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she was married to the Rev. Rochement Barbauld, and the greater part of the remainder of her days was spent in the instruction of youth. She buried her husband in 1908, and finished her earthly course on the 9th of March, 1825. She distinguished herself as a writer, both in prose and verse. She was a Dissenter, and a warm friend of civil and religious liberty. Her husband was an Arian. In early life, at which period we suspect (for we have not the means of certain information) her Discourse on Regeneration was written, Mrs. Barbauld seems to have been, in her speculative views of religion, what has been sometimes called moderately Calvinistic. Subsequently, she adopted Unitarian opinions, in the belief of which she continued till her death, yet with “ a sort of leaning towards” the principles in which she had been educated.* She was distinguished as an instructer of female youth, and contributed not a little, by her writings, and her success as a teacher, to raise the standard of female education in Great Britain. Her works have lately been published in this country, and are evidently the productions of a highly gifted and cultivated mind.
The Tract before us is in the form of a sermon, from the declaration of our Lord to Nicodemus, “ Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” “The beginning of a Christian's life, in his conversion from sin to holiness, is here designed,” says Mrs. B., " under the figure of a birth, a new, or a second birth; and it shall be the business of this Discourse to unfold the beauty and justness of the metaphor.”
Accordingly she observes, that, as “to be born literally, is to receive being, life, existence;" so, to be born again, is to receive a new spiritual existence. “What a new world of ideas and feelings are opened upon the new-born soul! He had before no organs, with which to discern spiritual things. He had heard of them, but he apprehended them not. There was no faculty in him by which he could take hold of them. But the moment he is born again, the eyes of his mind are opened. He sees, seels, tastes, and relishes the word of God, the bread of life, the gracious influences of the Spirit. He tastes a sweetness in the ordinances of religion, in prayers, and psalms, and sacraments, which before were dry, and without savor to him; which he had attended from Sabbath to Sabbath, as mere matter of form and decency. Before, he was born into the world of sense; now, he holds communion with the world of spirits. Is not this a mighty and important change?” p. 3.
“ Again,” says Mrs. B., "to be born implies having a father, a descent, a parentage.” So, to be born again, brings us into the relation of children to an heavenly Father. “As soon as a child comes into the natural world, its voice is heard. It sends forth a cry, a meaning cry. So also when a believer is born into the life of Christ, his voice is heard, and he prayeth.” p. 4.
* See her Remarks on Wakefield's Inquiry on Social Worship.
“ Again ; a child is not born into the world without great and strong pains. And great are the pains which precede the new birth ; sharp are the pangs of repentance; and deep those groanings which cannot be uttered, that must pass before the change be wrought.” “But when once a child is born, how great is the joy! And is there not joy when a soul is born? joy of its ministers, joy of the church, joy even in heaven over a sinner that repenteth?” p.5.
“ Again; what further joy is there, if a child be born an heir, and entitled to inherit some portion of this vain and perishable earth! And what an estate, what a title, what a heritage, is the Christian born to.” “ But let it be observed, the literal heir does not inherit immediately ;' and neither does the heir of glory. He is placed “under tutors and governors, until the time appointed of the Father.”
" In the next place,” Mrs. B. remarks, that “though the child is born, it may die.” In applying this remark to the subject of her Discourse, she does not assert that spiritual life, when once imparted, ever finally ceases, but speaks, as the Scriptures do, of the care and exertion which are necessary, in order to its continuance and progress. And no believer in the doctrine of Regeneration supposes that the saints are so kept, that there is a natural impossibility of their falling away. No one regards them as destitute of physical power to apostatise, or questions the propriety of using all possible motives with them, to induce them to be faithful unto death.
Having pursued the comparison thus far, Mrs. B. calls on her readers to examine themselves, and deterinine, whether they “ have undergone the important change of which she lias been speaking, and whether they are improving it to the perfection of the divine life.” And, in forming a conclusion, she very properly directs them to ascertain whether they are spiritually alive ; since, if they are thus alive, they must at some period have been born, although the particular moment when the change occurred may be as a little remembered by them, as the moment of their natural birth. And, in determining whether they are spiritually alive, she directs them to inquire whether they “grow in grace;" whether their “appetite for spiritual things is strong and vigorous ;" whether their “ conscience is sensible and tender;" whether they “relish the word of God;” whether their “sense of invisible things is quick and piercing;” and lastly, whether they “live by prayer.” pp. 7-10.
In conclusion, she exhorts those who have made progress in the divine life, to endeavor “ to educate and bring up others to the same state of maturity ;" and those who have not yet been made “partakers of the divine nature” to use their “utmost endeavors to procure an interest in that life, to which the being born again is to introduce them.” pp. 10–12.
From this analysis of the Discourse of Mrs. B. it will be concluded, as is the fact, that it contains many things which are true, and which accord with the views of experienced Christians, signified, if not directly asserted,—that regeneration is an instantaneous change, a great and necessary change, the beginning of spiritual life in the soul, implying that, previously, the soul is involved in all the darkness and misery of spiritual death.'
Still there are passages in the Discourse which, we think, had better been left out of it. Mrs. B. intimates, on one page, that regeneration sometimes take place “by the gradual unfolding of the human powers.” This looks like running the subject down into Socinian coldness and insignificance. But on the next page, she changes her tone, and suddenly becomes even hyper-calvinistic. Speaking of man previous to regeneration, she says, “ he has no organs with which to discern spiritual things. There is no faculty in him, by which he can take hold of them.” p. 3. Are new faculties and organs ever acquired, “ by the gradual unfolding of the human powers ?” We regard the natural man as wanting, not faculties and organs, but a disposition to use his faculties as he ought. His faculties and organs are well enough, but he has no heart to improve them for God. His spiritual blindness is voluntary—“ the blindness of the heart."
Although there is much of this Discourse which Christians of a certain cast may read with pleasure, none, we presume, will read it with very deep impression. It is ingenious and sprightly, but not weighity. It is fanciful, imaginațive, but not sufficiently impressive. The sword of the Spirit is not so wielded as to prick the sinner to the heart. The truth is not so exhibited and enforced, as to lead the sinking soul to inquire, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” However widely the Discourse may be circulated, we fear it will never prove the instrument of accomplishing that great and necessary change of which it treats.
In reviewing this Discourse, the question has often occurred, Why did the American Unitarian Association publish it? It certainly is at a varianoe, in many points, with the views commonly expressed by Unitarian writers on the subject of regeneration. Where do we find them representing the new birth as inducing " another nature,” and as being so absolutely necessary, that “ the bars against the entrance” of the unregenerate into the kingdom of heaven “ are those of the eternal difference of species, and the immutable nature of things ?” Where do we hear them speaking of “ the great pains which precede the new birth," and of those “deep groanings which cannot be uttered, that must pass, before the change is wrought?” Where do we hear them describing regeneration as “ the beginning of the Christian's life;" as opening to him “a new world of ideas and feelings;" and enabling him, for the first time, to “sce, and feel, and taste, and relish, the word of God, the bread of life, the gracious influences of the Spirit ?? Where, in the writings of English and American Unitarians of the present age, shall we find sentiments and expressions such as these ? Safely may we say, nowhere. We have often heard these sentiments ridiculed and opposed. We have heard those inculcated of a directly opposite import. We have heard the new birth described as peculiar almost to the primitive age; as not necessary for numbers who are born and educated in Christian lands; and, where it is necessary, as consisting rather in a process of instruction and amendment, than in a deep and radical change. From sentiments such as these, the views of Mrs. B. are certainly very distant; and however she may at any time, have speculated or halted on the subject of the trinity, and other doctrines equally radical, on the subject of regeneration, she had, when she wrote this Discourse, views totally different from those who now think to recommend their series of unscriptural Tracts by the authority and influence of her name.
EVANGELISCHE KIRCHEN-ZEITUNG, herausgegeben von Dr. E.
W. Hengstenburg, ordentl. Professor der Theologie an der Universität zu Berlin. Erster Band. Erstes lleft. Juli,
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.
We gave some intimation to our readers, in the first number of this work, that we should have occasion again to advert to the Evangelical Church Journal. We resume the Review of this publication, in our present number, for the sake of making our readers acquainted with what is going on in Germany, as it respects the cause of evangelical truth; and to shew them some ground of hope, that a second Reformation has commenced there.
About the time when the Evangelical Church Journal first made its appearance, Dr. Hahn, who had been a Professor at Königsberg in Prussia, and distinguished in a peculiar manner for his high attainments in literature and science, was elected to fill one of the vacant Professorships at Leipzig, and accepted the invitation. As is usual in Germany, he delivered, in Latin, a Dissertation, or Disputation,* as it is named, on the occasion of his inauguration to office. The subject of this Disputation was Rationalism; and the object of it, to make out a correct definition of this word, as it had usually been employed by theologians in general.
* The technical name is Disputatio pro loco, i, e. Disputation on the occasion of being introduced to office.
Our readers are aware, that Rationalism is the soft and alluring name, which the modern Latitudinarians and Neologists of Germany have preferred, for that species of religion which they profess to maintain. The deception practised by the use of this appellation, is not unlike that which is practised upon our own public, in this country, by the name Unitarian. To the question, “What is meant by a Unitarian ?” the usual reply is, “ A Unitarian means, a person who believes in one God." The implication of course is, that those who are not Unitarians, believe in a plurality of Gods, or, in other words, that they are Polytheists. So in Germany; if one in these days asks, “ What is Rationalism?” the current reply is, “ Rationalism is a belief in what is reasonable.” The implication of course is, and is meant to be, that they, who are not Rationalists, believe in what is unreasonable, or, in other words, in what is contrary to reason.
It is understood, that Professor Hahn, while he sustained his office at Königsberg, had not made any particular public developement of his religious sentiments. The probability is, that had he been known as a man devoted to the sentiments and views of evangelical religion, he would not have been elected to fill the place of a Professor at Leipzig. But, however this may be, his inaugural Disputation has left no doubt what his real sentiments are. It is an interesting composition in itself; and it has given occasion, as we shall see in the sequel, to some occurrences, which deeply concern the prosperity of evangelical truth in Germany.
The object of Professor Hahn, in his Disputation, was, as we have hinted, to define the true nature of Rationalism, according to the use of this word, as established by custom, among theologians in general. We shall communicate, as briefly as we can do, the result of his investigations.
The Professor remarks, that two distinguished men in Gerinany, Dr. Bretschneider, (still living,) and Dr. Stäudlin, (recently deceased,) have made an attempt to exhibit, historically, the true usage of the word Rationalism. In this attempt, he thinks they have failed; and he suggests, therefore, the importance of a new and more thorough investigation.
Neither Stäudlin nor Bretschneider, professedly belonged, themselves, to the class of Rationalists. Dr. Hahn thinks it proper, therefore, to inquire what the professed friends of Rationalism have done, towards giving a just definition of the appellation by which they are called. Among these Dr. Röhr and Wegscheider stand conspicuous. But the definitions which these gentlemen have given, appear to be incapable of bearing a proper scrutiny. Both deny that Rationalism has the same meaning with Naturalism. Röhr says, that Naturalism is Materialism ; Wegscheider, that it is Pantheism. But in this way, says Dr. Hahn, Herbert, Tindal, and others of like sentiments, must be acquitted of the charge of