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Confessions Of An Inquiring Spirit
by [?]



My dear friend,

I employed the compelled and most unwelcome leisure of severe indisposition in reading The Confessions of a Fair Saint in Mr. Carlyle’s recent translation of the Wilhelm Meister, which might, I think, have been better rendered literally The Confessions of a Beautiful Soul. This, acting in conjunction with the concluding sentences of your letter, threw my thoughts inward on my own religious experience, and gave immediate occasion to the following Confessions of one who is neither fair nor saintly, but who, groaning under a deep sense of infirmity and manifold imperfection, feels the want, the necessity, of religious support; who cannot afford to lose any the smallest buttress, but who not only loves Truth even for itself, and when it reveals itself aloof from all interest, but who loves it with an indescribable awe, which too often withdraws the genial sap of his activity from the columnar trunk, the sheltering leaves, the bright and fragrant flower, and the foodful or medicinal fruitage, to the deep root, ramifying in obscurity and labyrinthine way-winning –

In darkness there to house unknown,
Far underground,
Pierced by no sound
Save such as live in Fancy’s ear alone,
That listens for the uptorn mandrake’s parting groan!

I should, perhaps, be a happier–at all events a more useful–man if my mind were otherwise constituted. But so it is, and even with regard to Christianity itself, like certain plants, I creep towards the light, even though it draw me away from the more nourishing warmth. Yea, I should do so, even if the light had made its way through a rent in the wall of the Temple. Glad, indeed, and grateful am I, that not in the Temple itself, but only in one or two of the side chapels, not essential to the edifice, and probably not coeval with it, have I found the light absent, and that the rent in the wall has but admitted the free light of the Temple itself.

I shall best communicate the state of my faith by taking the creed, or system of credenda, common to all the Fathers of the Reformation– overlooking, as non-essential, the differences between the several Reformed Churches, according to the five main classes or sections into which the aggregate distributes itself to my apprehension. I have then only to state the effect produced on my mind by each of these, or the quantum of recipiency and coincidence in myself relatively thereto, in order to complete my Confession of Faith.

I. The Absolute; the innominable [Greek text which cannot be reproduced] et Causa Sui, in whose transcendent I AM, as the Ground, IS whatever VERILY is:- the Triune God, by whose Word and Spirit, as the transcendent Cause, EXISTS whatever SUBSTANTIALLY exists:- God Almighty–Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, undivided, unconfounded, co- eternal. This class I designate by the word [Greek text which cannot be reproduced].

II. The Eternal Possibilities; the actuality of which hath not its origin in God: Chaos spirituale:- [Greek text which cannot be reproduced].

III. The Creation and Formation of the heaven and earth by the Redemptive Word:- the Apostasy of Man:- the Redemption of Man:- the Incarnation of the Word in the Son of Man:- the Crucifixion and Resurrection of the Son of Man:- the Descent of the Comforter:- Repentance ([Greek text which cannot be reproduced]):- Regeneration:- Faith:- Prayer:- Grace–Communion with the Spirit:- Conflict:- Self- abasement:- Assurance through the righteousness of Christ:- Spiritual Growth:- Love:- Discipline:- Perseverance:- Hope in death:- [Greek text which cannot be reproduced]

IV. But these offers, gifts, and graces are not for one, or for a few. They are offered to all. Even when the Gospel is preached to a single individual it is offered to him as to one of a great household. Not only man, but, says St. Paul, the whole creation is included in the consequences of the Fall–[Greek text which cannot be reproduced]–so also in those of the change at the Redemption–[Greek text which cannot be reproduced]. We too shall be raised IN THE BODY. Christianity is fact no less than truth. It is spiritual, yet so as to be historical; and between these two poles there must likewise be a midpoint, in which the historical and spiritual meet. Christianity must have its history–a history of itself and likewise the history of its introduction, its spread, and its outward- becoming; and, as the midpoint abovementioned, a portion of these facts must be miraculous, that is, phenomena in nature that are beyond nature. Furthermore, the history of all historical nations must in some sense be its history–in other words, all history must be providential, and this a providence, a preparation, and a looking forward to Christ.