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have been very unsettled on this point, notwithstanding his deep and lively Christian faith," and his acceptance of all “ essentials" in our Church's doctrines.
The latter creed-of Pantheism, Mr. Sterling appears to have partially adopted under the training of his second great master, Carlyle, who would seem to rival Coleridge himself in the influence he exercises over the school of which we are speaking. We perceive that there are some material differences of view between Mr. Carlyle and Mr. Hare; and the latter does not speak in the same cordial tone of Carlyle, as he does of Coleridge. We are glad to find that this is the case. Of Carlyle's views, however, we have the following exposition from the pen of his admirer Sterling, which we believe to be in general correct.
"As a hint and foretaste of what is written in his works, it may be said that Mr. Carlyle thus teaches :
"1. The Universe, including Man as its chief object, is all a region of wonder and mysterious truth, demanding before all other feelings, Reverence, as the condition of Insight.
"2. For he who rejects from his thoughts all that he cannot perfectly analyse and comprehend, all that claims veneration, never will meditate on the primary fact of existence. Yet what is so necessary to the being of a thing, so certainly the deepest secret in it, as Being itself?...
"3. Religion, therefore, is the highest bond between Man and the Universe. The world rises out of unknown sacred depths before the 'soul, which it ever draws into contemplation of it. It repels the man into entire ignorance, only when he fails to acknowledge the unfathomable depth which he owns it belongs to.
"4. But at best we are immensely ignorant. Around us is a fulness of life, now vocal in a tone, now visible in a glance, but of which we never can measure the whole compass or number, or explore the endless forms."
This, so far, seems to be an exposition of the creed, such as it is, of Pantheism. The Universe, and Man as its "chief object," is the object of Religion, i.e. the Deity. Existence itself takes the place of God; and with this Divine being, man is identified as a part of the Universe. We see at once the meaning of such phrases as a "fulness of life" being around us. Religion is "a bond" between man and the universe, as teaching him to recognize the Deity in the Universe, not as its Creator. We receive fuller light on this subject in the continuation of the passage.
"5. To him who looks aright, the Divine substance of all is to be seen kindling at moments in the smallest, no less than in the grandest thing that is for Existence is itself Divine, and awakens in him who contemplates a sense of divinity, such as men of old were fain to call prophetic."-pp. 257, 258.
Mr. Sterling was aware, that Pantheism, at least, was a doctrine which might be liable to some objections. In fact his other great master, Coleridge, regarded the opposite doctrine of a Personal Deity distinct from the Universe, as the great essential of religion. Thus in the account preserved by Mr. Sterling of one of his interviews with that distinguished writer, the latter is introduced as saying:-" The personality of the Deity is the great thing; the ancients were Spinozists: they could not help seeing an energy in nature. This was the anima mundi sine centro of the philosophers. The people of course changed it into all the forms that their imagination could supply. The religion of the philosophers was Pantheism, and that of the people Polytheism. They knew nothing of creative power" (p. xxi.).~ Mr. Sterling observes:
"We are far from wishing any one to pin his faith on these propositions, either as absolutely, still less as completely, true, or as adequate statements of Mr. Carlyle's views. They have indeed been deduced, not without care, from his writings; and those who read them with reflection and a tentative sympathy, will hardly fail to see in them the representations of a pure and lofty mind; and one original, if only in this, that his doctrine is but the dogmatic form of his whole feelings and character, and not a web of abstract speculation."
Mr. Carlyle's views were, therefore, precisely opposite to those of Mr. Coleridge on the first article of religion-rather a curious illustration, by the way, of the sort of guidance in religious matters which philosophy alone is able to afford. And in this case we find that either master appears to have been positively certain of the truth of his doctrines.
Mr. Sterling then was aware that Mr. Carlyle's Pantheism would not meet acceptance with the disciples of Coleridge; and we gather from some parts of Mr. Hare's book, that such was the case, and that Mr. Hare himself, at least, does not embrace Mr. Carlyle's positive creed on the subject of Pantheism, though he speaks strangely enough of "the FASCINATION of Pantheistic tendencies" (p. cxxxvi.).
It seems that Mr. Carlyle, though not a Christian, is one of that class who think favourably of Christianity! We extract Mr. Sterling's apology for his views, which, however, he appears to have held himself.
"If in these views were not included a full recognition of the worth of Christianity, there would be much reason to accuse them of fatal But such a man as we have spoken of, with such convictions, is not likely to be guilty of callous sneers against any devout faith in things beyond the region of the senses, and, least of all, against that religion which has strengthened and glorified the lives of a greater
number of the truest heroes and martyrs, than all other worships, and all philosophies together."
Christianity will not, perhaps, attach much value to such a preference, while it is avowedly not based on any recognition of its claim to be the Truth revealed supernaturally and miraculously by God, and while it is thus regarded merely as superior in its moral effects to those of heathen or other false religions. But we proceed with Mr. Sterling's account of the mode in which reasoners of his class regard the claims of Christianity:
"The Gospel, the good tidings of Jesus of Nazareth, not merely have now come to be taken for granted by the many, but are recognized by whosoever is of purest purpose and most comprehensive thought among civilized men, as, on grounds of intelligible reason, of experienced accordance with our deepest cravings, and of unquestionable results in history and the hearts of men, the most effective word of truth ever communicated to this earth."
That is to say, the Gospel taught by "Jesus of Nazareth" is a more effective "word of truth," than the religion taught by Zoroaster, Confucius, or Mohammed; it is deemed superior to those religions by such philosophers as Carlyle, Cousin, Mr. John Mill, Guizot, Hegel, &c. &c. But then the Christianity thus complimentarily introduced to notice, and patronized by the philosophers of the day, is something perfectly distinct from what is usually understood by the appellation. It is the residuum which remains after the application of philosophical criticism and “the highest reason, which is faith." Mr. Sterling speaks of
"The countless dreams which have been spun around it, the frauds practised in its name, the carnal battles waged for its spiritual watchword, the bewildering varieties of schemes, sects, heresies, speculations, laws, rites, customs, &c.,"
as rejected by true philosophy; and though his words do not here imply so much, it is certain, that beneath these contemptuous expressions are included the creeds, and the great doctrines of the Christian Church.
What is the source of these theories? Let Mr. Sterling
"Of the main view as to the world which we have attributed to Mr. Carlyle, it is evident that the great fountain is the literature of Germany during the last sixty years. This is not merely apparent from the citations which he makes, the men he delights in, and the key-words and peculiar terms of expression which he employs; but the proof of it lies in the thought itself. All the higher minds of Germany, beginning at least with Lessing, have seen and taught, not that there is a scheme of
Divine truth, called Christianity, on one side, and on the other a heap of vulgar experiences and notions, called the world, the two connected by a rope, longer or shorter, weaker or tougher, called Evidences of Religion; but that human existence, and the universe which it belongs to, are alike manifestations of a higher idea, which breaks out in all true knowledge, and above all, but not exclusively, in what is called, and is, Revelation."
We presume that in something of the same sense all other religions and philosophies are also Revelations.
"Even in its imperfect, partial displays, this higher unseen subsistence has supplied the energy and light of all religions upon earth. In its chief historical radiation it has been, rather than been mingled with, Christianity and in its fulness and purity consist the Christian religion of the wisest and most faithful spirits. But this supersensual infinite reality, of which all phenomena are but gleams and echoes, has spoken at all times, more or less forcibly, home to the hearts of all men who have ever rejoiced, with trembling, at the name of God."
That is to say, Christianity has no peculiar or exclusive claim to be regarded as a Divine Revelation. It stands in this respect, precisely on a level with all other religions in the world.
"In this general point of view, and the bent of soul which it implies, Mr. Carlyle is entirely at one with the Germans; whose tendencies are mingling more and more with the whole thought of the best minds in Europe. These views, indeed, have been often very indirectly conveyed to those who now partake of them, and who are sometimes furiously ungrateful for a benefit, of which one wishes, therefore, to believe them unconscious. The speculations of Coleridge, which are daily working wider and wider changes among us, were altogether cast, and in his case avowedly, in a German mould. But in no one known in English letters has the influence of that old fatherland of England been so apparent and so bold as in Mr. Carlyle."-pp. 263, 264.
Were we to regard Mr. Carlyle's popularity as a writer as any evidence of the general acceptance of his views in England, we should indeed tremble for Christianity in this land. But our persuasion is, that his books are, in many cases, read from admiration of his abilities, or from love of excitement and novelty, without any acceptance of his views. Their indiscriminate perusal is, however, a sign of unguardedness at least, which the adherents of Christianity should not overlook in forming their estimate of the state of the public mind.
That the opinions of Mr. Carlyle and Mr. Coleridge were to a great degree formed by the study of German literature, we have thus the statement of Mr. Sterling and Mr. Hare. From the
biography before us, it is evident that Mr. Sterling was himself wholly under the same influence; and judging by the tests above applied to Mr. Carlyle, we can scarcely avoid including Mr. Hare also in the same school. But of this we propose to speak more fully hereafter.
We have seen already the unsoundness of Coleridge's views on the subject of the inspiration of Scripture-a doctrine on which, of course, the whole of the Christian faith depends. Whatever may be a man's belief in the particular doctrines of religion, we cannot consider him as a sound or safe teacher when he disputes the only rational foundation of his own belief. For a Christianity merely founded on philosophical argument, we have not a particle of respect or value. It is a mere rope of sand, which has no principle of cohesion. It may be dissolved by the same intellect which has chosen it as accordant with its own views. It is not founded in faith. Can we, without disloyalty to that Gospel, which we know to be no "cunningly devised fable," recognize as our guides men who have made shipwreck of their faith in the authority of that Gospel? Yet we have Archdeacon Hare without scruple admitting Coleridge's "broad divergence" from the faith of the Church on this point, while he describes him as "the true sovereign of modern English thought."
Coleridge did not attempt to conceal his principles. We have seen this in Sterling's intercourse with him; and the very same evil influence was operating on a mind but too much predisposed to receive it. We allude to Blanco White, whose views, principles, and tendencies remind us forcibly of those of Sterling. In Blanco White's Life, (Vol. i. p. 417, &c.) we see that about 1825 he formed a personal acquaintance with Coleridge, and on one occasion paid a visit at his house six hours in length. We know that at this time Blanco White's own opinions on the subject of the Scripture, were of a most unsettled character-in fact those of an unbeliever. "At all times," he says (p. 404), "have I suffered the most painful uneasiness at church when many of the Sunday lessons were read. The miracles of Elisha revolted me; the history of Samson exhausted my patience; and that of Balaam appeared to me as a mockery of the Deity. My difficulties in regard to the Divine authority of the writings of the New Tes tament were considerable, but they could not be compared to those first mentioned. Still, however, I clung to the character of Christ; the one only thing indeed which has always kept up my sincere determination to profess myself and be his follower; that is, to worship God as he did, and serve God as he set the example." In this state of mind Blanco White became acquainted with Mr.