previous next

[213] Theology (1851), and in The vicarious sacrifice (1856). For the old revivals, with their sudden superemotional conversions, he also substituted the concept of a gradual education in Christianity; Christian Nurture (1847), like Jacob Abbott's The young Christian (1832), directs the attention of those who would be of the faith toward the possibility of growing in it by a process open to all mankind, the process of training. In his attitude toward the abolition of slavery, Bushnell was likewise detached from the extremists. Here, too, he believed less in drastic measures than in education and in the gradual workings of nature under Providence. In the same way he assumed toward the scientific movement of the mid-nineteenth century an attitude at once decisive and concessive. Whatever science might have to say about the rigour of causation and necessity within the physical world, man was always to be recognized as an essentially free supernatural being, placed literally above nature by his alliance with the divine. Yet the two realms, of necessity and of freedom, were held together by a Deity immanent in both (Nature and the supernatural, 1858).

Without being a compromiser, Bushnell thus works rapprochements everywhere. His thought holds all subjects suspended in a sort of Platonic solvent, conciliating opposites— not without sometimes confusing them. Yet he continues with vigour the tradition of Plato, Hegel, and Coleridge, and is a genuine religious thinker, whose importance in the history of American thought has perhaps not been generally recognized. In many ways he suggests William James. Moreover, he has a style, nervous, clean, and racy. Kept fresh by its ‘antiseptic’ virtue, his Literary Varieties—the volumes of essays entitled Work and play (1864), and Moral uses of dark things (1868) and Building Eras in religion (1881)—will still richly reward a reader. Indeed, all of Bushnell's prose, though manifestly influenced by Emerson, by Carlyle, and by Ruskin, yet possesses its own peculiar vitality, a pulsation that at its best may be likened, to use a metaphor of his own, to the beat of wings.

Henry Ward Beecher, too, was born in the orthodox uplands of Litchfield, and of a strictly Calvinistic sire. Lyman Beecher (1775-1863) had studied theology under Timothy Dwight at Yale; had occupied, after 1798, first the Presbyterian

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1881 AD (1)
1868 AD (1)
1864 AD (1)
1863 AD (1)
1858 AD (1)
1856 AD (1)
1851 AD (1)
1847 AD (1)
1832 AD (1)
1798 AD (1)
1775 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: