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Title: History of Rationalism Embracing a Survey of the Present State of Protestant Theology
Author: Hurst, J. F. (John Fletcher), 1834-1903
Language: English
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[TRANSCRIBER'S NOTE: Greek words in this text have been
transliterated and placed between +marks+. A complete list of changes
follows the text.]



HISTORY

OF

RATIONALISM

EMBRACING

A SURVEY OF THE PRESENT STATE OF PROTESTANT
THEOLOGY.


BY JOHN F. HURST, D. D.


With Appendix of Literature.


THIRD EDITION, REVISED.


New York:
PUBLISHED BY CARLTON & PORTER,
200 MULBERRY-STREET.
1867.


Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1865, by
CHARLES SCRIBNER & CO.,
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the
Southern District of New York.



     The Rationalists are like the spiders, they spin all out of
     their own bowels. But give me a philosopher who, like the bee,
     hath a middle faculty, gathering from abroad, but digesting
     that which is gathered by its own virtue.--LORD BACON.

            *       *       *       *       *

     The Bible, I say the Bible only, is the religion of
     Protestants.... There is no safe certaintie but of Scripture
     only, for any considering man to build upon. This therefore,
     and this only I have reason to beleeve; this I will professe;
     according to this I will live, and for this I will not only
     willingly, but even gladly loose my life, though I should be
     sorry that Christians should take it from me. Propose me
     anything out of this book, and require whether I believe it or
     no, and secure it never so incomprehensible to humane reason,
     I will subscribe it hand and heart, as knowing no
     demonstration can be stronger than this, God hath said so,
     therefore it is true. In other things I will take no man's
     libertie of judgment from him; neither shall any man take mine
     from me. I will think no man the worse man nor the worse
     Christian. I will love no man the lesse for differing in
     opinion with me. And what measure I meet to others I expect
     from them againe. I am fully assured that God does not, and
     therefore that men out not to require any more of any man,
     than this: to believe the Scripture to be God's word, to
     endeavor to finde the true sense of it, and to live according
     to it.--CHILLINGWORTH.

            *       *       *       *       *

     Are those enthusiasts who profess to follow reason? Yes,
     undoubtedly, if by reason they mean only conceits. Therefore
     such persons are now commonly called _Reasonists_ or
     _Rationalists_ to distinguish them from true reasoners or
     rational inquirers.--WATERLAND.



PREFACE.


There were no prefatory remarks to the first and second editions of the
following work. It was thought, when the printer made his final call for
copy, that a preface might be written with more propriety if the public
should indicate sufficient interest in the book to make its improvement
and enlargement necessary. That interest, owing to the theme rather than
the treatment, has not been withheld. The investigation of the subject
was pursued in the midst of varied and pressing pastoral duties, with a
pleasure which no reader of the result of the labor can enjoy; for,
first, the author felt that Rationalism was soon to be the chief topic
of theological inquiry in the Anglo-Saxon lands; and, second, he
regarded the doubt, not less than the faith, of his fellow men as
entitled to far more respect and patient investigation than it had
usually received at the hands of orthodox inquirers.

The author would probably never have studied the genetic development of
Rationalism in Germany, and its varied forms in other countries, if he
had not been a personal witness to the ruin it had wrought in the land
of Luther, Spener, and Zinzendorf. In compliance with the instruction
of a trusted medical adviser, he sailed for Germany in the summer of
1856, as a final resort for relief from serious pulmonary disease. But,
through the mercy of God, he regained health so rapidly that he was
enabled to matriculate in the University of Halle in the following
autumn, and to be a daily attendant upon the lectures of such men as
Tholuck, Julius Müller, Jacobi, and Roediger. From some theologians he
heard Rationalism defended with an energy worthy of Wolff and Semler;
from others with a devotion worthy of the beloved Neander. In the
railroad car, the stage, the counting-room, the workshop, the parlor,
and the peasant-hut, Rationalism was found still lingering with a
strong, though relaxing grasp. The evangelical churches were attended by
only a few listless hearers. His prayer to God was, "May the American
Church never be reduced to this sad fate." The history of that movement,
resulting in such actual disaster to some lands and threatened ruin to
others, took a deep hold upon his mind; and if he has failed in any
respect to trace it with an impartial pen, his hope is that his failure
will not cause any bright color of the truth to be obscured for a
moment. For no man and no cause can ultimately triumph by giving an
undue prominence to favorite party or principles; it is only by justice
to all that the truth can win its unfading laurels.

Criticism was to have been expected, from the very nature of the topic
of investigation. But the author has endeavored, as a student at the
feet of his judges, to derive the largest possible benefit from
criticism. No word of censure, however wide of the mark, has been
unwelcome to him, whether from the sceptical or orthodox press. To all
questioned passages he has given a careful re-examination, in some
instances finding cause for alteration, but in others seeing his ground
more strongly sustained than was at first imagined. He has, for example,
been informed by many esteemed persons that his representation of
Coleridge was hardly just; and, in obedience to that suggestion, he has
given that author's works a more careful study than ever, having
previously resolved to completely reverse his judgment of that profound
thinker's faith, if he found his own utterances would justify him in
that course. The result was, as far as he can now recall, that he could
alter but one adjective in the entire section relating to Coleridge. Of
course, the author finds no fault with those who differ from him on
Coleridge, or on any other writer who has come under treatment; but he
must be granted by others what he concedes to them. For the criticism,
as a whole, which he has received both through the press and private
sources, he owes a debt of gratitude which he cannot hope to pay. It
gives him profound pleasure to know, that the highest theological
journals in the United States which wage open war against orthodoxy,
have conceded, with marked unanimity, the general correctness of his
statements, though they naturally take issue with his conclusions.

Every effort has been bestowed on the present edition to make it as free
from blemishes as possible. The appendix of literature has been slightly
enlarged, many typographical errors--occurring in consequence of the too
rapid passage of the work through the press, and the abundance of words
of different languages with which the printer was not always well
acquainted--have disappeared; and, in many cases, the narrative has been
brought down to the present time. In the prosecution of revision, a
large number of the stereotype plates have been cancelled; and no labor
has been wanting to make this edition worthy of the goodwill expressed
toward the two editions which have preceded it.

Through a strange providence the author is now about to commence a term
of theological instruction in Germany, where Rationalism first excited
his attention, and where his apprehensions were first raised that Great
Britain and the United States might be seriously invaded by it. His
presence at its old hearthstone leads him to indulge the hope that, in
some future though distant day, if life be spared, he may be able to
enlarge this history greatly, and thus to render it better adapted to
its purpose, more approximative to his first ideal, and more
commensurate with the present universal interest in religious and
theological themes.

BREMEN, GERMANY, _November 5, 1866_.



CONTENTS.


INTRODUCTION.
                                                             PAGE
Systematic History of Infidelity,                             2-3
Best Method of refuting Rationalism,                          3-4
Rationalism not an unmixed Evil,                              4-6
Definitions of Rationalism:
     Wegscheider,                                               8
     Stäudlin,                                                 11
     Hahn,                                                     12
     Rose,                                                     13
     Bretschneider,                                            14
     McCaul,                                                   16
     Saintes,                                                  19
     Lecky,                                                    22
Classes of Rationalists,                                    24-26
Causes of the success of Rationalism,                       26-32
Four Considerations in Reference to Rationalism,            32-35


CHAPTER I.

CONTROVERSIAL PERIOD SUCCEEDING THE REFORMATION.

Causes of the Controversial Spirit,                            38
The Controversies described,                               39, 40
George Calixtus,                                            40-45
Jacob Boehme,                                               46-49
John Arndt,                                                 49-51
John Gerhard,                                               51-53
John Valentine Andreä,                                      53-55


CHAPTER II.

RELIGIOUS CONDITION OF THE PROTESTANT CHURCH AT THE
PEACE OF WESTPHALIA.

Description of the Thirty Years' War,                       56-59
Religious Decline of the Church,                            59-61
Neglect of Children,                                        62-65
Defects of Theological Literature,                          66-68
Low State of Theological Instruction,                      68, 69
Imperfect Preaching of the Time,                            69-73
Immorality of the Clergy and Theological Professors,        73-77
Religious Indifference of the Upper Classes,                77-80


CHAPTER III.

PIETISM AND ITS MISSION.

Philosophy of the Period,                                      82
Improvement dependent on Individuals,                      84, 85
What Pietism proposed to do,                                85-88
Principles of Pietism,                                     88, 89
Philip Jacob Spener, the Founder of Pietism,                89-93
University of Halle,                                           93
Augustus Hermann Francke,                                   93-95
The Orphan House at Halle,                                  95-97
Influence of the University of Halle,                      97, 98
Arnold and Thomasius,                                      98, 99
New Generation of Professors in Halle,                    99, 100
Cause of the Decline of Pietism,                              102


CHAPTER IV.

THE POPULAR PHILOSOPHY OF WOLFF.--SKEPTICAL TENDENCIES
FROM ABROAD.

Leibnitz, Founder of the Wolffian Philosophy,            103, 104
Wolff and the Popular Philosophy,                         104-111
The School of Wolff,                                          111
Töllner,                                                      112
English Deism in Germany,                                 113-117
English Deism in France                                  117, 118
Voltaire and Frederic the Great,                          119-123
Frederic's Regret at Skepticism in Prussia,              123, 124


CHAPTER V.

SEMLER AND THE DESTRUCTIVE SCHOOL.--1750-1810.

Influence of Foreign Skepticism on the German Church,    125, 126
Semler and the Accommodation-Theory,                      126-131
Semler's Private Life,                                    135-137
Influence of Semler's destructive Criticism,             137, 138
Edelmann,                                                138, 139
Bahrdt,--his Writings, and depraved Character,            139-143


CHAPTER VI.

CONTRIBUTIONS OF LITERATURE AND PHILOSOPHY.

Prevalence of Semler's Opinions,                         144, 145
Mental Activity of the Times,                                 145
Adherents to the Accommodation-Theory,                   147, 148
Literary Agencies:
     Nicolai's Universal German Library,                 147, 148
     Rationalistic Spirit in Berlin,                          148
     Wolfenbüttel Fragments,                              149-156
Philosophical Agencies:
     Kant and his System,                                 156-162
     Service rendered by Kant,                                162
     Jacobi,                                             162, 163
     Fichte,                                                  163
     Schelling,                                               164
     Hegel,                                              164, 165
     Grouping of the Philosophical Schools,               165-167


CHAPTER VII.

THE REIGN OF THE WEIMAR CIRCLE.--REVOLUTION IN EDUCATION
AND HYMNOLOGY.

Harmony of the prevalent philosophical Systems,               169
Karl August of Weimar and his literary Circle,            169-171
John Gottfried Herder,                                    171-179
Schiller,                                                 179-182
Goethe,                                                  182, 183
Deleterious Change in Education,                              184
Basedow, and his Philanthropium,                          184-187
Campe and Salzmann,                                      187, 188
Rationalistic Elementary Books,                           189-193
Alteration of the German Hymns,                          194, 195
Decline of Church Music,                                      195
Inability of Orthodox Theologians to resist
     Rationalism,                                        195, 196


CHAPTER VIII.

DOCTRINES OF RATIONALISM IN THE DAY OF ITS STRENGTH.

Desolate Condition of the Church,                        197, 198
Rationalism without a Common System,                     198, 199
Opinions of the Rationalists:
     Religion,                                                199
     Existence of God,                                   199, 200
     Doctrine of Inspiration,                             200-202
     Credibility of the Scriptures,                       203-206
     Fall of Man,                                        206, 207
     Miracles,                                            207-211
     Prophecy,                                            211-214
     Person of Christ,                                    214-218


CHAPTER IX.

RENOVATION INAUGURATED BY SCHLEIERMACHER.

Protestant Germany at the Commencement of the Nineteenth
     Century,                                             220-222
Fichte, and his Popular Appeal,                           222-224
Schleiermacher,                                           224-229
The Romantic School,                                          230
Ecclesiastical Reconstruction inaugurated by Frederic
     William III.,                                       230, 231
The Union of the Lutheran and Reformed Churches,         231, 232
Claus Harms--his 95 Theses,                               232-236


CHAPTER X.

RELATIONS OF RATIONALISM AND SUPERNATURALISM.--1810-1835.

The Task before the New Church,                               237
Rationalism strengthened by Röhr and Wegscheider,             238
The terms, Rationalism and Supernaturalism,                   239
Tittmann,                                                239, 240
Tzschirner,                                                   240
Schott,                                                       241
Schleiermacher's _System of Doctrines_,                   241-244
Effect of Schleiermacher's Teaching,                     245, 246
De Wette,                                                 246-249
Neander,                                                  249-253
His personal Appearance,                                  253-254


CHAPTER XI.

THE REACTION PRODUCED BY STRAUSS' LIFE OF JESUS.--1835-1848.

Hyper-criticism of the Rationalists,                     255, 256
Influence of Schleiermacher and Hegel,                   256, 257
The threefold Division of the Hegelian School,           257, 258
David Frederic Strauss, and his _Life of Jesus_,          258-269
Replies to the _Life of Jesus_:
     Harless,                                                 271
     Hoffman,                                                 271
     Neander,                                                 272
     Ullmann,                                                 273
     Schweizer,                                               273
     Wilke,                                                   273
     Schaller,                                                273
     Dorner,                                             273, 274
Literature occasioned by Strauss' _Life of Jesus_,       274, 275
Strauss' _New Life of Jesus for the People_,              275-278
The Tübingen School, conducted by Ferdinand Christian
     Baur,                                                278-280
The Influence of the French Revolution,                  280, 281
Strauss' _System of Doctrine_,                           281, 282
Feuerbach,                                                    282
The Halle Year-Books,                                    282, 283
The "Friends of Light,"                                  283, 284
The "Free Congregations,"                                284, 285
Rationalistic Leaders of the Revolution of 1848,         285, 286
Their Failure, and its Cause,                            286, 287


CHAPTER XII.

THE EVANGELICAL SCHOOL: ITS OPINIONS AND PRESENT PROSPECTS.

The Mediation Theologians, or Evangelical School, grouped:
     Ullmann,                                            288, 289
     Dorner,                                              289-292
     Tholuck,                                             292-295
     Lange,                                              295, 296
     Twesten,                                                 297
     Nitzsch,                                             297-299
     Rothe,                                               299-303
     Schenkel--his recent Adoption of Rationalism,        303-305
     Hengstenberg,                                        305-307
Theological Journals,                                         307
Improved Theological Instruction,                         307-310


CHAPTER XIII.

PRACTICAL MOVEMENTS INDICATING NEW LIFE.

Charities of German Protestantism,                            311
Relation of Philanthropy to Religious Life,                   312
John Falk,                                                312-316
Theodore Fliedner,                                        316-318
Evangelical Church Diet,                                  318-323
Immanuel Wichern,                                         324-329
Louis Harms,                                             329, 330
The Gustavus Adolphus Union,                             330, 331


CHAPTER XIV.

HOLLAND: THEOLOGY AND RELIGION FROM THE SYNOD OF DORT
TO THE COMMENCEMENT OF THE PRESENT CENTURY.

Former Political Influence of Holland,                   332, 333
Rise of Rationalism in Holland,                               333
Influence of the Synod of Dort,                               334
Corruption of Ethics,                                         335
Low state of Homiletic Literature,                       335, 336
Cocceius,                                                 336-339
Voetius,                                                 339, 340
Controversy between the Cocceians and Voetians,           340-343
Favorable Influence of the Huguenot Immigrants,          343, 344
Popular Acquaintance with Theology,                      345, 346
Bekker,                                                  347, 348
Roell,                                                   348, 349
Van Os,                                                       349
Influence of English Deism,                               350-353
Influence of French Skepticism,                          353, 354
Napoleon Bonaparte's domination,                         354, 355


CHAPTER XV.

HOLLAND CONTINUED: THE NEW THEOLOGICAL SCHOOLS, AND THE
GREAT CONTROVERSY NOW PENDING BETWEEN ORTHODOXY
AND RATIONALISM.

The Political Subjugation of Holland,                         356
Inactivity of Orthodoxy,                                 356, 357
Rupture produced by the New Hymn-Book,                   357, 358
The Revival and the Secession:
     Bilderdyk, Da Costa, Capadose, Groen Van
          Prinsterer,                                     359-361
     De Cock, the Leader of the Secession                362, 363
     Failure of the Secession,                           363, 364
The Groningen School:                                         364
     Its Characteristic,                                      364
     Hofstede de Groot, and Pareau,                      365, 366
     Doctrines of the Groningens,                        366, 367
The School of Leyden:                                         367
     Scholten,                                            368-371
The School of Empirical-Modern Theology:
     Opzoomer,                                                371
     Pierson,                                             371-374
     Doctrines of this School,                           374, 375
The Ethical Irenical School:                                  375
     Chantepie de la Saussaye,                            375-377
     Van Oosterzee,                                       377-379
The Present Crisis and its Causes,                        381-383
Increase of Evangelizing Agencies,                        383-385


CHAPTER XVI.

FRANCE: RATIONALISM IN THE PROTESTANT CHURCH--THE
CRITICAL SCHOOL.

Present Activity of Religious Thought in France,         386, 387
Coldness of Orthodoxy at the Commencement of the
     Nineteenth Century,                                 387, 388
Influence of Wesleyan Missionaries,                      388, 389
Cartesianism and the Positive Philosophy,                     390
Light French Literature,                                      391
The Critical School of Theology:                          391-394
     Réville,                                             394-396
     Scherer,                                             396-400
     Larroque,                                                400
     Rougemont,                                          400, 401
     Colani                                              401, 402
     Pecaut,                                             402, 403
     Grotz,                                                   403
     Renan, and his _Life of Jesus_,                      403-406
     A. Coquerel, jr.,                                    406-409
Influence of French Skepticism upon the Young,           409, 410


CHAPTER XVII.

FRANCE CONTINUED: EVANGELICAL THEOLOGY OPPOSING RATIONALISM.

Agencies Opposing Rationalism,                                411
De Pressensé,                                             411-416
Guizot,                                                   416-419
Success of the Evangelical School,                        419-421
Improvement of the French Protestant Church,             422, 423
Charitable and Evangelizing Societies,                   423, 424


CHAPTER XVIII.

SWITZERLAND: ORTHODOXY IN GENEVA, AND THE NEW SPECULATIVE
RATIONALISM IN ZÜRICH.

Prostration of the Swiss Church at the Commencement of
     the Nineteenth Century,                             425, 426
Neglect of Theological Instruction,                      426, 427
The Theological Academy in Geneva,                            428
The Evangelical Dissenting Church,                            428
Gaussen,                                                 428, 429
Vinet,                                                        429
Present Religious Condition of Geneva,                   429, 430
Lectures in the Genevan Theological Academy,             431, 432
Religious Declension of Zürich,                               432
Zürich the Centre of Swiss Rationalism:                   433-435
The Speculative Rationalism:
     The Holy Scriptures,                                     435
     Christ,                                              435-437
     Sin,                                                     438
     Faith,                                              438, 439
German Switzerland influenced by German Theology,             439


CHAPTER XIX.

ENGLAND: THE SOIL PREPARED FOR THE INTRODUCTION OF
RATIONALISM.

English Deism and German Rationalism Contrasted,              440
Literature of England in the Eighteenth Century,         440, 441
The Writers of that Period,                                   441
Influence of the French Spirit,                          441, 442
Bolingbroke,                                             442, 443
Hume,                                                     444-447
Gibbon,                                                  447, 448
The moral Prostration of the Church,                      448-450
Influence of the Wesleyan Movement,                       450-452


CHAPTER XX.

ENGLAND CONTINUED: PHILOSOPHICAL AND LITERARY RATIONALISM.--COLERIDGE
AND CARLYLE.

Compensations of History,                                     453
Rise of a Disposition in England to consult German Theology
     and Philosophy,                                     453, 454
Philosophical Rationalism:
     Samuel Taylor Coleridge,                             455-462
     Julius Charles Hare,                                 462-465
     F. D. Maurice,                                       465-468
     Charles Kingsley,                                    468-471
Literary Rationalism:
     Influence of Philosophy on Literature,                   472
     Thomas Carlyle,                                      473-477
     The _Westminster Review_,                            477-480
Necessity of active Protestantism,                            480


CHAPTER XXI.

ENGLAND CONTINUED: CRITICAL RATIONALISM--JOWETT, THE
ESSAYS AND REVIEWS, AND COLENSO.

Relation of the Bible to Christianity,                        481
Critical Rationalism:
     Professor Jowett,                                        481
     The "Essays and Reviews,"                            482-497
     Judicial Proceedings against the Writers of that
          Work,                                           497-499
     Criticism of Bishop Colenso,                         499-503
     Judicial Proceedings against Colenso,                503-505


CHAPTER XXII.

ENGLAND CONTINUED: SURVEY OF CHURCH PARTIES.

Unity of the Church of England,                               507
The Evangelical and Sacramentalist Parties,                   507
The Low Church:
     Cambridge University,                                    508
     Activity of the Founders of the Low Church,         508, 509
     Missionary Zeal,                                    509, 510
     Parties in the Low Church,                               510
The High Church:
     Rise of the Tractarian Movement,                    511, 512
     Doctrines of the High Church,                        512-515
     Service rendered by the High Church,                     515
     John H. Newman,                                     516, 517
     Francis William Newman,                              517-519
The First Broad Church:
     Indefiniteness of Creed,                            519, 520
     Thomas Arnold,                                       520-523
     Arthur P. Stanley,                                   523-529
     Doctrines of the First Broad Church,                529, 530
The Second Broad Church:
     Difference between the First and Second Broad
          Churches,                                      530, 531
Classification of Church Parties,                        531, 532
Skepticism in various Sects,                             532, 533


CHAPTER XXIII.

THE UNITED STATES: THE UNITARIAN CHURCH.--THE UNIVERSALISTS.

Novelty in American History,                                  534
Separation of Church and State,                           534-536
Relations between the Old World and the United States,   536, 537
The Unitarian Church:
     The Venerable Stoddard,                             537, 538
     Jonathan Edwards,                                        538
     The Half-Way Covenant,                                   538
     James Freeman,                                      538, 539
     Early Unitarian Publications,                       539, 540
     Unitarianism in Harvard University,                      540
     Andover Theological Seminary,                       540, 541
     Controversy between Channing and Worcester,              541
     William Ellery Channing,                             541-544
     The Unitarian Creed,                                 544-553
     The _Christian Examiner_,                                553
     The Young Men's Christian Union,                     553-558
     The Unitarian National Convention,                   558-560
     Present state of the Unitarian Church,                   560
Universalism:
     Rise in America,                                    560, 561
     Doctrines of Universalism,                          561, 562
     Present state of Universalism,                      562, 563


CHAPTER XXIV.

THE UNITED STATES CONTINUED: THEODORE PARKER AND HIS
SCHOOL.

Early Attachment of the Unitarians to the Doctrine of
     Miracles,                                                564
Theodore Parker:
     His Personal History,                               564, 565
     His Course toward Orthodoxy,                             566
     His Opinions,                                        566-571
Influence of American Skepticism,                        571, 572
Frothingham's juvenile Work,                             572, 573
"Liberal Christianity,"                                   573-575
Duty of the American Church,                             575, 576


CHAPTER XXV.

INDIRECT SERVICE OF SKEPTICISM--PRESENT OUTLOOK.

Great Success the Result of strong Opposition,            577-579
Biblical Study indirectly benefited by the Attacks of
     Rationalism,                                        580, 581
Improvement of Church History,                            581-583
Estimate of the Life of Christ,                           583-586
The Evangelical Church:
     Necessity of an impartial View of Science,          586, 587
     The proper Way to combat Skepticism,                587, 588
     Unity a Requisite of Success,                       588, 589


APPENDIX.

Literature of Rationalism:
     Germany, Holland, Switzerland,                       590-595
     Rationalistic Periodicals in Germany,                    595
     France,                                              595-598
     Rationalistic Periodicals in France,                     598
     Great Britain and the United States,                 599-606
Literature of Unitarianism and Universalism:              606-609
     Unitarian Periodicals,                                   609
     Universalist Periodicals,                            609-610

INDEX,                                                    611-623



HISTORY OF RATIONALISM.



INTRODUCTION.

RATIONALISM DEFINED--ITS CHARACTER AS A SKEPTICAL DEVELOPMENT.


Rationalism is the most recent, but not the least violent and insidious,
of all the developments of skepticism. We purpose to show its historical
position, and to present, as faithfully as possible, its antagonism to
evangelical Christianity. The guardians of the interests of the church
cannot excuse themselves from effort toward the eradication of this
error by saying that it is one which will soon decay by the force of its
natural autumn. Posterity will not hesitate to charge us with gross
negligence if we fail to appreciate the magnitude of Rationalism, and
only deal with it as the growth of a day. We have half conquered an
enemy when we have gained a full knowledge of his strength.

There was a time when Rationalism was a theme of interest to the
Protestant church of Germany alone. But that day is now past. Having
well nigh run its race in the land of Luther, it has crossed the Rhine
into France and the Netherlands, invaded England, and now threatens the
integrity of the domain of Anglo-Saxon theology. Thus it has assumed an
importance which should not be overlooked by British and American
thinkers who love those dearly-bought treasures of truth that they have
received as a sacred legacy from the martyrs and reformers of the
English church. The recent writings of the exegetical Rationalists of
England are sufficient to induce us to gather up our armor and adjust it
for immediate defence. Delay will entail evil. The reason why skepticism
has wrought such fearful ravages at various stages during the career of
the church has been the tardiness of the church in watching the sure and
steady approach, and then in underrating the real strength of her
adversary. The present History will be written for the specific purpose
of awakening an interest in the danger that now threatens us. We have no
ambition to deal with the past, further than to enable it to minister to
the immediate demands of the present. We all belong to this generation;
it calls for our energies; it has its great wants; and we shall be held
justly responsible if we neglect to contribute our share toward the
progress of our contemporaries.

The three principles which have influenced us to undertake a discussion
of the present theme--and of the truth of which we are profoundly
convinced--are the following:

I. THAT INFIDELITY PRESENTS A SYSTEMATIC AND HARMONIOUS HISTORY. Our
customary view of error is, that its history is disjointed, rendered so
by the ardent, but unsteady, labors of the doubters of all periods since
the origin of Christianity. We have ignored the historical movement of
skepticism. Even the storms have their mysterious laws. The work of
Satan is never planless. He adapts his measures to the new dangers that
arise to threaten his dominion. The analogy between the Rationalism of
to-day and the infidelity of past ages is so striking that we can with
difficulty recognize the interval of centuries. We see the new faces,
but the foes are old. Rationalism has repeatedly varied its method of
attack; but if we follow the marches of its whole campaign we shall find
that the enemy which stands at our fortress-gate with the _Essays and
Reviews_ and _Notes on Pentateuch and Joshua_ in hand, is the same one
that assailed Protestant Germany with the Accommodation-theory and the
_Wolfenbüttel Fragments_.

II. A HISTORY OF A MISCHIEVOUS TENDENCY IS THE VERY BEST METHOD FOR ITS
REFUTATION AND EXTIRPATION. We can learn the full character of the good
or evil of any abstract principle only by seeing its practical workings.
The tree is known by its fruits. Rationalism may be of evil character,
but we must see the results it has produced,--the great overthrow of
faith it has effected, and its influence upon the pulpit and press of
the countries invaded by it, before we can comprehend the vastness of
our danger. An enumeration of the evil doings of a public enemy is the
best plan to forestall his future misdeeds. We are not to judge
Rationalism by its professions. The question is not, What does it wish?
At what does it aim? or, What is its creed? But the true way to measure,
understand, and judge it, is by answering the inquiry, _What has it
done?_ Its work must determine its character. This work has been most
injurious to the faith and life of the church, and its deeds must
therefore be its condemnation. There are those who say, "Tell us nothing
about skepticism; we know too much about it already." Would it be a
prudent request, if, before penetrating the jungles of Asia, we should
say, "Tell us nothing of the habits of the lion"; or, before visiting a
malarious region of Africa, we should beg of the physician not to inform
us of the prevalent fever and its appropriate remedy? Forewarned is
forearmed. We are surrounded by Rationalism in many phases; it comes to
us in the periodical and the closely-printed volume. Even children are
reading it in some shape or other. Shall we know its danger; then we
must know its deeds.

III. OF RATIONALISM IT MAY BE AFFIRMED, AS OF ALL THE PHASES OF
INFIDELITY, THAT IT IS NOT IN ITS RESULTS AN UNMIXED EVIL, SINCE GOD
OVERRULES ITS WORK FOR THE PURIFICATION AND PROGRESS OF HIS CHURCH. A
nation is never so pure as when emerging from the sevenfold-heated
furnace. It was not before Manasseh was caught among thorns, bound with
fetters, and carried to Babylon, that he "besought the Lord his God, and
humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers;" nor was it
before this humiliation that the Lord "brought him again to Jerusalem
into his kingdom." The whole history of religious error shows that the
church is cold, formal, and controversial before the visitation of
skepticism. When every power is in full exercise, infidelity stands
aloof. God has so provided for his people that he has even caused the
delusion by which they have suffered to contribute great benefits but
little anticipated by the deluded or the deluders themselves. The
intellectual labors of the German Rationalists have already shed an
incalculable degree of light on the sacred books, and upon almost every
branch of theology. But thus has God ever caused the wrath of man to
praise him.

Taking this view of the indirect benefits resulting from skepticism, we
cannot lament, without an admixture of solace, that the path of Truth
has always been rough. The Master, who declared himself "The Truth,"
premonished us by his own life that his doctrines were not destined to
pervade the mind and heart of our race without encountering violent
blows, and passing through whole winters of frost and storm. Many things
attending the origin and planting of Christianity gave omen of
antagonism to its claims in coming generations. Nor could it be expected
that the unsanctified reason of man would accept as the only worthy
guide of faith and life what Judaism, Paganism, and Philosophy had long
since decidedly rejected. But the spirit of Christianity is so totally
at variance with that of the world that it is vain to expect harmony
between them. Truth, however, will not suffer on that account; and when
the issues appear it will shine all the brighter for the fires through
which it has passed. The country where Rationalism has exerted its first
and chief influence is Germany, than which no nation of modern times has
been more prospered or passed through deeper affliction. At one time she
was the leader of religious liberty and truth, not only in Europe, but
throughout the world. She was thirty years fighting the battles of
Protestantism, but the end of the long conflict found her victorious.
Since that day, however, she has lost her prestige of adherence to
evangelical Christianity; and her representative theologians and
thinkers have distorted the Bible which she was the very first to
unseal. We rejoice that her condition is more hopeful to-day than it was
twenty-five years ago; but recovery is not easy from a century-night of
cold, repulsive Rationalism. As a large number of those stupendous
battles that have decided the political and territorial condition of
Europe have been fought on the narrow soil of Belgium, so has Germany
been for ages the contested field on which were determined the great
doctrinal and ecclesiastical questions of the European continent and of
the world. Happily, the result has generally been favorable; and let no
friend of evangelical truth fear that Rationalism will not meet its
merited fate.

We must not imagine that, because the term Rationalism has been
frequently employed within the last few years, it is of very recent
origin either as a word or skeptical type. The Aristotelian Humanists of
Helmstedt were called _Rationalists_ in the beginning of the seventeenth
century, and Comenius applied the same epithet to the Socinians in
1688.[1] It was a common word in England two hundred years ago. Nor was
it imported into the English language from the German, either in a
theological or a philosophical sense. There was a sect of Rationalists,
in the time of the Commonwealth, who called themselves such exactly on
the same grounds as their successors have done in recent years. Some one
writing the news from London under date of October 14, 1646, says:
"There is a new sect sprung up among them [the Presbyterians and
Independents], and these are the _Rationalists, and what their reason
dictates them in church or state stands for good until they be convinced
with better_."[2] But Rationalists, in fact if not in name, existed on
the Continent long anterior to this date. The Anti-Trinitarians, and
Bodin, and Pucci were rigid disciples of Reason; and their tenets
harmonize with those of a later day.[3]

In order to arrive at a proper definition of Rationalism we should
consult those authors who have given no little attention to this
department of theological inquiry. Nor would we be impartial if we
adduced the language of one class to the exclusion of the other. We
shall hear alike from the friends and adversaries of the whole movement,
and endeavor to draw a proper conclusion from their united testimony. It
was Selden's advice to the students of ecclesiastical history, "to study
the exaggerated statements of Baronius on the one side, and of the
Magdeburg Centuriators on the other, and be their own judges."
Fortunately enough for a proper understanding of Rationalism, there is
no such diversity of statement presented by our authorities. On the
contrary, we shall perceive an unexpected and gratifying harmony.

In Wegscheider's _Institutiones Dogmaticæ_, a work which for nearly half
a century has stood as an acknowledged and highly respected authority on
the systematic theology of the Rationalists, we read language to this
effect: "Since that doctrine (of supernaturalism) is encumbered with
various difficulties, every day made more manifest by the advances of
learning, especially historical, physical, and philosophical, there have
been amongst more recent theologians and philosophers not a few who, in
various ways, departing from it, thought it right to admit, even in the
investigation and explanation of divine things, not only that formal use
of human reason which regards only the method of expounding dogmas, but
also the material use, by which the subject-matter of the particular
doctrines is submitted to inquiry.

"Thus arose that of which the generic name is Rationalism, or that law
or rule of thinking, intimately united with the cultivation of talent
and mind, by which we think that as well in examining and judging of all
things presented to us in life and the range of universal learning, as
in those matters of most grave importance which relate to religion and
morals, we must follow strenuously the norm of reason rightly applied,
as of the highest faculty of the mind; which law of thinking and
perceiving, if it be applied to prove any positive religion (theological
Rationalism) lays it down as an axiom that religion is revealed to men
in no other manner than that which is agreeable both to the nature of
things and to reason, as the witness and interpreter of divine
providence; and teaches that the subject-matter of every supposed
supernatural revelation, is to be examined and judged according to the
ideas regarding religion and morality, which we have formed in the mind
by the help of reason.... Whosoever, therefore, despising that supremacy
of human reason, maintains that the authority of a revelation, said to
have been communicated to certain men in a supernatural manner, is such
that it must be obeyed by all means, without any doubt,--that man takes
away and overturns from the foundation the true nature and dignity of
man, at the same time cherishes the most pernicious laziness and sloth,
or stirs up the depraved errors of fanaticism.... As to that which is
said to be above reason, the truth of which can by no means be
understood, there is no possible way open to the human mind to
demonstrate or affirm it; wherefore to acknowledge or affirm that which
is thought to be above reason is rightly said to be against reason and
contrary to it.

"The persuasion concerning the supernatural and miraculous, and at the
same time immediate, revelation of God, cannot be reconciled with the
idea of God eternal, always consistent with himself, omnipotent,
omniscient, and most wise, by whose power, operative through all
eternity and exerted in perfect harmony with the highest wisdom, we
rightly teach that the whole nature of things exists and is
preserved.... This being so, it seems that the natural revelation or
manifestation of God, made by the works of nature, is the only one which
can be rightly defended, and this may be divided into universal or
common, and particular or singular. The universal indeed is affected by
the natural faculties of the mind, and other helps of the universal
nature of things, by which man is led to conceive and cultivate the
knowledge of divine things. That we call _particular_ and _mediate_, in
a sense different from the elder writers, which is contained in the
compass of things happening according to nature, by which, God being the
author, some men are excited above others to attain the principles of
true religion, and to impart with signal success those things,
accommodated indeed to the desires of their countrymen, and sanctioned
by some particular form of religious instruction. A revelation of this
kind consists as well in singular gifts of genius and mind, with which
the messenger, and, as it were, its interpreter, is perceived to be
furnished, as in illustrious proofs of divine providence, conspicuous in
his external life. But the more agreeably to the will of that same God
he uses these helps to be ascribed to God, and full of a certain divine
fervor, and excelling in zeal for virtue and piety, the more he scatters
the seeds of a doctrine truly divine, _i. e._, true in itself, and
worthy of God, and to be propagated by suitable institutions, the more
truly will he flourish amongst other men with the authority of a divine
teacher or ambassador. For as our mind partakes of the divine nature and
disposition (2 Peter i. 4), so without the favor and help of the Deity
it is not carried out to a more true species of religion.

"But whatever narrations especially accommodated to a certain age, and
relating miracles and mysteries, are united with the history and
subject-matter of revelation of this kind, these ought to be referred to
the natural sources and true nature of human knowledge. By how much the
more clearly the author of the Christian religion, not without the help
of Deity, exhibited to men the idea of reason imbued with true religion,
so as to represent as it were an _apaugasma_ of the divine reason, or
the divine spirit, by so much the more diligently ought man to strive to
approach as nearly as possible to form that archetype in the mind, and
to study to imitate it in life and manners to the utmost of his ability.
Behold here the intimate and eternal union and agreement of Christianity
with Rationalism."

Stäudlin, at first a Rationalist, but in later life more inclined to
supernaturalism, says: "I do not now look to the various meanings in
which the word Rationalism has been used. I understand by it here only
generally the opinion that mankind are led by their reason and
especially by the natural powers of their mind and soul, and by the
observation of nature which surrounds them, to a true knowledge of
divine and sensible things, and that reason has the highest authority
and right of decision in matters of faith and morality, so that an
edifice of faith and morals built on this foundation shall be called
Rationalism. It still remains undecided whether this system declares
that a supernatural revelation is impossible and ought to be rejected.
That notion rather lies in the word Naturalism, which however is
sometimes used as synonymous with Rationalism. It has been well said
that Naturalism is distinguished from Rationalism by rejecting all and
every revelation of God, especially any extraordinary one through
certain men. This, however, is not the case with many persons called
Naturalists both by themselves and others. Supernaturalism consists in
general in the conviction that God has revealed himself supernaturally
and immediately. What is revealed might perhaps be discovered by natural
methods, but either not at all or very late by those to whom it is
revealed. It may also be something which man could never have known by
natural methods; and then arises the question, whether man is capable of
such a revelation. The notion of a miracle cannot well be separated from
such a revelation, whether it happens out of, on, or in men. What is
revealed may belong to the order of nature, but an order higher and
unknown to us, which we could never have known without miracles, and
cannot bring under the law of nature."[4]

Professor Hahn, in speaking of the work just referred to, and of the
subject in general, makes the following remarks: "In very recent times,
during which Rationalism has excited so much attention, two persons
especially, Bretschneider and Stäudlin, have endeavored to point out the
historical use of the word, but both have failed. It is therefore worth
while to examine the matter afresh. With respect to the Rationalists,
they give out Rationalism as a very different matter from Naturalism.
Röhr, the author of the _Letters on Rationalism_, chooses to understand
by Naturalism only Materialism; and Wegscheider, only Pantheism. In this
way those persons who have been usually reckoned the heads of the
Naturalists; namely, Herbert, Tindal, and others; will be entirely
separated from them, for they were far removed from Pantheism or
Materialism. Bretschneider, who has set on foot the best inquiry on this
point, says that the word Rationalism has been confused with the word
Naturalism since the appearance of the Kantian philosophy, and that it
was introduced into theology by Reinhard and Gabler. An accurate
examination respecting these words gives the following results: The word
Naturalism arose first in the sixteenth century, and was spread in the
seventeenth. It was understood to include those who allowed no other
knowledge of religion except the natural, which man could shape out of
his own strength, and consequently excluded all supernatural revelation.
As to the different forms of Naturalism, theologians say there are
three; the first, which they call Pelagianism, and which considers human
dispositions and notions as perfectly pure and clear by themselves, and
the religious knowledge derived from them as sufficiently explicit. A
grosser kind denies all particular revelation; and the grossest of all
considers the world as God. As to Rationalism, this word was used in the
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries by those who considered reason as
the source and norm of faith. Amos Comenius seems first to have used
this word in 1661, and it never had a good sense. In the eighteenth
century it was applied to those who were in earlier times called by the
name of Naturalist."[5]

Of all writers on the subject of Rationalism we give the palm of
excellence to the devout and learned Hugh James Rose, of Cambridge
University. As far as we know he was the first to expose to the
English-speaking world the sad state to which this form of skepticism
had reduced Germany. Having visited that country in 1824, he delivered
four discourses on the subject before the university, which were
afterward published under the title of _The State of Protestantism in
Germany_. Thus far, in spite of the new works which may have appeared,
this account of Rationalism has not been superseded. We shall have
occasion more than once to refer to its interesting pages. Of
Rationalism he says:

"The word has been used in Germany in various senses, and has been made
to embrace alike those who positively reject all revelation and those
who profess to receive it. I am inclined, however, to believe that the
distinction between Naturalists and Rationalists is not quite so wide,
either, as it would appear to be at first sight, or as one of them
assuredly wishes it to appear. For if I receive a system, be it of
religion, of morals, or of politics, only so far as it approve itself to
my reason, whatever be the authority that presents it to me, it is idle
to say that I receive the system out of any respect to that authority. I
receive it _only_ because my reason approves it, and I should of course
do so if an authority of far inferior value were to present the system
to me. This is what that division of Rationalists, which professes to
receive Christianity and at the same time to make reason the supreme
arbiter in matters of faith, has done. _Their_ system, in a word, is
this: they assume certain general principles, which they 'maintain to be
the necessary deductions of reason from an extended and unprejudiced
contemplation of the natural and moral order of things, and to be in
themselves immutable and universal. Consequently anything which, on
however good authority, may be advanced in apparent opposition to them
must either be rejected as unworthy of rational belief, or at least
explained away, till it is made to accord with the assumed
principles,--and the truth or falsehood of all doctrines proposed is to
be decided according to their agreement or disagreement with those
principles.' When Christianity, then, is presented to them, they inquire
what there is in it which agrees with their assumed principles, and
whatsoever does so agree, they receive as _true_. But whatever is _true_
comes from God, and consequently all of Christianity which they admit to
be true, they hold to be _divine_.

"'Those who are generally termed Rationalists,' says Dr. Bretschneider,
'admit universally, in Christianity, a divine, benevolent, and positive
appointment for the good of mankind, and Jesus as a Messenger of divine
Providence, believing that the true and everlasting word of God is
contained in the Holy Scripture, and that by the same the welfare of
mankind will be obtained and extended. But they deny therein a
supernatural and miraculous working of God, and consider the object of
Christianity to be that of introducing into the world such a religion as
reason can comprehend; and they distinguish the essential from the
unessential, and what is local and temporary from that which is
universal and permanent in Christianity.' There is, however, a third
class of divines, which in fact differs very little from this, though
very widely in profession. They affect to allow 'a revealing operation
of God,' but establish on internal proofs rather than on miracles the
divine nature of Christianity. They allow that revelation _may_ contain
much out of the power of reason to explain, but say that it should
assert nothing contrary to reason, but rather what may be proved by it.
This sounds better, but they who are acquainted with the writings of the
persons thus described, know that by establishing Christianity on
internal proofs, they only mean the accepting those doctrines which they
like, and which seem to them _reasonable_, and that though they allow in
theory that revelation may contain what are technically called much
above reason, yet in practice they reject the positive doctrines of
Christianity (I mean especially the doctrines of the Trinity, the
Atonement, the Mediation and Intercession of our Lord, Original Sin, and
Justification by Faith), because they allege that those doctrines are
contrary to reason. The difference between them and the others is
therefore simply this, that while the others set no limits at all to the
powers of reason in matters of faith, they set such a limit in theory
but not in practice, and consequently cannot justly demand to be
separated from the others."[6]

One of the ablest advocates of Supernaturalism among English divines is
the late Dr. A. McCaul, of London. He joins issue successfully with the
Rationalists. We quote a specimen of his method of argument. His
definition of Rationalism is beautifully lucid and logical. He says:

"This doctrine then plainly denies the existence and the possibility of
a supernatural and immediate revelation from the Almighty, and maintains
that to claim supreme authority for any supposed supernatural religion
is degrading to the dignity and the nature of man. It enters into direct
conflict with the statements of the Old Testament writers, who clearly
and unmistakably assert the existence of a divine communication which is
called 'The law of the Lord,' 'The law of his mouth,' 'The testimony of
God,' 'The saying of God,' 'The word of the Lord,' 'The word that goeth
forth out of his mouth,' 'The judgment of the Lord,' 'The commandment of
the Lord.'

"Now it is not intended to strain the allusion to the mouth or lips of
the Lord beyond that which the figure may fairly bear. But the
expression does certainly mean that there is some direct, immediate, and
therefore supernatural communication from the great Creator of all
things. The writers who used these expressions did not mean that as
reason is given by God, so whatever reason may excogitate is the word of
God. They would not have used these expressions concerning Truth that
may be found in heathen writers. They believed and recorded that God had
manifested himself audibly to the ears, and visibly to the eyes of men.
They did not therefore hold the doctrine that supernatural revelation
is impossible, or derogatory to reason or inconsistent with the nature
and attributes of Him who is eternal.

"It is almost needless to refer to instances. God spake with Adam, with
Cain, with Noah. In the latter case the communication led to such
actions, and was followed by such results, that without rejecting the
history altogether, there can be no doubt of a miraculous communication.
Noah knew of the coming flood--built an ark for himself and a multitude
of animals--prepared food--was saved with his family, while the world
perished--floated for months on the waters, and when he came out, had
again a manifestation of the Deity. So Abraham, so Moses, not now to
recount any more. Indeed the writer referred to does not deny this. He
admits that in Scripture the knowledge of divine things is referred
immediately to the Revelation of God, and that though the modes of this
Revelation are various, they appear often to overstep the laws and
course of nature. He enumerates as modes of revelation, Epiphanies of
God himself, of angels--heavenly voices--dreams--afflatus, or the Holy
Spirit.

"How then does he reconcile this with his denial of all supernatural
revelation, or show that these Epiphanies of God and angels, were mere
developments of reason? He does not try to reconcile them at all. He
simply rejects them as false. He comes directly into collision with the
credibility and veracity of the Scripture narratives, and therefore
leaves us no alternative but to disbelieve the Bible as fabulous, or to
reject Rationalism as inconsistent with our rule of faith. This system
not only generally denies the possibility of supernatural revelation,
but asserts that all the particular narratives of all such
communications from God are incredible; nothing better than ghost
stories or fairy tales; equally unworthy of God and man, the offspring
of an ignorant and unenlightened age and nation, and therefore rejected
by these men of reason and science. How this differs from the doctrine
of Deists and open opposers of Christianity, it is difficult to
conceive, except that it seems to be rather worse. Even Bolingbroke
admits supernatural Revelation to be possible. Tom Paine himself says,
'Revelation when applied to religion means something immediately
communicated from God to man. No one will deny or dispute the power of
the Almighty to make such a communication if he pleases.' Spinoza
asserts that the 'Israelites heard a true voice at the delivery of the
ten commandments; that God spoke face to face with Moses; and generally,
that God can communicate immediately with men, and that though natural
science is divine, yet its propagators cannot be called prophets.' That
the Rationalist view of revelation is contrary to the popular belief of
Christians generally, and of Christian churches and divines
particularly, there can be no doubt. It is intended so to be....

"The Rationalist professes to believe that all the knowledge of truth at
which man arrives is owing to the original wisdom, will, and power of
the Almighty in giving man a certain intellectual constitution, to be
unfolded by the circumstances of human history and necessities--that
therefore moral and religious truth, such as the Rationalists
acknowledge, is still to be ascribed to the purposes and power and
efficacy of the Great Spirit, acting upon that which is material and
compound.

"Why, then, should it be impossible for the Creator to shorten the
process, to help man in his painful and often unsuccessful search after
truth, and to make known that which exists in the Divine mind and
purpose? To say that he cannot, is in fact to depose him from the throne
of omnipotence, and to bring us back either to two eternal independent
principles, incapable of all communication, or to drive us to Pantheism.
If there ever was a period in duration in which God could act upon
matter, or endue infinite intelligences with the means and capability of
knowledge, he can do so still."[7]

M. Saintes, who has investigated the history of this subject more
thoroughly than any other writer, says of the significations and limits
of Rationalism:

"I myself at first imagined that it signified the wise and constant
exercise of reason on religious subjects, but in studying the matter
historically I soon found that it is the same with this word as with
many others which, having lost their original meaning, now express an
idea directly contrary to that which their etymology seems to indicate.
It is indisputably true that God, in granting reason to man, has not
forbidden its exercise. As religion, the queen of all minds, possesses
indestructible rights over them, so has human reason also rights which
cannot be disputed. Kant has justly said, the faith which should oppose
itself to reason could not longer exist. With this view we form an idea
of Rationalism similar to that conceived by the great Leibnitz, which,
with our present ideas of truth, we cannot regard as unreasonable. But
this right of human reason to examine and discuss differs widely from
its self-constitution as supreme judge on religious matters, and from
the wish to submit God and conscience to its own tribunal, which it
declares to be infallible. This, however, has been the case in modern
times when Philosophy has openly avowed itself the enemy of
Christianity, and when those who were terrified by its rash demands have
sought to confound them by the devices of Rationalism--thus hastening to
ruin the edifice which they aspired to restore.... Rationalism must not,
therefore, be understood to signify the use which theologians have made
of reason in matters of faith. Did the reader thus interpret it he would
mistake our aim. He would be deceived as to the character of the labors
which it is our wish to describe. He would attribute to the author of
this history intentions which he could not entertain, and religious
opinions which his respect for human reason would compel him to disavow.
The apostles of the gospel continually appeal to the reason of their
hearers, and Christ himself argues the increasing exercise of the _eye
of the soul_, as he calls conscience, in judging of the truth which he
announces--Matt. vi. 23. For a good conscience is always better disposed
to rise to the knowledge of the truth; while one heavy laden and
harassed is exceedingly prone to receive dogmas without properly
understanding their import, because it feels their truth through the
consolations which they offer. In no age of Christianity has there
arisen a serious discussion on this subject, though the extravagant
pretensions of Rationalism have provoked some exaggerations which can
never prevail over the ancient Christian system. That system by no means
forbade the exercise of human intelligence in religious matters, though
it employed a superior and only infallible reason--the divine reason,
the doctrinal expression of which is found in the books which all
Christians have hitherto considered divine, and whose authenticity and
truth cannot be disputed without overturning that Christianity, which
has been professed during eighteen centuries. But modern Rationalism has
done more than assert the right of exercising reason; it has pretended
that to this faculty alone belongs the privilege of deciding on man's
religious belief and his moral duty; and that if, from long custom, any
respect is still due to revelation, it should only receive it when it is
not opposed to the judgments of reason. But if this reason were
sufficient for mankind, why should divine revelation be in any case
opposed to it?

"Rationalism is not a systematic incredulity as to religious truths. Far
from being so, it makes pretensions of developing the religious feelings
to the highest degree; and there is in the writings of its most
distinguished disciples something which arouses even the most lethargic
minds. But it is far from attaining its end; for although it constitutes
itself the supreme judge of Christianity, it does not really adopt one
of the leading doctrines of that religion which alone has power over the
moral nature of man. Its influence, if we observe it closely, extends
only over his feelings; it fails to penetrate into the depths of his
being; and can we forget that one of its essential characteristics is to
wage deadly war against the supernatural element which abounds in the
Bible, and which Rationalism would wholly eradicate? An enlightened
Supernaturalist will then very willingly confess that Naturalism may be
professed with a semblance of reason and in good faith, and he can even
consider it as a system of philosophy wherein are to be found fewer
philosophical elements than in any other. But simple good sense forbids
him to imagine it possible to profess Rationalism and at the same time
to retain the name of Christian."[8]

The most recent defence of Rationalism is by Mr. Lecky.[9] He has
written in great calmness, taken great pains to generalize his
investigations, and followed closely in the steps of the late Mr.
Buckle, in his fragment of the _History of Civilization_. But his
argument is false. According to Mr. Lecky, human reason is the only
factor of history. The agency of the Holy Spirit is ignored. Elaborate
creeds and liturgical services are a barrier to the mind's progress,
because they shackle the intellect by impure traditions. Rationalism is
the only relief of these later times. "Its central conception," says our
author, "is the elevation of conscience into a position of supreme
authority as the religious organ, a verifying faculty discriminating
between truth and error. It regards Christianity as designed to preside
over the moral development of mankind, as a conception which was to
become more and more sublimated and spiritualized as the human mind
passed into new phases, and was able to bear the splendor of a more
unclouded light. Religion it believes to be no exception to the general
law of progress, but rather the highest form of its manifestation, and
its earlier systems but the necessary steps of an imperfect development.
In its eyes the moral element of Christianity is as the sun in heaven,
and dogmatic systems are as the clouds that intercept and temper the
exceeding brightness of its rays. The insect, whose existence is but for
a moment, might well imagine that these were indeed eternal, that their
majestic columns could never fail, and that their luminous folds were
the very source and centre of light. And yet they shift and vary with
each changing breeze; they blend and separate; they assume new forms and
exhibit new dimensions; as the sun that is above them waxes more
glorious in its power, they are permeated and at last absorbed by its
increasing splendor; they recede, and wither, and disappear, and the eye
ranges far beyond the sphere they had occupied into the infinity of
glory that is before them.... Rationalism is a system which would unite
in one sublime synthesis all the past forms of human belief, which
accepts with triumphant alacrity each new development of science, having
no stereotyped standard to defend, and which represents the human mind
as pursuing on the highest subjects a path of continual progress toward
the fullest and most transcendent knowledge of the Deity.... It clusters
around a series of essentially Christian conceptions--equality,
fraternity, the suppression of war, the elevation of the poor, the love
of truth, and the diffusion of liberty. _It revolves around the ideal of
Christianity, and represents its spirit without its dogmatic system and
its supernatural narratives. From both of these it unhesitatingly
recoils, while deriving all its strength and nourishment from Christian
ethics._"[10]

The present age, if we hearken to Mr. Lecky, is purely Rationalistic,
because purely progressive. The world has emerged from its blindness and
ignorance by the innate force of the mind. Reason, the great magician,
has uplifted its wand; and lo, the creatures of night disappear! It has
dispelled the foolish old notions of magic, witchcraft, and miracles. It
has overcome the spirit of persecution, the childish conception of
original sin, and the doctrine of eternal punishment. It has put an end
to bull-baiting, cock-fighting, and all the lower forms of vicious
pleasure. It has secularized politics, overthrown the notion of the
divine right of kings, and now creates and fosters all the industrial
developments of the age. Protestantism is excellent when allied to
Rationalism; but when opposed to it, it is no better than any other
conglomeration of creeds and liturgies. There is no such thing as a
fixed notion of God and Providence. The conceptions of man on these
subjects will change with the progress of the race. Human reason,
therefore, and not revelation, is the sole arbiter of truth.

Thus Mr. Lecky places himself beside his predecessors in ignoring the
agency of the Holy Spirit, either in giving inspired truth to the world,
or in educating the church.

From the foregoing authorities it is very apparent that the Rationalists
do not deny the special features of skepticism with which their
opponents charge them. They admit frankly that they give the precedence
to Reason, when the alternative is Reason or Revelation, instead of
adopting a positive creed from the principle, that, if we would
ascertain the character of Revelation, we must begin our inquiry by
examining the doctrines it contains, and then by comparing them with our
notions of what a Revelation ought to be. Thus the capricious dictates
of reason are made to decide the quality of revealed truth. Besides,
wherever a mysterious account is contained in a book which in the main
is accepted, such mystery is cast out as altogether unlikely, probably
the poetic version of some early legend. A miracle is recounted; one of
the best attested of all. "It could never have happened," the
Rationalists say, "for Nature has made it impossible."

There have been several classes of Rationalists. Some were men of very
worthy character; and, save in their opinions, were entitled to the
high respect of their generation. Semler lived a beautiful life; and his
glowing utterance on his daughter's death exhibited not only a father's
love, but a Christian's faith. Bretschneider, himself a Rationalist,
gives the following classification of his confreres:

The _first_ class consider Revelation a superstition, and Jesus either
an enthusiast or a deceiver. To this class belong Wünsch and Paalzow,
but no divine. The second class do not allow that there was any divine
operation in Christianity in any way, and refer the origin of
Christianity to mere natural causes. They make the life of Christ a mere
romance, and himself a member of secret associations; and consider the
Scriptures as only human writings in which the word of God is not to be
found. To this class belong Bahrdt, Reimarus, and Venturini (the last
two not divines), and Brennecke. The third class comprise the persons
usually called Rationalists. They acknowledge in Christianity an
institution divine, beneficent, and for the good of the world; and Jesus
as a messenger of God; and they think that in Scripture is found a true
and eternal word of God,--only they deny _any supernatural and
miraculous_ working of God, and make the object of Christianity to be
the introduction of religion into the world, its preservation, and
extension. They distinguish between what is essential and non-essential
in Christianity, between what is local and temporal, and what is
universal. That is to say, they allow that there is good in
Christianity--that all that is good comes from God; but miracles,
inspiration, everything _immediately_ coming from God, they wholly
disbelieve. Among this class are Kant, Steinbart, Krug, as philosophers;
and, as divines, W. A. Teller, Löffler, Thiess, Henke, J. E. C.
Schmidt, De Wette, Paulus, Wegscheider, and Röhr. The _fourth_ class go
a little higher. They consider the Bible and Christianity as a divine
revelation in a higher sense than the Rationalists. They assume a
revealing operation of God distinguishable from his common providence;
carefully distinguish the periods of this divine direction; found the
divinity of Christianity more on its internal evidence than on miracles;
but especially separate church belief from the doctrines of Scripture;
reform it according to the sentiments of the Divine Word; and require
that Reason should try Revelation, and that Revelation should contain
nothing against, though it may well have much above, Reason. Döderlein,
Morus, Reinhard, Ammon, Schott, Niemeyer, Bretschneider, and others,
belong to this class.

The only objection to this classification is the one urged by Rose;
namely, that only a few of the theological writers would appear to have
been violent Rationalists, while the larger class would seem to have
held the moderate opinions which Bretschneider himself professes to
adopt. The contrary is the fact, as any one at all acquainted with the
number of theological writers of the period in question can determine.
The spirit of the Rationalistic literature of the time was decidedly
violent and destructive.

In glancing at some of the general causes which have made Rationalism so
successful in its hold upon the popular mind, we find that it has
possessed many advantages over almost any other form of skepticism that
has appeared during the history of the church.

Prominent among these causes were its multiplied affiliations with the
church. It had thus a fine vantage-ground on which to wage deadly war
against the text and doctrines of the Bible. The first antagonists of
Christianity came from without; and they dealt their heaviest blows with
a deep and thorough conviction that the whole system they were combating
was absolutely false, absurd, and base. And, in fact, many later enemies
of Revelation have come from without the pale of Christianity. But the
great Coryphæi of Rationalism have sprung from the very bosom of the
church, were educated under her maternal care; and, at the same time
that they were endeavoring to demolish the superstructure of divine
inspiration, they were, in the eyes of the people, its strongest
pillars, the accredited spiritual guides of the land, teaching in the
most famed universities of the Continent, and preaching in churches
which had been hallowed by the struggles and triumphs of the
Reformation.

German Protestantism cannot complain that Rationalism was the work of
acknowledged foes; but is bound to confess, with confusion of face, that
it has been produced by her own sons; and that English Deism and French
Atheism were welcomed, and transmuted into far more insidious and
destructive agencies than they had ever been at home. The Rationalists
did not discard the Bible, but professed the strongest attachment to it.
They ever boasted that their sole object was the defence and elevation
of it. "Because we love it," they said, "we are putting ourselves to all
this trouble of elucidating it. It grieves us beyond measure to see how
it has been suffering from the vagaries of weak minds. We are going to
place it in the hands of impartial Reason; so that, for once at least,
it may become plain to the masses. We will call in all the languages and
sciences to aid us in exhuming its long-buried treasures, in order that
the wayfaring man, though a fool, may appropriate them. And as to the
church, who would say aught against our venerable mother? We love her
dearly. We confess, indeed, that we love the green fields and gray
mountain-rocks better than her Sabbath services; nor do we have much
respect for her Sabbath at all. But we cherish her memories, and are
proud of her glory. Yet the people do not understand her mysteries well
enough. They do not love her as much as we do. Therefore we will stir
them up to the performance of long-neglected duties. They ignorantly
cling too proudly to her forms and confessions. But we will aid them to
behold her in a better light. We know the true path of her prosperity,
for do you not see that we have been born and bred within her dear fold?
Let everybody follow us. We will bring you into light." Had outspoken
enemies of the church and inspiration, though doubly gifted and
multiplied in number, set themselves to the same destructive work that
engaged the labors of these so-called friends, they could not have
inflicted half the injury. They had razed to the ground tower after
tower of the popular faith before their designs were discovered. And yet
we must do them the credit to say that they did not intend to do the
harm that they eventually accomplished. But human agencies achieve their
legitimate results without regard to the motives that give them impulse.
No doubt, many a Rationalist, as he looked back from his death-bed on
the ruin to which he had contributed, trembled with astonishment at the
poisonous fruit of his labors. Christ beheld a broader field than we can
see, when he said, "A man's foes shall be they of his own household."

This religious exterior has been a powerful auxiliary to the growth of
Rationalism. In the earlier stages of its history, every utterance
regarding the authenticity of any books of Scripture was carefully
guarded. The boldest stroke that this species of skepticism has made has
been a recent one, Strauss' _Life of Jesus_; but that work was only the
outgrowth of long doubt, and the honest, frank expression of what a
certain class of Rationalists had been burning to say for a century.
Parents who sent their sons to the university to listen to such men as
Semler, Thomasius, and Paulus, had not the remotest idea that
institutions of such renown for learning and religion were at that very
time the hotbeds of rank infidelity. Even the State cabinets that
controlled the professorial chairs could not believe for a long time
that men who had been chosen to teach theology were spending all their
power in corrupting the religious sentiment of the land. Large
congregations were sometimes startled with strange announcements from
their pastors, to the effect that the supposed miraculous dividing of
the Red Sea was only occasioned by certain natural forces of wind and
tide; that all the rest of the Old Testament miracles were pure myths;
and that many parts of the New Testament were written at a later time
and by other authors than those whose names are usually associated with
them. "Heterodoxy," was whispered. But the reply was, "Better have
heterodoxy than these miserable disputes on Election and the Lord's
Supper, to which we have been compelled to listen almost ever since
Luther laid his body down to die." Fledgling theologians would come home
from the university, and read aloud to the family-group the notes of
lectures which they had heard during the last semester. The aged pair,
looking up in wonder, would say, "The good and great doctors of our
Reformation never taught such things as these." But their sons would
answer, "Oh, the world has grown much wiser since their day. New
discoveries in philosophy and science have opened new avenues of truth,
and our eyes are blessed that we see, and our ears that we hear. Just
wait until we get into the pulpit, and we will set the people to
thinking in a new way." Thus the enemy was sowing tares while the church
was dreaming of a plenteous harvest.

Rationalism was very adroit in its initial steps. Its method of betrayal
was, Judas-like, to sit in friendly intercourse beside its victim, and
afterwards, when the fulness of malevolent inspiration had come, to give
the fatal kiss in the presence of enemies. The people did not know the
ills they were about to suffer until deliverance was well-nigh hopeless.
Had Rationalism begun by laying down its platform and planning the work
of proof, the forces of the opposition might have been organized. But it
commenced without a platform, and worked long without one. The
systematic theology of Bretschneider would by no means be accepted by
the entire class of Rationalistic divines. To get a fair conception of
what has been the aggregate sentiment of the whole class, one must
wander through hundreds of volumes of exegesis, history, philosophy, and
romance; and these covering a space of many years. Even when you hold up
your treasure, and cry "Eureka!" your shrewd opponent will coolly say
that you have given a false interpretation, and have drawn wrong
conclusions,--that his masters never claimed such an absurdity.
Rationalism looked upon Revelation as a tottering edifice, and set
itself busily at work to destroy the entire superstructure. But
sometimes it is the surrounding vines and trees that shake in the autumn
storm, and not the building itself; and often beneath the worm-eaten
bark there is a great oaken heart, which no arm is strong enough and no
axe sufficiently keen to cleave.

Rationalism has been striving to destroy a house which was built upon a
rock; and if it fell not, the fault lay not in the absence of ingenuity
and strength of attack, but in the undecayed material and
deeply-grounded solidity of the structure.

We are not blind to the extenuating circumstances that are adduced for
Rationalism. The motives of its founders seemed pure enough, for these
men held their life-task to be the purification of faith from the
misconceptions of inspiration, and the deliverance of the church from
the thraldom of stiff formularies. Some of their successors held that
their labors were only philosophical, and hence could not affect
theology. They all claimed relationship with the Reformers, and with the
good and great of all ages. Bretschneider says that Luther talked of
miracles as only fit for the ignorant and vulgar, as apples and pears
are for children.

Paulus tries to prove the great Saxon a Rationalist by the following
circumstance. The Elector of Brandenburg having asked Luther if it were
true that he had said he should not stop unless convinced from
Scripture, received this reply: "Yes, my lord, unless I am convinced by
clear and evident reasons!" It was a favorite view of the Rationalists
that the Reformation had been produced by Reason asserting her rights;
and it was then an easy step to take, when they claimed as much right to
use Reason within the domain of Protestantism as their fathers possessed
when within the pale of Catholicism.

But there were wide points of difference between the Reformers and
Rationalists. The former would return to the spirit and letter of the
Word of God, while the latter did not hesitate to depart from both. The
former accepted the Bible as it is, making Faith its interpreter; the
latter would only construe its utterances as Reason would dictate.

With the Reformers there was a conflict between the Bible and the Roman
church, but harmony between Reason and the Bible; hence these two
homogeneous elements should be united and the rebellious one forever
discarded. But with the Rationalists there was an irreconcilable
difference between Reason and Revelation, and the latter must be moulded
into whatever shape the former chose to mark out. The Reformers
celebrated the reunion of both; but the Rationalists never rested as
long as there was any hope of putting asunder those whom they believed
God had never joined together. But the later Rationalists, least of all,
could claim consanguinity with the Reformers. How could they who
banished miracles from the Scriptures and reduced Christ to a much lower
personality than even the Ebionites declared him to be, dare to range
themselves in the circle of the honored ones who had unsealed the
long-locked treasures of inspiration, and declared that Christ, instead
of being an inferior Socrates, was divine, and the only worthy mediator
between God and man? After we accept every reasonable apology for this
destructive skepticism there will still be found a large balance against
it. There are four considerations which must always be borne in mind
when we would decide on the character of any development of religious
doubt and innovation. 1. _The necessity for its origin and development_;
2. _Its point of attack_; 3. _The spirit with which it conducts its
warfare_; and 4. _The success which it achieves_.

Let us see how Rationalism stands the test of these criteria. It must
be confessed that the German Protestant church, both the Lutheran and
Reformed, called loudly for reinvigoration. But it was Faith, not
Reason, that could furnish the remedy. The Pietistic influence was
gaining ground and fast achieving a good work; but it was reprobated by
the idolaters of Reason, and the tender plant was touched by the fatal
frost. Had Pietism, with all its extravagances, been fostered by the
intellect of the pulpits and universities it would have accomplished the
same work for Germany in the seventeenth that the Wesleys and Whitefield
wrought in England in the eighteenth century. There was no call for
Rationalism, though its literary contributions to the church and the
times will eventually be highly useful; but they were ill-timed in that
season of remarkable religious doubt. It was the warmth of the heart,
and not the cold logic of the intellect that could rejuvenate the
church.

Nor do we find the position of Rationalism to be any better when we call
to mind that it really acknowledges no hallowed ground. It attacked the
most endeared doctrines of our faith, and applied its enginery to those
very parts of our citadel which we would be most likely to defend the
longest. Had it contented itself with the mere discussion of minor
points, with here and there a quibble about a miracle or a prophecy, we
could excuse many of its vagaries on the score of enthusiasm. But its
premiss was, "We will accept nothing between the two lids of this Book
if our Reason cannot fathom it." Hence, all truth, every book of the
Bible, even the sacraments of the church, came in for their share of
discussion and pruning. In this respect Rationalism takes rank as one of
the most corrupt tendencies of infidelity which appears anywhere upon
the page of ecclesiastical history. But do we find its spirit mild and
amiable? Some of the Rationalists were naturally men of admirable
temperament, but this was no effect of their faith. The most lamentable
feature of this whole system was the ruthless character of its warfare.
The professions of love for the Scriptures and the church, which we so
often meet with in the writings of the early Rationalistic divines, were
soon laid aside. The demon of destruction presided over the storm. And
the work of ruin was rapid, by forced marches and through devious
paths,--in the true military style. When the hour of fight came there
was no swerving. Men full of the spirit of a bad cause will sometimes
fight as valiantly as others for a good one; but it is then that God
determines the victor. The evangelical Christians of Protestant Germany
saw their banner captured by their foes. And it was their foes who gave
the first fire; but they will not be so fortunate in the last encounter.
We challenge Deism and even Atheism itself, to furnish proof of a more
malignant antipathy to some of the cardinal doctrines of the common
faith of Christendom than Rationalism has produced in certain ones of
its exponents, and which we shall strive to expose in future pages of
this work. Some of the Rationalists were John-like in all they did, save
when they discussed the holy truths of inspiration. Then they were
possessed by the evil spirit. Nowhere can we find a more deplorable
example of the disastrous effects of a false creed on the human
character. It is an infallible law of our nature that the mind, not less
than the body, becomes depraved by an impure diet. Many persons have
been permanently injured by reading the _Briefe über den Rationalismus_,
and other works which Rationalism has published against the doctrines
of Revelation.

As far as the completeness and speed of the work of Rationalism are
concerned we shall find that it ranks with the most rapid and
destructive errors that have ever risen in conflict with the church.
Instead of striving to build up a land that had so long been cursed with
the blight of Papacy, and had not yet been redeemed a full century, this
evil brought its quota of poison into the university, the pulpit, and
the household circle. Nor did it cease, as we shall see, until it
corrupted nearly all the land for several generations. To-day the
humblest peasant who steps on our shore at Castle Garden will stare in
wonder as you speak of the final judgment, the immortality of the soul,
and the authenticity of the Scriptures. Naturalism could not live thus
long in Italy, nor Deism in England, nor the blind Atheism of the
Encyclopædists in France; neither in either land was the work of
destruction so complete.

But the church has proved herself able to depose many _corruptions of
her faith_; yet this _attack upon her faith_ she has still to vanquish
thoroughly. It is not works on the evidences of Christianity that she
needs for the consummation of her great aim; and we trust that, by the
divine blessing, the inquiry into the vagaries of Reason upon which we
are now entering will not be without its effect upon the young mind of
America. Our task is simply to lift the finger of warning against the
increasing influx of Rationalistic tendencies from France and England;
which lands had first received them from Germany. One of our great
dangers lies in permitting Reason to take our premises and build her own
conclusions upon them. There is an intimate union between theology and
philosophy; and anything less than the pursuit and cultivation of a
sound philosophy will endanger our theology. Tennyson gives a beautiful
word of advice when he says:

     "Hold thou the good: define it well:
       For fear divine Philosophy
       Should push beyond her mark, and be
     Procuress to the Lords of Hell."


FOOTNOTES:

[1] Tholuck, Herzog's _Real-Encyclopædie_. Art. _Rationalismus_.

[2] Trench, _Study of Words_, p. 147.

[3] As a fair specimen of the extent to which philological criticism is
often carried by some of our German friends, when advocating a doubtful
cause, we quote a paragraph in point from Dr. Rückert's work, _Der
Rationalismus_, one of the latest and feeblest apologies for neological
thought:

"What is Rationalism? We must try to get the meaning from the term
itself. And what sort of a term is it? Barbarous enough! Its root is
_ratio_, but it is directly from _rationalis_ that the word in question
is derived. Now this word is good enough in itself, for it signifies
_what is conformable to reason, that which possesses the attributes and
methods of reason_. Man is a _rational_ animal, and it is his
rationality that distinguishes him from all other animals. So much for
this part of the word Rationalism. Now for the barbarous part of it, the
-ism. This termination belongs to another language, the Greek +-ismos+,
and is derived from a verbal ending which cannot be expressed in Latin,
namely--+izein+. Now if we examine certain intransitive verbs, such as
+mêdizein+, +lakônizein+, +rhômaizein+, +attikizein+, we shall find
their common peculiarity is that the persons meant are not the real
persons which the words seem to signify, but only act in their capacity.
Not a real Mede +mêdizei+; no true Spartan +lakônizei+; and so of all
the rest. But those Greeks who would rather belong to the Medes than be
freemen, _act like Medes, would prefer to be under Median
rule_--+mêdizousin+. This +-ismos+ is a termination from this class of
verbs, and is employed in reproach and not in praise. Hence
_Rationalist_ is a term of contempt, and means _not one who is really
reasonable, but would like to pass for such_." Of course the Doctor
concludes that the word is a most flagrant and unrighteous misnomer; but
we accept his philology and return him our thanks for his etymological
_study_.

[4] _Geschichte des Rationalismus und Supernaturalismus_, pp. 3-4.

[5] _De Rationalismi_: A Disputation at Leipzig.

[6] _State of Protestantism in Germany._ pp. XXII-XXVI.

[7] _Thoughts on Rationalism._ pp. 23-32.

[8] _Histoire du Rationalisme._ pp. 1-6.

[9] _History of the Rise and Influence of the Spirit of Rationalism in
Europe._ By W. E. H. Lecky, M. A. 2 vols. Longmans, London, 1865.

[10] _History of the Rise and Spirit of Rationalism in Europe_, vol. I.,
pp. 183-185.



CHAPTER I.

CONTROVERSIAL PERIOD SUCCEEDING THE REFORMATION.


A work of such magnitude as the Reformation could not easily be
consummated in one generation. The real severance from the Roman
Catholic church was effected by Luther and Melanchthon; but these men
did not live long enough to give the symmetry and polish to their work
which it really needed. Unfortunately, their successors failed to
perform the necessary task. But lofty as our ideas of the Reformation
should be, we must not be blind to the fact that German Protestantism
bears sad evidences of early mismanagement. To-day, the Sabbath in
Prussia, Baden, and all the Protestant nationalities is hardly
distinguishable from that of Bavaria, Austria, Belgium, or France. But a
few bold words from Martin Luther on the sanctity of that day, as the
Scriptures declare it, would have made it as holy in Germany as it now
is in England and the United States. Another error, not so great in
itself as in the evils it induced, was the concessions which
Protestantism granted to the civil magistrate. The friendly and heroic
part which the Elector of Saxony took in the labors of the Reformers,
made it a matter of deference to vest much ecclesiastical authority in
the civil head. But when, in later years, this confidence was abused, it
was not so easy to alter the conditions of power. We see in this very
fact one of the underlying causes of the great Rationalistic defection.
The individual conscience was allowed almost no freedom at certain
periods. The slightest deviation from the mere expression of doctrine
was visited with severe penalty. Strigel was imprisoned; Hardenberg was
deposed and banished; Peucer doomed to ten years' imprisonment; Cracau
put to death on the slightest pretenses; and Huber was deposed and
expatriated for a mere variation in stating the Lutheran doctrine that
none are excluded from salvation.[11]

There were several causes which contributed to the intemperate
controversies that sprang up immediately after the Reformation. The
Reformers were involved in serious disputes among themselves. Had Luther
and Zwinglius never uttered the word _Consubstantiation_ they would have
gained multitudes to the cause they both loved so dearly. Many other
questions, which unfortunately occupied so much public attention, caused
minute divisions among those who should have stood firm and united in
that plastic period of the great movement. But it is to the numerous
confessions of faith that we must attribute most of these controversies.
Perhaps the grave character of the master-points at issue with Romanism
demanded these closely-succeeding expressions of doctrinal opinion; but
we question if the advantage was not much less than the outlay. First of
all came Melanchthon's celebrated _Augsburg Confession_, in 1530. The
Roman Catholics replied by their _Confutation_, which, in turn, was
answered by Melanchthon in the _Apology of the Confession_. Luther
followed in 1536-'37 with his _Articles of Smalcald_, and still later by
his two _Catechisms_. In 1577 came the _Formula Concordiæ_, and in 1580
the symbolical canon entitled _Liber Concordiæ_.

Amid this mass of doctrinal opinion in which many conflicting points
were easy enough to find, it was no small task to know what to accept.
The air was filled with the sounds of strife. Those who had fought so
steadfastly against Papacy were now turning their weapons in deadly
strife against each other.

The very names by which Church History has recorded the memory of these
strifes indicate the real littleness of many of the points in question.
The _Antinomian Controversy_ originated with John Agricola during
Luther's life-time. Agricola, in many severe expressions, contended
against the utility of the Law; though Mosheim thinks he intended to say
nothing more than that the ten laws of Moses were intended chiefly for
the Jews, and that Christians are warranted in laying them aside. The
_Adiaphoristic Controversy_ was caused by the difference between the
moderate views of Melanchthon and the more rigid doctrines of the
orthodox Lutherans. We have next the controversy between George Major
and Nicolas Amsdorf, as to whether good works are necessary to
salvation, or whether they possess a dangerous tendency. The
_Synergistic Controversy_ considered the relations of divine grace and
human liberty. The dispute between Victorin Strigel and Matthias Flacius
was on the nature of Original Sin. Then we have the _Osiandric
Controversy_, on the relation of justification to sanctification; and
the _Crypto-Calvinistic Controversy_, concerning the Lord's Supper,
which extended through the Palatinate to Bremen and through Saxony. The
_Formula Concordiæ_ thus sums up the Lutheran controversies: 1. Against
the Antinomians insisting on the preaching of the law. 2. Justification
as a declarative act, against Osiander; good works are its fruits. 3.
Synergism is disavowed, but the difficulty left indefinite. 4. Adiaphora
are admitted, but in times of trial declared to be important. 5.
Consubstantiation, and ubiquity of Christ's body.

The Reformed or Calvinistic church was likewise engaged in doctrinal
disputation, but there was more internal unity. Hence, while Calvinism
was rooting itself in England, Scotland, and Holland, Lutheranism was
spending itself in internal strife.

The _Syncretistic Controversy_ was remarkable on account of the great
men who engaged in it and the noble purpose which caused it. It arose
from an attempt to reconcile all the disputants under the Apostles'
Creed.

George Calixtus was the chief actor in the movement. He was a most
cultivated theologian. But, like so many of his fellow countrymen, whose
merits have not yet been appreciated by the English-speaking people, he
is little known to our readers of ecclesiastical history. He applied
himself first to the study of the Church Fathers, poring over their
voluminous productions with all the zeal of an enthusiast. He was eager
to gain an insight into contemporaneous theology as it was believed and
practised by all the sects. He concluded that he could gain his object
only by travel and personal observation. Consequently, he commenced a
tour through Belgium, England, France, and various parts of Germany. Nor
did he hasten from one place to another, but continued a length of time,
in order to become imbued with the local spirit, make the acquaintance
of the most illustrious men, hold conversations with them, and commit
his thoughts to writing. On his return he commenced the labors of a
professor of theology at Helmstedt. Thus, few men ever brought to their
aid more extensive acquirements than Calixtus. Besides the advantages he
derived from his travels, he was possessed of strong and brilliant
natural talents. He was bold and striking in his style; had great
originality of conception, and remarkable logical acuteness. Yet he
received but little justice from his generation; for almost everything
he wrote was made the theme of mad disputes and violent abuse.

The controversies of the period made a profound impression on the mind
of Calixtus. The anger and personality with which they were conducted
were sufficient proof to him of the little service they were able to
contribute to either the improvement of theology or the religious growth
of the people. To reconcile the various sects was the dream of his whole
life. Referring to his early desires in this direction, he thus wrote in
later years: "I was cogitating methods, even at that early age, for
mitigating the feuds and dissensions of Christians.... One thing,
however, is clear, that if men's minds were not bound by prejudices,
they would remit a great deal of rigor."[12] Those were sincere words,
too, which he said on beholding the rancor of sectarianism: "If I may
but help towards the healing of our schisms, I will shrink from no cares
and no night-watchings; no effort and no dangers; ... nay, I will never
spare either my life or my blood, if so be I may purchase the peace of
the church. For nothing can ever be laid upon me so heavy but that I
would undertake it, not only with readiness, but also with gladness."
The abuses of preaching, then prevalent, were also a theme of intense
sorrow to him. What some of them were may be easily gathered from a
passage in his course of lectures on the Four Evangelists to the
students of Helmstedt. "It is evident," he says, "that in every
interpretation the chief heed is to be given to the _literal sense_. In
every address to the people this must be made the principal point--so to
explain the text of Scripture that men may understand what the Holy
Spirit chiefly and primarily intends to teach by it. Inasmuch, too, as
the language is addressed to the people, it is the part of prudence to
decide what words may suit their capacity. We should strive to state the
fact on the doctrine itself in words as fitting and simple as possible,
and (omitting all controversial subtleties) to prove the truth as far as
it is necessary for salvation to be known, by a few words of
Scripture:--few, that they may not escape the memory of the hearers;
evident and convincing, lest the proofs seem doubtful, and the minds of
the more intelligent be left in suspense and be disturbed to their very
exceeding harm. The words of the Fathers (if used by way of evidence)
should be used sparingly and with caution; lest the ignorant should
confound the Apostles and Prophets with the Fathers, and persuade
themselves that all have equal authority. For it is to be borne in mind
that sermons are preached not so much for the benefit of the learned as
for the sake of the people generally; that they may be rightly
instructed in the doctrine of salvation and of Christian morals. In the
meantime we must do our best to satisfy _all_; that the simple be not
left without needful teaching; the more acute find no want of force and
argument; nor the learned charge the preacher with a pride of knowledge
foreign to the occasion and not always thorough."[13]

In his first controversial work, _Chief Points of the Christian
Religion_, Calixtus gave expression to many solid thoughts, which
subsequently produced an abundant harvest. His _Theological Apparatus_
was written for young ministers, and designed to meet the immediate
necessities of the times. But it is to his great work, the _Desire and
Effort for Ecclesiastical Concord_, that we must turn to find the true
man spending his greatest power toward the unification of Christians. In
terms of communion, he contends, we must distinguish between what is,
and what is not, essential to salvation. In all that relates to the
Christian mysteries we must content ourselves with the _quod_ and not
dispute about the _quo modo_. In stating these mysteries we should use
the simplest language. There is a natural brotherhood of men, and this
should bind them together in matters of religion. We must love all men,
even idolaters, in order to save them. The Jews and Mohammedans stand
nearer to us than they, and we should cherish affection also for them.
Those who are most closely united to us are all who believe that they
can be saved only by the merits of Christ. All who thus recognize the
saving power of Christ are members of his body, brothers and sisters
with him. We should live, therefore, as members of one family, though
adhering to different sects.

But we must not be neutral. Every one should join the church to which
his own conscientious convictions would lead him. Yet when we do this,
we must love all who think differently. Those who have been martyrs for
the Christian faith were in the right path; we cannot do better than to
follow them in love and doctrine. The outpouring of the Spirit would be
meagre indeed if the church existed for the stringent Lutherans
alone.[14]

But the intense desire of Calixtus to unite the various Christian bodies
was poorly rewarded by the sympathy of his contemporaries. He was
charged with religious indifference because he looked with mildness on
those who differed from him. Though a strict Lutheran, he was accused of
secretly favoring the Reformed church; and Arianism and Judaism were
imputed to him, because he thought that the doctrine of the Trinity was
not revealed with equal clearness in the Old and New Testaments! When he
affirmed that the epithets Lutheran, Reformed, and Romanist should not
destroy the idea of Christian in each, he was foully vilified for
opening the gate of heaven to the abandoned of all the earth. A friendly
man said that he was "a good and venerable theologian," and for this
utterance the offender was subjected to a heavy fine. The friends of
Calixtus were termed by one individual "bloodhounds and perjurers."
Another declared that "he tuned his lyre to Judaizers and Arianizers and
Romanizers and Calvinizers, and that he showed a spirit so coarse and
shameless that never the like had been before." Still another compared
him to Julian the Apostate.

But previous controversies and the ever-increasing points of divergence
had so estranged the different churches that the labors of Calixtus to
unite them proved unavailing. His influence was lessened because of the
disputes into which his bold undertaking led him. But he quickened
national thought, turned theologians to looking deeper into the
Scriptures than had been the practice since the Reformation, and
established the difference between the essential and non-essential in
matters of faith. The cause of his failure to unite the discordant
church was his fearless attack on popular error. But his disappointment
detracts nothing from the grandeur of his work; and his name is one
which will not be denied its meed of praise when theological peace is
once more restored to Germany. No generation can duly value a character
whose life is not in consonance with the prevailing spirit of that
generation. As the military hero must not expect his greenest laurels in
time of peace, and as the sage must not dream of praise in an
uncultivated period, so must such men as George Calixtus wait for a
coming day whose untainted atmosphere will be in harmony with their own
pure life and thoughts.

The spirituality of the German church having suffered materially from
the controversies of which we have spoken, the beneficial results of the
Reformation were greatly endangered by them. The German version of the
Bible had been an incalculable blessing to the masses; and the
commentaries written by the Reformers and their immediate successors
gave promise of a wide-spread Scriptural knowledge. But the religious
disputes distracted the mind from this necessary department of thought,
and neutralized much of the good which would otherwise have been
lasting. The danger in which the Protestant church now stood was great.
Sectarian strife, formalism, neglect of the high functions of the
pastorate, and other flagrant evils of the day, made the devout and
far-seeing tremble for the cause which had engaged the great minds of
the Reformation era. What could be done? A steady and gigantic effort
was necessary to be made or the great Reformation would die by its own
hand. Happily there were men, though somewhat removed at first from
public observation, whom God was intending to employ as conservative
agents. Often in the history of the church, when there has been no
prospect of success and progress, and when the votaries of error seemed
everywhere triumphant, God was secretly preparing the instrumentality
which, Joseph-like, would in due time perform the work of preservation
and restoration. There have been pessimists who were ever ready to cry:
"Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and
I am left alone, and they seek my life." But when the hour of crisis
came, God's answer was heard: "I have reserved to myself seven thousand
men who have not bowed the knee to Baal." This was true at the present
period, for there were a few men whose services were destined to be of
great value to the Protestantism of Europe.

We mention first of all the prince of mystics, Jacob Boehme, shoemaker
of Gorlitz. Gieseler chooses to stigmatize him with "contempt of all
Christianity of the letter and of all scientific theology;" but men can
only be measured by the standard of their age. Did they serve their
generation well? If so, we grant them all honor for their work. Let
Boehme be tested by this method, and we do not fear the result. We are
not unmindful of many of his absurd notions, of the fanaticism of his
followers--for which he is not in the least chargeable--and of the many
extravagances scattered through his twenty-eight treatises. But that he
intended well, served his church and his Master, led thousands to
self-examination, taught his nation that controversy was not the path to
success or immortality, his whole career proves beyond confutation.

His life, from beginning to end, is a marvel. He was born of poor
peasant parentage in 1575; and, after being taught to read and write,
was apprenticed to a shoemaker. His time was divided between reading his
Bible, going to church, making shoes, and taking care of the cow. But in
that boy's heart there were as deep a conscientiousness, imperturbable
patience, purity of soul, and love of God as can be found in a like
period of spiritual dearth. Having reproved his master one day, he was
dispatched on his apprentice-pilgrimage somewhat sooner than he had
anticipated. It has been truthfully said of him that his characteristic
lay in his pneumatic realism. His was ecstacy of the loftiest type; but
with him it was something almost tangible, real, and akin to actual
life. A late author, the lamented Vaughan, thus fancies him: "Behold him
early in his study, with bolted door. The boy must see to the shop
to-day, no sublunary care of awl or leather, customers and groschen,
must check the rushing flood of thought. The sunshine streams in emblem,
to his high-raised phantasy, of a more glorious light. As he writes, the
thin cheeks are flushed, the gray eye kindles, the whole frame is damp,
and trembling with excitement. Sheet after sheet is covered. The
headlong pen, too precipitate for calligraphy, for punctuation, for
spelling, for syntax, dashes on. The lines which darken down the waiting
page are, to the writer, furrows, into which heaven is raining a driven
shower of celestial seed. On the chapters thus fiercely written the eye
of the modern student rests, cool and critical, wearily scanning
paragraphs, digressive as Juliet's nurse, and protesting, with
contracting eyebrow, that this easy writing is abominably hard to
read."[15]

He was four times in ecstacy. He writes of himself: "I have never
desired to know anything of divine mystery; much less have I wished to
seek or find it. I sought only the heart of Jesus Christ, that there I
might hide myself from the anger of God and the grasp of the devil. And
I have besought God to grant me his grace and Holy Spirit, that he would
lead me and take from me everything that would tend to alienate me from
him; that I might lose my own will in his, and that I might be his child
in his son Jesus Christ. While in this earnest seeking and longing, the
door has opened before me, so that I have seen and learned more in a
quarter of an hour than I could have gained in many years at great
schools.... When I think why it is that I write as I do, I learn that my
spirit is set on fire of this spirit about which I write. If I would set
down other things, I cannot do it: a living fire seems to be kindled up
within me. I have prayed God many hundreds of times, weeping, that if my
knowledge did not contribute to his honor and the improvement of my
brethren, he would take it away from me, and hold me only in his love.
But I found that my weeping only made the inner fire burn all the more;
and it has been in such ecstacy and knowledge that I have composed my
works."

The _Aurora_ was his greatest production. His extreme modesty forbade
the publication of it; and it was first discovered accidentally in
manuscript by a nobleman who was visiting him. Of the literary character
of his works Schlegel says: "If we consider him merely as a poet, and in
comparison with other Christian poets who have attempted the same
supernatural themes--such as Klopstock, Milton, or even Dante,--we shall
find that in fulness of emotion and depth of imagination he almost
surpasses them. And in poetic expression and single beauties he does
not stand a whit behind them. The great intellectual wealth of the
German language has rarely been revealed to such an extent in any age as
in this writer. His power of imagery flowed from an inexhaustible
fountain." His last words declared the inward life of the man, "O Lord
of Sabaoth save me according to thy pleasure! O thou crucified Lord
Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, and take me to thy kingdom! Now I am
going into Paradise!"

John Arndt was not the subtle mystic that Boehme was, and his writings
are subjected to fewer misapprehensions. The service he rendered the
church and the cause of truth was important; and his influence is still
felt upon the practical life of the German people. While yet young he no
sooner became awakened to his spiritual condition then he saw the great
religious defects of his day. He first yielded to the prevalent passion
for the study of chemistry and medicine; but, through a severe illness,
he was subsequently led to give himself to the service of God. But few
works have obtained the celebrity which his _True Christianity_ has
enjoyed, not only while its author lived, but at every period since that
time. He was induced to write it on account of the controversial and
formal spirit which petrified the church. In a letter to Duke Augustus,
in 1621, he thus explained his motives: "I have first endeavored to
withdraw the minds of students and preachers from this disputation and
contentious theology which threatens to bring upon us once more the evil
of a scholastic theology. Another reason that has impelled me to this
course is my strong desire to incline dead Christians to become
fruitful. A third one is to lead people from the study of human theory
and science to the real exercise of faith and devotion. A fourth reason
is to show what that true Christian life is which harmonizes with vital
faith--and what that is which Paul meant when he said, 'I live; yet not
I, but Christ liveth in me.'"

Immediately after the publication of the _True Christianity_ it found a
hearty welcome. The learned and ignorant took equal pleasure in its
living thoughts. Next to the Bible and Kempis' _Imitation of Christ_, it
has been circulated more widely on the Continent than any other book. It
was translated into all the European languages, and missionaries
rendered it into heathen tongues. The Roman Catholics received it, and
claimed it as one of their treasures. When Professor Anton visited the
Jesuit Library at Madrid, in 1687, he inquired for the best ascetical
writer. The librarian produced a copy of Arndt's _True Christianity_,
which, though without preface or introduction, had this simple
expression on the first page: "_This book is more edifying than all
others._"

The spirit with which Arndt wrote all his works was calm and heavenly.
He possessed that beautiful Moravian type of character which defied
persecution by its submission, love, tenderness, and energy. In
referring to his many enemies he wrote on one occasion, "I am delighted
to suffer, and I would endure a thousand times more, sooner than bury my
talent." He was somewhat ascetical in temperament, but he differed from
all that class of thinkers by the clearness of his appreciation of the
wants of his time and his unwearied efforts to meet them successfully.
He did not escape the censure of mysticism; for that was more than any
devout spirit in that age could expect. Some of the most learned took
umbrage at his ardent sentiments and bitter complaint at the impiety of
his times. The opposition to him was well organized, and continued long
after his death. Even at the end of the seventeenth century we find
various writers replying to his celebrated work. But all the blows of
his adversaries have only tended to deepen the love of the people for
his name and writings. It is not an unfrequent occurrence for minds in
Germany, even at the present day, to be led to accept the truths of the
Gospel by the reading of the _True Christianity_. What Thomas à Kempis
was to the pre-Reformation age, Fenelon to France, and Jeremy Taylor to
England, John Arndt has been to the Protestant countries of the
Continent for the last three centuries. Superintendent Wagner only gave
expression to the world's real conviction when he wrote of him: "_Vir
placidus, candidus, pius et doctus._"

A personal friend and spiritual son of Arndt, John Gerhard, followed
closely in his footsteps. He was possessed of the same general
characteristics which we have traced in connection with the two
preceding names. His love was boundless, his spirit unruffled, his piety
deep and lasting. He was more serviceable in some respects to the
interests of the orthodox church than any other theologian of that time.
Like Arndt he had been inclined to the study of medicine, but a
dangerous sickness turned his mind to religious contemplation and to the
study of theology. His mental capacities had been cast in a great mould.
He grasped whatever he undertook with gigantic comprehension. His
attainments were so rapid that at the age of twenty-four he received the
degree of doctor of divinity; and, somewhat later, was the most famous
and admired of all the professors of the university of Jena. His
influence was such that princes placed themselves before him for his
counsel, and the highest ecclesiastical tribunals deemed themselves
honored in receiving a share of his attention. His works embrace the
departments of exegesis, doctrine, and practical religion.

But it was chiefly the two former branches of theology that engaged his
attention. In his _Exegetical Explication of Particular Passages_ he
accomplished an important service for the church. He introduced all the
leading doctrines of inspiration into this work, and discussed the
merits of contemporary controversy in connection with them. He explained
those almost indefinable terms which had been so variously employed by
the schoolmen, and summed up the literature on the points in question.
His style was prolix but his conclusions carried great weight with them.
As a specimen of his tedious method, he begins his discussion of
original sin with the questions, "Is there such a thing as original sin?
Then, what is it? What is its subject? How is it continued?" Many other
inquiries are made in the same manner, but it is only after a hundred
pages have been passed over that he gives his own definition of it. But
we should not smile at such latitude of style when we remember the
literary standard of those times. The German language was then in its
plastic state; and by far the greater portion of writers had been much
more interested in gaining points than rounding periods. It is almost a
hopeless task to wade through the ridiculously lengthy terms of the
seventeenth century. But it may be said, in their defence, that the
method of verbose composition was not without some appearance of
utility. The intelligence of the reader could not be relied upon to such
an extent as now, and the eager eyes of so many opponents made it
necessary to guard every word of importance with a wall of sentences.

We have now to mention a fourth actor in the great drama of these
dangerous times, John Valentine Andreä. His mind was not of the serious
tone that marked the other writers of whom we have spoken. That he
looked deeply, calmly, and wisely into the surrounding evils no one can
doubt. Every work he wrote established this fact. But the method which
he adopted to cure them was of a totally different order from that
employed by others. His personal history bears all the evidences of
romance. He was the son of a poor widow, who, having spent all her
property to give him an education, found her boy at the conclusion of
his studies desirous of making the usual academic tour. She has but a
pittance left, so she puts into his hand twelve kreutzer, and a rusty
old coin, as a pocketpiece. Her eyes follow him until they are blinded
in a flood of tears. Years pass on and Valentine comes home, having
travelled, by dint of self-denial and perseverance, over the most
interesting portions of the Continent. He returns to the fatherland and
settles quietly down as an orthodox Lutheran pastor.

It is now that the evils of his generation loom up before him in
terrible blackness. He attacks them by satire. He sits down and writes a
little book, dedicated to all the great men of Europe, and entitled,
_The Discovery of the Brotherhood of the Honorable Order of the Holy
Cross_. This work aims to show that there had once lived a certain
Christian Rosenkranz. He was a man of remarkable learning, and
communicated his knowledge to eight disciples, who lived with him, in a
house called the Temple of the Holy Ghost. This building has come to
light, and behold the uncorrupted body of Rosenkranz, who has been dead
a hundred and twenty years! The various disciples whom he left, and who
are scattered throughout Germany, claim to be true Protestants, and call
upon all men to help them in their efforts to promote learning and
religion. They possess great secrets and the world ought to know them.
They are perfectly at home in bottling the elixir of life, and have been
in possession of the philosopher's stone a long time. Their great object
is to benefit their fellow creatures. Who will follow them?

Such was the burden of Andreä's little book. The consequence was, it set
all Germany on fire. People never dreamed for a moment that it was a
burlesque on the times. Thousands left their labor to follow the advice
of the earnest disciples of Rosenkranz. On seeing that he had caused
some mischief, Andreä wrote book after book affirming that his previous
one on Christian Rosenkranz was a pure fiction intended to teach a
useful lesson. But nobody believed him; the people were sure that they
could not be so sadly deceived. His first work was the only one that was
heartily received; and multitudes ran mad after the fabulous knowledge
of the famous master and his imaginary disciples. But when the land
awoke to the real idea of Andreä, the reaction was tremendous. Perhaps
no satire, not even the _Laus Stultitiæ_ of Erasmus, created such a fury
of excitement as this; seldom has one been followed with more astounding
and beneficial results. We say _beneficial_ from purpose; for _Andreä
succeeded in attracting the popular mind from its old habits of
controversy_. This was his great service. As a man he was of
unexceptionable life and ardent sympathies. He passed peacefully to his
rest after uttering the words, "It is our joy that our names are written
in the Book of Life."

Thus were these devoted men performing their great mission of improving
the life of the Church. We shall soon see how low the current of that
life was, and how great the burden placed upon them. Each one had his
special endowment, and was eminently qualified to contribute to a more
healthy religious tone throughout the Protestant lands. But, after all,
their work was only preparative. The culmination of their labors was, in
later years, the great Pietistic Reform; and they marked out the path
along which Spener subsequently passed. Theirs was a great part in the
drama of providence; but their achievements would have accomplished no
permanent advantage had they not been succeeded by the triumphs of the
Father of Pietism. It has sometimes been a noticeable part of the divine
plan in our great struggles with the powers of darkness, that, when the
heroes of truth fall at their post, the contest does not need to rage
long before others, with hearts of equal fervor and weapons more
brightly polished, take their places in the advancing lines. What
wonder, then, that, by and by, the mountains echo back the shouts of
victory!


FOOTNOTES:

[11] Pusey, _Historical Inquiry_, pp. 16, 17.

[12] _Responsum Moguntinis Theologis_, p. 129.

[13] _Conc. Evang._, in Henke, vol. I. p. 274, note.

[14] Dowding, _Life and Correspondence of Calixtus_, pp. 313-315.

[15] _Hours with the Mystics_, vol. 2, p. 67.



CHAPTER II.

RELIGIOUS CONDITION OF THE PROTESTANT CHURCH AT THE PEACE OF
WESTPHALIA--1648.


Theological strife was the precursor of the all-devastating Thirty
Years' War. The forces had been long at work before the fearful carnage
began. The principles involved were of such moment that, whatever power
took part in the struggle, did so with all the energy with which it was
endowed. The Emperor Rudolph II. had, in 1609, guaranteed to Bohemia the
liberty of Protestantism, but his successor, Matthias, violated the
pledge by preventing the erection of a Protestant church edifice. The
imperial councillors were cast out of the window; the priests driven
off; and the Elector Frederick V. of the Palatinate, chosen King of
Bohemia. But the Protestants were overcome. Ferdinand II. tore up the
imperial pledge; led back the priests into authority, and expelled the
Protestant clergy. Certain concessions having been previously made to
the Protestants, Ferdinand II. issued in 1629 his infamous _Edict of
Restitution_, by which the Protestants were to deliver up all the
monasteries confiscated after the Treaty of Passau. Calvinists were
excluded from the Peace; and the Catholic States were granted
unconditional liberty to suppress Protestantism in their hereditary
countries.[16] The fearful carnage commenced in bitter earnestness. No
war was ever carried on with more desperation; none can be found more
repulsive in brutality, or more beautiful in fortitude and sublime in
bravery. Great sanguinary contests often receive their appellation from
the influences that produce them, or the nations conducting them; but
this one, extending from 1618 to 1648, combined all these elements to
such an extent that the historian finds it most convenient to denominate
it by the period of its duration. It was the bloody mould in which the
continent of Europe received its modern shape. It extended, with but
slight exceptions, over the entire extent of Germany. Some portions of
that singularly picturesque country were permitted to hope for immunity
from its devastations; but, by and by, they too were visited; and all
that remained were a decimated population and smoking ruins.

Pastoral work was necessarily neglected. Large sections of the country
were deprived of all spiritual cultivation and oversight. The children
were deprived of both their natural protectors and those guardians whom
the church had provided for them. Out of ten hundred and forty-six
pastors in Würtemberg, for example, only three hundred and thirty were
left by the ravages of war. Food could hardly be provided for the
Seminary students, few as these were; for nearly all the young men had
been compelled to yield to the repeated conscriptions. The princes
themselves were in many cases driven from their jurisdiction; and when
the prince was gone the church was usually disorganized. Duke Eberhard
of Würtemberg and many of the Rhenish rulers were compelled to seek an
asylum in Strasburg. The Margrave of Baden-Durlach was a refugee to
Switzerland; Dukes Adolph Frederic I. and John II. of Mecklenburg fled
to Lübeck.[17]

The desolation caused by this protracted war baffles all description. No
writer has been competent for it. Schiller found it a task to which even
his fervid imagination and glowing diction could not measure. Wherever
it went it left destruction in its path. The population of Bohemia was
reduced from three millions to seven hundred and eighty thousand. Only a
fiftieth part of the inhabitants of the Rhine-lands were left alive.
Saxony lost nine hundred thousand of her citizens within the brief space
of two years. The city of Augsburg could number only eighteen thousand
out of her enterprising population of eighty thousand. In 1646 alone,
Bavaria saw more than one hundred of her thriving towns laid in ashes;
while little Hesse lost seventeen cities, forty-seven castles, and four
hundred towns.

The cruelty which characterized some of the participants in this war may
be conceived from the awful scene of the siege of Magdeburg; a picture
for which, says Schiller, "History has no speech, and Poetry no pencil."
"Neither childhood, nor age," another author affirms, "nor sex, nor
rank, nor beauty were able to disarm the conqueror's wrath. Wives were
mishandled in the arms of their husbands, daughters at the feet of their
fathers. Women were found beheaded in a church, whilst the troopers
amused themselves by throwing infants into the flames, or by spearing
sucklings at their mothers' breasts. 'Come again in an hour,' was
Tilly's only reply when some of his officers (utterly horrified at what
they saw) besought him to put a hand upon this bath of blood:--'Come
again in an hour and I will see what I can do. The soldier must have
something for his labor and risk.' With unchecked fury did these horrors
go forward, till smoke and flame set bounds to plunder. The city had
been fired in several places; and a gale spread the flames with rampant
speed. In less than twelve hours the town lay in ashes; two churches,
and some few huts excepted. Scarcely had the rage of the fire slackened,
when the troops returned again to grope for plunder. Horrible was the
scene which now presented itself. Living men crept out from under
corpses; lost children, shrieking, sought their parents; infants were
sucking the dead breasts of their mothers. More than six thousand bodies
were thrown into the Elbe, before the streets could be made passable;
whilst an infinitely larger number were consumed by the fire. Thirty
thousand persons are supposed to have perished."[18]

At the outset of the war, and at many times during its continuance, the
Protestants fought with but little apparent prospect of success. But
their heroic zeal continued unabated until it was crowned with triumph.
The peace of Westphalia, which concluded the protracted struggle,
secured the abolition of the oppressive Decree of 1635; granted legal
rights to the Protestant churches; established Lutheranism in Central
Germany, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and Livonia; recognized the Swiss and
Dutch Republics; and, under certain conditions, allowed future changes
of religion by princes and people.[19]

The religious effect of the first few years of this sanguinary period
was beneficial. There were indications of more seriousness in common
life, and a deeper love of truth among the thinking circles. The people
manifested a disposition to trust in the Divine arm for deliverance from
their sorrows; and this new confidence developed itself particularly in
benefactions for the impoverished and young. But as the war progressed
and peace seemed farther off with every new year, the heart of the
people relaxed into coldness, distrust, and desperation. Thus, dark as
was the picture of religious life before the outbreak of hostilities, it
was darker still during their progress and at their close. So literally
was this the case that Kahnis declares its termination to have been the
beginning of the reign of secularism. He says: "Up to the period of the
Thirty Years' War religion was the chief moving power of the time. The
question regarding the confession prevailed over everything, and even
secular questions, that they might excite interest and be carried, were
compelled to clothe themselves in the garb of religion. But the result
of the Thirty Years' War was indifference, not only to the confession,
but to religion in general. Ever since that period secular interests
decidedly occupy the foreground, and the leading power of Europe is
France."[20]

It shall now be our business to inquire into that dwarfed vitality which
Kahnis elevates so high as to denominate "religion." We believe that, in
all the course of ecclesiastical history on the Continent, no period of
equal intelligence is marked by the same degree of religious coldness
and petrifaction. Theology was a special sufferer. The most useful
departments were neglected, while the least essential were raised to
superlative importance. Andreä places the following language on the
neglect of the study of church history, in the mouth of Truth: "History,
since she is exiled with me, readily consents to be silent and laughs at
the experience of those who, because they can but relate their exploits
from the A. B. C. school to the Professor's chair, that is, from the rod
to the sceptre, dream that they are in possession of a compendium of the
whole world. Hence their city is to them a compendium of the world,
their class book a library, their school a monarchy, their doctor's cap
a diadem, their rod of office a lictor's staff, each scholastic rule an
anathema: in short everything appears to them exaggerated. Oh! the
hapless human learning that is shut up in these scholastic Athens, that
whatever offences may everywhere besides be committed by ignorance, all
the severest punishments are in store for these alone to overwhelm it."

Again, in his _Christianopolis_, or ideal Christian state, he says:
"Since the inhabitants of Christianopolis value the church above
everything else in this world, they are occupied in her history more
than in any other. For since this is the ark which contains those who
are to be saved, they prefer to busy themselves about it more than about
all the waters of the deluge. They relate then by what immense mercy of
God this soul flock was brought together, received into covenant, formed
by laws enforced by his word; by what weak instruments it was extended,
by what mighty engines attacked, by what manifest aid defended; what
blood and prayers its safety had cost; amid what anger of Satan the
standard of the Cross triumphed; how easily the tares spring up; how
often its light is contracted to a narrow space; what great eclipses,
and how very great and thick an one it suffered under Antichrist; how it
has sometimes emerged from desperate circumstances, and especially in
this our age under the mighty Luther; with what defilement and spots it
is often stained; how much it is conversant with the flesh. Many other
such things they have in store; as also its periodical changes, and the
harmonious vicissitudes of its seasons. They diligently impress them on
the youth that they may learn to trust in God, to mistrust the flesh, to
despise the threats of the world, to endure the darkness of this age.
And this is right, however others may not even dissemble their neglect
of ecclesiastical history; for how little any knowledge of it is now
required even from ecclesiastics, or how, where it is found, it is sold
cheap in comparison with a syllogism or two--it does not belong to this
place to discuss more at length."

The existing state of impiety may be inferred from the low estimate of
childhood. The Roman Catholic Church of that day was not so careful of
the indoctrination of the young as she is at the present time. Mathesius
says that in the twenty-five years he spent within her fold he had seen
no case in which the catechism had been elucidated, and that he had not
once heard it explained from the pulpit. Luther took great pains to have
children and the lowest classes trained in the elements of religious
knowledge. His express language, in reference to the catechetical
instruction of the young and ignorant was, "It is not merely enough that
they should be taught and counselled, but care must be taken that, in
the answers returned, every sentence must be evidently understood." But
like so many other lessons of the great Reformer, this was not
remembered by his successors; and in course of time all that the youth
and laboring classes could boast in favor of their doctrinal training
was a smattering of contemporary controversy. There were sermons and
expository lectures intended for children; but they were often at
unseasonable hours, and of such insufferable dryness as to tax the mind
and patience of maturity. A certain author, in a catalogue of this class
of literature, enumerates _fifteen hundred and ninety catechetical
sermons for the young that were directed solely against the Calvinists_!

No one is better able to inform us, however, of the low state of
religious training than he who labored most for its improvement.
Spener's language, though written in reference to the melancholy
prostration which his own eyes beheld, applies equally well to the very
time of which we speak:

"If one were to say that catechizing and the Christian instruction of
youth is one of the principal, most important, and most necessary of our
duties, and not of less value than preaching, would he not be
contradicted or even laughed at by many uninstructed preachers, or by
others ignorant of their duty, who seek only their own honor; as if such
care were too small and contemptible for an office instituted for more
important employment? Yet such is but the real truth. Meantime this duty
is by many considered so ridiculous that there are preachers who think
it degrading to their dignity to undertake it, or even see that it is
diligently and faithfully performed by those appointed to it. It is no
credit to our evangelical churches that catechetical instruction has
been so little or not at all thought of in so many places; though even
Luther recommended it so strongly, and gave us so many admirable
writings to promote it. But now it either does not exist at all, or is
performed negligently, and thrown almost entirely upon schools and
schoolmasters.

"These duties should not have been left to schoolmasters; for these are
almost wholly unfit to discharge them on account of their own meagre
attainments. But preachers should recollect that the souls of the
_youth_ are intrusted to them, and that they must give an account of
them. They should therefore submit to this as well as to the other
duties of their office. It is not indeed anywhere prescribed who among
them should perform these duties. In places where there are several
clergymen, and the pastors and superintendents are laden with so many
other occupations that they cannot perform this duty, we cannot object
to its being left for the deacons, or for others who may have more time
for it. In large churches able catechists might be appointed.
Superintendents, however, and theologians in high office would not do
amiss if they would sometimes countenance this exercise by their
presence, and even now and then perform it themselves in order to
encourage others. If there were some who would voluntarily commence it
themselves, _it would not be interpreted ill, or thought below their
dignity_.

"I have become acquainted with the character of most instructors of
youth, and I find that their real aim is not to lead the soul of youth
to God, but their pay also, that they are chiefly not fit to impart a
correct knowledge of God since they do not possess it themselves. And
indeed there are very many who have not a knowledge even of the _letter_
of that which is or is not to be believed; much less do they comprehend
thoroughly and spiritually what is the will of God in faith and its
fruits. Catechizing is as necessary to the church as any other religious
agency can be."

We have also the important authority of Calixtus on the sad condition of
the education of the young. "The chief cause and origin of the decay of
learning," says he, "now tending to extinction, (which may God avert!)
I hold for my own part, to be this:--that the younger children are not
well grounded in the minor schools. Foundations ought to be laid there,
which might afterwards support the whole weight of solid learning and
true erudition. The children ought to learn from genuine authors the
Greek and Latin languages; the Keys (as they are) of those treasures
which preceding ages have laid up for our use. And they ought so to
learn, as to be able to appreciate the thoughts of others (specially of
the best authors), and to express their own in suitable and perspicuous
words.... But now, in many places, we see the reverse of all this.
Before they can speak (passing by preposterously, the matters essential
to ultimate success), the boys are made to proceed, or rather leap, to
higher subjects; 'real' subjects, as we have learned to call them.
Pedagogues of this stamp seem to themselves learned, whilst they are
teaching what they have never themselves mastered; and what their
scholars neither understand, nor at their age _can_ understand. In the
mean time the writings of those good authors, who, by all past ages,
have been recognized as masters of literature and style, are struck out
of their hands, and they (the schoolmasters) substitute their own
comments; disputing in a circle of children about Anti-Christ and the
doctrine of predestination."[21]

The theological literature of these times was voluminous and confused. A
work on an unimportant subject would occupy a dozen volumes, and then
the writer would give his finishing touches with the apology that he had
not done justice to his theme. No nation publishes to such an extent as
Protestant Germany in the nineteenth century; but one cannot be
adequately convinced of the extent of the literary activity of her
theologians of the former half of the seventeenth century without
loitering among the alcoves of her antiquarian bookstores of the present
day. The dusty tomes testify, by their multitude and care, to the
character of the ecclesiastical age that gave them birth. The Germans do
not sell their old books to the paper merchants because they are old. It
is sacrilege to convert the printed sheet back again to pulp. The
libraries of the universities are located in those portions of the city
where land is cheap; the catalogue is a small library of itself. The
Leipzig Fair keeps much of this long-printed literature before the
world. It changes hands, migrates to Tübingen, Halle, or some other
book-loving place; passes through a generation of owners, and turns up
in some other spot, but little the worse for wear. The peasant is found
at the book auction; the professor considers it a white day when a
replenished purse and the sale of an old library are simultaneous facts.
And when the hour arrives, the preparations are sometimes of the most
comfortable and leisure-inviting character. We once attended an auction
in picturesque old Brunswick which continued three days; and coffee,
beer, sandwiches and other refreshments were freely enjoyed at frequent
intervals by nearly all present. Every one had a long breathing spell
when the auctioneer, or any one of his numerous secretaries, sipped his
coffee and replenished his pipe.

We cannot affirm that there was as much a deficiency of talent or
learning at the time of which we speak, as there was of an humble,
subdued religious spirit, and of clearness of conception, all of which
are equally necessary to give a high tone to theological writing and
thinking. Dr. Pusey says of the theologians, that "they were highly
learned but deficient in scientific spirit, freedom from prejudice,
destitute of comprehensive and discriminating views, without which mere
knowledge is useless." An illustration is furnished in Calov's mammoth
production, entitled, _Systema locorum Theologicorum e sacra potissimum
scriptura et antiquitate, nec non adversariorum confessione doctrinam,
praxia et controversiarum fidei, cum veterum tum inprimis recentiorum
pertractationem luculentam exhibens_. The author tried faithfully to
redeem his pledge; and though he asserted that he had aimed at
conciseness, his work only terminated with the twelfth quarto volume!
The subject of the first part was the nature of Theology, Religion,
Divine Inspiration, Holy Scriptures, and the articles of Faith. He
defined Theology to be, that practical skill in the knowledge of true
religion, as drawn from divine revelation, which is calculated to lead
man after the fall through faith to eternal life. One of the important
questions propounded is:

"Are the Calvinists to be considered heretics, and do they not teach
very dangerous errors?" Of course an affirmative reply is returned with
cogent reasons therefor. At the end of this part there is a prolix
recital of the many errors of George Calixtus and his followers. Calov
conformed to the _causal_ method of composition. There were two systems
of arrangement in vogue, the _causal_ and _defining_. Under the former
were grouped the _causæ principales, et minus principales,
instrumentales, efficientes, materiales, formales, finales_. Under the
latter, a definition was prefixed to each article, which comprised the
whole doctrine of the church and all the opposed heresies. This was then
redundantly illustrated until the subject was supposed to be exhausted.
Schertzer, in his doctrinal work, begins with a definition of Christ,
and occupies three quarto pages with one sentence. We venture only its
commencement: "Christ is God-man; God and man, born of his heavenly
Father and his virgin mother; and Christ is according to his humanity
the natural son of God, constant in his unity to one person, his divine
and human nature impeccable." The favorite class-book of those times was
Koenig's _Theologia positiva acroamatica synoptice tractata_; and it
does but partial justice to this work to say that in dryness and
meagreness it almost defies a parallel.

There was a lamentable decrease of exegetical works and lectures toward
the middle of the seventeenth century. The Reformation was the signal
for Scriptural study; and the Reformers declared the word of God to be
the origin of their gigantic movement. All the ordinances of the early
Lutheran Church were in strict keeping with this principle. The Elector
Augustus, in his church order of 1580, established professors _solely
for the elucidation_ of the Scriptures. He appointed two to lecture on
the Old Testament, one on the Pentateuch and the other on the prophets;
and two on the New Testament. His command was, that they should all read
the Scriptures, as far as they could, in the same languages in which the
prophets and apostles had written. Many of the universities had no other
professors of theology than exegetical lecturers. The languages of the
Bible were diligently studied, and great progress was made in their
scientific understanding.

But after the rise of the long and exciting controversies of which we
have spoken, the death-blow was given to Scriptural interpretation. The
method of theological study was to spend the first year in learning what
is orthodox. The second was occupied in obtaining a knowledge of
controversies; the third was devoted to the Scriptures, a more intimate
knowledge of controversial literature, and the scholastics. One day in
the week was spent with the Fathers, Church Councils, and moral
theology. The later years were chiefly consumed in controversial
practice, as a preparation for the great arena. Francke as truthfully
described these times as his own when he said: "Youths are sent to the
universities with a moderate knowledge of Latin; but of Greek and
especially of Hebrew they have next to none. And it would even then have
been well, if what had been neglected before had been made up in the
universities. There, however, most are borne, as by a torrent, with the
multitude; they flock to logical, metaphysical, ethical, polemical,
physical, pneumatical lectures and what not; treating least of all those
things whose benefit is most permanent in their future office,
especially deferring, and at last neglecting, the study of the sacred
languages."

But while there were many evidences of religious torpor there were none
more marked and unmistakable than the preaching of that time. The pulpit
being an invariable index of the state of the national heart, it was not
less the case during the present period. The preaching was of the most
formal and methodical texture. It assumed a rhetorical and poetical
appearance; the people calling it the _Italian style_. Petrarch had
given shape to Italian thought, and through his influence Germany became
sated with poetic imagery and overwrought fancy. Sagittarius founded a
stipend for the preaching of a yearly sermon in the University Church
"which should be more a practical illustration of Christian doctrine
than of _lofty speech_." Emblematical sermons were sometimes delivered
in lengthy series.

Christopher Sunday descanted on the _Perpetual Heart-Calendar_, treating
of genera and species, and dividing his themes into "Remarkable,
Historical, and Annual events, Particular numbers, and the amounts of
Roman currency, the Four Seasons, the Seven Planets, the Twelve Heavenly
signs, and many aspects and useful directions." All these, this divine
claimed, are to be found in the Gospel as in a perpetual calendar of the
heart. Another preacher adopted as his theme for a funeral sermon, _The
Secret of Roses and Flowers_. Daniel Keck preached a discourse in 1642
from Romans viii. 18, calling his subject "The Apostolic Syllogism,"
dividing it into _subject_, _predicate_, and _conclusion_. The subject,
_suffering_, was again divided into _wicked_, _voluntary_, _stolid_ and
_righteous_; and these further classed into _natural_, _civil_ and
_spiritual_ suffering.

A sermon on Zaccheus from the words, _He was little of stature_, claims
for its theme, "The stature and size of Zaccheus." The first division
is, _he_; the second, _was_; third, _small stature_. Application
_first_, The text teaches us the variety of God's works; _second_, it
consoles the poor; _third_, it teaches us to make amends for our
personal defects by virtue. Tholuck well asks, who would imagine that
the author of this sermon was the minstrel of "When the early sun
arises," "Oh Jesus, all thy bleeding wounds," and so many other deeply
earnest Christian songs which have touched the hearts of many
generations,--the immortal Hermann von Köben? A pastor of Wernigerode
preached from Matthew x. 30. His divisions were, 1: Our hair--its
origin, style, form and natural circumstances. 2: On the right use of
the human hair. 3: The memories, admonition, warning and consolation
that have come from the human hair. 4: How hair can be used in a
Christian way! A Brunswick pastor commenced his Sabbath discourse on one
occasion with the words, "A preacher must have three things; a _good
conscience_, a _good bite_, and a _good kiss_;" wherefore his transition
was made to the theme under consideration: "_an increase of my salary_."
But it is needless to continue illustrations of the almost universal
dearth of preaching. One hardly knows whether to laugh at its absurdity
or weep over its prostitution.

Andreä's caustic pen revelled in satire at the depreciation of this
important agency of good. Some of his ideas are by no means ill-timed in
the present century. In the Dialogue of the Pulpit Orator he thus
speaks:[22]

     A. Tell me earnestly, I pray you, what you find wanting in my
     present sermon.

     B. One thing only, but that a main point.

     A. It cannot be in the arrangement?

     B. It was, I believe, according to all the rules of the
     methods.

     A. Then the pronunciation was defective?

     B. You must speak as God has made you; only you must not be an
     imitator.

     A. Then the action was wrong?

     B. About that I am indifferent, if it be only quiet and not
     gesticulatory.

     A. My sermon must have been much too long?

     B. _If a sermon be good it can't be too long: a bad one always
     is._

     A. Certainly I did not produce illustrations enough?

     B. You could not have meant to empty a basket of quotations.

     A. Then I spoke too slow?

     B. Ha! In the pulpit we must teach, not talk too volubly.

     A. I should have spoken louder too?

     B. I like the voice of man, not the braying of an ass.

     A. Should I not have used more subtle distinctions?

     B. You were there to instruct the ignorant, not to dispute
     with heretics.

     A. Do then explain yourself more fully.

     B. Hear me: you said, "I think much, very much," which was
     good, but it only flowed through you as through a pipe.

     A. Indeed!

     B. Thus, much contracted the taste of the pipe and savored
     accordingly.

     A. No good compliment, this.

     B. It is the best I can make. For when you only cast forth
     good and wholesome doctrines, and show nothing of them
     expressed in your life and manners, are you not placed out of
     yourself to speak one thing and think another? You make us
     believe that your holy words are only practised solemn words,
     without any real feeling, just as poets make bridal songs and
     funeral dirges whenever called upon. You have many passages of
     Scripture in readiness; but they do not exhort, strengthen and
     instruct you, though others die with joy at hearing the divine
     word.

     A. You are severe upon me.

     B. It is not often the case that the worst men preach the
     best. I wish but one thing: that for the future you should say
     nothing but what you express in action by your example, or at
     least realize by serious endeavors after obedience to God.

     A. This is harsh enough.

     B. It is incomparably harsher, however, to openly contradict
     oneself before God both in words and works, and to convert the
     divine service into an empty clatter of words.

     A. You speak truly.

     B. And it is just as true, believe me, that a simple, plain
     sermon, exhibited and sealed by your life, is more valuable
     than a thousand clever declamations.

This want of consistency between the profession of the clergy and their
daily life is indeed a dark picture. While we would not forget that
there were noble exceptions to all the examples of declension that we
have adduced, and that there were also exemplary illustrations of
ministerial devotion amid all the deformity of these times, we must
maintain that the ministerial spirit which characterized this period was
not merely cold and indifferent, but wicked, and to a great extent
abandoned.

The scenes of clerical immorality are enough to chill one's blood even
at the distance of more than two centuries. The preachers were not
licensed to preach until they had been graduated through a course of
study extending from five to ten years. According to the judgment of the
Lutheran Church, they must be fitted intellectually for exercising the
functions of their office. But after settlement over the churches of the
land, their conduct furnishes a sad proof that their intellectual
qualifications were utterly barren without the more important adjunct of
spiritual regeneration. They were not converted men, as the sequel will
plainly show. The salary allowed them was usually small; and this is the
apology pleaded for them by their friends; but scanty salaries are the
outgrowth of scanty ministerial piety. The people, in no age of the
world, have refused a proper and sufficient support to a zealous,
God-fearing ministry.

A Church Order of 1600 reads thus: "Since we have received information
that servants of the church (clergy) and schoolmasters, the parochial
teachers, are guilty of whoredom and fornication, we command that if
they are _notoriously_ guilty they shall be suspended. We learn, too,
that some of the village pastors do not possess the Bible. We command
that they shall get a Bible and Concordance. Those whom we formerly
suspended shall remain so until they give proof of a reformation." A
pastor Pfeifer of Neukirchen and Lassau lived five unhappy years with
his congregation; and from mere private prejudice refused the sacrament
of the Lord's Supper to the sick and dying. On communion-day he
overturned the baskets of the fish-venders; was wounded for his conduct;
and then went into his church to the performance of his ministerial
duties. He did not scruple to administer the elements with his bloody
hands. Pastor Johansen of Detzböll wrote in his Church Record in 1647,
the following: "The persons whom I will name have persecuted me in my
office, but God delivered me miraculously out of their hands. J. Dirksen
struck me down with a pitchfork: I was taken home as dead but recovered
again; some years afterwards he was struck dead, and died in the street.
J. Volkwartsen struck me with my own spade. Subsequently he was killed
by his brother. Where his soul went, God only knows. P. Peusen was on
the point of stabbing me through, but M. Payens saved me. A. Frese
committed adultery with my wife, and followed me with a loaded rifle. D.
Momsen broke two of my right ribs: he apologized afterwards for his
offence. I forgave him. O Jesus, protect me and thy poor Christianity,
that I may praise thee in eternity!" A church made the following charges
against its pastor: I. He called certain people "scoundrels" from the
pulpit; to which the offender pleaded "guilty." II. He had grown so
angry in his sermon that he afterwards forgot the Lord's Prayer. He
urged that "this had happened some time ago." III. When some women went
out after the sermon, he called after them, and told them that if they
would not stop to receive the blessing they would have his curse; "not
guilty." IV. He had cohabited with a servant girl, and an illegitimate
child was born; "others do the same thing." V. He forgot the cup at the
communion; "that happened long ago." VI. He said to the officer, "All
are devils who want me to go to Messing;" "that is true."

There were sad evidences of the same immorality in University life.
Melanchthon's prophecy had proved too true: "We have seen already how
religion has been put in peril by the irruption of barbarism, _and I am
very much afraid that this will happen again_." At a Disputation in the
University of Wittenberg, the Chancellor addressed a disputant with such
epithets as "Hear, thou hog! thou hound! thou fool! or whatever thou
art, thou stolid ass!" Another prominent personage of Wittenberg, in a
Disputation, became so enraged at hearing Melanchthon addressed as
authority against him, that he pulled down the great Reformer's picture
which hung near him, and trampled it under his feet. One Professor was
so deeply in debt that he could not pay his creditors, "if every hair on
his head were a ducat." Another was "in bed with seven wounds received
in a fall when he was coming home drunk." Some read their newspapers at
church-service. Nor did the wives and daughters of the Professors lead
any better life. They were guilty of deeds of the grossest immorality,
such indeed as would disgrace a less enlightened people than the Germans
at that period.[23]

The great moral decline of the clergy was confined chiefly to the
Lutheran church. The Reformed was earnest, pious, and aggressive. At
this very time it was endeavoring to spread the leaven of the Gospel
through other lands. It was, during the whole period, the conservative
power of Protestantism. As might be expected, it suffered somewhat from
the declension of Lutheranism; but it stood manfully up to the crisis,
and met the issues with an heroic spirit. When the Roman Catholics saw
these excesses of the Lutherans, and witnessed the return to their fold
of many Protestants who had become disgusted with the vices of their
brethren, they rejoiced greatly, and used every available means to bring
back more of their erring friends.

We must remember, however, that it was the clergy and not the laity, who
were the agents of the great declension. The theologians had submerged
the land in fruitless controversy; they hesitated not to commit open sin
when occasion demanded it; they neglected the youth of the whole
country; the ignorant peasantry were not blessed with even the crumbs of
truth; the pulpit was perverted to a cathedra for the declamation of the
hyperbolical rhetoric that a corrupt taste had imported from Spain and
Italy: the Apocrypha was the all-important part of the Bible; and the
private life of the clergy was corrupt and odious to the Christian
conscience. "What wonder that the piety of the people suffered a similar
decline? Let the ministry be steadfast, and the masses will never
swerve." The result in the present case was, that the latter gradually
became imbued with the same impiety that they had learned, to their
sorrow, of the former.

Glancing first at the cultivated circles, we find a practical
indifference well nigh akin to skepticism beginning to prevail among the
noble and wealthy. The deference which the Reformers paid to the princes
led the latter to a too free exercise of their power, and there are
numberless instances of their despotic usurpations. They claimed supreme
control over the religious interests of their jurisdiction, and came
into frequent conflict with the ecclesiastical tribunals. They
maintained a tolerable show of religion, however, considering it a
matter of prime importance to have the services of chaplains, and to
give due public prominence to doctrinal questions. Their courts were
most generally irreligious, and sometimes notoriously corrupt.

Walther, the court chaplain of Ulrich II. of East Friesland, wrote in
1637 a letter from which we take the following words: "I would much
rather be silent concerning my sore misfortune, which I am here
undergoing than, by speaking, to make the wounds of my heart break out
afresh. These infernal courtiers, among whom I am compelled to live
against my will, doubt those truths which even the heathen have learned
to believe." A writer of 1630 describes three classes of skeptics among
the nobility of Hamburg; _first_, those who believe that religion is
nothing but a mere fiction, invented to keep the masses within
restraint; _second_, those who give preference to no faith, but think
that all religions have a germ of truth; and _third_, those confessing
that there must be one true religion, are unable to decide whether it is
papal, Calvinist, or Lutheran; and consequently believe nothing at all.

This classification might be applied to the whole of Protestant Germany,
as far as the higher classes are concerned. They exhibited a growing
taste for antiquity; and, with them, there was but a slight difference
between the sublime utterances of inspiration and the masterpieces of
pagan genius. We find in a catechism of that time that the proverbs of
Cato and the _Mimi Publiani_ constitute an authorized appendix.

A practical infidelity, bearing the name of Epicureanism, prevailed even
before the war; and it became more decided and injurious as the war
progressed. The highest idea of religion was adherence to creed. Princes
who even thought themselves devoted and earnest, had no experimental
knowledge of regeneration; and in this, as we have shown, they were but
little surpassed by the clergy themselves. Orthodoxy was the aim and
pride of those religionists. Hear the dying testimony of John Christian
Koenig, in 1664: "My dear Confessor, since I observe that the good Lord
is about to take me out of this world, I want it understood that I
remain unchanged and firm to the Augsburg Confession; I will live by it
and die true to it. It is well known that I have directed my teaching
according to its truths. _I die the avowed enemy of all innovation and
Syncretistic error!_"

The licentiousness of life, not less than of faith, was deplorable in
the German courts. Dancing was carried to great excess and indecorum;
and though there were edicts issued against it during the Thirty Years'
War, the custom seems to have undergone but little abatement.
Drunkenness was very common, and even the highest dignitaries set but a
sorry example in this respect. The Court of Ludwig of Würtemberg
established six glasses of wine as the minimum evidence of good
breeding; one to quench the thirst; the second for the King's health;
the third for those present; the fourth for the feast-giver and his
wife; the fifth for the permanence of the government, and the last for
absent friends. The example of all nations proves that when the nobility
thus indulge themselves, and become the devotees of passion and luxury,
they do not need to wait long for imitators among the lower and poorer
classes. The poor looked to the rich and their rulers as standards of
fashion and religion. They esteemed it not less an honor than a
privilege to follow in the footsteps of their acknowledged chiefs. The
governing and the governed stood but a short distance from each other,
both in faith and in morals.

There was great display and extravagance in the ordinary ceremonies of
matrimony and baptism. It was quite common for the wedding festival to
last three days, and the baptismal feast two days. The expenses were not
at all justified by the means of the feast-makers; for the humblest
mechanics indulged themselves to an excessive extent. Even funeral
occasions were made to subserve the dissipating spirit of these times;
they were the signal for hilarity and feasting. Distant friends were
invited to be present; and the whole scene was at once repulsive to a
healthy taste and pure religion. A writer from the very midst of the
Thirty Years' War gives us the following item: "The number of courses
served at funerals frequently amounted to as many as two hundred and
thirty-four. The tables were furnished with expensive luxuries and
costly wines, and the people gave themselves up to feasting and rioting
until far into the night." The common people became more habituated to
drinking strong liquors. New breweries arose in various localities, and
drunkenness became a wide-spread evil. In 1600, the city of Zwickau
numbered only ten thousand inhabitants; but it could claim thirty-four
breweries to supply them with beer. During the war, in 1631, that number
rose to seventy.

But it is needless to particularize the phases of popular immorality as
they existed in the time of which we speak. It is enough to say that all
classes betrayed a growing disgust at religion and a gradual decline in
morals. The danger was imminent that the great work of the Reformation
would be in vain, and that it would soon come to ruin.

Every department of ecclesiastical authority having become disarranged
and weakened, there must now be a reäwakening, or the labors of Luther
and his coadjutors will be swept away. The popular mind should be
deflected from controversy, and become united, at least on some points
of faith and theory. The pulpit needs a thorough regeneration, and the
Gospel should reach the masses by a natural and earnest method. The
university system calls for reorganization, and a rigid censorship
exercised upon the teachings of the professors. Childhood must be no
longer neglected, and the illiterate must become indoctrinated into the
elements of Scriptural truth. The prevalent social evils should receive
severe rebuke from the private Christian and the public teacher.
Calixtus, Boehme, Arndt and Gerhard have done nobly, but they have
pursued paths so totally divergent that their labors have not produced
all the good effects of a _united_ work. Their efforts were
preparatory, but not homogeneous; and what is now needed to make their
writings and example permanently effective, is a plan for infusing new
life into the church. Then there must be inflexible system and heroic
determination for the consummation of such a plan.

When the demand became most imperative, the great want was supplied. Let
all the records of providential supply and guidance be studiously
searched, and we believe that Pietism--the great movement which we are
now about to trace--will take its place among them as one of the
clearest, most decided, and most triumphant.


FOOTNOTES:

[16] Kurtz, _Church History_, vol. 11, p. 177.

[17] Tholuck, _Das Kirchliche Leben des Siebzehnten Jahrhunderts. Erste
Abtheilung._ For much information in the present chapter we are greatly
indebted to this valuable repository.

[18] Dowding, _Life and Correspondence of Calixtus_, pp. 153-154.

[19] _H. B. Smith, D. D., History of Church of Christ in Chronological
Tables_, pp. 56-61.

[20] _History of German Protestantism_, p. 21.

[21] _Orationes Selectæ_, Henke, vol. 1, pp. 285-286.

[22] We use Dr. E. B. Pusey's version of Andreä's words.

[23] 1602: Der Frau Gerlach (Prof. Theol.) Tochter ist in Geschrei, dass
sie mit einem kinde gelie. 1613: Dr. Happrecht's Tochter hat ihre
Jungfrauschaft verloren. 1622: Dr. Magirus klagt dass seine Frau die
Dienstboten ihm nicht zur Disposition stelle, mit den _Alimentis_ nicht
zufrieden sei, immer Gäste einlade, und viel herum laufe. Frau Magirus
klagt ihren Ebemann des Ehebruchs an. Tholuck, _Deutsche Universitäten_.
Vol. 1, pp. 145-148. Also Dowding, _Life and Correspondence of
Calixtus_, pp. 132-133.



CHAPTER III.

PIETISM AND ITS MISSION.


If any apology can be offered in defence of the ecclesiastical evils
already recounted, it will be, that the fearful devastations of the long
warfare had wrought the public mind into a feverish and unnatural state.
We must not, therefore, pass that cold criticism upon the Church and her
representatives to which they would be justly entitled, had they been
guilty of the same vices during a time of profound peace and material
prosperity.

The philosophy of this whole period of ecclesiastical history may be
summed up in a sentence: The numerous theological controversies, and the
pastoral neglect of the people, before the war, had unfitted both the
clergy and the masses for deriving from it that deep penitence and
thorough reconsecration which a season of great national affliction
should have engendered. The moral excesses apparent during this time had
been produced by causes long anterior to it. Hence, when the protracted
time of carnage and the destruction of property did come, there was no
preparation of mind or heart to derive improvement from it. Had some
provision been made, had theology not abounded in idle disputes, and had
the moral education of the masses been faithfully cared for, instead of
the evils which have been so reluctantly related, there would have been
a lengthy succession of glowing instances of devout piety. And
Protestantism, instead of emerging from the conflict with only equal
rights before the law, would have possessed a sanctified heart, and a
vigorous, truth-seeking mind.

Time was now needed to gather up the instruction taught by those
pillaged towns, slain citizens, and broken social and ecclesiastical
systems. A few years passed by, when the lessons began to be learned,
and signs of rejuvenation appeared. After Spener had commenced his
reformatory labors, he expressly and repeatedly declared that he did not
originate, but only gave expression to, a spirit of religious
earnestness that had already arisen in various quarters. To him belongs
the honor of cultivating and guiding these reassured hearts who had
derived most improvement from the Thirty Years' War. Pietism, the fruit
of their union, became a triumph under the leadership of Spener.

But who were these persons who became aroused to a sense of the
exigencies of the times, and saw that the danger which threatened the
kingdom of God in Germany was now scarcely less than when Tilly was
leading his maddened hordes through the fair fields and over the ruins
of those once happy towns? Some of the clergy were the first to indicate
new life. They preached with more unction, and addressed themselves to
the immediate demands of the parish, especially to provide for the
orphans and widows of those who had fallen in battle. Certain ministers
who had spent their youth in vain theological wrangling, preached
sermons which contained better matter than redundant metaphor and
classical quotations. Müller and Scriver serve as fitting illustrations
of the improvement. They avoided the extended analytical and rhetorical
methods long in use, and adopted the more practical system of earnest
appeal and exhortation.

The clergy needed not to wait long before beholding the fruit of their
labors. For a better spirit manifested itself also among the lower
classes. A singular interest arose in sacred music. Not only in those
venerable Gothic Cathedrals, so long the glory of the Roman Catholic
Church, but in the field and the workshop there could be heard the
melodies of Luther, Sachs, and Paul Gerhard. Young men appeared in
numbers, offering themselves as candidates for the ministry. But let it
not be supposed that these encouraging signs were universal. While the
eye of faith could read the most decided lessons of hope, the religious
dearth was still wide-spread. Nor was it unlikely that in a short time
it would triumph over all the efforts for new life. When Spener rose to
a position of prominence and influence, he saw, as no one else was able
to see, the real danger to the cause of truth; and those affecting
descriptions which we find among his writings, revealing the real wants
of the latter half of the seventeenth century, show how keenly his own
heart had become impressed by them.

It was very evident that the Lutheran Church would require a long period
for self-purification, if indeed she could achieve it at all. The
shorter and more effectual way would be to operate _individually_ upon
the popular mind. And does not the entire history of the Church prove
that reform has originated from no concerted action of the body needing
reformation, but from the solemn conviction and persevering efforts of
some single mind, which, working first alone, has afterward won to its
assistance many others? Its work then reacted upon the parent
organization in such way that the latter became animated with new power.

The enemies of Pietism made the same objection to it that all the
opponents of reform have ever made: "This is very good in itself, but do
you not see that it is not the Church that is working? We would love to
see the cause of truth advanced and our torpid Church invigorated with
the old Reformation-life; but we would rather see the whole matter done
in a perfectly systematic and legitimate way. Now this Pietism has some
good features about it, but it acts in its own name. We do not like this
absurd fancy of _ecclesiolæ in ecclesia_; but we prefer the Church to
act as the Church, and for its own purposes." Thus reasoned the enemies
of Pietism, who claimed as heartily as any of their contemporaries that
they were strict adherents of truth and warm supporters of spiritual
life. But their reasoning, however baseless, found favor; and the Church
gradually came to look upon Pietism not as a handmaid, but as an
adversary.

But we must first learn what Pietism proposed to do before we can
appreciate its historical importance. Dorner holds, with a large number
of others, that this new tendency was a necessary stage in the
development of Protestantism,--a supplement of the Reformation. Though
laughed at for two centuries by the Churchists on the one hand, and by
the Rationalists on the other, it has to-day a firmer hold upon the
respect of those who know its history best than at any former period.
What if Arnold, and Petersen and his wife, did indulge in great
extravagances? Have not the same unpleasant things occurred in the
Church at other times? Yet, because not classed under any sectarian
name, there has been but a transient estimate placed upon them, and
criticism has been merciless. Is not every good institution subject to
perversion at any time? We believe Dorner to be correct, and that Spener
was the veritable successor of Luther and Melanchthon. A recent author,
who has shown a singular facility in grouping historical periods and
discovering their great significance, says: "Pietism went back from the
cold faith of the seventeenth century to the living faith of the
Reformation. But just because this return was vital and produced by the
agency of the Holy Spirit, it could not be termed a literal return. We
must not forget that the orthodoxy of the seventeenth century was only
the extreme elaboration of an error, the beginning of which we find as
far back as Luther's time, and which became more and more a power in the
Church through the influence of Melanchthon. It was this: Mistaking the
faith by which we believe for the faith which is believed. The principle
of the Reformation was justification by faith, not the doctrine of faith
_and_ justification. In reply to the Catholics it was deemed sufficient
to show that this was the true doctrine which points out the way of
salvation to man. And the great danger lay in mistaking faith itself for
the doctrine of faith. Therefore, in the controversies concerning
justifying faith, we find that faith gradually came to be considered in
relation to its doctrinal aspects more than in connection with the
personal, practical, and experimental knowledge of men. In this view
Pietism is an _elaboration_ of the faith of the sixteenth century....
Without being heterodox, Spener even expressed himself in the most
decided manner in favor of the doctrines of the Church. He would make
faith consist less in the dogmatism of the head than in the motions of
the heart; he would bring the doctrine away from the angry disputes of
the schools and incorporate it into practical life. He was thoroughly
united with the Reformers as to the real signification of justifying
faith, but these contraries which were sought to be reëstablished he
rejected.... From Spener's view a new phase of spiritual life began to
pervade the heart. The orthodoxy of the State Church had been accustomed
to consider all baptized persons as true believers if only they had been
educated in wholesome doctrines. There was a general denial of that
living, conscious, self-faith which was vital in Luther, and had
transformed the world. The land, because it was furnished with the
gospel and the sacraments, was considered an evangelical country. The
contrast between mere worldly and spiritual life, between the living and
dead members of the Church, was practically abolished, though there
still remained a theoretical distinction between the visible and
invisible Church. As to the world outside the pale of the Church, the
Jews and Heathen, there was no thought whatever. Men believed they had
done their whole duty when they had roundly combated the other Christian
Churches. Thus lived the State Church in quiet confidence of its own
safety and pure doctrine at the time when the nation was recovering from
the devastations of the Thirty Years' War. 'In the times succeeding the
Reformation,' says a Würtemberg pastor of the past century, 'the greater
portion of the common people trusted that they would certainly be saved
if they believed correct doctrines; if one is neither a Roman Catholic,
nor a Calvinist, and confesses his opposition, he cannot possibly miss
heaven; holiness is not so necessary after all.'"[24]

The enemies of Pietism have confounded it with Mysticism. There are
undoubted points in common, but Pietism was aggressive instead of
contemplative; it was practical rather than theoretical. Both systems
made purity of life essential, but Mysticism could not guard against
mental disease, while Pietism enjoyed a long season of healthful life.
The latter was far too much engaged in relieving immediate and pressing
wants to fall into the gross errors which mark almost the entire career
of the former. Pietism was mystical in so far as it made purity of heart
essential to salvation; but it was the very antipodes of Mysticism when
organized and operating against a languid and torpid Church with such
weapons as Spener and his coadjutors employed. Boehme and Spener were
world-wide apart in many respects; but in purity of heart they were
beautifully in unison.

Pietism commenced upon the principle that the Church was corrupt; that
the ministry were generally guilty of gross neglect; and that the people
were cursed with spiritual death. It proposed as a theological means of
improvement: I. That the scholastic theology, which reigned in the
academies, and was composed of the intricate and disputable doctrines
and obscure and unusual forms of expression, should be totally
abolished. II. That polemical divinity, which comprehended the
controversies subsisting between Christians of different communions,
should be less eagerly studied and less frequently treated, though not
entirely neglected. III. That all mixture of philosophy and human
science with divine wisdom was to be most carefully avoided; that is,
that pagan philosophy and classical learning should be kept distinct
from, and by no means supersede, Biblical theology. But, IV. That, on
the contrary, all those students who were designed for the ministry
should be kept accustomed from their early youth to the perusal and
study of the Holy Scriptures, and be taught a plain system of theology
drawn from these unerring sources of truth. V. That the whole course of
their education should be so directed as to render them useful in life,
by the practical power of their doctrine, and the commanding influence
of their example.[25]

The founder of Pietism, Philip Jacob Spener, was in many respects the
most remarkable man of his century. He was only thirteen years old at
the close of the Thirty Years' War. His educational advantages were
great; and after completing his theological studies at Strasburg, where
he enjoyed the society and instruction of the younger Buxtorf, he made
the customary tour of the universities. He visited Basle, Tübingen,
Freiburg, Geneva, and Lyons; spending three years before his return
home. From a child he was noted for his taciturn, peaceful, confiding
disposition; and when he reached manhood these same qualities increased
in strength and beauty. His studies had led him somewhat from the course
of theology--at least certain branches of it--and he became greatly
fascinated with heraldry. But gradually he identified himself with
pastoral life, and into its wants and duties he entered with great
enthusiasm. He was for a short time public preacher in Strasburg, but on
removing from that city he assumed the same office in
Frankfort-on-the-Main. Here the field opened fairly before him, and,
confident of success, he began the work of reform.

The instruction of children in the doctrines of Christianity, as we have
already said, had been sadly neglected, because the pastors of the
church had committed the task to less competent hands. Spener determined
that he would assume complete control of the matter himself, and, if
possible, teach the children during the week without any coöperation.
His labors proved a great success; and his reform in catechetical
instruction, not only in Frankfort, but thence into many parts of
Germany, eventuated in one of the chief triumphs of his life. But he had
further noticed that the customary preaching was much above the
capacity, and unsuited to the wants, of the masses. He resolved upon a
simple and perspicuous style of discourse, such as the common mind could
comprehend. But, seeing that this was not enough, he organized weekly
meetings of his hearers, to which they were cordially invited. There he
introduced the themes of the previous Sabbath, explained any difficult
points that were not fully understood, and enlarged on the plain themes
of the gospel. These meetings were the _Collegia Pietatis_, or _Schools
of Devotion_, which gave the first occasion for the reproachful epithet
of Pietism. They brought upon their founder much opposition and odium,
but were destined to produce an abundant harvest throughout the land.
Spener entertained young men at his own house, and prepared them, by
careful instruction and his own godly example, for great ministerial
usefulness. These, too, were nurtured in the _collegia_, and there they
learned how to deal with the uneducated mind and to meet the great wants
of the people. The meetings were, at the outset, scantily attended, but
they increased so much in interest that, first his own dwelling, and
then his church, became crowded to their utmost capacity.

In 1675 Spener published his great work, _Pia Desideria_. Here he laid
down his platform: _That the word of God should be brought home to the
popular heart; that laymen, when capable and pious, should act as
preachers, thus becoming a valuable ally of the ministry; that deep love
and practical piety are a necessity to every preacher; that kindness,
moderation, and an effort to convince should be observed toward
theological opponents; that great efforts should be made to have worthy
and divinely-called young men properly instructed for the ministry; and
that all preachers should urge upon the people the importance of faith
and its fruits._ This book was the foundation of Spener's greatest
influence and also of the strongest opposition with which he met. As
long as he taught in private he escaped all general antagonism; but on
the publication of his work he became the mark of envy, formalism, and
high-churchism.

After he was invited to Dresden in 1686, the state church indicated a
decided disapprobation of his measures. He incurred the displeasure of
the Elector by his fearless preaching and novel course of educating the
young. His teaching of the masses drew upon him the charge that "a
court-preacher was invited to Dresden, but behold, nothing but a school
teacher!" He deemed it his duty to accept the invitation of Frederic of
Brandenburg to make Berlin his residence, where, in 1705, he ended his
days, after a life of remarkable usefulness but of unusual strife.

It would be a pleasure to linger a while in the beautiful scenes which
Spener's life affords us. Endowed with the most childlike nature, he
was nevertheless a lion in contest. And yet who will find any
bitterness in his words; where does he wax angry against his opponent?
He did not shun controversy, because his mission demanded it; but no man
loved peace more than Spener. His mind was always calm; and it was his
lifelong aim to "do no sin." His enemies,--among whom we must not forget
that he had a Schelwig, a Carpzov, an Alberti, and a whole Wittenberg
Faculty,--never denied his amiable disposition; and it was one of his
expressions in late life that "all the attacks of his enemies had never
afflicted him with but one sleepless night." It was his personal
character that went almost as far as his various writings to infuse
practical piety into the church. He was respected by the great and good
throughout the land. Crowned heads from distant parts of the Continent
wrote to him, asking his advice on ecclesiastical questions. He was one
of those men who, like Luther, Wesley, and others, was not blind to the
great service of an extensive correspondence. He answered six hundred
and twenty-two letters during one year, and at the end of that time
there lay three hundred unanswered upon his table. His activity in
composition knew no bounds. For many years of his life he was a member
of the Consistory, and was engaged in its sessions from eight o'clock in
the morning until seven in the evening. But still he found time,
according to Canstein, to publish seven folio volumes, sixty-three
quartos, seven octavos, and forty-six duodecimos; besides very many
introductions and prefaces to the works of friends and admirers, and
republications of practical books suited to the times and the cause he
was serving. After his death his enemies did all in their power to cast
reproach upon his name. They even maligned his moral character, which
had hitherto stood above reproach. It was a grave question at the
hostile universities whether the term _Beatus Spener_ could be used of
him. Professor Teck, of Rostock, published a work _On the Happiness of
those who die in the Lord_, in which he decided that heaven will open
its gates sometimes to the extremely impious who die without any
external mark of repentance, and also to those who die in gross sin; but
not to such a man as Spener.

The University of Halle was founded for the avowed purpose of promoting
personal piety, Scriptural knowledge, and practical preaching throughout
the land. It had already been a place of instruction, but not of
theological training. The theological faculty was composed of Francke,
Anton, and Breithaupt. These men were deeply imbued with the fervid zeal
of Spener, and set themselves to work to improve and continue what he
had inaugurated. The field was ample, but the task was arduous. While
Spener lived at Dresden, Francke, who taught at Leipsic, enjoyed a brief
personal intercourse with him, and became thoroughly animated with his
spirit. On his return to Leipsic, he commenced exegetical lectures on
various parts of the Bible, and instituted _Collegia Pietatis_ for such
students as felt disposed to attend them. So great was the increase of
attendance, both at the lectures and also at the meetings, that Francke
was suspended and Pietism forbidden. It was, therefore, with a wounded
and injured spirit that he availed himself of the privilege afforded in
the new seat of learning.

Francke was naturally an impulsive man, and his ardent temperament led
him sometimes into unintended vagaries. An extravagance of his once
caused Spener to remark, that "his friends gave him more trouble than
all his enemies." But he was not more erroneous than most men of the
same type of character; and there is not a real moral or intellectual
blemish upon his reputation. His aim was fixed when he commenced to
teach at Halle; and he prosecuted it with undivided assiduity until the
close of his useful life. The story of his conversion is beautifully
told in his own language. Like Chalmers, he was a minister to others
before his own heart was changed. He was about to preach from the words,
"But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ,
the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name."
He says: "My whole former life came before my eyes just as one sees a
whole city from a lofty spire. At first it seemed as if I could number
all my sins; but soon there opened the great fountain of them--my own
blind unbelief, which had so long deceived me; I was terrified with my
lost condition, and wondered if God were merciful enough to bless me. I
kneeled down and prayed. All doubt vanished; I was assured in my own
heart of the grace of God in Christ. Now I know him, not alone as my God
but as my Father. All melancholy and unrest vanished, and I was so
overcome with joy, that from the fullness of my heart I could praise my
Saviour. With great sorrow I had kneeled; but with wonderful ecstacy I
had risen up. It seemed to me as if my whole previous life had been a
deep sleep, as if I had only been dreaming, and now for the first time
had waked up. I was convinced that the whole world, with all its
temporal joy, could not kindle up such pleasure in my breast."

A few days afterwards he preached from the same text as before. The
sermon was the first real one that he had preached. Henceforth his heart
was in the work for which God had chosen him.

He preached in Halle statedly, for, in addition to the duties of the
professor's chair, he was pastor of a church. His ministrations in the
pulpit became extremely popular and attractive. Naturally eloquent, he
won the masses to his ministry; and by his forcible presentation of
truth he molded them into his own methods of faith and thought. Nor was
he less zealous or successful in his theological lectures. He commenced
them in 1698, by a course on the _Introduction to the Old Testament_,
concluding with a second one on the New Testament.

In 1712, he published his _Hermeneutical Lectures_, containing his
comments on sections and books of Scripture, particularly on the Psalms
and the Gospel of John. In his early life he had observed the dearth of
lectures on the Scriptures; and he accordingly applied himself to remedy
the evil. His principles of instruction were, _first_, that the student
be converted before he be trained for the ministry, otherwise his
theology would be merely a sacred philosophy--_philosophia de rebus
sacris_; _second_, that he be thoroughly taught in the Bible, for "a
theologian is born in the Scriptures." His _Method of Theological Study_
produced a profound impression, and was the means of regenerating the
prevailing system of theological instruction at the universities.

But Francke is chiefly known to the present generation by his foundation
of the Orphan House at Halle. This institution was the outgrowth of his
truly practical and beneficent character; and from his day to the
present, it has stood a monument of his strong faith and great humanity.
Its origin was entirely providential. It was already a custom in Halle
for the poor to convene every week at a stated time, and receive the
alms which had been contributed for their support. Francke saw their
weekly gatherings, and resolved to improve the occasion by religious
teaching. But their children were also ignorant, and there was no hope
that the parents would be able to educate them. So he resolved to do
something also in this direction, and secured some money for this
purpose. But yet the parents did not thus apply it; whereupon he placed
a box in his own dwelling, that all who visited him might contribute. He
knew that then he would have the personal distribution of such funds.
During three months one person deposited four thalers and sixteen
groschen; when Francke exclaimed, "That is a noble thing--something good
must be established--with this money I will found a school." Two thalers
were spent for twenty-seven books; but the children brought back only
four out of the whole number that they had taken home. New books were
bought, and henceforth it was required that they be left in the room. At
first Francke's own study was the book depository and school-room; but
in a short time his pupils so greatly increased that he hired adjacent
accommodations. Voluntary contributions came in freely; new buildings
were erected, and teachers provided; and before the death of the
founder, the enterprise had grown into a mammoth institution, celebrated
throughout Europe, and scattering the seeds of truth into all lands.[26]
It became a living proof that Pietism was not only able to combat the
religious errors of the times but also to grapple with the grave wants
of common life. Is not that a good and safe theology, which, in addition
to teaching truth, can also clothe the naked and feed the hungry?
Francke's prayer, so often offered in some secluded corner of the field
or the woods, was answered even before his departure from labor to
reward; "Lord, give me children as plenteous as the dew of the morning;
as the sand upon the sea-shore; as the stars in the heavens; so numerous
that I cannot number them!"

The theological instruction of Francke and his coadjutors in the
University of Halle was very influential. During the first thirty years
of its history six thousand and thirty-four theologians were trained
within its walls, not to speak of the multitudes who received a thorough
academic and religious instruction in the Orphan House. The Oriental
Theological College, established in connection with the University,
promoted the study of Biblical languages, and originated the first
critical edition of the Hebrew Bible. Moreover, it founded missions to
the Jews and Mohammedans. From Halle streams of the new life flowed out
until there were traces of reawakening throughout Europe. First, the
larger cities gave signs of returning faith; and the universities which
were most bitter against Spener were influenced by the power of the
teachings of his immediate successors. Switzerland was one of the first
countries to adopt Pietism. Zürich, Basle, Berne, and all the larger
towns received it with gladness. It penetrated as far east as the
provinces bordering on the Baltic Sea, and as far North as Denmark,
Norway, and Sweden. Many of the Continental courts welcomed it, and
Orphan Houses, after the model of Francke's, became the fashion of the
day. The Reformed church was influenced and impelled by it, and even
England and the Netherlands indicated a strong sympathy for its
practical and evangelical features. No higher tribute can be paid it
than that of Tholuck, who avers, "_that the Protestant church of Germany
has never possessed so many zealous Christian ministers and laymen as in
the first forty years of the eighteenth century_."

There are two names intimately connected with Pietism in its better
days, which it would be improper to pass over. Arnold, the historian of
Pietism, and Thomasius, the eminent jurist. They were both alike
dangerous to the very cause they sought to befriend. The former, in his
_History of Churches and Heretics_, took such decided ground against the
existing church system that he was fairly charged with being a
Separatist. He attached but little importance to dogmatics, despised
orthodoxy, and inveighed against the church as if she were the veriest
pest in the land. While a student at Wittenberg he applied himself to
the study of Mysticism, and now claimed that its incorporation with
Pietism was the only salvation of Christianity. He held that great sins
had existed in the church ever since the days of the Apostles, the first
century being the only period when it enjoyed comparative purity.
Thomasius, very naturally, held Arnold in high esteem, and lauded his
services in the following language: "He is the only man, or at least the
first, who has avoided the follies into which others have fallen, and
discovered and fully exposed the errors which have been especially
committed by the Englishman Cave; he has maintained that the Church of
Christ, with respect to life and conduct, had begun to fall into decay
immediately after the ascension of our Saviour, and still more after the
death of the Apostles, and that this degeneracy had enormously
increased since the age of Constantine the Great."[27]

Thomasius, though not personally connected with Pietism, gave it all his
influence. He was Director of the University of Halle, and defended the
Pietists from the standpoint of statesmanship. He believed Pietism the
only means of uprooting the long-existing corruptions of education,
society, and religion. He opposed the custom of teaching and lecturing
in Latin, warmly advocating the use of French, and subsequently of
German. He wished to cultivate the German spirit, and spared no pains to
accomplish his purpose. While yet a teacher at Leipzig he announced a
course of lectures to be delivered in the German language. The outcry
was great against him; but he persevered, and henceforth delivered all
his lectures in his mother tongue. Since his time the use of Latin, as a
colloquial, has gradually decreased, and at the present day the German
is the chief language employed at the universities. Thomasius was also
the first to combat the system of prosecutions for witchcraft, and the
application of torture in criminal trials. He was a thorough and
indefatigable reformer. His name was a tower of strength in his
generation; and he left a vivid impress upon the German mind of the
eighteenth century. He published many works, some of which were directed
against the ministry because of their neglect of duty.

A new generation of professors arose in Halle. C. B. Michaelis, the
younger Francke, Freilinghausen, the elder Knapp, Callenberg, and
Baumgarten, took the place of their more vigorous predecessors. It is
deplorable to see how Pietism now began to lose its first power and
earnest spirit. The persistent inquiry into scriptural truth passed
over into a tacit acquiescence of the understanding. Reliance was placed
on the convictions, more than on the fruits of study. Spener had blended
the emotions of the mind and heart, reason and faith, harmoniously; but
the later Pietists cast off the former and blindly followed the latter.
Hence they soon found themselves indulging in superstition, and
repeating many of the errors of some of the most deluded Mystics.
Science was frowned upon, because of its supposed conflict with the
letter of Scripture. The language of Spener and Francke, which was full
of practical earnestness, came into disuse. Definitions became loose and
vague. The _Collegia_, which had done so much good, now grew formal,
cold, and disputatious. The missions, which had begun very auspiciously,
dwindled from want of means and men. External life became pharisaical.
Great weight was attached to long prayers. A Duke of Coburg required the
masters of schools to utter a long prayer in his presence, as a test of
fitness for advancement. Pietism grew mystical, ascetic, and
superstitious. Some of its advocates and votaries made great pretensions
to holiness and unusual gifts. This had a tendency to bring the system
into disrepute in certain quarters, though the good influences that it
had exerted still existed and increased. It might disappear, but the
good achieved by it would live after it. But a strong effort was made by
Frederic William I. to maintain its prominence and weight. From 1729 to
1736, he continued his edict that no Lutheran theologian should be
appointed in a Prussian pulpit who had not studied at least two years in
Halle, and received from the faculty a testimonial of his state of
grace. But when he was succeeded by Frederic II., commonly called
Frederic the Great, that University no longer enjoyed the royal
patronage, and Halle, instead of being the school of practical piety and
scriptural study, degenerated into a seminary of Rationalism.

It was charged against the Pietists that they wrote but little. Writing
was not their mission. It was theirs to act, to reform the practical
life and faith of the people, not to waste all their strength in a war
of books. They wrote what they needed to carry out their lofty aim; and
this was, perhaps, sufficient. They did lack profundity of thought; but,
let it be remembered that their work was restorative, not initial.
Pietism, though it ceased its aggressive power after Francke and
Thomasius, was destined to exert a reproductive power long afterwards.
From their day to the present, whenever there has arisen a great
religious want, the heart of the people has been directed towards this
same agency as a ground of hope. Whatever be said against it, it cannot
be denied that it has succeeded in finding a safe lodgment in the
affections of the evangelical portion of the German church.

Witness Bengel, who was a Pietist of the Spener school. He was warmly
devoted to the spread of practical truth and a correct understanding of
the Bible. Kahnis says of him: "We might indeed call conscientiousness
the fundamental virtue of Bengel. Whatever he utters, be it in science,
or life, is more mature, more well-weighed, more pithy, more consecrated
than most of what his verbose age has uttered. In the great he saw the
little, in the little the great." In the present century the church has
had recourse to Pietism as its only relief from a devastating
Rationalism. Not the Pietism of Spener and Francke, we acknowledge, but
the same general current belonging to both. Its organ was the
_Evangelical Church Gazette_, in 1827, and among the celebrities who
attached themselves to it we find the names of Heinroth, von Meyer,
Schubert, von Raumer, Steffens, Schnorr, and Olivier.

Pietism lacked a homogeneous race of teachers. Here lay the secret of
its overthrow. Had the founders been succeeded by men of much the same
spirit, and equally strong intellect, its existence would have been
guaranteed, as far as anything religious can be promised in a country
where there is a state church to control the individual conscience. The
great mistake of Lutheranism was in failing to adopt it as its child.
The skeptical germ which soon afterwards took root, gave evidence that
it could prove its overthrow for a time, at least; but the evils of
Rationalism were partially anticipated by the practical teachings of the
Pietists. Rationalism in Germany, without Pietism as its forerunner,
would have been fatal for centuries. But the relation of these
tendencies, so plainly seen in the ecclesiastical history of Germany, is
one of long standing. From the days of Neo-Platonism to the present they
have existed, the good to balance the evil, Faith to limit Reason. They
have been called by different names; but Christianity could little
afford to do without it or its equivalent, in the past; and the Church
of the Future will still cling as tenaciously and fondly to it or to its
representative.


FOOTNOTES:

[24] Auberlen: _Die Göttliche Offenbarung_, vol. I., pp. 278-281. The
second volume of this important work has been completed, but the gifted
author has just died. His book must therefore take its place in the
catalogue of brilliant but hopeless fragments.

[25] Watson, _Theolog. Dict._ Art. _Protestant Pietists_.

[26] Schmid, _Geschichte des Pietismus_, pp. 290-293. How greatly this
movement was favored by Providence, may be seen from the Report
presented to King Frederick William I, shortly after Francke's
death:--1. The Normal School with 82 scholars and 70 teachers; 2. The
Latin School of the Orphan House, with 3 Inspectors, 32 teachers, 400
scholars, and 10 servants; 3. The German Citizens' school, with 4
Inspectors, 102 Teachers, 1725 Boys and Girls; 4. Orphan Children, 134,
and 10 overseers; 5. Number accommodated at the tables, 251 students,
3600 poor children; 6. Furniture, Apothecary, Bookstore, employing 53
persons; 7. Institution for women unable to work.

[27] Schmid, _Geschichte des Pietismus_, pp. 475-486.



CHAPTER IV.

THE POPULAR PHILOSOPHY OF WOLFF--SKEPTICAL TENDENCIES FROM ABROAD.


The struggle between the Pietists and the Orthodox subsided on the
appearance of Wolff's demonstrative philosophy. The church was glad
enough to offer the friendly hand to Pietism when she saw her faith
threatened by this ruthless foe; and if the followers of Spener had
refused to accept it, their success would have been far more probable.
Leibnitz was the father of Wolff's system. Descartes had protested
against any external authority for the first principles of belief.
Leibnitz and Spinoza followed him, though in different directions.[28]
Leibnitz had no system in reality, and it is only from certain
well-known views on particular points that we can infer his general
direction of opinion. He sought to prove the conformity of reason with a
belief in revelation on the principle that two truths cannot contradict
each other. His doctrine of monads and preëstablished harmony was
opposed to the scriptural and ecclesiastical doctrine of creation,
inasmuch as by the assumption of the existence of atoms the Creator was
thrown too much in the shade.[29] He wrote his _Théodicée_ for the
benefit of learned and theological circles, and both as a statesman and
author he acquired great celebrity for his vast acquirements and
discriminating mind.

But the philosophy of Leibnitz was confined to the learned; and had it
been left solely to itself, it is probable that it would never have
attracted great attention or possessed much importance in the history of
thought. But Wolff, who studied all his works with the greatest care,
deduced from them certain summaries of argument, which, with such others
of his own as he felt disposed to incorporate with them, he published
and taught. Whatever censure we may cast upon Wolff, we cannot ignore
his good intentions. Even before his birth, he had been consecrated by
his father to the service of God; and when he was old enough to manifest
his own taste, he showed a strong predilection for theological study. He
says of himself: "Having been devoted to the study of theology by a vow,
I also had chosen it for myself; and my intention has all along been to
serve God in the ministry, even when I was already professor at Halle,
until at length against my will I was led away from it, God having
arranged circumstances in such a manner that I could not carry out this
intention. But having lived in my native place, Breslau, among the
Catholics, and having perceived from my very childhood the zeal of the
Lutherans and Roman Catholics against one another, the idea was always
agitating my mind, whether it would not be possible so distinctly to
show the truth in theology that it would not admit of any contradiction.
When afterwards I learned that the mathematicians were so sure of their
ground that every one must acknowledge it to be true, I was anxious to
study mathematics, for the sake of the method, in order to give
diligence to reduce theology to incontrovertible certainty." These
words explain Wolff's whole system. He would make doctrine so plain by
mathematical demonstration that it must be accepted. But the poison of
his theory lay in the assumption that what could not be mathematically
demonstrated was either not true or not fit to be taught. He sets out
with the principle that the human intellect is capable of knowing truth.
He divides his philosophy into two parts: _first_, the _theoretical_:
_second_, the _practical_. The former he subdivides into logic,
metaphysics, and physics; the latter into morals, natural right, and
politics. He admits a revelation, and proves its possibility by
maintaining that God can do whatever he wishes. But this revelation must
have signs in itself, by which it may be known. _First._ It must contain
something necessary for man to know, which he cannot learn in any other
way. _Second._ The things revealed must not be opposed to the divine
perfections, and they must not be self-contradictory: a thing is above
reason and contrary to reason when opposed to these principles. _Third._
A divine revelation can contain neither anything which contradicts
reason and experience, nor anything which may be learned from them, for
God is omniscient,--he knows the general as well as the particular, and
he cannot be deceived. Necessary truths are those the contrary of which
is impossible; accidental truths, those of which the contrary is
impossible only under certain conditions. Now, revelation could not
contradict necessary truths; but it may appear to contradict those which
are accidental. Geometrical truths are necessary; and therefore
revelation could not oppose them; but as accidental truths refer to the
changes of natural things, it follows that these may be apparently
contradicted by revelation; though if we search minutely, we shall at
last be able to lift the veil from the contradictions. _Fourth._
Revelation cannot command anything contrary to the laws of the nature of
existence and of the mind, for whatever is opposed to the laws of nature
is equally opposed to those of reason. _Fifth._ When it can be proved
that he who declares that he has received a divine revelation has
arrived at his knowledge by the natural use of his mental powers, then
his declaration cannot be considered true. _Sixth._ In a revelation all
things ought to be expressed in such words, or by such signs, that he
who is the object of it can clearly recognize the divine action. For God
knows all possible symbolical means of knowledge, and does nothing
without a purpose.

These views Wolff taught from his university-chair in Halle, and
disseminated throughout the land in publications under various titles.
He aimed to reach not only the young theologians and all who were likely
to wield a great public influence, but to so popularize his system that
the unthinking masses might become his followers. He succeeded. Even
Roman Catholics embraced his tenets, and he was accustomed to say, with
evident satisfaction, that his text-books were used at Ingolstadt,
Vienna, and Rome. The glaring defect of his philosophy was his
application of the formal logical process to theology. He reduced the
examination of truth to a purely mechanical operation. The effect was
soon seen. When his students began to fill the pulpits the people heard
cold and stately logic, extended definitions, and frequent mathematical
phrases. Think of the clergy feeding their flocks on such food as the
following: "_God--a being who supports all the world at one time_;"
"_Preëstablished harmony--the eternal union of things_;" "_Ratio
sufficiens--the sufficient ground_;" with many other arid definitions of
the same class. One preacher, in explaining the eighth chapter of
Matthew, thought it necessary, when noticing the fact of Jesus
descending the mountain, to define the term mountain by declaring it to
be "a very elevated place;" and, when discoursing on Jesus stretching
forth his hand and touching the leper, to affirm that "the hand is one
of the members of the body." It is astonishing how quickly the popular
principles and teachings of the followers of Wolff began to supplant
Pietism. In the university and the pulpit there were sad and numerous
evidences of decline. Perhaps no system of philosophy has ever
penetrated the masses as did this of Wolff; for no one has been more
favored with champions who aimed to indoctrinate the unthinking. Old
terms, which had been used by the first Lutherans and Reformed in
common, and by the Pietists with such effectiveness, were now abandoned
for the modern ones of these innovators. Everything that had age on its
side was rejected because of its age. Even the titles of books were
fraught with copious definitions. The Wertheim translation of the Old
Testament was published under the extended name of "_The Divine Writings
before the time of Jesus, the Messiah. The First Part, containing the
Laws of the Israels._" The Wolffian adepts wrote for Moabites, _Moabs_;
for the Apostle Peter, _Peter the Ambassador_.

Wolff's life was full of incident. The first publications he issued
after his appointment to the mathematical professorship were on subjects
within his appropriate sphere of instruction. Here he first acquired his
fundamental principle of mathematical demonstration applied to theology,
and henceforth his mind was bent on philosophical and theological
themes. We are reminded of the same process of mental action in Bishop
Colenso. In a late catalogue of his works, we have counted twelve
mathematical text-books. These are at least an index of his attachment
to mathematical demonstration; and it is not surprising that an
ill-regulated mind should fall into Wolff's error of applying the same
method to the Scriptures. The Bishop's works find their exact prototype
in the "_Reasonable Thoughts of God_," "_Natural Theology_," and "_Moral
Philosophy_," of Christian Wolff. The mathematical professor at Halle
was not long in exposing his views; and on more than one occasion gave
umbrage to his Pietistic associates. His offence reached its climax when
he delivered a public discourse on the Morals of Confucius, which he
applauded most enthusiastically. The Rector of the university, Francke,
requested the use of the manuscript, which the author refused to grant.
Influence was brought to bear against Wolff at court; and when it was
represented that if his teachings were propagated any further they would
produce defection in the army, Frederic William I. issued a decree of
deposition from his chair, and banishment from his dominions within
forty-eight hours, on penalty of death. This occurred in 1723. After
Frederic the Great ascended the throne, and began to countenance the
increasing skeptical tendencies of the day, he recalled him, in 1740, to
his former position. He was received, it is true, with some enthusiasm,
but his success as a lecturer and preacher had passed its zenith. Of his
reception at Halle after his long absence he thus writes, with no little
sense of self-gratulation: "A great multitude of students rode out of
the city to meet me, in order to invite me formally. They were attended
by six glittering postillions. All the villagers along the roadside came
out of their towns, and anxiously awaited my arrival. When we reached
Halle, all the streets and market-places were filled with an immense
concourse of people, and I celebrated my jubilee amidst a universal
jubilee. In the street, opposite the house which I had rented as my
place of residence, there was gathered a band of music, which received
me and my attendants with joyous strains. The press of the multitude was
so great that I could hardly descend from my carriage and find my way to
my rooms. My arrival was announced on the same evening to the professors
and all the dignitaries of the city. On the following day they called
upon me, and gave me warm greetings of welcome and esteem. Among all the
rest I was received and welcomed by Dr. Lange, who wished me the
greatest success, and assured me of his friendship; of course I promised
to visit him in return."

Verily this was an epoch in theological history. It proves how
thoroughly the Wolffian philosophy had impregnated the common classes.
They had learned its principles thoroughly, and the lapse of more than a
century has not fully disabused them of its errors. The philosophy of
Kant was the first to supplant the Wolffian in learned circles; but Kant
has had no such popular interpreter as Wolff was of Leibnitz, and hence
his influence, though deep where prevalent, was felt in a more limited
sphere. Wolff cannot be termed a Rationalist in the common acceptation
of the term, though his doctrines contributed to the growth of
neological thinking. Had he been theologian alone, and applied his
principles to the interpretation of Scripture, he would have done much
of Semler's work. It was, therefore, the latter and not the former whom
we would denominate the father of Rationalism. Moreover, Wolff
manifested a strict observance of the ecclesiastical institutions of
his day, and always professed the warmest attachment to the
church,--which was anything but the fact, as far as the followers of
Semler are concerned. Wolff wrote on a circular announcing some
university celebration the following words, which indicate the habit of
his life: "I see, and would like to be present. Yet as I have purposed
to partake of the Lord's Supper on the same day I do not know whether I
shall be able to be present, inasmuch as I should not like to change my
intention; yet I will consider the matter with my minister. Signed,
Christian Wolff, 1717."

Of the relations of the Wolffian philosophy to the theology of one
century ago, and of its general Rationalistic bearing, Mr. Farrar says,
"The system soon became universally dominant. Its orderly method
possessed the fascination which belongs to any encyclopædic view of
human knowledge. It coincided, too, with the tone of the age. Really
opposed, as Cartesianism has been in France, to the scholasticism which
still reigned, its dogmatic form nevertheless bore such external
similarity to it that it fell in with the old literary tastes. The evil
effects which it subsequently produced in reference to religion were due
only to the point of view which it ultimately induced. Like Locke's work
on the reasonableness of Christianity, it stimulated intellectual
speculation concerning revelation. By suggesting attempts to deduce _à
priori_ the necessary character of religious truths, it turned men's
attention more than ever away from spiritual religion to theology. The
attempt to demonstrate everything caused dogmas to be viewed apart from
their practical aspect; and men being compelled to discard the previous
method of drawing philosophy out of Scripture, an independent philosophy
was created, and Scripture compared with its discoveries. Philosophy no
longer relied on Scripture, but Scripture rested on philosophy. Dogmatic
theology was made a part of metaphysical philosophy. This was the mode
in which Wolff's philosophy ministered indirectly to the creation of the
disposition to make scriptural dogmas submit to reason, which was
denominated Rationalism. The empire of it was undisputed during the
whole of the middle part of the century, until it was expelled, toward
the close, by the partial introduction of Locke's philosophy, and of the
system of Kant, as well as by the growth of classical erudition, and of
a native literature."[30]

Wolff was succeeded by a school of no ordinary ability. But his
disciples did not strictly follow him; they went not only the length
that he did, but much farther. Their thinking and literary labor circled
about inspiration. It was evident that they were intent upon solving the
problem and handing the doctrine over to the world as entitled to
respect and unalterable. Baumgarten was the connecting link between the
Pietism of Spener and the Rationalism of Semler. He was the successor of
Wolff in the university-chair of Halle, and, as such, the eyes of the
people were turned toward him. His acquirements were versatile, for he
studied every subject of theology with poetic enthusiasm. Nor was he a
superficial student merely; and his opponents well knew that in him they
had found no mean adept in philosophy, theology, hermeneutics and
ecclesiastical history. His writings bear a strong impress of
Illuminism, but he contributed most to the formation of Rationalistic
theology by training Semler for his great destructive mission. He
acknowledged the presence of the Holy Spirit in Scripture, but reduced
inspiration to an influence which God exercises over the mental
faculties. Both he and Töllner declared that the Spirit had permitted
each writer to compose according to the peculiar powers of his mind, and
to arrange facts according to his own comprehension of them.

Töllner was a follower of Baumgarten. He was not intent upon any
innovating theories as much as he was desirous to harmonize the old
ecclesiastical system with the new philosophy. He had some views in
common with Wolff; but he totally differed from him in his conception of
mathematical demonstration of theology, and maintained that theology
cannot be mathematically demonstrated, but that its integrity and worth
depend solely upon historical testimony. Does the Christian system have
the authority of history for its defence? If so, it will stand the test
of universal opposition; but, if not, it will fall of its own weight.
The tendency of his deductions was negative, and hence we rank him as no
ordinary agent toward the growth of historic doubt. Here we behold the
germ of such thinking as developed in Strauss' _Life of Jesus_ in the
present century. Töllner held that Scripture is composed of two senses,
the _natural_ and _revealed_. That which is natural is subject to
criticism; but the revealed or spiritual light is always clearer, and
does not call for much inquiry. There may be differences between the
two, but there can be no contradiction. "The revelation in Scripture,"
he says, "is a greater and more perfect means of salvation. Both the
natural light and revelation lead the man who follows them to salvation.
_Scripture only more so._"

The historian cannot fail to observe a systematic and steadfast
development of skepticism in the lands south and west of Germany. Many
causes contributed to its growth in Italy, whose prestige in war,
extensive and still increasing commerce, and ambitious and gifted
rulers, were a powerful stimulus to vigorous thought. The classics
became the favorite study, and all the writings of the ancients were
seized with avidity, to yield, as far as they might, their treasure of
philosophy, history and poetry. Leo X. was notoriously skeptical, and,
as much from sympathy as pride, surrounded himself with the leading
spirits of the literature of the times. With him morality was no
recommendation. Two tendencies took positive form, as the result of the
literary tastes of the court and thinking classes: _first_, a return to
heathenism, produced by the study of the classics; and _second_, a
species of pantheism, produced by philosophy.

We now come to the Deism of England, which not only succeeded in
corrupting the spiritual life of France, but became directly
incorporated into the theology of Germany. It was the so-called
philosophy of common sense. The most thorough German writer on the
subject, Lechler, has well defined it, "The elevation of natural
religion to be the standard and rule of all positive religion, an
elevation which is supported by free examination by means of thinking."
It started on the principle that reason is the source and measure of
truth; and therefore discarded, as its Rationalistic offspring in
Germany, whatever was miraculous or supernatural in Christianity. There
was much earnestness in some of its champions; nor was there any absence
of warm attachment to the morality and religious influence of the
Scriptures. Thus it differed widely from the flippancy and frivolity of
the Deists of France. We cannot, however, consider Lord Herbert's
serious reflections on the publication of his chief work as a fair
specimen of the tone of his coadjutors. They were mostly inferior to him
in this respect, though it would not be safe to say that their influence
on the public mind of England was less baneful than his. Having finished
his book, _Tractatus de Veritate_, he hesitated before committing it to
the press. "Thus filled," he says, "with doubts, I was on a bright
summer day sitting in my room; my window to the south was open; the sun
shone brightly; not a breeze was stirring. I took my book on Truth into
my hand, threw myself on my knees, and prayed devoutly in the words, 'O
thou one God, thou Author of this light which now shines upon me, thou
Giver of all inward light, I implore thee, according to thine infinite
mercy to pardon my request, which is greater than a sinner should make.
I am not sufficiently convinced whether I may publish this book or not.
If its publication shall be for thy glory, I beseech thee to give me a
sign from Heaven. If not, I will suppress it.' I had scarcely finished
these words when a loud, and yet at the same time a gentle sound came
from heaven, not like any sound on earth. This comforted me in such a
manner, and gave me such a satisfaction, that I considered my prayer as
having been heard."

Deism in England began with the predominance given to nature by Bacon.
Locke contributed greatly to its formation by discarding the proof of
Christianity by miracles and supernatural observations, but claimed that
nature is of itself sufficient to teach it. Hence, man can draw all
necessary faith from nature. Lord Herbert, of Cherbury, held that
education is inconsistent with true religion, since the earliest pagan
times manifested a higher state of morality than later periods of
culture and refinement. Hobbes considered religion only a sort of
police force, useful solely as an agent of the State to keep the people
within bounds.

Shaftesbury, the disciple and follower of Locke, addressed himself by
his style to the higher classes. He cultivated the acquaintance of the
rising leaders of skepticism in France and Holland, and continued
through life on terms of cordial intimacy with Bayle, Le Clerc, and
others of kindred spirit. He was relentless in his attacks on revealed
religion. His hostility may be inferred from the fact that Voltaire
termed him even too bitter an opponent of Christianity. Warburton says,
"Mr. Pope told me that, to his knowledge, _The Characteristics_ have
done more harm to revealed religion in England than all the other works
of infidelity together." Collins contributed more than any other author
to the rise of Deism in France. He applied himself to the overthrow of
all faith. Ignoring prophecy, he held that nothing in the Old Testament
has any other than a typical or allegorical bearing upon the New
Testament.

Wollaston's creed was the pursuit of happiness by the practice of reason
and truth. He was the epicurean of the system which he adopted, and
sought to prove that religion is wholly independent of faith. He first
published a brief outline of his views in a limited number of copies,
but afterwards prepared a new and enlarged edition. Twenty thousand
copies were sold, and six other editions found a ready sale between 1724
and 1738. Woolston strove to bring the miracles of Christ into contempt.
Mandeville and Morgan, contemporaries of Woolston, wrote against the
state religion. Of Chubb's views we can gather sufficiently from his
three principles: _First._ That Christ requires of men that, with all
their heart and all their soul, they should follow the eternal and
unchangeable precepts of natural morality. _Second._ That men, if they
transgress the laws of morality, must give proofs of true and genuine
repentance, because without such repentance, forgiveness or pardon is
impossible. _Third._ In order more deeply to impress these principles
upon the minds of men, and give them a greater influence upon their
course of action, Jesus Christ has announced to mankind, that God hath
appointed a day wherein he will judge the world in righteousness, and
acquit and condemn, reward or punish, according as their conduct has
been guided by the precepts which he has laid down. With Bolingbroke's
name closes the succession of the elder school of English Deists. He
wrote against the antiquity of faith, showing bitter hostility to the
Old Testament. His aim, in addition to this antagonism to revelation,
was to found a selfish philosophy.

Many of the works by these writers were ill-written and lacked depth of
thought. Some were, however, masterpieces of original thinking and
writing. The style of Mandeville, for example, has been eulogized
extravagantly both by Hazlitt and Lord Macaulay.

It cannot be expected that a movement so extensive as this, and
participated in by the leading literary men of the day would be without
its influence abroad. Its first effect was to elicit great opposition;
and numerous replies poured in from every quarter. Toland's
_Christianity Not Mysterious_ was combated in the year 1760 by
fifty-four rejoinders in England, France and Germany. Up to the same
period, Tindal's _Christianity as Old as the World_ was greeted with one
hundred and six opponents. The Germans repulsed these tendencies bravely
at first, and among others was the gifted and versatile Mosheim, who
delivered public lectures against the influx of Deistical speculations.
But gradually translations were made, and the Germans were soon able to
read those works for themselves. All the Deists were rendered into their
language, and some were honored with many translators. True, there were
replies from the theologians of England immediately upon the appearance
of the works of the leading Deists; but many of them were very feeble,
the puny blows doing more harm than good. When these rejoinders came to
be translated they had almost as deleterious an influence as if they had
been panegyrics instead of well-meant thrusts. John Pye Smith says,
"Translations were made of our Deistical writers of that time, and of a
large number of vindications of Christianity which were published by
some English divines of note in reply to Collins, Tindal, Morgan and
their tribe; and which, in addition to their insipid and unimpassioned
character, involved so much of timid apology and unchristian concession
that they rather aided than obstructed the progress of infidelity."
Through the influence of Baumgarten and others Deism now gained great
favor in Germany. Toland was personally welcomed, flattered and honored
at the very court--that of Frederic William I.--which had banished Wolf,
and made adherence to his doctrines a bar to all preferment.

There was a speedy adoption of English Deism by France, though the
French had manifested strong attachment to skepticism as far back as the
illustrious reign of Louis XIV., whose court had dictated religion and
literature to Europe. It was in 1688 that Le Vasser wrote: "People only
speak of reason, good taste, the force of intellect, of the advantage of
those who put themselves above the prejudices of education and of the
society in which they were born. Pyrrhonism is now the fashion above
everything else. People think that the legitimate exercise of the mind
consists in not believing rashly, and in knowing how to doubt many
things. What can be more intolerable and humiliating than to see our
pretended great men boast themselves of believing nothing, and of
calling those people simple and credulous who have not perhaps examined
the first proofs of religion?" The condition of things was no better in
the reign of Louis XV., nor indeed at any time during the eighteenth
century. It could not be expected that Rousseau would overpaint the
picture; yet in his _La Nouvelle Héloïse_ we find this language: "No
disputing is here heard--that is, in the literary coteries--no epigrams
are made; they reason, but not in the stiff professional tone; you find
fine jokes without puns, wit with reason, principles with freaks, sharp
satire and delicate flattery with serious rules of morality. They speak
of everything in order that every one may have to say something, but
they never exhaust the questions raised; from the dread of getting
tedious they bring them forth only occasionally, shorten them hastily,
and never allow a dispute to arise. Every one informs himself, enjoys
himself, and departs from the others pleased. But what is it that is
learned from these interesting conversations? _One learns to defend with
spirit the cause of untruth, to shake with philosophy all the principles
of virtue, to gloss over with fine syllogisms one's passions and
prejudices in order to give a modern shape to error._ When any one
speaks, it is to a certain extent his dress, not himself, that has an
opinion; and the speaker will change it as often as he will change his
profession. Give him a tie-wig to-day, to-morrow a uniform, and the day
after a mitre, and you will have him defend, in succession, the laws,
despotism, and the Inquisition. There is one kind of reason for the
lawyer, another for the financier, and a third for the soldier. Thus, no
one ever says what he thinks, but what, on account of his interest, he
would make others believe; and his zeal for truth is only a mask for
selfishness."

This was the basis upon which Voltaire and Rousseau built in France.
What wonder that the one with his pungent sarcasm, popular style and
display of philosophy, and the other with his morbid sentimentalism,
should become the real monarchs not only of their own land, but of
cultivated circles throughout the Continent? There was not the slightest
sympathy between these two men, for they hated each other cordially, and
each was jealous of the other's fame and genius. Voltaire said one day
to Rousseau, who was showing him an _Ode Addressed to Posterity_, "This
is a letter which will never reach the place of its address." At another
time, Voltaire having read a satire of his own composition to Rousseau,
the latter advised him to "suppress it lest it should be imagined that
he had lost his abilities and preserved only his virulence." But
Voltaire was inordinately ambitious; he longed to rise to fame, as on
the wings of the eagle. "How unworthy, and how dull of appreciation is
sluggish France," thought he. For her rewards he had toiled, and
thought, and racked his brain for years. But she was stern, and would
not honor him. He therefore became disgusted with his native land, and
set out for England, whose scientific and theological literature had
already fired his mind. George I. and the Princess of Wales, afterward
Queen Caroline, distinguished him by their attentions, and relieved his
poverty by securing large subscriptions to his works. It was here that
he commenced to lay up a princely fortune; but it was not until the
close of his long and stirring life that he forswore his miserly habits.
He found in the deistical literature of England everything that could
suit his taste and ambition. "Here," reasoned he to himself, "I find
what I never dreamed of before. France would not tolerate these thoughts
if her own sons had given birth to them; but this is England, and we
Frenchmen respect the thinking of the English mind. I will not translate
much, but I will go to work with hearty earnestness, and reproduce in
French literature what I find worthy of it in these free-thinking
masters. May be, after all, I shall become a great man." The plan
succeeded. Voltaire, on his return, became more outspoken in his
infidelity. His star ascended; and he ruled, not by original but by
borrowed lustre.

Frederic the Great of Prussia was captivated by the skeptical and
literary celebrity of Voltaire. The latter was not long back again in
France before his selfish sensitiveness imagined that all the literary
men of his country had entered into a cabal to deprive him of his fame
and hurl him from the throne of his literary authority. He was therefore
ready to be caught by the most tempting bait; and when Frederic offered
him a pension of twenty-two thousand livres, it was more than the
miserly plagiarist could resist. Of his reception by the king he thus
speaks in his usual style: "I set out for Potsdam in June, 1750.
Astolpha did not meet a kinder reception in the palace of Alcuia. To be
lodged in the same apartments that Marshal Saxe had occupied, to have
the royal cooks at my command when I chose to dine alone, and the royal
coachman when I had an inclination to ride, were trifling favors. Our
suppers were very agreeable. If I am not deceived I think we had much
wit. The king was witty, and gave occasion of wit to others; and what is
still more extraordinary, I never found myself so much at my ease; I
worked two hours a day with his majesty; corrected his works; and never
failed highly to praise whatever was worthy of praise, though I rejected
the dross. I gave him details of all that was necessary in rhetoric and
criticism for his use: he profited by my advice, and his genius assisted
him more effectually than my lessons."

But matters did not move on a great while thus harmoniously, for
Voltaire, becoming complicated in personal difficulties with greater
favorites of Frederic, received the frown of the man he had so much
flattered, and whose purse had been enriching his coffers. The skeptic
returned to France, wrote other works, settled near the romantic shore
of Lake Geneva, and returned honored, great, and feasted to Paris.
Indulging in unaccustomed excesses, his frail and aged body sank beneath
the weight. But Frederic and Voltaire maintained a correspondence many
years after the flatterer's disgrace. Full of trouble, haunted by dreams
of conspiracy and of poverty, successful in achieving more evil than
usually falls to the lot of a single mind, Voltaire passed from the
society of men to the presence of God. It has been truthfully said of
him in proof of his inconsistency, that he was a free thinker at London,
a Cartesian at Versailles, a Christian at Nancy, and an infidel at
Berlin.

Rousseau sought to establish the proposition that the progress of
scientific education has always involved the decay of moral education.
With Lord Herbert he held that barbarism has ever been the condition of
greatest moral power. A sentiment from his _Émile_ furnishes the key to
his creed: "Everything is good when it comes forth from the hand of the
Creator; everything degenerates under man's hand. In the state in which
things now are, a man who from the moment of his birth would live among
others, would, if left to himself, be most disfigured. Prejudices,
authority, constraint, example, all social institutions which now
depress us, would choke nature in him, and nothing would be put in its
stead. He would resemble a young tree which, growing up accidentally in
the street, would soon pine away in consequence of the passers-by
pushing it from all sides, and bending it in all directions." Rousseau
wrote with great earnestness, and possessed the faculty of inspiring his
readers with an enthusiastic admiration of his theories. His romances
misled many thousands, and were the most popular productions of his
times. Though he and Voltaire were the exponents of French Deism, they
were greatly aided in the dissemination of skeptical doctrines by
Diderot, d'Alembert, Helvetius, d'Argent, de la Mettrie, and others.
Bayle, in his Dictionary, appealed to the learned circles; and, not
content to give only historical facts, he ventured upon the origination
or reproduction of those new skeptical opinions which captivated
unthinking multitudes.

The Deism of France was now a coadjutor with that of England in the
devastation of Germany. The throne of Frederic II. was the exponent and
defender of the hollow creed. The military successes of that king gave
him an authority that few monarchs have been able to wield, while his
well-known literary taste and capacity enlisted the admiration of men of
culture throughout the Continent. Born to bear the sword, he surprised
his subjects by the same felicity in the use of the pen; and the man
who could leave to his successors a treasury with a surplus of
seventy-two millions of thalers, an army of two hundred and twenty
thousand men, a kingdom increased by twenty-nine thousand square miles,
and a people grown since his accession from two millions to thrice that
number, was not a king who could be without great moral weight among his
own subjects. And it was known that he was a skeptic, for he made no
secret of it. No traces of the old Pietism of his harsh father were
visible in the son. Gathering around him such men as Voltaire, La
Mettrie, Maupertuis, and others whom his gold could attach to him, he
was the same king in faith and literature that he was in politics.
Claiming to be a Deist, it is probable that he was a very liberal one.
It is more than likely that he was truthful in his description of
himself when he wrote to d'Alembert that he had never lived under the
same roof with religion. He claimed for his meanest subjects the right
to serve God in their own way; but all the power of his example was at
work in drawing the people from the old faith. He hesitated not to
supplant evangelical professors and pastors by free-thinkers, and at any
time to bring ridicule on any religious fact or custom. That
thin-visaged man in top boots and cocked hat, surrounded by his infidels
and his dogs at Sans Souci, dictated faith to Berlin and to Europe. He
would have no one within the sunshine of royalty whom he could not use
as he wished; and just as soon as Voltaire would be himself he became
disgraced. But Frederic lived to see the day when insubordination sprang
up in his army, and in many departments of public life. It came from the
abnegation of evangelical faith. And it is no wonder that when the old
king saw the disastrous effects of his own theories upon his subjects,
he said he would willingly give his best battle to place his people
where he found them at his father's death. But the seed had been sown,
and Prussia was destined to be only a part of the harvest-field of
tares.


FOOTNOTES:

[28] Farrar, _Critical History of Free Thought_, p. 214.

[29] Hagenbach, _History of Doctrines_, vol. 2, p. 340.

[30] _Critical History of Free Thought_, pp. 215-216.



CHAPTER V.

SEMLER AND THE DESTRUCTIVE SCHOOL.

1750-1810.


The foreign influences being fairly introduced, it now remained to be
seen what course the German church would adopt respecting them. The
process of incorporation was rapid. A remarkable activity of mind was
observable in the theological world, and men of great learning and keen
intellect began to apply the deductions of foreign naturalism to the
sacred oracles. No one can claim that the interpretation of the
Scriptures rested at this time on a pure and solid basis; and it is
therefore not remarkable that those men who had no special predilection
for the doctrine of inspiration should silently submit to the views of
the orthodox believers of their time. The divine origin of Hebrew points
and accents was rigidly contended for; and Michaelis only fell in with
the accustomed current when, in his early life, he wrote a work in their
defence. The theory that errors of transcription might possibly have
crept into the text, was totally rejected. No such thing could, by any
contingency, occur. The fable of Aristeas was still considered worthy a
place in the canon. The sanctity of the Hebrew language, and other
Rabbinical notions, were defended. Christ was discovered in every book
of the Old Testament; the perfect purity of the Greek of the New
Testament was held; and fabulous accounts of early martyrs and
miraculous legends were elevated to the same standard of authority with
the gospels. What wonder, then, that when such absurdities were
entertained by the evangelical portion of the church the temptation of
others to skepticism was so great? Men like Ernesti could not resist the
enticement to combat such a state of criticism; and he gave himself to
the task with all the ardor of his nature.

He was the classic scholar of his day. The purity of his diction and the
fertility of his authorship gained him a hearing among the educated and
refined. His word became law. In his case, as with many others of his
countrymen both before and after him, his theological tastes gave him
far more authority than his merely linguistic and literary attainments
could have gained for him. He was distinguished as a preacher not less
than as a scholar. Enamored with the old classic times, the atmosphere
of Greece in her glory of taste and culture, and of Rome in her lustre
of victory and law made him impatient of the dull theology of his day.
He lived not in Germany, but in the temples and bowers of paganism. His
Latinity was scarcely inferior to the flowing utterances of his heathen
masters. He edited many classical works, and succeeded in regenerating
the humanistic studies of Europe. For this all honor be given him; but
he did not rest here. He examined the New Testament with the critic's
scalpel, and applied the principles of ordinary interpretation to the
word of God. He held that Moses should receive no better treatment than
Cicero or Tacitus. Logos was _reason_ and _wisdom_ in the Greek
writings; why should it mean Christ or the Word when we find it in the
gospel of John? Regeneration need not be surrounded with a saintly
halo; it is absurd to suppose that it can mean any more than reception
into a religious society. The Holy Spirit does not communicate divine
influences, but certain praiseworthy qualities. Unity with the Father is
mere unity of disposition or will. The Old Testament is very good in its
way, but it certainly cannot be intended for all mankind; since many
parts can have no salutary influence whatever on the heart and life. It
might be of some use to the Jews, but since we are so far beyond them it
is quite out of place for us.

Both Grotius and Wetstein had been the forerunners of Ernesti in this
method of interpretation. What he wrought against the New Testament had
its counterpart in the mischief effected by John David Michaelis against
the Old. This theologian was profoundly learned in the Oriental
languages, but he was a reckless and irreverent critic. He made light of
many of the occurrences of the Old Testament, and whenever the students
applauded one of his obscene jokes, he was tickled into childishness. He
made no claim to an experimental acquaintance with the operations of the
Holy Spirit, and used his position as theological professor and lecturer
only as the stepping-stone to money and fame. He would make Moses a very
good sort of statesman, but took care to cast censure upon him whenever
the feeblest occasion was offered. Still he did not go so far as to
cause great offense to his Jewish readers, who were very numerous at
that time, for that would have endangered the pecuniary profits from his
books. He lectured on every subject that came in his way, and discussed
from his chair natural science, politics, agriculture, and
horse-breeding, with as much respect and reverence as the song of Moses
or the utterances of Isaiah. He carried Ernesti's principles a step
farther than that scholar had done. He held that it is necessary not
only to understand the situation and circumstances of the writer and
people at the time and place in which the books were written, and the
language and history of the time, but all things connected with their
moral and physical character. The critic must also be conversant with
everything relating to those nations with whom the Jews associated, and
know just how far the latter received their opinions and customs from
abroad.

There have been few men who have shown greater boldness in assaulting
the Christian faith than Semler, the father of the destructive school of
Rationalism. Reared in the lap of the sternest Pietism, he found himself
a student at Halle pursuing his theological curriculum. He was one of
the charmed disciples at Baumgarten's feet, but it was reserved for the
pupil to accomplish far more than the master had ever anticipated.
Gradually the old faith claimed him only by a slight hold; and when,
while yet a student, he drew the subtle distinction between theology and
religion, he, in that act, gave the parting hand to evangelical faith.
Then step by step he descended, until he looked at the oracles of God
with no more credence in their inspiration and divine claims than his
master before him. In his turn he became professor; and that was a dark
day for Germany and Protestantism when he read his first lecture to his
auditory. He studied the Scriptures while laboring under the conviction
that people worship the Bible instead of the universal Father; and he
seemed to say within himself: "I will destroy this vain idolatry, if it
take bread from my wife and children: if life be lost in the effort." So
he set himself to work with a will. He was in a difficulty concerning
the want of understanding as to the number of sacred books. He consulted
the Jews of Palestine, and they replied "twenty-four;" he went to the
Alexandrians, and they answered "a greater number than that;" and to the
Samaritans, who stoutly held "that only the five books of Moses have a
just claim to divine authority." With such difference of opinion among
those who ought to know all about the Holy Scriptures, Semler,
confounded and defiant, esteemed himself a judge on his individual
responsibility. He consequently began to examine the merits of each
part. And first of all, he must determine what is the proof of the
inspiration of a book. This he decided to be the inward conviction of
our mind that what it conveys to us is truth. Certainly, reason cannot
be sunk so low as to discard its functions of judgment. And did not
Christ use his natural faculties? Letting reason, therefore, be umpire,
he concluded that the books of Chronicles, Ruth, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther,
and the Song of Solomon must be rejected; that Joshua, Judges, the books
of Samuel, Kings, and Daniel, are doubtful at best; that the Proverbs of
Solomon may be _his_ or the joint production of a number of tolerably
gifted men; and that the Pentateuch, and especially Genesis, is a mere
collection of legendary fragments. The New Testament has some good
qualities, which are wanting in the Old; but there are parts of it
positively injurious to the church. The Apocalypse of John, for example,
can only be held by every calm critic as the work of a wild fanatic. As
to the gospels, their authenticity and integrity are very doubtful, and
that of John is the only one in any wise adapted to the present state of
the world; since he alone is free from the Jewish spirit. The general
epistles were written solely for the unification of the struggling
parties into which the early church had unfortunately split.

We now come to the famous _Accommodation-Theory_. Christ and his
apostles taught doctrines of such nature and by such method as were
compatible with the peculiarities of their condition. They adapted
themselves to the barbarism and coëxistent prejudices of the people; and
hence we can only reconcile much that they taught by their disposition
to cater to the corrupt taste of their time. The Jews already possessed
many notions which it would not be policy in Christ to annihilate;
hence, said Semler, he reclothed them, and gave them a slight admixture
of truth. Thus he reduced Christ's utterances concerning angels, the
second coming of the Messiah, the last Judgment, demons, resurrection of
the dead, and inspiration of the Scripture, to so many _accommodations_
to prevailing errors. Semler had some indistinct faith in these revealed
truths, but the stress which Christ laid upon them was, in his opinion,
a mere stroke of policy. This theory he had been maturing for some time,
and he first made it public in the preface to his _Paraphrase of the
Epistle to the Romans_.

Another distinction which Semler drew in connection with his new method
of criticism, and somewhat allied to the details of his
accommodation-theory, was between the local and temporary, the permanent
and eternal, in the Scriptures. A large portion of the Bible, he held,
is only ephemeral, and was never intended to be anything else. There was
a local interest in the accounts of the writers; but after the change of
government, or the lapse of a generation or two, they had no further
application to mankind. Nor do they now meet the wants of the world;
they are only the obsolete machinery of a superseded civilization.
Semler bitterly complained of Ernesti by charging him with failing to
fix the time and locality of the circumstances of the Scriptures. A few
specimens will show how the latter strove to meet the great want. The
coming of our Lord Jesus, 1 Cor. i. 7, is only the dawn of a temporal
kingdom; "Christ is a stumbling-block to the Jews," because he would not
throw off the Roman yoke as his countrymen had fondly hoped; the
Apostle's determination "to know nothing but Jesus Christ crucified,"
meant that he knew nothing whatever of the second coming of Christ; "the
Spirit searching the deep things of God" leads us to know that we can
understand the dark things of the Prophets; "the creature which is made
subject to vanity" is the Roman world still pursuing its idolatry; the
demoniacs are mad men whom it was only necessary to bind in order to
render perfectly harmless. With such a system of interpretation as this,
no one who adopted it could pretend to assign for himself a limit to his
skepticism. Whatever defied the critic's acumen or the believer's
spiritual grasp was unraveled on the principle that it was local and
temporary. Surely Rationalism was making a bold stroke for supremacy,
and it had the rare fortune of possessing a man of Semler's versatile
taste and boldness of utterance.

In one aspect he came into harmony with the English Deists, though his
praise of them was extremely moderate. He maintained that they had done
more good than harm; but it was only the best of them whom he really
admired. He silently repudiated the volatile French school, the learned
Bayle being the only one of the number whom he mentioned with any degree
of satisfaction. The view by which he came into nearest relation to the
free-thinkers of England was, that the Bible is but the republication of
the religion of nature. He held that the world had been taught religion
long before the Scriptures were written; though he confessed that in
them we find it more clearly stated and more rigidly enjoined than
anywhere else. Among the mass of natural teachings in the Bible we
occasionally come across a modicum of eternal truth; but the seeker is
very seldom rewarded with a real gem of permanent value. The Jews were
grossly ignorant of all important spiritual light. Their chief idea of
Jehovah was that he was their national God; and their religion was
purely one of circumstances and ceremonies. Moses had some idea of the
soul's immortality, but his countrymen were not so highly favored as
himself. The Messiah of the Old Testament was a very vague personage;
and indistinct indeed must have been the Jewish idea of a coming
Redeemer.

But it was not here that Semler won his greatest victories. His chief
triumph was against the history and doctrinal authority of the church.
His mind had been thoroughly imbued with a disgust at what was ancient
and revered. He appeared to despise the antiquities of the church simply
because they were antiquities. What was new and fresh, was, with him,
worthy of unbounded admiration and speedy adoption. His prejudice
against the Fathers may have been imbibed in part from the Reformers;
but, however derived, his distaste and censure knew no bounds. All the
early Christian writers, he believed, were brimful of imperfections.
Tertullian was fanciful, and Augustine captious. So persistent were his
efforts against the traditional authority of the church that they
endangered the very foundations of German Protestantism. One would have
thought him at times exhausted of strength; but no sooner did the
thinking public recover from one surprise than it was startled by
another attack. The church reeled beneath his invasion of her doctrinal
and historical authority. But there was a limit to her patience. To call
those heroic standard-bearers of her early faith fanatics and
visionaries was quite too much for her to endure.

It now remained to be seen whether Semler's boldness would overleap
itself, or prove the ruin of the religious spirit of the Continent for
generations. The result, whatever it might be, was soon to be decided.
For such views as he was propagating throughout the Protestant church of
Germany could not fail to determine speedily the drift of the public
sentiment of his day.

His work, though destructive, was in conflict with the pure beauty of
his private life. And here we look at him as one of the enigmas of human
biography. True to his tenet that a man's public teachings need not
influence his personal living, he was at once a teacher of skepticism
and an example of piety. His Moravian origin and Pietistic training he
could never forget; nor do we believe he attempted it. No doubt the
asperity that he witnessed at Halle did much to repel him from the
harsher side of Pietism. When he heard his room-mate praying aloud three
hours a day upon his knees; and when he was advised to lay aside all
extensive studies, because he would never be converted while pursuing
them, he began to question whether intellectual progress were compatible
with deep piety. The conclusion at which he arrived was against the
intellectuality of the creed of Spener, but in favor of the spiritual
purity of the life of his disciples. Through Semler's entire career we
can find traces of that devoted spirit which had shined so brightly in
his early youth, and which, in late life, he was not ashamed to confess.
"There was no corner in the whole house," said he, "where I did not
kneel, and pray, and weep alone that God might, out of his infinite
mercy, pardon my sins. I felt that I was under the bondage of the law.
Moravian songs seemed to be of very little help to me. I examined myself
carefully to see whether or not I clung to any sin either consciously or
ignorantly. I reproached myself several times for only giving one penny
to the poor-collection when I had several pence in my pocket. My father
would give me more the next time to make up my deficiency, and this was
a great delight to me. It is now one of the pleasantest memories of my
university-life that I used to give pieces of money to the poor."

His domestic life was very beautiful. He did not remain alone in his
study, where most literary men love to be. But wherever his children
were playing, or his wife knitting or spinning, he was most happy to
pursue his studies and write his books. He gives the following picture:
"We had the children continually about us, when they were not under the
care of their teachers. Then we would have them read, or in turn sing a
Psalm or a hymn, or learn some passage from a good book. We sang with
them, and asked them questions in what they had been studying. They knew
Gellert's songs by rote. There was nothing but peace and contentment in
our circle. The servants never saw or heard anything unpleasant. Every
little disturbance was hushed at once; and all the family felt the power
of my wife in our household arrangements; and our reciprocal love was
apparent to every one. I put all the money matters into her hands; she
paid the debts and received the revenue. Thus passed on twenty years of
beautiful uniformity; and parents and children felt that we were dearer
to each other than was all the world besides. We all met faithfully our
duties to each other. But little had then been written on domestic
training, yet we created our ideas from the pure fountain of religion;
and though we were deprived of much of the glitter of human life, we
enjoyed its necessities and its beauty."

When such ties unite a family we are not surprised at the spirit with
which death is met by a carefully nurtured child. The account is from
Semler's own pen. His daughter, then twenty-one years of age, was on her
death-bed, hastening to join her mother, who but shortly before had been
borne from the threshold. "About nine o'clock," wrote the bereaved
father, "I again pronounced the benediction upon her. With a breaking
heart I lay down to sleep a little. She sent for me, and addressed me
thus: 'Pardon me, my dear father, I am so needy; and do help me to die
with that faith and determination which your Christian daughter should
possess.' My heart took courage, and I spoke to her of the glories of
the heavenly world which would soon break upon her. She sang snatches of
sweet songs, following which I said but little. When I addressed her,
'My dear daughter, you will soon rejoin your noble mother,' she
answered, 'Oh, yes, and what rapture will I enjoy!' I fell down at her
bedside, and again committed her soul to the almighty and enduring care
of God. Then just before I went to my lecture I went to see her again: I
asked her if she still remembered the hymn, 'Thou art mine, because I
hold thee;' when she said, 'Oh yes,' and repeated the verse, 'O Lord my
refuge, Fountain of my Joys.' 'Yes, eternal,' I added. I left her,
thinking that she might last considerably longer. But I was suddenly
called from my lecture, when I again committed her grand spirit to God
who gave it, and closed her eyes myself. My bitter grief now subsided
into calm affliction, and a sweet acquiescence with the wise will of
God. Now I know what the real joy is of having seen a child die so
calmly, and of feeling that I had some share in the training that could
end so triumphantly. And I still publicly thank those of her teachers
who have contributed to the formation of her character. Therefore, when
some would in our days advocate an unchristian education, I can speak
with the light of experience, when I earnestly recommend to all pious
and provident parents to give their children a good Christian training.
Thus Christian-like and beautifully have Christian-trained people been
dying these many centuries."

It is astonishing that a man could live as purely and devotedly as
Semler, and yet make the gulf so wide between private faith and public
instruction. We attribute no evil intention to him in his theological
labors; these were the result of his own mental defects. He was a
careless writer, and not a close thinker. He read history loosely, and
the philosophy of the Christian system was unperceived and unappreciated
by him. He looked at single defects, and magnified them to such an
extent that they obscured whole mines of truth and virtue. Having
conceived a vague idea of his theme, he wrote hurriedly upon it. He was
impelled by his previous notions and the excitement of the hour. He had
a very retentive memory, but it was no aid to correct reasoning. When he
saw one evil of the Fathers, a mistake of the church, or a defect in her
doctrine, he generalized it until he believed error to be the rule
instead of the exception. It has been said that, toward the close of his
life, he regretted his theological instructions; but in a conversation
two days before his death he betrayed the same skeptical views that had
distinguished his life. His method of skeptical-historical criticism was
the poison which, having been once introduced into the literature and
pulpits of the church, produced wide-spread and long-seated disease.

Semler was not the founder of a school, for he advanced no elaborate
system and possessed no organizing power. Great as were the results of
his labors, no one was more surprised at them than himself. Two or three
immediate disciples, who had heard him lecture, were enamored of his
theories, but as they were men of moderate capacity their activity
produced no permanent effect upon the public mind. It was in another
respect that he was mighty. Some of his contemporaries who taught in
other universities seized upon his tenets and began to propagate them
vigorously. They made great capital out of them for themselves. Semler
invaded and overthrew what was left of the popular faith in inspiration
after the labors of Wolf, but here he stopped. His adherents and
imitators commenced with his abnegation of inspiration, and made it the
preparatory step for their attempted annihilation of revelation itself.
Soon the theological press teemed with blasphemous publications against
the Scriptures; and men of all the schools of learning gave themselves
to the work of instruction. Göttingen, Jena, Helmstedt, and
Frankfort-on-the-Oder were no longer schools of prophets, but of
Rationalists and Illuminists.

Griesbach pursued his skeptical investigations for the establishment of
natural religion and others aided him in his undertaking. But the men
of this class were not the principal agents of the complete ruin of the
religious vitality of the people. We turn to Edelmann and Bahrdt, two of
the most decided enemies of Christianity who have appeared in these
later centuries.

The former was the better man, but his career brought discredit on
private virtue and public morality. In the early part of his life he was
blameless, but he subsequently betrayed all the personal weakness which
his skepticism tended to engender. We get a fair portrait of him from
the pen of one of his countrymen, Kahnis: "What Edelmann wished was
nothing new," writes this author; "after the manner of all adherents of
Illuminism, he wished to reduce all positive religions to natural
religion. The positive heathenish religions stand, to him, on a level
with Judaism and Christianity. He is more just toward heathenism than
toward Judaism, and more just toward Judaism than toward Christianity.
Everything positive in religion is, as such, superstition. Christ was a
mere man, whose chief merit consists in the struggle against
superstition. What he taught, and what he was anxious for, no one,
however, may attempt to learn from the New Testament writings, inasmuch
as these were forged as late as the time of Constantine. All which the
church teaches of his divinity, of his merits, of the gracious influence
of the Holy Spirit, is absurd. There is no rule of truth but reason, and
it manifests its truths directly by a peculiar sense. Whatever this
sense says is true. It is this sense which perceives the world. The
reality of everything which exists is God. In the proper sense there
can, therefore, not exist any atheist, because every one who admits the
reality of the world admits also the reality of God. God is not a
person--least of all are there three persons in God. If God be the
substance in all the phenomena, then it follows of itself that God
cannot be thought of without the world, and hence that the world has no
more had an origin than it will have an end. One may call the world the
body of God, the shadow of God, the son of God. The spirit of God is in
all that exists. It is ridiculous to ascribe inspiration to special
persons only; every one ought to be a Christ, a prophet, an inspired
man. The human spirit, being a breath of God, does not perish; our
spirit, separated from its body by death, enters into a connection with
some other body. Thus Edelmann taught a kind of metempsychosis. What he
taught had been thoroughly and ingeniously said in France and England;
but from a German theologian, and that with such eloquent coarseness,
with such a mastery in expatiating in blasphemy, such things were
unheard of. But as yet the faith of the church was a power in Germany!"

From Edelmann the transition is easy to the reckless and vicious Bahrdt.
This man stands among the first of those who have brought dishonor upon
the sacred vocation. What Jeffreys is to the judicial history of
England, Bahrdt is to the religious history of German Protestantism.
Whatever he touched was disgraced by the vileness of his heart and the
satanic daring of his mind. He heard theological lectures. Thinking that
in this field he could infuse most venom and reap a greater harvest of
gold than in any other, he stripped for the undertaking. While a mere
youth he gained, by his tricky management, a professor's chair. He
blasphemed to his auditors by day, while at night he surrendered himself
to the corruptions of the gambling-room, the beer-cellar and the house
of prostitution. The slave of passion and of doubt, he was, of all his
contemporaries, the most loud-spoken against the claims of God's truth,
and adherence to the canons of the church. His mind was quick, active,
and penetrating. Seizing the pen, he invaded the sanctity of every
doctrine that stood in the way of his corrupt theories. He took up the
Bible with sacrilegious purpose, and made it the plaything of his
vicious heart. He sneered at what was revered by the church and the good
men of past ages, with the kind of levity that should greet the recital
of the stories of _Sinbad the Sailor_ and the _Wonderful Lamp_.

He published many works, the aim of all being to infuse into the masses
a contempt of the received Scriptures. He issued a travesty of the New
Testament under the title of _The New Testament_, or _The Newest
Instructions from God through Jesus and his Apostles_. He did just what
he pleased with the miracles and words of Christ. He would convert
dialogue into parable, and make any passage, however grave in import,
minister to his unsanctified purpose. He banished such expressions as
'kingdom of God,' 'holiness,' 'sanctification,' 'Saviour,' 'Redeemer,'
'way of salvation,' 'Holy Ghost,' 'name of Jesus,' and all other terms
that could leave the impression of inspiration and divine presence.

But corrupt as the church was, it was not ready for this fearful leap;
therefore Bahrdt received a torrent of abuse. Banished and hunted by
opposition, he gained many adherents from the force of the very arrows
discharged against him. He had fallen from the height of faith which he
occupied when he went to Giessen, a fact which he refers to in his
autobiography: "I came to Giessen," says he, "as yet very orthodox. My
belief in the divinity of the Scriptures, in the direct mission of
Jesus, in his miraculous history, in the Trinity, in the gifts of
grace, in natural corruption, in justification of the sinner by laying
hold of the merits of Christ, and especially in the whole theory of
satisfaction, seemed to be immovable. It was only the manner in which
three persons were to be in one God, which had engaged my reason. I had
only explained to myself a little better the work of the Holy Spirit, so
as not to exclude man's activity. I had limited a little the idea of
original sin; and in the doctrine of the atonement and justification, I
had endeavored to uphold the value of virtue, and had cleared myself
from the error that God, in his grace, should not pay any regard at all
to human virtuous zeal. That in the doctrine of the Lord's Supper I was
more Reformed than Lutheran, will be supposed as a matter of course."

But in due time he dropped these points of belief, one by one, until he
indulged in all the illicit extravagances of the radical skeptics of
France. The opposition he met with was a sore rebuke, but it failed to
cure him. He set out for a journey to England and Holland with but three
florins in his purse, and he suffered much by the way. He came home
again only to find new edicts against him. On arriving at Halle, where
he had once been honored, he was met with the following repulse from the
faculty, at whose head stood Semler, the father of his doubt: "Our
vocation demands not only that we should prevent the dissemination of
directly irreligious opinions, but also that we should watch over the
doctrines which are contained in Holy Scripture, and, in conformity with
it, in the _Augsburg Confession of Faith_."

He labored as an educator, preacher, professor, and author. He made all
his enterprises subservient to the dearest object of his life,--money.
He wrote plain books for the masses, and his writings were perused
alike in palace and cottage. While a resident in Halle he established an
inn in the suburbs of the city where his depraved nature was permitted
to indulge in those nameless liberties unbecoming, not only the
theologian, but the rational man. His _liaison_ with the servant-girl in
his employ made his wife an object of public pity, and we can easily
understand his injustice to the latter when he tells us himself that he
had never loved with passion. His death was of a piece with his life.
Having been a public frequenter of brothels and the associate of the
loosest company, he died like the libertine. He was taken off by
syphilis.

It is not necessary to enlarge upon the lesson of Bahrdt's life. He was
the German crystallization of all the worst elements of French
skepticism. He began his work with an evil purpose, and never sought the
wisdom of God who promises to give liberally to all who ask him. The
infamy of his life was soon forgotten, and only his teachings remained
to corrupt the young and injure the mature of the land. While his love
of money controlled his matrimonial alliances and literary labors, his
hatred of revealed religion distorted his whole moral and intellectual
nature. He is illustrative of the certain doom which awaits the man who
commits himself to the sole guidance of his doubts. Semler's moral life
was _in spite_ of erroneous opinions; Bahrdt's was in _conformity_ with
them. And what the latter was in his career and death is the best
comment that can be written on the natural effect of Rationalism. Would
that he had been the only warning; but he had his followers when his
creed became the fashion of the German church. The depth of his infamy
is only aggravated by the holy sphere in which he wrought fearful havoc
upon the succeeding generation. The Old Play says truly:

     "That sin does ten times aggravate itself,
     That is committed in an holy place;
     An evil deed done by authority
     Is sin and subornation; deck an ape
     In tissue, and the beauty of the robe
     Adds but the greater scorn unto the beast;
     The poison shows worst in a golden cup;
     Dark night seems darker by the lightning's flash;
     Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds;
     And every glory that inclines to sin,
     The shame is trebled by the opposite."



CHAPTER VI.

CONTRIBUTIONS OF LITERATURE AND PHILOSOPHY.


The views of Semler, possessing great power of fascination, soon gained
popular strength. As a result, the strictly literary tastes of the
people took a theological turn and the Bible became the theme of every
aspirant to authorship. As no system had yet been advanced by the
Rationalists, there was wide range for doctrinal and exegetical
discussion. The devoted Pietists, who were now in the background, looked
on in amazement as they trembled for the pillars of faith. They knew not
what to do. Many of their number had proved themselves fanatics and
brought odium upon the revered names of Spener and Francke. Their
enemies were traveling in foreign lands, ransacking the libraries of
other tongues to bring home the poisonous seeds of doubt. At home, the
University was the training school of ungoverned criticism. History,
science, literature, and philology were only prized according to the
measure of strength they possessed to combat the great claims of the
orthodox church. Besides, the Rationalists seemed to be impartial
inquirers. They set themselves to understand the Scriptural lands and
languages, while their progress in recent Biblical literature gained for
them the respect of many who, though less learned, were more
evangelical. The masses have always paid homage to learning, and in this
case, it was the attainments of the Illuminists which gave them a
standing denied to the friends of the Bible.

The times were all astir with the evidences of mental progression. There
was now a resurrection of European activity. Look whither you will,
there was nowhere either the spirit of sleep or of sloth. The science of
government, the beauties of æsthetic culture, the discoveries of the
material world, and the long-sealed mysteries of philology, were each
the centre of a host of admirers and votaries. As in the fourteenth and
fifteenth centuries Europe arose from the torpidity of the Middle Ages,
so did the eighteenth century witness a new revival from the darkness
and sluggishness of Continental Protestantism. There appeared to be a
universal repudiation of old methods, and a new civilization was now the
aim of every class of literary adventurers. Semler had struck the
key-note of human pride. He had so flattered his race by saying that the
Bible was not so sacred as to be exempt from criticism, that his
contemporaries would not willingly let his words fall to the ground. The
temptation was too strong to be resisted, and soon the Scriptures became
a carcass around which the vultures of Germany gathered to satisfy the
cravings of their wanton hunger. We do not say that the destructionists
desired to injure the faith of the people, or to cast odium upon the
pages that Luther and Melanchthon had unfolded to the German heart. But
believing as they did that the popular respect for the Bible was sheer
Bibliolatry, and that therefore the dignity of reason was compromised,
they bestirred themselves to show every weak point in the faith of the
church. They hastened to expose the defects of the Scriptures with as
much frankness as they would brand a sentence in Cicero or Seneca to be
the interpolation of an impostor.

In no nation has theology, as a science, absorbed more literary talent
and labor than in Germany. In America and Great Britain the theologian
is the patron of his own department of thought. But in Germany, poets,
romancists, and scientific men write almost as many works connected with
religious questions as on topics within their own chosen vocation. The
Teuton considers himself a born theologian. So it was after the
announcement of the destructive theories of Semler. All classes of
thinkers invited themselves to discuss the Scriptures and their claims
with as much freedom as if God had told them it was the true aim of
their life.

What was the consequence? Semler, having left so much room for doubt,
and having rather indicated a direction than supplied a plan, a great
number of men adopted the accommodation-theory and each one built his
own edifice upon it. But the conclusions arrived at by them were very
unlike, and generally incongruous. And such a result was very natural;
for, all claiming the unrestricted use of reason, the issue of their
thinking was the work of the individual mind. No two intellects are
perfectly similar. Set a number of men to write upon a given subject and
they will employ a different style, give expression to diverse thoughts,
and perhaps reach antipodal conclusions. So when these writers against
inspiration plied the pen, and burdened the press with their prolix
effusions, there was no harmony in their thoughts. In one opinion they
were firmly united, _that the Bible is a human book_. But how much of it
was authentic; what was history and what myth; what poetry and what
incident; these and a thousand kindred points divided the Rationalists
into almost as many classes as there were individuals.

There were two principal tendencies which gave a permanence and
efficiency to Rationalism quite beyond the expectation of its most
sanguine friends and admirers. One was _literary_, and inaugurated by
Lessing; the other purely _philosophical_, and conducted by Kant.

The literary despotism at Berlin was one of the most remarkable in the
annals of periodical literature. We refer to the _Universal German
Library_, under the control of Nicolai. Its avowed aim was to laud every
Rationalistic book to the skies, but to reproach every evangelical
publication as unworthy the support, or even the notice, of rational
beings. Its appliances for gaining knowledge were extensive, and it
commanded a survey of the literature of England, Holland, France, and
Italy. Whatever appeared in these lands received its immediate
attention, and was reproached or magnified according to its relations to
the skeptical creed of Nicolai and his co-laborers. Commencing in 1765,
it ran a career of power and prosperity such as but few serials have
ever enjoyed. It terminated its existence in 1792, having inflicted
incalculable evil upon the popular estimate of the vital doctrines of
Christianity. Being the great organ of the Rationalists, it sat in
judgment upon the sublime truths of our holy faith. With all the rage of
an infuriated lion it pounced upon every literary production or
practical movement that had a tendency to restore the old landmarks. Its
influence was felt throughout Germany and the Continent. Every
university and gymnasium listened to it as an oracle, while its power
was felt even in the pot-houses and humblest cottages. Berlin was
completely under its sway, and _Berliner_ was a synonym of
_Rationalist_. Oetinger wrote a curious passage in a volume of sermons,
published in 1777, in which he descants _On those things of which the
people of Berlin know nothing_: "They know nothing of the Lord of glory;
they are sick of these shallow-pated Liebnitzians; they wish to know
nothing of the promises of God; they have nothing to do with the
salutations of the seven spirits; they form a mechanical divinity after
their own notion. The Berliners know nothing of man so far as he is a
subject of divine grace; nothing of angels or devils, nothing of what
sin is, nothing of eating and drinking the flesh and blood of Christ,
and still less of the communion of saints, and that the spirit can be
communicated by the laying on of hands. They know nothing of the truth
that baptism and the Lord's Supper are agents for a spiritual union with
Christ; they know nothing of heaven and hell; nothing of the interval
before the resurrection. Neither do they wish to know anything save what
may harmonize with their own depraved views. But the time will come when
Jesus will show them how they should have confessed him before the
world." This was Berlin, and Berlin was Germany.

The position of Rationalism during the last quarter of the eighteenth
century was surrounded with circumstances of the most conflicting
nature. Had it been advocated by a few more such ribald characters as
Bahrdt its career would soon have been terminated from the mere want of
respectability. But had it assumed a more serious phase and become the
protegé of such pious men as Semler was at heart, there would have been
no limit to the damage it might inflict upon the cause of Protestantism.
And there were indications favorable to either result. However, by some
plan of fiendish malice, skepticism received all the support it could
ask from the learned, the powerful, and the ambitious. Here and there
around the horizon could be seen some rising literary star that, for the
hour, excited universal attention. His labor was to impugn the contents
of the Scriptures and insinuate against the moral purity of the writers
themselves. Another candidate for theological glory appeared, and
reproached the style of the inspired record. A third came vauntingly
forward with his geographical discoveries and scientific data, and
reared the accommodation-theory so many more stories higher than Semler
had left it that it almost threatened to fall of its own weight. Strange
that the poetic Muse should lend her inspiration to such unholy
purposes; but in the poetry of that day there was but little of the
Christian element, and he need not be greatly skilled in classic verse
who concludes that the loftiest poetry of Rationalism was as thoroughly
heathen as the dramas of Euripides or Plautus.

Immediately before the appearance of the _Wolfenbüttel Fragments_ by
Lessing, there was the significant lull before the storm. A single
editorial in some religious periodical might decide the fate of
Rationalism. In a few years more it might lie outside the lecture-halls
and renowned churches as thoroughly discarded as a cast-off garment. Or
it might rise to new power and bend all opposition before it. Every one
seemed to be waiting to see what would come next. Would it be the hoarse
thunder and the glare of lightning; or would the clouds be rent and the
clear sky be seen through the widening rifts?

Lessing touched a chord which vibrated throughout the land. While in
charge of the celebrated Library at Wolfenbüttel he met with a
manuscript production of Reimarus, bearing the title of _Vindication of
the Rational Worshipers of God_. It can still be found in the Town
Library of Hamburg. Between 1774 and 1778, Lessing issued seven
_Fragments_ from this work; and the result was, that Germany was
electrified by the boldness and importance of the views there advanced.
They cannot be considered the private opinions of Lessing, for in many
places he appends notes stating his opposition to them. But he heartily
approved the substance of the work, though his object in the publication
of the _Fragments_ was more to feel the public pulse than to instill
theological doctrines into the minds of the people. Reimarus had been a
doubter like many others of his countrymen. He committed his mental
phases to paper, though he thought that it was not yet time to issue
them for public notice. The _Fragments_ published by Lessing contain the
gist of his entire work, and contributed far more to the growth of
skepticism than a larger production would probably have done. The
historical evidences of Christianity and of the doctrine of inspiration,
according to the _Fragments_, are clad in such a garb of superstition
that they do not merit the credence of sensible men. The confessions
framed at different periods of the history of the church have savored
far more of human weakness than of divine knowledge. They bear but
slight traces of Biblical truth. The Trinity is incomprehensible, and
the heart should not feel bound to lean upon what Reason cannot fathom.
Nearly all the Old Testament history is a string of legends and myths
which an advanced age should indignantly reject. Christ never really
intended to establish a permanent religion; the work of his apostles was
something unanticipated by himself. His design was to restore Judaism
to its former state, throw off the Roman yoke, and declare himself king.
His public entry into Jerusalem was designed to be his installation as a
temporal king; but he failed in his dependence upon popular support,
and, instead of attaining a throne, he died on the cross. Belief in
Scriptural records is perfectly natural to the Christian, for he has
imbibed it from education and training. Reason is forestalled in the
ordinary education of children; they are baptized before they are old
enough to exercise their own reasoning faculties. Faith in Scripture
testimony is really of no greater value than the belief of the
Mohammedan or Jew in their oracles, unless Reason be permitted to occupy
the seat of judgment.

We have said that the excitement raised by the publication of the
_Fragments_ was intense. There was in them more calmness of expression,
and more apparent effort for truthful conclusions than many of the
previously published works of the Rationalists had indicated. By and by,
there sprang up a decided opposition to the work of Lessing; and from
all quarters of the German church there came earnest and vigorous
replies. It was surprising that there remained so much tenacity for the
old faith. Lessing received the censure of many of the best and wisest
men of his time; his publication of the _Fragments_ was claimed to be a
curse to the cause of truth. But he had accomplished what he wished,
while his success was far beyond his expectation. He found that a large
portion of his countrymen were not willing to cast loose from the old
moorings of the Protestant teachings, and that, whatever the previous
indications were, there was yet a deep undercurrent of attachment to the
time-honored confessions of the church.

The movement employed by Lessing to find out what the people really
believed is one of the shrewdest literary tricks on record. Without
committing himself to what he issued, and watching carefully the effect
of the _Fragments_, he began to publish his own views with no little
assurance that he would prove successful. He learned that the Wolffian
philosophy was becoming effete, and so he raised the cry, loud and
clear, against its longer existence. He violently opposed the
obliteration of all dependence upon the historical proofs of
Christianity, and claimed that, in the matter of religion, the heart has
a work not less than the reason. His principle was: overthrow this
historical basis, and you endanger the whole edifice. He inflicted great
injury upon the inflated, pompous Popular Philosophy, for he exposed its
emptiness as but few were able to do. He opposed, with all the force of
his rare satirical and logical power, the attempt of the Rationalists to
substitute the intuitions of Reason for the dictates of the heart and
for the promptings of faith. "What else," he asks, "is this modern
theology when compared with orthodoxy, than filthy water with clear
water? With orthodoxy we had, thanks to God, pretty much settled;
between it and philosophy a barrier had been erected, behind which each
of these could walk in its own way without molesting the other. But what
is it that they are now doing? They pull down this barrier, and, under
the pretext of making us _rational Christians_, they make us most
_irrational philosophers_. In this we agree that our old religious
system is false, but I should not like to say with you [he is writing to
his brother] that it is a patch-work, got up by jugglers and
semi-philosophers. I do not know of anything in the world in which human
ingenuity had more shown and exercised itself than in it. A patch-work
by jugglers and semi-philosophers is that religious system which they
would put in the place of the old one, and, in doing so, would pretend
to more rational philosophy than the old one claims."

It was difficult to tell what Lessing believed. His publication of the
views of a doubter was of itself a proof that he agreed, to some extent
at least, with them. This we must grant as a concession to his honesty
and common sense. And when assailed by Götze and others for thus
attacking the faith of the church, he replied that, even if the
Fragmentists were right, Christianity was not thereby endangered.[31] He
rejected the letter, but reserved the spirit of the Scriptures. With
him, the letter is not the spirit and the Bible is not religion.
Consequently, objections against the letter, as well as against the
Bible, are not precisely objections against the spirit and religion. For
the Bible evidently contains more than belongs to religion, and it is a
mere supposition, that, in this additional matter which it contains, it
must be equally infallible. Moreover, religion existed before there was
a Bible. Christianity existed before evangelists and apostles had
written. However much, therefore, may depend upon those Scriptures, it
is not possible that the whole truth of the Christian religion should
depend upon them. Since there existed a period in which it was so far
spread, in which it had already taken hold of so many souls, and in
which, nevertheless, not one letter was written of that which has come
down to us, it must be possible also that everything which evangelists
and prophets have written might be lost again, and yet the religion
taught by them, stand. The Christian religion is not true because
Evangelists and apostles taught it; _but they taught it because it was
true_. It is from their internal truth that all written documents must
be explained, and all these written documents cannot give it internal
truth when it has none. The Christian religion is distinguished from the
religion of Christ; the latter, being a life immediately implanted and
maintained in our heart, manifests itself in love, and can neither stand
nor fall with the Gospel. The truths of religion have nothing to do with
the facts of history.

With such opinions as these, expressed in great clearness and
conciseness, who can fail to perceive that their tendency was to
overthrow the traditional faith of the church in large portions of the
Bible? Who is to be the judge of what is to be retained and what
rejected? Indeed, if Lessing be right, the entire Scripture record might
be abolished without doing violence to religion. The effect of his
writings was decidedly skeptical. His view of Christianity was merely
æsthetical, and only so far as the Bible was an agent of popular
elevation, did he seem to consider it valuable. He did not dispute the
facts of Scripture history because of the various accounts given of them
by the inspired writers. Variety of testimony was no ground for the
total overthrow of the thing testified. He retained the history of the
resurrection in spite of the different versions of it. "Who," he asks,
"has ever ventured to draw the same inference in profane history? If
Livy, Polybius, Dionysius, and Tacitus relate the very same event, it
may be the very same battle, the very same siege, each one differing so
much in the details that those of the one completely give the lie to
those of the other, has any one, for that reason, ever denied the event
itself in which they agree?"

We may examine the entire circle of Lessing's literary productions, and
we shall see, scattered here and there through them, sentiments which,
taken singly, would have a very beneficial effect upon the popular faith
in inspiration and the historical testimony of the Scriptures. But,
unhappily, these were overshadowed by others of a conflicting nature,
and though he did not array himself as a champion of Rationalism, he
proved himself one of the strongest promoters of its reign. He
considered his age torpid and sluggish. It was his desire to awaken it.
And he did succeed in giving to the chaotic times in which he lived that
literary direction which we now look back upon as the starting-point of
recent German literature. The chief evil that he inflicted was due to
the position in which he placed himself as the combatant of the avowed
friends of inspiration. He was honest in his love of truth, but he loved
the search for it more than the attainment. The key to his whole life
may be found in his own words: "If God should hold in his right hand all
truth, and in his left the ever-active impulse and love of search after
truth, although accompanied with the condition that I should ever err,
and should say, 'Choose!' I would choose the left with humility, and
say, 'Give, Father! Pure truth belongs to thee alone!'"

The revolution which Lessing wrought in literature was only equaled by
that achieved by Kant in the domain of philosophy.

It has been one of the historical features of German theology that it
has ever affiliated with philosophy. The mathematical method of Wolf has
been a severe blow to orthodoxy, and it was but partially counteracted
by the work of Pietism. But the influence of that copyist of Leibnitz is
only of a piece with the impression made upon theology and faith by
every respectable innovation in philosophy. But Kant threw all others in
the shade. He was the agent of a change in philosophical thinking, which
was destined not only to reform the old systems of Germany, but to wield
a universal power over modern thought. He had looked to England for his
masters, and succeeded in gaining a thorough acquaintance with the grave
skepticism of Hume and kindred minds. He shut himself up in his native
Königsberg, and, in all his life, never traveled more than thirty miles
therefrom. He had the memory of a pious Christian mother ever present to
him, and no one can conjecture the probable influence that her example
exerted upon his mental processes. The astute philosopher wrote of her
with the deepest feeling of his nature when he said, "My mother was an
amiable, sensitive, pious, and devoted woman, who taught her children
the fear of God by her godly teachings and spotless life. She often led
me outside the city, and showed me the works of God; she pointed me with
devout feelings to the omnipotence, wisdom, and goodness of God; and
inspired my heart with a deep reverence for the Creator of all things. I
shall never forget my mother, for it was she who planted and
strengthened my first germ of goodness; she opened my heart to the
impressions of nature; she awakened and advanced my conceptions; and it
has been her instructions that have exerted a permanent and wholesome
influence upon my life."

First an undergraduate and afterward a professor in the University of
Königsberg, Kant quietly matured his principles, and was in no haste to
communicate them to the world. He delivered his philosophy to his
students in the form of lectures, and was extremely careful not to
publish it until he was sure that his mind had arrived at its final
conclusions. A student named Hippel, who had enjoyed his intimacy, was
the first to give publicity to his opinions. He employed the medium of a
novel. He forestalled their real author, and Kant was compelled to
explain the matter openly as a breach of faith. Gradually the
lecture-hall at Königsberg became full of hearers, who, in a little
time, could gain admittance only with difficulty. The professor of
philosophy was a magnet that drew to that bleak northern city students
from all parts of the Continent. Finally the opportune moment arrived.
Having written, rewritten, altered, and abridged until he looked upon
his work as beyond his power of improvement, he now deemed his
convictions permanently formed. So the _Critique of Pure Reason_ entered
upon its career of victory. The literary and thinking world had learned
but a little of it in Hippel's book; and now there seemed to be no
inclination to probe the concise language of the master's work, for the
task appeared greater than the fruits would justify. This hesitancy was
a glaring testimony to the loose thinking and careless literary habits
of those days. But the haste with which Kant prosecuted the authorship
of his work, apart from the thoughts employed in its elaboration into a
system, furnishes some ground of apology for the failure of the public
to fathom it. "I wrote," he says in a letter to Moses Mendelssohn, "this
product of at least twelve years of diligent reflection within a period
of from four to five months, paying indeed the greatest attention to the
contents, but unable, borne away, as it were, upon the wings of thought,
to bestow that care upon the style which might have promoted a readier
insight into my meaning on the part of the reader."

Several years now pass by, and the great work is still neglected.
Perhaps it is false, or mayhap it is ill-timed. Finally Schulze hits
upon the difficulty when he conjectures that, if men only knew what was
in the book they would not only read it, but be ravished with its
contents. Thereupon he issues his _Elucidations of Kant's Critique of
Pure Reason_. Now people begin to open their eyes. The work of Schulze
is read by everybody, and in turn it serves as an introduction to the
work of Kant. Soon the universities and reading circles demand it, and
the whole land is suddenly transformed into a race of philosophers. The
popularity of the work is boundless. It is written in a style adapted
only to systematic thinkers; but no matter, it becomes a fashion to read
it. It is the topic in stagecoaches and drawing rooms. Failure to have
perused Kant's book is a mark of ignorance which receives rebuke on
every hand. In self-defense every one feels bound to read it, if the
continued respect of friends can reasonably be expected. The work itself
is interlarded with new terminology and pruned expressions that betray
the constant impress of the author's mind. So, in a short time, writers
on the various sciences employ these very terms as at once the best
vehicle for the conveyance of their thoughts and for accession to
popularity. It has its opponents in Hamann, Jacobi, Reimarus, Tiedemann,
and others; yet he is a bold spirit who dares to attack this object of
universal favor. But the opposition is insufficient, and the _Critique
of Pure Reason_ is too strong for these hastily-conceived rejoinders.
Every department of inquiry is powerfully affected by it. Religion,
logic, metaphysics, law, psychology, æsthetics, and education are alike
molded by its plastic touch. Holland and all the north of Europe are
vocal with its praises.

And now we may ask, why such favor shown toward this new apparition? Let
us delay a moment and examine the hard-wrought thoughts of this
bachelor-son of an obscure saddler. Kant had been profoundly disgusted
with the want of harmony in philosophical speculations. The
disagreements that he saw in his own time were but the continuation of
what, he had learned from history, was the fact in the days of the
heathen sages. Following close upon the footsteps of Hume, he asked:
"How far can human reason go? Where is its limit?" His _Critique_ was
the answer. He showed that, if the loose methods of thought were to be
continued, philosophy, instead of being the hand-maid of religion, would
be unworthy the attention of the most unlettered man. Hence he would
recall reason from its lofty flights, and direct its attention solely to
self-consciousness. Only by studying the powers of the mind as a datum,
he held, can any positive results be gained. Using his own illustration
of his work, he would do for philosophy what Copernicus had done for
astronomy--reverse metaphysics by referring classes of ideas to inner,
which before had been referred to outer, causes. He granted that, for
some things, man's reason is sufficient. The existence of God, the
doctrine of original sin, and the soul's immortality need no Scripture
to reveal them. They are intuitive subjects of knowledge. But these
truths are extremely limited; man needs what nature has not given him.
Kant's distinction between practical and speculative reason was in favor
of the former, since its aim was wisdom. But speculative reason is often
exerted for its own gratification. Hence its results are frequently
useless and ephemeral. His grand conclusion is, that no object can be
known to us except in proportion as it is apprehended by our
perceptions, and definable by our faculties of cognition; consequently
we know nothing, _per se_, but only by appearances. Our knowledge of
real objects is limited by experience.

With regard to the general character of the critical system of Kant, an
acute author says: "It confined itself to a contemplation of the
phenomena of consciousness, and attempted to ascertain by analysis, not
of our conceptions but of the faculties of the soul, certain invariable
and necessary principles of knowledge; proceeding to define their usage,
and to form an estimate of them collectively with reference to their
_formal_ character; in which investigation the distinctions and
definitions of those faculties adopted by the school of Wolf were
presumed to be valid. It exalted the human mind by making it the centre
of its system; but at the same time confined and restricted it by means
of the consequences deduced. It discouraged also the spirit of dogmatic
speculation, and the ambition of demonstrating all things by means of
mere intellectual ideas, making the faculties of acquiring knowledge the
measure of things capable of being known, and assigning the preeminence
to practical Reason rather than to speculation, in virtue of its
end--wisdom; which is the highest that reason can aspire to, because to
act virtuously is a universal and unlimited, but to acquire knowledge
only a conditional, duty. It had the effect of mitigating the dogmatical
and speculative tendencies of the mind, and the extravagant attempt to
prove everything by means of conceptions of the understanding. It
proscribed mysticism and circumscribed the provinces of science and
belief. It taught men to discriminate and appreciate the grounds, the
tendency, the defects, and partial views, as well as the excellencies of
other systems; at the same time that it embodied a lively principle for
awakening and strengthening the interest attaching to genuine
philosophical research. It afforded to philosophy a firm and steady
centre of action in the unchangeable nature of the human mind. In
general it may be observed that the theory of Kant _constructed_ little;
and rather tended to destroy the structures of an empty dogmatism of the
understanding and prepare, by means of self-knowledge, the way for a
better state of philosophical science; seeking in reason itself the
principles on which to distinguish the several parts of the
philosophy."[32]

Kant had but little to say concerning the positive truths of
Christianity. He respected the character of Christ, and spoke reverently
of the church and her doctrines. Morality, with him, was developed into
religion, not religion into morality. The so-called revelation was only
the mythical copy of the moral law already implanted in our nature. He
believed in a universal religion. Everything peculiar and won by
struggle should be given up; all strife of opinions should cease at
once. Kant designed, in the main, to curb the illicit exercise of
Reason, but his failure to indorse the great doctrines of our faith,
because revealed, threw him on the side of the Rationalists. His
adoption of God's existence, the soul's immortality, human freedom, and
original sin, was not due to his belief in these doctrines as revealed,
but as intuitive. He gradually became a devotee to his own method of
thinking, and it was his aim not to teach _what_ but _how_ to think. He
often told his students that he had no intention or desire to teach them
philosophy, but how to philosophize. It was through Kant that the terms
_Rationalist_,--one who declares natural religion alone to be morally
necessary, though he may admit revelation,--_Naturalist_--one who denies
the reality of a supernatural divine revelation,--and
_Supernaturalist_--one who considers the belief in revelation a
necessary element in religion, came into use, and Rationalism and
Supernaturalism became the principal division of theological
schools.[33]

As Descartes had broken up the scholastic philosophy by considering man
apart from his experience, so Kant now gave the death-blow to the
philosophy of Protestant Germany by looking at the mind apart from its
speculations. "The moral effect of his philosophy," says Mr. Farrar,
"was to expel the French Materialism and Illuminism, and to give depth
to the moral perceptions; its religious effect was to strengthen the
appeal to reason and the moral judgment as the test of religious truth;
to render miraculous communication of moral instruction useless, if not
absurd; and to reäwaken the attempt which had been laid aside since the
Wolffian philosophy of endeavoring to find a philosophy of
religion."[34]

Among the antagonists of Kant, Jacobi was perhaps the most powerful. He
was not content that, in these metaphysical speculations, reason should
reign supreme. His belief was that feeling was of as much importance as
the deductions of the intellect. He mastered the various systems of
philosophy and rejected them, Kant's among the rest, as unfit for the
acceptance and pursuit of responsible beings. The two principles which
furnish the key to his views were that religion lies in the feeling, and
that this feeling, which exists in every man's heart, is not reflected,
but original. His dissatisfaction with all systems induced him to term
himself the _Unphilosophical_, and it was with utter disgust that he was
led to declare the foundation of all speculative philosophy to be only a
great cavity, in which we look in vain, as down into an awful abyss.
With him, as with Coleridge, Faith begins where Reason ends.

The two bright stars after Kant were Fichte and Schelling. The former
commenced with the system of the great Königsberg teacher, and developed
it on the negative side, contending that the whole material world has no
existence apart from ourselves, and that it only appears to us in
conformity with certain laws of our mind. He aimed to found a system
which might illustrate, by a single principle, the material and formal
properties of all science; establish the unity of plan which the
critical system had failed to maintain; and solve that most difficult of
all problems regarding the connection between our conceptions and their
objects. His views of God are the most glaring defect of his system. He
contended that we cannot attribute to the Deity intelligence or
personality without making him a finite being like ourselves; that it is
a species of profanation to conceive of him as a separate essence, since
such a conception implies the existence of a sensible being limited by
space and time; that we cannot impute to him even existence without
compounding him with sensible natures; that no satisfactory explanation
has yet been given of the manner in which the creation of the world
could be effected by God; that the idea and expectation of happiness is
a delusion; and that, when we form our notions of the Deity in
accordance with such imaginations, we only worship the idol of our own
passions,--the prince of this world.[35]

Schelling was a man of ardent, sanguine temperament, and it was his
natural proclivities that gave rise to his system of philosophy. He
attributes a real existence to the material as well as to the immaterial
world, but permits it a different mode of existence. He makes history a
necessity. This natural philosophy conveys to us no knowledge of God,
and the little it does reveal appears opposed to religion. What God
performs takes place because it _must be_. Schelling created two
opposite and parallel philosophic sciences, the transcendental
philosophy and the philosophy of Nature. He was a pantheist in
identifying the Deity with nature, and in making Him subject to laws. He
clothed his ideas in the beautiful fancies of his own vivid imagination,
and in him we find the poet, not giving forth verses from his lyre, but
delivering philosophical oracles.

What Schleiermacher was to theology Hegel became to philosophy. He was
the turning-point from doubt and fruitless theories to a more positive
and settled system of thinking. He was, when young, a decided
Rationalist; and his _Life of Christ_, though yet unpublished, is said
by one who has seen it to be a representation of the Messiah as a divine
man, in whom all is pure and sublime, and who made himself remarkable
chiefly by his triumphs over vice, falsehood, hatred and the servile
spirit of his age. He endeavored to explain the reason for Christianity
in the world. He longed for a positive religion. His philosophy is
reducible to a philosophy of nature, which has quite a different meaning
from that of Schelling, for, with Hegel, it is only the expression of
the passage to another being; and to the philosophy of the mind, which
considers thought reflecting itself on itself, and showing itself by the
mind in the sciences of law and morality, in the state, history,
religion, and the arts. The religion which is deduced from this system
may be said to consist of the objective existence of the infinite mind
in the finite, for mind is only for mind; consequently God exists only
in being thought of and in thinking. In the philosophy of nature
intelligence and God are lost in objective nature. Hegel allows them a
distinct and separate existence, but refers them to a common principle
which, according to him, is the absolute idea, or God. In this case,
objective nature is only the absolute idea going out of itself,
individualizing itself, and giving itself limits, though it is infinite.
Thus the intelligence of all men, and external nature, are only
manifestations of the _absolute idea_. It is a mournful tribute that M.
Saintes pays to his memory when he says, as the sum of his labors, that
"he perverted all the Christian opinions which he attempted to restore."
As little flattering is M. Quinet's testimony, that "he saw in
Christianity no more than an idea, the religious worth of which is
independent of the testimonies of history."

This was indeed a race of thinkers who have been equaled in strength in
but few periods of history. Coming in regular succession, their systems
sprang from Kant's philosophy, and constituted the growth of his
wonderful achievement. They tended to withdraw the flippant spirit of
criticism to a more serious and modest path of inquiry, and to make men
look more at their own weakness than at their greatness. But what a mass
of subtleties do we have to pass through to get at the substance of
their speculations! There is something so unsatisfactory in the study of
them, that we find relief only in the knowledge that the Bible contains
the true basis of all sound thinking on the great themes connected with
the well-being and destiny of man. The plainest statements of the word
of God are more valuable than all these vaporings about the non-_Ego_,
the _Ideal_, and _Self-hood_. Simplicity is bliss.

     "Yon cottager who weaves at her own door
     Pillow and bobbins, all her little store,
     Content though mean, and cheerful if not gay,
     Shuffling her threads about the live-long day,
     Just earns a scanty pittance, and at night
     Lies down secure, her heart and pocket light;
     She for her humble sphere by nature fit,
     Has little understanding and no wit;
     Receives no praise, but though her lot be such,
     Toilsome and indigent, she renders much;
     Just knows and knows no more, her Bible true;
     And in that charter reads with sparkling eyes
     Her title to a treasure in the skies."

But yet we grant to these men the meed of having meant well, and of
reforming the philosophy and literature of their times. The immediate
effect of their views was decidedly in favor of Rationalism, because
they almost uniformly deny the absolute authority of the Scriptures.
They grant too much to reason. While Kant would drive the truant mind
back to self-contemplation, he terminates by giving to reason a value
and dignity so great that it becomes entitled to decide upon matters of
faith. Their theories, spun out at such length and concluding in so
little satisfaction, make us rejoice that we have not to depend upon
philosophy for guidance in matters of either the intellect or heart.
They thought independently of the Bible, and here lies the ground of all
failure to obtain positive results in metaphysics. The Scriptures
furnish everything noble and real, and when philosophy aims to supply a
substitute for them it always labors in vain.

We wonder at the tropic luxuriance of Schelling's thoughts, but we are
soon convinced of their little practical purpose when we recall the
fact that he considered the revelation of the gospel as no more than one
of the accidents of the eternal revelation of God in nature and in
history. If Schelling and all these strong minds had commenced their
investigations with the word of God as their basis, there is no telling
how far they might have ministered to an immediate and thorough revival
of faith. But failing to do this, their work has been more doubtful and
tardy. It is a very plain fact that the church cannot look to any other
than to a Christian philosophy for the conservation or regeneration of
her torpid powers. Never has she been thoroughly benefited by the
immediate agency of any other system.

There is one way, however, in which speculative philosophy has
indirectly proved the aid of religion. It has strengthened and quickened
the mental action of the people, and they have through its agency, been
able to look with clearer ken upon the truths of Scripture. However,
after it has reached the goal of its task, we see so little that is
truly valuable and worth preserving, that we are compelled to fall back
upon the Christian revelation as our only chart on the troubled sea of
metaphysical discussion. When we look at the field opened for thought in
the word of God we find it ample and safe. It would be well for every
young mind about entering upon the uncertain mazes of philosophical
speculation, to ponder deeply over these golden words from Isaac
Taylor's _Saturday Evening_: "That portion of Heavenly Wisdom which,
under such circumstances, survives and is cherished, will be just the
first articles of belief,--the Saving Rudiments of Spiritual Life. Of
these the Head of the church himself takes care lest faith should
utterly disappear from the earth. But beside the inestimable jewel of
elementary knowledge--the price of which can never be told--does there
not rest within the folds of the Inspired Book an inexhaustible store,
which the industry of man, piously directed, ought to elicit; but which
if men neglect it, the Lord will not force upon their notice? It is this
hidden treasure which should animate the ambition of vigorous and devout
minds. From such at second hand, the body of the faithful are to receive
it, if at all; and if not so obtained for them, and dealt out by their
teachers, nothing will be more meager, unfixed, almost infantile, than
the faith of Christians."


FOOTNOTES:

[31] Kahnis: _History of German Protestantism_, pp. 145-165.

[32] Tennemann, _Manual of History of Philosophy_, pp. 407-408.

[33] Appleton's _Am. Cyclopædia_--Article _German Theology_.

[34] _Critical History of Free Thought_, p. 280.

[35] Tennemann, _Manual of History of Philosophy_, pp. 429-430.



CHAPTER VII.

THE REIGN OF THE WEIMAR CIRCLE--REVOLUTION IN EDUCATION AND HYMNOLOGY.


The systems of the great philosophical minds whom we have contemplated
were remarkable for their harmony. As we now look back upon them we do
not see shapeless and unfitting fragments, but a superstructure of rare
symmetry and grace. Jacobi was the leaven of improvement, and it was the
mission of that devout man to continue to some extent the habit of
respectful regard for God's word among intelligent circles of society.
All who were unwilling to become votaries of reason were his careful
readers and enthusiastic admirers.

What we thus see developed in philosophy was equally manifest in regard
to literature. There arose, as if by the enchanter's wand, a group of
literary giants at Weimar, an insignificant town on the outskirts of the
Thuringian Forest, who wielded an influence which was destined to be
felt in coming ages. Through a combination of circumstances, Weimar
became their common home. It grew into a modern Parnassus, and to this
day bears the name of the German Athens. Karl August, imitating the
example of Augustus Cæsar, gathered around him as numerous and powerful
a cluster of literary men as his scanty revenue would allow. He paid
but little regard to their theological differences; all that he cared
for was their possession of the truly literary spirit. His little
principality, of which this was the capital, could not possibly be
elevated into either a second or third rate power. All hope of great
influence being cut off in this direction, he secured the presence of
those chiefs of letters who gave him a name and a power secured to but
few in any age. The town of Weimar possesses a calm rustic beauty by
which the traveler cannot fail to be impressed. You see only a few
traces of architectural taste, but the memory of the departed worthies
who once walked the winding streets is now the glory of the place.
There, the church where Herder preached now stands; near by, the slab
that covers the dust of Wieland; yonder, the humble cottage of Schiller,
with the room just as it was when the mute minstrel was borne from it to
his home in the earth; across the brook is Goethe's country villa; and
back in the grove, the table whereon he wrote. There is a quiet sadness
in the whole town, as if nothing were left but the mere recollection of
what it once was. How different the picture sixty years ago, when all
the literary world looked thither for the last oracle from one of these
high-priests of poesy! Book-publishers went there to make proposals for
the editorship of magazines, or for some other new literary enterprise.
Napoleon himself craved an audience with Goethe, and it is the strongest
grudge held by the Germans against the master of their literature that
the oppressor of the fatherland was not denied his request. Young men
went to Weimar from all parts of Europe to kiss the hand of these great
transformers of æsthetic taste. There was not a sovereign within the
pale of civilization who did not envy Karl August's treasures. The
story of the literary achievements, of the Platonic friendships, and of
the evening entertainments of Weimar, forms one of the most remarkable
chapters in the whole history of letters.

The name of Herder demands our prominent notice because of its intimate
connection with the theological movement we have been tracing. He was
eminently adapted to his times. Perfectly at home with his generation,
he looked upon his contemporaries as brethren, and aroused himself
manfully to serve them in every interest. We notice in all his works a
careful study to meet the emergency then pressing upon society. We will
not say that Herder wrote every work just as it should have been, and
that he was evangelical throughout. This he was not, but he was greatly
in advance of his predecessors. Amid the labyrinth of philosophical
speculations it is interesting and refreshing to meet with an author
who, though endowed with the mind of a philosopher, was content to pass
for a poet, or even for an essayist. His was a mind of rare versatility.
What he was not capable of putting his hand to scarcely deserved the
name of study. In philosophy, practical religion, literature, church
history, education and exegesis he labored with almost equal success. He
was the instrument of God, not to raise each of the crushed elements of
Christian power to a lofty vitality, but to contribute to the moderate
elevation of nearly every one of them. It might be expected that his
later writings would not abound in such hearty tributes to devout
religious life as we find so glowingly expressed in his earlier
productions. The atmosphere of Weimar favored a perverted growth. The
personal acquaintance of the men who surrounded him increased his
literary power but did not make his religion more fervent and powerful.
His training had been in the old purifying furnace of Pietism. His
father had been a rare specimen of that class of devout householders,
who, back in the days of Spener and Francke, were the real glory of the
German people. Young Herder was accustomed to family worship every day,
when the hard duties of temporal life were forgotten by those engaged in
singing, in the leisurely reading of the Scriptures, and in prayer. One
of the first books that had fallen under his notice was Arndt's "_True
Christianity_." It was this work that inspired him with that respect for
religion which never left him in subsequent life.

Herder's creed was the improvement of man. He expressed it in one word,
_humanity_. But by this term he meant more than most men conceive in
whole volumes. With him, it was that development and elevation of the
race for which every true man should labor. We do not come into this
life with a perfect humanity; but we have the germ of it, and therefore
we should contribute to its growth with unceasing energy. We are born
with a divine element within us, and it is for the maturity of this
personal gift that all great and good men, such as lawgivers,
discoverers, philosophers, poets, artists and every truly noble friend
of his race, have striven, in the education of children, by the various
institutions designed to foster their individual taste. To beautify
humanity is the great problem of humanity. It must be done; man must be
elevated by one long and unwearied effort, or he will relax into
barbarism. Christianity presents us, in the purest way, with the purest
humanity.

Herder was greatly interested in the poetic features of the Bible. His
work on _Hebrew Poesy_ is full of his warm attachment to the inspired
pictures of early oriental life and history. Whatever divested the
Scriptures of this eastern glow received his outright indignation. He
censured Michaelis for having criticised all the heart out of the
time-honored and God-given record. He compared the critical labors of
the Rationalists to squeezing a lemon; and the Bible that they would
give, he said, "was nothing save a juiceless rind." He totally rejected
the scientific reading of the Bible for common purposes; and maintained,
with great ardor, that the more simple and human our reading of God's
word is, the nearer do we approach God's will. We must make use of our
own thoughts, and we must imagine living scenes, with the inspired words
as our thought-outlines. The whole policy of the new class of critics,
he believed, was a thoroughly mistaken one. Instead of discarding the
pictorial Biblical beauties, as they did with a few hasty dashes of the
pen, he would elevate them to a loftier status, and lead the rising
generation to imbibe their spirit as a useful element for later life. In
his opinion, many of the Rationalists had not the keen insight into the
marvelous beauty of the Bible which all should possess who would
undertake to elucidate its language and doctrines. They were, therefore,
not competent to decide upon it. The only proper method of studying the
Scriptures for the instruction of others is by the exercise of a fine
poetic sentiment. Hence the best poet makes the best exegete. This
reminds us of Schiller's idea of historiography. Schiller said that, in
his writing of history, he did not intend to feel continually hampered
by the sequence of events, but that he would write as his own
imagination approved. High above facts would he place æsthetic taste. A
beautiful fancy! But heaven be praised that all historians are not
Schillers, and that all commentators are not Herders.

From this representation of Herder's tenacity for the records of
inspiration, and particularly for the Mosaic accounts, one would be led
to infer that his attachment was due solely to his lofty views of the
supernatural origin of these revelations. But we cannot think this was
the fact. A careful estimate of his underlying sympathies leads us to
conclude that he loved the Bible, not because it was inspired, as much
as because it was the highest, earliest, and simplest embodiment of
poetry,--for it traces out those things in our history which we are most
interested in knowing. The poetic beauty of the Scriptures entranced
him. Had each chapter of our canon been written in stately prose, Herder
would have been one of its coldest admirers. He ransacked the myths and
legends of various nations, and dwelt upon the stories of giants and
demi-gods with scarcely less enthusiasm than if discoursing on the
building of Babel or on the gift of the law on Sinai. Herder disliked
the theories of Kant with cordial aversion. Of course the Königsberg
sage had nothing in common with the Weimar rhapsodist. Had Herder only
given a prominence to his belief in the _fact_ of inspiration equally
with an admiration of the _method_ of it, his service to the cause of
practical religion would have been incalculable. Yet, in his views of
the person of Christ, he was far in advance of the times. He conceived
Christ not as a mere innovating teacher, but as the great centre of
faith. His belief in the sufficiency of the atonement stands out in bold
contrast with the barren faith of his Weimar associates, who had such
lofty ideas of human excellence that they thought man needed only one
thing more to complete his perfection,--his emergence from ignorance
into taste and knowledge. But Herder could see an abyss of depravity in
the heart along with the germ of excellence. He held that Christ alone
was able to annihilate the former and develop the latter. He believed
that the first three evangelists gave the human side of Christ's
character, and that it was John who revealed his divinity. With these
four accounts before us we cannot be at a loss to form a sound opinion
on the mission of the Messiah. He came to seek and save the lost. What
he accomplished could have been effected by no other agency. Herder's
own words are: "Jesus must be looked upon as the first real fountain of
purity, freedom, and salvation to the world." Of the Lord's Supper he
said, on his entrance upon his pastoral duties at Weimar, "The Lord's
Supper should not be a mere word and picture, but a fact and truth. We
should taste and see what joys God has prepared for us in Jesus Christ
when we have intercourse with him at his own table. In every event and
accident of life we should feel that we are his brethren and are sitting
at one table, and that, when we refresh ourselves at the festival of our
Saviour, we are resting in the will and love of the great King of the
world as in the bosom of the Father. The high, still joy of Christ, and
the spirit which prevails in the eternal kingdom of heaven should speak
out from ourselves, influence others, and testify of our own love." It
is a lamentable reflection, however, that Herder's lofty views of the
mission of Christ, which had been formed in the paternal home, were, in
common with many other evangelical views, doomed to an unhappy
obscuration upon the advance of his later years by frequent intercourse
with more skeptical minds.

One of the chief services rendered the church by Herder was his
persistent attempt to elevate the pastoral office to its original and
proper dignity. He held that the pastor of the church should not be
solely a learned critic but the minister of the common people. In his
day, the pastor was considered the mere instrument of the state, a sort
of theological policeman;--a degradation which Herder could hardly
permit himself to think of without violent indignation. In his _Letters
on the Study of Theology_, published in 1780, and in subsequent smaller
works, he sought to evoke a generation of theologians who, being imbued
with his own ideas of humanity, would betake themselves to the
edification of the humble mind. He would eject scholasticism from the
study of the Bible, and show to his readers that simplicity of inquiry
is the safest way to happy results. He would place the modern pastor,
both in his relations to the cause of humanity and in the respect
awarded him by the world, close beside the patriarch and prophet of
other days. And that man, in his opinion, was not worthy the name of
pastor who could neglect the individual requirements of the soul.
According to Herder, the theologian should be trained from childhood
into the knowledge of the Bible and of practical religion. Youths should
have ever before them the example of pious parents, who were bringing
them up with a profound conviction of the doctrines of divine truth. To
choose theology for a profession from mercenary aims would preclude all
possibility of pastoral usefulness. "Let prayer and reading the Bible be
your morning and evening food," was his advice to a young preacher. Some
of the most eloquent words from his pen were written against the
customary moral preaching which so much afflicted him. "Why don't you
come down from your pulpits," he asks, "for they cannot be of any
advantage to you in preaching such things? What is the use of all these
Gothic churches, altars, and such matters? No, indeed! Religion, true
religion, must return to the exercise of its original functions, or a
preacher will become the most indefinite, idle, and indifferent thing on
earth. Teachers of religion, true servants of God's word, what have you
to do in our century? The harvest is plenteous, but the laborers are
few. Pray the Lord of the harvest that he will send out laborers who
will be something more than bare teachers of wisdom and virtue. More
than this, Help yourselves!"

The counsel given by Herder to others was practised first by himself. He
lived among critical minds, who spurned humble pastoral work, but he
felt it his duty, and therefore discharged it to the best of his
ability. His preaching was richly lucid, and not directed to the most
intelligent portion of his auditors. He took up a plain truth and strove
to make it plainer. Yet, while the masses were most benefited by his
simplicity of pulpit conversation, those gifted men who thought with him
arose from their seats profoundly impressed with the dignity and value
of the gospel. A witty writer of the time, Sturz, gives an account of
Herder's preaching that throws some light upon the manner in which the
plain, earnest exposition of God's word always affected the indifferent
auditor. "You should have seen," says this man, "how every rustling
sound was hushed and each curious glance was chained upon him in a very
few minutes. We were as still as a Moravian congregation. All hearts
opened themselves spontaneously; every eye hung upon him and wept
unwonted tears. Deep sighs escaped from every breast. My dear friend,
nobody preaches like him. Else religion would be to every one just what
it should be, the most valuable and reliable friend of men. He explained
the gospel of the day without fanaticism, yet with a grand simplicity
which needed not to ransack the world for its wisdom, its figures of
speech, or its scholastic arts. It was no religious study, hurled in its
three divisions at the heart of stony sinners; nor was it what some
would call a current article of pulpit manufacture. It was no cold,
heathen, moral lecture, which sought nothing but Socrates in the Bible,
and would therefore teach that we can do without both Christ and the
Scriptures. But he preached the faith which works by love, the same
which was first preached by the God of love, the kind which teaches to
suffer and bear and hope, and which, by its rest and contentment,
rewards bountifully and independently of all the joys and sorrows of the
world. It seems to me that the scholars of the apostles must have
preached thus, for they did not tie themselves down to the hard
dogmatics of their faith, and therefore did not play with technical
terms, as children with their counting pennies." William von Humboldt
said of Herder's sermons that they were "very attractive: one always
found them too short, and wished them of double length." Schiller spoke
of his sermons as plain, natural, and adapted to the common life, and
adds that Herder's preaching was "more pleasing to him than any other
pulpit exercise to which he had ever listened."

Herder was the great theological writer of Weimar, and as such, his
impression upon theology and religion in general was decided. Though he
opposed the Kantian philosophy, because of its petrifying tendency, his
antagonism was counteracted by others of the Weimar celebrities. Goethe
and Schiller eclipsed all other names in their department of thought,
and were the culmination of the new type of literature. Herder might
preach, but it was only to a comparatively small world. Goethe and
Schiller were, on all points of literature, the oracles of Europe. Like
Kant, they stamped their own impress upon theology, which at that day
was plastic and weak beyond all conception. Under the Königsberg thinker
it became a great philosophical system as cold as Mont Blanc. Then came
Poetry and Romance, which, though they could give a fresh glow to the
face, had no power to breathe life into the prostrate form.

Schiller shares with Goethe the loftiest niche in the pantheon of German
literature. But the former is more beloved than the latter, for the
reason that his countrymen think that he had more soul. Schiller
endeared himself to his land because of his ardent aspirations to
political freedom. The poet of freedom is long-lived, and France will no
sooner forget her Béranger, nor America her Whittier, than the German
fatherland will become oblivious of Schiller. Like Herder, Schiller had
been trained carefully in household religion. In his earliest outbursts
of religious feeling there prevailed that ardent and devout spirit
which, had it been fostered by a healthy popular taste, might have
matured into something so transcendentally brilliant and useful, that
the writer of _The Robbers_ would have proved one of the reformers of
his people. If his education had reaped its appropriate harvest, his
probable bearing upon the regeneration of Germany can be but faintly
imagined by the aid of Klopstock's example. These were the sincere
thoughts of Schiller's over-burdened soul when, one Sabbath in 1777, he
addressed himself to the Deity: "God of truth, Father of light. I look
to thee with the first rays of the morning sun, and I bow before thee.
Thou seest me, O God! Thou seest from afar every pulsation of my praying
heart. Thou knowest well my earnest desire for truth. Heavy doubt often
veils my soul in night; thou knowest how anxious my heart is within me,
and how it goes out for heavenly light. Oh yes! A friendly ray has often
fallen from thee upon my shadowed soul. I saw the awful abyss on whose
brink I was trembling, and I have thanked the kind hand that drew me
back in safety. Still be with me, my God and Father, for these are days
when fools stalk about and say, 'there is no God.' Thou hast given me my
birth, O my Creator, in these days when superstition rages at my right
hand and skepticism scoffs at my left. So I often stand and quake in the
storm; and oh, how often would the bending reed break if thou didst not
prevent it; thou, the mighty Preserver of all thy creatures and Father
of all who seek thee.

"What am I without truth, without her leadership through life's
labyrinths? A wanderer through the wilderness, overtaken by the night,
with no friendly hand to lead me and no guiding star to show me the
path. Doubt, uncertainty, skepticism! You begin with anguish and you end
with despair. But Truth, thou leadest us safely through life, bearest
the torch before us in the dark vale of death, and bringest us home to
heaven, where thou wast born. O my God, keep my heart in peace, in that
holy rest during which Truth loves best to visit us. The sun refuses to
reflect itself in the stormy sea, but it is down into its calm
mirror-like flood that it beams its face. Even thus keep my heart at
peace, O God, that it may be fit to know thee and Jesus Christ whom thou
hast sent; for this alone is the truth which strengthens the heart and
elevates the soul. If I have truth then I have Christ; if I have Christ,
then have I God; and if I have God, then I have everything. And could I
ever permit myself to be robbed of this precious gem, this
heaven-reaching blessing by the wisdom of this world, which is
foolishness in thy sight? No. He who hates truth I will call my enemy,
but he who seeks it with simple heart I will embrace as my brother and
my friend.

"The bell rings that calls me to the sanctuary. I hasten thither to make
good my confession, to strengthen myself in the truth, and to prepare
myself for death and eternity. O lead me in such a path, my Father, and
so open my heart to the impressions of truth that I may be strong enough
to make it known to my fellow men. They know that thou art their God and
Father, and that thou didst send Jesus thy Son, and the Holy Spirit who
was to testify of the truth. They can therefore have strength for every
grief of this life, and for the sorrows of death a bright hope of a
happy immortality.

"Now, my God, thou canst take everything from me, yea every earthly joy
and blessing; but leave me truth, and I have joy and blessing enough!"

It was the young Schiller who wrote these ecstatic words at a time when
he contemplated entering the ministry. A few years passed by, and all
was changed. He grew into a sincere admirer, we might say worshiper, of
the heathen faith. He complained that all the life and spirit were taken
out of the Bible by the Rationalists, but he did nothing to remedy their
error. He became absorbed in the spirit of classic times. The antiquity
of Greece was far dearer to him than that of Palestine, and his poetic
fancy was excited to a greater tension by the tales of heathen deities
than by the histories of the Bible. He was a devotee of Kant, and his
poetry was largely made up of that philosopher's metaphysics. Yet, in
Schiller's hand, abstractions became living pictures. He knew how to
speak clearly, and his popularity is evidence to the fact that his
generations of readers have plainly understood him.

While Schiller represented Kant in verse, Goethe did the same thing with
Schelling's philosophy. The influence of the latter poet on religion was
very pernicious. He expressed himself favorably of the Bible, but he
claimed that it could only educate the people up to a little higher
stage of intelligence and taste. He was intensely egotistic, and totally
indifferent to all religious belief. His false idolatry of art and his
enthusiasm arrayed for heathendom, in all the beautiful charms of the
most seductive poetry, had a tendency fatal to the cause of Christianity
and to all public and private virtue.[36] He expressed himself sometimes
as very favorable toward the Roman Catholic worship, and the adherents
of that faith quote his words of approbation with evident pride. In his
_Autobiography_ he pays some high compliments to the seven sacraments of
the Romanists. He made several visits to the beautiful little Catholic
church dedicated to St. Roch, situated just above Bingen on the Rhine.
He presented it with an altar-piece, and on one occasion said, "Whenever
I enter this church I always wish I were a Catholic priest." But
Goethe's love and admiration of Catholicism were due rather to his
attachment to the old works of art than to that particular system of
faith and worship. The Romish church was the conservator of the
art-triumphs of the Middle Ages. She laid great store by her paintings
and statuary, and had been the patroness of the arts ever since the
wealth of noblemen and kings began to be poured into her lap. Goethe
loved her because she loved art. The key to this only evidence of
religious principle lies in his own words, as he once expressed himself
on contemplating a painting of the old German school. "Down to the
period of the Reformation," he said, "a spirit of indescribable
sweetness, solace, and hope seems to live and breathe in all these
paintings--everything in them seems to announce the kingdom of heaven.
_But since the Reformation, something painful, desolate, almost evil
characterizes works of art; and, instead of faith, skepticism, is often
transparent._"

Our plan precludes an estimate of Goethe's literary achievements. But
the influence of his productions on theology was, in the main, as
destructive as if he had written nothing but uncompromising Rationalism.
He was the head of the Weimar family. He had a cool, careful judgment.
Schiller was excitable and impulsive; but Goethe was always stoical,
regarding holy things as convenient for the more rapid advance of
civilization, but not absolutely necessary for the salvation of the
soul. He directed the literature of Europe. In popularity Schiller was
his peer, yet in real power over the minds and lives of others no one
was a match for Goethe. Other men at Weimar, such as Wieland, Knebel,
and Jean Paul, were admired, but Goethe was the cynosure of all eyes. He
was always thinking what next to write, and when he issued a new play,
poem, or romance, a sensation was made wherever the German and French
tongues were spoken.

Contemporaneously with these literary influences, which greatly
increased the power and prestige of Rationalism, there was a gradual
transformation of the training and instruction of the children of
Germany. A thorough infusion of doubt into the minds of the youth of the
land was all that was now needed to complete the sovereignty of
skepticism.

It cannot be disputed that there were serious defects in the educational
system already prevalent. The Latin schools instituted by Melanchthon
were still in existence, but they had become mere machines. Children
were compelled to commit the dryest details to memory. The most useless
exercises were elevated to great importance, and years were spent in the
study of many branches that could be of no possible benefit in either
the professions or the trades. The primary schools were equally
defective. There was no such thing as the pleasant, developing influence
of the mature over the young mind. The same defect had already
contributed to the spread of Rationalism, but the Rationalists were now
shrewd enough to seize upon this very evil and use it as an instrument
of strength and expansion.

Basedow was the first innovator in education, and, glaring as his faults
were, he succeeded in effecting radical changes in the entire circle of
youthful training. Sprung from a degraded class, addicted to vulgar
habits, and dissipated beyond the countenance of good society, this man
educated himself, and then set himself up as a fit agent for the
reformation of German education.[37] He undertook, by his publication of
the _Philalethy_, and of the _Theoretical System of Sound Reason_, to
infuse new spirit into the university method of instruction. But he had
taken too large a measure of his own powers, and therefore made but
little impression upon the circle to which he had addressed himself.
But, with that restless determination which distinguished him through
life, he began to appeal to the younger mind, and contended boldly for
the freedom of children from their common and long-standing restraints.

From 1763 to 1770 Basedow deluged the whole land with his books on
education; and, uniting his appeals for educational reform with
strictures upon the validity of the Scriptures, he incurred the sore
displeasure of Götze, Winkler and others of their class. They replied to
him, but he was always ready-witted, and the press groaned under his
repeated and sometimes ribald rejoinders. He told the nation, in an
_Address to the Friends of Humanity_, that the old excesses would soon
be done away with, since he was about to publish a work and commence an
educational institution which would rid the children of the shackles of
customary instruction. He solicited subscriptions for the issue of his
elementary book, as it would require numerous plates, and be attended
with other unusual expenses. His manifesto was freely circulated.
Replies soon came to him, with liberal subscriptions from all parts of
Europe. Princes and people became infatuated with his great plans and
wrote him their warm approval. They remitted large contributions for his
assistance. A specimen of his _Child's Book_ appeared, and all classes
were pleased with it. Whatever he promised was accepted with avidity,
because his promises were at once so flattering and exaggerated.
Schlegel and other educators tried in vain to make the multitude believe
that the vulgar mountebank could never fulfill their expectations.
Basedow proposed to parents, that if they would observe his system, all
languages and subjects,--grammar, history, and every other study--could
be learned, not in the tread-mill style, but as an amusement; that
morality and religion, both Jewish and Christian, Catholic as well as
Protestant, could be easily taught; that all the old bonds of education
were henceforth to be broken; and that every great difficulty would
hereafter be a pastime. Finally a part of the elementary work appeared.
But one plan creating the necessity for another, he soon found himself
immersed in the conception of a great philosophical school, in which not
only children but also teachers were to be trained for the application
of his new system to the appalling wants of the people. Every family
became possessor of the elementary book, and all eyes were turned toward
the _Philanthropium_ in Dessau. Compared with Basedow's wishes, this was
but a fragment of an institution. But upon its existence depended the
solution of his lauded problems.

Just at this time Germany was stirred by the reading of Rousseau's works
on popular education. Neither in Switzerland nor France had they
effected the purpose for which they were written, but among the Germans
their success was complete. Many persons, earnestly favoring Rousseau's
doctrine of freedom from all conventional restraints in families,
desired even his _Idyls of Life_ to be introduced into the schools.
Basedow and Rousseau thought in harmony; recommended that nature, not
discipline, should be our guide in education; and that only those
stories should be taught, of the utility of which the children are
themselves conscious. Subscriptions came in profusely, and the
_Philanthropium_ in Dessau commenced its existence. It was opened
without pupils on the twenty-seventh of December, 1774, and in the
following year it was attended by only fifteen. It threatened to
decline, but rallied again; and in 1776 a great public examination was
held. Then Basedow retired from its curatorship; but, returning once
more, his institution suffered under his care, and finally met with
total extinction. The great bubble of his plans burst. People awoke to
their mistake, and many of his dupes began to confess that, after all,
the old system of education was the best that had been devised.

But there were men who had lighted their torches at Basedow's flame.
Some who had been temporary inmates of his _Philanthropium_ went to work
with great perseverance to write juvenile books. Though the institution
had tumbled to ruin, and public notice began to be turned from it, the
excitement of the popular mind on the training of youth had been so
intense that the subject could not soon cease to receive attention. For
this reason, the writers of books for children found a large circle to
read them, and become impressed by them. Herder had called attention to
the subject of education in some of his most eloquent periods. He
contended zealously for the development of the young mind. His own words
were, "that it should be the chief aim of the teacher to imbue the child
with living ideas of everything that he sees, says, or enjoys, in order
to give him a proper position in his world, and continue the enjoyment
of it through every day of his life." Jean Paul, in his _Levana, or the
Doctrine of Education_, called attention to the necessity of the
personal training of children by their parents in opposition to the old
stiff method which, instead of quickening, only stupefied the intellect.
Campe and Salzmann had been students in Basedow's _Philanthropium_, and
subsequently each of them commenced a similar institution, but of more
humble pretensions. Yet it was not so much as practical educators as by
their writings, that they were instrumental in effecting a powerful
impression upon the young mind of Germany. Campe's _Children's Library_
had a fascinating influence upon children. It encouraged their literary
taste to the exclusion of religious development. The author advocated
morality, but only that which is taught by the common dictates of
nature. He stoutly rejected the old _Catechism_ of Luther as unfit to be
drilled into a youthful mind, and, unhappily, he found many
sympathizers. His _Robinson the Younger_ was to the Germans what
_Robinson Crusoe_ was, and still is, to the English-speaking world, and
from the time that the children read its wonderful stories they looked
with disgust upon the less exciting histories of the Bible. From 1775 to
1785 it captivated every boy and girl who could collect groschen enough
to buy a copy. When they had ceased reading it they were filled with the
idea that they were naturally perfect.

Pestalozzi belongs rather to the present than to the last century, but
he stands highest in the catalogue of the educational reformers who
arose during the meridian strength of Rationalism. He was a Swiss by
birth. In 1798 he went to Stanz and labored for the amelioration of the
orphan children whose parents had fallen in the French wars.[38] His
idea was, to make the school an educating family, into which the ease
and pleasure of home should be introduced. He, too, believed in man's
natural goodness, and held that true education is not so much the
infusion of what is foreign to, as the educing of what is native in the
child. But he warmly encouraged youthful acquaintance with the Bible,
and said that the history of Christ is an indispensable ingredient in
the education of every young mind. But while these few men, both by
their active life and facile pen, contributed their share to the
improvement of the youth of Germany, there was a large class of writers
for the young, whose productions became as plentiful as autumn leaves.
Some were sentimental, having imbibed their spirit from _Siegwart, La
Nouvelle Héloïse_, and similar works. Young men and women became
dreamers, and children of every social condition were converted into
premature thinkers on love, romance, and suicide. Whoever could wield a
pen thought himself fit to write a book for children. There has never
been a period in the whole current of history when the youthful mind was
more thoroughly and suddenly revolutionized. The result was very
disastrous. Education, in its true import, was no longer pursued, and
the books most read were of such nature as to destroy all fondness for
the study of the Bible, all careful preparation for meeting the great
duties of coming maturity, and every impression of man's incapacity for
the achievement of his own salvation.

The teachers in the common institutions of learning having now become
imbued with serious doubts concerning the divine authority of the
Scriptures, their pupils suffered keenly from the same blight. In many
schools and gymnasia miracles were treated with contempt. Epitomes of
the Scriptures on a philosophical plan were introduced. Ammon, in one of
his works, tells the young people that the books of the Old Testament
have no divine worth or character for us, except so far as they agree
with the spirit of the gospel. As to the New Testament, much must be
figuratively understood, since many things have no immediate relation to
our times. Christ is a mere man. Dinter was a voluminous writer on
theological subjects, and in his books tells children of imperfect
notions of former times as to God, angels, and miracles. He gives
teachers directions how to conduct themselves cleverly in such matters,
and afterwards, in agreement with the principles he recommends, he lays
down plans of catechizing. For example, there are to be two ways of
catechizing about Jonah; one before an audience not sufficiently
enlightened, and where all remains in its old state; another for places
which have more light. In the prophecies concerning the Messiah a double
explanation is given for the same reason. One is the old orthodox way,
the other a more probable neological plan. A clever teacher is to choose
for himself; a dull one may ask the parish clergyman how far he may go.

As a fair specimen of the kind of Biblical instruction then imparted to
the children of Germany, we may adduce the example of Becker's
_Universal History for the Young_. A second edition was issued in Berlin
in 1806. Speaking of the person and character of Christ, the author
says, "Jesus probably got the first notion of his undertaking from being
a friend of John, and going often to his father's, who was a priest; and
from the Gospel it appears that the sight of feasts and of the crowd of
worshipers had a great effect upon him. It is doubtful whether Jesus and
John were sent into Egypt for their education, or were taught by the
Essenes, and then sent into Palestine as ambassadors of that sect, with
secret support and according to arranged plan.... The indications of the
Messiah in the Old Testament had produced great effect on Jesus and John
who were both hot-heads, such as destiny raises for some great purpose.
We are in danger, therefore, of judging them unjustly, especially from
the great mixture of high and low, clear and obscure in them."

Becker had the modesty to say that he would not undertake to fix the
character of Jesus, but merely collect the fragments of it from his
_wretched_ biographers. The friends had great mutual esteem, but John
saw in Jesus a higher spirit than his own. Both had the same hatred of
the priests, their pride and hypocrisy; both thought the Mosaic law no
longer fit for the time, and that the notion of a national God was the
source of all the evil in Judea. After long meditation they decided that
Jesus must be the Messiah; and John found the part of a precursor fixed
for himself. Christ, partly from his power of attraction, and partly
from the hope of future power, made his disciples depend blindly on him.
It was only with great caution that he could undertake his great work of
destroying the priests. The people were divided into sects; and the
characteristics of his plan were, his choice of the lowest people, and
his withdrawing himself frequently from public view, that the priests
might not nip his plan in the bud. As all the prophets had worked
miracles, and many were expected from the Messiah, he too was obliged,
according to Becker, to undertake them or renounce his hopes. No doubt
he performed miracles; for the power of the mind on the body is such
that we need not doubt his curing the melancholy and the nervous. As to
the miraculous meals, raising the dead, curing the blind and deaf, these
things must be attributed to the calculation of his historians; and we
need not hesitate to do so after observing such tangible fabrications as
Christ's walking on the sea, his blasting the fig tree, devils driven
into the swine, and virtue going out of himself. In the story of Lazarus
we cannot help suspecting some secret concert. Christ did perform some
uncontested miracles, however and there was in his manner that
inexpressible something which makes greatness irresistible. The mystic
obscurity thrown over his future kingdom, the many parables he used, and
his assured manner of speaking of future things, begot reverence. The
prudence of his judgment and the strictness of his life are
praiseworthy. He could pursue the destruction of old usages but very
slowly; first he allowed the neglect of the Sabbath, and at last made
open war with the priests, "_on whom, he lanced all the thunder of a
Ciceronian eloquence_."

"John's death," continues this model writer for youth, "made Christ very
timid. He got away into the desert and ordered his followers not to call
him Messiah in public. In his last journey to Jerusalem, the multitude
protected him by day, and he escaped by night. His answers, made to
several questions at this time, for example, John viii. 3, are still
admired. He had always suspected Judas; and as he had a presentiment
that he would come to a bad end, he became very uneasy, and yet was able
to exhort his disciples. He did not really die on the cross. Whenever
recognized by his disciples afterwards, he went away directly, and came
back unexpectedly and for a short time. At last he disappeared quickly,
and let himself be seen no more. This end, like that of Lycurgus,
produced many followers. By degrees all the tales of the crucifixion
were extended and a Christian mythology erected."[39]

Becker was not more extreme in his inculcation of doctrine than many
others. Even Gesenius, in the preface to his _Hebrew Reading Book_,
tells the students of the Bible that Gen. i. 2, 3, contains the
description of the origin of the earth by a sage of antiquity; that the
narrator has a very imperfect knowledge of nature, though his
description is sublime, that he can hardly be the first inventor of the
description, as the principal outlines of it and even the six works of
creation are to be found in other religions of the East; and that
probably he only accommodates the general tradition of the East to the
national opinions of the Hebrews,--a remark which applies especially to
his ascribing a mystic origin to the Sabbath, a festival peculiar to the
Jews.

Such was the kind of theology in which the German youth were trained
during a period extending through the latter part of the eighteenth and
the beginning of the nineteenth centuries. It is no matter of
astonishment, then, that when those children became adults they were
rigid Rationalists from the mere force of training.

We now come to one of the most inexcusable deeds with which Rationalism
stands charged. We refer to the general destruction or alteration of the
time-honored German hymns.

Both the great branches of the Protestant church had always highly
prized their rich hymns, of which there were eighty thousand in
existence. Some of the finest lyrics of any tongue were among the
number. The sacred songs now used in our American churches are not
solely of English origin, or of our own production; but many of the
sweetest of them are free versions from the German hymnists. The
Rationalists, not being content with their present laurels, began in
great earnestness to despoil the hymn-books of the Protestant church of
everything savoring of inspiration or of any of the vital doctrines
already rejected. They looked upon those songs of devotion as composed
during the iron age of truth, and therefore unfit to be sung by the
congregations whose lot had been cast in the golden period. Should these
verses continue to be sung by the church, they would remain a strong tie
holding the masses to the pitiable days of effete orthodoxy. The
Rationalists reasoned correctly, for, in Germany, music is a power which
has at times defied the authority of popes and kings. It was, therefore,
with a sort of savage satisfaction that these destroyers of truth began
the work of denuding those earnest and evangelical hymns of all their
vigor and nationality for the purpose of placing in their stead cold and
heartless moral verses.

Klopstock commenced the work of alteration, though with a good
intention, by remodeling twenty-nine old church hymns. Cramer and
Schlegel followed in his steps. Soon the devout and animating songs of
Gellert, Bach, and their brother minstrels were despoiled of the spirit
that had ever made them dear to the popular heart and familiar to the
common ear. By and by, everybody who could make a tolerable rhyme seized
some of the master-pieces of hymnology, and set them up on stiff
philosophical stilts. New hymn books were introduced into many of the
churches, and the people sang Rationalism. General superintendents,
consistorial counselors, and court preachers, rivaled each other in
preparing a new volume of religious songs for the territory under their
charge. Individual towns and churches had their own selections. Some
portions of Germany, especially Würtemberg, refused awhile to give up
the old hymns, and certain writers of the sterling character of the poet
Schubert, raised a loud and indignant voice against the wretched
vandalism. But they could accomplish nothing, and the old hymns suffered
that fearful mortality which the Rationalists had by this time become
so able to inflict on almost everything of value. It is a lamentable
scene to see those reckless doubters sit down with scalpel in hand to
dissect as pure and inspiring hymns as are to be found in the devotional
literature of any nation. For a good sacred song is only complete just
as its author finishes it. If an authorized hymn committee attempt to
alter it, they fill it at once with icicles. They can no more improve it
by emendations than they can improve a rose by the use of a penknife.
Each clipping or puncture destroys some natural charm.

But the music accompanying the hymns was doomed to a like fate. The old
chorals, which had been lingering in those renowned gothic temples ever
since the days of Luther, were so altered as to stand upon the same
footing with the hymns themselves. All sentiment was extracted, as quite
out of place, and sublimity was made to give way to a more temperate and
stoical standard. In due time the Rationalists effected their purpose.
Secular music was introduced into the sanctuary; an operatic overture
generally welcomed the people into church, and a march or a waltz
dismissed them. Sacred music was no longer cultivated as an element of
devotion. The oratorios and cantata of the theatre and beer-garden were
the Sabbath accompaniments of the sermon. The masses consequently began
to sing less; and the period of coldest skepticism in Germany, like
similar conditions in other lands, was the season when the
congregations, the common people, and the children sang least and most
drowsily.

We now behold Protestant Germany in the full possession of a shrewd,
powerful, and aggressive system of infidelity. The most thorough student
of church history must conclude that no other kind of skepticism has
received more aid from external sources. Everything that appeared on the
surface of the times contributed its mite toward the spiritual
petrification of the masses. Hamann, Oetinger, Reinhard, Lavater, and
Storr were insufficient for the great task of counteraction, while
Rationalism could count its strong men by the score and hundred.
Literature, philosophy, history, education, and sacred music were so
influenced by increasing indifference and doubt that when the people
awoke to their condition they found themselves in a strange latitude and
on a dangerous coast. But they thought themselves safe. They could not
see how each new feature in politics, literature, and theology was
affecting them in a remarkable manner; and how so many influences from
opposite quarters could contribute to the same terrible result,--the
total overthrow of evangelical faith.


FOOTNOTES:

[36] Möhler's _Symbolism_: Memoir of Author.

[37] Schlosser, _History of the Eighteenth Century_, vol. 2, pp. 33-41.

[38] Kahnis: _German Protestantism_, p. 216.

[39] Rose, _State of Protestantism in Germany_, pp. 178-181.



CHAPTER VIII.

DOCTRINES OF RATIONALISM IN THE DAY OF ITS STRENGTH.


The church now presented a most deplorable aspect. Philosophy had come,
with its high-sounding terminology, and invaded the hallowed precincts
of Scriptural truth. Literature, with its captivating notes, had
well-nigh destroyed what was left of the old Pietistic fervor. The songs
of the church were no longer images of beauty, but ghastly, repulsive
skeletons. The professor's chair was but little better than a heathen
tripod. The pulpit became the rostrum where the shepherdless masses were
entertained with vague essays on such general terms as righteousness,
human dignity, light, progress, truth, and right. The peasantry received
frequent and labored instructions on the raising of cattle, bees, and
fruit. The poets of the day were publicly recited in the temples where
the Reformers had preached. Wieland, Herder, Schiller, and Goethe became
more familiar to the popular congregations than Moses, David, Paul, or
even Christ. By this time we might reasonably expect the harvest from
Semler's favorite theories. There was no school as yet by which he
worked upon the public mind, but the greater portion of theologians
caught up scrap-thoughts from his opinions and now dealt them out in
magnified proportions to the masses who, like their Athenian
predecessors, were ever anxious to learn what was new. That so many
influences as we have seen in force should completely subdue orthodoxy
is not wonderful, when we consider first the minds that originated them,
and then the dull and frigid condition of the church.

But, as the fruit of these influences, there was no common system of
theology adopted by the Rationalists. The reason is obvious. Rationalism
was not an organism, and therefore it could have no acknowledged creed.
Its adherents were powerful and numerous scouting-parties, whose aim was
to harass the flanks of the enemy, and who were at liberty, when
occasion required, to divide, subdivide, take any road, or attack at any
point likely to contribute to the common victory. One writer came before
the public, and threw doubt on some portions of the Scriptures. He was
followed by another who, while conceding the orthodox view of those very
passages, would discard other parts, even whole books, as plainly
incredible. A third discussed the character and mission of Christ, and
imputed a certain class of motives to him. A fourth attributed to him
totally different, if not contradictory, impulses. There is no one book,
therefore, in which we find an undisputed Rationalistic system, for the
work that may represent one circle will give but a meagre and false view
of another. Besides, what the most of the Rationalists might agree upon
at one stage of the development of their skepticism, would be rejected
by others, living a few years after them. The only means, therefore, by
which we are enabled to arrive at some understanding concerning their
opinions is to fix upon the time of their meridian strength, and then to
hear what their representative men of that period say of the truths of
revelation.

Now it cannot be doubted that Rationalism was most powerful after the
decided impression made upon theology by the philosophical direction
commenced by Kant, and by that of literature inaugurated by Lessing and
followed by the Weimar poets. We are consequently under the necessity of
hearing the statements of acknowledged Rationalists who flourished
during this time, and, out of the chaos, arrive at the most probable and
general views entertained by the people.

We shall see that the scene of spiritual desolation was repulsive enough
to make every servant of Christ wish, with Wordsworth,--

                          "I'd rather be
     A pagan, suckled in a creed outworn;
     So might I standing on this pleasant lea,
     Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn--
     Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea,
     Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn."

RELIGION. All religion was held by the Rationalists to be mere morality.
As to any such thing as conversion, they were agreed that it could be
only a work of the imagination. All the regeneration at which we may
reasonably expect to arrive is an inclination to obey the dictates of
reason. He who follows the teachings of his own intellect cannot go
astray, for this is the light that lighteth every man that cometh into
the world. The Scriptures give a high coloring to religion, and
represent it as necessary; but those writings are not as reliable as the
innate revelation which every son of Reason enjoys.

EXISTENCE OF GOD. With this view of religion in general, all the other
vital doctrines of Christianity suffered an equal depreciation. The
existence of God is conceded, but the proof is impossible. His
personality cannot be affirmed; it is confounded with the soul of the
world. Of course, the doctrine of the Trinity cannot be accepted; for
reason sheds no light sufficiently clear to establish it. A high
dignitary of the church, Cannabich, wrote a book in positive denial of
the Trinity, original sin, justification, satisfaction of Christ,
baptism, and the Lord's Supper. As for the Trinity, the early Christians
had no such tenet, and it was never concocted until after the lapse of
several centuries of the Christian era. Both philosophy and nature are
as capable of establishing the evidence of God's existence as the
Scriptures themselves. The idea we have of God is due to prejudice and
education. The mass of the Rationalists said, with Lichtenberg, that
instead of God making man after his image, man had made God after his
human image.

DOCTRINE OF INSPIRATION. The Rationalists were fond of reasoning by
analogy, and they used that method of argument freely in their
discussions on the inspiration of the Scriptures. God never pursues the
plan of operating immediately upon nature. His laws are the mediate
measures by which he communicates with man. Gravitation is an instrument
he employs for the control of the material world. Thus, in some way,
does God impress upon man's mind all that he wishes to reveal, without
any necessity of direct inspiration. The doctrine was, therefore,
rejected because there was no need of it, and from this step it was easy
to assume the position that there is no inspiration. This the
Rationalists did assume. "Grant inspiration," said they, "and you bind
us down to the belief that all the contents of the Scriptures are true.
You force us to believe what our reason does not comprehend. The
doctrine of inspiration opens the floodgate for the belief of a mass of
mythical stuff which we will no more grant to be historically true than
Niebuhr will admit the validity of the legends of early Rome." The poets
of every land have enjoyed a sort of rhapsody when in their highest
flights. This rhapsody or ecstasy is all that these idolaters of reason
will concede. Doederlein's views of inspiration were much more elevated
than those held by many of his _confrères_; but he too speaks of
poetical excitement, and draws a line of distinction between the
inspired and uninspired parts of Scripture. But Ammon represents this
subject better than Döderlein. It was his opinion that the idea of a
mediate divine instruction is applicable to all human knowledge. He
rejects the notion peculiar to revelation. Inspiration cannot for a
moment be accepted as an immediate divine impression, because it would
compromise the supremacy of reason, and destroy man's intellectual and
moral liberty. The diversity of style perceptible in the writers of the
Scriptures is a proof that they were not influenced by immediate
inspiration. "These writers themselves," say the Rationalists, "never
claimed such extraordinary functions as those with which orthodox
believers would now clothe them."

Töllner, a theological professor in Frankfort-on-the-Oder, wrote very
fully on inspiration, and his work was held in great repute by many of
the Rationalists who were inclined to supernaturalism. He held that the
will, the matter, the words, and the order of both the matter and the
words, might be objects of inspiration. But there are several degrees of
inspiration. Some books were written without inspiration of any kind,
and were only confirmed by God. In the Old Testament, Moses might have
been directed to a choice of subjects, and his memory might have been
strengthened. So of the Psalms and Prophecies. There is no such thing
as inspiration of the historical books. It cannot be determined what
degree was employed in the New Testament. In the Acts there was nothing
more than natural inspiration. Luke and Mark were approved by the
apostles, hence their writings may be received. Morus held that
inspiration was sometimes only the inducing to write; sometimes an
admonition to do so; sometimes revelation; and sometimes only a guarding
from error.[40] Granting the Rationalistic denial of inspiration, we
have no solid ground for any portion of the Bible. We find, therefore,
that after this view had become prevalent the popular mind attached no
importance to God's revealed will. Interpolations were imagined at every
point of difficulty. Schröckh gives a sketch of the deplorable state of
opinion on inspiration, when he says, "Inspiration was given
up--interpolations in Scripture were believed to exist. In the oldest
and partly in more recent history, instead of historical facts these
writers saw only allegories, myth, philosophical principles, and
national history. Where appearances of God and the angels, or their
immediate agency, are related, nothing was seen but Jewish images or
dreams. The explanation of all biblical books was pursued on new
principles. The _Song of Solomon_ was not mystical. The _Revelations_
contained no prophecy of the fortunes of the church."

Bitter indeed must have been the emotions of the devout Christian on
seeing the departure of inspiration from the opinions of the theological
leaders of that day. Infinitely more exquisite must have been his pain
than was that of the poet, who, sighing for the haunted and credulous
days of olden time, said:

     "The intelligible forms of ancient poets,
     The fair humanities of old religions,
     The power, the beauty, and the majesty,
     That had their haunts in dale or piny mountain,
     Or forest, by slow stream, or pebbly spring,
     Or chasms and watery depths: all these have vanished."

CREDIBILITY OF THE SCRIPTURES. Schenkel affirms that Rationalism
consists in giving up all the historical characteristics of Christianity
and of Christian truths, and in the reduction of religion to the
universal conclusions of reason and morality. The accuracy of this
definition is very perceptible when we consider the wantonness of the
assaults of the Rationalists upon the Scriptures as the canon of faith
and practice. This period was marked by desperate attempts to overthrow
the early history of all countries, and to convict historians of stating
as fact what was only vague tradition. As the Bible was alleged by the
supernaturalists to be the oldest historic record, great pains were
taken to dissipate the mist from its accounts of supposed verities. The
writers of the Scriptures, the friends of Rationalism held, were only
men like ourselves. They had our prejudices and as great infirmities as
we have. They were as subject to deception and trickery, and as full of
political and sectarian rancor as partisans in these times. All through
the Old Testament we find traces of biased judgment, Jewish national
pride, sectional enmity, sectarian superstition, and rabbinical
ignorance. It is but little better in the New Testament, for the
disciples of Christ and the writers of the gospels were as susceptible
of error and bigotry as their predecessors.[41]

The writers of the Scriptures were utterly destitute of any such great
designs as the orthodox attribute to them. They had no intention of
writing for posterity, and were the mere chroniclers of what they had
heard from others and seen for themselves. The Bible is, like the essays
of Seneca, an excellent book for elevating the people by its moral tone.
As a revelation of God's will it only takes its place beside others
which God had previously made, and has been making in a natural way,
ever since.[42] All ages and nations have their communications of
knowledge, and the setting forth of any truth in a clearer light is a
revelation.[43] There are many steps necessary for the education of the
race and for its intellectual and moral development. The Scriptures are
a very good aid to such a great consummation.[44] But they are full of
errors, which we must leave for the supremacy of pure Reason to
dissipate forever.[45]

We cannot forbear to give Wegscheider's testimony on the scanty measure
of Scriptural credibility and authority in his own words. "But whatever
narrations," he says, "especially accommodated to a certain age and
relating miracles and mysteries, are united with the history and
subject-matter of revelation of this kind, these ought to be referred to
the natural sources and true nature of human knowledge. By how much the
more clearly the author of the Christian religion, not without the help
of Deity, exhibited to men the ideas of reason imbued with true
religion, so as to represent, as it were, a reflection of the divine
reason, or the divine spirit, by so much the more diligently ought man
to strive to approach as nearly as possible to form that archetype in
the mind, and to study to imitate it in life and manners to the utmost
of his ability. Behold here the intimate and eternal union and agreement
of Christianity with Rationalism.... The various modes of supernatural
revelation mentioned in many places of the sacred books, are to be
referred altogether to the notions and mythical narrations of every
civilized people; and this following the suggestion of the Holy
Scripture itself, and therefore to be attributed, as any events in the
nature of things, to the laws of nature known to us. As to theophanies,
the sight of the infinite Deity is expressly denied: John i. 18--1 John
iv. 12--1 Tim. vi. 16. Angelophanies, which the Jews of a later date
substituted for the appearances of God himself, like the narrations of
the appearances of demons found amongst many nations, are plainly
destitute of certain historic proofs; and the names, species, and
commissions attributed to angels in the sacred books, plainly betray
their Jewish origin. The business transacted by angels on earth is
little worthy of such ministers.... The persuasion concerning the truth
of that supernatural revelation, which rests on the testimony of the
sacred volume of the Old and New Testaments, like every opinion of the
kind, labors under what is commonly called a _petitio principii_."

The Bible is, in fact, of no more authority and entitled to no further
credence than any other book. It is not worth more, as an historical
record, than an old chronicle of Indian, Greek, or Roman legends.[46]
The evangelists did not get their accounts of the doings of Christ from
observation, but from a primitive document written in the Aramaic
language. The gospels were not intentional deceptions; but that they are
as well the work of error as of wisdom, no candid interpreter can deny.
The life of Christ which they contain is but an innocent supplement to
the _Metamorphoses_ of Ovid.[47] Tittmann went so far as to affirm that
the Scripture writers were so ignorant that they could not represent
things as they really happened. Of course he excludes their capacity for
inspiration.

DOCTRINE OF THE FALL OF MAN. While some Rationalistic writers conceded
that Moses was the author of the whole or parts of the Pentateuch, his
version of the origin of sin was universally rejected. The temptation by
the serpent was, with them, one of the most improbable myths ever drawn
up from the earliest traditions of nations. Whether Moses wrote much or
little of the books attributed to him, his sources of knowledge were
monuments and tales which he saw and heard about him. It is likely that
he derived his idea of the fall of man from some hieroglyphic
representation which he happened somewhere to see. As for the entrance
of the serpent into Paradise, it is just as improbable as the rabbinical
notion that the serpent of Eden had many feet. In the opinion of some,
the whole narrative is only an allegory, or "a poetical description of
the transition of man from a more brutish creature into humanity, from
the baby-wagon of instinct into the government of reason, from the
guardianship of nature into the condition of freedom."[48] Kindred to
this theory is Ammon's; that at first man obeyed instinct only, and that
his desire to eat the forbidden fruit was the longing of his mind to
understand truth. But the great injury which these men thought they had
visited on this doctrine was their assumption that man had not fallen,
and that instead of being worse than he once was, he is every year
growing purer and holier than at any previous stage of his history.
This was flattering to their inflated pride, and their wish became
father to their creed. With Eichhorn, the narrative of the fall was only
a description of Adam's thoughts.

MIRACLES. It was no surprise to the wise disciples of Reason that there
should be found numerous records of miracles in the Bible. It was just
what might be expected from such writers in that gray morning of
antiquity. The first chroniclers seized upon tradition; and their
successors, seeing how well their fathers had succeeded, merely imitated
them by catching up new ones, or enlarging upon the old account. By a
sort of infection, therefore, we find what purports to be a revelation.
Whatever harmony there is, was the result of an aim which was not lost
sight of for a moment. Nature was the first teacher; and though she was
competent, we have been poor disciples. She is instructing us all the
time, though we have listened less to her than to the other auditors who
sit about us. Lichtenberg says in poetical language, that "When man
considers Nature the teacher, and poor men the pupils, we listen to a
lecture and we have the principles and the knowledge to understand it.
But we listen far more to the applause of our fellow-students than to
the discourse of the teacher. We interlard the lecture by speeches to
the one who sits next us; we supply what has been poorly heard by us;
and enlarge it by our own mistakes of orthography and sentiment."

No branch of Scriptural faith attracted more of the wrath and irony of
the Rationalists than miracles. They saw how important their service was
to the authority of the Bible, and therefore bent all their energies for
their overthrow. They denied their possibility in the strongest terms,
averring that they degrade the character of God, and violate that noble
nature of the human mind, which is necessarily bound to the most certain
laws of experience, and can discern no positive marks of supernatural
agency.[49] The miracles of the New Testament receive no better
treatment than those of the Old. In every case they have no foundation
in history. Various reasons are assigned for their presence in the
Bible; in some cases they are only legends of mythologic days; in
others, the pure fancy of the writer; and in others, hyperbolical
descriptions of natural occurrences. Thus, while there was a diversity
of opinion concerning the narratives, there was perfect union as to the
purely natural character of the events.

We may particularize, in order to present more clearly the Rationalistic
method of interpreting miracles. When Korah, Dathan and Abiram, with
their fellow-unfortunates, were swallowed up, they only suffered what
many others have done since,--destruction by a natural earthquake. This
was the opinion of Michaelis. Others, more ingenious, thought that Moses
had taken care to undermine privately the whole of the ground on which
the tents of the sinners were; and, therefore, it was not surprising,
either that they fell into the cavity, or that Moses should know this
would be their fate. Eichhorn held that the three offenders, with their
property, were burned by the order of Moses. Dinter explained Jacob's
struggle with an angel by relating a recent dream. His brother having
lately died, Dinter dreamed soon after that a man, with a little
peep-show, presented to his view all sorts of pictures, and at length
showed him his dead brother. The vision said, "To show you that I am
really your brother, I will print a blue mark on your finger." The
dreamer awoke and found not a blue mark but a pain which lasted some
days. This profound exegete then asks, "Could not something similar have
happened in Jacob's case? Even the less lively occidentalist sometimes
relates as real what only happened in his mind. Why should we be
surprised at a similar occurrence in the warmer fancy of the Eastern
man?"

But of all the critics of miracles we must give the palm to Paulus. Let
us hear how he accounts for the tribute-money in the mouth of the fish.
"What sort of a miracle," he asks, "is that we find here? I will not say
a miracle of about sixteen or twenty groschen, for the greatness of the
value does not make the greatness of the miracle. But it may be
observed, that, as Jesus generally received support from many persons,
in the same way as the Rabbis frequently lived from such donations; as
so many pious women provided for the wants of Jesus; and as the claim
did not occur at any remote place, but at Capernaum, where Christ had
friends; a miracle for about a thaler would certainly have been
superfluous. But it would not only have been superfluous and paltry,--it
would have taught this principle; that Peter, even when he could have
remedied his necessities easily in other ways, might and ought to reckon
on a miraculous interference of the Deity,--a notion which would
entirely contradict the fundamental principle of Jesus, or the
interference of the Deity. There is nothing of a miraculous appearance
in this narrative, nor was there to Peter himself. Had there been, the
fiery Peter would not have been cold-blooded at such a miracle, but
would have expressed himself as in Luke v. 8. There is nothing more
meant here, than that Christ designed to give a moral lesson; namely,
that we should not give offence to our brethren, if we can avoid it by
trifling circumstances. Hence, Christ said to him in substance, 'Though
there is no real occasion for us to pay the tribute, yet as we may be
reckoned enemies of the temple, and may not be attended to when we wish
to teach what is good, why should not you, who are a fisherman, and can
easily do it, go and get enough to pay the demand? Go then to the sea,
cast your hook and take up the first and best fish. Peter must,
therefore, have caught either so many fish as would be worth a _stater_
at Capernaum, or one large and fine enough to have been valued at that
sum. The opening of the fish's mouth might have different objects, which
must be fixed by the context. Certainly, if it hang long, it will be
less salable. Therefore the sooner it is taken to market, the more
probable will be a good price for it."

Paulus and Ammon coincide in the following interpretation of one of the
miracles of the loaves and fishes. There were always large caravans
traveling near the time of the feasts, and they carried a plenty of meat
and drinks on camels and in baskets. Now it is not according to Eastern
hospitality to see your friends near you when you are eating, without
asking them to join you. All that Jesus meant by saying they were
without food was, that they had not a regular meal; and that therefore
he collected them, arranged them in parties, and set those who had food
the example of giving to those who had none, by doing so himself, with
the small portion which he had. As long as eating was going on, Christ
made the twelve go about with their baskets and give what they had to
all who wished it. The baskets were not entirely emptied, nor was any
one left hungry; otherwise the needy would have applied to the stock of
the Apostles. Jesus, pleased to have done so much with so little,
desired them to collect what there was in the different baskets into
one.

Our wise critic, the daring Paulus, finds as little difficulty in
explaining away the miracle of Christ walking on the sea. When Christ
saw that the wind was contrary, he did not wish to sustain the
inconvenience of such a voyage; but walked along the shore and resolved
to pass the disciples, as the wind was against them. From the state of
the weather they coasted slowly along, and when they saw him walking on
the land they were frightened. On their calling out, Christ desired
Peter, who was a good swimmer, to swim to the shore and ascertain that
it was he. Peter ran around to the proper side of the ship and jumped
into the sea. When he was frightened by the violence of the waves,
Christ who was standing on the shore, put out his hand and caught him.
The boat put to land and they both got in!

Such was the common method of explaining miracles. The Rationalists were
so opposed to the idea of the supernatural, that each was accounted for
in some other than the Scriptural way. Many volumes were written on this
subject alone, until the people became thoroughly imbued with the
opinion that the Scriptures are nothing more than a well-intended and
exhaustive Jewish mythology. It became a mark of superstition to credit
a miraculous event, and the few who still adhered to this pillar of the
Christian faith found themselves pitied by the learned and derided by
their equals.

PROPHECY. The adventurous men who could deal thus with miracles would
not be supposed to be more lenient to the prophecies of the Scriptures.
We, therefore, observe the same skeptical rejection of the prophets. We
have not dwelt at length upon the particular books which received their
thrusts, for this would be quite too lengthy a task for the present
volume. It is probable, however, that there is not a book of Scripture,
or even a chapter, which these men would have remain just as we find it
in the canon. "Something must be done with it," they argued, "no matter
what it is. It is older or later than we have been accustomed to think.
It was, of course, written by some one else than the accredited author."

A large share of these criticisms centered on the works of the prophets,
for it was one of the most persistent efforts of Rationalism to destroy
popular faith in them. Ammon discoursed boldly against them and
attempted to convert every prophetic expression into a natural remark.
He held that Christ himself directly renounced the power to prophesy,
Mat. xxiv. 36; Acts i. 7; and that there are no prophecies of his in the
New Testament. Prophecies are recorded in the Bible as uttered by men of
doubtful character. Many of them are obscure, and were never fulfilled.
Others were made after the events, and all were reckoned imperfect by
the Apostles. These accusations apply to all the prophecies of the Old
and New Testaments. The argument for them needs whatever excuse it can
find, in the delirium of the prophets who were transported out of their
sobriety, in the double sense in which they are quoted in the New
Testament, or in the remarkable variety of interpretation. In fact,
there is a moral objection to them, to say nothing of their historical
character. They would favor fatalism, take away human freedom, and be
irreconcilable with the Divine perfection. What Christ said concerning
the destruction of Jerusalem is not a prophecy, because not stated with
sufficient clearness. Jesus followed the style of interpretation found
in the Talmudic and Rabbinical writings, and transferred to himself many
things in the Old Testament, which really referred to future changes in
the state of the Jews. He used the Jewish ideas of a Messiah to further
his own notions of founding a spiritual kingdom. The prophecies in the
Old Testament merely give a poetical dress to affairs occurring in the
prophet's or the poet's life time.[50] Even the prophets made but little
if any claim to the great gift ascribed to them. They were good
politicians who had made a study of their subject; and, from the mere
force of natural shrewdness and long experience, could see coming
events. Paulus argued at length against Christ's prophecy of his own
resurrection. His first proof is that the apostles did not so understand
him, as is clear from the women seeking to embalm him; and from the
apostles not believing at first the story of his resurrection. Then
Christ had no notion of returning shortly. He would not have thought it
necessary to cheer his disciples as he did before his death if he could
have prophesied that in three days he should join them again. All the
promises of meeting again refer to his joining them in a future life.
Wegscheider adds that Christ, though he reproaches his disciples with
their want of faith, does not allude to their distrust of any prophecy
of his; and that the phrase _three days_ is often used of what will soon
happen. Scherer, a clergyman of Hesse-Darmstadt, represented the
prophets of the Old Testament as so many Indian jugglers, who made use
of the pretended inspiration of Moses and of the revelations of the
prophets to deceive the people. He treated those who still have any
regard for the prophecies of the New Testament as enthusiasts and
simpletons; called all the predictions respecting the person of the
Messiah, nonsense; accused the prophets of being cunning deceivers; and
said that the belief of those prophets has preserved incredulity on the
earth.

THE PERSON OF CHRIST. The historical method of interpretation was
applied by the disciples of Reason to the Gospel narratives of the
character and atonement of Christ. The various circumstances surrounding
the writers, the prejudices probably actuating them, the customs they
witnessed, and their ignorance and consequent impressibility by a
stronger mind, were all taken into the account. The Rationalists,
therefore, place Christ before us as we would naturally expect him to
appear after taking everything into consideration. They do not show him
to us as he is, but as the nature of the case would lead us to expect
him to be. There were many who charged him with unworthy motives and
national prejudices. Reimarus accused him of rebellious, ambitious, and
political views. "Afterward," says Stäudlin, "came out writings enough
in Germany in which Christ was said to have performed his miracles by
secret arts or by delusions. All proofs of the truth and divinity of his
religion were taken away. He was exhibited either as a deceiver or
self-deceiving enthusiast; and every possible objection to Christian
morality as well as to the form of Christian worship was violently
urged. Among the writers of these works were even theologians and
preachers! What could be the consequence, except that they who still
held somewhat to Christianity should set it forth as pure Rationalism,
and that others should endeavor to extinguish it, and to introduce a
pure religion of reason quite independent of Christianity and separated
from it."

An anonymous publication appeared in 1825, entitled _Vindiciæ Sacræ
Novi Testamenti Scriptuarum_, in which Christ was declared to have
deceived himself! Thereupon the Christians were obliged to elevate their
founder's mean condition by wonderful stories. The first myth is
concerning John the Baptist. Then follow the wonderful stories of
Christ's birth, the advent of the wise men, the baptism, temptation,
death, resurrection and ascension of Christ. There are doubts and
difficulties connected with the resurrection, and though the apostles
constantly assert its truth, the probable story is that the followers of
Jesus, enraged at his death, gave it out that, being taken from the
power of the wicked, he lived with God and enjoyed the reward of his
virtue. They represented the life of their master to themselves and
others in the most glowing colors, and so by degrees, said that he was
still living, raised from the dead, and rewarded. Then all these things
were told and believed, and it was not easy to contradict them or even
examine their value.

Paulus affirmed that Christ did not really die but suffered a fainting
fit. Bahrdt conjectured that he retreated after his supposed death to
some place known only to his disciples. According to Henke, Christ was a
remarkable teacher, distinguished and instructed by God. Inspiration was
what Cicero ascribes to the poets; the doctrine of the Trinity came from
Platonism; the name "Son of God" is metaphorical, and describes not the
nature but the qualities of Christ; and personality is ascribed to the
Holy Ghost through a prosopopoeia not uncommon in the New Testament.
The chief service of Christ was his doctrine. As a Divine Messenger it
was his business to bring forward new and pure religion adapted to the
wants of all mankind, and to give an example of it. His death was
necessary to prove his confidence in his own doctrines, and to present
an illustration of perfected virtue. Wegscheider took the position that
Christ was one of those characters raised up by God at various periods
of history to repress vice and encourage virtue. All notions of his
glorification, however, are groundless, and the atonement is a mere
speculation of the orthodox.

One of the most popular and direct of all the writers on the opinions of
the Rationalists was Röhr, the author of the _Briefe über den
Rationalismus_. He dwells at length upon nearly all the opinions we have
mentioned, but his portrait of Christ demands more than a passing
notice. He assumes a position, not very lofty, it is true, but yet much
more favorable than some of the authorities to which we have referred.
Christ had a great mission, and he felt that a heavy burden was upon
him. Still he was only a great genius, the blossom of his age and
generation, and unsurpassed in wisdom by any one before or after him.
His origin, culture, deeds and experience, are yet veiled, and the
accounts we have of him are so distorted by rhapsody that we cannot
reach a clear conception of him. He had a rare acquaintance with
mankind, and studied the Old Testament carefully. He possessed a large
measure of tact, imagination, judgment, wisdom, and power. His wisdom
was the product of unbiased reason, a sound heart, and freedom from
scholastic prejudices. He knew how to seize upon the best means for the
attainment of his human purposes. He embraced in his plan a universal
religion, and to this he made all things minister. All his doctrines
were borrowed from the Old Testament; and the most admirable can be
found as far back as the time of Moses. He performed no miracles; but
they seemed miracles to the eye-witnesses. He uttered no real
prophecies, but his mind was so full of the future that some of his
predictions came to pass because of the natural foresight possessed by
him. His cures are all attributable to his skill as a physician, for
every Jew of that day had some medical knowledge. His apostles
propagated Christianity because of the influence wrought upon them by
their master. Fortunately for his fame, Paul published him far and wide.
Had it not been for that apostle, Christianity would never have gone
further than Palestine. There is nothing more remarkable in the spread
of this religion than in that of Mohammedanism, which has made such
great inroads upon Arabia, Egypt, Northern Africa, and Spain. Röhr,
however, reaches the climax of skeptical praise when he says of Christ
that he was a "Rationalist of pure, clear, sound reason; free from
prejudice, of ready perceptions, great love of truth, and warm
sympathies,--an exalted picture of intellectual and moral greatness. Who
would not bow before thee?"

The Rationalists made each act of Christ the subject of extended remark.
Whenever they came to a serious difficulty they boldly attempted its
solution by a few dashes of their unscrupulous pen. We may take the
temptation in the wilderness as an example. One writer says that Christ,
after his baptism, went into the wilderness full of the conviction that
he had been called to a great work. He was hungry; and the thought came
to him whether or not he was able to change the stones into bread. Then
the conviction arose that his authority was not great enough to enchain
the affections of the people. He wondered if God would not support him
if he fell; but Reason answered, "God will not sustain you if you
disobey the laws of nature." Then, standing on the top of a mountain,
he conceived the idea of possessing the surrounding lands, and of
placing himself at the head of the people to overthrow the Roman power.
The whole affair was a mere individual conflict.

From what we have now said, the opinions of the Rationalists on all
points of Christian doctrine become apparent. The sacraments are only
symbols of an invisible truth. Baptism is merely a sign of the purity
with which a Christian ought to live. The Lord's Supper is but a
memorial of the death of Jesus, and unites us with him only morally. The
church is a human institution, whose teachings may be very distinct from
the will of God. It gives therefore only relative aid. The future
judgment is only a Rabbinical vision. Every one receives retribution for
his faults in this life; and there is no eternity save that of God, in
whom all beings are absorbed.[51]

By this barren creed all foundation for a holy life was taken away. The
people, believing such absurdities, were transported from a period which
is declared by the word of God to be blessed by the "dispensation of the
Spirit" to a cold age in which the excellence of the intellect was
measured by the ingenuity of its thrusts at the Scriptures, and in which
the highest piety was the strictest obedience to the dictates of natural
reason. The inspired advice given to the seekers of wisdom was
travestied and made to read, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of
_Reason_ that giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not; and it
shall be given him." The Christian of that day had but little to
minister to his spiritual growth. All the endeared institutions of his
church were palsied by the strong arm of the Rationalists, who had
nothing to put in their place. Their time was spent in destruction. They
would pull all things down and erect nothing positive and useful. The
doctrines which they professed to believe were mere negatives,--the
sheer denial of some thing already in existence.


FOOTNOTES:

[40] Rose, _State of Protestantism in Germany_. Notes on Ch. iv.

[41] Von Ammon: _Biblische Theologie_.

[42] Daub.

[43] Herder.

[44] Lessing: _Menschengeschlect_. Rosenmüller: _Stufenfolge der
Göttlichen Offenbarungen_.

[45] Wegscheider: _Institutiones Dogmaticæ_.

[46] Eichhorn: _Einleitung_.

[47] Paulus: _Kritische Commentar über das Neue Testament_.

[48] Kant.

[49] Wegscheider: _Institutiones Dogmaticæ_.

[50] Eichhorn: _Die Hebräischen Propheten_.

[51] Von Ammon. Quoted from his _Magazine_ in Saintes' _Histoire du
Rationalisme_.



CHAPTER IX.

RENOVATION INAUGURATED BY SCHLEIERMACHER.


The commencement of the nineteenth century found the German people in a
state of almost hopeless depression. They saw their territory laid waste
by the victorious Napoleon, and their thrones occupied by rulers of
Gallic or Italian preferences. They had striven very sluggishly to stem
the current of national subjection and humiliation. The star of France
being in the ascendant, the Rhine was no longer their friendly ally and
western limit. No stage in the history of a people is more gloomy and
calls more loudly for sympathy than when national prestige is gone, and
dignities usurped by foreign conquerors. Though the apathy of despair is
a theme more becoming the poet than the historian, we find a vivid
description of the sadness and desolation produced by the French
domination given by one who deeply felt the disgrace of his country.
This writer says:

"The Divine Nemesis now stretched forth her hand against devoted
Germany, and chastened her rulers and her people for the sins and
transgressions of many generations. Like those wild sons of the desert,
whom in the seventh century, heaven let loose to punish the degenerate
Christians of the East, the new Islamite hordes of revolutionary France
were permitted by Divine Providence to spread through Germany, as
through almost every country in Europe, terror and desolation.

"What shall I say of the endless evils that accompanied and followed the
march of her armies, the desolation of provinces, the plunder of cities,
the spoliation of church property, the desecration of altars, the
proscription of the virtuous, the exaltation of the unworthy members of
society, the horrid mummeries of irreligion practised in many of the
conquered cities, the degradation of life and the profanation of death.
Such were the calamities that marked the course of these devastating
hosts. And yet the evils inflicted by Jacobin France were less intense
and less permanent than those exercised by her legislation. In politics
the expulsion of the ecclesiastical electors, who, though they had
sometimes given in to the false spirit of the age, had ever been the
mildest and most benevolent of rulers; the proscription of a nobility
that had ever lived in the kindliest relations with its tenantry; and on
the ruins of old aristocratic and municipal institutions that had long
guarded and sustained popular freedom, a coarse, leveling tyranny,
sometimes democratic, sometimes imperial, established; in the church the
oppression of the priesthood, a heartless religious indifferentism,
undignified even by attempts at philosophic speculation, propagated and
encouraged; and through the poisoned channels of education the taint of
infidelity transmitted to generations yet unborn. Such were the evils
that followed the establishment of the French domination in the
conquered provinces of Germany. Doubtless, through the all-wise
dispensations of that Providence who bringeth good out of evil, this
fearful revolution has partly become, and will yet further become, the
occasion of the moral and social regeneration of Europe."[52]

The patriot saw his country degraded; but the Christian wept for his
absent faith. Rationalism was strongest when national humiliation was
deepest. These formed a fitting twinship. It is a scathing comment on
the influence of skepticism upon a people that, in general, the highest
feeling of nationality is coexistent with the devoutest piety. It is the
very nature of infidelity to deaden the emotions of patriotism, and that
country can hardly expect to prove successful if it engage in war while
its citizens are imbued with religious doubt. If lands are conquered, it
knows not how to govern them; if defeated, skepticism affords but little
comfort in the night of disaster. We do not attach a fictitious
importance to Rationalism when we say that it was the prime agent which
prevented the Germans from the struggle of self-liberation, and that the
victory of Waterloo and the Congress of Vienna would never have been
needed had those people remained faithful to the precedents furnished by
the Reformers.

When Fichte was in his old age, and had completed his system of
philosophy, he published his _Addresses to the German People_. Political
writing was a new field for him, and yet, whoever will take the pains to
study the fruits of his thinking, will easily perceive that the spirit
animating the _Addresses_ was the same which pervaded his entire
philosophy. He saw the degradation of his country. Though at a time of
life when youthful fervor is supposed to have passed away, he became
inflamed with indignation at the insolence of the conqueror and the
apathy of his countrymen, and addressed himself to the consciousness of
the people by calling upon them to arise, and reclothe themselves with
their old historic strength. His voice was not disregarded. The result
proved that those who had thought him in his dotage, and only indulging
its loquacity, were much mistaken. He wrote that enthusiastic appeal
with a great aim. He had spent the most of his life in other fields, but
posterity will never fail to honor those who, whatever their habits of
thinking may have been, for once at least have the sagacity to see the
wants of their times, and possess the still higher wisdom of meeting
them. Fichte died in 1814; but it was at a time when, Simeon-like, he
could congratulate himself upon the prospects of humanity. He still felt
the rich glow of youth when, in his last days, he could say: "The
morning light has broken, and already gilds the mountain-tops, and gives
promise of the great coming day."

After independence had been achieved and the downfall of Napoleon had
become a fact, there appeared evidences of new evangelical life. When
the German soldiers recrossed the river which their ancestors had loved
to call "Father Rhine," and felt themselves the proud possessors of free
soil, not only they, but all their countrymen living in the Protestant
principalities, manifested a decided dissatisfaction with that
skepticism which had paralyzed them. Moreover, the memory that France
had been the chief agent in introducing Rationalism was not likely to
diminish their hatred of all infidelity. The masses breathed more
freely, but they were still imbued with serious error. Restoration was
the watchword in politics; but it was soon transferred to the domain of
religion and theology.

But great as was the influence of the wars of freedom in bringing back
the German heart to an intense desire for a more elevated nationality,
we must not be unmindful of the great theological forces which were
preparing for a thorough religious renovation.

They met in Schleiermacher. When quite young he was placed, first at
Niesky and afterward at Barby, in the care of the Moravians. It was
among these devout people that he became inspired with that enthusiastic
love of inner religious feeling which characterized his entire career.
The traces of Moravian piety are perceptible in all his writings. His
own words concerning his early training are very touching. "Piety," says
he, "was the maternal bosom, in the sacred shade of which my youth was
passed, and which prepared me for the yet unknown scenes of the world.
In piety my spirit breathed before I found my peculiar station in
science and the affairs of life; it aided me when I began to examine
into the faith of my fathers, and to purify my thoughts and feelings
from all alloy; it remained with me when the God and immortality of my
childhood disappeared from my doubting sight; it guided me in active
life; it enabled me to keep my character duly balanced between my faults
and virtues; through its means I have experienced friendship and love."

He became a student at Halle, and thence removed to Berlin, where he was
appointed chaplain to the _House of Charity_. While in that metropolis
he had rare opportunities for the study of his times. He saw that the
indifference and doubt which centered in the court and the university,
controlled the leaders of theology, literature, and statesmanship. He
drew his philosophy largely from Jacobi, exhibiting with that thinker
his dissatisfaction at the existing condition of metaphysics and
theology. Schleiermacher could not look upon the dearth around him
without the deepest emotion. He asked himself if there was no remedy
for the wide-spread evil. The seat of the disease appeared to him to be
the false deification of reason in particular; and the general mistake
of making religion dependent upon external bases instead of upon the
heart and consciousness of man. His conclusion was that both the friends
and enemies of Rationalism were mistaken, and that religion consists not
in knowledge but in feeling. It was in 1799 that he wrote his
_Discourses on Religion addressed to its Cultivated Despisers_. Striking
at the principal existing evil, which was indifference, he aimed to show
the only method for the eradication of them all.

The late Mr. Vaughan, in speaking of the position of this work, says:
"In these essays Schleiermacher meets the Rationalist objector on his
own ground. In what aspect, he asks, have you considered religion that
you so despise it? Have you looked on its outward manifestations only?
These the peculiarities of an age or a nation may modify. You should
have looked deeper. That which constitutes the religious _life_ has
escaped you. Your criticism has dissected a dead creed. That scalpel
will never detect a soul. Or will you aver that you have indeed looked
upon religion in its inward reality? Then you must acknowledge that the
idea of religion is inherent in human nature, that it is a great
necessity of our kind. Your quarrel lies in this case, not with religion
itself, but with the corruptions of it. In the name of humanity you are
called on to examine closely, to appreciate duly what has been already
done towards the emancipation of the true and eternal which lies beneath
these forms,--to assist in what may yet remain. Schleiermacher separates
the province of religion from those of action and of knowledge. Religion
is not morality, it is not science. Its seat is found accordingly in
the third element of our nature--the feeling. Its essential is a right
state of the heart. To degrade religion to the position of a mere
purveyor of motive to morality is not more dishonorable to the ethics
which must ask than to the religion which will render such
assistance.... The feeling Schleiermacher advocates, is not the
fanaticism of the ignorant or the visionary emotion of the idle. It is
not an aimless reverie shrinking morbidly from the light of clear and
definite thought. Feeling, in its sound condition, affects both our
conception and our will, leads to knowledge and to action. Neither
knowledge nor morality are in themselves the measure of a man's
religiousness. Yet religion is requisite to true wisdom and morality
inseparable from true religion. He points out the hurtfulness of a union
between church and state. With indignant eloquence he descants on the
evils which have befallen the church since first the hem of the priestly
robe swept the marble of the imperial palace."[53]

Religion being subjective, according to Schleiermacher, there can be
interminable varieties of it. As we look at the universe in numerous
lights, and thereby derive different impressions, so do we acquire a
diversity of conceptions of religion. Hence it has had many forms among
the nations of the earth. There is in each breast a religion derived
from the object of intellectual or spiritual vision. Christianity is the
great sum resulting from the antagonism of the finite and the infinite,
the human and divine. The fall and redemption, separation and reunion,
are the great elements from which we behold Christianity arise. Of all
kinds of religion this alone can claim universal adaptation and rightful
supremacy. Christ was the revelator of a system more advanced than
Polytheism or Judaism. Only by viewing his religion in the simple light
in which he places it can the mind find safety in its attempts to seek
for a basis of faith. But, important as Christianity is, it will avail
but little unless it become the heart-property of the theoretical
believer.

The _Discourses_ produced a deep impression. They inspired the class to
whom they had been directed with what it needed most of all, _a sense of
dependence_. One could not read them and close the volume without
wondering how reason could be deified and the feeling of the heart
ignored. There were multitudes of the educated and cultivated throughout
the land who, having become unfriendly to Christianity through the
persistence of the Rationalists, were equally indisposed to be satisfied
with a mere destructive theology. Something positive was what they
wanted; hence the great service of Schleiermacher in directing them to
Christianity as the great sun in the heavens, and then to the heart as
the organ able to behold the light. His labor was inestimably valuable.
His utterances were full of the enthusiasm of youth, and, years later,
he became so dissatisfied with the work, that he said it had grown
strange even to himself. As if over-careful of his reputation, to a
subsequent edition he appended large explanatory notes in order to
harmonize his recent with his former views. It would have been more
becoming the mature man to leave those earnest appeals to reap their own
reward. The times had changed; and the necessity which had first called
forth his appeal to the idolaters of doubt was sufficient apology.
Schleiermacher wrote other works, of which he and his disciples were
much prouder; but we doubt if he ever issued one more befitting the
class addressed, or followed with more beneficial results. Since his
pen has been stopped by death, those very discourses have led many a
skeptic in from the cold storm which beat about him, and given him a
place at the warm, cheerful fireside of Christian faith. Severe censure
has been cast upon them because of their traces of Spinoza. It is enough
to reply that their author, in the fourth edition, repudiated every word
savoring of Pantheism. Of books, as of men, it is best to form an
estimate according to the purpose creating them, and the moral results
following them. Neander, who could well observe the influence of the
_Discourses_, gives his testimony in the following language: "Those who
at that time belonged to the rising generation will remember with what
power this book influenced the minds of the young, being written in all
the vigor of youthful enthusiasm, and bearing witness to the neglected,
undeniable religious element in human nature. That which constitutes the
peculiar characteristic of religion, namely, that it is an independent
element in human nature, had fallen into oblivion by a one-sided
rational or speculative tendency, or a one-sided disposition to absorb
it in ethics. Schleiermacher had touched a note which, especially in the
minds of youth, was sure to send forth its melody over the land. Men
were led back into the depth of their heart, to perceive here a divine
drawing which, when once called forth, might lead them beyond that which
the author of this impulse had expressed with distinct consciousness."

In the year following the publication of the _Discourses on Religion_,
Schleiermacher issued his _Monologues_. Here he gave the keynote to the
century. While, only the year before, he would cultivate the feeling of
dependence and turn the mind inward, in the _Monologues_ he would lead
man to a knowledge of his own power, and show how far his individuality
can go upon its mission of success. Here he lauds independence. Hence
the latter work exerted the same kind of influence which attended
Fichte's _Addresses_, and it had no small share in the reäwakening of
the people to their innate power. There might appear an antagonism
between these two works of Schleiermacher, but, while the _Discourses_
were the exposition of his religious views, the _Monologues_ were merely
the annunciation of his moral opinions subsequently developed in his
_System of Christian Ethics_. The latter production was not destitute of
enthusiasm. In fact, the _Monologues_, cultivating the spirit of
independence, were far more capable of arousing and invigorating the
mind and heart. The author would have no one blind to the native
strength secreted in every breast, nor fail to cultivate sympathy and
love through every period of life. The consciousness should be a world
in itself; not even seeking an external support, but satisfied with its
own introspection; not watching the storm without, but satisfied with
surveying the gilded halls of its own castle-home. Thus there becomes,
instead of old age, continuous youth. This was his own pure experience.
"For," said he, "to the consciousness of inner freedom, and acting in
accordance with it, correspond eternal youth and joy. This I have got
hold of, and shall never give it up again; and with a smile I thus see
vanishing the light of mine eyes, and white hairs springing up among my
fair locks. Whatever may happen, nothing shall grieve my heart; the
pulse of my inner life shall remain fresh until I die."

A strong evidence that the German people were learning well the lessons
now impressed upon them, was the increasing fondness for the
institutions of purer times and a growing taste for history. The mind
found no comfort in the present, and it was therefore driven back upon
the past for solace. Poets began to start up, clothed with the spirit of
independence, and singing of bygone days in such a way that they were
understood as saying, "Now you see what our fathers did; how they
believed and fought; go you and do likewise." This new race sprang from
the Romantic School, led by Tieck, Schlegel, and others; but while it
possessed that enthusiastic admiration of the past which these men
indulged, their literary offspring exhibited a more earnest Christian
faith. It was in that day of distress that Uhland first poured forth his
notes of awakening; that Körner sounded the bugle-call of freedom; that
Rückert molded sonnets stronger than bullets; and Kerner sighed for a
world where there is no war, and no rumors of war.

Thus, when liberation came, no one class could claim to be the sole
agent of its accomplishment. But it is certain that if the religious
spirit of the people had not been appealed to and aroused, all literary
and æsthetic efforts would have been in vain. It was the religious
consciousness of the masses east of the Rhine which, being thoroughly
awakened, drew the sword, and gained the victory of Waterloo. If we view
that great crisis in European history in any light whatever, we cannot
resist the conviction that its importance in the sphere of religion was
equally great with its political magnitude.

The King of Prussia, Frederic William III., began the work of
ecclesiastical reconstruction. There were three questions of great
delicacy, but of prime importance, which he attempted to solve; the
constitution of the Protestant church; the improvement of liturgical
forms; and the union of the two Protestant confessions. Whatever course
the king might adopt could not fail to make many enemies. But he
belonged to a line of princes who had been aiming at the unity of the
church for more than two centuries, and who, with the single exception
of Frederic II., had endeavored to preserve popular faith in the
Scriptures. Preparations were being made for the three hundredth
anniversary jubilee of the Reformation. The land being now redeemed, it
was hoped that the occasion would inspire all hearts with confidence in
the future of both state and church. The king deemed it a most favorable
opportunity to bring the two branches of the Protestant church together,
not by one coming over to the territory of the other, but by mutual
compromise, by the rejection of the terms Lutheran and Reformed, and by
the assumption of a new denominational name.

There was really no reason why the two confessions should not be united,
for it was very plain that the adherents of both were not rigid in their
attachment. The Calvinists were no longer tenaciously devoted to their
founder's views of absolute predestination, while the Lutherans, having
departed from the doctrine of the real presence in the Lord's Supper,
had adopted the Zwinglian theory. The rigid authority of the symbolical
books was but loosely held by Lutherans and Calvinists. Frederic William
III., seeing that the separation was more imaginary than real, wrote a
letter on the second of May, 1817, to Bishop Sack and Provost Hanstein,
in which he said: "I expect proposals from you concerning the union of
the two confessions, which are in fact so similar; and as to the easiest
method of effecting the same." On the twenty-seventh day of the same
month he addressed a circular to all ecclesiastical functionaries
within his dominions, calling upon them to exert their influence for the
union of the two churches, and to give notice that the approaching
jubilee would be the signal for it to take place. The thirty-first of
October was the anniversary, and the plan was so far successful that in
many places the people and ministry of both confessions met on that day
for divine worship and partook of the Lord's Supper together. The fruit
of the movement was highly satisfactory to the Prussian King. Very soon
after the anniversary of the Reformation, the terms _Lutheran_ and
_Reformed_ were stricken from official documents, and the united State
Church was henceforth known as the Evangelical Church.

Beyond the limits of Prussia the Union gave rise to animated discussion;
but within the space of five years it was effected in Nassau, Rhenish
Bavaria, the Palatinate, Rhenish Hesse, and Dessau. It encountered the
most decided opposition in the person of Harms, a pastor of the city of
Kiel. He was not opposed to any movement which he thought would conduce
to the advantage of Christ's kingdom, but it was his opinion that a
return to the old Lutheran orthodoxy was more needed than the union of
the two churches. The faith of the fathers, and not the union of
Rationalistic divines, was, in his view, the only method of deliverance.
Harms was little known outside his own province until the publication of
his ninety-five _Theses_ in connection with the original ninety-five
nailed by Luther to the door of the Schlosskirche in Wittenberg. He was
the son of a plain Holstein miller, and had been indoctrinated into the
Lutheran catechism during his early youth. His first lessons in Latin
and Greek were received at the hands of a Rationalistic pastor in his
native town, but he assisted his father in the mill until he was
nineteen years of age. He then visited the university of Kiel, and in
due time entered upon the pastoral work. He scorned the customary dry
method of preaching, and aimed to reach the hearts of his hearers by any
praiseworthy method within his power. He made use of popular
illustrations and ordinary incidents. His congregations increased, not
only in the attendance of the middle and lower classes, but of the
gentry and wealthy. His earnest plainness was so novel and unexpected
that those who had long absented themselves from the sanctuary were
rejoiced to attend the ministrations of a preacher who seemed to believe
something positive and Scriptural, and who had the boldness to say what
he did believe.

This was the man who came forth on the occasion of the anniversary of
the Reformation as the champion for a return to the spirit of the olden
time. He held that reason had totally supplanted revelation in the
pulpits, universities, and lower schools, and that, until faith was
crowned with supremacy, there was no hope of relief. The _Theses_
exhibited great directness and clearness of appeal, and a keen insight
into the methods of popular address. As a specimen of their style we
introduce the following extracts: "III. With the idea of a progressing
Reformation, in the manner in which this idea is at present understood,
and especially in the manner in which we are reminded of it, Lutheranism
will be reformed back into heathenism, and Christianity out of the
world. IX. In matters of faith, reason; and as regards the life,
conscience, may be called the Popes of our age. XI. Conscience cannot
pardon sins. XXI. In the sixteenth century the pardon of sins cost
money, after all; in the nineteenth it may be had without money, for
people help themselves to it. XXIV. In an old hymn-book it was said,
'Two places, O man, thou hast before thee;' but in modern times they
have slain the devil and dammed up hell. XXXII. The so-called religion
of reason is destitute either of reason or religion, or both. XLVII. If
in matters of religion, reason claims to be more than a layman, it
becomes a heretic; that avoid, Titus iii. 10. LXIV. Christians should be
taught that they have the right not to tolerate any unchristian and
un-Lutheran doctrine in the pulpits, hymn-books, and school-books.
LXVII. It is a strange claim that it must be permitted to teach a new
faith from a chair which the old faith had set up, and from a mouth to
which the old faith gives food. LXXI. Reason, turned head, goes about in
the Lutheran church: it tears Christianity from the altar, casts God's
works out of the pulpit, throws dirt into the baptismal water, receives
all kinds of people as godfathers, hisses the priests; and all the
people follow its example, and have done so for a long time. And yet it
is not bound. On the contrary, this is thought to be the genuine
doctrine of Luther, and not of Carlstadt. LXXIV. The assertion that we
are more advanced and enlightened can surely not be proved by the
present ignorance as regards true Christianity. Many thousands can
declare, as did once the disciples of John, 'We have not so much as
heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.' LXXV. Like a poor maid, they
would not enrich the Lutheran church by a marriage. Do not perform it
over Luther's bones! He will thereby be recalled to life, and then--wo
to you! LXXVII. To say that time has taken away the wall of separation
between Lutherans and Reformed is not a clear speech. LXXXII. Just as
reason has prevented the Reformed from finishing their church and
reducing it to unity, so the reception of reason into the Lutheran
church would cause nothing but confusion and destruction. XCII. The
Evangelical Catholic church is a glorious church; she holds and forms
herself preëminently by the Sacrament. XCIII. The Evangelical Reformed
church is a glorious church; she holds and forms herself by the Word of
God. XCIV. More glorious than either is the Evangelical Lutheran church;
she holds and forms herself both by the Sacrament and the Word of
God."[54]

The appearance of the _Theses_ of Harms created a great sensation. At a
time when the union of the two churches became so desirable to many,
they seemed to be a firebrand of destruction. Plainly, it would be best
to return to the faith of the Reformers, but some of the most
evangelical men claimed that the speediest method of return was through
the Union. There appeared replies to the _Theses_ from all quarters of
the country, almost every theologian of distinction assuming the
character of the controversialist. As many as two hundred works appeared
on the subject, the most of them bearing strongly against Harms. In Kiel
and Holstein, where he was best known, the excitement was intense. Even
churches and clubs were divided, and the rancor went so far as to invade
private families, and create domestic divisions and heart-burnings.
Seldom has a theological topic caused such a blaze of tumult. Harms was
declared guilty of heinous offenses. He was charged with Catholicism,
and reminded that attention to the mill would be much better employment
than wielding the pen. He was accused of aiming at the protracted
division of the sects, and ministering in all possible ways to the
devices of Satan. His was the fate of the partisan. He did a great
work, for the controversy arising from his _Theses_ hastened the
settlement of those points which the times required should be solved as
speedily as possible. Indeed, this very discussion was a hopeful
indication; for it proved that, long and terrible as the sway of
Rationalism had been, there was still some interest felt among the
people on the themes most intimately connected with faith and practice.
It was a bright ray of the morning of renovation when the mere fact of
vital religion was powerful enough to enlist public attention.


FOOTNOTES:

[52] Möhler's _Symbolism_, Memoir of Author.

[53] _Essays and Remains._ Vol. 1, pp. 61-62.

[54] Quoted from Kahnis, _History of German Protestantism_, pp. 224-225.



CHAPTER X.

RELATIONS OF RATIONALISM AND SUPERNATURALISM.

1810-1835.


The task imposed upon the new state church taxed its powers to their
utmost tension. Much that had been achieved was now no longer useful,
for the stand-point of parties was totally changed. The Calvinist had
written against Rationalism with one eye upon heresy and the other upon
Lutheranism. The Lutheran had betrayed more spleen toward his Reformed
brethren than toward the disciples of Semler and Ernesti. But when the
union was effected there occurred the immediate necessity of new methods
of attack upon the enemies of orthodoxy, and a steadfast cultivation of
friendly feelings between newly-formed friends. As the adherents of the
two confessions were now united, why might not their conjoined strength
be wielded for the overthrow of skepticism? What was there, then, to
prevent these great branches of the church from coming forward in
perfect unison, and dealing strong blows against the system which had
well nigh been the ruin of them both?

The devotees of reason saw their danger, for the day of the union was an
evil one for them. But they did not become so alarmed as to take to
flight and give up the contest. On the other hand, they no sooner
perceived the awakening of the German people to a sense of patriotism
and independence, than they predicted a similar disposition to return to
the old faith; and being thus convinced of their danger, they wrote very
vigorously, and attempted to be fully prepared for the onset. We
therefore behold the anomaly of a system which had almost run its race
before arriving at a formal exposition.

Rationalism never attained to the dignity of a clear and cogent
elucidation until the publication of Röhr's _Letters on Rationalism_,
and of Wegscheider's _Institutes_. It had reached the acme of its
prosperity at the beginning of the century, yet the former work was not
written until 1813, and the latter not until 1817. There was power in
both these productions. The former was bold, popular, startling, and not
without a show of learning. It was intended for the masses. The latter
was a complement of the former; more heavy, but by virtue of its weight
adapted to that class of people, everywhere abundant, who suspect either
danger or puerility in every earnest sentence. The author held that it
was the province of Protestantism to develop Christianity and Christian
theology to a pure faith of reason. Issuing his work in the year of the
Reformation jubilee, he dedicated it to the shades of Luther. But Röhr
and Wegscheider, as far as their capacity to injure Christian faith was
concerned, stood at the wrong term of the history of Rationalism. Had
they written a half century earlier their works would have been much
more injurious to the Christian Church. But the system they would now
strengthen and propagate was beginning to decay, and it was beyond their
power to save it from ruin. They built a house for an occupant who was
too old to enjoy either the fascinating symmetry of its architecture or
the gorgeous splendor of its furniture.

It was at the time of which we speak that we first find frequent use of
the terms _Rationalism_ and _Supernaturalism_. The more zealous friends
of each school marshaled themselves for the final struggle. The conflict
became hand to hand, and quick and direct blows were dealt by both
combatants. One of the foremost among the champions of the old faith was
Reinhard, who declared that there was an irrepressible difference
between reason and revelation, Rationalism and Supernaturalism; that
there was no possible point of compromise; that they had nothing in
common; and that either the one or the other must exercise authority.
Reinhard avowed himself in favor of the undivided supremacy of faith,
and would have reason subordinate. The key-note of his active life and
inspiring writings is found in his own language--words which, had he
written nothing else, are sufficient to render him memorable. "While yet
a boy," said he, "when I read the Bible I considered it the word of God
to man, and never have I ceased to hold this view; so that now it is so
holy to me and its utterances so decisive that a single sentence which
would reproach its sanctity fills me with horror, just as an immoral
sentiment would rouse my conviction of virtue."

Tittmann entered the lists with a work directed at the very heart of
Rationalism. He charged it with being unimprovable, and merely temporary
and unsatisfactory. His book, entitled _Supernaturalism, Rationalism,
and Atheism_, went still further; for it aimed to show that if the
Rationalists believe what they say, they are nothing less than atheists.
Granting their premises, the conclusion must be that there is no God,
and that if God be not the author of revelation, there is also no God
of nature.

But while this war of books was going on with great bitterness on both
sides, there arose a powerful band of mediators, who believed that no
advantage could be gained for either combatant by continuing the strife,
and that some point of union would have to be adopted before there could
be peace and prosperity. Tzschirner differed from Reinhard in his view
of the antagonism between Rationalism and Supernaturalism. He contended
that there were features of sympathy between the two systems, and that
the work of harmonizing reason and revelation was not impossible. He
therefore attempted, in the present case, what Calixtus had formerly
tried in behalf of the Calvinists and Lutherans. But the syncretism of
Tzschirner was equally difficult of accomplishment. He conceded too much
to the Rationalists: for he would unite them and their enemies on the
ground that the aim of revelation is only to found a moral and religious
institution through the personal agency of a Divine Ambassador; to
strengthen the truths of the religion of reason; and to bring them so
near to the consciences of men that the authority of reason to prove the
origin and contents of revelation cannot be doubted.

But Tzschirner's influence did not consist so much in the particular
plan he would execute as in the tendency toward union which he was the
chief agent in creating. There were numbers who, having read his works
on this subject, were loud in their demand for the union of reason and
revelation on some basis that would compromise neither the value of the
former nor the sanctity of the latter. Many books appeared whose sole
theme was the possible harmonization of these elements, which
heretofore had been deemed utterly incongruous.[55] Schott's _Letters on
Religion and the Faith of the Christian Revelation_ was directed to the
same mark, and received great attention at the hands of both parties.
According to their author, there was no opposition between the religion
of reason and revelation, for Christianity is the mere expression of the
highest reason. Both are derived from the same fountain, which is Divine
reason. Nor is there any real difference between the purpose of
Christianity and that of the religion of reason. Each one aims at the
highest good.

But it soon became very evident that the Rationalists and
Supernaturalists were unable to harmonize. The points of difference were
so decided that it was vain to expect a union. Reinhard was correct in
his opinion that one or the other would have to yield. Just at the
crisis when these two systems were attracting greatest attention,
Schleiermacher published his _System of Doctrines_, 1821. In this work
he proved what had not been conceived by any writer save himself, that
there was another road to progress. As soon as it gained a hearing the
disputants saw that their arguments were no longer of value, that the
ground of the discussion was altogether changed, and that the cause of
faith must eventually triumph. The book was a complete surprise to all
parties. It was a stroke of genius, destined alike to recast existing
theology and to create a new public sentiment for the future.

The leading ideas developed in this master-piece of theology are Christ,
Religion, and the Church. The Rationalists had ever held that reason is
the criterion of truth, but Schleiermacher elevates Christian
consciousness to the throne. They had reduced religion to a mere formal
morality; yet he shows that religion and morality are very different,
and that the former consists neither in knowledge or action, but in the
sentiment or feeling of the heart. Thus he develops the opinion first
published in the _Discourses on Religion_. He uses the term "piety" to
designate religion. This piety should become the great spring of our
life and the inspiring power of faith. There is no real inconsistency
between knowledge and piety; they can harmonize beautifully when carried
to their loftiest extent. The religious feeling, which judges truth, is
characterized by absolute dependence. This is not degrading to man, but
his true dignity consists in it. We have different conceptions of God,
derived from the feeling of dependence, which is varied according to the
nature of outward circumstances. Christ must be judged by us not so much
according to the received accounts of his life as by his great relations
to us as Redeemer and Saviour. Our view of him must be deeper than his
mere incarnation. He was concerned in creation just so far as it was not
completed until redeemed. If we would have communion with God we can
enjoy it only through the medium of Christ. The peculiar value of
redemption lies in its applicability to our necessity for salvation. The
very sinlessness of Christ can be in a measure incorporated with our
humanity, and we should aim after the mind that was in Christ. We are
never fully united with Christ until we have a perfect spirit of
dependence. When this occurs, the soul is passing into the glorious
condition of the new birth. The church is the depository of that spirit
of Christ which every believer must enjoy in order to inherit eternal
life. The church, however, is not self-existent. Like the heavenly
bodies, whose motions are constantly maintained by infinite power, the
church is ever dependent upon Christ's agency for its very life. Christ
is the spirit moving in history and controlling all things for the
greatest good. The church is in some sense an organism of which Christ
is the head. This fact is the central point of theology, for without
Christ our faith is vain.[56]

Such teaching was what the times needed. The mind required to be
directed to Christ as the only remedy for skepticism. But we must
confess that, in the midst of some of the most evangelical expositions
of divine truth, Schleiermacher gave expression to serious doubts. He
disclaimed any great authority inherent in the Old Testament in the
following style: "The Old Testament Scriptures are indebted for their
place in our Bible partly to the appeals made to them by the New
Testament Scriptures, and partly to the historic connection of Christian
worship and the Jewish synagogue, without participating, on that
account, in the normal dignity, or inspiration, of those of the New
Testament."[57] As far as the inspiration of the Old Testament is
concerned, there must be a distinction observed between the law and the
prophets. The law cannot be inspired, for the spirit that could inspire
it would be in conflict with that which God sends into the heart by
virtue of our connection with Christ. Upon the law depend all the
subsequent historical books; and both are, therefore, uninspired,
according to the standard by which we judge the New Testament. The
prominent portions of the prophetic writings proceed principally from
the material spirit of the people, which is not the Christian spirit.

It is plain that Schleiermacher's views concerning the Trinity were
defective. He despatches it thus: "The church doctrine of the Trinity
demands that we should think each of the three persons equal to the
Divine Being, and _vice versa_; and each of the three persons equal to
the others. We are unable to do either the one or the other, but can
only conceive the persons in a gradation; and in like manner the unity
of the substance either less than the persons, or the contrary." He
discourses eloquently of the Spirit; but, after all, he teaches that the
Holy Ghost is only the common spirit of the Christian church as a
corporate body striving after unity. The term "common spirit," which he
employs, he understands to be the same that is used in worldly polity;
that is, the common tendency in all, who form one moral person, toward
the welfare of the whole. This beneficial sentiment is, in each, the
peculiar love to every individual. The Holy Ghost is the union of the
Divine Being with human nature, in the form of the common spirit
animating the corporate life of the faithful. Schleiermacher did not
reject miracles altogether as historical facts, but cast doubt upon
their character by holding that, if they did occur, it was only in
conformity with a higher nature of which we know nothing. His opinion
concerning the doctrine of angels was not orthodox; for he rejected the
existence of the devil, and the supposition of the fall of angels from
heaven. Some of the most important events in connection with Christ were
discarded by him as unnecessary to saving faith, namely, the miraculous
conception, the resurrection, ascension, and return of Christ to
judgment. In his opinion sin was hurtfulness, not guilt.

It is astonishing that we find so much truth and error concentrated in
the same man. But Neander was nevertheless correct in the words in which
he announced Schleiermacher's death: "We have now lost a man from whom
will be dated henceforth a new era in the history of theology." In
reading closely some of his false positions, we soon meet with something
so deep and spiritually earnest that we are forgetful of the doubt,
being attracted by the greater glow of the living truth. As life
advanced he improved in his appreciation of doctrine, and his latest
works are hardly recognizable as written by the same hand. He published
several books, of which we have made no mention, but in all the fruits
of his pen he revealed an unfailing love of a personal Redeemer. His
sermons were the outflow of his genial nature, kindled by his stern view
of Christ's communion with his living disciples. Mr. Farrar eloquently
sums up his work, though it must be acknowledged that the present
generation stands too near the time of Schleiermacher's activity to
bestow an impartial estimate upon either the theological position of the
man or the influence resulting from him. "We have seen," says this
author, "how completely he caught the influences of his time, absorbed
them and transmitted them. If his teaching was defective in its
constructive side; if he did not attain the firm grasp of objective
verity which is implied in perfect doctrinal, not to say critical,
orthodoxy, he at least gave the death-blow to the old Rationalism, which
either from an empirical or a rational point of view, proposed to gain
such a philosophy of religion as reduced it to morality. He rekindled
spiritual apprehensions; he, above all, drew attention to the peculiar
character of Christianity, as something more than the republication of
natural religion, in the same manner that the Christian consciousness
offered something more than merely moral experience. He set forth,
however imperfectly, the idea of redemption, and the personality of the
Redeemer; and awakened religious aspirations, which led his successors
to a deeper appreciation of the truth as it is in Jesus. Much of his
theology and some part of his philosophy had only a temporary interest
relatively to the times; but his influence was perpetual. The faults
were those of his age; the excellencies were his own. Men caught his
deep love to a personal Christ without imbibing his doctrinal opinions.
His own views became more evangelical as his life went on, and the views
of his disciples more deeply Scriptural than those of their master. Thus
the light kindled by him waxed purer and purer. The mantle remained
after the prophet's spirit had ascended to the God that gave it."[58]

De Wette was, like Schleiermacher his friend and colleague at Berlin, a
man in whom can be seen all the marks of a transition-character. There
are two sides to his theological views, one bearing upon the old
Rationalism and in sympathy with it, the other directly tending to
revive faith and religion. Even before Schleiermacher became generally
known, De Wette had openly declared that religion can be based upon
feeling alone, and that a personal Saviour is the necessary centre of
Christian faith. The entire theology of De Wette was the outgrowth of
the cold, critical philosophy of Kant and the more earnest and living
system of Fries. He was, therefore, a two-fold personage, and it is not
an easy task to harmonize his theories. One set of his opinions was
based upon truth, the other on beauty. Religion has two elements, faith
and feeling; doctrines and æsthetics. Religion may exist æsthetically,
but it can only become vital in the feeling, or self-consciousness.
Religious feeling embraces three shades: enthusiasm or inspiration,
resignation, and devotion. Every history is, in a certain sense,
symbolical. It is the mere reflection or copy of the human mind in its
activity. So are the appearance of Christ, his life, and death, in some
degree symbolical. In this symbolism consists the character of the
Christian revelation. Here have appeared the eternal ideas of reason in
their greatest purity and fullness; and Rationalism is nothing more than
a philosophical view of the Christian revelation of faith, or the
knowledge of the relations in which idea and symbol stand to each other
in Christianity. Therefore, we must judge the miraculous accounts of the
evangelists as symbols of the ideas existing in the early history of
Christianity.

De Wette reflects somewhat on the moral character of John, perhaps
without intention, when he supposes him to have written late in life--a
time when his faith would naturally predominate over his love of facts.
Strauss couples De Wette with Vater, as having placed upon a solid
foundation the mythical explication of the history of the Bible.[59]
According to De Wette, the narrator may intend to write history, but he
obviously does it in a poetic way. The first three evangelists betray a
legendary and even a mythical character. This explains the discrepancies
in their histories, and also in the discourses and doctrines of Jesus.
The miracle that took place at the baptism of Christ was a pure myth;
and the resurrection and reappearance of Christ have their existence
more in the mind than in history. With this view of the New Testament,
it is not surprising that the Old should receive even more rigorous
usage. The larger part of the Pentateuch was supposed to be taken from
two old documents, the Elohistic and Jehovistic, and was compiled
somewhere near the close of the legal period. The five books, purporting
to have been written by Moses, are the Hebrew epic, and contain no more
truth than the great epic of the Greeks. As the Iliad and Odyssey are
the production of the rhapsodists, so is the Pentateuch, with the
exception of the Decalogue, the continuous and anonymous work of the
priesthood. Abraham and Isaac are equally fabulous with Ulysses and
Agamemnon. A Canaanitish Homer could have invented nothing better than
the journeys of Jacob and the marriage of Rebecca. The departure from
Egypt, the forty years in the wilderness, the seventy elders at the head
of the tribes, and the complaints of Aaron are each an independent myth.
The character of myths is varied in different books; poetic in Genesis,
juridical in Exodus, priestly in Leviticus, political in Numbers,
etymological, diplomatical, and genealogical, but seldom historical, in
Deuteronomy.

De Wette's theological novel, _Theodore, or the Doubter's Consecration_,
1822, was designed to banish the doubts of the skeptic by seeking refuge
in the theology of feeling. Tholuck replied to it in his _Guido and
Julius_, in which he proves that a deep appreciation and acceptance of
Christ by the soul is the only remedy for infidelity. "We perceive in De
Wette a continual conflict between the longings of his heart and the
theological creed to which he attached himself. The lines written by
him just before his death touchingly declare the great failure of his
life:

     "I lived in times of doubt and strife,
       When child-like faith was forced to yield:
     I struggled to the end of life,
       Alas! I did not gain the field."

With the name of the lamented Neander we hail the morning light of
reviving faith. He was one of the purest characters in the history of
the modern church. His influence was so great as to lead very many of
the young men of Germany to embrace the vital doctrines of Christianity.
His father was a Jewish peddler, Emanuel Mendel, and the boy was named
David at circumcision. Various forces co-operated in directing his mind
toward the Christian religion; of which we might mention the philosophy
of Plato, the Romantic School, and above all, Schleiermacher's
_Discourses on Religion_. When seventeen years of age he was baptized
and received the combined name of his sponsors, John Augustus William
Neander. In 1810 he began to lecture in the University of Heidelberg,
and in 1813, owing to the publication of his _Julian the Apostate_, he
received a call to Berlin. He was there brought into the society of
Schleiermacher, Marheineke, De Wette, Fichte, Hegel, Ritter, Ranke and
other celebrated men. It was very significant of the new life now
beginning to be felt, that his lectures were numerously attended. Even
Schleiermacher, his co-laborer for twenty years in the theological
faculty, had a limited circle of auditors compared with the throngs who
went to hear Neander.

His theological views were more positive and evangelical than those
entertained by any of his associates. He shared, with the most orthodox
of them, the opinion that religion is based upon feeling. The Christian
consciousness was the sum of his theology. "By this term," said he, "is
designated the power of the Christian faith in the subjective life of
the single individual, in the congregation, and in the church generally;
a power independent and ruling according to its own law,--that which,
according to the word of our Lord, must first form the leaven of every
other historical development of mankind." Neander was not a man of very
strong prejudices; yet his disapprobation of the destructive nature of
Rationalism was very decided. The reduction of religion to
intellectualism received severe rebukes at his hand on more than one
occasion. "I shall never cease," he declared, "to protest against the
one-sided intellectualism, that fanaticism of the understanding, which
is spreading more and more, and which threatens to change man into an
intelligent, over-wise beast. But at the same time I must protest
against that tendency which would put a stop to the process of
development of theology; which, in impatient haste, would anticipate its
aim and goal, although with an enthusiasm for that which is raised above
the change of the days,--an enthusiasm which commands all respect, and
in which the hackneyed newspaper categories of Progress and
Retrogression are out of the question."

Neander's motto, "Pectus est, quod theologum facit," unfolds his whole
theological system and life-career. The Germans call his creed
"Pectoralism," in view of the inner basis of his faith. With him,
religion amounts to nothing without Christ. Nor must Christ be the mere
subject of study; the soul and its manifold affections must embrace him.
The barrenness of Judaism is done away in him, and the emptiness of
Rationalistic criticism is successfully met by the fullness found in
Christianity. Sin is not merely hurtful and prejudicial, but it induces
guilt and danger. It can be pardoned only through the death and
mediation of Christ. The illustrations of devout service to be found in
the history of the church should serve as examples for succeeding times.
Neander spent much of the careful labor of his life in portraying
prominent characters; for it was his opinion that individuals sometimes
combine the features of their times, the virtues or the vices prevalent;
and that if these individualities be clearly defined the church is
furnished with valuable lessons for centuries. The work published when
but twenty-two years of age, _Julian the Apostate_, was the beginning of
a series of similar monographs designed to show the importance of the
individual in history, and to point out great crises in the religious
life of man. He subsequently produced works entitled _St. Bernard_,
_Gnosticism_, _St. Chrysostom_, _Tertullian_, _History of the Apostolic
Age_, _Life of Christ_, and _Memorials of Christian Life_. To these may
be added a few practical commentaries, essays, and a _History of
Doctrines_.

But the great achievement of Neander was his _General History of the
Christian Religion and Church_, embracing the period from the close of
the apostolic age to the Council of Basle in 1430. Christianity is, in
his conception, not simply a growth or development of man; it is a new
power, a creation of God, a divine gift to the world. Therefore the
history of the Church of Christ is the clear exhibition of the divine
strength of Christianity; it is a school of Christian experience, a
voice of warning and instruction for all who will hear it as it echoes
down through the grand march of centuries.[60] The history of the
church, far from being the scholar's theme alone, furnishes nutritious
food for the practical life of all the disciples of the Lord. If its
history be permitted to exert its due influence upon the world, we shall
behold a gratifying and widespread improvement in all things that
increase happiness and lead heavenward.

It is quite too late to answer the charge against Neander's profundity.
His achievements are his best defense, and the pen of censure is fast
beginning to lose its bitterness. It is not time for him to be fully
appreciated at home; for, as the beauty of the landscape is dependent on
the sun to make it apparent, so Neander's character and labors must wait
for an honorable and universal recognition until new evangelical light
shall have overspread the land. A century hence he will be loved as
dearly by the German people as he was by those weeping students who
gathered around his grave to see his face for the last time. What
Krummacher said on the occasion of his burial will yet be the testimony
of the church, whose history was Neander's earthly Eden: "One of the
noblest of the noble in the Kingdom of God, a prince in Zion, the
youngest of the church Fathers, has departed from us."

Neander's relation to his times was most important. The various
influences hitherto employed against Rationalism had proceeded as far
toward its extinction as it was possible for them to go. Philosophy and
doctrinal theology had spent their efforts. The history of the church
having always been treated mechanically, it was now necessary that the
continued presence and agency of Christ with his people should be
carefully portrayed. The progress of his church needed to be represented
as more than growth from natural causes, such as the force of
civilization and education. It was necessary to show that a high
superintending Wisdom is directing its path, overcoming its
difficulties, and leading it through persecution and blood to ultimate
triumph. Neander rendered this important service. He directed the vision
of the theologian to a new field, and became the father of the best
church historians of the nineteenth century. The child-like simplicity
of his character was beautiful. Everything like vanity and pretense was
as foreign to him as if he dwelt on a different planet. A recent German
writer calls him a "Protestant monk or saint, whose world was the
cloister of the inner man, out of which he worked and taught for the
good of the church."

Of his remarkable personal appearance, Dr. Schaff, who enjoyed his
friendship, says: "In his outward appearance Neander was a real
curiosity, especially in the lecture-room. Think of a man of middle
size, slender frame, homely but interesting and benevolent face, dark
and strongly Jewish complexion, deep-seated, sparkling eyes,
overshadowed by an unusually strong, bushy pair of eyebrows, black hair
flowing in uncombed profusion over the forehead, an old-fashioned coat,
a white cravat carelessly tied, as often behind or on one side of the
neck as in front, a shabby hat set aslant, jack-boots reaching above the
knee; think of him thus either as sitting at home, surrounded by books
on the shelves, on the table, on the few chairs, and all over the floor;
or as walking _unter den Linden_, and in the Thiergarten of Berlin,
leaning on the arm of his sister Hannchen, or a faithful student, his
eyes shut or looking up to heaven, talking theology in the midst of the
noise and fashion of the city, and presenting altogether a most singular
contrast to the teeming life around him, stared at, smiled at, wondered
at, yet respectfully greeted by all who knew him; or as finally standing
on the rostrum, playing with a goose-quill which his amanuensis had
always to provide; constantly crossing and recrossing his feet, bent
forward, frequently sinking his head to discharge a morbid flow of
spittle, and then again suddenly throwing it on high, especially when
aroused to polemic zeal against pantheism and dead formalism; at times
fairly threatening to overturn the desk, and yet all the while pouring
forth with the greatest earnestness and enthusiasm, without any other
help than that of some illegible notes, an uninterrupted flow of
learning and thought from the deep and pure fountain of the inner life;
and thus with all the oddity of the outside, at once commanding the
veneration and confidence of every hearer; imagine all this, and you
have a picture of Neander, the most original phenomenon in the literary
world of this nineteenth century."[61]


FOOTNOTES:

[55] Baur, _Kirchengeschichte d. 19 Jahrhunderts_, pp. 180-181.

[56] For summaries of Schleiermacher's views, see Herzog,
_Encyclopædie_; Baur, _Kirchengeschichte, des 19 Jahrhunderts_; Vaughan,
_Essays and Remains_; Gieseler, _Kirchengeschichte_, vol. vi.; Kurtz,
_Church History_, vol. ii.; Saintes, _Histoire du Rationalisme_; Farrar,
_History of Free Thought_; and Auberlen, _Göttliche Offenbarung_, vol.
i.

[57] _Die Glaubenslehre._

[58] _Critical History of Free Thought_, p. 249.

[59] _Life of Jesus--Introduction._

[60] _History of the Christian Religion and Church._ _Preface to First
Edition._

[61] _Germany--Its Universities, Theology, and Religion_, pp. 269-270.



CHAPTER XI.

THE REACTION PRODUCED BY STRAUSS' LIFE OF JESUS.

1835-1848.


It is related of Apelles, that, after finishing his pictures, he was in
the habit of hanging them in front of his studio and then of concealing
himself in order to hear unseen the criticisms of the passers-by. On one
occasion, when a new picture was thus exposed to public inspection, a
shoemaker stopped before it and observed that something was wrong about
a sandal. After he had gone Apelles saw the justice of the objection and
corrected the fault. The next day, when the shoemaker was passing again
and saw that much importance had been attached to his opinion, he
ventured to criticise a leg, but Apelles rushed out from behind the
curtain, and, charging him with being hypercritical, told him that for
the future he would do better to keep to his trade. The circumstance
gave rise to the Roman proverb--"Ne sutor ultra crepidam."

The day was now near at hand when the criticism of the Scriptures, as
conducted by the Rationalists, would go quite beyond the province of
their authority and the bounds of moderation. When we read the cold,
deliberate chapters of Ammon, Eichhorn, and Michaelis, we unconsciously
identify ourselves with their generation, and exclaim, "Surely there
will never be a step beyond this; the knife can have no edge for a
deeper incision." As Neander toiled in his study, digging up the buried
treasures of the past and enriching them with the John-like purity of
his own heart in order that he might faithfully interpret the divine
guidance of the church, he no doubt rejoiced in the conviction that the
Rationalists had achieved their last great success, and that the work
before him and those who believed as he did was to be henceforth more
constructive than controversial. His co-workers were few in number, but
they had pleasing indications in many quarters that their labors would
have a triumphant issue.

It was very evident that, though there was a general rejection of the
doctrine of inspiration in that elevated sense which it is the glory of
the American church to entertain, there were great numbers who had
become as captivated with Schleiermacher's word, _feeling_, as if it had
been a harp-note from heaven. The people had thought so little about
their own hearts within the last half century that they seemed to have
forgotten their stewardship of the treasure. The whole land had been
converted into a colossal thinking machine. And when the German people
were told by a stentorian voice that man is emotional as well as
intellectual they arose as from a long stupefaction. So, when
Schleiermacher died in 1834, there were many who said with unfeigned
gratitude, "He is gone, but sweet be his sleep, for he has told us that
we have heart and soul."

Three years before Schleiermacher's death the spirit of Hegel had taken
its departure. These were the two men who, though dead, were now
speaking more authoritatively to the German mind than all others.
Schleiermacher was represented by men more orthodox than himself, who
gave every assurance of leaving the world far better than they had found
it. Hegel had taught too long and thoroughly to be without influence
after his eyes had ceased to look upon his entranced auditors at Berlin.
It was not long after his death that his favorite theory of antagonisms
had a literal fulfillment in the course adopted by the adherents to his
opinions. His most ardent disciples found it difficult to tell what he
had believed definitely, so varied are the expressions of his views in
the eighteen volumes of his works. Even the same book was interpreted
differently. His _Philosophy of Religion_ was twice edited, first in a
conservative sense by Marheineke, and afterward in a revolutionary light
by Bruno Bauer.[62] Some passages in his _History of Philosophy_ were
written in defense of pantheism, while his later views have been brought
forth in proof of his opposition to that error. Thus variously
interpreted, and yet powerful in his hold upon the intellectual classes
of Germany, it was impossible for his disciples to live in harmony. The
chief points at issue were the personality of God, the immortality of
the soul, and the person of Christ. Either side might be taken and the
position defended by the master's own words. The result of this
diversity of interpretation was a schism. Hegel's school was divided,
after the model of the French Chambers, into three sections--the Right,
the Centre, the Left. The Right asserted the orthodoxy of the Hegelian
philosophy; the Centre held a position corresponding to their name; and
the Left were unmitigated Rationalists. The last group were true to the
skepticism inherited from their predecessors, and were radicals in
church and state. They rejected the personality of God, a future life,
and the credibility of the Gospel narratives.

Strauss was a Left Hegelian, and his _Life of Jesus_ became the creed of
his brethren in doubt. He was not in perfect harmony with all their
extremes, but he co-operated with them, and gave them their chief glory.

The world has seldom seen a literary venture more remarkable in contents
or in history than this meteor across the firmament of German theology.
To say that it was unexpected is but a faint expression of the universal
surprise occasioned by it. The Left Hegelians were a limited school and
the current of theological thought had been against them. Therefore,
when the _Life of Jesus_ appeared, it was a bold thrust from an arm
thought to possess but little strength. The author, David Frederic
Strauss, was a young lecturer on theology in the University of Tübingen.
He had experienced the several shades of opinion prevalent during his
student life. Beginning with the Romantic School, lingering awhile with
Schleiermacher, and finally passing through the gate Beautiful of
Hegel's system, he tarried with that master as "lord of the hill." His
stay was not brief, like that of Bunyan's pilgrim. But satisfied only by
making greater progress, the philosophy of the great thinker became his
Delectable Mountains, "beautiful with woods, vineyards, fruits of all
sorts, flowers also, with springs and fountains, very delectable to
behold."

Strauss was but twenty-eight years old when his cold, passionless, and
pungent piece of skeptical mechanism was presented to the world. Who
would suspect that quiet young man of possessing so much power over the
minds of his countrymen? M. Quinet, speaking of a visit to him, said,
"Beneath this mask of fatalism I find in him a young man full of
candor, of sweetness and modesty; of a spirit almost mystical, and
apparently saddened by the disturbance which he had occasioned." His
book produced a universal impression in Europe. It was, to the moral
sentiment of Christendom, the earthquake shock of the nineteenth
century. Having been multiplied in cheap editions, it was read by
students in every university and gymnasium, by passengers on the Rhine
boats and in the mountain stages, and by a great number of private
families. Even school children, imitating the example of their seniors,
spent their leisure hours in its perusal. The most obscure provincial
papers contained copious extracts from it, and vied with each other in
defending or opposing its positions. Crossing the German frontier, it
was published in complete and abridged forms in all the principal
languages of Europe. Even staid Scotland, unable to escape the
contagion, issued a popular edition of the exciting work.

Nor were the views advanced by Strauss in his _Life of Jesus_ less
extraordinary than its very flattering reception. He was diametrically
opposed to Neander in the latter's estimate of the ideal and historical.
According to Strauss the idea is the very soul of all that is valuable
in the past; and history is the gross crust which envelops it. What is
history in its early stages but so many faint legends? Happy are we if,
within them, we can discover the seed-truth. The same neglect of the
movements of history in their outward form led Strauss into still
another tendency which proved to be in direct conflict with Neander. The
latter, as we have seen, was devoted to his theory of the importance and
power of personality in history. But Strauss rejected it as of small
moment. He attached great importance to the issue involved, but
regarded the persons engaged in bringing it to pass as mere machinery.

This contempt of the historical and the personal is the key to Strauss'
work. The church, when it continued faithful, had always looked to the
Gospels as the Holy Sepulchre of its faith, and was ever ready to make a
crusade against the power which would wrest it from her grasp. But, amid
the conflicts occasioned by the growth of the destructive criticism, the
Gospels had received at its hands a treatment no less severe than had
been inflicted upon the history of the Old Testament. Many theories had
already been propounded by the Rationalists in order to account for
them, but there was no general harmony among these men either on this or
any subject of speculation. Wetstein, Michaelis, and Eichhorn were
agreed that the Gospels were more human than divine, and the fate to
which all the inspired records were consigned by those critics and their
sympathizers has its analogy in the treatment bestowed by vultures upon
the carcass of the exhausted beast that has fallen by the wayside. But,
after all, the accounts of the Evangelists had suffered less severely
than any other part of the Scriptures, and the injury they had sustained
was owing more to the attacks made on the historical and prophetical
portions of the Old Testament than to any immediate invasion. For the
Bible is a unity. If but one book be mutilated the whole organism is
disturbed.

The contest having been hitherto connected with other features of
revelation more than with the person of Christ, it was no part of the
design of the Rationalists to submit without staking a great battle upon
the incarnation of the Messiah. Let them succeed here, and they can
rebuild more firmly all they have lost, but if they fail, they will only
bring to a more speedy ruin an edifice already in decay. Strauss
undertook the work; and having written for the learned alone, no one was
more surprised than himself at the popular success of the _Life of
Jesus_.

According to him, the explanation of the mysterious accounts of Jesus of
Nazareth can be found in the theory of the myth. Strauss held that the
Holy Land was full of notions concerning his speedy appearance. The
people were waiting for him, and were ready to hail his incarnation with
rapture. Their opinions concerning him were already formed, owing to the
expectations they had inherited from their fathers. Therefore, any one
who answered their views would be the Messiah. There was much in both
the character and life of Christ which approached their crude notions of
the promised one. For this reason their hearts went out toward him, and
they called him "Jesus." The world was already prepared, and since
Christ best fitted it, he was entitled to all the honor of being waited
for and accepted. All the prophecies of his incarnation were purely
historical events. But the Jewish mind is very visionary and prone to
allegory. Consequently, when Christ appeared among the Jews, it was not
difficult to trace a resemblance between him and other marked personages
in history.

Thus Christ did not organize the Church as much as the church created
him. He existed and lived on earth, but very different was the real
Jesus from that wonderful character described in the Gospels. The
veritable Messiah was born of humble parentage, was baptized by John,
collected a few disciples, inveighed against the Pharisees and all
others who placed themselves in antagonism to him, and finally fell a
victim to the cruelty of his foes. Years passed by after his death, and
the popular imagination went wild with reports and exaggerations of the
once obscure Nazarene. Great as the ideas of the people were before
Christ appeared, they were infinitely magnified during the lapse of the
thirty years between his death and the composition of the Gospels. These
narratives are consequently not a representation of history, but of
morbid popular fancies. The evangelists did not intend to deceive their
readers; their picturesque sketches were only designed to clothe the
ideal in the garb of the real. "Be not so unkind," Strauss says in
effect, "as to charge these poor uneducated men with evil purposes. They
were very unsophisticated, and did not know enough to have any extended
plan of trickery. They heard wonderful stories floating about, just such
as one meets with in all countries after a prominent man has died; and,
as they had a little capacity for using the pen, they wrote them down to
the best of their ability. Their writings are curious but very
defective, since the authors were too unpractised in literary work to
perfect a master-piece. How little they dreamed of the reverence which
future generations would pay them! Poor souls, they hardly knew what
they were doing. One caught one story, and his friend another; and it is
a nice bit of mosaic which we find in their school-boy productions. No
wonder their defenders are unable to harmonize their accounts. Let any
four men who live among a legend-loving people transcribe the traditions
they hear from the lips of childhood and garrulous old age, or read in
the popular romances of the day, and it will surprise no one that they
do not agree. How can they tell the same things in the same way, since
the sources of each are so different? Nor, with only myths for warp and
woof, is it at all surprising that we have nothing more than Homeric
exaggerations when the fanciful fabric is once woven."

The introduction to the _Life of Jesus_ consists of an essay on the
historical development of the mythical theory. Having stated its present
shape and great value, it is then applied to the life of Christ in the
body of the work. This is the climax of destructive criticism.
Everything which Christ is reported by the Evangelists to have said or
done shares the natural explanations of Strauss. From his very birth to
his ascension, his life is no more remarkable than that of many others
who have taken part in the public events of their times.

Beginning with the annunciation and birth of John the Baptist, Strauss
considers the apparition to Zacharias and his consequent dumbness as
actual external circumstances, susceptible of a natural interpretation.
Zacharias had a waking vision or ecstasy. Such a thing is not common,
but in the present instance, many circumstances combined to produce an
unusual state of mind. The exciting causes were, _first_, the
long-cherished desire to have a posterity; _second_, the exalted
vocation of administering in the Holy Place and offering up with the
incense the prayers of the people to the throne of Jehovah, which seemed
to Zacharias to foretoken the acceptance of his own prayer; and _third_,
perhaps an exhortation from his wife as he left his house, similar to
that of Rachel to Jacob. Gen. xxx. 1. In this highly excited state of
mind, as he prays in the dimly-lighted sanctuary, he thinks of his most
ardent wish, and expecting that now or never his prayer shall be heard,
he is prepared to discern a sign of its acceptance in the slightest
occurrence. As the glimmer of the lamp falls upon the ascending cloud
of incense, and shapes it into varying forms, the priest imagines that
he perceives the figure of an angel. The apparition at first alarms him,
but he soon regards it as an assurance from God that his prayer is
heard. No sooner does a transient doubt cross his mind, than the
sensitively pious priest looks upon himself as sinful and believes
himself reproved by the angel. Now, either an apoplectic seizure
actually deprives him of speech, which he receives as the just
punishment of his incredulity, until the excessive joy he experiences at
the circumcision of his son restores the power of utterance--so that
dumbness is retained as an external, physical, though not miraculous
occurrence--or the proceeding is psychologically understood; namely,
that Zacharias, in accordance with a Jewish superstition, for a time
denied himself the use of the offending member. Reanimated in other
respects by the extraordinary event, the priest returns home to his
wife, and she becomes a second Sarah.[63]

The original histories are adduced, and the parallels fully drawn
between them and the gospel narratives in order to show the mythical
character of the latter. The birth of John the Baptist is the mongrel
product of the Old Testament stories of the birth of Isaac, of Samson,
and of Samuel. Every event related by the evangelists is so strained as
to make it analogous to other occurrences in Jewish history. The murder
of the innocents by Herod is only a poetic plagiarism of the cruelty of
Nimrod and Pharaoh; the star which guided the shepherds, a memory of the
star promised in the prophecy of Balaam; Christ explaining the Bible
when twelve years old, a gloss upon the precocity of Moses, Samuel, and
Solomon; the increase of the loaves, a union of the manna in the
wilderness and the twenty loaves with which Elisha fed the people; water
changed into wine, a new version of the bitter waters made sweet; the
cross, a reminder of the brazen serpent; the scene in the Garden of
Gethsemane, the bloody sweat and the agony on the cross, poor copies
from the Lamentations of Jeremiah; and the two thieves, the nailed hands
and feet, the pierced side, the thirst, and the last words of Jesus, are
borrowed narratives from the sixty-ninth and twenty-second Psalms.[64]

The same mythical explanation is applied to the conception and divine
character of Jesus. By entertaining such notions of him as we find in
the gospels we display a superstition worthy of the dim days of pagan
legendry. In the world of mythology many great men had extraordinary
births, and were sons of the gods. Jesus himself spoke of his heavenly
origin, and called God his Father; besides, his title as Messiah was
"Son of God." From Matt. i. 22, it is further evident that the passage
of Isaiah vii. 14, was referred to Jesus by the early Christian church.
In conformity with this passage the belief prevailed that Jesus, as the
Messiah, should be born of a virgin by means of divine agency. It was
therefore taken for granted that what was to be actually did occur; and
thus originated a philosophical, dogmatical myth concerning the birth of
Jesus. But according to historical truth, Jesus was the offspring of an
ordinary marriage, between Joseph and Mary, which maintains at once the
dignity of Jesus and the respect due to his mother. The transfiguration
illustrates both the natural and mythical methods of interpretation. It
is a reflection of the scene which transpired on Sinai at the giving of
the law. The gospel account is an Ossianic fancy. Something merely
objective presented itself to the disciples, and this explains how an
object was perceived by several at once. They deceived themselves, when
awake, as to what they saw. That was natural, because they were all born
within the same circle of ideas, were in the same frame of mind, and in
the same situation. According to this opinion, the essential fact in the
scene on the mountain is a secret interview which Jesus had concerted,
and, with a view to which, he took with him the three most confidential
of his disciples. Paulus does not venture to determine who the two men
were with whom Jesus held this interview; Kuinöl conjectures that they
were secret adherents of the same kind as Nicodemus; and according to
Venturini, they were Essenes, secret allies of Jesus. Jesus prayed
before these arrived, and the disciples, not being invited to join,
slept. For the sleep noticed by Luke, though it were dreamless, is
gladly retained in this interpretation, since a delusion appears more
probable in the case of persons just awaking. On hearing strange voices
talking with Jesus, they awake, and see him--who probably stood on a
higher point of the mountain than they--enveloped in an unwonted
brilliancy, caused by the reflection of the sun's rays from a sheet of
snow. This light falling on Jesus is mistaken by them in the surprise of
the moment for a supernatural illumination. They perceive the two men
whom, for some unknown reasons, the drowsy Peter and the rest take for
Moses and Elias. Their astonishment increases when they see the two
strange individuals disappear in a bright morning cloud--which descends
as they are in the act of departing--and hear one of them pronounce out
of the cloud the words, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well
pleased; hear ye him." Under these circumstances they unavoidably regard
this as a voice from heaven.

The resurrection of Christ is regarded by Strauss as a psychological
necessity placed upon the disciples, first to solve the contradiction
between the ultimate fate of Jesus and their earlier opinion of him, and
second to adopt into their idea of the Messiah the characteristics of
suffering and death.

"When once the idea of a resurrection of Jesus had been formed in this
manner," says Strauss, "the great event could not have been allowed to
happen so simply, but must be surrounded and embellished with all the
pomp which the Jewish imagination furnished. The chief ornaments which
stood at command for this purpose were angels; hence these must open the
grave of Jesus; must, after he had come forth from it, keep watch in the
empty place, and deliver to the women,--who, because without doubt women
had the first visions, must be the first to go to the grave,--the
tidings of what had happened. As it was Galilee where Jesus subsequently
appeared to them, the journey of the disciples thither, which was
nothing else than their return home, somewhat hastened by fear, was
derived from the direction of an angel; nay, Jesus himself must already
before his death, and as Matthew too zealously adds, once more after the
resurrection also, have enjoined this journey on the disciples. But the
farther these narratives were propagated by tradition, the more must the
difference between the locality of the resurrection itself and that of
the appearance of the risen one be allowed to fall out of sight as
inconvenient; and since the locality of the death was not transferable,
the appearances were gradually placed in the same locality as the
resurrection,--in Jerusalem, which, as the more brilliant theatre and
the seat of the first Christian church, was especially appropriate for
them."[65]

The ascension is claimed as a myth founded upon the Old Testament
precedents of the translation of Enoch and the ascension of Elijah, and
the pagan apotheosis of Hercules and Romulus.

The last part of Strauss' work is a dissertation on the dogmatic import
of the life of Jesus. Here this merciless critic tries to prove that,
though the belief of the church concerning Christ be thus uprooted by
the theory of myths, nothing truly valuable is destroyed. He declares it
his purpose "to re-establish dogmatically that which has been destroyed
critically." He holds that all his criticism is purely independent of
Christian faith; for, "The supernatural birth of Christ, his miracles,
his resurrection and ascension, remain eternal truths, whatever doubts
may be cast on their reality as historical facts." Thus, reliance is
placed upon a difference between the import of criticism and christian
faith--which subterfuge proved a broken reed when the masses read this
mythical interpretation of the life of the Founder of Christianity. In
vain did Strauss say, in the preface to his work, that it was not
designed for the laity, and that if they read it, it must be at their
own hazard. It was published--and therefore the public had a right to
demand an examination. Let him who writes an evil thought never be
deceived by the opinion that only those will read it who cannot be
injured by it. "What is writ, is writ;" and then it is too late to wish
it "worthier."

But the most remarkable feature of the work of Strauss yet remains to be
traced. It was a compilation, and nothing more. Having ransacked every
skeptical writer on the gospel history, he published their views at
length in his _Life of Jesus_. He did not make many quotations. But the
references at the foot of almost every page declare plainly enough the
pains he took to put in force the incantation he had pronounced to all
skeptical sprites,

     "Black spirits and white, red spirits and gray,
     Mingle, mingle, mingle; ye that mingle may."

No Rationalist escaped his notice. The English Naturalists reappeared
with all their original pretensions. Bolingbroke, Voltaire, Lessing,
Kant, De Maistre, and all the representatives of skeptical thought
communed in friendly society, regardless alike of disparity in
particular opinions and of difference in the time when they flourished.
On this very account M. Quinet infers the great popularity of the
enterprise. Because it was a grouping of all heterodox doctrines of the
person of Christ, the adherents of Rationalism saw whither their
principles were leading them, and their opponents learned more of the
desperate character of their foe than they had ever acquired from all
other sources. It was a crystallization of the imputations and insults
cast upon the gospels for more than seventy-five years. Then, for the
first time, did the votaries of error, mass themselves. It was then,
too, that the evangelical school were first able to count the number of
their opponents.

The scene before the publication of the _Life of Jesus_ was quite
different from the one presented subsequently. Formerly the Rationalists
said what they chose about Christ, and they suffered little from their
rashness. But immediately after Strauss had issued his book, the
attention of the church was profoundly attracted toward the
consideration of the themes therein treated. The church seemed to say,
"Strange, that I have given so little attention to this great pillar of
Christian faith; now I see what reward I am receiving for my neglect.
The like shall never happen again. No, I will not only quench this
firebrand, but I will hurl back upon my enemies enough destructive
missiles to reduce them to a disorganized band of homeless fugitives."
This resolution was not the work of idle excitement, and soon to be
forgotten. The replies to the _Life of Jesus_ constitute a theological
literature. They were very numerous, and written from as many points of
view as there had been theological schools since the dawn of the
Reformation. The first rejoinder came from the most distinguished
theologian of Würtemberg, Steudel of Tübingen. He was superintendent of
the very school where Strauss was tutor, and his work was written but a
few weeks after the issue of the first volume of the _Life of Jesus_. It
discussed the question whether Christ's life rested on a historical or
mythical basis. The conclusion was an uncompromising decision in favor
of the former view. Steudel represented the old Lutheran orthodoxy.

We now meet with the name of Hengstenberg, whom Providence designed to
be an instrument of much good to the theology of the present day. He
proved himself an unflinching hero when he dealt his first blows from
his professor's chair in Berlin. His utterances soon acquired great
importance wherever the current controversies attracted attention. He
was the leader of the young orthodox school, and in his newly-founded
_Evangelical Church Gazette_, he pictured his times in the language of
desolation. His words were worthy of the dark days of Jeremiah.
Adopting the exclamation of that prophet, he cried aloud, "Oh that my
head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep
day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!" Theologians,
philosophers, and tradesmen seemed to him to be overwhelmed in
skepticism. But he had a lion's heart, and fought steadily for the
growth of the pure faith of the olden time. Nor has he grown tired of
the warfare. He appears to have been born upon the battle-field, within
sound of drum and cannon. He is as much the warrior to-day as when he
entered the lists against Strauss nearly thirty years ago. His opinion
of his great antagonist may be summed up in his own language. He says of
him that, "He has the heart of a leviathan, which is as hard as a stone
and as firm as the nether millstone; he assails the Lord's Anointed with
composure and cold-bloodedness; and not a tear of pity flows from his
eyes."

Harless and Hoffman followed in spirited criticisms on the _Life of
Jesus_. Tholuck next appeared upon the arena in his _Credibility of the
Gospel History_. This production was somewhat declamatory in style, but
that was no barrier to its utility. It attacked Strauss in the weakest
spot, namely, in his deductions against the authenticity and apostolic
origin of the gospels. Tholuck defines a miracle to be an event which
appears contrary to the course of nature, and has a religious origin and
aim. He allows that inspiration is not total but partial, and that it is
but fair to concede to his opponent the presence of Scriptural defects,
such as mistakes of memory, and errors in historical, chronological, and
astronomical details. We must be content to know and feel that, in the
Bible, we find a basis of inspiration which is none the less
substantial though surrounded by intruding weeds, or fragments of stone
and mortar. But Tholuck's work is not a fair specimen of his writings.
Besides its literary defects, the author concedes much more to the
Rationalists here than he is accustomed to do in his many superior
publications.

Again we meet with the revered name of Neander. His _Life of Christ_
appeared in 1837. He published it not only as a reply to Strauss, but as
an independent treatise upon the person of the Messiah. He announced
himself as the mediator between those bitter partisans who, on the one
side, would grant no rights to reason, and on the other, would leave no
space for the exercise of feeling and faith. His work stands in the same
relation to criticism which Schleiermacher's _Discourses_ occupies to
dogmas, and as the latter appears sometimes to lean toward Rationalism,
so do we find in the former traces of concession to the destructive
method of criticism. Neander's work, despite everything which he grants
to his enemies, was the transition-agent toward a purer comprehension of
the life of Christ. While we lament that he interprets the early life of
Christ as a fragment derived from an evangelical tradition; that he
believes the influence of demons in the gospel period susceptible of a
psychological explanation, that the miraculous feeding of the five
thousand is but the multiplication and potentialization of substances
already at hand, that the feeding of the four thousand is a mistaken
account of the former, and that the changing of the water into wine at
Cana of Galilee was nothing more than an increase of power in the water,
as we find sometimes in mineral fluids,--granting these and all the
other interpretations which Neander makes on the score of nature or
myths, we must attach an importance to his _Life of Christ_ second only
to his _History of the Christian Church_. One closes the reading of his
account of the Messiah with a profound impression that the author had a
true conception of the divinity and authority of the Founder of
Christianity. We cannot doubt his sympathy with those words of Pascal
which he quoted frequently with exquisite pleasure: "En Jesus Christ
toutes les contradictions sont accordées."

Ullmann, in his treatise _Historical or Mythical_, will not accept the
alternative that the life of Christ is all mythical or all historical.
He enumerates the philosophical myth, the historical myth, mythical
history, and history with traditional parts. It is to the last of these
that he assigns the gospel history. He propounds the dilemma, whether
the church has conceived a poetical Christ, or whether Christ is the
real founder of the church? He accepts the latter, and invokes all
history in proof of his argument. Weisse, in his _Gospel History treated
Philosophically and Critically_, dwells upon the relative claims of the
four gospels. At least one of the gospels is original and the authority
for the rest. This is Mark's; and it is not mythical, but historical and
worthy of credence. Matthew is a compilation of a later day; and Luke
and John are of still less importance. But the miracles related by Mark
are purely natural events. Christ's miraculous cures were owing to his
physical powers. His body was a strong electric battery, which, in his
later life, lost its power of healing. Else he would have saved himself
from death. His early life is unadulterated allegory.

But there were numerous writers against Strauss, among whom may be
mentioned Schweizer, Wilke, Schaller, and Dorner. Dorner's _History of
the Person of Christ_, 1839, was an attempt to show the totality of
Christ as a universal character. The human conception of species is of a
world of fragments, but in Christ we find them completely united. All
single, individual prototypes coalesced in him. He is the
World-Personality. Bruno Bauer wrote his _Criticism of the Synoptical
Gospels_ in reply to Strauss, though a few years afterward he changed
his ground entirely. His position in this work was as mediator between
reason and revelation. He brought into the conflict concerning Strauss'
_Life of Jesus_ an element of heated argument, and egotism, which
ripened into his subsequent antagonism to the supernatural school. His
entrance upon this field of strife may be comprehended by Schwartz's
comparison of him with Carlstadt and Thomas Munzer, who had lived in the
exciting period of the Reformation.

An enumeration of the titles of the works which appeared at frequent
intervals during the ten years succeeding the issue of Strauss' _Life of
Jesus_, indicates that toward the close of this period the controversy
was directed more to the particular gospels than to the life of Christ
as a unit. The many theories advanced exceeded all the ordinary
illustrations of literary fecundity and extravagance in the department
of theology. There was no theologian of note who did not take part in
the contest. Pastors of obscure provincial churches, who did not venture
upon a complete life of the Messiah, felt themselves competent either to
originate a new view of one or more of the gospels, or to elaborate a
borrowed one. The excitement was intense. There was no evidence of
system in the rapid movement. But now that the battle is over we read
the philosophy of the whole conflict. Strauss, without any intention on
his part, had shown the church of the present century, its weakness in
failing to comprehend the importance of the evangelical history. The
numerous replies indicated a hopeful attention to the neglected
compendium of divine truth. The friends who rushed to his aid declared
by their impetuosity that their cause would have been better served had
Strauss never penned a word about Christ. They saw their stronghold in
ruins, and looked with tearful eyes upon the future of their creed. The
language which Strauss had applied to his excited opponents upon the
appearance of his work became severely appropriate to his own adherents,
after that production had been faithfully answered. "Their alarm," said
he, "was like the screaming of frightened women on seeing one of their
cooking utensils fall upon the floor." Granting the appositeness of the
illustration, we must add that the alarm mentioned by the critic was of
brief duration; while that of the Rationalists and their adherents is
like the long-standing despair of a circle of chemists, whose laboratory
has been entered through a door left open by themselves, their carefully
prepared combinations destroyed, and all their retorts and crucibles
shattered into irreparable fragments.

After a long absence of twenty-nine years, Strauss has again appeared as
the biographer of Christ. In his former work he wrote for the
theological public, but we are now assured that he had ever kept in mind
a purpose to do for the masses what he had achieved for critical minds.
The last fruit of his pen is his _Life of Jesus Popularly Treated_,
which, following close upon the issue of M. Renan's work, appeared in
1864, in the form of a large octavo volume of more than six hundred
pages.

Strauss was induced to make his second work more popular than the
first, because of the gross injustice which the clergy had meted out to
him in consequence of his former labors to establish the historical
position of Christ. The "guild" of professional theologians are
interested, he avers, in maintaining their own cause; of course, they
would not loose their hold very willingly. The only italicized sentence
in his preface is a thrust against this class, whom time has in nowise
led him to esteem: "_He who wants to clear the parsons out of the church
must first clear miracles out of religion._" The spirit of the
introduction, in which the German writer is always expected to announce
his opinions and give the historical reasons therefor, is not materially
different from the lengthy one in his _Life of Jesus_. It is divided
into three parts. The _first_ contains the important attempts which have
been made to write the life of Jesus and represent it in its true light.
They have all been failures. Hess, Herder, Paulus, Schleiermacher, Hase,
Neander, Ebrard, Weisse, Ewald, Keim, and Renan must be content to lie
in oblivion. Renan has done very well for a Frenchman; and as a work for
France his book has some merit. The _second_ treats of the gospels as
sources of the life of Jesus. These accounts, not being authentic, are
not of sufficient weight to be relied on. The _third_ part contains
certain explanations necessary to a proper appreciation of the remaining
portion of the work. The following language indicates the author's
unchanged opinion on the mythical character of Christ: "We now know for
a certainty at least, what Jesus was _not_ and what he did _not_ do,
namely, nothing superhuman, nothing supernatural; it will, therefore,
now be the more possible for us to so far trace out the suggestions of
the Gospels touching the human and natural in him as shall enable us to
give at least some outline of what he was and what he wanted to do."

The body of the book is substantially an attempt to show that Christ, as
represented by the Evangelists, is a mythical personage. Such a man
lived; but his life is not remarkable; it is not what they described it;
and not very different from the common life of ordinary men. We have
_first_, an historical outline of the life of Jesus. Here Strauss makes
himself, and not the Gospel narrators, the biographer of Christ.
_Secondly_, we are furnished with the mythical history of Jesus in its
origin and growth. The people were expecting some remarkable character,
and they seized upon the first one who best answered their notions. John
is as bad as his compeers. He is utterly untrustworthy. The only work of
the New Testament from an immediate disciple is the Apocalypse of John.
But this, too, is wholly unhistorical. Adopting the opinion of the
radical Rationalists, Strauss holds that miracles are impossible, and
that if God were to operate against natural laws he would be operating
against himself. As a specimen of the method of criticism adopted to
divest Christ's career of everything miraculous, we may instance
Strauss' disposition of the resurrection of Christ. He confesses that if
he cannot show that this is mythological, his whole work has been
written in vain. Christ did really die, but his resurrection was a
vision. His disciples were excited, and believed they saw their Master
reappear. But it was a great mistake on their part. It was only an
hallucination. Paul had his visions; so did Peter and John; and so did
Mary Magdalene, who was subject to nervous disorders.[66]

The second life of Jesus has met with a cold reception. The "People of
the Reformation," to whom it was flatteringly addressed, prefer a more
substantial theology. The tide has turned since 1835, and no man feels
the power of the new current more keenly than David Frederic Strauss.

The Rationalists, who gained nothing in the controversy concerning the
first _Life of Jesus_ by the tutor of Tübingen, were unfortunate in
their organized, systematic, and well-sustained effort to regain lost
ground. We have reference to the labors of the Tübingen school.
Ferdinand Christian Baur was its founder. His works are numerous, and
may be divided into two classes: _doctrinal_ and _critical_. But there
is consistency in all,--and, varied as his subjects of investigation
are, they centre in a common focus. Baur sought the solution of the
agitated question in the apostolic history rather than in the life of
Christ. The Christianity about which so much discussion is elicited, is,
according to him, not a perfect and divine production, but only a vital
force in process of development. This is the principle which underlies
the multifarious theories of the Tübingen school. In order to have a
place where to stand and eliminate the theory, the epistles of Paul are
chosen. But these are not all authentic. Hence a selection must be made,
and, of course, only those must be chosen which are in harmony with the
supposition that Christianity is but a dormant germ. Consequently, the
Epistles to the Galatians, the Romans, and the Corinthians are
favorites. They are made to dispel the darkness, and settle the
question.

In them Paul exposes the fact that there were two parties in the early
church, the Pauline and the Petrine. They struggled for supremacy, and
the conflict was a long one. Peter was a thorough Jew,--and his side
predominated even after the death of the principal combatants. Judaism
was the cradle of Christianity; and the latter was only an earnest,
restless, and reformatory branch of the former. But it was not an
offshoot as yet, for Christianity was essentially Jewish all through its
first historic period. The canonical writings of the New Testament,
which constitute the chief literature of the first two centuries, are
the literary monument of Christianity while it was yet undeveloped, and
undetached from Judaism. These writings are the _mediating theology_ of
those distant days. The Petrine party was very strong, until the middle
of the second century, when it was obliged to yield to, or rather
harmonize with, the Pauline.

Many causes contributed to bring the two factions together. There was an
absence of growth quite incompatible with their respective strength.
Alone, they were almost unable to brave the storm of persecution.
Finally, for the sake of security and propagation, they laid down their
weapons, and united under one banner. From this union came the
subsequent growth of Christianity. The canonical works so much revered
by the church had been written in the interest of one or the other of
the parties. Since the enmity has been destroyed, their literary
productions must be considered in the light of history. The church is,
therefore, much mistaken in attaching importance to the Scriptures, for
they were written for a time-serving end, and are quite unworthy of the
worth which we attach to them.

A numerous circle of disciples clustered around Baur, and they enjoyed
his leadership until his recent death. But the writings of both the
master and his school were answered by the best theologians of Germany.
Some of the greenest laurels worn by Thiersch, Dorner, Lechler, Lange,
Schaff, Bleek, Hase, and Bunsen, were won in the contest with the
Tübingen school; and their united labors constitute a compendium of
arguments which will not cease for centuries to be of inestimable value
in the controversies of the church concerning Christ and the divine
origin of Christianity.

The labors of the Tübingen school and of Strauss are two parts of the
same effort to destroy the divine basis of Christian faith. We do not
impugn the private opinions of the contestants, but we must judge them
by their fruits. They wrote and taught against those departments of
truth which it is necessary to preserve intact if we would have
Christianity continue a vital power of the soul and an aggressive
principle in the world. Objections will still be urged against the
Gospel history, but it will still be blessed by the ceaseless oversight
and unfailing ministrations of the Holy Spirit. Supposing the
evangelical accounts to be purely human, we have even then the highest
embodiment of truth in the history of man. Herder says, "Have the
fishermen of Galilee founded such a history? Then blessed be their
memory that they have founded it!" With the conviction that the writers
of the Scriptures throughout were inspired men, and spake as they were
moved by the Holy Spirit, we have a power demanded alike by the cravings
of the soul and the aspirations of the intellect. Blessed with this
sentiment, the individual and the church are thoroughly furnished unto
every good work.

From Germany we turn to France. The latter country has been the
traditional purveyor of revolutionary material for the rest of the
Continent. No great popular movement west of the Rhine has been without
its influence upon the eastern side. The July Revolution of 1830, which
effected the overthrow of the Restoration represented by Charles X.,
set the German masses in commotion. They were henceforth restless, and
ready, whenever occasion offered, to overturn the government and
establish a national constitutional basis. The Rationalists were
insurrectionary, and, the more rapid their decline in all religious
sentiment the more decided was their opposition to constituted
authorities. Strauss' _Life of Jesus_, great in its influence upon
theology, was equally powerful over the political mind. Every new
publication which befriended infidelity was not without its support of
faction and discontent.

In connection with the revolutionary tendency, Rationalism assumed also
a more pantheistic, and subsequently a more atheistic form. The second
important work of Strauss, his _System of Doctrine_, was even more
adapted than his first to sap the foundations of faith and social
security. It was the embodiment of all the worst features of the
Hegelian philosophy. It was frank and bold in all its statements. No man
could mistake a single utterance. In it doctrines are traced to their
genetic development, and held to be the luxuriant growth of the seeds of
error. The truths of Christianity are surrounded by a halo to which it
is no more entitled than the sagas of the Northmen. The old dogma was
born of prejudice and error, hence the modern conception of it is sheer
illusion. Faith and science are irreconcilable foes, for faith is the
perversion, and science the development of human nature. Believing and
knowing, religion and philosophy, are born antagonists, and man can make
no rapid progress if he grovel in the errors of faith. The personality
of God is not that of the individual but of the universal. The pantheism
of Spinoza is the best solution of God's existence; "for," says
Strauss, "God is not the personal, but the infinite personifying of
himself."

The oracular responses of Feuerbach[67] were a step beyond even this
skeptical usurpation. Religion is man's conduct to himself. Man, from
time immemorial, has been buried in self-love, and become so far carried
away by it that his religion is now one monstrous hallucination.
Religion springs not from his intellect but from his imagination. He
wishes to get to heaven; he desires to be comfortable; therefore he
believes. He will put himself to no little trouble to propitiate the
favor of one whom he considers divine. Here is the mystery of all
sacrifices. They are offered by all people from the mere inner force of
abject egotism. God has no absolute existence whatever. Christianity
needs to be attacked historically. Its chief elements are Judaism and
paganism. That it is a collection of absurdities, corruptions, and
prejudices, can be perceived on its very face. But still man needs
religion, though he can only gain it either by rejecting Christianity
altogether or purifying it from its thick envelope of dross.

The _Halle Year-Books_, published 1838-'42, were the principal organ of
the new atheistic doctrines. They commenced with the laudation of
Strauss, then passed over into the service of Feuerbach, and finally
served the cause of Bruno Baur and his fanatical adherents. They were
under the chief editorship of Ruge; and, being popular and youthful in
style, they wielded an unbounded influence on the dissatisfied and
skeptical classes. They broke through all the restraints of religion,
and propagated the wildest perversions of Hegel's opinions. Though
short-lived, they gained an authority not often enjoyed by a periodical.
They were factious in the extreme, and became one of the principal
agents in effecting the Revolution of 1848. They breathed mildew on
everything stable in government and sacred in religion. But,
Samson-like, they fell amid the ruin which they inflicted upon others.

Quite a new form of Rationalism was then presented in the popular
conventions of the Protestant Friends. These individuals held that by a
return to the spirit of the Reformation, Germany would be endowed with a
new and living energy. But it must not be the Reformation as the church
would have us understand it. It must be an impulse and spirit, not an
outward attachment to form and compulsory authority. They were popularly
called Friends of Light, and embraced all the schools of Rationalists
throughout the land. Their convocation was the parliament of German
infidelity. Professing adherence to some of the doctrines of
Christianity, they so glossed them that even the atheist could be a
member without violating his principles.

Their founder was Pastor Uhlich, who, in company with sixteen friends,
held the first meeting at Gnadau, in July, 1841. The second convention
met at Halle, and was numerously attended by clergymen, professors, and
laymen of every class of society. The session at Köthen, in 1844, was a
great popular assembly. It was addressed by Pastor Wislicenus, of Halle,
whose lecture was subsequently issued as a reply to his antagonists,
under the title of _Whether Scriptures or Spirit?_ Not the letter, but
the spirit, is the ground of true religion. The spirit permeates
humanity, and hence there is no occasion for the observance of the law.
The spirit comes with its own law; it is a law in itself. The
Evangelical church stands safe only when resting upon freedom. The
glory of the church is the absolute freedom of its members. The
Scriptures are very good in their way. They are a witness of the faith
of the first times, but were never intended for these cultivated days.
The church is freed from the exterior law and elevated to the inner law
of freedom.

Guericke, the church historian, called attention to Wislicenus in the
_Evangelical Church Gazette_. Great surprise was manifested at once, and
the sober mind of the nation became aroused to a sense of the danger now
threatening the foundations of faith. In a short time the Saxon decree
was issued against all assemblies which called in question the Augsburg
Confession. The following month, August, 1845, the Prussian
cabinet-order appeared, prohibiting all convocations of the Friends of
Light. Protests appeared against Wislicenus and his followers, which
were followed by counter-protests signed indiscriminately by all
classes.

Another popular development of Rationalism occurred in Königsberg, in
1845. Pastor Rupp attacked the Athanasian symbol in his own pulpit,
whereupon he was ejected by the consistory. He collected an independent
congregation; and thus arose those Free Congregations, which contributed
equally to the Rationalistic and revolutionary movements. Appearing in
other parts of Germany, they became a formidable opponent of the church.
While they held that the Scriptures were their rule of faith in the
unity of God, they threw off their authority and that of all symbols.
They adopted baptism and the Lord's Supper, and professed allegiance to
the civil power. But their influence was against the government, and
their two sacraments were odious corruptions. Their form of baptism is
enough to determine their religious sentiment: "I baptize thee after
the manner of the old apostolic baptism, that Jesus is the Christ; I
anoint thy head with water as a sign that thy soul remains pure, pure as
the water that runs down the mountain side; and as the water rises to
heaven and then returns to the earth, so may you be continually mindful
of your heavenly home." Their convocations were finally restricted by
the civil authority. The supreme church council issued an
excommunicatory order against them; the police broke up their meetings;
and forty of the Free Congregations were closed in Prussia alone.

The leaders of the Revolution of 1848 were the organizers of these
popular independent movements. When the people had gained the upper hand
of their rulers, their very first action was to select the destroyers of
their faith as their political champions and representatives. It was,
therefore, a great triumph for those fanatical humanists to find
themselves seated in the national parliaments of Frankfort and Berlin,
and, wherever the revolution extended, to be the leaders of the excited
masses.

What could be expected from a revolution conducted by such men as
Wislicenus, Blum, Uhlich, Baltzer, Carl Schwartz and their adherents? It
was a total failure. And when the restoration was completed in 1849, the
reaction against Rationalism became so decided that the leaders had
reason to tremble for their lives. The people were profoundly disgusted
with a skepticism which could produce no better fruits than this one had
matured. The indignation was even more intense than that toward French
infidelity during the supremacy of Napoleon over the German States. In
the latter case the people were disgusted with the efforts of foreign
skepticism, but in the former, they saw and felt the sore evils of
domestic Rationalism. Religious error had led them from peace and quiet
into a dream-land. When the waking moment came, and the deception became
apparent, the surprise at the delusion was overwhelming.

The doctrinal form of Rationalism had been arrested by Schleiermacher
and his noble band of followers. Its exegetical prestige had been
destroyed by the replies to the _Life of Jesus_. And, as if to make its
defeat as humiliating as possible, the last blow was self-inflicted. It
was the Revolution of 1848, and its consequent failure, which
annihilated the political strength of German Rationalism. There is a God
in history. And though one generation may fail to perceive the
brightness of his presence, the following one may be favored with the
vision. No skeptic should forget that the real philosophy of history is
the march of Providence through the ages. But the infidel is the worst
reader of history. The light shines, but he turns away from it. Or, as
Coleridge expresses it:

                   "The owlet Atheism,
     Sailing on obscure wings across the noon,
     Drops his blue-fringed lids, and shuts them close;
     And, hooting at the glorious sun in Heaven,
     Cries out, 'Where is it?'"

There is a deep principle underlying not only the miscarriage of the
Revolution of 1848, but of all the popular movements toward independence
which occur at a time when the people are involved in religious doubt.
It is the spiritual status of a nation which commonly determines its
love of law and order. A population adhering to an evangelical
interpretation of the Scriptures can be forced to revolution only by
evil and ambitious leaders, or by persistent oppression on the part of
their rulers. The tardy movement of the American Colonies toward their
revolt against the British Government betrayed a great unwillingness to
inaugurate the struggle. At the beginning, the conflict was not designed
to be a revolution but only a judicious expedient for the improvement of
the colonial laws.[68] Wise rulers, governing for the best interests of
their country, have generally found that the most discontented of their
subjects are the most skeptical. Infidelity and error have
systematically arrayed themselves against civil authority. This
infidelity does not always assume the same type; for, while in Germany
it was a general disbelief in the authenticity of the Scriptures, in
France it was the rejection of the existence of God and of the
immortality of the soul. Even Robespierre testified before the French
National Convention of 1794, that "the idea of a supreme Being and of
the immortality of the soul, was a continual call to justice, and that
no nation could succeed without the recognition of these truths." A
revolution in Christendom, which has its basis in the skeptical nature
of man, or in an anti-scriptural idea, may succeed for a while, but it
must eventually fail; because, like a vessel without compass, chart, or
star, it lacks the cardinal elements and safeguards of progress and
security.


FOOTNOTES:

[62] Appleton's _New Am. Cyclopædia; Art. Hegel_.

[63] _Life of Jesus._ Ch. I. American Edition.

[64] Cf. _Revue des Deux Mondes_. Vol. 16.

[65] _Life of Jesus_, 852-3.

[66] _New York Independent_ and _New York Christian Advocate and
Journal_--1864.

[67] In _Wesen des Christenthums_, Leipsic, 1841.

[68] The hesitation to become independent was very decided, even as late
as July, 1775.--Bancroft, _History of the United States_. Vol. 8: pp.
55-6.



CHAPTER XII.

THE EVANGELICAL SCHOOL. ITS OPINIONS AND PRESENT PROSPECTS.


There is a group of theologians who deserve to stand side by side with
the immediate opponents of Strauss and his disciples. We mean the
Mediation or Evangelical School. They represent the advance of German
theology from Rationalism to positive orthodoxy. Beginning with able and
irrefutable arguments for the Evangelists, they have extended their
discussions to other important branches of Scriptural defence. As a
consequence, they have built up a valuable apologetic literature which
will occupy a prominent place in the theology of the church.

But, in order to portray the character of the Evangelical School, we
shall need to dwell upon certain members in particular.[69]

Not least in honor and achievement is the late Karl Ullmann. He
contributed to the _Studien und Kritiken_, a quarterly established by
himself and Umbreit, an article on the sinlessness of Christ, which he
subsequently elaborated into a volume. One of the most original of his
productions is his _Essence of Christianity_, which placed "him in the
centre of the Mediation theology." He holds with Schleiermacher, that
Christianity is not as much doctrine as vitality, and that it possesses
the creative and organizing power of religion. Christianity is both
divine and human; divine in its origin and essence, but human in its
development and fulfillment. Without the person of Christ to stand in
the very focus of Christianity, the latter becomes void and no more than
any moral religion. We can have no proper conception of Christianity
apart from its founder, for its whole essence exists in him.
Christianity is Christ developing himself in humanity. Christ is God-man
in so far as he represents in his own person the perfect unity and
interpenetration of the human and divine. Christianity is that religion
which neither deifies nor destroys nature. Without considering it
essential to prove the facts of Christ's life, Ullmann showed that
Christ, in the divine character which we attach to him, was necessary to
Christianity just as the pillars are to the superincumbent edifice. The
effect of this argument was most salutary, for it was so well timed that
it could not be otherwise. There were two things to be established
concerning Christ. One was the verity of the Gospel accounts of him; the
other was Christ as a necessity for man's faith, the world's progress,
and human salvation. The former having been treated by other hands,
Ullmann undertook the latter and triumphed. He is one of the most
pleasing of the German theologians. Partaking of the warm southern
temperament--for he was a Bavarian by birth--he wrote in that easy,
natural, and earnest style which renders him a popular writer not only
in his own language but when translated into foreign tongues.

We find in Dorner one of the most acute speculative theologians produced
by the later Protestant church. His style is as complex as Ullmann's is
simple. It is amusing that, in one place, he even enters into a
justification of his technical and abstruse writing. Applying himself to
dogmatic investigations, the fruit of his labor is his _Doctrine of the
Person of Christ_. Christianity was the world's great want, and all the
religions of the natural man could not supply its place. But
Christianity is vague unless the question be settled concerning the
person of Christ. Here is the battle-ground where Christianity and
reason must meet and decide the great issue. Hence Dorner passes by the
personal ministry and history of Christ on earth and attempts the proper
mode of construing his person. The Person of Christ is, in the trials
and triumphs of individuals and the church, the central point of the
Christian religion. He is the perfect Lawgiver, and also the Judge of
the world. He controls the universe. Here he communicates the
forgiveness of sins and the Holy Ghost, and in heaven, eternal felicity.
The happiness of heaven is formed by perfect fellowship with his person.
He has left his followers only in appearance, for, wherever two or three
are assembled in his name, there he is in the midst of them. He is with
his own always, even to the end of the world. To know Christ in his
nearness belongs to the Christian worship; and this institution is
appointed for the church as the highest means for the enjoyment of his
nearness.[70]

According to Dorner, heathendom longed for the apotheosis of human
nature. Judaism sought the fulfillment of the revelation not completed
by the law, and strained after the love of God as the consummation of
the holy law. All these wants are met in Christ. He is the innermost
revelation of the mystery, and the fullest condescension of God. For God
has in Christ become man. Here is the point of unity between God and the
world. But Christ did not appear in order to be the Son of God, as if
this were the ultimate end; but the ultimate end was the glorifying of
man, and therewith of God, in and through him. He is officially God's
son.[71]

Was Christ possessed of sinless perfection? In both a physical and
ethical point of view he was not absolutely complete from the first. He
learned obedience. He _grew_ in favor, not only with men but with God.
Growth points backward to previous deficiency, or, what is the same
thing, forward to the absolute goal which the reality approaches only by
degrees. But deficiency in entire perfection is not sinfulness, for then
all real humanity and sinfulness would be identical. Christ's
temptations are explainable on this wise: he had a real moral task, not
only external to himself, but in himself, which could not be solved at
the beginning if he was to be like us. There was no disorder in him, but
there were disorder and sin without him, which occasioned him the
contests, temptations, and sufferings that filled his official life.
These later conflicts were only assigned him because he remained the
pure One, and had become morally harmonious in the midst of moral
anarchy. But they were still inward and personal struggles; for he was
to introduce the power of his harmony and of his sufferings, in order to
overcome the disharmony in the world. He, the righteous one, must, by
suffering, take upon himself disorder and disharmony, must live through
it and taste it, in order to establish a power which is not only
harmonious in itself, but so potent in harmony as to take the disharmony
into itself, master it, and transform it into harmony. Christ was
perfect man in growth and progress, in his temptations and conflicts,
but without any historical trace of a flaw or blemish in his life. He
was in all points made like us, without being necessitated to become
like us as sinners. For, sin is the negation of the truly human. He laid
claim to no exceptional law for himself as a privileged individual, but
subjected himself to the universal human moral law. With this he was
satisfied, and he fulfilled it in its purity, depth, and completeness.
He knew nothing of a super-moral religious genius, and would have
nothing to do with it. His religion is moral; his morality,
religion.[72]

The name with which we are most familiar is the devout and laborious
Tholuck. He generally takes higher ground than many of the
Mediation-theologians. But he is sometimes at variance with evangelical
sentiment. Inspiration, according to him, is not real and total, but
only partial, and is to be determined in reference to the truths
necessary to salvation. While there are many mistakes of memory, false
citations, errors in historical, chronological, geographical, and
astronomical detail, these need not depreciate our general estimate of
inspiration. The Scriptures have a kernel and a shell. Upon the former
there is the positive and direct impress of the Holy Spirit; but upon
the latter it is indirect and relative.

In merely stating Tholuck's definitions, however, we do not measure out
justice to him. He must not be tested by any special department of
labor, but by the spirit and totality of his service. In this light he
is a remarkable personage, and his work is entitled to our highest
eulogium. With him, Christ is not merely a person to be apprehended by
the mind, but a Saviour to be received into the heart and henceforth to
be a living power of the soul. He must be accepted by Christian faith,
and the heart must undergo the transforming power of his Spirit. Without
this preparation, all progress in science is but the worship of nature,
and man, at the close of life, looks back upon a path of error and forth
into a world of darkness.

"Tholuck has this characteristic," says one of his countrymen, "he
cannot be classified; he belongs to no particular theological direction,
because he belongs to all." This estimate is strictly true. He has
gained his greenest laurels in exegesis; and his commentaries on Psalms,
the Sermon on the Mount, Gospel of John, and Epistles to the Romans and
Hebrews, have already taken their places in the theological libraries of
English and American divines. But he has asked himself the question,
"What can I do to lessen the hold which Rationalism has upon my
country?" And he has given the answer by his life-career. All his
productions centre in that thought, and it is not the least of his
service that he has written sketches of the old Reformation theologians,
as an incentive to the restoration of their spirit. It is not easy to
estimate the benefit which his _Sin and Redemption_ has conferred upon
the young men of Germany. The Baron von Kottwitz is the real personage
represented by the patriarch. Let us hear this venerable saint as he
stands upon the border of the grave and anticipates a bright future for
his loved church and country. His words are the key to Tholuck's life,
and reveal the bright hope which burned within him ever since the day
when he was welcomed to Halle by the hisses and threats of the
Rationalists.

The aged man says: "The greater the crisis the more needful is it to
unite the wisdom of the serpent with the simplicity of the dove. I
therefore address you as such an one who, perhaps, will soon be engaged
at the university as one of the instruments employed by God in that
important period. The work of God's spirit is greater than either you or
the majority can estimate. A great resurrection morning has dawned.
Hundreds of youths on all sides have been awakened by the Spirit of God.
Everywhere true believers are coming into closer union. Science herself
is becoming again the handmaid and friend of the Crucified. Civil
governments, also, though in part still hostile to this great moral
revolution from a dread of its producing political commotions, are many
of them favorable; and where they are not, the conflicting energy of the
light is so much the stronger. Many enlightened preachers already
proclaim the gospel in its power; many who are still in obscurity will
come forward. I see the dawn; the day itself I shall behold not here,
but from a higher place. You will live to witness it below. Despise not
the words of a gray-headed old man, who would give you, with true
affection, a few hints relative to this great day.

"The more divine a power is, the more to be deprecated is its
perversion. When those last times are spoken of in Scripture, in which
the gospel shall be spread over the whole world, it is declared that the
truth will not only have to contend with the proportionably more violent
counterworking of the enemy, but also with a great measure of delusion
and error within the kingdom of light. Such is the course of things
that every truth has its shadow; and the greatest truth is attended by
the greatest shadow. Above all things take care that the tempter do not
introduce his craft into the congregation of the faithful. There will be
those for whom the simple gospel will not suffice. When a man has
experienced the forgiveness of his sins, and has for a little while
enjoyed the happiness of that mercy, it not unfrequently appears to his
evil and inconstant heart too humiliating a condition to be constantly
receiving grace for grace. There is no other radical cure for a proud,
self-willed heart than every day and every hour to repeat that act by
which we first came to Christ. Pray that you may have more of that
childlike spirit which regards the grace of your Lord as a perennial
fountain of life. Especially avoid the error of those who seek life for
the sake of light, who would make religion a mere stepping-stone to
intellectual superiority. Such persons will never attain to a vital
apprehension of divine things; for our God is a jealous God, and will be
loved by us for his own sake. The intellectual power, the mental
enlargement arising from converse with the great objects of faith is
always to be regarded as a secondary and supplementary benefit to that
which it is the immediate object of the gospel to bestow. Despise not
human greatness or talent or ability of any kind, but beware lest you
overvalue it. I see a time coming--indeed it is already at hand--in
which gifted men will lift up their voices for the truth; but woe to the
times in which admiration and applause of the speaker shall be
substituted for laying to heart the truth which he delivers! Perhaps in
the next generation there will be no one in some parts of Germany who
will not wish to be called a Christian. Learn to distinguish the
spirits. The sum of my exhortations is humility and love!"

The most poetical and not the least penetrating of the evangelical
school is Lange, once a farmer, but now a laborious professor at Bonn.
How deeply he has imbibed the spirit of the Scriptures may be seen in
the _Bible Work_, which Dr. Schaff is now editing for the use of the
American public. Religion, according to Lange, is subjectively a
life-emotion of the human nature, and objectively a revelation of God.
In the former case it may be termed natural, in the latter, revealed.
The world is not a mere world, but a self-revelation of God in its
fullest import. Creation is not simply creation, but a divine testimony.
Nature is not nature alone, but a seed of life proceeding from the
spirit and returning to the spirit. The proof of the true human
conception of God, as well as of man, is their harmonious union in the
conception of the God-man. This is the centre of all doctrine. The world
is a progressive succession, developing the divine germ. History unites
itself to revelation as a second creation, elevating man to continuous
growth. God's providential changes unite with the active faith of man,
and they do not constitute an isolated act of God, but a great
historical combination of revelations. They rise gradually and find
their completion in the God-man.

Miracles are the penetration of the absolute or new human-divine life
principle into the sphere of the old natural human life. The revelation
of the divine-human in Christ is the absolute miracle which manifests
itself in a succession of single miracles. A miracle is supernatural and
contrary to nature only in reference to the old life, and, in its
highest meaning, is in conformity to a higher law. Therefore, miracles
are the natural law of all natural laws taken together. Inspiration is
in consonance with miracle; and there is a dissimilarity of inspiration
observable in the Scriptures. The Old and New Testaments are very
different, so also are the canonical and hagiographical writings. The
word of God is contained in the Scriptures, and is there brought into
living unity and operation with the mind of man. This union does not
exclude human imperfections. But such imperfections are of a superficial
character, and in no wise affect the kernel and religious centre of the
Bible.[73]

The two most prominent divines in the department of dogmatical theology
are Nitzsch and Twesten. The latter was Schleiermacher's successor at
Berlin. Bright hopes were placed on him, but he has been a tardy author,
and does not possess the brilliant gifts of his great prototype. Yet he
is a clear and profound thinker, and, with a few points of exception,
thoroughly evangelical. He is an ardent admirer of the old Lutheran
theology, and, like his predecessor, places religion in feeling and
dependence instead of in knowledge.

Nitzsch is also a disciple of Schleiermacher, and his doctrinal system
bears distinct traces of the master's instructions. But it is a bold
work, and has inflicted great mischief upon the doctrinal claims of the
later Rationalists, who betook themselves to theory after their exegesis
and history had failed them. The scope of his system is broad and clear.
He commences by assigning Christian doctrine its proper place in
theological study, a definition of the general idea of Christianity, a
statement of the laws by which a knowledge of Christianity is acquired,
and a history of the Christian system and its exhibition in the purest
form. The three parts constituting the substance of Nitzsch's opinions,
are _The Good, the Bad, and Salvation_. Christianity is a determinate
mode of man's life, and is so determined by conscious dependence on God,
but in no wise by knowledge, conception, action, or the will. Religion
does not arise from experience and sensation, but from an original
self-consciousness. There is an intimate connection between doctrine and
practice, truth and holiness. Redemption is not merely a restoration,
nor a mere perfected creation, but one _through_ the other. It is
related to an original good, apart from which the bad itself would have
no place, opportunity for existence, or continuance; since redemption is
so closely connected with evil. Moreover, the good--in which evil has
found opportunities for manifestation--cannot be the same which caused
redemption. Hence, we safely presume the existence of an eternal God.
This being is the foundation of Christian faith and life. A belief in
the Redeemer cannot be separated from that in the Creator. But it is
through a knowledge of the Redeemer that the Creator, with all his work,
first becomes known in his perfect goodness and truth. The doctrine of
salvation is more closely related to the degenerated condition of the
world than to the original good, or to the right conduct of the creature
towards God. Evil became possible with the creation of personality,
though without being necessary. But it has become so very real that the
heavenly Adam must needs come into the world to destroy the works of the
devil,--which are sin and death,--and to renew the communion of the
creation with the Creator. The effectuating cause of man's permitting
himself to be seduced into sin, was not any fixed purpose or
predestination of God, but man's perfect moral freedom. He chose the
evil, and hence he inherits sin with all its dire results. Since then,
sin has become a bias and righteousness requires an effort for its
performance. But man is accessible to divine legislation by being the
subject of fear, shame, and punishment. The church is an abiding
testimony and a continued means for the redemptive ministry of Christ.
It is the congregation of the sanctified.[74]

From these two useful professors in Berlin we pass southward to
Heidelberg, and delay a moment with the celebrated Rothe. In his work on
the _Primitive Church_ he endeavors to explain the philosophy of the
whole ecclesiastical system. He views the elements of the church in
solution, and thence tries to deduce general principles. He advances the
view, with Coleridge and Arnold, that the church will not be complete
until absorbed in the state. Its present separate condition is
provisional, and can only last during the time that Christianity is
being developed. This period may be of long duration, but the
development of our race is ever progressing. The church must exist on
its own basis during the interval. Human deeds of righteousness tend
toward the perfection of the church. Then will religion permeate the
world. Yet it will not exist as something separate, but all-penetrative.
It will not be absolutely divine, but superlatively human. Thus will the
dualism of the human and divine, the religious and the moral, be
destroyed. When the day of ecclesiastical perfection--which is really
civil perfection--arrives, the state will perform the functions of the
church. It will exercise church discipline for the purpose of religious
and moral training. The divergence between religious and worldly science
will be abrogated, and there will be no longer any conflict between the
worship of God and nature. It is plain that these views are based upon
those of Hegel, who said of the state, that "it is the totality of moral
purposes."[75]

The ethical system of Rothe is one of the most original and profound
pieces of devout and reverent speculation in the entire range of
theological literature. It has been termed "a work of art as well as of
science; and the several stones of the ethical system are reared up here
into a magnificent gothic cathedral by the skill of a master architect."
It is based on the unity and identity of religion and morality. Here, as
in the theory of the relations of church and state, the Hegelian
philosophy is very perceptible. God's love is manifested in creation,
and there existed the necessity of his creative activity in order to
communicate himself to others. Hence, God's love is not a mere
attribute, but one of the necessary conditions of his being. Creation is
a necessary act of God. God is as truly creator as he is benevolent.
There is, therefore, a correlation of God and the world. There is no God
without also the world. God's creative activity is still continued by
his providential movements, and these are the steps of man's
development. Man's complete character is in some measure dependent on
his discipline, and sin is the necessary ordeal or process through which
he must pass in order to arrive at the highest development.[76]

Rothe has very recently published a volume of his essays, entitled _A
Contribution to Dogmatic Theology_. It is occupied mostly with the
consideration of the Scriptures. The author thus states his opinion:
"The matters I handle in this volume inevitably place me in a most
unfavorable position. The question is one in which I find myself in
direct conflict with both the leading parties in the theology of the
present day. My mode of regarding Holy Scripture runs directly counter
to modern orthodoxy. My supernaturalism and firm belief in revelation
are no less opposed to theological liberalism. This very antagonism
encourages me to hope that I may be found to have spoken a word in
season. On the one hand, it is my belief that the consciousness of the
age will never thoroughly reässimilate Christianity till it can take
courage to believe again in miracle and supernatural influence. I am no
less firmly convinced, on the other hand, that miracle and supernatural
influence will never find their way into the conscious belief of
Christians in the form in which church-theology has allowed those ideas
to be inoculated into it. That which is passed can never be recalled to
life after history has once buried it. But there are not a few persons
who long for the reconciliation of the old and the new. These are the
persons to whom I would gladly be useful according to my small
measure."[77]

Rothe regards the supernatural interference of the Deity in the stream
of human history as a part of that history. It is not enough that the
divine interposition has incorporated itself with the traditions of the
race; it must be fixed in a written narrative. Not only must there be a
book or writing, but that book must be of a historical character. As the
revelation did not consist in doctrines, so the doctrine we require is
not a creed or compend of doctrines. Besides vouching the facts, the
doctrines must represent them in a vivid manner; that is, the writing
must be such as can stand for long posterior generations in the place of
the original revelation, and place us in the immediate personal
experience of revelation. It is part of the extraordinary operation of
the Deity to provide such a writing. The document itself, as well as the
facts it relates, are supernaturally produced. What the divine
influences in the world are to its moral and human laws, the record of
those influences is to ordinary narrative. The Bible is therefore what
the old Protestant theology styled it, "The Word of God": but in a very
different sense. It was meant by that phrase that the books, as we have
them, were dictated by God in such a way that the sacred penmen
contributed nothing but the letter-marks upon the paper. The dogma of
inspiration current in the sixteenth century is not accepted. The
inspiration which Rothe attributes to the Bible is the same by which he
explains that peculiar impression received by the pious soul from its
study of the book. It is the constant experience of the evangelical
Christian, that, in his Bible, he possesses a direct means of grace.
Scripture is to him an active medium of the saving work of God in his
soul, and supernatural forces move within it. The Bible stands alone in
all literature as this incarnation of a fresh, full, life-giving
religious spirit. But the peculiar influence which it exercises upon
minds indicates not merely a divine element in its pages, but a whole,
complex, and sound human spirit side by side with that divine element;
the two not crossing or interfering with each other, but forming
together a unity of living truth. The books of the Bible must be
regarded as the general product of the minds of their human authors.
These authors have had their moments of inspiration, to which they owe
much of the religious experience they have embalmed in their writings.
But inspiration was not the normal condition of their minds, nor were
their books written during the moments of such inspiration. Again, not
every part of the Bible is an equally full and intense expression of
this spiritual mind of the writer. We must assume degrees of inspiration
according with the nature of the contents, and with their nearer or
remoter bearing on the proper matter of the prophetical utterances.[78]

Passing over the names of Julius Müller, Ebrard, Hävernick, Hundeshagen,
Umbreit, Gieseler, Olshausen, Hagenbach, and Jacobi, we pause at
Schenkel and Hengstenberg.

Schenkel has been, until lately, a recognized evangelical theologian.
The author of the _Essence of Protestantism_, he took his stand as an
able defender of orthodoxy; and there was every reason to hope that he
would be one of the chief agents in the final overthrow of Rationalism.
As a proof of the high estimate placed upon his opinions, when the Baden
government and church consistory were calling their strongest orthodox
theologians into the various posts of prominence, after the Revolution
of 1848, Schenkel was declared counselor, and director of the
theological seminary of Heidelberg. From that time almost to the present
his evangelical sentiments had not been questioned. But, when his
_Picture of the Character of Jesus_ appeared, the surprise was great
throughout Germany. It seemed incredible that he could write a work in
such direct antagonism to all his previous views. People were unwilling
to censure it at first; the Rationalists rejoicing at the great
accession, and the orthodox retaining too much respect for the author's
past services to bestow harsh criticism upon him. But a book of
importance need not wait long in Germany upon the publisher's shelf
before it is weighed and assigned its proper position in literature. In
due time the critics came forward, sifted its contents, and decided it
to be skeptical. The theological periodicals abounded in lengthy reviews
of it. Schenkel seemed as much astounded as any one else at the public
judgment. He answered the charges against his orthodoxy by stoutly
denying that he had turned Rationalist. He held that his critics were so
obtuse that they could not understand him; and that if he were accused
of heterodoxy it was their blunder and not his guilt. But it is needless
to say that Schenkel makes a poor case for himself. His book stands
against him. The miracles of Christ receive his severe comment. They
are, in his opinion, the dark shade which has been cast upon the bright
splendor of the public activity of Jesus. It was a matter of course that
the idea of a life like that of the Redeemer should, soon after his
death, be veiled by a multitude of tales. His disciples endeavored to
represent his internal wonderful power of personal glory and greatness
by the external miraculous occurrences which they ascribed to him. Their
deeply excited imagination magnified the great hero whom they had loved
and admired. Their enthusiastic religious fancy did him homage by
ascribing to him the performance of miracles. The gift of working
miracles was merely the endowment of nature. For Jesus was favored with
the highest ability and rarest moral power, by which he worked
beneficially upon sufferers and took them by surprise. Schenkel further
rejects and denies the faith in Christ's personal and bodily
resurrection from the dead, and his continuation of life in the glory of
the Father. But he holds that Christ lives in his community, in which
are his home and temple. The living Christ is the spirit of his
community.

After the position of Schenkel's work had been fairly decided, numerous
remonstrances appeared against it from the orthodox theologians. One
hundred and eighteen clergymen sent in a formal protest to the
consistory for his removal from his important office as director of the
seminary. But the ecclesiastical council decided in favor of his
continuance in discharge of his functions. They extenuated themselves by
saying that the free examination of the Scriptures is the privilege of
Protestant Christians. The Rationalists claim the result as one of the
most signal of their recent victories.

Hengstenberg, the strongest and most heroic of the later opponents of
Rationalism, commenced very early in life as both author and professor.
It is now more than thirty years since he was elected professor of Old
Testament exegesis at Berlin. He was chosen to that important position
with a view to counteract the prevailing Rationalism, and, if possible,
to raise up a new school of earnest evangelical men. He has not been
without success. Having never swerved from his first avowed position,
his antipathy to all kinds of skepticism is so sincere and active that
he combats it without any regard to moderation or consequences.

Of all the members of the Evangelical school he takes the highest rank
as controversialist, and defender of the Old Testament. He saw that it
was the Old Testament which the Rationalists had assailed most
vigorously, and that unless they were met upon their own ground they
would claim the mastery of the field. Hence, he made the Pentateuch,
Daniel, and the second part of the prophecy of Isaiah the theme of his
defence[79]--for it was these that the Rationalists had long claimed as
their collateral evidence. At that very time there was almost no
orthodox theologian in Germany who had confidence enough to contend for
them. But the greatest apologetic achievement of Hengstenberg was his
christological work.[80] Here he develops his theory that the Messianic
prophecies extend through the entire Old Testament; that they can be
traced in Genesis; that they increase in clearness as the scriptural
history advances; that they become perfectly lucid in the later
prophets; and that they are finally fulfilled in the Messiah himself.

But it was not by theological lectures or books that Hengstenberg
achieved his greatest triumphs over Rationalism and Pantheism. Clearly
perceiving the power of the periodical press, he commenced the
publication of the _Evangelical Church Gazette_, which by its fearless
spirit and marked talent, soon became the chief theological journal of
Germany. Its aim was not only to overthrow skepticism but everything
which ministered to its support. Its contributors have been among the
leading men of the country, among whom we find such names as Otto von
Gerlach, Professors Leo and Huber, and Doctors Göschel, Vilmar, Stahl,
Tholuck and Lange. The _Gazette_ has changed its tone according to the
new demands of the times, but it has never abated its deadly antagonism
to Rationalism. It has betrayed an increasing High Church tendency,
especially since 1840. The editor, true to his earnest nature, believed
that no moderate and conciliatory spirit was capable of successfully
resisting the great enemies of the church. The relief which he relied
upon was in fighting them with the heroic ardor of a crusader. Hence he
claimed that an elevation of ecclesiastical power was necessary to meet
the demand; and therefore he stands to-day as the High Church champion
of Protestant Germany. For this course he has received quite as many
maledictions as have been visited upon Pusey of England, but he is one
of those men who care as little for the curses of foes as for the
adulations of friends.

There have been other theological journals which have contributed
greatly to the spread of vital Christianity in Germany.[81] They do not
possess, on the one hand, the popular character of many of our religious
papers, nor, on the other, do they deal so much in abstruse theological
questions as to preclude them from large circles of readers. They
possess popular adaptation without yielding to the demand for light
religious reading. Many of their contributions having been written by
far-sighted laymen, they have gained access to minds usually occupied in
the absorbing interests of commercial and political life. The whole
Protestant church owes a debt of profound gratitude to the men who
commenced these enterprises and have zealously sustained them through
the social changes which have convulsed Germany.

But in our estimate of renewed religious life we must not overlook the
improved condition of the instruction now imparted in the gymnasia and
universities.[82] Besides the names we have already mentioned there are
professors and instructors of all grades who have drunk deeply of the
spirit of the Gospel, and, having been taught and encouraged by such
men as Hengstenberg and Tholuck, are now strengthening themselves for
future victory. Young men have passed through their student life in
Halle, Heidelberg, and Berlin, and are now scattered throughout the
land, sowing the seeds of truth, and urging the people to espouse the
good cause. Others are preparing to take their places when these are no
more. The spirit of theological instruction has undergone such a
thorough transformation that the old Rationalism which had so long
prevailed is now taught by only a few gray-haired veterans, who, many
years ago, listened to the lectures of Wegscheider and Gesenius. They
are now bringing their days to a close in the midst of a narrow circle
of auditors who hear from curiosity or indolence, and never expect to
use their information to any future advantage. Devotional services are
becoming more common among the students. The Scriptures are studied with
a feeling of devout reverence, and are no longer subjected to that
profane ridicule which has given an unenviable fame to many of the
Rationalists.

Much of this improved evangelical spirit observable in the students of
all the Protestant Universities,--for even Tübingen has been obliged to
yield,--is due to the kindly intercourse between the professors and the
students. In no country is education so much a matter of friendship as
in Germany. The professors cultivate social and even intimate relations
with the undergraduates, nor do they consider it beneath their dignity
to invite them frequently to their homes, draw out their minds by
discussing some important point, loan them books or periodicals, suggest
subjects for essays or books, employ their service as amanuenses, and
recommend them in due time for proper vacancies. Who would suspect that
half-bent, sallow little man, wrapped up in his blue coat, and walking
briskly a mile or two from Halle through the wintry storm, of being the
patient and devout Tholuck? But he is not alone. Beside him is a
youthful stripling who opens his heart to the professor, catches every
word of response as if it were a priceless diamond, and treasures each
utterance for future use. To-morrow, the same kindly teacher will be
attended by one or two other young men, whom he is desirous to
encourage, direct, and instruct.

Such intimacy does not lead to any disrespect toward the professors, but
rather increases the reverence for their age and talents. The hours of
profitable communion naturally become a fund of pleasant memories to the
student in his subsequent life. Knowledge thus imparted is deeper-rooted
than that conveyed in the lecture-room, and hence, in the literary and
theological history of Protestant Germany, we find many illustrations of
the consistent and steady prosecution, by a disciple, of a tendency or
system which the master commenced but died too soon to finish. One of
the prime agents in the rise of Pietism was Spener's child-like intimacy
with young men. They imbibed his spirit and knowledge, and the fire
burned after his departure.

As to the future, there is no room for discouragement. The leaven of
faith has been penetrating the entire mass of German theology, and the
prospect is to-day brighter than ever before. The bold and continued
defense of Christianity, in all its vital relations, has accomplished
great good during the entire interval between Schleiermacher's period of
activity and the present time. The recuperation of German Protestantism
from the polar frigidity of skepticism to the faith and spirit of the
Gospel, is one of the most beautiful and forcible of all the
illustrations of the indestructible and regenerating power of
Christianity. The instruction imparted in the high-schools has long
since lost its Rationalistic puerilities. The candidates for the
pastoral office are not asked such questions as were propounded to their
fathers and predecessors. Church history, written in clear and natural
style, is no longer a collection of pointless anecdotes. Exegesis has
ceased to be a word-play, and the companion of classical annotations.
The sermons of the present ministry partake of Reinhard's earnestness
and faith. Gallicisms and technical terminology are no longer proclaimed
to the peasants, while the artisan is no more entertained with
grandiloquent descriptions of the last night of Socrates, or with
Ciceronian laudations of the Schoolmen.[83] The popular attendance at
the public services is greatly on the increase, and the congregations
are expressing in no doubtful terms their desire for the restoration of
the thrilling evangelical hymns of other days.[84]

The masses, having tasted the word of God in its simplicity, will not be
satisfied without deep draughts for many future years. The Protestant
Church will yet be "fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as
an army with banners." Then will Germany be what she was in the heroic
age of the Reformation,--the instructor of the ignorant, the friend of
the helpless, the dread of Romanism, and the mother of giants. The evil
days are nearly numbered. "Good Friday is the precursor of a joyous
Easter Morning."


FOOTNOTES:

[69] For accounts of the later theologians of Germany, consult Schaff,
_Germany: Its Universities, Theology and Religion_. Phila., 1857. Also,
Schwarz, _Geschichte der Neuesten Theologie_, _Leipzig_, _Dritte
Ausgabe_, 1864.

[70] _Doctrine of Person of Christ_ (Clark's Foreign Theological
Library, VI-VIII).

[71] _Doctrine of Person of Christ_, Vol. I, pp 80-81.

[72] _American Presb. and Theolog. Review_, January, 1863.

[73] _Dogmatik_, 1849.

[74] _System of Christian Doctrine._ Translated by Montgomery and
Hennen. Clark's Library, Edinburgh, 1849.

[75] _Die Anfänge der Christlichen Kirche und ihrer Verfassung_, 1837.

[76] _Ethik_--1845-1848.

[77] _Ethik_, _Preface_, p. 6.

[78] _Westminster Review_, July, 1863.

[79] _Beiträge zur Einleitung in das alte Testamente._ Drei Bände,
1831-39.

[80] _Christologie._ Drei Bände, 1829-35.

[81] Besides the _Evangelical Church Gazette_, semi-weekly, by
Hengstenberg, established 1827, are the _Studien und Kritiken_, by
Ullmann and Umbreit, 1828; the _Deutsche Zeitschrift für christliche
Wissenschaft_, &c., by Neander, Nitzsch, and Müller, 1850; and the
_Jahrbücher für Deutsche Theologie_, by Liebner, Dorner, and others,
1856.

[82] An invaluable account of the common and higher Schools of Germany
is furnished in Horace Mann's _Seventh Annual Report_, published in the
_Common School Journal of Boston_, under the title of _Education in
Europe_, 1844.

[83] Hagenbach, _Kirchengeschichte d. 18 und 19 Jahrhunderts_, Vol. II.,
pp. 384-388.

[84] An instance of the new tendency is seen in the recent action of the
Heilbronn Clergy, supported by the Stuttgart Consistory. For account of
which, see _Christian Work_, Sept. 1863.



CHAPTER XIII.

PRACTICAL MOVEMENTS INDICATING NEW LIFE.


Jean Paul has wittily said of the providential distribution of the earth
that the land was assigned to the French, the sea to the English, and
the air to the Germans. Popular opinion is not much at variance with
this sentiment as far as the last proprietorship is concerned. But
Germany has been practical withal. Shade of Jean Paul! What if thy
countrymen do live in the air; they have not therefore flown so far away
from the gross nether earth as to lose sight of its misery, nor become
deaf to its wail of sorrow.

German Protestantism has given birth to some of the greatest charities
of the present age, whether we take into the account the number of the
beneficiaries or the faith and self-sacrifice of the founders and their
successors. Even during the period of religious indifference there were
here and there celebrated institutions designed for the amelioration of
the suffering classes. They contended against great opposition, but like
a few stars amid surrounding clouds, their light appeared to all the
greater advantage. Modern philanthropy has received a great impulse by
the labors of Howard and Wilberforce. But the charitable institutions we
speak of were in progress east of the Rhine years before the former
commenced "his voyage of discovery, his circumnavigation of charity, to
collate distresses, to gauge wretchedness, to take dimensions of human
misery;" or before the latter could write in 1807, after so many labors
for the extinction of the Slave Trade, "Oh what thanks do I owe to the
Giver of all good for bringing me in his gracious providence to this
great cause, which at length, after almost nineteen years, labor, is
successful."

Philanthropy stands in intimate relations to revived christian faith.
Sometimes it is its forerunner, at others its co-operator, and always
its follower. Whenever a land is morally prostrate and helpless, the
ministry skeptical or indifferent, and the sects arrayed against each
other, if humane efforts can be discovered, there is hope of better
times. Love of the body of man is the unfailing Baptist-herald
announcing the speedy care of his soul. The only indications of
evangelical faith in Germany at the closing period of the eighteenth
century were the quiet labors of such devoted friends of humanity as
Oberlin, Hamann, Lavater, and Claudius. And philanthropy assumed a more
stalwart form in the same ratio as religion gained strength over the
popular mind.

We have already spoken of the celebrities of Weimar. Students and
aspirants to fame from all parts of the Continent went thither, hoping
to enjoy at least a few conversations or perhaps a subsequent
correspondence with one of the ruling literary divinities. To have a
word of advice from Goethe, and to hear Schiller read an ode in his own
study was a memory of life-long value. Among the most venturesome of
this class was John Falk, once the humble son of a poor wig-maker of
Dantzic, but afterwards the Halle student, the novelist, satirist, and
poet.[85] He received high compliments from Wieland, and was admitted
into an intimacy with Goethe which resulted in his publication of the
latter's _Conversations_. He gradually gained public favor, and his
elevation to the society and attention of the literary regency of Weimar
was no ordinary testimonial to capacity and prospects.

By and by the sound of war was heard in that town, and with war came its
many evils. Napoleon having proved victorious at Jena, his legions were
quartered on the poor and rich through all the surrounding country. The
Duchy of Weimar, with its population of only one hundred thousand, were
required to support for five months nine hundred thousand of the enemy's
soldiers, and five hundred thousand horses. The air was rent with the
cries of orphans and poverty-stricken widows. Sorrow reigned in every
household, and the town of Weimar became a prominent part of the funeral
scene. But, unaccountable as it may appear, the resident literati were
not much disturbed. Living so near the top of Parnassus, they would not
listen to the storms below. Goethe, the acknowledged prince, wrote as
zealously as ever in his villa-garden, and it will be a lasting stigma
on his fame in his own fatherland that he chose "the moment of his
country's deepest ruin to write an exquisite classic story."

But Falk was touched by what he saw. He could not be contented with
literary dreams while widows were dying around him of starvation, and
children were growing up in wickedness. He remembered some words said to
him by the burgomasters of Dantzic when they met one day in the town
hall, and an old member arose and told him that they had concluded to
send him to the University and pay his own expenses, adding at the close
of his remarks: "One thing only, if a poor child should ever knock at
your door, think it is we, the dead, the old, gray-headed burgomasters
and councilors of Dantzic, and do not turn us away." At last the poor
child was at his door. Henceforth Falk's life was spent in reforming
criminal youth. "Come in," said he to the vagrants, "come in; God has
taken my four angels, and spared me that I might be your father."

Falk established his Reformatory from a pure love of humanity, and of
Him who came to seek and save the lost. His method was simple. The lads
whom he sought out and who came to him were desperately wicked. No
sooner were they within his institute than he treated them as his own
children. The two words so often on his lips reveal the principle of his
discipline: "Love overcometh." He used no harshness, and would have no
locks on his doors. He said, "We forge all our chains on the heart, and
scorn those that are laid on the body; for it is written 'If the Son
shall make you free ye shall be free indeed.'" "His mind was hung all
around with pictures," says Mr. Stevenson, who has furnished us with the
following beautiful specimen of Falk's picturesque manner of teaching
great truths to those who fell under his care.

When one of the boys, on a certain evening, had invoked this divine
blessing on their supper, "Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest, and bless
what thou hast provided," another boy looked up and asked,

"Do tell me why the Lord Jesus never comes? We ask Him every day to sit
with us, and he never comes."

"Dear child," replied Father Falk, "only believe and you may be sure he
will come, for he does not despise our invitation."

"I shall set him a seat," said the boy; and just then, a knock being
heard at the door, a poor apprentice came for admission. He was
received, and invited to take the vacant chair at the table.

Then said the inquiring boy again, "Jesus could not come, and so he sent
this poor man in his place: is that it?"

"Yes, dear child, that is just it. Every piece of bread and every drink
of water that we give to the poor, or the sick, or the prisoners, for
Jesus' sake, we give to Him. 'Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of
the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.'"

Falk's benefactions were of varied character. He organized a system for
the cessation of beggary in Weimar; established a training institute,
the _Johanneum_, for instructors of the youth under his charge; sent
forth many hundreds of the inmates of his _Reformatory_ to become useful
members of society; wrote earnest religious songs which the people will
sing for generations; died uttering the words,
"God,--popular,--faith,--short,--Christ,--end;" and was borne to the
grave by the children whom he had blessed. His resting-place is now
marked by words which his own pen had written:

     "Underneath this linden tree
     Lies John Falk; a sinner he,
     Saved by Christ's blood and mercy.

     Born upon the East Sea strand,
     Yet he left home, friends, and land,
     Led to Weimar by God's hand.

     When the little children round
     Stand beside this grassy mound,
     Asking, who lies underground?--

     Heavenly Father, let them say,
     Thou hast taken him away;
     In the grave is only clay."

Other philanthropists followed in the footsteps of Falk. What he did for
children has been succeeded by greater humanitarian movements in behalf
of the criminal youth, and abandoned and helpless adults. Theodore
Fliedner was pastor of a congregation of operatives in Kaiserswerth, in
1826. Very soon after his installation they were reduced almost to
beggary by the bankruptcy of their employers. He refused to leave them
in their distress, and devised plans for their relief. One step led to
another. He became the friend of not only the poor of that town, but of
all the adjacent country. To become more useful at home he traveled
through foreign countries. He described his visit to London in the
following brief but characteristic words, "_I have seen Newgate and many
other prisons._"

At last he matured a settled plan. It was the amelioration of the sick
poor. The largest house in the town being for sale, he secured its
possession, and on the 13th October, 1836, opened his _Deaconess
Institute_. The enemies of Fliedner called it a hospital, and looked
with aversion upon it. The beginning was very unpromising. But the
founder never hesitated, and the close of the first year of the history
of the _Institute_ revealed the fact that it had received forty sick
persons, and that these were nursed by seven deaconesses. Every day gave
new strength to the enterprise; and soon there were more of a similar
character springing up in Holland, Switzerland, France, and other
countries, but all dependent upon the parent at Kaiserswerth for
properly trained nurses and instructors. The organization of new
institutes at a great distance, imposed severe labor on Fliedner, but it
was cheerfully undergone for the sake of the great cause so dear to him.
It was to advance its interests that he came to America, and afterwards
went to Jerusalem, to superintend the establishment of branch Institutes
of Deaconesses. They are now in prosperous existence in Constantinople,
Smyrna, Alexandria, Bucharest, and Florence,--not to mention many more
in the Protestant lands of the Continent.

But it is in Kaiserswerth that the Deaconesses are trained for their
humanitarian life-work. Of this institution Mr. Stevenson says: "It
consists of an Hospital for men, women, and children; a Lunatic Asylum
for females; an Orphanage for girls; a Refuge for discharged female
convicts; a Magdalen Asylum; a Normal Seminary for governesses; an
Infant School; a Chapel; two shops; a publishing office; a museum;
residence for the Deaconesses; and a Home for the infirm. Besides, as
the property of the Institution, there are a home for maid-servants in
Berlin; an Orphanage at Altdorf; the Deaconess Home at Jerusalem; the
Seminary at Smyrna; the Hospital at Alexandria; and the Seminary at
Bucharest. The number of these Christian women is about three hundred
and twenty, of whom upwards of one hundred are at Kaiserswerth, or at
private service, and the rest scattered over seventy-four stations in
Europe, Asia, Africa, and America. Upwards of eight hundred teachers
have been sent out to educate many thousand children. The number
annually in hospital is over six hundred, and upwards of fifty families
are supplied with sick-nurses; in the Asylum there are twenty-four; in
the Orphanage, thirty; in the Infant School, fifty; in the Refuge,
twenty; in the Seminary, fifty. The number dependent on the Institution
for daily bread is between seven and eight hundred."[86]

In addition to the enterprises of Falk and Fliedner there has recently
arisen another, which, by virtue of the character of its organization
and the number of its supporters, has not only promoted humanitarian
movements, but has contributed largely to the restoration of a vigorous
evangelical faith, the suppression of sectarian hostility, the stability
of the civil government, and the decrease of the power of the state over
the church. We refer to the Evangelical Church Diet which held its first
session in 1848, and now occupies a wide field of operations.

While political revolution was imminent and no one knew when or where it
would burst in violence, and while the atheistic and socialistic views
of the living generation of skeptics were imbuing the minds of many of
the young and gifted, it became a matter of serious concern whether or
not the tide of religious and political destruction could be stayed. The
prospect was forbidding. The state had its full burden in watching its
own vitality; the church was already sore with the stripes of
skepticism. The crisis was upon the land. The work of written apologies
for Christianity had been faithfully discharged, and no one could find
fault with those heroes who had rushed to the rescue of the evangelical
and apostolic oracles. But the time for writing books was now past, and
important concerted practical measures were necessary to be taken, or
the day would be lost and generations might be required to repair the
damage.

For a number of years the Pastoral Conferences, composed of small
circles of devoted ministers and laymen, had been in existence, and kept
their attention carefully directed to the necessities of the times. The
increased danger made the members doubly watchful. In view of the
exigency, some of the leaders arrived at the conclusion to call a church
assembly of all the leading evangelical sects, to take such action as
the peculiar condition of theology, religion, and politics might
require. During the first six months of the revolutionary year of 1848,
three of these pastoral conferences held their sessions, during which
the propriety of convening a general assembly was discussed. The
conference at Sandhof, on the 21st June, was the occasion of serious
embarrassment. It was well nigh concluded that the whole enterprise
would prove a failure, but Dr. Bethmann-Hollweg arose, and by a few
stirring words infused hope and zeal into every member. "It is the Lord,
my friends," he said, "who builds the church. Never forget this. Whether
the assembly spoken of will accomplish what we desire and hope, no one
can tell. Our resolution must be an act of faith. Like Peter, we shall
have to walk on the sea; but we know also that the Lord does not suffer
any one to perish who trusts in him. If we look merely upon ourselves
and upon the scattered, distracted, and weak members of the church, we
would have indeed to despair. But if we raise our eyes in faith to him
who is the Lord, we will venture it."

The conference yielded to this earnest appeal, and a general assembly
was called, to convene at Wittenberg, in the following autumn. On the
21st of September, the appointed day, five hundred of the leading
evangelical theologians and laymen of Germany were present, to adopt
whatever measures might be thought best to avert existing and impending
evils. They met in the same old gothic temple on whose door, three
centuries previously, Luther had nailed his ninety-five theses. The
exercises opened with prayer, and the singing of Luther's hymn, "Eine
feste Burg ist unser Gott," which has been thus translated by Carlyle:

     "A safe stronghold our God is still,
     A trusty shield and weapon;
     He'll help us clear from all the ill
     That hath us now o'ertaken.
     The ancient Prince of Hell
     Hath risen with purpose fell;
     Strong mail of craft and power
     He weareth in this hour,--
     On earth is not his fellow.

     With force of arms we nothing can,
     Full soon were we down-ridden;
     But for us fights the proper man,
     Whom God himself hath bidden.
     Ask ye, Who is this same?
     _Christ Jesus_ is his name,
     The Lord Zebaoth's Son;
     He, and no other one,
     Shall conquer in the battle.

     And were the world all devils o'er
     And watching to devour us,
     We lay it not to heart so sore,
     Not they can overpow'r us.
     And let the prince of ill
     Look grim as e'er he will,
     He harms us not a whit,
     For why? His doom is writ--
     A word shall quickly slay him.

     God's word for all their craft and force,
     One moment will not linger,
     But spite of hell shall have its course,
     'Tis written by His finger.
     And though they take our life,
     Goods, honor, children, wife,
     Yet is their profit small;
     These things shall vanish all,
     The Church of God remaineth."

The Church Diet, now in its first session, was in direct contrast with
the revolutionary outbreaks in Frankfort and other cities. True and firm
hearts were within the walls of the Schlosskirche. Earnestness,
seriousness, humility, and faith were depicted on the countenances of
the members. Those men had been steadfast in the past, and were now
intent upon the immediate and utter destruction of the worship of
reason. Doctrinal differences were laid aside and apparently forgotten.
Men who had been contending with pen and paper for many years now
grasped each other's hand in friendship, and, burying their doctrinal
animosities, stood close together in a common effort to reconstruct the
temple of evangelical faith for the benefit of their countrymen. The
Lutheran could not be distinguished from his Reformed brother, nor the
member of the United Church from the Moravian. That denominational union
and fraternal intercourse which had been foreshadowed in 1817, were now
thoroughly consummated for the first time.

Without, the heavens were dark with the portents of impending social
convulsions. The signs were unmistakable. The masses were intoxicated
with a wild frenzy seldom, if ever, surpassed. They were intent upon the
destruction of all constitutional authority. Freedom from the restraints
of law and religion, the ruling thought of the Continent during 1848,
was their sole object. It was clear that if the populace could overthrow
the governments they would not be long in putting an end to all the
outward and traditional observances of religion. For the middle and
lower classes had not as yet become permeated by the healthful leaven
which had been introduced into the theological circles by the apologetic
antagonists of Strauss and his compeers. The wisest statesman could not
foresee one day's deeds of that skeptical, revolutionary rabble, which
had already lost its self-control. Blood had actually been shed.
Barricades had been reared in the streets of the larger cities. The
universities were pouring forth their hundreds of students and
professors, to take part in the conflict. The revolutionary crowds were
choosing their leaders; the royalist forces were everywhere fortifying;
princes were concealing their plate and strengthening their
hiding-places. This was the social and political scene while the five
hundred were praying, singing, counseling, and comforting each other
over the sleeping dust of Luther and Melanchthon.

In the days of the imprisoned Peter, fetters were strong, prison doors
well-barred, and the four quaternions of soldier guards faithful; but
all these safeguards could not resist the force which lay in the
unceasing prayers of the church. So with the revolutionary movements of
the people in 1848, as opposed to the Christian faith of the members of
the Church Diet. That assembly contributed more than all other human
agencies to save the German states from utter political and social ruin,
and the German church from a longer night and a fiercer storm than any
through which it had passed.

The practical result of the session was an invitation to all the
Protestant churches of Germany to observe the fifth of the coming
November, the Sunday following the anniversary of the Reformation, as a
day of humiliation for past unfaithfulness and prayer for the revival
of true religion throughout the land. It was resolved to form a
confederation of all the German churches adhering to the confessions of
the Reformation, in order to promote denominational unity, be a mutual
defense against Rationalism and indifference, advance social reforms,
protect the rights of the church against the encroachments of civil
authority, and secure a more intimate fellowship with evangelical bodies
outside of Germany.

The Church Diet has steadily enlarged its sphere of operation and
gathered strength and influence. Besides attracting great throngs of
spectators from the surrounding states, its members have attained to the
number of two thousand on more than one occasion. The providential
prosperity which has attended its history is the best proof of the real
demand for its institution and for the valuable purposes it has already
served. At every session the most important questions of the day are
discussed with freedom and always with great ability. Among other themes
which have come up for careful attention, we may mention the relation of
church and state, the sanctity of the Sabbath, divorce and the oath, the
relations of Protestantism to Romanism, all forms of skepticism, and the
inner organization of the church,--such as the renewal of the diaconate,
the possession of church estates, and the abrogation or retainment of
ecclesiastical discipline.[87]

During the first session of the Church Diet a man arose to speak, who
indicated by his earnest manner that he had been thinking deeply, and
that the subject of his remarks was a matter of no ordinary importance.
It was John Henry Wichern, founder of the Rough House, near Hamburg. He
had just returned from his laborious tour through the districts of
Silesia, which, in addition to the demoralizing revolutionary
excitement, were stricken by famine and fever. Whole villages were
depopulated, not enough inhabitants being left alive to bury the dead.
Grief and despair reigned everywhere. The number of orphans had grown so
large that Wichern and his few assistants, with all their experience and
organizing power, were unable to remedy their immediate wants. The scene
having made a profound impression upon his mind, he unburdened his heart
to the assembly. He described what he had witnessed, pictured the evils
of his people in their true light, and declared that the church must
either do more Christian missionary work at home, or God's curse would
rest upon it. He therefore called upon the Diet to incorporate the Inner
Mission into its system as a necessary measure to improve the religious
and social prosperity of the country. He spoke as one sent from God. The
assembly was mastered, and the reformer's plan adopted. In all the
subsequent meetings of the Diet, about one half of its session, or two
whole days, have been occupied in the management of the Inner Mission,
and in discussions on the best means to secure its increased
effectiveness.

But Wichern was not a stranger to the members of the assembly. The
beneficial results of his labors at the Rough House had already been
felt throughout Europe. An old thatched cottage, about three miles from
Hamburg, was the nucleus of his work. He sought out wild, abandoned
boys, and aimed to bring them within the fold of domestic Christian
influence. He solicited no contributions, but, adopting the method of
Müller, of Bristol, England, prayed to God that funds necessary for his
great purpose might be forthcoming by voluntary benefactions. An
associate was so struck with the repeated bestowal of the needed supply
that he exclaimed, "Just look! We no sooner make our purchase in faith,
than the Lord stands behind us with the purse to pay the bill."
Gradually the Rough House was surrounded with other buildings, while the
managers and those under their care became very numerous. The
institution was no longer a local but a national charity. It was a
centre of light for the abandoned of all lands. In 1856 there were two
hundred and sixty of its reformatories in existence, and the work of
establishing new ones was going on rapidly in Europe and other parts of
the world.

Of the gratifying results of the training at the Rough House, Wichern
says: "A glance round the circle of those who were children of the House
carries us into every region of the world, even into the heart of
Australia. We find them in every grade and social position; one is a
clergyman, another a student of theology, and a third a student of law;
others are, or were, teaching. We find among them officers in our German
armies, agriculturists, merchants in Germany, and at least in two other
European countries, partners in honorable firms. They are presidents of
industrial institutions, skillful landscape-gardeners, lithographists,
and xylographists; artisans scattered through many towns, and wandering
apprentices in every conceivable craft. One is a sea captain, some are
pilots, others sailors who have taken one voyage after another and seen
all the seas of the world. They are colonists in America and Australia,
and both there and at home there are happy fathers and mothers, training
their children righteously, and building up their family life after the
fashion they have learned here. And there are men-servants and
women-servants and day laborers; and, besides those who are better off,
there are also the poorer, and such as are burdened by care either with
or without their own fault. Besides, a considerable number have died at
home and abroad (very many, in proportion, of its earlier girls); and
some of those who went out to sea have never returned; probably many
have found a sea-grave; some have disappeared; some suddenly turn up
after long years have passed. I recall one who left this House twenty
years ago, and of whom I heard nothing for the last ten years, until he
has now notified himself as a well-doing master-artisan, and a happy
father, in a distant town."

The Inner Mission, of which the Rough House was the origin, is not
simply a philanthropic institution. Wichern distinctly discards this
limitation, by saying that its object is to do within the sphere of
Christendom what the church is endeavoring to accomplish in heathen
lands, "the propagation of pure evangelical faith and the relief of
physical suffering,"[88] as far as it may be possible to reach these
ends. "It aims at a relief of all kinds of spiritual and temporal misery
by works of faith and charity; at a revival of nominal Christendom and a
general reform of society on the basis of the gospel and the creed of
the Reformation. It is Christian philanthropy and charity applied to the
various deep-rooted evils of society, as they were brought to light so
fearfully in Germany by the revolutionary outbreaks of 1848. It
comprises the care of the poor, the sick, the captive, and prisoner, the
laboring classes, the traveling journeyman, the emigrants, the
temperance movement, the efforts for the promotion of a better
observance of the Lord's day, and similar reforms, so greatly needed in
the churches of Europe."

But while the German church has been attentive to its work at home, it
has not been negligent of its duty toward those beyond the pale of
Christendom. As long ago as the beginning of the present century there
was a missionary school organized by Janicke at Berlin. Others have been
established at brief intervals since that time, while missionary
societies under the auspices of both the Lutheran and Reformed churches
have arisen in a number of the cities and larger towns.

One of the pioneers of the foreign mission enterprise was Gossner, whose
life, at first full of reverses and disappointment, has lately come to a
triumphant and brilliant close. He was originally a Roman Catholic
priest, but his Pietistic inclination precluded him from the favor of
his less devout brethren. He went from one city to another, tarrying
only a few years in each. From St. Petersburg he went to Berlin, thence
to Hamburg, and afterwards to Leipzig. While in the last city he quietly
left the Romish fold and took orders in the Protestant church. He became
pastor of the Bethlehem chapel in Munich. His effective life began
there, though he was then fifty-six years of age. His ministrations were
fascinating, and the people came from all sides to hear him preach.

On a certain occasion a few young men, who were animated by a missionary
spirit, went to him for counsel. They had been turned away from the
missionary seminary as unfit for the service. He declined to encourage
them in their views. Still they came in increasing numbers. Finally he
asked them, "What shall I do with you? Where shall I send you? I don't
know; I can do nothing for you." Their reply was, "Only pray with us;
that can do no harm; if we can't go we must even stay. But if it is
God's work, and his holy will that we go, he will open the door in his
time."

Gossner yielded, and instructed them. But their number enlarged so
rapidly that he was compelled to secure teachers for them. Though he was
then at that time of life when most men think of bringing their labors
to a close, he laid his plans as if he were exempt from death for
centuries. He founded his first mission when sixty-five years of age. In
1838 he sent out eleven missionaries to Australia. The following year
some were despatched to India; since which time this zealous servant of
God has established missions among the Germans in the American Western
States; on the islands of the Southern seas; in Central India; on
Chatham Island near New Zealand; among the wild Kohls at Chota Nagpore;
on the Gold Coast; and in Java, Macassar, and New Guinea. He employed no
agencies; was his own corresponding secretary; superintended the
instruction of all his missionaries; and died at the age of eighty-five,
as full of youthful feeling and perseverance as when a student at
Augsburg. The instructions he gave to his missionaries declare the
sources of his own success. "Believe," said he, "hope, love, pray, burn,
waken the dead! Hold fast by prayer. Wrestle like Jacob! Up, up, my
brethren! The Lord is coming, and to every one he will say, 'Where hast
thou left the souls of these heathen? with the devil?' Oh, swiftly seek
these souls, and enter not without them into the presence of the Lord."
Gossner's beautiful motto, found in his diary, was, "Pereat Adam! Vivat
Jesus!"

The missionary labors of Louis Harms, of Hermannsburg, kingdom of
Hanover, demand the serious attention of every friend of humanity. The
small beginning of his enterprise, the unexpected and unsolicited means
placed at his disposal, the zeal with which a plain rural parish has
devoted itself to the missionary work, and the remarkable fruits
attending every new step, prove both the power of a single heart when
imbued with a great thought, and the sad truth that the church has
hitherto buried in a napkin some of the most valuable talents committed
to her keeping. Harms labored among his own congregation until every
family became earnest and active in the service of God. By and by their
awakened fervor craved new avenues of usefulness. In 1849 twelve men
presented themselves to their pastor for the missionary work. This was
the beginning, and God has so provided for every emergency that the
entire enterprise has been favored with marked prosperity.

Missionaries having been sent out from time to time,--all previously
trained under the careful superintendence of Harms himself,--it was at
last suggested that a missionary ship be built by the Hermannsburg
congregation. The timbers were soon on the stocks, the vessel completed,
and its charge on board. That boat has since become a messenger of light
to many heathen minds. The missionary work of Harms has cost nearly one
hundred and nineteen thousand crowns. It is still in vigorous
prosecution, the parish increasing every year both in its gifts and in
its capacity to give. The stations established in heathen lands,
especially New Hermannsburg in Africa, have been judiciously selected,
successfully conducted, and are now centres of truth to large areas of
unevangelized territory.

The return of spiritual life to the German church is indicated by other
useful agencies than those immediately connected with humanitarian and
missionary work. Societies for the distribution of Bibles and cheap
religious literature have been organized in Berlin, Hamburg,
Frankfort-on-the-Main, and all the larger cities.

The Gustavus Adolphus Union was instituted for the extension of
Protestantism without regard to sectarian differences. Deriving its name
from the illustrious Swedish champion of Protestantism, who died on the
victorious plain of Lützen, its constant object has been to continue
what he began. Its principal scene of labor has been among the dispersed
Protestants who are living in abject poverty and wretchedness throughout
Roman Catholic countries. The Union seeks them out, brings them to the
light, and supplies their necessities. Then it bands them into a
congregation, and, whenever the laws permit, supplies them with the
gospel and religious literature. It goes into every open door,
contributing the renewal of religious vitality both by forming new
churches and strengthening feeble ones. For a time it was seriously
impeded by the participation of radical Rationalists; but they having
been judiciously sifted out, it has since pursued a steady career of
usefulness.

Prelate Zimmermann became superintendent in 1849, since which time its
receipts have increased and its field of operation widened. Its
twenty-second session was held in 1865, in Dresden, Saxony. The receipts
of the previous year amounted to one hundred and ninety-five thousand
thalers, which were expended for the relief of seven hundred and
twenty-three churches or communities. One of the late reports shows that
of the societies benefited by its agency, one was in Portugal, two in
Italy, one in Algiers, four in the United States, four in Switzerland,
sixteen in France, thirty-four in Poland, fifty-six in Hungary, one
hundred and nine in the upper provinces of Austria, and the remainder in
the other German states.

These enterprises do not interfere with each other. Every one has its
own path of duty and its individual attractions. But the amount of good
effected, not only by those we have mentioned, but by others which are
every year taking form, is of incalculable influence upon indifference
and Rationalism. Their ministry is beautiful in the extreme, for they
are restoring what has been nearly destroyed. One night, while John Huss
was awaiting martyrdom in the dungeon at Constance, he dreamed that he
had painted pictures of Christ around the walls of his little Bethlehem
oratory in Prague. By and by he saw them all erased by the violent hands
of the angry pope and his bishops. While in great distress at his ill
fortune, he dreamed again. But this time there entered a large number of
accomplished artists, who restored all the pictures to more than their
original beauty. Then there came a great concourse of people, who,
having surrounded the painters, cried out: "Now let the popes and
bishops come; they shall never efface them more!"

The German church is now using its artist-hand in reproducing the
long-erased images of beauty and faith. Every believer within her own
fold and throughout Christendom should unite in the solemn protest that
no bright color shall be erased again.


FOOTNOTES:

[85] _Praying and Working._ By Rev. W. F. Stevenson, of Dublin. This is
by far the best source of information on the leading charities of
Germany. Our high appreciation of its value is indicated by the use made
of its contents in the preparation of our account of Falk and other
humanitarians treated in this chapter.

[86] _Praying and Working_, pp. 212-213.

[87] Schaff; _Germany, &c._, pp. 200-212.

[88] Herzog's _Real Encyclopædie_. Art. _Inner Mission_.



CHAPTER XIV.

HOLLAND: THEOLOGY AND RELIGION FROM THE SYNOD OF DORT TO THE
COMMENCEMENT OF THE PRESENT CENTURY.


The only country whose national existence and independence are due to
the Reformation is Holland. To be the first to break the triumphant
power of the Spanish army would have been glory enough for any ordinary
ambition, but no sooner was her independence declared than she gave
signs of great commercial and intellectual activity. Her Hudsons
navigated every sea and planted the Dutch flag on shores not then traced
on any map of the world; her manufacturers supplied all markets with the
fruit of their labor and ingenuity; her soldiers were a match for any
European force; her De Ruyters and Van Tromps knew how to contend with
the Blakes of England; her William of Orange, whom she gave to her
British neighbor, made as good a ruler as ever lived in Whitehall; her
scientific men founded the systems which have continued in use to the
present time; her philosophers revolutionized the thinking of the
civilized world; her universities were the seat of the most thorough
humanistic researches of the age; her painters founded new schools of
art, and vied with the Italian masters; her theologians gave rise to
controversies which brought all churches and their champions within the
scene of conflict; and her pulpit orators acquired a celebrity which, in
spite of the inflexibility of the language, was second only to that
enjoyed by the most renowned preachers of France and Great Britain.

After Holland had fallen a victim to her political partisanship, she
gradually disappeared from public observation. Her greatness in the past
would have been well nigh forgotten if Prescott and Motley had not
recalled it. But the judgment of the world concerning her, in her
present state, is not more flattering than that of the author of
_Hudibras_, who, in addition to venting his spleen against the people,
employs his wit upon the irrational land, calling it,

     "A country that draws fifty feet of water,
     In which men live as in the hold of nature;
     And when the sea does in upon them break,
     And drowns a province, does but spring a leak."

But while the political status of Holland has been inferior and
unobserved during the last century and a half, her important theological
and religious career,--covering a much longer period than that,--is a
theme of deep interest to every student of the history of the church.

Rationalism arose in Holland by means of some agencies similar to those
which had produced it in Germany. The previous disputes and barren
ministrations of the clergy made the soil ready for any theological
error that might urge its claims with force. But the repulsive
technicalities of Germany were not equally prevalent in Holland, and
scholasticism refused to affiliate with the Reformed much longer than
with the Lutheran church.

But when the synod of Dort, which held its sessions in 1618-1619,
pronounced those dogmas by which the Arminians were excluded from the
Dutch church, it established a standard of orthodoxy. In proportion as
the synod gained the favor of the people, the Bible came into use, but
more to serve the cause of polemics than of edification. Hugo Grotius,
Erasmus, and other exegetical writers who had manifested independence in
their interpretation of the Scriptures, were regarded with great
suspicion and distrust. The door for the entrance of scholasticism was
thrown wide open. To use the language of a writer of that day, "The
doctrines were cut after the fashions of Peter Lombard, Thomas Aquinas,
and Scotus; while the power of the word of God was denied, and the
language of Babel was heard in the streets of Jerusalem." Theologians
made an idle display of learning. Imaginary distinctions, definitions,
and divisions became the food of the youth in schools of every grade,
and of the congregations in all the churches. The books which have come
down to us from that period are weapons against Atheism, Deism,
Socinianism, and every other heresy that had arisen during the history
of Christianity. Whether light was created on the first day; whether it
was an attribute or a substance; whether Adam, after the formation of
Eve, was a rib the worse; whether the knowledge of the unconverted may
be called spiritual knowledge;--these were some of the topics of labored
sermons. It was announced as a most gratifying result of accurate
research that the soul of a boy was created forty days after conception,
while that of a girl required eighty.

There were exceptions to the general sterility of the pulpit and
lecture-room. Alting, professor at Groningen, enjoyed the sobriquet of
"Biblical Theologian," because he made the Scriptures, and not
scholasticism, the basis of his inquiries. Students from foreign lands
flocked to his auditorium, and received the leaven of his earnest and
reverent spirit. Yet his candidates were distrusted, and he had great
trouble in defending himself against repeated charges of heresy.

But another important feature of the prevalent theology was the
corruption of ethics. The doctrines of grace, of which the church of
Holland had always been the defender, left no room for an ethical
system. What the unconverted man does is nothing but sin; all are
equally guilty; and all that we have of good is from God. If we be
disposed to ask, "Does not this view make men careless and impious?" the
answer comes back from the Catechism, "No; for it is impossible that
those who are planted in Christ should be without the fruits of
gratitude." This opinion had a strong tendency to isolate theology still
more than scholasticism had done, from all practical interests. "What
shall we do?" was an idle question, for, as a matter of course, man
could do nothing. But "what must I be?" was the all-important and
searching inquiry. Thus ethics glided into radical casuistry, and, in
this form, became united with the scholastic theology.

The homiletic literature of that day indicates the unification very
clearly. Besides being a tirade against schismatics of all classes, the
discourse was often a discussion of grammatical principles, accompanied
with a description of the spiritual condition of every hearer. After the
singing of the hymn in the middle of its delivery, the people adjusted
themselves to hear the application in which their cases were to be
stated. There was _first_, an enumeration of "heretical sinners,"
divided into numerous groups; _second_, the "unconverted," separated
into many subdivisions; and _third_, the many flocks of Christians. It
was in this part of the sermon that the casuistry of the preacher had
full play, and he who could subdivide his congregation in such a way
that every auditor could not mistake his own proper position, received
great honor from his brethren. The hearer waited until he "heard his
name called," after which he might sink back again to his dreams. Even
to this day, on leaving a Dutch church, it is a common question among
the separating members to inquire of each other, "Have you heard the
dominie call your name?" They mean by this, "Have you heard the pastor
so describe people that you could not mistake the class to which you
belong?"

We have now stated the two sources from which many of the troubles and
defections of the Church of Holland have sprung. On the one hand was
dogmatism, with its endless distinctions, begotten and fostered by
Scholasticism. On the other, practical mysticism, cherished into
strength by a disgusting system of casuistic ethics. The reaction
against those prevalent errors was Rationalism. They were the domestic
fountains of that species of error.

But there were men who, when they saw the evils their venerated Church
was suffering, threw themselves into the breach, and contended for her
deliverance.

Cocceius, the celebrated opponent of Scholasticism, was born in Bremen,
in 1603. He studied all branches of theology; but having been instructed
in Hebrew by a learned Rabbi of Hamburg, he applied himself especially
to the Scripture languages. In 1629 he visited the Dutch University of
Franeker, and wrote tracts on the Talmud, with extracts therefrom in
German. He also composed Greek verses with great ability. Returning the
same year to Bremen, he there became Professor of Sacred Philology. In
1636 he was called to Franeker, to take the Hebrew first, and afterward
the Greek chair. Still later he taught theology. His exegetical works,
being far in advance of any which had appeared at that time, acquired
great renown for their author. In 1649 he was invited by the Curators of
the University of Leyden to take charge of the department of theology in
that seat of learning. His long-cherished antipathy to Scholasticism was
well known, but he pursued his course in quiet until 1658, when he was
daringly assailed.

Having developed his opinion that the Sabbath had not been instituted in
Paradise, but in the desert, and was not therefore binding upon
Christians, Cocceius was buffeted by a host of writings, in which he was
charged with every imaginable species of skepticism. The literature of
the Cocceian controversy abounds in as violent and harsh expressions as
have disgraced theological history at any time. Yet Cocceius was not
without ardent disciples and friends, who knew as well how to give as to
receive severe thrusts. As an illustration of the method of the
discussion, we mention the title of a book written in favor of Cocceius:
"Satan's Defense of himself, on being questioned why he had instigated
some persons to distort and vilify the orthodox, wise, and edifying
Writings of the Blessed Professor Cocceius, &c., &c." In this work
Satan, on being questioned whom he fears most, replies that "no one has
done more harm to the power of darkness than Cocceius,--not even
Calvin."

The States of Holland wrote to the Synod not to discuss the Sabbatarian
question, and to forbid the combatants from further controversy. There
were other charges brought against Cocceius, however, one of which was
his distinction between +aphesis hamartiôn+ and +paresis hamartiôn+, by
which he held that the former was a complete pardon, but the latter
incomplete, and only in force under the old dispensation. He placed the
whole system of theology under the figure of a covenant. There were two
covenants, one of works, and the other of grace. The latter had a
threefold economy: before the law; after the law; and under the Gospel.
The institutions under the first economy were symbolical of the second;
and these again of the third. Everything was a shadow of some higher and
future good. Forgiveness was no exception to the rule. That of the Old
Testament was +paresis+ preparing the way for the complete +aphesis+ of
the New.

There was one point of agreement between Cocceius and Des Cartes: their
common aim of emancipation from Scholasticism. But the former strove by
revelation, the latter by philosophy to secure the result. It has been
charged that Des Cartes influenced Cocceius, since the school of that
philosopher was growing into power at the very period of the Cocceian
tendencies. But the charge is groundless. Des Cartes stood on the ground
of reason alone, while Cocceius planted himself upon the Scriptures.
Thus there was a world-wide difference between the two men at the very
starting-point of their systems; a difference which becomes more
apparent at every additional step in the study of their sentiments.

If Cocceius was opposed when he arrayed the Bible against Scholasticism,
Descartes might be expected to meet with increased resistance when he
used only the weapon of philosophy. "Aristotle," said the theological
world of Holland, "was a heathen, it is true, but then he afterwards
became soundly converted to Catholicism. In due time he was transformed
into a most exemplary Protestant. Yet this Des Cartes is a downright
Jesuit, and a very demon let loose from the infernal world. His whole
system commences with doubt and is pervaded by it. How dangerous then to
our orthodoxy is the attack of this Catholic Arminian! If his assumption
concerning skepticism be correct our whole theology becomes overturned;
for then the elect would have ground for doubting their own salvation,
which would be opposed to the infallible doctrine of the final
perseverance of the saints. And to crown the scene of this Des Cartes'
audacity, he holds that the earth and not the sun turns round, which, as
good father Brakel says, 'is a sure sign that the man's head is
turned.'"

Voetius was the leader of the forces against the pretentious philosophy.
A book, issued anonymously by a friend of Spinoza, applying a little
more logic to the Cartesian idea of substance, caused him to obtain
additional ground. For the new school which he was combating already
rested under the imputation of Crypto-Atheism. The hand of the
government interfered, and Cartesianism appeared to be extinguished. But
it had its secret admirers, especially in the academies of Northern
France, where its adherents occupied almost every chair of instruction.
Its last representative was Ruard Andala, 1701, at whose death Newton
and Leibnitz came into power.

The place assigned to reason by Cocceius led his foes to accuse him of
Cartesianism. He made the intellect the interpreter of Scripture in this
sense; that, since the words of the Bible are capable of many meanings,
reason must decide which are proper and which improper, and not be
forgetful to derive as much thought as possible from the sacred text;
"for," said he, "the Scripture is so rich that an able expositor will
bring more than one sense out of it." He aimed to find Christ and his
church in each biblical book; but he interpreted every statement as
allegorical, typical or prophetical. Reason as applied by him, became a
light to expose many sides of truth which had never been perceived by
the reigning dogmatism. The result of his labors was the overthrow, in
many minds, of philosophical Scholasticism, but the enthroning of
biblical Scholasticism in its stead. His allegorical method of
exposition led his followers into gross aberrations.

The Cocceians and Voetians were now the two great theological parties
which attracted to their standards nearly every man of promise or note
throughout Holland. The former were the Progressives, the latter the
Conservatives. The Cocceians favored the entrance of new ideas, and
effected the junction of philosophy and theology. The Voetians professed
to desire a reform, but their conduct was not in harmony with their
avowal. While they agreed with their antagonists in calling the Bible
the fountain of light and truth, they held that the fathers of Dort and
the Reformers had digested its contents and explained its meaning in
most excellent summaries, and that "it was for us to light our candles
at those great lights of the church." They were very properly called
"Traditionarians," a name of which they were proud. One of their writers
said, "We have caught up the last voices and words of our ancestors,
those Fathers of whom we are now glad to call ourselves the echo."[89]

The Cocceians studied the original text, and took leave to differ often
from the authority of the translators. Their opponents attached great
value to the translation, and sometimes called it "inspired." The former
delayed not to appropriate the fruits of the latest researches in
science and criticism, in certain cases laying aside fragments of the
text in favor of the suggestions of the most recent editions of
Cocceius. To the Voetians this conduct was not much better than atheism.
They hurled all the curses and plagues of the Bible against every one
who whispered that there could be a mistake in the transcription of a
word or even of a Hebrew vowel-point. The Cocceian brought all his
questions into the pulpit, where he preached them in a manner more
adapted to addle the heads of his hearers than to edify their hearts.
Hebrew grammars were published for the laity. Even women,--among whom
was Anna Maria Schurmann, the adherent and friend of Voetius,--were able
to read the Bible in the original tongues. Nor did they hesitate to take
part in the angry disputes of theologians. The Cocceians ran wild with
their principles of fanciful interpretation. Every prophecy was, in
their view, a treasury of allegorical facts yet to come to pass, and to
be heartily endorsed. The Voetians prided themselves on their
literalism, and named Hugo Grotius as their master. Yet they held that
they never could swallow his abominable Arminianism.

The history of hermeneutics in all times shows that there is but one
step from the literal to the allegorical. So with the Voetians. They
indicated a disposition to yield, and at length became more fanciful and
allegorical than their adversaries had been. They sought the interior
sense of the text, but would be limited by no rules. They spiritualized
the entire contents of the Bible. He who could draw most profit and
instruction from a word was the best teacher, for a scribe must bring
forth from his "heart" both new things and old. Not reason, nor logic,
but experience and feeling must explain every word of God. The Bible
literally became all things to all men. The "inner light" was its great
interpreter. Many people despised scientific students of the truths of
revelation, calling them "slaves of the letter,"--a term which,
singularly enough, is still in common use among the uneducated members
of the church of Holland. The Bible, taken in its real character, was
banished and an artificial volume placed in its stead. Practical
mysticism was now fairly inaugurated. Even conventicles spread
throughout the country, and ignorant men who knew how "to speak to the
hearts of the people" were infinitely preferred to any educated
minister.

The strife ran very high. While there was an assimilation of the
Voetians to the Cocceians in the application of the allegorical
principle of interpretation, there was a moral retrogression of the
latter which greatly reduced their strength. This arose from the
defective views of Cocceius on the sanctity of the Sabbath. His
disciples carried his unfortunate opinion far enough to gain the favor
of the worldly and immoral classes. The freest customs and gayest
fashions were imported from France, and Cocceian ministers made it their
boast that they designed to keep up with the times. More spiritual
adherents became disaffected by the growing impiety. Koelman, a layman,
and Lodensteyn, a clergyman, gave the alarm that the kingdom of Christ
had become secularized and corrupt. The latter would not baptize the
children of unbelievers nor hold any communion with them. De Labadie,
formerly a Jesuit but afterward a French minister, blew the clarion of
reform. The watchword on all sides was, "Separate ye my people." Nothing
but the stringency of his rules and the counter-efforts of the
government prevented the pious masses from joining the reformer.
Mystical sects, influenced by Jacob Boehme and Spinoza, appeared here
and there. Chiliastic ideas spread abroad in proportion as men despaired
of the speedy regeneration of the church through natural
instrumentalities. All was commotion and disruption, and, for a time,
everything seemed to be on the downward course to ruin.

But the imminence of the danger brought a speedy and violent reaction.
The persecution of the French Huguenots drove them across the boundary
line. The Dutch true to their traditional hospitality, received them
with open arms. The guests returned their welcome by diffusing new
spiritual life through the hospitable country. The Cocceians laid off
their worldly habits. Days of fasting and prayer were appointed by the
civil and ecclesiastical authorities, while an increasing love for the
church, as bequeathed by the fathers, was overspreading the land. The
attachment to what was old and time-honored became a glowing enthusiasm.
Sharp distinctions between parties disappeared. Men who had formerly
been violently arrayed against each other now expressed a disposition to
unite in one common effort to restore the church to her former purity.
Brokel, Imytegeld, Groenewegen, Lampe, and Vitringa, representing
different and opposing forces, united in a harmonious effort to reform
the heritage of Christ. Their labors were fruitful, for the people
greatly honored them and earnestly followed their good advice. The
theological candidate had previously been asked two questions, which had
an important bearing upon his subsequent life. One was, "Do you fear
God?" The other was, "To what party do you belong?" The latter inquiry
was now abolished. In every university the long-prevalent partisanship
subsided. But under the improved state of religion, a Voetian was
invariably placed in the chair of dogmatic theology, a Cocceian in that
of exegesis, and a follower of Lampe in charge of practical theology.
The pulpits were likewise supplied with an equal number of ministers
from the ruling parties.

After 1738 the religious progress of the church of Holland became more
tardy. Attention to spiritual life decreased, while more care was
bestowed upon the improvement of theological training. The department
receiving greatest favor was the linguistic study of the sacred text.
Professor Schultens was the first to apply himself to the Hebrew cognate
languages, especially to the Arabic. The critical works of Mill and of
Bengel found their way, in 1707 and 1734, into the Dutch universities.
John Alberti, inaugurated professor at Leyden in 1740, made the Arabic
his special branch, and in five years' time that study became so popular
that Valkenaer found it necessary to warn young men against yielding too
freely to its fascinations. The direction of theological taste to
another department of inquiry increased the indifference to party
distinctions. Henceforth the terms Voetian and Cocceian became more
unfrequent and unimportant.

The theological tendency toward the study of the languages of the Bible
had the single unfortunate result of increasing that puerile literalism
which had appeared in only sporadic forms during several preceding
centuries. It was the element antagonistic to the allegorical and
spiritual interpretation of the text.

Peter Abrest, the Dutch Ernesti, taught in Groningen in 1773. His work
on _Sacred Criticism as the best Safeguard of Theology_, showed the
value he attached to a thorough grammatical and historical study of the
Scriptures. His labors were in harmony with the long-standing literal
interpretation of the text, though he would elucidate scientifically
what had previously been treated mystically. Even before the
Reformation, the Dutch theologians were preëminently textual in their
habits of study, and in subsequent times, they built up their systematic
and polemical theology by the stress laid upon the "words" of the
inspired volume.

Nowhere was the proverb "Every heretic has his letter"[90] so common and
yet so true as in Holland. The old quartos we have received from the
seventeenth and former half of the eighteenth centuries will ever remain
marvels of literalism gone mad. They were gotten up like a geometry,
with theorems and propositions, followed by a lengthy array of texts
transcribed without one word of comment. The sermons published at that
time were divided and subdivided, their appearance being similar to a
page of a dictionary. They were interlarded with Latin, Greek, and
Hebrew letters and figures of various sizes, all being literal
quotations from the Bible, and proving nothing except that the preacher
had made free use of his Concordance. The consequence of so much textual
citation in books and sermons was the increased popularity of theology.

The systematic works of the seventeenth century were familiar to the
masses. What was said of the theological disputes of the third century,
that bakers' and shoemakers' shops reëchoed the words '_homoousian_' and
'_homoiousian_' might be applied to the period of which we speak. Even
now, there exists in Holland a remarkably popular acquaintance with
theology. "I have seen," says a clergyman, "fishermen who could pass
examination for licentiate's orders at one of your American schools, and
beat the best of the candidates in the handy use of texts and
definitions."[91] The descendants of the Dutch settlers in the United
States are still familiar with Brokel; while if you ask any Hollander
what he thinks of John á Marck's _Marrow of Divinity_, he will probably
indicate very soon that he has committed nearly the whole of it to
memory. Francken's _Kernel of Divinity_ is equally well-known to the
masses, for he belonged to the Voetian party. He was eminently practical
and ascetical. He was not without a vein of mysticism, as may be
inferred by the title of one of his works: "_Earnest Request of the
Bridegroom Jesus Christ to the Church of Laodicea to celebrate the Royal
Marriage Feast with Him_."

During the entire period, dating back to the Synod of Dort, there was an
undercurrent of Rationalism, which, though sometimes daring to make its
appearance, observed in general the strictest secrecy. Cartesianism made
it bolder for a time, and in party struggles it ventured to take sides.
But the keen eye which the church ever turned toward heresy made it
timid. Yet it was a power which was only waiting for a strong ally in
order to make open war upon the institutions which the heroes of Holland
had wrested from Philip II. of Spain.

Balthazer Bekker, "a man who feared neither man nor devil," was the
first Rationalist in the Dutch church. He was a disciple of Des Cartes,
and an ardent lover of natural science, particularly of astronomy. He
published a work on Comets, in which he combated the old notions,
prevalent among his countrymen, that a comet was always the precursor of
heresies and all manner of evils, and that it should be made the
occasion for a general call to prayer and fasting. Bayle, of Rotterdam,
a reputed atheist, harmonized with Bekker. Bekker separated between the
sphere of reason and that of religion. Whenever they meet each other it
should be as friends and co-workers. Religion has greater dignity, but
that gives it no right to disregard the authority of reason. When the
Scriptures speak in an unnatural way of natural things, it is high time
for the operation of reason. This idea led to the accommodation-theory,
which, applied to the doctrine of spirits in his book, _The World
Bewitched_ (1691), resulted in Bekker's excommunication. His
Cartesianism, which had taught him to distinguish so rigidly between the
two "substances," matter and spirit, as to deny all action of the one
upon the other, led him to assert that spirits, whether good or bad,
have no influence upon the bodies of men. The Jews ascribed all exertion
of power to angels, through whom God worked mediately. Jesus adapted
himself to these ideas of his times.

Bekker loved to trace all spirit-stories to some plausible origin, and
then to hold them up to the ridicule of the masses. To give substantial
proof of his disbelief in all spiritual influence, he passed many
nights in graveyards, on which occasions he manifested a sacrilegious
hardihood, which, besides making him the wonder of his time, could only
be accounted for by supposing that he kept up secret correspondence with
the devil. "For," reasoned the Dutch theologians, "is not all this one
of Satan's tricks to make us believe that he does not exist, so that he
may capture us unawares?" On account of Bekker's acknowledged merit, the
government took his part, and at his death, paid his salary to his
family. Voltaire said of him: "He was a very good man, a great enemy of
the devil and of an eternal hell.... I am persuaded that if there ever
existed a devil, and he had read Bekker's _World Bewitched_, he would
never have forgiven the author for having so prodigiously insulted him."
In the library at Utrecht there are ten quarto volumes containing
reviews of this book, in which Bekker's personal appearance, said to
have been very unprepossessing, receives a goodly portion of the
censure. His body was believed by his contemporaries to be a most
excellent portrait of the devil himself.

Professor Roell, of Franeker University, started from the Cocceian
principle of freedom of thought. In his inaugural address, he announced
it as his opinion, that Scriptures cannot be interpreted in any safe way
except by the dictates of reason; that reason is the grand instrument by
which we arrive at a knowledge of all truth; and that it is the great
authority for the determination of all theoretical and practical
religion. This author is best known to theologians by his ideas on the
sonship of Christ. He held that Christ could not be a son, for then
there would be a time when he came into being from nonentity. The term
"son" could not signify unity of essence with the Father. "Brother"
would be a more correct word. The only sense in which Christ could be
son was as the divine ambassador. These assumptions brought upon Roell
the charge that he was a Socinian and an Arminian. His principal
opponent was Vitringa.

Rationalistic tendencies increased in both number and force in
proportion as the church decreased in the zeal which it had possessed at
the close of the Cocceian and Voetian controversy by virtue of the
immigration of the exiled Huguenots of France.

Van Os, of Zwolle, attacked the accepted covenantal theory, and the
doctrine of immediate imputation. The latter was a mere scholastic
opinion, not accepted among the doctrines of the church, but yet
maintained by the people as a requisite of orthodoxy. Having gone thus
far, Van Os proceeded to deny a form of infralapsarianism, which was
termed "justification from eternity." Many prominent but bigoted minds,
having long entertained these ultra ideas he was endeavoring to refute,
and some having gone so far as to attempt their introduction into a
revised edition of the confession of faith, Van Os was censured for
heresy. But he took the first opportunity to preach the Protestant
doctrine that every one had the right to test the church-creed by the
word of God. In the opinion of the people this course amounted to a
total renunciation of the creed, and he was accordingly dismissed.
Another dispute, which created attention and attracted the suspicion of
the watchful church, was on toleration. All who dared to defend even the
word, were stigmatized as unpardonable heretics, for Voltaire had just
written in its favor. Pastor De Cock placed himself in danger of
excommunication because he was so rash as to advocate it. He was only
rescued by the interference of the government, and by luckily publishing
that he distinguished between Christian and ecclesiastical toleration.

There were controversies concerning minor points of doctrine, but amid
them all, it was very perceptible that there was a well-organized
disposition to break through the stringent rules of order, and escape
from the control of the vigilant guardians of the church. But whoever
departed a hair's breadth from the doctrinal system laid down in the
confession of faith was charged with skepticism. Van der Marck's
employment of a single term cost him his professorship. But he was
afterwards restored, and died in 1800. Kleman wrote a book, in 1774, on
the _Connection between Grace and Duty_, in which he held that the right
use of those intellectual and spiritual gifts which God has imparted to
us is the condition of his further blessings. He was compelled to
retract his heresy. Ten Broek, of Rotterdam, considered only the death
of Christ expiatory, while his colleagues wished the same to be said of
every act of his life. Because that rash theologian ventured to use the
word "world," in John iii. 16, in its broadest sense instead of
circumscribing it to "the world of the elect," he had the choice either
to recant or give up his office. The government interfered and saved
him.

But while all these influences were at work in the church of Holland, a
still stronger current was setting in from England. The impolitic
ecclesiastical rigor became an enemy to truth, and contributed
powerfully to the development of Rationalism. Never have church and
state presented a more complete contrast. The government of Holland was
the most liberal in the world, but the ecclesiastical authorities have
not been surpassed in bigotry during the whole history of
Protestantism. Holland was the refuge and home of the exile of every
land who could succeed in planting his feet upon her dyke-shores. But
the church of that country was so illiberal that the use of a term in
any other than the accepted sense was a sufficient ground of
excommunication.

The intimate relations in which Holland stood to England by the
accession of William and Mary to the British throne afforded an
opportunity for the importation of English Deism. Nowhere on the
Continent was that system of skepticism so extensively propagated as
among the Dutch. The Deists took particular pains to visit Holland, and
were never prouder than when told that their works were read by their
friends across the North Sea. On the other hand, Holland supplied
England with the best editions of the classics then published in Europe,
some of which are still unsurpassed specimens of typography.

The works of Hobbes appeared in Amsterdam in 1668, his _De Cive_ having
been issued as early as 1647. Locke's _Epistle on Toleration_ was
translated into Dutch in 1689, while his _Essay on the Human
Understanding_ was rendered not only into that language, but also into
the French. Collins and Chubb were read scarcely less by the Hollander
than by the Englishman. Locke spent seven years in Holland, and Toland
studied two years in Leyden. Shaftesbury resided among the Dutch during
the year 1691, and made a second visit in 1699. The adversaries of the
Deists enjoyed the same privilege, and did not hesitate to improve it.
Burnet became a great favorite in Holland. Lardner, who spent three
years there, was well known to the reading circles, for his works were
translated into their tongue. Lyttleton, Clarke, Sherlock, and Bentley
received no less favor. Leland enjoyed a cordial introduction by the pen
of Professor Bonnet, while Tillotson had his readers and admirers among
even the boatmen in the sluggish canals of Leyden, Rotterdam, and
Amsterdam. But the Deists of England gained more favor in Holland than
their opponents were able to acquire. The former were bold, while the
latter were timid and compromising. Consequently a brood of domestic
Deists sprang up, who borrowed all their capital from their English
fathers. Patot, a follower of Lord Herbert of Cherbury, referred to
Christ by asking, "What do we trouble ourselves about the words of a
carpenter?" He wrote his _Fable of the Bees_, to ridicule the doctrines
of the atonement and resurrection.

But as English Deism was reinforced by the atheism of France before the
invasion of Germany by either, so did the same copartnership take place
in reference to Holland.

The works of the French skeptics were as copiously distributed in
Holland as at home. Many of them were issued by Dutch publishing houses.
Des Sandes published his _Reflections on Great Men_, in Amsterdam;
Toussaint's _Morals_ gained the honor of more than one edition in the
same city; and De Prades, who had been condemned by the Sorbonne on
account of the thesis by which he tried to gain his baccalaureate,
published his _Defense_ in Amsterdam in 1753. It was in this work that
he compared the miracles of Jesus to those of Æsculapius. Hase says that
it was in Holland, and not in London, that the _Système de la Nature_
first came to light. Rousseau's _Émile_, which had been burned by the
sheriffs in France, had the largest liberty afforded it beyond the
northern frontier. The Dutch would not be sated with Volney until they
had published and read three editions of his works.

Voltaire was very popular throughout the country. A number of
periodicals arose, having the avowed object of disseminating the views
of himself and his friends wherever the Dutch language was spoken. La
Mettrie, driven from France, here found a home. Voltaire barely escaped
the Bastille by fleeing thither, though when he left the land which had
given him shelter, he bade it the graceful farewell: "Adieu canals,
ducks, and common people! I have seen nothing among you that is worth a
fig!" But Voltaire had cause to cherish no very pleasant feelings toward
Holland. Her great men had received him coldly. His excessive vanity was
never so deeply wounded as by the sober Dutchmen. Desiring to make the
acquaintance of Boerhaave, the most celebrated physician in Europe, he
called upon him, stating that he "wished to see him." Instead of
becoming rapturous at the Frenchman's compliment, the plain old Leyden
burgher coolly replied: "Oh, sit as long as you please, sir, and look at
me; but excuse me if I go on with my writing." On offering one of his
philosophical books to Professor Gravesande, the latter returned it to
Voltaire in a few days with only this comment: "You are a poet, sir; a
very good poet, indeed!"

The chief disaster resulting from the French skeptical writings was not
so much the skeptical indoctrination of the people as the general
diffusion of a light and frivolous indifference to all religion. Through
the influence of France the Dutch became enslaved to vicious customs,
taste, modes of thought, and conversation. The etiquette of the
Parisians was domesticated among their northern imitators. The works
published in Holland were mere reproductions from the French, and many
of them were written in that language. The simplicity, truthfulness,
and attachment to old forms, which had so long existed, gave place to a
general spirit of innovation. The reverential and determined spirit that
had enabled their forefathers to gain their independence was no longer
apparent in the children. Liberal to a fault, Holland was now paying the
penalty of her excessive hospitality. Sensuality and superficial
epicureanism were at once the taste and the destruction of many of the
young minds of the country.

When the people of Holland began to awaken to their condition, they were
seized with a spirit akin to despair. The coldness of the church amid
all the attempts to destroy the basis of her faith appeared as the chill
of death. When the learned societies offered a prize in 1804 for the
best work on _The Cause and Cure of Religious Apathy_, they could not
find one to crown with their medal. Holland, finding herself unable to
keep pace with the quick step of French recklessness and irreligion,
bethought herself of finding refuge in Gallic politics. "Our people,"
says Bronsveld, "then became a second-hand on the great dial of the
French nation." Old men are now living who have not forgotten those days
when all distinctions vanished, when the only name heard was "burgher,"
and when the skeptical and daring favorites of the people obtained seats
in the national assembly. Religion was driven from the elementary
schools and also from the universities. The chairs of philosophy and
theology were united, for it was enjoined that no doctrine should be
taught in future but natural theology and ethics. The Sabbath was
abolished.

Then came Napoleon Bonaparte. He presented his plea, was received with
open arms, and returned his thanks by draining the country of its
treasures. It was only when the people felt the physical sting of his
wars, and saw the indescribable moral dearth pervading their country,
that they resolved to go back to the old paths and the good way, and to
abandon all deference to French examples. On the occasion of the great
jubilee of 1863, which commemorated deliverance from the yoke of France,
there was heard throughout Holland but one note of joy: "Thanks be unto
the Lord who hath delivered the nation from the ruin which it had
prepared for itself, and into which infidelity had thrust it!"


FOOTNOTES:

[89] Owenusters.

[90] "Jedere Ketter heeft zyn Letter."

[91] Extract from a letter of Rev. P. J. Hoedemaker, dated September,
1864. The correspondence of this accomplished scholar, who has been some
time in connection with the University of Utrecht and in intimate
relations with the best minds of Holland, has been invaluable to us in
the preparation of the Chapters on Dutch Theology.



CHAPTER XV.

HOLLAND CONTINUED: THE NEW THEOLOGICAL SCHOOLS, AND THE GREAT
CONTROVERSY NOW PENDING BETWEEN ORTHODOXY AND RATIONALISM.


The commencement of the new era in the religion and politics of Europe
was the restoration of peace after the battle of Waterloo. Wherever the
French bayonet had won territory to the sceptre of Napoleon, it opened a
new and unobstructed sway for the propagation of the skepticism taught
by the followers of Voltaire. But the same blow that repulsed the armies
of France produced an equally disastrous effect upon her infidelity. A
sincere desire began to animate many persons living in the subjugated
countries that, with the restoration of their nationality, there should
also be the return of the pure faith of their fathers.

Holland had passed through nineteen years of humiliating subjugation,
and she did not possess religious vitality enough to take full advantage
of the rare opportunity presented by the peace of 1814. The people
turned from France to Germany, and thought they found relief in the
Rationalism of Semler and Paulus.

Orthodoxy was inactive. The Mennonites had become so mystical that they
rather aided than arrested the incoming error. All the Socinian elements
gained strength. The discipline of the church was exercised with such
laxity that immorality was unrebuked. The Constitution of 1816, by its
reunion of church and state, threw a great weight in the balance with
Rationalism. William of Orange wielded a power over the church which he
dared not exercise upon any other corporation. The Synods and Classes
were driven back to forms, and allowed almost no freedom. Then came the
notorious Pastoral Declaration, established by the Synod of the Hague in
1816, which no longer required of candidates for the ministry an
unqualified subscription to the ancient Confessions. Their adherence to
them was to be "in so far as" these formularies of faith agree with the
word of God, not "because" they thus agree. That little
change--_quatenus_ substituted for _quia_--cast off all restrictions
from the future preaching of the Dutch clergy. The orthodox preachers
became very indignant at the official measure, and a bitter theological
controversy arose.

Previous to this outbreak, a rupture had occurred upon the introduction
of the new hymns, ordered by the Synod of North Holland in 1796. When
presented for approval in 1807, they were violently rejected by the
orthodox, who held that the version of Psalms which they had been
singing many years was all that was needed. Besides, there was a
perceptible Rationalism in many of the new hymns. They were foreign to
the Dutch heart. Such a one as

     "Yonder will I praise the Friend,
     Who here has shown me truth,"

was not likely to elicit a response from those who desired an improved
religious spirit. To fill up the cup of their misfortunes, the use of
the hymns was made obligatory. But they hoped that when the Prince of
Orange came back, he would restore the venerated Psalms. Yet on his
return he not only issued an official recognition of the new Hymn-Book,
but expressed his warm approval of it. The congregation had no choice
left but to refuse to sing altogether, or to use but one and the same
hymn from one Sabbath to another.

THE REVIVAL AND THE SECESSION. There was an under-current of deep
religious feeling among the masses which was unsupported by theological
education. The lectures in the universities were similar to those
delivered by the old school of German Supernaturalists. The prevalent
orthodoxy was moderate and equivocal at best. Not much hope of awakening
could be derived from it. The Bible was held to be the supreme
authority; the historical character of its accounts was confessed; and
the infallibility of its communications was maintained. Miracles, and
prophetical and apostolical inspiration were accepted. But there was a
neglect of the nature of this authority, together with a manifest
indifference to the paramount value of all the great doctrinal
possessions of the church. There was no scientific defense of the
pillars of faith, and no attempt to discuss the true ground of miracles,
and their inherent accordance with divine laws. Christian philosophy was
totally ignored. Such natural theology as had been produced by the
school of Leibnitz and Wolf, and more recently improved by the moral
arguments of Kant, was the chief object of study, and had been made
obligatory since the restoration of the Dutch universities in 1816.
There was a general compromise between revelation and the old
philosophy.[92] Supernaturalism was stagnant, and gave no promise of
future progress.

While the church of Holland was in this deplorable condition, God raised
up a few men to be the instruments of new life. They were endowed with
great talents, moral heroism, and a steady purpose to elevate every
department of ecclesiastical organization. The Holy Spirit accompanied
their labors. The leaders of the group were Bilderdyk, Da Costa, Dr.
Capadose, and subsequently Groen Van Prinsterer.

The first stood at the head of the modern school of Dutch poetry, and
was one of the greatest poets ever produced by Holland. His conceptions
were vivid, his style impassioned, his diction unequaled by any of his
predecessors, and his moral life irreproachable. Having a conservative
mind, he opposed each indication of revolution with every weapon at
command. He was profoundly learned in the classics, history, and
jurisprudence. Apart from all his efforts for the religious awakening of
the people, he was the representative of the old Holland nationality. An
ardent despiser of the French spirit, imparted by the fatal principles
of 1789, he was equally opposed to the Rationalism of Germany. He
believed that if new life were kindled in the Dutch heart, it could not
be derived from without, but by a return to the pure teachings of the
fathers of the Reformation in Holland.

Da Costa and Dr. Capadose were Jews. The former looked upon the
condition of the country from the Israelitish standpoint developed in
his _Israel and the Nations_. He believed in the millennium, and saw in
it the divine cheerfulness of history, and the relief from surrounding
evils. He is well described by one of his countrymen as "the Israelite
who raised himself above the church of the Gentiles; the Israelite who
testifies against this church; the Israelite who announces the glory of
this church." He was a popular and spirited poet, excelling even his
friend Bilderdyk in the lyrical character of his verses. He hated
Rationalism in every form, and resisted whatever would interpose any
authority between the conscience of man and the word of God. His
Israelitish view made him reject the secondary authority of the
confessions of faith, and did not permit him to attribute anything more
than a relative value to the church of the Gentiles, "the church before
the millennium."

Groen Van Prinsterer appeared at a time when the revival had taken
definite shape, but he attached himself to its interests and contributed
more than any one else to its development. He is one of those decided
characters who are mentioned by friends and enemies with great
animation. Studiously rejecting the individuality taught him by the
school of Vinet, and reticent of his personal opinions, he has incurred
the animadversions of some of his warmest admirers. Being a man of
continual literary and political activity, he has taken part in all the
important movements of his times. He is the Guizot of Holland. Though
banished for a time from his seat in the States General by the
Catholics, Revolutionists, and Rationalists, he did not intermit his
labors to lead back the masses to evangelical piety. His powerful
influence has been in favor of home missions and similar agencies. He
has comprehended the revival, in all its scope, more clearly than any
one else. He says of it that "it was neither Calvinistic, nor Lutheran,
nor Mennonite, but Christian. It did not raise for its standard the
orthodoxy of Dort, but the flag of the Reformation, the word of God. And
though it found the doctrine of salvation admirably expressed in our
symbolical books, appreciated a rule of education so conformable to the
Holy Scriptures, and opposed the doctrines of the church and the duty of
her ministers to the usurpations of Rationalism, it never thought of
accepting and imposing the absurd and literal yoke of formularies with
an absurd and puerile anxiety. A spirit of Christian fraternity
predominated over the old desires."

The direct associated result of the revival was the Reunion of Christian
Friends. It was presided over by Groen Van Prinsterer, and held
semi-annual sessions in Amsterdam from 1845 to 1854. Its monthly
journal, _The Union, or Christian Voices_, was conducted by Pastor
Heldring, a warm-hearted man who has made himself illustrious in the
annals of beneficence by his labors for home missions, by his foundation
of an asylum for little neglected girls, and by similar charitable
works.

Other pastoral associations sprang up in consequence of the new life,
but some of them failed in a few years because of the want of a common
symbol of faith. Groen Van Prinsterer hailed with joy every indication
of Christian unity. He hoped that by this unity the church might be
built up in its holy faith. From 1850 to 1855 he edited _The
Netherlander_, a political and ecclesiastical review. It was in this
periodical that he eulogized the revivals of other countries, and ranked
the leaders of them among the greatest ornaments of history. The labors
of the French and Swiss theologians, MM. Bost, Malan, Merle d'Aubigné,
Gaussen, Grandpierre, and Monod find in him a most appreciative
admirer.[93]

The movement inaugurated by Bilderdyk, Da Costa, and Capadose led to an
important secession from the Church of Holland. There were men who saw
the necessity of revival on a large scale, but in their zeal for
Confessionalism, they went far ahead of their leaders. Their cry was,
"Let us leave Babel, and build up a new Church." De Cock and Scholte
were the first to sound the note of secession. They were joined by such
men as Brummelkamp, Van Reeh, Gezelle, and Van Velsen. This party
rallied around the old Calvinistic symbols, and De Cock stood in their
van. As early as 1829, when he became preacher in the little village of
Ulrum, he distinguished himself for his zealous ministry. People came
from a distance of eighteen miles to hear his sermons. He soon
indoctrinated them so thoroughly that they would no longer permit their
children to be baptized by "unbelievers." This brought him immediately
into conflict with the rules of the Church. Two pamphlets appeared
against him, which he answered in his _Defense of the True Reformed
Doctrine, and of the True Reformed; or, the Sheepcot of Christ attacked
by two Wolves_. Another pamphlet appeared with his approval, in which
the new hymns were called "_Siren's Songs_." The result was that he was
suspended, and in 1835 excommunicated. In the same year he published his
curious book, entitled "The so-called Evangelical Hymns, the Eyeball of
the misguided and deceived Multitude in the Synodical-Reformed Church:
Yes, of some Children of God, in their blindness, and while they have
become drunk by the wine of their whoredom, tested, weighed, and found
wanting: Yes, opposed to all our forms and doctrines, and the word of
God; by H. De Cock, under the Cross because of Christ."

The expulsion of De Cock attracted many new friends to his standard. At
the close of 1834 a Separation Act was devised at Ulrum, by which all
his adherents dissolved connection with the Church. They were said to
number eighty thousand, but it is probable that the estimate was an
exaggeration. By request of the Synod, the Separatists were prosecuted
by the government, who used as a pretext an article in the _Code
Napoléon_, which forbade the assembly of more than twenty persons for
worship without the consent of the civil authorities. They were defended
by many lawyers of the school of Bilderdyk. Foremost of the number was
Groen Van Prinsterer, "the conscience of the Legislative Assembly, the
right arm of religion in the State, and the defender of the principle of
religion in the school." They were assailed by mobs who called them the
"New Lights."

The schism was not a success. What promised to be a great and honorable
Church, like the Free Church of Scotland, with which it now stands
connected, carried with it much of the prejudice and bigotry of the
land. It did not identify itself with scientific progress, and paid
little regard to education. Any man of piety and utterance could become
a preacher in one of its pulpits. It has at present a Seminary at
Kampen, with a small faculty of three professors. Its course of study
will compare favorably with that of any institution in the United
States. The young men of talent, who now grow up in its fold, are
prejudiced against its ultraism, and stand ready at any moment to unite
with some new movement which will combine the piety of their fathers and
the scientific demands of the present day. The radical defects of its
initial steps were narrow-mindedness and fanaticism. The Separatists
utterly ignored the elements of good in the mother-church. They could
have done infinitely better service by casting all their influence with
Bilderdyk and his followers in the Church, instead of arraying
themselves against it, and becoming an enemy from without. Some of the
leaders have organized colonies, which greatly weakened the power and
prestige of those who remained at home. The emigrants came to America
and settled, for the most part, in the Western States.

THE GRONINGEN SCHOOL. Each of the two tendencies prevalent in the Church
of Holland had its decided defects. While one was zealous for
theological training, it was nevertheless cold, indifferent and
Rationalistic. While the other was burning with religious fervor and a
practical evangelism, it was deficient in culture, scientific grasp, and
a capacity to meet the wants of the time. There was a call for a third
party, which would unite the best features of the two others, and
develop them into a new progressive power. Hence arose the Groningen
School. Its immediate origin was the attempt of Professor Van Heusde to
modernize Platonism and adapt it to the nineteenth century. Hofstede de
Groot, Pareau, and Muurling have been its leaders. Its organ is the
periodical entitled, _Truth in Love_.

The characteristic of this school is, that there is in human nature a
divine element which needs development in order to enable humanity to
reach its destination. This destination is conformity to God. All
religions have aimed and worked at the same problem, but Christianity
has solved it in the highest and purest manner. Still, there is only a
difference in degree between that and other religions. This is the germ
of what the Groningens call the "Evangelical Catholic Theology."
Conformity to God, they say, has been reached in Jesus Christ; but
Plato, Zoroaster, and Confucius strove to attain to it. They failed
because their task was too great for the means at command. God has
fulfilled the desire of man, whom he had prepared for salvation by
sending perfection embodied in Christ. We may not attach ourselves to
any system or effort as absolutely true or good, nor condemn any as
utterly false. All knowledge and arts are related to religion. They
refine man and aid him in his emancipation from whatever is sinful and
sensual.

The correspondence of ideas between Hofstede de Groot and Pareau was so
intimate that they published a joint work on dogmatic theology, which
contains a complete exposition of the principles of the Groningen
School. Jesus Christ constitutes the centre of religion. In him we see
what is God, what is man, the relations of one to the other, and how we
can be so delivered from sin and its power as to become God's children
by faith and love. In Christ's death we find love even for sinners, and
learn that suffering is not an evil. In his glorification we perceive
the aims and results of suffering. In him is the Theanthropos, not God
_and_ man, but God _in_ man. There is but one nature in Christ, the
divine-human. Jesus being the focal point of the interests of man, we
must know, _first_, what he is outside of us, objectively; _second_, how
he appears within us, subjectively. To know Christ we need the
exegetical study of that preparation of man for Christ, which is
furnished by the Old Testament. The New Testament is the fulfillment.
The latter contains the sayings of Jesus and the conclusions of the
Apostles. The writers of the Scriptures were not infallible, though they
did not often err. Revelation is continued in the history of the church,
which is the third principle of development. Augustine stood higher and
went further than Paul, Luther than Augustine. If our development be
partial and imperfect we must go back and begin anew.

The Groningen School is distinguished for its ethical system. How does
Christ live in us? This is the question it proposes to answer. There is
a distinction between the nature of man, which is divine, and his
condition, which is sinful. Sin is the point where man, misusing his
liberty, surrenders himself to his sensuous nature, which is not sinful
in itself. God educates man by Jesus Christ in three ways; _first_, by
revelation of truth; _second_, by manifestation of love; _third_, by
education of the church. The high aim of the Church is to lead man to a
consciousness of the unity of his origin and destiny, and to bring all
to a knowledge and love of Christ, and of God in Christ. Christ was
educated before his life on earth for the work designed for him, and he
established the church by leaving his glory and leading a life full of
love and truth. His death was the highest manifestation of his love and
truth, for by it he showed God to man, and man to himself. His
resurrection makes our hope of eternal life a certainty.

In the Groningen system there is no place for the doctrine of the
Trinity. The influence of the sacraments is merely external, while
Calvinism and the "blood-theology," are subjects of abhorrence. It would
be unjust to place the Groningens beside the German Rationalists, though
the influence of both has been similar. The former class, like the
latter, have one fatal defect; they consider sin a mere inconvenience.
They hold that man needs a Teacher but not a Redeemer, since all sinners
will be eventually holy and happy. The Groningen tendency, as related to
Dutch theology, is similar to that applied by Channing to the orthodoxy
of the American church. Human nature is declared worthy of our attention
and development. True humanity is pure piety. God can be found
everywhere, even in the heart of man. The philosophical theology of
Schleiermacher has stamped the Groningen system with its own signet.
They both proceed from the same starting-point,--not reason, but the
heart. Theirs is the religion of feeling.

The Groningens have done important service to the Dutch church. Their
elevation of ethics to a proper position in theological instruction has
been a national boon, while their unwavering zeal for the education of
the masses and of children will always remain a monument to their honor.
While they were the first to establish Sunday Schools in Holland, they
have given a new impulse to missions. They defend religion against
skepticism, and picture the latter in all its deformity.

But the Groningen system has almost totally failed of its object. It did
not unite the zeal of the fathers with the science of the present day.
Though opposed to Rationalism, it is more negative than positive, and is
less distinguished for its doctrines than for its absence of them. It
claims that the Church neither possesses nor needs doctrines. Therefore,
it destroys the line of demarcation between the various confessions and
that confessional Latitudinarianism, which is the direct offspring of
the destructive principles of the Rationalism and Liberalism of the
eighteenth century.

THE SCHOOL OF LEYDEN. In no theological system had any satisfaction been
afforded to the joint feeling of attachment to the old confessions and
of a desire to develop them in conformity with the requirements of the
age. Many rejected the Groningen school because it depreciated the
formularies of the church, and did not know how to value their scope or
to elaborate them for immediate usefulness. The Leyden school filled the
vacancy. Taking its origin in a disposition to establish a connection
between the faith of the Reformers and our own, its aim has been to
unite the old traditions with the new opinions.

The father and expounder of the School of Leyden is Professor Scholten,
formerly of Franeker, but now of Leyden. He is well known as the author
of historico-critical introductions, and of a _History of Philosophy_,
but his reputation has been acquired mainly by his _Doctrines of the
Reformed Church_, a work of great clearness, profound erudition, and
romantic interest. As the reader peruses its fascinating pages he is
bound by a spell which he cannot easily break. The remark of Dugald
Stewart, on reading Edwards _On the Will_, occurs to him with peculiar
appositeness, "There is a fallacy somewhere, but the devil only can find
it."

There is, according to Scholten, a distinction between the principles
and dogmas of a Church. The former are the norm and touch-stone of the
latter. The Reformers were not always logical in their reasonings, and
have left an unfinished task for the present day. Man arrives at a
knowledge of the truth by the Holy Scriptures, but they must not be
understood as containing the only revelation from God; He also reveals
himself to the world through the hearts of all believers. The Bible is
the source of the original religion. There is a difference between the
Scriptures and the word of God. The latter is what God reveals in the
human spirit concerning his will and himself. The writing down of the
communication is purely human; therefore, the Bible cannot be called a
revelation. We know, by the testimony of the Spirit, that God's word in
the Scriptures is truth. But Scriptural authority must not be
accepted,--a liberty which would apply to a Jewish but not to a
Christian age. Jesus and the apostles did not compel men to accept truth
by a proclamation of authority, but by an irresistible moral power. Even
in times when the liberty and individuality of faith have been lost in
the Church, there were men who did not answer the question, "Why do you
believe?" by saying, "Because the Church has spoken;" but by appealing
to their interior consciousness.

Historical criticism must be called in, Scholten further holds, to prove
the certainty of the facts of revelation. But the truth of the Christian
religion cannot be established on this plan. With Rousseau, Lessing, and
others, he opposes any attempt to make the best historical grounds the
basis of a religious conviction. The truth of Scripture is testified by
human nature itself, which, educated by Christianity, recognizes freely
and personally the truth of the gospel. The natural faculty that
performs this high office is reason, not feeling. Scripture is the
touchstone of the Christianity of a conviction, but not of its truth.
The Reformers very properly distinguished between a first and secondary
authority, and allowed themselves complete liberty in their search after
the origin of the books of Scripture. This was not a dangerous
experiment, for he who has once come to know Christianity as the highest
form of religion, can never fall into a negative criticism. If the
religious contents of the Bible find their justification in the interior
consciousness of man, then the question arises, "Can human reason attain
to the supersensual, or is it limited to the sensuous experience?" The
organ of all natural knowledge of God is reason; while its fountain is
the physical, intellectual, and moral world. The first Adam did not
possess that knowledge of God which was thoroughly enjoyed by the
second. But can man attain to the knowledge of God while in a sinful
condition, and while the light of his reason is darkened? Assuredly he
may, for sin does not belong to the essence, but to the condition of
man. The Reformed theologians built on the acknowledgment that Religion
has her seat in the being of man, and sees in the Christian the
expression of the reasonable religion. The material principle of the
Reformed church is the doctrine of God's sovereignty and free grace. The
weakness of the Reformation lay in its inconsistency, for it substituted
the authority of the letter for that of the Church.

Scholten's abhorrence of authority has led him to a denial of miracles.
From this point of view he can freely join hands with the Rationalists.
In his latest work, the _Gospel of John_, he takes occasion to retract
the favorable opinions formerly expressed concerning that portion of the
New Testament. He has been fearlessly assailed by Oosterzee, La
Saussaye, Da Costa, and other leading theologians. Unfortunately, he
exerts more influence over the young theologians of Holland than any
other Dutch theologian. He is ardently supported by Knenen, the exegete,
his colleague at Leyden; and by Rauenhoff, the ecclesiastical historian.
We close our estimate of Scholten with a word on his opinions of
Christianity in general. It is neither superhuman nor supernatural. It
is the highest point of the development of human nature itself, and, in
this sense, it is natural and human in the highest acceptation of those
terms. It is the mission of science to put man in a condition to
comprehend the divine volume presented by Christianity.[94]

THE SCHOOL OF EMPIRICAL-MODERN THEOLOGY. The two leading representatives
of this important branch of contemporary Dutch theology are Opzoomer and
Pierson. The former, a professor in the University of Utrecht, left the
sphere of theological instruction for a time, and took a prominent part
in political debates in order to combat the claims of the
anti-revolutionary party. He exerted little influence during the first
years of his professorship in Utrecht, but since his publication of a
manual of logic, _The Road of Science_, he has had a large share in
founding the school with which he is now identified. In this work he
maintains that observation is the only means of arriving at certainty,
and that everything which cannot be proved by experience is uncertain,
and has no right within the domain of science. This is the central
thought of his whole system.

Pierson stands related to Opzoomer as Mansel does to Sir William
Hamilton. The son of religious parents, he was at first rigidly
orthodox. He is now pastor of the Walloon Church at Rotterdam. His early
writings were touchingly beautiful and attractive, for it was in them
that he laid open his inner life. But in his later works he assumes the
air of the censor and scoffer. He was long the personal friend of La
Saussaye, but, owing to doctrinal differences, they have parted and now
pursue different paths. He is an orator of the American type. His
opinions are elaborated in his two works, _The Origin of the Modern
Tendency_, and the _Tendency and Life._ In the latter treatise we learn
not merely the personal views of Pierson, but the creed advocated by all
the adherents of the empirical-modern theology.

The New Theology, he holds, has an indisputable right to assume the
epithet "modern," in distinction from "liberal." The latter term is
borne by the Groningen school, which always opposes the church-creed.
The principle of reform has not been fully carried out by the
Protestants. The Protestant builds his faith on the Bible, but on what
does he build his faith in the Bible? Is it not the testimony of the
Holy Spirit? He has this support only through the Bible. Certain liberal
theologians, like the orthodox, are extremely illogical in their
conclusions concerning the word of God. The former will not accept of
verbal inspiration, yet they call the Bible a divine book, which,
fortunately, could be no better. Though they laugh at the story of Jonah
and the whale, they accept every word of Christ, who quotes the story.
They will not hear of present miraculous interpositions of providence,
but accept some of the miracles of the Bible. There are Catholic priests
who are affability itself, while there are orthodox Protestants
possessed of ultra views. In contrast with all these classes stand the
heroes of the _Modern Theology_, who possess the "passion for reality,"
and are endowed with the new cosmology of Galileo.

All true knowledge, argues Pierson, is self-knowledge. Reality comes to
us in the impressions we receive of it. I see, I hear; and whether there
is a reality outside corresponding to the impression, is a question
never asked by a reasonable man. One who has a fever on a July day
complains of cold. The bystanders deny his right to say it is cold. Now
do they obtain their right from a comparison of their impressions with
something objective? No. His knowledge is subjective in this sense; that
it arises from sources which are in him alone, while theirs is
objective, because they compare their impressions. Error is not in the
impression but in the explanation. Man has more than sensual
impressions. We have a faculty which brings us into contact with a
spiritual world. The religious man is by necessity an anthropomorphist.
He claims a personal God, a Father, a Redeemer, an Ideal. We need a
sharp analysis to see the reflections of the contents of our religious
feeling. Our mind seeks a conception of God, the basis of which must be
the idea of the Absolute, Infinite Being. The Scriptures must be
criticised by our reason. The first three gospels, which tell us what
Christ said and did, are not authority for us. Their writers are
unknown, in the main, and by no means original. But exact criticism may
succeed in giving us a portrait of the Prophet of Galilee. He lived a
life according to the spirit, and proclaimed a religion such as no one
before or after him has been able to do. Is it not enough that he has
glorified humanity, and made himself adored as king of humanity, even
with a crown of thorns upon his brow? The hearts of men have been
disclosed to him, and he has caused to well up therefrom streams of
love, which none can turn aside. Is his name not glorious when we think
that the penitence of a Magdalene, and the sorrow of a Peter, are
flowers which have permanently sprung up from earth only after that
earth had been drenched by his blood and tears? But the Church has made
a mythological character of Christ. It has contemned the real Jesus who
stood in opposition to authority and tradition. In his name the Church
has enthroned and glorified this authority. It was not from a system
but from a principle that he expected the regeneration of man. We have a
safe revelation in the world about us. It is God's work in and around
ourselves. Explore it; study yourself and man; but do it with such a
spirit and purpose as Christ possessed.

As a specimen of Pierson's style, we give his portrait of a good
preacher: "All elements are concentrated in him in such a way that men
will, can, and must listen, for attention is as much a state as love.
You cannot command, but you may deserve it. Paint for humanity, which,
though despised by the formalists, terrified by the moralists, and
condemned by the Pharisees, is yet the image of him who spoke not of its
guilt, but of its sickness and sorrow; not of a judgment-seat, but of
the open arms of the Father; not of damnation, but of regeneration. A
Holland painter came from a foreign land, and painted a Dutch landscape.
But everybody who saw it, said: 'He has been in Italy.' So let it be
said of every Christian minister, 'He has been in Galilee, it is the
color of Jesus.'"

The opinions entertained by the defenders of the Empirical-Modern
Theology have few points of sympathy with evangelical Christianity. They
stand above Rationalism, but not opposed to it. The system attempts a
purification-process of Christian faith. It does not break with
tradition and doctrine, but claiming the privilege of using its own
eyes, it rejects the authority of both. It does not admit a supernatural
origin of the Scriptures, but looks with suspicion upon many of the
accounts contained therein. Taught by the philosophy of experience that
everything has a natural source, even in the world of mind, it finds no
room for free will. It cherishes a high regard for the individuality of
man, and esteems it wrong to let the particular be lost in the
universal. It discards any system of morals which does not do justice to
this individuality. Its ethics are deterministic, but not fatalistic. It
holds that the mysteries of orthodoxy are mystifications which insult
the thinking man. It claims that its doubts are not sinful, for it says:
"I have not doubted from a wish to doubt." But it furnishes nothing to
take the place of that which it destroys by its negative criticism. This
is its fatal weakness. With its principle, "no authority," it attacks
the Bible, and finds it written neither by the supposed authors nor at
the alleged dates. It destroys the sanctity of that which has become
hallowed by our inner experience. It takes away Christ, in all his
essential attributes, from the believer.

THE ETHICAL-IRENICAL SCHOOL. We have thus far seen, in the present state
of theology in Holland, few indications of the vigorous progress of
evangelical truth. But the Ethical-Irenical School, combining the
principal orthodox minds, stands in manly and prosperous opposition to
all parties which possess Rationalistic affinities. Chantepie de la
Saussaye and Professor Van Oosterzee are its leaders. These men differ
on minor points, but, in general, they are harmonious co-workers against
skepticism in every form. They stand in the front rank of Dutch
theologians, the former having no superior as a thinker, and the latter
none as an orator.

La Saussaye is not a popular writer. His style is compact and his
arguments intricate. He is sometimes eloquent, however, and a close
thinker takes pleasure in reading his pages. He does not like the term
"orthodoxy," for he thinks it too loud a profession. He has been
charged with Hegelianism because of some expressions in his _Commentary
on the Hebrews_. But the allegation is false, for he only applauded
Hegel and Schelling as thinkers, without giving any sanction to their
opinions. His views are as yet but little known to the people, only a
few being willing to study his weighty thoughts. He is thoroughly
imbuing his congregation in Rotterdam with his own spirit, and has now
many followers, who are giving his ideas to the public in an attractive
form. In 1851 he had a long and serious illness, after which he deemed
it his duty to limit himself no longer to the functions of the pastoral
office, but to raise his voice in ecclesiastical debates. In 1852 he
took part in the formation of a society called "Seriousness and Peace"
and was associated with Beets and Doedes in the editorship of their
organ bearing the same name. The principle of the new organization
consisted in the prominence given to science and its service in
theology, in opposition to the school of Bilderdyk. It held that the
Scriptures are of divine authority; that they are properly expressed in
the confessions of the Reformed church of Holland; and that science must
be subsidized for their explanation.[95]

Soon after the appearance of Renan's _Life of Jesus_, the Dutch
theologians were surprised by a pamphlet entitled _History or Romance_,
which, besides giving an admirable criticism on the new work, defined
very clearly the points at issue, and lifted out of its poetic frame the
picture deserving more serious study. The style was recognized as that
of Professor Van Oosterzee. Like everything coming from his pen, it was
easily read and as easily digested. It sounded the alarm, and warned
the public mind against accepting Renan's romance as history. A few
sentences in Professor Van Oosterzee's little work reveal his position
in the present conflict with Rationalism. "Modern Naturalism," says he,
"can be conquered only by a Christian philosophic belief in revelation,
and by a powerful development of modern supernaturalism.... To some,
nothing is easier than to lay all supernaturalism under condemnation,
especially when it is opposed only in that form in which it appeared
against the worn-out Rationalism of the past century, without attending
to its further development, or taking the trouble to add to Renan's
critical anathema a clear and intelligible exposition of his own point
of view. Renan's _Life of Jesus_ shows us what becomes of Christianity
when we regard only the ethical-religious side of revelation, and not
its supernatural character. You can hope for no victory as long as you
know none but a subjective ground of faith, and do not meet Satan,
coming as an angel of light, with a perspicuous and powerful, 'Thus it
is Written.'"

Professor Van Oosterzee was called four years ago to the chair of
Scriptural Interpretation in the University of Utrecht, now the centre
of evangelical theology in Holland. He had been pastor of a church in
Rotterdam, and his new appointment, made at the instance of the King and
his ministers, was a great triumph of the orthodox party. He had already
distinguished himself by his _Life of Christ and Christology_, in six
volumes, and by his exegetical labors in connection with Lange's _Bible
Work_. But the oration he delivered on his assumption of office in the
University added largely to his reputation, and obliterated any doubt
which may have existed concerning his firm attachment to the faith of
the fathers. Bearing the title, _The Skepticism which is anxiously to
be avoided by the Theologians of our Day_,[96] it discusses the
character, origin, rights, fruits, and remedy of the infidelity of the
present time. The cardinal characteristic of this skepticism is,
according to Professor Van Oosterzee, a denial of the great revelation
of grace and truth in Jesus Christ, as the Son of God and of man, by
whom salvation is made possible to us and to all the world. There are
three fountains of the modern infidelity; a scholastic dogmatism, which
has laid more stress on the formularies of the church than on the Gospel
itself; a wild, revolutionary spirit in politics, not of native growth,
but imported from abroad, which only satisfied itself by the overthrow
of thrones, by the transgression of all established limits, and by its
declaration of the supreme rights of reason and will; and a false
philosophy, with its unholy brood of Empiricism, Idealism, Materialism,
Rationalism, and Naturalism. The skepticism of the present day asserts
rights to which it has no claim whatever, for it holds that the
so-called mysteries of Christianity have no divine basis, and that there
can be nothing supernatural in revelation. Neither can the labors of the
skeptics produce substantial and permanent good in any department of
theology. The only way to combat them is not by reviewing the opinions
of departed thinkers and teachers, so much as by going directly back to
the Bible itself, and looking at it with the aid of every new step in
science. Such a weapon is a sound system. It may be termed the
_Evangelical-Biblical, historical-philosophical, Irenical-practical
theology_. If it be developed, all the shafts of infidelity will fall
harmless at its feet.

Immediately after the appearance of Professor Van Oosterzee's reply to
Renan, La Saussaye published his work entitled, _How must Modern
Naturalism be attacked?_ While he opposes Naturalism, he also takes
exception to the usual orthodox method of assailing it. In this work,
together with other treatises by the same vigorous writer, we find the
Ethical-Irenical theology stated and defended.

The term _Ethical_ is not, according to La Saussaye, the same as
_moral_,--for morality, conscience, duty, and virtue are terms which
find their home in the Kantian philosophy, and are now appropriated by
the Groningen School. _Ethical_ has application to the
receptivities,--the inner wants, and states of the heart. It differs
from _religion_ just as want differs from supply. The Christian knows
that religious truth, life, and action, are not the fruits of his
subjective state of feeling, but of revelation, and of the communication
of God to his spirit. The _ethical_ is the natural, and the _religious_
is the supernatural state of the heart. The Ethical theologians differ
from the Supernaturalists on the following psychological ground: the
former believe that the supernatural is communicated with human nature,
and is so inseparable from it that a denial of it is a rejection of all
that is most human in man. The latter hold that the supernatural, since
it is an essential part of religion, is not necessary merely to accredit
revelation, but to establish it.

While La Saussaye agrees with Van Oosterzee in application of the term
_ethical_, he does not hold with him that the "_Thus it is written_" is
an adequate reply to the Rationalist. Neither will his view of miracles
harmonize with that of the professor, or with Vinet and De Pressensé, of
whom he forcibly reminds us in many of his opinions. The
supernaturalistic theory, La Saussaye contends, is incorrect. The
Church has paid too much attention to the exterior features of miracles,
but far too little to their ethical import, and to the connection
between nature and spirit. Miracles can be defended only on the ground
that the power to work them is still in the church over which Christ
presides and to which he communicates his energy. The Naturalist who
opposes the present power of miracles can be convicted by an appeal to
his own personality; for he is not merely _nature_, but also
supernatural, free, spiritual. He feels himself responsible; he has a
conscience. Renan, in his picture of Christ and his apostles, places
salvation on an equality with deliverance from sickness, and makes it
mere socialism. If we would rebuke the skepticism of the present day we
must return to first principles; not to the doctrines, but to the facts
on which they rest. Revelation presupposes the ideas of God, law,
responsibility, sin and judgment. We must recognize Israel's law, though
national in form, as written on the hearts of all men. When you prove
the ethical idea in religion you show at once its necessary factor. The
life of the Church is a spiritual, supernatural, and therefore wonderful
life. It is the great standing miracle which proves the truth of God.
The first and all-important thing to be done by us is not to fight the
naturalism outside of us, but that which is in us. Above all, let the
church feel and show the power of the resurrection. The true method of
gaining "the world" is by the awakening of the Church to a consciousness
of those elements of truth in her possession. The enemy we fight is not
men but a spirit,--the spirit of negation, destruction, and Satan. Let
us believe in that Saviour who makes the soul at peace with God,
reconciles man to the Infinite, and leads and encourages us to attempt
to appropriate by our thoughts the undeveloped in our souls.

On what then depends the future of the Church? We hear La Saussaye
describe in eloquent words the conditions of her success: "I do not
hesitate to declare," he says, "that the future of a nation depends on a
revival, in the very bosom of the Protestant Church, of a profound and
enlightened piety, of an alliance of faith with science, an alliance
which constituted the strength of our illustrious wise men, and to which
we ought to devote whatever greatness there is yet left us. It is only
by the payment of this price that the Netherland Church can reconquer
that place which she once occupied among Christian people. But since she
does not fill this position, since we are afraid of majestic science,
and only employ our resources to treat of questions in detail, since the
stream of our piety runs through a narrow channel, and since science
only moves in the direction of a foolish liberalism, European
Protestantism must suffer from the unhappy vacancy that is now left in
the ranks of the Church of the Netherlands."[97]

The Church of Holland is now passing through the most important crisis
in its history since the Arminian controversy. The orthodox party is
vigorous, and many strong men are attaching themselves to it. But their
foes are vigilant and bold, and the result cannot yet be seen. The
crisis is a necessity created by the evil elements of the eighteenth
century. When the mineral was in a state of fusion in the bowels of the
earth, it became mixed with foreign and gross elements. But we cannot
now disengage the impure accessory by breaking the mass with a hammer.
If it be put into the crucible just as it is, the elements will separate
of themselves. The theology of Holland, like that of every other
Protestant country, is now in the crucible. The heat is intense, but
the intensity guarantees the destruction of the dross which has gathered
about the truth. There are many good men in the Church who cannot see
the connection and bearing of the gigantic efforts now making for the
overthrow of faith in Holland. Looking upon them as abnormal, they
become discouraged. Therefore they have cherished a warm attachment to
the doctrine of the speedy coming of Christ. It is now a more common
expression than ever before in that country, "Christ cometh!"

Next to the philosophical and religious causes of the present momentous
crisis, stands the absence of popular thought and of Christian work.
There had been a reliance on the symbols without proper meditation upon
them, or a disposition to trace them back to their Biblical fountain.
Men believed what their fathers had told them, or, as the French say,
"_Parceque tout le monde le disait._" The teachers of the young thought
in the old routine. But the Rationalistic theologians are driving every
friend of the Church and every firm believer in Scripture to reason for
himself, with the Bible for his basis; and in no country is religion
more rapidly christianizing science than in Holland. Young theologians
preach more earnestly than their predecessors had done for a century. La
Saussaye is an illustration of how an individual is influencing the
tendency of the theological mind. He has never published a complete
system, though his friends are anxiously awaiting the appearance of his
_Psychology_. It is the man himself who has done so much for
emancipating the individual, and placing him upon the immovable truth of
the Bible.

Very recently the Church of Holland has applied herself to earnest,
practical work. Her evangelizing efforts will now compare favorably
with those of French Protestantism. In no country have the congregations
been more attached to the clergy than in Holland. But the intimacy has
diminished the development of individual labor and responsibility.
Everything was left to the pastor. Religion consisted in being preached
to and edified. Prayer meetings, and humanitarian and evangelizing
associations were unknown. But, of late, many Sunday Schools have been
organized; religious societies have been established; and missions have
attracted profound attention.

The first missionary society ever formed in Holland was the Moravian
Mission to Zeist, in 1732. Sixty-five years elapsed before a second one
came into being. Not one was instituted from 1797 to 1851. Since that
date twelve foreign missionary organizations have been established, and
the religious people of the country are devoting a large portion of
their means and labor to their prosecution. So great is the popular
interest in missions that an Evangelical National Missionary Festival,
held in the open air in July, 1864, attracted many from the surrounding
country to take part in the exercises. It was a Christian Feast of
Tabernacles. The assembly met in a large pine wood. Carriages, horses,
and the rude vehicles of the peasantry lined all the roads leading
thither. The singing of the old Dutch Psalms could be heard at a great
distance. The assembly, numbering from ten to twelve thousand, gathered
around the pulpits erected in various places, where returned
missionaries and celebrated preachers from different cities were
speaking on topics adapted to the occasion. The scene was deeply solemn,
and highly calculated to awaken and quicken the conscience of every
hearer.

Two Home Missions are contributing important service to the religious
and physical improvement of the poor and neglected. One is the Society
for National Christian Education, founded five years ago, and now under
the presidency of that tireless Christian statesman, Groen van
Prinsterer. Its centre is the Hague, but it has agents scattered
throughout the country to seek out any locality that may need a school.
It has normal schools in Rotterdam, Utrecht, Groningen, and Nymegen. It
is educating many thousands of children who would otherwise go through
life without any religious instruction. The other Home Mission, the
Society for the Propagation of Christian Truth in Amsterdam, is more
local in its character. Though very young, it has founded sixteen Sunday
Schools, attended by two thousand children; a Christian lodging or
boarding-house at the cheapest rate for homeless females; a room where
the members of the society can regularly meet to attend Bible lectures,
or to hear reports about home or foreign missions; an infant school; a
drawing-school for boys; and knitting and sewing-schools for girls. A
large popular religious library has been formed, which is constantly
increased by the current useful literature. All of these institutions
are under careful Christian direction.[98]

The leaven of Christian faith is at work. The masses are beginning to
feel its permeating and purifying power. La Saussaye has despondingly
said that "what the church of Holland is now wanting is faith in itself,
in the genius which has distinguished it, in the mission which is
confided to it,--faith in its future." She must have faith in God before
she can have faith in herself. The one leads to the other. God's
strength is never perfected except in weakness. It is from without that
we receive new power. The disciples who met in the upper room of the
temple were visited by an energy to which they had been total strangers.
The Spirit came not from their own hearts, but descended from heaven.
Yet their hearts were immediately illuminated, and they felt the force
of the promise, "Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is
come upon you." Real strength is not self-development alone, but
reliance on that Love and Power which, now, as long ago, can save the
burning bush from destruction.


FOOTNOTES:

[92] D. Chantepie de la Saussaye. _La Crise Religieuse en Hollande,
Souvenirs et Impressions_, pp. 24-29.

[93] Da Costa, in his biography of Bilderdyk, enumerates other
participants in the revival in the Dutch Church; among whom were the two
brothers Van Hogendorp, Nicolaas Carbasius, J. T. Bodel, Nyenhuis,
Brugmans, Elout, Ran Van Gameren, Baron Van Wassanaer, Willem de Clercq,
the poet, and author of a work on the _Influence of Southern Literature
on that of Holland_; Van der Kemp, author of an admirable _Biography of
Maurice of Nassau_; and Koenen, author of an historical work on the
_Refugees in Holland_.

[94] An article by Scholten on _Modern Materialism and its Causes_, may
be found in the _Progress of Religious Thought in the Protestant Church
of France_. London: 1861, pp. 10-48.

[95] _La Crise Religieuse en Hollande_, pp. 12-107.

[96] _Oratio de Scepticismo, Hodiernis Theologis Caute Vitando_, quam
habuit Johannes Jacobus Van Oosterzee Theologis Doctor: Roterodami,
1863.

[97] _La Crise Religieuse en Hollande_, p. 200.

[98] _Christian Work_, Sept. 1863, and July and August, 1864.



CHAPTER XVI.

FRANCE: RATIONALISM IN THE PROTESTANT CHURCH--THE CRITICAL SCHOOL OF
THEOLOGY.


Some French clergymen, who were sojourning in Berlin in 1842, asked
Neander, "What ought to be done to arouse the Protestants of France to
thinking upon theological subjects?" "Give yourselves no trouble on that
score," replied the professor; "Theology will yet have its good day
among you. You have in France the soil in which true theology loves to
germinate and grow--I mean Christian life. This has brought you your
great theologians of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and it is
sure to do the same thing in the nineteenth." The present century has
not yet run two-thirds of its course, and yet the prophecy has been
literally fulfilled.

The spectacle presented to-day in France is highly interesting. The
period of indifference has already terminated. The first step toward new
vitality has therefore been taken. French theology is displaying an
animation and seriousness which may well excite the notice of the whole
civilized world. The great minds are bestowing upon sacred subjects an
attention nowhere surpassed in vigor and acuteness. Important religious
questions are taking their place beside political themes, and the circle
of theological readers and thinkers is constantly enlarging. Each class
is deeply engaged in the discussion of all the new phases of opinion.
Every man chooses his party, cherishes his own convictions, and preaches
them boldly. The traveler who may make only a brief stay in Paris will
find the representatives of all the professions spending the whole
evening in the criticism of the last books from the Liberal Party, and
of the rejoinders of their orthodox opponents. Now, for the first time
since the seventeenth century, a state of general religious inquiry and
earnestness exists. It is not difficult to interpret this quickening of
national thought on theological questions. It means that France will
have no small share in the decision of the great points at issue between
evangelical believers and their critical, destructive antagonists.

A half century ago the Reformed and Lutheran churches were sunk in
skeptical formalism. They were divided into two parties, neither of
which possessed spirit enough to defend its position, or grace enough to
ask God for his blessing. One adhered to the cold Supernaturalism of the
eighteenth century, the other to a system of philosophical Deism. The
reduced state of piety was largely due to the oppression suffered at the
hand of the state. The Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, which deprived
Protestants of both religious and civil liberty, occurred in October,
1685, and it was not until 1808 that the law of the 18th Germinal once
more recognized their rights, and placed Catholicism and Protestantism
on an equal basis. The whole interval was marked by a stagnation of
fearful character. At the time of the Revocation, the Reformed church
had eight hundred edifices and six hundred and forty pastors, but when
the restoration occurred it had but one hundred and ninety churches and
the same number of pastors.

The apostasy of the Protestants went to a fearful extent. For example,
at the very time of the infamous worship of the Goddess of Reason, a
pastor and his elders carried their communion plate and the baptismal
vessels to the mayor, to have them melted down for the nation.
Improvement began about 1820. There were but three Protestant chapels in
Paris, and the services were dull and unattractive. To the late Frederic
Monod belongs the imperishable honor of commencing the renovation by
means of his little Sunday school. "Never will the traces of his labors
be effaced," says M. de Pressensé, "for he it is to whom we owe the
first furrows in the vast field which now we rejoice to see white unto
the harvest." A domestic evangelical spirit, embracing the most distant
provinces, began to be apparent in the ministrations of the clergy and
in the popular attendance at the services.

A foreign agency also contributed to the awakening. In 1785 a Wesleyan
mission was commenced in the Norman isle of Guernsey, and in the
following year Adam Clarke was sent to Jersey. It was designed to make
the Channel Islands the beginning of French missions. Wesley predicted
that they would be outposts for evangelizing efforts all over the
Continent. In a short time Jean de Quetteville and John Angel went over
into Normandy, and preached the gospel in many villages. Dr. Coke, the
superintendent of the Methodist missions, went with the former preacher
to Paris, where they organized a short-lived mission. But the labors of
Mahy, who had been ordained by Coke, were very successful. Large numbers
came to his ministry, and many were converted through his
instrumentality. When peace was declared after the battle of Waterloo,
three men, Toase, Robarts, and Frankland, sailed for Normandy. In 1817
Charles Cook joined them. He went from town to town, stirring up the
sluggish conscience of French Protestantism. He terminated his arduous
toils in 1858, leaving behind him a French branch of the Methodist
church, which embraces one hundred and fifty-two houses of worship, one
hundred ministers, lay and clerical, and fifteen hundred members. Merle
d'Aubigné has said of Dr. Cook that "the work which John Wesley did in
Great Britain Charles Cook has done, though on a smaller scale, on the
Continent." His death was lamented by all the leaders of French
Protestantism. Professor G. De Félice, of Montauban, has affirmed that,
of the instruments of the French awakening, "Dr. Charles Cook was not
the least influential."[99]

The new religious interest arising from the native and imported
influences was so fatal to the prevalent skepticism that Voltaire and
his school have now but few adherents. Skeptics of France consider that
type effete, and unworthy of their support. "The present disciples of
Voltaire," says Pastor Fisch, "are compelled to deny his language if
they would remain true to the spirit of their master. For, to deride
Jesus Christ would manifest an inexcusable want of respectability."

But infidelity has only changed its position. Des Cartes, the apostle of
Rationalism in France, had taught that God was only a God-Idea, or human
thought continuing itself in divine thought and in infinity. He would
make no greater admission than that God had put the world in motion. The
principles of Des Cartes, clustering around this opinion, have never
lost their hold upon the French mind, and are now influencing it to a
remarkable degree.

Cartesianism gained new power by the agency of the Eclectic School,
whose champions were Royer-Collard, Maine de Biran, Cousin, and
Jouffroy. Their great achievement was the unification of the
philosophical systems of Germany and Scotland. But the Eclectics are now
in a state of dissolution.

Positivism, as a subordinate system, is the work of Comte alone. This,
too, is every year losing its hold upon the land of its birth. Its
fundamental principle is, that in virtue of an inner law of development
of the mind, the whole human race will gradually emancipate itself from
all religion and metaphysics, and substitute for the worship of God that
of love of humanity, or a mundane religion. The law of development
consists in the psychological experience that all the ideas and
cognitions of the human mind have necessarily to pass through the three
stages of theology, metaphysics, and positivism. It is only when it
arrives at the stand-point of absolutely positive, or mathematically
exact knowledge, that human thought attains its goal of perfection. The
religion of mankind is divided into three stages; fetichism, polytheism,
and monotheism. Its representatives are Judaism, Mohammedanism, and
Christianity. Catholicism is better suited than any other form of
religion to the perfect development of human society. The Christian
world is now in the transitory stage of metaphysics, which, by and by,
will lead to the golden age of Positivism. This is the absolute
religion, or the worship of humanity, which needs no God or revelation.

While Comte has so deeply impressed the thinking circles of France that
his opinions are still perceptible in the doctrines of the Liberal
Party, another great agent has been operating upon the young,
uneducated, and laboring classes. We refer to the light French novel, or
_feuilleton_ literature. Such writers as Sue, George Sand, and Dumas,
father and son, have published many volumes which were issued in cheap
style, and afterward scattered profusely over the land. These works have
been extensively read, not only in France, but in all parts of the
Continent, Great Britain, and the United States. A recent traveler has
averred that he found many persons perusing them in the reading-rooms of
Athens. But the public mind sometimes needs a path by which it can
effect a transition from a skeptical to an evangelical condition. May it
not be that, as far as France is concerned, the minds of the masses
have, by this agency, been deflected to such an extent from the
infidelity of Encyclopædism that popular evangelical literature will now
find a readier entrance than it could otherwise have effected? If a
taste for reading be once created, it may be won, under judicious
management and by the aid of God's Spirit, to a purer cause than that
which first excited it. The tendency of the works in question is
indisputably pernicious, but, if we may think they will serve as a
medium of passage for the French masses to the reading and adoption of
the great truths of the Gospel, let us not be too slow to accept the
consolation.

Such are some of the agencies which have been operating upon the French
mind. It now becomes necessary to take a survey of the present
theological movements, and to show in what relations the Rationalistic
and evangelical thinkers stand to each other.

The Critical School of Theology is beyond all comparison the greatest
foe of orthodoxy in France. The English Rationalists exhibit but little
scholarly depth, having borrowed their principal thoughts from Germany.
The Dutch are too speculative to be successful at present, and the
Germans have already grown weary of their long warfare. But the French
School, claiming such writers as Scherer, Colani, Pecaut, Réville,
Reuss, Coquerel, and Renan, is not to be disregarded, nor are its
arguments to be met with indifference. It is, however, most gratifying
to state that those ardent friends of the Gospel who resist the attacks
of this school manifest a zeal, learning, and skill, quite equal to
their ill-armed opponents.

By virtue of that principle of centralization which has long been in
force in France, the Critical School of Theology makes Paris the chief
seat of its influence. Availing itself of the advantage of the press, it
now publishes an organ adapted to every class of readers.[100] The
members of the Critical School are connected with the Protestant Church,
yet they claim to teach whatever views they may see proper to entertain.
They profess deep attachment to the Church, and in their journals advise
every one to unite himself with the fold of Christ. If the Reformed
Church, in which the most of the Rationalists are found, were not bound
to the State by the Concordat and Budget it is probable that it would be
divided. One branch would be the Reformed Church of France, founded in
1559, with a clearly determined creed, which none but a General Synod
would have power to modify. The other would be the Church of the Future,
which would proclaim the admission of no dogmas, no liturgy, and no
discipline, and would give power to every one to preach contradictory
and negative doctrines in its pulpits.[101]

The association of Rationalists in Paris is called the Liberal
Protestant Union. It claims that Protestantism, as represented by the
churches, has ceased to be progressive and civilizing. According to its
platform, there is no religious authority but free examination; while
hostility to all common symbols, and to all profession of faith, is a
duty. The Union was immediately opposed. Among other indications of the
ill-favor with which it was received was a Remonstrance, signed by some
of the most distinguished laymen of Paris. Their language in defense of
the Bible as authority for faith was unequivocal. "We do not believe,"
they said, "that righteousness is indifference; nor do we believe that
there is, or can be, a church without a doctrine, a religious doctrine,
which unites believers and forms the bond of the Church."

The opinions of the French Critical School of Theology, at which the
Remonstrance was aimed, may be briefly stated.

No system is adopted. It professes none, and studiously avoids the
embarrassment consequent upon any obligation. Colani says, "We do not
present to our readers any fixed system; we have none; we are _asking
for_ one conscientiously, patiently; with all our contemporaries, we are
in the midst of an epoch of transition. We call around us those who,
dissatisfied with the forms of an antiquated system of dogma, and fully
admitting salvation by Christ alone, desire to labor in raising the new
edifice which is to be built on the solid basis of Him who is at once
the son of man and the Son of God.... Not a school, not a system, but a
tendency is that which we represent. The device on our banner is 'The
True Development of Christian Thought.'"[102] It is difficult to arrive
at a knowledge of what this leader is so modest as to call only a
"tendency." It claims to have the right of judgment concerning all the
truths of the Bible; holds that the _Rochelle Confession_ is a very good
monument of the faith of the fathers, but should not now be imposed;
that the Bible has no more authority than the books of Plato or
Aristotle; that each man has a revelation in himself, free from the
imperfections of the Mosaic and Christian revelations; that science,
criticism, and examination open the only path to truth; that miracles
should be discarded; that Protestantism has lost sight of its mission;
and that a second Reformation, embodied in the Church of the Future, is
needed to complete the first.[103]

An acknowledged leader of the liberal party has made some statements
which more nearly approach the enunciation of a system than we have been
able to find in any other authority of French Rationalism.

M. Réville says, "The modern Protestant theology [Rationalism] aspires
not to deny the doctrines of the Reformation absolutely, but to preserve
the truth that is in them by filtering them through a medium more
conformed to our science and our reason. The dogmas of original sin, the
trinity, the incarnation, justification by faith, future rewards, and
the inspiration of the sacred writings, may serve as examples. On the
first of these dogmas, renouncing the idea of an original perfection,
the reality of which is contrary to reason, and to all our historical
analogies, modern theology would insist on the evil influence which
determines to evil an individual plunged in society where sin reigns,
on the necessary passage from a state of innocence to a state of moral
consciousness and struggle, on the fall which man endures when he sinks
from his higher nature to his lower, and renounces God's will to serve
his own. As to the trinity, avoiding the scholastic and contradictory
tritheism of the old creeds, intent on vigorously preserving God's
essential unity, and at the same time his conscious or personal life,
this theology attaches itself to the grand idea of the Divine Word
pervading the world, as the uttered thought, the objective revelation of
God, conceived as manifesting himself to himself in his works. In
humanity this eternal word becomes the Holy Spirit, the light which
lightens every man coming into the world, but which shines in all its
splendor in Jesus Christ. In this series of ideas the incarnation loses
that stamp of absolute contradiction which it takes from the orthodox
idea of one and the same person, who is at the same time God and man,
finite and infinite, localized and omnipresent, praying and prayed to,
knowing and not knowing all things, and impeccable, yet tempted. The
pure and real humanity of Christ is the basis of the system, and the
system may be summed up in these words: The Son of Man is the Son of
God. Man is justified by faith, not as the old orthodoxy taught, that
is, because he believes that satisfaction was given to God in his place
and on his behalf, but because he has confidence in the eternal love of
God, and in his own destination for good, as evidenced by Christ in his
life and in his death.

"The eternity of future sufferings gives place to an idea more in
conformity with sound philosophy, and the revelation of infinite love,
according to which, pain resulting from sin, can have for its object
only the amelioration of the sinner, and special stress is laid on the
spiritual truth that heaven and hell are much less different places than
different states of the soul. The inspiration of the Scriptures, that
dogma the truth of which consisted in the scriptural value of the
Biblical books, as giving a sure basis for faith, as supplying aliment
to piety, and elevating the heart, more and more loses its miraculous
character to approach analogous phenomena drawn from religions in
general, or from other fields where the mind of man reveals itself as
inspired. The change of views, however, does not take from the Bible its
character as a truly divine book; still does it remain in religion the
Book of Books."[104]

It is unsafe to adduce the testimony of any member of this school as an
absolute standard of the theological position of all the rest. There is
a wide diversity of opinion among them, as any one will perceive who has
attempted the comparison. But after examining the individual opinions of
some of these men, it will not be difficult to form a correct judgment
of their intellectual position as a whole.

One of the most laborious of the number is Edmond Scherer, formerly
Professor of Theology in the University of Geneva. His first point of
departure from orthodoxy was on the inspiration and authority of the
Bible. He became absorbed in German Rationalistic criticism, and adopted
its leading principles. His skeptical views caused such offense that he
was led to resign his position, when he soon commenced the publication
of his views in the new _Revue de Théologie_ at Strasburg. He has
subsequently kept aloof from all participation in the State Church and
confined himself mostly to writing essays. Some of them have recently
been collected into a volume, entitled _Miscellanies of Religious
Criticism_.[105]

Protestantism, according to Scherer, has a right to free inquiry. Once
give it the Bible as authority, and you drive it back to Catholicism.
This is what has already been done by Protestants, whose religion has
numbered its days. Authority has been its ruin, and now it has no
liberty. The Evangelists contradict each other in many instances. The
Apostles failed to quote the Old Testament correctly. Their gross errors
are sufficient of themselves to overthrow all the claims of Scripture to
authority. It is not certain that the Gospel of John is authentic; that
the discourses of Jesus are correctly reported; that Jesus taught his
consubstantiality with the Father; that the divinity of Christ involves
his omniscience; that Christ had any intention to decide questions of
criticism and canonicity; that he believed in the inspiration of the Old
Testament; that he acknowledged the divinity of the Canticles and
Ecclesiastes; or that, if he sanctioned the inspiration of the Old
Testament, he did the same thing concerning the New.

The New Testament, says Scherer, is full of errata. It contains
different records of the same facts. Take as an example the conversion
of Saul, of which there are three accounts in the Acts. The discourses
of Christ are described in different contexts; the same discourses are
not related in similar words; and there is no exactness in the
narratives. There are differences in the Gospels, affecting the ideas
and actions of Jesus, which sometimes amount to positive contradictions.
They exist also between the first three Gospels and that of John. The
last Evangelist gives a very different account of many points in the
history of the passion and resurrection of Christ, especially in respect
to the last Supper and the chronology of the whole passion-week. Christ
announced his second coming as near at hand. Hence he, or the
Evangelists in reporting him, were grossly in error. There are, in a
word, serious objections to accepting the New Testament as
authoritative; because we find in it the use of the Septuagint;
quotations from the Old Testament in a sense not intended in the
original; influence of Jewish traditions; Rabbinical arguments;
uncertainty in reports of the discourses of Christ; contradictions
between different accounts of the same facts; errors in chronology and
history; and Messianic hopes and expectations not in accordance with
external events. What right have we, therefore, to accept as infallible
that in which we find such an admixture of error? It is the duty of
religious science to reconcile revelation with the growing requirements
of human thought, and to smooth over the transition from the dogma of
the past to that of the future. Dogmatic exegesis does this by
separating the substance from the form, faith from formulas, and by
distinguishing and pointing out the religious element under the
temporary expression which reveals it.

What then is the Bible which Scherer's exegesis presents to us? Faith in
it rests on two bases; _first_, the inspiration and canon of Scripture;
and _second_, the subjects or organs of inspiration. The first is
untenable and false, for the stand-point of authority has already
spoiled everything in our theology. Authority determines beforehand what
we must believe, whereas reason alone should perform that office. There
is a communicated revelation to our own minds which should claim the
high office of authority. The Bible, in an objective sense, is a divine
book, because it contains the remembrance of the most important events
in the religious history of the world. Judaism and Christianity are
there in their completeness. The Bible is therefore more than a book; it
presents us with the living personality of those who founded Christ's
Kingdom on earth. Inspiration, such as we find in the Scriptures, is not
confined to them, for it is immanent wherever there is intelligence. The
spirit of the Bible is the eternal spirit of God; but it is the same
spirit which has inspired all good men in past Scriptural periods,--the
Augustines, St. Bernards, Arndts, and Vinets. It is a falsehood of
theology against faith to deny these men the same kind of inspiration
which we find in the Scriptures. Biblical inspiration differs in
different writers. They wrote from diverse stand-points. The chroniclers
of Scripture told all they knew, but not much could be expected of them.
Who would dare to speak of the inspiration of the books of Samuel, Ruth,
Kings, and Chronicles?

But let us hear what Scherer says of the miracles of Christ. No
evangelical facts should be taken as points of departure in testing
Christianity. It is absurd to speak of Christ's miracles as being
designed for manifestations of his divinity. Conceding them to be
prodigies, they are far below those of Moses and Elijah. Christ did not
work miracles in attestation of his power. He performed them in
connection with his own words or expressions of other persons. When he
gave miraculous power to his disciples, he simply did it as a means of
beneficence. Miracles, in their true sense, are opposed to both the
Jewish and Christian notions of them. Those of Christ are not the
attestation and recommendation of his ministry; they are acts of that
ministry; acts which have not their value exterior to themselves; whose
value is not in their argumentative character, but in their own
intrinsic nature. They constitute an integral part of the gospel, but
nothing more. Christ's cures are not solely the symbol, they are the
counterpart of the spiritual redemption brought by him unto the world.
The authenticity of miracles is another question, and belongs altogether
to exegesis.[106] Taking the Scripture narrative as a whole, we greatly
err in attaching any authority to it. Mohammed and the false prophets
should be placed side by side with Moses and Jesus Christ; for the
religion of Christ is a purely human one, like that of Buddha and the
Arabian prophet. The Mosaic account of creation is evidently absurd; for
man was at first a monkey.

M. Larroque contends that the time has now come for a total departure
from the last pagan tradition. Christianity has passed its allotted
time, and is now in its death-pangs. Material interests claim minute
attention. All we want is the assertion of a pure, rational religion. It
was a great misfortune that Marcus Aurelius did not popularize the
theism which he expressed in his writings. It would not then have been
possible for Constantine to establish the Christian religion, and the
world would have been spared the irruption of the barbarians, and the
many subsequent periods of darkness.[107]

M. Rougemont adheres to the accommodation-theory. It is the only method
of relief in this day of darkness. God, in revelation, has only
addressed himself to the physical man. He communicated his spirit--not
the Holy Spirit--to the prophets. But that was exterior action. The
sacred volume is the historic witness of revelation, and is merely a
relative necessity. The Church has existed before the Scriptures, and
could still live if they were extinguished.[108]

M. Colani is prominent both as preacher and writer. A pastor of
Strasburg being sick, he was urged to supply the pulpit for a few
Sabbaths. Though he accepted with great reluctance, he was successful in
pleasing the congregation. He was chosen permanent pastor, and has
continued the functions of his office, together with the chief
editorship of the _Revue de Théologie_. His opinions are to be found in
that periodical, and in several successful volumes of sermons. He
professes to be neither satisfied with Rationalism in its destructive
sense, nor with orthodoxy. He is confessedly one of the champions of the
Critical School. Skepticism, he contends, is perfectly legitimate. We
are authorized to doubt; our opinions are fallible; we must be prepared
to change them whenever we think we can find better ones. The Bible is
intended to reveal to us a life, not a dogma. We find in it no effort to
describe dogmas; no theological criticisms; no system of morality.[109]
Religious inspiration is nothing but an extraordinary kindling of the
divine spirit inherent in human nature. The Scripture writers are
imperfect and limited by their own intelligence. The only way to
reconcile religion and science is by history. We must study man not as
an individual or nation, but as to his human nature. By doing this we
will not take a characteristic for the man himself. Man is, by the
testimony of history, a religious being, and history reveals his
destiny.

Immortality is accepted. We have a personal life going into the
infinite. Humanity develops itself by the action of the individual
genius, and the individual only successfully unfolds himself by not
breaking the bond which unites him to the general development of his
species. We must consider the Bible as a collection of documents, over
which criticism has absolute rights. We must distinguish between the
thought of Christ and that of his historians. They insisted on what
seemed to them miracles. Christ is in open conflict with the principle
which would make miracles the necessary sign of a true revelation. He
has taught the world to recognize God in the regular operation of
natural laws. He never lays down any dogmatic conditions, and does not
make religious character dependent on the reception of any class of
doctrines. We must have faith in him alone, and not in his words. To be
a Christian is to participate in the general life of the Christian
church, and to take part with others in the labor of the Christian
mind.[110]

M. Pecaut affirms that the present position of the French Protestant
church is no longer tenable, for its principle of doctrinal faith
restrains free examination. It is, however, in a transition-period, and
there is an indication of progress in the present interest in great
questions of theology. For the doctrines of Protestantism we should
substitute a pure, simple Deism; we should substitute philanthropism for
morality. The Bible is not entitled to authority, for it has no trace of
inspiration. There is no such thing as mediation. We must not attach too
much importance to the Messianic idea, for this would imply a special
revelation. The Gospels rest on a very insecure basis. The theses of
Paul betray a continued oscillation between the mystic and Jewish
conceptions. As a whole, the Bible is not divine, and we should at once
discard faith in its authoritative character. The only way by which
Christ now acts upon persons is by the force of his example and ideas,
just as Moses, Mohammed, and Socrates now influence men. Religious faith
is not necessarily faith in Christ. He was not free from sin in a moral
sense; he had a natural sinfulness by virtue of his humanity.[111]

M. Grotz, pastor at Nismes, was once under the influence of A. Monod,
but owing to the withdrawal of Scherer from orthodoxy, he joined the
Rationalists. He holds that revelation is not peculiar to the
Scriptures. There are many kinds of revelation, and we find them
continually in history. Every manifestation of God is a revelation. We
must always examine freely and critically; nowhere does Christ enjoin
the contrary. We need to use our intellectual faculties and conscience.
The greatest revelation is Christ,--not his doctrines, but himself. We
should always keep prophecy and miracles in the background, for they are
minor questions and should occupy an humble position.[112]

Of all the members of the Critical School, Renan is the best known to
the English and American public. He has written a number of works on
various topics,[113] but it is by his _Life of Jesus_ that he has gained
greatest celebrity. God, Providence, and immortality are, with him, dull
words about which philosophy has long played and finally interpreted in
the most refined sense.

There is no reason why a pappoose should be immortal. Religion is a
part of man's nature, and, in return, he is benefited and elevated by
it. God's revelation is in man's innate consciousness. There is no
necessity for miracles; all that we need in this life is the mere result
of the operation of natural forces. The present age is one in which we
should freely criticise whatever comes up for acceptance; but it is
wrong to assume the propagandist. Let men have their own views; we have
no right to force others upon them. Man is very much attached to the
theories contained in the world's first religion. He has given it
symbolical expression, for it is thus that religion will always embody
itself. Man wants some way by which to tell how and what he thinks of
God.[114]

The Gospels were all written, Renan contends, in the first century. The
Jews were anticipating somebody who would prove a means of their
improvement. Christ fitted the ideal, and the way was smoothed for his
success by their visions, dreams, and hopes. The beautiful scenery of
lake, valley, mountain, and river developed his poetic temperament. Then
the Old Testament made a deep impression on him, for he imagined it was
full of voices pointing him out as the great future reformer. He was
unacquainted with Hellenic culture, and hence it was his misfortune not
to know that miracles had been wisely rejected by the schools which had
received the Greek wisdom. In course of time a period of intoxication
came upon him. He imagined that he was to bring about a new church which
he everywhere calls the Kingdom of God. His views were Utopian; he lived
in a dream life, and his idealism elevated him above all other
agitators. He founded a sect, and his disciples became intoxicated with
his own dreams. But he did not sanction all their excesses: for
instance, he did not believe the inexact and contradictory genealogies
which we find in his historians.

Yet he was a thorough thaumaturgist and sometimes indulged a gloomy
feeling of resentment. His miracles are greatly exaggerated. He probably
did some things which, to ignorant minds, appeared prodigies, but they
were very few in number. He never rose from the dead; he had never
raised Lazarus. By and by, the love of his disciples created him into a
divinity, clothed him with wonderful powers, made him greater than he
had ever pretended to be. Hence Christianity arose. It was love like
that of Mary Magdalene, "a hallucinated woman, whose passion gave to the
world a resurrected God."[115] Renan's position will explain all that he
says of Christ. He looks at him from the stand-point of naturalism.
Christ is no mediator. As an American writer has well said: "From this
life of Christ no one would ever infer that there was sin in the world
and that Christ came to save sinners."

The reception of the _Life of Jesus_ was most hearty throughout France.
Criticism from every side was employed upon it. Over a hundred thousand
copies were soon sold, and translations were made into all the European
tongues. Its greatest success was in Roman Catholic countries. In
France, Italy, Austria, Belgium, and Spain it has found a warm
reception, but in the north of Europe, Protestant Germany, and England,
it has had less success. As to the ultimate effect of the work, we have
every reason to value the opinion of M. de Pressensé, who has surveyed
the whole ground, and also written the best criticism upon Renan that
has appeared in any country. He says: "I am persuaded that the results
accomplished by it will be, in the main, good; that it will not shake
the faith of any true believer; that it will produce, with many of those
who were wavering, a good reaction, which will bring them back to a
positive faith; and that the common sense of the people will not fail to
see that it is not thus that history is written, and that the problem of
the origin of Christianity still remains unexplained in its grandeur."
It is likely that an advantage will accrue to Renan from the recent
action of the Government. He occupied the chair of Oriental Languages in
the College of France, but was deposed by the Minister of Public
Instruction. Boasting that he would still retain his title, he continued
to teach in his private house. He lost his salary, but claimed the
martyr-crown. When last heard from, he was traveling in the countries
described in the New Testament as the scene of the labors of the
apostles. His avowed purpose is to publish an attack upon the apostolic
history.

Athanase Coquerel, jr., editor of the _Lien_, and a celebrated preacher,
justly takes rank among the leaders of the Critical School. He has
recently been the subject of an excitement of little less absorbing
interest than the sensation occasioned by Renan. Fourteen years ago,
Martin Paschoud, one of the Rationalistic Reformed pastors of Paris,
selected him as his suffragan or assistant. The Consistory ratified the
appointment.

In the Reformed church the assistant pastors do not hold their office by
the same title as the titular or regular pastors. The continuance of the
former is subject to renewal every two or three years by the
Presbyterial Council. But the regular pastors, when first nominated by
the Consistory, are afterwards confirmed by the Government. They cannot
be removed except by the action of the state. This is the reason why so
many Rationalistic pastors are now in full possession of prominent
Protestant pulpits in France. No synod, consistory, or presbytery has
power to try them for heresy. In fact, there is no standard of doctrine
by which heresy can be tested. There being no General Assembly, with
power either to establish new standards of doctrine or to give vitality
to the old ones, the pulpits of the Reformed church are open to every
form of teaching that may profess to be Christian.[116]

Coquerel's last renewal expired about the end of 1863, when his
re-appointment became necessary. But his decline into Rationalism had
been so rapid that the Presbyterial Council refused to renew the
mandate, and he lost his position as suffragan by a vote of twelve
against three. He subsequently published a confession of his faith,
addressed to his former catechumens, in which the only point of real
defense which he substantiates is the charge of Pantheism. He strongly
affirms his belief in the personality of God. From M. Coquerel's essays
we can derive a correct view of his Rationalistic principles. He affirms
that his opinions on the trinity, original sin, the atonement,
inspiration of the Scriptures, and other doctrines, called fundamental,
are not a little, but _altogether_ different from the orthodox views. He
does not consider the Bible inspired, and has therefore written a work
in defense of Renan, his "dear and learned friend." As for the Gospels,
he finds in them the sublimest of all histories on the one hand, and
traces of legends on the other; doctrines and precepts of eternal
validity in one place, and stains of the errors of the age in which the
books were written, in another. Reason has the right of judging all the
truths of revelation. The Confession of Faith of the sixteenth century
is a very good monument of the faith of our fathers, but should not now
be imposed. The Apostles and Evangelists never made any claim to
infallibility. There are two groups of views concerning Christ in the
New Testament: _First_, that contained in Paul's epistles, especially in
Hebrews. Paul did not identify Christ with God, nor did he misconceive
the humanity of Christ, and attribute preëxistence to him. _Second._ All
the second group, consisting of the epistles of James and Peter, the
Acts, and the Apocalypse, rest on a purely historical view. To the
writers of the latter, Jesus seemed the Messiah; hence we have from them
all that is extraordinary in his history. Christ meant in Matt. xi. 27,
that he had received his knowledge from God. He did not refer to his own
essence. Literal interpretation of Scripture does not bring us to a
knowledge of Christ. His humanity, being all that is valuable in his
character, contains the mystery that belongs more or less to every
individual. His commission from God does not differ from that of other
men. That which distinguishes him from his species was his knowledge of
humanity and of the future. He had not omniscience, nor infallibility;
nothing but superior knowledge. He had his gross defects; for example,
his belief in the power of evil spirits. Yet Christ was not a real
sinner, and he represented and realized progress without any arrest.
Thus he is the ideal and model of humanity.

That which distinguishes Coquerel's views from Socinianism is his
Christology. Contending for the moral purity of Christ, he holds that he
was the second Adam. But Christ was not the Son of God. He was so
denominated just as we term a hero the Son of Mars. We must look at the
Scriptures in the light of reason; then we shall behold the fabulous
element. Many parts differ in quality, while some are not authentic. The
Second Epistle of Peter, for example, was neither written by that
apostle nor was it a product of his age. But authority does not rest in
the letter, or in the leaves of Scripture. The divine spirit acts in the
soul freely and independently of the letter. It is high time that we
renounce the puerile, disrespectful, and contradictory worship of the
letter. The letter killeth.

The French Critical School numbers among its adherents many young and
talented theologians, some of whom are already distinguished for
profound learning and literary activity. But the history of Skepticism
discloses the fact that religious error has always attracted the young
to its embrace. One half of the triumphs of infidelity are attributable
to the flattering promises which it makes to those who have not lived
long enough to know that infidelity is nothing but a colossal structure
of egotism. The deluding voice says to the young man, "You live in a
progressive age, and why are you not progressive yourself? Your fathers
believed the old Confessions, imagined Christ to be divine, and the
Scriptures inspired. We do not blame them much, for they knew no better.
But, if you follow in their footsteps, the world will never give you any
credit for originality; your slow chariot will move on in the old rut;
you will never accomplish anything; your generation will be in advance
of you. Be a man! The field of usefulness, prominence, and honor, opens
before you. Think for yourself! The Bible is a book of the past, and you
should have more manliness and independence than to be guided by its
declarations."

It is not surprising that the temptation to fall into this snare is, for
many, too great to be resisted. This is true not only of many young
Frenchmen, but also of large numbers of Englishmen and Americans, who
are casting about for a permanent creed. When they yield, they little
dream of the unhappiness in store for them. They never have the
consolation derived from settled opinions; life passes without a fixed
faith; old age becomes miserable; and death, however much it may appear
to be a relief, is a step into darkness and uncertainty.


FOOTNOTES:

[99] Stevens, _History of Methodism_, Vol. 2, pp. 331-339.

[100] For thinking circles, it issues the _Revue de Théologie et de
Philosophie Chrétienne_, founded fifteen years ago by Scherer and
Colani. It influences the general public by the daily political paper,
_Le Temps_, and the _Revue Germanique_. The Strasburg _Revue_ and Paris
_Lien_, are for the special benefit of Protestants in general; while the
_Disciple de Jesus Christ_ and _Piété-Charité_ are designed for children
and uneducated persons.

[101] M. De Coninck, _Christian Work_, April, 1863.

[102] _Progress of Religious Thought in the Protestant Church of
France_, pp. 8-9.

[103] _L'Église Réformée de France et la Théologie Nouvelle_, pp. 5-7.

[104] _Progress of Religious Thought in the Protestant Church of
France_, pp. 89-90.

[105] _Progress of Religious Thought in the Protestant Church of
France._ _Biographical Notices_, pp. iii.-iv.

[106] Essays: _Theological Conversations_; _Errata of the New
Testament_; _What the Bible is_; _The Miracles of Christ_.

[107] _Examen Critique des Doctrines de la Religion Chrétienne_;
_Renovation Religieuse_.

[108] _Christ et ses Témoins._

[109] _Revue de Théologie._ Oct. 1853.

[110] Essay: _Views and Aim_. Sermons: _What there is in the Bible_;
_The Simplicity of the Gospel_.

[111] _Le Christ et la Conscience._

[112] Essay: _What is Revelation?_

[113] _Studies of Religious History_; _On the Origin of Language_;
_Averroes and Averroism_; _History and comparative System of the Semitic
Languages_; _Book of Job_; _Essays on Morals and Criticism_; _Solomon's
Song_.

[114] _Miscellanies._

[115] _Life of Jesus._ American Edition.

[116] McClintock, Letter of March, 1864, in _New York Methodist_.



CHAPTER XVII.

FRANCE CONTINUED: EVANGELICAL THEOLOGY OPPOSING RATIONALISM.


The influences operating against the integrity and progress of the
Protestant church of France are opposed by vigorous agencies. From the
clergy and laity men of eminent endowments have arisen who, in
ecclesiastical councils, and through the press, have defended
evangelical Christianity with a spirit worthy of their Huguenot
ancestors. Their task has been herculean. At every point of the horizon
infidelity has appeared, and sought to gain a hearing in Paris. Romanism
has crippled the advance of truth among the masses. The priesthood enjoy
the favor of the government. But the faithful and learned adherents to
orthodoxy in all parts of the empire are able to cope with their
antagonists. Inspired by such men as Vinet and Monod, they do not stand
merely on the defensive, but are constantly aggressive.

Foremost of the modern reformers of France stands the name of M. Edmond
de Pressensé. He is a vigorous writer, takes an active part in public
religious movements, and edits the _Revue Chrétienne_, a theological
monthly, which, in both the ability and orthodoxy exhibited in its
contents, has no superior in the world. Through this medium M. de
Pressensé is able to keep up a constant attack upon his adversaries, and
to discover all their subterfuges as fast as they may appear. We do not
look to this theologian for a system, because he publishes his views
mostly as replies to the assaults of Rationalism. Yet, by an analysis of
his writings, we shall find him entertaining such opinions as do equal
honor to his devout spirit and gigantic intellect.

M. de Pressensé believes that it is the duty of the Church not to create
a moderate Rationalism to take the place of the bolder system, but to
engage anew in a vigorous warfare against a school that would contest
the divine basis on which Christianity rests. Such, he holds, is the
task of the Christian philosophy of the present day. Evangelical
Protestantism is everywhere manifesting a necessity of reorganization.
And it has need to do so. The Church of the present day is engaged in an
inner crisis, which, in one respect, is legitimate; for it has the great
burden of expurgation and reconstruction upon it. The burden consists in
separating the immortal truth of the gospel from human imperfections,
and in finding in it a more complete expression. The present crisis has
dangers and temptations which, in our day, render moral and intellectual
life very difficult, and multiply shipwrecks before our eyes. "We wish,"
M. de Pressensé declares for himself and his co-laborers, "to serve the
cause of evangelical theology, and nothing else. We do not lift a
standard which would summon all opinions and systems without
distinction. We stand upon the position that there is a positive
revelation, which is not the most distinguished product of human reason,
but a divine work of redemption by him whom we appeal to as the Son of
Man and the Son of God, who 'died for our sins and rose again for our
justification.' It is in the Holy Scriptures that we find the revelation
which supplies the immortal wants of our conscience. Apostolical
Christianity does not come to us as the first theological elaboration,
the first system in a series. It is Christianity itself, and
consequently the primitive type, from which we ought never to wander. It
is the norm and rule of theology. Within these limits we freely admit
the liberty of thought. Variety of opinions has nothing which frightens
us; and we would regard uniformity and unanimity on secondary points as
a fearful evil."[117]

The purity of the Protestant theology of France is an aim constantly
before M. de Pressensé. He holds that, notwithstanding the diversity of
its formulæ, this theology is distinguished by two features: _first_, it
accepts the authority of the Holy Scriptures, and considers them alone
as containing the normal type of Christian thought; _second_, it
believes firmly in redemption, and that is in the salvation of ruined
humanity brought about by the sacrifice of the Man-God. Though the fall
of man was great, it was not absolute. Man was ruined by apostasy, but
he was not left destitute of all higher life. He retained some vestige
of his primal nature. A sense of the divine, a religious aptitude, and
the longing to return to God, subsist in his heart. These render his
redemption possible; for the moral law, which had been vindicated by the
terrible consequences of the fall, is maintained in all its integrity in
the restoration of the fallen creature. A certain harmony was necessary
between man and God in order to salvation. Had our nature been
thoroughly perverted, no contact would have been possible. We would not
have had the capacity to receive from God that great gift which was the
only mode of repairing the fall of beings created in his image and
formed to possess him.[118]

This being the condition of man, M. de Pressensé maintains that the
result of this divine teaching was to convince him of his weakness and
evoke the desire of salvation. Therefore Christianity comes in to supply
a felt want of human nature. Here is the first point of contact between
conscience and revelation. The Cross is not simply a testimony to the
Father's love, like the flowers at our feet, or the starry sky above our
head. It is the altar of the great sacrifice which restores man to God
and God to man. Christ is for us a Saviour as well as a Revealer.[119]
There is one perfection which can be perceived by neither the eye of the
body nor by that of the soul, unless it be revealed by a supernatural
fact. We mean the mercy of God. Pardon does not consist in the pure and
simple abrogation of condemnation; nor can it restore guilty humanity to
communion with God while the state of revolt lasts. Humanity can only be
saved by returning to God, and it will not return to God until the
divine law has been perfectly filled by it. Christ alone is capable of
completely carrying out the divine law. The obedience must go as far as
sacrifice, for the fall of man demands it. By coming here, Christ took
upon himself the wrath of God. He who was without sin was treated like a
sinner. He suffered and died, but his sufferings and death rose to the
height of a free sacrifice of love and obedience. Condemnation, thus
accepted, is no longer condemnation. It is an act of union with God, _un
acte réparateur_,--a redemption.

The Bible, according to M. de Pressensé, is not a metaphysical
geometry, but a description of the struggle of Divine love with human
liberty. This great Bible history, if we consider it at the time when
the Redeemer accomplished our salvation, stands before us as the most
striking consecration of the moral idea. Redemption is the painfully
reëstablished agreement between the human and the divine will by a
mysterious sacrifice. It is the most perfect reciprocal penetration of
the divine and human by means of liberty. If the moral idea be
consecrated by Christ, it will lead to the Gospel. No one will become a
Christian unless he has determined to listen to his conscience, and
never question concerning moral certainty. We know of no other
corner-stone in morality or in religion. But, in order to bring the
truths of the Gospel home to the heart, there must be religious liberty.
Christianity is the religion of love, but to what could a reconciliation
amount which is not free? It is the religion of freedom; and God, in
order to save us, has need of freedom.

M. de Pressensé, in his recent discussion on the religious bearings of
the French Revolution, proves from an historical stand-point the
absolute necessity of the separation of Church and State. His excellent
work is entitled, _The Church and the French Revolution; a History of
the Relations of Church and State from 1789 to 1802_. The motto upon the
title-page, derived jointly from Mirabeau and Cavour, will indicate the
spirit of the book: "Remember that God is as necessary as liberty to the
French people--The Free Church in the Free State." We trust the day is
distant when M. de Pressensé will be compelled to lay aside the pen. He
is engaged in a contest of momentous issues. That he has violent enemies
might be expected; yet he has also the sympathy and prayers of many warm
supporters. Hopeful and ardent, he sees indications of success where
others imagine darkness and failure. And why not? He has God and truth
on his side.

The Evangelical School has an able defender from the laity, the
distinguished scholar and statesman, M. Guizot. No one has taken a
deeper interest in the present controversy from its inception to the
present time than that venerable man. It had been supposed for some time
that he was meditating a reply to Renan's _Life of Jesus_. We now have,
as the latest fruit of his graceful and prolific pen, the first
instalment of the _Meditations upon the Christian Religion_, a work
which will prove not only a fitting answer to his countryman's attack on
the Gospels, but will serve equally well as an antidote to the present
skeptical tendencies of French theology.

According to M. Guizot, there is a great intellectual and social
revolution now in progress. Its characteristics and tendencies are the
scientific spirit, and the preponderance of the democratic principle and
of political liberty. Christianity has submitted to tests and trials,
and it must pass through those of the present day. It has surmounted all
others, and so it will overcome this. Its essence and origin would not
be divine if it did not adapt itself to all the different forms of human
institutions. Christian people must not deceive themselves as to the
nature of the present struggle, the perils which it threatens, and the
legitimate arms with which to oppose infidelity. Skeptics attack the
Christian religion with brutal fanaticism and dexterous learning. They
appeal to sincere convictions, and the worst passions. Some contest
Christianity as false, others reject it as too exacting and imposing
excessive restraint.

Concerning the Church and its relations to the enemies of evangelical
faith, M. Guizot asks, "Does it comprehend properly and carry on
suitably the warfare in which it is engaged? Does it tend to reëstablish
a real peace, and active harmonious relations between itself and that
general society in the midst of which it is living? In order to answer
these inquiries, he defines the church. It is not one branch, but the
whole body of Christ on earth. Therefore, when men deny the supernatural
world, the inspiration of the Scriptures, and the divinity of Jesus
Christ, they really assail the whole body of Christians--Romanists,
Protestants, or Greeks. They are virtually attempting to destroy the
foundations of faith in all the belief of Christians, whatever their
particular differences of religious opinion, or forms of ecclesiastical
government. All Christian churches live by faith. No form of government,
monarchical or republican, concentrated or diffused, suffices to
maintain a church. There is no authority so strong, and no liberty so
broad, as to be able in a religious society to dispense with the
necessity of faith. What is it that unites in a church if it is not
faith? Faith is the bond of souls. When the foundations of their common
faith are attacked, the differences existing between Christian churches
upon special questions, or the diversities of their organization or
government, become secondary interests. It is from a common peril that
they have to defend themselves, or they must be content to see dried up
the common source from which they all derive sustenance and life.[120]"

In the _Meditation_ already published, M. Guizot discusses the essence
of Christianity, creation, revelation, inspiration of the Scriptures,
God according to the Biblical account, and Jesus according to the Gospel
narrative. In order to complete his work, the author designs to write
three more parts. In the second, he will examine the authenticity of the
Scriptures, the primary causes of the foundation of Christianity, the
great religious crisis in the sixteenth century which divided the Church
and Europe between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, and finally
those different anti-Christian crises which at different periods and in
different countries have set in question and imperiled Christianity
itself, but which dangers it has ever surmounted.

The third _Meditation_ will be a survey of the present internal and
external condition of the Christian religion. The regeneration of the
Roman Catholic and Protestant churches at the commencement of the
nineteenth century will be exhibited. The author will then describe the
impulse imparted by the Spiritualistic Philosophy, and the opposition it
met with in Materialism, Pantheism, and Skepticism. He will conclude by
exposing the fundamental error of these systems as the avowed and active
enemies of Christianity. In the _fourth_ series there will be a
characterization of the future destiny of the Christian religion, and an
indication of the course by which it is called upon to conquer
completely the earth and then to sway it morally. M. Guizot, having
spent his life in political excitement, now resolves to occupy his
remaining years in aiding the cause of religion. "I have passed," says
he, "thirty-five years of my life in struggling, on a bustling arena,
for the establishment of political liberty, and the maintenance of order
as established by law. I have learned, in the labors and trials of this
struggle, the real worth of Christian faith and of Christian liberty.
God permits me, in the repose of my retreat, to consecrate to their
cause what remains to me of life and of strength. It is the most
salutary favor and the greatest honor that I can receive from his
goodness."

We may now ask, What is the fruit of the labors of MM. de Pressensé,
Guizot, and their heroic coadjutors? Is the spirit of French
Protestantism against them, and are the majority of the clergy yielding
to the insinuating arguments of the skeptical school? These questions
are satisfactorily answered by the recent action of the French
Protestant Conferences. The Conferences are not composed of members
formally admitted, but of the pastors and elders who attend the spring
anniversaries, and choose to participate in them. The General Conference
includes all denominations of Protestants; the special, only the
ministers of the Lutheran and Reformed churches who constitute together
the National Protestant Church. Whatever action may be adopted by either
body is a safe index of the sentiment pervading the entire mass of
French Protestantism. In the General Conference which convened in Paris
in the spring of 1863, there was a violent debate between the
Rationalistic and Evangelical members. M. de Pressensé presided. Pastor
Bersier made a remarkable speech, in which he declared that true
science, light, liberty, and progress are on the side of earnest faith
in revelation, the atonement, and the other great doctrines of Christian
truth. At the conclusion of the discussion, the following protest was
carried by an overwhelming majority:

"The Conference, considering that the faithful may be troubled by
systems of the present day, attacking the very basis of Christianity and
the Church; that these negations are produced in the name of science,
and given as the definitive results of the elaboration of modern
thought,--protests in the name of Christian faith, of Christian
conscience, of Christian experience, of Christian science, against every
doctrine which tends to overturn the existence of supernatural order, of
the divine authority of the Scriptures, of the divinity of Jesus Christ,
and all that touches the very essence of Christianity; such as it has
been professed in all times, by all churches, marked with the seal of
religious power and faithfulness. The Conference invites the faithful to
beware of these systems of science, a thousand times contradicted by the
incessant transformations of the human mind; and exhorts the different
churches to make efforts and sacrifices to favor the development and
progress of Christian science."

The Rationalists hoped that by spending a year in the industrious
promulgation of their opinions, they would gain some official
recognition or power in the ensuing Conference. Accordingly, when the
General Conference of 1864 convened, they demanded the passage of a
resolution by which ministers would be freed from all authority, and
permitted to preach any doctrine, no doctrine, or a denial of all
Christianity, as they might choose. The debate was very animated, and
lasted three days. But the result was all that the most sanguine friends
of orthodoxy could desire. The Conference adopted the following
declaration, by a large majority:

"_Whereas_, For some years, pastors and professors of theology have
expressed opinions which affect not only the divine authority of the
Holy Scriptures, but also the most elementary doctrines of Christianity;
the Conferences declare that it is an abuse of power and a spiritual
tyranny for a minister of Jesus Christ to take advantage of his position
to propagate directly or indirectly, ideas contrary to the fundamental
doctrines of Christianity, such as the authority of the Bible, the
divinity and redemption of Jesus Christ, which are contained in all the
Protestant liturgies."

M. Guizot, who is an elder in the Reformed church, took a prominent part
in the session of the special Conference in 1864. He introduced a
declaration of principles, the character of which may be judged by the
following extract: "We have full faith, _1st._ In the supernatural power
of God in the government of the world, and especially in the
establishment of the Christian religion; _2d._ In the divine and
supernatural inspiration of the Holy Books, as well as in their
sovereign authority in religious matters; _3d._ In the eternal divinity
and miraculous birth as well as in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus
Christ, God-man, Saviour, and Redeemer of men. We are convinced that
these articles of the Christian religion are also those of the Reformed
church, which has plainly acknowledged them." "Gentlemen," said he, in
support of his proposition, "I call your attention to one important
fact. Look around you! The attacks against the bases of Christianity are
seen everywhere, in Germany, Switzerland, Holland, England, and France.
I fear nothing, provided aggression meets with resistance.... I have
entire confidence in the cause of Christianity. But man is God's
workman; it is by our faith and labor that the Christian religion must
be defended. Gentlemen, we have before us a responsible position and
great duties. We are the vanguard of all Christianity; we have behind us
all the Christian communions. Let us show ourselves equal to this great
task, and firmly resolve to accomplish it."

The debate resulted in the adoption of the declaration by a vote of one
hundred and forty-one against twenty-three.

In addition to these proofs of the orthodoxy of French Protestantism,
there is another of different character but of not less significance. We
mean the successful working of the evangelizing agencies lately
inaugurated in France. Forty years ago, A. Monod was in the midst of his
small Sunday School in Paris. The government was in the hands of the
Jesuits, and Protestantism had neither the political power nor spiritual
disposition to labor for the conversion of Romanists. As M. Grandpierre
has graphically said: "From 1810 to 1815 you could count on your five
fingers those Protestant French pastors who preached faithfully and
zealously the true principles of Christianity."

But improvement began, and between 1820 and 1830 several important
religious societies were organized in Paris. The Methodist and Free
Churches vied with the two National Protestant Churches in efforts for
the conversion of the masses. In 1830, the Free Church possessed but one
place of worship, but it now has a complete establishment for
evangelizing purposes in almost every _quartier_ of the great
metropolis. In the same year there were but six Protestant pastors and
five Churches; but in 1857 there were thirty-nine pastors and fifty-one
sanctuaries. Including the whole of France, there are, under Protestant
jurisdiction, about one thousand pastors, from fifteen to sixteen
hundred churches, and from seventeen to eighteen hundred elementary
schools. The official census previous to 1857 gives the total number of
Protestants in Paris as thirteen thousand; and seven hundred and seventy
thousand throughout the country. M. Grandpierre thinks these numbers are
really double; for in Paris alone two pastors are omitted, and if they
are left out what must be expected of the members under them? During
1862 twenty new Protestant Churches were opened and consecrated to the
worship of God. Twenty-five years ago there was but one Protestant
bookstore in Paris, and it was threatened from time to time with
bankruptcy. Now there are four, all of which are in a flourishing
condition. There is a Sunday School in nearly every Protestant Church of
the Empire.

Almost every year some new society is organized, having for its avowed
object the conversion of souls and the relief of the suffering. Those
now in prosperous existence will compare favorably with similar
institutions in Great Britain and the United States. We mention the most
prominent: The French and Foreign Bible Society, which sold eighty-eight
thousand copies of the Bible in 1862; the Protestant Bible Society; the
Tract Society; the Paris Missionary Society; the Primary School Society
and the Protestant Son Society. Each of these has its well-defined field
of labor, one aiming to arouse slumbering Protestants, another to seek
out wandering Protestants, and a third to educate homeless children. The
Evangelical Society of France, whose secretaryship M. de Pressensé has
held for thirty years, founded during the year 1862 nine new Churches;
created six additional centres of evangelization; aided twenty churches;
supported two Normal Schools; organized many others; cultivated two of
the faubourgs of Paris; and expended three millions five hundred and
eighty thousand francs for the purposes of evangelization. In addition
to these societies, there are Orphan institutions, Schools, Asylums for
the unprotected, destitute, fallen, sick, and infirm; some associations
for the aid of those near at hand, and others for those at a distance.
The press has been active in the same great cause. Weekly and monthly
journals have been multiplied, and carry the good news of God not only
through France but into all parts of the Continent. The theological
schools are in a flourishing condition, and evangelical professors are
everywhere in the majority. Of the seven teachers at Montauban, five are
outspoken adherents of orthodoxy. The inability of M. Réville to be
elected to a chair in that institution indicates the religious status of
those in authority of it.

Neander said one day to M. de Pressensé, "This period in which we live
is indeed a critical one. It is to be a dismal abyss or a rosy morning
light. But, depend upon it, it is going to be whatever we have a mind to
make it." The Evangelical Protestant clergy of France "have a mind" to
do a good and permanent work. We do not apprehend an unfavorable issue
from the present conflict, but that the prayers, proscription, and exile
of eight hundred thousand Huguenots will yet reap their appropriate
harvest, and that the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes will be avenged
by the pure faith and permanent triumphs of Protestantism.


FOOTNOTES:

[117] _Revue Chrétienne_, Feb., 1861.

[118] _Religions before Christ_, T. & T. Clark, Edinburgh, 1862.

[119] _Le Redempteur_, Paris, 1854.

[120] _Meditations on the Essence of Christianity._ Preface, pp. 6-10.



CHAPTER XVIII.

SWITZERLAND: ORTHODOXY IN GENEVA, AND THE NEW SPECULATIVE RATIONALISM IN
ZÜRICH.


Switzerland has failed to retain the influence over the theological
thought of Europe enjoyed by her in the days of Zwinglius and Calvin.
Impressions, instead of being given, have of late only been received.
France and Germany have contributed their respective phases of theology,
the French Cantons adopting the opinions emanating from the former
country, and the German those from the latter. We must not therefore
expect to find a very wide difference either respecting theology or
practical religion between the Swiss and their two influential
neighbors.

When the Skepticism of Voltaire and his disciples was penetrating the
French mind the Reformed Church of Switzerland did not long remain
unaffected by it. While that crafty man was enjoying his romantic
retreat at Ferney, he was visited and even flattered by persons who had
taken upon themselves the vows of the Christian ministry. The pastors of
Geneva were regarded by the Encyclopædists as sympathizers and
co-laborers in overthrowing the distinctive doctrines of the Gospel. In
the early part of the nineteenth century there was in Switzerland, as in
Germany, a strife between the old confessional faith and Rationalism.
But in Germany Reason attacked the contents of the Scriptures, while in
Switzerland the attempt was made to reduce all revealed truth to a
system of natural religion. Rationalism in the Swiss Church was Arianism
and Socinianism revived.[121] It swept away the strong Calvinism of the
old Genevan theology. The clergy were little better than the English
Deists. D'Alembert says, "All the religion that many of the ministers of
Geneva have is a complete Socinianism, rejecting everything called
mystery, and supposing that the first principle of a true religion is to
propose nothing to be received as a matter of faith which strikes
against reason." Rousseau declares that those who filled the pulpits of
that venerable city had no answer to the question, "Is Christ divine?"

Theological training was neglected. The professors, like the pastors,
committed themselves to an undisguised system of Rationalistic
Unitarianism. M. Bost, writing in 1825, says that, "for more than thirty
years the ministers who have gone out of our schools of theology, to
serve either the churches of our own land or those of France and other
foreign countries, have not received one single lecture on the truths
which exclusively belong to revelation, such as the redemption of
mankind by the death of Christ, the justification of the Saviour by
faith, the corruption of our nature, the divinity of our Saviour, &c. In
theology we were taught nothing but what are called the dogmas of
natural religion. The extent to which this practical incredulity was
carried is clear from the fact, elsewhere unheard of, I suspect, in the
annals of the Protestant churches, that, excepting for a lecture in the
Hebrew language, when the Bible was used simply as a Hebrew book, and
not for anything it contained, the word of God was never used
throughout our course; in particular, the New Testament never appeared,
either as a language-book or for any other purpose; there was no need of
the New Testament, whatever, in order to complete our four years' course
in theology; in other words, that book, especially in the original, was
not at all among the number of books required in order to accomplish the
career of our studies for the sacred ministry."[122]

The _Vénérable Compagnie_, comprising the clergymen and theological
professors of Geneva, went so far, in 1817, as to impose upon all
candidates for ordination to the ministry, the obligation not to preach
on the two natures of Christ, original sin, predestination, and other
received doctrines of their confession. As might be expected, practical
piety was thrown into the background. Children were not instructed in
the Scriptures, and the churches were attended by small congregations,
who were favored with no better gospel than the combined opinions of
Voltaire and the German Rationalists. There were here and there loud
protests against this apostasy. The Canton Vaud was benefited by the
labors of that excellent woman, Madame de Krüdener, who exchanged a life
of Parisian gayety and affluence for humble labors among the poor and
uninstructed Swiss. She loved to sit upon a wooden bench and teach all
who came to her the truths of the Bible and the necessity of a
regenerated heart. Her influence was powerful in Geneva after the
commencement of the evangelical movement. Another counteracting agency
was a sect of Methodists, nicknamed the "Momiers," who had gone thither
from England, and were rebuking the prevalent Rationalism by every
available means.[123]

From the outset Geneva had been the centre of the great religious
decline. The Theological Academy founded by Calvin had become the
nursery of as injurious errors as had emanated from Halle in the period
of Wolf's triumphant career. Its chairs were occupied by the very
teachers described by M. Bost, men in every respect unworthy to prepare
students for the Christian pulpit. But, by the providence of Him who
watches every juncture with a Father's care, a new influence was brought
to bear upon the Academy, and through it upon the whole Protestant
Church of Switzerland. Robert Haldane, having sold his large estate in
Scotland, directed his attention to the moral dearth at Geneva by
endeavoring to imbue the students with his own evangelical opinions and
earnest spirit. His labors were eminently successful. Many of the young
men became converted, and for the first time had a clear conception of
the great work before them. It was through Haldane that Merle d'Aubigné,
Adolphe Monod, Malan, and others of their school, were inspired with the
spirit of the Gospel. Switzerland can never be too grateful to God for
sending such a man at that important crisis.

The immediate issue of this awakening was the organization of the
Evangelical Dissenting Church. All who had grown dissatisfied with the
formalism and Rationalism of the National Church came to the new fold
and co-operated in the work of reformation. A school of theology,
established in Geneva, was visited by students who came seeking an
education that might enable them to relieve the moral wants of the
masses. Gaussen, the author of _La Theopneustie_, was one of the
professors. The new Church soon found in him its leader. He has recently
died, but his long life has been of valuable service to the kingdom of
Christ. Besides reviving and reorganizing the Sunday School system in
Geneva, and personally superintending the religious instruction of the
children, for whom he wrote his inimitable _Catechisms_, he became the
author of many theological works adapted to the wants of clergy and
laity. In company with a few friends, he published the popular Swiss
version of the New Testament. It occasioned him real joy when he
witnessed late in life the improvement of the National Church of
Switzerland. But it must be confessed that the parent has yet much to
learn and accomplish before reaching the high evangelical status now
occupied by the earnest daughter.

The name of Vinet belongs to the whole of Protestant Europe, and is
identified with the revival of religious sentiment in Switzerland,
Germany, Holland, and France. His excellent writings have familiarized
him to the theological readers of Great Britain and the United States.
The separation of Church and State was one of the leading aims of his
life, and he eloquently contended for it whenever occasion offered. In
1837 he accepted the invitation of the government of his native canton
to take charge of the professorship of Theology in the Seminary in
Lausanne. Already profoundly impressed with the opinions of Pascal, he
admired the more evangelical portion of Schleiermacher's theology.
Combining these, he originated the only native theological system which
Switzerland has produced since Calvin's day.[124] In all his works he
manifests profound thought and erudition. His _Homiletics_ and _Pastoral
Theology_ have already become text-books in many theological seminaries.

The spirit now dominant at Geneva clearly indicates the success of the
late efforts toward reform. The congregations have largely increased;
various humanitarian enterprises have been vigorously prosecuted;
societies for the circulation of religious knowledge have been founded;
and the laity have come to the assistance of the clergy in labors for
the social and moral elevation of the masses. For a quarter of a century
young men have been judiciously trained in theology, and Switzerland is
now supplying many prominent French pulpits with her graduates.

The present sojourner in Geneva finds but few remnants of that skeptical
preaching and general religious indifference so lamentably prevalent
before the rise of the Evangelical Dissenting Church. M. Levalois, who
is an avowed skeptic, looks upon a very different scene from that which
once so delighted Rousseau. Coming from the source they do, his words
are a valuable testimony to the religious growth of the mother-city of
French Protestantism. "I now come," says this traveler, "to the
essential characteristics of Geneva. Before being literary and liberal,
the Genevan is Christian. In Geneva the free-thinking stranger is
_advised_ of Christianity. In the souls of men, instead of meeting with
no resistance, no solidity,--as, for instance, among the greater part of
our Parisian Catholics,--instead of finding himself in the face of a
creed mechanically repeated, of a memory and not of a conscience,--you
feel yourself in contact with an individual who will believe, who can
believe, who is in full possession of the _why_ of his belief. Nothing
in the world is to me so sacred as sincerity in intelligent faith. Just
as I despise certain time-serving Catholics, who are converted because
they dread socialism, or because they dread the Empire, so much do I
respect the man who freely attaches himself to the Gospel, devotes
himself to Christ, and prays to Him. Does this imply that I return from
Geneva a Protestant? No; I have not been _converted_, but, I repeat,
_advised_. I have seen Christianity working, not only in churches, but,
which is much more edifying, in individuals. Yes, I have seen it in
turns the inspirer of language, the spring of actions, the spur and the
discipline, rule and support of the future, impregnating, so to speak,
the flesh and the spirit. Such a spectacle excites one to reflection. We
have been in too great haste to exclaim, Christianity is dead! An hour's
conversation with two or three Genevese, suffices to convince us that if
Christianity is dead it is not yet buried."[125]

The course of lectures delivered in the Theological Academy of Geneva in
the winter of 1862-'63, may be taken as an illustration of the character
of the instruction imparted in that influential institution. M. Secretan
delivered learned lectures on "Theism." He showed that the objections
which can be raised, on the ground of natural religion, against the
existence and personality of God, lose all their force on Christian
ground; therefore Hegelianism has no base. M. Naville, in his course on
"Spiritualism," summoned the resources of his learning and genius to aid
him in his heroic combat with every form of current materialism. Pastor
Coulin lectured on "Christian Works." It was an eloquent appeal for
renewed Christian activity. MM. Bungener, Bret, and Rorich lectured on
"Christian Life;" M. Gaberel on the "Part taken by Geneva at the time of
the Reformation;" and also on the "Present Literary and Religious state
of Germany;" M. Archinard on the "Ancient Religious Edifices of
Switzerland;" M. Aug. Bost on the "First Fifteen Centuries of the
History of Mankind;" and M. De Gasparin on the "Family Life, its
Organization and Duties." In addition to these, there were lectures on
detached subjects, such as religious prejudices, the study of the Bible
by simple-hearted believers, drunkenness, the religious education of
children, the instruction of catechumens, the dissipation of cities, and
the duty of evangelization.[126]

Of the German cantons, Basle has been the only one which has
successfully resisted the encroachments of Rationalism. The University
has fully recovered from the influence of De Wette, and the professors
now stand in the front rank of evangelical thinkers. The _Mission House_
has been a highly useful agency. Though not a half-century old, it has
already trained four hundred missionaries, nearly three hundred of whom
are still living and actively engaged in evangelizing the dark places of
the earth. The people are unwilling to permit any minister to occupy one
of their pulpits whom they have reason to suspect of skeptical opinions.
The infidel Rumpf was excluded in 1858 from the list of candidates for
the ministry, and all his subsequent efforts for restoration have failed
in the chief council. A similar occurrence took place in Berne in 1847,
upon the calling of Zeller to the theological professorship.

We now turn to a less evangelical part of Switzerland. Zürich is one of
the acknowledged centres of European Rationalism. Its spiritual decline
has been rapid during the last twenty-five years. In 1839, Strauss, the
author of the _Life of Jesus_, was invited by the chief council to take
a theological chair in the seminary. But the people arising as one man
against the measure, the appointment failed, the council was overthrown
by a popular revolution, and the city still pays a pension to the
disappointed aspirant. But in lamentable contrast with that event is one
of more recent occurrence. As late as 1864, when the little town of
Uster was about to elect a pastor, the candidate declared himself "a
friend of progress and light." Some religious men, unwilling to see
their children placed under the instruction of a skeptic, took upon
themselves the task of showing in what the "progress" consisted. They
accordingly published a notice to their fellow citizens in which they
set forth the avowed opinions of their candidate. The document asserted
that he believed the Bible to be a tissue of fictions and fables; Jesus
a sinful man like others, neither risen from the dead, nor sitting in
the glory of his Father; no one can assert with positiveness a life
beyond the grave; and the opinion that we are reconciled to God by Jesus
Christ, merely a superstition and a day-dream. The authors of the
circular besought the ecclesiastical council to deliver them and their
children from the promulgation of such doctrines, and further reminded
them that every pastor on entering upon his functions must swear to
preach faithfully the word of God, both law and gospel, according to the
fundamental principles of the evangelical Reformed church. The council
took no notice of the remonstrance, though the candidate did not deny
the charges. He was elected by eight hundred and sixty-five votes
against one hundred and forty-five. In the church, where the result was
proclaimed, the acclamations were so loud that they "shook the windows."
In the evening there was a serenade, accompanied by rockets and blue
lights.[127]

The only representative of evangelical doctrines in the theological
faculty of Zürich is a tutor, placed there and supported by a private
society. The most effective means by which Rationalism emanates from
that city is periodical literature. The leading publications are, _The
Church of the Present_, and _Voices of the Times_. The latter journal
was commenced in 1859. Its editor, Lang, is a frequent contributor to
prominent Rationalistic serials of Germany, particularly the _Protestant
Church Gazette_ of Berlin. He has published, besides other works, _A
System of Doctrine_, and _A March through the Christian World_.
Professor Biedermann, an instructor in Zürich, has embodied his
skeptical opinions in a _Manual of Christian Doctrine_, for the use of
the youth in Swiss colleges. Dr. Volckmar, another theological professor
of the same city, has advanced in his numerous works on primitive
Christianity, opinions even more radical than those of Strauss or the
Tübingen School. All those men are members, in good standing, of the
Reformed church of Switzerland.[128]

The Rationalistic works in question are studiously adapted to the common
mind. They contain a complete system, which we term the New Speculative
Rationalism. It declares a strong attachment to Protestantism, and
professes to cultivate a much higher development of Christian life than
was aimed at by its German predecessor. Like the Groningen school of
Holland, it lays stress on the character of Christ. It proposes to
establish a new church, which shall have a wider door for the entrance
of Protestant Christians than that opened by the confessions. The
present fold is entirely too small; the new Rationalism would organize
one of colossal popular dimensions. "Our church," say these teachers of
Zürich, "is truth and morality. Whoever thinks upon these things and
strives for them shall find a place in it." Their opinions are the
direct result of the Hegelian philosophy applied speculatively to the
obsolete, destructive Rationalism of Germany.

THE HOLY SCRIPTURES. Protestantism mistakes itself in treating the Bible
as authority. Though the Scriptures declare our relations to God, they
should not escape our free criticism and occasional censure. Every man
has a right to interpret them for himself, and on his individual
understanding of their contents he should feel bound to act. No man has
a right to impose his opinion upon another, nor has any church a
guarantee for obliging its members to subscribe to a fixed creed. All
deductions from the positive statements of the Scriptures are mere human
opinions, and should only receive the credit due to them as such. What
are confessions but human opinions?

CHRIST. Strauss was wrong in taking his cold view of Jesus. There was a
real historical personage whom we properly call Jesus. Nothing is
gained, but everything lost by resolving all the statements of the
gospels into myths. It is through Christ that salvation is attained, for
Christianity is the reconciliation of God and man as revealed to us in
the consciousness and life of Christ. He is the end of the law, the
second Adam, the fulfilment of prophecy, the head of a renovated
humanity. In him we find the revelation of a new religious principle in
man, a real unity with God, a filial adoption, freedom from natural
corruption, the pardon of sin, and victory over the world. Jesus became
the one man who bore in himself the fullness of the godhead.

Important concessions to Christianity seem to be made; nevertheless
subtle Pantheism underlies their statements. But one of their opinions
subverts everything they grant to orthodoxy. Christ was not, according
to their view, the Messiah in the sense foretold by the prophets and
preached by the apostles. We must judge him apart from all poetry,
speculation, and human judgment. The Christ of the present church is the
creation of theologians, not the character portrayed by the evangelists.
Unfortunately for our correct view of him, Paul speculated entirely too
much upon his nature and work. The resurrection of Christ never took
place, because there was no necessity for it. It was a good thing for
the apostles to believe that such an event took place, for it encouraged
them. Christ never showed himself to any one after his death, and the
belief that he did appear arose purely from the excited nerves,
imaginative temperament, and strong desire of his followers to see him.
His spirit did not die with his body, but entered upon another stage of
existence.

Jesus did not work miracles, for he had not the power. He was eminently
a moral man, the very personification of the truly religious character.
Religion became flesh in him, and he was the exemplification of love.
The salvation we find through him is by virtue of his example and
inculcation of moral truths. The spirit of Christ still exists, but it
does not live in a purely personal relation, nor does it operate as a
personal existence. His spirit and example are with us, but he is not
here himself. The good man is favored with the influence imparted to
humanity by Christ's exemplary life, but he is nowhere actually present
in the world.

GOD AND HIS MIRACLES. No miracles, in the orthodox sense of the term,
have ever occurred. The scientific examination of the Scriptures
banishes them altogether. Neither are miracles possible, otherwise we
should see them every day. They would be acts of arbitrary authority on
God's part; and if he performed them he would destroy the harmony and
connection of natural laws. Christianity was not introduced by miracles.
It was inaugurated, and even originated, by underlying causes of a
purely natural character. Miracle is only a creation of the imagination,
and should be discarded as a human error.

The personality of God is freely spoken of, but his self-consciousness,
in the strictest sense, is not allowed. Hence God is really deprived by
them of all plan, aim, love, and favor. He is a spiritual being, but he
is not a spirit. He is spirit, yet not a real, thinking, self-conscious,
willing spirit. He is not a personality or individuality. "A person,"
these men appear to say, "must have a place to stand upon, and surely we
would not say this of God? The fact is, we grossly misrepresent the
great All-Father. We picture him in our sensuous forms, and almost
imagine him to be like one of ourselves."

IMMORTALITY. The Speculative Rationalists attach less importance to
individual immortality than their predecessors conceded. We might infer
this, however, from the Hegelian point of view adopted by the former.
They profess adherence to Schleiermacher's dictum: "In the midst of the
finite to be one with the infinite, and to be eternal every moment." But
they adhere to the doctrine of "eternal life," by which term they mean
an existence commencing and terminating with faith. It is a life of such
value that it should be called "eternal" life, although it ends with our
last breath in this world. It consists in the attainment of the end of
our existence and of conquest over sin. Thus, they reduce the eternal
life of which the gospel speaks to a mere method and duration of stay in
this world. This life, with them, exhausts life; the kingdom of God has
not an eternal, but a present and temporal existence; there is,
therefore, no new heaven and new earth.

SIN. The fall of man did not take place. It is an absurd superstition.
Since the world is but a limited and imperfect representation of God,
sin came into it immediately upon its origin. We err when we look at sin
apart from a correct conception of the world. Sin has its seat in the
natural weakness of man, for he is a temporal being, and in process of
necessary development from impure naturalness to reason and freedom. It
is the condition in which man finds himself before arriving at an idea
of what he is or will be. If it be asked, "Why is sin in the world?" the
rejoinder is made, "Why is not man, in the outset of his existence, what
he is destined to be, and why must he stand in need of development?"
Sin, in the beginning, was natural imperfection, but it never becomes a
work of the will until man is developed. It is the melancholy result of
an awakened consciousness. But, after man is once aroused to
self-consciousness and begins his actual, sinful life, he never becomes
a lost sinner.

FAITH. The gospel is not a compendium of principles. Its only value
consists in its description of the moral and religious character of
Christ, and every one must derive from it such opinions as seem most
plausible and reasonable. But they err who excogitate from it those
severe dogmas which express only dreams of the imagination and wishes of
the religious spirit. Faith in the gospel is not a condition of
salvation. For faith is the inner relation of the spiritual man to God,
not the acceptance of fixed traditions. It is such a feeling, emotion,
and relation as can exist independently of doctrine. Objective truth is
not the measure of faith, and the salvation of man is not conditioned by
his theoretical opinions. The human spirit in man is the agent of
regeneration. Therefore, man, and not God, is the author of human
regeneration. Justification by faith is produced by seeking God's favor,
but Christ has nothing at all to do with the matter.

We cannot as yet foresee the complete result of the efforts of the New
Speculative Rationalism to propagate itself. German Switzerland will be
influenced by Germany, and because of the thorough improvement already
inaugurated in the latter country no general resurrection of skepticism
need be feared. The evangelical professors at Basle are eagerly watching
every new movement, and we believe they have sufficient strength to meet
every emergency. Christianity is aggressive. Sometimes it is obliged to
halt and give battle. The carnage may last long, and the on-looking
world may, in its ignorance, decide too speedily that the day is lost.
But the victory of error is only temporary. The ark in Dagon's house was
still the ark of God. Since good men are a perpetual power to a people,
we may reasonably hope that the Swiss reformers will continue to animate
the citizens of all the French and German cantons. May the pulpits and
theological chairs of Switzerland ever be filled with men who can say
what Zwinglius uttered one New Year's Day as his first words to the
assembled multitude in the cathedral of Zürich: "To Christ, to Christ
will I lead you,--to the source of salvation. His word is the only food
I wish to furnish to your hearts and lives!"


FOOTNOTES:

[121] Hagenbach, _Kirchengeschichte d. 18. und 19. Jahrhunderts_, vol.
II., p. 416.

[122] Alexander, _Switzerland and the Swiss Churches_, p. 194.

[123] Kurtz, _Church History_, vol. ii., p. 334.

[124] Farrar, _Critical History of Free Thought_, p. 444.

[125] _L'Opinion Nationale_, 1863.

[126] _Christian Work_, Aug., 1863.

[127] _Semaine Religieuse._ Geneva: 1864.

[128] Riggenbach, _Der Heutige Rationalismus besonders in der Deutschen
Schweiz_. Basel: 1862.



CHAPTER XIX.

ENGLAND: THE SOIL PREPARED FOR THE INTRODUCTION OF RATIONALISM.


The religious lesson taught by the condition of England during the
eighteenth century is this: The inevitable moral prostration to which
skepticism reduces a nation, and the utter incapacity of literature to
afford relief. English Deism had advantages not possessed by the
Rationalism of Germany. Some of its champions were men of great
political influence; and in no case was there a parallel to the
abandoned Bahrdt. The Deists were steady in the pursuit of their game,
for when they struck a path they never permitted themselves to be
deflected. But the Rationalists were ever turning into some by-road and
weakening their energies by traversing many a fruitless mile.

The literature of England, during the most of the last century, presents
a picture of literary ostentation. The Deists had toiled to build up a
system of natural religion which would not only be a monument to their
genius, but serve as an impassable barrier to all such claims as were
urged by the zealous and loud-spoken Puritans. But early Deism lacked an
indispensable element of strength,--the power of adapting itself to the
people. Its best priests could not leave the tripod, though many of the
oracular responses were heard some distance from the temple-doors. In
time, there arose a group of essayists and poets, who, with a similar
coterie of novelists, dictated religion, morals, politics, and
literature to the country. Their influence was so great that when they
flattered the heads of government, the latter were equally assiduous in
playing the Mæcenas to them.

The writers of the eighteenth century, viewed in a literary sense alone,
have never had their superiors in English literature. The works of
Addison, Pope, Gray, Thomson, Goldsmith, and Johnson will continue to be
classics wherever the English language is spoken. The British metropolis
was pervaded with the atmosphere of Parnassus. It was a time when
literature was the El Dorado of youth and old age. Those were the days
when clubs convened statedly in the neighborhood of the Strand, and
when, every night, the attics of Grub street poured out their throngs of
quill-heroes, who were welcomed into the parlors of the nobility as
cordially as to their own club-houses. The last new work engaged
universal attention. Society was filled with rumors of books commenced,
half finished, plagiarized, successful, or defunct. Literary
respectability was the "Open Sesame" to social rank. There has never
been a season when cultivated society was more imbued with the mania of
book-writing and criticism than existed in England during at least
three-quarters of the eighteenth century.

While many of the publications of that time were prompted by Deism,
French society and literature were contributing an equal share toward
poisoning the English mind. France and England were so intimately
related to each other that the two languages were diligently studied in
both countries. If the English adventurer in letters had not spent a few
months in Paris, and could not read Corneille almost as readily as
Spenser or Shakspeare, he was cashiered by certain Gallicists west of
the Channel as a sorry aspirant to their coveted favor.[129] The rise of
the French spirit in England was mainly due to Bolingbroke, who was as
much at home in Paris as in London. He had numerous friends and admirers
in the former metropolis, and at two different times made it his
residence. Freely imbibing the skeptical opinions of the court of Louis
XIV., he dealt them out unsparingly to his English readers. He was one
of the most accomplished wits who frequented the _salon_ of Madame de
Croissy, and he developed his skeptical system through the medium of the
French language, in a series of letters to M. de Pouilly.[130]

Bolingbroke accused the greatest divines and philosophers of leading a
great part of mankind into inextricable labyrinths of reasoning and
speculation. Natural theology and religion, he held, had become corrupt.
In view of these results of mental infirmities, he applied himself to
correct all errors. He proposed "to distinguish genuine and pure theism
from the profane mixtures of human imagination; and to go to the root of
that error which encourages our curiosity, sustains our pride, fortifies
our prejudices, and gives pretense to delusion; to discover the true
nature of human knowledge, how far it extends, how far it is real, and
where and how it begins to be fantastical; that, the gaudy visions of
error being dispelled, men may be accustomed to the simplicity of
truth."[131] The Scriptures, according to Bolingbroke, are unworthy of
our credence. They degrade the Deity to mean and unworthy offices and
employments.[132] The New Testament consists of two distinct gospels;
one by Christ, the other by St. Paul. The doctrine of future rewards and
punishments is absurd, and contrary to the divine attributes.[133]
Christianity has been of no advantage to mankind. "The world hath not
been effectually reformed, nor any one nation in it, by the promulgation
of the gospel, even where Christianity flourished most."[134] There is a
supreme All-Perfect Being, but he does not concern himself with human
affairs as far as individuals are concerned. The soul is not distinct
from the body, and both terminate at death. The law of nature, being
sufficient for the purposes of our being, is all that God has proclaimed
for our guidance.[135]

There were other members of the English nobility who used their
influence for the introduction of French infidelity, literature, morals,
and fashions. Some did not equal Bolingbroke in repudiating the spirit
of the gospel, but nearly all were willing students at the feet of their
pretentious Gallic instructors. The house of Lady Mary Wortley Montague,
at Wickenham, was the centre whither gravitated that large class of
acknowledged chiefs in letters represented by Steele, Pope, and the
Walpoles. They thought, spoke, and dressed according to the French
standard, which, in respect to religion and morals, was never lower than
at that very time. The attempt to rear a Paris on English soil was a
complete success. The young were delighted with the result; the aged had
been too ill-taught in early life to raise the voice of remonstrance.
With the exception of the Puritan opposition, the gratification was
universal; and that took place in religion and literature which, had it
occurred in warfare, would have kindled a flame of national indignation
in every breast: England fell powerless, contented, and doomed into the
arms of France.

The attacks of Hume and Gibbon on the divine origin of Christianity take
rank with the mischievous influences imparted by the elder school of
Deists, and by French taste and immorality.

Hume was a philosopher who drew his inspiration directly from his own
times. Attaching himself to the Encyclopædists, he played the wit in the
_salons_ of Paris. He became fraternally intimate with Rousseau, and
brought that social dreamer back with him to England as a mark of high
appreciation of his talents. He was a metaphysician by nature, but he
erred in speculating with theology. That was the mistake of his life. He
fell into Bolingbroke's error of excessive egotism. Standing before the
superstructure of theology, he carefully surveyed every part of it, and
deemed no theme too lofty for his reasonings, and no mystery beyond the
reach of his illuminating torch. He lamented the absence of progress in
the understanding of that evidence which assures us of any real
existence and matter of fact. But this difficulty did not impede him
from an attempted solution. He thought himself performing a great
service when he addressed himself to the "destruction of that implicit
faith and credulity which is the bane of all reasoning and free
inquiry."[136] He refused to acknowledge a Supreme Being, in the
following words: "While we argue from the course of nature, and infer a
particular intelligent cause, which at first bestowed and still
preserves order in the universe, we embrace a principle which is both
uncertain and useless, because the subject lies entirely beyond the
reach of human experience."[137]

The miraculous evidences of Christianity were also opposed by Hume. His
_Essay on Miracles_ (1747), consists of two parts; the former of which
is an attempt to prove that no evidence would be a sufficient ground for
believing the truth and existence of miracles. Experience is our only
guide in reasoning on matters of fact; but even this guide is far from
infallible, and liable at any moment to lead us into errors. In judging
how far a testimony is to be depended upon, we must balance the opposite
circumstances, which may create any doubt or uncertainty. The evidence
from testimony may be destroyed either by the contrariety and opposition
of the testimony, or by the consideration of the nature of the facts
themselves. When the facts partake of the marvelous there are two
opposite experiences with regard to them, and that which is most
credible is to be preferred. Now the uniform experience of men is
against miracles. We should not, therefore, believe any testimony
concerning a miracle, unless the falsehood of that testimony should be
more miraculous than the miracle it is designed to establish. Besides,
as we cannot know the attributes or actions of God otherwise than by our
experience of them, we cannot be sure that he can effect miracles; for
they are contrary to our own experience and the course of nature.
Therefore, it is impossible to prove miracles by any evidence.

The second part of the _Essay on Miracles_ is intended to show that,
supposing a miracle capable of being proved by sufficient testimony, no
miraculous event in history has ever been established on such evidence.
The witnesses of a miracle should be of such unquestionable good sense,
education, and learning, as to secure us against all delusion in
themselves. They should also be of such undoubted integrity as to place
them beyond all suspicion of design to deceive others. Then they should
be of such credit and reputation in the eyes of mankind as to have a
great deal to lose if detected in any falsehood. Last of all, the facts
attested by the witnesses should be performed in such a public manner,
and in so celebrated a part of the world, as to render detection
unavoidable.[138]

Now, according to Hume, these requisitions are not met in the supposed
witnesses of the miracles of Christ. Consequently, we are no more
obliged to believe their accounts than the reports of miracles alleged
to have been wrought at the tomb of the Abbé de Paris. All must be
rejected together.

Hume's _History of England_ met with a cold reception on its first
appearance. But he lived to see the day when, as he egotistically said,
"it became circulated like the newspapers." Yet he wrote that work not
as an end, but as a means. Historical writing was then the medium in
which it was common to couch theology or philosophy. Hume had a profound
contempt for everything Puritanic on the one hand, and hierarchical and
traditional on the other. He would make every trace disappear beneath
his scathing pen. He ignored the development of religious life in
England, and would subject all events which indicated a deep Christian
piety and purpose, to his cold system of philosophy. Writing with an
inflexible adherence to his theological opinions, he cast over
historical events the drapery of his own interpretation. The question
with him was not, "What is the history of England during the period of
which I treat?" but "Does not the history of England sustain my
philosophy?" And his own answer was, "Yes; I record facts, and draw my
own conclusions. Is not that a good philosophy!"

Gibbon was even more of a Frenchman than Hume. Sundering his relation to
Oxford in his seventeenth year, he embarked upon a course of living and
thinking which, whatever advantage it might afford to his purse, was not
likely to aid his faith. By a sudden caprice he became a Roman Catholic,
and afterwards as unceremoniously denied his adopted creed. In due time
he found himself in Paris publishing a book in the French language. He
there fell in with the fashionable infidelity, and so far yielded to the
flattery of Helvetius and all the frequenters of Holbach's house that he
jested at Christianity and assailed its divine character.

While residing at Lausanne, Switzerland, he cultivated the florid French
style of composition, and applied it in his _Decline and Fall of the
Roman Empire_. That work has been severely censured, but despite its
defects, it is one of the permanent master-pieces of English literature.
In the fifteenth and sixteenth chapters the author gives his opinion of
Christianity. He attributes the progress of the Christian religion to
the zeal of the Jews, to the doctrine of the immortality of the soul as
stated by philosophers, to the miraculous powers claimed by the
primitive church, to the virtues of the first Christians, and to the
activity of the Christians in the government of the church. He
attributed to outward agencies what could have been effected only by
inward forces. But he did not assume the philosopher's cap, for, not
being metaphysical by nature, he never did violence to his own
constitution. He has left much less on record against Christianity than
Hume, but they must be ranked together as the last of the family of
English Deists.

Gibbon made loud professions of independence and of an earnest desire
for the enlargement of popular liberty. But he was less attached to
principle than to expediency. At the very time the first volume of his
history appeared, in which he pays lofty tributes to human freedom, he
came into Parliament as an avowed abettor of the ministry of George
III., in their attempts to subjugate the American colonies. He was
doubtless well paid for his votes; for he was at the same time a member
of the Board of Trade, a nominal office with a large salary.[139] A
verse, attributed to Fox, expresses the popular sentiment concerning
him;

     "King George in a fright
     Lest Gibbon should write
       The story of England's disgrace,
     Thought no way so sure,
     His pen to secure,
       As to give the historian a place."

In addition to these evidences of religious decay we may add the most
unwelcome of all: the moral prostration of the English Church. Instead
of being "a city set upon a hill," she was in the valley of humiliation;
and few were the faithful watchmen upon her walls. The period commencing
with the Restoration, and continuing down to the time of which we speak,
was one of ministerial and laic degeneracy. Bishop Burnet, writing of
his own generation, said, "I am now in the seventieth year of my age,
and as I cannot speak long in the world, in any sort, I cannot hope for
a more solemn occasion than this of speaking with all due freedom, both
to the present and to the succeeding ages. Therefore I lay hold on it to
give a free vent to those sad thoughts that lie on my mind both day and
night, and are the subject of many secret mournings. I cannot look on
without the deepest concern, when I see the imminent ruin hanging over
this church, and, by consequence, over the whole Reformation. The
outward state of things is black enough, God knows, but that which
heightens my fears rises chiefly from the inward state into which we are
unhappily fallen.... Our ember-weeks are the burden and grief of my
life. The much greater part of those who come to be ordained are
ignorant to a degree not to be apprehended by those who are not obliged
to know it. The easiest part of knowledge is that to which they are the
greatest strangers. Those who have read some few books, yet never seem
to have read the Scriptures. Many cannot give even a tolerable account
of the Catechism itself, how short and plain soever. This does often
tear my heart. The case is not much better in many who, having got into
orders, come for institution, and cannot make it appear that they have
read the Scriptures, or any one good book since they were ordained; so
that the small measure of knowledge upon which they get into holy
orders, not being improved, is in a way to be quite lost; and they think
it a great hardship if told they must know the Scriptures and the body
of divinity better before they can be trusted with the care of
souls."[140]

Archbishop Secker, who wrote at a later period, testifies to the same
state of religious petrification: "In this we cannot be mistaken, that
an open and professed disregard is become, through a variety of unhappy
causes, the distinguishing character of the present age; that this evil
is grown to a great height in the metropolis of the nation; is daily
spreading through every part of it; and, bad in itself as any can be,
must of necessity bring in others after it. Indeed it hath already
brought in such dissoluteness and contempt of principle in the higher
part of the world, and such profligate intemperance, and fearlessness of
committing crimes, in the lower, as must, if this impiety stop not,
become absolutely fatal. And God knows, far from stopping, it receives,
through the ill designs of some persons, and the inconsiderateness of
others, a continual increase. Christianity is now ridiculed and railed
at, with very little reserve; and the teachers of it, without any at
all."[141]

The Church had not the moral power or purity to assert her own
authority. She had lost the respect of the world because she had no
respect for herself. She was therefore enervated at a time when all her
power was needed to resist the skeptical and immoral tendencies of the
day. But a new religious power, from an unexpected source, began to
influence the English mind. We refer to the movement inaugurated by the
Wesleys and Whitefield, who were fellow-students in Oxford University.
They were appalled at the dissoluteness of the students, the frigid
preaching of the day, and the universal religious destitution of the
nation. These themes burdened the hearts of the "Holy Club" at Oxford
from day to day, and sent them from their cloisters to visit prisons,
preach in surrounding towns, and impart religious truth wherever a
willing recipient could be found. No sooner had John Wesley returned
from his missionary voyage to Georgia than there were unmistakable
evidences of the adaptation of the new preaching to the wants of the
people. The masses, long affected by a deplorable indifference to
religious truths and pious living, heard the earnest preaching of the
Methodists with profound attention and in such large numbers that no
impartial observer could doubt the peculiar fitness of Methodism to the
existing state of society, morals, literature, and philosophy. As a
result, the number of converts multiplied. The Established Church was
aroused to activity. Dissenters began to hope for the return of the good
days of Bunyan and Baxter and Howe.

Isaac Taylor says of the new influence, that "it preserved from
extinction and reanimated the languishing nonconformity of the last
century, which just at the time of the Methodist revival, was rapidly in
course to be found nowhere but in books." But the Wesleyan movement made
little impression on the literary circles to whom Bolingbroke, Hume, and
Gibbon had communicated their gospel of nature. The poets continued to
sing, the essayists to write, and the philosophers to speculate, in a
world peculiarly their own. They shut themselves quite in from the
itinerant "helpers" of Wesley. The large class of English minds which
stood aloof from all ecclesiastical organizations, and failed to see any
higher cause of the revival than mere enthusiasm, were the persons whom
those writers still influenced. But it was plain to both the masters and
their disciples that their principles were in process of transition.
They were therefore ready for the reception of whatever plausible type
of skepticism might present itself for their acceptance.

History is the illustration of cause and effect. The fountain springs up
in one period, and generations often pass before it finds its natural
outlet. The issue of the final efforts of English Deism, of the impure
French taste, and of the works of the grosser class of literary men
living in the last century, is now manifested in that spirit which
welcomes the _Essays and Reviews_, and the criticism of Colenso. It is
not true that these and similar publications have created a
Rationalistic taste in Great Britain. The taste was already in
existence, and has been struggling for satisfaction ever since the
closing decades of the eighteenth century.


FOOTNOTES:

[129] For an excellent view of the relation of France and England in the
eighteenth century, vid. _Revue des Deux Mondes_, 1 Dec., 1861.

[130] Schlosser, _History of the Eighteenth Century_, vol. i., p. 98.

[131] _Works_, vol. iii., p. 328. London Edition of 1754. 5 vols.,
quarto.

[132] Ibid. p. 304.

[133] Ibid. vol. v., p. 356.

[134] Ibid. p. 258.

[135] Leland, _View of Deistical Writers of England_, pp. 307-308.
London Edition of 1837, with Appendix and Introduction, by Brown and
Edmonds.

[136] _Philosophical Essays concerning Human Understanding_, p. 49.
London Edition, 1750.

[137] _Philosophical Essays, &c._, p. 224.

[138] Leland, _View of Deistical Writers_, pp. 230-250.

[139] Schlosser, _History of the Eighteenth Century_, vol. ii., p.
85-86.

[140] _Pastoral Care._

[141] _Works_, vol. v., p. 306.



CHAPTER XX.

ENGLAND CONTINUED: PHILOSOPHICAL AND LITERARY RATIONALISM.--COLERIDGE
AND CARLYLE.


All history betrays the operation of a compensating principle. The
payment may be slow, but there is seldom total repudiation. An influence
which departs from a country and sets in upon its neighbor, transforming
thought, giving new shades to social life, and instilling foreign
principles into politics, is sure, in course of time, to return from its
wanderings, bearing with it other forces with which to react upon the
land whence it originated. Thought, like the tidal wave, visits all
latitudes with its ebb and flow.

The present condition of Anglican theology is an illustration of
intellectual re-payment. Two centuries ago England gave Deism to
Germany, and the latter country is now paying back the debt with
compound interest. After the Revolution of 1789, and the brilliant
ascendency of Napoleon Bonaparte, the French spirit rapidly lost its
hold upon the English mind. But there immediately arose a disposition to
consult German theology and philosophy. English students frequented the
German universities, and the works of the leading thinkers of Berlin,
Heidelberg, and Halle, were on sale in the book-stores of London. The
intimate relations of the royal family of England to Germany, together
with the alliance between the German States and Great Britain for the
arrest of French arms, increased the tendency until it assumed
importance and power. The fruit was first visible in the application of
German Rationalism and philosophy to English theology. When Coleridge
came from the Fatherland with a new system of opinions, he felt as proud
of his good fortune as Columbus did on laying a continent at his
sovereign's feet. Ever since that profound thinker assumed a fixed
position, a reaction against orthodoxy has been progressing in the
Established Church. There are reasons why the slow but effectual
introduction of German Rationalism has been taking place imperceptibly.

The war which had agitated England, with the rest of Europe, came to a
close in 1815. Immediately afterward domestic polities needed
adjustment. "The disabilities were swept away," says a writer, "the
House of Commons was reconstituted, the municipalities were reformed,
slavery was abolished."[142] In due time the nation became adjusted to
peace; the popular mind lost its nervousness; the universities returned
to their sober thinking; and the Church took a careful survey to
ascertain what had been lost in the recent conflict, what gained, and
what new fields lay ready for her enterprise. But very soon fresh
political combinations attracted the attention of all classes. The
revolutionary changes and counter-changes in France were watched with
eager attention lest Waterloo might be avenged in some unexpected
manner. At home, church parties were reviving the old antagonisms
described by the pen of Macaulay. The popular mind has thus been
continually directed toward some exciting theme. England has not had a
day of leisure during the whole of the last half-century, when she
could come to a judicious conclusion concerning that class of her
thinkers who, though they make theology their profession, are so
intensely independent as to attach themselves to no creed or
ecclesiastical organization. But they have been thinking all the time,
and the outgrowth of their thought is now visible.

English Rationalism consists of three departments: Philosophical,
Literary, and Critical Rationalism. Whenever infidelity has arisen,
whether within or without the Church, it has usually developed these
forms. Philosophy has furnished undevout reason with a fund of
speculative objections to revelation; literature has dazzled and
bewildered the young and all lovers of romance; and criticism has seized
the deductions of science, language, and ethnology, and by their
combined aid aimed at the overthrow of the historical and inspired basis
of faith. Each of these three agents is in constant danger of arrogance
and error. The first, by a single false assumption, may lose its way;
the second, by making too free use of the imagination, can easily forget
when it is dealing with faith and facts; and the third, by one act of
over-reaching, is liable to become puerile, fanciful, and unreliable.
The philosopher, the _littérateur_, and the exegete need to be less
observant of the surrounding world than of the purity of their own inner
life and the teachings of the Holy Spirit.

Philosophical Rationalism in England commenced with Samuel Taylor
Coleridge. A comprehensive view of that metaphysician produces a painful
impression. Though gifted with capacity for any sphere of thought, he
did not excel in either so far as to enable us to assign him a fixed
place in literature. He is known as poet, theologian, and philosopher.
But his own desire was that posterity might regard him as a theologian.
In addition to this indeterminateness of position, which always
seriously detracts from a great name, Coleridge presents the unfortunate
example of a man who, instead of laboring with settled convictions, and
achieving success by virtue of their operation, seems to have only
striven after them. His indefinite status was the result of that
theological difficulty which proved his greatest misfortune. His
sentiments never partook of an evangelical character until the latter
part of his life. His habits of thought had become confirmed, and it was
quite too late to counteract the influence of many views previously
expressed.

So far as we are able to collect the opinions of Coleridge by fragments
from his writings, we discover two elements, which, coming from totally
different sources, and originating in different ages, harmonized in his
mind and constituted the mass of his speculations. One was Grecian,
taking its rise in Plato and afterward becoming assimilated to
Christianity at Alexandria. The other was German, derived directly from
Kant, and undergoing no improvement by its processes of transformation
at the hands of that philosopher's successors. "From the Greek," says
Dr. Shedd, "he derived the doctrine of Ideas, and fully sympathized with
his warmly-glowing and poetic utterance of philosophic truths. From the
German he derived the more strictly scientific part of his system--the
fundamental distinctions between the Understanding and the Reason (with
the sub-distinction of the latter into Speculative and Practical), and
between Nature and Spirit. With him also he sympathized in that deep
conviction of the absolute nature and validity of the great ideas of
God, Freedom, and Immortality--of the binding obligation of
conscience--and generally of the supremacy of the Moral and Practical
over the purely Speculative. Indeed, any one who goes to the study of
Kant, after having made himself acquainted with the writings of
Coleridge, will be impressed by the spontaneous and vital concurrence of
the latter with the former--the heartiness and entireness with which the
Englishman enters into the method and system of this, in many respects,
greatest philosopher of the modern world."[143]

The Platonic element in the speculations of Coleridge is of earlier date
than the German. It was his reliance until introduced to the captivating
opinions of the philosopher of Königsberg. But it never wholly left
him,--it was the enchantment of his life.

He had severe struggles. His conquest of the habit of opium-eating,
contracted to soothe physical suffering, is an index of the persistent
purpose of the man. At first an ardent Unitarian, he was once about to
assume charge of a congregation at Shrewsbury. But he finally declined
the offer, by saying that, "Active zeal for Unitarian Christianity, not
indolence or indifference, has been the motive of my declining a local
and solid settlement as preacher of it."[144]

The media through which he passed in search of light were numerous. He
seems to have gone to Germany under the impression that he would there
find what he had fruitlessly sought in England. No one will deny that
the philosophy of Kant was better than the English empirical system of
the eighteenth century, which was the best metaphysical pabulum he had
received at home. He applied himself to the assiduous study of Kant's
disciples, but the master satisfied him best. Nevertheless, Coleridge
was not mentally adapted to the Kantian system. He had a psychical
affinity for Schelling. He loved him as a brother. He was charmed with
his vivid imagination, warm admiration of all natural forms, and ardent,
impulsive temperament. Schelling's philosophy was Spinozism in poetry,
and there can be no question of Coleridge's former adoption of some
parts of the Hollander's naturalism. But his tenacity to them, as well
as his subsequent affiliation with Schelling, was short-lived. When he
awoke to the unmistakable stratum of Pantheism underlying Schelling's
system, he hastily forsook it, and his diatribes indignantly hurled
against one whom he had so enthusiastically admired are the more notable
because of his former intense sympathy. From Schelling he returned once
more to Kant as the thinker who had more closely approximated the truth.
His mind must have undergone a total revolution when he could write such
words as these: "Spite of all the superior airs of the
_Natur-Philosophie_, I confess that in the perusal of Kant I breathe the
air of good sense and logical understanding with the light of reason
shining in it and through it; while in the Physics of Schelling I am
amused with happy conjectures, and in his Theology I am bewildered by
positions which, in their first sense, are transcendental
(_überfliegend_), and in their literal sense scandalous."[145]

Coleridge became firmly settled in theistic faith. Occupying that as his
final position, he is destined to wield a great salutary power over
English thought. Dr. Shedd, in estimating the probable future influence
of his theistic system, says: "Now as the defender and interpreter of
this decidedly and profoundly theistic system of philosophy, we regard
the works of Coleridge as of great and growing worth, in the present
state of the educated and thinking world. It is not to be disguised that
Pantheism is the most formidable opponent which truth has to encounter
in the cultivated and reflecting classes. We do not here allude to the
formal reception and logical defense of the system, so much as to that
pantheistic way of thinking, which is unconsciously stealing into the
lighter and more imaginative species of modern literature, and from them
is passing over into the principles and opinions of men at large. This
popularized Naturalism--this Naturalism of polite literature and of
literary society--is seen in the lack of that depth and strength of
tone, and that heartiness and robustness of temper, which characterize a
mind into which the personality of God, and the responsibility of man
cut sharply, and which does not cowardly shrink from a severe and
salutary moral consciousness.... The intensely theistic character of the
philosophy of Coleridge is rooted and grounded in the Personal and the
Spiritual, and not in the least in the Impersonal and the Natural.
Drawing in the outset, as we have remarked above, a distinct and broad
line between these two realms, it keeps them apart from each other, by
affirming a difference in essence, and steadfastly resists any and every
attempt to amalgamate them into one sole substance. The doctrine of
creation, and not of emanation or of modification, is the doctrine by
which it constructs its theory of the Universe, and the doctrine of
responsible self-determination, and not of irresponsible natural
development, is the doctrine by which it constructs its systems of
Philosophy and Religion."[146]

The Platonic portion of the views of Coleridge is more apparent in his
theology than in his philosophy. In his _Confession of Faith_, written
November 3, 1816, he avows his adherence to some of the prime doctrines
of revealed truth. He declares his free agency; defines God to be a
Being in whom supreme reason and a most holy will are one with infinite
power; acknowledges man's fallen nature, that he is "born a child of
wrath;" and holds Christ Jesus to be the Word which was with God from
all eternity, assumed human nature to redeem man, and by his merits
secured for us the descent of the Holy Spirit and the impartation of his
free grace. In the Preface to the _Aids to Reflection_ he thus states
his object in writing that work: "To exhibit a full and consistent
scheme of the Christian Dispensation, and more largely of all the
peculiar doctrines of the Christian faith; and to answer all the
objections to the same, which do not originate in a corrupt will rather
than an erring judgment; and to do this in a manner intelligible for all
who, possessing the ordinary advantages of education, do in good earnest
desire to form their religious creed in the light of their own
convictions, and to have a reason for the faith which they profess.
There are indeed mysteries, in evidence of which no reasons can be
brought. But it has been my endeavor to show that the true solution of
the problem is, that these mysteries are reason, reason in its highest
form of self-affirmation."[147]

The distinctions and definitions of Coleridge occasion the most serious
difficulty in the study of his opinions. His mode of statement more
frequently than his conception subjects him to the charge of
Rationalism. His life-long error of mistaking theology for metaphysics
resulted in his application of philosophical terminology to theological
questions; but making every reasonable allowance, we cannot doubt that
he had defective views of some of the essential truths of Christianity.
He clothes reason with authority to determine what is inspiration, by
saying that there can be no revelation "_ab extra_." Therefore, every
man should decide for himself the character of the Scriptures. The power
which Coleridge thus places in the hand of man is traceable to his
distinction between reason and understanding. He makes the latter the
logical, and the former the intuitive faculty. Even beasts possess
understanding, but reason, the gift of God to no less creature than man,
performs the functions of judgment on supersensual matters. "Reason,"
says he, "is the power of universal and necessary convictions, the
source and substance of truths above sense, and having their evidence in
themselves."[148] This admission to Rationalism has been eagerly seized
by the Coleridgean school, and elaborated in some of their writings.

Sin, according to Coleridge, is not guilt in the orthodox sense. When
Adam fell he merely turned his back upon the sun; dwelt in the shadow;
had God's displeasure; was stripped of his supernatural endowments; and
inherited the evils of a sickly body, and a passionate, ignorant, and
uninstructed soul. His sin left him to his nature, his posterity is heir
to his misfortunes, and what is every man's evil becomes all men's
greater evil. Each one has evil enough, and it is hard for a man to live
up to the rule of his own reason and conscience.[149] Redemption is not
salvation from the curse of a broken law, and Christ did not pay a debt
for man, because the payer must have incurred the debt himself.[150]
But the fruit of his death is the reconciliation of man to God. Man will
have a future life, but it was not the specific object of the Christian
dispensation to satisfy his understanding that he will live hereafter;
neither is the belief of a future state or the rationality of its belief
the exclusive attribute of the Christian religion, but a fundamental
article of all religion.[151]

All attempts to determine the exact theological position of Coleridge
from his own definitions are unsatisfactory. We must derive his real
convictions from the spirit and not from the letter of his works. He was
devout and reverent, never prosecuting his investigations from a mere
love of speculation, but as a sincere inquirer after truth. But his
statements have had their natural result in producing a large and
vigorous school of thinkers. Never bracing himself to write a
philosophical or theological system, but merely stating his views in
aphoristic form--as in the _Aids to Reflection_--he scattered his
thoughts as a careless sower, and left them to germinate in the public
mind. But many of his opinions have been perverted, and speculations
have been based upon them by numerous admirers who, proudly claiming him
for authority, thrust upon the world those sentiments which bear less
the impress of the master than the counterfeit of the weaker disciple.

A large cluster of important and familiar names appears in testimony of
the deep and immediate impression produced by the opinions of Coleridge.
Julius Charles Hare, not the least worthy of the number, has been one of
the prominent agents in communicating to the English people the
principles of that thinker, who was not superior to him in moral
earnestness and profound reverence. When lecturing as Fellow of Trinity
College, Cambridge, Hare was attentively heard by John Sterling,
Maurice, and Trench. He drank deeply of the spirit of Coleridge, of whom
he was ever proud to call himself a "pupil," and who, in connection with
Wordsworth, was the instrumentality by which he and others "were
preserved from the noxious taint of Byron."[152]

From whatever side we view Hare's life, it is full of interest. When
very young he traveled on the Continent, and became delighted with the
literature of Germany. He informs us that, "in 1811 he saw the mark of
Luther's inkstand on the walls of the Castle of Wartburg, and there
first learned to throw inkstands at the devil." His view of sacrifice
was very superficial, and similar to that of Maurice. The Jewish
offerings were typical "of the slaying and offering up of the carnal
nature to God.... The lesson of the cross is to draw nigh to God, not by
this work or that work, not by the sacrifice of this thing or that, but
by the entire sacrifice and resignation of their whole being to the will
of God."[153] Christ did not perform his important mission so much by
his death as by his entire life, and his sufferings were only the
completion of his task. "His great work was to be completed and made
perfect, as every truly great work must be, by suffering. For no work
can be really great unless it be against the course of the world.... It
was by losing his own life in every possible way--by the agony in the
garden; by the flight and denial of those whom he had chosen out of the
world to be His companions and friends; by the mockery and cruelty of
those whom his goodness and purity rendered more bitter against him; by
the frantic and murderous cries of the people, whom he had loaded with
every earthly benefit, and whom he desired to crown with eternal
blessings; and by the closing sufferings on the cross--that Jesus was to
gain his own life, and the everlasting life of all who will believe in
Him. All this, then, the whole work of the redemption of mankind, does
our Lord in the text declare to be finished."[154]

Hare declares the necessity of faith to Christian life, but he renders
it more passive than active by saying that it is a receptive moral
endowment capable of large development. Happy is the man who becomes
inured to the exalted "habit of faith." Sin is more a matter of regret
than of responsibility; inspiration is a doctrine we should not slight,
but the language of the Scriptures must not be regarded too tenaciously;
due allowance ought to be made for all verbal inaccuracies and
discrepancies; miracles are an adjunct to Christian evidence, but their
importance is greatly exaggerated, for they are a beautiful frieze, not
one of the great pillars in the temple of our faith.

Notwithstanding these evidences of Hare's digression from orthodoxy, we
cannot forget that consecration and purity of heart revealed in some of
his sermons, and especially in the glowing pages of the _Mission of the
Comforter_. His ministerial life was an example of untiring devotion,
and we know not which to admire the more, his labor of love in the
rustic parish of Herstmonceaux, or those searching rebukes of Romanism
contained in the charges to his clergy. Independent as both his friends
and enemies acknowledge him to have been, his misfortune was an
excessive reliance upon his own imagination and upon the opinions of
those whom he admired. Nature made him capable of intimate friendships,
both personal and intellectual. No one can examine his life without
loving the man, nor read his fervent words without concluding that the
Church has been honored by few men of his noble type. That
self-sacrifice and sympathy of which he often spoke feelingly in
connection with the humiliation of Christ, were the controlling
principles of his heart. Let not the veil with which we would conceal
his theological defects obscure, in the least, the brightness of his
resplendent character and pure purposes.

No view of Hare's position can be complete without embracing that of his
brother-in-law, Maurice; both of whom were ardently sympathetic with
Coleridge. But while the former gave a more evangelical cast to his
master's opinions than they originally possessed, the latter perverted
them by unwarranted speculations. Maurice is now one of the most
influential of the Rationalistic teachers of England. He has not
employed himself, like Kingsley and others of the Broad Church, in
publishing his theological sentiments in the form of religious novels,
but has had the commendable frankness to state his opinions without
circumlocution, and to furnish us with his creed in a single volume of
essays.[155]

Maurice's notion of an ideal creation betrays the media through which he
has received it,--from Coleridge to Neo-Platonism, and thence to Plato.
The creation of herbs, flowers, beasts, birds, and fishes, as recorded
in the first chapter of Genesis, was the bringing forth of kinds and
orders, such as they were according to the mind of God, not of actual
separate phenomenal existences, such as they present themselves to the
senses of man.[156] The creation of man is disposed of in the same ideal
way; so that we are inclined to ask the critic if man is not, after all,
only a Platonic idea? "What I wish you particularly to notice," says he,
"is that the part of the record which speaks of man ideally, according
to his place with reference to God, is the part which expressly belongs
to the history of CREATION; that the bringing forth of man in _this_
sense, is the work of the sixth day.... Extend this thought, which seems
to rise inevitably out of the story of the creation of _man_, as Moses
delivers it, to the seat of that universe of which he regards man as the
climax, and we are forced to the conclusion that in the one case, as in
the other, it is not the visible, material thing of which the historian
is speaking, but that which lies below the visible material thing, and
constitutes the substance which it shows forth."[157]

Maurice assumes also, with Neo-Platonism, that Christ is the archetype
of every human being, and that when a man becomes pure, he is only
developing the Christ who was within him already. "The Son was really in
Saul of Tarsus, and he only became Paul the converted when that Son was
revealed in him.... Christ is in every man.... All may call upon God as
a reconciled Father. Human beings are redeemed, not in consequence of
any act they have done, of any faith they have exercised; their faith is
to be grounded on a foregone conclusion; their acts are to be the fruits
of a state they already possess."[158]

From this premise alone the theological system of Maurice may be
accurately determined. Sin is an evil from which we should strive to
effect an escape, but it is nothing more, neither guilt nor
responsibility, only a condition of our life and not a consequence of
actual disobedience of God's law, or the effect of his displeasure. Deep
below it there is a righteousness capable of asserting its sovereignty.
Job had a righteousness within him, which led him to say, "I know that
my Redeemer liveth." Those persons who prate about our miserable
condition as sinners, "have a secret reserve of belief that there is
that in them which is not sin, which is the very opposite of sin....
Each man has got this sense of righteousness, whether he realizes it
distinctly or indistinctly; whether he expresses it courageously, or
keeps it to himself."[159]

The nature of the atonement, Maurice holds, is a subject of
misconception, and the notions of it, as they now obtain in Christendom,
darken and bewilder the mind. What Christ has really done for us through
suffering was his matchless sympathy; he became our brother, and was not
our mediatorial substitute but a natural representative. On this ground,
a regeneration is communicated to all, not by virtue of any
appropriating faith, but as a result of the sympathetic death of Christ.
The justification of humanity has been secured by his incarnation, and
the penalty resulting from sin is a mere scar of the healed wound.
Natural death is not the separation of soul and body, though both are
affected by it, for the body which seems to die is only the corruption
resulting from our sins, and the real body does not die. Hence, there
can never be any general resurrection or judgment.

It is astonishing that a man who unhesitatingly propagated these views,
could hold any office within the pale of the Established Church; but
Maurice enjoyed high favor a number of years before his displacement.
Though commencing life as a Unitarian and Universalist, he was rapidly
promoted by the ecclesiastical authorities. He took no pains to conceal
his theological opinions, and yet we find him advancing in King's
College, London, from the Professorship of English Literature to that of
Ecclesiastical History, and thence to the Chair of Divinity. Some time
elapsed after the publication of the _Essays_ before Dr. Jelf, Principal
of the College, even read them, but having made himself acquainted with
their contents, a correspondence took place between him and Maurice. The
result was that the Council pronounced "the opinions expressed, and the
doubts indicated in the _Essays_, and the correspondence respecting
future punishments and the final issues of the day of judgment, to be of
dangerous tendency, and likely to unsettle the minds of the theological
students; and further decide that his continuance as Professor would be
seriously detrimental to the interests of the College."[160] Maurice
afterward held the office of Chaplain to Lincoln's Inn, but in 1860 he
was appointed by the Queen to the district church of Vere St.
Marylebone.

The relations of Maurice and Kingsley are most intimate, for besides
their leadership of the Broad Church, they are the exponents of the
so-called Christian Socialism.

Charles Kingsley has made a profound impression upon the present thought
and life of England. He betrays his martial lineage in the vigor of his
pen, and in that unswerving purpose to counteract what, in his opinion,
are serious barriers to the progress of the age. That he should
entertain sympathy with Coleridge might be expected from the very cast
of his mind, but his adoption of such a large proportion of that
thinker's sentiments may be due to his private education under the care
of Derwent Coleridge, son of the philosopher. Though only forty-six
years old, twenty of which have been passed in the rectorship of
Eversley, an enumeration of his works shows him to have written
theology, philosophy, poetry, and romance. But his publications betray
unity of purpose. Instead of suffering Christianity to be a dead weight
upon society, he would adapt it to the wants of the masses. He holds
that when the adaptation becomes thorough, when, by any means, the
people can be made to grasp Christianity, the reflexive influence will
be so great as to elevate them to a point unthought of by the sluggish
Church. But what is the Christianity which Kingsley would incorporate
into the life of society? Upon the answer to this inquiry depends the
difference between him and evangelical theologians.

The advocates of orthodoxy maintain that Christianity is a remedial
dispensation, introduced to meet an evil which could not be counteracted
by any other agency, human or divine; but with Kingsley it is only the
outward exhibition of what had ever existed in a concealed state. Man
has always been one with the Word, or Son of God, and, by virtue of the
nature of each, they are in perfect union. Christ manifested the union
first when he appeared on earth in the incarnate state, since he came to
declare to men that they were not estranged from him, but had always
been, and still were, in harmony with him. Men are not craven enemies of
God, which error a harsh theology would make them believe. They are his
friends, for Christ regarded them complacently as such; and the
atonement must not be deemed the reconciliation of sinful humanity and
angry Deity, but as the first manifestation of an ever-existing unity of
the two parties. We need not pass through the long ordeal of repentance
to be placed in the relation of sons; because we are all by nature
"members of Christ, children of God, and inheritors of the Kingdom of
Heaven."[161]

The Church, according to Kingsley, is the world in a certain aspect.
"The world," says an English writer, in stating Kingsley's opinion, "is
called the Church when it recognizes its relation to God in Christ, and
acts accordingly. The Church is the world lifting itself up into the
sunshine; the world is the Church falling into shadow and darkness. When
and where the light and life that are in the world break out into
bright, or noble, or holy word or deed, then and there the world shows
that the nature and glory of the Church live within it. Every man of the
world is not only potentially, but virtually a member of Christ's
Church, whatever may, for the present, be his character or seeming. Like
the colors in shot silk, or on a dove's neck, the difference of hue and
denomination depends merely upon the degree of light, and the angle of
vision. In conformity with this principle, Mr. Kingsley's theology
altogether secularizes the Kingdom of Christ."[162]

Kingsley's views of the offices of the Holy Spirit indicate a decided
approbation of the pantheistic theory. The third person of the Trinity
operates not only upon man, but through him upon the secular and
intellectual life of the world. Poetry, romance, and each act of
induction, are the work of the Spirit, whose agency secures all the
material and scientific growth of the world. Without that power, the car
of progress, whether in letters, mechanics, or ethics, must stop.

Kingsley would elevate the degraded portion of the race until the lowest
member be made to feel the transmuting agency of Christianity. He was
first led into sympathy with the poor operatives in the English
factories by reading Mayhew's _Sketches of London Labor and London
Poor_, and, in connection with Maurice, organized coöperative laboring
associations as a check to the crushing system of competitive labor.
Their plans succeeded, and many abject working men have been brought
into a higher social and moral condition than they had hitherto enjoyed.
These humanitarian efforts have attracted large numbers to the reception
of the tenets entertained by those putting them forth. "For," the
unthinking say, "if the opinions of these men will lead them to labor on
this wise for the social elevation of our fellow-beings, they must needs
be correct, and if so, worthy of our reception." But if Neo-Platonism
can make Maurices, Kingsleys, and a whole school of "Muscular
Christians" and "Christian Socialists," nothing less than the pure
religion of Christ can raise up Howards, Wilberforces, and Budgetts.

       *       *       *       *       *

The philosopher has always exerted a great power upon those who do not
philosophize. He is regarded by many as the inhabitant of a sphere which
few can enter, and his dictates are heard as fiats of a rightful ruler.
Those who cannot understand him fully often congratulate themselves that
the few unmistakable grains they have gathered from his opinions are
nuggets of pure gold, and entitled to the merit of becoming the world's
currency. The philosopher is not his own interpreter. There has seldom
been one who knew how to tell his thoughts to the masses. That is the
province of the popular writers who have adopted his opinions, and know
how to deal them out almost imperceptibly in the form of poetry and
fiction. One great philosophical mind has sometimes dictated the
literature of generations, and, in earlier periods, of entire centuries.

This influence of philosophy on literature is furnished with a new
illustration at the present day; some of the most popular and attractive
writers of Great Britain have extracted their opinions from one or more
of the later philosophers of Germany, and incorporated them into current
poetry, finance, and history. The effect has been to furnish the people
with a literature which possesses all the weight of vital religious
truth in the minds of those readers who prefer to derive their creed
from some enchanter in letters to seeking it immediately from the Bible
or its most reliable interpreters.

The department of literature in question inculcates as its cardinal
principle that man is unconscious of his power, he can do what seems
impossible, does not worship his fellows enough, is purer than his
clerical leaders would have him imagine, and ought, like certain of his
predecessors, to arouse to lofty efforts, assert his dignity and
divinity, and strive to advance the world to its proper glory and
perfection. The authors of these exciting and flattering appeals do not
surround their theory with proper safeguards, nor do they tell the world
that they have served up a delectable dish of Pantheism for popular
deglutition. The case is stated clearly by one who understands the
danger of this tendency, and whose pen has already been powerful in
exposing its absurdity. "In our general literature," says Bayne, "the
principle we have enunciated undergoes modification, and, for the most
part, is by no means expressed as pantheism. We refer to that spirit of
self-assertion, which lies so deep in what may be called the religion of
literature, to that wide-spread tendency to regard all reform of the
individual man as being an evolution of some hidden nobleness, or an
appeal to a perfect internal light or law, together with what may be
called the worship of genius, the habit of nourishing all hope on the
manifestation of the divine, by gifted individuals. We care not how this
last remarkable characteristic of the time be defined; to us its
connection with pantheism, and more or less close dependence on the
teaching of that of Germany, seem plain, but it is enough that we
discern in it an influence definably antagonistic to the spirit of
Christianity."[163]

The parentage of literary Rationalism in England is attributable to
Thomas Carlyle. Having "found his soul" in the philosophy of Germany, we
hear him, in 1827, defending the criticism of Kant as "distinctly the
greatest intellectual achievement of the century in which it came to
light." But the opinions of Fichte and Richter have subsequently had
more weight with Carlyle, and he has elaborated them in many forms.
Fichte, in particular, has influenced him to adopt a theory which gives
a practical denial to the Scriptural declarations of the fallen state of
humanity. Effort being goodness, the exterior world is only tolerable
because it furnishes an arena for the contest of work. Man will never
receive any prize unless he bestir himself to the exercise of his own
omnipotence. Individual life is all the real life possessed by this
world, and it is gifted with a spiritual wand capable of calling up
wondrous forms of beauty and worth. It matters not so much what man
works for, since his effort is the important matter. All ages have had a
few true men. The assertion of self-hood constitutes greatness; and
Zoroaster, Cromwell, Julius Cæsar, and Frederic the Great; heroes of any
creed or no creed, Pagan or Jew, are the world's worthies, its great
divinities. Men need not be conscious that they are doing great deeds
while in the act, nor, when the work is accomplished, that they have
performed anything worthy a school-boy's notice. On the other hand,
worth is tested by actual unconsciousness, "which teaches that all
self-knowledge is a curse, and introspection a disease; that the true
health of a man is to have a soul without being aware of it,--to be
disposed of by impulses which he never criticises,--to fling out the
products of creative genius without looking at them."

Man is the centre of the universe, which is everywhere clothed with
life. His is a spiritual power capable of effecting the great
transformations needed by his fellows. Let him be earnest, then, and
evolve the fruits of his wonderful strength. Since his mission is work,
here is Carlyle's gospel which calls him to it: "Work is of a religious
nature; all true work is sacred; in all true work, were it but true
hand-labor, there is something of divineness. Labor, wide as the earth,
has its summit in heaven. Sweat of the brow; and up from that to the
sweat of the brain, sweat of the heart; which includes all Kepler
calculations, Newton meditations, all sciences, all spoken epics, all
acted heroisms, martyrdoms,--up to that 'Agony of bloody sweat,' which
all men have called divine! O brother, if this is not 'worship,' then I
say the more pity for worship; for this is the noblest thing yet
discovered under God's sky." Work implies power, and power in the
individual is what society needs to keep it within proper bounds. Social
life requires the will of the single mind and hand; republicanism is
therefore the dream of fanatics, and ought not to be tolerated anywhere.
Popular rights are a fiction which the strong hand ought to dissipate at
a thrust. The greatest men are the greatest despots, and the exercise of
their unlimited authority is what entitles them to our worship. Napoleon
III. preaches the pure gospel of politics in his _Life of Julius Cæsar_.
Absolute subjection--call it slavery, if you please--is the proper state
of large bodies of helpless humanity, who are absolutely dependent upon
some master of iron will for guidance and development.

Such being Carlyle's view of human rights, it is not surprising that he
has applauded the most gigantic effort in history to establish a
government upon the system of human bondage. But all slavery will by and
by vanish like the tobacco-smoke of "Teufelsdröckh." Part of the world's
best work will be the unceasing effort for its universal and perpetual
extermination; and posterity will honor those who labor for this
consummation as greater benefactors and workers than all the divinities
idolized by the author of _Sartor Resartus_ and the _Life of Frederic
the Great_.

While Carlyle's system does not appear to flatter humanity its effect is
of that character. He would make his readers believe that they are pure,
great, and capable beings like those deified by him. The adulation
being too great for many who peruse his pages, large numbers of readers
are led into dangerous vagaries. "The influence of Carlyle's writings,"
says an essayist, "and especially of his _Sartor Resartus_, has been
primarily exerted on classes of men most exposed to temptations of
egotism and petulance, and least subjected to anything above
them,--academics, artists, _littérateurs_, strong-minded women,
'debating' youths, Scotchmen of the phrenological grade, and Irishmen of
the young-Ireland school."[164] There are very many beside this
grotesque group, who exclaim, with one of his warmest admirers, "Carlyle
is my religion!" There are others again who say gratefully what John
Sterling wrote him in his last brief letter, "Towards me it is still
more true than towards England that no man has been and done like
you."[165]

The time has not yet come when men can awake from the spell of a charmer
like Carlyle. But the illusion will some day be dissipated, and many of
his readers in Great Britain and America will feel deeply and almost
despairingly that, in the original fountain of his teaching, there was
"a poison-drop which killed the plants it was expected to nourish, and
left a sterile waste where men looked for the bloom and the opulence of
a garden of God." It behooves those who idolize him to examine the image
before which they stand. He is a man of unquestioned boldness and some
originality, and no one of the present generation has greater power to
dazzle and bewilder the young. Happily, age brings with it the clearing
up of much of the obscurity of youth, and on the additional light of
increasing years we depend for the illumination of many a mind obscured
by his sentiments. The late R. A. Vaughan, a careful observer of the
tendencies of English thought, says: "It may not be flattering to Mr.
Carlyle, but we believe it to be true that by far the larger portion of
the best minds, whose early youth his writings have powerfully
influenced, will look back upon the period of such subjection as the
most miserably morbid period of their life. On awaking from such
delirium to the sane and healthful realities of manful toil, they will
discover the hollowness of that sneering, scowling, wailing,
declamatory, egotistical, and bombastic misanthropy, which, in the eye
of their unripe judgment, wore the air of a philosophy so
profound."[166] The time will also come when Carlyle will be revealed to
all in his true character: as the theologian preaching a pagan creed; as
the philosopher emasculating the German philosophy which he scrupled not
to borrow; as the stylist perverting the pure English of Milton and
Shakspeare into inflated, oracular Richterisms; and as the arch
demagogue who, despising the people at heart, assigned no bounds to his
ambition to gain their hearing and cajole them into the reception of his
unmixed Pantheism.

The periodical press has been a successful agency in the dissemination
of literary Rationalism throughout the British Islands. Years before the
recent discussions sprang up, the _Westminster Review_ was the ablest
and most avowed of all the advocates of the "liberal theology" of the
Continent. It still rules without a rival. Emboldened by the late
accession of sympathizers, it opposes orthodoxy and the Church with an
arrogance equal to that of the _Universal German Library_, whose editor,
Nicolai, is reported to have said: "My object is merely to hold up to
the laughter and contempt of the public the orthodox and hypocritical
clergy of the Protestant church, and to show that they make their own
bad cause the cause of their office and of religion, or rather that of
Almighty God himself,--to show that when they make an outcry about
prevailing errors, infidelity, and blasphemy, they are only speaking of
their own ignorance, hypocrisy, and love of persecution, of the
wickedness of their own hearts concealed under the mantle of
piety."[167]

From its character as a quarterly publication, the _Westminster Review_
has the constant opportunity to reply to every new work of Christian
apology, and to elaborate each new heresy of the Rationalistic thinkers.
Assuming a thoroughly negative position, it repels every tendency toward
a higher type of piety, and retards, as far as it can, the popular
acceptance of the doctrines of Christianity. Its attacks on the sanctity
of the Sabbath are bold, and carefully designed to affect popular
sentiment. It gives its support to the fatal theories of Sociology, a
system which holds "that so uniform are the operations of motives upon
the actions of men that social regulations may be reduced to an exact
science, and society be organized to a perfect model." It thus commits
itself to the position that all history takes place by force of
necessity.

The _Westminster Review_ studiously opposes the orthodox view of
inspiration, miracles, the atonement, and the Biblical age of the world
and of man. It indorses the sentiments of the Tübingen school, and holds
with Baur that if we would know the truth of the early Church, its
entire apostolic history must be reconstructed. It is compelled to
confess the recent advance of evangelical doctrines in the German mind,
but sees only evil in the fact, and utters this jeremiade: "This church
sentiment, which has seized upon the whole of the _noblesse_ in North
Germany is becoming every year the sentiment of the clergy. The
theological radicalism of the last period is now quite a thing of the
past. The present is an epoch of restoration. Scientific criticism has
no longer any interest; it is, who can be most orthodox, and reproduce
more precisely the ideas of the sixteenth century. As the scientific and
critical school is defunct, the mediation-theology, whose business was
to compromise between the results of learning and the principles of
orthodoxy, is necessarily in a state of decay. Its occupation is gone.
This school of theologians, which numbers in its ranks some of the most
respectable names in Germany, and which traces its origin to
Schleiermacher, can scarcely be said now to make head against the
sweeping current of Pharisaical orthodoxy. Some of its older
representatives have been withdrawn from the scene either by age or
death; others have followed the multitude, and conformed to the reigning
'churchmanship.' It is the old story enacted in the Catholic revival of
the end of the sixteenth century, and at other times before and since.
The reactionary clergy have succeeded in getting themselves regarded as
the Swiss Guard of the throne. They stand between Royalty and
Revolution. All the places in the gift of the crown--and all the places
are in the gift of the crown--are filled on party considerations.
Learning goes for nothing. Thus inferior men are elevated to a platform
from which they deliver their dicta with authority, and ignorance can
contradict knowledge at an advantage. The mutual understanding among the
party enables them to puff each other's books, and run down their
opponents. Only learning can get no hearing."[168]

A number of writers have been furnished with a creed by the literature
of which we have spoken, and are now endeavoring to teach it to the
people. Their system has many names, among which are, Positivism,
Secularism, and Socialism. Consummate shrewdness is exhibited in its
presentation to the people, "the children of this world" sustaining
their old reputation for superior wisdom. The circulating libraries
abound in its books, and the newspaper and six-penny pamphlet are used
as instruments for its wider dissemination.

The Protestant church of Great Britain has no time for idleness, and
cannot afford to waste any truth-power while so many enemies are
assailing its walls. When the crisis shall have passed it will be seen
that not a superfluous hand was lifted in the combat. What British and
American Protestantism needs to-day is not a class of discoverers of new
truth, but that the defenders of the old truth, availing themselves of
every new step of science and criticism, be chivalric in opposing their
adversaries, and watchful of the interests which God has placed in their
keeping.


FOOTNOTES:

[142] _National Review_, Oct., 1856.

[143] _Introductory Essay to Coleridge's Works._ Vol. i., pp. 21-22.
Harper's edition.

[144] Letter dated Shrewsbury, Jan. 19th, 1798, to Mr. Isaac Wood, High
St., Shrewsbury.

[145] _Biographia Literaria._ Appendix III., p. 709.

[146] _Introductory Essay to Coleridge's Works_, vol. i., pp. 35-36.

[147] _Works_, vol. i., p. 115.

[148] _Works_, p. 241. The full argument is contained on pp. 241-253.

[149] Ibid. vol. i., pp. 269-271.

[150] _Works_, vol. i., p. 308.

[151] Ibid, p. 325.

[152] _Mission of the Comforter._ Note 8a.

[153] _Sermons on the Law of Self-Sacrifice, and the Unity of the
Church._

[154] _Sermon on John_, xix., 30.

[155] _Theological Essays._ Second Edition. London, 1853. Maurice has
published thirty-four works. _Vid._ Low's _English Catalogue_,
1835-1862, pp. 509-510.

[156] _Lectures on the Old Testament_, p. 6.

[157] Ibid. pp. 3-6.

[158] _Unity of the New Testament._ _Introduction_, pp. xxi.-xxvi.

[159] _Theological Essays_, p. 61.

[160] The date of this Sentence was Oct. 28th, 1853.

[161] _Sermons on National Subjects._ First Series, p. 14. London
Edition.

[162] _Modern Anglican Theology._ By the Rev. J. H. Rigg. Second
Edition. London, 1859. The student of contemporary theology will find
this work the best summary of the opinions of Coleridge and his school.

[163] _Christian Life_, p. 14. American Edition.

[164] _National Review_, Oct. 1856.

[165] _Life of Sterling_, p. 334.

[166] _Essays and Remains_, vol. i., pp. 7-8.

[167] _Sebaldus Nothanker._ Second Edition. 1774.

[168] October Number, 1863.



CHAPTER XXI.

ENGLAND CONTINUED: CRITICAL RATIONALISM--JOWETT, THE ESSAYS AND REVIEWS,
AND COLENSO.


The devout disciple of Christ regards the Scriptures with profound
reverence, for they contain the doctrines which show him his path to the
pure life of heaven. His theological opponents are not blind to this
attachment, nor are they ignorant of the service of the Bible in
supporting the entire Christian system. It could not therefore be
expected that, while literature and philosophy were affected by
Rationalism, the Scriptures should escape with impunity. There lies a
deep destructive purpose beneath the brief utterance of Dr. Temple: "The
immediate work of our day is the study of the Bible.[169]" The Critical
Rationalism of England which is now attracting the attention of the
civilized world is of recent growth, but the energy with which it has
been cultivated is unsurpassed in the annals of skepticism.

Professor Jowett's commentary on the _Epistles to Thessalonians,
Galatians, and Romans_, was published in 1855. Coming from a highly
respectable source, and assailing the doctrines of revelation boldly, it
was a clear indication of what might be expected from the Critical
Rationalists as a class.

The doctrine of the atonement, according to this writer, is involved in
perplexities whose growth is of more than a thousand years. Christ did
not die to appease the divine wrath, and "sacrifice" and "atonement"
were accommodated terms used by the apostles because they had been
reared among the Jewish offerings and were familiar with them. The great
advantage we derive from Christ is his life, in which we behold a
perfect harmony of nature, absolute self-renunciation, pure love, and
resignation. We know nothing of the objective act on God's part by which
he reconciled the world to himself, the very description of it being a
figure of speech. Conversion is not in accordance with the claims of
orthodoxy, for while there were conversions in the early Church, there
is no possibility of establishing a harmony between them and those which
are now said to occur. The conversions of the first Christians were
marked by ecstatic and unusual phenomena, whole multitudes were
simultaneously affected, and the changes wrought were permanent; but the
subjects were chiefly ignorant people, who no doubt did many things
which would have been distasteful to us as men of education.[170]

The most noteworthy work of the Critical Rationalists is the _Essays and
Reviews_ (1861), a volume which consists of broad generalizations
against the authority of the Bible as a standard of faith.

I. THE EDUCATION OF THE WORLD. By Frederic Temple, D. D. There is a
radical difference between man and inanimate nature. The latter is
passive, and subject to the workings of the vast physical machinery, but
man is at no time stationary, for he develops from age to age, and
concentrates in his history the results and achievements of all
previous history. There is no real difference between the capacity of
men now and that of the antediluvian world; the ground of disparity lies
in the time of development afforded the present generation. Thus a child
of twelve stands at present where once stood the full-grown man.

There are three stages in the world's development: Childhood, Youth,
Maturity. Childhood requires positive rules, and is made subject to
them; youth is governed by the force of example; and manhood, being free
from external restraints, must be its own instructor. We have first
rules, then examples, and last principles:--the Law, the Son of Man, and
the Gift of the Spirit. The world was once a child, under tutors and
governors until the time appointed by the Father. Afterwards, when the
fit season had arrived, the Example, to which all ages should turn, was
sent to teach men what they ought to be; and the human race was left to
itself to be guided by the instruction of the Spirit within.[171] The
world, before the time of Christ, was in its childhood, when commands
were given without explanation. The pre-Christian world, being in its
state of discipline and childhood, was divided into four classes: the
Roman, the Greek, the Asiatic, and the Hebrew, each of which contributed
something toward the world's improvement and its preparation for the age
of Example. The Hebrew did the most, though his work was of the same
class and aimed at the same result. The Roman gave an iron will; the
Greek, a cultivated reason and taste; the Asiatic, the idea of
immortality, and spiritual imagination; and the Hebrew, the trained
conscience.

The whole period from the close of the old Testament to the termination
of the New was the time of the world's youth, the age of examples.[172]
Christ came just at the right time; if he had waited until the present
age his incarnation would have been misplaced, and we could not
recognize his divinity; for the faculty of faith has turned inwards, and
cannot now accept any outward manifestations of the truth of God.[173]

The present age is that of independent reflection and the supremacy of
conscience--the world's manhood. Laws and examples are absolute, and
should be forgotten, just as we look lightly upon the things of our
childhood. The world has arrived at its present exalted state through a
severe ordeal, but the grandeur of its position is sufficient to make it
forget its trials. "The spirit or conscience [which are terms for
reason] comes to full strength and assumes the throne intended for him
in the soul. As an accredited judge, invested with full powers, he sits
in the tribunal of our inner kingdom, decides upon the past, and
legislates upon the future, without appeal except to himself. He decides
not by what is beautiful or noble, or soul-inspiring, but by what is
right. Gradually he frames his code of laws, revising, adding,
abrogating, as a wiser and deeper experience gives him clearer light. He
is the third great teacher and the last."[174]

In some aspects this essay is the least objectionable in the volume. Yet
it contains radical errors which many a reader would accept without
suspicion. The agency of the Holy Spirit in revelation is ignored, and
the development through which the world has passed is confounded with
civilization. This development is alleged to have occurred in a purely
natural way, the Hebrew type being no more a divine appointment than
that of the Grecian or Roman. The doctrines of Christianity were not
clearly stated in the early Church, and the flight of eighteen centuries
has been required to lift the curtain from them.[175] Conscience is
placed above the Bible, and if the statements of the Scriptures be in
conflict with it, allowance must be made for occasional inaccuracies,
interpolations, and forgeries.[176]

II. $1nd Williams, D. D. We here find
the same deference paid to conscience as in the preceding essay. If it
differ from revelation, man's own notions of right and wrong must
prevail over Scripture. Dr. Williams is contented with arraying Bunsen's
skeptical theories before the British public without formally indorsing
them himself; yet, as their reviewer, he is evidently in complete
harmony with the German author. For he carefully collects the
chevalier's extravagant speculations; brings them into juxtaposition;
admires the spirit, boldness, and learning which had given birth to
them; and in no case refutes, but looks with complacence upon nearly
every one. The impression of a candid reader of the essay must be, that
the writer indorses almost all of Bunsen's opinions without having the
courage to avow his assent. Of his hero he says, "Bunsen's enduring
glory is neither to have faltered with his conscience, nor shrunk from
the difficulties of the problem, but to have brought a vast erudition,
in the light of a Christian conscience, to unroll tangled records;
tracing frankly the Spirit of God elsewhere, but borrowing chiefly the
traditions of his Hebrew Sanctuary."[177]

The absence of that reverence to be expected in all whose vocation
enjoins the frequent reading of the sublime liturgy of the Church of
England, produces a depressing influence upon any one not in sympathy
with the doctrines of Rationalism. The Evangelical theologians are
termed "The despairing school, who forbid us to trust in God or in our
own conscience, unless we kill our souls with literalism."[178] The
inquiries and successes of the German Rationalists are worthy of hearty
admiration, for they are so great that the world has seldom, if ever,
seen their equal. Bishops Pearson and Butler, and Mr. Mansel are
seriously at fault in their notions of prophecy, and even Jerome is
guilty of gross puerilities. There is no reason why Bunsen may not be
right when he holds that the world must be twenty thousand years old;
there is no chronological element in revelation; the avenger who slew
the first-born, may have been the Bedouin host; in the passage of the
Red Sea, the description may be interpreted with the latitude of poetry;
it is right to reject the perversions which make the cursing Psalms
evangelically inspired; perhaps one passage in Zechariah and one in
Isaiah may be direct prophecies of the Messiah, and possibly a chapter
in Deuteronomy may foreshadow the final fall of Jerusalem; the Messianic
prophecies are mere contemporaneous history; and the fifty-third chapter
of Isaiah is only a description of the sufferings of Jeremiah.
Inspiration is too loftily conceived by "the well-meaning crowd," for
whom we should manifest "grave compassion."

What is the Bible, continues the essayist, but the written voice of the
congregation, and not the written voice of God? Why all this reverence
for the sacred writers, since they acknowledge themselves men of like
passions with us? Justification by faith is merely peace of mind from
trust in a righteous God, and not a fiction of merit by transfer.
Regeneration is a correspondent giving of insight or an awakening of the
forces of the soul; propitiation is the recovery of peace, and the
atonement is our sharing the Saviour's Spirit, but not his purchase of
us by his own blood. Throughout the Scriptures we should assume in
ourselves a verifying faculty,--conscience, reason, or whatever else we
choose to term it.

III. ON THE STUDY OF THE EVIDENCES OF CHRISTIANITY. By Baden Powell, M.
A. The author of this essay having recently died, he has therefore
incurred less censure than he would otherwise have received. The views
here expressed, taken in connection with his more elaborate treatise on
the _Order of Nature_, do not place him on the same theoretical ground
with Hume and Spinoza; but the moral effect of the present attack upon
miracles as an evidence of Christianity is not less antagonistic than
the theories of either of those authors. Spinoza held that miracles are
impossible, because it would be derogatory to God to depart from the
established laws of the universe, and one of Hume's objections to them
was their incapability of being proved from testimony.[179]

Professor Powell objects to them because they bear no analogy to the
harmony of God's dealings in the material world; and insists that they
are not to be credited, since they are a violation of the laws of matter
or an interruption of the course of physical causes. The orthodox
portion of the Church are laboring under the egregious error of making
them an essential doctrine, when they are really a mere external
accessory. Reason, and not "our desires" must come to our aid in all
examination of them. The key-note to Professor Powell's opposition is
contained in the following statement: "From the nature of our antecedent
convictions, the probability of _some_ kind of mistake or deception
somewhere, though we know not _where_, is greater than the probability
of the event really happening in _the way_ and from the _causes_
assigned."[180] The inductive philosophy, for which great respect must
be paid, is enlisted against miracles. If we once know all about those
alleged and held as such, we would find them resolved into natural
phenomena, just as "the angel at Milan was the aerial reflection of an
image on a church; the balls of fire at Plausac were electrical; the
sea-serpent was a basking shark on a stem of sea-weed. A committee of
the French Academy of Sciences, with Lavoisier at its head, after a
grave investigation, pronounced the alleged fall of aërolites to be a
superstitious fable."[181]

The two theories against the reality of miracles in their received
sense, are: _first_, that they are attributable to natural causes; and,
_second_, that they may involve more or less of the parabolic or mythic
character. These assumptions do away with any real admission of miracles
even on religious grounds. The animus of the whole essay may be
determined by the following treatment of testimony and reason:
"Testimony, after all, is but a second-hand assurance; it is but a blind
guide; testimony can avail nothing against reason. The essential
question of miracles stands quite apart from any consideration of
_testimony_; the question would remain the same, if we had the evidence
of our own senses to an alleged miracle; that is, to an extraordinary
or inexplicable fact. It is not the _mere fact_, but the _cause_ or
_explanation_ of it, which is the point at issue."[182] This means far
more than Spinoza, Hume, or any other opponent of miracles, except the
radical Rationalists of Germany, has claimed,--that we must not believe
a miracle though actually witnessed.

IV. SEANCES HISTORIQUES DE GENEVE--THE NATIONAL CHURCH. By Henry Bristow
Wilson, B. D. The Multitudinist principle, or Broad Christianity, is
advocated by the essayist with earnestness and an array of learning. The
difficulty concerning the non-attendance of a large portion of the
British population upon the ordinances of the Church is met by the
proposition to abrogate subscription to all creeds and articles of
faith, and thus convert the whole nation into a Broad Church. The youth
of the land are educated into a false and idolatrous view of the Bible.
But on the Census-Sunday of 1861, five millions and a quarter of
persons, or forty-two per cent. of the whole population, were not
present at service. Many of these people do not believe some of the
doctrines preached; they have thought seriously, but cannot sympathize
with what they are compelled to hear. If we break down all subscription
and include them in the great National Church, we will approach the
Scriptural ideal. Unless this be done they will fall into Dissenting
hands, and die outside the Church of Christ. There are several proofs of
the Scriptural indorsement of Nationalism; Christ's lament over
Jerusalem declares that he had offered Multitudinism to the inhabitants
nationally, while the three thousand souls converted on the day of
Pentecost cannot be supposed to have been individual converts, but
merely a mass of persons brought in as a body. Some of the converts of
the apostolic age did not believe in the resurrection, which fact
implies that the early Churches took collective names from the
localities where they were situated, and that doubt of the resurrection
should now be no bar to communion in the National Church. Even
heathenism in its best form proceeded on the Multitudinist principle,
for all were included as believers in the faith of the times. The
approval of reason and conscience, and not verbal adherence to human
interpretation of Scripture, should be the great test of membership.
Advice is administered by the essayist to the Church of which he is a
clergyman, in this language: "A national church may also find itself in
this position; which, perhaps, is our own. Its ministers may become
isolated between two other parties,--between those, on the one hand, who
draw fanatical inferences from formularies and principles which they
themselves are not able or are unwilling to repudiate; and on the other,
those who have been tempted, in impatience of old fetters, to follow
free thought heedlessly wherever it may lead them. If our own churchmen
expect to discourage and repress a fanatical Christianity without a
frank appeal to reason, and a frank criticism of Scripture, they will
find themselves without any effectual arms for that combat; or if they
attempt to check inquiry by the repetition of old forms and
denunciations, they will be equally powerless, and run the especial risk
of turning into bitterness the sincerity of those who should be their
best allies, as friends of truth. They should avail themselves of the
aid of all reasonable persons for enlightening the fanatical
religionist, making no reserve of any seemingly harmless or apparently
serviceable superstitions of their own. They should also endeavor to
supply to the negative theologian some positive elements in
Christianity, on grounds more sure to him than the assumption of an
objective "faith once delivered to the saints," which he cannot identify
with the creed of any church as yet known to him."[183]

V. ON THE MOSAIC COSMOGONY. By C. W. Goodwin, M. A. The assumption is
made that the Mosaic account of creation is irreconcilable with the real
creation of the earth. We do wrong in elevating that narrative above its
proper position, and orthodox geologists have grossly erred in attaching
much importance to the language of the first chapter of Genesis. There
is nothing poetical or figurative in the whole account; it contains no
mystical or symbolical meaning, and is a plain statement of just so much
as suited the Jewish mind. All attempts, however, to find any
consistency between it and the present state of science are simply
absurd. The theory of Chalmers and Buckland, and afterward that of Hugh
Miller, are not tenable, for Moses was ignorant of what we now know, and
his alleged description is contradicted by scientific inquiry. If then
it is plain that God has not thought it needful to communicate to the
writer of the Scriptural Cosmogony the knowledge revealed by modern
researches, why do we not confess it? We would do so if it did not
conflict with a human theory which presumes to point out how God ought
to have instructed man.[184] The writer had no authority for what he
asserts so solemnly and unhesitatingly, for he was an early speculator
who stated as facts what he only conjectured as probabilities. Yet he
seized one great truth, in which he anticipated the highest revelation
of modern inquiry; namely, the unity of the design of the world, and
its subordination to one sole Maker and Law-giver.[185] But no one
contends that the Mosaic view can be used as a basis of astronomical or
geological teaching; and we must therefore consider the Scriptural
cosmogony not as "an authentic utterance of divine knowledge, but a
human utterance, which it has pleased Providence to use in a special way
for the education of mankind."[186]

VI. TENDENCIES OF RELIGIOUS THOUGHT IN ENGLAND, 1688-1750. By Mark
Pattison, B. D. We are surrounded with a Babel of religious creeds and
theories, and it is all-important that we should know how we have
inherited them. If we would understand our times, we must know the
productive influences of the past; if we would thread the present mazes
of religious pretension, we should not neglect those immediate agencies
in their production that had their origin near the beginning of the
eighteenth century. These agencies are three in number: 1. The formation
and growth of that compromise between church and state which is called
Toleration; 2. Methodism without the Church and the evangelical movement
within it; 3. The growth and gradual diffusion, through all religious
thinking, of the supremacy of reason. The theology of the Deistic age is
identical with Rationalism. That Rationalistic period of England is
divided into two parts: from 1688 to 1750, and from 1750 to 1830. The
second age may be called that of evidences, when the clergy continued to
manufacture evidence as an ingenious exercise,--a literature which was
avowedly professional, a study which might seem theology without being
it, and which could awaken none of the dormant skepticism beneath the
surface of society.[187] The defense of the Deists was perhaps as good
as the orthodox attack, but they were inquirers after truth, and being
guided by reason, they deserve all commendation. Yet they only
foreshadowed the glory of the present supremacy of reason. Deism strove
eagerly for light; it saw the dawn; the present is the noonday. The
human understanding wished to be satisfied, and did not care to believe
that of which it could not see the substantial ground. The mind was
coming slowly to see that it had duties which it could not devolve upon
others, and that a man must think for himself, protect his own rights,
and administer his own affairs.

Reason was never less extravagant than in this first essay of its
strength; for its demands were modest, and it was easily satisfied,--far
too easily, we must think, when we look at some of the reasonings which
passed as valid.[188]

English Deism, a system which paralyzed the religious life and thought
of the nation, has never had a more enthusiastic eulogist than the
author of this historical plea for Rationalism. If the demands of the
Deists were "modest," who shall be able to find a term sufficiently
descriptive of the claims of their present successors?

VII. ON THE INTERPRETATION OF SCRIPTURE. By Benjamin Jowett, M. A.
Professor Jowett, as commentator on St. Paul's epistles, had already so
defined his position on the science of Scriptural exegesis, that we
needed no new information to be convinced of his antagonism to
evangelical interpretation. The present essay, which is the most
formidable and destructive in the volume, commences with a lamentation
over the prevailing differences in the exposition of the Bible. The
Germans have been far more successful in this respect than the English
people, the former having arrived at a tolerable degree of concurrence.

The word "inspiration" is a _crux theologorum_, the most of its
explanations being widely divergent, and at variance with the original
signification of the term. We make it embrace far too much, for there is
no foundation for any high or supernatural views of inspiration in
either the Gospels or Epistles. There is no appearance in those writings
that their authors had any extraordinary gift, or that they were free
from error or infirmity; St. Paul hesitated in difficult cases, and more
than once corrected himself; one of the gospel historians does not
profess to have been an eye-witness of the events described by him; the
evangelists do not agree as to the dwelling-place of Christ's parents,
nor concerning the circumstances of the crucifixion; they differ about
the woman who anointed our Lord's feet; and the fulfillment of the Old
Testament prophecy is not discernible in the New Testament history. To
the question, What is inspiration? there are two answers: _first_, That
idea of Scripture which we gather from the knowledge of it; and,
_second_, that any true doctrine of inspiration must conform to all the
ascertained facts of history or of science. The meaning of Scripture has
nothing to do with the question of inspiration, for if the word
"inspiration" were to become obsolete nothing vital would be lost, since
it is but a term of yesterday. The solution of the various difficulties
in the gospels is, that the tradition on which the first three are based
was preserved orally, and, having been slowly put together, was written
in three forms. The writers of the first three gospels were, therefore,
not independent witnesses of the history itself. To interpret the Bible
properly it must be treated as any other book, "in the same careful and
impartial way that we ascertain the meaning of Sophocles or Plato....
Scripture, like other books, has one meaning, which is to be gathered
from itself, without reference to the adaptations of fathers or divines,
and without regard to _à priori_ notions about its nature and origin. It
is to be interpreted also with attention to the character of its
authors, and the prevailing state of civilization and knowledge, with
allowance for peculiarities of style and language, and modes of thought
and figures of speech; yet not without a sense, that, as we read, there
grows upon us the witness of God in the word, anticipating in a rude and
primitive age the truth that was to be, shining more and more unto the
perfect day in the life of Christ, which again is reflected from
different points of view in the teachings of his apostles."[189]

The old methods of interpretation, Jowett concludes, must give place to
this new and perfect system, for the growing state of science, the
pressing wants of man, and his elevated reason demand it. If this
liberal scheme be inaugurated we shall have a higher idea of truth than
is supplied by the opinion of mankind in general, or by the voice of
parties in a Church.

It is interesting to notice the opinions of the evangelical theologians
of Germany, who have long been accustomed to attacks upon Christianity,
concerning these English critics. "The authors of the essays," says
Hengstenberg, "have been trained in a German school. It is only the echo
of German infidelity which we hear from the midst of the English church.
They appear to us as parrots, with only this distinction, common among
parrots, that they imitate more or less perfectly. The treatise of
Temple is in its scientific value about equal to an essay written by the
pupils of the middle classes of our colleges.... The essay of Goodwin on
the Mosaic cosmogony displays the naïve assurance of one who receives
the modern critical science from the second or tenth hand. The editor
[Hengstenberg] asked the now deceased Andreas Wagner, a distinguished
professor of natural sciences at the University of Munich, to subject
this treatise to an examination from the stand-point of natural science.
The offer was accepted, and the book given to him. But after some time
it was returned with the remark, that he must take back his promise, as
the book was beneath all criticism.... All these essays tend toward
Atheism. Their subordinate value is seen in the inability of their
authors to recognize their goal clearly, and in their want of courage to
declare this knowledge. Only Baden Powell forms in this respect an
exception. He uses several expressions, in which the grinning spectre
makes his appearance almost undisguisedly. He speaks not only sneeringly
of the idea of a positive external revelation, which has hitherto formed
the basis of all systems of the Christian faith; he even raises himself
against the 'Architect of the world,' whom the old English Free Thinkers
and Free Masons had not dared to attack."[190]

The _Essays and Reviews_ were not long in print before the periodicals
called attention to their extraordinary character. Had they not been the
_Oxford Essays_, and written by well-known and influential men, they
would probably have created but little interest, and passed away with
the first or second edition. But their origin and associations gave
them weight at the outset. The press soon began to teem with replies
written from every possible stand-point. Volumes of all sizes, from
small pamphlets to bulky octavos, were spread abroad as an antidote to
the poison. From trustworthy statements we are assured that there have
been called forth by the _Essays and Reviews_ in England alone nearly
four hundred publications. Hardly a newspaper, religious or secular,
metropolitan or provincial, has stood aloof from the contest. Every seat
of learning has been agitated, the social classes have been aroused, the
entire nation has taken part in the strife. Meanwhile, the High Church
and Low Church have united in the cordial condemnation of the work. Even
some of the First Broad Churchmen have written heartily against its
theology and influence.

A remarkable feature of the whole controversy is the judicial
prosecution of the essayists. Petitions numerously signed were presented
to the bishops, praying that some action might be taken against them.
One protest contained the signatures of nine thousand clergymen of the
Established church; and the bishops, without a single exception, took
ground against the theological bearing of the _Essays and Reviews_. The
Convocations of Canterbury and York, which possessed the full exercise
of their legislative functions for the first time in one hundred and
fifty years, declared against it, and pledged their influence to protect
the church from the "pernicious doctrines and heretical tendencies of
the book." After much deliberation and counsel, Dr. Williams and Mr.
Wilson were summoned before the court of Arches, the chief
ecclesiastical tribunal of England. Finally, June 21, 1864, decision was
pronounced that they had departed from the teachings of the Thirty-Nine
Articles on the inspiration of Holy Scripture, on the atonement, and on
justification. They were therefore suspended for one year, with the
further penalty of costs and deprivation of their salary. At the urgent
solicitation of friends, in addition to their own strong desire to push
their defense as far as possible, their case was brought before the
Privy Council, a court of which the Queen is a member, and from which
there can be no appeal. Contrary to the general expectation, the
decision of the Court of Arches was reversed, and the essayists in
question were restored to their functions. The reversal of the decision
of the Court of Arches is couched in the following significant language:
"On the general tendency of the book called 'Essays and Reviews,' and on
the effort or aim of the whole essay of Dr. Williams, or the whole essay
of Mr. Wilson, we neither can, nor do, pronounce any opinion. On the
short extracts before us, our Judgment is that the charges are not
proved. Their Lordships, therefore, will humbly recommend to Her Majesty
that the sentences be reversed, and the reformed articles be rejected in
like manner as the rest of the original articles; but inasmuch as the
Appellants have been obliged to come to this Court, their Lordships
think it right that they should have the costs of this Appeal."[191]
This action was regarded by every skeptical sympathizer as a great
triumph, and we may therefore expect the Rationalistic school to engage
in still more important enterprises than any to which they have
addressed themselves.

The most outspoken and violent attacks of critical Rationalism in
England are contained in the exegetical publications of Dr. John William
Colenso, who, in 1853, was consecrated Bishop of Natal, South Eastern
Africa. He had previously issued a series of mathematical works which
obtained a wide circulation; but his first book of scriptural criticism
was the _Epistle to the Romans, newly translated and explained from a
Missionary Point of View_. Having completed the New Testament and
several parts of the Old, he was laboring assiduously on a translation
of the Bible into the Zulu tongue, when his former doubts concerning the
unhistorical character of the Pentateuch revived with increased force.
The intelligent native who was assisting him in his literary work asked,
respecting the account of the flood, "Is all that true?" This, with
other inquiries propounded to him by the Zulus, led him to a careful
reëxamination of the Mosaic record.

The fruit of this additional study is the _Pentateuch and Book of Joshua
critically examined, in Three Parts_. Appearing just at the time when
the contest concerning the _Essays and Reviews_ was at fever-heat, the
Bishop's work added excitement to all the combatants.

Those who are intimately acquainted with the treatment of the Pentateuch
and Book of Joshua by the most unsparing of the German Rationalists will
at once see the resemblance between their views and those of Colenso.
His aim is to overthrow the historical character of the early Scriptural
history by exposing the contradictions and impossibilities contained
therein; and also to fix the real origin, age and authorship of the
so-called narratives of Moses and Joshua. "I have arrived at the
conviction," says he, "that the Pentateuch, as a whole, cannot possibly
have been written by Moses, or by any one acquainted personally with the
facts which it professes to describe, and, further, that the so-called
Mosaic narrative, by whomsoever written, and though imparting to us, as
I fully believe it does, revelations of the Divine will and character,
cannot be regarded as _historically true_.... My reason for no longer
receiving the Pentateuch as historically true, is not that I find
insuperable difficulties with regard to the _miracles_ or supernatural
_revelations_ of Almighty God recorded in it, but solely that I cannot,
as a true man, consent any longer to shut my eyes to the absolute,
palpable self-contradictions of the narrative. The notion of miraculous
or supernatural interferences does not present to my own mind the
difficulties which it seems to present to some. I could believe and
receive the miracles of Scripture heartily, if only they were
authenticated by a veracious history; though, if that is not the case
with the Pentateuch, any miracles, which rest on such an unstable
support, must necessarily fall to the ground with it."[192]

In proof of this assumption the author selects a large number of
inexplicable portions from the narratives in question, and uses all the
resources of his talents and learning to prove them to be the fruit of
"error, infirmity, passion, and ignorance." Hezron and Hanuel, he avers,
were certainly born in the land of Canaan; the whole assembly of Israel
could not have gathered about the door of the tabernacle; all Israel
could not have been heard by Moses, for they numbered about two millions
of people, according to the assumption of the Biblical narrative. The
Israelites could not have dwelt in tents; they were not armed; the
institution of the Passover, as described in the book of Exodus, was an
impossibility, the Israelites could not take cattle through the barren
country over which they passed; there is an incompatibility between the
supposed number of Israel and the predominance of wild beasts in
Palestine; the number of the first-born is irreconcilable with the
number of male adults; and the number of the priests at the exodus
cannot be harmonized with their duties, and with the provision made for
them.[193] These, with other difficulties chiefly of a numerical nature,
constitute the basis on which the Bishop builds his objections to the
historical character of Exodus as an integral part of the Pentateuch.

In order to determine the true quality of the Book of Genesis, he brings
out the old theory that the work had two writers, the _Elohist_ and the
_Jehovist_,--so called because of their separate use of a term for
Deity. The Elohist was the older, and his narrative was the ground-work
which the Jehovist used and upon which he constructed his own
additions.[194] This Elohist account is defined to be "a series of
parables, based, as we have said, on legendary facts, though not
historically true."[195] The Pentateuch existed originally not as five
books, but as one; and it is possible that its quintuple division was
made in the time of Ezra. The writer of Chronicles was the same who
wrote the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, probably a Levite living after the
time of Nehemiah; the Chronicles were therefore written only four
hundred years before Christ; but the Chronicler must not be relied on
unless there is other evidence in support of his narrative. Exodus
could not have been written by Moses or any one of his contemporaries.
It is very probable that the Pentateuch generally was composed in a
later age than that of Moses or Joshua.[196] Samuel was most likely the
author of the Elohistic legends, which he left at his death in an
unfinished state, and which naturally fell into the hands of some one of
his disciples of the School of the Prophets, such, for instance, as
Nathan or Gad.[197]

Yet the writer of the Pentateuch must not be reproached for his errors
as much as those who would attribute to him infallible accuracy. He had
no idea that he was writing truth. "But," says the Bishop, "there is not
the slightest reason to suppose that the first writer of the story in
the Pentateuch ever professed to be recording _infallible truth_, or
even _actual, historical truth_. He wrote certainly a narrative. But
what indications are there that he published it at large, even to the
people of his own time, as a record of _matter-of-fact, veracious
history_? Why may not Samuel, like any other Head of an Institution,
have composed this narrative for the instruction and improvement of his
pupils, from which it would gradually find its way, no doubt, more or
less freely, among the people at large, without ever pretending that it
was any other than an historical _experiment_,--an attempt to give them
some account of the early annals of their tribes? In _later_ days, it is
true, this ancient work of Samuel's came to be regarded as infallibly
Divine. But was it so regarded in the writer's days, or in the ages
immediately following? On the contrary, we find no sign of the Mosaic
Law being venerated, obeyed, or even known, in many of its most
remarkable features, till a much later time in history."[198]

The excitement occasioned by the publication of these views of Colenso
was second only to that produced by the _Essays and Reviews_. There was
a decided disposition on the part of the ecclesiastical authorities to
deal summarily with him, since he had been intrusted with the Episcopal
office, and sent as a missionary to the heathen. Several of the Bishops
early took ground against his destructive criticism, and refused to
allow him to officiate within their dioceses. The Convocations of York
and Canterbury united in condemnation of his work. There was a
difference of opinion as to the best method of depriving him of his
episcopal authority. In the dilemma it was resolved to appeal to him
without any appearance of legal pressure; whereupon the Bishops of
England and Ireland, with but three exceptions, Drs. Thirlwall,
Fitzgerald, and Griffin, addressed him a letter, in which he was
requested to resign his office, since he must see, as well as they, the
inconsistency of holding his position as Bishop and believing and
publishing such views as were contained in his exegetical works. His
reply was a positive refusal, coupled with the statement that he would
soon return to his See in Africa, there to continue the discharge of his
duties. The Episcopal Bench of England failing to eject him, he was
tried and condemned before an Episcopal Synod, which assembled in Cape
Town, Southern Africa, on November 27th, 1863.

The charges against Colenso were:--his denial of the atonement; belief
in man's justification without any knowledge of Christ; belief in natal
regeneration; disbelief in the endlessness of future punishment; denial
of the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures, and of the truthfulness of
what they profess to describe as facts; denial of the divinity of our
blessed Lord; and depraving, impugning, and bringing into disrepute the
Book of Common Prayer. Having been adjudged guilty, he was deposed from
his office as Bishop of Natal, and thenceforth prohibited from the
exercise of all ministerial functions within any part of the
metropolitical province of Cape Town. Being absent in England at the
time of the trial, Colenso was represented by Dr. Bleek, who protested
against the legality of the proceedings and the validity of the
judgment, at the same time giving notice of his intention to appeal. But
the Metropolitan of Cape Town refused to recognize any appeal, except to
the Archbishop of Canterbury, which must be made within fifteen days
from sentence. Immediately after the deposition, the Dean of Natal, the
Archdeacon, the parochial clergy, and the church-wardens of the diocese,
signed a declaration, by which they pledged themselves not to recognize
Colenso any longer as their Bishop.

Before Colenso was served with a copy of the decree against him, he
issued a letter to his diocese, in which he denied the power claimed by
the Metropolitan and the other bishops of Cape Town to depose him. He
maintained that, of the nine charges brought against him, four had
already been disposed of by the late judgment of the Privy Council in
the case of the _Essays and Reviews_. In the meanwhile, his friends at
home collected a fund of more than two thousand pounds to enable him to
plead his cause before the English courts. The first proceeding in Great
Britain commenced in 1863, before the judicial committee of the Privy
Council. The case has finally been decided in Colenso's favor, the Lord
Chancellor declaring the sentence pronounced by the Bishop of Cape Town
illegal, in the following words: "As the question can be decided only by
the sovereign or head of the Established Church and depositary of
appellate jurisdiction, their Lordships will humbly report to Her
Majesty their judgment and opinion that the proceedings taken by the
Bishop of Cape Town, and the judgment or sentence pronounced by him
against the Bishop of Natal, are null and void."

But while this judgment of the Privy Council annulled the proceedings
against Colenso, it also destroyed his Episcopal authority by
pronouncing that the letters patent of the Queen, by which he was made
Bishop, had neither been authorized by any Parliamentary statute nor
confirmed by the legislative council of Natal. His continuance in
authority, therefore, was made dependent on the voluntary recognition of
the clergy within the diocese of Natal. But the latest intelligence
reveals the important fact that the clergy unanimously refuse to
recognize his Episcopal authority, and have asked the Bishop of Cape
Town to administer the diocese until a new appointment can be made for
the See of Natal. The trustees of the Colonial Bishops' fund have also
declared that they will no longer pay the salary of Colenso. He has
already set sail for Southern Africa, but on his arrival will find
himself without a clergy or a people to recognize his jurisdiction. Dr.
Pusey has written an interesting letter, in which he hails the decision
of the Privy Council as an indication that the church of South Africa
will soon be as free and prosperous as the Scotch Episcopal church and
the church of the United States.

The remaining parts of the Bishop's _Commentary on the Pentateuch and
Book of Joshua_ have met with a tardy and cold reception. We accept
this as a hopeful sign that no great portion of the people are willing
to adopt his theological views. The first two parts, however, created an
excitement which was not confined to Christian lands. Even a Mussulman
addressed a letter from the Cape of Good Hope to a Turkish paper at
Constantinople, in which he gives an account of the Christians in that
colony, together with a description of their multiform dissensions.
"Their priests," he writes, "all advocate different creeds; and as to
their bishops, one Colenso actually writes books against his own
religion." It may be more a gratification of the vanity than flattering
to the piety of the late Missionary to the Zulus to be informed that
already the Buddhists of India are making free use of his works as an
invaluable aid in their controversies with the missionaries from
Christian lands. Thus the herald of the cross of Christ in heathen
nations must encounter not only the superstition and prejudices of
paganism, but the infidelity exported from his own home, where for
centuries the battles of the truth have been fought and won.


FOOTNOTES:

[169] _Essays and Reviews._ Edited, with an Introduction, by Rev. F. H.
Hedge, D. D. Boston, 1862.

[170] _Commentary on St. Paul's Epistles._--_Noyes' Essays_, pp.
222-276.

[171] _Essays and Reviews_, pp. 5-6.

[172] _Essays and Reviews_, p. 37.

[173] Ibid. p. 39.

[174] Ibid. pp. 35-36.

[175] For an able refutation of this point, _vid._ Houghton,
_Rationalism in the Church of England_, pp. 127-136.

[176] _Essays and Reviews_, p. 54.

[177] Ibid. p. 60.

[178] _Essays and Reviews_, p. 68.

[179] _Replies to Essays and Reviews_, p. 135.

[180] _Essays and Reviews_, p. 120.

[181] Ibid. p. 155.

[182] _Essays and Reviews_, p. 159.

[183] _Essays and Reviews_, pp. 195-196.

[184] Ibid. p. 277.

[185] _Essays and Reviews_, pp. 277-278.

[186] Ibid. p. 278.

[187] _Essays and Reviews_, p. 287.

[188] Ibid. pp. 328-329.

[189] _Essays and Reviews_, p. 446.

[190] _Evangelische Kirchenzeitung_, _Vorwort_, 1862.

[191] _Ecclesiastical Judgments of the Privy Council_, p. 289. Edited by
Hon. G. C. Brodrick, and the Rev. W. H. Freemantle. London, 1865. The
members of the Queen's Privy Council are as follows: Earls Granville and
Lonsdale; Duke of Buccleugh; Marquis of Salisbury; Lords Westbury,
Brougham, Cranworth, Wensleydale, St. Leonards, Chelmsford, and
Kindsdown; and Right Hons. Lushington, Bruce, Wigram, Ryan, Pollock,
Romilly, Turner, Cockburn, Coleridge, Erie, and Wylde.

[192] _Pentateuch and Book of Joshua_, Part I., pp. 49, 51-52. Am.
Edition.

[193] _Pentateuch and Book of Joshua_, Part I., pp. 60, 78, 81, 94, 105,
118, 138, 141, 185.

[194] _Pentateuch and Book of Joshua_, Part II., p. 60.

[195] Ibid. p. 296.

[196] _Pentateuch and Book of Joshua_, Part II., pp. 83, 84, 115.

[197] Ibid. p. 160.

[198] _Pentateuch and Book of Joshua_, Part II., p. 292.



CHAPTER XXII.

ENGLAND CONTINUED: SURVEY OF CHURCH PARTIES.


The Church of England has always been proud of the outward form of
unity. Her rigid view of the sin of schism has induced her to submit to
great elasticity of opinion and teaching rather than incur the
traditional disgrace of open division. But on this very account she has
never been free from internal strife. In everything but in name she has
been for centuries not one church, but several. Her entire history
discloses two tendencies balancing each other, and for the most part
reacting to great advantage. The Sacramentalist party represents
Romanizing tendencies, and is thoroughly devoted to "the sacramental
services and the offices of the church, especially as performed
according to the rubric." The Evangelical party is less formal, is in
harmony with the Articles, aims to keep up with the accumulating
religious wants of society, and lays stress upon the practical evidences
of Christian life. Under these two standards may be ranked all those
schools within the pale of the Church which have been growing into
prominence since the closing years of the eighteenth century. We will
only speak of the most influential parties, remembering, however, that
each of them is again subdivided into various sections.

THE LOW CHURCH. Within a short time after the Church of England gave
signs of religious awakening in consequence of the rise of the Wesleyan
movement, the triumph of evangelical tendencies was complete. "In less
than twenty years," says Conybeare, "the original battle-field was won,
and the enemy may be said to have surrendered at discretion.
Thenceforward, scarcely a clergyman was to be found in England who
preached against the doctrines of the creed. The faith of the church was
restored to the level of her formularies."[199] The revival was so
thorough that it gave rise to a zealous class which was called by its
friends the Evangelical Party, but by its enemies the Low Church.

The Low Church had its seat at Cambridge, and was conducted by vigorous
theologians, who were encouraged and aided by highly-respected and
leading laymen. Attaching new importance to the neglected doctrines,
their principal themes were "the universal necessity of conversion,"
"justification by faith," and "the sole authority of Scripture as the
rule of faith." They were worthy successors of the old Evangelical
party, represented by Milner, Martyn, and Wilberforce. Through their
agency there arose in the popular mind a dislike of ecclesiastical
landmarks, the state church fell into disrepute, the broadest
catholicity received hearty support, and personal piety was the
acknowledged test of true religion. In 1828 Lord Russell, the leader of
the Reform party, effected the abrogation of the Test Act,--a law which
required all officers, civil and military, to receive the sacrament
according to the usage of the Established church, and to take an oath
against transubstantiation within six months after their entrance into
office. The repeal immediately placed Dissenters and Catholics upon the
same footing with members of the Established church, and was in itself
sufficient to provoke opposition on the part of all who had not united
in the evangelical movement. But the antagonism became still more
decided when Parliament passed the Irish Church Property Act, in 1833,
in spite of the determined remonstrances of the bishops. One half of the
Irish bishoprics were thereby abrogated, Parliament assuming
ecclesiastical authority. The people supported the Parliament, and in
some instances public indignation was hurled at the bishops themselves.

The Low Church has always been on the side of popular reform. Not
forgetful of its lineal descent from that evangelical spirit which
animated Wilberforce, Stephen, Thornton, and Buxton, in their
philanthropic labors, it has sought out the population of the factories
and mines of England, and addressed itself to the relief of their
cramped and stifled inmates. It has reorganized Ragged-Schools, and
endeavored to reach all the suffering classes of the kingdom. Neither
has it been found unmindful of the wants of the heathen world, for no
sooner did the Low Church commence its public career than it founded the
Church Missionary Society, which has established over one hundred and
forty-eight missionary stations, sustains two hundred and sixty-six
clergymen, and includes about twenty thousand members.[200] These labors
have been abundantly successful, for besides the converted towns on the
coast of Africa, "whole districts of Southern India have embraced the
faith; and the native population of New Zealand (spread over a territory
as large as England) has been reclaimed from cannibalism and added to
the church." The same party was chiefly instrumental in establishing the
British and Foreign Bible Society, which has translated the Scriptures
into one hundred and fifty languages, and distributes over two millions
of copies annually.

The Low Church party was the first to tell England that her population
had far outgrown her places of worship, and it accordingly devised means
to remedy the evil. Archbishop Sumner founded the first Diocesan Church
Building Society, in 1828; and after becoming Bishop of Chester
consecrated more than two hundred new churches. Mr. Simeon of Cambridge
had previously set the example of caring for the unchurched population
by his personal labors and the outlay of his large private fortune. His
name is now like "ointment poured forth" among the inhabitants of Bath,
Clifton, Bradford, and other places. The Pastoral Aid Society was
founded in 1836, and by its lay and clerical employees, is now
ministering to the spiritual wants of over three millions of souls. The
Low Churchmen have also established, in needy localities, Sunday
Schools, Infant Schools, Lending Libraries, Benefit Societies, Clothing
Clubs, and Circles of Scripture Readers. From the ranks of this party
have arisen devout and zealous preachers, who, without any great natural
endowments, have given their hearts to the work of saving souls.
Hamilton Forsyth, Spencer Thornton, and Henry Fox,--the follower of
Henry Martyn to Southern India,--are names which will ever adorn the
history of the Church of England.[201]

At the present time the Low Church is leading the van within the
Establishment, in all those movements which have the stamp of true
piety. It is seeking out the abandoned and homeless wretches in the
darkest sinks of London, reading the Bible to them, clothing, finding
work, and training them to self-respect. Some of its clergy are among
the most gifted and influential in Great Britain, whether at the
editor's table, in the pulpit, or on the platform. The lofty position
they have lately taken against the inroads of Rationalism entitles them
to the thanks and admiration of Christendom.

Within the Low Church there are two subdivisions. The first is the
Recordite party, so called from its organ. It intensifies the doctrines
of the Low Church; on justification by faith it builds its view of the
worthlessness of morality; on conversion by grace its predestinarian
fatalism; and on the supremacy of Scripture its dogma of verbal
inspiration. It holds strong Biblical views on the sanctity of the
Sabbath, and both by the pulpit and the press, opposes the
secularization of the Lord's day. The other party is sneeringly called
the "Low and Slow," and corresponds with a similar faction within the
High Church which enjoys the sobriquet of the "High and Dry."

After the evangelical movement had fully taken root there arose an
antagonistic tendency; it was the old Sacramentalist party re-asserting
itself. Oxford arrayed itself against Cambridge. The views of Laud had
always found favor in the former seat of learning, and their adherents
felt that the time had now come for their vigorous revival. They
directed their opposition equally against Parliamentary usurpation and
evangelical liberalism. The centre of the counter-movement was Oriel
College, which, under Whately, Hampden, and Thomas Arnold, was already
celebrated for its new spirit of free scientific inquiry. Keble, Pusey,
Froude, and J. H. Newman, were here associated either as fellows or
students. Froude recognized the truth of the saying of Vicentius: "_Quod
semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus creditum est._" He rose above his
friends as leader of the whole movement.

The Conference which convened at Hadley, was the first organized
demonstration against the evangelical portion of the Low Church. Its
initiative act was the adoption of a catechism which contained the views
of the High Churchmen, and was the first issue of the celebrated series
of Tracts which gave to the new movement the name of Tractarianism. It
was published in 1833, and the last of the series, the ninetieth,
appeared seven years afterward. Newman and Pusey were the chief writers.
Pusey preached a sermon in 1843 which avowed, with only slight
modifications, the doctrine of transubstantiation; in consequence of
which he was deposed from preaching to the university for the space of
two years. The Romish church received flattering eulogy from all the
High Churchmen or Tractarians. It was represented by them as the
embodiment of all that was grand, imposing, and sound in art, poetry, or
theology. When Newman went over to its fold, Pusey said of him: "He has
been called to labor in another part of the Lord's vineyard." The High
Church went so far in its opposition to the Low that many attached to
the former felt more attracted to Roman Catholicism than to any form of
Protestantism. Accordingly, at the close of 1846, one hundred and fifty
clergymen and distinguished laymen had gone over to Popery.

The doctrines of the High Church may be divided into two classes: the
material, or justification by sacraments; and the formal, or the
authority of the church.

While it declares that we are justified by faith, it also holds that we
are judged by works. Men are converted by grace, but Christians are
regenerated by baptism. The Scriptures are supreme authority, but the
"church hath authority in controversies of faith," by virtue of its
apostolic descent. The watchwords of the High Church are, therefore,
judgment by works; baptismal regeneration; church authority; and
apostolical succession. Faith, it claims, does not justify us in and of
itself, but simply brings us to God, who then justifies us by his free
grace. Baptism is regeneration; in the New Testament the new birth is
always connected with it; we are not born of faith, or of love, or of
prayer, but by water and the Spirit. All Tractarians believe in the real
presence of Christ, and only differ as to the mode in which he is
present. The consecrated elements become really the body and blood of
Christ by virtue of the consecrating word, though the change takes place
in a spiritual and inexpressible way. Christ is a kind Saviour to those
who partake of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper worthily, but a harsh
judge to those who do it unworthily.

High Churchmen hold that the Church is a saving institution founded by
Christ, and continued by apostolical succession. It is the only mediator
of salvation in Christ in so far as it is the only dispenser of the
means of grace, the only protectress and witness of the truth, and the
highest authority in matters of faith and practice. There are three
tests of the true Church: _first_, apostolicity, or the divine origin of
the Church and its succession of apostles; _second_, catholicity, or the
truth in matters of instruction and life communicated through the
succession of the apostles, the truth in matters of faith and life as
interpreted by Scripture and tradition; and, _third_, autonomy, or the
absolute independence and supreme authority of the Church in faith and
practice.

Apostolical succession was the first dogma in which all High Churchmen
united. Connected with this opinion is the idea that the priesthood is
the only mediatorial office between Christ and the congregation. The
bishops are the spiritual sons of the apostles, and should be respected
for their office' sake; Christ is the Mediator above, but his servant,
the bishop, is his image on earth.[202] The Church has authority to
forgive sins by the new birth, and to bring souls from hell to
heaven.[203] Tradition must be respected not less than the Bible itself;
the Old and New Testaments are the fountain of the doctrines, and the
catholic fathers the channel through which they flow down to us.[204]
The Bible must be explained, not by individual opinion, but by the
church; for the Church is its rightful interpreter.

It must be said, in justice to the High Church, that while it attaches
great weight to these views it does not discard those really important.
It does not overlook the doctrines maintained by the majority of
evangelical Christians. The moderate members of this party, especially,
do not hold them as "the basis of their system, but only as secondary
and ornamental details. Even against Dissenters they are not rigidly
enforced. The hereditary non-conformist is not excluded from salvation.
Foreign Protestants are even owned as brethren, though a mild regret is
expressed that they lack the blessing of an authorized church
government. Apostolical succession is not practically made essential to
the being of a church, but rather cherished as a dignified and ancient
pedigree, connecting our English episcopate with primitive antiquity,
and binding the present to the past by a chain of filial piety. In the
same hands, church authority is reduced to little more than a claim to
that deference which is due from the ignorant to the learned, from the
taught to the teacher."[205]

Of the general service rendered by the High Churchmen, the same writer
says, "Their system gives freer scope to the feelings of reverence, awe,
and beauty than that of their opponents. They endeavor, and often
successfully, to enlist these feelings in the service of piety. Music,
painting, and architecture, they consecrate as the handmaids of
religion. Thus they attract an order of men chiefly found among the most
cultivated classes, whose hearts must be reached through their
imagination rather than their understanding.... In the same spirit the
writers of this party have contributed to the religious literature of
the day many admirable works which under the guise of fiction teach the
purest Christianity, and exemplify its bearing in every detail of common
life. To the training of childhood especially they have rendered most
valuable aid, by thus embodying the precepts of the Gospel. But we need
not do more than allude to works so universally known and valued as
those of Miss Sewell, Mr. Adams, and Bishop Wilberforce. Again the
revival of the High Church party has effected an important improvement
among the clergy. Many of these were prejudiced by hereditary dislike
against the doctrines and the persons of the Evangelicals, and by this
prejudice, were repelled from religion. But under the name of orthodoxy
and the banner of High Church, they have willingly received truth
against which, had it come to them in another shape, they would have
closed their ears and hearts. A better spirit has thus been breathed
into hundreds who but for this new movement would have remained as their
fathers were before them, mere Nimrods, Ramrods, or Fishing-rods."[206]

Of all the men engaged in the Tractarian enterprise there was no one in
whose religious and personal history a deeper public interest
concentrated than in John Henry Newman. His ardent espousal of the High
Church cause collected many friends about him at the same time that it
organized numerous enemies. But he did not inquire concerning the number
of his friends or foes, for he valued sincerity higher than favor or
opposition. His previous history was not without incident. Thirteen
years before the _Tracts for the Times_ were published, he had been
engaged in a controversy concerning baptismal regeneration, in which he
defended the evangelical side.[207] Subject to various inner conflicts,
and greatly influenced by the party-spirit which ran high, he finally
entered the communion of the Roman Catholic Church. His view of the
development of Christian doctrine is very favorable to his adopted
faith. Development can be applied to anything which has real vital
power; it is the key that unlocks the mystery of all growth; any
philosophy or policy, Christianity included, requires time for its
comprehension and perfection. The highest truths of inspiration needed
only the longer time and deeper thought for their full elucidation, for
perfection can be reached only by trials and sore conflicts. A
philosophy or sect is purer and stronger when its channel has grown deep
and broad by the flow of time. Its vital element needs disengagement
from that which is foreign and temporary, and its beginning is no
measure of its capabilities or scope. At first no one knows what it is
or what it is worth, since it seems in suspense which way to go; but
notwithstanding this, it strikes out and develops all its hidden world
of force. Surrounding things change, but these changes only contribute
to its development. Here below, to live is to change, and to be perfect
is to have changed often. This is all true of Christianity; the lapse of
years, instead of injuring it, has only brought out its power.[208]

These hints furnish a specimen of the ideal robe in which Father Newman
clothes Romanism. But it will take a stronger intellect than his to show
any harmony between his theory of development and the history of the
papacy. He has once more assumed the pen of the controversialist. In the
January number of _Macmillan's Magazine_, 1864, Kingsley, in a review of
Froude's History of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, said, "Truth for its
own sake has never been a virtue with the Roman clergy. Father Newman
informs us that it need not be, and, on the whole, ought not to be; that
cunning is the weapon which Heaven has given to the saints wherewith to
withstand the brute man's force of the wicked world, which marries and
is given in marriage." The venerable Father being thus assailed has
given vent to his indignation by a defense of his life, under the title
of _Apologia Pro Vita Sua_. It abounds in rare touches of satire; while
Kingsley, in his reply, indicates excitement and bitterness.

The younger brother, Francis William Newman, has led a sad and changeful
life. It has many features in common with Blanco White, both of whom
betray the destructive absence of a positive evangelical faith. In some
skeptics there is a strength of will which gives a successful appearance
to their cause in spite of all their doubts; but when the will is
subjected to the domination of opinion; when religion, whether true or
false, is not an appendage but the principle of life, the power of mere
sentiment is fully manifested. The younger Newman is an illustration of
the position in which one is left when he throws himself into the arms
of a false creed.

He reveals his inner life in the _Phases of Faith_, one of the most
touching pieces of biography in the realm of literature. While a student
at Oxford, he became enamored with the "Oriel heresy about Sunday." One
by one the views of the standard authorities of the Church lost their
hold upon him, and he imbibed the opinion that the Old Testament is not
really the rule of life, according to the Pauline idea; infant baptism
is an excrescence of a post-apostolic age, and Wall's attempt to trace
it to the Apostles a decided failure; Episcopacy has been so
contemptibly represented by incumbents, some of whom opposed the
Missionary and Bible Societies, that it is not entitled to respect; and
the Church Fathers are greatly overrated, Clement alone being
respectable.

Unable to find any theological resting-place, Newman went as a
quasi-missionary to Bagdad. He returned to Oxford and gave himself up to
his increasing doubts. Finally, becoming a Unitarian, the Scriptures
present new difficulties; Christianity has been too highly praised and
flattered; and has had the credit of doing a great deal which it has had
no share in effecting. The Bible has not been found able to cope with
fresh evils; and Romanism became corrupt and vicious with that book in
the hands of the priesthood. But dissatisfied as Newman is with the
present, he takes a cheerful look upon the future. "The age is ripe," he
says, "for something better, for a religion which shall combine the
tenderness, humility, and disinterestedness which are the glory of the
present Christianity, with that activity of intellect, untiring pursuit
of truth, and strict adherence to impartial principle which the schools
of modern science embody. When a spiritual church has its senses
exercised to discern good and evil, judges of right and wrong by an
inward power, proves all things, and holds fast that which is good,
fears no truth, but rejoices in being corrected, intellectually as well
as morally, it will not be liable to 'be carried to and fro' by shifting
wind of doctrine. It will indeed have movement, namely, a steady
_onward_ one, as the schools of science have had since they left off to
dogmatize, and approached God's world as learners; but it will lay aside
disputes of words, eternal vacillations, mutual ill-will and dread of
new light, and will be able, without hypocrisy, to proclaim 'peace on
earth and good will toward men,' even toward those who reject its
beliefs and sentiments concerning God and his glory."[209]

THE FIRST BROAD CHURCH. The division of the Broad Church into two
parties has been produced by the recent discussion. The First Broad
Church corresponds in the main with philosophical Rationalism. It
commenced with Coleridge, was interpreted principally by Hare, was
defended by the chaste and vigorous pen of Arnold, and is now
represented by Maurice, Kingsley, and Stanley. It cannot be said to have
a distinct creed. Its members being attached to the Established Church,
they are distinguished peculiarly for their method of interpretation of
the articles of faith. "The Broad Church teachers give us readings of
each dogma of the Atonement and Future Punishment."[210] They avow the
main doctrines of the Gospel, but in such a modified sense that, they
say, the same were held virtually by all Christians in every age; by
Loyola and Xavier, not less than by Latimer and Ridley. They conceive
the essence of Popery to consist, not in points of metaphysical
theology, but in the ascription of magic virtue to outward acts. All who
believe the Scriptures are, in their opinion, members of the household
of faith. Salvation does not depend upon the ritual but upon the life;
the fruits of the Spirit are the sole criteria of the Spirit's presence.
They give prominence to the idea of the visible Church when they hold
the Church to be a Society divinely instituted for the purpose of
manifesting God's presence, and bearing witness to his attributes, by
their reflection in its ordinances and in its members. If its ideal were
fully embodied in its actual constitution "it would remind us daily of
God, and work upon the habits of our life as insensibly as the air we
breathe."[211] For this end, it would revive "daily services, frequent
communions, memorials of our Christian calling, presented to our notice
in crosses and wayside oratories; commemorations to holy men of all
times and countries; religious orders, especially of women, of different
kinds and under different rules, delivered only from the snare and sin
of perpetual vows."[212]

The special defender of these views of the visible Church, the late Dr.
Thomas Arnold, of Rugby, was a man of great industry, profound
erudition, and extraordinary power and tact in the management of youth.
His sermons, delivered to his pupils at Rugby, were short, and usually
written just before delivery in the school-chapel on Sabbath
afternoons.[213] He interested himself in all questions of reform,
education, politics, and literature. But he is best known as one of the
leaders of the Broad Church, and in this light his theological opinions
may be considered a fair sample of the theology adopted by that party in
its earlier and purer days. With him, inspiration is not equivalent to a
communication of the divine perfections. Paul expected the world would
come to an end in the generation then existing. The Scripture narratives
are not only about divine things, but are themselves divinely framed and
superintended. Inspiration does not raise a man above his own time, nor
make him, even in respect to that which he utters when inspired, perfect
in goodness and wisdom; but it so overrules his language that it shall
contain a meaning more than his own mind was conscious of, and thus give
to it a character of divinity, and a power of perpetual
application.[214]

According to Arnold, Christ was the sum of the Bible, and the centre of
all truth. We cannot come to God directly; Christ is to us in place of
God; and he is God, for to hold the contrary would be idolatry. Christ
suffered for the Church, not only as a man may suffer for man by being
involved in evils through the fault of another, and by his example
awakening in others a spirit of like patience and self-devotion, but in
a higher and more complete sense, as suffering for them, the just for
the unjust, that they, for his sake, should be regarded by God as
innocent. In a deep sense of moral evil, more, perhaps, than in anything
else, a saving knowledge of God abides. Sin must not be lightly
considered. Christ's death shows it to be an exceeding evil; and the
actions of whole days and weeks, passed as they are by too many in utter
carelessness, are nothing but one mass of sin; and no one thing in them
has been sanctified by the thought of God or of Christ.

The penalty of sin, according to Arnold, is one of the revelations of
Scripture which men are least inclined to hear. It will be true of every
one of us, that, unless we turn to Christ, it had been better that we
were never born. If we fail of the grace of God there is reserved for us
an indescribable misery. Conversion is the development of Christian
life. It is growth. We must be changed during the three score and ten
years of our life, not in the twinkling of an eye, but through a long
period of prayer and watchfulness, laboring slowly and with difficulty
to get rid of our evil nature.[215] By constant repentance and faith we
ripen for heaven. Justification by faith is a reliance on what God has
done for us; faith in Christ is not only faith in his having died for
us, but in him as our present Saviour by his life. It is throwing
ourselves upon him in all things, as our Redeemer, Saviour, Head, of
whom we are members, and desire our life only for Him. Our dependence in
Christ is not once only, but perpetual.

Arnold attached paramount importance to a proper understanding of the
Church and its relations to the State. He held that the work of a
Christian Church and State is absolutely one and the same, and that the
full development of the former in its perfect form as the Kingdom of
God, will be an effectual means for the removal of all evil and the
promotion of good. There can be no perfect Church or State without their
blending into one.[216] The Church, during her imperfect state, is
deficient in power; the State, in the like condition is deficient in
knowledge; one judges amiss of man's highest happiness, the other
discerns it truly, but has not the power on a large scale to attain it.
But when blended into one, the power and knowledge become happily
united; the Church has become sovereign, and the State has become
Christian.[217] The Church has its living and redeemed members; it may
have those who are craving to be admitted within its shelter, being
convinced that God is in it of a truth; but beyond these, he who is not
with it is against it.[218]

In intimate connection with Arnold stands the name of his friend and
biographer, Arthur P. Stanley, Dean of Westminster, for some years a
writer of celebrity in England. Two late volumes on the _Eastern_ and
_Jewish Churches_ have given him a standing occupied by few theologians
in the old or the new world. His style is gorgeous and enchanting, and
his Rationalistic tendencies so subdued and covert that few would
suspect him of sympathy with the Broad Church theology of the last ten
years' growth. In his work on _Sinai and Palestine_ he aimed to
delineate the outward events of the Old and New Testament in such a way
that they should come home with a new power to those who, by long
familiarity, had almost ceased to regard them as historical truth; and
so to bring out their inward spirit that the more complete realization
of their outward form should not degrade but exalt the faith of which
they are the vehicle. But in subsequent works, Dean Stanley has clearly
departed from an evangelical position, and we now find him in open
sympathy with the Broad Church. This tendency was foreshadowed in his
_History of the Jewish Church_. He describes miracles as one who prefers
to omit, rather than state, his real objections to their reception. He
seems to believe in Israel as an inspired people, more than in the Old
Testament as a plenarily inspired book. He allows searching criticism
into the Hebrew text, and does not seem disturbed by evidences of
errors, contradictions, and phantasy. He does not know whether the
Israelites were in Egypt two hundred and fifteen, four hundred and
thirty, or one thousand years,--thus leaving an important question
unsettled. Neither does he decide, with or against Colenso, whether the
number of armed Israelites who left Egypt was six hundred or six hundred
thousand men. He implies that monotheism was unknown before Abraham, and
that the name Jehovah was not known to Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob. He
cannot tell how the Israelites were supported in their journeyings; and
ascribes the priesthood to an Egyptian origin. If we only admit the
above arithmetical errors, and give up the Mosaic authorship of the
Pentateuch, he thinks we should remove at one stroke some of the main
difficulties of the Mosaic narrative.[219]

But Stanley has exposed his Broad Church sympathies more in a late
review article than in any formal volume.[220] It is a discussion of the
judicial proceedings in connection with two authors of the _Essays and
Reviews_. His theme permits a wide range, and he therefore dwells at
length upon the whole question of ministerial teaching. He considers the
final acquittal of the essayists one of the most gratifying events of
the day. According to him, the questions raised by the work are, with
few exceptions, of a kind altogether beside and beyond the range over
which the formularies of the Church extend. No passage in any of the
five clerical essayists contradicts any of the formularies of the Church
in a degree at all comparable to the direct collision which exists
between the High Church party and the Articles, or the Low Church party
and the Prayer-Book; on the points debated in the _Essays and Reviews_
the Articles and Prayer-Book are alike silent. Stanley rejoices that of
the thirty-two charges presented against Mr. Wilson and Dr. Williams all
were dismissed but five, and that for these "there was no heavier
penalty than a year's suspension." He is in ecstacy that the judgment in
the case of these two men has established the legal position of those
who have always claimed the right of free inquiry and latitude of
opinion equally for themselves and for both the other sections of the
Church. By the issue of the litigation, he claims that great victories
have been won, that henceforth ample freedom is left to all detailed
criticism of the Sacred Text, so long as the canonicity of no canonical
book is denied, and that the questions whether there be "one Isaiah or
two, two Zechariahs or three, who wrote the Epistle to the Hebrews, and
who wrote the Pentateuch, whether Job and Josiah be historical or
parabolical, whether the Fifty-third Chapter of Isaiah or the Second
Psalm be directly or indirectly prophetic, what are the precise limits
of the natural and practical, what is the weight of internal and
external evidence, whether the Apocalypse refers to the Emperor Nero or
to the Pope of Rome; are to be settled according to the individual
opinion of every clergyman of the Established Church." Stanley sneers at
the Declaration of the Oxford Committee sent to every Clergyman of
England and Ireland, "with an adjuration, for the love of God and out of
duty to the souls of men, to sign it." That Declaration was a protest
against the acquittal of the Essayists; and Stanley rejoices over the
fact, that, though "every influence was used to get signatures to it,
and was so concealed as to enlist the support of High and Low Church
parties," the result was the signature of only one third of the London
clergy, nine Professors at Oxford and one at Cambridge, eight out of the
thirty English deans, two of the Head Masters of the Public Schools, and
only six out of the fifty clerical contributors to Smith's _Dictionary
of the Bible_; that more than one half of the rural clergy stood
altogether aloof from the document; and that when it was presented at
Lambeth only four of the twenty-eight Bishops loaned their countenance
to its formal reception. Stanley looks into the future and sees
permanent blessings bestowed upon the country by the "timely decision of
the highest Court of Appeal" that it has "no jurisdiction or authority
to settle matters of faith, or to determine what ought in any particular
to be the doctrine of the Church of England, since its duty extends only
to the consideration of that which is by law established to be the
doctrine of the Church of England, upon the true and legal construction
of her Articles and formularies." He is also pleased that the Supreme
Court of Appeal has refused to pledge itself and the Church to any
popular theory of the mode of justification or of the future punishment
of the wicked; and that it now stands declared that it is no doctrine of
the Church of England that "every part of the Bible is inspired, or is
the word of God." The Dean also looks with complacency upon what he
declares to be a fact, and which we are startled to hear; that "the
belief in endless punishment is altogether fluctuating, or else
expresses itself in forms wholly untenable ... that the doctrine of
endless torments, if held, is not practically taught by the vast
majority of the Clergymen of England."

The First Broad Church will not accept entirely the theology contained
in the _Essays and Reviews_, and complains of them that they are "almost
entirely negative; hinting at faults in the prevalent religious opinions
of the day, but not investigating them; indicating dislike to certain
obligations which are imposed upon clergymen, but not stating or
considering what those obligations are; leaving an impression upon
devout Christians that something in their faith is untenable when they
want to find in it what is tenable; suggesting that earnest infidels in
this day have much to urge in behalf of their doubts and difficulties;
never fairly asking what they have to urge, what are their doubts and
difficulties."[221]

On the other hand, the First Broad Church will not unite in the
organized opposition to that work, because the denunciations and appeals
"took an almost entirely negative form; they contradicted and slandered
objections; they were not assertions of a belief; they led Christians
away from the Bible, from the creeds which they confess to certain
notions about the creeds, from practice to disputation. They met no real
doubts in the minds of unbelievers; they only called for the
suppression of all doubts. They confounded the opinions of the day with
the faith once delivered to the saints. They tended to make anonymous
journalists the law-givers of the Church. They tended to discourage
clergymen from expressing manfully what is in their hearts, lest they
should incur the charge of being unfaithful to their vows. They tended
to hinder all serious and honest co-operation between men who are not
bound together in a sectarian agreement, lest they should make
themselves responsible for opinions different from their own."[222]
Thus, while the First Broad Church occupies a neutral ground in the
controversy now rending the whole structure of English theology, its
moral force is all against Evangelical Christianity, and in favor of the
usurpations of Rationalism.

But the theology maintained by the First Broad Church is little above
that contained in the _Essays and Reviews_ and similar Rationalistic
publications. With them, the Scriptures are better than any other books
of antiquity because they contain the most of God's will, not because
they alone contain his will. "These books," says a writer, "have been
filtered out, as it were, under his guidance, from many others which, in
ages gone by, claimed a place beside them, and are now forgotten, while
these have stood for thousands of years, and are not likely to be set
aside now."[223] They are indifferent as to their date, authorship, or
contents. "Men may satisfy themselves," the same writer continues,
"perhaps if I have time to give to the study, they may satisfy me--that
the Pentateuch was the work of twenty men; that Baruch wrote a part of
Isaiah; that David did not write the Psalms, or the evangelists the
gospels; that there are interpolations here and there in the original;
that there are numerous and serious errors in our translation. What is
all this to me? What do I care who wrote them, what is the date of them,
what this or that passage ought to be? They have told me what I wanted
to know. Burn every copy in the world to-morrow, you don't and can't
take that knowledge from me, or any man."[224]

The Mosaic cosmogony is not a matter of great consequence, but on a par
with other cosmogonies, none of which are of any intrinsic value. "If
all cosmogonies were to disappear to-morrow," says Thomas Hughes, "I
should be none the poorer." The various difficulties of Scripture are
not of sufficient moment to occupy much time or pains. Let the people be
made to understand the liberal interpretations of what the cultivated
teachers have to say, and that will be enough to meet the world's wants.
Perhaps it is with secret admiration of Bunsen's _Bible Work_, the
greatest exegetical triumph of Rationalism, that Kingsley asks: "Who
shall write us a people's commentary of the Bible?"

Redemption is accepted in the Coleridgean sense. It is a term which does
not express a Scriptural fact, but is borrowed from earthly
transactions. Christ's work in our behalf is of no special value in
itself, its known effects being all that make it of moment to the human
family.[225] We should look at the results and not at the cause. The
sacrifice which Christ made was one of obedience to his Father's will;
it does not free us and elevate us above the curse of a broken law, for,
in a certain sense, the law has never been broken to the extent that
the evangelicals claim, nor does eternal punishment harmonize with
enlightened and liberal notions of Divine mercy. Miracles are in danger
of being worshiped by the friends of revelation. They have the
misfortune of an improper term; wonders would be a far better word. Why
not accept them in the domain of faith, since we meet with them in
science?[226] Miracles of this kind, "wonders," are willingly conceded,
for they are not suspensions or violations of the order of nature, but
natural phenomena, whose laws we may not understand. The miracles of the
New Testament are purely natural; but the people did not comprehend the
laws which gave them birth, and hence they magnified them. "Where the
people believed," says Mr. Davies, "rightly or wrongly, in evil spirits
and sorcery, in malignant and disorderly influences proceeding from the
spiritual world, there the powers of the true kingdom, the powers of
order and freedom and beneficence, were put forth in acts which appealed
directly to the minds of the ignorant and superstitious, and which
proclaimed an authority stronger than that of demons. The common
multitudes of Judea were of the class which thus required to be treated
like spoiled and frightened children."[227]

THE SECOND BROAD CHURCH. This party maintains the avowed Rationalism of
Jowett, the _Essays and Reviews_, and Colenso. Miss Cobbe, in defining
the points of difference between it and the First Broad Church, says of
the latter, "It holds that the doctrines of the Bible and the church can
be perfectly harmonized with the results of modern thought by a new but
legitimate exegesis of the Bible and interpretation of church formulæ.
The Second Broad Church seems prepared to admit that in many cases they
can only be harmonized by the sacrifice of biblical infallibility. The
First Broad Church has recourse, to harmonize them, to various logical
processes, but principally to the one described in the last chapter, of
diverting the student, at all difficult points, from criticism to
edification. The Second Broad Church uses no ambiguity, but frankly
avows that when the Bible contradicts science, the Bible must be in
error. The First Broad Church maintains that the inspiration of the
Bible differs in _kind_ as well as in _degree_ from that of other books.
The Second Broad Church appears to hold that it differs in degree but
not in kind. This last is the crucial point of the differences of the
two parties, and of one of the most important controversies of modern
times."[228] The First Broad Church has made antagonism to the doctrine
of endless punishment one of its great specialties, while the Second
Broad Church has made its most violent assaults upon the evangelical
view of the inspiration of the Scriptures. The position of the latter is
not fully defined. We may suppose, however, that in due time its
apologists will assume an organized form, and perhaps produce their
systematic theology.

We regret that the general opposition on the part of the clergy to the
theology of the _Essays and Reviews_, on the first appearance of that
work, has not been sustained. The Broad Church has therefore acquired
many new adherents within the last two years. It is impossible to
classify all the parties according to their exact numerical strength,
and their approximate proportions, in round numbers, must answer our
purpose. The clergy of the Church of England, exclusive of the Irish,
amount at present to about twenty thousand, at home and abroad.[229]
Making allowance for two thousand peasant clergy in the mountain
districts, and missionaries in foreign lands, the remaining eighteen
thousand may be classified as follows:

              { Normal Type,--Anglican,                            3,600
High Church.  { Exaggerated Type,--Tractarian,                     1,000
              { Stagnant Type,--High and Dry,                      2,500

              { Normal Type,--Evangelical,                         3,500
Low Church.   { Exaggerated Type,--Recordite,                      2,600
              { Stagnant Type,--Low and Slow,                        700

              { Normal Type,--Theoretical and Anti-Theoretical,    3,100
Broad Church. { Exaggerated Type,--Extreme Rationalists,             300
              { Stagnant Type,                                       700

Twelve years ago the twenty-eight Bishops and Archbishops of England
stood thus: thirteen belonged to the High Church, ten to the Broad
Church, and five to the Low Church. A distribution made at the present
time would be much more favorable to the second party.[230]

It is a remarkable feature of the activity of theological opinion in
England that the same division of parties which exists in the
Established Church also obtains in other religious bodies. We do not
speak of the Dissenting Churches, all of which have their shades of
sentiment, but of the smaller and less influential organizations. The
Jews, Roman Catholics, Quakers, and Unitarians have each their old and
new schools,--the former adhering to the old and established standards,
the latter striving to harmonize with modern science and free inquiry.
The Jews have their Mosaic, Talmudic, and Phillipsohnic groups,--the
last taking its name from its leader, and corresponding with the First
Broad Church within the pale of Christianity.[231] The Rationalistic
party in the Roman Catholic Church is now aiming to harmonize Popery and
the philosophy of the nineteenth century. It has no distinctive name,
but numbers many adherents. The Quakers, besides possessing a strongly
conservative wing, have their advocates of the "Inner Light," who are
pushing this destructive doctrine "to the full consequences developed by
the Second Broad Church party in the National Church." The Unitarians
are divided into the staid disciples of Priestley and Belsham, and the
New School, who stand on the same ground with Theodore Parker in the
United States. These are cordial admirers of the _Essays and Reviews_,
and would rejoice to see the land overspread with radical Rationalism.


FOOTNOTES:

[199] _Essays Ecclesiastical and Social_, pp. 62-63.

[200] _Christian Work_, June, 1863.

[201] Conybeare, _Essays Ecclesiastical and Social_, pp. 65-71.

[202] _Tract No. 10._

[203] Sewel.

[204] Pusey, _Preface to 18th vol. Library of Church Fathers_.

[205] Conybeare, _Essays Ecclesiastical and Social_, p. 106.

[206] _Essays Ecclesiastical and Social_, pp. 106-108.

[207] _National Review_, Oct., 1856.

[208] _Development of Christian Doctrine._ Second Edition. London, 1846.

[209] _Phases of Faith_, pp. 233, 234. American Edition.

[210] Miss Cobbe, _Broken Lights_, p. 63. London Edition.

[211] Arnold, _Sermons_, vol. iv., p. 307.

[212] Ibid. _Introduction_, p. 56.

[213] _Bibliotheca Sacra._ Jan. 1858. An excellent summary of the
opinions of Dr. Arnold.

[214] Stanley, _Life and Correspondence of Arnold_. American Edition, p.
135.

[215] _Interpretation of Scripture_, p. 493.

[216] Stanley, _Life and Correspondence_, pp. 341, 367.

[217] _Fragment on the Church_, p. 226.

[218] _Christian Life, its Course, &c._, p. 358.

[219] _American Theological Review_, July, 1863.

[220] _Edinburgh Review_, July, 1864.

[221] Miss Cobbe, _Broken Lights_, p. 63. London Edition.

[222] _Tracts for Priests and People._ Preface, pp. 3-5. Am. Edition.

[223] Hughes, in _Tracts for Priests and People_, p. 28.

[224] Hughes, in _Tracts for Priests and People_, p. 37.

[225] Garden, _Tracts for Priests and People_, p. 133.

[226] Davies, _Tracts for Priests and People_, p. 167.

[227] Ibid. p. 167.

[228] _Broken Lights_, pp. 73-74.

[229] Appleton's _American Cyclopædia_. Art. _Church of England_. Though
the writer of this article says nothing of the Irish clergy, he has not
included them, of course; having no doubt used the Clergy List of
England and the colonies alone.

[230] We have based our division of the English clergy upon the
calculation of the late W. J. Conybeare, a Fellow in the University of
Cambridge, and joint author with J. S. Howson, of _Life and Epistles of
St. Paul_. (_Essays Ecclesiastical and Social_, pp. 157-158.) His
figures applied to the year 1853, but we have included the subsequent
increase of the clergy, and distributed the additional members according
to the best information at command. If it be objected that we have
classed too large a portion in the Broad Church, we reply, that if Dean
Stanley's intimations concerning the absence of orthodox faith in the
English clergy be well founded, we have fallen far short of attributing
to that body a sufficient number of members. See his article in
_Edinburgh Review_, July, 1864.

[231] Phillipsohn, Author of the _Religious Idea in Judaism, Islam, and
Christianity_. Translated by Miss Ann Goldschmidt.



CHAPTER XXIII.

THE UNITED STATES: THE UNITARIAN CHURCH--THE UNIVERSALISTS.


The aspect of novelty in the religious and theological history of the
United States, is unparalleled in the history of any European nation,
and is traceable in part to the peculiarities of our political origin
and career. The founders of our government were wise students of the
philosophy of history, and it was their opinion that many of the
misfortunes which had befallen the countries of the Old World, were
produced by the improper association of temporal and spiritual
authority. They therefore made provision for the permanent separation of
Church and State. Their design, however, was accomplished only by
degrees. Previous to the Revolution, but two States, Rhode Island and
Pennsylvania, permitted religious toleration. It was declared in
Maryland in 1776, and in 1786-89 was carried out in Virginia. The
general government took the matter in hand in 1791; and, in that year,
an amendment to the Constitution of the United States was adopted, which
prohibited Congress in future from "passing any law establishing
religion, or prohibiting its free exercise."[232]

It would seem that our forefathers were almost gifted with prophetic
vision when they incorporated this statute with those other laws, which
have contributed so much to our prosperity. It would not have been in
harmony with their spirit, if, while constituting an independent
government, they had made the Church dependent.

The principle of the union of church and state presupposes a greater
degree of social purity than has existed in any nation. Moreover, the
Church is thereby led to assume an authority to which she has no claim
and which Christ never intended her to possess. Milton, whose clear and
practical views of civil and ecclesiastical relations were only equaled
by his lofty poetic conceptions of man's moral nature and history, says:
"When the church, without temporal support, is able to do her great
works upon the enforced obedience of man, it argues a divinity about
her. But when she thinks to credit and better her spiritual efficacy,
and to win herself respect and dread by strutting in the false vizard of
worldly authority, it is evident that God is not there, but that her
apostolic virtue is departed from her, and has left her key-cold; which
she perceiving, as in a decayed nature, seeks to the outward
fermentations and chafings of worldly help and external flourishes, to
fetch, if it be possible, some motion into her extreme parts, or to
hatch a counterfeit life with the crafty and artificial heat of
jurisdiction. But it is observable that so long as the church, in true
imitation of Christ, can be content to ride upon an ass, carrying
herself and her government along in a mean and simple guise, she may be
as she is a Lion of the tribe of Judah; and in her humility all men,
with loud hosannas, will confess her greatness. But when, despising the
mighty operation of the Spirit by the weak things of this world, she
thinks to make herself bigger and more considerable, by using the way of
civil force and jurisdiction, as she sits upon this Lion she changes
into an ass, and instead of hosannas, every man pelts her with stones
and dirt."[233]

The peculiarities which have characterized the history of the American
church are well defined, and of the greatest value in all estimates of
the theological status of the popular mind. They are grouped by
Professor Smith in the following concise terms: "_First._ It is not the
history of the conversion of a new people, but of the transplantation of
old races, already Christianized, to a new theatre, comparatively
untrammeled by institutions and traditions. _Second._ Independence of
the civil power. _Third._ The voluntary principle applied to the support
of religious institutions. _Fourth._ Moral and ecclesiastical, but not
civil power, the means of retaining the members of any communion.
_Fifth._ Development of the Christian system in its practical and moral
aspects, rather than in its theoretical and theological. _Sixth._
Stricter discipline in the churches than is practicable where church and
state are one. _Seventh._ Increase of the churches, to a considerable
extent, through _revivals_ of religion, rather than by the natural
growth of the children in an establishment. _Eighth._ Excessive
multiplication of sects; and divisions on questions of moral
reform."[234]

When we consider the intimate relations between France and this country
during the first stage of our national existence, it becomes a matter of
surprise that French infidelity did not acquire greater influence over
our people. It was not wholly without power, and the first twenty-five
years of our history witnessed greater religious disasters than have
appeared at any subsequent time. Still it may be said with truth that
skeptical tendencies have never gained a permanent position in the
United States, though our immunity from their sway has not been the
result of indifference toward the great movements of Europe. The
American has never been a cold observer of the hemisphere from which his
forefathers came. We appropriate the treasures of the Old World, and
love to call them our own. We are as proud of the martyrology and
literature of England as if Latimer and Ridley had died for their faith
on Boston Common, or Shakspeare and Milton had lived on the banks of the
Hudson. The early legislation of our government having left the
individual conscience to the exercise of its own convictions, each
citizen has been more interested in whatever religious opinions might
appear from European sources.

What then has been the reception in America of that system of skepticism
which has produced ravages on the Continent, and now forbodes evil in
our English mother-land? Is Rationalism likely to run its destructive
cycle in the United States? Has the American church no antidote for the
great theological errors of the present age?

The denomination most intimately associated with Rationalistic
tendencies is the Unitarian Church. Boston is its centre, and New
England the principal sphere of its existence.

The Venerable Stoddard, of Northampton, Massachusetts, became convinced
that the custom of excluding unregenerate persons from the sacrament of
the Lord's Supper was sinful; and in 1708 published a sermon declaring
his views on that subject. He held that the participation of
unregenerate people in the communion was highly beneficial to them; and
that it was in fact a means by which they might become regenerated. He
defended his belief so zealously that he soon had the pleasure of seeing
many followers gathering about him. The doctrine was termed the Half-Way
Covenant System, and was adopted in the church at Northampton. Jonathan
Edwards succeeded Stoddard, who was his grandfather; and, a few years
after the great revival in which the former took an active part, he
adopted the opinion that the Half-Way Covenant was injurious. Edwards
refused to practice it, and in his _Treatise on the Qualifications for
Full Communion_, he declared the necessity of regeneration. He was
accordingly dismissed from his church.

This was the germ of American Unitarianism. Stoddard's adherents clung
to their loose view of communion, while the friends of Edwards, being
more spiritual, and many of them the fruits of the Whitefieldian
revival, sustained the orthodox construction with energy. The Half-Way
Covenant in due time called a party into existence, which "avoided all
solicitude concerning their own spiritual condition or that of others;
were repugnant to the revival spirit; must have a system of doctrines
which could contain nothing to alarm the fears or disturb the repose of
the members of the party. The doctrines of apostasy, dependence on grace
for salvation, necessity of atonement, and special influence of the Holy
Spirit, were all thought to be alarming doctrines. They were therefore
laid aside silently and without controversy. Men were suffered to forget
that the Son of God, and the Spirit, have anything to do with man's
salvation."[235]

King's Chapel, Boston, was the first Episcopal church of New England.
Its rector leaving with the British troops upon their evacuation of the
town, Rev. James Freeman was chosen in April, 1783, to occupy the
vacant position. The services of the church were conducted after the
Episcopal form, the Book of Common Prayer being still used. Mr.
Freeman's views underwent a change, and he delivered a course of
doctrinal sermons in which he indicated decided Unitarian proclivities.
Accordingly he introduced a revised liturgy, corresponding with Dr.
Samuel Clarke's _Revision of the Liturgy of the Church of England_, from
which the doctrines of the Trinity and of the divinity of Christ were
excluded. The congregation addressed a letter to Bishop Provost, of New
York, in which inquiry was made, "whether ordination of Rev. Mr. Freeman
can be obtained on terms agreeable to him and to the proprietors of this
church." The bishop proposed to refer the question to the next general
convention. But the congregation, disliking such hesitation, determined
to ordain their rector themselves. Accordingly, on November 18th, 1787,
the senior warden laid his hand on Mr. Freeman's head, and pronounced
the declaration of ordination. The people responded "Amen;" and thus was
effected the first ordination of a Unitarian minister in the United
States.[236]

Wide circulation had already been given to Emlyn's _Inquiry into the
Scripture Account of Jesus Christ_, which, in 1756, had been republished
in Boston from the English edition. Before the close of the century the
doctrines peculiar to Unitarianism became widely disseminated in that
city and in other portions of the State. Belsham issued in London, 1812,
his _Memoir of Lindsey_, which contained startling disclosures of the
doings of the Unitarians in America. Belsham's informants were leading
Unitarians of Boston, among whom was Dr. Freeman, whose letters covered
a period of sixteen years, from 1796 to 1812. He communicated all the
secret movements, growth, and dimensions of the party. Only a few copies
of Belsham's work came to America, and they were hidden, lest any of the
orthodox might see them. Finally, Dr. Morse obtained one, and soon
published a pamphlet revealing its astounding contents. It now came to
light, for the first time, that Unitarianism was a strong party; that
every Congregational church in Boston, except the Park Street and Old
South, had become Unitarian; and that there were seventy-five churches
in other parts of New England which had adopted the same views. The
Unitarians were now compelled to come out of their hiding-place, and the
orthodox watched their movements with intense interest.

The zeal of the adherents of Unitarianism, however, did not diminish by
exposure, and a very important event occurred, which indicated that
their labors were successful. Dr. Ware, an avowed anti-Trinitarian, was
chosen to the professorship of theology in Harvard College, in place of
the deceased Dr. Tappan. The appointment created a profound excitement
among the orthodox clergy, who were indignant at the procedure. But
remonstrance was useless. Unitarianism was triumphantly domiciled at
Cambridge, and many who designed preaching its tenets became attendants
upon the lectures of Professors Ware and Andrews Norton. As a probable
consequence of the great change in Harvard, the Andover Theological
Seminary was established,[237]--an institution which, from its origin to
the present time, has shed a beneficent lustre upon the entire country.
Its students have never ceased to be ornaments to the American pulpit,
while some of the number, proving themselves worthy successors of Carey,
Marshman, Coke, and Ward, have labored in heathen lands with apostolic
zeal.

The celebrated controversy between Drs. Channing and Worcester,
occasioned by a pamphlet which appeared in Boston in 1815, under the
title of _American Unitarianism_, led to the withdrawal of the
Unitarians from the orthodox, and their formation into a distinct
organization. Pursuing an aggressive policy, they organized
congregations in various parts of New England, and in the cities of
Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, and Charleston. This was the heroic
age of the Unitarian church of America.

Channing became immediately the leader of the new sect. He represents
the best type of Unitarianism. Pure in life, ardent in his attachments,
and heroic in spirit, he was well adapted to advance the cause which he
had espoused. He had no taste for controversy, but the circumstances
connected with the prevalent theology made such a deep impression on his
mind that he felt it his duty to aid in the revival of what he deemed a
more liberal faith. Not indorsing the extreme Unitarianism of Priestley
and Belsham, he took a middle ground between it and New England
Calvinism. He was attentively heard in his church at Boston, and was
listened to by large audiences wherever he preached or lectured.

His writings embrace a variety of topics, the chief of which, apart from
religious themes proper, are slavery, temperance, education, and war.
Within a few years his views have attracted increased attention in
Europe. In France, MM. Laboulaye, de Rémusat, and Renan have discussed
them at length. Of his mental transitions, an admiring writer says:
"From Kant's doctrine of the reason he derived deeper reverence for the
essential powers of man; by Schelling's intimations of the Divine Life,
everywhere manifested, he was made more devoutly conscious of the
universal agency of God; and he was especially delighted with the heroic
stoicism of Fichte and his assertion of the grandeur of the human will.
But for his greatest pleasure and best discipline he was now indebted to
Wordsworth, whom he esteemed next to Shakspeare, and whose '_Excursion_'
came to him like a revelation. With Wordsworth's mingled piety and
heroism, humanity and earnest aspiration, with his all-vivifying
imagination, recognizing greatness under lowliest disguises, and
spreading sweet sanctions around every charity of social life, and with
his longings to see reverence, loyalty, courtesy, and contentment
established on the earth, he most closely sympathized. From this time he
began to engage more actively in political and philanthropic
movements."[238]

Channing believed that orthodoxy was incalculably mischievous in its
estimate of Deity and of human depravity. "God, we are told," says he,
"must not be limited; nor are his rights to be restrained by any rights
in his creatures. These are made to minister to their Maker's glory, not
to glorify themselves. They wholly depend on him, and have no power
which they can call their own. His sovereignty, awful and omnipotent, is
not to be kept in check, or turned from its purposes, by any claims of
his subjects. Man's place is the dust. The entire prostration of his
faculties is the true homage he is to offer to God. He is not to exalt
his reason or his sense of right against the decrees of the Almighty.
He has but one lesson to learn, that he is nothing, that God is All in
All. Such is the common language of theology."[239]

Against these views he asserts man's free agency and moral dignity. His
creed is the greatness of Human Nature; such greatness as is seen in the
"intellectual energy which discerns absolute, universal truth in the
idea of God, in freedom of will and moral power, in disinterestedness
and self-sacrifice, in the boundlessness of love, in aspirations after
perfection, in desires and affections which time and space cannot
confine, and the world cannot fill. The soul, viewed in these lights,
should fill us with awe. It is an immortal germ, which may be said to
contain now within itself what endless ages are to unfold. It is truly
an image of the infinity of God, and no words can do justice to its
grandeur."[240] Instead of looking without for a basis of religion, we
must commence at home, within ourselves. "We must start in religion from
our own souls, for in them is the fountain of all divine truth. An
outward revelation is only possible and intelligible on the ground of
conceptions and principles previously furnished by the soul. Here is our
primitive teacher and light. Let us not disparage it. There are, indeed,
philosophical schools of the present day, which tell us that we are to
start in all our speculations from the Absolute, the Infinite. But we
rise to these conceptions from the contemplation of our own nature; and
even if it were not so, of what avail would be the notion of an
Absolute, Infinite existence, an Uncaused Unity, if stripped of all
those intellectual and moral attributes which we learn only from our
own souls? What but a vague shadow, a sounding name, is the metaphysical
Deity, the substance without modes, the being without properties, the
naked Unity which performs such a part in some of our philosophical
systems. The only God whom our thoughts can rest on and our hearts can
cling to, and our consciences can recognize is the God whose image
dwells in our own souls. The grand ideas of Power, Reason, Wisdom, Love,
Rectitude, Holiness, Blessedness, that is, of all God's attributes, come
from within, from the action of our own spiritual nature. Many indeed
think that they learn God from marks of design and skill in the outward
world; but our ideas of design and skill, of a determining cause, of an
end or purpose, are derived from consciousness, from our own souls. Thus
the soul is the spring of our knowledge of God."[241]

The creed of the Unitarians must be studied as one would take soundings
at sea. The measurement of one place is no guarantee of the depth in
another. What was believed twenty years ago, may not be endorsed by the
leaders of to-day. One writer of their fold says: "Unitarianism is
loose, vague, general, indeterminate in its elements and
formularies."[242] When George Putnam installed Mr. Fosdick over the
Hollis Street Church, he said with commendable candor, "There is no
other Christian body of which it is so impossible to tell where it
begins and where it ends. We have no recognized principles by which any
man who chooses to be a Christian disciple, and desires to be numbered
with us, whatever he believes or denies, can be excluded."

But Unitarianism has ever remained true to a few points. One of them is
antagonism to orthodoxy. It was an old cry of the German skeptics,
"Away with orthodoxy. It fetters us to forms and creeds, makes us blind
devotees to system, converts us into bigots, and dwarfs reason into an
invisible pigmy." Yet we frequently meet with language of similar import
in the present day. If we did not know its authorship we could easily
tell the ecclesiastical fountain whence it flows. "The implications of
false and shallow reasoning," says an American Unitarian divine,
"partial observation, intellectual grouping, moral obliquity, spiritual
ignorance,--in short, of puerility and superstition involved in a large
part of the appeals, the preaching, the cant terms, the popular dogmas,
the current conversation of Christendom,--are discouraging evidences how
backward is the religious thought of our day, as compared with its
general thought; how little harmony there is between our schools and our
churches, our thinkers and our religious guides, our political and
national institutions and our popular theology. It is not
Christianity--the rational, thorough, all-embracing Gospel of
Christ,--which throws its blessed sanctities over and around our whole
humanity,--which owns and consecrates our whole nature and our whole
life--which is thus taught. It is a system which is narrower than
Judaism, and compared with which Romanism is a princely and magnificent
theology. I say advisedly, that if Protestantism endorses the vulgar
notions of a God-cursed world,--a fallen race,--a commercial
atonement,--a doomed and hell-devoted humanity,--a mysterious
conversion,--a Church which is a sort of a life-boat hanging round a
wreck that may carry off a few women and selfishly-affrighted men,
leaving the bolder, braver, larger portion to go down with the ship; if
this be the sum and substance of religion,--if these notions be the
grounds of the late religious excitement and the doctrines which gave
it power,[243]--then it is not so true to human nature, its wants and
woes, its various and manifold tastes, talents, and faculties, as the
old Catholic system,--and that, instead of trembling at the growth and
prospects of Romanism in this country, we should more reasonably rejoice
in its triumphs, as the worthier occupant of the confidence and
affection of the people. But this narrow system, with all its arrogant
claims to be the only Evangelical faith, is not Protestantism; or,
rather, is not mere Protestantism."[244]

But the indeterminateness of Unitarian theology does not warrant us in
passing over its tenets, as stated by writers held in good repute in
that Church. It would be unfair, however, to claim that these are
doctrines to which each must inflexibly adhere. The Unitarians neither
exact nor desire conformity to authority; in fact they have no
authority. Reason is left to place its own construction upon the truths
of revelation. What, then, is the general Unitarian sentiment on those
subjects whose essential importance is acknowledged by all Evangelical
Churches?

INSPIRATION AND THE SCRIPTURES. Channing and Dewey have held loftier
views of the Bible and its divine origin than their less devout
brethren. The latter has said that, "The matter is divine, the miracles
real, the promises glorious, the threatenings fearful; enough that all
is gloriously and fearfully true to the divine will, true to human
nature, true to its wants, anxieties, sorrows, sins, salvation, and
destinies; enough that the seal of a divine and miraculous communication
is set upon that holy Book."[245] But reverence for the Scriptures is
rapidly on the decline among the Unitarians,--the direct result of the
influence of the German and English Rationalists. They call all
believers in orthodox opinions, "Bibliolaters." They spurn the thought
of an infallible Bible. "No wonder," they say, "that the Bibliolaters
quail before the iconoclasm of Bishop Colenso, and, in their rage, call
aloud for his excision from the Church; for, if a single one of the
difficulties he accumulates can be proved a reality, the whole edifice
of their faith topples to its fall.... We believe that safety and sense
can alone be found in our theory, which regards Scripture as credible
though human, as inspired not in its form, but in its substance, of
various and, in many cases, of unknown authorship, and representing
different stages of culture. We cannot accept all its documents as of
co-ordinate authority; nor in every one of its statements can we
recognize a product of inspiration. We do not conceive ourselves bound,
therefore, to defend the geology of Moses, or to admire the conduct of
the Israelites in the extermination of the Canaanites; or to infuse a
recondite spiritual meaning into the amatory descriptions and appeals of
the Song of Solomon."[246]

GOD AND CHRIST. God is the Universal Father. It must be forgotten that
he is king; his paternal character alone must be borne in mind. He is a
God of one person, not of three, and the doctrine of the Trinity is
nowhere hinted at in the Bible, but is of Platonic origin. The Christian
Fathers did not contend that it was contained therein. The view of three
persons in one God is "self-contradictory, opposed to all right reason,
positively absurd."[247] Christ is inferior and subordinate to God. He
is God in the same sense as the angels, Moses, Samuel, the Kings and
Judges of Israel. They were gods in one respect,--the word of God was
spoken to them. Christ is the chief one "to whom the word of God
came."[248] In the New Testament, Christ is uniformly kept distinct from
the Father, and the attributes which he possessed, wisdom, knowledge,
and power, were endowments from God.

THE HOLY GHOST. The Holy Ghost is not a person, but is merely sent from
the Father, or proceeds from him. The apparent presence of the Holy
Ghost in Christ's farewell discourse is only a personification resulting
from the peculiar nature of the Greek language, and the necessity of its
syntax. Not being a person, the Holy Ghost cannot be God, and is,
therefore, not self-existent, underived, and unoriginated. Wherever it
is described as a person it is only the writer's striking form of
speech; it is solely personification, just as we often find the case
with the Law, Wisdom, Scripture, Sin, and Charity.[249]

HUMAN DEPRAVITY. The Unitarians have no place in their creed for man's
natural sinfulness. It is, they say, a doctrinal innovation, having been
propagated by Augustine in the fifth century. That God should create men
who are naturally sinners is inconsistent with his parental character.
"The doctrine is itself repulsive. The human mind revolts at it. If God
our Creator has implanted within us a natural sense of right and wrong,
that sense arraigns his character and conduct in creating us thus
corrupt."[250] There is no such thing, the Unitarians contend, as the
fall of man. Adam was what we are. "Had he not sinned," one of their
writers affirms, "our race would have continued perfect and happy
without the necessity for progress, or the need of any of those
educational and recuperative processes to which Providence has resorted.
_Let those who can believe this!_ Let those also who can, call the
unfallen Adam and Eve satisfactory patterns and types of our complete
humanity. Imagine a world of Adams and Eves, living in a garden, on
spontaneous fruits, ignorant of the distinction between good and evil,
and without any capacity of moral change or improvement! Can any amount
of credulity enable an enlightened and candid mind of the present day to
think this world originally made to be occupied by such a race; that
unfallen Adams and Eves could ever have developed its resources, or
their own powers, and capacities of moral and spiritual happiness? Can
any subtlety perceive a true distinction between their condition and
that of the innocent but feeble islanders of some few spots in the
Pacific?[251] Can any degree of superstition regard a state of unfallen
holiness, which allowed our first parents to succumb in the midst of
perfect bliss, and under God's own direct care and instructions, before
the first temptation, as superior to our present moral condition? If
Adam fell, the race rose by his fall; he fell up, and nothing happier
for our final fortunes ever occurred than when the innocents of the
garden learned their shame, and fled into the hardships and experiences
of a disciplinary and growing humanity.... The radical vice of the
popular way of thinking about moral evil lies in the supposition that
... a state of spotless innocency is better than a state of moral
exposure and moral struggle; and that all our humanity is not entitled
to use development and play, in its grand career of being. On the other
hand, the true theory of humanity presents us with a race brought into
this world for its education, starting with moral and intellectual
infancy, and liable to all the mistakes, weaknesses, and follies, which
an ungrown and inexperienced nature begets."[252] There is far more
virtue in the world than there is vice. We grossly mistake when we make
notoriously vicious characters the type of humanity at large. "Man by
nature, as born and brought into this world, is innocent, pure;
guiltless because sinless; fitted for just that religion which Christ
revealed to operate successfully and gloriously upon; not indeed holy,
but capable of becoming so."

THE ATONEMENT. The orthodox view of the atonement is denied by the
Unitarians. Sacrifices are of human origin, those of the Mosaic religion
being solely ritual, and symbolical acts of faith and worship. Christ's
death did not appease the wrath of God in any sense, nor is anything
said in the Scriptures concerning Christ's sufferings as causing or
exciting the grace or mercy of God. It is not stated that God is
reconciled to us, but we to him. Christ suffered as an example. A writer
already quoted says: "Especially were the anguish and patience of his
final sufferings and his awful death upon the cross appointed and
powerful means of affecting the mind of man."[253] Another author
affirms: "Christ saves us, so far as his sufferings and death are
concerned, through their moral influence and power upon man; the great
appeal which they make being not to God, but to the sinner's conscience
and heart; thus aiding in the great work of bringing him into
reconciliation with or reconciling him to his Father in heaven....
Reconciliation is accomplished by Christ; by all that he was and is; all
that he taught, did, and is doing; and by all that he suffered for our
sake. Not by one but by all of these are we saved."[254] Christ's
sacrifice was not made to God, for he did not need to be propitiated or
rendered merciful, but simply with reference to man alone,--for his
good; God's justice needed no pacification. "There can be no greater or
more blinding heresy than that which would teach that Christ's
sufferings, or any sufferings in behalf of virtue and human sins and
sorrows, are strictly substitutional, or literally vicarious. The old
theologies, perplexed and darkened with metaphysics and scholastic
logic--the fruit of academic pride and the love of ecclesiastical
dominion--labored to prove and to teach that Christ, in his short agony
upon the cross, really suffered the pains of sin and bore the actual sum
of all the anguish from remorse and guilt due to myriads of sinners,
through the ages of eternity.... Our sense of justice and goodness so
far as God himself is concerned, is vastly more shocked by the proper
penalties of sin being placed upon the innocent than had they been left
upon the guilty, where they belong.... The truth is, literal
substitution of moral penalties is a thing absolutely impossible!
Vicarious punishment, in its technical and theological sense, is
forbidden by the very laws of our nature and moral constitution."[255]

REGENERATION. This is a universal want, but it is entirely consistent
with the purity of human nature. The natural birth gives no moral
character; it is to be formed, and when formed, is called the "new
birth." This is all that Christ meant when he said to Nicodemus, "Except
a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." Regeneration must
not, therefore, be considered a consequence of human depravity, but a
result of human purity. It is the development of that which is already
good within us.

FUTURE PUNISHMENT. The Unitarians of America have, for the most part,
adopted the Restitutional theories of Hartley and Priestley. Mr. Ballou
claims "the whole body of Unitarians as Universalists." Punishment may
be inflicted after death, but it will be temporary. "The punishments of
hell are disciplinarian, and do not forbid the hope of remission and
relief."[256]

The best method of determining the present spirit of Unitarianism is to
observe the reception which it gives to the Rationalism that has grown
up luxuriantly of late in England. The welcome has been most cordial. A
Unitarian clergyman has become the American editor of the _Essays and
Reviews_;[257] and hails the appearance of such a book as representing a
new and better era in modern theology. He holds that the real "life of
Anglican theology is now represented by such men as Powell and Williams
and Maurice and Jowett and Stanley;" that the Broad Church is the only
one which fully embodies true progress and conservatism; that
Rationalism is the only alternative of Romanism; and that, as a matter
of course, the former should be adopted. He expresses the hope that the
spirit of Rationalistic criticism, "which is now leavening the Church of
England, may find abundant entrance into all the churches of our land,"
and that the _Essays and Reviews_, "its genuine product, may contribute
somewhat thereto."[258]

The quarterly organ of the Unitarians, _The Christian Examiner_, has
passed an encomium on the same exponent of English Rationalism, in which
it manifests no tempered gladness at skepticism within the pale of the
church. It says, with undisguised satisfaction, that "either these seven
essayists must have been in very close and intimate confidential
relations as friends or fellow-students, and have held many precious
conferences together in which they were mutually each other's
confessors; or, there must be quite a large number of very able and very
heretical sinners in the Church of England, within easy hail of each
other, and so thick in some neighborhoods that it is the readiest thing
in the world to pick out a set of them who, 'without concert or
comparison,' will contribute all the parts of a _fresh and unhackneyed
system of opinion_."

One of the most direct and outspoken of all the organized attacks of
American Rationalism upon evangelical Christianity occurred at the first
public anniversary of the Young Men's Christian Union, of New York. Its
importance was due to the diversity of unevangelical bodies there
represented, and to the celebrity of several of the speakers.
Unitarianism, Swedenborgianism, and Universalism mingled in happy
fraternity. The speakers were Drs. Osgood, Bellows, Sawyer, and Chapin;
Rev. Messrs. Barrett, Peters, Mayo, Higginson, Miel, Blanchard, and
Frothingham; and Richard Warren and Horace Greeley, Esquires.

The Union seems to have been designed as a counterpoise to the large and
flourishing Young Men's Christian Association, which is comprised of
earnest and active members of all orthodox denominations. The platform
of the former may be determined from the following significant language:
"The Anniversary of the Young Men's Christian Union was the first
instance in which so many of the leading minds in the various branches
of the liberal and progressive portion of the Christian church have met
on one common platform, for the purpose of discussing the practical
bearings of that higher type of Christianity which refuses to be limited
by any dogma, or fettered by any creed."[259] One of the speakers, in
explaining the relations of the Union to the church, said: "We maintain,
then, that we are _in_ the church, _are_ the church--not a part of it,
but the whole church,--having _in_ us the heart and soul of orthodoxy
itself, the essence of all that gave life to its creed, the utmost
significance and vital force of what it taught and still teaches, in
what we conceive to be a stuttering and stammering way, in a cumbrous
and outworn language, with a circuitous and wearisome phraseology; but
meaning really what we mean, and doing for men essentially what we are
doing. All that we claim is a better statement of the old and changeless
truth, a disembarrassed account of the ever true and identical story....
We have not separated ourselves from the brethren [orthodox]; we hold
them in our enclosure; we are always ready to receive them, to welcome
them. We are not expecting they will receive us, on account of their
providential position. We have an intellectual perception of what the
times demand and what the future is to be. We can see clearer than they.
We can see why they are wrong; they cannot see why we are right--but
they will presently.... The actual presence of God in the world, in all
his love and mercy, supplying our deficiencies, helping our
infirmities, consecrating and transforming matter, giving sanctity and
beauty to life--this is what the _renewing_ of the old faith offers to
humanity.

"The indistinct perception of this faith and the divine craving to see
it clearly, and bring it to the sight of others, has led to the
existence and organization of the Liberal churches, and indirectly to
the formation of the Young Men's Christian Union. Faith in man as the
child of God, his word and residence, authorizing the freest use of
thought, the profoundest respect for individual convictions, the firmest
confidence in progress and in the triumph of truth; inspiring good will,
humane affections, philanthropic activity, and personal holiness; faith
in God as the Father of man--man's universal Saviour and inspirer--man's
merit consists wholly in being his child and the pupil of his grace in
nature, life, the church, and the unseen world--these are the permanent
articles of Christian faith, which is not so much faith in Christ, as
Christ's faith."[260]

It is difficult to conceive how the most of the speakers at the
anniversary in question could have better served the interests of a bold
and unmitigated system of Rationalism. The great evil of the day is
declared to be dogmatism, against which every true friend of progress
must deal his most destructive blows. Liberal minds must break loose
from the fetters of authority, and give play to their own infallible
reason. The Protestant evangelical church is placed upon the same
footing with Romanism; both of which organizations unchurch all who do
not conform to their creed. "The truth is," says a speaker, "this
Protestant evangelical church is in the same chronic delusion as its
enemy, the Roman Catholic church; it can propose no plan of Christian
union which will include the Christians of the country. Its only idea of
union is the conspiracy of a few sects to take the kingdom of heaven by
violence; monopolize its honors in this world and the world to come; and
either compel the rest of mankind to come into its arrangement, or be
turned into everlasting perdition--a proceeding which the American
people, with due respect to the undeniable rights of this church, begs
leave respectfully to decline,--and further to intimate, that it is not
at all alarmed about the eternal consequences of a refusal to accede to
the pretensions of an ecclesiasticism that assumes to be God's
vicegerent to the United States of America."[261]

Great fault is found with the doctrines of the plenary inspiration of
the Scriptures, and the efficacy of Christ's blood for man's salvation.
God is in man; and man's moral instincts, intellectual mould, and
spiritual senses are infinitely wiser than we conceive them to be. They
are infallible in what they say of God, and are the best criteria of
truth. How much the world has been given up to the worship of the Bible!
"The Bibles will be left here to burn in the general conflagration with
the other temporary representations of the Word of God, which is the
eternal Reason, the foundation of our being." This Reason is the "elder
Scripture of God,--the soul, the inspired child of the heavenly and
eternal Father." The answer is given to the question, Why does orthodoxy
believe in the efficacy of Christ's blood to save the souls of men? "It
is because man distrusts his reason, and invents the infallible church,
and then the infallible Scriptures, to supply his necessity of
anchorage. He cannot think the God of the universe can be willing to
save such a miserable sinner, and he invents a God of the church, who
will. He does not believe anything men can do will entitle them to
heaven, or that human lives can make them acceptable in the sight of
God."[262]

From the preceding statements it will not be surprising to find some of
the speakers apologizing for outright infidelity. "Mr. President," says
one, "you, in the judgment of very many, are an infidel. The members of
this Christian association occupy what is regarded an infidel position.
And that very admirable constitution, which I have read to-day, if
presented at a council of churches, commonly reputed orthodox, would be
considered, doubtless, the platform of an infidel association....
Infidels, in all generations of the church, have been _progressive_ in
every direction; the believers in the present and the future; the people
who had confidence in the improvability of man, and the perennial
inspirations of God; the men and women who were persuaded that all the
spheres of wisdom and excellence were opened to human powers, and that
man was welcomed to all the treasure they contain.... They are a
thoughtful, earnest, hopeful people, bent on finding the truth, and
doing their duty."[263] Such infidels as these are claimed to have
blessed the world. All liberal minds ought to catch their spirit and
administer every possible blessing to struggling humanity. But there is
a species of narrow-minded infidelity which must be shunned; and it is
the only kind of which we need to forebode any evil. "The only
infidelity to be feared," says Mr. Frothingham, "the only real
infidelity which is a sin in the sight of God, is a disbelief in the
primary faculties of the human soul; disbelief in the capability of
man's reason to discriminate between truth and error in all departments
of knowledge, sacred or profane; disbelief in the heart's instinctive
power to distinguish good from evil; disallowance of the claims of
conscience to pass a verdict upon matters of right and wrong, whenever
and wherever brought up. They are the infidels who are untrue to the
light they have; who deny the plenary inspiration of that elder
Scripture written by the finger of God upon the human heart; who overlay
their reason with heaps of antiquated traditions; who bid their
conscience stand dumb before appalling iniquities in obedience to the
ill-read letter of an ancient record; who, in the interest of power,
wealth, worldliness, not seldom of unrighteousness and inhumanity, plead
for a Tract society, a Bible, or a church; who compass sea and land to
make a proselyte, and when he is made, are quite indifferent as to his
being a practical Christian; who collect vast sums of money annually for
the ostensible purpose of saving men's souls, practically to the effect
of keeping their souls in subjection and blindness. As I read the New
Testament, I find that Jesus charged infidelity upon none but such as
these; the people who made religion a cloak for pride, selfishness, and
cruelty; the conspicuously saintly people, who could spare an hour to
pray at a street corner, but had not a minute for a dying fellow-man
lying in his blood in a lonely pass. In the judgment of these, Jesus was
the prince of unbelievers. Punctilious adherence to the letter,
practical disbelief in the spirit--this is infidelity."[264]

The most important event in the history of the American Unitarian Church
was the National Convention which met in New York, April 5th, 1865, and
was presided over by Governor Andrew, of Massachusetts. Six hundred
ministers and laymen, representatives of one hundred and ninety
churches, were in attendance. The debates indicated wide diversity of
sentiment, but there was no open rupture. The sessions were pervaded by
a spirit of devoted loyalty to the civil government, liberality toward
all Christian bodies, and zeal in organizing educational and missionary
agencies throughout the country. An annual National Conference of
Unitarian Churches was appointed for the future. The Convention was
unable to arrive at a common system of belief. The following declaration
of faith was presented by A. A. Low, Esq.:

"_Whereas_, Associate and efficient action can only be expected of those
who agree in certain leading doctrinal statements or positions,
_Resolved_, That without intending any intolerance of individual
opinion, it is the right and duty of this convention to claim of all who
take part in its proceedings, an assent to the fundamental doctrines
hitherto held by the Unitarian body by reason of which it has acquired
its standing in the Christian world, and asserts it lineage in the
Christian Church; and, to this end, this convention declares as
essentially belonging to the Unitarian faith: 1st. Belief in the Holy
Scriptures as containing a revelation from God to man--and, as deduced
therefrom, 2d. Belief in one God, the Father; 3d. Belief in one Lord
Jesus Christ, our Saviour, the Son of God, and his specially appointed
Messenger and Representative to our race, gifted with supernatural
power, "approved of God by miracles and signs and wonders which God did
by him," and thus, by divine authority, commanding the devout and
reverential faith of all who claim the Christian name; 4th. Belief in
the Holy Ghost, the Comforter; 5th. Belief in the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the dead, and life everlasting."

These resolutions were at first laid on the table, but afterward
referred to a special committee. The refusal of the Convention to adopt
them indicates very clearly the unwillingness of a large portion of the
Unitarian clergy of the United States to occupy an evangelical
position.[265]

Closely allied to the Unitarians in spirit and in doctrine are the
Universalists, who date the beginning of their strength in the United
States from the arrival of the Rev. John Murray, in 1770. They unite
with the Unitarians in rejecting the triune character of God, and hold
that their view of the divine unity is as old as the giving of the law
on Sinai. The doctrine of the Trinity is nowhere stated in the
Scriptures, for God would then have given us a religion enveloped in
mystery, which procedure he has studiously avoided. The Trinitarian view
entertained by the orthodox is not only a self-contradiction, but would
be a violation of the harmony and order everywhere perceptible in
nature.[266]

Christ is next to God in excellence; he is "God manifest in the flesh;"
that is, God has given him more of his glory than any other creature has
enjoyed. Christ was simply sent by God to do a certain work, and served
only as a delegate when he spoke and acted as one having authority.[267]
The Holy Spirit exerts an influence upon the heart by purely natural
methods. The new birth is therefore merely the result of ordinary means
for human improvement.

The most important article of the Universalist creed is the final
salvation of all men. The goodness of God is infinite, and therefore he
will save all his rational creatures through Christ, his Son and
Ambassador. Man suffers in this world the natural consequences of his
wayward conduct; but when the penalty is once inflicted, there is no
need of vengeance. The chief end of suffering in the present life is
man's improvement and restoration to perfect happiness. Pain ordained
for its own sake, and perpetuated to all eternity, would be a proof of
infinite malignity. By virtue of God's benevolence, man's suffering has
a beneficent element, and must therefore be temporary and result in
good.[268] When Christ comes to raise the dead, he will relieve from
misery all the sons of men, give them a new life, and take them to
himself.[269]

The adherents of Universalism insist upon philanthropy and the
brotherhood of man. They hold that orthodox theology fosters harsh
notions of God's character, fills the mind with superstition, and is the
source of some of the most flagrant evils of the present age. "We
regret," says one of their writers, "that the acknowledged faith and
opinions have done no more to elevate the affections, and improve the
condition of man. They have utterly failed to correct the heart or the
life. They have disturbed his present peace, and darkened his prospects
for the future. Thousands of the young and innocent have been induced to
relinquish whatever is most beautiful in life--to give up all that
renders religion attractive and divine, for a miserable superstition,
which, like the Upas, fills the very atmosphere with death. I am
reminded that this dark theology, like a great idol, has been rolling
its ponderous car over the world for ages--I follow its desolating
track, by the wreck of noble minds--by the fearful wail of the lost
spirit, and the crushed hopes and affections of those I love! Oh! when I
look at this picture, drawn with the pencil of reality, in all its deep
shadows and startling colors, the brain is oppressed and the heart is
sick; and while I would stifle the inquiry, it finds an utterance:--In
the name of reason, of humanity and heaven, is there no hope for
man?"[270]

This declamatory lament over the theology of the evangelical Christian
church is a repetition of an old skeptical charge. It is the expression
of a spirit similar to that which animated the German Rationalists,
prompted the criticism of Colenso and of the _Essays and Reviews_, and
is now ready to welcome any effort that may promise a revolution of the
popular religious sentiment in Great Britain and the American Republic.
Orthodoxy is unhesitatingly pronounced a public curse. In reply, we
would request our skeptical opponents to remember the historical record
of their principles, as seen in the social convulsions of Germany, in
the immorality and revolutions of France, and in the religious
indifference and prostration of England in the eighteenth century. We
would remind them, further, that orthodox theology has here been in the
ascendant, and that in no land are public morals purer, the laws more
just, humanitarian enterprises better supported, material interests more
progressive, or education better fostered than in the United States. The
American Church laments that her faith has not been stronger and her
zeal more fervent, but her history, with all its dark pages of
hesitation and inefficiency, is the answer which she returns to the
accusations of her Rationalistic opponents. Meanwhile, she proposes to
continue her labor for human salvation, by the promulgation of her
present system of theology, nor will she consider her mission
accomplished until the gospel of Christ has been preached to every
creature.


FOOTNOTES:

[232] Smith, _History of the Church of Christ in Chronological Tables_,
p. 74.

[233] _The Reason of Church Government against Prelacy._ Ch. II.

[234] _History of the Church of Christ, &c._, p. 74.

[235] Baird, _Religion in America_, pp. 547-562.

[236] _Unitarianism in its Actual Condition._ Edited by Rey. J. R.
Beard, D. D. pp. 1-4. London, 1846.

[237] Sprague, _Annals of the American Unitarian Pulpit_. _Historical
Introduction_, p. xii.

[238] Appleton's _American Cyclopædia_. Art. _Wm. Ellery Channing_. W.
L. Symonds, Esq., is the author of this biography.

[239] _Works_, _Introductory Remarks_, p. viii.

[240] Ibid. p. vi.

[241] _Works_, _Introductory Remarks_, pp. xviii-xix.

[242] Ellis, _Half Century of Unitarianism_, p. 34.

[243] These words refer to the great Revival in the winter of 1857-58.

[244] Bellows, _Restatements of Christian Doctrine_, p. 164-165.

[245] _Controversial Sermons_, No. 1.

[246] Orr, _Unitarianism in the Present Time_, pp. 54, 58, 59.

[247] Farley, _Unitarianism Defined_, p. 24.

[248] Farley, _Unitarianism Defined_, p. 26.

[249] Ibid. pp. 122, 123, 136.

[250] Ibid. pp. 156, 157.

[251] Will the Reverend author be kind enough to inform the public of
the name and exact locality of these innocent islanders?

[252] Bellows, _Restatements of Christian Doctrine_, pp. 228-230.

[253] _Works of H. Ware, jr._, vol. iv. p. 91.

[254] Farley, _Unitarianism Defined_, pp. 208-210.

[255] Bellows, _Restatements of Christian Doctrine_, pp. 306, 307.

[256] Orr, _Unitarianism in the Present Time_, p. 8.

[257] F. H. Hedge, D. D.

[258] _Essays and Reviews, Introduction to Boston Edition._

[259] _Religious Aspects of the Age._ Preface, p. 3.

[260] Bellows, in _Religious Aspects of the Age_, pp. 109-111.

[261] Mayo, in _Religious Aspects of the Age_, pp. 68, 69.

[262] Bellows, in _Religious Aspects of the Age_, pp. 102, 103.

[263] Frothingham, Ibid. pp. 121-126.

[264] _Religious Aspects of the Age_, pp. 131-132.

[265] American Unitarianism is numerically decreasing. The most
favorable estimate of its membership (Schem, _Ecclesiastical Year-Book_,
p. 78), is thirty thousand. From Dr. Sprague's _Annals of the American
Unitarian Pulpit_, pp. xx.-xxi., we derive the following statistical
account of its present strength:

There are in the United States about 263 Societies, of which
Massachusetts has 164, and the city of Boston 21; Maine has 16, New
Hampshire 15, Vermont 3, Rhode Island 3, Connecticut 2, New York 13, New
Jersey 1, Pennsylvania 5, Maryland 2, Ohio 5, Illinois 11, Wisconsin 2,
and Missouri, Kentucky, Minnesota, South Carolina, Louisiana,
California, and the District of Columbia, each one. There are about 345
ministers. There are two theological schools, one at Cambridge, founded
1816; the other at Meadville, Pa.; first opened in 1844, and
incorporated in 1846. The Periodicals are, The Christian Examiner,
tri-monthly, Boston; The Monthly Religious Magazine and Independent
Journal, Boston; The Sunday School Gazette, semi-monthly, Boston; The
Christian Register, weekly, Boston; and the Christian Inquirer, weekly,
New York. The missionary and charitable societies are, the American
Unitarian Association, founded in 1825, and incorporated in 1847; the
Unitarian Association of the State of New York; Annual Conference of
Western Unitarian Churches; the Sunday School Society, instituted in
1827, and reorganized in 1854; the Society for promoting Christian
Knowledge, Piety, and Charity, incorporated in 1805; the Massachusetts
Evangelical Missionary Society, instituted in 1807; the Society for
Promoting Theological Education, organized in 1816, and incorporated in
1831; the Society for the Relief of Aged and Destitute Clergymen, formed
in 1848, and incorporated in 1850; the Ministerial Conference; the
Association of Ministers at large in New England, formed in 1850; the
Benevolent Fraternity of Churches of Boston, organized in 1834, and
incorporated in 1839; the Children's Mission to the Children of the
Destitute, Boston, 1849; the Young Men's Christian Union, Boston,
organized in 1851, and incorporated in 1852; the Boston Port Society,
incorporated in 1829; and the Seamen's Aid Society of Boston, formed in
1832.

[266] Williamson, _Exposition and Defense of Universalism_, pp. 11-13.

[267] Skinner, _Universalism Illustrated and Defended_, pp. 51-56.

[268] Appleton's _American Cyclopædia_, Art. _Universalists_.

[269] Williamson, _Exposition and Defense of Universalism_, pp. 140-155.

[270] Brittan, _Universalism as an Idea_, pp. 12, 13. We get the
following statistics concerning the present condition of the
Universalists as a denomination from their Register of 1862: 23 State
Conventions; 87 Local Associations; 1,279 Societies and 998 Churches;
724 Preachers; 8 Academies; 3 Colleges; 17 Periodicals. St. Lawrence
University, N. Y., has a Library of 5,000 vols; and Tuft's College,
Mass., which opened in 1854, one of 10,000 volumes. The Unitarians excel
the Universalists in humanitarian efforts, but the latter surpass the
former in periodical literature.



CHAPTER XXIV.

THE UNITED STATES CONTINUED: THEODORE PARKER AND HIS SCHOOL.


The early Unitarian Church of America was ardent in its attachment to
the doctrine of miracles. An article which appeared in the _Christian
Examiner_ less than forty years ago, provoked great opposition because
of its severe strictures on this branch of Christian evidence. The
writer held that miracles, even if proved to have occurred, can
establish nothing in favor of a religion which has not already stood the
test of experience; and that the doctrines of Christianity must first be
determined reasonable before we are compelled to believe that miracles
were wrought in attestation of them. The elder school of Unitarians
denounced his statements as open infidelity. A violent controversy
ensued, but no schism took place. Theodore Parker stood at the head of
the radical movement, and afterward labored unremittingly to disseminate
his theological opinions. In him American Rationalism finds its complete
personification. He represents the application of German infidelity to
the Unitarianism of New England.

This celebrated advocate of temperance and freedom was prompted by a
deep and unselfish love of his race. He was descended from a soldier of
the Revolutionary army, and inherited that indomitable will, strong
patriotic impulses, and native talents, which had characterized his
ancestry for several generations. His mental qualities were of a lofty
type. He was a linguist who, in correctness of speech and facility of
acquisition, had few equals on this side of the Atlantic. His eloquence
was stirring and popular, while his pen was facile and fruitful.
Commencing to preach in West Roxbury, Massachusetts, the unusual
character of his pulpit ministrations attracted public attention. On
being invited to Boston, he assumed the pastoral relation over a
newly-formed church, the Twenty-Eighth Congregational Society. In
addition to his sermons, he lectured in all parts of the Northern
States, and found time to write regularly for periodicals, compose
original works, and make translations of German authors with whom his
own theological opinions were in sympathy.

Though often in feeble health, he seldom allowed physical languor to
intermit his work. When threatened with consumption he was induced to
spend some time at Santa Cruz, whence he sailed for Italy. He died at
Florence in the spring of 1860, not having completed his fiftieth year,
and after a pastorate of only fourteen years at the Melodeon. He had
often expressed a desire in earlier life that, like Goethe and Channing,
he might not be deterred from labor by the prospect of immediate death.
Shortly before his decease he addressed to his congregation in Boston a
lengthy letter containing his experience as a minister. He now lies in
the little cemetery outside the walls of Florence; his tombstone, at his
own request, simply recording his name and the dates of his birth and
death. He bequeathed his library, containing over thirteen thousand
volumes, to the Free Library of Boston.

Our chief concern is with Mr. Parker as a theologian. He was a stranger
to moderation in every form. Having conceived certain skeptical views,
he knew no terms strong enough to condemn the whole evangelical scheme.
His chief defects of style are abruptness and occasional vulgarity,
which no man more regretted than their author in his calmer hours. But
there can be no apology for his dealing with serious subjects in that
vein of sarcasm which reminds us of the grossness of the coarser brood
of infidels. An English critic, noticing this defect, says: "His vigor
of style was deformed by a power of sarcasm, which often invested the
most sacred subjects with caricature and vulgarity; a boundless
malignity against supposed errors.... He equals Paine in vulgarity and
Voltaire in sarcasm."[271]

Parker felt that a bold course must be taken or orthodoxy could not be
made to yield its position. His biographer informs us that when he was
less than seven years of age "he fell out with the doctrines of eternal
damnation and a wrathful God."[272] In later life, when striving to find
the sources of what he considered the evils of the popular theology, he
fixed upon two common idols: "the Bible, which is only a record of men's
words and works; and Jesus of Nazareth, a man who only lived divinely
some centuries ago. The popular religion is wrong in that it tells man
he is an outcast, that he is but a spurious issue of the devil, must not
pray in his own name, is only sure of one thing--and that is damnation.
Man is declared to be immortal, but it is such immortality as proves a
curse instead of a blessing. In fact this whole orthodox theology rests
on a lie."[273]

His positive faith is comprehended in his own term, "the Absolute
Religion." God has created man with an intuitive religious element, the
strongest and deepest in human nature, indestructible, and existing
everywhere. Its legitimate action is to produce reverence, and ascends
into trust, hope, and love, or descends into doubt, fear, and hate.
Religion is not confined to one age, or people, or sect. It is the same
thing in each man, "not a similar thing--but the same thing." Three
forms of religion have existed, and each in turn has ruled the
mind,--Fetichism, Polytheism, and Monotheism. The first can be
distinctly traced in the mythical stories of Genesis, the second in
pagan nations, and the third in these later times. Now, it is a very
small matter in which one of these forms man has worshiped or may still
worship. If he worship at all, he adores the true God, "the only God,
whether he call on Brahma, Jehovah, Pan, or Lord, or by no name at
all.... Many a swarthy Indian, who bowed to wood and stone; many a
grim-faced Calmuck, who worships the great God of storms; many a Grecian
peasant, who did homage to Phoebus-Apollo when the sun rose or went
down; yes, many a savage, his hand smeared all over with human
sacrifice, shall come from the east and the west, and sit down in the
kingdom of God, with Moses and Zoroaster, with Socrates and
Jesus,--while men who called daily on the only living God, who paid
their tribute and bowed at the name of Christ, shall be cast out because
they did no more."[274]

Christianity, with Parker, is not the absolute religion, because a
better may be developed. The great difference between it and other
religions is: _first_, in the point whence it sets out, other religions
starting from something external and limited, but Christianity from the
spirit of God in the soul of man speaking through reason, conscience,
and the religious sentiment; _second_, it is not a system but a method
of religion and life; and, _third_, its eminently practical nature. The
Deity adored by many people is a pure fabrication, for superstition
projects its own divinity, which of course will be after its own impure
mould. Men call the phantom God, Moloch, or Jehovah, and then attempt to
please the capricious being whom they have conjured up. The true idea of
God is his infinite presence in each point of space; this immanence in
matter is the basis of his influence; this imposition of a law is the
measure of God's relation to matter; and the action of the law is
therefore mechanical, not voluntary or self-conscious.

The Bible, according to the same method of argumentation, is as much a
human book as the _Principia_ of Newton. Some things in it are true, but
no reasonable man can accept others. It is full of contradictions;
"there are poems which men take as histories; prophecies which have not
been and never will be fulfilled; stories of miracles that never
happened; stories which make God a man of war, cruel, rapacious,
revengeful, hateful, and not to be trusted. We find amatory songs,
selfish proverbs, skeptical discourses, and the most awful imprecations
human fancy ever clothed in speech." The minds of the writers of the Old
Testament were not decided in favor of the exclusive existence of
Jehovah, and all the early books betray more of a polytheistic belief
than we find in the prophets. The legendary and mythical writings of the
Hebrews prove unmistakably that man was first created in the lowest
savage life; that his religion was the rudest worship of nature; and
that his morality was that of the cannibal. All the civilized races have
risen through various forms of developing faith before reaching
refinement and true religion. We do not know who are the writers of most
of the Scriptural books. Their records are at variance with science. The
account of Jehovah's determination that the carcasses of Israel should
fall in the wilderness because of disobedience, is a "savage story of
some oriental who attributed a blood-thirsty character to his God, and
made a deity in his own image, and it is a striking remnant of barbarism
that has passed away, not destitute of dramatic interest; not without
its melancholy moral."[275]

The prophets are claimed to have written nothing in general above the
reach of human faculties. The whole of the Old Testament is only a
phantom of superstition to scare us in our sleep.[276] The statements of
the evangelists have a very low degree of historical credibility.
Miracles are not impossible, because God is omnipotent; but our main
difficulty is, that we cannot believe the accounts descriptive of them.
The testimony and not the miracle is at fault. Inspiration is not at all
peculiar to the Scriptures. All nations have had their inspiration; this
is a natural result of the perfection of God, for he does not change;
and the laws of mind are like himself, unchangeable. Inspiration, being
similar to vision, must be everywhere the same thing in kind however
much it differs in degree. The quantity of our inspiration depends upon
the use we make of our faculties. He who has the most wisdom, goodness,
religion, and truth is the most inspired. This inspiration reveals
itself in various forms, modified by country, character, education,
peculiarity. Minos and Moses were inspired to make laws; David, Pindar,
Plato, John the Baptist, Gerson, Luther, Boehme, Fenelon, and Fox were
all inspired men. The sacraments of the Church were never designed to be
permanent. In illustration of them, Parker sacrilegiously quotes,

     "Behold the child, by nature's kindly law,
     Pleased with a rattle, tickled with a straw;
     Some livelier plaything gives his youth delight,
     A little louder, but as empty quite."

The Christian Church is held to be a purely human mechanism, and the
great defect of Protestantism is its limit of the power of private
inspiration. God still inspires men as much as ever, and is immanent in
spirit as in space. This doctrine, which is Spiritualism, "relies on no
church, tradition, or Scripture, as the last grand and infallible rule;
it counts these things teachers, if they teach, not masters; helps, if
they help us, not authorities. It relies on the Divine presence in the
soul of man; the eternal word of God, which is truth, as it speaks
through the faculties he has given. It believes God is near the soul as
matter to the sense; thinks the canon of revelation not yet closed, nor
God exhausted. It sees him in Nature's perfect work; hears him in all
true Scripture, Jewish or Phoenician; stoops at the same fountain with
Moses and Jesus, and is filled with living water. It calls God, Father,
not King; Christ, brother, not Redeemer; Religion, nature. It loves and
trusts, but does not fear. It sees in Jesus a man living manlike, highly
gifted, and living with blameless and beautiful fidelity to God,
stepping thousands of years before the race of man; the profoundest
religious genius God has raised up; whose words and works help us to
form and develop the native idea of a complete religious man. But he
lived for himself; died for himself; worked out his own salvation, and
we must do the same, for one man cannot live for another more than he
can eat or sleep for him. It is not the personal Christ but the spirit
of Wisdom, Holiness, Love that creates the well-being of man; a life at
one with God. The divine incarnation is in all mankind."[277]

Such is the faith avowed and enforced by Theodore Parker. It goes but
little beyond a belief in God's existence and general participation in
human life. It is sometimes difficult to distinguish his views of Deity
from Pantheism; but on more than one o