« AnteriorContinua »
All references in this book, not otherwise designated, are to Emerson's Complete Works, Centenary Edition, edited by Edward Waldo Emerson, 12 volumes, Cambridge, 1903.
THE DOCTRINES OF EMERSON
THE central doctrine of Emerson is the immanence of God. All things, nature as well as man, are the phenomenal expression of spirit.' Further, this spirit is a beneficent will, pervasive, unescapable. Itself eternal, the spirit expresses itself progressively in the transient.3 In one way of looking at it, the universe is illusion; in another, the truest and soundest reality. The universe is at the bottom moral, because it is essentially God.
1“All the parts and forms of nature are the expression or production of divine faculties, and the same are in us." Works, VIII, 43. "As a plant upon the earth, so a man rests upon the bosom of God: he is nourished by unfailing fountains, and draws at his need inexhaustible powers." 1, 64. "[The idealist's] experience inclines him to behold the procession of facts you call the world, as flowing perpetually outward from an invisible, unsounded centre in himself, centre alike of him and of them, and necessitating him to regard all things as having a subjective or relative existence, relative to that aforesaid unknown centre of him." I, 334.
2" A breath of will blows eternally through the universe of souls in the direction of the Right and Necessary." VI, 27. "Gentlemen, there is a sublime and friendly destiny by which the human race is guided. . . . Men are narrow and selfish, but the Genius or Destiny is not narrow, but beneficent.” I, 371.
3" The Times, as we say-or the present aspects of our so
A man may rise to a perception of this truth only occasionally; or he may dwell in such atmosphere, almost without interruption: in either case, his best, his most reasonable moments are those in which he recognizes divinity at the centre both of the external world and of his own soul.1
External nature means so much to Emerson that emphasis should be placed upon his view of it as the product of the Divine Mind. From boyhood, when he used to take off his hat to the God of the wood, through young manhood, when he turned from "the lore and the pride of man," to meet God face to face, like Moses in the bush, and on throughout the years of maturity and sense-decay, -the years of delighted afternoon walks in Concord, Emerson received from the woods and the
cial state, the Laws, Divinity, Natural Science, Agriculture, Art, Trade, Letters, have their root in an invisible spiritual reality. Beside all the small reasons we assign, there is a great reason for the existence of every extant fact; a reason which lies grand and immovable, often unsuspected, behind it in silence. The Times are the masquerade of the Eternities." I, 259. "The creation is on wheels, in transit . . . streaming into something higher." VIII, 4.
I For an extended statement of these propositions, see IV, 177-183; also lines prefixed to the essay on Worship:
This is Jove...
Draw, if thou canst, the mystic line,
Severing rightly his from thine,
Which is human, which divine. VI, 199.