Page images
PDF

of obtuseness of nature,—of pure lack of discernment and feeling. People thus qualified are able with entire composure to do things which others could not do to save their lives. Such are the people who constitute a class which is an insufferable nuisance of civilized society,—the class of uninvited and unwelcome guests. I am thinking of people who will without any invitation push themselves and their baggage into the house of a man who is almost a stranger to them; and in spite of the studied presentation of the cold shoulder, and in spite of every civil hint that their presence is most unwelcome, make themselves quite at home for so long as it suits them to remain. I have heard of people who would come, to the number of three or four, to the house of a poor gentleman to whom every shilling was a consideration; and without invitation remain for four, six, ten •weeks at a stretch. I have heard of people who would not only come uninvited to stay at a small house, but bring with them some ugly individual whom its host had never seen, and possibly a mangy dog in addition. And such folk with great freedom drink the wine, little used by that plain household, and hospitably press the ugly individual to drink it freely too. I declare there is something that approaches the sublime in the intensity of such folk's stolidity. They mill not see that they are not wanted. They jauntily make themselves quite at home. If they get so many weeks' board and lodging, they don't care how unpleasantly it is given. They will write for your carriage to meet them at the railway station, as if they were ordering a hackney-coach. This subject, however, is too large to be taken up here: it must have an entire essay to itself. But probably my reader will agree with me in thinking that people may possess in an excessive degree the valuable power of looking away from what they don't wish to see. And yet—and yet—do you not feel that it is merely by turning our mind's eye away from many thoughts which are only too intrusive, that you can hope to enjoy much peace or quiet in such a world as this Y How could you feel any relish for the comforts of your own cheerful lot if you did not forget the wretchedness, anxiety, and want which enter into the pinched and poverty-stricken lot of others? You do not like, when you lay yourself down at night on \ mir quiet bed, to think of the poor wretch in the condemned cell of the town five miles off, who will meet hia violent death to-morrow in the dismal drizzling dawn. Some, I verily believe, will not sympathize with the feeling. There are persons, I believe, who could go on quite comfortably with their dinner with a starving beggar standing outside the window

and watching each morsel they ate with famished eyes. Perhaps there are some who would enjoy their dinner all the better; and to that class would belong (if, indeed, he be not a pure, dense, unmitigated, unimprovable blockhead, who did not understand or feel the force of what he said) that man who lately preached a sermon in which he stated that a great part of the happiness of heaven would consist in looking do\vn complacently on the torments of hell, and enjoying the contrast! What an idea must that man have had of the vile, heartless selfishness of a soul in bliss I No. For myself, though holding humbly all that the Church believes and the Bible teaches, I say that if there be a mystery hard of explanation, it is how the happy spirit can be happy even There, though missing from its side those who in this life were dearest. You remember the sublime prayer of Aquinas—a prayer for Satan himself. You remember the gush of kindliness which made Burns express a like sorrow even for the dark father of evil: "I'm wae to think upon yon den, Even for your sake!" No. The day may come when it will not grieve us to contemplate misery which is intolerable and irremediable; but this will be because we shall then have gained such clear and right views of all things, that we shall see things as they appear to God, and then doubtless see that all he does is right. But we may be well assured that it will not be the selfish satisfaction of contrasting our own happiness with that misery which will enable us to contemplate it with complacency: it will be a humble submission of our own will to the One Will that is always wise and right. Yet you remember, reader, how one of the profoundest and acutest of living theologians is fain to have recourse, in the case of this saddest of all sad thoughts, to the same relief which I have counselled for life's little worries—oh, how little when we think of this! Archbishop Whately, in treating of this great difficulty, suggests the idea that in a higher state the soul may have the power of as decidedly turning the thoughts away from a painful subject as we now have of turning the eyes away from a disagreeable sight.

I thought of these things this afternoon in a gay and stirring scene. It was a frozen lake of considerable extent, lying in a beautiful valley, at the foot of a majestic hill. The lake was covered with people, all in a state of high enjoyment: scores of skaters were Hying about, and there was a roaring of curling-stones like the distant thunder that was heard by Rip van Winkle. The sky was blue and sunshiny; the air crisp and clear; the cliffs, slopes, and fields around were fair with untrodden snow; but still one could not quite exclude the recollection that I this brisk frost, so bracing and exhilarating | to us, is the cause of great suffering to mul- j titudcs. The frost causes most outdoor work) to cease. No building, no fieldwork, can go forward, find so the frost cuts off the bread from many hungry mouths; and tireless rooms and -thin garments are no defence against this bitter chill. Well, you would never be cheerful at all but for the blessed gift of occasional forgetfulness! Those who have seen things too accurately as they are, have always been sorrowful even when unsoured men. Here, you man (one of six or seven eager parties with chairs and gimlets), put on my skates. Don't bore that hole in

the heel of the boot too deep; you may penetrate to something more sensitive than leather. Screw in; buckle the straps, but not too tight; and now we are on our feet, with the delightful sense of freedom to fly about in any direction with almost the smooth swiftness of a bird. Come, my friend, let us be off round the lake, ivith long strokes, steadily, and not too fast. We may not be quite like Sidney's Arcadian shepherd-boy, piping as if he never would grow old; yet let us be like kindly skaters, forgetting, Ib the exhilarating exercise that quickens the pulse and flushes the cheek, that there are such things as evil and worry

in t.liia wnrlrl t

[ocr errors]

Coloring Of Adulterated Wines.—Although many experiments have been instituted by chemists for the detection of the coloring matters employed in adulterated wines, so as to bo able to distinguish the true from tho false, no very positive results have yet been arrived at, because the color of genuine wine itself changes with age, and because the same colors can be imitated by various substances, all of which possess nearly the same elements when analyzed.

It is believed that some of the cheap claret wines contain alum and sulphuric acid, and tho chemist Lassaignc has lately called attention to tho addition of about 0.33 per cent of sulphuric acid which ho had detected (but with some difficulty) in French clarets. An easy method of detecting alum, acids, logwood, cider, tannin, and other mixtures used in the adulteration of \vinca is a great desideratum; chemists have not yet made tho discovery.—Scientific Amer

Deadening Walls And Ceilings.—Men of ingenuity, lend us your cars. There is no greater nuisance in modern houses than that of the transmission of sound through parti-walls. Any practical, inexpensive, and efficient means of deadening sound will bo a great boon. Solid walls and solid floors transmit sound in tho highest degree. The Metropolitan Building Act provides that all parti-wall shall be solid and of a certain thickness in proportion to'height and length. How is thecvilto boovcrcome? "For eight years," writes a studious friend to us, "I have occupied a house in London; and, during the whole of this time, there have been neighbors having young families. They are musical, and, I must confess, labor most industriously at the scales; morning, noon, and night one or other child howls and strums, apparently without making any progress." There is no objec

tion to neighbors' children learning music and singing—quite tho reverse; but it is most objectionable that walls should so readily transmit sound, and render tho ladies' efforts so widely known. Some persons always take a corner house, Eo as to bo free from such nuisance on one side at least. Is there no remedy? The lato Mr. Cubbitt had some trouble at Balmoral with certain floors, and remembered in taking down an old palace floor (many years before), vast quantities of cockle-shells fell out from betwixt the joists. These had boon used in plugging. The idea was acted upon. Cockles were dredged, and brought; tho shells wore cleaned and dried, and used, with beneficial effect. Tho cellular spaces thus produced absorbed sound. Some highly cellular texture may be applied to walls, ceilings, and floors, which shall resist firo and ordinary decay, allow of finish, and yet deaden sound. Who is to invent and introduce such materials? They mny patent tho invention and make a fortune, if they will only abate tho existing nuisance, and enable us to have solid partiwalls and fireproof floors without being compelled to hear what is going on up-stairs and in the next house.—The Builder.

Some observations of a singular character have lately been made upon tho growth of that remarkable and useful production of the cast, tho bamboo. A plant in tho Royal Botanical Gardens of Edinburgh, grew, under a temperature of from 65° to 70°, six inches daily—a specimen of tho Bambusa giyantea of Burmah, which ranks as the monarch of the species, increased eighteen inches in twenty-four hours. The Bambusa lulda of Bengal attains its full height of seventy feet in about .1 month, thus growing at tho astonishing rate of an inch an Hour.

From The Christian Observer. THEODORE PAIiKEB AND THE OXFORD

ESSAYISTS.*

1. Theodore Parker's Experience as a Minister. London. Whitfield. 1860. ., Essays and Reviews. London. Parker and Son. I860. (Second Notice.)

A Man of some note has recently been taken from the world. Theodore Parker,— "the celebrated," according to some,—" the notorious," according to others,—died at Florence in the month of May, 1860. His last injunctions were characteristic. He was to be carried to the grave and interred in silence, without service, prayer, exhortation, or eulogy, — a Unitarian minister merely reading over his grave the first eleven verses of the fifth chapter of St. Matthew's gospel. These instructions were obeyed; and we thus part with a remarkable man; not silently, however, for he himself has imposed a duty upon us. Shortly before his departure, he remitted to his late congregation in Boston, N. E., a long letter, of the nature of an autobiography—an "experience," which has just been re-published'in England, and on which it will be our duty to make some remarks.

Theodore Parker was, in a peculiar sense and in an unusual degree, what his friend Emerson calls "a representative man." Coming forth, about twenty years ago, a'n unknown youth, from a New England village, he became, before his death, the foremost man, the prophet and leader of the "New Theology,"—of that system which is more accurately described as the philosophical infidelity of our day. This is true of hirri to a greater degree than even his followers would fike to confess. He was a bold, outspoken man, and fearlessly uttered, with unhesitating speech, doctrines which numbers of his less courageous followers in their hearts believe, but which they fear to avow. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, in England, some of them ordained ministers of our . church,—others, pastors of dissenting congregations,—who hold in substance what Theodore Parker held, but who could not easily be brought to acknowledge such a participation. Their positions in life, the obligations into which they have entered, and the painful consequences which would be likely to follow an honest profession, are circumstances which abundantly account for, if they do not justify, this concealment of the extent of their unbelief. One notable

[* It seems almost necessary to copy this conclusion of the article in Tht Living Aye, No. 844. We hope that every denomination incidentally touched by the reviewer, will bear its share us well »s we- bear the attack upon the Church of England.]

THIRD SERIES. LIVING AGE. 629

instance of this kind will presently come under our notice. But, first of all, we must give a brief sketch of the history of Theodore Parker.

He appears to have been the son of a New England farmer, and to have been born about the year 1810; his "relatives and neighbors, all hard-working people, living in one of the most laborious communities in the world." (P. 6.) He was, ho tells us, "born and bred among Unitarians." (P. 9.) His father's "strong, discriminating, and comprehensive mind encouraged his original fondness for scientific and metaphysical thought." (P. 6.) Meanwhile, the coldness and deadness of the religious atmosphere around him acted injuriously on an active, energetic, and enthusiastic mind. He says, that "the notorious dulness of the Sunday services, their mechanical character, the poverty and insignificance of the sermons, the unnaturalness and uncertainty of the doctrines preached, the lifelessness of the public prayers', and the consequent heedlcssneas ot the congregation, all tended to turn a young man off from becoming a minister." (P. 7.)

The slavery, too, in which the voluntary system holds the ministry, disgusted him. An anecdote related by him, has a pungent meaning. "' Do you think our minister would dare tell his audience of their actual faults ? '—so a rough blacksmith once asked me in my youth. 'Certainly I do!' was the boyish answer. 'Humph!' rejoined the smith, 'I should like to have him begin, then!'"—P. 7.

To a penetrating, masculine intellect, tod; and a mind not yet inured to controversial immoralities, the "unnaturalness" ami unreality of the Unitarian theology Wd« likely to prove exceedingly repulsive. Jfiieodore Parker afterwards said, in his Discourse on Religion, that " If the Athanasim Creed, the Thirty-nine Articles, and the/Cull Unigcnitus, could be found in a Oj^ck manuscript, and be proved to be the- W*rk of an inspired apostle, no doubt Unitarianism would explain all three, and deny that they taught the doctrine c( the Trinity or the fall ol man! "—P. 3o7.

At the outset of life, then, the characters and circumstances of Thomas Scott and of Theodore Parker were nearly alike. Both had parents of masculine and penetrating intellect?; both were bemired in the Socinian slough. But, as Bunyan shows us at the beginning of his story,—one man gets out, of the mire on the heavenward side, another on the earthward. Thomas Scott was led by the Divine Spirit onward and upward; w'hile poor Theodore Parker was repelled b^ UnitaManism, and fell backward into positive infidelity. He describes, in the narrative now before us, how he first got rid of "the ghastly doctriue of eternal damnation and a wrathful God,"—then, of the do_ctrine of the Trinity,—then, of "a belief in the supernatural birth of Jesus of Nazareth,"— then, of the miracles of the Old and New (Testament;—" some were clearly impossible, others ridiculous, and a few were wicked." (Next, "he had no belief in the plenary, infallible, verbal inspiration of the whole pible, and strong doubts as to the miraculous inspiration of any part of it." (P. 11.) $uch was the opening of his life, before he •yerit into a theological school. Here he began more and more to study the subject, atad disliking law as a profession, began to slit himself to find out, that he might afterwards teach, a religion of his own fashion

iig.

And the result, he tells us, of long and at siduous study carried, him just as far as ths second chapter of the epistle to. the Horn ins. He says:—

'I found certain great primal intuitions of Hitman Nature.

* 1. Tlio instinctive intuition of the Divine,— tho consciousness that (hero Hi a God.

"2. The instinctive intuition of the Just and Bipjit; a consciousness that there is a moral law, inddpendont of our will, which we ought to keep.

"8. Tho instinctive intuition of the Immortal ; ft consciousness that tho essential clement of man, tho principle of individuality, never dics.^—P. 15.

Now these great immutable principles, to which, he tella -us, the intuitions of human nature bear witness, • are alj placed by St. Paul at the opening of his argument. They are plainly and broadly stated,—1. Romans i. 19^20; 2. Romans li. 14, 15;-3. Romans ii. 5JD.

But w'tat right had poor Theodore Parker to stop hcii>j> What right had he to shut his £yes to aipther " intuition of. human nature," which Tiet his gaze at ev,ery turn? \ i' In 'i 1 f V he studied the nistoriewsf agos and nations long sine* gone by, -or the thoughts a^d feelings of matkhv astute of heathenism n«»w, how could ho avoid steing, except by I resolving not to see, the prevalence of an "intuition" in all ages, and Mi all parts of the earth,—that man was a s\nn\r;. that God was an offended God; and that a-Mopitiation was needed, to make peace bettyser» the two? Or, supposing that he had, ky\the most violent strain upon his conscieflfceAresolvcd to ascribe all this to " prie.stcraft,*Vwpat right had he to drop out of his system altogether, the great, all-important fact of Sin itself, now defiling all parts of God's.eirth with blood and tears, and to leave the fuinre consequences, and the possibility of a cure or extirpation of this grand evil, wholly out of

view? What should we say of a physician, called to the absolute government of a vast lunatic asylum, who proceeded to deal with the inmates without the least reference to their mental disorders; or of a governor who set to work to clear his prisons, from mere good-nature, without remembering that the inmates were thieves and murderers? Yet neither of these irrational persons would commit a greater absurdity than the man who could speak or think of mankind, without taking the least notice of the existence of Sin! But on this point we shall preaently have to remark more at length.

Having thus discovered for himself, as a creed of his own, that first step to truth which St. Paul places at the beginning of his argument, but which stops .short of a solution of the grand problem, poor Theodore Parker resolved to go no further. His "intuition of the just and right" was to serve him for a religion. And it was not Jong before he gave the most potent proof of the lamentable insufficiency of this new rule.

With "conscience,." or "the intuition of the just and right," for his guide, he began to assail the faith and doctrine of nine-tenths of the professedly Christian world, in tne following fashion: He told his hearers, that

"Tho Protestant minister, on the authority of nn-anonymous Greek book " (meaning the .NV-.r Testament) "will believe,-or at least command others to believe, that man is born totally depraved, and that God will perpetually slaughter men in hell by the million, /.V ••;.'/ they had committed no fault, except that of riot believing an nbsurd doctrine they had never heard of."—P. 31.

Thus, this professedly honest and sincere inquirer, who had resolved at last to enthrone conscience, or "the instinctive intuition of the just and right," as the alone arbiter of his faith, lost no time in showing us the real value of this his chosen guide. He had never heard this doctrine, as stated above, preached by any living man. He had never read it in any existing or forgotten book. No such doctrine ever had been preached or promulgated, by any human being. Yet this professed follower of "conscience" finds.no difficulty in writing down, revising, and committing to the press,-this wicked falseJiood; even in a bookivhich was composed with the open grave immediately in view! He thus does us one important service. He shows us what sort of a religion, what sort of a code of morals, the admirers of " the instinctive intuition of the just and right" would substitute, in lieu of God's revealed and written law.

Theodore -Parker knew full well, at the very moment when he was penning this calumny, that the doctrine actually held by those "Protestant ministers "' whom he was

describing, was simply that doctrine which of unbelief which is now so rife in the nom-was set forth by St. Paul, in the same open- inally Christian church, seemed to find in

him its "representative man." A vast throng of sceptical ideas were let loose upon the world all at once; and many men took up, some one, some another; but Theodore Parker presented, in himself, the epitome

ing of the epistle to the Romans to which we have already referred: namely, that—

"God will rcmlcr to every man according to hit deeds: to them, who, by patient continuance in well-doing, seek for glory, and honor, and immortality, eternal life; but, to them who do

not obey tlio truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gcntilo : but glory, honor, arid peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile."

And, as to those who have "never heard of" the gospel, the same record is equally explicit. "Those tcho have sinned without law, shall also perish without law,"—" their conscience bearing witness" to the justice of their punishment, they having had "the work 'of the law written in their nearts," and so standing "guilty before God."

A man who nad thus outgrown his teachers, and who derided as drivellers the very Unitarian doctors who had brought him up, was not likely to want opponents and angry accusers. In fact, it seems to have been as much his policy "to say strong things," an'd thus to become notorious and obnoxious; as it is the policy of his followers amongst ourselves, to be prudent, and to let their sentiments escape only gradually, and in cautiously framed language. The result was,

man. lie tells us, that,"' Unbeliever, Infidel, and Atheist,' were the titles bestowed upon me by my brothers in the Christian ministry." He had removed, from a little village charge at Roxbury, into Boston1; but, he adds, "so low was our reputation, that of all the unoccupied halls in Boston, only one could be hired for our purpose, though payment was offered in advance." (P. 43.) And,'' there was but one considerable publishing-house in the land that would issue my works, and this only at my own cost and risk." (P. 60.) "I had been reported to the people as a disturber of the public peace, an infidel, an atheist, an enemy to mankind. When I •was to lecture in a little town, the minister, even the Unitarian, commonly stayed at . home. Many warned their followers against listening £o 'that bad man.' Others stoutly preached against me." (P. 64.)

Such was Theodore Parker^ in Boston, New England, from 1845 till 1859. In this last year, he was laid aside by consumption, and in the spring of the present year he died. The chief interest which attaches to his character is that which we have already indicated. He was not the founder or originator of a sect of unbelievers; but that peculiar caste

and summary of them all.

We have been forcibly struck with this 'act, while reading, during the last few weeks, :he Essays and fievieics, of which we spoke iast month, and then The Experience of Theodore Parker. In the first of these volumes, we found the modern rationalistic infidelity set forth by seven men of some note, each of whom had taken up one branch of the subject for separate discussion. But when, immediately afterwards, we^read Theodore Parker's dying legacy, we there found all the scepticism of the former seven writers Sowing from a single pen. The identity, however", was remarkable j and it was .the • more so', inasmuch as from the time and place of publication, it was impossible that the seven essayists could have read Theodore Parker's little book, or that he could liavo read theirs. Hence, when we find'the same views, and thoughts, and language in both, wo know that it is a widely spread moral pestilence that is before us.

A single instance, however, of this unconscious identity must be excepted, because the passage appeared in Mr. Parker's /'.'-'.-that Theodore Parker soon became a noted "course some years back, and may have been

read by Dr. Rowland Williams. In that Discourse, published some nine or ten years since, Mr. Parker had said:— /

"Inspiration, like God's omnipresence, is not limited to tho few writers claimed by the Jews, Christians, or Mahometans, but 13 co-eytcnsive with tho race. Minos nnd Moses, David and Pindnr, Leibnitz and Paul,, receive into their various forms the one spirit from God most high. This inspiration is limited to no sect, ago, or nation. It Js wido as the world, and common asGod."-rP. 161, 171. *

In the same tone, in the Essays and Reviews, Dr. Rowland^ Williams tells us that,—

"Tlie sacred writers acknowledge themselves men of like passions with ourselves, and wo are promised illumination from the spirit which dwelt in them." "We should define inspiration consistently with tho facts of Scripture, and of hutrmn nature. These would neither exclude the idea of fallibility among Israelites of old, nor • teach us to quench the spirit in true hearts forever." ''But if nny one prefers thinking the sacred writers passionless machines, and calling Luther and Milton ' uninspired,' let him co-operate in researches," etc.—P. 78.

Here we have the very same doctrine flowing from two pens—the one, that of a man

« PreviousContinue »