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Naturalism, although they have ever been considered as the very leaders of this sect; for they believed neither in Pantheism nor in Materialisın. · Dr. Bretschneider maintains, that Rationalism and Naturalism began to be used as words of the same import, after the general introduction of Kant's philosophy into Germany; and that Gabler and Reinhard, (both recently dead,) were the first to employ these names, in the science of theology..
After shewing the incorreciness, of all these statements and views, Professor Hahn goes on to detail the evidence, in a historical way, respecting the use of the word Rationalism; and he comes to the following result, which deserves to be 'explicitly stated. .
The name arose in the sixteenth century; and in the latter part of the seventeenth, it was in very general usage. It was employed, during all this period, to designate those who acknowlelged no other religious creed, except that which might be deduced from the light of nature, and by virtue merely of their own natural reason and understanding.
In regard to Naturalism, the theologians of those times divided it into the refined, the grosser, and the grossest. The first comprised that species of it, which resembled the highest kind of Pelagianism, i. e. it held the natural character of man to be pure and spotless, and his religious disposition and feelings to be uncorrupted. The second denied the necessity of any special revelation from God... The third was Pantheism, i. e. it held nature, or the world itself, to be God. .
But to return to Rationalism, which constitutes the special topic of the Disputation under review; in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, this appellation was used to designate a belief, that reason is the only source and guide of our faith. J. Amos Comenius, the celebrated undertaker in the reformation of literature and science; whose Janua Linguarum Reserata [door of the languages unlocked,] was translated into twelve European languages, and also into the Arabic, Turkish, Persian, and Mogul tongues; seems to have been the first who gave any general currency to the word Rationalism, by a work of his, published A. D. 1661. During this century, the name was never employed'in a good sense.
A like usage of it prevailed during the eighteenth century. It was employed as being of the same import with what was called grosser Naturalism. It was only toward the close of this century, when Neology had spread far and wide in Germany, and the Bible ceased to be regarded as a revelation from God, that Rationalism began to be employed, in order to designate that class of men, who still professed to be Christians, but who received only so much of the Scriptures as obligatory upon them, as their own reason approved, and judged to be rational and proper. VOL. 1.
Since the last period, the Neologists. have rather courted than declined the appellation; at least, in the sense which they gave to it. By Rationalism, they mean to desiguate, as stated above, a belief in what is reasonable ; and along with this, also to involve the implication, that such as are not Rationalists, .believe in what is unreasonable; or, in other words, believe without any reason for believing. ..
One cannot help exclaiming, How truly the same, are the arts of controversy in every country! Here, as we have already remarked, we find Unitarianism employed to designate those who believe in one God, with the implication that others do not believe in one; while in Gerinany all who are not Rationalists, are represented as having abandoned the use of their reason, ini matters of religion.
Names, however, like these, coined or used for the sake of popular impression and fair profession, can never produce anything more than a temporary influence. In an enlightened community, and, above all, in a free country, sooner or later, the pretence and the injustice will meet with exposure; and those who have been unwittingly misled and deceived by it, will turn with indignant disapprobation upon such as have been the instruments in their deception. It is not a difficult thing to deceive and mislead the multitude in any country, for a while; but in any country, where the press is free, and inquiry is free, it is impossible, that, sooner or later, all such errors should not be rectified. A man may seem to be just in his own cause; but his neighbor cometh after him and searchetli him. It is a merciful provision of the kind, and wise Disposer of all events, that deception should thus ultimately defeat its own purposes, and, indeed, be made absolutely subservient to the interests of truth. .
: In the Evangelical Church Journal of July 28, 1827, is contained a notice of the above named Disputation of Professor Hahn, with some important strictures on it, and also on other publications occasioned by it, which we shall name in the sequel. · In the mean time, we cannot pass over some deductions, which Dr. Hahn makes, from the historical facts he has collecteď and exhibited, in the body of his Dissertation. The first is, that Rationalism had, until very recently, been always considered as inimical to Christianity, and as destructive of it; the second, that the name is not at all a new thing, but was given long ago to grosser Naturalism ; and thirdly, he avers, that this unfortunate name, as well as the thing, carne to Germany, out of England, France, Italy, and Holland. .
The whole Disputation, which exhibits the matters above noticed, is purely of a historical nature, and conducted with great modera-, tion and impartiality. There was nothing in it, at which the Rationalists at Leipzig need to have taken any special offence. They
might have preserved silence, and let the matter pass by; and this would have been their wisest course. · But they were too much disappointed and chagrined, to submit to this. . They were indignant, that Dr. Hahn, who had hitherto exhibited himself only as a man of high literary acquisition, and devoted only to the interests of learning, should; on coming to Leipzig, presume to avow, in the face of half a hundred of Rationalist Professors, the sentiment that Rationalism and infidelity were both synonymous terms and things. How deeply they felt this, the sequel will shew.
: The Disputatio pro loco, which, wf we rightly understand the * matter, generally passes off without any real respondent or any
opposition, 'proved in this case, to be a disputation in earnest. The members of the Faculty of Leipzig came forward, in public, toe vindicate the cause which had been thus implicitly exposed. In general, the dispute was conducted with decorum and moderation. But Dr. Krug, Professor of Philosophy at the University there, who has been vehement for moderation in theology, and is a most thorough-going disciple of what he calls reason, took up the matter in very serious earnest, and came forward, in the presence of all the siudents of the University, in reply to Dr. Hahn. The Evangelical Church Journal does not give the substance of his extempore addresses ; but it states, that “they were wanting, neither in unbecoming jests, nor in fearfully bitter earnest.” . In our country, such a contest as this, is, (and we do most devoutly hope, will long be,) an unheard of thing. We are not wanting, indeed, in the “ taunting jest,” nor the “ fearfully bitter earnest,” of party spirit. A sense of decorum, however, represses it here, on public occasions, like that of introducing a Professor at a college into his office. But our readers will remember, that in the universities on the continent of Europe, it has been a usage, for almost time immemorial, to give and receive public challenges in disputation, on various subjects, in presence of literati, and members of universities. Mosheim attributes this custom to the military genius of the Crusaders, and their successors, who introduced into the schools and universities a practice of deciding disputes in learning, as it were by combat; like the quarrels of the military knights, which were decided by duels. Be this as it may, it is certain that the usage is quite ancient. In the same city of Leipzig, in the year 1519, there was a most famous dispute carried on by Eckius on the side of the Roman pontiff, and Luther and his friend Carlostadt on the side of the Reformation. The first conflict was between Eckius and Carlostadt; the challenge having proceeded from the former. The second was between Eckius and Luther; the former having; in like manner, called on the latter to defend his positions. The former controversy concerned the doctrine of human liberty, in the theological sense ; the låtter had respect to the authority and supremacy of the Roman pontiff. The dispute, which lasted from the 25th of June to the 15th of July, was carried on in the castle of Pleissenburg; and Hoffman, then Rector of the University of Leipzig, was appointed the arbiter of it. Literary men from all quarters, as one might easily believe, flocked thither to witness it; and the duellists had a most splendid and imposing audience. Melancthon, the famous partner and colleague of Luther, in his office, sentiments, and labors, .by attendance there, first thoroughly imbibed the spirit of Protestantism. Some good, therefore, came out of the evil of such a theological tournament.
The late scenes at Leipzig remind us that the days of Luther and Eckius are not wholly gone by, in regard to the practice of public dispute. It was, indeed, not a controversy between a legate of the pope, and the distinguished author of the Rcformation. It was not, whether the pope, of Rome should govern the Christian world, or the simple dictates of revelation be regarded as supreme law. But, after all, it was not very much unlike this ; it was whether self-styled reason, in the room of the pope, should take the place of the Holy Scriptures ; and whether what God has revealed, is to be simply and humbly received and obeyed, or to be modified according to the dictates of philosophy-dictates which change with every generation, and assunie as many forms, as there are varieties of genius, and temperament, and imagination, and theory, in the world. •
Every intelligent reader will easily see, under what disadvantageous circumstances Professor Hahn was placed, in this probably unexpected tournament. Here were, on one side, some half a hundred Rationalist Professors of the University; the magistracy of Leipzig, homogeneous with them in sentiment; and the students, who constitute a large body of young men, most of whom are where their passions and appetites carry them, and that is of course on the side of Rationalism. Professor Krug well understood this; and he took all the advantage of it in his power. Ridicule, sarcasm, appeals to the passions and prejudices of the young men, and biting irony, were all employed by him ; and not without a measure of the success which he expected. The young men clapped their hands and huzza’d, and testified in various ways their pleasure at finding the goddess of reason exalted at the expense of revelation ; not much unlike the manner in which the Ephesians applauded the harangue of Demetrius, the famous maker of the shrines of Diana, in opposition to what Paul and his companions advanced, in favor of Christianity. After all, however, there were not wanting youth, who regarded the whole matter in a serious light, and on whom the sobriety, and modesty, and unpretending earnestness of the advocate for the authority and supremacy of the divine word, in the Holy Scriptures, made a deep impression.
The reflections, made by the writer of the article in the Evangelical Church Journal which we are reviewing, in regard to the transaction stated above, are such as deserve the attentive consideration of every rational man. We think it desirable that they should be presented to our readers.
** We cannot,” says he, “ forbear expressing our opinion, how very improper public disputation is; at least, if not in general, it is so in respect to the subject of theology. If, indeed, all men were as they should be, nothing, perhaps, of much weight, could be alleged against it. But who does not know, that even the best of men, on such occasions, are liable to be taken by surprise, and affected with the love of praise, and the desire fcr popularity. Who does not know, too, that those who are earnestly engaged, and whose characteristics are deep thought and feeling, may sometimes, for the moment, fail in the powers of utterance and in the command of language, while the loquacious may go on without cessation, and talk forever, although they never hit the point in question ?
If we further consider, also, who the parties in question are, viz. that on the one side, they are striplings, who, at least, mistake what is splendid for what is deep; and in other cases, which are the more common oncs, manifest their approbation, by applauding what is most accordant with their own measure of wisdom and party spirit; how, plain is it, that the interests of truth must be hazarded by such disputations, even if it have able defenders; and if it have weak ones, then the weakness of the man is transferred to the score of the cause which he advocates.
In the case before us, the youth were inclined to regard that as most true, which was defended with most strenuousness, and which could turn into a jest the arguments of the opposing cause, and so make a kind of apology for their own superficial knowledge. To many, however, the most interesting part of the whole was, that they had now gotten something new to tell; in the relation of which, moreover, they did not always confine themselves within the strict bounds of truth. Under circumstances such as these, it is no wonder that this whole affair has come to be a matter of public conversation.” pp. 58, 59.
We accord entirely with these considerations, and congratulate the public seminaries of our country, that they retain only the shadow of the old “literary duelling;” wbicli began in the dark ages, and was fostered by the chivalrous spirit of knight-errant princes and literati, and which ought to have gone into oblivion with the ages which gave it birth. The harmless disputations, colloquies, conferences, dialogues, or whatever other name the ingenuity of our collegiate instructers has given to the exhibitions of opposite and polemic sentiments and views, in order to stimulate and gratify their pupils, pass off' with as little excitement as the bluster of actors who are known to play a borrowed part, and to whose professions no serious regard of course is paid. This is as it