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God, and the remainder thereof restrained. Zion is awaking again, shaking herself from the dusi, and, putting on her strength, meets in open contest, and with brightening hopes of victory, her profane enemy, wbo had so proudly and so long defied the armies of the living God.'
It is proposed to divide the subject into three parts. FirstThe declining state of religion in Germany during the latter half of the last century. Secondly—Its revival aad growth, from about 1804 to 1824. And thirdly—Its present state.
1. The declining state of religion in Germany.
If we go back into the first half of the eighteenth century, and examine the state of the Protestant churches in Germany, and the spirit of the religious publications of the day, we shall find much sound and deep practical piely in the community, and a very animating spirit of devotedness, connected with purity of doctrine, in the religious works then published. The writings of Arndt, Spener, Franke, Tersteegon, Gerhard, and many others, were admirably calculated to excile and cherish true and undefiled religion in the churches. They exhibited divine truth with a simplicity, faithfulness and power, worthy of the apostolic age. But in the second half of the century, the religious publications underwent generally a rapid and lamentable change. A most surprising barrenness characterizes most even of the better works published from 1760 and downward. The more they increased in number, and rose in character, as compositions, the less they seemed 10 contain to lead the sinner to Christ, or to animate and benefit the believer. Sermons, hymo-books, prayer-books, and other works for public and private use, as clear as water, and as precise as any proposition in geometry, as cold also as the one, and as unproductive of religious feeling as the other, were daily pouring in upon the public, to supplant those precious guides to heaven which had so long been instrumental in building up the church of Christ. Particularly striking is the unequalled deceitfulness of many of these publications. To various instances, it was not only difficult, but absolutely impossible fairly to unmask the author, and to convict bim of unchristian sentiments, so well he knew how to hide himself under a show of piety and orthodoxy. And vet, the certain effect of these books was to divest a man, before he was aware of it, of all belief in the Bible as a revelation from God, and in Christ as a divine person, and the Redeemer of lost men.
Whoever is acquainted with the state of German theology at that time, will easily account for these facts. The theological skepticism of Semler and his companions had captivated the greater part of the ministry. Doubts or secret unbelief as to a positive divine revelation, possessed their hearts, controlled their reason, and guided their pens. The skepticism of some of the English philosophers and rationalists, and the infidelity of the French philosophers, could not remain without effect. They had read Shaftesbury, Tindal, Morgan, Chubb and Hume; Whitby, Taylor, and Clarke; Voltaire, the Encyclopédists, and the author of the System of Nature (Système de la Nature). And if the German philosophy counteracted, in any measure, the influence of these men, and saved the ministry from universal skepticism and atheism, it stripped the weaker, i. e. the greater part, of what belief they yet had in any of the strictly revealed truths. To the courts of Germany, it is well known an example of infidelity was set, by Joseph II., the Roman emperor, and Frederic J., king of Prussia-men, whose influence was the more powerful, as they united some excellencies of character, as men and as monarchs, with an ulter neglect, if not contempt of religion. Through the lower and middle classes of society, especially about the Rbine, irreligion and vice was effectually spread by the French emigrants at the close of the century. Nor were injurious examples wanting among some men of learning and reputed piety. Gellert, the father of modern German poetry, whose religious hymns are yet used and admired, once tried himself in novel-writing, and composed a number of very tedious plays for the nioral improvement of the German stage. He wanted “ to make the devil pious," as Luther says, but did not succeed. We will charitably suppose that he did not know what he was doing.
The consequences of all this might easily have been predicted. Through the influence of unrestrained depravily, the morals of society rapidly declined. The religious state of the communities grew worse from year to year; and the preaching heard from most of the orthodox pulpits was far enough from being able to counteract the spirit of the times. Gospel truth was, indeed, proclaimed by many as yet; but not constantly, not the whole, not in its fulness, not with close and fearless application. Christian morals, the favorite subject, was preached by some of the best men to a disproportionate and sometimes an almost disgusting degree. Take, for instance, Zollikofer, the great Coryphæus of pulpit eloquence among the reformed churches in Germany. In all his published sermons, I have not seen one on any of the distinguishing doctrines of the Gospel. In 1783, be published two volumes of sernjons “ On the Dignity of Man,” when there was much more reason to publish as many “On the Depravity of Man.' This dignity, according to the first sermon, consists in reason, liberty, activity, growth of perfection, immortality, bis relation to God, &c. This relation is the image of God which man possesses. (Not a word about his having lost it.) This image of God is the ground of man's relation to Christ, as bis friend, brother, relative, as making man a member of Christ's body, of one mind with him, &c. i
will give a few more of the subjects of his sermons, in the first voluine of that work. The first was “ On the Dignity of Man, and wherein it consisted.” II. “What is opposed to that Dignity.” III. “How does the Christian Religion restore the Dignity of Man?” This seems to imply that his dignity was lost; but no: for it restores it, 1. By throwing light upon our relation to God; 2. It teaches us what an interest God takes in the welfare of man, what he did for him, and wbat he still does. Here the coming of Christ is just touched upon, in three or four lines, whilst the dealings of God with the patriarchs, the people of Israel, &c., is largely exhibited. 3. It throws light upon the providence and government of God. 4. It makes the dignity of man conspicuous in the person of Christ, and in his conduct and destiny, as the head and restorer of our race. 5. Il teaches the great doctrines of immortality and eternal life. This is the manner in which the Christian religion restores the dignity of man. Can a more 'uncertain sound’ be given ? Then follow sermons on the following subjects: On the value of life ; of health ; of riches; of honor ; of the pleasures of sense; of spiritual enjoyment; of devotion; of sensibility; of virtue, &c. In the confession of faith, proposed to a young prince at his confirmation, not one of those doctrines is mentioned, which distinguish the Christian religion from Rationalism, Unitarianism, or any other Monotheism.
Much better is Francis V. Reinhardt, one of the best preachers Germany ever had. He entered upon his theological career as an acute thinker, and a skeptical inquirer ; but came out a believing, pious theologian and Christian. He touches frequently upon the doctrines of the Gospel, even at the earlier period of his life; and whenever he does so, he is unequivocally orthodox. But he never gave these doctrines that prominence which they deserve, until perhaps from the year 1810, when his mind became fully satisfied with regard to them. He was, however, too much of a moralist. His sermons are exceedingly interesting and improving to the Christian ; and if he had lived in the millenium, when the devil will be bound, and cast into the bottomless pit, and shut up to deceive the nations no more, his preaching would have been well adapted to his audience, and to the state of things. But when it was emphatically the hour of the enemy, and the power of darkness; when the very gates of hell seemed to be open, to let loose upon half Europe all which was subtle, malicious and ruinous; then was a clearer sound needed, to rouse the slumbering or disheartened disciples of Christ, and to rally them around the standard of the cross. I might proceed to characterize Spalding, and some other preachers of that age, but my limits will not permit. They all labor, in a greater or less degree, under the same difficulty. Their sermons are little more than moral essays,
ading paney deemed especially"
addressed to men as though they were almost, if not altogether, in a safe condition. The character of an unconverted audience, and the peculiar and important office of the law in the conversion of the sioner, were not understood.
Thus, whilst religion had but a few, and those timid defenders, Rationalism, as may be supposed, had bold and daring advocates in abundance. The bigher literary characters promulgated the new doctrines as professors and authors; while men of less weight and learning inculcated them in the pulpit, each in his own way, mixed up with as much orthodoxy, or clothed in as orthodox a phraseology, as the supposed prejudice of his congregation would require. In many places, persons of this description occupied the whole ground; whilst in others, they had the dissatisfaction of seeing the progress of their pretended reformation checked, by the orthodox preaching of some superstitious mystics, as they termed them. By the governinents, Rationalism was rather fostered than opposed, and the universities soon came out boldly on its side. Periodicals either took no notice of religion, or were decidedly opposed to it, and especially to every appearance of a revival, which they deemed the height of folly and fanaticism. The reading part of the community were diverted from the subject of religion by the inpulse which every science and art was receiving at that time, and especially by those sweeping revolutions in the departments of metaphysics and philosophy. And whosoever felt a desire after something better than mere speculation, usually took up with that sentimental religion (if it deserves the name of which De Wette was the advocate-a sickly, sterile, undefinable abortion of metaphysics, unproductive of anything good or holy in life or emotion, but doubtless the only refuge of those who find no rest in philosophy, and seek none in revelation.
Religion, then, in the proper sense of the word, soon became almost entirely unknown. The Bible was neglected in families. To young persons of education or polished manners, it would have been a disgrace so much as to own one. Public worship was deserted; the sabbath was profaned by every kind of business, the opening of theatres, ball-rooms, &c.; and vice and licentiousness increased to a most alarming degree.
Still God had some faithful witnesses in Germany, even at that period of infidelity. The names of those theologians and critics who have distinguished themselves in the defence of truth are too well known to be mentioned here. In the lower classes of society there were humble disciples of Christ, some praying and weeping in secret places over the desolarious wbich they witnessed, and some enjoying communion with their Saviour, in a happy ignorance of what was transacting upon the literary and theological stage of Germany. Switzerland, Würtemberg, some parts of Prussia, and all the places to which Moravian influence extended itself, were never wholly in possession of the pretended resormers. A happy influence was exerted by another sect, called Pietists, who resided principally in the kingdom of Würtemberg. A small number of literary men of the first character seemed destined also to make a narrow escape. As they are not generally known in America, it may be gratifying to hear the names of some of them, accompanied with a few brief remarks respecting their characters.
Albert von Haller, the author of the immortal but unfinished poem. On Eternity,' was one of this number. “It was in the delence of religion and revelation,” says a biographer of his, who was himself a prosessed unbeliever, " that Haller spent the last powers of his mind. From his youth up, he cherished a deep reverence for religion, and the study of the New Testament had ever been a regular business with hiin. In his life and in his writings, he proved a zealous friend and an able defender of revealed truth.” In his old age, he was troubled with doubts respecting his state. “ Anxiously concerned about his soul,” continues the same biographer, “and bowed down under a sense of his guilt, it was at last only in prayer that he could find that strength and consolation which he so much needed." The Roman emperor, Joseph II., on his return from France, took a circuitous route for the single purpose of seeing Haller. Finding him surrounded with books and manuscripts, the emperor asked him whether the labor did not fatigue him, and whether he continued to make poems? “ This was one of the sins of my youth," replied Haller ; "only a Voltaire can make verses in his eightieth year.” Soon after the emperor's visit, a neighboring clergyman called to congratulate him on the bonor which he had received. The old man simply replied, “ Rejoice if your names are written in heaven.” In his diary he wrote, “ Something flattering has happened to my vanity and pride, but let me, O God, not forget, that my happiness does not depend on man, from whose favor or displeasure I shall, a few moments hence, have nothing more to hope or to fear. Let me remember, that the only true happiness is to know thee, to have secured thy grace, and to have in thee a reconciled God and Judge.” In December, 1777, he wrote in his diary, “ This is probably the last time that I shall use a pen. I cannot conceal it, that the view of the approaching Judge is awful to me. How sball I stand before Him, since I am not so prepared for eternity as I think every Christian ought to be. O my Saviour, be thou my Intercessor and Redeemer in this fearful hour. Give me the assistance of thy Spirit, to guide me through the awful valley of death, and when I die, may I, like thee, exclaim, triumphantly and full of
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