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All our ideas of truth, justice, love, beauty, goodness, are transcendental. Truth is truth, independent of time and place. The just is the just at one epoch, in one country, as much as in another. The beautiful never varies ; its laws, we all say, are eternal. Goodness is ever the same. The great principles of the Christian religion inhabit eternity. Hence Jesus says,
66 before Abraham was I am," and hence he is called “the Lamb slain from the foundations of the world,” meaning thereby, that the principles of truth and duty he represented, and by which alone man can come into harmony with his Maker, were no principles of modern creation, but principles existing in the very Principle of things, principles that have no dependence on time and space, but were in the beginning with God, and were God.
These remarks will help us to understand what is meant by transcendentalism. Transcendentalism, in its good sense, as used in our community, means the recognition of an order of existences, which transcend time and space, and are in no sense dependent on them, or affected by them. Transcendental means very nearly what our old writers, in Shakspeare's time, meant by the word metaphysical, from uera, beyond, and qùoixos, physical, natural, belonging to the outward, visible, material world. Transcendentalists recognise a world lying beyond or above the world of the senses, and in man the power of seeing or knowing this transcendental world immediately, by direct cognition, or intuition..
All persons, who believe in God, in the reality of a spiritual world, and contend that their belief has any legitimate basis, are transcendentalists. Whoever is not a transcendentalist, must, if consequent, needs be a skeptic, or a materialist and an atheist. The early Christian fathers were transcendentalists, so were the distinguished English writers of the seventeenth century; so were Descartes, Malebranche, George Fox, William Penn, and our own Edwards ; so were Price, and to a feeble extent, the Scottish School ; so are
nearly all the Germans, and the French Eclectics. Locke and his followers were not, nor were Condillac and the old French school. In fact, all real faith implies the Transcendental, and religion is an idle dream unless we admit the reality of an order of existences, a spiritual world transcending this outward, material, sensible world ; and also unless we admit in man the means of attaining legitimately to faith in that reality.
Mr. Emerson, by taking his stand in this transcendental region, evidently asserts its existence, and our power to take cognizance of it. So far his philosophy is eminently religious, and as we have demonstrated over and over again in the pages of this Journal, as well as elsewhere, is sound, and worthy of all acceptation. In this consists his chief philosophical merit. In this too consists his departure from Locke and the unitarian school proper, and his approach to orthodoxy. Thus far we go with him heart and hand, and recognise him as a fellow-laborer in that school of which we profess to be a disciple, though it may be an unworthy
But the transcendental, or, if you please, metaphysical, or spiritual world, exists not for the senses, nor can it be inferred from data furnished by the senses. It exists only for the reason. It is ideal, as opposed to sensible, spiritual as opposed to material, but real and substantial. Its existence is indeed involved in all the perceptions of the senses, and asserted in every thought and affirmation ; but we rise to the cognition of it only by means of reason, taken, as we have said, not as the principle of logic, but as the principle of intelligence.
Now, by taking our stand on the reason as the principle of intelligence, which is partly analogous to what Mr. Emerson calls the “Over-Soul," and attending exclusively to what it reveals, we are in danger of losing sight of the world of the senses, and therefore of suffering one aspect of the universe to escape us. The moment we rise into the world of reason, we find it altogether richer, sublimer, more beautiful, than this outward visible world. This outward visible world
gradually loses its charms for us, disappears from the horizon of our vision, and is therefore very naturally denied to have any existence. We thus fall into Idealism.
Again; the world of the senses is manifold and diverse, while the world of the reason is one and identical. In the transcendental world we rise to the principles of things. The principle of a thing is after all, in a certain sense, the thing itself. All principles proceed from and centre in one common principle, the principle of all things, — God. The diversity noted by the senses is then no real diversity, but merely phenominal and illusory, and deserving no account from him who has risen to the perception of absolute unity, into which all is resolved at last. Diversity is therefore rejected, denied. The distinction between cause and effect ceases then to be intelligible ; all difference between God and the universe to be perceptible. The universe is identical with God. God and the universe are one and the same; this is Pantheism.
Whoever then takes his stand exclusively in the Transcendental must fall into ideal Pantheism. From the transcendental point of view alone, a correct report of the universe cannot be made out, any more than from the point of view of the senses alone.
Now Mr. Emerson seems to us to verify in his own case the truth of this deduction. He falls in his philosophy, so far as philosophy he has, into ideal Pantheism.
He is so charmed with the world of ideas, that he contemns the sensible, so struck with the unity and identity revealed by the reason, that he is led to overlook and occasionally to deny the manifold and the diverse, revealed by the senses. We cannot read a page of these Essays without perceiving that the tendency of his mind is to seek unity and identity. He brings together in the same sentence perpetually persons and things, events and transactions, apparently the most diverse, by a law of association which most readers are unable to discover, and the point of resemblance between which very few are able to perceive. Yet is he
in general just. The resemblance, the identity he asserts is there. His power of detecting the identical in the diverse, the analogous in the dissimilar, the uniform in the manifold, the permanent in the transitory, is remarkable, and unsurpassed in any writer of our acquaintance. He is ever surprising us by unexpected resemblances. To him all things are the same. In all this he is right. He uttered a great truth when he declared the identity of the power by which Lazarus was raised from the dead, and that by which falls the rain or blows the clover; also when he so shocked some of our pious people by declaring the identity of gravitation and purity of heart. This identity does run through all nature, and he has no true insight into the universe who cannot detect it.
But diversity, dissimilarity, multiplicity, are no less obvious and real in the universe than unity and identity. They have their origin too in the same source. God, the cause and principle of the universe, is not a mere unity, but a unity that has in itself the principle of multiplicity, - not pure identity, but at once identity
– and diversity, - a fact shadowed forth in the doctrine of a Triune God, which runs through all religious philosophies ever promulgated. Whoever overlooks this fact must fall into Pantheism. Mr. Emerson has a tendency to overlook it; and his disciples, for disciples always exaggerate the tendencies of their masters, will most assuredly overlook it. Some of them even now avow themselves Pantheists, and most of the young men and maidens who listened with so much delight to these Essays when they were delivered as lectures, virtually, run into Pantheism, whether they know it or not.
The outward visible world is not the only world into which we are admitted, but it is a real world ; that is, it really exists, and is no more an illusion than the world of reason; and the idealist is as exclusive and as errone
1 ous as the materialist. The one denies the Transcendental, the other the Sensible. Both are wrong in what they deny, both are right in what they assert; and this fact, it strikes us, does not lie at the basis of Mr. Em
erson's philosophy. Hence the wrong tendency of his speculations.
We are not prone to be frightened or shocked at mere rds. Thank Heaven, we have strong nerves, and can bear much; but we regard Pantheism as an error of no less magnitude than Atheism itself, and consequently must earnestly protest against every tendency
God and the universe are in the most intimate relation, but that relation is one of cause and effect, not of identity; and while we admit that there is this identity running through all nature, to which Mr. Emerson points us, we also contend that there is a corresponding diversity to which he does not point us. plain not of him for not doing this, but we note the fact in order to warn our readers against taking his utterances as complete expositions of the universe. He brings up one pole of truth, the one which has been too much depressed; but in bringing up that he is not sufficiently heedful not to depress equally the other. We have revolted against exclusive materialism ; let us be careful not to fall now into exclusive spiritualism; we have protested against Atheism and irreligion, or the forms of religion which were in fact no religion, and we should look to it that we do not now swallow up all diversity in unity, and man and the universe in God. The latter error would turn out to be as fatal to piety and morals as the former.
But after all, we have no serious apprehensions on this score.
Ideal Pantheism, though a fatal error, is not one into which our countrymen are likely to fall, at least to any great extent. Only a few of the cultivated, the refined, the speculative, the idle, and contemplative, are exposed to it. Men in active business, taking their part in the rough and tumble of life, coming in daily contact with one another in the market, the hustings, the legislative halls, scrambling for power or place, wealth or distinction, have little leisure, less inclination, and still less aptitude for that order of thought which ends in the denial of matter, and of the universe as distinguished from its Creator. The cast of their minds