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their traditional faith, when in fact their atheism is but a purer faith in God; or thinking themselves pantheists when they have merely reached a more suitable theism; or thinking themselves materialists when they have only denied a false spiritualism. The question of Christian reality is not settled by reference to speculative opinions. The theoretical atheist, with his congregation of theoretical atheists, preaching, for those to whom such preaching is acceptable, a crusade against the godless theism of ecclesiastical theology, may be serving the true God truly, although for us the fashion of his service may be any thing but true. The theoretical pantheist, in like manner, may belong, in the providence of God, to the period of transition from one theistic conception to another; and even his preaching of pantheism may serve an important purpose. The theoretical materialist also, who finds his fit audience, and delivers his word, may play a necessary part in the exegesis of the profound revelation of God to the spirit of man. And if all these not merely nor chiefly inculcate their speculative views, but spend their strength in great part upon teaching justice and mercy, and humble conformity to the perfect law of pure right, who dares say that they have no lot nor part in the Christian Reality? The life of God in the soul of man does not disdain men of mistaken opinions; otherwise the whole of even Christian history would be little else than a field of the dead, and we ourselves, perhaps, stumblers upon the grave's mouth. The Holy Ghost is exceedingly tolerant, with a tolerance which it is hard for men to comprehend, and hardest of all for them to imitate.
The customary judgment pronounced in this matter is Pharisaic, and utterly false. Especially in this is it signally false, - in that it takes no account of the presence of the Christian Reality when it finds the Christian Formality absent. We have put, in what seems to us a true light, the extreme case of wide departure from the path of Christian speculation, and have insisted that this departure is not ground for judgment of disfellowship on our part. But, in the case of less-wide departure from the traditions of Christianity,—the case of men who set aside the customary opinions respecting Christ and the
Bible, but remain devout theists and ardent spiritualists, – toleration is hardly less difficult; nevertheless, it is absolute duty. Not only have these men an absolute right of free conviction, and to teach any people which will accept their teaching, but their teaching is demanded by a very considerable number of those with whom Christian faith is a precious inheritance. Those who care to know the fact can easily prove, that very many intelligent people, of the common class, have, in the natural unfolding of their Christian faith, rejected Christ and the Bible, as mediators between themselves and the life and light of God. The pious believers who send in their complaints of radical outrages upon their Christian sensibilities, are not the only persons whom the ministry must consider. There are some in every Unitarian congregation, and in many congregations there are considerable numbers, who rejoice in no words so much as in those which omit Christ in presenting the love of God; while not a few absolutely exult in those “ destructive” words which set Christ aside as an object of religious faith. Love to man and love to God fill, with very many devout souls to-day, the whole sphere of religion. The result of honest study, with not a few sincere Christians, is that Jesus was no more absolutely perfect than Paul or John the Baptist; that, on the side of “the natural man,” he was deceived by his Messianic hopes; and that only in the victory of " the spiritual man ” in him, when he gave up his own wish to the will of God, was he a true Christ, or anointed son of God. This may be wrong; but those who hold it are not therefore bad men. They firmly believe it right, and themselves the more Christian for honestly seeing and avowing it, inasmuch as it seems to them to unfold, in new power, the thought of “God with us," and to be the phase of Christian development which the providence of God has intended for our day and generation. The pious complaint of wounded sensibilities is unmanly and unfraternal. If an honest brother earnestly resists our opinion, and with all his might criticizes the method and results of our faith, let us face him without whimpering, and reason with him without bitterness. Our faith is not our private property, that we should resent all VOL. LXXXIII. - NEW SERIES, VOL. IV. NO. I.
question of it; nor is a faith worth having, if so frail that we need to shield it from the shock of discussion. Conceited babblers, crazy enthusiasts, superficial wranglers, and insincere traders in new notions, we may avoid, or even scourge out of the temple; but these “men and brethren," whose only crime is that they have honestly adopted, and earnestly contend for, convictions of truth in the interpretation of Christianity which contravene opinions dear to us, have the same rights, and deserve the same respect, in the confession and ministry of faith, which they would be granted if their opinions were not heretical.
The demand of our time, for the making of ministers, is a thorough re-organization of our system of education for the ministry, upon the principles of entire freedom of conviction, and the supreme importance of the realities of religion apart from the forms. The teachers of a school of divinity should be men who can meet all sorts of minds, and every phase of thought, in a spirit of sympathy, without fear and without anger at any varieties of speculation, or any supposed results of study. They should be men of the most thorough discipline in study and speculation, that they may be able, in free and fair conference with their pupils, to assist them from the resources of sound reason and accurate scholarship. And, with all and above all, they should be men full of enthusiasm for the realities of religion, - prophets, rather than dogmatists and formalists; men, indeed, of clear conceptions and vigorous thought, but, even more, men full of the sacred passions of duty and of trust, of holiness and of hope.
The failure of Unitarianism, at this moment, is in its schools of divinity. They have only the most inadequate endowment. A body so rich as the Unitarian body is, ought to place not less than a full million of money at the disposal of its two schools of faith. These schools are admirably located, and are hopeful foundations; but they lack almost all the elements of institutions worthy of the time. There are not men enough in the seats of instruction to create the atmosphere, much less fill the chairs, of a true school of faith. Look at Cambridge, with its one overworked man of all duties, its one professor of “Sacred
Letters, and its two-hours-a-week lecturer on the history of Christianity! A full corps of the best men that can be found should be secured, to teach the humanities and the divinity demanded by the time. First of all, our young men and women must be taught the realities of religion. An accomplished man has been hired to read lessons in Christian history two hours in the week, when he should have been asked to devote himself entirely to the exegesis of those realities of revelation in the reason and conscience of man, of the interpretation of which he might have been so great a master. The future should make amends for the past. The masters of spiritual experience must attempt, in our schools, their best work. Our students must be stimulated to think, and instructed in the methods of sound thought. Logic and philosophy must be no more lost arts among us. All the fields of inquiry must be faithfully worked, and all the best results of honest study presented in our schools. Especially must the history of humanity, and the whole literature of the race, be opened to the inquirer, to disclose all the signs and wonders of God present with man. The accredited traditions of our churches may lose something, many pious conceits may perish, theology may cease to be a thing apart from the reason and conscience of man; but the Christian ministry will make an immense gain, and will become that which the truest spirit of our time, all rational and humane as it is, imperatively demands.
ART. VIII. – THE MASSACHUSETTS BOARD OF STATE
CHARITIES, AND THE WESTBOROUGH REFORM SCHOOL.
Reports of the Board of State Charities, together with the Secretary's
Reports, for the years 1865, 1866, 1867. Boston: Wright & Potter.
MASSACHUSETTS is held, with some justice, to have been a pioneer State in many of the ideas and methods that are shaping our higher American civilization. Nevertheless, in
several very important steps, she has only followed where others have led the way. In securing the legal rights of women, for example, Rhode Island and several other States were a few years in advance. The present law of evidence is due, more than to any other, to the influence of Judge Appleton, the present enlightened chief justice of Maine, in bringing about important alterations in the statutes of his own State, afterwards adopted here. Again, the position which Massachusetts has taken, and still holds, in the vexed question of prohibitory legislation respecting the sale and use of intoxicating drinks, is the position taken first in the famous “ Maine Law" of 1851. And, in the organization of a Board of Public Charities, it is the example set in the great State of New York that (with some modifications) Massachusetts is content to follow.
The Board of Education and the Board of State Charities are the finest examples we have of that ideal aim, in the legislation of a true republic, which makes it the responsible guardian of the higher interests of its citizens. They make a province of legislation which is held in some doubt by such thinkers as Mr. Mill, and definitely excluded by Herbert Spencer; yet one, perhaps, on which the pride, hope, and faith of our people have staked more than on any other. They embody some of the very noblest traditions of New England. They are the interpretation, in our century, of those devout and lofty purposes of a Christian commonwealth, which made the inspiration of the Pilgrim colony, and were at the very heart of English Puritanism. If the scheme of government which they imply — wise, enlightened, humane, caring for every moral as well as material interest of the State - could be perfectly carried out, they would make the nearest approach ever reached, or we may even say attempted, to the true ideal of a Church which should be the soul, as the political organism is the body, of the republic. In actual practice, on the other hand, this work of conscience and humanity, when undertaken by the State, has to contend with many of the difficulties which in this century make a State Church an impossibility, or else a mockery; and we have to acknowledge, that our experience hitherto has con