6. The Second Defect: The Neglect of the Soul (19-21)

Cessationism is a Protestant doctrine that spiritual gifts such as speaking in tongues, prophecy and healing ceased with the Apostolic Age. Reformers such as John Calvin originated this view and Unitarians picked up this belief from the Calvinists. Emerson does not use the label, but he does speak about “revelation as somewhat long ago given and done, as if God were dead.” If Nietzsche is to be accused of originating the “God is dead” idea, it is fair to say that the true origin of that sentiment is the cessationist theology of Calvin.

19. For Emerson, religious activity takes place in the soul, not the church. The soul is where humanity has direct encounter with God and where God’s revelations are given to the ear of human intuition. Having placed so much emphasis on Jesus, and having diminished so much the human nature of Jesus, it is not surprising that Emerson finds the second defect of historical Christianity to be its neglect of the soul. As he will say in paragraph 22, “The soul is not preached.”

2. The second defect of the traditionary and limited way of using the mind of Christ is a consequence of the first; this, namely; that the Moral Nature, that Law of laws, whose revelations introduce greatness, — yea, God himself, into the open soul, is not explored as the fountain of the established teaching in society. Men have come to speak of the revelation as somewhat long ago given and done, as if God were dead. The injury to faith throttles the preacher; and the goodliest of institutions becomes an uncertain and inarticulate voice.

20. An early articulation of the Law of Mind Action: "thoughts held in mind produce after their kind."

It is very certain that it is the effect of conversation with the beauty of the soul, to beget a desire and need to impart to others the same knowledge and love. If utterance is denied, the thought lies like a burden on the man. Always the seer is a sayer. Somehow his dream is told: somehow he publishes it with solemn joy: sometimes with pencil on canvas; sometimes with chisel on stone; sometimes in towers and aisles of granite, his soul’s worship is builded; sometimes in anthems of indefinite music; but clearest and most permanent, in words.

21. Emerson restores prophecy ("through whom the soul speaks") and the gift of tongues to contemporary religious practice. It will be Metaphysical Christian pioneers such as Quimby, Eddy, Hopkins and Gestefeld who, having embraced Emerson's writings, will restore healing as well to its rightful place in our office of ministry.

The man enamored of this excellency, becomes its priest or poet. The office is coeval with the world. But observe the condition, the spiritual limitation of the office. The spirit only can teach. Not any profane man, not any sensual, not any liar, not any slave can teach, but only he can give, who has; he only can create, who is. The man on whom the soul descends, through whom the soul speaks, alone can teach. Courage, piety, love, wisdom, can teach; and every man can open his door to these angels, and they shall bring him the gift of tongues. But the man who aims to speak as books enable, as synods use, as the fashion guides, and as interest commands, babbles. Let him hush.


Annotations and Commentary by Mark Hicks/TruthUnity Ministries
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