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and the exercise of a general superintendence over the students. It was no slight recommendation of the office that it placed at his command all the treasures of the University library. It was probably at this period that Channing chiefly formed his acquaintance with the principal English theological writers. That he did not form so high an estimate of them as prevails on this side of the Atlantic, is well known. The remarks that follow on this subject were addressed to a friend at a later period of life :
English theology seems to me, on the whole, of little worth. An established church is the grave of intellect. To impose a fixed, unchangeable creed, is to raise prison walls around the mind ; and when the reception of this creed is made a condition of dignities and rich benefices, it produces moral as well as intellectual degradation, and palsies the conscience as much as it fetters thought. Once make antiquity a model for all future ages, and fasten on the mind a system too sacred for examination, and beyond which it must not stray, and in extinguishing its hope of progress you take away its life. One almost wonders that the intellect has advanced as far and as fast as it has done, when one considers the war waged against it by civil and ecclesiastical power, and the heavy chain under which it has been compelled to move. I conceive that the tameness, frigidness and dulness, by which theological writings are so generally marked, are to be attributed chiefly to the cause now stated. The intellect, paralyzed by authority and established creeds, has discovered less energy in treating that sublimest and most exciting of all subjects, religion, than in discussing the most ordinary interests of the present life. In England, the Established Church has been a dozing place to minds which any where else would have signalized themselves; and, unhappily, Dissent in that kingdom began in a bigotted attachment to Calvinism, which, by exciting the mind, did occasionally call forth much energy of thought, but which still, by infusing unjust and degrading views of God and of human nature, may be regarded on the whole as unfavourable to the progress of intellect. I think, therefore, that there is little in English theology to repay the attention or meet the wants of an enlightened mind. You will not often find broad views of Christianity, shewing its harmony with human nature and with the great laws of the universe, as far as we understand them, and its tendency to secure the true perfection of the individual and the race. You will seldom find that union of reason and enthusiasm, without which a system is essentially defective in correspondence to the human soul. Still there are powerful thinkers in this department of literature, as in all others.”—Pp. 146–149.
We regret we cannot find a place for the “Rules of Study” (pp. 154—158) which Channing at this period adopted for the control of his intellect. They mark his habitual self-examination, and the watchfulness and jealousy with which he analyzed all the workings of his soul. A young student cannot more profitably spend an hour than by transcribing them on the first leaves of his Commonplace Book.
He was admitted as a member of full communion of the first Church of Christ in Cambridge, then under the ministry of Dr. Abiel Holmes, a moderate Calvinist. His own sentiments were, however, as already described, Arian, with some peculiarities derived from Dr. Hopkins. His statement on this subject is very interesting, though too brief for our wishes :
“ There was a time when I verged towards Calvinism, for ill health and depression gave me a dark view of things. But the doctrine of the Trinity held me back. When I was studying my profession, and religion was the subject of deepest personal concern with me, I followed Doddridge through his "Rise and Progress' till he brought me to a prayer to Jesus Christ. There VOL. IV.
I stopped, and wrote to a friend that my spiritual guide was gone where I could not follow him. I was never in any sense a Trinitarian.”—P. 161.
In his twenty-third year, Mr. Channing began to preach. His first sermon was delivered at Medford, for and in the presence of Dr. Osgood, from the words, “ Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have, give I unto thee.” A hearer described his manner as singularly “radiant and full of heavenly joy." So general was the admiration of his pulpit talents, that he immediately received overtures from two congregations in Boston, worshiping, one in Brattle Street, the other in Federal Street. With disinterestedness and modesty, he declined the more tempting offer of the larger and more important society, and accepted that of Federal Street, then in a comparatively low condition. He thought the pastoral duty of such a society would not be too much for his feeble health. His letter of acceptance bears date “ Boston, Feb. 12, 1803.” On the 1st of June in that year, he was ordained, Dr. Holmes, of Cambridge, Dr. Tappan, of Harvard University, Dr. Osgood, of Medford, Rev. Henry Channing and Mr. Tuckerman, taking part in the service. The sermon was preached by Dr. Tappan, and the charge was given by his uncle.
The early years of every Christian minister's pastoral life, however happy his lot and prosperous his course may be, are strewed with anxiety and clouded with seasons of mental depression. The tenderness of conscience and feeble bodily frame of the young minister of Federal Street were the occasion of additional and peculiar trials. He was cheered at this period by the affectionate solicitude and judicious and hopeful counsels of his brother Francis, settled as a lawyer in the neighbourhood of Boston. His private papers, however, indicate that his mental and moral conflicts were severe and distressing; they also shew how heavenward was his aspect and how pure was his spirit. He created the strongest feelings of personal attachment amongst his parishioners. He found a home in the dwelling of one estimable family; but his affectionate spirit felt the void occasioned by the want of daily communion with his mother and sister. To his sister Ann he wrote, “I am sad-my sister, come and cheer me.” An agreement had been entered into between him and his brother Francis, that, in order to ensure their mother and the family a competence, one of them should for ten years continue single. William Ellery Channing having got the start of his brother in respect to income, claimed the privilege of fulfilling this arrangement. His disinterestedness was heightened by the manner in which he communicated his purpose to his excellent parent.
“He wrote to his mother that he had a parsonage which he could not occupy, and fuel which he could not burn; and that she would save him much waste and trouble by turning them to good use. He well knew that she could not afford to leave her house and large garden at Newport, without such an addition to her means as he thus placed at her disposal ; but he chose to represent himself as the person obliged, by pleading his need of her guardianship. She yielded to his affectionate appeal, and
in a short time he had the satisfaction of seeing the home circle gathered round him, beneath his own roof, blessed by his bounty, and enjoying the best opportunities for happiness and improvement." --P. 197.
The details which the editor gives of Channing's faithful, disinterested and generous demeanour in his social and family relations, are deeply interesting, and will, we doubt not, be often quoted by many a fireside on both sides of the Atlantic, and reflect moral light on many pure domestic circles.
The rare eloquence and ardent piety of their minister soon brought about a change in the appearance and numbers of the small society in Federal Street. In 1809, the church ceased to furnish the needed room, and it was taken down and the corner-stone of a new and spacious church was laid. The impression produced by his services is thus described by his nephew:
“The most trifling saw in him a man thoroughly in earnest, who spoke not of dreams and fictions, but of facts with which he was intimately conversant; and the serious gladly welcomed one who led the way and beckoned them nearer to the holy of holies which they aspired to enter. Intellectual people, too, were attracted by the power and grace of his pulpit addresses. He opened to them a large range of thought, presented clear, connected and complete views of various topics, roused their faculties of discernment by nice discriminations and exact statements, and gratified their taste by the finished simplicity of his style. But the novelty, perhaps, that chiefly stirred his audiences, was the directness with which he even then brought his Christian principles to bear upon actual life.”—P. 208.
In the performance of pastoral duty he was indefatigable, availing himself of various methods, public and private, of promoting the spiritual welfare of his flock. His affectionate ministrations to the destitute, the sick and the dying, often most severely tried, and on two or three memorable occasions overcame, his self-command. Most touching were his devotions at the bed-side of the sick, and we can well believe, from the display of his inner soul in this Memoir, and from some heartmoving devotional compositions inserted in it, that he “lifted up their spirits as on angel wings in prayer." The account of his ministry to the young of his flock will be best given in the words of his nephew :
“In the children of the society he felt the deepest interest. He liked to gather them after service around the pulpit; when, coming down, he would converse with them and give them familiar lessons. This was before the custom of Sunday-schools was introduced. Later in his ministry, he and his friend Thacher prepared their well-known Catechism. But at first he confined himself chiefly to oral instruction. He is remembered as having been very successful in making these addresses simple and attractive, clothing beautiful thoughts in intelligible language, and addressing them to his young friends with a benignant smile that won their confidence and opened their hearts. He once pleasantly remarked, that the most satisfactory compliment he had ever received was from a little girl, who told her mother, ' I understood every word he said.' His respect for children was, indeed, singularly strong; and respect is the only word that can fitly express the trust he felt and manifested in their purity. He had, from the first, a profound love for their native honour, their quick moral intuitions, their truth and innocence. And once, when looking at the corpse of a beautiful child, he said, “I consider those so early taken as mysteriously privileged !'”—Pp. 214, 215.
It was in the year 1810 that Channing commenced, with the publication of some occasional sermons, that long and brilliant series of published tracts which have now traversed the whole civilized world, and have surrounded his name with intellectual and moral glory. His Federalist predilections were still dear to him, and his invectives against French principles and denunciation of Bonaparte, by their earnestness and strength excited no small measure of attention, both in England and America. In England, his Fast and Thanksgiving Sermons, which breathed in respect to France a spirit congenial to the popular feeling, were received with.great favour.* In America they received the treatment which is commonly given to works which discuss subjects of party strife. By one party they were praised beyond their merits; by his democratic opponents, they were loaded with censure, and the motives of their author grossly traduced. To Channing's usually calm and gentle spirit this party conflict must have been unspeakably distasteful, and we must ascribe it only to his deep-seated and irrepressible convictions of civil and Christian duty, that he was induced to enter on this arena of strife and passion. Some have thought that Channing's mind, great and self-commanding as it was, did not entirely escape injury in this party discussion, and have ascribed to it the severity, approaching to injustice, with which many years after he treated the character of Napoleon as a statesman and legislator.
We must here pause in our review of this admirable work; we have still abundant materials for another article. We conclude, as we began, by declaring our increased and increasing reverence for the purity of Channing's mind, the nobleness and Christian expansiveness of his principles, and, above all, his strict and unswerving fidelity to conscience. As an appropriate conclusion, we extract the biographer's résumé of the first ten years of his ministerial life.
“ They were uneventful, but inwardly rich in results; and many good seeds then planted themselves which were afterward to bear abundant fruits. Inherited errors, too, not a few, in thought and practice, had been slowly outgrown,-so slowly that he was perhaps unconscious of the change which had
In his Fast Sermon, preached April 5, 1810, Channing gave a masterly sketch of the growth and consequences of the military despotism of France. The eulogium on England contained in that sermon is less generally known than might be expected. “There is one work, one object, which is ever present to the mind of Napoleon. It mingles with all his thoughts. It is his dream by night, his care by day. He did not forget it on the shores of the Baltic or the banks of the Danube. The ruin of England is the first, the most settled purpose of his heart. That nation is the only barrier to his ambition. In the opulence, the energy, the public spirit, the liberty of England, he sees the only obstacles to universal dominion. England once fallen, and the civilized world lies at his feet. England erect, and there is one asylum for virtue, magnanimity, freedom; one spark which may set the world on fire; one nation to encourage the disaffected-to hold up to the oppressed the standard of revolt. England, therefore, is the great object
of the hostile fury of the French emperor. England is the great end of his plans, and his plans of course embrace all nations which come in contact with England, which love or hate her, which can give her support or contribute to her downfal. We, then, we may be assured, are not overlooked by Napoleon. We are a nation sprung from England. We have received from her our laws and many of our institutions. We speak her language, and in her language we dare to express the indignation which she feels at oppression, Besides, we have other ties which connect us with England. We are a commercial people,-commercial by habit, commercial by our very situation. But no nation can be commercial without maintaining some connection with England -without having many common interests with her-without strengthening the foundations of her greatness. England is the great emporium of the world; and the conqueror knows that it is only by extinguishing the commerce of the world, by bringing every commercial nation to bear his yoke, that he can fix a mortal wound on England."
been wrought in his principles. Above all, he had learned the lesson of keeping true to his purest, highest self
, or, to express the same fact more humbly and justly, of being obedient to the Divine will, however revealed to his inmost reason. Goodness had become firmly enthroned as the reigning power in his nature. He lived the life communicated from above. He was becoming yearly and daily more and more a child of God.
“ From his very entrance on a public career, he produced in all who came into his presence the impression of matured virtue and wisdom, and inspired reverence, though young. He wore an air of dignity and self-command, of pure elevation of purpose, and of calm enthusiasm, that disarmed familiarity. Careful of the rights of others, courteous and gentle, he allowed no intrusions upon himself. He was deaf to flattery, turned at once from any mention of his own services or position, paid no compliments and would receive none; but by constant reference to high standards of right, transferred the thoughts of those with whom he held intercourse from personal vanity to intrinsic excellence, and from individual claims to universal principles. He gave no time to what was unimportant, made demands upon the intellect and conscience of those he talked with, and inspired them with a sense of the substantial realities of existence. In his treatment of others there was no presumption nor partiality. He was deferential to old and young; listened without interruption and with patience even to the dull and rude; spoke ill of none, and would hear no ill-speaking; tolerated no levity, but at once overawed and silenced it by wise and generous suggestions; was never hasty, rash nor impetuous in word or act, and met these weaknesses in others with an undisturbed firmness that disarmed passion while rebuking it. Above all, he recognized in his fellows no distinctions but those of character and intelligence, and quietly disregarding capricious estimates and rules of mere etiquette, met rich and poor, learned and ignorant, upon the broad ground of mutual honour and kindness. Thus his influence was always sacred and sanctifying.”—Pp. 242—244.
LOVE. WERE all men wise and good, they would be all of kin to each other, and would be consequently kindly disposed towards each other. As this is not the case, nature substitutes in the place of their goodness surrogates of affinity -as, for instance, by a community of objects, the living together, &c.—and so by means of connubial and brotherly love and friendship our smooth and slippery hearts are connected at distances more or less remote. Thus our affections are educated, and by the state they are elevated still higher. The love of country is but a narrower cosmopolitanism, and a more lofty philanthropy is the philosopher's broader patriotism which embraces the whole earth. In my youth "I was painfully impressed by the great numbers of the human race, for I felt myself unable to love at once a thousand millions. But the heart of man can hold more than his head, and the better man must despise himself who finds that his arms reach only to a single planet.
DISTANCE. DISTANCE in men and in the decorations of a stage converts coarse cords into lines of beauty, and blots into a leafy bower. The absent are the dead whom our absolving heart purifies, and who, when they rise again, are among the blessed.
JOY. The more soft and delicate the flower of Joy, the purer should the hand be which plucks it.