« EdellinenJatka »
the altogether prevailing system of the Neologists. The reigning heresiarch in this new kingdom, (new in name, not in reality,) is Dr. Wegscheider, present professor of theology at Halle-Wittenberg; whose Institutiones exhibit not only all the arguments employed by Hume against the possibility of miracles, but many more superadded. It is enough to say, that the book has had unbounded popularity, and gone through seven or eight large editions in the course of a few years, to shew what the reigning passion of the day is, in the interesting country, which gave birth to the most important Reformer of modern times.
Since the publication by Harms, mentioned above, the friends of the evangelical cause, who before were, for the most part, lying on their faces in the dust, have begun to gather up themselves, and to strive for the attainment of an erect position. Several periodical works have been engaged in by them, and unexpectedly found more support than was anticipated. Schwartz, Professor at Heidelburg, has, for some time, published a thoroughly evangelical work, with much success. Occasional volumes, pamphlets, and even systems of divinity, have appeared, which are decidedly of the evangelical cast. The king of Prussia, who is generally understood to be in favor of the genuine principles of the Reformnation, has gathered around him, and placed in his celebrated university at Berlin, and in the pulpits in that city, some of the most learned and powerful men in Germany, who are altogether on the evangelical side. He has recently sent one of these to Halle, very much against the wishes of the Naturalists there, to fill the place vacated by the death of the truly apostolic and excellent Dr. Knapp. Since the death of this last mentioned veteran in theology, his Lectures, (read for some forty years or more, and corrected and enlarged more or less at every reading,) have recently been published, and exhibit a body of Scriptural Divinity, which we hope and trust will ere long come before our public. The work is not, like that of Storr, broken up by notes, illustrating bare propositions; but is continuous, judicious, deep, warm hearted, and well worthy of perusal and study. The exegesis is of the most fundamental kind, and will stand the test of trial.
In this state of things, the noble corps of defenders of evangelical sentiment at Berlin, felt that it was time to make an open demonstration, once more, in behalf of the cause of the Reformation, in the face of all Germany, and of the world. Communication with others of like sentiment confirmed this opinion ; and the Magazine, whose title stands at the head of this article, is the first fruits of their labors.
The work is designed for the learned and the unlearned. It is to contain pieces of a high wrought character, and much that is popular and adapted to all classes of readers. But we shall give more satisfaction to our readers, if we lay before them the Prospectus of the work itself, prefixed to the first number which now lies before us. We shall give it in a free translation.
The influence of Journals, in the formation and direction of opinions at the present time, is universally admitted. The more certain this is, the more is it to be lamented, that the Evangelical Church* has hitherto had no organ of this kind, which was devoted to establishing and maintaining with strenuous uniformity, Gospel truth, as it is taught in the Holy Scriptures, and received from them into our Creeds. Neither has any publication of this nature exhibited clearly the distinction between evangelical doctrines and those of an opposite cast; nor is there any one, which, by communicating information respecting the state of the church in all countries, and of missionary operations, with their effect upon the heathen, has labored to awaken a lively sympathy in the affairs of the church, and a conviction that there is a real unity of purpose in all who love the truth. The undersigned, therefore, yielding to often repeated solicitations, and relying upon divine aid, has undertaken, with the cooperation of no inconsiderable number of theologians who are entitled to respect, the publication of an evangelical journal, under the title of THE EVANGELICAL Church JOURNAL.
It will commence with the first of July. It will not be devoted to any party, as such ; but solely to the interests of the Evangelical Church. To those, who have attained to a lively and established belief in the truth of Gospel doctrine, it will afford the means of improvement and of edification. It will lift up a warning voice against the various errors, which, at all seasons of great religious excitement, are apt to arise, even among those who in the most important respects have embraced divine truth. It will strive to promote in individuals the feeling of unity both with the Evangelical Church, and with the Christian church in general. It will endeavour to promote a general union among all the true members of the Evangelical Church.
In particular, it will be an object with the Evangelical Church Journal, to have respect to the wants of those, who, being in readiness to embrace the truth, know not where they must seek for it, nor where they can find it. A sense of such religious wants is now begining to be powerfully awakened ; the more powerfully, in proportion as the necessity of a belief in Revelation is felt.
Many, however, of those who are honestly seeking after truth, remain in a constant state of fluctuation, because they are afraid of going from one extreme to another. The Evangelical Church Journal will strive to remove the prejudices, which have led them hitherto to make opposition to the truth; to clear up their perplexed views; to make a plain distinction between evangelical Christianity, and the manifold departures from it; and to direct their views to the signs of the times, and make them better acquainted with the memorable events in respect to the church, which are taking place in the neighboring, and in foreign countries.
The Editor hopes to attain these ends in the best way by distributing the contents of this Journal in the following manner; viz.
I. Essays. These are divided into four classes. (1.) Essays on important passages of Scripture, exhibiting an interpretation of particular places that are difficult, and also of larger portions, which, at the present time, are entitled to peculiar consideration. (2.) Representations of true evangelical doctrine, in opposition to the widely spread errors of our times, in regard to faith and practice; instruction respecting the true nature of the Christian church, and its developement in the world, &c. (3.) Communications pertaining to the department of ecclesiastical history, in regard to the most ancient times, so far as these may have a bearing upon the present times. Sometimes copious extracts will be admitted, which are taken from books that are inaccessible to the great mass of readers. Communications of this nature, however, will not be mere lifeless extracts, but will be introduced and accompanied with appropriate remarks, which will adapt them to the present time. (4.) Theological Essays of a practical nature, made by such as have the care of souls committed to them, and the experience derived from the discharge of their official duties.
* This is the appropriate name of the Lutheran Church in Germany,
II. LITERARY Notices. These are not to be learned reviews simply, but critical notices of, and extracts from, the more important books; and this, not merely of books which have recently made their appearance, but of those writings which have been forgotten, and deserve again to be brought into notice. This department will also contain warnings against worthless and dangerous books, that have become current.
III. HistoriCAL INFORMATION. This will respect the history of the Christian church, at home and abroad. It will exhibit biographical notices of persons worthy of particular regard, who moved in a larger or smaller circle ; historical communications respecting the external condition of religious parties, and of their relation to each other; missionary intelligence, not with the design to supply defects in Journals devoted to this purpose, nor to supplant them, but partly with the design of giving general and compressed views of these subjects, and partly to exhibit those characteristic and individual sketches, which are conspicuous, omitting all useless repetitions and mere indistinct representations. In a word, the intention is to communicate whatever may be of interest and importance to the Evangelical Church. The materials for such intelligence will be drawn, partly from correspondents at home and abroad, and partly from various works and documents appropriated to such a purpose, which are published in Germany, France, England, Scotland, and America.
That the tone of the present work will be somewhat exclusive, follows of course from the preceding representation. Only those can expect to have a part in it, who have an established conviction respecting the fundamental truths of revealed relgion. Still, all variety of views, among those who belong to the same Christian community, will not be excluded. It appears altogether desirablo, that there should be an animated interchange of views among those who hold fast the fundamental truths of the Gospel. The publishers of this Journal deem it very important to afford every facility in their power, for the accomplishment of this.
All those, who feel a sincere inclination to contribute to the design of this Journal, are invited to do it by the publishers of the same; who are satisfied that the object in view can never be accomplished, except by the united efforts of many, who devote their strength to the service of God. The larger contributions will in all cases be considered as having a claim to pecuniary remuneration, unless this is expressly declined.
Although the object of the Evangelical Church Journal is simply to inculcate what is true, and to build up rather than to pull down; yet, as the Gospel from its very nature must encounter opposition, disputation cannot altogether be avoided.' Still, it will conduct with forbearance in judging of individuals, and as far as possible, avoid all personalities. Remote from all bitterness, it will shew by its example, that unwavering conviction in respect to evangelical truth is altogether consistent with mildness and affection, such as the Gospel demands of those who acknowledge its obligations. At the same time, it will point out to all such, the source to which they must go in order to learn these important virtucs, and from which only they can derive them.
Such is the Prospectus of this very interesting publication; one which we might, with a few alterations, adopt as a Preface to our own. We cannot hope, indeed, to rival our brethren of the land of universities, in the extent and variety of their literary, and critical, and exegetical, and antiquarian researches and essays. But feeling ourselves to be, in several respects, situated very much as they are, we would go hand in hand with them, in the great principles, which they have thus so plainly and so boldly announced to the world. We shall have some advantages over them, for the practical and experimental departments of our work. This is a land of Revivals; it is so, in a manner which excites the curiosity and astonishment of Christians in the transatlantic world. In regard to every thing connected with missions, benevolent socie
ties, &c., we are in the very focus of action, and shall have an important advantage from this circumstance. We shall not affect to rival our German brethren in learning. This generation cannot do it. The next, we trust, will be able to speak a different language.
It will be natural for our readers to inquire, whether the Evangelical Church Journal is only “the daring of a single combatant,” or whether combined talent and energy are pledged for its support? The answer to this question is a cheering one to the friends of truth, on this side of the Atlantic, and especially to all, who live on the very ground, which is the arena of the great contest that is going on, at the present time. The Journal in question, lifting up its voice in the very ear (a listening one too) of the king of Prussia, published at his favorite university, which now holds the second, if not the first rank of all the literary institutions in the world, is not the solitary work of one man, nor of a few men whose names are unknown, beyond the boundaries of a small hamlet. Some of the flower of the German Corps d'Elite have united to support it. To give their names, will be sufficient proof of this, to all who know the present state of theological acquirements in Germany.
“ Among my fellow laborers,” says Dr. Hengstenberg, the editor, “ I am permitted to name Dr. Neander, professor in the university of Berlin; Dr. Strauss, court preacher at Berlin," (mark this;) “ Dr. Tholuck, professor at Halle-Wittenberg; Dr. Heubner professor at Wittenberg; Drs. Hahn and Lindner, professors at Leipzig, and also Dr. Heinroth, at the same university; Dr. Von Meyer at Frankfurt on the Mayne;
Dr. Scheibel, professor at Breslau; Dr. Steudel, professor at Tübingen; Dr. Th. Krummacher, at Bremen; Dr. Olshausen, professor at Königsberg; and Dr. Rudelbach, at Copenhagen.”
To those who are acquainted with the literary condition of Germany, it will be entirely unnecessary to say, that many of these are some of her choicest and most distinguished Elites. Dr. Neander is the acknowleged Coryphæus of ecclesiastical history and antiquities. Dr. Heubner is a very distinguished and excellent scholar." Dr. Tholuck is a kind of prodigy in Arabic, Rabbinic, and other oriental learning, and has been placed, as we have already mentioned, in the chair of the venerable and excellent Dr. Knapp. Dr. Heinroth is distinguished in metaphysics and anthropology. Dr. Hahn has given to the world some admirable proofs of his learning, criticism, and judgment, in his Essay on the gospel used by Marcion, and some other publications. Dr. Olshausen has given scarcely inferior evidences of his learning and abilities, in his “Genuineness of the Four Gospels,” recently published. Dr. Von Meyer has published a very popular amended version of the whole Scriptures. Dr. Steudel is the successor of Bengel,
any one take
in the able work of “The Archives of Theology.” The other gentlemen are distinguished, also, as teachers or preachers. We bid God speed to such a noble array, in defence of the doctrines of evangelical truth. If Luther could rise from his grave, it would be to bless and encourage
them. Of the work itself, which they stand pledged before the public to maintain, (three numbers of which have come to hand,) we shall have occasion to say more hereafter, and to present specimens of it to our readers, which will enable them to judge for themselves, both of the spirit and of the ability with which it is conducted. We shall employ the brief space which can be allowed us at present, in some closing remarks on what has been laid before our readers, in the preceding pages, designed to prevent any misapprehension of our true meaning, and to shew, that the friends of Gospel truth here have a deep interest in the undertaking of our German brethren, and that we have much reason strongly to sympathize with them.
When we have spoken with implied disapprobation, of the old systems of theology in Germany, the attentive reader will perceive, that it is of the costume, not (if we may so express ourselves) of the person. Let
the twenty two quarto volumes of Gerhard's Loci Theologici, (the great Coryphæus of the Lutheran systematical writers,) and he will see, by opening the book at a venture, what we have aimed to express. The mind is overwhelmed with the infinitude of divisions and subdivisions. It is grieved by frequent offences against the laws of sound exegesis, which appear in the introduction of irrelevant witnesses from the Scriptures. It is even disgusted with the heaps upon heaps of metaphysical chaff, which is not only scattered over the wheat, but often mixed among it. Must it not be difficult to read with pleasure, when we are constantly exposed to such emotion? It is only those, for the most part, who have introduced metaphysics, by a priori argumentation, into their system of theological truth, and made them an essential part of it, and who are better prepared, in this way, to say what the Bible ought to mean, than what it does mean; it is almost only such, that will read systems drawn up in this manner, with satisfaction. Good taste is revolted by them. Simple, scriptural inquiry seems to be overwhelmed, by the immense mass of other questions, which are forced upon the reader.
When theological writers compose in this manner, they are preparing the church for disquietude and for revolution. There never will be wanting, sooner or later, some bold and independent inquirers, who will raise a breeze to scatter the chaff; and well will it be, if this breeze does not increase, until it becomes a tornado, and carries away the wheat also. There is no calculating where a revolution will stop, when it begins from causes of grievances like these.