صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

which he hopes to do! How he follows Jesus in the outpouring of his priceless affections, as you tell of his all-suffering love in living tones! How he listens, at times, in subdued reverence, when you speak in pure faith of a Father's providence! How instinctively he believes in immortality ! Other impulses quickly and often come; yet these are present too. The

young
heart
may open

under such instructions as the flowers to the sun, if we do not cloud it by our sin. And if we wish for a more convincing witness from experience, we have only to remember the instance of the Moravians, to whom Dr. Bushnell refers. No devotion has been more fervent than theirs ; and their hymns of praise, the expressions of their love and trust and prayer in song, seem more like breathings from heaven than notes from mortal lips. They present religion in its loveliness, not only because they are so true, but because they speak to the heart of the child with a faith in its power to begin to breathe this air of heaven in the first opening of its life.

But we forbear. We must leave some topics which we desired to present. Let us again commend these Discourses of Dr. Bushnell to general notice, and, in few words, urge the importance of the subject which they discuss. We rejoice to see so many indications of a new conviction of the necessity of a true Christian nurture, as our only real hope for our country and for the world. No pleadings upon this theme can be too urgent or too strong. Many of the attempts at great moral reformations partially fail, because this Christian education has not been given.

We counsel no cessation of these pleadings for such reforms. By an attack upon specific sins we may produce convictions of regenerating truths in the heart of the world. But we cannot yet graft such pure fruits of love upon this corrupt and selfish life. One generation, trained in the spirit of the view which Dr. Bushnell presents, might banish slavery and war, and many kindred sins. We rejoice, too, that parental influence is urged by him so strongly, as a divinely appointed agency for this great work. No combination of holy influences can compensate for its loss. We mourn, as we consider this, when we see how the children of numberless homes seem to be bereaved of their heaven-ordained teachers by the tendencies or the neglects of the time. The intense action of the business world, absorbing all thought, all energy, on the part of so many in large sections of the country, and the gradual

1847.]

Duty of Parents.

449

neglect of parental discipline in so many instances more, have produced a vast change in this respect throughout the world. When we think of the direct moral influence which is attempted or exerted, how often does the parent seem to be little more than an idea to the child, if haply the case be not sadder still! We shudder to read of the children who are brought to the Ganges by parental bands, to be cast into the fatal stream. Yet, though misguided, a sense of religion is there, and that thought throws a kind of consecration over such an unnatural and revolting deed. What is it to suffer the child to go by our neglect, or to cast him by our example, into that more fatal stream of selfish thought, feeling, desire, which pours through the heart of society, as its controlling life? Here arise questions not to be set aside. If they be not heard, they will yet demand an answer in tones which no man can silence.

Even our arrangements for moral instruction seem partially to remove the child from this indispensable parental nurture. True, it is an absolute, an inexcusable perversion of their design. Yet we sear, we believe, that many parents, who would feel it an imperative duty, under other circumstances, to attempt to give some direct, regular religious teaching to their children, transfer that holy office now to other hands. The instruction sadly ceases in the home, because it is given in the Sunday school. The parent cannot transfer his office, let others do what they may. These neglectful parents not only bereave their offspring of an influence which they alone can exert, they almost defeat every influence besides.

The silence of a parent's lips respecting the holiest themes may do more to chill the child's heart into apathy, to make it heedless, dead to all Divine appeals, than any direct teaching of others can do to give it life. The negative influence of a home may outweigh all the positive influence of a world. The parent cannot transfer his office. No solemn sanctions of the truth of God in later years can inspire a reverence more profound, more all-subduing, than that in which the child may listen to the fervent teaching of a true mother's heart. Here is a priesthood which is divine, through which the spirit of truth and love shall flow directly into the secret soul. We repeat, the parent cannot transfer his office, if he would. And he who seeks to do it should be ashamed, both for his want of natural affection, and his neglect of his directly consecrated work, his inexcusable sin. VOL. XLIII. -4TH S. VOL. VIII. NO. III.

39

But we

can only present these suggestions. We wish that some voice of power would express in living words this “cry of the children ” to those who have given them life, for the nurture of their souls ; for then should we see the foundation securely laid upon which our best hopes for the world may rest.

Since the preceding article was written, Dr. Bushnell has published “An Argument for Discourses on Christian Nurture, addressed to the Publishing Committee of the Massachusetts Sabbath School Society.” It is an admirable pamphlet. A few passages, we confess, seemed to us at first severe. They certainly show with what skill the author might use the most pointed weapons, if he chose. Yet a perusal of the whole has convinced us, that even these passages may be regarded as proper rebukes from one who is assured of his position and is working for the noblest and broadest ends. A large portion of bis Argument is devoted to a most successful defence of his little work against the charge of heresy. We admire the spirit of reverence and of freedom in which he pursues this discussion ; entering upon it, “ not because he does not feel himself at liberty io defy all human authority, when truth seems to require it, but because it is pleasant to have the sanction of venerable names, when we may.” The remainder of the pamphlet, embracing his replies to criticisms upon his theory of nurture, and remarks upon many connected topics, has a still greater interest. His strictures concerning the nature of the experiences often produced by the excitement of revivals are philosophical and candid. And we have seldom been impressed more deeply than by one passage, in which he makes a renewed statement of the organic connection between the parent and the child, showing how the parent's moral life may stream into the child's soul, as by a law of contagion, in the “era of impressions,” even before language has been learned; presenting a view whose possible truth is enough to make every imperfect man almost stand aghast with fear. But we have no space to devote to any of these topics. We can only invite attention to one extract, which is a noble declaration of the catholic spirit in which Dr. Bushnell pursues his inquiries.

“I did not draw up this scheme of nurture to meet the uses or gratify the opinions of any sect. It is a first maxim with me, as

1847.]

Principle of Unity.

451

I think it should be in this age of every one who pretends to think at all, to reach after the most comprehensive form of truth possible; to see how far I may dissolve into unity, in the views | present, the conflicting opinions by which men are divided, giving them back all which they are after, in a form which they can accept together. And the fortune of my little book is, in this view, remarkable, though not a surprise to myself." - p. 24.

A man could not honor himself more than by the avowal of such a principle. It proves him to be worthy of his age. We hail it with joy. We deem its advocacy more important than the most successful vindication of any particular opinion which we may cherish. Its prevalence must open a way by which all great truths can be vindicated. Theologiaps, moved by an aim so broad, are what the Christian world most deeply needs. We should not desire to see them included in one sect. The interests of truth would be better promoted by having some men appear in all the various sects with such comprehensive aims, expounding universal principles each from his special point of view. Then we should not have one strain alone, but a complete anthem, in which all the varied notes would be blended at length in full and perfect harmony. We rejoice to see how consistently Dr. Bushnell follows out his principle in his references to the reception of his work by other sects. We welcome his criticisms upon Unitarianism. He thinks that Unitarianism will cease to exist. If the adoption of his principle of action by the Christian world should at length destroy it as a distinctive sect, we may at least take this comfort, — that the saine process would destroy many other sects also.

Meanwhile we can only express the earnest desire that some man amongst ourselves will meet Dr. Bushnell, and all who may sympathize with him, in “the freedom of conference” he seems to wish, expounding great doctrines from our own point of view, in the same free and catholic spirit. Perhaps no better service could now be done for the religious world.

G. W. B.

NOTICES OF RECENT PUBLICATIONS.

The Principles of Nature, her Divine Revelations, and a Voice

to Mankind. By and through ANDREW JACKSON Davis, the “ Poughkeepsie Seer” and “Clairvoyant.” New York. 1847. 8vo. pp. 782

The testimony is so strong in support of the claim, made by Davis and his coadjutors, that this book shall be believed to have been dictated by him in consecutive states of clairvoyance, that we find it most easy to admit the fact, while we take the liberty of rationalizing it a little. Admitting, however, that clairvoyance is an established phenomenon, and that speaking or dictating under its influence is not uncommon, when, in addition to this, it is asserted that the thing dictated is a “supplement of grace" from a spiritual plane above the mind, and not an organic development under the stimulus of an exalted state, there is only one kind of testimony upon which belief can supervene ; for a bare assertion is worthless, if the case do not furnish such testimony. In the first place, the knowledge superadded to the mind must not have existed previously as the result of natural speculation; otherwise the revelation would be a superfluity. What every body can know, without the expensive process of an influx of spirits into a clairvoyant's mind, cannot establish the reality of such an influx ; because nature, or rather the presence of God, is too economical to create the same result by two distinct methods. Science is continually vindicating the ler parsimonia. We do not question Divine ability; we only assert the Divine limitations of abili. ty, as manifested in the immutability of laws. A system of law may have its exceptional clauses, by virtue of which Divine in. terference may ensue ; but this is for the purpose of effecting something beyond the known routine of law, not for doing some. thing that known laws can do. The crystallization of distinct minerals, the unfolding of all germs, occur only in one way. So, if one truth be imparted by a natural process, we are not author. ized to expect that it will be imparted by a preternatural process, - and if the latter be essential, the former is inadequate. We cannot fancy any spiritual agency being at the trouble of reveal. ing what every body knew before. Now, to apply this canon to Davis's book, we find the following objection to its claim ; — that the speculations it contains are to be found, so far as our private researches have extended, within the covers of a moderate number of other books. We except some quaint and random

« السابقةمتابعة »