תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

Thus a too constant exercise in mere mathematics has the effect of impairing the faculty of belief.* The student, by meeting with such a variety of raw notions and strained hypotheses in the works of the learned, is apt to become mistrustful of all; and thus mere learning has given rise to scepticism. But he who makes the right use of learning finds it a worthy handmaid to revelation, and an assistant to him in obeying the truth. Small, however, is the number of those who seem duly aware what an abundant variety of matter may be deduced from human learning for feeding the flame of truly spiritual piety, and for awakening a lively interest in the ways of Providence and in the cause of God.” What a beautiful balance of mind is observable here between an unspiritual idolatry of learning and a morbidly spiritual jealousy of it. Bengel saw enough of both, and steered finely between them, while the high combination of learning and spirituality in his own case gave weight to his warnings against both extremes. His ucisdom, in fact, was so widely recognised, that he was continually consulted upon all difficult and delicate questions, and his judgment deferred to by very different classes of per

sons.

To Bengel's tutorship at Denkendorf a preachership, but without cure of souls, was attached ; so that his mouth was kept regularly open in the midst of his classical and biblical labours. This gave occasion to his giving forth many precious maxims and weighty sayings on the pastoral office, some of which, after being in type, we have had to leave out for want of room. The resolution of the pietistic movement into the elements of which we have spoken, gave occasion to great perplexity as to how the separatist party was to be treated; but here Bengel showed his wisdom. Some of them were merely feverish in their moods, itching after novelty, and discontented with every thing long established and calm in its workings, as if this were identical with dead formality and an incubus upon the work of God in the Church, but were not beyond being reclaimed and made good use of by judicious treatment, while others were too self-sufficient and obstinate to deserve or admit of conciliatory methods. Some of his weightiest words relate to this subject.

* See, in illustration of this remark, Sir William Hamilton “ On the Study of Mathematics as an Exercise of Mind" (Edinburgh Review, 1836, reprinted in) " Discussions, pp. 257-327 ; also Whewell's “ Physical Astronomy," towards the conclusion.

+ " Some who have begun to lead a converted life are ready to think that nothing which proceeds at all upon the old beaten track, nothing which-belongs to the usual routine and order of things, can possibly be right for them. Hence, they can think only upon changes and alterations in every thing. The good people at Berlenburg are of this morbid temperament, and look for a change in the kingdoms of this world; indeed, this is almost their idol in religion. Whoever comes to them with prophecies that the kingdoms of this world will soon be dashed in pieces, they quite hug him.

Thus did Bengel's wisdom pour itself forth, and often prove like oil upon the troubled waters, during the long period of his stay at Denkendorf, so that ere he became superintendent of Herbrechtingen, he had risen to a position in public estimation of which that office was but the visible and feeble expression ; while his literary fame ere that time extended far beyond the limits of his own Church and country. In 1747, he was chosen a member of the General States Assembly; next year he was raised to a seat in the Special Assembly; in 1749, he was made Councillor of Consistory, and Prelate or Abbot of Alpirsbach ; and in 1751 the degree of Doctor of Theology was conferred on him. He was visited by persons from all quarters, consulted very largely, and had learned and godly correspondents in different countries. His recorded observations on a great variety of topics-on Pietism, Separatism, Rationalism (whose inroads he marked with awe), on Zinzendorf and the new sect of United Brethren, on the Spiritual Independence of the Church, on Church Hymns, &c.,

-sufficiently account for the deference with which all sorts of persons hung upon his words.

But we must hasten to the closing scene. Deathbed scenes, as such, he had no liking for.* Indeed, “ as he did not consider theology to be a mere knowledge of the art of dying, so he held it to be the Christian's most important business to emerge from a state of sin to a confirmed state of grace, and herein to wait, not so much for death, as for the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he regarded death as only a thing by the way, and not properly a part of God's arrangement for man, because not originally such.”+ In this sweet view of death he watched the slow approaches of his “change," and when it

came,

his words few, but full of power and unction.” One closing tide of prayer he poured forth on his last day, which, for comprehensiveness and elevation, asto

were

Seitz is, therefore, every thing with them. Those who think God is to be worshipped with only spiritual feelings, are certainly as mistaken as others who would satisfy themselves with external devotion. Our separatists consider themselves experienced Christians, and we must put up with it.”

“Only let me be made no account of, especially when I am gone. I wish my spiritual experience to be no more obtruded upon the world after my death, than it has been during my life. As 'man's judgment' can neither benefit nor hurt me, so things will appear in quite a different light at the great day. "Judge nothing before the time.' Is it not better that it should be said to me in that day, “ Art thou also here,' than that it should be said, Where is such and such a renowned saint ?' Much human infirmity still adheres in this life even to gracious characters. Let nothing be made of any expressions that I may happen to utter upon my death-bed. Jesus, with his apostles and martyrs, is light sufficient for all that survive me. I am no light. The example of a dying Christian in the present day is for the benefit of his family in private; not for the gaze of the world. "Human beings are often made too much of by one another, and things are cried up about them which turn out to be nothing at last."

+ And yet his view of the period of the second advent brought it any thing but chronologically near.

a

nished all present, and on the 2nd November 1752 he fell asleep in Jesus, at the age of sixty-five. In his figure, Bengel was tall and reverend-looking ; in his aspect, if one may judge from his portrait, he was dignified and firm, yet benignant and gentle.

The qualities which in full volume Bengel poured into the Church of his fathers, were precisely what Germany needed at that period. His critical and exegetical labours, while far in advance of any thing then existing, or even in embryo, carried evangelical truth and spiritual affections into a region which the next forty years were to see in almost exclusive possession of a withering rationalism. How far they served to impede

a the downward progress, to provide the proper antidote, and as a light to shine in a dark place till the day should again dawn and the day-star once more arise upon German hearts—who can tell! All his teaching, of course, partook of the same qualities, and tended to spread them abroad, while his uncommon wisdom and gracious affections, diffused in numberless ways, were health to those who felt them, at that time of sapless orthodoxy and heated enthusiasm. Our object, in this paper, was to hold up these model qualities, to show in what a time of need they were vouchsafed to Germany, and in the remarks with which we have ventured to intersperse the whole, to indicate the uses to be made by our own Churches of the instructive facts which it contains. Honoured would this journal be if this first of its home productions should be but the harbinger of other and more powerful calls to the work of God in every department of the kingdom of His Son. With sprinkled conscience, a stout heart, and uplifted hands, in His name, let us—as professors, students, pastors, preachers, people, all"occupy till He come."

*

ART. II.-1. History of the Israelites, from the Time of the Mac

cabees to our Days. In six parts. By J. M. Jost. 1820-1826. 2. General History of the Israelitish People. By J. M. Jost.

2 vols. 8vo. Berlin, 1832.* The modern history of the Jews reaches far back into the antiquity of other races. The dividing line between the old

Geschichte der Israeliten seit der Zeit der Maccabäer bis auf ungere Tage. Allgemeine Geschichte des Israelitischen Volkes, sowohl seines zweimaligen StaatLlebens als auch der zerstreuten Gemeinden und 'Secten, bis in die neueste Zeit, in gedrängter Uebersicht, u. s. w.

and new of their existence is the advent of Christ, or rather the destruction of Jerusalem. The later portion of their history, as thus distributed, has several distinct claims to attention. It is highly interesting in itself, including all the usual elements of historical effect, and some of them in a very high degree. It is also important as a conclusion to the earlier annals of the race, without which they remain unfinished and abruptly broken off. In the third place, it demands attention on account of its intimate connection with other parts both of general and ecclesiastical history, so that neither can be thoroughly understood without correct views on this subject. Nothing has struck us more, in examining particular periods of history, especially as reproduced by French and German writers of our own day, than the constancy and prominence with which the Jews present themselves, in every quarter and almost at every juncture, until quite a recent date. It may also be observed that this relation of their history to that of other races is, for reasons which will be considered afterwards, so very peculiar, that the latter scarcely serves to explain the former, but must derive elucidation from it.

Beyond this general statement of our views as to the value of such studies, we can here attempt no more than the suggestion of some general considerations, which may afford a key to the historical enigmas just alluded to, and correct certain popular misapprehensions. The form of these misapprehensions varies with the degree of general cultivation and of historical knowledge in particular. Those which arise from gross ignorance and stupid indifference may pass unnoticed. But there are others which may coexist with a lively interest in the subject, and an exact acquaintance with it to a limited extent. The source of these misapprehensions is the habit of transferring to remote and unknown periods of history impressions drawn from that in which we live, or with which we are in any way familiar. This mistake, which has done mischief in abundance elsewhere, is peculiarly injurious in the case before us. The Jews, as a race, are at this moment objects of a deeper and more enthusiastic interest than any other people in the world. Although this feeling is not universal, even in the religious world, nor even in that part of it distinguished by a zeal for missions, it is still extensive, and yet less remarkable for its extent than its intensity. Connected, as it is in many cases, with peculiar views of prophecy, and with exciting anticipations of the future, it gives to this department of the mis- . sionary work a poetical or visionary tinge, unknown, at least in the same degree, to any other. One effect of this, if we are not mistaken, has been to exaggerate the relative importance

a

of this object in the view of some who are devoted to it; and even in the view of others whom they influence, it clothes the modern Jews with an ideal charm, by no means suited to correct their national conceit, and as little warranted by their scriptural pretensions, as by their history since they ceased to be the chosen people. A most serious error, growing out of this exaggerated feeling, is the error of supposing that the place which they once occupied is empty, standing open till they are ready to resume it; whereas, nothing can be clearer than the teaching of both Testaments that the Israel of God has never ceased to exist or hold communion with him, in strict accordance with his original design, and that the Jews, when restored, will be restored, not as the church, but to the church, from which their unbelief has long excluded them, and of which they will form a part no more essential, and perhaps no more conspicuous, than other nations.

But, besides this error in relation to the future, there is another in relation to the past, growing out of the same state of feeling and opinion. This is the error of assuming that the relative position of the Jews at this day to the Christian world is that of their whole history, and interpreting by this rule all that we read of them within the last eighteen hundred years. This error is so palpable, however, that it cannot be supposed to exist in any form but that of vague and negative misapprehensions, which must be dispelled as soon as the inquirer takes a single step backwards in the history of Europe. That step will bring him to a full conviction that the actual position of the Jews is altogether recent, and that few years have elapsed since they were universally regarded with a morbid antipathy, such as is sometimes felt towards certain animals, and only a few generations since they were the objects of outrageous persecution.

This corrects one error, but may generate another, by leading to the hasty conclusion, that this previous stage of odium and maltreatment was itself the uniform condition of the Jews throughout their later history. This, although not so gross an error as the first, is no less real. Nothing could in fact be more unfounded than the notion that the Jews have always been a persecuted race, except the notion that they have always been caressed and idolised. The truth is, that their modern history, in the sense before explained, has been one of extraordinary changes, at once the causes and effects of their anomalous position in the history of Christendom, or rath of the world.

A clear view of these causes and effects is not to be obtained from any foreign point of observation, but can only be afforded by the aid of Jews themselves. For this end it is happily the

« הקודםהמשך »