Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

children ; a love consisting in a disposition to imitate God and promote the general good. Thus he placed morality in its true relation to religion, rendered it universally intelligible, purified it, and secured it against fanaticism and extravagance. In regard to society,—by means of this principle of love to God and man, Jesus aimed to improve and exalt mankind in all the social and civil relations, connecting them together as closely as possible and leading them to the highest degree of cultivation and perfection. The manner in which this plan was to be effected. Here it is shown that Jesus did not propose to effect this plan by power ; nor is there any reason, either from his instructions, or his private life, or the language of his friends, or their conduct after his death, to adopt the theory which some have held, that Jesus intended to effect bis plan by means of a Secret Society. On the contrary, his language and his directions to his apostles point only to the influence of instruction, persuasion, example, and the institutions adapted to promote morality.

Having thus described the plan of Christ, the Second Part is devoted to a comparison of it with the plans of the founders of states, the legislators, the kings, the statesmen, the heroes, and philosophers of antiquity : which are all shown to be either deficient in benevolence or in comprehension, and that no great man of antiquity, before Jesus, ever devised a benevolent plan for the whole human family.

In the Third Part, the practicability of the plan of Christ is discussed, and it is shown that the idea of establishing a universal religion, when contemplated under its proper conditions, is not chimerical. This religion is moral, intelligible and spiritual; and it possesses every requisite for a universal religion, inasmuch as it can be expressed in any language, and, losing nothing by being divested of all secular power, can adapt itself to every form of civil government.

Such a plan for the good of mankind demonstrates its author to have been the greatest and most exalted of men, possessing in the highest degree, and greatest harmony, true wisdom, strength of soul, power of will

, and expansive benevolence. We look in vain for anything like it in the history of the world.

The question now forces itself upon us, whether these qualities were or could have been developed in Jesus according to the ordinary laws of human nature? The question has been answered in the affirmative. Reinhard, however, attempts to show that such could not have been the case.

The meaning of the question, he says, is not whether, considered in general, it is possible for divine wisdom to project and arrange a series of natural causes, by the operation of which, according to the natural laws of the human mind, such a character could be deve

loped as Christ's was. Left in this indefinite state, no one will wish to deny it; for who would not in general admit it to be possible for divine wisdom and power to operate by any means and arrangements which do not imply a contradiction? But the ques. tion is, whether, considering the individual circumstances and relations in which Jesus lived, ordinary causes could have produced as great effects as they must have done, in order to the formation of his mind.

It is then shown that all the advantages which Jesus actually enjoyed, according to the testimony of history, or may be supposed to have enjoyed, with some appearance of probability, come far short of accounting for the formation and development of such a character and plan; that the opposers of the supernatural character of Jesus have attributed a greater influence to these circumstances than they could have had; and that many obstacles in the way of the natural education of Jesus have been passed over in silence. And the conclusion from the whole is this, that, if God was not with this man, it is not easy to see how he became what he was; how he could possibly have acquired that heavenly dignity, greatness, and elevation with which he stands forth unequalled and alone in the vast space of history, far surpassing all that is worthy of admiration

upon earth.” Such is the course of argument pursued by Reinhard. The work has been considered by eminent men in Germany as the best apology for Christianity that modern times have produced ; although we are free to admit that the character of the controversies at the time when the work was written gave it an importance and interest which it will not possess at this day in this country. Nevertheless, it affords another striking example of infidelity, whenever it rears its head in any shape, and by whatever talent and ingenuity supported, promptly receiving an overthrow, and such an answer as serves to strengthen, if that be possible, the foundations of human belief in Christianity, and of clearing away any sort of mist that may be supposed to have gathered around revealed truth.

We have already stated that Reinhard died in 1812. His decease was preceded by a severe and languishing illness. From the numerous traits of his character contained in the volume before us, we select a few of the most interesting:

“ The answer to the question, By what means did Reinhard, weak and sickly as he was, succeed in accomplishing so much ? must be sought for in his self-control, temperance, regularity, and careful attention to busi

ness.

“ Always very severe towards himself, he had acquired such a habit of struggling with pain, as seldom to permit it to interrupt his labours. During his residence at the Gymnasium in Regemsburgh, he was twice brought down with a burning fever, which almost deprived him of exist

472

Reinhard's Memoirs and Confessions.

ence; and so weak was he, that his friends tried to persuade him to relinquish all thoughts of ever entering the ministry. His whole life at the university was a constant scene of struggling with poverty. He then had but a groat a day to live upon, and often went entirely destitute of warm food. Nor did he fare much better during the commencement of his professorship at Wittemberg. Great earnings in this case were not to be thought of, so that notwithstanding the rich feasts daily presented to the mind, the poor body was often suffered to go empty. His self-denial in these respects, united with his great efforts, in spite of the regularity of his life, and the systematicalness of his studies, unquestionably created the germs of those stubborn corporeal diseases, which he bore for years in silence ; but which, united with the misfortune he met with in 1803, ultimately occasioned his death."

“He was a spirited companion, and excellent in conversation. The weapons of dialectics which he knew how to use with such effect in his examinations and oratorical exercises, in such cases also served him an excellent purpose, furnished him with witty turns and remarks, and rendered him victorious without wounding. His faithful memory retained an abundance of pleasing and interesting narratives, which he told with great animation and effect, and he was daily drawing new ones from read. ing the ancients and moderns, and hence was in no danger of making repetitions. He was very agreeable in jesting, and fond of pithy turns and witty remarks on public occasions, and had a quiver full of them himself, though he made a cautious use of them ; by taking which course, he preserved his own dignity, and always remained within the bounds of the strictest politeness, while he added to the enjoyment of the table."

“ Reinhard had a great number of letters to write upon theological, literary, and other important subjects, which were altogether dry and unattractive, and yet required extensive preparatory investigation. Saxony, long distinguished for her men of learning and acuteness, had had more literary characters than any other German state, in whom had been awakened the desire of authorship. Called as he was by the station he occupied to exercise a general superintendence over the institutions of the country, it was natural that his opinions should be sought for by all who carried this desire into effect. Hence, of almost every work, great or small, in his department published in Saxony, and of many published in foreign countries, during the last twenty years of his life, numerous as they were, he received a copy from the proprietor or author, with an earnest request for a preliminary notice or essay. With critical institutes, from the moment that he became general superintendant, he refused to have anything to do. To the requests he thus received, however, he conscientiously attended, without respect to person, knowledge, or country, for he made it an invariable rule to write a friendly letter to every author of such requests, in which he either approved of the work, or kindly pointed out its errors ; and many there are in Saxony and elsewhere, who must acknowledge themselves greatly indebted to his counsel and encouragement in this respect.”

Many were the calls he received from the wretched who awaited him in their places as he passed along the street, nor were they ever left

[ocr errors]

unsatisfied. From the pecuniary aid thrown into charity boxes on particular days in which he preached, he had for good reasons, as he thought, added to the amount of his spending money, until it enabled him to support one hundred and twenty poor people. The assistance, however, which he received in this way was very small, and he increased it by various extraordinary contributions. His name was to be found on every subscription list for a benevolent object and on liberal terms."

Respecting the worthiness or the unworthiness of the objects of his charity, he seldom entered into any minute or extensive examination." contributed with the greatest generosity and pleasure to the support of new schools and institutions of instruction ; and though he considered the system of giving stipends as in many respects defective, as it gives rise to abuses and hypocritical pretensions, yet he yearly disposed of considerable sums by way of stipends to poor students, who were either his god-children or had been recommended to him."

[ocr errors]

We must now stop, our purpose being served, viz., that of calling attention to an example worthy of the imitation and admiration of every student, and of every minister of the Gospel. We have not felt it necessary to describe his theological creed, nor the modifications which occurred in it; neither have we illustrated by specimens or by particular criticism the character of his eloquence. Our other and principal object is of sufficient importance of itself to occupy a paper, and to set the mind upon a distinct and an attractive sphere of thought.

Art. IV.--An Essay on the Influence of Welsh Tradition upon the Lite

rature of Germany, France and Scandinavia. By ALBERT SCHULZ.

Llandovery. The Translator's Preface commences thus," In the List of Prizes offered by the Society of the Abergavenny Cymreigyddion, for 1840, the following notice appeared, -For the best Essay on the Influence which the Welsh Traditions have had on the Literature of Germany, France, and Scandinavia, a prize of eighty guineas. The Essay to be written either in Welsh, English, German, or French.' It would appear that several Essays were received from different parts of the Continent, written principally in German and French. “ These compositions were transmitted to His Excellency Count Bunsen, Prussian Minister Plenipotentiary at Bern, who had consented to undertake the office of judge, and whose eminent literary attainments rendered him peculiarly qualified for the task. After entering minutely into the respective merits of the compositions, his Excellency concluded his report to the Society by awarding the prize to the Essay by Professor Schulz, at the same time passing upon it a high eulogium, and strongly recommending its publication in the English language.” In consequence of this selection, the Essay has been translated from the German, by whom we do not know, into English ; some account and portions of which, we think it is advisable to enter into our pages; for the antiquarian and lingual learning which it displays is worthy of prolonged study, and an exactness of knowledge which few possess.

The Introduction to the Essay is deserving of attention. It says that, in the intellectual life of a people, Heroic Tradition forms a separate organization, to which belong its own laws of development; that there are four points especially to be considered, and which have been observed in the pages before us. First, that History is the principal basis of Tradition; and that at a later period it is from History that the elements for the further development of Tradition are drawn. That History springs and grows at a period when Poetry and History itself are confounded together, and when the truth of Tradition is never doubted. That it is on this account we see historical personages appear in the Land of Fiction, and historical facts appropriated to fabulous heroes, often occasioning the greatest anachronisms and most heterogeneous combinations. Secondly, that the organic life of Tradition is seen in the tendency to unite different tales which were previously altogether independent of each other; and hence the want of that unity which belongs to poetic fiction. Thirdly, that Tradition " grows and increases both from the repetition of favourite histories in a modified form, and from multiplying and amplifying the deeds of heroes, so that if we possess only recent compilations, it is often very difficult to distinguish the original matter from that which is added at a later period.” This is the first indication of a departure from the essentially poetical principle of Tradition. Fourthly, that from the change in customs, and the principal tendencies and political and intellectual interests of the age, another and a later point is to be considered, viz., that there is to be discovered a mode of explaining the continual variations in the Traditions of the same people at different epochs, and the still greater changes in those countries where they had been introduced, and where, by such modifications, it tends to gain a new nationality. In observance of these points the very learned Professor conducts his arguments and researches in the pages before us.

He begins with the Influence of Welsh Tradition on the Literature of France, by dividing his disquisition into periods, and taking for the first that of from the year 600 A.D. to 1066, when Arthur is considered as “ The National Hero ;" he being the centre of the ancient national Traditions of Wales, “the single root of a gigantic tree, whose branches, for nearly ten centuries, spread over the whole of Europe, until in modern times it withered away together with the last remains of chivalry."

« ForrigeFortsæt »