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plication to Revealed Christianity. Is there a place in the Christian system for the operation of this law? If so, what is its province, and what its limits?
The extremes of opinion which are entertained in many circles upon this subject, must deliver any attempt at its discussion from the imputation of being untimely and impertinent.
It is asserted, on the one hand, that a religious system, introduced centuries ago for the advantage of comparatively rude and ignorant tribes, cannot, in the nature of things, be suited to an erudite and philosophic people in their highest civilization. Moses, it is said, had his day and his mission; well did he fulfil them. His religious system accomplished its end, and then passed away as visionary and obsolete. In like manner, it is added, Jesus of Nazareth, in progress of time, established a new and more simple religious faith. He accomplished his mission. But it would be altogether contrary to every analogy, to suppose that Christianity, in its original form, would prove itself equal to the later necessities of the world; and so an exception to that general law by which all that is old is ready to vanish away. There will be other Christs, and other and advancing Christianities. The human mind is no more stationary or retrograde; and, therefore, revelations which were made for its benefit in the twilight of time, partaking as they do of a fixed squality, must be superseded by other and higher disclosures, which, in their turn, becoming effete, must be surpassed and forgotten in the still farther progress of philosophy and religion.
Šuch are the sentiments incorporated with a certain description of philosophy, which, in spite of its insufferable mannerism, has attained to no inconsiderable notoriety in Germany, and in some parts of the United States.
In the opposite extreme are those, who, failing to distinguish between Christianity itself, and Christian theology, which is but its outward form and expression, look with distrust, and suspicion, and jealousy upon the bare mention of improvement and progress in the latter, as though it were nothing else than an insult to the former. No equivocal displacency do they manifest towards any form of expression which is new-believing that the “old is better.' They have no faith in progress at all. Their category of wisdom is briefly summed—"Be still.” Verily, they cannot comprehend the suggestion, that it may be possible, without derogating from the perfection of Christianity, for them to acquire some new ideas, concerning Christian doctrine; and believing that their theological system, like the subject to which it relates, is incapable of change and improvement, they regard those who would attempt any modification, as presumptuous and profane.
Between these remote extremes is there an intermediate space capable of exact definition, which it is wisdom for us to compre
| Theodore Parker and Ralph W. Emerson.
hend, and neccessary for us to defend? Believing that there is, our present article will humbly undertake to set forth the limits within which this principle of progress has and may develope itself in connexion with a revealed Christianity. Many delude themselves by false analogies, on this whole subject. We have no faith in any pretended or expected amendment of Christianity. There has been, as we shall show, a progress in the development of Christianity itself, in former ages, such as we are not to expect for time to come.
The Progress of Science, is an expression sufficiently familiar to our ear. In strictness of speech, what does it denote? Simply the rectification of human opinions concerning those objects to which science relates; and never such changes in these objects themselves, as imply on their part defect and falsity.
The planetary system, for example, as a system, was a perfect thing, in all its laws and attractions, and motions, when, at the close of the fourth demiurgical day, its Maker said of it, “It is good.” The same sun, in the same relative position, with the same attractions, shone on the first pair in Eden, as shines to-day on us. The same stars which look so thoughtfully on us, shone on the tents of the Idumean Emirs, when Job, and Eliphaz, and Zophar discoursed concerning Orion and the sweet influences of Pleiades. But what a slow, yet certain, advancement there has been in the history of astronomy as a science! What a vast interval between the fancies of the Chaldean shepherd, the notions of the Phænician mariner, and the demonstrations of celestial mechanics by Newton and Laplace ! Centuries elapsed, during which men gazed on the evening sky, recorded observations, calculated eclipses, measured time, steered ships, before the motion of the earth was at all suspected. The system of astronomy, elaborated by Ptolemy, with all its error, was an advance, containing much which is of value to the present day. Twelve hundred years more elapsed, when Copernicus appeared, saying, in the words of Joshua, which words are now sculptured on his monument in the Church of Cracow_"Sta Sol, ne moveare !” Nor was the system yet completed. The laws of Kepler afterwards explained seeming irregularities which confounded Copernicus and Galileo; and the splendid hypothesis of Sir Isaac Newton, verified by subsequent experiments, revealed the unity, the harmony, the perfection of the vast planetarium of the heavens, which had been hid for ages and for generations. Yet Newton died in ignorance of the Georgium Sidus; and there yet remain unexplained phenomena in the evening sky, to provoke and reward the thoughtful observation of those who shall follow us.
Progress in the history of this interesting science, is perfectly intelligible; distinguishing as we must between the changeless, faultless laws of nature, and the gradual advancement and rectification of human speculations concerning them.
What else do we mean by progress in all those sciences, discoveries, and inventions, by which the general improvement of the human race has been so essentially promoted ? Progress here, has not been an improvement of nature, mending her defects, altering her course, and gradually becoming more perfect and propitious; but it has been the result of a closer observation, and a more copious induction, and a more accurate analysis, and a more patient experiment, and a bolder enterprise on the part of those who have believed in nature's truth and faithfulness.
The structure of the human body was after the same model at the first as now, but great has been the progress in physiology and pharmacy. The heart, the brain, the nerves, the viscera, ihe irritable fibre, each and all performed the same functions in the days of Hippocrates and Galen, as of Harvey and Stahl and Haller. The continent of America was not created in the 15th century, and all at once made to emerge from the waves like the fabled Delos, at the stroke of the trident, to answer a great purpose. Had the Grecian argosies passed the pillars of Hercules, and ploughed the main three thousand miles towards the setting sun, they would as certainly have reached the Western Hemisphere as did the more adventurous galleys of Ferdinand and Isabella, centuries later. The little pilot which now maintains its post on the deck of every ship that floats, unblinded by darkness, undaunted by danger, unexhausted by fatigue, has, from the beginning of the world, pointed as faithfully to the pole, as when recently discovered by the eye of thoughtful observation. The expansive power of steam was just as capable of application to safe and rapid locomotion on land and sea, to all ponderous and delicate enginery, in the days of Thales and Archimedes as of Watt and Fulton. Carbon, nitre, and sulphur, mixed in certain proportions, would just as certainly have resulted in the formation of that explosive grain which has changed the whole aspect of modern warfare, in the days of Hannibal or Julius Cæsar, as in the laboratory of Roger Bacon. It was just as certain that a few bars of wood, and pounds of metal, and ounces of ink were capable of imprinting the signs of thought on parchment and papyrus, in the days of the Phænician Cadmus, as centuries later, in the hands of the German Gutenburgh. The lightning which gleamed from the cloud, when the old Grecian and Roman augurs appealed to its glare in aid of superstition, was identically the same form of natural agency which greeted with a responsive spark the knuckle of Franklin, applied to the kite string of his son, and which by a simple process, is now conducted innocuously to the earth.
Most obvious, therefore, is the distinction between the facts and forces of nature which have a fixed and changeless quality, and the opinions which men may entertain concerning them. Ofthese facts men may remain entirely ignorant, or partially informed, may indulge in the most false and fanciful speculations concerning them, to be corrected by a more careful and copious induction. Progress, therefore, in the inductive sciences, in the inventions of art, in great discoveries, has not been the result of any advance in natural laws, but an improvement in the education of man. Nature has maintained her own calm and truthful and changeless quality, without freaks or falsities or deflections; and man, her pupil, has gradually opened his eye and observed her regularities, and compared and reasoned and discovered; and the more he has interrogated, the more unreserved has been the response, the more studious he, the more has he been rewarded, the more inquisitive, the more observant, the more patient, the more rapid and certain has been his advancement.
The same is true as to the progress of intellectual and ethical philosophy. If there has been any advance in mental philosophy, it surely is not owing to the production of any new faculty, but the better analysis and classification of mental phenomena. The simple object of intellectual philosophy is to explain what is; but the same faculties of perception, of 'memory, of imagination, of reason, existed in the days of Pythagoras, Plato, and Aristotle, as of Locke, and Kant, and Stewart. What has the progress of time to do with the question in dispute from the beginning-whether ideas are the images of objects without, or interior and original types, imparting life and form and power to objects of sense? The laws of mind being the same in all times, what can be meant by the progress of intellectual science, but a more accurate analysis of mental processes?
Progress there has been in ethical philosophy: but of what sort? Have new obligations been discovered in our interior mechanism? Revelation being, for the present, altogether left out of the question, what advantages had Clarke, and Leibnitz, and Butler, and Edwards, above Socrates, and Epicurus, and Zeno, and Cicero, in demonstrating the nature of virtue, and the laws of voluntary action? The same laws of sensibility, of emotion, of desire and aversion, of pleasure and pain, of happiness and misery, were in operation within every human breast, when the Grecian philosopher discoursed in the grove, and the sage of Northampton, and the Dean of Carlisle elaborated their theories concerning virtue. If there has been progress in ethical philosophy, it has been owing, not to the production of new facts, but the rectification of human opinions concerning things which have remained the same from the beginning.
Turning now to the system of revealed Christianity, we discern, at a glance, one peculiarity by which it is distinguished from all the sciences to which we have alluded. The planetary system, we are authorized to believe, as a system, was complete when the morning stars first sang together ; but the system of Christianity, as a system, was not complete at its first introduction. There has been a progress of facts and events, constituting that system, from the beginning. All which is known to us, was not, and could not be known once. Facts which exist now had no existence formerly. The time was when the whole of Christianity was folded, as in a germ, in that one obscure promise of a Redeemer, which cheered the apostate pair in Eden. All of Scripture, and all of history, are but the gradual developement of that original intimation. There is a dramatic unity in the construction of the inspired volume. Genesis and the Apocalypse, dissimilar though they be in form and style, relate to one and the same subject. The silver crescent, turning towards us its delicate rim of light, and the harvest moon, full and bright, are precisely the same objects, though in different phases. It is the first grand error, preparatory to all others, to suppose that patriarchal worship and the Mosaic code were opposite and incongruous to the Christian system. Readily will he be led to expect that Christianity itself will at a later day be superseded by some other religious system, who begins by misunderstanding the mission of Moses, as one of mistake and falsity, wholly at variance with the Christian system. Christianity, we believe, was the alpha, and will be the omega of this world's history—the one drama occupying the whole of time;
“The one eternal scheme involving all.” We open the sacred volume, and Genesis, the programme of the mighty Act, acquaints us with the unity of our race, in a common origin, and involved in a common apostacy. Immediately, the promise of a future redemption is announced. The Levitical worship, with its sacrifices and ablutions, its types and shadows, was language, speaking to the eye concerning Him who was to come to atone for human guilt. The book of Job, one of the earliest books that ever was written, represents, as such a book should, the cravings of the human mind and heart, amid sorrow and sin, after a Redeemer. The writings of Solomon present the utmost of human folly and wisdom, in contrast with that divine Wisdom, who was with God when the worlds were made. The book of Ruth, which, on any other principle of interpretation would seem to be without relevancy or profit, derives all its meaning from its historic account of the families from which the Christ was to come. 'The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. Whether with Isaiah, the vision of Christ's spiritual kingdom lights up the gloom of the Jewish captivity with ineffable splendors; or with Ezekiel, we behold all forms of ritual worship superseded by the glorious priesthood of Jesus Christ; or with Daniel, we anticipate the termination of all human kingdoms in the everlasting dominion of the Prince of Peace; or with Zechariah or Haggai, rejoice in the Son of God, as the true glory of the second temple-in one and all, we behold the solemn progress of the same Christianity which was