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than conscience or the truth; that the world will and must have its way; that the aspiring heart and the consecrated will must retire into privacy and strict seclusion, if they would indulge their morbid, sanctimonious ways. The average life of the times says, "These are not times for such delicate moralities;" and indeed some tender souls have been foolish enough to talk of Protestant nunneries and monasteries as the only hope of modern piety.

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But this is a cowardly retreat before a powerful, yet after all a very vulnerable, and by no means unconquerable, enemy. The social emulation of our people now coarse, now refined; now avowed, now secret is a spirit not to be exorcised, but to be instructed; not to be done away, but to be purified and restrained. It is to be defecated of its taint by the sturdy criticism of those who still believe in the might of truth, the sanctity of goodness, and the power of prayer and holiness, and in the possibilities of a Christian life. Courage, moral courage, is the great want of American society. It is cowardice among men and women who know better; cowardice in the pulpit and the press, cowardice in society and on the platform, in the home-circle and in the world, that leaves folly, extravagance, and wickedness their unchallenged arena. Would that we had a few moral leaders, not men aiming at a cheap capital of religious repute by becoming extravagant and professional censors of what they do not understand, but men of conviction, intelligence, and moral standing; who, instead of going apart and disdainfully leaving the great tide of humanity to its own course, saving only their own feet and skirts, would boldly go into the stream, and preserve, by wisdom, justice, and piety, the costly freight it bears! The country has too much education and too much aspiration, not to value, not to heed, not to follow, better counsels than it receives. A great heart of courage is a real power in the world. A few genuine leaders of public sentiment might greatly change the aspect of American society. Our people are as apt for what is good as for what is bad. Their external circumstances, especially in the West, are favorable to large, strong, generous views. This tendency is now abused to encourage latitudinarianism of mor

als, rudeness of manners, and laxity of opinion. But, after all, the largest and most generous views are really the divinest, noblest, purest. The great region of the West, gigantic in its features, is breeding a physical race, worthy to be the shrine of a nobler spirit and a grander faith. We believe the impurities will settle, the perilous fires slacken, the folly abate, under principles vital and ever active at the heart of our society. But, meanwhile, can a single generation afford to wait the gravitation of events? Are we willing personally to be only tools spoiled in making a civilization which is to be worth something a hundred years hence? Individual character is the immortal end of our existence; and only atheists and infidels are prepared to build up civilization on the ruins of generations whose follies, vices, and sins are counted on to prepare the soil, filling with their refuse the deep quagmires which are thus to become the foundations of future stableness.


First Historical Transformations of Christianity. From the French of Athanase Coquerel, the Younger. By E. P. EVANS, Ph. D., Professor of Modern Languages and Literature in the University of Michigan. One volume. Boston: Wm. V. Spencer. 1867. AGAIN we have to thank Professor Evans for an excellent translation of a book eminently adapted to the wants of candid and inquiring minds. This time it is a thoroughly religious work that is offered us; the "First Historical Transformations of Christianity," by Athanase Coquerel, the younger, a man who, like his illustrious father, has distinguished himself not less by his acquirements as a scholar and his eloquence as a preacher than by his fearless declaration of unpopular truths, and his brave endurance of such forms of persecution as the church and the world still tolerate for the punishment of heretics and innovators.

The treatise-contained in one small volume of less than

three hundred pages - traces the various transformations which Christianity has undergone at the hands of its adherents, from the time immediately succeeding the death of Christ to the close of the fourth century. It displays great learning and careful research, and yet avoids all those technicalities and scholastic digressions which render so many church histories incomprehensible and uninteresting to the general reader. The simplest mind can understand and enjoy the plain statements, the reasonable conclusions, of this little book; the keenest intellect must admire the wonderful simplicity of its diction (which is the perfection of art in style), the cogency of its arguments, and the irresistible naïveté displayed in the declaration of its most startling positions, which, in many instances, contain, in a single terse sentence, as calmly laid down as though it were an axiom or an undisputed fact, a clear solution of points which have filled volumes with unprofitable discussion, and embittered the minds of hundreds of men who have allowed prejudice to falsify history. With great liberality of thought, our author is reverent toward all that is true in every phase of religious sentiment; and, under his skilful handling, the abnormal developments of Christianity, which we recognize in the form of dogmatic creeds, enfeebling superstitions, and spiritual tyrannies, are presented, not as miraculous institutions, having fixed conditions, which cannot be accommodated to the progress of humanity, but as the natural sequence of events, the unavoidable result of traditionary influences: thereby enabling us to fear them the less, and to escape from their injurious bondage the earlier.

The treatment of the theme is so methodical, that it would be unjust to the author not to follow the same arrangement in our notice of its excellencies. And, while we do this, we shall, in order to avoid continual reference to the text, present a faithful, though brief, summary of the contents of the work in our own words.

No one can deny, that a new and very strong impulse has recently been given to religious inquiry, and to critical investigation of the authority of existing creeds and forms of worship. This activity is met by renewed zeal, on the part of

long-established religions, in defence of their doctrines and practices. Islam, no less than Christianity, seems animated with fresh vigor; and, in Christianity, both Popery and Protestantism are on the alert. The tendency everywhere is towards larger liberty: the conflict is caused by the effort of conservatism to restrain the progress of free thought.

It is undeniable also that every individual has an interest in these great questions, and a right to examine their conditions, and their bearings upon human welfare. With the diffusion of education, they demand more general study: they cannot be ignored. Ecclesiastical prohibitions cannot keep them hidden; carelessness and selfish ease cannot escape their intrusion. Many deprecate the free discussion of opinions on spiritual subjects, imagining that, because old creeds are trembling to their fall, religion itself is in danger of being overthrown. This is because the world has so long been trained to believe that religious knowledge must always be abstract and vague, not subject to the same laws of reason which govern other departments of human thought. But, in our days, men are beginning to venture to study religion in the light of history; and whoever does this with an unprejudiced mind and a fearless heart will be in no danger of losing sight of God, the infinite and absolute, or of that sentiment in man's nature which responds to His eternal and immediate presence.

Religions, like every thing else under the law of material and moral nature, are constantly undergoing modification. When a religion ceases to obey this law of change, it is a proof that it no longer contains any element of improvement for the world, any power over the consciences of men: it is dead. But while a religion retains life, it may be modified in several ways: it may develop in conformity with its nature and thus increase in strength, or contrary to its nature and thus become constantly weaker, or there may be at once elements of decay and of prosperity in its changes, so that the result is neither wholly beneficial nor utterly injurious. Religion is so fruitful in ideas, and admits of such great variety of sentiment, that, of widely different beliefs, each may contain true principles, and be deserving of respect and attention on account of its own

peculiar contribution to the sum of human improvement: therefore, in view of these facts, and for the sake of historical impartiality, it is most correct to characterize the various modifications of the Christian religion as transformations, because this word does not imply prejudgment of their results, as the word deviation or development might seem to do.

The three great transformations of primitive Christianity are Roman Catholicism, the Greek or Russian Church, and Protestantism. But as these transformations cannot be understood without a survey of the work of the Founder of Christianity, and as even this was in some degree dependent on what preceded it, it will be necessary first to glance at the condition of the world before the coming of Christ.

No religion can properly be said to have been created by any individual, or by any body of men, or by any people. The religious sentiment is innate with every human being. There is an aspiration towards the infinite in every soul, and the conviction of its affinity with a superior power becomes stronger and more satisfactory with every new development of its own capacities. If this instinctive feeling be nurtured in a reasonable and healthful manner, it ennobles the whole nature; but, if it be perverted, it corrupts every thing: in any case it is the most powerful expansive force in the moral world, and must continually work either rapid progress or cruel devastation. Religion distorted and vitiated has always been the bane of true liberty; and it is on this account that many earnest men have revolted entirely from all acknowledgment of religious claims, and have declared themselves atheists.

But in

Some religions have grown up, like languages, from the contributions of many souls for a long period of time: others bear the distinct impress of individual thought, the prevailing influence of some gifted man, wise enough to understand the wants of his time and strong enough to satisfy them. such a case the work of the Founder never remains precisely as he left it if he was too far in advance of his age, his followers necessarily retrograde to more comprehensible ideas; if he stood but little above the ordinary level, he is soon surpassed.

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