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obtained, both amongst the schools and in the world, respecting the life and teaching of our blessed Saviour, during the first three centuries of the Church. But, before grappling with this interesting subject, M. de Pressensé felt the necessity of treating the question in itself, and as it is revealed to us by the word of God. Hence the Discourses we are now noticing; Discourses which are more properly disquisitions, than compositions adapted to the pulpit. They are twelve in number. They form a complete Christology, and evidence in the author both a great amount of sound learning, and a thorough acquaintance with experimental religion, two qualities not always found together. Even if M. de Pressensé had not intimated as much in his Preface, we could have had no difficulty in tracing, throughout his volume, the influence of German theological literature. Neander, Sartorius, Lücke, Lange, are his favourite authors; and he seems to have studied, with equal profit, patristic lore and modern divinity.
We cannot, of course, pretend to give a full critique of M. de Pressensé's Discourses; but the reader will find, in the remarkable Avant-propos which introduces the book, a statement of the views which the author entertains of the character and progress of contemporary theology. "If," says he, "the Gospel is the same, yesterday, to-day, and for ever, this immutability does not belong to theology. The history of dogmas is the history of the variations of divines, whilst there remains a certain amount of unity in essential points. As a scientific structure, the Reformation system of dogmatics can no more claim to be a definitive result, than the systems of the second and third centuries. Our predecessors were engaged in an immense movement forwards; so are we. We believe we know the end to which we are hastening; it is the ever deeper knowledge of the way in which the human and the divine elements are blended together in the Christian conception. By its deplorable Pelagianism, Catholicism had sacrificed God to man. The theology of the sixteenth century, through the determinism embodied in the most absolute of all systems, sacrificed too much the human element: it gave, at the same time, a highly beneficial impulse to modern society, by a contradiction which an attentive study will sufficiently explain. The Church, in the third stage of its development, has for its mission to maintain both terms of the religious problem in their respective rights, and to conciliate, as much as possible, the human with the divine element, the moral with the religious."
After having examined the event which first introduced sin into the world, and the promise it pleased God to make to Adam subsequently to the Fall, M. de Pressensé devotes three separate Discourses to the question, "How far man was prepared for the coming of our Saviour previous to the Mosaic dispensation, amongst the Jews themselves, and, finally, in the heathen nations.' This is one of the most important parts of the volume: it is one which the author has treated with the greatest care; and we may say, that nothing so complete, so satisfactory, has hitherto been written in French on the same subject. Count Joseph de Maistre, in his Soirées de Saint-Petersbourg, had already explained how, even in the darkest stages of Heathenism, the various forms of worship exhibited, especially through the rites of sacrifice, a sort of witness to the mission and person of the Redeemer.
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The celebrated philosopher, Von Schelling, finds likewise in the vague and obscure science of polytheism a preparation for revealed religion. Other parallels, besides, will suggest themselves naturally to the reader, as he studies the work we are now reviewing, and lead him on to the conclusion adopted by M. de Pressensé; namely, that the preparation for salvation in the heathen world has been nothing else than a long and overwhelming experience of human weakness,-a series of desperate attempts to find God, a groping for the light.
Time will only allow us to make one more quotation from the present Discourses; but it is an important one, inasmuch as it proves that there fortunately prevails, amongst our young divines on the other side of the Channel, a tendency to throw off those fatalist views of religion which had misled so many respecting the influence of the Holy Spirit.
"If we transform grace into I know not what divine absolutism, if we make of it an irresistible power, we take away from it its true character; we deprive God of His sovereignty, under pretence of preserving it entire. His sovereignty is especially admirable, because it acts harmoniously with liberty, and reaches its own end whilst maintaining that liberty. The Spirit of God transforms us, penetrates us, by overcoming our opposition. Grace is a divine persuasion; it conquers us not by an act of authority, but by a secret and gentle influence; and the great manifestations of its power are connected, as in St. Paul's conversion, with a long inward struggle, the catastrophe of which may be quite sudden. Let men therefore cease to mistake Fatalism for Christianity: the argument justifiable three centuries ago, as a weapon in the contest with Roman Catholic Pelagianism, would now injure those who attempted to handle it, and destroy them, by making them responsible for the tenets of contemporary Pantheism. The reign of Jesus Christ is not to be assimilated to the worst thing there is upon earth. God's sovereignty has nothing in common with absolutism; and the Spirit of the free and powerful God must not be lowered to a mechanical and material power."
We hope that an accurate translation will soon render M. de Pressensé's volume accessible to English readers.
Histoire des Doctrines morales et politiques des trois derniers Siècles. Par M. J. Matter, Conseiller honoraire, et ancien Inspecteur général de l'Université, Correspondant de l'Institut. 3 vols. 8vo. Paris: Cherbuliez. 1854.
THE subject which M. Matter examines in this work, has never yet been accurately treated by any writer, although it is certainly one of the most profitable themes for the reflecting mind to study. There is one publication, however, which would seem to bear some affinity to it, and that is the celebrated Dissertation published by Dugald Stewart in the "Encyclopædia Britannica ;" but a slight perusal of both works will sufficiently prove the difference which exists between them. In the first place, the Scotch writer has almost exclusively confined himself to the history of the progress of ethical science; and he alludes to political theories, only when his subject renders an allusion to them absolutely indispensable. Next, and here we touch upon a
point of far greater dissimilarity,-Dugald Stewart, by restricting his observations to the various metaphysical schools, and to the propounders of moral systems viewed as teachers, by shutting himself up, so to say, within the walls of an academy, has deprived himself of the means of appreciating the real merits of the doctrines he examines. For we should not forget, that the views adopted in schools are not always those which prevail in the world; and, if the part of society is to apply the principles expounded by moral instructors, it is seldom that complete harmony exists between theory and practice. To quote only one example: the great religious and political drama of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries resulted from the collision of two contradictory systems. On one side were the doctrines of Erasmus, Bodin, Sir Thomas More; on the other stood the despotic practices of Charles V., Henry VIII., Catherine di Medici. If we would know whether the ethical maxims taught in lecture-rooms are something better than useless or dangerous Utopias, we must study them in their bearings upon the progress of society. This is the only way of discovering their real value; for the political cataclysms by which God sees fit at times to visit the nations of the earth, are the natural consequences of the scission,-the differences we have just been alluding to.
These cursory observations will best explain the nature of M. Matter's work. It embraces a complete sketch of modern history; and by laying before us an account of the principal doctrines successively maintained by ethical and metaphysical writers, from the Reformation era down to the conclusion of the last century, it gives us a deep insight into the real causes of the various revolutions which have marked the annals of modern civilization.
When we examine the state of Europe during the sixteenth century, we meet at the very onset two master-minds whose influence on their contemporaries cannot be overrated. Erasmus and Machiavelli were the representatives of the two systems between which the human race is constantly, though vainly, seeking a middle course. In the Colloquia, the Adagia, the "Praise of Folly," it is not difficult to find the spirit of our modern Freethinkers; whilst all the worst doctrines advocated in later times by Hobbes, Filmer, and other writers of the same school, are most intelligibly propounded by the classical author of Il Principe, the historian whose disciples were Philip II., Alexander VI., and Lorenzo di Medici.
Machiavelli was the first man who reduced into axioms and definite rules the art of state-craft: his name is justly linked with the very essence of despotism, and no one can contend that justice has not been awarded to him. But Erasmus, on the other hand, has evidently obtained more praise than would have been his legitimate share. If he claims the honour of having vulgarized, and rendered popular, feelings and sentiments which were high in every breast, a philosopher less known, but far more original in his views, was the real thinker who broke loose through the fetters of scholasticism, and inaugurated the era of liberalism in metaphysical research. We allude to Peter Pomponazzio, for a complete account of whose tenets the reader should turn to M. Matter's instructive volumes.
Pomponazzio and Machiavelli,-such are the first two links of that
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double chain which may be traced down, through an unbroken series of philosophers and publicists, to M. de Lamennais on the one side, and Donoso Cortez on the other.
The teachings of metaphysicians are not, however, the only channel through which public opinion is affected, or manifests itself; besides libri sententiarum, summa theologice, and heavy artillery of that description, we have the light dragoons of literature,-pamphlets, plays, songs, vaudevilles. This point has not been omitted by M. Matter; and, as we approach the eighteenth century, it becomes more and more important. The French Revolution, for instance, is as much identified with the Mariage de Figaro, as with Rousseau's Contrat Social.
After having sketched the political history of society, and tested every system adduced either by the spirit of absolutism or the genius of liberty, the historian cannot stop there. We must deduce from a consideration of the past some useful teaching for our own times, and see whether the experience of ages now gone by will not supply us with directions for the future. M. Matter (let us bear in mind that he addresses himself to Frenchmen) utters the following severe but just denunciation against the nineteenth century. "Faith in things and in men has vanished; doctrines and institutions no longer inspire any enthusiasm; laws and morals are pervaded by scepticism; we are disgusted at what we see, and frightened at what threatens us: such is the moral, such is the political situation to which, after three centuries of an immense development, that fraction of humanity is reduced, which has either sought for progress, or been compelled to submit to it." From this shall we conclude that our author scouts the idea of progress, and that he longs for a return to those good old notions so fondly regretted by our friends of the Oxford school? No; M. Matter only points out the evil to which we may ascribe the state of prostration unfortunately prevalent at the present time: he is a sincere advocate of improvement; but, as he says very truly, there is no political advance, either possible, or even desirable, for nations, which is not also necessarily and naturally introduced by a corresponding moral development. Now, this is precisely the great mistake which both Princes and philosophers have always committed. They have sought for pledges of security in political, not moral, influence; whilst professedly repudiating, with all their might, the doctrines of Machiavelli, it is he whom, de facto, they have taken as their master and guide. Hence the natural conclusion, that the sole cure for the moral disease from which the political world appears to be now suffering, is a return to such religious principles as can alone insure the greatness and the lasting prosperity of nations.
In concluding this imperfect sketch, we may just say, that M. Matter is well known in France by various publications on metaphysical and other subjects. He is a Lutheran Protestant, and a Doctor of Divinity; and attached as he is to Gospel principles, the influence which his teaching possesses acts in a most beneficial way upon the mind of his countrymen.
Hand-Book of French Literature, Historical, Biographical, and Critical. London and Edinburgh: W. and R. Chambers.
WE are happy to be able to recommend this careful sketch of French literature to our young readers. They will find, if they put themselves under the guidance of the talented and judicious lady who has thus smoothed their path, that the chronological succession and general scope of French literature, as well as its separate writers, are arranged, discriminated, and valued, with much judgment and precision. Nor will more advanced readers, whose acquaintance with the subject has been of many years' standing, fail to receive from a perusal of this volume a considerable accession both of pleasure and of profit. The country surveyed has many quagmires; in these days an increasing number travel that way; and it is a great thing to be able to take the hand of a pious and intelligent guide.
Amerika. Die politischen, socialen und kirchlich-religiöseu Zustände der Vereinigten Staaten von Nord-Amerika, mit besonderer Rücksicht auf die Deutschen, aus eigener Anschauung dargestellt von Dr. Philipp Schaff, Prof. der Theologie zu Mercersburg in Pennsylvanien. 8vo. Berlin, 1854.
IT may be new to some of our readers, that there is an actual and not inconsiderable German literature indigenous to America. The one hundred thousand Germans who are annually landed in the port of New-York, are, it is true, for the most part, not of a class from whom much encouragement may be anticipated for literature; nevertheless, amongst the immense population spread through the United States, to whom the German language is vernacular, there are those who are not only ready, but well fitted, to minister to the reading wants of their fellow-countrymen.
Amongst these, the writer of the volume before us has already given to the world, through the medium of the Transatlantic German press, a work which has since enjoyed a far larger circulation and wider fame in its republished form in Germany, and in its translation both in America and our own country:-we allude to his "History of the Apostolic Church." The small work from the same pen, which we now introduce, is an expansion of lectures delivered by the author before a German audience, during a visit paid by him last year to his native land. It is not designed for America, but for Germany; and has for its object the enlightenment of the Germans as to the political, social, and ecclesiastical condition of America, and especially as to the position of the great population of their own countrymen who have there found a home.
Dr. Schaff's survey is peculiarly lucid, and, as may be expected from a German mind, no less philosophical, in its plan and arrangement. He first treats of the United States generally, in their geographical, political, social, scientific, literary, and religious aspects. From this he proceeds to a lengthened and very thorough examination of the ecclesiastical position of America, embracing an analysis of its several principal Churches and sects,-Congregationalist, Presbyterian, Dutch