Thou art, my heart, a soul-flower, facing ever and following the motions of thy sun, opening thyself to her vivifying ray, and pleading thy affinity with the celestial orbs. Thou dost
the livelong day
Dial on time thine own eternity.
Listen divinely to the sibyl within thee, saith the Spirit, and write thou her words. For now is thine intellect a worshipper of the Holy Ghost; now thy life is mystic--thy words marvels--and thine appeal to the total sense of man--a nature to the soul.
Nature bares never her bones; clothed in her own chaste rhetoric of flesh and blood--of color and feature, she is elegant and fair to the sense. And thus, O Philosopher, Poet, Prophet, be thy words--thy Scriptures;--thy thought, like Pallas, shaped bold and comely from thy brain--like Venus, formed quick from thy side--mystic as Memnon--melodious as the lyre of Orpheus.
There is neither void in nature, nor death in spirit,--all is vital, nothing Godless. Both guilt in the soul and pain in the flesh, affirm the divine ubiquity in the all of being. Shadow apes substance, privation fullness; and nature in atom and whole, in planet and firmament, is charged with the present Deity.
Nature is quick with spirit. In eternal systole and diastole, the living tides course gladly along, incarnating organ and vessel in their mystic flow. Let her pulsations for a moment pause on their errands, and creation's self ebbs instantly into chaos and invisibility again. The visible world is the extremest wave of that spiritual flood, whose flux is life, whose reflux death, efflux thought, and conflux light. Organization is the confine of incarnation,--body the atomy of God.
Sense beholds life never,--death always. For nature is but the fair corpse of spirit, and sense her tomb. Philosophy holds her torch while science dissects the seemly carcase. 'Tis faith unseals the sepulchres, and gives the risen Godhead to the soul's embrace. Blessed is he, who without sense believeth,--for already is he resurrect and immortal!
Impious faith! witless philosophy! prisoning God in the head, to gauge his volume or sound his depths, by admeasurements of brain. Know, man of skulls! that the soul builds her statue perpetually from the dust, and, from within, the spiritual potter globes this golden bowl on which thy sacrilegious finger is laid. Be wise, fool! and divine cerebral qualities from spiritual laws, and predict organizations from character.
Believe, youth, despite all temptations, the oracle of deity in your own bosom. 'Tis the breath of God's revelations,--the respiration of the Holy Ghost in your breast. Be faithful, not infidel, to its intuitions,--quench never its spirit,--dwell ever in its omniscience. So shall your soul be filled with light, and God be an indwelling fact,--a presence in the depths of your being.
Great is the man whom his age despises. For transcendent excellence is purchased through the obloquy of contemporaries; and shame is the gate to the temple of renown. The heroism honored of God, and the gratitude of mankind, achieves its marvels in the shades of life, remote from the babble of crowds.
Praise and blame as little belong to the righteous as to God. Virtue transcends desert--as the sun by day, as heat during frosts. Its light and warmth are its essence, cheering alike the wilderness, the fields, and fire-sides of men,--the cope of heaven, and the bowels of the earth.
Be great even in your leisures; making, accepting, opportunities, and doing lovingly your work at the first or eleventh hour, even as God has need of you. Transcend all occasions; exhausted, overborne, by none. Wisdom waits with a long patience; nor working, nor idling with men and times; but living and being in eternity with God. Great designs demand ages for consummation, and Gods are coadjutors in their accomplishment. Patience is king of opportunity and times.
Solitude is Wisdom's school. Attend then the lessons of your own soul; become a pupil of the wise God within you, for by his tuitions alone shall you grow into the knowledge and stature of the deities. The seraphs descend from heaven, in the solitudes of meditation, in the stillness of prayer.
All sin is original,--there is none other; and so all atonement for sin. God's method is neither mediatorial nor vicarious; and the soul is nor saved nor judged by proxy,--she saves or dooms herself. Piety is unconscious, vascular, vital,--like breathing it is, and is because it is. None can respire for another, none sin or atone for another's sin. Redemption is a personal, private act.
Blessedness consists in perfect willingness. It is above all conflict. It is serenity, triumph, beatitude. It transcends choice. It is one with the divine Will, and a partaker of his nature and tendency. There is struggle and choice only with the wilful. The saints are elect in perfect obedience, and enact God's decrees.
Believe, youth, that your heart is an oracle; trust her instinctive auguries, obey her divine leadings; nor listen too fondly to the uncertain echoes of your head. The heart is the prophet of your soul, and ever fulfils her prophecies; reason is her historian; but for the prophecy the history would not be. Great is the heart: cherish her; she is big with the future, she forebodes renovations. Let the flame of enthusiasm fire alway your bosom. Enthusiasm is the glory and hope of the world. It is the life of sanctity and genius; it has wrought all miracles since the beginning of time.
Hope deifies man; it is the apotheosis of the soul; the prophecy and fulfilment of her destinies. The nobler her aspirations, the sublimer her conceptions of the Godhead. As the man, so his God: God is his idea of excellence; the complement of his own being.
The grander my conception of being, the nobler my future. There can be no sublimity of life without faith in the soul's eternity. Let me live superior to sense and custom, vigilant alway, and I shall experience my divinity; my hope will be infinite, nor shall the universe contain, or content me. But if I creep daily from the haunts of an ignoble past, like a beast from his burrow, neither earth nor sky, man nor God, shall appear desirable or glorious; my life shall be loathsome to me, my future reflect my fears. He alone, who lives nobly, oversees his own being, believes all things, and partakes of the eternity of God.
Engage in nothing that cripples or degrades you. Your first duty is self-culture, self-exaltation: you may not violate this high trust. Your self is sacred, profane it not. Forge no chains wherewith to shackle your own members. Either subordinate your vocation to your life, or quit it forever: it is not for you; it is condemnation of your own soul. Your influence on others is commensurate with the strength that you have found in yourself. First cast the demons from your own bosom, and then shall your word exorcise them from the hearts of others.
He who marvels at nothing, who feels nothing to be mysterious, but must needs bare all things to sense, lacks both wisdom and piety. Miracle is the mantle in which these venerable natures wrap themselves, and he, who seeks curiously to rend this asunder, profanes their sacred countenance to enter by stealth into the Divine presence. Sanctity, like God, is ever mysterious, and all devout souls reverence her. A wonderless age is godless: an age of reverence, an age of piety and wisdom.
Piety is not scientific; yet embosoms the facts that reason develops in scientific order to the understanding. Religion, being a sentiment, is science yet in synthetic relations; truth yet undetached from love; thought not yet severed from action. For every fact that eludes the analysis of reason, conscience affirms its root in the supernatural. Every synthetic fact is supernatural and miraculous. Analysis by detecting its law resolves it into science, and renders it a fact of the understanding. Divinely seen, natural facts are symbols of spiritual laws. Miracles are of the heart; not of the head: indigenous to the soul; not freaks of nature, not growths of history. God, man, nature, are miracles.
Because the soul is herself mysterious, the saint is a mystic to the worldling. He lives to the soul; he partakes of her properties, he dwells in her atmosphere of light and hope. But the worldling, living to sense, is identified with the flesh; he dwells amidst the dust and vapors of his own lusts, which dim his vision, and obscure the heavens wherein the saint beholds the face of God.
The insatiableness of her desires is an augury of the soul's eternity. Yearning for satisfaction, yet ever balked of it from temporal things, she still prosecutes her search for it, and her faith remains unshaken amidst constant disappointments. She would breathe life, organize light; her hope is eternal; a never-ending, still-beginning quest of the Godhead in her own bosom; a perpetual effort to actualize her divinity in time. Intact, aspirant, she feels the appulses of both spiritual and material things; she would appropriate the realm she inherits by virtue of her incarnation: infinite appetencies direct all her members on finite things; her vague strivings, and Cyclopean motions, confess an aim beyond the confines of transitory natures; she is quivered with heavenly desires: her quarry is above the stars: her arrows are snatched from the armory of heaven.
Every soul feels at times her own possibility of becoming a God; she cannot rest in the human, she aspires after the Godlike. This instinctive tendency is an authentic augury of its own fulfilment. Men shall become Gods. Every act of admiration, prayer, praise, worship, desire, hope, implies and predicts the future apotheosis of the soul.
All life is eternal; there is none other; and all unrest is but the struggle of the soul to reassure herself of her inborn immortality; to recover her lost intuition of the same, by reason of her descent amidst the lusts and worship of the idols of flesh and sense. Her discomfort reveals her lapse from innocence; her loss of the divine presence and favor. Fidelity alone shall instaurate the Godhead in her bosom.
Greater is he, who is above temptation, than he, who, being tempted, overcomes. The latter but regains the state from which the former has not fallen. He who is tempted has sinned; temptation is impossible to the holy.
Choice implies apostacy. The pure, unfallen soul is above choice. Her life is unbroken, synthetic; she is a law to herself, and finds no lusts in her members warring against the instincts of conscience. Sinners choose; saints act from instinct and intuition: there is no parley of alien forces in their being.
XIV. INSTINCT AND REASON.
Innocent, the soul is quick with instincts of unerring aim; then she knows by intuition what lapsed reason defines by laborious inference; her appetites and affections are direct and trust-worthy. Reason is the left hand of instinct; it is tardy, awkward, but the right is ready and dextrous. By reasoning the soul strives to recover her lost intuitions; groping amidst the obscure darkness of sense, by means of the fingers of logic, for treasures present alway and available to the eye of conscience. Sinners must needs reason; saints behold.
XV. IDENTITY AND DIVERSITY.
It is the perpetual effort of conscience to divorce the soul from the dominion of sense; to nullify the dualities of the apparent, and restore the intuition of the real. The soul makes a double statement of all her facts; to conscience and sense; reason mediates between the two. Yet though double to sense, she remains single and one in herself; one in conscience, many in understanding; one in life, diverse in function and number. Sense, in its infirmity, breaks this unity to apprehend in part what it cannot grasp at once. Understanding notes diversity; conscience alone divines unity, and integrates all experience in identity of spirit. Number is predicable of body alone; not of spirit.
Ever present, potent, vigilant, in the breast of man, there is that which never became a party in his guilt, never consented to a wrong deed, nor performed one, but holds itself above all sin, impeccable, immaculate, immutable, the deity of the heart, the conscience of the soul, the oracle and interpreter, the judge and executor of the divine law.
In the theocracy of the soul majorities do not rule. God and the saints; against them the rabble of sinners, with clamorous voices and uplifted hand, striving to silence the oracle of the private heart. Beelzebub marshals majorities. Prophets and reformers are alway special enemies of his and his minions. Multitudes ever lie. Every age is a Judas, and betrays its Messiahs into the hands of the multitude. The voice of the private, not popular heart, is alone authentic.
There is a magic in free speaking, especially on sacred themes, most potent and resistless. It is refreshing, amidst the inane common-places bandied in pulpits and parlors, to hear a hopeful word from an earnest, upright soul. Men rally around it as to the lattice in summer heats, to inhale the breeze that flows cool and refreshing from the mountains, and invigorates their languid frames. Once heard, they feel a buoyant sense of health and hopefulness, and wonder that they should have lain sick, supine so long, when a word has power to raise them from their couch, and restore them to soundness. And once spoken, it shall never be forgotten; it charms, exalts; it visits them in dreams, and haunts them during all their wakeful hours. Great, indeed, is the delight of speech; sweet the sound of one's bosom thought, as it returns laden with the fragrance of a brother's approval.
XIX. THOUGHT AND ACTION.
Great thoughts exalt and deify the thinker; still more ennobling is the effect of great deeds on the actor. The dilation and joy of the soul at these visitations of God is like that of the invalid, again inhaling the mountain breeze after long confinement in chambers: she feels herself a noble bird, whose eyrie is in the empyrean; that she is made to bathe her bosom and plume herself in the ether of thought; to soar and sing amidst the seraphim, beholding the faces of Apollo and Jove.
Action translates death into life; fable into verity; speculation into experience; freeing man from the sorceries of tradition and the torpor of habit. The eternal Scripture is thus expurgated of the falsehoods interpolated into it by the supineness of the ages. Action mediates between conscience and sense: it is the gospel of the understanding.
Most men are on the ebb; but now and then a man comes riding down sublimely in high hope from God on the flood tide of the soul, as she sets into the coasts of time, submerging old landmarks, and laying waste the labors of centuries. A new man wears channels broad and deep into the banks of the ages; he washes away ancient boundaries, and sets afloat institutions, creeds, usages, which clog the ever flowing Present, stranding them on the shores of the Past. Such deluge is the harbinger of a new world, a renovated age. Hope builds an ark; the dove broods over the assuaged waters; the bow of promise gilds the east; the world is again repeopled and replanted. Yet the sons of genius alone venture into the ark: while most pass the rather down the sluggish stream of usage into the turbid pool of oblivion. Thitherward the retreating tide rolls, and wafted by the gales of inglorious ease, or urged by the winds of passion, they glide down the Lethean waters, and are not. Only the noble and heroic outlive in time their exit from it.
The world, the state, the church, stand in awe of a man of probity and valor. He threatens their order and perpetuity: an unknown might slumbers in him; he is an augury of revolutions. Out of the invisible God, he comes to abide awhile amongst men; yet neither men nor time shall remain as at his advent. He is a creative element, and revises men, times, life itself. A new world preëxists in his ideal. He overlives, outlives, eternizes the ages, and reports to all men the will of the divinity whom he serves.
Character is the only legitimate institution; the only regal influence. Its power is infinite. Safe in the citadel of his own integrity, principalities, powers, hierarchies, states, capitulate to the man of character at last. It is the temple which the soul builds to herself, within whose fanes genius and sanctity worship, while the kneeling ages bend around them in admiration and love.
The hunger of an age is alike a presentiment and pledge of its own supply. Instinct is not only prophetic but provident. When there is a general craving for bread, that shall assuredly be satisfied; bread is even then growing in the fields. Now, men are lean and famishing; but, behold, the divine Husbandman has driven his share through the age, and sown us bread that we may not perish; yea, the reapers even are going forth, a blithe and hopeful company, while yet the fields weep with the dews of the morning, and the harvests wave in yellow ripeness. Soon shall a table be spread, and the age rejoice in the fulness of plenty.
The prophet, by disciplines of meditation and valor, faithful to the spirit of the heart, his eye purified of the motes of tradition, his life of the vestiges of usage, ascends to the heights of immediate intuition: he rends the veil of sense; he bridges the distance between faith and sight, and beholds spiritual verities without scripture or mediator. In the presence of God, he communes with him face to face.
To benefit another, either by word or deed, you must have passed from the state in which he is, to a higher. Experience is both law and method of all tuition, all influence. This holds alike of physical as of spiritual truths; the demonstration must be epical; the method living, not empirical.
I am not partial to your man who always holds his balance in hand, and must weigh forthwith whatsoever of physical or metaphysical haberdashery chances to be laid on his counter. I have observed that he thinks more of the accuracy and polish of his scales, than of the quality of the wares in which he deals. He never questions his own levity. But yet these balance-men are useful: it is convenient to have standards of market values. These are the public's approved sealers of weights and measures, who determine the worth of popular wares by their favorite weights, lucre and usage. It is well for the ages, that Genius rectifies both scales and men by a truer standard, quite wide of marts or markets.
Prudence is the footprint of Wisdom.
The standing problem of Genius is to divine the essential verity intimated in the life and literature of the Past, divesting it of historical interpolations; separating the foreign from the indigenous, and translating the letter of the universal scripture into the spirit of contemporaneous life and letters.
To just criticism unity of mind is essential. The critic must not esteem difference as real as sameness, and as permanent in the facts of nature. This tendency is fatal to all sound and final thinking: it never penetrates to the roots of things. All creative minds have been inspired and guided by the law of unity: their problem is ever to pierce the coarse and superficial rind of diversity, and discover the unity in whose core is the heart and seed of all things.
We need, what Genius is unconsciously seeking, and, by some daring generalization of the universe, shall assuredly discover, a spiritual calculus, a novum organon, whereby nature shall be divined in the soul, the soul in God, matter in spirit, polarity resolved into unity; and that power which pulsates in all life, animates and builds all organizations, shall manifest itself as one universal deific energy, present alike at the outskirts and centre of the universe, whose centre and circumference are one; omniscient, omnipotent, self-subsisting, uncontained, yet containing all things in the unbroken synthesis of its being.
XXXII. GENERATION AND CORRUPTION.
The soul decomposes the substances of nature in the reverse order of their composition: read this backward for the natural history of their genesis and growth. Generation and corruption are polar or adverse facts. The tree first dies at the top: to raze the house we first remove the tiling. The decomposition and analysis are from without, according to the order of sense, not of the soul. All investigations of nature must be analytic through the order of decay. Science begins and ends in death; poesy in life; philosophy in organization; art in creation.
XXXIII. EACH AND ALL.
Life eludes all scientific analysis. Each organ and function is modified in substance and varied in effect, by the subtile energy which pulsates throughout the whole economy of things, spiritual and corporeal. The each is instinct with the all; the all unfolds and reappears in each. Spirit is all in all. God, man, nature, are a divine synthesis, whose parts it is impiety to sunder. Genius must preside devoutly over all investigations, or analysis, with her murderous knife, will seek impiously to probe the vitals of being.
God organizes never his attributes fully in single structures. He is instant, but never extant wholly, in his works. Nature does not contain, but is contained in him; she is the memoir of his life; man is a nobler scripture, yet fails to outwrite the godhead. The universe does not reveal, eternities do not publish the mysteries of his being. He subjects his noblest works to minute and constant revision; his idea ever transcends its form; he moulds anew his own idols; both nature and man are ever making, never made.
Nature seems remote and detached, because the soul surveys her by means of the extremest senses, imposing on herself the notion of difference and remoteness through their predominance, and thereby losing that of her own oneness with it. Yet nature is not separate from me; she is mine alike with my body; and in moments of true life, I feel my identity with her; I breathe, pulsate, feel, think, will, through her members, and know of no duality of being. It is in such moods of soul that prophetic visions are beheld, and evangeles published for the joy and hope of mankind.
Solidity is an illusion of the senses. To faith, nothing is solid: the nature of the soul renders such fact impossible. Modern chemistry demonstrates that nine tenths of the human body are fluid, and substances of inferior order in lesser proportion. Matter is ever pervaded and agitated by the omnipresent soul. All things are instinct with spirit.
XXXVII. SEPULTURE AND RESURRECTION.
That which is visible is dead: the apparent is the corpse of the real; and undergoes successive sepultures and resurrections. The soul dies out of organs; the tombs cannot confine her; she eludes the grasp of decay; she builds and unseals the sepulchres. Her bodies are fleeting, historical. Whatsoever she sees when awake is death; when asleep dream.
Organizations are mortal; the seal of death is fixed on them even at birth. The young Future is nurtured by the Past, yet aspires to a nobler life, and revises, in his maturity, the traditions and usages of his day, to be supplanted by the sons and daughters whom he begets and ennobles. Time, like fabled Saturn, now generates, and, ere even their sutures be closed, devours his own offspring. Only the children of the soul are immortal; the births of time are premature and perishable.
Man is a rudiment and embryon of God: eternity shall develop in him the divine image.
Possibly organization is no necessary function or mode of spiritual being. The time may come, in the endless career of the soul, when the facts of incarnation, birth, death, descent into matter and ascension from it, shall comprise no part of her history; when she herself shall survey this human life with emotions akin to those of the naturalist, on examining the relics of extinct races of beings; when mounds, sepulchres, monuments, epitaphs, shall serve but as memoirs of a past state of existence; a reminiscence of one metempsychosis of her life in time.
XLI. SPIRIT AND MATTER.
Divined aright, there is nothing purely organic; all things are vital and inorganic. The microscope is developing this sublime fact. Sense looking at the historic surface beholds what it deems matter, yet is but spirit in fusion, fluent, pervaded by her own immanent vitality and trembling to organize itself. Neither matter nor death are possible: what seem matter and death are sensuous impressions, which, in our sanest moments, the authentic instincts contradict. The sensible world is spirit in magnitude, outspread before the senses for their analysis, but whose synthesis is the soul herself, whose prothesis is God. Matter is but the confine of spirit limning her to sense.
The soul works from centre to periphery, veiling her labors from the ken of the senses. Her works are invisible till she has rounded herself in surface, where she completes her organizations. Appearance, though first to sense, is last in the order of generation: she recoils on herself at the acme of sense, revealing herself in reversed order. Historical is the sequel of genetic life.
The popular genesis is historical. It is written to sense not to the soul. Two principles, diverse and alien, interchange the Godhead and sway the world by turns. God is dual. Spirit is derivative. Identity halts in diversity. Unity is actual merely. The poles of things are not integrated: creation not globed and orbed. Yet in the true genesis, nature is globed in the material, souls orbed in the spiritual firmament. Love globes, wisdom orbs, all things. As magnet the steel, so spirit attracts matter, which trembles to traverse the poles of diversity, and rest in the bosom of unity. All genesis is of love. Wisdom is her form: beauty her costume.
Love and gravity are a twofold action of one life, whose conservative instincts in man and nature preserve inviolate the harmony of the immutable and eternal law of spirit. Man and nature alike tend toward the Godhead. All seeming divergence is overruled by this omnipotent force, whose retributions restore universal order.
Love designs, thought sketches, action sculptures the works of spirit. Love is divine, conceiving, creating, completing, all things. Love is the Genius of Spirit.
Life, in its initial state, is synthetic; then feeling, thought, action are one and indivisible: love is its manifestation. Childhood and woman are samples and instances. But thought disintegrates and breaks this unity of soul: action alone restores it. Action is composition; thought decomposition. Deeds executed in love are graceful, harmonious, entire; enacted from thought merely, they are awkward, dissonant, incomplete: a manufacture, not creations, not works of genius.
XLVII. ACTUAL AND IDEAL.
The actual and ideal are twins of one mother, Reality, who failing to incarnate her conceptions in time, meanwhile contents herself with admiring in each the complement of the other, herself integrant of both. Alway are the divine Gemini intertwined; Pan and Psyche, man and woman, the soul and nature.
All departures from perfect beauty are degradations of the divine image. God is the one type, which the soul strives to incarnate in all organizations. Varieties are historical: the one form embosoms all forms; all having a common likeness at the base of difference. Human heads are images, more or less perfect, of the soul's or God's head. But the divine features do not fix in flesh; in the coarse and brittle clay. Beauty is fluent; art of highest order represents her always in flux, giving fluency and motion to bodies solid and immovable to sense. The line of beauty symbolizes motion.
Never have we beheld a purely human face; as yet, the beast, demon, rather than the man or God, predominate in its expression. The face of the soul is not extant in flesh. Yet she has a face, and virtue and genius shall one day reveal her celestial lineaments: a beauty, a majesty, shall then radiate from her that shall transcend the rapt ideal of love and hope. So have I seen glimpses of this spiritual glory, when, inspired by some thought or sentiment, she was transfigured from the image of the earthly to that of the heavenly, the ignoble melting out of her features, lost in the supersensual life.
Know, O man, that your soul is the Prometheus, who, receiving the divine fires, builds up this majestic statue of clay, and moulds it in the deific image, the pride of gods, the model and analogon of all forms. He chiselled that godlike brow, arched those mystic temples from whose fanes she herself looks forth, formed that miraculous globe above, and planted that sylvan grove below; graved those massive blades yoked in armed powers; carved that heaven-containing bosom, wreathed those puissant thighs, and hewed those stable columns, diffusing over all the grandeur, the grace of his own divine lineaments, and delighting in this cunning work of his hand. Mar not its beauty, spoil not its symmetry, by the deforming lines of lust and sin: dethroning the divinity incarnated therein, and transforming yourself into the satyr and the beast.
The trump of reform is sounding throughout the world for a revolution of all human affairs. The issue we cannot doubt; yet the crises are not without alarm. Already is the axe laid at the root of that spreading tree, whose trunk is idolatry, whose branches are covetousness, war, and slavery, whose blossom is concupiscence, whose fruit is hate. Planted by Beelzebub, it shall be rooted up. Abaddon is pouring his vial on the earth.
Reformers are metallic; they are sharpest steel; they pierce whatsoever of evil or abuse they touch. Their souls are attempered in the fires of heaven; they are mailed in the might of principles, and God backs their purpose. They uproot institutions, erase traditions, revise usages, and renovate all things. They are the noblest of facts. Extant in time, they work for eternity; dwelling with men, they are with God.
Three qualities are essential to the reformer,--insight, veneration, valor. These are the arms with which he takes the world. He who wields these divinely shall make an encroachment upon his own age, and the centuries shall capitulate to him at last. To all else, are institutions, men, ages, invulnerable.
The reformer substitutes things for words, laws for usage, ideas for idols. But this is ever a deed, daring and damned, for which the culprit was aforetime cropped, exiled, or slain. In our time, his sentence is commuted to slight and starvation.
The words of a just man are mirrors in which the felon beholds his own features, and shrinks from the portrait painted therein by the speaker. Beware of a just man, he is a limner of souls; he draws in the colors of truth. Cunning durst not sit to him.
Divinely speaking, God is the only person. The personality of man is partial, derivative; not perfect, not original. He becomes more personal as he partakes more largely of divinity. Holiness embosoms him in the Godhead, and makes him one with Deity.
We are what we seek; desire, appetite, passion, draw our features, and show us whether we are gods or men, devils or beasts. Always is the soul portraying herself; the statue of our character is hewn from her affections and thoughts.--Wisdom is the soul in picture; holiness in sculpture.
Truth is most potent when she speaks in general and impersonal terms. Then she rebukes everybody, and all confess before her words. She draws her bow, and lets fly her arrows at broad venture into the ages, to pierce all evils and abuses at heart. She wounds persons through principles, on whose phylactery, "thou art the man," is ever written to the eye of all men.
The saints are alone popular in heaven, not on earth; elect of God, they are spurned by the world. They hate their age, its applause, its awards, their own affections even, save as these unite them with justice, with valor, with God. Whoso loves father or mother, wife or child, houses or lands, pleasures or honors, or life, more than these, is an idolater, and worships idols of sense; his life is death; his love hate; his friends foes; his fame infamy.
Enduring fame is ever posthumous. The orbs of virtue and genius seldom culminate during their terrestrial periods. Slow is the growth of great names, slow the procession of excellence into arts, institutions, life. Ages alone reflect their fulness of lustre. The great not only unseal, but create the organs by which they are to be seen. Neither Socrates nor Jesus is yet visible to the world.
The man of sublime gifts has his temptation amidst the solitudes to which he is driven by his age as proof of his integrity. Yet nobly he withstands this trial, conquering both Satan and the world by overcoming himself. He bows not down before the idols of time, but is constant to the divine ideal that haunts his heart,--a spirit of serene and perpetual peace.
Oblivion of the world is knowledge of heaven,--of sin, holiness,--of time, eternity. The world, sin, time, are interpolations into the authentic scripture of the soul, denoting her lapse from God, innocence, heaven. Of these the child and God are alike ignorant. They have not fallen from their estate of divine intuition, into the dark domain of sense, wherein all is but shadowy reminiscence of substance and light, of innocence and clarity. Their life is above memory and hope,--a life, not of knowledge, but of sight.
The upright man holds fast his integrity amidst all reverses. Exiled by his principles from the world, a solitary amidst his age, he stands aloof from the busy haunts and low toils of his race. Amidst the general sterility he ripens for God. He is above the gauds and baits of sense. His taskmaster is in heaven; his field eternity; his wages peace. Away from him are all golden trophies, fames, honors, soft flatteries, comforts, homes, and couches in time. He lives in the smile of God; nor fears the frowns, nor courts the favor of men. With him the mint of immortal honor is not in the thronged market, but in the courts of the heart, whose awards bear not devices of applauding hosts, but of reviling soldiery,--of stakes and gibbets,--and are the guerdon not of the trial imposed, but of the valor that overcame it.
Always are the ages infested with dealers in stolen treasures. Church, state, school, traffic largely in such contraband wares, and would send genius and probity, as of old, Socrates and Jesus, into the markets and thoroughfares, to higgle with publicans and sophists for their own properties. But yet the wit and will of these same vagrants is not only coin, but stock in trade for all the business of the world. Mammon counterfeits the scripture of God, and his partners, the church, the state, the school, share the profit of his peculations on mankind.
Fools and blind! not bread, but the lack of it is God's high argument. Wouldst enter into life? Beg bread then. In the kingdom of God are love and bread consociated, but in the realm of mammon, bread sojourns with lies, and truth is a starvling. Yet praised be God, he has bread in his exile which mammon knows not of.
Labor is sweet; nor is that a stern decree that sends man into the fields to earn his bread in the sweat of his face. Labor is primeval; it replaces man in Eden,--the garden planted by God. It exalts and humanizes the soul. Life in all its functions and relations then breathes of groves and fountains, of simplicity and health. Man discourses sublimely with the divinities over the plough, the spade, the sickle, marrying the soul and the soil by the rites of labor. Sloth is the tempter that beguiles him of innocence, and exiles him from Paradise. Let none esteem himself beloved of the divine Husbandman, unless he earn the wages of peace in his vineyard. Yet now the broad world is full of idlers; the fields are barren; the age is hungry; there is no corn. The harvests are of tares and not of wheat. Gaunt is the age; even as the seedsman winnows the chaff from the wheat, shall the winds of reform blow this vanity away.
Seek God in the seclusion of your own soul; the prince of devils in the midst of multitudes. Beelzebub rules masses, God individuals. Vox populi vox dei,--never, (save where passion and interest are silent,) but vox populi vox diaboli.
The ages dogmatize, and would stifle the freest and boldest thought. Their language is,--our possessions skirt space, and we veto all possible discoveries of time. We are heirs of all wisdom, all excellence; none shall pass our confines; vain is the dream of a wilderness of thought to be vanquished by rebellion against us; we inherit the patrimony of God,--all goods in the gift of omnipotence.
LXIX. GENIUS AND SANCTITY.
A man's period is according to the directness and intensity of his light. Not erudition, not taste, not intellect, but character, describes his orbit and determines the worlds he shall enlighten. Genius and sanctity cast no shadow; like the sun at broad noon, the ray of these orbs pours direct intense on the world, and they are seen in their own light.
Character is the genius of conscience, as wit is of intellect. The prophet and bard are original men, and their lives and works being creations of divine art, are inimitable. Imitation and example are sepulchres in which the ages entomb their disciples. The followers of God are alone immortal.
It is life, not scripture; character, not biography, that renovates mankind. The letter of life vitiates its spirit. Virtue and genius refuse to be written. The scribe weaves his own mythus of superstition always into his scripture.
Opinions are life in foliage; deeds, in fruitage. Always is the fruitless tree accursed.
All scripture is the record of life, and is sacred or profane, as the life it records is holy or vile. Every noble life is a revelation from heaven, which the joy and hope of mankind preserve to the world. Nor while the soul endures, shall the book of revelation be sealed. Her scriptures, like herself, are inexhaustible, without beginning or end.
LXXIV. SACRED BOOKS.
The current version of all sacred books is profane. The ignorance and passions of men interpolate themselves into the text, and vitiate both its doctrine and ethics. But this is revised, at successive eras, by prophets, who, holding direct communication with the source of life and truth, translate their eternal propositions from the sacred into the common speech of man, and thus give the word anew to the world.
A man must live his life to apprehend it. There have been few living men and hence few lives; most have lived their death. Men have no faith in life. There goes indeed a rumor through the ages concerning it, but the few, who affirm knowledge of the fact, are slain always to verify the popular doubt. Men assert, not the resurrection of the soul from the body, but of the body from the grave, as a revelation of life. Faithless and blind! the body is the grave; let the dead arise from these sepulchres of concupiscence, and know by experience that life is immortal. Only the living know that they live; the dead know only of death.
To apprehend a miracle, a man must first have wrought it. He knows only what he has lived, and interprets all facts in the light of his experience. Miracles are spiritual experiences, not feats of legerdemain, not freaks of nature. It is the spiritual sight that discerns whatsoever is painted to sense. Flesh is faithless and blind.
LXXVII. FACT AND FABLE.
Facts, reported, are always false. Only sanctity and genius are eyewitnesses of the same; and their intuition, yet not their scriptures, are alone authentic. Not only all scripture, but all thought is fabulous. Life is the only pure fact, and this cannot be written to sense; it must be lived, and thus expurgate all scriptures.
Revelation is mediate or immediate; speculative or intuitive. It is addressed to conscience or reason,--to sight or sense. Reason receives the light through mediums and mediators; conscience direct from its source. The light of one is opake; of the other, clear. The prophet, whose eye is coincident with the celestial ray, receives this into his breast, and intensifying there, it kindles on his brow a serene and perpetual day. But the worldling, with face averted from God, reflects divinity through the obscure twilight of his own brain, and remains in the blindness of his own darkness, a deceptive meteor of the night.
The prophet appeals direct to the heart. He addresses the divine in the breast. His influence is subtle; the reverence he inspires occult. His words are winged with marvels; his deeds mysteries; his life a miracle. Piety kneels at the shrine of his genius, and reads his mystic scriptures, as oracles of the divinity in the breasts of all men.
The true teacher defends his pupils against his own personal influence. He inspires self-trust. He guides their eyes from himself to the spirit that quickens him. He will have no disciples. A noble artist, he has visions of excellence and revelations of beauty, which he has neither impersonated in character, nor embodied in words. His life and teachings are but studies for yet nobler ideals.
A man's idea of God corresponds to his ideal of himself. The nobler he is, the more exalted his God. His own culture and discipline are a revelation of divinity. He apprehends the divine character as he comprehends his own. Humanity is the glass of divinity; experience of the soul is a revelation of God.
Obedience is the mediator of the soul. It is the organ of immediate inspiration; the hierophant of the Godhead. It is the method of revelation; the law of all culture.
The laws of the soul and of nature are forecast and preordained in the spirit of God, and are ever executing themselves through conscience in man, and gravity in things. Man's body and the world are organs, through which the retributions of the spiritual universe are justified to reason and sense. Disease and misfortune are memoranda of violations of the divine law, written in the letter of pain and evil.
The ritual of the soul is preordained in her relations to God, man, nature, herself. Life, with its varied duties, is her ordained worship; labor and meditation her sacraments. Whatsoever violates this order is idolatry and sacrilege. A holy spirit, she hallows all times, places, services; and perpetually she consecrates her temples, and ministers at the altars of her divinity. Her censer flames always toward heaven, and the spirit of God descends to kindle her devotions.
Except a man be born of water and of spirit, he cannot apprehend eternal life. Sobriety is clarity; sanctity is sight. John baptizes Jesus. Repent, abstain, resolve;--thus purify yourself in this laver of regeneration, and become a denizen of the kingdom of God.
Conceive of slaughter and flesh-eating in Eden.
Tradition suckles the young ages, who imbibe health or disease, insight or ignorance, valor or pusillanimity, as the stream of life flows down from urns of sobriety or luxury, from times of wisdom or folly, honor or shame.
Renounce the world, yourself; and you shall possess the world, yourself, and God.
Man's impotence is his pusillanimity. Duty alone is necessity; valor, might. This bridles the actual, yokes circumstance to do its bidding, and wields the arms of omnipotence. Fidelity, magnanimity, win the crown of heaven, and invest the soul with the attributes of God.
All men honor meekness; and make her their confessor. She wins all hearts; all vulgar natures do her homage. The demons flee, and the unclean Calabans and Satyrs become menials in her imperial presence. She is the potentate of the world.
I love to regard all souls as babes, yet in their prime and innocency of being, nor would I upbraid rudely a fellow creature, but treat him as tenderly as an infant. I would be gentle alway. Gentleness is the divinest of graces, and all men joy in it. Yet seldom does it appear on earth. Not in the face of man, nor yet often in that of woman (O apostacy,) but in the countenance of childhood it sometimes lingers, even amidst the violence, the dispathy that beset it; there, for a little while, fed by divine fires, the serene flame glows, but soon flickers and dies away, choked by the passions and lusts of sense--its embers smouldering alone in the bosoms of men.
Individuals are sacred: creeds, usages, institutions, as they cherish and reverence the individual. The world, the state, the church, the school, all are felons whensoever they violate the sanctity of the private heart. God, with his saints and martyrs, holds thrones, polities, hierarchies, amenable to the same, and time pours her vial of just retribution on their heads. A man is divine; mightier, holier, than rulers or powers ordained of time.
The people look always for a political, not spiritual Messias. They desire a ruler from the world, not from heaven--a monarch who shall conform both church and state to their maxims and usages. So church and state become functions of the world, and mammon, with his court of priests and legislators, usurps the throne of conscience in the soul, to rule saints and prophets for a time.
Christendom is infidel. It violates the sanctity of man's conscience. It speaks not from the lively oracles of the soul, but reads instead from the traditions of men. It quotes history, not life. It denounces as heresy and impiety the intuitions of the individual, denies the inspiration of souls, and intrudes human dogmas and usages between conscience and God. It excludes the saints from its bosom, and with these, excommunicates, as the archheretic, Jesus of Nazareth also.
Christians lean on Jesus, not on the soul. Such was not the doctrine of this noble reformer. He taught man's independence of all men, and a faith and trust in the soul herself. Christianity is the doctrine of self-support. It teaches man to be upright, not supine. Jesus gives his arm to none save those who stand erect, independent of church, state, or the world, in the integrity of self-insight and valor. Cast aside thy crutch, O Christendom, and by faith in the soul, arise and walk. Thy faith alone shall make thee whole.
The pentecost of the soul draws near. Inspiration, silent long, is unsealing the lips of prophets and bards, and soon shall the vain babblings of men die away, and their ears be given to the words of the Holy Ghost; their tongues cloven with celestial eloquence.
It is because the soul is immortal that all her organs decease, and are again renewed. Growth and decay, sepulture and resurrection, tread fast on the heel of the other. Birth entombs death; death encradles birth. The incorruptible is ever putting off corruption; the immortal mortality. Nature, indeed, is but the ashes of the departed soul, and the body her urn.
Things are memoirs of ideas; ideas the body of laws; laws the breath of God. All nature is the sepulchre of the risen soul, life her epitaph, and scripture her obituary.
The soul doth not chronicle her age. Her consciousness opens in the dimness of tradition; she is cradled in mystery, and her infancy invested in fable. Yet a celestial light irradiates this obscurity of birth, and reveals her spiritual lineage. Ancestor of the world, prior to time, elder than her incarnation, neither spaces, times, genealogies, publish her date. Memory is the history, Hope the prophecy of her inborn eternity. Dateless, timeless, she is coeval with God.
Silence is the initiative to wisdom. Wit is silent, and justifies her children by their reverence of the voiceless oracles of the breast. Inspiration is dumb, a listener to the oracles during her nonage; suddenly she speaks, to mock the emptiness of all speech. Silence is the dialect of heaven; the utterance of Gods.