbath-breaking as the origin of his crimes. In New England the popular feeling is strong and active on this matter. Various Associations have been formed aiming, amongst other things, not only to suppress all travelling on Sundays, but even to stop the mails. Now, considering his situation, we think it shews a high degree of moral courage in Dr, Channing to face, as he does, this sin-creating, idleness-promoting, comfort-destroying, conscience-perverting superstition. He has done so most manfully. To prevent mistake; which it will prevent, but not misrepresentation and calumny, as he must very well know; he condemns any idea of " the change of Sunday into a working day," and declares his conviction that “the first day of the week should be separated to the commemoration of Christ's resurrection, to public worship, to public Christian instruction, and in general to what are called the means of religion.” After some very pertinent and conclusive reasoning on sabbatical obseryances, he throws out the following suggestions, which we read with admiration for their boldness, respect for their sound sense, thankfulness for their useful tendency, and with the wish, if not the hope, that the religious world may grow wise enough to adopt them.
• We have thus considered some of the particular purposes of the Associations for promoting the Observance of the Sabbath. We say their particular purposes. We apprehend there is a general one, which lurks in a portion of their members, which few perhaps have stated very distinctly to themselves, but which is not therefore the less real, and of which it is well to be forewarned. We apprehend that some, and not a small party, have a vague, instinctive feeling, that the