The "New School"--"The South-Boston Sermon, May 19, 1841--Discourse of Matters
pertaining to Religion"-- De Wette "Introduction to the Old Testament."
THE decade commencing with 1830 was a memorable period in the spiritual history of the liberal men of Cambridge and Boston. That was the neighbourhood where everything on "tiptoe for the American strand" first planted its foot; it still is early to welcome the remotest thought from many provinces of human culture. Here, of all American regions, the German language was first received gratefully and with eagerness for the sake of its new literary and philosophic forms. Ingenuous youth were told that it was the natural language of infidelity and spiritual despair, but few of their seniors knew enough of it to misrepresent it, and their mental tendency was distasteful to the new thought which was learning to wield those portentous adjectives, "empirical" and "transcendental." It is not easy to trace to any special cause this new impulse to reconsider the old grounds of faith. A few Unitarian scholars, tired of the English commentators and divines, invited into their study the best thought of other countries; but there was something else besides liberal scholarship at the bottom of this instinctive combining of many ardent youth, bent upon "New Views," and a "New Church." Mr. Emerson had just begun to draw from the living well of his American genius, which owed as little to France or Germany as Concord River owes to famous transatlantic waters. But he proclaimed the new tendency, and generously nourished and vindicated, but did not originate it. Neither did Dr. Channing, though his preaching implied much, and the moral fervour of his protests against degrading views of God and human nature kindled many a mind. But his lack of