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by making man's individuality primary and preëminent, and giving to his organic relations a secondary and subordinate, though still an important, place.
It may be, that in advancing the interests of man, Protestantism has been, to some extent, the occasion of Jacobinism, anarchy, and revolution; of unsettling the old foundations, and spreading confusion. But let not the storms of spring make us sigh for the stability of winter. There is no alternative, but to carry through the work begun. Having shown her supernatural power by evoking the spirit, she must continue to prove her power by controlling it, and compelling it to produce the beauty which she called it forth to effect. The progress of Protestantism, like that of early Christianity, has been attended by many sects. But as life shows itself in diversity first, and then in unity, we may not arrest the living process because the embryo organs are yet divided; but look and labor for the time when, with all their diversity, they are to be made one in the unity of a perfect life.
Doubtless we have something to learn respecting the unity, the harmony, and the comprehensiveness of God's work on earth, and the law which binds all its parts in one. But the attentive ear cannot cease to listen to that voice, hoarse as the voice of many waters, coming up from workshops and factories, club-rooms and lecture-rooms, which demands that Christianity shall be a religion of reform, and the rights of man and human progress, or it shall not be at all.
IV. Modern Infidelity, in one of its aspects, grows out of the demands of æsthetic emotion and culture, and rejects Christianity because it is believed to be incapable of meeting these demands.
The mind, in which the moral element predominates, considers what ought to be; the mind characterized by the æsthetic element considers what is. The scientific mind considers the relations of things; the practical mind considers their uses and capabilities; but the æsthetic mind considers only their expression. Minds of this stamp regard the uni- . verse, not as governed by a moral law, not as existing for a definite end, not as a scene of moral obligation and earnest endeavor, but chiefly as the expression of an infinite beauty. Such minds are essentially Pantheistic in tendency. They do not easily recognize God as a personal will, but only as a plastic form, expressing itself in ceaseless manifestations of beauty. They are uninterested in any presentation of God, as the intelligent Creater and disposer, the holy governor, or the loving Father and Saviour of the world. Their sense of sin is not enough to make them feel the need of Christianity as a way of pardon, and their aspirations after holiness have not been awakened so as to make them appreciate it as a way of sanctification. If they recognize God at all, it is only as a plastic beauty, revealing itself in the stars, and the clouds, and the blue deeps of heaven, in the ocean, in the snow and frost, in flowers and trees, in hill and valley. To them the universe, in its perpetual evolution of God, is as it was to Goethe, the garment which God is ever weaving in the loom of time, for us to see him by. In looking on the material world, they realize the beautiful description given of a mind of this class; and “he stands before a curtain only half-opaque, watching the shadows thrown on it from behind, by the ceaseless play of infinite thought.” In such persons, the religious susceptibilities are not extinct; but are manifested only through their peculiar temperament. They turn away from the Bible and the churches, to
“Worship nature in the hill and valley, Not knowing what they love."
They are repelled by the exhibitions of evil which Christian. ity makes, by its legal exactions, by its life of duty and toil; they reject it, because they imagine that it does not present, either in God or man, any life spontaneously evolving itself in beauty. They turn away from the gospel of redemption to luxuriate in a gospel of beauty.
These are legitimate demands of the soul, and Christianity is rightly required to satisfy them. I do not mean that this class of emotions alone can constitute a true piety. Every Christian must be conscious of sin, and conscious of aspirations for reconciliation to God, and participation in his image. But Christianity must show itself capable of satisfying these demands, or it can never command the as. sent of these minds. I do not mean that our Protestantism must make haste to bedeck itself with the adornings of Rome. No attempt of set purpose to imitate mediaeval churches can satisfy this demand. It is not primarily a demand for statuary, painting, music, and architecture in relig. ion, but for a place in religion for the beauty of the earth and the heavens, the expressions of the ideals of beauty in the divine mind, which are the originals of all the creations of human genius; it is a demand for a religion which shall reveal God as the soul of universal beauty, and unfold a life which shall be, not a work nor a penance, but a spontaneous and ever gushing joy in the beauty of all that is. This demand, Romanism, with all its fine arts, fails, even more than Protestantism, to satisfy. It beautifies the temple, but the service of the temple is the veriest penance and slavery, and the God of the temple, is but the task-master of the universe. You may crowd your temples with the creations of art, and infidelity will spurn the offering, until all the beauty expressed in the material of the church and its worship, is seen to be the outward expression of the spirit of beauty, living in the life of Christianity, and revealed spontaneously in all its action and growth.
Hence the existing endeavor for elegance in churches is oftener an attempt to put on a grace, the need of which is felt, but which there is no life to develop, or even the vulgar outgrowth of the pride and ostentation of wealth, than the legitimate growth of the spirit of beauty. Hence so often mod- . ern attempts at church architecture are entire failures, unsuited to the uses and spirit of Protestant worship, and violating the essential rule of architecture, that no building can have beauty unless it harmonizes with the uses for which it is designed. When Protestant society, purified from the greed of gain, which now vulgarizes the whole staple of thought and life, shall be, by a pure Christianity, imbued with the spirit of beauty, then the whole outward material and service of its worship, being the outgrowth of that spirit of beauty, will both express the genius and meet the wants of the religion, and at the same time both satisfy the demands and express the growth, of a true æsthetic culture. And Christianity has in itself the spirit which, legitimately evolved, will meet these demands and quicken this growth. The fact that the first gush of Christian love and joy in the heart of a convert, however uncultivated, clothes all nature with a new loveliness, is a familiar illustration of the essential tendency of Christianity, both to satisfy and to unfold the æsthetic nature.
The essential nature of Christianity throws it, at first, into a seeming antagonism to the culture of the beautiful. The æsthetic mind delights in what is; the Christian mind aspires to what ought to be. The æsthetic mind, not looking beneath the surface for causes or moral relations, nor beyond it for uses and capabilities, simply rejoices in the beauty that it sees; it concerns itself with the world no further than to enjoy what it expresses. The Christian mind, discerning moral evil in and around itself, and grasping the sublime purpose for which all things were made, concerns itself with what the world ought to be, and toils to realize its perfection. Therefore the life of a Christian is a life of aspiration and of work ; and aspiration implies the knowledge of evil
; as well as the vision of good; and work is always unsightly, however beautiful its results. Hence arises an apparent antagonism. But it is only apparent. Work and Beauty, Vulcan and Venus, though they seem irreconcilable, are yet wedded. Out of unsightliness of work rises, evermore, the perfection of beauty.
And here appears the capacity of Christianity to satisfy the æsthetic mind. Though it calls its disciple to work rather than to enjoy, yet its work is always to realize a perfect ideal. Yearning for a perfection that ought to be, it looks through all outward grace to the beauty of holiness, which is the ideal of all beauty; and, like an artist in his life-long toil to bring out his ideal on the canvas, consecrates itself to the endeavor to realize this ideal in human society. And as the sculptor by rude blows increases, for a time, the unsightliness of the marble, within which lies hidden the ideal of beauty that he seeks; as he may even employ workmen who have no appreciation of its beauty, so Christianity, in all the un. sightliness of its present toil, is working to realize that beauty of universal holiness, of which material beauty is but the shadow; and though individual Christians, in particular parts of the work, may fail to appreciate the beauty, and are only earnest to do the work, yet is it all, under the divine guidance, tending to realize the divine ideal. Therefore, as we read the Holy Scriptures, amid all the warnings that awaken our fears and send us tearfully to explore the evil of our hearts, amid all the exhibitions of the strictness of the law, and all the commands to toil and cross-bearing, and all the invitations which meet us as lost sinners, amid all these indications of our ruin, ever and anon bursts on our view a glimpse of the beauty of the work in its completeness on earth, when the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them; when all the stones of the divine structure shall be laid in fair colors, and its foundations with sapphires; when its windows shall be of agate, its gates of carbuncles, and all its borders of precious stones; when the glory of Lebanon shall come to it, the fir tree, the pine tree, and the box together, to beautify the place of God's sanctuary, and to make the place of his feet glorious; and, from far beyond, steadily shines the city of the blessed, in which every conceivable element of beauty helps to complete the glorious vision; in which the ideal of the whole work of Christianity
h beams, in divine perfection, and the spirit of beauty finds its complete outward embodiment.
As Christianity presents an ideal of beauty, as the issue of all work and the object of all aspiration, so in its doctrine and spirit, it possesses the essential element of the æsthetic nature. It reveals God, indeed, as a person acting with an intelligent will, unfolding the eternal purpose, in which the