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interests. In all such examinations, however, we shall not fail to give honor to whom honor is due, while we shall not even allude to political parties, as such, but shall speak, as occasion may require, with a manly independence of demoralizing practices and measures.
In a word, the Spirit of the Pilgrims is designed to be such a publication as the descendants of the Pilgrims will acknowledge to be subservient to the great cause of religion and morality, of civil freedom and expansive benevolence. It will endeavor to meet the exigencies of the times; and will aspire to a high rank among those works, which are consecrated to Christ and the Church; to all the great purposes of human society; and to the promotion of every design, which is truly beneficial and praiseworthy.
In making these declarations, we know ourselves to be sincere; and shall claim the right of being considered so, at least till something like evidence appears to the contrary. That we may not swerve from a course of the strictest Christian integrity, nor forget the high responsibility of furnishing materials for the press, and thus sending abroad an influence, the extent of which can neither be foreseen by human wisdom, nor controlled by human power, we humbly commit ourselves and our labors to the guidance and blessing of God.
EVANGELISCHE KIRCHEN-ZEITUNG, herausgegeben von Dr. E.
W. Hengstenburg, ordentl. Professor der Theologie an der
1827. Berlin, bei L. Oehmigke. EvANGELICAL Church JOURNAL, edited by Dr. E. W. Heng
stenburg, Professor ordinarius of Theology in the University at Berlin. Vol. I. No. 1. July, 1827. Published by Lewis Oehmigke.
The Protestant Church can never forget that Germany was the birth place of the Reformation. When more than Egyptian night was spread over all the countries of Europe, and the inhabitants lay wrapt in the most profound slumber which the magic and soporific spell of the Vatican could bring upon them, then the star of Luther arose, and shot its rays athwart the gloom. The mists of night began gradually to disappear. Some, here and there, were awakened by the light which was beginning to gleam, and roused up to action. But ere this star had advanced to its zenith, whole nations were put in motion. It spread its cheering light over Germany, Switzerland, many parts of France, over Denmark, Norway, Sweden, England, Scotland, Ireland; and even portions of Austria, Hungary, Italy, and Spain itself were illumined by its beams.
The star of Luther has long since sunk below the horizon. But it did not set in darkness. It left a flood of glory behind, which brightened the face of the whole heaven. Its beams have kindled up a galaxy of light in the firmament, which has continued to shine until the present hour. This has, indeed, sometimes waxed and waned, but never suffered a total eclipse. It will never more be quenched, until the luminary of day shall be blotted from the skies. It will continue to shine, brighter and brighter, unto the perfect day; when all nations will feel the genial influence of its rays, and darkness being chased from the earth, and gross darkness from the people, the whole world shall be filled with light and glory.
This is no visionary reverie of enthusiasm. He who hath begun the good work, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. We do believe, and we have good authority for believing, that Zion will arise and shine, that her light will come, and the glory of the Lord arise upon her; that nations will come to her light, and kings to the brightness of her rising; yea, that all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God. Nor have we any doubt, that the glorious Reformation, begun by Luther, and still diffusing its influence wider and wider, was destined by heaven to prepare the way for the final diffusion of true Gospel light among all the nations of the earth.
We have no hostility to Roman Catholics, as individuals. We believe, that there have been, and that there now are, in the bosom of that church, those who sincerely love the Saviour, and are devoted to his service. But the spirit of the system of Popery, is not the spirit which animates them. The spirit of Jesus has predominated over it. We separate such persons, in our own minds, from the community to which they professedly belong. The spirit of Popery, such as awoke the resistance of Luther and his cotemporaries, and such as now stretches the iron hand of despotism over Italy, and Spain, and Portugal, and South America, and the greater part of France, and a considerable portion of Germany, is a spirit so alien from that of Christ, and so hostile to the eternal interests and to the rational liberties of man, that we are compelled, from the bottom of our hearts, to be Protestants; and to believe, that Germany gave to the world, in the person of Luther, one of the greatest benefactors of the human race.
That interesting country has never ceased, since the days of Luther, to produce many able and enlightened defenders of the true principles and doctrines of the Reformation. It were easy to make out a long list of names, to be inscribed on the wreath of bonor which adorns its head. But our present design does not admit the performance of so grateful a task, and we must pass them by in silence.
With but small and partial interruptions, of little consequence, the doctrines propagated by Luther and Melancthon continued to be cherished throughout the Protestant part of Germany, until within about half a century from the present time. Chemnitz, Gerhard, Calixtus, Spener, Pfaff, Carpzoff, Buddaeus, Canz, Wolf, Baumgarten, and others, are names which formed a bright constellation over the country of which we are speaking, and whose glory will never be obscured. The theological chairs in the universities were filled with men of this stamp; with pious, devoted, humble, profoundly learned, and evangelical men, such as Luther would have applauded, and such as kept alive the spirit of the Reformation which he had commenced.
But with all their excellencies, some defects were mingled. As reasoning theologians, they were, we had almost said, of the sect of Aristotle. The philosophy of the Stagyrite had for many centuries exercised an unbounded influence over the forms of logic, and the modes of reasoning, employed in every kind of treatise, to whatever department it belonged. The angelic doctor, also, Thomas Aquinas, one of the most acute of all the metaphysical and hair-splitting theologians who have ever lived, although a Romanist, was yet studied and admired by all the Protestant divines, who made pretensions to the higher acquisitions in theology. The applause and study of Aristotle was unbounded and universal. How was it possible, that the theologians of Germany should escape the general infection of the age? It was not. They did not escape. The fruits of this infection appear, in all the works which they composed. It is, in many of them, carried so far as to become almost an object of loathing, to readers of taste, educated in the more simple and intelligible principles of the logic and metaphysics, which are taught antong us, at the present day. Theology, or the science of religion, as developed by them, is not a simple, connected, intelligible system of truths, few and plain, which all men may in some good measure see and comprehend; but it is a piece of the most complex machinery which can well be thought of. No common eye can trace and distinguish all its parts. Only a connoisseur from the schools of Aristotle, can analyze it, or even comprehend it. The ten categories are not only applied, but even multiplied. The whole doctrine of essence and attribute, in all its consequences as deduced by the old metaphysicians, and in all its ramifications, is applied to the spiritual beings, about which religion is conversant. A student of their works cannot even divine their meaning, in many places, until he becomes well versed in all the tenuious and minuscular logic and metaphysics of the genuine scholastic ages.
Such was the uninviting form, in which the fashion of the times induced these great and good men, for the most part, to present their works to the world. But this condition of theological science was too constrained and unnatural to continue long. The Gospel, which was designed for the benefit of Hottentots and Hindoos, and Sandwich Islanders, as well as for the philosopher and the divine, could not long wear this stiff, and uncomfortable, and unwieldy dress, which by mistake had been put upon it. There was danger in the experiment of so representing a simple religion. The philosophists of the age learned to scorn; the common people to look on theology as too deep and abstruse for them to meddle with. An all-wise and over-ruling Providence, in kindness to the church, prepared the way for this cumbrous dress to be rent off, and the original simplicity of divine truth again to make its appearance.
It was, however, one of those mysterious events, which He, whose ways are unsearchable, sometimes brings about, one might almost say, in order to exhibit his sovereign prerogative to bring good out of evil. So it is in the kingdom of nature. The earthquake, the volcano, the hurricane, the tempest, are all instruments of chastising men, and of convulsing the natural world ; but it is past a doubt, that all have their use in the great system which the Almighty is carrying into effect, and that ultimate good is accomplished by them.
The last generation of theologians in Germany, witnessed a shock not unlike to these, in the element in which they moved. Semler, who was first colleague, and then successor of Baumgarten at Halle, in the theological chair, was the great instrument in bringing about the mighty revolution, which has taken place in Germany. He was a man of vast and various learning, of distinguished genius, of daring speculation, of enthusiastic fancy, of bold and fearless adventure, upon the ocean of conjecture, and withal of such profound acquaintance with the metaphysical theology of the day, that he knew where all its weak points lay, and consequently knew where to make his attacks in the most successful manner.
Not long after he became sole occupant of the chair of theology, in Baumgarten's place, he commenced his attacks. The first assaults were made upon the sacred criticism and exegesis of the times; and here, there was indeed a naked exposure to his assaults. Of course, he triumphed in his onset. His books spread wide through all. Germany, elicited unbounded attention and discussion, and excited all, who were before growing uneasy under the load of metaphysical distinctions, which had been inadvertently and injudiciously imposed upon them, to throw off this load, and set themselves at ease.
Semler was not wanting in the power of discerning, how he might employ the diversion thus made in his favor, to the most advantage. He pushed on with great ardor, and urged the conquests he had made, so as to give him still farther advantage. For nearly forty years he waged incessant war with the systems and principles of his predecessors, and died apparently in the arms of victory. But before his death, he had raised up a multitude of others, who took sides with him, and entered warmly into the great contest. With no less learning than he, united with far more taste, and system, and patience, and wariness, many of them pushed the conquests that he had begun, until a victory almost complete, appeared to be gained. Eichhorn, and Eckermann, and Herder, and Gabler, and Bertholdt, and Ammon, and Paulus, and Stäudlin, and Justi, and a multitude of other theologians and critics, enlisted in the cause of Semler, and many of them spent their lives in promoting it.
The consequences have been most appalling. Never before did evangelical religion suffer an assault from such combined and exalted talent, and such profound learning as to all objects of human science. Nearly every university and gymnasium in Germany has been won by this party; and almost all the important, and nearly all the popular publications, have been in their hands, these thirty years or more. So completely has this been the case, that the celebrated Gesenius, in making out, some years since, a catalogue of the various religious and critical Journals, published in Germany, mentions as a rarity (Seltenheit) one among all, which defended the supernatural inspiration of the Bible. To the immortal honor of the Tübingen theologians, Storr, Flatt, and their associates, this was published there.
So it has continued to be, even up to the present time, or at least, very nearly up to this time. All the Reviews were in the hands of the Naturalists and Neologists.* Did any evangelical writer publish a book; if it were very able, it was passed by in silence; if it were liable to attack, it was hunted down at once. The victory seemed to be completely won; and the principles of Luther to be almost eradicated from his country. The notes of triumph were echoed from every quarter, while the opponents of evangelical truth exulted, in the hope that she had fallen to rise no more. Ministers and people, noblemen and peasants, princes and subjects, have umited in the song of triumph, chaunted as it were at her. funeral. While the humble and trembling believer in Jesus, who trusted in the precious assurance that all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, was weeping in secret places, for fear that the doctrines of the Reformation were no more, and that piety had taken her flight from the earth along with them; and, while he was prostrate in the dust before Him who seeth in secret, and asking, with deep sighs, O
* That is, the advocates of the new thcology.