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the physical man; and, second, much to the man's organism. I think ninety-nine hundredths of all sins thus explicable." The winter before he died he wrote from Rome a letter to the Rev. James Freeman Clarke which shows that he had long ere that time ceased to treat this gravest of moral questions seriously. "Sin," he says, "commonly called ngsinn-n-n, has no existence." With him, as with Plato, it is of the nature of error. He makes his way to such a startling conclusion the easier by endeavoring to persuade himself that human freedom, if it exist at all in moral conduct, has a very narrow range, and that abnormal moral conduct is as sure to be brought back to righteousness as the stones we cast at the sky are of being pnlled down by gravitation. Of course such ideas cut him off from any serious condemnation of sin in others. They led him to say that the harlot who plied her infamous trade in the nearest bagnio was perhaps better in the sight of God than himself, made him transport men like Webster and Choate, after pronouncing the severest judgment on their morals and political courses, at once to the heaven of eternal love. They would have softened, and in many instances did soften, his denunciations of the rumseller, the slave-trader, slaveholder, slave-commissioner, or doughface politician. In all consistency he ought to have said to himself, Such men are not very bad, after all; their faults are the results of their circumstances; they are rather to be pitied than blamed. He often did talk thus; but when he was confronted with such a sinner he seemed a living fury of vengeance. He was nobly inconsistent with his own creed, and makes one think of Zeno, whose slave was being punished for theft: "Why whip me, since it was fated that I should steal ?" Because it was also fated that you should be whipped."
It is perfectly clear that Mr. Parker had got quite beyond the tenets of Unitarianism, and equally plain that he meant to make the new gospel ring in the ears of men. In 1840 he writes, "For my own part, I am determined in the coming year to let out all the force of transcendentalism that is in me. Come what will come, I will let off the truth as fast as it comes. . . . How my own thought troubles me! I have a work to do, and how am I straitened till it is accomplished! I must write an Introduction to the New Testament, showing the distinctive and universal part of Christianity—a philosophy of maD, showing the foundation for religion in him. Then the crown of theology, defining the relation of God and man. I must do or die." .In this exalted mood he resolves to write immediately a sermon on Idolatry, and he minutes the points that he intends to discuss. These will help us to detect the drift of his meditations. After a few well-delivered blows at mammon and love of a good name, he uncovers the real objects of the discourse by saying that the Church makes an idol of the Bible; that it loves Jesus Christ as God though he is not God; that the Church, ministry, and Sabbath are regarded as divine institutions, though they are merely human. Weiss is right in saying that Parker planned his movements on such subjects with care and deliberation. He thought the hour had come for a revolution in theology, and he meant to have a conspicuous share in its accomplishment.
On the 19th of May, 1841, the Rev. C. C. Shackford was ordained pastor of the Hawes Place Church in South Boston. Mr. Parker had been invited to preach the ordination sermon. Though his sermon was poorly conceived, and not very well written, it was destined to become famous. Its subject is The Transient and the Permanent in Christianity. It was a new and not very vigorous statement of the points in which its author thought a reform in theology demanded. The words of Jesus, so far as they express truth, will not pass away, but the rites of Christianity may be changed; the false science which has been represented as a part of the truth contained in the Scriptures will be rejected; the popular theology will vanish; doctrines will change, for they have changed. Here are given as illustrations the common doctrines of the origin and authority of the Old and New Testaments. This idolatry of the Old Testament did not always exist, and modern criticism is destroying it. So of the New Testament, it must give way. The ordinary notions of inspiration have no basis in the Bible. Its modest authors would be confounded at our idolatry of them. So of the dogmas relating to the nature and authority of Christ. The sects base Christianity on the personal authority of Jesus, not on absolute truth. Why not the axioms of geometry on the authority of Euclid or Archimedes? Opinions on the nature of Christ are constantly ^aflg^g, and 80 are n°t fundamentally related to Christianity. In all the discourse Jesus is treated as a mere man; a lofty soul, indeed, inspired beyond all others of his time and of any time, faithful to himself and others, but nothing more. There was no marked stir during the delivery of the discourse, only the venerable clergyman who made the ordaining prayer besought the Throne of Grace that the young candidate might always have a living faith in a Son of God of divine nature and work. It seemed that the affair was to go by without any noise. It was a rash thing, to be sure, for the preacher to say openly in public, and perhaps before the evangelicals, what he might freely say in private to as many as he pleased. Entire mental and moral freedom was the Unitarian rule, and, provided it was prudently observed, no harm would be done.
But the terrible orthodox were there. The South Boston blasphemy was noised abroad. The press discussed it at length, and, delicate as was their position, the Unitarians would perhaps have borne with the rash offender but for the effect on the public. The orthodox had always said that such would be the end of the Unitarian heresy. They now congratulated themselves on their skill in prophecy. The lines were drawn at last so that every body could see whither Socinianism was leading public opinion. It was no longer possible to doubt that the issue would be Deism or Christianity. Parker was right in asserting that he was acting on principles acknowledged by all his party; yet he was unreasonable in supposing that all would see this. Many of them, doubtless, did not believe it. All felt the singularly awkward position his sermon put them in toward the orthodox. On the whole, the Unitarians behaved very badly. They had no right to ostracise Parker, to refuse hiui recognition on the street, to rise up from the sofa where he had taken a seat, nor to refuse his hand when offered in salutation. However, it is not safe to disturb the dignity of human nature even in dainty Unitarians, unless you are willing to risk an astonishing exhibition of human depravity. So Mr. Parker found to his cost. His connection with them could only be an embarrassment to them and a discomfort to himself; yet, on the pretext that the rights of free thought and free speech were involved in the question, he refused to withdraw from them, as they would gladly have seen him do. They refused to expel him from their association, and thus afford him the attitude of persecution and the moral advantages which attend that sort of martyrdom. These he earnestly coveted; these they constantly refused to give him. You think yourselves aggrieved, he said; very well, the remedy is in your own hands—expel me. We are aggrieved, they said; but we cannot afford to confer on yon in the public estimation the canonization of martyrdom. Both were wrong. Parker should have separated from their fellowship when he discovered that he had strayed beyond the limits of permissible heresy. They should have enforced upon him the natural consequences of the positioTi which he had voluntarily assumed. But as neither party had the courage to accept the situation, the public witnessed the singular comedy of an ecclesiastical offender begging for ecclesiastical execution, and of an ecclesiastical inquisition persistently avoiding its office. It is curious to see how eager Parker and his friends were for some blunder on the part of his opponents which would relieve his position by awakening some sympathy for him in the public mind. Under date of June 13, 1841, the Rev. Dr. Francis writes, "I find there is a great hue and cry over Parker's sermon at the ordination of Mr. Shackford: he is accused of infidelity, etc.,— the old song over again,—and one writer in the 'Puritan' recommends that he be prosecuted under the laws of the Commonwealth against blasphemy! Bravo! So mote it be! Would to God they would try their hand at this!" etc. Alas, that a preacher of the dignity of human nature should stoop to write such lines!
Nobody would persecute him or prosecute him, so as to give him the airs of a martyr; but for ecclesiastical and civil ostracism social proscription was substituted. People ceased to know him, ministers refused to exchange with him; he found the journals shut against him, and an effort was made to reduce him to silence. Even Dr. Francis canceled a contemplated exchange. A few stood by him with courage. His bearing under all this evil treatment was not very noble. He whined, complained that some who secretly thought as he did held a different language in public. No doubt there was some ground for all this, but he should have expected it and been prepared for it. But he was evidently t^eu by surprise that, instead of heading the Unitarian advance, he had been rudely thrust over among the devil's own. There was then, as ever, something weak and sickly in his temper; as Bartol says, "he had the disease of a sore personality." As I have read and weighed his own references to this event in letters and pamphlets, the conviction has steadily grown upon me that Parker had not the inward support required to maintain an unruffled temper under such severe trials. When John Wesley had passed through the great spiritual struggles which ended in that settled and unbroken serenity which marked his life from its thirty-fifth year to the close, he, too, soon found the pulpits of his Church closed against him. He believed that he was only renewing the pure doctrines of the earlier and better days of the English Church, and reviving the decayed piety of a fallen generation. He did not say that unless he could obtain a hearing elsewhere he would scour the land on preaching tours, but instantly and without a murmur fled to the highways, the hillsides, and the moors, to proclaim his joyful faith. At length Wesley came to Oxford to officiate in his turn before the University. It was the season of the races, and many strangers were in town. Such was the state of public opinion that clergymen* gownsmen, and learned professors joined with sportsmen and the rabble in the excitements of the turf. The fame of the great field-preacher had awakened a widespread desire to hear him. At Christ Church Charles Wesley found men in surplices at morning prayers talking, laughing, and pointing as if at a play; but at St. Mary's, where John preached, the scene was very different. The assembly was very large, and the services solemn. The sermon was an earnest plea for spiritual life and practical holiness after the model of the New Testament. It was as novel language to that careless generation as Mr. Parker's was to any of his South Boston hearers. Every word was carefully heard. Wesley thought he should not be permitted to speak there again, and made the most of the occasion. The Vice-Chancellor sent a message after him and desired his notes. They were sealed up and delivered to him. In his journal Wesley writes, "I preached, I suppose, for the last time at St. Mary's. Be it so. I am clear of the blood of these men. I have fully delivered my own soul." He remembers that it is St. Bartholomew's day,