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he puts off the doctrines with the following mattered, however, whether the society apology, appended in a promissory post-committed to his charge was large or small: script:
bis connection with it quickly determined
it to the first rank among the churches ; “P.S. My intention was to have given you a and the full burthen from which his modelineation of the peculiar doctrines of our reli desty had shrunk, was thrown upon him. gion. But I had not room, and began with too As he never quitted the Federal Street conlittle method. Should you desire it, I will hereafter give you my ideas in order on the subject. gregation, till his retirement two years I assure you I was struck with the sublime pre- before his death, his career is henceforth cepts of Christianity, when I began the study of one continuous whole, and resolves itself the Bible. I was struck, too, with observing how mainly into a mental history, amid the far I had deviated from them. I found that I had natural and ordinary development of exnot a pure, an humble, a pious, or a charitable ternal relations: so that portraiture, rather heart." I saw how Christian charity differed from than narrative, is needed, to give an idea what I used to call benevolence. Every thing of the remainder of his life. was new to me."-I 121.
From the time of his father's early The sense of moral beauty, evidently death, the resources of the family bad been operative here, was indeed one of the cardi- painfully inadequate to the wants of their nal directions of his nature. When he was position. In order to reinstate them in a a mere child, an openness to noble influ- condition which had never been affluent, ences displayed itself in his disgust at the the two eldest sons agreed that one of them corporal punishments then resorted to in should remain unmarried for ten years. the education of boys, and his admiration The vow was fulfilled by William. His of the delicate hands of his sisters and their income from the first was liberal : and no playmates, degraded by no traces of the sooner was he established as a householder ferule. And throughout his life, a certain in Boston, than he brought under his roof fineness of spiritual tact is discernible, the whole domestic circle at Newport, and enabling him to see many a good which assumed all the responsibilities of a head escaped the common eye, and sometimes of the family. The act was doubly graced perhaps depriving his judgments of broad by the happy ingenuity of love through, and massive wisdom by too subtle a com- which it was achieved, and the thorough plication of emotions. If this characteris- self-forgetfulness with which it was carried tic interfered with the soundness of some He pleaded with his mother, that of his political views, it eminently qualified " he had a parsonage which he could not him for the profound appreciation and re-occupy, and fuel which he could not burn, verential acceptance of Christianity. He and that she would save him much waste found himself in his congenial element; and trouble by turning them to good use." and dedicated himself thenceforth to the He talked of the necessity of punctually exposition of Christian obligation, in its paying his board to his mother, and placed bearing on the existing condition of the his funds in her hands, as he said, for safe world, with the simplicity and courage pe- keeping, withdrawing only such trifling culiar to entire conviction.
sums as he absolutely peeded.” He did not immediately exchange bis en- “ He had always been strict in his habits of gagement at Richmond for the ministerial self-denial, in food, dress, and every mode of exoffice. Shattered in constitution, and penditure; but he was now more simple than anxious for riper theological knowledge, he ever, and seemed to have become incapable of any employed the first two years and a half of form of self-indulgence. He took the smallest the present century in study; partly at room in the house for his study, though he might Newport ; partly at Harvard, where he easily have commanded one more light, airy, and received a minor appointment, affording sleeping-chamber an attic, which he shared with a
in every way more suitable; and chose for his him the means and leisure for further self
The furniture of the latter improvement. In 1803, immediately after inight have answered for the cell of an anchorite, his first preaching, he settled in Boston and consisted of a hard mattress on a cot-bedstead, with the small and depressed congregation plain wooden chairs and table, with matting on of the Federal Street church ; having de- the floor. It was without fire, and to cold he was
But he never clined, on its behalf, a simultaneous invi- through life extremely sensitive. tation more tempting to ambition, but less scious of inconvenience. • I recollect," says his bro.
complained, or appeared in any way to be consuitable to the weakness of his health and ther, after one most severe night, that in the mornthe humility of his conscience. It littleding he sportively thus alluded to his suffering :
“ If my bed were my country, I should be some. 1 yet remembering the perfect security of the what like Buonaparte ; I have no control except other. If the life on which we are afloat is over the part that I occupy; the instant I move, not so smooth and fair, that we may leave frost takes possession In sickness only would he change for a time his apartment, and accept a
the currents and the winds to bear us, few comforts. The dress, too, that he habitually while we lie stretched in happy contemplaadopted, was of most inferior quality; and gar. tion; neither is the stream so terrible, that, ments were constantly worn which the world if once we rest upon the oar, we are caught would call mean, though an almost feminine into the rapids, and swept away. When neatness preserved him from the least appearance Dr. Channing looked back on this period of personal neglect. The only luxury he would of his early ministry from a more advanced indulge himself in was annually to lay out a small sum in increasing his scanty library:"-1. 198.
point, he became aware that his rigor of
conscience had been excessive. But there The scrupulous fidelity with which he ad- was a peculiarity about his self-culture, dressed himself to every duty incident to which was too much a part of his nature the relations of the home and the church, ever to disclose itself to him. It was not, awakens in us something of a sad and pain- as with some men, a simple expression of ful admiration. A more unreserved devot-obedience to a binding law: nor, as with edness it is difficult to conceive : but it others, a moral gymnastic, resorted to for needs, for relief, the spring of happy trust. the sake of health ; but a kind of spiritual His vigilance reaches a præternatural strain : asthetic, adopted under the idea of beauty. his self-discipline, an unproductive severi- Distaste predominates over disapproval in ty: his energies waste themselves in repres- his expressions of self-depreciation ; desion : his feelings, in establishing their re- formity strikes him prevailingly in whatever lations of equilibrium inter se. If
becomes obnoxious to his ethical criticism. thought of the mind, every moment of He forms to himself the picture of a beauhe life, every word of social converse, tiful soul, full of “ quickening conviction, the temper of every neighbor, the ope- of " calm energy," of "overflowing sensiration of every event, is to be made bility,”-possessed with the spirit of disinthe distinct object of care and volition, we terestedness, -speaking with“ a voice of undertake a control possible only to Om- penetrating power," and“ infusing into the nipotence, and assume an inspection disap- whole manner an inspiring animation.” pointed by the first twinkling of an eye. This image he sighs and strives to realize : It is hard indeed to hint anything amiss in though it is obvious that the mind ought such a lofty austerity of aim : criticism dis- to be engaged in the pursuit of truth rather appears in reverence. Compared with all than the attainment of convictions-in ordinary standards of excellence, it can re- the doing of work rather than the exercise ceive nothing but honor. It is only when of energy, on the things it has to say, not placing it beside that highest measure, on the expressiveness of voice and manner. which was its own chosen rule, that we are A conscious aim at an inspired unconsciousinclined to ask, whether perfect faithfulness dess implies the same contradiction as an does not admit of more brightness and re-intense effort to forget. In the same mood, pose ;-whether, in demanding a style of Dr. Channing is apt to place religion before character expressive of movement more him as a work of High Art in the minds of flowing and disengaged, we are really com- men ; for the creation of which the exterpromising the dignity of the moral law. nal conditions and appropriate realities Conscientiousness, carried to an anxious have to be found. The imagination has to stringency, proceeds upon the truth, that be fired,—the soul to be stirred : for which every soul is entrusted to itself. This purpose we must look out for “ some subtruth, however, is balanced by another, lime objects,"_"some great principles," that every soul is under the care of God. some truths fitted to work penetratingWhoever is haunted by the impression of ly.” Alas! this advertising for the means the one, lives in the presumption that, of enthusiasm and elevation can elicit only if ever the tension of his will is relaxed, all incompetency and self-delusion. Not more must go wrong.
Whoever surrenders him- vain are the sciolist's schemings for perpetself wholly to the other, lives in the pre- ual motion which would always answer well sumption that, unless he falsely interfere to enough, if he could only stand by for ever,and spoil, all will go right. The mingling in- in case of a dead-lift, work his own pump. fluence of both can alone do justice to the The“ oppressive" seriousness and reserve of two powers, human and divine, that dispose Channing's early ministry arose, however, of us, recognizing the infirmity of the one, 'not less from the limitation, than from the particular direction of his activity. His ; of political excitement during the first years feeble health imposed a sad check on his of the present century. The disappointment great aims, and drove him back upon his of every noble hope for France, the deown mind as often the only sphere of effort gradation of her aims,—from self-renovaopen to a conscience that could not rest. tion to foreign conquest,-her astounding A nature of high moral enthusiasm, almost strides towards continental empire,—the denied the means of action, has a heavy gloomy grandeur of her military throne, as cross to bear. Channing accepted, rather corrupting to its admirers as it was rethan chooso, the life of Thought : and it lentless to its foes,---vehemently agitated was, we imagine, a sacrifioe to him : for Channing's imagination,--and drew from neither the poetic, nor the philosophic ele- him,-on days of Public Fast or Thanksment of his nature had an ascendency in giving,-a number of political Sermons, him adequate to produce the permanent which, with some occasional exaggeration, fruits of such a course. In the best sense, appear to us rich in genuine wisdom. The his mind had a certain feminine cast; it was apprehensions for the independence of his rich in sentiment; delicate in sympathy; own country, with which the course of Naquick of apprehension when aroused by any poleon's ambition filled him, were indeed sufficient feeling ; difficult to bring to a fixed founded on a miscalculation of the forces and definite conviction, but thenceforward required to grasp the sceptre of two worlds. heroically faithful. It has often been re- But from what is now known of the giganmarked how many an authoress will pro- tic schemes of the French Dictator, it canduce an essay, a sonnet, or a song; how not be doubted that he was rapidly completfew have even attempted a systematic trea-ing the organizing for a universal sovereigntise, a drama, or an opera. The same ina- ty, and contemplating an empire of dependbility to hold out for any continuous intel- encies from the Neva to the Atlantic, from lectual effort is manifest, not only in the oc- Scandinavia to Sicily. And no one who casional character, but in the internal struc- has studied the internal condition of the ture, of Dr.Channing's productions. Of this, countries submitted to the influences of the however, we shall be in a better position to Corsican family, Spain, Italy, Westphajudge, whenever the posthumous Fragment lia,--will be disposed to think Channing's is published of his great work on the picture of the European dangers of that “ Principles of Moral, Religious, and Po- time, any more overcharged in its colors, litical Science.” Now, to us it appears than overdrawn in its scale. The anxiety certain that this special type of character which he felt to keep his country free from demands, for its perfection, the discipline the entanglement of French alliance, ex• of strenuous outward effort. As men are plains itself in the following passages: greater in the difficult passages of thought, women astonish us most in severe emergen- “Can we then suppose that the ambitious, the cies of action. May we not in short regard keen-sighted Napoleon overlooks us in his scheme it as a general law, that an intense subjec- of universal conquest ; that he wants nothing of tivity requires, as a counterbalance, an ex- us, and is content that we should prosper and be ternal life proportionally provocative of ac- Has he not already told us that we must embark in
at peace, because we are so distant from his throne ? tion? and that, where the two elements are his cause ? Has he not himself declared war for not maintained at an equipoise, weakness us against England ? and disarrangement must more or less en- “ Will it be said, he wants not to conquer us, sue? Thus, the profoundly internal reli- but only wisbes us to be his allies ? Allies of gion of the Puritans, which was only a France ! Is there a man who does not shudder at healthy power in an age of social insecurity
the thought? Is there one who would not rather and private heroism, may become morbid struggle nobly, and perish under her open enmity, by simple transmission to times of easier-her alliance !
iban be crushed by the embrace of her friendship, habits and softer repose. And the retro- “Will it be said that these evils are political spective musings which give something of a evils, and that it is not the province of a minister mournful character to Dr. Channing's early of religion to concern himself with temporal afgoodness, point to the probable greatness fairs? Did I think, my friends, that only politihe might have achieved, had not physical cal evils were to be dreaded—did I believe that the infirmity turned the key upon him, and minds, the character, the morals
, the religion of
our nation would remain untouched- did I see in kept him prisoner within. The want of French domination nothing but the loss of your due exercise in the free air of action was wealth, your luxuries, your splendor,—could ! in some degree supplied by the stimulus hope that it would leave unsullied your purity of
faith and manners, I would be silent. But reli- | of its real though hidden meaning, a list was gion and virtue, as well as liberty and opulence, given of all the obnoxious doctrines held by wither under the power of France. The French Revolution was founded in infidelity, impiety and
the extreme gauche of English liberalism. atheism. This is the spirit of her chiefs, her In defence, the heretics set up “ The Chrismost distinguished men; and this spirit she tian Disciple” in 1813: and both in its breathes, wherever she has influence. It is the pages, and in detached writings of the most unhappy effect of French domination, that it same period, we have memorials of the gradegrades tbe human character to the lowest point. dual development of American UnitarianNo manly virtues grow under this baleful, malig- ism ; and especially of the form it assumed nant star. France begins her conquests by cor- in the mind of Channing. It was with eviruptions, by venality, by bribes; and where she dent reluctance that he brought himself to succeeds, her deadly policy secures her from commotion by quenching all those generous senti- take a side in controversial discussion ;ments which produce revolt under oppression. the reluctance, not of amiable weakness, The conqueror ibinks his work not half finished desiring peace on any terms; much less, until the mind is conquered, its energy broken, its of conservative prudence, softening or supfeeling for the public welfare subdued. Such are pressing the utterance of real conviction ; the effects of subjection to France, or, what is the same thing, of alliance with her; and when we be too closely pressed for definitions on
-but of a peculiar intellect, not liking to consider how much this subjection is desired by Napoleon, when we consider the power and the matters transcending our measures of ex. arts which he can combine for effecting his wishes pression and thought. The
demand and purposes, what reason have we to tremble !" for precise and severe statement, the fond-I, 336.
ness for a closely connected system, is not
more strictly a characteristic of the schools With the European re-action after the of Calvin and of Priestley, than is the love year 1811, terminating in Napoleon's over- of indeterminate and widely-suggestive lanthrow three years later, the absorbing in- guage an inseparable part of Channing's terest of political questions ceased: and, religion. The distinction is far from being after a strong protest against the American one merely of manner and form. It is declaration of war with England in 1812, deeply seated in the modes of thought from we find a new class of subjects engaging which the theologies severally proceed: Channing's attention, and materially affect and requires that we should compare these ing, not only his local relations, but his at their foundations. In doing so, we shall whole influence and reputation. The time set aside all the differences of mere Scriphad come for him to define his theological tural interpretation; supposing it to be inideas. The general body of Congregation- controvertible, that the psychological tenalist Churches in New England had hither-dencies of men predetermine the grand feato travelled on together; all of them, pro- tures of their belief, and the work of exegebably, receding from the old Puritan stan- sis itself, leave only the subordinate details dard of doctrine : but to such various ex- | at the disposal of historical attainment and tent, that it became more difficult every acquired skill. year to consider them parts of the same The whole of Channing's scheme of company. The tendency of the divergent thought took its departure from a profound movement had declared itself in Great Bri- and natural Moral faith. The sense of tain, where Mr. Belsham had become dis- Obligation, infinitely solemn and sacred, tinguished as an heresiarch : and the lead- was predominant over every thing else, in ers of the orthodox centre at Boston deter- his own consciousness : its intensity securmined to insist upon the return of all strag. ed for it a solitary dignity in his estimaglers, or else to cut them off. The usual tion; prevented his confounding it with arts of schism were accordingly put into any other feeling, or resolving it into ignooperation. A periodical,— The Pano- ble ingredients, or assigning to it a derivaplist,”—was created, to give anonymous tive place. That man is endowed with expression to all the jealousies and suspi- knowledge of the right, and with power to cions which are so familiar to clerical sensi- realize it, was the jundamental axiom in tiveness, but which it requires some courage bis Science of human nature. Hence his personally to own. The ambiguous lan- attachment to the doctrine of Free-will; guage of the latitudinarian divines, corres- the compromise of which he justly regarded ponding no doubt with the indeterminate as rendering the sentiment of Duty illusory. condition of their ideas, was treated as an A mind, entrusted with responsible power, hypocrisy: and to suggest an interpretation is at once a Cause in itself, and subject of
a Higher Cause : so that the ethical prin-| ty of appeal, must respect the conditions ciple completes itself in religious truth; of our being, and, in the inmost circle, and in the Conscience itself there is both leave us to ourselves. Whatever revelation a Revelation and a Type of God. Its sug- he makes of himself must deal with us as gestions, by the very authority they carry free beings, living under natural laws : with them, declare themselves to be his and must be merely supplementary to that Law; its aspirations, to be the whisper of law, enlarging our consciousness of it, and his spirit. Concurring with our highest our aspirations after conformity with it. nature, and present in its action, he can be Everything arbitrary and magical, everythought of only after the pattern he thus thing which despairs of us or insults us as gives. He therefore is a Free Cause, like moral agents, everything which does not ourselves : he perceives the infinite differ- address itself to us through the Reason and ence between moral good and evil, and Conscience,-must be excluded from the places his power at the disposal of this per- relations of intercourse between God and ception. The distinctions which are thus man. objects of the Divine Mind must be eternal In such a system of ideas did Channing's and immutable ; inherent in the nature of theology find its base. Far different was things: and we must have been created in the method of Priestley's thought. As adaptation to them, not they created the one was the result of moral reflection, in adaptation to us. Hence pain and plea- the other followed the lead of material sure are attached to them as retributory ap- Science. It was to be expected that the pendages, not prefixed to them as physical successful chemist and electrician would
And finally, since the preferential carry the intellectual habits of the laborapower of the Will is the original type and tory into the meditations of the church. sole model of Causality, Mind alone, to His Theism, accordingly, is a conclusion of which this attribute is peculiar, fulfils the Inductive philosophy: a detection of the requisites of a Cause : and it is only in the earliest term of Causation; a discovery of inferior sense of force without choice, that the Fountain-head, whence all the streams the word can be applied to a physical agen- of force flow through the universe, and procy. The primitive and ultimate synthesis duce its collective phenomena. This First of force with choice may undergo temporary Cause, reached by the same reasoning that analysis : Mind may transmit force indefi- discloses other physical agencies, must be nitely through matter,—or so as to consti- supposed a Cause in the same sense, and tute matter, but the element of choice re- must be interpreted by the same rules. mains at home.
The nature of the effects declares him to be Now what, in consistency with this mode rational: by position he is prior to all of thinking, will be the mutual position of things ; as an unintelligent step is impossiGod and man? Both will be conceived as ble to him, and no collateral power exists standing in the august presence of certain to limit him, he designs all that is producMoral possibilities, presenting a species of ed, and produces all that he designs. Every criterion of their nature. God, through object and event is therefore derivative an eternal existence, has made the good from his intending Will; independent the sole object of his choice and love. To agency is impossible; and however comus, whom he has created in the image of pletely the mechanism may be concealed, his own Free-will, he bas imparted power the human mind is included in the vast to do the same, and put us on our trial here ; system, and implicitly subject to necessary giving us such participation in his own spi- laws. Hence, we can never stray from our ritual perceptions as may accord with the appointed end : the impression that we limited conditions of our being; disposing could have chosen a different course is an around us external opportunities for the illusion: the feeling that we ought to have exercise of such perceptions ; and planting done so, simply means, it is unfortunate within us the voluntary force to realize for us that we did not: and even this is at their suggestions. In our personal essence, bottom never true; since our decision therefore, we are, and must ever remain, would not have obtained admission into independent agents, -associates, or“ joint- the system, had it not, in spite of its ill workers” with God. He may change the looks at present, really been the best. field of our probation; may strengthen the Thus, the distinctions of good and evil discipline of our life ; deepen the intima- which the moral feelings recognize, are aptions of his spirit; but, under every varie-parent only, not ultimate: the two things