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astronomical orbits poorly emulate, that it is travestied and depreciated, that it is behooted and behowled, and not a trait, not a word of it articulated. The pulpit, in losing sight of this Law, loses all its inspiration, and gropes after it knows not what. And for want of this culture, the soul of the community is sick and faithless. It wants nothing so much as a stern, high, stoical, Christian discipline, to make it know itself and the divinity that speaks through it. Now man is ashamed of himself; he skulks and sneaks through the world, to be tolerated, to be pitied; and scarcely in a thousand years does any man dare to be wise and good, and so draw after him the tears and blessings of his kind. .
Certainly there have been periods when, from the inactivity of the intellect on certain truths, a greater faith was possible in names and persons. The Puritans in England and America, found in the Christ of the Catholic Church, and in the dogmas inherited from Rome, scope for their austere piety, and their longings for civil freedom. But their creed is passing away, and none arises in its room. I think no man can go with his thoughts about him, into one of our churches, without feeling that what hold the public worship had on men, is gone or going. It has lost its grasp on the affection of the good, and the fear of the bad. In the country,-neighbourhoods, half parishes, are signing off, to use the local term. It is already beginning to indicate character and religion to withdraw from the religious meetings. I have heard a devout person, who prized the Sabbath, say, in bitterness of heart, “ On Sundays it seems wicked to go to church.” And the motive, that holds the best there, is now only a hope and a waiting. What was once a mere circumstance—that the best and the worst men in the parish, the poor and the rich, the learned and the ignorant, young and old, should meet one day as fellows in one house, in sign of an equal right in the soul,—has come to be a paramount motive for going thither.
My friends, in these two errors, I think, I find the
causes of that calamity of a decaying church and a wasting unbelief, which are casting malignant influences around us, and making the hearts of good men sad. And what greater calamity can fall upon a nation, than the loss of worship? Then all things go to decay. Genius leaves the temple, to haunt the senate, or the market. Literature becomes frivolous. Science is cold. The eye of youth is not lighted by the hope of other worlds ; and age is without honour. Society lives to trifles; and when men die, we do not mention them.
And now, my brothers, you will ask, What, in these desponding days, can be done by us? The remedy is already declared in the ground of our complaint of the Church. We have contrasted the Church with the Soul. In the soul, then, let the redemption be sought. In one soul, in your soul, there are resources for the world. Wherever a man comes, there comes revolution. The old is for slaves. When a man comes, all books are legible, all things are transparent, all religions are forms. He is religious. Man is the wonder-worker. He is seen amid miracles. All men bless and curse. He saith yea and nay, only. The stationariness of religion; the assumption that the age of inspiration is past, that the Bible is closed; the fear of degrading the character of Jesus by representing him as a man; indicate, with sufficient clearness, the falsehood of our theology. It is the office of a true teacher, to show us that God is, not was; that He speaketh, not spake. The true Christianity,-a faith like Christ's in the infinitude of man,-is lost. None believeth in the soul of man, but only in some man or person old and departed. Ah me! no man goeth alone. All men go in flocks to this saint or that poet, avoiding the God who seeth in secret. They cannot see in secret; they love to be blind in public. They think society wiser than their soul, and know not that one soul, and their soul, is wiser than the whole world. See how nations and races Ait by on the sea of time, and leave no ripple to tell where they floated or sunk; and one good soul shall make the name of Moses, or of Zeno, or of Zoroaster, reverend for ever. None assayeth the stern ambition to be the Self of the nation, and of Nature; but each would be an easy secondary to some Christian scheme, or sectarian connexion, or some eminent man. Once leave your own knowledge of God, your own sentiment, and take secondary knowledge, as St. Paul's, or George Fox's, or Swedenborg's, and you get wide from God with every year this secondary form lasts; and if, as now, for centuries—the chasm yawns to that breadth, that men can scarcely be convinced there is in them anything divine.
Let me admonish you, first of all, to go alone; to refuse the good models, even those most sacred in the imagination of men, and dare to love God without mediator or veil. Friends enough you shall find who will hold up to your emulation Wesleys and Oberlins, Saints and Prophets. Thank God for these good men, but say, “ I also am a man.” Imitation cannot go above its model. The imitator dooms himself to hopeless mediocrity. The inventor did it, because it was natural to him; and so in him it has a charm. In the imitator, something else is natural, and he bereaves himself of his own beauty, to come short of another man's.
Yourself a new-born bard of the Holy Ghost-cast behind you all conformity, and acquaint men at firsthand with Deity. Be to them a man. Look to it first and only, that you are such; that fashion, custom, authority, pleasure, and money, are nothing to you,-are not bandages over your eyes, that you cannot see,-but live with the privilege of the immeasurable mind. Not too anxious to visit periodically all families and each family in your parish connexion,-when you meet one of these men or women, be to them a divine man; be to them thought and virtue; let their timid aspirations find in you a friend; let their trampled instincts be genially tempted out in your atmosphere; let their doubts know that you have doubted, and their wonder feel that you have wondered, By trusting your own soul, you shall gain a greater confidence in other men.
For all our penny-wisdom, for all our soul-destroying slavery to habit, it is not to be doubted that all men have sublime thoughts—that all men do value the few real hours of life; they love to be heard; they love to be caught up into the vision of principles. We mark with light in the memory the few interviews we have had in the dreary years of routine and of sin, with souls that made our souls wiser—that spoke what we thoughtthat told us what we knew-that gave us leave to be what we inly were. Discharge to men the priestly office, and, present or absent, you shall be followed with their love as by an angel.
And, to this end, let us not aim at common degrees of merit. Can we not leave to such as love it the virtue that glitters for the commendation of society, and ourselves pierce the deep solitudes of absolute ability and worth? We easily come up to the standard of goodness in society. Society's praise can be cheaply secured, and almost all men are content with those easy merits ; but the instant effect of conversing with God will be, to put them away. There are sublime merits; persons who are not actors, not speakers, but influences; persons too great for fame, for display; who disdain eloquence; to whom all we call art and artist seems too nearly allied to show and by-ends—to the exaggeration of the finite and selfish, and loss of the universal. The orators, the poets, the commanders, encroach on us only, as fair women do, by our allowance and homage. Slight them by pre-occupation of mind; slight them, as you can well afford to do, by high and universal aims, and they instantly feel that you have right, and that it is in lower places that they must shine. They also feel your right; for they with you are open to the influx of the all-knowing Spirit, which annihilates before its broad noon the little shades and gradations of intelligence in the compositions we call wiser and wisest.
In such high communion, let us study the grand strokes of rectitude; a bold benevolence, an independence of friends, so that not the unjust wishes of those
who love us shall impair our freedom; but we shall resist, for truth's sake, the freest flow of kindness, and appeal to sympathies far in advance; and—what is the highest form in which we know this beautiful elementa certain solidity of merit that has nothing to do with opinion, and which is so essentially and manifestly virtue, that it is taken for granted, that the right, the brave, the generous step will be taken by it, and nobody thinks of commending it. You would compliment a coxcomb doing a good act, but you would not praise an angel. The silence that accepts merit as the most natural thing in the world, is the highest applause. Such souls, when they appear, are the Imperial Guard of Virtue, the perpetual reserve, the dictators of fortune. One needs not praise their courage-they are the heart and soul of nature. O, my friends, there are resources in us on which we have not drawn. There are men who rise refreshed on hearing a threat; men to whom a crisis which intimidates and paralyses the majoritydemanding, not the faculties of prudence and thrift, but comprehension, immovableness, the readiness of sacrifice-comes graceful and beloved as a bride. Napoleon said of Massena, that he was not himself until the battle began to go against him; then, when the dead began to fall in ranks around him, awoke his powers of combination, and he put on terror and victory as a robe. So it is in rugged crisis, in unweariable endurance, and in aims which put sympathy out of question, that the angel is shown. But these are heights that we can scarce remember and look up to without contrition and shame. Let us thank God that such things exist.
And now let us do what we can to rekindle the smouldering, nigh-quenched fire on the altar. The evils of that church that now is, are manifest. The question returns, What shall we do? I confess, all attempts to project and establish a Cultus with new rites and forms, seem to me vain. Faith makes us, and not we it; and faith makes its own forms. All attempts to contrive a system are as cold as the new worship