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Brief Literary Notices.
of the million, how difficult it is sometimes for the Christian to cling to the obsequium rationabile, which is inculcated in the inspired word of God! This M. Saisset has done, and his contributions to the literature of metaphysics show clearly that he understands both the claims of faith, and the no less imperative demands of reason.
The pamphlet we now take the liberty of recommending to our readers, is a sort of preliminary disquisition which introduces M. Saisset's new French translation of St. Augustine's books "De Civitate Dei." The author here gives us not only an analysis of the work, but a complete sketch of the great African Prelate as a philosopher; and he traces, with a great deal of ingenuity, in his religious and intellectual development, both the influence of Eastern ideas and the strong leaven of Platonic speculation.
"The distinctive feature," says M. Saisset, "which is stamped upon St. Augustine is, that, of all the Fathers of the Church, he may be called the greatest philosopher. Let us suppose, for a moment, that the circumstances amidst which he appeared are changed; suppose him born two centuries sooner, not at Tagasta, but at Athens or Alexandria; instead of Ambrose, let Ammonius Saccas be his teacher; then, what follows? The illustrious Bishop becomes the head of a metaphysical school; he composes the Enneads, and applies to the speculations of philosophy the subtle and ingenious curiosity, the power of abstraction, and the sublime outbursts which distinguish Plotinus. But every man has his own peculiar task assigned to him; that appointed to St. Augustine was neither the creation nor the revival of a philosophic system; and if at an early age the spiritualism of Plato allured him, the anxious and tender soul of the young man could not find there food substantial enough to satisfy his mental cravings. From the materialism of Manes he had risen to Plato; with like energy he forsook Platonism, and threw himself into the Saviour's arms. Nevertheless, whilst grasping something more substantial than philosophy, he did not give up his former studies. Led by philosophy to the threshold of the sanctuary, he brought it into the temple; having become a Christian, a Priest, and a Bishop, he remained a Platonist.
"It would be difficult to name one of Augustine's numerous writings which does not show, in some page or other, the alliance between the Christian's faith and the philosopher's reason; but nowhere has he delighted in consecrating that alliance with so much power, so much grandeur, and so much brilliancy, as in the treatise De Civitate Dei,' rightly considered as the greatest effort of his genius. Every subject has found its place in that imposing, though irregular, monument; but the observer who places himself at the true standpoint, cannot fail to recognise in the work a production in which, after having spent his life in preaching peace and union, the Prelate undertook to bring about an everlasting union between spiritualism and the doctrine of Christianity. This is what constitutes the character of the De Civitate Dei;' the book, as some have remarked, is the first important essay on the philosophy of history: nay, it is more than that; and we purpose, on the present occasion, to deduce from it the philosophy of Christianity."
When Augustine was directed to the study of Neo-Platonism,
his active mind had already been long fluctuating from theories to theories, from tenets to tenets; he was truly "tossed about by every blast of vain doctrine," and in a state of mental anxiety which, from the graphic description we find in the "Confessions," must have been distressing. The " Hortensius" of Cicero had taught him the com. parative worthlessness of riches and pleasures, when set against wisdom and learning; but being himself divided between the allurements of sense, and the thirst after that glory which is derived from high intellectual culture, the calm reasoning, the rhetorical flow of the Ciceronian style could not soothe him. He saw every where, as he studied the universe, traces of the conflict which he felt raging within his own breast; he saw, and, conscious that evil cannot come from God, he was too blind to discover that it springs from the seed of Adam. Whilst thus endeavouring, but in vain, to account for the origin of sin, the Manichæans drew him towards them-philosophers so much the more dangerous, because, with the strictest ideas of morality, they combined an extraordinary amount of learning, and an eloquence so persuasive, that very few could resist it. The "Suaviloquentia” of Faustus easily entrapped Augustine; and although he soon felt strong doubts as to the merits of a system which was made up of Persian fancies, blended with a few ideas borrowed from Christianity, yet for nine long years he remained under the charm of Manichæism, dragging along with him, at Carthage, at Rome, at Milan, the weary chain of a mind and a conscience ill at ease. His next halting-place was the probabilism of Arcesilaus and Carneades; and he had finally sunk deep into the quagmire of Pantheism, when the perusal of some Platonist treatises, by bringing before him the Alexandrian doctrine of the Logos, marked the turning-point of his whole career. Plato had directed him to the Word; Christianity revealed to him the Word made flesh,-the God-man, Christ Jesus himself, uniting and reconciling the two natures which the voluntary fall of man had separated.
From this short sketch, which the reader will find enlarged in M. Saisset's introduction, it will be perceived that Augustine was peculiarly fitted to write on the philosophy of Christianity. He had wandered, as we said before, from system to system, and he was experimentally acquainted with every form of infidelity or heathenism prevailing in his own times. His reading was extensive, his power of satire equally remarkable; and whilst the "De Civitate" displays not unfrequently the depth of Bossuet, we are often reminded, likewise, as we peruse it, of Montesquieu's calm sagacity in the "Esprit des Lois."
Amongst the philosophers of the Neo-Platonist school, four only are quoted by Augustine in his large work; namely, Apuleius, Plotinus, Jamblichus, and Porphyry. M. Saisset is inclined to think that the last-named is the one whose writings the Bishop of Hippo had most thoroughly studied. For this preference there was a very obvious reason. Porphyry is by far the clearest, the most practical, of all the Neo-Platonists; he enjoyed an immense reputation; his controversial treatises against the Christians pointed him out more especially to Augustine's attention; and he chiefly discusses questions of a moral and religious character,-questions which the pure meta
Brief Literary Notices.
physician, Plotinus, neglected for abstruse speculations and vague theories, of no use whatever in every-day life. To conclude, M. Saisset calls upon us to admire, in the "De Civitate Dei," the union of Platonism and Christianity, which has subsisted ever since the fourth century, notwithstanding all the efforts of Thomas Aquinas and his school. We can trace it in the writings of Fénélon, Bossuet, Malebranche, and Leibnitz; the English divines, Mede, Perkins, Cudworth, and More, are Platonists likewise; nor will any re-action, as our author thinks, succeed in destroying a form of religious speculation which to him appears to result from the very constitution of the human mind.
De la Morale Chrétienne de Schleiermacher. Par Adolphe Schaeffer, Docteur en Théologie. Paris: Meyrucis. 1855. De l'Influence de Luther sur l'Education du Peuple.
Adolphe Schaeffer. Paris: Treuttel et Wurtz.
AMONGST the theologians of Protestant Germany, none have ever risen to the positions which Luther and Schleiermacher hold in the history of the world: Luther, whose eloquent appeals called to spiritual freedom the victims of Papal despotism; Schleiermacher, who, by his influence and his teaching, effectually destroyed the cold deism which had infected trans-Rhenane divinity during the last century. For this reason we gladly hail any publication like the present brochures of Dr. Schaeffer; publications carefully written, evincing much research, and supplying details on points hitherto comparatively unnoticed. For whilst historians have described, for instance, with most minute exactness, the dawn and progress of the Reformation,-whilst they have studied the development of events on the battle-field, in the councilhall, and at the Vatican itself,-how few have called our attention to the less prominent, but sure, manner in which the truths of Evangelical Protestantism leavened the whole community, through the intermediate agency of schoolmasters and school-books! There is, indeed, but one work we are aware of, discussing ex professo Luther's merits as an educational writer; and that work (Brüstlein's" Luthers Einfluss auf das Volksschulwesen,") appeared subsequently to Dr. Schaeffer's interesting volume.
In order to estimate rightly the character and extent of Luther's pædagogic endeavours, we must compare the results he obtained, both with the state of education before the sixteenth century, and with what has been accomplished since the great Reformer was called to his rest. Charlemagne deserves a special mention, as one of the few men during the Middle Ages who felt the value of education, and took the proper means to diffuse it. "It is well known," says our author, "that when Charlemagne ascended the throne, the abbeys, which, by their resources and their influence, had most contributed in the preceding century to the educational movement, had fallen from the proud position they occupied. We may name, as an instance, the celebrated abbey of Lerins,-that focus of literary culture during the fourth century."
In the discharge of his duties, Charlemagne had to contend with great difficulties: he could not overcome them completely, assisted
though he was by Alcuin and the other illustrious members of the Palatine school. After his death, the reforms he had introduced gradually vanished, the Church fell back into the grossest ignorance, and, between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the cause of education was supported only by the solitary efforts of a few devoted men, such as Geert de Groote, Thomas à Kempis, John Wesselius, Rudolph Agricola, and Alexander Hegius. To Luther was reserved the glory, both of reforming the Church, and of dispelling the intellectual darkness in which the Priests had purposely kept those whom they should have guided in the way of salvation. Dr. Schaeffer enumerates very carefully all the obstacles the Reformer encountered, and also the assistance he received in his laborious undertaking. One of the most important of his auxiliaries was that supplied by the printing-press.
"Had it not been for the press, Luther could never have addressed the people as he did. The impetus which the Reformation gave to popular literature in Germany was immense. For, whilst 35 volumes only had been published in 1513, and 37 in 1517, the number of printed books increased with the most extraordinary rapidity after the apparition of Luther's Theses. We find, in 1518, 71 printed books; in 1519, 111; 1520, 208; 1521, 211; 1522, 347; 1523, 498 And where were all these works published? Almost always at Wittemberg. Who was the author of them? Generally Luther. In 1522, 130 of the Reformer's productions issued from the press; 183 more appeared during the following year. Only 20 Roman Catholic works were published in 1523.......Now to what cause must we ascribe the ardour with which all classes of society purchased. read, and studied Luther's writings? An ardour so great that the Reformer himself, in a letter bearing the date 1518, says, 'My little books go, or rather fly, in a few days from the one end of Europe to the other.' The reason is plain. Whilst brought into contact with Popish doctrines, men felt their souls withered, and the springs of life dried up within them: the word of Luther falling upon them was the dew which the parched soil drinks eagerly."
Dr. Schaeffer then goes on to enumerate the various educational works composed by Luther. As early as 1520, in his celebrated Appeal to the Emperor and to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation," he had stated with great power his ideas on education. A thorough reform of the Universities, the study of the Holy Scriptures taken as the basis of solid mental training,-such were the two principles he endeavoured to establish in this eloquent manifesto. But it was only four years later, in 1524, that Luther composed his first work, ex professo, on the subject of Pædagogics. It is a small pamphlet, of which eight editions were sold within twelve months. The title is as follows: "To the Councillors of all the German Cities: a Petition for the Founding of Christian Schools." We have been struck by the practical character and the elevated views of that exquisite production; it has lost nothing of its actuality, and, if reprinted even now in a popular form, it might be profitably studied by all persons engaged, or interested, in the cause of education. The manual generally known as the "Visitations Büchlein," or "Hand-Book for Visitors," was the next publication given by Luther in connexion with our subject. Melanchthon seems to have had the principal
Brief Literary Notices.
share in its compilation. d'œuvre." If Protestants are unanimous respecting Luther's character and merits, they do not, on the other hand, seem yet to agree about the real tendencies of Schleiermacher's teaching. The extraordinary vagaries in which German divinity has lately indulged, still contribute, no doubt, to make many people regard with suspicion any importation of Teutonic learning. Thus it is that, whilst for some Schleiermacher is the only true theologian the world has seen since the Reformation of the sixteenth century, not a few, especially in England, consider him as a subverter of evangelical doctrine, and as the champion of rationalism. The truth, we believe, lies at an equal distance from both extremes; and whilst we would not make even Schleiermacher a subject for "hero-worship," we feel as little inclined to view him in the light of a propounder of heresies. Dr. Schaeffer's work will, unquestionably, contribute to dispel many errors, and to solve many doubts in the mind of the impartial reader. It examines only one branch of Schleiermacher's system,his ethics; but it does so in connexion with the rest; and the numerous references, in the shape of foot-notes, enable the student to judge for himself how far Dr. Schaeffer's deductions are correct.
Dr. Schaeffer rightly calls it " un chef
Katechismus der Kirche der Zukunft, zum Gebrauch in der
Gegenwart für Jung und Alt. (Catechism of the Church of the Future, for the Present Use of the Young and Old.) Frankfurt am Mayn. 1855.
WHAT is German Catholicism? Ten years ago-gathering our views from the general tenor of the English press-we should have regarded it as the breaking forth of a new Reformation on German soil, the harbinger to Germany of a better and a brighter future. Following the course of public opinion in our own country, we remark, at a later period, in some, but only in exceptional cases, a dawning suspicion as to the character and aim of this new teaching; more generally, a want of confidence as to the final issue of the movement, combined with a lingering regard for the names of its chief promoters, and affection for the principles they advocated. And at the present day, perhaps the common verdict of our country on German Catholicism would be, that it was the bursting forth of a little light and liberty upon a few minds which had before been ens'aved in ignorance and superstition; that there was an incongruous mixture of the pure and the worldly in the persons and aims of its first apostles and their followers; and that, after a brief period of flattering growth, the fair flower had been despoiled of its strength and beauty, and had left little but a faded and withering remnant behind.
We wish it were even so. It were a good thing if German Catholicism were indeed languishing and ready to die. In few things, probably, have the faith, hope, and charity of our countrymen been more abused, than in relation to the true nature and design of this movement. The charity which believes all things, and hopes all things, has permitted us to regard this phase in the religious history of Germany, in the first instance with intense satisfaction, in the latest