« PreviousContinue »
ARTICLE IX.-NOTICES OF NEW BOOKS.
SUBSTANCE AND SUadow.*_This book is admirable for the excellence of its typography, and astonishing for much besides, chiefly as it prompts the question, how its author, who is obviously rich in varied accomplishments of knowledge and culture, could, by any possibility, suffer himself to write and publish such an extravaganza as this. We call it an extravaganza, and it is so extravagant as to be by this very circumstance well nigh exempted from all responsibility to criticism. Indeed, it is next to impossible to describe the book or even to give an analysis of its contents.
The author, by his own confession, was trained in the school of strictest orthodoxy, and was so much disgusted at what IIenry More somewhere calls “the unhandsome faces put upon Christianity” by its theological expositors, as to be driven through a violent reaction to accept the fantastical and bizarre interpretations imposed upon it by Emmanuel Swedenborg. In the violence of his zeal he was led to accept the prophet of the New Jerusalem Church, not only as a theological but as a philosophical guide. He finds in him the one teacher worthy to be called “The Philosopher,” and in some of his utterances, great principles that explain the mysteries of the Universe.
The Substance and Shadow of this volume are Spiritual Union with God on the one hand, and Religion and Morality on the other. Religion and Morality, as commonly conceived, are the Shadow, i. e. all the so-called moral distinctions by which man conceives himself to have an independent existence or self-hood, and to be responsible to himself, and to be condemned by and displeasing to God as sinful, are simply phenomenal and transitional. They have no real validity and significance. They are designed simply to teach man the vanity of all self-reliance and separation from God, and to bring him to find his rest, his perfection, and the
* Substance and Shadow: or Morality and Religion in their Relation to Life. An Essay upon the Physics of Creation. By HENRY JAMES. Boston: Ticknor & Fields. 1863. 12mo. pp. 539. [T. H. Pease. Price, $1.50.] VOL. XXII.
attainment of his destiny in his Spiritual connection with the Divine. Spiritual dependence on and Union with God, are therefore the Substance, because they are the end for which Morality and Religion are the preparation. This view, as applied to the Physics of Creation, greatly ameliorates, if it does not entirely exclude, the evil and guilt of sin. Indeed, it seems to transform sin into a Positive Good, as being a necessary event and condition in the Divine plan, valuable and desirable for the good to which it leads, as by the bitter experiences which flow from this imagined isolation man is led to find his all in yielding up his selfhood and in becoming the vessel or channel through which the Divine Love henceforward flows.
This is the fruitful text out of which this volume is expanded, and from which it proceeds.
But let not the reader suppose that the author employs his chief energies in elucidating and defending this Thesis. Nothing is farther from the truth. Only a small portion of the volume consists of the discussion of his professedly main topic. The discussion seems rather to be used as a vehicle and a pretext for all manner of violent criticism upon the current theology and religion, if it be not rather savage vituperation and broad caricature. Mixed with this, is a long-continued and reiterated fusilade upon Kant, Sir William Hamilton, and Mansel. Viewed as a Satire the book is very clever and powerful. It evidences genius and cultivation, which are only too sadly degraded when the satire becomes caricature. Many of the criticisms on Kant and Hamilton are exceedingly acute and powerfully stated, despite the drawbacks arising from their extravagance of language. If used in the service and defense of a better philosophy, they would do great credit to their originator.
As for the profound Theodicy which Mr. James finds in Sweden. borg, we have only this single remark to offer upon it. That Swedenborg was a scientific genius no man in his senses seeks to deny. That he applied this genius with great acuteness in erposing many defects in the received theology of his time, and gave prominence to certain important ethical and spiritual aspects of Christianity, it would be unjust and ungrateful not to confess But that with all his wisdom and insight, he was the victim of the grossest and absurdest hallucinations that ever turned the head of Saint or Sage, is evident to all men except the select few who fail
to distinguish his wisdom from his vagaries. But even these seem to betray the consciousness of some weakness in their confidence in the claims of their Magnus Apollo, by the chronic irritation with which they are affected towards the rest of the Christian world. Some of them, indeed, are bland in speech, acute in criticism, and even profound in their discernment of special ethical and spiritual truths. But many are distinguished by an acrid contempt for all who are not so happy as to agree with them, while, for unrestrained license of vituperation, they would be fit candidates for the ducking stool of other days, were it not for the splendor of the genius which they choose to apply to uses so unworthy.
CRITICAL HISTORY OF FREE Thought.*_This volume is a timely contribution to our Theological Literature, which will be welcomed by a large number of thinking and reading men. It occupies a field which, so far as we know, has never been covered by any single English writer. Portions of it has been ably considered, as by Leland in his Deistical Writers, but the whole field has never yet been attempted till now. The vastness of the subject compelled a very rapid consideration of the several portions, and excluded the possibility of any but a very brief treatment of single authors. The writer, who undertakes to describe the attacks on the Christian Faith which were made in the First Centuries, and to do justice to the various forms of philosophical Infidelity, which have vexed modern society for the last two generations, essays a formidable undertaking. We are happy to observe how well Mr. Farrar has succeeded. His analyses of authors are clear. They are as minute and profound as his limits would allow. His exhibition of the relations of each to his age, to its philosophy, its literature, its culture, its political, institutions and controversies, are usually very felicitous. His Bibliography is very extensive, and, if it is not always discriminating, it is always suggestive. We marvel, however, that he omits all mention of Berkely and the Minute Philosophes, in his History of English Deism.
* A Critical History of Free Thought in reference to the Christian Religion, Eight Lectures delivered before the University of Oxford, in the year 1862, on the foundation of the late Rev. John Bampton, M. A., Canon of Salisbury. By ADAM Storey Farrar, M. A., Michel Fellow of Queens College, Oxford. New York: D. Appleton & Co. 1863. 12mo. pp. 487. [Peck, White, & Peck. Price $2.00.]
As a manual of reference the volume will be considered as indispensable to the student of theology and ecclesiastical history.
STANLEY's ServoNS IN THE EAST.*_Mr. Charles Scribner has republished, in handsome style, the fourteen Sermons that were preached before the party that accompanied the Prince of Wales, during his tour in the East, in the spring of 1862. The sermons derive their main interest from the character of those for the di. rection of whose Sunday meditations they were composed. They are short, but fresh and spirited; the train of thought being always one that was obviously suggested by the locality in which the party found themselves at the close of each succeedling week. In an extended appendix, are some notices of the most momorable of the places that were visited, such as the Cave of Machpelah, Mount Gerizim at the time of the Celebration of the Samaritan Passover, Hermon, and Lebanon. Most of these notices, however, are almost exactly identical with those already published in the other works of Dr. Stanley.
HISTORY AND BIOGRAPHY.
May's CONSTITUTIONAL HISTORY OF ENGLAND. We have more than once had occasion to speak of the first volume of Mr. May's very valuable work on the Constitutional History of England. Those who have examined it will be gratified to learn that Messrs. Crosby & Nichols have just republished the second and last volume in the same handsome style which we before commended. It will be remembered that Mr. May, though professedly writing what may be considered a continuation of Mr. Hallam's treatise on the British Constitution, has not thought it best to follow his example in adhering to a strictly chronological narrative, but has arranged his discussion of the several topics, embraced within his general subject, under distinct heads. In the first volume the topics which were treated, were the “influence and prerogatives of the Crown,” and the “relation of the House of Lords, and the House of Commons to the Crown, the law, and the people.” Of his treatment of these important themes we have already given a somewhat full analysis. The volume now before us opens with a chapter upon a subject of equal interest and importance: the history of the conflicts of the great political parties which have controlled the government of England during these past one hundred years. It is followed by two chapters on the press, and liberty of opinion, in which the whole progress of legislation on the subject is traced through the proceedings against Wilkes and the publishers of the “North Briton;" the proceedivgs against the publishers of the Letters of Junius; the trials of Horne Tooke, Cobbett, and O'Connell; the history of the agitations for “reform," and "the repeal of the Union," in 1830–32; the operations of the Chartists; and the organization of the Anti-Corn law league. The next chapter in order discusses the action of the government in relation to the personal liberty of the subject, and the operation of the IIabeas Corpus Act. Three chapters are devoted to the Church and religious liberty. Another gives the history of the overthrow of the abuses which were formerly connected with “close corporations.” The progress of liberty in Ireland also forms the subject of a chapter; and the rights and liberties of English colonists still another. There is probably no treatise in which the workings of the British Constitution in modern times are unfolded so concisely, so clearly, and so reliably, as in these two volumes of Mr. May. From the official position he has occupied he has had great facilities for making himself thoroughly acquainted with everything connected with the important themes which have necessarily come under review; and in every respect he seems to have discharged the task he has assumed faithfully, and satisfactorily. The work will long be considered indispensable by every student of English history.
* Sermons preached before His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, during His Tour in the East, in the Spring of 1862, with notices of some of the localities visited. By Arthur PeyruYN STANLEY, D. D. New York: Charles Scribner. 1862. 12mo. pp. 272. Price $1.50. (For sale by Judd & Clark.]
+ The Constitutional History of England since the accession of George Third, 1760-1860. By Thomas ErskinE MAY, C. B. Two Volumes. Boston: Cros by & Nichols. 1863. 8vo. pp. 484, 596. (For sale by Judd & Clark, Price $1.50 per volume.]
D'AUBIGNE'S HISTORY OF THE REFORMATION IN THE TIME OF Calvin.*-Ten years have passed since Dr. Merle D'Aubigné
* History of the Reformation in Europe in the Time of Calvin. By J. H. MERLE D'AUBIGNE. Two volumes. 12mo. pp. 433, 475. New York: R. Car. ter & Brothers. 1863. [For sale by F. T. Jarman. Price $1.50 per volume.]