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BERLIN PASTORAL CONFERENCE-CHURCH AND STATE-CIVIL MARRIAGE-OFFICE OF THE MINISTRY-RELIGIOUS ANNIVERSARIES.
Berlin, July, 1859.
In taking a view of this year's Pastoral Conference, matters of importance present themselves which must lead thoughtful men to an earnest consideration of the question, What will become of Protestantism, if certain hierarchical tendencies attain their full growth? Will they succeed in extirpating Evangelical life from the country, or will they at length issue in a separation from the Protestant Church and a passing over to Rome? As these questions are of common interest, a satisfactory report must try to give a full and clear idea of those meetings in which these tendencies were represented, so as to enable the reader to answer the questions for himself. There are three questions which in this view fall under consideration: the relation of Church and State, the marriage law, and the ministerial office. The first of these topics was handled by Dr. Stahl, the second by the Rev. Dr. Liebetrut, of Witbrietzen, a village near Potsdam, and the third by Dr. Stahl and Dr. Krummacher, of Potsdam. Mindful of the rule to avoid personalities in matters of principle, one is constrained to touch upon them when the persons concerned themselves do so, and especially when such allusions relate to the consistency of those who stand high in authority. "I owe to you," said Dr. Stahl, "an explanation of my conduct ten years ago, when, under the then existing circumstances, I submitted a motion to the First Chamber in favour of optional marriage." He wished the meeting not to consider that conduct as at variance with his present feelings and the course he was adopting now. When he advocated civil marriage he had felt it his duty to take all the care he could of the liberty of the clergy, and so to choose the least of two evils. But he had very | soon become aware of his error committed on the 5th October, 1849; for on the 12th of the following December, he recanted it, and declared his motion null and void. Now, when the liberty of the clergy is secured by law, nobody would expect him again to become a visionary.
Perfectly acknowledging this uprightness of Professor Stahl, as we do, we want a great deal of consistency to enable us to put confidence in his doings. According to his own statement, he adopted a course of
expediency and not of principle when he
CHURCH AND STATE.
The Chairman (Dr. Stahl occupied the chair the first day) briefly alluded to some measures of Government, such as the ordinance of the Oberkirchenrath on re-marrying persons divorced; the measure of M. von Bethmann-Hollweg, Minister for Ecclesiastical Affairs, exempting the children of Dissenters from a compulsory attendance on established (or, as Dr. Stahl chose to call them "Christian") schools; and the admission of Jewish representatives to the meetings of their respective districts in which secular matters are regulated. At these meetings the possessors of large estates have a right to attend; and in the course of the present century, here and there Jews have become owners, and have consequently acquired the right; and this has been admitted by the present Government. All this, according to Dr. Stahl, is a diminution of the Christian character and strength of the State. The influence of these innovations must be all the greater the more they fall in with the libertinism of the present age; for, as he argued, they involve the separation of the State from the Church, and were contrary to the intentions of the Government, and must lead to bad results. The mighty power of Revolution had found an ally; and as the most extreme sects had given birth to religious liberty, we might live to see religious liberty striking up a brotherly union with
Italian Carbonarism. Under these circum- than at present they possess, and that by stances it was necessary that Christian increasing ecclesiastical authority and upinstitutions (such as the above-mentioned) should be protected and strengthened. The learned professor did not wish that anybody should form his opinion upon these his general views, but he deemed it reasonable to draw attention to the writings of some authors who were of the same mind with him, and to recommend them.
He afterwards spoke of
which, notwithstanding all reasons alleged to the contrary, he considered as in truth a principal result of 1789. Optional marriage bore this signature in a less degree than obligatory civil marriage, but still it bore it, and was a proof of the indifference of Government. It was not to be refused because it was contrary to the good manners of our old provinces, but because in the end it would spoil them. He would not, however, object to civil marriage in cases of necessity, such as when divorced persons desired to marry again, and on account either of scriptural doctrine or ecclesiastical statutes, could not obtain a clergyman to marry them: on the supposition, however, that the causes of divorce were restrained. But Dr. Stahl, after this concession, again fell into inconsistency. The doctrine of matrimony he represented as a holy and inviolable dogma, and maintained that the Government which, in relation to it, opposed the Church, offended against God's commandments. He did not mean that the Church should exercise mediæval authority over the State, but Government ought not to go so far in asserting its independence as to trespass against Divine law. He further declared that he could not go with those who claimed civil marriage on the ground of civil liberty; conflicts of this kind did not often occur, and, when they did, they were occasioned not by the Church, but by the State, and the State ought to settle them. Drawing to a close, he exhorted the clergy to submit to the actual state of things, which was transitional, and to protect Christian institutions, for he who succeeded in doing this, would be crowned both by history and in the last day with eternal honours.
Of the effect produced by this discourse nothing can be stated, since no discussion took place. But it is sufficiently clear that Dr. Stahl does not belong to what we call the Evangelical party, and that his speech was intended to give the clerical body more weight in their congregations
holding what he calls Christian institutions It is incontestable, however, that the primitive Church was based on other principles when individual and congregational faith and life were the foundation stone of all its habits, manners, and institutions. I should like to review in this place Dr. Stahl's latest work, The Lutheran Church and the Union, to show what are his opinions in relation to the Romish Church; I must, however, postpone this, since it would require much time and space.
The other discourse on the marriage question was delivered by Dr. Krummacher, of Potsdam, the following day. He took for his subject 1 Cor. vii. 10-17, with the design of showing the reasons both for and against the ecclesiastical interpretation and application of the passage. That he might not be suspected of sympathising with a certain party-that of Stahl-the reverend speaker said he would simply lay before the meeting the result of careful and impartial investigation, and that it was not his intention to provoke public declarations or protests.
Before I give you a sketch of Dr. Krummacher's exposition, let me remind the reader of the real meaning of the matrimonial standard. When the Apostle commands, in the Lord's name, "Let not the wife depart from her husband," he must be understood to mean that since Christian believers must be supposed to be able to fulfil God's command, in Christian character will be found the faithful accomplishment of marriage, the real substance of which is mutual love in peace-" God hath called us to peace." Divorce, therefore, is simply an impossibility among real Christians. They can and must realise the inviolableness of the matrimonial bond. On the other hand, it is true that real matrimony, bound up by love in peace, cannot exist among absolute unbelievers. But it can exist if one party is a believer, and the other party allows the fulfilment of the missionary work towards him or herself. The Apostle, therefore, says, "If the unbelieving," abhorring Christianity, and with it a Christian husband, "depart, let her depart." such a case, there would be the total want of that congruity of souls without which true matrimony is unimaginable.
Our German Reformers inferred from the passage in question two grounds of divorce
adultery and wilful, or, as it is called, malicious desertion; and some kirchen
ordnungen (ecclesiastical decrees) have adopted this interpretation. But Dr. Richter, the well-known author of Ecclesiastical Law, in his Contributions to the History of Divorce Law in the Protestant Church (Berlin, 1858), has shown by historical arguments that it was not the doctrine of the Protestant Church of Germany, but merely a doctrine within her, that these two grounds of divorce should form the rule of practice, and the celebrated jurist proves that other reasons of divorce are also recognised as, for example, madness combined with fury and ill-treatment.
Dr. Krummacher not only tried to vindicate to the Reformation and ecclesiastical practice these two grounds exclusively, but went so far as to assert, contrary to the Reformers, that St. Paul, as well as the Lord Jesus Christ, knew only of one reason of divorce, namely, adultery, while the Reformers were mistaken in asserting two. He denied that the second ground could be drawn from the passage on which his discourse was founded, and maintained that St. Paul's doctrine was the same as our Lord's, and his exposition was intended to establish this. Besides which, he said, the term "unbeliever" could not be applied in our day, as no baptized Christian could be compared with heathens, or be called simply an unbeliever; he had only lost the grace bestowed upon him through the sacrament of baptism.
The inference from Dr. Krummacher's exposition was, that adultery is the only ground of divorce; and that re-marriage should be refused to persons divorced for any other reason. You will be curious to know to what feelings this gave rise, when the assembly was going to enter upon the discussion.
A remarkable scene was now displayed. Immediately Dr. Krummacher had closed his remarks, the Lutheran pastor Knak intoned Luther's hymn, Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott, at the verse beginning Das wort sie sollen lassen stahn. Another stout old Lutheran, the Rev. Consistorial Councillor Appahn, of Magdeburg, exclaimed, "Henceforth no persons at all who have been divorced are to be married again." The Rev. Superintendent Riemschneider joined him in saying, "Persons divorced must remain as they are, single." And Mr. Knak was of the same opinion. But, happily, these three stood alone; they made the trefoil of ultra-Lutheranism. Other Lutherans, as the Rev. Mr. Orth and the Rev. Mr. Steffann, with some others who had
OFFICE OF THE MINISTRY, made by the Rev. Dr. Liebetrut, would be at once completely appreciable by you if I could suppose you to be conversant with the books referred to and praised by him. For the authors of them are clergymen surcharged with priestly dignity, and looking complacently on Popish institutions, if not longing after them, such as Pastor Löhe, in Bavaria, who, a year or two ago, as you related in your journal, administered to some of his flock when dying the rite of extreme unction. We must be thankful to Dr. Liebetrut for the sorrow he expressed that the Protestant ministry of the last century should have been so far sunk in the depths of rationalistic errors as to have lost the feeling of Christian duty, but we cannot join him in his commendation of men like Löhe, Münchmeyer, in Hanover, and Kliefoth, in Mecklenburg-Schwerin, nor in his censure of the late Professor Dr. Höfling, at Erlangen-a godly man, whom he dared to call a visionary. Was itI would ask-a mere production of his fancy when Dr. Höfling, in his excellent book entitled Principles of Church Constitution, said that the Church was not a production merely of the Holy Spirit, but needed also the ministry; while no faithful minister can fulfil his duty without the Holy Spirit, it is equally true that special ministers derive their existence from the congregations? Dr. Liebetrut declared it to be most dangerous to mix up the idea of the Church with that of the congregation, and added that Dr. Höfling, in avoiding the Charybdis of Romanism, had fallen into the Scylla of the other extreme. This latter was, at the present time, more to be feared than the former; and the Divine origin of Church and ministry was therefore to be most strenuously maintained. Often as he alluded, however, to the principles of the German Reformation, he forgot the words of Luther, "that in every pastor's stick there was a pope." I should still fail to do justice to Dr. Liebetrut if I did not add that his discourse was in some parts pene
trated with Evangelical views, which are a wall between him and Romanism.
You will be surprised to hear that General Superintendent Dr. Büchsel, who spoke the day before, expressed principles and feelings diametrically opposed to those of Dr. Liebetrut. He dwelt in so forcible a manner upon ministers being faithful to their calling, that I should be happy could I send you every word. He desired that they should possess a great deal of that pietism which is denounced by the high and dry, if their office is not to degenerate into a mere function of police, and their internal life into dead orthodoxy. He uttered not a word of High-Churchism, and was as becomes a Superintendent-General in a Protestant Church, thoroughly simple-minded and Evangelical. Perhaps it must be attributed to this address, that in the discussion which followed Dr. Liebetrut's exposition, not much sympathy was shown to his views.
To this account of our Pastoral Conference I must yet subjoin a brief notice of some other
The Evangelical Pastoral Aid Society assembled in Trinity Church on the 20th June, when the Rev. Dr. Hoffmann, of Halle, preached. It was a high-going sermon, and it is hard to say whether or not it was designed to dissolve the society, for much of it was directed against Christian associations. He compared them to irregular troops (freischaaren), and treated them almost contemptuously. King Frederic William III. said he did well to call to arms the country militia, in time of need (1813), the land wanted those irregular troops; but what have they achieved? Nothing at all. It was our Guards that gained the victory in the battle fields of Gross Beeren, Görschen, Donnewitz, and not the militia. Poor Dr. Hoffmann, go and study Prussian history, and learn that it was just the country militia, "those miserable boys," as Napoleon called them, when comparing them with the regular French armies, who knocked down his stately soldiers with the butt end of their muskets when their powder was spent or was no longer of any use because of the rain. Rome had regular troops enough spread over the world, but could not maintain its empire when a humble monk, who had never been trained as a regular soldier, lighted the torch of truth and vindicated the Word of God. Christians, laid asleep by well-bred Church soldiers, were recalled to life, not by stiff Churchmen, but by the
Bunyans, Wesleys, Franckes, Speners, Zinzendorfs-all of them men belonging to the country militia. If the Pastoral Aid Society laid to heart what Dr. Hoffmann preached, they ought to have dissolved themselves immediately after Divine service, and have placed their work in the hands of well-trained Churchmen. The society supports eleven ministers.
The Society for Promoting the Gospel among the Jews celebrated its anniversary the following day, in the Luisenstadt Church, when the Rev. Mr. Strehle preached an Evangelical sermon. The report was presented by the missionary, Mr. Krüzer, to whom another missionary is to be added this year. Six Jews were baptized during the past year, of whom the society entertains the persuasion that they are truly converted.
The meeting of the Society for Promoting Evangelical Missions among the Heathen took place in the evening, and excited the highest interest. The chairman of the Committee, President Dr. Gotze, in opening the meeting, made some statements not indeed of a very cheering nature, to the effect that some eighteen of the 235 auxiliary societies had not given any sign of life during the past year, while the others had displayed a good spirit, and had been very useful. It is intended to extend the present missionary field, which is Africa. The plan was explained by Mr. Wallbaum, the Principal of the Missionary Seminary. As the result of inquiry, he stated that the district west of Port Natal was deemed the best suited to the design they contemplated. Mr. Prietsch, one of their missionaries, who had resided for some years in South Africa, had told them about the character of the negroes and the success obtained among them by Mr. Alison, the Wesleyan missionary. Mr. Prietsch confirmed the statements and declared himself ready to take the lead in this new enterprise. As no objection was made to the proposal, the chairman thought it was the will of God that they should go to work, which will accordingly be done. The receipts of the society amount to some 53,000 thalers, 20,000 of which are contributed by the Auxiliary Societies. The balance is about 12,000. The society support at the Cape, in British Caffraria, the republic of Orange, and Port Natal, twenty-six labourers at eleven stations. The congregations amount to 862, the communicants to 466. The Divine service of the society was held at St. James's Church, when the Consistorial Councillor, Mr. Appahn, preached. The
manner, and remain, with the greatest re-
OF THE DIASPORA CHURCH WALDBREITBACH, WITH RENEWED PRAYERS FOR HELP.
To British Christians.
THE DIASPORA CHURCH AT WALDBREITBACH. Waldbreitbach, June 7, 1859. Honoured Sir, I herewith send you a report of our little Diaspora Church at Waldbreitbach, by which you will see that, by the help of God and the love of our brethren, we still go on. In full confidence we have begun to build, persuaded that God will REPORT not let us be put to shame, and that we are encouraged to this confidence you will see by the gifts which flow in to us. You, therefore, who have been our benefactor before, will not be offended if again in our need we turn to you, for you have never yet let us appeal to you in vain. We ask you to let our appeal be heard by the English people, who do so much for the kingdom of God, and are so ready to help their oppressed and scattered brethren. The work devolving on a Diaspora Church is, on many accounts, difficult; but the love of the brethren strengthens our weary hands, and it is somewhat encouraging to build a chapel, as it affords such a testimony to the unity of the Evangelical Church, which, in spite of all outward differences and separations, stands forth as a company of saints which always holds together when there is a question of extending the kingdom of God and kindling a light in a dark place. Believe me, that in this place, where nearly all are strict Romanists, the building of our house is regarded with no little astonishment, for it is a strong and clear testimony to the one Shepherd with whom there is really but one flock. But lest we should be put to shame for want of means, we request your speedy help, and beg your generous people to open their hearts and hands, and to provide in this place for the well-being of the Church and the honour of God. Especially unite your prayers with ours for this little Church, that the dew of His blessing may make it a real garden of the Lord, and that no plant may grow therein which the Gardener of the Kingdom of God need uproot. Assured of your
Gentlemen and beloved Brethren,-When we look back on the past year our hearts are filled with praise and gratitude to God, who has given us more than our prayers and desires ventured to ask, and to our brethren who, from far and near, have helped us with generous gifts. The Lord has indeed done great things for us, whereof we are glad; and our church, which is now nearly completed, is a clear proof to all who see it that God has supported us in His love.
But a parsonage and school-house cannot be built without great expense, and the church cost much more than we expected, for the materials and labour are very Therefore, with our warmest thanks, we unite our earnest entreaties for more help, that we may not stop half way and become a scoff among the people. Our accounts are
From various gifts we had, before the building was commenced, 970 r.d. 24 sgt. 7 pf.
In the years 1858 and 1859,
donations from the Gus-
Thals. Sgr. Pf.
.1,323 0 0 Gifts from benefactors. 129 24 8 Collections in various towns 691 11 3
.3,115 2 6 . 2,900 0 0
prayers and help, I greet you in a brotherly while we want 2,000 (3001)