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faith by which we stand, we are here assured that we hold a communion of belief in the Resurrection-mystery” with the sons of Esau: that pious Job really was no stranger to this same source of comfort (as the Church has concluded from the famous passage in chap. xix. 23-27, though Patrick and other commentators have affected to doubt it); that, in short, the truth which the revelation of Jesus Christ has stamped with a certainty it never had before, which animates the efforts of the living, and lights up the closing eye of the dying Christian in these latter days of the world's existence,-was known and was cherished 3500 years ago; was indeed the primitive religion of mankind.
Art. III.-). Einleitung in die Christ-Katholische Theologie. Von
G. HIERMES. Münster: Erster Theil, 1819; Zweiter Theil,
1829. 2. Annali delle Scienze religiose. Vol. IX. 27. Roma, 1839. 3. Der Hermesianismus und Johannes Perrone, sein Römischer
Gegner. Von Dr. P. I. ELVENICH, Professor der Philosophie
an der Universität zu Breslau. 1844. 4. Die letzten Hermesianer. Von H. J. STUPP, Königl. Preuss.
Justizrathe, &c. &c. &c. Siegen und Wiesbaden. 1844. . The following passage in the Pensées de Pascal,' very forcibly expresses a truth, which is almost universally acknowledged by Christians, but which it is not always easy to carry into practice: * La dernière démarche de la raison, c'est de connaître qu'il y a 'une infinité de choses qui la surpassent. Elle est bien faible, • si elle ne va jusque-là. Il faut savoir douter où il faut, assurer où il faut, se soumettre où il faut. Qui ne fait ainsi n'entend pas
la force de la raison.' Human reason is, indeed, a mysterious and an awful gift: like all the gifts of God, it is given for use; more, perhaps, than any other, it is liable to be abused. And the line of demarcation between the use and the abuse is not always so strictly defined, as to remove all doubts, or relieve man from that responsibility, which, according to the will of his Maker is, in every moment of his life, imposed upon him.
This, accordingly, is the question which, age after age, is recurring; which is at the bottom of half the disputes that have agitated the world : What is the use of reason, and what the abuse? In other words, What are its legitimate functions? Of religious controversies especially, the most important in modern times have been in effect, if not expressly, concerned with this subject. And in no country more so than in Germany; from the days of Luther and Melanchthon to our own, it is around this point, as around a centre, that all vital questions have revolved. Luther himself has written against the use of reason, in, perhaps, the strongest words which ever flowed from his powerful, but coarse pen; and yet Luther fought the battle of the right of private judgment against deference to authority. He strenuously and unbendingly asserted the supreme right of private judgment in the interpretation of Holy Scripture, and in determining the relative merits of its different books; he as emphatically denied the power of human reason to discern or even to comprehend the divine truths revealed, maintaining even that some of them are in themselves wholly irrational and absurd-a strange inconsistency, into which he was led by the force of circumstances, and which has caused unnumbered woes to the various Protestant bodies. The same opinions were maintained by his more zealous followers; and seventy years after his death, it was asserted by Hoffmann, a professor at the University of Helmstadt, that whatever is true according to human reason and philosophy, is always false in religion, and cice versa. From that time, however, a very different theology began to prevail. The philosophy of Leibnitz and Wolff opened a breach for rationalism ; and under that of Kant it deluged the land, and swept away all the landmarks, the confessions, and symbolical books, which had been erected with so much labour. Thenceforward, the learned men of Protestant Germany have worshipped only human reason; and the mass of the people have been given over to materialism and indifference.
Catholic Germany, during more than two centuries, avoided the contagion. During the latter half of the eighteenth century, however, some reforming tendencies became visible, which gave the ecclesiastical authorities at Rome some trouble, and inspired them with distrust, if not aversion, towards German theologiane. J. N. Von Hontheim, Bishop of Trier, made, in 1763, under the assumed name of Justinus Febronius, a vehement attack upon the papal hierarchy, in a book (* De Statu ecclesiæ et legitimâ Potestate Romani Pontificis') which created an extraordinary sensation throughout Germany, and was translated into several languages. The Emperor, Joseph II., projected extensive plans of ecclesiastical reform, embracing, among other points, the marriage of priests and the use of the vernacular tongue; and the fruitless journey which Pope Pius VI. was compelled to make to Vienna, must have increased the feelings of alienation which subsisted between Rome and her German children; these feelings have been yet more heightened by the liberal views known to be entertained in the Catholic universities of Freiburg, and, until lately, of Tübingen, and advocated, with much success, by such theologians as Stattler, Wessenberg, Werkmeister, Huber, and, above all, Sailer, the late pious and venerated Bishop of Regensburg.
Towards the close of the last century, circumstances well known to our readers had exposed the Church of Rome to peculiar perils. Her discipline was not only endangered by the conscientious reformers of whom we have spoken, but her very faith was assailed by professed Catholics, who had become converts to the prevailing scepticism and infidelity. Even in the ranks of the priesthood, there were, throughout France and Germany, thousands of unbelievers.
George Hermes, at that time (A.D. 1795) twenty years of age, saw not the danger unmoved: and he imagined that it might best be averted by showing, in opposition to the prevalent false philosophy, that the truth of religion, of Christianity, of the doctrines of the Catholic Church, might all be logically and convincingly demonstrated by the unaided powers of the human mind. It is strange that the same fear which three quarters of a century before had given birth to rationalism in the Lutheran Communion, should now be the means of introducing it into the Catholic. It was to counteract the influence of English empiricism, of which he discerned the atheistic tendency, that Wolff, in 1720, endeavoured to prove, from the light of human reason, the truth of the Christian religion, and of each article of the Lutheran creed; and it was to arrest the progress of French naturalism, that Hermes conceived the same idea, substituting only Catholic for Protestant doctrines. And both resorted to the same method, namely, that of meeting scepticism with scepticism. Wolff, namely, adopted the Cartesian system, which is based upon positive doubt. Divesting his mind of all he knew or believed, and determined to doubt the reality of everything that is proposed to him, he meets, at last, with one proposition,--that of his own existence,--the truth of which he cannot dispute; and taking that as a solid foundation, he builds upon it a system, of which the final conclusion is the creed of his own Church. Between this method and that of Hermes, there is no distinction whatever ; although, of course, the result which the latter arrives at, is somewhat different. "I philoso'phised,' says he, with the determination to accept nothing as • real and true, or as not real and not true, so long as I could
continue to entertain a doubt.'— Preface to Philosoph. Introduction, p. viii.
That our reason was given to us to be employed on religious as well as other subjects, no one of common sense will now be tempted to deny; and even in the Church of Rome there have been those who have done good service to her cause, by adducing philosophical arguments in favour of the revealed truths. Such have been St. Basil
, St. Augustine, St. Gregory, St. Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus; and in modern times, more especially, the right use of reason in religious matters has been vindicated by Muratori, the light and the ornament of the Italian Church. To these writers the defenders of the Hermesian doctrine are very fond of referring; and they endeavour particularly to show a similarity between the line of argument adopted by the last named, and that of Hermes. But the road cannot be the same, if, as we shall show to be the case, the point from which they start is totally different. • Credo ut intelligam' is the motto of a true Christian philosophy; we believe, and from belief we strive to arrive at knowledge. Hermes, on the contrary, seeks knowledge first, and would then, through knowledge, find his way to faith, reversing in fact, the method, and saying, 'intelligo ut credam.' So we find, no doubt, that the Catholic writers were glad to accept the testimony of science and learning in favour of the doctrines which they believed: but they never imagined, like Hermes, that the belief itself should be based upon the researches of reason. • If a religion,' says Muratori, * is derived from God, every doubt of its truth is excluded, for
the divine authority is abore ecen reason itself. On the contrary, Hermes teaches that 'the use of reason is unlimited in all that ' precedes the “ dogmatik;” it must be our sole guide, until it has found us another. Thus it is evident that as to the function of human reason at the very outset of our religious inquiries, there is a wide difference, or rather a direct opposition, between the teaching of Muratori, and that of Hermes.
No examination of the method adopted by the latter, could give us a clearer insight into its nature, than the narrative contained in the preface to his · Philosophical Introduction,' which relates the circumstances by which he was led to adopt it.
Hermes, we have already stated, was twenty years of age, when owing doubtless, in a great measure, to the circumstances of the times,
“ The following ideas; God, --revelation,-eternal life, --- seized upon, and rivetted my attention, with a force as if they were the only ideas of which I had ever heard. There arose in my mind a number of questions and doubts concerning them, which occupied me day and night; all of which I certainly knew how to answer, but not one of which (I was on further inquiry obliged to confess) I could answer. And, as yet, I had not acknowledged to myself the principal doubt of all, - whether there is a God ;' until at last my conscience,
-or by whatever better name you will designate the irresistible power within me, by which I was impelled, --charged me so loudly and so constantly with the dishonesty of which I was guilty, that I resolved to enter upon this question also, and indeed to make it the first of all.”
He goes on to describe his dismay at finding that there was not a single book in existence, from which he could derive any aid in this inquiry; and then he proceeds:
“Sorrowful, but not despairing, I retired within myself, and resolved not to rest, until I had found a convincing answer to my question, even if my whole life should be spent in the search. I began to study with the determination to let all that I might already know, only in so far count for knowledge, as I might now discover it myself."
It was in the year 1795 that he formed this resolution, and it was in 1818, having during three-and-twenty years been striving unceasingly to gain a conviction, and to maintain it