תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

should be, apparent, not real dispute ; and while it remains in this state, there is no danger from it, either to the peace of our seminaries, or to that of the community.

But let our disputants come to be Professors themselves; and let them come forward before the students of their institutions, and before the world, and in bitter earnest contend with each other, and carry the matter so far as unsparingly to use reproach, sarcasm, jesting, and ridicule, and we should soon see the whole community thrown into a commotion, which it might be difficult for all the wise and good in it entirely to allay. We desire to remember with gratitude, that while in very many respects our literary means are inferior to those of Germany, yet the tone of public sentiment here, will not permit many things which are allowed there, and which can have no other than an evil tendency.

We are happy to find, that no part of repartee, and sarcasm, and bitterness, is attributed, by our reviewer, to Dr. Hahn, in the whole transaction before us. It was, indeed, a fearful trial of his feelings; and he must have been a more than ordinary master of them, to have demeaned himself with entire moderation through the whole, when attacked by such a polemic as Professor Krug. It is very difficult to conceive of a situation more trying. Dr. Hahn was a stranger at Leipzig ; he had every inducement to desire that a favorable impression should be made at the commencement of his course ; and yet he found himself opposed by some half a hundred of his colleagues, and his jeering sarcastic opposer clapped and huzza’d, while he was scraped and hissed. Truly it needed some steadfast self-possession, to meet such a trial, and go through it with unvarying firmness, moderation and decorum. But he had viewed his ground, before he ventured upon it; and when he found it convulsed with earthquakes, it was no more than he expected; he stood unmoved.

So we would fain have every advocate of truth, and of the honor of the Scriptures, do, in our own country. Let us leave the weapons of sarcasm, and of reproach, and of bitterness to our opponents; some of whom seem to be deeply imbued with the spirit of Dr. Krug. Truth needs no such defences. The clamor of momentary excitement may drown her voice for a while. The jest, and the repartee, and the sparkling wit, and the biting sarcasm, of an opponent, may raise a burst of laughter, or a shout of exultation, or the hiss of contempt; but in vain. After all, the God who made men, has placed a conscience in their bosoms; and all the pains which they take to get rid of it, or to stifle its voice, do but ill succeed. Si naturam furcâ expellas, usque recurret. God, who is greater than our hearts, wills not that we should cease to be moral beings. The scenes of a future world, the brevity and uncertainty of life, the admonitions of diseases, the disappointments of worldly hopes, the faithful warnings of friends; above all the still small voice within, which no bustling engagements, no round of giddy pleasures, no contumelious opposition, can always silence; all these are leagued on the side of God, and the Bible, and evangelical sentiment; and in spite of everything, they will now and then bring the most hardened and reproachful enemies of truth, to hear her admonitions. Human passions, we well know, can storm and rage; as the sea of Tiberias did, with the mighty wind which swept across it, when the little bark was on its bosom, which bore in it the Redeemer of our race with his disciples; but he who then said to the raging waves, “ Peace, be still,” and there was a great calm, can now say, to the troubled ocean of unholy sympathies or rage, Peace! and there will be peace. Let his true disciples, when the winds blow high, and the waves rage, cry out to him. His Spirit can, in a moment, repress the fury of the elements, and make a calm in which the voice of truth shall be listened to with eagerness, and heard with docility.

We do not say, that the weak and incongruous reasoning of such as oppose the interests of vital piety, may not be lawfully and properly exposed. Far from this. But we do believe, that weapons such as Professor Krug employs, had better be left to our opponents; and that we shall do much more, at the last, by putting on only the armor of God.

We must return to the occurrences at Leipzig. It was to be expected, that such events as we have noticed above, would not fail of producing consequences, more or less deserving of attention. Such has, in fact, been the case. Shortly after the public dispute which has been described, appeared a pamphlet, entitled The Leipzig Disputation ; a Theological Memoir. Leipzig, 1827. The writer of this, endeavors to hold a middle way between Dr. Hahn and his opponent, and to shew that there is no need of any “ Disputation," for the parties do not essentially differ from each other. If the Christianity of Rationalists agrees in its main positions, with that of Scripturists, he cannot conceive what ground there is for dispute. These “main positions,” are, in his view, “ firm confidence in the mercy of God, uprightness of life, and eternal happiness in a future state, through the medium of the Christian church.” The Rationalist Christian, and the Scriptural one, both believe these doctrines in common, as he declares with much confidence; and he wonders of what consequence it can possibly be, whether the one goes to reason as the source of his belief, and the other, to the Scriptures; since they both unite, at last, in one common sentiment. He considers dispute here, like that which one of Lessing's Fables represents as raised among three sons, to whom their father had bequeathed each a ring. These rings were made so exactly alike, that one could not be distinguished from the other; yet the legatees had a violent dispute how they should be distributed. In this way, he aims to make

peace between the contending parties, and to persuade them, that they are “all Rationalists," and that they are “ all Christians."

Our reviewer, in the Evangelical Church Journal, does not seem to accept with much thankfulness, this proffered Irenicum, or peace-making essay. He wishes to know, which of all the forever varying and discrepant systems of religion, that reason and philosophy have brought forward, we are to select as the best, and as the only true one; and whether, in fixing upon any particular one as the only true one, we shall not be guilty of illiberality toward all the rejected schemes. He inquires whether there is any difference between the authority of Plato's Dialogues and of Aristotle's Ethics, and that of the Scriptures; and in what way the Rationalist comes to know, with certainty, whether the scheme of religion, which he embraces, bears the stamp of heavenly origin and authority. Finally, he asks with boldness, whether the disciple of Mohammed would deny the main positions, which the “ Peace-maker” advances as the essence of Christianity; and whether we may not receive the devotees of the mosque as fellow disciples, and true Rationalists. He avers, too, that the Rationalists are not without some ground for calling themselves Christians; inasmuch as the distinguished theological and ethical truths in their system, were confessedly borrowed from the Scriptures. Yet he thinks, that this ground is nothing more than the anatomist has, for calling the skeleton which he has ingeniously put together, a man. And since the religion of Rationalism, (so far as it is a religion,) is nothing more than a cold and very imperfect abstract of Christianity, our reviewer wishes to know, by what right Rationalism claims the truths of her system, as her own peculiar property.

These are bold and somewhat perplexing questions. We trust that Professor Krug, who has, in his own view, rendered himself so famous for hair-splitting, in metaphysics, will come out, and in sober earnest, (joking, and sarcasm, and wit apart,) give us some satisfactory answer to them.

In the meantime, we cannot but recommend the consideration of these matters, to our “ peace-makers" here at home. No one acquainted with the state of religious sentiment in this country, is ignorant, that there are among us a class of men, who sympathize pretty deeply with the author of the Leipzig Memoir. They do not see any important differences between the present parties in religion. They are all children of one common Father; all aiming to worship the same God, and striving to attain the same moral purity and happiness. If they do not see eye to eye, in all respects and at all times, nothing can be more natural than to expect this. The vision of all is somewhat imperfect, as yet ; but by and by, when they meet in a better world, they will see that they fell out about trifles here, when, after all, they were in fact essentially agreed.

We cannot say, that we envy or respect this professedly peaceful sentiment. We do not envy it; because we do not, and with our views of the nature of religion we cannot, desire such a state of feeling. From the bottom of our hearts, we must regard it either as a state of indifference with respect to any particular religious sentiment, or as a state of criminal ignorance, as to what the true doctrines of Christianity are. We do not respect it; because we cannot respect a time-serving policy, or a skeptical indifference, in matters of everlasting moment, which concern the souls of men. We must say, that we respect far more the open and unblushing advocates of error ; for they afford some evidence of earnestness and sincerity, in regard to these subjects of boundless importance; and it is far more probable, according to the usual dealings of Providence, that such will ultimately come to the knowledge of the truth. The Moderates, as they call themselves, and as they wish to be called, that is, the Moderates of the present day, we must ever view as such, either through want of feeling, or want of knowledge, or by reason of skeptical indifference to religion, or from mere motives of policy. The very nature of the subject necessarily implies this. One thing, however, they attain at least, by the course they pursue, which is, the disrespect (if not something worse) of all men, who are seriously engaged to know what religion is, or to oppose its claims and progress in the world. It is a reward which justice dispenses to them, and which sooner or later they receive in full measure, pressed down, and running over.

But we must resume our narration. It could not be expected that Professor Krug would be satisfied with the moderation of the “ Leipzig Memoir.” Among other things alleged in this Memoir, it was said that Dr. Krug “was exercised with strong internal emo-' tion, during the public dispute, and that he even shed tears.” This statement, intended, no doubt, on the part of its mediating author, to pay a compliment to Dr. Krug’s tenderness of feeling and high susceptibility of impression, was received with strong disdain by the Professor. Forthwith he issued from the press, a pamphlet, entitled Philosophical Judgment in regard to matters of Rationalism and Supernaturalism ; a Supplement to the Leipzig Disputation. By Supernaturalism, Dr. K. means a belief in the divine inspiration and authority of the Scriptures, and the miraculous events which are recorded in them.

The Professor of Philosophy does not fail, here, to develope the same traits of irony, and ridicule, and jesting, which he had before exhibited, in the public dispute. He repels, with scorn,, the idea that he was deeply affected on that occasion, in the following language. “I can give assurance, by holy Nepomuck, as well as by St. Rosalia, that during the whole dispute, I never shed one tear; and also, that I do not know why and wherefore I should have been exercised with any degree of emotion.” He cannot VOL. 1.

26

imagine the ground, on which such a statement is founded, and thinks that the only cause to which it can be attributed, is, that he “ had a headache, which is very common with him, along with a slight cold.” The Professor goes on to assure the public, that the whole affair of the dispute took a friendly and peaceable turn, , on his part. On the part of his antagonist, indeed, he confesses, that a “gentle side-thrust" was given. But the philosopher was not at all disturbed by this. “I am,” says he, “ what the Leipzig Memoir styles me, a cool philosopher; or, as Horace better expresses it, I have a triple brass about my breast. So, I did not take it amiss."

Thus much for the manner of Dr. Krug's performance. A few words as to the matter; which concerns us in this country, as well as the Germans in and about Leipzig.

The Professor begins his Philosophical Judgment, by averring, that ever since the lapse of man, reason and its opposite have been in contest. The party of the unreasonable must fain conceal their want of reason (Unvernunft ;) for otherwise they would be in sorry repute. Hence they use all manner of artifice and deceptive language, in order to cover over the thing, and to procure credit for themselves, as if they were really well meaning people, and were contending with corrupt, proud, erroneous reason. “Erroneous reason !” exclaims the Professor; “ a truly wonderful expression! It is just as much as to say, erroneous truth; or it is as if one should talk of iron wood; it is a downright contradiction of terms.” He then goes on to declare, that it is true, indeed, the imagination, arrogating wisdom to itself, and usurping the throne of reason, may be so rash as to throw out her sophisms and phantasms for the productions of reason. But he declaims against those, who permit themselves to be deceived by this ; and who do not fully acknowledge, what is so plainly demonstrated, that the understanding has to do with sensible objects, while objects that are eternal and, above the senses, constitute the province over which reason exercises her power.

In regard to this last declaration, as it is concerned principally with the metaphysical views of what is called Transcendental Philosophy in Germany, we shall dismiss it from our consideration. But we have more to say on the subject of reason ; and we shall take this opportunity to be somewhat explicit, on this important subject.

After making the above declarations, Professor Krug goes on to concede, that reason, indeed, like all the other faculties of man, is in a state of unfolding, and improving, and advancing. Consequently, as he avers, “it is, at one period, dark and turbid ; at another, light and clear : here it is weak, there it is strong; but its nature is never changed. Look well to it, then," continues he, “ that reason be duly unfolded ; see to it, that the heart be not

« הקודםהמשך »