new interpretation of Christianity which it inspires, we believe has a natural fitness to our age and race. We will not doubt that it has its mission to fulfil among our hitherto estranged fellow-countrymen. For the first time, the road has been opened for it; and it goes forth, with its symbol in our starry flag, no longer a timid and apologetic, but a strong and conquering, faith. And many agencies will work with it, to humanize and heal. The fertile breadths of Southern territory offer the most tempting field to colonizing industry. The tides of commercial and friendly intercourse begin to ebb and flow. The nation's resources of humanity and justice, of moral courage and intellectual skill, will be enough-as its resources of field, flood, mine, plantation, and trade, will be enough to meet the new burdens and discharge the new obligations of the time.


Since the above was in type, we have received a letter from Charleston, date of June 17, from what we regard as a most trustworthy source, and copy a few words : —

"I wish, before Mr. Phillips and Mr. Beecher argue any further about immediate universal suffrage, they would spend a month at Captain John Tripp's, and talk politics with Wakazeer, Gabriel, or even Paris. The most intelligent negroes here do not wish it. Mr. C. said to me only this morning, that if we could only have a military government long enough, and the schools kept up, that was all they needed, and they would take the suffrage when it came. As for reconstruction, there are no elements here whatever, white or black; for the whites are disloyal, the blacks ignorant, with some exceptions in both cases. But things are working fast with both classes. The negroes are getting educated, and the whites are becoming loyal, as interests and associations bind them to the Union. Already Mr. B. and Mr. M. declare in favor of colored (educated) suffrage."

[ocr errors]



M. BRUSTON has done good service in the cause of biblical criticism, by translating from the large work of the German, Bleek, the very able, ingenious, and exhaustive discussion of the authenticity of the Gospel of St. John.* The great fault of the discussion, indeed, is that it is so ingenious. The exceeding acuteness of the argument awakens the suspicion that it is not altogether sound. We naturally doubt, where so much special pleading is used. It is not probable that those who have come to believe that John is the author of the Apocalypse will be convinced, by this "Critical Study," that he is also the author of the Gospel. Yet the most sturdy opponents of the prevalent opinion concerning the authorship of the Gospel will find it very hard to set aside the reasons here given for maintaining that opinion. If the argument is not conclusive, it establishes at least a strong presumption that the Gospel came from John, the companion of Jesus, and that the Church tradition is trustworthy. This opinion, nevertheless, is not defended in the interest of Orthodoxy, or because it is not safe to let it go: not for the sake of defending any doctrine, or of maintaining the integrity of the New-Testament canon; but in interest only of the truth, and in the temper of true criticism. Admissions are made in the "Study" quite as damaging to Orthodoxy as any denial of John's authorship could be. writer is quite willing to allow, that, in reporting the language of Jesus, John gives in his own words what the great Teacher seems to be saying, in words probably different from those which Jesus actually used. He admits that John used existing traditions in the compilation of his narrative, and did not depend wholly on his own memory; that he selected from a mass of material, omitting such as would not serve his purpose. He finds, of course, that the last chapter of the Gospel was the work of a different hand, though he denies that it was much later in time. He agrees with the liberal critics, that the motive of the Gospel was rather polemic than didactic; that it was, in some sense, the work of a partisan. The party against which the statement was urged was not Gnostic, not heretical, but was the party holding to the Jewish ideas of John the Baptist. John's Gospel had no special relation with the Synoptic Gospels, and is not to be taken as worth more or less than these.

We have not found the argument of Liberal Christianity against Orthodoxy better stated in a compact form, than in the small volume of the Pastor Bost,† a conspicuous member of that school of thinkers

* Étude Critique sur l'Évangile selon Saint Jean. Traduit de l'Allemand, par CH. BRUSTON. Paris, Meymeis. 1864. 8vo. pp. 69. Le Protestantisme Libéral. Par M. le Pasteur TH. BOST. Paris: Baillière. 1865. 12mo. pp. xiii., 217.

in the French Protestant Church, of which Colani and Coquerel are the acknowledged heads. In successive chapters, Bost answers the questions now at issue between parties in that Church, the question of the Supernatural; of Free Will; of Sin, in its nature, its origin, and its effects; of Salvation and its methods. His statement of the Orthodox position is at once clear, candid, and wholly free from any wish to make this seem more false or more narrow than it is. Bost is a rationalist, decided and pronounced, in his theological theory; but his objection to miracle is not so much that it is impossible or incredible, as that it is unnecessary in proof of ideas, or in demonstration of duty,― unnecessary for all the higher ends of a spiritual faith. There are some views in the book which seem to us not to be correct; but, as an exposition of the weakness and the error of Orthodoxy, it is able, fresh, and original. Yet the author does not wish to be regarded as a critic merely. He pleads manfully for the superior worth and power of liberal religion as a practical system, and maintains its efficiency against the stricter creed-systems. He sees the only sure future for the Church in a free faith.

IN that great congregation which for thirteen years gathered together every Sunday morning, first in the Melodeon, and afterwards in the larger Music Hall, to listen to the sermons and the prayers of Theodore Parker, there were always two busy pencils keeping pace, through prayer and sermon, with the tongue of the preacher, and preserving his words, with a devotion which few men have ever inspired, against the day when his voice should be no longer heard. That day, alas! came only too soon; and, through the dreadful days of the great civil war which he was the first to foresee, his people have listened in vain for that voice, once so strong and so true, whether to warn or counsel, to denounce or comfort, - that voice which was never raised to defend any base or mean thing, and was never silent when any good cause needed an advocate.


From his phonographic notes thus collected, Mr. Leighton has now printed a compilation of extracts,* which, while open perhaps in a more than ordinary degree to the common objections to books of Elegant Extracts," will serve, nevertheless, more than one good purpose. No sermons were ever less ambitious than those of Mr. Parker; yet one unacquainted with his method might possibly receive a contrary impression from a reading of this volume, in which the passages, rarely more than two or three pages long, and utterly disconnected with each other, are, unavoidably for the most part, those in which a novel or striking thought is expressed in peculiarly eloquent language. But any impression of this kind would pretty certainly be corrected by the reading of any single sermon in a complete form; and we hope that this book may serve as a whetstone to

Lessons from the World of Matter and the World of Man. By THEODORE PARKER. Selected from Notes of Unpublished Sermons, by RUFUS L. LEIGHfox. Boston: C. W. Slack. 1865.

sharpen the appetite of the public for the collected edition of Mr. Parker's works which may be expected to appear by and by.

This volume contains little theology, but much religion; and the passages appear to have been collated with a view to display, as far as possible, the happy and joyous tone which was characteristic of Mr. Parker. The goodness of God, the boundlessness of his love, the perfection of his providence, the beauty of the world, the grandeur of human nature, the joys of religion, these are the themes. "Rejoice! rejoice!" is the burden of every page; and when we remember what sermons they were of which these passages formed a part, and with what an ease and naturalness, even in the most abstruse discussions of disputed questions in theology or politics or social science, he reached here and there on every hand for the most familiar and alluring illustrations and arguments, brightening a dull theme with the light of every man's experience, we are amazed at the contrast between all this wealth, and the poverty of the preaching which is listened to under the pulpits of Christendom. "I once heard," says Mr. Emerson, "a preacher who sorely tempted me to say I would go to church no more. . . . He had lived in vain. He had no one word intimating that he had laughed or wept, was married or in love, had been commended or cheated or chagrined. . . . Not one fact in all his experience had he yet imported into his doctrine. This man had ploughed and planted and talked and bought and sold; he had read books; he had eaten and drunken; his head aches, his heart throbs, he smiles and suffers: yet was there not a surmise, a hint in all the discourse that he had ever lived at all. . . . The true preacher can be known by this, that he deals out to the people his life, life passed through the fire of thought." How well Mr. Parker's preaching bore this test we need not say.


This little book, if it can but secure such a circulation as it deserves, will help the larger work of Mr. Weiss in reforming the popular impression in regard to Mr. Parker and his teachings, and opening the eyes of the people to the contemptible spite, and the yet more contemptible falsehood, by which this great man has been cheated of his just fame and influence. It is not two years since, in a little town in New Hampshire, we strolled one Sunday into an Orthodox church, and were suddenly startled in the midst of a dull enough sermon by hearing his name boldly pronounced, to give emphasis to the statement, that there exists "a class of unbelievers who meet the sublime declaration of David, that the heavens declare the glory of God, with the assertion that they declare no other glory than that of Kepler and Newton. Such sheer, blank atheism as this may be doubted by some; yet the remembrance of Theodore Parker, and of the multitude who accept his teachings, should convince us that it does exist." We took occasion the next day, much to his surprise, to ask the reverend gentleman what grounds he had for making such a statement as that to a little congregation of unlettered persons who knew nothing of Mr. Parker, and looked to their minister for all their knowledge on such subjects. Had he ever heard Mr. Parker preach? No. Or pray?—No: he could not

say he had. Or read any of his works?—Yes: he had read some of his essays, and some extracts from his writings in Dr. Bushnell's "Nature and the Supernatural," which, by the way, he should be glad to lend us. Also he had once heard Mr. Parker deliver a lecture on the Progress of the Human Ra towards Perfection, from which he gathered, that the lecturer thought the progress of mankind was due, for the most part, to their own efforts and experiments, and not in any considerable degree to God's assistance. And on such grounds as these he felt competent to stand up before his little congregation, and denounce as an atheist the man who could utter, out of a heart overflowing with love and reverence, such words as these:

"This is the sum of my story, the result of my philosophy, that there is an Infinite God, perfectly powerful, with no limitation of power; perfectly wise, knowing every ing, the meanest and the vastest, at the first as at the end; perfectly just, giving to every soul what is promised in its nature; perfectly loving and perfectly holy. The worship of the Infinite God, the consciousness of his presence in our hearts, that is the sublimest triumph, the dearest joy, the delightfullest of all human delights. Beginning here, it brightens and brightens like the dawn of the day, until it comes unto perfect brightness, and the face of the Father gleams on the forehead of the Son. p. 339.


It is recorded of Favorinus, a quaint old writer, much in favor with Hadrian, that, when arguing once with his imperial master, to the surprise of the bystanders he yielded readily the point in dispute; and, when asked why he did so, answered, that it was ill arguing with the master of thirty legions. In accepting the imperial author's invitation to discuss freely his life of Cæsar, we fancy that the critics of France must have felt a similar embarrassment.


In this country, however, no such difficulty exists. It is not less our privilege than our duty, to say that the work is a failure, regarded either as a scholarly investigation of Roman history, or as a philosophical analysis of a remarkable character. Nearly two-thirds of the first volume, which is all that has thus far appeared, is taken up with a tedious sketch of Roman history before the time of Cæsar; well enough if not too diffuse for an encyclopedia, but without evidence, that we can discover, of original criticism as to the character of the Roman polity, and without so much as the suggestion of a new theory as to the sources of the Roman power, too short if it is meant for a profound examination of the spirit of Roman institutions, and too long if it is meant for nothing more than an analysis of the Roman organization. That the kings disappeared because their mission was accomplished, and that that mission was probably the introduction of civilization into Italy from Greece, no one, perhaps, will be inclined to doubt. But, at the same time, nothing could be less satisfactory to the student, who, having left behind him his text-books of antiquity, seeks in the pages of this acute observer of men, and of

* History of Julius Cæsar. Vol. i. New York: Harper & Brothers. 1865.

[ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »