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time, a personal "Heart," on which he may repose. The power which Christ has had over this world, and is still likely to retain, is not explained by "his genius as a moral teacher," but in the fascination and force, the constraining, nay, the magnetic influence of his divine personality. It is this which has held to their allegiance the myriads of believing spirits who gladly give him faith and obedience; and it is this which asserts a fascination over Mr. Emerson himself from which he would gladly escape, and which yet he cannot account for. He cannot hide from himself the truth that the phenomenon of Christ, as described in the evangelists, is the most inflexible fact in human history, and that this fact of his original appearance, and the still more inexplicable phenomenon of the tremendous and transforming force which has ever since streamed from him into the history of man, defy all the solutions which he can find in the "impersonal Laws." Not only does Mr. Emerson fail to understand the power of Christ as a person, but he fails equally in understanding his "genius as a moral teacher." Surely he ought to be adequate to this, especially since more than eighteen centuries have added their contributions of thought and of application to the teachings of the master. But does he understand the moral system of Christ? Does he inculcate the same ethical principles? Or has he discovered those which are better?
We assert that his morality is not the morality of Christ, and that his whole volume on the conduct of life, shows that he does not understand what the Christian system is-that he does not understand it well enough to know wherein lay the genius and peculiarity of Christ when considered solely as a moral teacher. The distinctive feature of the ethical system of Christ, is, that it inculcates self-abnegation, benevolence in the form of self-sacrifice, charity, self-denial, forgivenessthat it warms the self-seeking and self-centered human soul with the glow of the love that seeks not its own, and that its comprehensive rule and motto is, "it is more blessed to give than to receive."
Mr. Emerson knows no such rule, and his book breathes no such spirit as this. We do not overlook the fact that his
book contains many wise observations concerning wealth, behavior, and culture, that these observations have been made by a sharp and discerning eye, and are uttered with the pith and genius for which the writer is so justly admired. They strongly and clearly depict the emptiness and folly of the aims of such as seek to cheat themselves or their fellows by vulgar estimates of wealth, manners, and cultivation. They expose with a quiet, yet genial satire, the shams that are ever shooting up in modern society, especially under its American phases. They impress us with an unfeigned conviction that honesty is the best policy, in our aims, our judgments, our manners, and our hopes. They recognize distinctly, they even, emphasize terribly the resistless supremacy, the crushing absolutism of the Moral Laws that support and maintain the changeless order of the universe. From these views of man and the universe they leave us to derive all our principles of life, wisely sparing the infliction of formal precepts and long drawn exhortations. But among these rules and principles, we do not find that law of love which was the characteristic of the moral system of Christ. Mr. Emerson would have us be humane, but not with the loving tenderness which Christ enjoined; patient with our fellow-men, but rather because it is unmanly to be ruffled, than because we ourselves are ever trying the patience of a divine master; forgiving, not because we ourselves need to be forgiven, but because our personal dignity is too lofty and selfsustained to allow us to condescend to revenge; kind and gentle, not from the overflow of loving affection, but because it saves the friction and loss of dignity which resentment and anger involve. The Ideal man which Emerson proposes to himself and others, is, through the absence of this feature of Christlike love, entirely unlike the Ideal which Christ himself exemplified and enforced. We cannot, therefore, escape the conclusion that his morality is not Christian morality. However much he bepraises Christ, the moral teacher, he does not receive nor teach the morality which Christ represents.
The Christian Examiner says of a passage, "Although his voice is no longer heard in Christian pulpits, yet what preach
ing can be more practical and Evangelical than this?" What ideas the critic can have of the meaning of "Christian" and "Evangelical," we do not care to inquire. We had supposed that these terms had a precise and universally accepted meaning; at least when applied to the ethics of the Gospel-that these ethics, at least in their practical import, were too marked and peculiar to be mistaken or miscalled even by the most liberal interpreter. Tried by this acknowledged standard, the ethics of Mr. Emerson can, in our opinion, with no propriety be termed either Evangelical or Christian.
But perhaps he teaches a better morality than the Christian, one that is better suited to a more enlightened age, and which is to be regarded as a higher and more perfect development of the ethics of Christ. Precisely the opposite is true. His ethics are not only below those of Christ, but are not equal to the best ethics to which Paganism has attained. Stripped of modern phraseology, divested of illustrations drawn from modern life, and viewed in their principles and spirit, they sink below the believing and loving precepts of the conscientious Socrates-and are not to be compared with the glowing fervor of the inspired Plato. In one aspect they are simple Stoicism without the dogged earnestness of the indomitable Zeno. In another they are pure Epicureanism, applied to the enlightenment of modern culture, but without the quiet geniality which the Athenian could alone exemplify. Mr. Emerson is a stoic in his proud defiance of a Personal Divinity, in his quiet acquiescence in all powerful Fate and in the sovereign self-reliance with which he confronts the movements of destiny. He is a stoic in his contempt of the unenlightened masses, in his deification of intelligence, and in the arrogance with which he claims to humanity the prerogatives that belong to God alone. He is epicurean in his intense absorption in the present life, in his dependance on its resources for all the good which he contemplates, in neglecting to honor the blessed uses of sickness and suffering, and in the exclusive regard for intellectual and æsthetic enjoyment.
The best and noblest of the ancient teachers aspired after an immortal existence, and drew their most inspiring influences
from the very imagination that such an existence was possible. Mr. Emerson thinks it beneath his dignity to be indebted to faith in immortality, for any excitement to virtue. The present is enough for him to think and care for. The purest of the ancient moralists had an unquestioning faith in the personal responsibility of man, if not in the personality of the divine nature. Mr. Emerson is shy of an earnest faith in either. For these reasons we prefer Socrates, Plato, Plutarch, and Cicero, one and all, to the Sage of Concord.
We are not insensible to the many charms which Mr. Emerson lends to any subject which he treats, nor, on the other hand, can we fail to notice the rhetorical trickeries of which he not unfrequently avails himself. But his manifest power as a thinker and writer, lend no real authority to his opinions, however great may be the fascination with which they invest his treatment of them. It is with the principles that run through this book with an ever present though unseen influence, and that now and then crop out in statements that cannot be mistaken-it is with these principles that we have to do, not with the many and varied gems of thought which drop from his sparkling pen, nor with the sayings, both witty and wise, with which he has strown so richly the course of his discussions.
We must confess, however, to a sense of humiliation for the reputation of our country's literature, that it should be so largely and conspicuously represented by a writer who deals so superciliously with the profoundest problems of philosophy, and so dogmatically with the most stubborn facts of history— who through strength or weakness—from knowledge or conceit, assumes that he is emancipated from the obligations ordinarily recognized by the profoundest thinkers to cite facts and adduce arguments, and by virtue of a special license is allowed to dogmatize concerning the gravest matters, or flippantly dismiss them with an Orphic saying. That such a writer should mold the opinions and form the creed of so many scores of thoughtful spirits, and be accepted as one of the profoundest philosophers of America, excites both grief and shame for our generation and our country. It argues either lack of knowl
edge, or lack of individual independence, deficiency in moral earnestness, or an excess of literary toadyism which is any thing but honorable to our countrymen. We confess, also, a sort of shame for Mr. Emerson himself, that he should seem to be so insensible to the poverty and flimsiness of the principles which he so gravely propounds and studiously puts forth as profound utterances, but which are nothing better than the exuvia of the thinking of darker ages and earlier generations. But it is strangest of all that he should bestow on a creed so poor, so starveling, and so comfortless, the wealth of genius with which he has been so richly endowed by nature, and which he has wrought into such forms of beauty by a generous culture. We entreat him to take a few lessons both in good sense and ethics from the true hearted Socrates, if he will not condescend to learn somewhat from Christ.