תמונות בעמוד

said, in each passage and in each sentence, regularly explained on acknowledged rules of interpretation, but what they might have said and ought to have said, according to the opinions of the times and their own knowledge of religion; not what Christ really meant in such a discourse, but how the Jews ought to have understood it ; not what the apostles wrote, but whether what they wrote is true, according to right reason; not what they actually taught, but what they must have taught from the limits of their own minds and the state of men and things in their days; and lastly, what they would have taught in other times and to other men. This is the Rationalist's style of interpreting Scripture; a style which no commentator even on profane writers would ever dream of adopting.– The worst specimens of this style are not, I believe, in common use among us; but the student should remember, that there is something of this spirit even in Schleusner, a larger portion even in Rosenmüller, and that Kuinöl at least, perpetually details the wildest dreams of some of the wildest of this school.”

“This concise and just statement is (from the words “ what is peculiar to them,” and with the exception of the last sentence). little more than a translation from the venerable Dr. C. C. Tilimann's Preface to his Meletemata Sacra, pp. 13, 14, published at Leipzig in 1816. The passage, in that able writer, is followed up by an ample exposure of the preposterous, delusive, and per-' nicious character of the whole theory. Mr. Rose might have said, that these pretended interpreters do not all set up as the idol to be dominant, that “which they think ought to be the Christian system;" for many of them seem to have no system at all in their minds; to be intent only on pulling down; to have no notions of religion, doctrinal or practical, but a bundle of negative ideas. In addition to his just remark, that what he first describes is “ the old and sound grammatical interpretation,” we deem it a duty to say, that the whole compass of interpretative theology does not present a more illustrious example of this method of faithful investigation, than is to be found in the commentaries of Calvin. The astonishing sagacity of that Reformer, the clearness of his habits of thinking, his orderly disposal of materials, his early studies in jurisprudence, and above all, the eminent gists of Divine grace, which shone in him, rendered him pre-eminent as a solid, lumious, impartial, and truly rational interpreter. This praise has been conceded by persons who were far removed from his theological sentiments. We beg also to interpose a suggestion relative to the persons mentioned in the last sentence from Mr. Rose. The excess of caution is the safer side; but the statement is too loosely made. We think much better of Schleusner than to give him over to the Neologists; and we believe that Mr. Rose would be equally unwilling to do so. Can any person of sensibility read his Preface to his last work (Lcricon in LXX.) without receiving a strong iinpression

of his integrity, humility, candor, and, we hope that we may add, piety too? Mr. Rose should have told us whether he means both the Rosenmüllers, or only the son. The observation is, in but a slight degree, applicable to the father. His Scholia on the New Testament are a very useful compilation from Grotius and other Arminian commentators, and from the German writers of moderate principles, whose paragraphs are copied abundantly without acknowledgement. With regard to the son, we are glad of this opportunity to state, that, in the recent edition of his Scholia on the Pentateuch, the Psalms, and Isaiah, and in his new works on Jeremiah and the other prophets, he has made some important retractations of his former opinions, and has advanced sentiments which will, we hope, forever separate him from Neologist divines. The statement relative to Kuinöl is unfair. Mr. Rose should not have omitted to mention that, though he does indeed state the interpretation of the anti-supernaturalist school, he renders his readers an important service in so doing, as he adduces arguments on the other side for the satisfactory establishment of the truth, though not always, we confess, with so much life and earnestness as we could wish. These friendly remonstrances, justice compels us to make, though we are far from approving of all that Kuinöl says, or of his manner of saying it.”

The principal immediate cause of the rise and prevalence of Naturalism in Germany, was stated in the Review in your last number, viz. the Aristotelian garb which had been given to theology by the divines of that country. The following additional causes are mentioned by the Eclectic reviewer.

“1. The unhappy idea, which had a wide and pestiferous influence at the time of the Reformation, of making men disciples of Christ by governmment edicts and ecclesiastical mandates. From this wretched principle arose the chief evils of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, which produced the oppression and banishment of individuals who wonld not renounce all at once the Roman Catholic religion, and this by magistrates who had themselves but just quitted that communion ;-the murder of Servetus and many other deeds of horrid persecution by even good men; the division of the Protestant interest into the two parties of the Reformed or Calvinistic, and the Evangelical or Lutheran ;—the fierce enmities and intolerance on both sides;—the thirty years' war;—the enforcing of the use of appropriating formularies by the whole population of a country ;—the bringing all young peopie to the sacramental communion; and, in a little time, the training up for the holy ministry those who had given no evidence of being boly persons.

“It is not difficult to perceive, that the enevitable consequences of this state of religious profession would be, first, formalism and

fessions and fent, a mutual al degre

pharisaism, subtle self-righteousness under the names and forms of evangelical doctrine; then, hypocrisy, in all degrees and shapes; then, indifference to sentiment, a mutual and tacit understanding to regard confessions and formularies as articles of peace rather than of faith, the exclusive preaching of the external evidences of revelation, and of a dead morality; and, finally, the avoved repudiation of fundamental truths.

“2. We find another melancholy source of the evil, in the spirit and operation of a State Religion. Hence it is that irreligious men are constituted rulers, directors, and agents in the worship, profession, and government of the church. Such men are radically enemies to the holy truths, as well as duties of God's word; and, in the long run, they are sure to manifest their departure from them. We are far from saying that a man, without renewing grace, lies under a mental inability, or any sort of natural incapacity, for attaining a “true knowledge of theological science.” On the contrary, we are persuaded, that nothing is wanting but the moral fitness of the mind, that is, a right state of the will and affections, a proper exercise of the voluntary powers, the springs of character and action. These moral powers, in the man who is unregenerate, (we speak not of baptism, but of that divinely conferred and inwardly received blessing which the Liturgy calls spiritual regeneration and the everlasting benediction of God's heavenly washing,) are so hostile to all true goodness, that, although such a man may understand theological truth never so extensively, in a manner that is merely intellectual and theoretical, he has no perception of its divine excellency, its holy beauty, its intrinsic charms, which, if we may use the well known words, are only Owvārtu OUVTOTOI. His mind, because of its governing principles, is “ enmity against God ;"_" it apprehendeth not that which cometh from the Spirit of God, for it is to him foolishness, and he cannot conceive of it [i. e. aright and as he ought to do,] since it must be judged of according to the principles of divine influence."*

“3. We esteem as a great accessory cause of this moral pestilence, the separation of a devout and serious spirit from theological discussions and biblical interpretations. This monstrous impropriety did not show itself all at once. It took root, we fear, in the dry gravity and coldness of some commentators of the Remonstrant and Arian schools, whose works were introduced and powerfully recommended in Germany, about eighty years ago. It gradually increased unto more ungodliness, especially in the University Lectures; and quirk, jibe, and inuendo were without scruple used, in close connexion with the most serious and awful subjects. The sacred names and attributes, the Law and the Gospel of heaven, every doctrine and precept, every promise and threatening, of the divine word, were readily associated with any form of jest and silly witticism. We cannot acquit John David Michaelis from a heavy share in this guilt; yet, we must observe, that those of his works which have been translated into English seem, in this respect, more faulty than his Scripture commentaries. So far as our acquaintance with the latter has extended, we have been gratified with observing less intrusion of his constitutional levity, and more seriousness of sentiment and expression, than appears, for instance, in the English Version, by the late Dr. Alexander Smith, of his “Mosaic Law.”

* We cite the text according to the paraphrastic, but, we conceive, just translation of Michaelis.

“4. We mention one other powerful cause; the miserable intolerance of the Protestant States of Germany. Had religious freedom existed, or even a liberal and paternal toleration of dissidents, the population of a town or village, in which Neologism got possession of the parish pulpit, would most probably have formed a separate congregation with a pastor of their own choice, and the Gospel of the Reformation and of apostolic Christianity would have maintained its ground; yea, it would have flourished and triumphed. But the horror of any approach to popular liberty, united with the inveterate evil of subjecting all public worship to the prescriptive meddlings of the Government, was the characteristic malady of all the German principalities, great and small. In some of them, among whom the Prussian States deserve honorable mention, the evil has been abated in a considerable degree; but in others, particularly those under Austrian dominion or influence, it has awfully increased since their deliverance from Napoleon's iron grasp. Thus, the grand remedy has been shut out, which, otherwise, it is morally certain, would have been applied; and the people, compelled to attend the parish church, or to enjoy no public religion at all, have been brought down, with scattered exceptions, happily now becoming numerous, to the level of their unchristian and antichristian teachers. The same would have been the case in our own country, had not the non-conformists made their selfsacrificing stand against ecclesiastical usurpation, and had not the Revolution under king William secured the liberty of conscientious separation. The cause of the Evangelical Dissenters operated both as a remedy and as an example to the remains of piety in the Establishment. Without it, Popery or formalism would, according to appearances, have secured an ascendency fatal to all the interests of Great Britain. At the present moment, also, the revival of religion in France is setting strongly into the channel of a peaceable, but uncompromising separation from the Protestant State Establishment, with its salaried clergy, a royal veto upon the appointment of its ministers, and a royal right of arbitrary dismissal.”

Of the effects of the prevalence of Neological opinions, and of their inculcation, from the chairs of theological and other Professors, from the pulpit, and from the press, we have the following account by Mr. Rose.

“ The two effects which appear probable, have really occurred. As to the existence of a widely spread indifference, (to religion in general,] I may appeal to the German divines themselves. They have published a very large number of treatises, containing loud complaints of the total indifference existing towards all religious considerations. And it is very remarkable that, in many instances, these complaints come from those very persons who have been foremost in producing the mischief. They who have been most eager in rejecting all that is positive in religion, are surprized that men have become careless as to the negative part which they have left. Bretschneider has published a pamphlet on this subject, called Ueber die Unkirchlichkeit dieser Zeit, Gotha, 1822; in which he says, that so many have been published that he doubts if anything new can be said. Some of his statements are very strong on the subject. He thinks that the indifference began after the seven years' war, (p. 2.) and I have little doubt myself, that in considering the religious state of Germany at more length than I have been able to do, the distracted state of the country during so large a part of the two last centuries, must be taken into the account, as very unfavorable to the cause. But (p. 3.) he states that this indifference is spread among all classes; that (p. 4.) the Bible used to be found in every house ; that very many made it a law to read a chapter every day, or at least every Sunday; that it must have been a very poor family, where a Bible was not a part of the marriage portion : but that now, very many do not possess one, or let it lie neglected in a corner ; that (p. 5.) now hardly one fifth of the inhabitants of towns receive the Sacrament, or confess; that few attend the churches, which are now too large, though fifty years ago they were too small; that few honor Sunday, but that many make it a day for private business, or for work; and (p. 9.) that there are now few students in theology, compared with those in law or medicine; and that if things go on thus, there will shortly not be persons to supply the various ecclesiastical offices.”

The other effect mentioned by Mr. Rose of the prevalence of Rationalism is, that “many have openly deserted the Protestant church,” and joined the Catholic communion ; seeking “ in the bosom of a church, which, in the midst of all its dreadful corruptions, at least possessed the form and retained the leading doctrines of a true church, the peace which they sought in vain amid the endless variations of the Protestant churches of Germany, and their gradual renunciation of every doctrine of Christianity.”

But as our readers are already informed, a brighter day has again dawned upon this land of the reformation, of the revival of

« הקודםהמשך »