Sivut kuvina
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

bounds, and to degenerate into the baneful passions of envy, malice, and revenge. The author we have just quoted has happily illustrated the evil consequences of giving way to this headstrong principle. “ Every natural appetite, passion, and affection,” says he, “may be gratified, in particular instances, without being subservient to the particular chief end for which these several principles were respectively implanted in our nature. And if neither this end, nor any other moral obligation be contradicted, such gratification is innocent. But the gratification of resentment, if it be not conducive to the end for which it was given us, must necessarily contradict not only the general obligation to benevolence, but likewise that particular end itself. The end for which it was given is to prevent or remedy injury, i. e. the misery occasioned by injury, i. e. misery itself; and the gratification of it consists in producing misery, i. e. in contradicting the end for which it was implanted in our nature.” (Sermon 9.)

“ Si iræ effectus malaque intueri velis,” says Seneca, “ nulla pestis humano generi pluris stetit. Videbis cædes ac venena, et subjectas tectis faces, et urbium clades, et totarum exitia gentium. Aspice nobilissimarum civitatum fundamenta vix notabilia : has ira dejecit. Aspice regiones per multa millia sinè habitatione desertas: has ira exhausit

. Aspice tot duces ac reges, mali exempla fati: ira alium in cubili suo confodit, alium inter sacra aut epulas percussit, alium suboculis multitudinis lancinavit.” (De Ira, l. ii. c. 2.)

A close examination of the nature of the affections of gratitude and resentment has enabled the ingenious Mr. Smith, in his Theory of Moral Sentiments, to explain a seeming paradox in our moral decisions. It is generally admitted as an undoubted axiom in morals, that the merit or demerit of an action depends entirely upon its motive or intention, and is not at all affected by its success or failure ; that is, according to common language, that moral merit consists in the will and not in the deed; for a villain may be the involuntary instrument of essentially promoting the interests of society, while the most strenuous endeavours of the man of true virtue to effect that purpose may be entirely unavailing. The pacific policy of the selfish Augustus was for a time highly beneficial to his country, while the unbending virtue of Cato only increased the effusion of human

Yet, however undeniable may be the evidence of this moral axiom, it is equally certain, that in actual life we are apt to regulate our approbation or disapprobation, in a considerable degree, by the event, as well as by the intention. If our friend has exerted all his influence in order to procure us a benefit, and has failed, we are indeed grateful, but by no means so much so as if he had succeeded; and we feel 2. considerable degree of gratitude to a person who has done us a kindness, though ever so unintentionally. On the other hand, the person who has intended evil, and failed in the execution, is not looked upon in near so odious a light as if he had actually perpetrated it. An attempt to commit murder escapes the penalty which the law inflicts on actual murder; and what is equally extraordinary, the criminal in this case does not look upon himself as nearly so guilty, as

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]


[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

if he had succeeded in his design ; and will sometimes thank his stars for having escaped so great an enormity.

If we reflect on the circumstances which are calculated to excite gratitude or resentment, according to the statement above given, we shall discern a reason for these partial decisions of merit and guilt. Gratitude and resentment, we have seen, may be excited by the lower animals, and even by inanimate substances; so that they are frequently felt when there is neither merit nor demerit in their objects. According to the view of the matter taken by Mr. Smith, three things are necessary completely to exercise our gratitude or resentment—1st. That the object should be productive of pleasure or pain2d. That it should itself be susceptible of pleasure or pain-and 3d. That it should be capable of knowing that this pleasure or pain was meant as its reward or punishment. Inanimate substances, it is evident, may possess the first of these attributes, and the lower animals the second along with the first ; but rational beings alone can possess them all, and are therefore alone suited to be complete objects of gratitude or resentment. But unless all these attributes be really com. prised in an object, our gratitude or resentment will not be completely excited; and hence we discern the reason of our not being equally affected by a good or evil intention when unaccompanied, as when joined with its proper action, for then the first cause of gratitude or resentment is entirely wanting:

This partiality of approbation, or disapprobation, is by no means without beneficial effects in the intercourse of life.

It rouses to active exertion, and induces men to employ every expedient, in order that they may succeed in their benevolent intentions, conscious, that unless this be the case, they will acquire but a comparatively small portion of merit. It has likewise a happy effect in preventing the misfortunes, which often flow from negligence, of which, although the moral guilt may be but small, the effects may be very fatal. If a person causes the death of another by throwing a stone over a wall, or riding furiously in the street, it is proper that a considerable degree of odium should be thrown upon him, for by this means the repetition of such accidents will be prevented. Dr. Moore, in the account which he has given of the Prussian discipline, in his View of the State of Society and Manners in France and Germany, observes that a soldier is subjected to the lash for having his hat blown off by the wind. He remarked to a Prussian officer that this appeared to be very hard. The officer granted it might seem so; but said that ever since such a punishment had been inflicted, the instances of hats being blown off by the wind had become exceedingly rare.

By the operation of sympathy we become susceptible of resentment for injuries offered to other persons. This resentful feeling for the injuries of others, is properly stiled indignation, and will naturally be less in degree than that which is felt by the injured persons themselves. According to the system of Mr. Smith, the principles of justice, or natural equity, are originally derived from the feeling of indignation, or are founded upon the sympathy which we experience, both for the irritation of the oppressor, and the resentment of the oppressed. The balance which we strike, by the agency of sympathy,

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

between these opposite feelings, lays the foundation, according to this ingenious writer, for the elementary principles both of jurisprudence and of ethics. I shall soon have occasion to inquire into the soundness of this and other similar systems of morals.

Resentment, if not restrained, swells into anger, which is but too apt to degenerate into malice and revenge. These malignant feelings of the human breast are emphatically denominated passions, because accompanied with a strong emotion, perturbation, or addos, of the mind. So much is this perturbation characteristic of anger, that sometimes the term passion is used as synonymous with anger itself. But more appropriate usage allots the term to various other strong

affections of the mind, such as pity, love, fc. which all agree in this circumstance, that they are often accompanied with a powerful emotion, or mental tábos. I propose to make a few remarks in the next Section on the subject of the Passions, as an interesting branch of man's active principles; and shall endeavour to ascertain how far they deserve to be considered as legitimate parts of his constitution, and in what respect they differ from his affections, appetites, or desires.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

Some account of the Researches of the German Literati on the

subject of Ancient Literature and History; drawn up from a Report made to the French Institute, by CHARLES Villers, Corresponding Member of the class of Ancient History, &c. &c.

nless tion nes, oral

[blocks in formation]



uch has jeit


ha 'b5


HILE that department of History, which is generally called profane, has not been neglected in Germany, the interests of Religion and the Church have had their share of the attention of the learned. Nay, perhaps, the number of Ecclesiastical histories exceeds in proportion those of another description; but we have already linted at the motives, which direct the natives of Germany in a peculiar manner to the study of Religious matters. Protestants in general are understood to treat this branch of history with more impartiality and philosophy, and those of Germany certainly deserve the palm in these respects. One writer among them considers the history of the Church with reference to its dogmas; another as connected with the progress of science. A third takes as his subject the political relations of the Church and the hierarchy with the temporal powers, while a fourth treats of the constitution of the Church by itself, and considered as a society. A fifth considers it in a purely religious, and a sixth in a purely philosophical, light. Ilence that variety and multiplicity of Vol. VII. No. XIII.


[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

ecclesiastical histories, which it is our duty to notice, several of which
have undoubted merit.

1. Professor Eberhard of Halle, who died lately at an arivanced age,
and to whom we are indebted for the “ Apology of Socrates” and
some other standard works, published in 1907 and 1809 in 3 vols.
“The Spirit of Christianity in its origin and purity.” The good old
Eberhard seems to level his book against that of Chateaubriand. It is
to be feared, however, that the sound erudition and true philosophical
views, which this work displays, will not obtain for it so many readers
as that of his young and eloquent adversary.

2. Although Mr. Mciners of Gottingen speaks only en passant of the Christian religion in his “Critical and General History of Religions, Hanover, 2 vols. 8vo. 1906 and 1907-it is our duty to mention it here as a striking additional proof of that profound erudition and extensive reading for which the author is distinguished.

3. In 1906 appeared at Gottingen the last part of the “ History of
various Dogmas” by M. Munter Bishop of Seelande, translated from
the Danish into German by M. Gustavus Ewers; a work essential
to the history of the religious and philosophical ideas on which the
dogmas of primitive Christianity were founded. M. Munter has also
published his “ History of the introduction of Christianity into Denmark
and Norway” which forins the first part of the Ecclesiastical History
of Denmark. About the same period there appeared at Leipsic a
Manual of the History of the Christian dogmas by Professor Augusti

4. In a series of detached essays, Dr. Rosenmuller of Leipsic had
published from time to time some very interesting researches on the
various modes of interpretation of the sacred text in the first ages of
the Church. lle has at length collected these pieces into one work,
the third and last volume of which appeared at Hildebourghausen in
1807, with the following title: "I. C. Rosenmulleri Historia interpre-
tationis librorum sacrorum in ecclesia Christiana, inde ab Apostolorum
ætate usque ad Origenem."

5. We are indebted to Professor Stæudlin of Gottingen for many
excellent philosophical, historical, and critical works upon Religion,
anjong which it is sufficient to mention his Ecclesiastical Geography
and Statistics, and his Abridgment of the Universal History of the
Church. He has now added greatly to the obligations under which he
has laid the friends of Science by completing his “ History of morals
among Christians," the last volume of which, comprehending the period
between the 14th century and the present time, appeared at Gottin-
gen in 180s. It forms part of the copious History of the Arts and
Sciences to be mentioned in a future section.

6. In proceeding with our analysis of the I istories of the Church properly so called, the first of which we have to give an account is that of Professor Schræckh of Wittenberg, whom the learned world has lately lost. His voluminous “ Ecclesiastical History” was begun in 1768, and was persevered in without interinission until his death. The History of the Church from the birth of Christ to the Reformation occupies the first thirty-five volumes. The eight following contain the events sipce the sixteenth century, and the author has left

[merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small]


ani rols old

Chical aders

nt of


aly mark stor


. had the

ol Tork.

materials for å ninth, which will bring down the history to the time of the author's death. One of his friends, Professor Tschirner, has undertaken the editing of this last volume. This History is remarkable for the depth of erudition it displays, and for the impartiality and moderation with which it is written, as well as for the wide extent of its plan, which almost renders it an Universal History instead of a mere account of the progress of learning and of the human mind in the Christian world.

7. Professor Henke of Helmstedt has presented the public with an account of the same events in smaller compass. The seventh volume, which we have seen, terminates his “General History of the Christian Church according to the order of time.” The various editions which were demanded of these volumes prove how high they stand in the public estimation. They were printed at Brunswick in the years 1806, 7, 8, 9. The style of M. Henke is rapid, animated, and at the same time dignified: his views are ingenious and refined, and the whole may be regarded as a valuable classical work.

8. During the latter part of the last century, M. Plank, professor of theology at Gottingen, published a “ History of the rise, progress, and final Institution of Protestantism,” six vols. 1791 to 1800. A work executed in such a manner as to leave nothing further to be desired on the important subject on which it treats. Since the publication of these volumes, M. Plank conceived the vast project of carrying the history of the Church from its founder to the era of the reformation, being the period at which the above History commences. The execution of this vast enterprise, so far as M. Plank has proceeded, is such as fully, to justify the high opinion which he had already acquired among the learned. The general uitle of this new work is “llistory of the social Constitution of the Christian Church." The first two volumes have the additional title of “ History of the rise and

progress of the Constitution of the Christian Church in the Roman Empire;” they bring the subject down to the vinth century. The succeeding volumes bear the title of " I listory of the Papacy.” No person, M. Plank excepted, has perhaps penetrated so deeply and so successfully into the mechanism and secret springs of Christian Society both civil and religious, nor tias so well developed the policy of the various Pontiff's of the See of Rome. The expose of the plans of Gregory VII, for instance, will strike every reader as being a highly finished specimen of the author's intellectual powers.

9. Professor Schmidt of Giessen has adopted a different plan in his · History of Christianity,” of which four volumes only have as yet appeared, but which contain the first teu centuries, and every event previous to the Pontificate of Hildebrand. The author has neither confined himself to a rigorous chronological order like M. Henke, or to a minute detail of the Hierarchy like M. Plank: but liis history is remarkable for the novelty and independence of his views, and particularly for the authenticity of the sources from which it is drawn up. A perusal of it brings before our view the opinions and religious ideas of the ancient sects of the East. The article “ Gnostics” is treated in a most superior manner.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]
« EdellinenJatka »