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have laboriously analyzed it, but as belonging to the native simplicity of a very imperfect, yet unpretending, character. It is far, too, from being a something else which sometimes would ape its semblance.
its semblance. It is not the worse than Pharisaical spirit that loves to say:
“I am a plain, blunt man,
That only speak right on; I am no hypocrite; I make no profession; I say no long prayers; I fast not twice a day; I am no church-member; I thank God I am not like some other men, sanctimonious, bigoted, hypocritical, or even as that Pharisee."
We do not know that the author had it distinctly in view, but the character of which we speak is there, - all the better drawn, perhaps, because he did not have it prominently in mind when he made the picture. It comes out of the other elements he has used in the composition all the more vividly, perhaps, than would have been the case had he said to himself, “ Now I will paint such a man.” Had he so designed expressly, he would doubtless have overdone, - the sketch would have been artificial and untrue. The writer has been drawn to make the picture, just as the reader has been led to see it, — from its admirable keeping, its perfect consistency with the disciplinary scenes through which his story derives its ever-sustained, harmonious interest.
A passage from the book furnishes the best possible illustration of what we mean by this spiritual honesty. Parkinson is moody, low-spirited, and inclined to be sentimental. In this state he says:
“I was interrupted by happy sounds from the next room. They proceeded from little Charley and Anna, who were singing together one of their Sunday-school hymns to a charming air. ..... I had never been what is called religious. I went regularly once on Sunday to church, but was not a member. I cannot say that I had any habit of prayer, although I was a conscientious believer in the truths of our sacred religion. . . A sweet solemnity took possession of me; and when they had finished, tears were in my eyes. ... I pressed my daughter to my heart, while now the tears flowed freely down my face. I rose and walked up and down the room. • Miserable hypocrite,' I said to myself, “ you are claiming for yourself to-day an exalted religious
feeling ; say rather it is a morbid sentimentality arising from disappointment in business.. Hallo! stop that! Be a man. Do not insult your Maker with this cast-off performance. Wait awhile till things go smooth with you ; then, if you want to be pious, and good, and all that sort of thing, you can have the opportunity. Shocked by this sudden revulsion, the idea that feelings which I regarded as sacred were nothing but a phase of low spirits threw me back on myself again. Alice was still in the room, regarding me with painful solicitude. “Then,' I said, “ in the society of your family, in the honest determination to bear what comes with courage and fortitude, in the sifting the chaff out of yourself, and preserving what wheat remains for the harvest, - that is a better work, just at present, than indulging in a sentimental whine over your sins."
It is the spiritual truthfulness rather than the false theology of this passage with which, critically, we have here to do. Mr. Kimball has a way of letting his characters talk after their own fashion, and, if they utter any sentiment at which good people might be shocked, he corrects it in a note which he inserts under the assumed title of “Editor of Memoirs." There is undoubtedly self-righteousness in what Parkinson says. There is a wrong view of God, and a mistake as to the speaker's power to recommend himself to his “ Maker” by future good conduct, or in the thought that he must earn something before he can be pious. The author, or the editor, as we must call him, corrects this admirably, and most orthodoxly, in the subjoined marginal note.
“We think Mr. Parkinson unnecessarily severe with himself. That we neglect to turn to God for support until other sources fail, is no evidence that our feelings are not sincere. Although it seems ungracious to seek our Maker only after every earthly hope has perished, still this is just what He tells us we may do. Doubtless, with many, their feelings will not stand the test of returning prosperity. But we have always felt that, whether genuine or not, they forcibly illustrate man's recognition of a HIGHER POWER. — Editor of Memoirs."
a The doctrine being thus happily corrected, we turn now to that other aspect, - its spiritual truthfulness. The speaker
— does not know himself, but he means to be and appear, both before God and to himself, no other than himself. What he says about a “sentimental whining over his sins” some would VOL. XCV. — NO. 196.
regard as very irreligious, both in thought and language. “ Nothing,” they would say, “could be more gracious and hopeful than such a feeling of tenderness, and produced, too, by such a touching and beautiful cause, - those dear little children and their pious Sunday-school hymns.” They feel utterly disappointed, shocked it may be, at the result. “Why, this was the very place to have had the man converted.” It would have been then, we reply, most likely a false conversion, a sentimental cheating of himself, and an attempt to cheat his Maker. It would have made, perhaps, no better a Christian of him than Golding. He, too, might have been moved, and doubtless often was moved, by hearing children singing their Sunday-school hymns. Perhaps that was the very way in which he was converted. Even the hard Golding may have had his sentimental moods. He could be touched by the eloquent and the tender. He was fond of good preaching, doubtless, and may have been often melted into a placid Sunday-evening spirituality after listening to “ the lovely song and the pleasant voice” of one who had described the beauty of the Christian life and the odiousness of Mammon. He might have had all this experience, and yet remained the hard, worldly man he was when “ he took his fellow-servant by the throat, and said unto him, Pay me that thou owest.” Such sentimentalities may have their value in certain aspects. They may aid religion when religion actually exists, just as the solemn music of the organ may aid worship if the worshipping spirit be previously there to receive it. But as a substitute for worship, or regarded as religion itself, they are worse than worthless. To have had Parkinson converted in this way would have made him no better a Christian, or it might have made him a very poor Christian ; but, on the other hand, the seeming process, though far from being hypocritical in the gross sense of the word, might have done him a positive spiritual injury. It might have marred his native manliness, – which although fallen has still its fair proportions, — without imparting any heavenly grace. Whether he ought not to have had sterner convictions is not now the question ; but he saw the shallowness, the deceptiveness, of these emotions, and he threw them away. Some may object to the author's language, and find fault with the “ sentimental whine”; but he has drawn a picture as true as it is valuable.
It is timely, moreover. These are the days of an æsthetic religionism. It is sought for its emotions. There is a truth in such a tendency which makes it all the more dangerous from its accompanying deceptiveness. We ought to be moved, we must be moved; but when emotion is sought for its own sake, it may become as selfish as the love of money, or the love of fame. We desire the spiritual luxury, and, if it comes not otherwise, it must be got up. The soul is not directly hypocritical in this; but unconsciously, almost, it seeks to be what it is not, as we have before defined the strange expression. It does not mean to present outwardly a false appearance of the spirit within, - that is the grosser and far less usual hypocrisy, - but it would make this world within look different to itself, look different to its Maker, without actually being, or becoming, what it can never be through any efforts of its own, or any self-moving spiritual life.
The cause of this strange deception is our mistaking the abstract admiration of goodness, our "assent” to it, yea, “our
, delight in it after the inward man,” for goodness itself. All men have this admiration, and even love, of virtue, - at least in the redeemable state. Its utter loss may be the very thing which makes the great and final perdition. All men have good principles. The vilest wretch on earth is a lover of right, a sincere and hearty defender of right, when it is regarded as the antagonist, not to himself, or his selfish individuality, but to an abstract wrong. Let the worst man read a fictitious story, and he is wounded if it does not come out right. He even feels a kind of indignation, as though there had been some wrong done to him, if the good are not rewarded, and the evil punished. Such is this abstract love of truth, per se, that even thieves and murderers might be trusted to make a code of laws for a Utopian community. They would make good laws, — all the better, perhaps, from their larger experience of the evils most to be guarded against.
So is it, especially, in the placid contemplation of moral states. The picture is beautiful. We love it, we fancy we are it, when“ still far wide,” away off in that “region of dis
similitude” to which Augustine compares this strange anomaly in our mysterious human nature. The celestial object is so bright, so magnified, so very near it seems,
that we could almost touch it with our hands; but alas ! millions of miles are but feeble measures of our real distance. Even though the enrapturing scene were near, we mistake our true position in relation to it. From the Mount of Worldliness, whereon we stand, we look over to the Mount of Holiness, as it rises before us with its vision of the Land of Beulah. We think to pass the narrow, intervening space on some gentle
bridge of sighs,” or a step would take us from the one side to the other, and that step, we sometimes fancy, has been made. We think we are there, when in truth we must get down from our false height, - far down in the valley of humiliation, before we can begin to ascend the opposite hill; and then it is a steep and toilsome path,
“ μακρος δε και όρθιος οίμος επ' αυτήν.”
“Strait is the gate and narrow is the way that leadeth unto life.” We cannot go from evil to good but through pain, ου γαρ οίόν τε άλλως αδικίας απαλλάττεσθαι, - « for it is im
, 6 possible for us to be otherwise delivered from unrighteousness,” — o'x oióv Te,- it is morally impossible. In saying
τε, this, the wisest of the Greeks knew nothing of that great mystery, the part borne in our salvation by the sufferings of another; but he taught, even as Christ and Paul teach, that each individual, too, has his struggle. “No cross, no crown," is still the Christian's motto. It is dià Oxixews, “ through hard rubbing,” – through “tribulation,” – that “we enter the kingdom of God.” We do not say that all other experience is false, – it does seem, sometimes, as though some men stepped placidly over without cross or conflict, — but there is danger of delusion. Some theologians maintain that, unlike things without, the desire of moral good is the actual possession of it. But it would seem to be contrary to Scripture, as well as to a true experience. It may rather be as “ when a a thirsty man dreameth, and behold he drinketh; he awaketh, and lo, he is empty, his soul is faint, he still hath appetite."
This sentimental pietism is deeply infecting the age, and