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In closing these remarks, I would submit to the consideration of the reviewer, what is demanded of him as a man of candor, as a Christian, and even as a fair reasoner, should he reply. It is required of him, that he retract the charge that Calvinists hold to the damnation of infants; or that he prove it to be true. And to do the latter, it is requisite,
1. That he point out some one doctrine of Calvinism from which he thinks it follows, and specify in what manner it follows. And this must be done by other evidence than that of assertion and declamation.
2. He must show that Calvinists admit and adopt the inference. For Calvinism is what Calvinists believe, and not what others ascribe to them, and which they disavow.
3. The sentiment that infants are damned must be found in Calvinistic creeds, such, and so many, as show it to have been, and still to be, the general belief, before it can be charged upon Calvinists as a body. Calvinistic authors, with whom not a single individual Calvinist agrees, probably, in all respects, much less the whole body of Calvinists, are not to be relied on in evidence that “all consistent Calvinists hold to the damnation of infants.” We might as well quote Priestley in evidence that all consistent Unitarians believe that the soul is matter, and is governed according to the laws of matter, without free agency and accountability, and sleeps between death and the resurrection.
4. If authors are to be received in evidence, against a denomidation, it must be in support of a sentiment taught by the most approved writers, plainly, and in such numbers in every age, as justifies the conclusion, that it has always been a received doctrine of the entire body. For every rash and eccentric doctrine which any Calvinist may choose to publish, is not Calvinism. Since my last communication, I have seen extracts, said to be taken from Twiss, as much more abominable than ordinary heresies, as they were recommended, and made more dangerous, by admixture with more truth.
5. Above all, whatever may have been the opinion of Calvinistic authors of other generations concerning the damnation of infants, before their views can be lawsully attached to Calvinists now, proof is required that, in some significant and satisfactory manner, we have given our assent to the doctrine that infants are damned : otherwise, I might as lawfully charge a minister of fair fame and credible piety with being an infidel, and when proof is demanded, allege in evidence the infidel opinions of his grandfather.
6. It belongs to the reviewer also to show that no change has taken place, among Calvinists of New England, and extensively through the land, in stating the doctrine of original sin, which renders the language of authors of other generations wholly inapplicable to Calvinists now. It being just as relevant to quote from Socinus, sentiments which, generally, Unitarians have modified or abandoned, in proof of their present faith, as to quote from Calvin and others, language which later discussions have modified, as evidence of the existing belief of all consistent Calvinists.
Finally, it will relieve the reputation of the reviewer as a fair disputant, to prove that he, and his brethren in whose defence he deemed it his “bounden duty” to come out, were not fully apprized of the change of phraseology in the “most approved ” New England authors, on the subject of original sin. Until this is done, I must be permitted to say to the reviewer and his brethren, Why do you persist in misrepresenting the opinions of Calvinists on points of invidious bearing? Are you afraid to meet our doctrinal views fairly, as we choose to state them? Do you fear that honest and fair minded people would say to their ministers, • If this is Calvinism, you have misrepresented Calvinists, and abused us. Do you rest your hopes of maintaining your own opinions on misrepresenting the opinions of your opponents, and terrifying those who confide in your statements, as children are terrified by superstitious purses with stories about ghosts and hobgoblins ?
I must be permitted to say to the reviewer, from a very extended personal knowledge on the subject, and a yet more extended insormation, that the Calvinists of New England and the United States do not hold that infants are damned. And until he has produced, from his ample materials, other and better proof than he has as yet produced, I hope he will not consider me as “impudent," or be offended should I regard it as my “bounden duty," and should I take the liberty, to recommend to him and his brethren the commitment to memory of the Ninth Commandment, which is, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.”
I am, respectfully, yours,
GERMAN THEOLOGICAL WRITERS. To the Editor of the Spirit of the Pilgrims.—Sir,
I have been interested in the extracts, contained in your number for February, which your correspondent has made from several publications, in relation to the subject of religion in Germany. The discourses of Mr. Rose, to which he adverts, I had seen, and partly read before. The Eclectic Review, and the extracts from M. Stapfer, I had also read. The letter of Mr. Kurtz is new to me; and I am very glad to see a confirmation of what we have before heard about the religious state of Berlin, from so respectable and worthy a man.* But there are some statements,
* Since the publication of our last number, we have met with the following additional testimony to the fact of a revival of evangelical religion in Protestant Germany. It is contained in an extract, published in the minutes of the last General Synod of the Lutheran Church in the United States, from a letter, occasioned by the visit of the Rev. Mr. kurtz, and written in 1827, to a Lutheran clergyman in this country, by the Rev. Dr. KNEIWELL of Danzig. “I gladly avail myself of this opportunity, to give you some information on the state of religion in this country. I will merely say a few words on the Province of East and West Prussia, in which I reside. It is indeed a splendid evidence of the divinity of our heavenly King, and a glorious fulllment of his promise in Mark xiii. 31. “ Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my word shall not pass away," that we see the spark of Gospel light, wbich had long been concealed beneath the darkness of human wisdom, and the traditions of men, warning the hearts of multitudes, and blazing forth with increasing lustre. Since the Gospel is again preached in its purity, and the doctrines, of human depravity, and repentance, and faith in the divine Redeemer, are fully and generally inculcated, public worship is again attended, and religion prospers. The deep interest which is felt in Bible and Missionary societies, the cheerful aid afforded to every object connected with the progress of religion, the erection of new churches, and the repairing of such as were decayed,-all these circumstances afford the strongest evidence that religion is in a very prosperous state."
"I know notothing is morfike yours, they're
in the “extracts” from the other writers, which it has seemed to me, ought not to be left unnoticed, while there are ample means in our country of correcting them.
I know not who the Eclectic reviewer may be; but whoever he may be, nothing is more certain, than that he has made some mistakes; and, in a work like yours, they ought to be noticed.
I will not dwell on his statement of the system of the Neologists, though it is, in my view, liable to some exceptions, and communicates but an imperfect idea of Rationalism, as it generally prevails in Germany. But I have some remarks to make on his catalogue of the persons who are, and have been the most famous supporters of this system, in that country. Cuique suum, is the dictate of both sacred and civil justice.
Among these are reckoned, Gesenius, Bretschneider, and Schiller. Of Gesenius, it may truly be said, that he is, to all appearance, a thorough Rationalist; but nearly all that he has published, has been philology, not theology; and very seldom, indeed, does one meet with any thing in his works, with which he has reason to be offended. He seems heartily to despise the whole system of accommodation in exegesis; and he explains the sacred writers, almost throughout, as meaning what the advocates of evangelical sentiments suppose them to mean.
Bretschneider, so far from being a Rationalist, has published a full System of Theology, more orthodox, and nearer to the old Lutheran ground, than almost any which had appeared in Germany, before his, for nearly half a century. He has often come before the public as a Supernaturalist. Of late it is whispered, that he is a candidate for Eichhorn's place at Göttingen, and that he has become, at least, one of the Moderates, if not one of the Liberals. How much truth there is in this, I know not. I only know, that he has published a pamphlet, in answer to Mr. Rose's Sermons ; and that in this, (wlich I have read, he avows himself a Supernaturalist; although he endeavors to blunt the edge of Mr. Rose's weapons, by interposing a kind of shield between them and all his Rationalist countrymen.
As to Schiller, he was a play writer, a poet, and a historian; but no theologian. If he has ever written on theology, (I know not that he has,) I am quite sure that he was not well enough acquainted with it, to have any considerable influence in Germany. Instead of these names, the writer should have put Henke, Ziegler, Semler, Herder, Stäudlin in the earlier part of his life, and other master spirits, who have helped to raise and to direct the storm, in the land of the Reformation.
On the other hand, it becomes a more painful duty, to exempt from the commendation which is given in the extracts, several writers who are named as orthodox. One of the most important cases is that of E. F. C. Rosenmüller, the well known and celebrated interpreter of the Old Testament. It is very clear, that his recent Commentaries develope a different spirit and state of mind, from what is exhibited in bis early ones. Every new edition brings him much nearer to what is called orthodox exegesis. Indeed, a man of evangelical sentiment, would find but liule reason for complaint or disagreement in respect to any of his Commentaries, published within the last five years. I have it, too, from a friend in Germany, who not long since paid him a visit, that Rosenmüller complained, in strong terms, of the abuse of him in England, on the ground of his early Commentaries, and declared, that he considered it very ungenerous, to be always taxing a man with what he was in early years, and to leave him no space for changing his views, in his maturer state, and after more extended investigation.
It is plain enough, that Rosenmüller is not indifferent to the esteem of men who are the friends of evangelical sentiment, and that he is generally very guarded about saying anything which will give offence to them. It is clear, also, that his Commentaries on the Old Testament, are a Thesaurus of philology, which is nowhere else to be found, and which the student cannot well dispense with. They are of high, and permanent, philological and critical value; dictated by great accuracy of investigation in general, by soundness of exegetical judgment, and by sobriety of thought. We find in them no such conceits as Heinrichs, Michaelis, Kuinöl, Paulus, and even Schleusner, occasionally exbibit;—the absolute excrescences of the human mind, which one wishes to see all cleared away, for the sake of contemplating with more pleasure what lies beneath them. This is true, however, only of Rosenmüller's later editions of his Commentaries. If any one wishes for painful proof of what he could once do, let him read the first edition of his Commentary on the Pentateuch; or what he has said on Isaiah vii. in his first edition; and above all, his introduction to the book of Jonah, in which he suggests the probability, that the book was made from the Grecian story of Hercules being swallowed by a whale. But it would be unjust and ungenerous, not to allow a man room for recantation, in such cases; and this he has abundantly made, as to the two former publications. A new edition of his work on the Minor Prophets, has not been recently published.
After all, one who is thoroughly acquainted with this very useful writer, finds room for deep regret, that he is compelled to
doubt his real sacred reverence for the Scriptures in general. The suggestion is so unpleasant a one, that I must produce the proof necessary to support it.
In the admirable work of Rosenmüller, just published, entitled, Handbuch der Alterthumskunde, two volumes of which have come to hand, and contain a Sacred Geography, he states, (part ii. : p. 41,) that the king of Babylon, (Belshazzar,) was not slain by Cyrus, after his city was taken, but sent away into the province of Caramania, where he ended his days in peace. And in a note upon this, (p. 89. note 141,) he says, that he makes this statement, on the authority of Berosus and Megasthenes. He acknowledges that Xenophon, (vii. 24. Cyrop.) represents the king as slain by Cyrus; and that Dan. v. 30. agrees with this representation. But he adds, “It is strange that the less credible historians," i. e. Daniel and Xenophon, “should be believed in preference to the native and more credible ones,” i. e. Berosus and Megasthenes. Just the opposite of this, is the judgment of Gesenius, in his Commentary on Isaiah xii. seq.
Again, in the same publication, (part ii. p. 42,) Rosenmüller says, “ The book of Daniel, in general, cannot be used as a source of history ; because it was composed a long time after the overthrow of Babylon, by some Jew in Palestine, with altogether a different design than that of giving a true history.”
What he says, also, on the geography of Paradise, and on several other topics of the like nature, proves beyond all doubt, that he regards a considerable part at least, of the Scriptures, as being of no binding authority, nor even deserving of credit, and that he considers them as full of mistakes and errors.
At the same time, his works are so replete with important information, laboriously collected, and lucidly arranged, that no one who intends to pursue the critical study of the Scriptures, can well dispense with them. In a special manner, bis recent works are exceedingly valuable. I can only express my hopes and earnest wishes, that a long life, spent in a most laborious and incessant study of the divine word, may end in bringing him fully to enjoy the precious hopes proffered by it, and the heavenly consolations which it administers.
Of the picture drawn by M. Stapfer, (p. 105. of your No. for February,) I have no certain means of judging. Plouquet, Etinger, Hegel, Bilfinger, Bockshammer, &c. may be important names in the theological department of Germany; but they are not frequent in the leading Tübingen publications. Perhaps they have been the authors of many of the anonymous essays, which have appeared in the Archiv of Bengel, and in other works at Tübingen. But when M. Stapfer states, (on the same page,) that Winer is among those “who have shewn the deepest grief at the profane way in which some commentators have treated the sacred books,” he surely must never have examined the manner in which Winer