Page images

of Christian communion requires that censure should be inflicted on all such delinquencies, and the offender, if possible, brought to a sense of his guilt, and to the exercise of repentance. But it is not a little strange and unaccountable, that while strict attention is paid to such insulated acis of moral delinquency, which in some instances are only exceptions to the general character of the individuals, and not habits of vice, men should be permitted to remain in the church, without the least censure or admonition, who are guilty not only of acts which in. dicate the predominance of avarice, but go on in a systematic course of such conduct." P. 251.

The appendix alone is worth more than the price of the volume. It consists of extracts from the official report of commissioners who were sent to inquire into the condition of the lower classes in Ireland. Never, perhaps, was there presented a more affecting scene of wretched. ness resulting entirely from mismanagement and covetousness than in the case of millions of Irish peasantry.

On the whole, we think this is decidedly the best treatise we have seen on the subject; and its extensive circulation would greatly in. crease the debt of gratitude the Christian public already owes to the benevolent author.

For the Methodist Magazine and Quarterly Review.

GERMAN LITERATURE-PROFESSOR THOLUCK. Selections from German Literature. By B. B. EDWARDS and E. A. PA

Professors, Theol. Sem., Andover. Andover: 1839. Gould, Newman, and Saxton, 1 vol. 8vo.

We are delighted with this book. Not that it adds materially to our stock of theological knowledge, nor that we agree with the senti. ments of every treatise contained in it, or indeed with all the opinions of any one of them; but because it will go farther toward producing an enlarged and liberal way of thinking among American divines of a certain class, than any single publication that we have met with for the last ten years. How powerful is the truth! Look at the periodicals, pamphlets, and volumes that emanate in such tee ing abundance from the Calvinistic presses, and you will be surprised to see how much Arminianism they contain ; blended, indeed, with many of the errors of the Genevan reformer, both metaphysical and dogmatical, especially the former; but still cxhibiting the struggles of many a strong and honest mind to free itself from the shackles of his soul.crushing doc. trines, and to break forth into the free and pure atmosphere of gospel truth. Formulas are not what they were, at least for these men. Systems may bind others, but their spirits revolt-they have discovered that this is not the age of spiritual bondage. To use the language of the translators of the present volume, “ The Bible is one of the freest books ever written. Its style is as unlike that of our scholastic systems, as the costume of the oriental is unlike the pinching garb of the Englishman. It never intended that men should abridge its free. ness, and press it forcibly into the mould of any human compend. We prefer to see men shaping their creeds so as to suit the Bible, rather than to see them shaping the Bible so as to suit their creeds. There is reason to fear that while in some cases the language of our confessions of faith is too pliant, bending to interpretations that are subversive of each other, it is in other cases too stiff and strait; giving no heed to valuable modifications of thought which reason approves, and allowing no place for some statements of inspiration, which always look somewhat strange alongside of the creed, and which can be dis. posed of most satisfactorily by the divine who is most of a lawyer. It is to be feared, for instance, that some special pleading is required for such an explanation of Matt. xi, 21; Luke x, 13, as will make them harmonize with the inflexible language of certain compends in reference to the doctrine of human passivity in regeneration. It is to be feared that there is a scholastic mode of stating the doctrine of the saints' perseverance, which can be shown to be in keeping with the inspired entreaties against a postacy by none but very ingenious and witty men. It is to be apprehended that many, influenced more by the narrowness of a creed than the freeness of the Bible, when they repeat such pas. sages as Heb. vi, 4-6 ; x, 26–32; 2 Pet. ii, 20–22, secretly look upon them as a kind of manæuvre, rather than as an expression of honest fear. Has not the reader himself been haunted with something like this sus. picion of artifice, even when he dared not breathe it to his own conscience ? And have not these passages, when invested with certain technical explanations, seemed to be in a strait jacket, or, at least, not exactly at their ease ?

The italicizing is our own. But are not these precious confessions ? The very consequences which Arminian writers have charged upon “certain creeds," "compends," and technical explanations," (to employ the significant terms of the translators,) time and again, and which have been indignantly thrown back upon them as misrepresentations, perversions, or false logic; with, perhaps, gentle hints, and insinuations not so gentle, that they were incapable of understanding the system in all its comprehensiveness; are now plainly perceived, and freely and fearlessly spoken of, by two professors in the Theological Seminary at Andover! We rejoice in these things. We look upon thein, not with doubt and fear, not with suspicion and foreboding, but with honest exultation. They are omens of good. Nor are these professors alone in the transition state, between the darkness and bondage of a gloomy religious system, and the light and freedom of the true faith in Christ. A periodical, generally considered to be Calvin. istic, if not professedly so, admits into its columns, with high commendation, an article Fatalism and Free Agency,” which contains a fatal blow at the very foundations of that creed whose unnatural essence is, that man is but a machine, and his activity but a puppet. motion. The author of that article clearly shows that “ Edwards on the Will” is not the impregnable fortress which many have supposed it to be; his arguments (which are essentially those of all Arminian writers upon the subject, although presented in a better form and with greater perspicuity than we often find on either side of this vexed question) contain the germ of another and a better doctrine than that “God foreordains whatsoever comes to pass.” And, besides, we find in the very same journal a notice of Henry Philip Tappan's Review of Edwards on the Will," in which that masterly production is sp ken


of, if not in terms of praise, yet with such slight condemnation that we cannot suppose the writer of the notice to be among the number of those to whom the dictum of Jonathan Edwards is, what the dictum of Aristotle was formerly, the end of all argumentation. Now Edwards's metaphysics are the basis of the dogmatic theology of Calvinism. The man who attacks the former is an assailant of the latter. And he who embraces the doctrine of a free will, not half-heartedly, or by way of maneuvre ; not admitting and nullifying it within the compass of the same volume, as Professor Upham has done in his “Philosophical and Practical Treatise on the Will;" but honestly, thoroughly, and with all his heart, is on the threshold of Arminian. ism, the doctrines of which coincide, in the main, with those of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

We notice these tendencies of the times, we have said, without apprehension, considering them to be omens of good and not of evil. They indicate, as the editor of the Biblical Repository justly remarks of Mr. Tappan's work, “ an existing and growing spirit of free inquiry and liberal thought.” Our doctrines have nothing to fear from the prevalence of such a spirit. We welcome its appearance as the dawn. ing of a brighter day in American theology. Ours are emphatically the doctrines of grace, though we dare not be so arrogant as some others have been, and claim exclusive right to that honorable phrase, as characteristic of our faith. We preach what may be called, with. out either arrogance or exclusiveness, the freest gospel in the world, for we declare to every man that he is a free agent; that he has a free, unshackled will, which is the basis of his responsibility; and in all honesty of heart, without any mental misgivings, any consciousness of 6

maneuvre," any self-suspicions of secret “ artifice,” we preach to all men a free and full salvation. And these free doctrines we find

one of the freest books ever written—THE BIBLE.” Let the spirit of earnest inquiry, then, become general and influential; let sound learning and acute criticism be brought to bear on the investigation of Bible truth; let men come up to the great questions of theology without prejudice, fear, partiality, or presumption ; let even Rückert's canons of interpretation* be adopted and acted upon in determining what doctrines were taught by Peter and Paul, by James and John ; in a word, let men examine the Scriptures without first “ narrowing their views down to the standard of a sectarian creed," and we have no fears for the issue ; the human mind is not in love with error; the intellect of man has no predilection for absurdity; the truth is too clear and shines forth too brilliantly from the sacred page not to strike

Employ all the proper means in your power to ascertain the true sense of the writer'; give him nothing that is thine; take from him nothing that is his. Never inquire what he ought to say; never be afraid of what he does say. It is your business to learn, not to teach."-Selections, p. 293. “A commentary must be impartial. The interpreter of the New Testament has no system, and ought to have none, neither a doctrinal system, nor one where sentiment predominates. As an exegete he is neither orthodox nor heterodox:" "his only business is to investigate the meaning of what his author says, and to leave other things to philosophers, doctrinal writers, and moralists."-p. 295.

in 66

with full power upon the mental eye that looks upon it through the unclouded medium of honest and sincere investigation.

The translators of these selections have well set forth, in their in. troduction, the characteristic distinctions between the German and the English intellect. To promote a combination of the subjective, ultra-spiritual tendencies of the former, with the objective, ultra-practical spirit of the latter, is a main object of their work. Several additional considerations have induced them to publish : viz., the well known tendency of an acquaintance with foreign authors to enlarge and liberalize the mind: the fact that German evangelical theology affords a strong illustration of the power of truth; 1. Because the German arrives at the same results, by dialectics and spiritual philosophy, to which we come by a common sense interpretation of the plain meaning of the Bible; 2. Because the evangelical divines of Germany have adopted and maintained their theological opinions after contesting every inch of the ground with their rational and skeptical oppo. nents; and, 3. Because the whole course of their education has tended toward infidelity, thus rendering a vigorous contest necessary in the minds of these divines themselves before they could become settled in their religious sentiments, especially as a large number of eminent German theologians deny the divine authority of the Bible entirely; and, lastly, the fact that we have hitherto known too little of the fervor of German religion, and of the excellences of the German style of preaching. Good and sufficient reasons are these, and every one of them is a there on which a thinking man, possessing the necessary information, might write a good book. We thank Messrs. Edwards and Park for this translation, and for the valuable introduction and notes that accompany it, and we shall look with anxious expectation for the volume which they annonnce to be in preparation. They are doing a good work; we bid them God speed in it.

The volume before us contains the following treatises :—The first is an essay on the “ Lise, Character, and Style of the apostle Paul,” translated from Tholuck, by Professor Park; and it is an interesting, candid, and instructive essay, upon a highly attractive topic. second is a brief, but touchingly beautiful piece, upon the “ 'Tragical Quality in the Friendship of David and Jonathan,” translated from Köster, by Professor Edwards. The third is upon the “Gifts of Pro. phecy and of Speaking with Tongues in the Primitive Church," from the German of Dr. L. J. Rückert, by Professor Edwards. The fourth and fifth are “Sermons by Dr. Tholuck;" and a “Sketch of the Life and Character of Tholuck,” by Professor Park. The sixth and seventh are a “ Commentary upon the fifteenth chapter of the first Epistle to the Corinthians," from Rückert, and a speculative essay upon the "Resurrection of the Body,” from J. P. Lange, by Professor Edwards. The eighth and ninth are the “ Life of Plato,” from Tennemann, and a " Sketch of the Biographers of Plato and of the Commentators upon his Writings,” by Professor Edwards. The last is a luminous and beautiful essay upon the “Sinless Character of Jesus,” by Dr. C. Ullmann, translated hy Professor Park.

• It is not our design at this time to notice particularly any of these but the fourth and fifth. If opportunity serve we shall take occasion at a future period to offer some remarks upon Rückert's principles of


interpretation and commentary, as exhibited in the sixth article above mentioned ; and also upon the last, and, perhaps, the finest treatise in the book, Dr. Ullmann's splendid exhibition of the pure and spotless character of the man Christ Jesus, in connection with which, we hope to be able to vindicate the Scriptural doctrine of Christian perfection against the arguments and aspersions of two recent writers in the American Biblical Repository. Our task at this time is to make our readers acquainted, in some degree at least, with the life, character, and style of preaching of the most evangelical divine in Germany, and one of the most remarkable men of his age.

The sketch given in this volume is very elaborate, and while it con. tains many new and interesting facts in the history of Tholuck's rapid and successful career, it also gives a fair exposition of his opinions, and many judicious criticisms upon his habits of thought and preach. ing. From this article, and from the truly valuable notes upon the sermons of Tholuck contained in the preceding one, we have made up the account which is here given, and which we have no doubt will be interesting to the readers of this journal, in view both of the eminent and distinguished character of the man of whom it treats, and of the similarity which, we think, subsists between some features of his preaching, and those which have marked the most successful preachers of our own connection in this country.

Frederick Augustus Gottreu Tholuck was born at Breslau, the capital of Silesia, on the thirteenth of March, 1799. He left school in his twelfth year, in order to acquire his father's trade, that of a goldsmith, which it was designed that he should follow: but Provi. dence had other work for him to do, and in 1816 he entered the uni. versity of Breslau, where the bent of his disposition soon led him to devote himself closely to the study of oriental literature. Previously to his entrance into the university, and indeed until the last year of bis stay there, he was a decided infidel. He says, “Even in early boyhood, infidelity had forced its way into my heart, and at the age of twelve I was wont to scoff at Christianity and its truths.' Tholuck was not alone in this unfortunate condition, as multitudes of the German students in the Gymnasia, and even in attendance upon the theological lectures, are avowed infidels. What else, indeed, can be expected, when the entire influence of such men as Eickhorn, De Wette, and Gesenins is thrown into the scale of rationalism, (the worst form, perhaps, that modern infidelity has assumed,) but that candidates for the ministry, who look up to these learned men as teachers and models, should imbibe their pernicious but attractive errors, surrounded as they are with all the ornaments of highly cultivated taste, immense learn. ing, and ingenious philosophical speculations, and presented to the youthful mind as the results of the most universal research, conducted by the greatest scholars of the age ? Little wonder is it, indeed, that these candidates for the ministry should be " peculiarly unsusceptible of religious influences;" that they should look down with contempt upon the religion of the heart; and be destitute of all sober views of the nature of the high and holy office for which they are professedly preparing

These discouraging circumstances add greatly to our admiration of Tholuck's character, and to the sympathy which we feel for his ear

« PreviousContinue »