Imágenes de páginas

difference over which shall prevail a harmony of sentiment and a harmony of life, which, as we have seen, alone constitute the unity, and in which alone can reside any authority, of the Church.

It may be thought by some of our readers, that we have robbed the Church of its meaning and its value; but this is as far from being the result as it was from our intention. The Church under the view in which we have contemplated it retains all the significance and worth which Christ ordained for it. Its significance consists in its being the expression of all the effects as yet wrought by the mission and ministry of the Son of God. The Church exhibits the fruits of that love which sent Jesus into our world, and of that sacrifice which he made for the good of the world. It shows how far the purposes of the Saviour's death have been attained, and how nearly his prophecy, that if he was "lifted up," he would "draw all men" unto him, has approached its fulfilment. As the Church is in every age the manifestation of the Christianity of that age, so the history of the Church is the history of what Christianity has accomplished in past time. It includes all the souls that have been saved, and all the graces that have been matured or quickened into life, by the Gospel. It comprehends the multitudes who have been redeemed to God by the blood of the Lamb, "out of every kindred and tongue and people and nation; "—the Apostles and martyrs and confessors of early days; the disciples, in palace and in hovel, of later times; the followers of Jesus who are now scattered through all the countries of the earth. A noble, as well as an innumerable company! It embraces within its wide circuit all the worship which has gone up to Heaven from Christian hearts, and all the virtue which Christianity has introduced among men - purity, disinterestedness, philanthropy, piety -"whatsoever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, or of good report," that owe their existence to the religion of Christ. All these, with the faith from which they sprang, and the souls in which they were found, all these belong to the Church of Christ, and they make it worthy to bear the names which have been given it. It is Holy, for it is composed of such as labor to "perfect holiness in the fear of God" and the love of Christ. It is Catholic, for it recognises no distinction between races or conditions, but extends 8


its arms to enfold all mankind. It is Apostolic, for it obtained its first development under them who were sent forth by "the Author and Finisher of faith" to preach the Gospel, and it rests upon the integrity of their instruction. The Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church this is the Church which the Lord "purchased with his own blood"- the Church, which having" sanctified and cleansed with the washing of water by the word," he will finally "present to himself, a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but holy and without blemish."

The value of the Church results partly from its significance, but more from the relation which it sustains to the believer as a means of personal improvement. Following the principle which we have seen to be alone correct, that the Church exists for the individual, we arrive at the uses for which it is appointed. It is one of the helps of the spiritual life, one of the means by which the soul works out its own salvation and secures its final glory. Deprive us of the Church, were this possible, — separate us from the Church, as men have often attempted with their fellowChristians, and you inflict a serious injury, for you take away needed assistance. The believer needs the support and encouragement which the Church gives him. He is benefitted by its sympathy, he is strengthened through its protection. He feels himself to be one of the "Church of the first-born which are written in heaven," and he presses forward in his heavenly course with a firmer step. Who does not know the courage that comes from companionship? Who cannot accomplish more with others engaged in the same toil, than if left to the prosecution of a solitary labor? The Church, with its ordinances and influences, is a great aid to the Christian in his progress towards perfection. So it is at least on earth, and we doubt not it will be so in heaven. Cleave then to the Church, we say to every one whom our counsel may reach. Honor and cherish it. Do not cast it off, as if you were above or beyond it; and do not speak ungratefully of it, as if it had rendered you no service. It is a great instrument in the Saviour's hand, as well as the evidence of his saving virtue. It cannot be destroyed either by neglect or by hostility. He has declared that "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Rejoice then in its honor, and while you realize its benefits, study its prosperity.

E. S. G.

[ocr errors]


ANOTHER Volume of Essays from R. W. Emerson is a literary benefaction which we acknowledge with unfeigned gratitude. We congratulate the lovers of sprightly and profound discourse on this fresh extract from the mental life of a most loving and sincere spirit; for such, in spite of his heresies, and sins against custom and tradition, all who know him well must acknowledge him to be. Were it only for the rarity of such spirits and such books, we could hardly desire a more valuable accession to the national literature, or the world's literature, than these pages.

It takes a good deal in these days to justify a book, and but very little to provoke one. Time was when a new book was the arrival of a new spirit, a birth out of the deeps. But, now, writers of books have given place to book-wrights. What was once a mission has become a craft. Modern books are mostly manufactures originating in a paltry speculation, or that mental pruriency and general determination to the surface, which characterize the times. When shall we see applied to literature, the golden maxim of Pythagoras in reference to oral communication,

- either to be silent or to say something better than silence? The authors of scientific works, naturalists, voyagers, realists of every description, are always welcome. We accept without questioning-so they prove themselves reliable witnesses — all who bring us tidings of the actual; it matters not, whether from the arctic regions or the antarctic, or the interior of the earth, or the interior of any living thing upon its surface; from the lichen on the wall, or the nearest pebble, or the farthest nebula ;—all who present new facts or new classify old ones. These are the actual producers of the intellectual world, they deal in positive values. But he who brings us only his speculations and his fancies, is justly held to a more strict account. It behoves him to consider well his statement; that it be not only plausible, but new, and not only new, but sufficiently weighty to claim a hearing amid the general pressure of such demands.


Essays: Second Series. By R. W. EMERSON. Boston: J. Munroe & Co. 1844. 16mo. pp. 313.

With regard to all this class of writers, we make no conscience of being critical, and hypercritical. They must show good cause for their intrusion. They must say something better than silence. A sweeping condition, as we estimate silence, and one which would eliminate nine out of ten of such productions. “There is a kind of men, so loose of soul," that they bestow their tediousness upon us from mere incapacity of reticence. Mr. Emerson is not one of this kind. We are rather disposed to tax him with undue reserve. His works come slowly, as if wrung from him, like the ancient mariner's tale;

"at an uncertain hour,

That agony returns."

[ocr errors]

And then, to be sure, we have something worth listening to, for its novelty; the adventures of a curious and lonely wanderer into new regions of speculation; revelations from "that silent sea" which lies far away from the ordinary route of your literary navigators.

The author himself has furnished a high standard, by which to judge him, in the first series of these Essays published some four years since. On comparing this new volume with that, it seems to us to possess less interest on the whole. It wants the point and the heartiness of the other; the questionable tendencies of the author's mind are more decidedly marked in it, and the peculiar and nameless charm of his rhetoric is less apparent. We pronounce this judgment with some hesitation and with some reservations. The essay entitled "Experience," in this series, we are inclined to place next to that on Spiritual Laws," which strikes us as pre-eminently the best in the two; and the "Lecture at Amory Hall," appended to the new volume, surpasses all the essays, technically so called, in the free and graceful flow of its thought, and the benign humanity of its sentiment.


The essay on Experience, or rather, the essay so headed, possesses a completeness not usual in Mr. Emerson's writings, and which does not properly belong to his turn of mind. He tells us, it is true, "I know better than to claim any completeness for my picture. I am a fragment, and this is a fragment of me." But this disclaimer respects the matter, not the form. The matter is fragmentary, as all

experience must be, but the form is complete, and gives to this chapter an epic character which distinguishes it from all the rest. We particularize it, however, not for its artistical merit, but for the personal interest it possesses as illustrating the individuality of the author. It is the essay, of all others, in which, of right, we may look to trace the moral lineaments of the man. It is his statement of human life; a private valuation of "this pleasing, anxious being," compiled out of all the moods in which he has conversed with it; a summing up of its phases and its forces, its riches and its defects, its illusions and its realities, the negations and affirmations of the soul, as they lie in his consciousness. Minds of a certain complexion please themselves with these digests of the universal experience. They love to take account of life, at a distance from its mêlée, and to describe the universe in philosophical observations from their private observatory. The character of different philosophies and different tendencies of mind is represented in these valuations. Horace, in the most celebrated of his odes, gives us the Epicurean estimate, Seneca gives us the Stoic, Fichte the Transcendental. The most remarkable of all is the "Ecclesiastes" of the Jewish Scriptures. This, also, is a statement of life and a chapter of experience,-like the one before us, beginning with doubt and negation, and ending with the highest affirmation. "Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, all is vanity. One generation passeth away and another generation cometh. The sun ariseth and the sun goeth down. All things are full of labor." "Where do we find ourselves?" asks the Essayist: "in a series of which we do not know the extremes and believe that it has none. All things swim and glimmer. If any of us knew what we were doing and where we were going when we think we best know!" "Cast thy bread upon the waters and thou shalt find it after many days;" "fear God and keep his commandments," is the ancient exhortation, and conclusion of the whole matter. And the modern is not unlike it; "Pa


[ocr errors]

tience and patience, we shall win at last. There never yet was a right endeavor, but it succeeded. There is victory yet for all justice; and the true romance which the world exists to realize, is the transformation of genius into practical power."

« AnteriorContinuar »