תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

sus.

tions by the simple process of christian instruction. We do not refer here to that experiment which was made with so glorious a success, when apostles and the primitive evangelists went every where preaching the word; we refer only to the history of modern missions, when we say, that experiment has proved the practicability of converting the world, by the simple process of christian instruction, Missionaries have already gone to all sorts of men ; and every where they have had success enough, at least, to show, that they are engaged in no impracticable enterprise. Do you ask, whether China can be penetrated, and whether the Chinese can be taught the lessons of the gospel? While you ask, China is penetrated; Chinese christians are at this moment spreading abroad among their countrymen, the knowledge of the gospel. Do you ask, whether the Hindoo can be christianized, -the Bramin, proud, learned, shrewd, and disputatious,—the Soodra, degraded to the dust,-both bound, as it were hand and foot, with the iron fetters of caste? The Hindoo has been converted; the Bramin and the Soodra have been cleansed by a holier ablution than the waters of the Ganges, and, sitting together at the table of the Lord, have eaten of one bread, and drunk of one cup, in remembrance of Je

Do you ask, whether the fierce red man of the American forest, can be subdued, and tamed, and humanized? The gospel has tamed him; and you may see him sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind. The indolent, voluptuous, cruel savage of the Pacific,—he too has felt the power of the gospel ; and 0, what wonders has the gospel wrought among those isles that gem the bosom of the southern deep! What more desperate experiment can there be ? Go to frozen Labrador,-go where, under the rigor of a polar sky, the dwarfish Greenlander maintains a precarious existence amid the everlasting conflict of the elements,—there the experiment has been tried; and there the wretched native, sitting in his snow-built cabin, through the long, dark watches of his sunless winter, has rejoiced in the splendor of the sun of righteousness. And, to add one more particular to this recital, the African, about whom philosophers have sometimes doubted, whether he is human,-the African, both as we find him far away from the appropriate seat of his race and kindred, crushed under a horrid slavery, and as we find him in his native wilds,-bas been sought out by the officiousness of christian love; and he too is a witness, that the world can be evangelized. The slave has tasted of the liberty of the sons of God; and the wild negro, the outcast Hottentot, has come and built bis hut by the side of the mission-house, and has learned at once the arts of civilization and the virtues of the gospel. If any man would learn whether the conversion of the whole world, by the simple process of instruction, is practicable, let him learn what has been done in

Southern Africa. There the experiment has been tried, more fairly, more thoroughly, and, perhaps, on the whole, in circumstances more unfavorable to success, than any where else. And there, what triumphs has the missionary achieved! What a work is the missionary there carrying forward! The simple and humble efforts of the christian teacher have extended the gospel, more or less thoroughly, over a wide tract, beginning at the cape of Good Hope, and extending far into the continent. Village after village has been planted in the deep kloofs, and by the rivers ; tribe after tribe bas thrown off the filthy dress of sheep-skin, and with it the brutal manners and vices of savage life,—has learned to cultivate the soil, and to make the wilderness a fruitful field,-has recovered its plundered rights from the grasp of oppression,—has acquired the use of letters,-has received the word of life, and the institutions of christianity,-has been brought completely within ihe pale of christendom. The change in them has been so signal, so manifestly for the better, that the report of it has traveled to distant tribes; and barbarous chieftains, men of plunder and of blood, have despatched messengers from afar, begging for missionaries. With such facts as these in view, we feel, that the work of converting the world has been begun, and that experiment has shown it to be practicable.

We would ask our readers now, Do we not hear, as it were, in these exhibitions of success, the voice of our Savior, the voice of our God, coming from the heavens, and from all the regions of the earth,-coming from the four winds, and from every mountain, and plain, and sea, and island, and telling us of the approach of that blessed consummation for which his elect have so long been waiting? Lift up your eyes, and look upon the field, which is the world,—it is while already to the harvest. Oh, the deafness of that man, who will not hear !- the blindness of that man, who will not discern the signs of the times! God bids us look upon the aspect of the earth hastening to a crisis, such as earth never yet has known. God calls us as with a voice from heaven, Put in the sickle and reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.

“He that reapeth, receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit to eternal life.” What wages does he receive, who toils in this cause? They are such rewards as God bestows on his servants. They are such rewards as belong to them who turn many to righteousDess, and whose it shall be to shine as the brightness of the firmament forever. The harvest to be gathered, is a harvest to eternal lise. And what will be their joy, who meet before the throne of God, arrayed in the brightness of eternal purity, and crowned with garlands of immortal joy, the souls to whom they have carried,- to whom they have sent, that word, which is the wisdom of God and the power of God unto salvation !

Then will be fulfilled,-how sweetly !--that word of Christ, " that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.Then, all who in every age have borne any part, however prominent, or however humble, in the great work of the world's redemption, will be partakers in the same unutterable and boundless joy. Then, the patriarch, who, in the world's green youth, went forth from Haran, to seek,-he knew not where,--the place in which the worship and the name of God should abide through ages of universal darkness; he, and the devoted youth, who, in these last days, breaks the dear ties, that bind him to bis kindred and his father's house, and goes forth in the spirit of Abraham, to bear the name of God and Jesus to some barbarous land; yes, then the hoary patriarch, who, at God's command, bound on the altar his son, his only son,-he whose faith, as manifested in that act, has spoken in resistless tones to unnumbered thousands, cheering them, and helping them upon their way to heaven,,he, and the parent, the mother, who in these days gives up her son, or her daughter, to toil and to die in the cause of the world's salvation, will be partakers in one triumph, even as if on earth they had labored, and wept, and prayed together at one crisis, and in one field. Then, those who in ancient times confessed, that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth ; kings, and prophets, and righteous men of old, who by faith wrought righteousness, subdued kingdoms, out of weakness were made strong, and turned to fight the armies of the aliens; apostles and martyrs, who in their day rushed on to fill up the measure of the sufferings of Christ; all who, catching their spirit, and entering into their labors, have been, even by the exertion of the humblest instrumentality, co-workers with them and with God; the martyr for the truth, whose ashes, scattered for a testimony, “flew,-no marble tells us whither;" the exile, who went forth before the storm of persecution, to build the altar of God under a freer sky, upon some barbarous shore; the missionary, who rested from his labors in an early and a foreign grave ; the pastor, the teachers, the parents, who trained that missionary, and whose prayers devoted him to God; the humblest of the contributors who sent him on his way; the poor, who had nothing to bestow upon the enterprise but faith; the lonely widow, who in her weakness could only say, with the earnest prayer of a believing soul “Thy kingdom come;" all, all shall stand upon Mount Zion, and with songs and acclamations, such as never yet were heard in heaven, shall shout the HARVEST HOME.

ART. II.-GERMAN LITERATURE.

1. Handbuch der Geschichte der Litteratur von Dr. Ludwig Wachler. Zwcite

Umarbeitung. 4 Theile. Leipzig: 1823. (Manual of the History of Literature, by Dr. Lewis Wachler. Second Revision.

4 Parts. Leipsic: 1823.) 2. Lehrbuch der Litteratur-geschichte von Dr. Ludwig Wachler. Leipzig: 1827. (1 Tat-Book of the History of Literature, by Dr. Lewis Wachler. Leipsic: 1427.

ACCORDING to a late and well-authenticated estimate, there are ten millions of volumes printed every year in Germany, and about a thousand new German authors are enumerated in every half-yearly catalogue. We have reason to suppose, then, that there are not less than fifty thousand persons now living in Germany, who have each contributed to its national literature, or to science, one or more volumes. It is in some measure owing to this circumstance, that the Germans, more than other nations, have felt the want of a comprehensive survey of their stores, whilst their philosophical character has led them to trace out the relations between German literature and the literary history of other nations. To these circumstances, also, we owe the productions of Eichhorn, Schlegel, Horn, and other distinguished men, in this department; though in many respects they are surpassed by Dr. Ludwig Wachler, the titles of two of whose works we have placed at the head of the present article. “I can promise to be upright, but not to be impartial,” says Goethe, in one of his aphorisms; thus referring to the fact, that a man, though willing to act aright, may be often wanting in knowledge, or unconsciously biased. However true this is in general, we may remark, that the concise but able notices concerning 4,800 authors, furnished by Dr. Wachler, are well calculated in their tendency to excite his readers to extensive research, enable them to engage in a comprehensive examination as to the relative merits of each period of the history of literature, and, by his own example, teach them to be slow and careful in forming and expressing their opinion of literary productions.

Dr. Wachler has successively held a theological and a philosophical chair in two universities. Since 1805, however, he has been professor of history in the university of Breslau. He is savorably known, also, by several theological and philosophical works; but his Manual of Literary History, of which the TextBook is in some measure an abridgment, has met with the most extensive favor, as by this work he has supplied a deficiency, which even now is but too deeply felt to exist in English literature. On account of the vast extent of his subject, and the comparatively small space in which it is comprehended, his style

is exceedingly concise; nor are we aware of any other writer, who has better succeeded in reducing the most complicated trains of thought to the fewest possible words. The principal advantages which are to be derived from so comprehensive a history of literature, as has been given by Dr. Wachler, is the assistance which it affords us in forming impartial and enlarged views of the various periods of literary history. After an able introduction, we are led, by the author, to the first commencement of literary activity, to the divine origin of language, and to the invention of the art of writing. These, with a series of remarks on the native land of the human race, richly interspersed with bibliographical notices, form the first era. The second comprises the period from Moses to Alexander the Great; and the third ends with the death of the emperor Augustus. With the fourth era, extending to the general irruption of the barbarous nations, both the period of ancient history and the first volume close. The second volume contains the literary history of the middle ages. The national history of the last three centuries occupies the third volume, separately from the progress of learning, to which the fourth volume is devoted. Under the head of national literature, Dr. Wachler comprehends the national language, poetry, oratory, and the criticism of taste. To the department of learning, on the other hand, belongs history, philology, mathematics, the natural sciences, medicine, law, and theology, together with their respective auxiliary sciences. In this division, Dr. Wachler seems to deviate from his predecessors in the field of literary history. Rousseau observes, that the method of constantly defining words in writing is impracticable, since for every definition, words are required which again need defining: a renark, the truth of which is strikingly proved in the ever-varying acceptation of the word “ literature.” Sometimes, in its most comprehensive meaning, it is applied to subjects lying within the whole range of human thought, as embodied in the written language, (and thus is it used by Dr. Wachler;) and again, its meaning is limited to works of the imagination,-a faculty, which is supposed to be occupied only with fictions of poetry or prose. It has been plausibly suggested, that in all such cases, the connection in which these words are found, might itself serve in place of a definition ; though the general meaning of the word "literature," is established in some measure by respectable authorities. Madame de Stael, La Harpe, Frederick Schlegel, and many other writers of note, have ranked the science of intellectual and moral philosophy among those branches which are comprised under the term "literature," and have thus supported the opinion, that the distinction between science and literature is founded neither upon the respective faculties to which they owe their origin, nor on the different aims to which they are

« הקודםהמשך »