Page:Margaret Fuller by Howe, Julia Ward, Ed. (1883).djvu/42

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RELIGIOUS BELIEFS.

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creed: “I believe in Eternal Progression. I believe in a God, a Beauty and Perfection to which I am to strive all my life for assimilation. From these two articles of belief I draw the rules by which I strive to regulate my life. Tangible promises, well-defined hopes, are things of which I do not now feel the need. At present my soul is intent on this life, and I think of religion as its rule."

Those last words are not in contrast with the general tone of religious teaching to-day, but when Margaret wrote them to James Freeman Clarke, an exaggerated adjournment of human happiness to the glories of another world was quite commonly considered as essential to a truly Christian standpoint.

Even at this self-sacrificing period of her life Margaret's journals were full of prayer and aspiration. Here are some of the utterances of this soul, which she herself calls a proud one: “Blessed Father, nip every foolish Wish in blossom. Lead me any way to truth and goodness, but if it might be, I would not pass from idol to idol. Let no mean sculpture deform a mind disorderly, perhaps ill-furnished, but spacious and life-warm."

After hearing a sermon on the nature of duties, social and personal, she says: My heart swelled with prayer. I began to feel hope that time and toil might strengthen me to despise the vulgur parts of felicity; and live as becomes an immortal creature. Oh, lead me, my Father! root out false pride and selfishness from my heart; inspire me with virtuous energy, and enable me to improve every talent for the external good of myself and others."

Seasons of bitter discouragement alternated at this time with the moments in which she felt, not only