Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

phasis of his being its due sunshine and shade, effort and repose. The same periodicity will be studied in its bearings upon the rule for the week, the month, the year; nay, upon the whole ordering of the lifetime. A deeper study of the soul will show that not only in the pulse-beat, the play of the lungs, and the round of physical absorptions and secretions, but in the whole image of mental sensibilities and volitions, the law of circulation holds good; and that those two marvellous timekeepers, memory and habit, mark cycles of succession quite as decided in their way as the cycles of the heavens which the chronometer records. Memory notes what has taken place in the senses or consciousness, and tends to reproduce it with a certain regularity, whilst habit notes what has taken place in the will, and tends to reproduce it with a certain regularity, and in fact acts according to Herbart's deep saying, as the “memory of the will."

Too many of us try to do all our lifetime what may be very well as an occasional task. We try to play on one string always, exchanging Apollo's lute of many chords for Paganini's one-stringed fiddle without that master's various skill; and the instrument and the audience are worn out by the performance. Let life have more variety, and each chord of the harp will be the better for the play and the rest of its fellows. There is wisdom in the remark of a certain Sanctorius, that, “with an object without interest, we can hardly occupy ourselves an hour; with an interesting object, hardly four hours; but with matters of alternate interest, we can occupy ourselves day and night.” Ignorance of this law has been the ruin of many a conscientious Christian, and whilst it has made hosts of victims of drudging monotony, it has driven not a few to despair by the mistaken idea that the same tone of devout emotion must always be sustained, and that it is proof of depravity to wish to go down from the mount of vision and work and play in the green pastures and in the busy haunts of men.

The neglect of the law of periodicity has much to do with the beginnings of insanity, whether in its folly or madness. Fixed folly, or monomoria, is closely connected with monotony of impressions or sensibility; whilst fixed madness, or monomania, is closely connected with monotony of will or work. Flighty folly and fighty madness, or moria and mania, are closely connected with rambling states of sensibility and will, that sacrifice unity to variety. True sanity combines the two, and leads forth the life in periods as various and consequent as the movements of the spheres. The very form of our worship generally implies a certain monotony, especially where the congregation are all in the passive and the minister is wholly in the active voice, without a word of response and hardly a sign of participation from the pews. The custom of sitting dumb throughout the whole service, sometimes for several hours, whilst the pulpit does its vicarious work, is one of the inventions of our laborsaving ingenuity, and the inventor of the custom might claim a patent for his skill, were it not for his oversight of the essential difference between minds and machines, - minds being worn out by the monotonous round so essential to the machine. In our view, the inventor, if rewarded at all, should receive a pillow of live-geese feathers and a copy of the Castle of Indolence.

The old Church year succeeded to a certain extent in bring. ing into its yearly calendar all aspects of the soul's life and of God's providences. Its four seasons show in a manner the seasons of the human race in its orbit around its divine lumi. nary, and answer to the stages of each soul's experience in its own orbit.

The calendar, with its commentary of popular custom, was most comprehensive in its range, and left no aspect of life unnoticed, however grave or gay. The evergreens and carols of Christmas had a place with the ashes and penance of Lent, and the old Muses of Mirth and Tragedy were not left out of the new Pantheon. The frogs of Aristophanes might be heard among the maskers of the Carnival, and the Fates of Æschylus joined in the dirges of Passion week. All humanity, past and present, was enlisted in the yearly round, and the days and weeks rehearsed the witness of the saints in heaven with the life of Christ, their living Head. The conception is certainly majestic, and in spite of its rigid ecclesiasticism, its main features may express a larger and freer faith and service. We, too, must have our Christian year, and are having it in our pastoral policy, which retains the great seasons of the ancient calendar and interprets them by our own convictions, and adds to them the new dates of men and events that mark new triumphs of humanity under the kingdom of God. Our year may express the phases of the soul under the lights and shades of our religion, and may lead forth a round of ministrations that shall be various without being capricious, and orderly without being arbitrary; exhibiting the Gospel alike as a purgative and a nutritive power, and the soul in its penitential as well as in its illuminated and jubilant moods; making religion impressive upon the sensibility and expressive of the will, maturing a worship alike spiritual and practical, receiving spiritual gifts to translate them into practical uses, utilizing things spiritual, and spiritualizing things useful.

* To those who wish to have clearer ideas of the bearing of our doctrines on insanity, we recommend Feuchterleben's noted work on medical psychology, a translation of which is published by the Sydenham Society.

The new Church that is rising, not out of the ashes, but from the roots, of the ancient Church, is to establish such an order, we trust, and to inaugurate a method of life that shall vindicate God's government, not merely to priests and dog. matists, but to our common humanity; that shall shun Romish despotism and Protestant individualism, and manifest a genuine catholicity as memorable for the universality of its law as for the personal freedom and rationality of its people.

Art. III. - THE WAR AGAINST TIME AND SPACE.

Annual of Scientific Discovery: or, Year-Book of Facts in Science

and Art, for 1857, 8c., 8c., &c. Edited by David A. WELLS, A. M., Editor of the “ Year-Book of Agriculture,” &c., &c. Boston: Gould and Lincoln. 1857. 12mo. pp. 406.

It was confidently expected, a few months since, that the two continents whose successive and progressive victories over time and space are annually reported in the above-named serial would ere this have been brought within speaking distance by means of a copper wire thrust under the Atlantic, which, like those that now pervade the upper air, was to serve at once as ear-trumpet and speaking-trumpet, - Europe applying her lips to one end, and America her ear to the other, and vice versa, whenever the interlocutors had anything to communicate. Unfortunately, the wire broke in America's hands before any confab had been held, and that kind of intercourse between the cousins is postponed for a season.

But the failure of this second experiment in Transatlantic tête-a-tête-ing, so far from discouraging their mutual overtures, has only served as a lesson to the parties to be more cautious in their future advances. The experiment, in Western phrase, is “bound" to succeed; it is simply a question of time, no longer one of abstract possibility. The Old World and the New have only to wait a few months longer to realize telegraphic communication with each other. Meanwhile we will say what has occurred to us in this connection regarding the general fact of which the Atlantic telegraph is one illustration.

Voltaire, in one of his jeux d'esprit, ascribes the origin of philosophy to the fact that man has a great deal of curiosity and very poor eyes. He insists on prying into everything, but finds his natural organs ridiculously inadequate to his intellectual wants; so he resorts to philosophy to eke out his imperfect seeing and hearing. The fact is, man as an animal has a very narrow range of faculty and function.

With an organization delicate, complicated, and beautiful, — the exquisite mechanism of divine contrivance, unrivalled as a whole by that of any other animal, - his sphere of organic action is strictly circumscribed. He is inferior to the brute creation in many particulars, however superior in completeness. In muscular strength he is surpassed by the lion and the elephant, by the tractable horse and the patient ox; in keenness and reach of vision, in acuteness of ear, in sensibility of nerve, he falls below the hawk and the hound, the eel and the frog; and in rapidity of locomotion, he is distanced by the swiftfooted deer, the darting fish, and the fowls of the air. Regarded simply as an animal, he is singularly impotent in scope and force. Left entirely to his animal endowments,

VOL. LXIII. —5TH S. VOL. I. NO. III. 30

the range of his activity and the domain of his experience would shrink into Liliputian dimensions. An antediluvian lifetime would not suffice him for the exploration of a continent, and the ocean would laugh to scorn his attempts to ride upon its billows. Intercourse with his own species a thousand miles removed would be almost impracticable. In a word, imagine man a mere animal, endowed with animal instincts and faculties only, and the toad-eating Saab of South Africa becomes a wonder of intelligence in comparison.

But whilst thus fettered and confined in respect to physi. cal ability, man has desires which aim at nothing less than the subjugation and possession of the entire universe. He would search creation through, climb all mountains, cross and sound all seas, number, classify, and follow in their courses through eternity all the stars of the firmament; he would dig into the bowels of the earth, and gather its hidden treasures; he would read its biography in hieroglyphic strata inscribed with the records of ages; he would fathom every secret, solve every riddle of nature, copy all beauty, breathe all music, and accumulate to his use and enjoyment whatever of comfort or of luxury nature can supply. He would rule the elements as obedient slaves, and satisfy a burning and omnivorous curiosity, multiform and ever shifting in the direction of its cravings.

The importunate passions imprisoned within the pigmy animal, man, differ in their moral quality. Some are basely sensual, some exclusively selfish, some narrow and local, and some generous, large, heroic, embracing humanity and seeking truth and right as the only abiding and immortal good. But the obstacles which hinder the full action and expression of all of these passions are the same, namely, the limitations of time and space. To overcome these obstacles, to satisfy the demands of his being and destiny, man invokes the help of science and art, ministers born of the soul whose function is to make for the soul limbs, nerves, and senses, out of matter and out of the elements. Science and art provide the weapons by which man is to vanquish the enemies of his wishes and his will. Their mission is to annihilate time and space.

Accordingly, the work of the world may be regarded as a

« ZurückWeiter »