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opinions, that while theoretically he is the advocate of the largest diffusion of power, he ehrinks with unfeigned diffidence from much confidence in the masses. Some passages in his treatise on Liberty are really dark with these forebodings. In this respect we have lived more wisely than he theorizes.
Tried, however, in all ways, these volumes of Mr. Mill are the most valuable contribution to a liberal understanding of free institutions which we have in the English language. And they are those in which we may have most confidence in the soundness of his views. They will long remain the standards and closely read guides of our political thinkers, and then their work of education can not be overestimated. In them Mr. Mill appears to best advantage. He is at home. So, too, the peculiar qualities of his mind are happily expressed. They have been excellently summed up by Mr. Martineau in these words :
“Sharp apprehension of whatever can be rounded off as a finished whole in thought; analytic adroitness in resolving a web of tangled elements, and measuring their value in the construction ; reasoning equal to any computation by linear co-ordinates, though not readily flowing into the organic freedom of a living dialectic; remarkable skill in laying out his subject symmetrically before the eye,
presenting its successive parts in clear and happy lights."
CHRISTIAN NURTURE AND INFANT BAPTISM.
Views of Christian Nurture and of Subjects adjacent thereto. By HORACE BUSHNELL. Hartford.
Hartford. 1847. pp. 251. Christian Nurture. By HORACE BUSHNELL. New York.
1861. pp. 407.
It seldom happens to a theological author to be so thoroughly and justly appreciated in his life-time as has happened to Dr. Bushnell. His genius, his power as a thinker, his gift of language, and his rhetorical skill, are widely and heartily admired, in his own denomination and beyond it. His contributions to Christian thought, suggestive, and often superbly rich in matter and style, have been generously recognized.
1 Essays, Philosophical and Theological, p. 72.
Not only ministers, but intelligent laymen, on every side, acknowledge their manifold obligations to him ; among whom none are more prompt and grateful than we would be. On the other hand, his departures from scriptural truth have been acutely and exhaustively set forth. A writer of less individuality and eloquence might have propounded such errors and escaped criticism. His singular speculations upon the Atonement have been refuted, not only in these pages, but in the quarterlies representing almost all evangelical denominations, as well as in those edited by Unitarians. And appreciation and criticism have gone hand in hand in Great Britain, as well as in his own country.
Naturally enough the roaders of his works are now revising, in the light of his late “Vicarious Sacrifice,” their judgment of his former publications. Partly on this account, and partly because they are open to some criticisms we have never seen in print, we propose to examine his teachings upon the related subjects named at the head of this article. His first volume, written twenty years ago, first made him known, as a preacher and author of extraordinary gifts and culture, to the public. It called universal attention to his unique and quickening style, his peculiar uses of words, his rare power and expression of sensibility, and the poetic and often gorgeous hue of his thoughts. Thenceforward he could never speak on the great themes on which he has so stimulated thought, without being sure of his audience. To many persons, that little volume of 1847 almost created the doctrine that children can be converted. And with all its overdone handling of the theme, and overstrong statements, it had a signal and beneficial effect with many others in giving the subject new reality, beauty, and capacity to stir and move. If it is ever the case that great truths gone into neglect and decay are only rescued and reempowered by being overstated, for God does sometimes use one extreme to correct another, it is also certainly true that the time comes when the first statements must needs be reëxamined, modified, and set in connection and harmony with other things. Both the issues named above are treatises of mingled doctrine and practice. On the latter part we have no criticisms to make. It occupies eight titles of the volume of 1861, a hundred and eighty pages, the matter fresh and rich, thoroughly wrought and finished, abounding in Christian insight, in felicitous turns of phrase, and pictorial clearness and beauty. It is with Part I. we have to do, divided also into eight discourses. The matter of the former book is much recast in the later one, saving the original two sermons on “What Christian Nurture is”; and thirteen new discourses never preached, but "inserted here simply for the discussion's sake,” are added. The matter, however, is not entirely new, seven out of the eight discourses in Part I. being substantially in the former volume, and the eighth (III., “The Ostrich Nurture”) is the expression or development of a paragraph in a review article therein, entitled “Growth, not Conquest, the True Method of Christian Progress,” which is not reprinted.'
The main point Dr. Bushnell maintains, viz., that the handling and training of children by Christian parents has for its design, and should have for its result, that they shall be Christians, will not be questioned. Forms of statement occur which may not have the meaning they seem to carry.
There are some phrases which can not have, we are confident, the sense the author would attach to them. For example, he repeatedly insists on an "organic" connection between the characters of parent and child, which, while it is less than constraint (or it could not produce free character, or character at all, as of moral agents) is yet alleged to be more than influence, and such as “can not properly be called influence.” Dr. Bushnell disavows clearly and fully making so much of this in a godly house as to dispense with the agency of the Holy Spirit, and he speaks of it in one place as "something like a law of organic connection as regards character.” But he defines it expressly, elsewhere, as an organic cause. Now this word “organic" is one of rather indefinite meaning, somewhat pliable and unsettled.
1 The sermon on "Infant Baptism, How Developed,” is chiefly taken from the discourse on "Pentecost" etc., in the former volume. “Aut ity of Infant Baptism” is reproduced from the "Argument for Discourses," etc., (do), and “Outpopulating Power of the Christian Stock” contains much from the omitted article on "Growth, not Conquest,” etc.
But it has only four recognized senses. One is, vital, in contradistinction to physical. This is a medical use, and of course not intended here. Another is, instrumental, acting as instruments of nature or art to a certain end or function. This is not strong enough for Dr. Bushnell's purpose, since mere parental influence is also instrumental. Another is, produced by organs, as "organic pleasure." This is not intended, for the connection between parental and filial character is not so produced. Another is, pertaining to, or acting by means of, organs, as “ the organic structure of plants or animal bodies.” This is clearly not Dr. Bushnell's sense. “Organic substances” are defined by Brande and Webster as those which proceed from, or constitute, organic bodies. These are concrete. What now is an abstract organic connection? What an abstract organic result or effect also abstract ? analyze a little farther. An organism is something concrete. It is the same as an organic structure, or an organized being. It consists of parts mutually dependent; "the functions of each are essential to the existence of the whole, and of each of the parts,” says Webster ; “each and every part is, reciprocally, means and end,” says Kant; "it is this reciprocity in the relation of the parts,” says Prof. Shedu,' “that betokens the organic connection." The result of such an organism may be called an organic result, but evidently Dr. Bushnell was thinking of the connection between parent and child, not as an organism, concrete, or the relation between the parts or organs of one, but as the result of an abstract organization. Character resulting from the parental or family relation, or a connection of character so resulting, is evidently regarded as caused by the family organization. Is it good usage, established usage, is it English, to call this organic? Any thing within an organism may be so styled ; perhaps any thing within an organization, in the abstract sense; but would a result from a state or church organization, and outside of it, a result we mean, not of the concrete body organized, but of the organization or relation, be
| Philosophy of History, p. 21.
properly so styled? And as it is not parental character which is organized, but the family elements themselves, can the effect of such character upon children be properly called organic? It is not to be wondered at that Dr. Bushnell, though very positive in this novel usage at times, did once feel that his footing was uncertain, and term it "something like a law of organic connection.”
Every body knows the difference between an influence and an organic cause, and the measure of influence which relations like the parental possess.
But Dr. Bushnell contradistinguishes what he calls an organic connection of character from parental or family influence. It is not matter of choice on the part of parent or child, not dependent on teaching. “For a considerable time after birth,” he says, "the child has no capacity of will and choice developed, and therefore is not a subject of influence, in the common sense of that term. Meantime he is open to impressions from everything he sees. His character is formed under a principle, not of choice, but of nurture.” There can be no question about the fact here stated; this parental power over infancy does exist; but is it rightly called organic? Is it correct to deny to it the name influence ? Now teaching is influence, and Dr. Bushnell expressly includes teaching under the term nurture. Then he should not contradistinguish nurture from teaching, and all other kinds of influence that involve choice. Moreover, in a well known and eloquent discourse of his published in 1846, only a year earlier than this Hartford volume, he set forth "unconscious influence" as an influence independent of choice, the flowing in of the power of personal character from one into another, unnoticed, without conscious exertion of purpose. And his very first example is the family and the family spirit :
- The child looks and listens, and whatever tone of feeling, or manner of conduct, is displayed around him, sinks into his plastic, passive soul, and becomes a mould of his being ever after. The very handling of the nursery is significant, and the petulance, the passion, the gentleness, the tranquility indicated by it, are all reproduced in the child. The soul is a purely receptive nature, and that, for a considerable period, without choice or selection.” “When we