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Rationalism not new.
decision upon them, there is always rationalism. But that mod em rationalism too, in the form of common sense, you must not consider as a phenomenon so very new and peculiar to Germany. As early as Louis XIV, you can read in contemporary writers, delineations of the Parisian unbelief and scepticism, in which you fancy yourself transferred to the present. In Germany also,
" long before the proper period of rationalism, there were at least individual rationalists of this description; and then in England rationalism, under the name of deism, was spread in extensive circles from the end of the seventeenth century, until towards the end of the last century; and precisely at the same time, that it had obtained dominion in protestant Germany-just as if there had been a universal miasma in that atmosphere at the end of the last century, -it appeared also in the protestant churches, of Scotland, Holland and France, and even in catholicism. It would then be difficult to look upon it as the child of German science.
Emil to Charles. The fact is, that aside from this or that local commotion, and personal learned contest, this rationalistic theol. ogy, within not more than about one generation (from 1770 to 1800), without any scientific contest worthy of remark, and without any counter revolution, made speedy and complete conquest of almost all the church authorities, and almost all the pulpits and lecturing desks of Germany. I know of only one parallel to such an unopposed march of victory into the enemy's country, that of Napoleon in Prussia in 1806. And was it not in both cases Dearly the same cause, which made the victory so easy to the enemy. If you had a still clearer impression of the almost total sapremacy of rationalism at the beginning of this century in Germany, and not only in Germany, but, as was said above, in most parts of the protestant, and even the catholic church, what you see of newly awakened faith, in all confessions, at the present time, must appear to you much more as a miracle, than what it really is, a sign of that life-renewing and renovating power, which dwells inextinguishably in Christianity. Emil to Charles.-- For the veiled destiny of the future no one
People talk only of reason and of good taste, of energy of spirit and of the advantage of those who know how to place themselves above the prejudices of the education of the society, in which they are born. Pyrrhonism is in fashion in many things. It is said too that honesty of spirit consists in not believing lightly, in knowing how to doubt on many occasions.—Le Vassor, De la teritable Relig. 1688.
can give security. I cannot therefore allay your apprehensions in this direction ; on the contrary I must awaken anew in you these apprehensions in another direction. If you find, and that too after all which has been said between us, the power of the times, that has the promise of victory, still on that side, where the clamouring multitude stands, then open your eyes to know, that far more serious apprehensions are brought home to you ! The more perseveringly you despise the still but living waters of Siloah, now that they are offered to you, the more certainly, believe me, will your descendents be obliged to content themselves with a new pouring of insipid water. But I wish that
could raise your eyes with me and many others, to a church of the future, as it has already begun to build itself, in which the truly pious men among you, will find that which the better part of you has hitherto striven after.
I see much on many sides, that permits us to look to the future with a hoping spirit. Let now a great event seizing all hearts with equal interest, come over the church of the immediate future; let, for example, the hearts of men melt together in the fiery ordeal of a universal catastrophe, and the man will not be wanting, who will speak out that which is common to all, in such clearness and such power, that a confession will not need to be made, but will already exist, and the hearts of men will assent to it, as once to the Augsburg Confession, without balloting.
Charles.—That something new and great is preparing itself in church and State, is in all hearts; only it appears to me improbable that it will bear the stamp that you think it will, as I must still judge, when I see all the religious striving of the present time tending towards another end.
Emil.-I must reply to you, that all religious striving tends to this end and to no other. You yourself will not designate as a religious striving, that zeal which likewise debates upon religious questions at present, only in order to keep religion, that has become a power of the age, as far away as possible; but all religious striving must tend to that end. The pitiful issue of those church-forming endeavors, which rest upon another ground than that of biblical faith, might convince you, that now, as ever, the church-forming power is not in rationalism. When the Eng. lish deist Williams applied to king Frederick II. for support for a deistical church, projected by him, that monarch, who knew at least what others needed, gave the answer that a church, which needed the support of potentates immediately in its beginning,
247 did not appear to stand on firm footing. And when his deistical friend the Marquis d'Argens in Potsdam wished to establish a deistical form of worship, the same monarch desired first to see the list of subscribers shown, for at least ten years. Never and nowhere, so far as history reaches and gives testimony, has pure rationalism, has religion having only human reason for its basis, shown a church-forming power, not even where, as in England and America, all room was left for it. A period of six years is the longest, that a large rationalistic church community, has hitherto been able to survive. He who understands the holy word religion, who is conscious what man seeks in religion and through religion, communion with God, he has no other aim, and can have no other aim, than Christ, the Son of the living God. And you too, my friend, will attain to rest, only when you rest in him.
THE AMERICAN PULPIT, – ITS ENDS, ITS MEANS, AND ITS
By Rev. W. A. Stearns, Cambridge, Mass.
In no part of the world is the business of preaching so arduous, or so powerful in its effects, as in the United States. We deal with shrewd, intelligent minds, with men who are not to be imposed upon by ceremony, sophistry, or mere declamation, with thinkers, free thinkers in a good sense of the term, whose understandings however are capable of being enlightened, and whose hearts can be moved to noble impulses, purposes and exertions. It cannot therefore be amiss to devote a few pages to a consider. ation of the American pulpit,-its ends, its means, and its motives.
Its ends are the highest present and eternal welfare of man.
Its motives are to be found in the truth, in its author and in its objects.
| The rationalistic religious society of Theophilanthropists in Paris subsisted from 1796-1802.
The first and last of these topics will be briefly discussed, but more time allowed to the consideration of the second..
We use the word American, because while most of our remarks will apply to the pulpit generally, they have reference emphatically, and some of them almost exclusively, to the pulpit in the United States. On such a subject, and for such readers, when one voluntarily selects excellence of speech for his theme, it is not necessarily false modesty which confesses some embarrassment. But let us bespeak indulgence, by the remark, that opinions may not be without their value nor suggestions wholly worthless, even when practical skill is unable to approximate the ideal which it conceives and attempts to shadow. We are also encouraged by the thought, that those whom we address have made sufficient attainments to appreciate the difficulty, the almost impossibility of speaking well, and because in the words of a distinguished French rhetorician, we know that mediocrity alone is severe while genius like virtue is indulgent. Je scais que la mediocrité seule est sévère, et que la génie est indulgent comme la vertu.
The ends of the pulpit are the highest present and eternal welfare of man. It is intended primarily to announce and enforce the doctrines of grace. It is the echo of inspiration; the voice of God which having reached a human heart is borne from it, with all the power of a living experience, into the hearts of other
The New Testament presupposes, while it declares, man fallen. It depicts human nature as radically corrupt, guilty, disabled, condemned, momentarily exposed to destruction. It describes and presents a Saviour, " the brightness of the Father's glory," absolute virtue impersonated, divinity incarnate, humanity deified. It presents him as man's brother, man's Lord, and man's redeemer. It presents him an expiatory victim for sin, Christ crucified, dead and buried, Christ resurgent, Christ ascendant. It offers spiritual resurrection to ruined humanity, through simple faith in the appointed redeemer. This is then the primary mission of the pulpit, and of every preacher of the Christian word. Man is lost, entirely, eternally, hopelessly. Utter it from the tops of the moun. tains, from the deck of every ship, from the watch-towers of Christendom; on the tomb of the false prophet, in the sanctuaries of heathen abomination cry aloud; roll the heavy thunders of this truth round the globe! Man is saved! There is a Saviour. Salvation, O salvation ! sound out the tidings; with tears
· Panegyric De Saint Louis par la Cardinal Maury.
249 and tenderness, with demonstration and pungency, win the world to Christ.
But let us not suppose that the primary mission of the preacher is his only mission, or even the most arduous part of the work which he is appointed to perform. Society is to be regenerated; the immense multitudes of spiritually dead are to be resuscitated; and from the moment when the pulsations of spiritual life begin to be perceptible, they are to be cherished, strengthened, moulded into the image of Christ, sanctified, until the world presents its 800,000,000 of men, women and children, all disenthralled from the bondage of evil, all enlightened, all aspiring towards the perfection of their being; one vast fraternity of magnanimous, Christlike minds.
Hence for the accomplishment of this work, the author of our religion instituted churches which are to be the the nurseries of excellence and the centres of all good influences. Every church has, or should have, its divinely commissioned leader whose office it is to attempt the formation of character after the highest model. He is to persevere and press on with the noble work, till the immortal objects of his charge are gradually transfigured, till their countenances shine with the majesty of goodness and their spiritual raiment becomes white as the light. The preacher is in this respect a Phidias who is to conceive, and, from stones taken rough out of the quarry, to fashion forms of superhuman dignity and beauty. He is to smooth down the roughnesses of character, develop true proportions and bring forth all possible expressions of strength and loveliness. He is to improve now the rounding of a limb, and now the power and grace of a feature, to hammer here and hammer there, year after year, hammer, hammer, hammer, often unapproved and alone, till perchance with the enthusiasm of an ancient sculptor, just at the last, he can strike the rock and
But his labors do not end here. His mission extends to the community in which he resides, to his country, and to the world. He is to secure as far as possible the moral elevation of man. Hence whatever subjects influence human improvement and happiness--these subjects have bearings and relations which demand the attention of the pulpit. Physical condition, as its healthfulness is affected by obedience to, or violation of the laws of the physical constitution, intellectual symmetry and enlargement, moral grandeur and beauty, harmony of spirit with the great central spirit of the universe, equality, fraternity among men, benevolence and mutuality in social organizations, in one word the just
bid it speak.