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Therefore reason has and can have no instinctive or spontaneous activity.
Again, if you assume reason as distinct from human personality, you must assume it as a reason above man or as below him. Below him it cannot be, because man's is the lowest order of rational natures ; and moreover, if below man, it would not serve the purpose. If above man, it is either actual reason or merely possible reason. If merely possible, it is unreal and inactive ; properly speaking, not reason at all. If actual, it is a higher personality, as angel or God, and then separated from man by a difference of order, and incapable of acting instinctively in man; for that would imply the absorption of the higher personality in the lower, which is impossible.
Man has naturally the last complement of his nature, since he is naturally a person. He has, then, naturally all the rational nature, and therefore all the reason, that belongs to rational nature of his order. His rational nature is full ; therefore his reason is full. Nothing can be more than full. Then man is not naturally susceptible of a higher reason than his own. He can receive even the aid of a higher reason only supernaturally. The higher reason is a higher person. The higher person is incommunicable to him save by hypostatic union, which absorbs his personality in the higher personality, as in the case of the Divine Word. For a hypostatic union, as really existing, in the case of all men, the Transcendentalists will not contend ; 1. because they deny it even in the case of our Saviour ; 2. because they deny the supernatural ; and 3. because they admit no union of man and the Divine Word which absorbs human personality, for they find human personality still existing as the enemy to be warred against.
Beyond the hypostatic union, only two ways are conceivable in which it is possible for the higher reason, even God himself, to instruct the lower, in regard to what lies not within the plane of the lower nature ; 1. by supernatural revelation to faith, which takes the truth on the word of the revealer, and believes without seeing or knowing; or 2. by the supernatural elevation of our nature itself, as is looked for in the beatific vision, the reward Almighty God has promised hereafter to them that love and serve him here.
This doctrine of impersonal and instinctive reason is, then, unfounded and impossible in the nature of reason itself. And here is the refutation of M. Cousin's doctrine of spontaneity,
and of Mr. Parker's doctrine of natural inspiration, or inspiration by a natural influx of God into the soul, on which his whole system depends for its religious character. may see the source of all Mr. Parker's theoretical errors. He assumes that man and God stand in immediate natural relation, and that so much of God flows naturally into man as man's wants demand. This he asserts over and over again ; and this is what he means by looking up to God alone, with nothing between the worshipper and the great Father of all; and it is his honest belief of this, we suppose, that has concealed from his view the real character of the doctrine he inculcates.
That man may express his wants to God naturally and directly in prayer, we do not question ; and that God will hear and supernaturally answer our prayers, we most firmly believe; but the assumption of a natural communion between man and his Maker is absurd. God may inspire individuals, may inspire all individuals, he may enlarge and elevate their natures so as to take in a higher order of truth than they now can ; but he can do it only supernaturally ; for naturally there is no communion between beings of a different nature. Man is not a possible God, nor a possible angel. He is man, with a fixed and determinate nature, and tied down to that nature and what it is capable of, save so far as his Maker is pleased to grant him supernatural assistance through faith or the infusion of grace. God is infinite reason, if you will ; then he must be infinite rational nature with its last complement, and then infinite personality, that is to say, infinite person. The natural influx of God into human reason demanded by Mr. Parker's theory would, then, be the natural influx into the human reason of the divine personality. Is this possible? The human reason is confessedly finite. Is the finite naturally susceptible of the infinite ? Not even Mr. Parker will pretend this. Then this theory of natural inspiration, of a natural “ supply of God," as it is called, proportioned to our wants, must be abandoned as untenable.
But it may be alleged that we are reasoning upon a false supposition, namely, that the divine reason and the human are different in kind. This is not admitted. The divine reason and the human are essentially one and the same. “Man," says Dr. Channing, “has a kindred nature with God.” If this be so, nothing hinders the divine from flowing naturally into the human, as is contended. We deny that the divine
reason and the human are essentially the same. They are essentially different. The human reason is a likeness, or an image, of the divine, we admit, according to the Christian doctrine, that “man was made to the image and likeness of God.” But likeness presupposes a difference of nature between itself and that which it is like. The thing imaged and its image cannot be of the same nature ; for, if so, the image would be absorbed in the imaged. The child images the father, but only in that wherein be is different from the father. Moreover, God is uncreate, independent, infinite ; man is created, dependent, finite, and therefore necessarily of a nature different from the divine nature.
But assume the divine reason and the human are essentially one and the same reason, the rational nature of which this reason is the expression either has its last complement in man, or it has not. If the latter, you deny human personality, the very thing you are fighting against; if the former, you deny the personality of God, therefore, the actual existence of God as divine reason, and therefore make the divine reason itself below that of man; for the smallest reality is above the greatest conceivable possibility. Assume, then, natural inspiration to be possible, it would be worthless ; for it could give less than man is and possesses without it. The in-coming and in-streaming God could bring you nothing you have not already.
Mr. Parker seeks to sustain his theory of natural inspiration by alleging that God is immanent in his works, the causa immanens of nature, not merely the causa transiens ; and being immanent in all, and therefore in man, is necessarily present in man to supply all man's deficiencies. But we must distinguish. If immanent as creator and sustainer of man and all beings, each in the distinctive nature he gives them, we concede his immanence ; if immanent in each being as subject, we deny it. To assume that God is immanent in his creatures as the subject which acts in them and produces what are called their acts is Spinozaism, a doctrine which admits no existence but God and his modes, -- and which, though unquestionably implied by Transcendentalism generally, we understand Mr. Parker expressly to disavow. Moreover, it is a doctrine neither he nor the other Transcendentalists can admit, without falling into gross contradictions, and refuting themselves ; for they find little in the actual world they do not condemn; and yet, if they admit this doctrine, they cannot condemn any thing without condemning God. If they admit God can do wrong,
then they gain nothing in favor of the impersonal soul as the measure of truth and goodness by identifying it with God.
If they concede that God is not inimanent in his creatures as subject, but simply as cause, creator, and sustainer, then his immanence merely creates and sustains them in their several natures, - that is, each order of being, and each individual being, in its being and distinct nature. In this case, his immanence is no pledge of the natural influx of divinity assumed. For then nothing could be received naturally of God but the nature itself. Whatever more may be received must be supernaturally received, through faith or elevation of nature, which the Transcendentalists cannot admit.
Mr. Parker's doctrine on this point seems to be, that man's faculties open on God, and in proportion as he opens them God flows in, and man may thus be strong with the strength of Omnipotence, wise with the wisdom of Omniscience, and good with the goodness of Infinite Goodness, and all this as naturally as the lungs inhale the atmosphere, or the stomach secretes the gastric juice. But this is absurd; for it implies that the finite subject may appropriate infinite attributes, the infinite God himself, and live and act with infinite power, wisdom, and goodness. It would imply that the infinite is communicable, and communicable to the finite, without absorbing the finite, leaving it finite still, and a finite personality! The immanence of God in his works is a pledge that they will be upheld, and is a ground of hope, since it implies that he is ever present to afford us the supernatural aid we need, and in a supernatural manner, if we seek this aid in the way and through the channels he has appointed ; but this is all, and it is nothing to the purpose of the Transcendentalists.
These three different considerations are all we find adduced in support of the proposition, that man is the measure of truth and goodness. They all show that the Transcendentalists would fain establish their doctrine if they could, and that they would do it by identifying, in some way, the human and divine natures ; for, after all, there is a secret feeling that God is above man, and that truth and goodness are what conforins to God, rather than what conforms to man. Their talk about man's natural relation to God, and the divinity of human nature, &c., may serve to conceal the deformity of their doctrine froin their own eyes, but it amounts to just nothing at all; for all the divinity they are able to predicate of man is merely what is constitutive of human nature as human nature, leaving human nature simply what it is, -- nothing more, nothing less. Then, when they abandon themselves to this as the only divinity, they abandon themselves to simple human nature, and are obliged to say man is the measure of truth and goodness, just as much as if they said or believed nothing of God at all.
We shall not undertake to refute the doctrine itself, because they who affirm a proposition must bring forward affirmative proofs before they can require us to accept it, or to adduce negaative proofs. It is a sufficient refutation to say, as we have shown is the fact, that it is not proved. The assertions of the Transcendentalists may be very good assertions, but they are not proofs, especially of a proposition denied by the common sense of all men, and affirmed by none but mere theorists, who make little account of reason, and professedly none of logic. Moreover, those who do not see the falsity and danger of the doctrine, on its bare enunciation, are not likely to be reached by any reasoning we could offer. Those who reason at all see what it is; those who cannot or will not reason are not to be reasoned out of error or into truth. We have merely wished to state the doctrine in its true character, and establish the fact that it is a fundamental doctrine of Transcendentalism. This we think we have done.
We know now the Transcendental rule of faith and practice. We have ascertained its method ; and knowledge of this rule, of this method, throws no little light over the whole subject of Transcendentalism. The more difficult part of our labor is accomplished; we shall be able to dispose of the two remaining propositions with comparative ease. But we must reserve the consideration of these to a future occasion.
ART. II. — The Simple Cobler of Aggawam in America. By Rev. NATHANIEL WARD. Edited by David Pulsi
Boston: James Munroe & Co. 1843. 12mo.
Protestants claim to be the especial friends of civil liberty and religious, and pretend that Catholics are bound by their religion and Church to be the bitter enemies of both, and