Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

rights of reason in matters of faith. The spirit of the age, influenced as it was by Frederic the Great, King of Prussia,' also contributed to the spread of deistic tendencies, especially among the higher classes. Not only the heroes of literature, during the eighteenth century, but some ministers of the church, endeavored gradually to introduce such principles among the educated, and even among the people.' ["The more earnest character of English Deism at length passed over, even among the deists themselves, into the shallow frivolities of French naturalism, materialism, and atheism, and into the destructive tendencies of Voltaire and the Encyclopedists, whose influence reached Germany. The Wolfenbüttel Fragments were the German product of the energetic character of English Deism ; and in these and kindred controversies, carried on by Lessing, with all the power of his soul, the German mind already showed, that it was able to grapple with the boldest doubts, and that it could assume no other than a critical relation to the contents of revelation.”. Baur, p. 347.]

Comp. 8 238, and Lechler's Geschichte des Deismus. To the number of those English deists (some of whom, as Woolston, Tindal, and Chubb, come over into the present period), whose names have been already medtioned, may be added Viscount Bolingbroke and David Hume. (Henry St. John, Viscount Bolingbroke, “ the last of the deists,” b. 1678, Secretary of War, 1704-7, of State, 1710–15, impeached for becoming Secretary to Charles Stewart, d. 1751. Letters in the Use and Study of History, first publ. in The Craftsman, 1725. Life by Goldsmith, 1809; by G. W. Cooke, 2 vols., 1835. Warburton's Letters to Hurd, and View of Bolingbroke's Philos., 1754-5. Leland's Deistical Writers, i. 371 to the end, and ii. to p. 350. Works, 5, 4to, 1754; 8, 8vo, 1809; Correspondence, 2, 4to, 1798, 4, 8vo.David Hume, b. 1711, d. 1787, Treatise of Human Nature, 1737; Essays, 1741; Philos. Essays, 1748 (a new edition of the Treatise); Princi ples of Morals, 1751; Polit. Disc., 1752 ; Natural Hist. of Religion, 1755 ; Hist. of England, 1754–62. Philosophical Works, Edinb., 4 vols., 1826, Boston, 1854. Posthumous, Dialogue concerning Natural Relig., 1779 ; Essays on Suicide, 1783. Comp. Mackintosh and Stewart, Diss, on Ethical Philos. prefixed to Encyc. Britan., and in their respective works; Cousin's Hist. of Mod. Philos., etc. Hume's Essays on Miracles were answered by Geo. Campbell, Leland in his Deistical Writer, Paley, Douglas, and many others. The Presb. General Assembly, 1775, condemned his writings and threatened excommunication. Life and Correspondence, edited by T. H. Burton, 2, 8vo., Edinb., 1847.] Bolingbroke may be said to form the transition to the frivolous naturalism and gross materialism of the French philosophers, whose principles were set forth in the Système de la Nature (1740), in the works of Condillac (died 1780), La Mettrie (died 1751), Helvetius (died 1771), Voltaire (died 1778), and in those of the so-called Encyclope dists (Encyclopédie, ou Dictionnaire Universel, etc., 1751), d'Alembert (died 1783), and Diderot (died 1784). Jean Jacques Rousseau (died 1778:

а

Emile, ou Confessions d'un Vicaire Savoyen) differed from these as to his personal character and tendency, but was also opposed to positive religion. -For a comparison instituted between the English and French deists, see Henke, 1. c. 8 10. At all events, the more profound English philosophers exerted a far more considerable influence upon the learned men of Germany, than the Frenchmen, whose writings met with greater success among the laymen. Only the Protestant Rousseau awakened German sympathies. Comp. Tholuck, ii. p. 33. .

It is a remarkable circumstance, which, however, admits of a satisfactory explanation, that even some of the German mystics adopted deistic principles, e. g. John Conrad Dippel, sumamed the Christian Democritus (died 1734), and J. Chr. Edelmann (born 1698, died 1767). The latter, after having been for a short time connected with the Illuminati, followed in the steps of Knutzen (comp. Henke, § 23, 6). Concerning the history of his life, and his work (Moses mit aufgedecktem Angesicht, Freib., 1740, ii. 8), see J. H. Pratje, Historische Nachricht von Edelmann, Hamb., 1785, and W. Elster, Erinnerungen an J. C. Edelmann, Clausth., 1839.-Chr. Tob, Damn (born 1699, died 1778), a philologist, wrote (1765) a work upon the New Testament (under royal sanction), founded on deistic principles, and reduced the religion of Christ to mere natural religion in his works: Ueber den historischen Glauben, 1772, ii., and Ueber die Religion, 1773.- The works of the English deists were also translated into German, and welcomed with eagerness by numbers. See the Bekenntnisse of Laukhard, quoted by Lechler, p. 451; Tholuck, ii. p. 31. A catalogue of the most impor

. p. tant deistic writings is given by Baumgarten, Geschichte der Religionsparteien, p. 129.

'G. E. Lessing published a series of treatises, containing essays and notices, under the title : “ Beiträge zur Geschichte der Litteratur, aus den Schätzen der herzoglichen Bibliothek zu Wolfenbüttel.” The third of these treatises appeared 1774, under the title : Fragment eines Ungenannten, von Duldung der Deisten. (A fragment concerning the toleration of the deists, composed by an anonymous writer.) The fourth treatise, whịch was published 1777, contained five “fragmente"-viz. 1. Von der Verschreiung der Vernunft auf den Kanzeln. (Concerning the denunciation of reason from the pulpit.) 2. Unmöglichkeit einer Offenbarung, die alle Menschen auf eine gegründete Art glauben könnten. (The impossibility of a revelation on which all men can found a reasonable belief.) 3. Durchgang der Israëliten durchs rothe Meer. (The passage of the Israelites through the Red Sea.) 4. Dass die Bücher des Alten Testaments nicht geschrieben worden, eine Religion zu offenbaren. (A proof that the Old Test. Scriptures were not written in order to reveal a particular religion.) 5. Ueber die Auferstehungsgeschichte. (Concerning the history of Christ's resurrection.) Last of all was published (1778) the boldest work: Von dem Zwecke Jesu und seiner Jünger, noch ein Fragment des Wolfenbüttler Ungenannten. (Concerning the object of Christ and his disciples, another fragment published by the anonymous Wolfenbüttel writer.) After Lessing's death, C. A. E. Schmidt (who was said to be a layman) published other works by that anonymous writer (they referred for the most part to the Old Test.). It is

[ocr errors]

now decided that Lessing was not the author of these works. They are generally ascribed to H. S. Reimarus (born 1694 in Hamburgh, died 1768, who wrote a system of natural religion.) For further particulars as to the authorship, see Nigen's historische Zeitschrift, 1839, part 4, p. 97, ss. In reply Lachmann, in vol. xii. of Lessing's works : Guhrauer, Bodin's Heptaplomeres, Berlin, 1841, p. 257, 89.

• Controversy between Lessing and Götze, pastor primarius in Hamburg. -Nathan der Weise (1679.)He further published Erziehung des Menschengeschlechts, 1780: on the question, whether this was on the basis of a work by Thær, see Illgen's Zeitschrift, 1839.-In the year 1784, appeared his : Theologischer Nachlass (Posthumous writings.) As regards the relation in which Lessing stood to Christianity, see T'westen, Dogmatik, i p. 19: Röhr, kleine theologische Schriften, 1841, p. 158, ss. Karl Schwarz, Lessing als Theologe, Halle, 1854. [His Education of the Human Race is translated in part, in Hedge's Prose Writers of Germany, Phil., 1858, pp. 91-5. On Nathan the Wise, see Jeffrey, in Edinb. Review, vol. 8. Retrospective Review, 10.) Wackernagel, Lessing's Nathan der Weise, in Gelzer's Mon. Bl. vi. 4. (A. W. Bohtz, Protestantismus und Nathan der Weise, Götting., 1854.]

• On the stay which Voltaire made at the Prussian court, and the literary labors of Frederic II., sce A. F. Büs king, Character Friedrich II., Halle, 1788. Preuss, Friedrich der Grosse. 5. roll. Berlin, 1833, 34.

"The Allgemeine deutsche Bibliothek,' edited by Nicolai, which during the first period of its existence (it was founded 1765) enjoyed unlimited authority in the literary world, combated the received faith of the church in an insidious, hypocritical manner, and denounced everything which was above its own prosaic views of religion and morals, as superstition or Jesuitism;" Hase, Church History, p. 539. Deistic tendencies were furthered and spread in families, as well as in schools, by the Philanthropinism of Basedow (born 1723, died 1790); Salzmann (born 1744, died 1811); and Campe (born 1746, died 1818). On Basedow's work, Philalethie, Altona, 1764, see Heinrich, p. 467, ss. Among the people the interest for systematic theology had considerably diminished. A calculating system of expediency deprived life of all its poetry, and reduced religion to a mere code of morals, useful for our civil duties. Among the pious part of the people, C. F. Gillert (1715-69) continued to enjoy great authority; his views of Christianity, though didactic and prolix, were distinguished by depth of feeling. Nor had Klopstock's Messiah (1748), which had once been received with eagerness, fallen into oblivion. On the other hand, the works of Wieland contributed to the spread of a refined freethinking, as well as of French frivolity, among the German people. Baumgarten-Crusius, Compendium i. p. 445, note k, shows with great acuteness the connection existing between that sentimentality, which was intended to serve as a substitute for true religious feelings, and deistic tendencies. (On Lessing, see above, note 4; on Herder, compare 8 281.)—Some attempts were also made to form societies on the basis of deistic principles. Such were the “Illuminati” founded by Weise haupt, in the year 1777: the “Freunde der Aufklärung” (friends of enlightenment) in Berlin, 1783 ; see Tholuck's literarischer Anzeiger, 1830, No. 8; and Bahrdt's Gessellschaft der XXII. (Bahrdt's Society of the XXII.), comp. Tholuck's vermischte Schriften, ii. p. 115.

The most conspicuous among them was C. F. Bahrdt (born 1741, died 1792); comp. his Autobiography, Berlin, 1790, ss. In his work, Versuch eines biblischen Systems der Dogmatik. Gotha und Leipzig, 1769, 70, Frankf. und Leipz., 1771, 2 voll. (see Heinrich, p. 469, ss.), he appeared to side with the advocates of orthodoxy: but in his writings, composed in a later period of his life, such as his Glaubensbekenntniss (1770.-Confession of faith), his Briefe über die Bibel im Volkston (1782.-Popular letters on the Bible), his Plan und Zweck Jesu (1784.- The plan and object of Christ), and some others, he endeavored to undermine all positive religion.-Severai other theological writers of the present age contributed to the spread of Deism, or, at least, of indifference in religious matters, and of a superficial rationalism, e. g. J. A. Eberhard (formerly pastor in Charlottenburg, afterwards a professor of theology in Halle, died 1809), who wrote the Neue Apologie des Socrates, ii. vol., Berlin, 1776,78; G. S. Steinbart (professor of theology in Francfort on the Oder, died 1809), Eudämonistisches System der reinen Philosophie, oder Glückseligkeitslehre des Christenthums, für die Bedürfnisse seiner aufgeklärten Landsleute und Anderer, die nach Weisheit fragen, eingerichtet, Züll., 1778, 80, 86, comp. Heinrich, p. 488, ss.); W. A. Teller (prebendary in Berlin, died 1804), who in his Dictionary (first published in Berlin, 1772), tried to correct traditional notions, partly with good sense, but in part in a superficial vein.-Several diluted and tame translations of the Bible also helped forward this alleged illumination; these had a worthy forerunner in the somewhat older Wertheim version of 1735. Sermons on nature, and morality, and agriculture, and the cow-pox, showing a total lack of understanding about the object of Christian worship, and Christian festivals, helped on the matter; as did also Dietrich's and Teller's so-called improvements in hymn-books, which only made them worse. And all this was to illustrate the utility of the office of the preacher!

$ 276.

KFFORTS OF APOLOGETICAL WRITERS. CHANGES IN THE MODE OF TREATING THEOLOGY. MODERN COMPENDIUMS OF SYSTEMATIC

THEOLOGY.

The attacks of the Deists gave rise to numerous refutations and Antideistica.' But it soon became evident that the advocates of positive Christianity were not agreed as to the best mode of operation ; in the general obscurity it was found increasingly difficult to distinguish friends from foes.' Many of the best and ablest men willingly abandoned what they considered the mere outworks, in order to save the citadel itself ; nor was it without some reason that they expected to advance the cause of the “religion of Jesus," thus fallen into disrepute among the educated, by presenting its truths in a clearer and more tasteful form, and by adapting them to the wants of the age.' It was generally admitted that the old state of things could not continue ; from the commencement of the eighteenth century theologians exerted themselves to give a new impulse to their science. The critical examination of the Bible was promoted by more correct information concerning the East, and more profound classical studies ; the history of the Scripture-text was cleared up by the critical investigations of Mill, Wettstein, Bengel, and others,' and the history of the Canon made the subject of new researches. In this respect the labors of Michaelis, Ernesti, and Semler,' may be said to introduce a new period. Chiefly in consequence of the labors of Mosheim, church history ceased to be merely the servant of party purposes ; he gave the example of a firm adherence to orthodoxy, united with impartiality in judging of heretical doctrines.' Thus, the works on systematic theology composed by J. D. Michaelis, J. D. Heilmann, G. T. Zacharice," G. F. Seiler," J. Ch. Doederlein," S. F. N. Morus,' and others, bore the impression of such progress, while their authors still endeavoured to preserve, as far as possible, the purity of evangelical doctrine. As regards this last point, the principles of W. A. Teller, 14 E. J. Danov, J. F. Gruner," J. C. R. Eckermann,' and C. Ph. Henke, were less rigid : in their writings they manifested a growing desire to adopt neological tendencies. Among the theologians of the Reformed Church, Stosch," continued a faithful advocate of the former system of orthodoxy, while Mursinna" gave in his adhesion with some caveats, to the modern illumination.

10

16

17

18

19

20

1

Among the followers of Wolf, Stiebritz, professor of philosophy in Halle, in opposition to the deists, and in defence of the principles of his master, wrote his : “ Beweis für die Wirklichkeit einer Offenbarung wider die Naturalisten, nebst einer Widerlegung derer, welche dem Wolfischen System eine Beförderung der Naturalisterei beimessen." Halle, 1746. (Thorschmid, Freidenkerbibliothek, ii. p. 755 ss., Lechler, p. 449). After the example of Pfaf, chancellor in the university of Halle, (who published Akademische Reden über den Entwurf der theologiæ antideisticæ, 1759) special lectures were delivered in order to refute the deists, (see Lechler, 1. s., Tholuck, Vermischte Schriften, ii. p. 25). On the apologetical writings of this period, see Tholuck, i, 150 ss. Among the English apologists we may mention ; Lardner (The Credibility of the Gospel History, London, 1741-62 xii.), Addison, Newton, Berkeley, etc. (Joseph Addison, b. 1672, d. 1719 : On the Evidences of the Christian Religion, 1730 ; Complete Works, ed. G. W. Greene, New York, 6 vols., 1854. Thomas Newton, Bishop of Bristol, b. 1704, d. 1782: works, 6 vols., 1787; Dissertation on Prophecies, 2 vols., 10th ed., Lond., 1804.-George Berkeley, b. 1684, d. 1753, Bishop of Cloyne: Principles of Human Knowledge, 1710; Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous, 1713; Proposal for converting Savage Americans to Christianity,

« PreviousContinue »