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80 enchains the soul ? Not surely mere outer forms, exact and perfect though these be ; for we have no reason to suppose that these external appearances awaken any peculiar or vivid feeling in inferior animals. What then is there here that so moves the soul of man? It must be, that external forms are to him expressive of something far deeper. In nature, we feel there is more than meets the eye; her varied manifestations seem, as it were, the external revelation and expression of the purer feeling, the obscure longing and anticipation of mind. The truths of the soul nature here represents in symbol. We do not of course mean that antecedently we have even a dim, undefined presentiment of the thoughts or ideas which we afterwards find portrayed in the face of nature ; but, that in the very exercise of mind occasioned by being brought into contact with external objects, there are revealed to our consciousness certain fundamental feelings or beliefs-primitive intuitions—almost obscure, unconscious longings and presentiments, which immediately, through a divinely established harmony, detect in nature their material counterpart, their external realization and expression. It is not however here affirmed that each, or indeed any object or scene in nature, exactly and individually realizes a distinct and definite consciousness, or a distinct and definite thought; but that in virtue of a profound and mysterious sympathy, it awakens and concentrates those primary intuitions and feelings, which, we might almost say, form the basis of the soul's conscious life, yea are interwoven in the very ground-type of its existence, and whose influence is felt, consciously or unconsciously, throughout the whole compass of our being. Nature, thus interpreted, becomes to us a beautiful and varied mirror in which we discover the emblems of our feelings.
In virtue then of these primary intuitions, we look below all the mere external and mechanical forms of the universe into those deeper truths which they suggest to the soul. Nature herself, indeed, is but the product of a higher mind--the realization of divine thoughts; and our minds can therefore intuitively detect and appreciate these, though presented to us in material symbols—and this because we ourselves have antecedently the germs of the same thoughts and feelings, and only require the external manifestation to call them into conscious existence. The universe reveals the glory of God, but only to a mind antecedently furnished with the conditions of interpreting it. It is only such a mind that can perceive the impress of thought on matter. Nature thus becomes a mediating symbol between us and God, a common platform where the divine and human meet. There the Deity reveals himself in emblems, and the soul of man detects these traces of his glory.
Our earth then, throughout all its gradations of grandeur and beauty, suggests to us a back ground of purer, deeper, more mysterious thoughts on which itself reposes, and of which it is the God-given symbol. It is in this back ground the soul finds its true point of harmony with nature; and from this it rises to the great Creator, from whom these thoughts all emanate. Yea the universe itself may be regarded as a magnificently varied and sublime symbol of the thoughts and purposes of the infinite mind. The true interpretation of nature, therefore, brings us face to face with God. It is his Spirit that has breathed such divine beauty throughout her many varied existences. We meet this in the fresh summer landscape; we find it in the simplest wild flower. In these beautiful forms the soul seems to find in part the realisation of its own ideal; at least they awaken the feeling of it; they deepen our longing after it. Almost from the very dawn of our conscious life, an ideal, dim and undefined indeed, is felt floating around us. It is then, however, revealed rather as a want—a sort of undefined feeling of unsatisfaction-an instinctive impulse to realise something higher and more commensurate with the awakened and ever-widening capacities of the soul. This ideal seems like the dim shadow of our primitive destiny looming before us, even yet obscurely indicating its possibility; or perhaps like a divine and beneficent genius ever attending us, and urging us onward to perfection. But this ideal is only the reflection of our own exalted nature-the lingering impression of vanished glory—the dim memory of a divine origin, yea rather the unextinguished yet undefined longings after the infinite. The world is no doubt in part the material expression of our primary feelings and intuitions—the realisation of our ideals of beauty and grandeur, still the soul cannot rest here. Earth cannot fill its vast capacities of feeling, but furnishes only a higher stage in its ever-ascending life ; for, having gained this elevated stand-point, we still long after even a purer and fairer world. Nature itself indeed suggests this. It both satisfies, and yet does not wholly satisfy us, for it serves as a starting point to lead away our thoughts to a lovelier and happier land. It thus suggests to us what itself cannot adequately express, but rather point to or indicate. We do not, it is true, realise the definite conception of that higher world; but in contemplating the varied scenes of creation, the sublime as well as the beautiful, we often feel our thoughts instinctively verging toward the unutterable, as if there were still some want—some capacity of feeling unsatisfied. Even when we have reached the climax of earthly symbol, our feelings seem then to merge into an undefined, yet powerful longing. We may delight in, yea, be ravished by, the beautiful forms of earth, yet our intensest pleasure is found in the associated truths and ideas of which they are the appropriate, though imperfect, images. In these we find the true source of our sympathy with nature -a fact which strikingly testifies to the ultimate and divinely constituted harmony between our soul and the outer world, in virtue of which we intuitively detect the external representatives of our own deep feelings and longings.
It would seem from such considerations, that, constituted as we now are, it is almost the natural tendency of thought to clothe itself in material forms. This seems like its last development, and we may truly regard the universe itself as the ultimate expression-the efflorescence—the beautiful outflowering of the Divine mind-the material type, though inadequate representative, of his infinite thoughts. It may be said past association is sufficient to explain this apparent tendency ; but this at most can be admitted as furnishing only a partial reason, since association itself seems, partly at least, to owe its power and vividness to that very harmony to which we here refer. In fact, it presupposes what it is presumed to account for. It is this harmony which leads us so often to clothe our thoughts in the emblems of nature, and so tenaciously to retain them as the appropriate language of our feeling. This tendency, then, does not seem to arise from the mere accident of our spirit's union with the body, but rather perhaps from essential constitution ; in other words, it may be traced as much to the soul's internal structure, as to its accidentally inhabiting a material body. Our higher nature was evidently designed for, and adapted to, a corporeal frame. Its capacities, powers, and feelings are so constituted as naturally to express themselves in the images of material things. It is true, they require to be awakened and excited by external objects ; still this tendency seems the strict, legitimate result of original and essential constitution, combined with a corporeal organism by which we are united to an outer world.
Some almost seem to regard the body as a mere accident of the soul-as if, indeed, the idea of it were an after-thought of the Creator. This, however, is certainly a mistake, for body and spirit are evidently the complements of each other. As the body without the soul is lifeless, so the soul without the body must experience a want a hiatus in its free, full development. Many look upon our union with a material body as a depression, so to speak, of our essential and exalted spirit-life, and suppose that only when freed from this earthly weight can our soul regain its true and proper sphere. This may indeed, in a certain sense, be admitted, yet the real design of our complex existence seems here overlooked. We have no reason to suppose that our spirit forms the highest type of spiritual intelligence. We may never realise the sublime destiny, nor reach the height of glory of which celestial natures are capable. They may be able to endure an effulgence of Divine splendour which would utterly overpower our feebler capacity. Our body, even in its glorified form, may perhaps for ever limit the free powers and energies of spirit; still, so far as we know, our complex nature seems to be the most wonderful advance on all the prior forms of existence—the most striking miracle of the Creator's power. The source of this marvel is not to be found in the nature of either of the elements of our being separately and by itself-though our corporeal system may perhaps be the highest and most perfect of all animated organisms—but in the fact of our life being the combined result of two different, yea, almost contradictory, natures. Hitherto, from the dim twilight of creation, the two streams of spiritual and material being had maintained their separate course ; a wide and measureless interval divided them from each other; but in human life the two actually blend, and form a united and harmonious stream. Spirit may have lost something of its sublime dignity and glory by its union with a material frame, but by this a new lustre and meaning have been added to all the previous forms of existence. Creation seems here to have reached its grandest climax. God has achieved what finite intelligence perhaps never would have dreamed of. He has shown us that spirit and matter, though seemingly so opposed, yea, contradictory, can yet so approach each other as 'to constitute one united might we not add-indivisible life. A profound principle of harmony is thus seen to underlie their separate natures. Thouglf these seem to us so widely different, and doubtless are widely and essentially different, still does not the fact of their union seem to intimate that somewliere in the wide compass of their being, there are, as it were, transition-points, by which we might almost pass from one to the other—some neutral, common, mediating ground between the two ? Man, therefore, embodies a principle which seems to harmonise matter and spirit, and thus reveals a fundamental unity pervading the whole creation of God. The future destiny of the redeemed, however, will exhibit this principle with infinitely greater vividness and more amazing glory. The present is only the lowest stage of this matterand-spirit union ; yet what sublime possibilities are wrapt up in it! Even a vast eternity may not exhaust them! It is only when our spirit is purified from all the sins of its present life, and our body relieved of the grosser accidents and qualities of this lower sphere, that the two can exhibit their highest and perfect union. A vista of ever-brightening and deepening glory opens up before them, and reveals the inexhaustibleness of the divine power and wisdom involved in the creation of man-in the union of his spiritual with his material nature. There matter, even in its outer forms, will approach nearer the border-land of the diviner sphere of spirit.
This ultimate union then, between spirit and matter, and consequent har
mony between the soul and nature, leads us instinctively, and often unconsciously, to embody our thoughts in the varied and beautiful forms around us. And it likewise fully accounts for the fact, that when any truth is presented to us in the language of nature, we at once, as if with a sudden bound of the soul, enter into its meaning with far greater depth and vividness of thought. This nature-language, too, is the favourite form in which poetry expresses itself; for it is a distinguishing and peculiar feature of a poet, that he has greater force and richness of primary intuitions and feelings than others, and consequently profounder sympathy with nature, and can, therefore, more graphically interpret the hieroglyphics of creation. His flow of thought meanders through rich and varied scenery. He thinks and feels almost in the emblems of nature.
This deep harmony between the soul and the outer world clearly lies at the basis, and is itself the condition of all simile, figure, or imagery in language. And it is, moreover, a proof of its mysterious depth, that a few simple touches from nature, as a medium of conveying truth to the soul, can often produce a far more intense and lasting impression than volumes of severe and acute reasoning. These touches, as with electric vividness, awaken and concentrate our feelings, for here these are represented to us in their natural and appropriate symbols. How beautifully simple, for example, yet how profound, are the parables of our Lord! They find an echo and interpreter in every breast. Of how many precious truths indeed is nature made by the inspired writers, the vehicle and exponent! Scripture language often resembles a beautiful garden, with flowers culled from every part of creation, and every flower a symbol. The scenes which prophetic inspiration unfolds to us are all coloured with the tints and hues of earth. Yea, so deep is the sacred writers' appreciation of the symbols of nature, so profound the harmony between their feelings and the beautiful forms of creation, that heaven itself, the issue and end of all their aspirations, appears to them adorned with the images of a refined and purified earth. Earth's flowers bloom even there, though with richer and diviner beauty. We attempt to realise heaven mostly through the medium of symbol and emblem. The longing soul struggles to reach a purer and fairer world as the fit resting. place for its sanctified thoughts and feelings—to remove all traces of the curse, and thus reproduce the loveliness and beauty of primeval Paradise. It seeks to dwell where the pure and beautiful alone are. Thus we cannot divest ourselves of the associations of earth; its images are entwined in all the varied forms of our thoughts. Wherever our soul in imagination wanders, to whatever height of spiritual blessedness it soars, it still faithfully retains the tender, fresh, green memories of earth. This irrepressible tendency seems to foreshadow the character of the scenery of heaven itself; God will then doubtless provide an outer world, refined and purified, in harmony with the holy and blessed state of the human soul, and of its then almost spiritualised material body. We cannot indeed divest ourselves of such forms of thought; they are enstamped on the holiest and sublimest aspirations of our spirits. Yet we cannot realise all their meaning here ; we can gain only darkling intimations of it. The mind from this lower scene cannot reach so lofty a height. All earthly figure must ultimately fail to bring the ideal reality fully and completely into view. There is a limit where all earthly imagery vanishes, and looses itself in richer and purer forms; it is edged all round with unutterable glory. Everything external
, however, both earthly and heavenly, must, in the end, fail to circumscribe the last longing of the soul. Itself is the distant type of the Spirit of God,
and God himself, therefore, in all his varied perfection, is the ultimate ideal of all its yearnings.
THE INFALLIBILITY OF THE CHURCH OF ROME.
I.—THE ARGUMENT FROM SCRIPTURE.
By Protestants, there is no assumption viewed with more contempt than that of infallibility by the Church of Rome. The history of that church's conduct and the record of her teachings are unmistakeable evidence, that of all churches she is the most corrupt. Her pretensions to superior wisdom, and the enjoyment of a divine influence which keeps her from erring, and her claims to be regarded as the only true church, never fail to remind us of Satan's taking the appearance of an angel of light—of the whited sepulchres—and of the men who loved to be called Rabbi, who professed to be godly, but were in reality dead to the power of truth. 66 Some men's sins
go before them to judgment ;” and so has it been with the Church of Rome. Her character has been written in blood, and its infamous nature can be seen by all who choose to read. She is not only suspected but convicted ; and when, in the face of this, her adherents claim for her infallibility, we are tempted to set them down as belonging to that class for whose backs the wise man prescribes the use of the rod.
Notwithstanding, the assumption, although unwarranted by Scripture, and at variance with fact, demands attention. It is one of the mainstays of the papacy. By it, thousands of the finest minds are held in the most degrading bondage. It crushes, in truth, the whole soul, and destroys man's proper individuality. It represents the church's authority as virtually equal to that of God; and when once this dogma has been accepted, there is no error which may not be introduced, and no villany which may not be palliated. The Romanist is then bound neck and heel to the altar. To expose an assumption so accursed in its influence, is a matter of importance at any time, but especially at the present, when the Church of Rome is making such strenuous exertions to extend her dominion. We owe this as a duty to God, that " pure and undefiled religion
may prosper in the midst of us ; we owe it as a duty to our country, that its freedom may be preserved; and we owe it as a duty to all mankind, that the cause of human progress may go on uninterruptedly. The controversy is one in which we have all a large stake, and therefore we should engage in it with our whole heart.
In virtue of infallibility, the Romish church professes to have the power, - 1st, “ To determine what books are, and what are not, canonical ; 2d, To impart authority to the word of God (i. e., the word of God gives authority to the church, and the church gives authority to the word of God-an argument which is famous in the controversy as the popish circle '); 3d, To determine and publish the sense of divine truth, which all must receive with submission (but up to this date, Rome has not fulfilled this part of her duty; and notwithstanding her infallibility, her adherents have no authorised commentary on the whole of Scripture); 4th, To declare what is necessary to salvation ; and, 5th, To decide all controversies respecting subjects of faith and practice.”*
* Elliott's “ Delineation of Romanism,” p. 53, note.