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and listen to the wondrous story that she has to tell.
"A Roland blast to flood this grim defile
that shall summon other men to come and fight upon your side. And yet another way of greatening your soul is to lay bare your spirit to the happy influence of living men stronger and better than yourselves, and to theirs, also, whom death "leads enfranchised on" and whose remembered truth and love are laws we dare not disobey.
"Living, our loved ones make us what they dream;
To fail their hopes whose love can still redeem;
The last great means of greatening our souls has been
"A MERE MAN."
THERE are some texts so obviously good that it were churlishness to pass them by, and not to set one now and then in the forefront of the battle. Certainly, having chosen for my subject "A Mere Man," nothing could be more natural than for me to find a text, or motto, in the Psalmist's question, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him?" and his answer, "Thou hast made him little lower than God." Strange, is it not? that such a text as that should have awaited Channing's doctrine of the Dignity of Human Nature for two millenniums and half another! True, in the King James translation it reads "but little lower than the angels"; and the controversial ingenuity of the good old times was quite equal to contending that it meant the fallen ones. But, had the present reading, which was that of all the scholars for a long time in advance of the revision, always been the English reading, it would probably have made no difference. For though, in general, the Calvinistic theologians got their theology from the Old Testament, if they found anything sweet and pleasant there, they passed it by; and, if they found anything particularly disagreeable in the New Testament, they pounced upon it like an ant upon an aphis, quick to appropriate its limpid juice.
The phrase "a mere man " is the phrase which has oftener than any other expressed the contemptuous sense of the Trinitarian and other supernaturalists for the humanitarian conception of Jesus. There has always lurked in it a miserable fallacy; for into the " "the orthodox contestant has imported his own conception of humanity, and, so doing, it is no wonder that the Unitarian assertion of the
humanity of Jesus has seemed to him a great indignity. For his own conception of humanity has been the denial to it of any physical or intellectual or moral good. And for this conception, it must be allowed, he has had the warrant of the New Testament in no half-way fashion. It has been very common among Unitarians to insist that the traditional theology of Christendom is a perversion of the New Testament teachings. And so it often is, but not always. Hardly can it be shown that Augustine or Calvin painted human nature blacker than did Paul. Hardly can it be shown how any one could paint it blacker then he painted it. That Channing, more certain that his rational nature was from God than that any book was the expression of his will, and attending to his rational nature for the voice of truth as to no book whatever, clearly thought out and bravely published the Dignity of Human Nature, is not greatly to be wondered at, though it is an ample sign of the essential rationalism of his intellectual procedure. But that his Unitarian contemporaries generally should have accepted his doctrine of human nature, while immersed in barren textuality, while thinking it necessary to find chapter and verse for their opinions, is passing strange; and it should help us to be tolerant of those progressive orthodoxists who seek in the New Testament a warrant for their aberrations from the Westminster standards. One thing is certain: that, if the elder Unitarians imagined foolishly that Paul could be induced to testify for Channing's doctrine of the Dignity of Human Nature, there are many of the younger, and one at least whose years overlap by thirty-seven the years of Channing's life, who recognize that Paul's doctrine of human nature is absolutely antagonistic to their own. The one is Martineau, in whose recent work, sent forth in the absolutely sound and sweet maturity of his eighty-sixth year, Paul's doctrine of human nature is exhibited without any least disguise; and the nakedness of its deformity may well make the non-Revisionists of our Presbyterian assemblies say, "He has become as one of us." He has shown that theirs is the
New Testament,— at least, the Pauline doctrine; that Augustine and Gottschalk, Pascal and Calvin and Edwards, did not, and could not, exaggerate the utter hideousness and hopelessness of that. The progressive orthodoxists will doubtless say, "This is the most unkindest cut of all,- just as we were giving up our Calvinism for Dr. Martineau to say that the New Testament is for it. How will the non-revising heathen rage!" But it is all right. It is just as well for the sects to go on believing the traditional doctrines until they are prepared to reject them as Martineau does, not on account of their lack of Bible warrant, but on account of their intrinsic irrationality. Saint Paul is for the utter physical and intellectual and moral incapacity of human nature; he has reduced its baseness to its lowest terms. But what good reason is there for setting up the opinions of Saint Paul as a standard of belief for men who are alive when he has been full eighteen centuries dead? There is none. And this perception is the most significant. that appears in the ebullition of doctrinal change that is so lively at the present time. And the most surprising, the most comical, the most pathetic aspect of the matter is the endeavor of the liberals to make out a New Testament argument for their liberality. It is like the scramble of men to get on board a sinking ship when the solid land is easily within the reach of their endeavor, when they would drift to perfect peace and safety in a little while.
Not only in times past has the orthodox contestant imported his own idea of humanity, the Calvinistic idea, into the phrase mere man," but the phrase itself is of his own invention. Those who have affirmed the simple humanity of Jesus have believed too much in humanity to qualify it with such a word as 66 mere," always a qualification of contempt, as when men talk of "mere morality," on which Emerson retorted that it was like saying, “Poor God, with nobody to help him!" The deification of Jesus, or his exaltation to a more than human standing, has always marked the tendency to a low view of human nature, or the survival of such a view in men's general thinking, even when