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will show not only that his mode of life was unfavorable to study, but also that he had more than enough to busy his mind with.
There can be no doubt that the confusion which prevails in the accounts of his life at this period is mainly due to Parker's habit of exaggeration; but the evil is aggravated by the credulous temper of Mr. Weiss himself. Had he been careful to examine into the gross and palpable contradictions with which this part of his volume is crowded, we might have obtained some more consistent and probable record of these years. But when a biographer talks of a man of such manifold public labors as Parker was, as knowing "so well the contents of each volume of the twelve thousand" in his library, or tells us that " there was not a book in the whole vast collection M-hich did not at some time serve his practical turn," what confidence can he expect? Plead twelve thousand such volumes and die at forty-nine, after so active a life as Parker's became about 1846! What Bollandist was ever more credulous than Weiss? Here is the mythical teudency in strange company.
This exhibition of a disposition to exaggeration in Mr. Parker is not made for any purpose of depreciation. His life, career, and character cannot be understood unless we grasp this fundamental vice of his nature. Its influence we shall presently discern in many ways.
Parker was very far from having reached the conclusions he asserts he had gained before he settled in West Roxbnry. It is refreshing to notice the modest tone of his letters, writings, and conversations as they appear in Weiss's account of that period, based on documents which date from it, as compared with the superior and triumphant air of the Experience. He talks with Norton, Stuart, and Channing without the least suspicion how much less is their intellectual stature than his. The lists of questions given by Weiss on pages 95 and 121 (the' latter under the date of 1839) show that Mr. Parker was then groping dimly on his way to his ultimate position, but was far from having reached it.
After his ordination, June 23, 1837, life went on quietly enough with the young minister. He liked to write sermons, preach them, was one of the Sc1iqq\ committee, and grew familiar with his audience of from seventy to one hundred and fifty persons. He presided over "Olympics" made up chiefly of lady friends, where Goethe, Bettini, Giinderode, Norton, Fourier, Emerson, the Dial, and Parker's own verses, were discussed. Weiss, with his usual magnificent vagueness of phrase, adds to these themes "all cosmic questions." Parker reads Jacobi, old Henry More, Bulvver's Athens, The Life of Apollonius Tyaneus, studies ethics extensively, and begins to write for the periodicals. We have glimpses of him at a certain society of "Friends of Progress," where Hedge, Ripley, Wendell Phillips, Alcott, and Dr. Follen, are sometimes seen. He visits Norton, whom he still respects as learned and able, and their conversation is about Schleiermacher. We may guess how much he understands of German theology by the fact that he is quite unable to correct the Professor's false ideas of him. Moses Stuart surprises him with unexpected liberality of thought. Dr. Channing he considers the leader of the movement-party among the Unitarians. Parker had intended to become a reformer when he was settled in West Roxbury. This intention he keeps steadily in view. The beginning is made by venting his speculations in sermons to a* congregation not sufficiently versed in theology to ask him any perplexing questions. "I preach abundant heresies, and they all go down, for the hearers don't know how heretical they are. I preach the worst of all things, transcendentalism itself, the grand heresy." This citation is the more important because it reveals the source of an influence very potent with him in these days. Mr. Emerson was as sphynx-like then as now, and many a hot dispute raged over his alleged Pantheism. Indeed, the air was rife with new notions; even Parker was shocked to hear Alcott talking about "the progress of God." But Emerson's notions about the self-suflicing nature of the soul began to affect his thoughts. This appears in his suspicion that he had been too great an admirer of Dr. Channing. It also crops out in his conversations with the latter. He is already breaking away from Channing's influence. Though he discusses with him the views of Strauss and other theological novelties, and finds him inclined to loose notions about the Sabbath, whenever a difference of opinion arises Channing appears a conservative and Parker a radical. When the former commends Parker's article in the "Christian Examiner" on Ackerman's book, Das Christliche im Plato, he suggests the query whether it does justice to Christian morality as an advance on all other systems. When Channing says conscience needs to be educated, Parker laughs at the idea as" absurd; when Channing, evidently thinking of the Bible, says we Deed an infallible guide, Parker responds that the conscience, or rather the soul, is one. Channing advises Parker not to translate Strauss's Leben Jesu, in a way that evidences a doubt lest he might be tempted to do it. While Parker, under the lead of Strauss, is learning to think of Jesus as a simple man, Channing holds that he had a miraculous character different in kind from ours. While Parker is sure that the writers of the New Testament had no inspiration different in kind from that of all good men, and that Jesus Christ only had more of the same kind that Socrates had, Channing believes that the Saviour had a revelation such as was enjoyed by none else save the old prophets. The tendency of Parker's mind is wholly in this direction. In 1837 he has read Strauss, and says, as he had lately been wont to, that the Old Testament miracles are absurd; but he now adds, for the firsff time, that the New Testament miracles, as prophecies, dreams, and miraculous births, are no less so. He admits a mythical element in the New Testament, though rather in the sense of Gobler and Bauer than that of Strauss. In 1838 he deems the scourge of small cords, the fish with the tribute-money, the cursing of the fig-tree, and the stories of the ascension pure fables; he also thinks Jesus or his disciples mistaken about the approaching end of the world. The same line of thought was powerfully stimulated by hearing Emerson's address in 1839 before the Divinity School. This memorable event is worthy of having all the light we can command thrown upon it. Under date of July 15, 1839, Parker writes: "I proceeded to Cambridge to hear Mr. Emerson's valedictory sermon. My s0ul is roused, and this week I shall write the long-meditated sermons on the state of the Church and the duties of these times." From this time the influence of Channing with him sensibly waned, and that of Emerson grew silently to vast power. Signs of an approaching conflict begin to show themselves. Parker's article in the "Boston Quarterly Review " on Palfrey's Lectures on th^ Jewish Scriptures and Antiquities, was of such a temper that people said his motive was blasphemous, and the best informed thought it the work of an atheist.
January, 1840, he preached the Thursday lecture on Inspiration. This was a delicate theme, and was handled without ceremony by Mr. Parker, now well on his way to that lordof-all-I-survey style of treatment which grew so conspicuous in him toward the meridian of his career. His views had become such as to lead him to talk about the folly of thinking that the divine goodness had exhausted itself, and the probability that new Ghrists would be manifested among mankind. His spirit was deemed sarcastic and unchristian, which charge he ever denied with indignation. Yet he says that his own hair stood on end at the thought of what he had written. It was about the same period that a warm-hearted and clearheaded woman pronounced him a downright infidel. The question was also raised whether it was right to allow Emerson the name of Christian in view of his peculiar dogmatic utterances. Parker said "yes;" but Parker knew that he was in like condemnation. He began to assert that we might equal, or even transcend, Jesus Christ in spiritual insight and moral excellence, and he sought the most offensive way of saying so by bidding harlots strive after a perfection which should far surpass that of our Saviour. Of course it was logical and natural enough for him on such principles to say that one might shed a tear over the weakness of Jesus, and to affirm that John Augustus, a distant relative of his, had shown a greater love for the poor and vicious than Jesus of Nazareth, if the records of the evangelists are to be trusted. He attended the Chardon-street Convention, held in November, 1840. This meeting was called to discuss the ministry, the Sabbath, and the Church. Men of all shades of opinion were invited, under the management of Edmund Qnincy, to share in the deliberations. Parker was advised by Channing to keep clear of the affair, but was bent on going. Of course the convention was a motley throng, and the extremists took virtual possession of the meeting. No candid and thoughtful believer had much chance of a hearing, and a disreputable fame hangs over the convention. Parker seems to have taken no active part in their discussions; but a record in his journal shows that he meant to push his peculiar notions: "I have my own doctrines and shall support them, think the convention as it may."
The method of his reform was already growing clear to his own mind. He had begun by setting the soul above the Church and the Bible, and he must bring all things into harmony with such a position. The authority of the sacred Scriptures seemed a great obstacle to the success of these new views. Yet these views were working in him with the violence of new wine. He takes a lingering view of certain Christian dogmas which find powerful demonstration in the facts of human nature and history. The problem of evil must be confronted, and it seemed unlikely to favor his new ideas. The various diseases, deformities, and monstrosities which are presented in the animal world, the malignant aspect of a great part of the activity of men and beasts, and the terribly significant fact of death, all startle his mind. The apparent viciousness of brutes and the real viciousness of men are sad puzzles to him. If the simple truth must be told, Parker carefnily evaded a thorough treatment of this question. He had declared it as his iutention to clear theology of mythology and then apply good sense to it, so as to obtain a system which should be founded on facts of necessity, facts of consciousness, and facts of observation. We have a chance to see how he did this in relation to the fact of moral evil. He believed in a perfectly powerful, just, and good God. This knowledge he deemed intuitive and absolutely certain, and hence God can only create a world or universe that shall express and illustrate these qualities. But here is the actual world so full of seeming contradictions of these qualities that it appears an express refutation of these singular statements. But Parker is not daunted by such trifles. He concludes from his conception of God that the world must he perfect; that physical evils must be helps to our progress, errors the shortest and surest cuts to truth, and a proper and rapid experience in sin the sure mark of moral progress and growing purity. It is true, he modestly concedes that it is somewhat difficult to legitimate all this in the court of the understanding, indeed it may be found impossible; still he is sure of its truth. He tells us about the same period, "I think sin leaves little mark on *ne sou^! f°r, nrst, much of it is to be referred to causes that are external even to