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specifically discarded. Channing, it is true, and with him many others, long maintained the superhumanity of Jesus in connection with the Dignity of Human Nature; but, as time went on, Channing perceived that his idea of humanity was so large that his idea of Jesus had in it all the sky-room that it wanted in which to beat its tireless pinions without mete or bound.
"Not a mere man, but a man!" has been the answer of the Unitarian to those objecting to his humanitarian concep tion of the great prophet, saint, and martyr, from whom Christianity derives the inspiration of its most beautiful compassion and its most perfect trust. If the Unitarian has written it, he has written Man with a capital letter. ancient Latins could have managed better if they had wished to express the same idea. They had two words, homo and vir. Homo was the generic man; vir, the ideal man. With such distinctions possible, to say a mere homo might express something intelligible and fit. And if any should so designate Jesus, or any other towering personality, we might reply, “No, not a mere homo, but a vir!" Having no such distinction, the word "man," expressing everything from the highest of the mammalia to the being who has made possible the centuries of history, the centuries of art and science and government and religion, the centuries of discovery and invention and industrial thrift and skill, the towering personalities which tempt us to believe that they alone make up the sum of history,- having no word but " man" to express all
this imperial range from depth to height, the phrase “a mere man" is for us, perhaps, as meaningless, as absurd, as any that has ever been the current coin of theological exchange. The best comment ever made on it is that of one himself "a mere man" after the canons of the traditional theology, who said, speaking in Hamlet's voice: "What a piece of work is man! How noble in reason! How infinite in faculties in form and moving, how express and admirable! in action, how like an angel! in apprehension, how like a god!
The "mere man " of theology is man in the entire range of his natural capacity; man without any supernatural assistance, save as a world brimful of God continually assists the man who is the product of its life and law. The subject has two aspects, one static and the other dynamic. The latter is an aspect which has received immense enhancement from the studies of anthropology and biology during the last halfcentury. Not to go further back than that, the antiquity of man was some six thousand years, and its first step was a fall from which no supernatural assistance had been able to help it to its feet. A finger or a toe may have straightened out, but the whole body was as prone as ever in such mire as even swine do not delight to wallow in, according to the latest prophets of their natural decency and self-respect. But within the last half-century the antiquity of man has been extended by - I choose a moderate estimate — some five hundred thousand years. So long ago man fairly got upon his feet, and with those differences of intellectual capacity from his "poor relations" which had in them a boundless possibility. But, back of that, what thousands upon thousands of years, millions on millions, went to the making of the human animal, albeit the first and lowest of his kind!
If man, in any aspect of his life, can be called " a mere man," surely it is on the dividing line so shadowy, so wavering, both physically and intellectually, that separates the human from the lower world. But to speak contemptuously even of such humanity is a most strange and daring comment on the long patience and persistency of the Infinite and Eternal Power, who probably would not have taken so much time to bring a man from the ascidian, and the ascidian from the insensate rock, if there had been a shorter or a better way. Accepting the account in Genesis, it would have been a different matter. Not much could be expected of a man made on the sixth day, after five days of such immense and various activity, with the inertia of the restful Sabbath sending its dreamy shadow on before. That man so made
should fall at once was altogether natural. He must have had that sense of "goneness" from the start which would have made anything substantial, and especially an apple, impossible to refuse. I do but jest, not at the dear and sweet old fable, which I love as well as any can, but at the after-approbation of the apologists, who make themselves unutterably foolish that the old legend may be impossibly and absurdly wise. In all seriousness, the dynamic aspect of humanity, man's slow emergence from the homogeneous simplicity of primordial matter, through countless intermediary forms, if there is really an omnipotent God working through all the processes of the material world, is eloquent of man's significance for the Eternal Power. And it is eloquent of man's essential greatness that from such low beginnings he could come to be at length a being of such large discourse, looking before and after, and either way seeing so much to humble him and make him proud. I tried to put my thought of this into a poem once, and this was how it came :
Thou for whose birth the whole creation yearned
Next to the senseless granite slowly turned,
Then to the plant which grew to something more,—
Shall we be ashamed because such things have been,
Nay, in thyself art thou not deified
That from such depths thou couldst such summits win?
Of those perfections which are yet to be.
Now let us turn from the dynamics of the matter, and look at it for a few moments statically. Take any average or ordinary man, no Shakspere or Newton, no Raphael or Beethoven, no great or famous one of any kind, but just a good, fair, every-day human being of the kind that cross Brooklyn bridge by tens of thousands every morning to their
day's work, and come back at night a little manlier, if they have done it well. Even of such a one how well might Shakspere say, "What a piece of work is man!" True, he has much in common with some lower types. His bony structure is part for part the same as the gorilla's, a few less bones in maturity in either case than in early life. His tissues are of the same structure: his respiratory and circulatory functions are the same. What, then? Is it so much
the worse for man? No, it is so much the better for the gorilla. This anatomy, this physiology, would be wonderful and beautiful if they were the anatomy and physiology of a fiend, as not unfrequently I fear they are. What a piece of work is a man! If you have any doubts of it, take any good anatomical treatise, that in the Encyclopædia Britannica is admirably done, and study first the bony structure, and then see how that is clothed upon with the muscles, and how the nervous system radiates through them; and the cellular structure of the tissues,- how wonderful that is! and then turn to physiology, and study there the circulatory and respiratory functions of the organism and I am sure that mere or any other depreciatory or contemptuous adjective for such an organism, will hardly seem to you a thing to be endured. So studying and so considering, we find, says one for whom exaggeration is impossible, “that we are quite unconsciously bearing about in our bodily structure a laboratory of enormous power, which, with an energy of chemical action we can no way conceive, is turning out every day four or five gallons of its highly elaborated compounds. We find a pailful of warm blood rushing as fast as a strong man walks through innumerable arteries and veins, propelled by a muscle weighing less than a pound, that shall not pause a single second in its energetic contractions and expansions for a lifetime of more than eighty years. We find a chemistry of digestion so potent [with its astonishing solvent] as in a few hours to change the beggar's crust and the epicure's banquet of fifty flavors into the same indistinguishable vital fluid. We find an electric battery to do our thinking by, made of more than
twelve hundred million cells, connected by five thousand million filaments of nerve." As with the circulatory and nervous functions, so with all the rest. We have only to look at them closely to appreciate how marvellously curious and wonderful they are. As with the wonder, so with the beauty. The sculptor has reported it in bronze and marble, the painter with his brush; and their report is—oh, how feeble in comparison with the living, breathing, smiling, laughing actualities of form and face! You go to the great exhibition, and a hundred faces of the visitors beguile you from the faces on the wall. But the children's portraits,— they are wonderfully fair. Yes, and on the way home from the gallery you see a dozen or a score so dainty sweet or so divinely beautiful through rags and dirt that you say in your heart you will not go to the galleries any more, but only up and down the streets and to the parks and slums.
"How noble in reason," Shakspere says, "how infinite in faculties!" and by this bridge of gold we pass from the consideration of the physical to the consideration of the intellectual and emotional and moral man. Again I say, forget the great and famous ones. Remember only the
average people of the world. If there are any mere men in the world, these are they. Now, take any one of them, and note the quality of his intellectual life. Note that it is so deep that for thousands of years the philosophers, the psychologists, have been dropping their plummets into it, and have not as yet taken its gauge. How much does this mere man contribute to that vision of the world which he enjoys! "Things are not what they seem," says Longfellow. Nay, but they are. The reality is that in which the object and the subject both unite. But how much is the object's, how much is the subject's part? The percept and the recept mark the lowest stages of the intellectual life. These are the common stock of brute and man. has only these, bridges the intellectual gulf between the That the young child
comes the conceptual
higher animals and man. Then power, enabling man to think in names, and all the ranges