صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

sion, and inter it with mockery, pronouncing over the tomb of this Bible a sacrilegious funeral oration. Oh! who could then have foreseen the religious contest which we now wit ness? Who could have thought that in every city of impor tance the struggle would be renewed between the orthodox and Rationalists, and that we should see every where societies for missions, Bibles, and pious books? Who could have imagined that politicians would eagerly seek the support of revealed truth, and that philosophy herself would be judged of in a Christian point of view?

"Whence came this religious movement? Not from halls where professors give their lectures. Young men who are studying the sciences often believe that the universities are the fields of battle on which are decided the destinies of the kingdom of God. But it is not so, my dear friends. Man lives not by the bread only which professors distribute; and the theologian must not confine his view to that side. The history of our religious revival is a striking proof that God can make bread of stones, and restore the life of faith by means which no one could have foreseen.

"The first attack against Rationalism, the first step taken to return to the Gospel, was on the part of the poets of the romantic school! You can form no idea of the impression produced by the poetry of Tiek, Novalis, Mai de Schenkendorf, and other writers of the same school. Cold and barren Rationalism was smitten and wounded to the heart by the noble and ardent inspirations of these poets, who sought, in the bottom of our nature, the primitive wants of the human soul.

"At the same time, philosophy penetrated more deeply into the knowledge of our moral faculties, and restored their rights to sentiments which had been repudiated by Rationalism. Christian doctrines began to be examined under a new aspect, and to be regarded, at least, as the expression of great thoughts, containing all true philosophy. "It was perceived that there was no contradiction between Christianity rightly explained, and other departments of human knowledge; and that, when the Gospel was sought in the Gospel, the solu tion was found of the most difficult problems of our moral nature. All this reconciled to Christianity such men as Eschenmeyer, Schwaz, Daub, Schubert, and others, who became afterwards skilful and zealous defenders of the Bible.

"But this literary and scientific movement would not probably have produced new life in the Church, if it had not been followed by a powerful appeal addressed to all who possessed

a German heart. I speak of the great and bloody struggle, maintained in 1813 and 1814 against Napoleon, in order to achieve again the independence of Germany. If it is true that the Emperor Alexander said, 'The burning of Moscow lighted the flame of religion in my soul,' many others can hold nearly the same language. I was then a youth when Germany was called to contend for her freedom; but I well remember that this memorable event awakened religious desires in hearts which had remained, till then, strangers to every Christian sentiment. Every one was penetrated with this thought, that if aid came not from on high, no aid is to be expected on earth, and that the moment was come for the display of the eternal justice which governs the world. The inhabitants of Prussia, in particular, turned their attention to religion; and from that period the heart of the King of Prussia was opened to the truths of Christianity. Germany began to feel that she could not, in such grave and painful circumstances, forsake the piety of our fathers. They were taken for models; but it was perceived, that to have their confidence in God, and their courage in dangers, it was also necessary to resume their faith, and that thus a new sap might circulate in all branches of our Protestant Churches.

"Inquiries and reflections were directed anew to the grand period of the Reformation in the sixteenth century. The Rationalists had almost entirely effaced the remembrance of this glorious time, and seemed to despise it as a period of ignorance and barbarism. Two distinguished theologians assured me, that during the whole course of their studies in the Universities of Halle and Wirtemberg, they had hardly once heard a quotation borrowed from the writings of the Reformers! But as soon as Germany returned to evangelical sentiments, a great change appeared in this respect. The writings of Luther, Zwinglius, Melancthon, and Calvin, were reprinted by thousands of copies. Ecclesiastics and laymen read, with serious attention, these monuments of the piety of the Reformers, and tried to return with them to the unity of the faith.

"Here should be mentioned the festival of the Reformation, celebrated in 1817. Then, especially, sermons, books, lectures of Professors, all our theology, was impregnated with the opinions and language of our pious ancestors. See what abundant fruits this evangelical spirit has borne for twenty years in our Church! What department of Theological science does not now possess books written in a

Christian spirit? How many excellent works of piety diffuse among thousands of hearers or readers the love of sacred things? There are, in the north and south of Germany, presses wholly employed in the publication of books composed by true friends of the Gospel. How many associations, religious and philanthropic, and founded on principles of Christian love! Recollect our Societies for Sunday schools, for orphans, for the amelioration of prisons, for the education of children!

"Traverse all Germany; inquire into the origin of her institutions, and you will be convinced that they owe their existence to the revival of religion. True, the old school of Rationalists have still some organs in our literature; but、 their influence is feeble, their authority diminishes every day, and though they do not admit that their last hour approaches, the fact is not less certain. The feebleness of the Rationalist journals may be seen, by considering to what miserable shifts they are put to attract public attention. They do not scruple to employ personalities, slanders, and scandal, in favour of their cause, as if these were proper arms to defend a system attacked on all hands by most powerful antagonists.

"I say with all assurance, if we look attentively at the present state of our theology and our piety, we shall be convinced that a new period is open to the extension and establishment of the kingdom of God. Is it not the same in other countries of the Christian world? Every where there is a movement bringing back the present generations to the faith of their predecessors-to the faith of the Reformers, the martyrs, and apostles. Every where war is maintained vigorously against the lax opinions of Deism and Rationalism. Look at France, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, the German Provinces of Russia-at England, Scotland, North America. In all these countries two parties exist, and the Gospel gains ground over its adversaries. One Protestant country alone seems, at least in part, to remain at present unaffected by this general movement: I speak of Hungary. Is it, then, by chance that from Petersburg to the Alps, and from France to the banks of the Mississippi, a new spirit animates the world? No: we must be convinced that God is preparing great things for his Church; that he is opening a new period, in which learning will be reunited to piety, and that magnificent destinies are reserved to the Gospel of Christ. Perhaps Christianity will yet sustain rude shocks, pass through

the fire of persecution, and submit to the baptism of blood; but it will be purified, strengthened by these trials, and will assert its empire."



MANY men entertain the notion that it is only religious parties who are intolerant and persecuting, and that the irreligious and the infidel are liberal, and lovers of freedom. It would not be difficult to show, on principles of reason, that such an idea is altogether unfounded, and that only true Christianity can make men really respect aright the privileges of others. Nor would it be difficult to gather from the writings of infidels, ancient and modern, ample evidence, that they are essentially intolerant of divine truth and its friends. It would be easy to show, for instance, that Hume, throughout his whole History, palliates the persecutor and blackens the persecuted, where living Christianity is associated with the latter; that Voltaire condemns the suffering Protestants of France as weak and obstinate men, because they endured persecution, while he extols Galileo as a martyr, though he was guilty of a cowardly recantation of which the poorest Protestant would have been ashamed. We might quote, too, the following remarkable passage from Rousseau, in a published letter to D'Alembert, where, speaking of what he calls fanaticism, but what we might probably call true religion, he says, "Fanaticism is not an error, but a blind senseless fury, which reason can never keep within bounds. The only way to hinder it from spreading, is to restrain those who broach it. In vain is it to demonstrate to madmen that they are deceived by their leaders; still will they be as eager as ever to follow them. I see but one way to stop its progress, and that is to combat it with its own weapons. Little does it avail either to reason or convince. You must lay aside philosophy, shut your books, take up the sword, and punish the knaves." These sentiments occur in a letter in which he praises pacific dispositions, and denounces persecution! Such is the consistency of infidel philosophers. But it is unnecessary to appeal to the writings of infidelity; her practice, in the treatment alike of Roman Catholics and

Protestants, in the course of the French Revolution, has settled for ever the question of her tolerant spirit. On the twentieth of September, the National Convention abolished the Sabbath, a day sacred in the eyes of every Christian, by decreeing a new division of the year. The decree runs in these words:

"That the era of the French shall be reckoned from the foundation of the Republic, which took place twenty-second September 1792; that the Christian or vulgar era is abolished; that the year is divided into twelve months, each of thirty days, after which five days shall ensue, which shall make part of no month whatever. Each month shall be divided into three parts of ten days each. The months shall bear the names of the Liberty and Equality of the people, of the Regeneration of the Mountain, of the Republic, of the Tennis Court of Unity, of Fraternity, of the Pikes, of the Sans Culottes, &c., &c. The days shall bear the name of the level of liberty, of the national cockade, of the plough, of the compass, of the fasces, of cannon, of oak, of rest," &c., &c. The report on which this decree proceeded is said to have been made up by the first French astronomers, and was received by the Convention with bursts of applause.

It may be said that a Government is entitled to make what division of the year it pleases, and that this involves no persecution; but what did Infidelity do as soon as she had changed the week into a decade, or a period of ten days? She ordered reclaiming merchants to keep open their shops on the Sabbath, under the penalty of being considered suspected persons if they dared to shut them; and it is commanded that religious exercises, instead of being observed on the Sabbath, shall be celebrated on the last day of the decades. The municipality of Paris decreed, "That all the churches or temples, of whatever religion or worship existing in Paris, shall be instantly shut; and that every individual who should seek for the opening of a church or temple, shall be arrested as a suspicious person." It was decreed by the Convention, that a colossal monument should be raised in the great hall of the commonalty of Paris, to proclaim the suppression of all religious worship; to bear on its front the word Light, on its breast Nature and Truth, and on its arms Strength and Courage. A deputation of citizens from the department of Cantal addressed the Convention in these terms; "One thing is wanting to the Revolution-one department has been eager to give an example of philosophy-we have suppressed

[ocr errors]
« السابقةمتابعة »