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faith, “It is finished : Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit.” He died in a calm state of mind, December 12, 1777. _John G. Hamann, (born August 27, 1730, at Konigsburg in Prussia,) a man whose superior talents and extensive information, as well as something mysterious in his character and life, have made him of late an object of the deepest interest in Germany, is another instance. During his life, he and his works remained unknown. It was not until after his death, and at the repeated appeals of Herder, Jean Paul, and Jacobi to the public, that his writings attracted notice. They were sought for, but in vain; they had disappeared, and a new edition is yet to revive them. He deeply lamented the miserable condition of his generation. “O,” he exclaimed, “ what a negative age is this! What hosts of negative men! All are bent upon taking away, none will give; all seek 10 destroy, none will build up. There is no seriousness in them, it is all levity ; no dignity, it is all railing; no frankness, it is all deception.”
Matthias Claudius, (born 1740, at Rheinfield,) shines like the morning star among the small number of literary men who escaped the contagion of the day. He lived, at first, as a private man at Wansbeck, near Hamburg. Afterwards he enjoyed the small income of an office, at the Bank of Holstein at Altona. His literary acquisitions commanded the respect of his enemies; whilst his decided Christian character, and his sound views of the Gospel, exasperated them to a very high degree. At first, bis communications appeared in several periodical works, especially in the Messenger of Wansbeck (Der Wansbecker Bote). Alterwards he collected them, and, with a few additions, published them in four volumes.* They are of a very peculiar kind, but perfectly adapted to the character of a postman, or letter-carrier, which he assumed in the work, although easily misunderstood by readers not acquainted with existing circumstances. He is often humorous, but his humor is never offensive, or inconsistent with the faith or character of a Christian. He exhibits, everywhere, a soundness of religious sentiment, a purity of doctrinal views, and a depth of Christian experience, equally surprising and animating. “ After the Bible," says Tholuck, “ I love Claudius better than any other book.” He died in 1815, at the advanced age of seventy-five.
The famous Count von Stollberg was a most interesting character. He was a man of a sound and a powerful mind, of superior acquisitions, and of decided and ardent piety. We should be unable to account for his transition from the Protestant to the Roman Catholic church, had he not lived in an age when the most provoking unfairness in religious controversy, and a
* With the title, “ The Works of the Messenger, or Postman, of Wansbeck.”
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settled hatred to vital piety, prevailing almost throughout Germany, seemed to extinguish the hope of ever seeing religion revive in either of the two Protestant denominations. With good people in the lower classes of society, be probably never came in contact. He was ever ready to bear his testimony in behalf of truth, and deeply lamented the miserable state of things. In one of bis letters (1788,) he says, “In a certain sublime sense it may be said, that truth needs no desence. But her objective invincibleness is a poor consolation for the philanthropist, and especially for a father, who has reason to fear the approach of times when his children shall have to dwell among baptized, and perhaps even among unbaptized heathen. That new-fashioned, haif-Christianity, which makes the Son of God only the greatest and best of God's messengers, cannot stand, since the Bible opposes it on every side. Nor can Naturalism endure, that monster of a system, borne up by vapors which every wind may dissipate, and every sunbeam dissolve. But still, decided pyrrhonism (skepticism) and practical atheism on the one hand, and blind superstition on the other, may dwell so close together as to leave no room for religion, and so drive her out again into the desert. However, there is yet one hope left to us. The time may come when true Christians shall uniie themselves; when the fatal consequences of infidelity will become conspicuous; and men, chased from error to error, and from doubt in despair, will return to the simple, heavenly wisdom of the Bible.” In 1790, he wrote to the well known Jacobi to furnish hini with an instructer for his children. “When you write to your brother, or sister," says he,“ tell them that I will have no Neologian, though he be as learned as Aristotle, and as wise and virtuous as Xenophon. On this subject I am intolerant. I do not care whether he has sludied theology or law; whether he is a Lutheran or a Calvinist: but he must be a true believer in the Gospel. I would rather have an honest Atheist, if there be any, than such an empty talker, made up of belief and unbelief, as most of our theologians now are."
I shall mention but another individual, Henry Jacobi, who has acted such a couspicuous part in the philosophical revolutions in Gerinany, and who has brought philosophy and religion nearer together than any other metaphysician of his time. Whether he was a true Christian until near the close of life, there is reason to doubt; but he is an interesting character to the Christian observer, a man of high sensibilities, and an anxious, persevering inquirer after truth. He felt the need of something better than what the spirit of his age could give him. He knew it was in the Bible, and in the Bible only, but how to find it there he did not know. He labored under the common difficulty of philosophical inquirers; religion was too nigh unto himn, in his mouth, and in his heart, while he sought it with the telescope through the boundless
space of the universe. In the vear 1817, he wrote to one of his friends, who entertained similar views and feelings with himself, as follows: "With your complaints about the unsatisfactory nature of all our speculations I most heartily, though sorrowfully agree. I know, however, no other counsel than to speculate and philosophize right on. There is a singular religious commotion throughout Europe, especially in Germany. I hear much respecting it from travellers who visit me, but can never ascertain anything definite. Very lately I received a call of the two sons of Bishop Sack in Berlin. They are excellent young men. They hold fast the word of God, and the younger is specially zealous for it. With him I entered into conversation on the subject as earnestly and deeply as I could, in order to ascertain how to get that religion which he possessed : For the requisite directions I thought he must, at any rate, be able to give. He saw that I was sincere, that I concealed nothing from him, and that no presumption, or pride, or vanity, would prevent me from exchanging cheerfully my frail, speculative religion, for one positive and founded on historical facts, as his was. He saw it, and could not conceive why I did not do so. At last he saw no other alternative than to retire into the fortification of his individual experience and feelings, and to shut the door against me.” In another letter, written the same year, he says, “ My mind now stands thus : I am fully satisfied that he who wants the piety of the fathers, must want their belief also. But how I am to want that sound, solid, plain piety in such a manner as really to obtain it, I do not know.” In another place in the same letter, he says, “ There must be something higher and nobler, and capable of being apprehended and possessed by men, and communicated to others, or it is not worth while that a theologian or a philosopher should open his mouth and talk. I hear inquiries made, on every side, after this something; but I hear no satisfactory answer given to them.” Towards the close he says, “ You see, my dear, that I am still the same; a thorough heathen in my understanding, but with my whole heart a Christian. I am swimming between two oceans of heterogeneous elements. They will not unite to support me in common. As the one raises me up, so the other always carries me down again into the deep.” Before his dying hour approached, Jacobi prayed; and he humbly blessed God for that grace which permitted him to pray; and declaring grace to be his refuge and his hope, he departed. May he not be wanting in the realms of peace and glory!
I cannot conclude this part of the subject without adding, what indeed might be presumed, that in several instances a powerful voice was raised against Neologism by the very enemies of orthodoxy. The glaring inconsistency of that system would not remain unnoticed by irreligious men of a sound mind. The following re
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marks of Lessing, who has written one of the most outrageous books against religion, will be found interesting. They are mostly taken from his letters, although I owe them to another source. Speaking of the old and new system of theology, he expresses bimself thus, “ I am not at all of ihe opinion that the unclean water, which has long since been good for nothing, should be preserved; but I would not have it poured away, until we know where to take clean water. I would not have it heedlessly poured out, I say, and then be obliged to bathe the child in dung water. For what is the new theology, else than dung water, when compared with the unclean water of the Orthodox system! I agree with you, that the old system is false ; but I am not yet ready to admit that it is a patch work of half pbilosophers and buncklers. There is not a thing in the world against wbich sagacity has tried herself so well, as against this system. The new fashioned system is such a patchwork.” Again, “ There was a wall of separation fixed between religion and philosophy, bebind which every one could comfortably go along without incommoding the rest. But what do they now? They tear down this wall; and under the pretence of making us reasonable Christians, ibey make us most unreasonable philosophers.” Again, “ Reason must decide, in the first place, whether a book is a revelation, or not; but when this question is answered in the affirmative, and she finds things in ber revelation wbich she cannot explain, ibis must rather be an argument in its favor, than against it. Verily, ihe man is yet to appear, who shall attack religion on the one side, and he who shall defend it on the other, in that manner which the importance of the subject requires,—with all the knowledge, all the love for truth, and all the seriousness it demands.” In another place he says, “ The speculative theologian may indeed be started by an objector ; but may the Christian ? No, not he. The former may be perplexed, when the props on which his system rested are struck away. But what has the Christian to do with the hypotheses, proofs, and explanations of this man? If religion exists for nobody else, it exists at least for bim;-he feels it so truely and deeply, and it renders bim so happy. When the paralytic experiences the beneficial effect of the electric spark; what does be care, whether Nollet is right, or Franklin, or neither of the two ? The Christian is the bold conqueror, who leaves the frontier fortresses bebind him, and takes possession of the country : the speculative theologian is the timid hireling, who dashes bis head against ibeir walls, and never sees the land. If Christ is not the true God,' then the Mohammedan religion is unquestionably an improvement upon the Christian, and Mobammed was a much greater and wortbier man than Christ; more faithful, more cautious, and more zealous for the glory of the one God. For supposing that Christ never pretended to be God, still he uttered a hundred equivocal sentiments to lead the simple
into that error : whereas Mohammed was never guilty of such ambiguities.” Only one quotation more : “ Man is made for action, and not for empty speculation. But on that very account, he is fond of the lalier, and neglects the former. His wickedness will always prompt him to do what he ought not to do, and bis daring lead him to that which he cannot. Infatuated mortals! That which is above your comprehension may exist, but not for you. Turn your looks within yourselves; within you are those unfathomable mines, in which you may lose yourselves with profit. Here learn the weakness and the strength, the secret windings, and the bold outbreakings of your passions. Here organize that empire, in which you shall be at the same time both subject and king."
These were the feelings of an avowed enemy to religion. Here and there a pious man, or one of a sound, consistent mind would also raise bis voice; but they were all drowned. The state of things became worse every year, until 1804,- where I presume, is the turning point of light and darkness, and where our secon i inquiry begins.
Early in 1804, a correspondence was opened between the British and Foreign Bible Society, and certain influential and pious citizens of Nüremberg, in the circle of Franconia, in which correspondence one hundred pounds were offered by the soriner, if a similar institution should be established in that place. This was the first offer which the British and Foreign Bible Society ever made to a foreign society. The condition was met, May 10ih, 1804. On Ascension, a number of Christians assembled, and unanimously resolved to unite for the formation of a Bible Society. Ai the same time it was voted, that an address should be published to their Christian friends throughout Germany and Switzerland, to rouise them up to an active cooperation in the work. In 1806, this Society was transferred to Bâsle, as a more eligible place for its operations, and it has now the name of the Bâsle Bible Society. Iis operations, though embarrassed at first, became more vigorous every year. In 1813, it distributed 1299 Bibles; in 1814, 2583 Bibles; in 1815, 5055 Bibles, and 3796 Testaments; in 1816, 7920 Bibles, and 9383 Testaments. On the 18th of June, 1917, the 11th edition of the German Bible in 8vo. issued from the press; and on the 18th of July, not one copy was left. On the 19th of August, the 12th edition appeared, and was disposed of in eleven days.
In the same year (1804) the British and Foreign Bible Society addressed letters of inquiry to Berlin. Early in 1806, a Bible Society was formed there, under the patronage of noblemen and other gentlemen of distinction, and received the approbation of the king. In 1814, it was united with the great Prussian Bible Society organized by Mr. Pinkerton, which embraced the whole kingdom. Time would fail me to speak of all the Bible Societies