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cherish these sacred groves that surround their ancestral mansions, and to perpetuate them to their descendants. Republican as I am by birth, and brought up as I have been in republican principles and habits, I can feel nothing of the servile reverence for titled rank merely because it is titled; but I trust that I am neither churl nor bigot in my creed. I can both see and feel how hereditary distinction, when it falls to the lot of a generous mind, may elevate that mind into true nobility. It is one of the effects of hereditary rank, when it falls thus happily, that it multiplies the duties and, as it were, extends the existence of the possessor. He does not feel himself a mere individual link in creation, responsible only for his own brief term of being. He carries back his existence in proud recollection, and he extends it forward in honourable anticipation. He lives with his ancestry, and he lives with his posterity: to both does he consider himself involved in deep responsibilities. As he has received much from those who have gone before, so he feels bound to transmit much to those who are to come after him. His domestic undertakings seem to imply a longer existence than those of ordinary men: none are so apt to build and plant for future centuries as noble-spirited men, who have received their heritages from foregone ages.
"I cannot but applaud, therefore, the fondness and pride with which I have noticed English gentlemen, of generous temperaments and high aristocratic feelings, contemplating those magnificent trees, which rise like towers and pyramids from the midst of their paternal lands. There is an affinity between all nature, animate and inanimate: the oak, in the pride and lustihood of its growth, seems to me to take its range with the lion and the eagle, and to assimilate, in the grandeur of its attributes, to heroic and intellectual man. With its mighty pillar rising straight and direct towards heaven, bearing up its leafy honours from the infirmities of earth, and supporting them aloft in free air and glorious sunshine, it is an emblem of what a true nobleman should be; a refuge for the weak, a shelter for the oppressed, a defence for the defenceless; warding off from them the peltings of the storm, or the scorching rays of arbitrary power. He who is this, is an ornament and a blessing to his native land. He who is otherwise, abuses his eminent advantages; abuses the grandeur and prosperity which he has drawn from the bosom of his country. Should tempests arise, and he be laid prostrate by the storm, who would mourn over his fall? Should he be borne down by the oppressive hand of power, who would murmur at his fate?-'why cumbereth he the ground?"
ART. VI. — RELIGION AND SOCIETY: PALEY AND
Channing, sa Vie et ses Œuvres; avec une Préface par M. Charles de Rémusat. 1857.
Paley's Natural Theology. Edited by Lord Brougham and Sir C. Bell. 3 vols. 1855.
THE publication of the elegant and compendious French memoir of Dr. Channing, which we have placed at the head of this article, is scarcely likely, we think, to answer satisfactorily what is obviously and pointedly the authoress's immediate purpose. The French people are now permanently living—at least as regards their social and political life-under what, according to Paley's definition, may be termed a high sense of "obligation;" in other words, they are "urged by a violent motive resulting from the command of another."* But to the student and disciple of Dr. Channing "obligation" of this kind appears to be rather a condition of disease than an element of happiness; and mourning over the choked-up springs of spiritual liberty in France, our authoress obviously desires to bring a profound moral and religious influence to dispel what she no doubt truly regards as a profound moral and religious insensibility. But we greatly doubt whether-notwithstanding the vivid and constant interest in the destinies of France which Dr. Channing's life and writings display-his be the kind of faith and teaching to take a powerful hold even of the most cultivated portion of the French people. There can be no doubt that that clear simplicity of mind and intellect, which seems to some extent an American, and certainly a New-England characteristic, might give him great advantages with a French audience; and there can be no doubt at all that the one central enthusiasm of his life is likely to appeal powerfully at the present moment to the French people. He was possessed, we may truly say, by a deeply-meditated and enthusiastic reverence for the moral and spiritual individuality of every human mind; and it was this rooted reverence for the inward freedom of human life which made him resist so stoutly the contagious despotism of Bonaparte's policy, and afterwards sympathise so eagerly with the popular party which the Revolution of 1830 brought forward in France. He held that the "only glory of a state" consisted in promoting "the free and full development of human nature ;" and his first intense political im
* Paley's Moral and Political Philosophy, book ii. chap. ii.
pressions were due to the practical mockery of this principle by what was then the greatest nation of Europe. At school he read how the passionate tyranny of a Parisian mob,—at college how the calculating tyranny of one man's genius,-rode roughshod over private and individual liberty; and an absolute spiritual horror at all irreverent invasion of the inmost freedom of man entered ever after into the deepest essence both of his political and religious faith. It might not therefore seem unnatural to expect that the life and writings of Dr. Channing-and especially the writings selected by the authoress of this memoir-would produce a profound impression on the unsettled religious thought of France, indeed, on all who believe in the spiritual character of freedom; and just now more especially, when they feel the yoke to which, in weariness of selfish conflict, they willingly submitted themselves, pressing heavier and heavier on their necks.
Nor is it in any way to our purpose in the present paper to explain at length our grounds for fearing that this expectation may not be fulfilled. We have only alluded to the immediate aim of the publication of the French memoir in order to call attention to one marked feature of Dr. Channing's faith, which, while it connects that faith closely with the various religious traditions he inherited, certainly renders it unlikely to satisfy the strongest religious cravings of the French character at the present day. We refer to its moral and spiritual loneliness, to its strict subordination of social life to the life of the individual, to the secondary and subservient position which it assigns to social laws as compared with those regulating the culture and formation of solitary character. If there be one deeply-rooted desire in the modern French character which may be said to be either properly religious, or verging very closely on religion, it is the desire for some stronger sense of social unity. Hence the communistic dreams which the most enthusiastic, and perhaps the purest popular, writers of modern France so freely indulge. And hence also the strong hold which the Catholic Church keeps on a community which has intellectually outgrown its tutelage. With this eager yearning for conscious organic unity, for close social cohesion, Dr. Channing's writings evince no sympathy. In his youth, indeed, and even later, he dreamt of a community of goods; but that was due solely to a republican love of strict equality and dread of selfish avarice: indeed, he truly regarded the close mutual dependence which would ensue with thorough aversion, as a great spiritual danger, if not as a necessary evil. But he went further than this: in his estimation, social life was a mere discipline for the nourishment of individual character; and great as was the stress he laid on the culture of social affections, it was rather as adding grace and dignity to a self-sustained
character than as lying round the very roots of human individuality. The English religion of the last century conceived the individual life to be quite as distinct and separable from the human society in which it is educated as it is from the world of inferior animals; and even Dr. Channing's faith, which presents the highest form of that religion, uniformly regards social influences as superinduced on the individual nature, instead of as having their source and strength in the deepest depths of that nature. We do not think it possible that his mind and writings should deeply rouse the spiritual life of a people who, if they are groping after religious faith at all, are certainly seeking it from the social side. The French touch most nearly on the supernatural world,-on the awe of spiritual inspiration,-when the power of social sympathy has melted away their sense of individual isolation, and kindled anew the exultation of a common life. Dr. Channing, like even the deepest of the religious thinkers of his time, felt religion to be a solitary life; and though religious faith led him out into society, he would never have felt that society led him involuntarily into a more vivid religious faith. In short, though one of the most profoundly religious men, not only of his own time, but of all times, his writings are not likely to satisfy the craving of the present day-a craving deeper perhaps relatively among the French than amongst us English, who are the most reserved of the Western nations, but manifestly growing rapidly even amongst us-for a Social Faith; not, indeed, a Faith to reconstitute society from the old ecclesiastical point of view, but a Faith that recognises, that, so far as it can, explains, and that at least gives free expression to, the infinite or religious side of social life and duty.
We seize the occasion, therefore, of the appearance of this French memoir of Dr. Channing, to trace the two most conspicuous stages in the passage of English religious thought into this its social phase; and we have chosen, therefore, the two writers who, since the comparatively modern date when first any attempt was made to analyse the human principles of religious conviction, represent most simply, most tangibly, and within the narrowest compass, the selfish or unsocial, and the disinterested but solitary or non-social, stages of theoretic religion,-Paley and Channing. They are writers whom, on many accounts, it is instructive to compare. The tone of their minds at first presents almost more than a contrast,-an absolute antagonism; and yet they are quite capable of comparison. They are both singularly lucid and singularly self-consistent, each a perfect specimen of his own characteristic mental type. They are both of them, too, remarkably considerate thinkers; for they were neither of them men whose minds were apt to be distracted from the main drift
of their thought by any disturbing fertility of intellectual resource; and almost every thing that comes from either of them bears the characteristic stamp of its mental origin. Again, while both rely in great measure for their belief on the Jewish and Christian revelation, both of them-and especially Paley-have the child's faculty of passing tranquilly by all that they find there which is foreign to their type of character. We find in this great simplicity and uniformity of mind, belonging to both Paley and Channing, a great facility for contrasting their forms of faith, which would be wholly wanting were we to choose most of the other remarkable thinkers of our day. Coleridge, for example, was, in regard to the social side of religious faith, much in advance of Channing; yet it would be impossible to compare profitably a Christian faith of such complexity of form and element as his with one of such bare, and even bleak, uniformity as Paley's. In order to exhibit the gradual transition from an egotistic to a social theory of religion, we must study a life and character like Channing's, whose simplicity is scarcely less remarkable than Paley's, so that his far greater depth and intensity are brought into much more conspicuous contrast.
Paley stood in the same relation to the doubts which rose up in men's minds before the great storm of popular feeling at the time of the French Revolution, as Channing stood to the great after-swell of passionate and turbid sentiment which it left behind. The doubts which Paley strove to dispel, were the first surface-symptoms of the stirring passions beneath: but this he did not feel; he assumed the same superficial position as his opponents, and fought against their nominal apologies for scepticism rather than against that scepticism itself. Christianity in no way met the views of that age. The comfortable classes found it inconvenient and unintelligible; the uncomfortable classes found it ill adapted to violent partisanship and predatory tastes. And yet the objections raised to it were much less deep and searching then than those of a later date. The sceptics of that day did not grapple with it, they moved "the previous question." A great revelation of selfishness was at hand, threatening a dissolution of society in England, accomplishing it in France; but it was not yet revealed. And as a barrister takes his objections to hostile evidence before he argues on the actual innocence or enormity of the act proved by it, Paley's age contented itself with declining to discuss what Theism and Christianity really were, while it was open to argument whether or not there were any primá-facie reasons for attending to them at all. And Paley accepted the ground thus assigned to him. He admitted virtually that you could prove a religion to be true before you had explained what it was; he contended that you might prove a Creator from