Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

From this examination of the spirit of the age, Bunsen reaches the final conclusion, that full religious freedom is the only watch-word under which the Evangelical Church of Germany can expect to triumph, and that a vigorous spiritual life can be reached only by making more prominent the Congregational element, i. e. the independence of the separate churches. In this he makes the apostolic character of the church to reside. It must not, however, be inferred from this, that Bunsen favors unrestricted Independency. He is merely vindicating the worth of a congregational in contrast with a consistorial church polity. From occasional remarks it would seem that he regards a mixed government, like that of the American Episcopal church, as the one adapted, on the whole, to secure the greatest number of advantages. Any publication of a man of such universal culture and such widely extended reputation as the Chevalier Bunsen, would command immediate attention; but the present work is peculiarly calculated to awaken the interest of the American public. Aside from its wide historic generalization, its generous theological opinions, and its vigorous and earnest style, it contains a great deal that bears, with no little emphasis, upon ecclesiastical questions which are much agitated in the United States. There are occasional expressions which would not, perhaps, carry with them universal assent; but the general scope and spirit of the book will meet with a hearty approval; and whatever may be the personal opinions of the reader, no one can view without interest the spectacle of a man of distinguished rank, who, amid the reaction that has affected so many of his class, has still preserved an unwavering faith in the regenerating power of truth, and in the guiding providence of God. The severe strictures of Bunsen have called forth from Professor Stahl a spirited and able pamphlet, which, as expressing the views of the leading representative of the most active religious party at present existing in Germany, is deserving of a passing notice. The drift of Stahl's objection to Bunsen's theory of the church is, that he wholly overlooks the idea of a historic institution; indeed, he says that Bunsen has no idea of institution, either in church or state, but reduces all to mere American self-government. Hence Bunsen's rejection of creeds, the Nicene and Athanasian included, and his assertion that there is no other rule of faith in the congregation than that contained in the Bible, and no interpretation of this truth but through the Spirit imparted to believers. He therefore accuses Bunsen of attempting to revive the French Atomistic Philosophy of the last century, the shallowness of which was long ago perceived by the more profound, if not more religious, thinkers of Germany. Stahl finds, besides, much that is objectionable in Bunsen's theory of Universal History; and especially, in the views which he has propounded respecting the nature of language as bearing upon the possibility of Revelation, in his recent work," Christianity and Mankind." The Japhetic Dictionary, which will not be forgotten by the readers of that work, is represented as but another form of the more vulgar Rationalism, which claims that its ideas are those of the Bible, only cleared of Oriental Idioms. Bunsen's belief in God is, in fact, but a belief in the moral order of the universe. This new Gospel promises nothing but Rousseau-Freedom and Young-Hegelian Faith. It is but an attempt to make religious truth acceptable to the natural man. To Americans who still hold fast the distinction between Belief and Unbelief, he offers the German Philosophy, which confounds this distinction; while into Germany, where the idea of the Church is still cherished, he imports the American sectarianism, which destroys the Church. And this is claimed to be a restoration of Apostolic Christianity. Like St . Simon, who, in aiming to reconcile the Spirit and the Flesh, left nothing but the Flesh remaining; so Bunsen, in endeavoring to reconcile Religion and Public Opinion, leaves, as a result, only the latter, under the designation of " The Japhetic Reason." On the question of Religious Toleration, which will excite more interest on account of the persecutions to which the Baptists in Germany have been subjected, Stahl holds that while the private belief of an individual should not be interfered with, yet no ecclesiastical organization opposed to the national church should be tolerated by the Government; and, above all, that any attempt at making proselytes should be strictly prohibited. Stahl then examines, at considerable length, the claims of the Puritans to be the first teachers of religious toleration. It must be confessed that here he displays a more exact acquaintance with the facts of history than his opponent. He shows, clearly, the error of Bunsen's assertion, that the principles of the French Philosophers in regard to toleration had been advocated by the English Independents. The aim of the Puritans was not religious freedom, but Religion; their appeal was not to the Right of Personality, but to the truth of the Gospel; they preached not the freedom of every conscience, but only of the conscience enlightened by God. Hence they extended their toleration only to Evangelical sects, not to Catholics, nor to Baptists and Quakers. Stahl quotes the Cambridge Platform, and adduces the case of Roger Williams to prove that the toleration of the Puritans was not exactly that advocated by Voltaire and Bayle. Not till Jefferson had taught Philosophical Toleration, or rather Religious Indifference, was it introduced into Congregational New England. The toleration of the eighteenth century, as appears from all its advocates, from Locke to Lessing, had no other motive than Indifference or Unbelief. Conscience is not enslaved because sects are forbidden to send out colporteurs. Hence Stahl demands the aid of the police; not for persecution, but for defence. Had Rome gone no further than this, the Reformation would have been a normal movement; and Italy, Spain, Austria, and Bavaria would not have been driven into the counter-Reformation. In fine, the only safeguard against any error, is in holding that all truth is preserved in the recognized Confessions of the Church, and is thus transmitted from generation to generation. This is all that can save us from a statement of religious doctrine that would have been accepted by Kant or Voltaire. Such are the views of Religious Toleration advanced by the leading professor of Ecclesiastical Law in Prussia. Yet they are but the consistent conclusions of an advocate of a national church. If the government is to assume the entire management of the spiritual affairs of the people, it may justly claim the right of protecting itself. Though Bunscn has the right on his side, Stahl exhibits more skill in the defence of his positions, and therefore possesses the great advantage of being able to present a more lucid and clearly defined statement of his views. But his objections are not always true, nor always even consistent with each other. Thus the charge that Stahl labors most pertinaciously to fasten upon Bunsen is, that he writes purely in the spirit of the French philosophy of the last century, that his book advocates a one-sided and shallow Subjectivism, that his program is nothing but the Contrat Social transferred to a religious province. This charge is simply absurd; for if there is anything that shows itself in all Bunsen's writings, it is his profound conviction of the organic nature of History. Indeed, to a superficial reader he seems far more open to the charge of Pantheism than of Atomism. The philosopher, whom he most resembles in his style of thinking, is the very Schelling, whose objective theory of Church and State Stahl labors to array against him. And in another place Stahl intimates the charge of Pantheism. Our space does not permit us to show its groundlessness. It is a charge oftenest made by those who would be most puzzled to define what they mean. Long ago it was flung at the illustrious Schleiermacher, by men who could not understand the "Reden," and who had never read a line of Spinoza, and more recently an ingenious attempt has been made to fasten it upon Rothe and Julius Miiller. The past winter is also memorable in literary history, for the detection of one of the most extraordinary forgeries of modern times. It is well known that the ancient history of Egypt has been preserved, so far as preserved at all, in two ways; by the monuments and by the Greek historians, especially those who made use of Egyptian sources, as Manetho. From a reference of Stephanus, of Byzantium, the name of another work had been preserved, a Chronicle of the Kings, by a writer of the fourth century, named Uranios; but the work itself was unfortunately lost. A few months since, a Greek named Simonides, arrived at Leipsic, bringing with him a number of manuscripts collected among the convents on Mount Athos, and among them a Greek manuscript of the twelfth century, which he alleged was a palimpsest, stating that the original work was the lost Chronicle of Uranios. The manuscript was submitted for inspection to the eminent philological critic William Dindorf, and by him was pronounced to be genuine. Fully aware of its importance, he wrote to Oxford, that it might be secured for the Bodleian, inclosing also some passages which he had deciphered. Subsequently the affair was brought to the notice of tho Royal Academy of Berlin; the manuscript was brought up for examination by Dindorf, with the design of disposing of it to the Royal Library. A committee of the Academy pronounced it genuine. The liveliest interest was of course excited in the literary world. Lepsius announced in his lecture at the University, that a new era in the study of Egyptian history would now begin; the ugly gaps which have thus far frustrated all attempts at a fixed chronology were now to be filled up. The manuscript was then placed in the hands of Lepsius that he might study out its contents. So far as the literary sources extended, it was found to be in entire accordance with them, but whenever it touched upon points that can be determined only by critical research, and especially by a knowledge of the monumental sources, it became involved in suspicion. In fact not a single independent statement of the new text agreed with the monuments, and in one place the pretended passage arose manifestly from a misunderstanding of Africanus. Furthermore, the Egyptian mode of dividing the year into four months, was not only placed before Menes, in the oldest historical dynasties, but was brought down to the latest times, and the names of the kings as translated into Greek, revealed a total ignorance of the Egyptian language. But a still more convincing proof that the work was a modern fabrication was found in the 22nd Manethonian dynasty. Of the nine kings of this dynasty, three only are preserved in the literary sources, but the remainder are known with entire certainty from the numerous monumental remains. The three were given of course correctly, but the remaining six proved to be pure inventions, without thes lightest resemblance to those in the monuments or to any others ever heard of in Egyptian history. A second more thorough examination of the manuscript was now made, and with the assistance of chemical reagents, and the microscope, various suspicious features were detected, which would not have been sufficient however to condemn the work had not the internal evidence also been against it. Simonides was at once arrested at Leipsic, as he was in the act of taking his departure for London, and an examination of his effects furnished all that was necessary to complete the evidence of his fraud. Among other things was found his original copy of the pretended work of Uranios, before it had been put upon the parchment, the ink prepared from rusty nails, the reed pen which he had used, and above all the literary material which was necessary for his really learned undertaking. No one, who has not himself examined the manuscript, can form any idea of the extraordinary skill and patience which the work required. The manuscript is a genuine Greek one of the twelfth century, written in the ordinary cursive script, on seventy-one quarto leaves, every page being divided into two columns. Beneath this perfectly legible writing, in lines not exactly corresponding, can be traced the indistinct Uncial script of the pretended Uranios. It has the appearance in every respect of a far more ancient writing which had been purposely erased. Much of it is wholly illegible, and can only be deciphered after the application of reagents, which bring out the letters with perfect distinctness. It could be the work only of a man possessing a most thorough acquaintance with ancient manuscripts, as may be inferred from the fact of its imposing upon such critics as Dindorf and Augustus Boeckh. Since the fraud has been made public, T1schendorf has published a characteristic letter, claiming that when the manuscript was first brought to Leipsic, he pronounced it to be a forgery; but the real glory undoubtedly belongs to Lepsius.

England.

The Book of the Prophet Ezekiel, translated from the original Hebrew, with a Commentary, by E. Henderson, D. D. This work is written on the same principles as the learned author's Commentaries on Isaiah, Jeremiah, and the Minor Prophets. The same diligence, learning, sobriety, and judiciousness, characterize it. We disagree with his principles of prophetic interpretations; and believe that his exposition of Chapters XL, and XLVHI, is incorrect . A Commentary on the Greek text of the Epistle to the Colossians, by John Eadie, D. D., LL. D. This is similar to the author's Commentary on the Epistle to the Ephesians. The book, however, is shorter, as might be expected; many things being explained in the former volume, which need only to be referred to again. The same qualities essentially distinguish both works, which are excellent specimens of Commentary. Everything is investigated in the true spirit of a sound exegesis; and the tone is healthy throughout. Extensive learning, minuteness and accuracy, comprehensiveness of conception, love of the truth, liberality of sentiment towards such as differ, acquaintance with all helps, characterize the Commentary on the Epistle to the Colossians; which appears to us superior to its predecessor. It will not be expected that we should concur in all the opinions of the esteemed and able author. In some instances, we fancy he is trammelled by Scotch orthodoxy and Scotch creeds. He has also too much preaching for an exegetical work of the kind. But where so much is good and wholesome, we ought not to complain of a few blemishes, or needlessly sit down to find out incorrect interpretations. The volume, as a whole, may be heartily commended to the attention of all Biblical students. The Beauty of Holiness, illustrated by two thousand reflective passages, selected for meditation from the Sacred writings. A very good selection from the Scriptures and the Apocrypha. Emblems of Eden, by James Hamilton, D. D. This is a little volume of fancy pictures, in the characteristic style of the writer. The Doctrines and Difficulties of the Christian Faith, being the Hulsean Lecture for the year 1855. By the Rev. H. Goodwin, M. A. An excellent volume. The Influence of Christianity upon International Law, being the Hulsean Prize Essay for 1854. By C. M. Kennedy, B. A. The Heroes, or Greek Fairy Tales for my Children. By Rev. C. Kingsley. This is a beautiful and fascinating book. Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to El-Medinah and Mecca. By R F. Burton, Vol. 3d. The Principles of Psychology, by Herbert Spencer. This work is characterised by great intellectual ability and acuteness. But the tendency of it is unfavorable to a belief in the personal existence of God. The Difficulties of Belief, in Connection with the Creation and the Fall"

« AnteriorContinuar »