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and published with pretended refutations, in which the author allowed himself to defend truth with sophistical arguments, and thus effectually betrayed the cause which he appeared to defend. The unwary reader was led to suppose that what he had heretofore deemed to be truth, was error which could not be logically sustained. In some cases, these writers asserted that a proposition might be true according to the principles of sound philosophy or metaphysics, yet, when examined theologically, it was very questionable. The reader was left to infer that sound philosophy and religious truth could hold no alliance—that Christianity was not based on facts—that a sincere Christian, of course, could hold his position only by believing without evidence, and at the very best, must be but a sorry philosopher. At a later period, the productions of the French encyclopedists obtained an extensive circulation in Germany. The lively style and sparkling wit of these writers enchanted many of the Germans, who had hitherto been content to plod along the beaten path usually taken by men, who confine their attention to plain matters of fact. The want of solid thought, so characteristic of the French school, was overlooked in the admiration paid to eloquent phraseology and flights of imagination. At this disastrous era, vital piety was rapidly declining in Germany. With the exception of a few favored spots, the life-giving influence of the Holy Spirit was hardly felt. In the church, the form of godliness 'existed, but its power was gone.
German pastors, instead of searching the Scriptures with prayer, that they might learn and follow the Divine will, toiled in composing elegant disquisitions on some point of ethics. “ Christ crucified was more rarely the theme of their sermons. Men, who had not known what repentance was by personal experience, ceased to call on the sinner to turn to God and do works meet for repent
Philological dissertations, critical essays on oriental archaeology and languages, took the place of those plain, pungent addresses to the conscience, which, in a happier age, rendered the preaching of Luther and Justus Jonas so effective in warning sinners to flee from the wrath to
An event now burst upon the world, which was destined to give public sentiment an impulse which it had not felt since the fall of the Roman empire. It was not a reformation, but a revolution. A convulsion commenced in France, which tested the stability of every institution, creed and opinion known to the civilized world. That its final results were not unmingled evil, can never be ascribed to the virtues of those who directed the storm. It is a consolation, amidst the wildest outbreaks of human extravagance, that still “the Lord reigneth,” that he can strain the wrath of men, and cause the residue of that wrath to praise Him." The example of an entire nation, which arose as one man, to vindicate its freedom, and proclaimed itself the champion of the oppressed and the supporter of liberal sentiments, enlisted the best wishes and the warm admiration of all who paid more attention to words and acts than to principles. The actors in this drama were equally impatient of political and religious control. Making no distinction be
tween the corruptions of the Papacy and the religion of the Saviour, they assailed both with the same blind fury. Those who could wield the pen, deluged Europe with pamphlets and volumes filled with the bitterest attacks on Divine Revelation. The ruling powers of the new republic, which sprang to light like the prophet's gourd, however inconsistent with themselves in everything else, remained constant in their enmity to the word of God. The unsparing boldness of French skeptics was communicated to "kindred spirits" among the more cautious Germans. Public sentiment received a shock from the revolu tion, which went far to destroy its conservative power. Lax sentiments on the subject of religion were hardly considered as a reproach to the clergy still, while the members of this order received salaries for the avowed purpose of teaching the truths of the Bible, some respect for appearances must be preserved- -a sort of conventional decorum, in the treatment of that book, was yet necessary. The time had not arrived when a religious instructer might announce that he believed in no other religion than that of nature. Some latitude might be allowed, on the ground that though he was not a believer of Luther's school, yet he was a rational Christian, as might naturally be expected of one, who lived in "the age of light." He might be a skeptic in heart and life, so long as he pretended to be a disciple of Christ. He must profess to believe the Bible, while he was allowed, by every art of fallacious criticism, to explain away all those doctrines, which hold a vital alliance with the redemption of man. However revolting such
hypocrisy may seem to men of integrity; in Germany, multitudes were found, men of varied condition, possessing talents which gave currency to their opinions, who would stoop to such hypocrisy. By acting thus, they have given a memorable lesson to the world. They have proved, that in the cause of divine truth, genius and learning are worse than useless, if their possessor is destitute of an upright and humble heart—if he does not fear God and tremble at his word.
Such was the origin of Neology. Its form has varied with the changing breath of public opinion and the exigency of circumstances. At one period, it boldly took the field against evangelical religion, and hardly sought a disguise. In the writings of Fichte and Forberg, and some others of the transcendental school, it would have received the name of atheism, in our land. In the hands of other artists, it has assumed the shape of the Pantheism of the Greek philosophers. Now it is " liberal Christianity,” or “ Rationalism”—again it is marked by an icy indifference to all revelation. Like the demons of Milton, its votaries, turning from the promised land lit up with the beams of the sun of righteousness, survey their congenial domain
"A frozen continent
The influence of the moral condition of the heart on the interpretation of the Scriptures has long been a subject of familiar remark. As the preacher, destitute of vital piety, will not appreciate the spiritual element in truth, because he has not experienced its power-so he will not present it in its living energy, and will be at the best, a mere “hewer of wood and drawer of water for the congregation of the Lord.” Thus it is with the interpreter. In all that addresses itself to the conscience of man, he is sure to fail, because, in his own conscience, there is no chord that responds to the touch of truth. If, perchance, he should feel at all, he will be offended with those declarations which announce his danger as a sinner, and his entire dependance on God. “ That blessed hope, the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ,” is a strange thing to him, one that excites no aspiration for the rest that awaits the saints. With a temper of mind, which is “ earthly and sensual,” his expositions will bear the stamp of the mould through which they pass. That which belongs to this present world, that which is earthly, he may appreciate, but the “new heavens and the new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness,” lies beyond his ken. The writings of neologists afford lamentable illustrations of this principle.
It might naturally be expected, that, in the war waged against the holy writings, the inspiration of the prophets would be the earliest point of attack. If it be questionable whether they predicted events, (which they continually claim to have done,) we are driven, on the most favorable supposition, to class them with the dreaming enthusiasts of later ages, who have been deluded by imagination into a belief, that they uttered the word of the Lord, while, in truth, he was far from them. As the Saviour and the apostles often appeal to prophecy as the infallible truth of Jeho