Obrázky na stránke

German descent, was among the first of the states, that sought for political regeneration. If the genius of Puritanism was favorable to freedoin and republican institutions, it was only so in virtue of the general spirit of the age, which it shared in conjunction with the other provinces. In Europe the tendency of the times in every direction was in favor of progress, improvement, and a general extension of individual liberty. The Re. formation, whilst it has been the source of every thing great and good during the three last centuries, is also the parent of American freedom. Its influence was not confined to the religious world, in which it commenced, --it extended over the territories of science and politics. Infidels and sceptics were carried along by the same general current, blindly. submitting in politics to what they rejected in religion. On this account the fact that some of the prominent men of our early history were irreligious men; and, indeed, infidels, cannot detract from the genuine value of our political superstructure. It is a merit of Bancroft's History of the United States, giving it at once a national value, that he endeavors to point out the different historical and relig. ious tendencies, that were transplanted at an early date to the soil of the different states, and which subsequently combined to fight the battles of freedom.

It is not a difficult matter to present the points of union between our religious life and that of Europe. It was the merit of the Reformation, to bring forward into prominent light, the idea of christian freedom, in which, we, perhaps, pride ourselves more than did our ancestors. The Creeds and Theology of the Reformation are our most precious legacy. Indeed such has been the power of the ruling idea in this country, that the churches have run to excess, and in many directions ignored the principle of unity, which, however, is opposed to the spirit of the Reformation. The words, unity and brotherhood, it is true, have some attraction, and some degree of power, but the thing itself is very much suspected, There is every where a desire for denominational unity, though every where it meets with se. rious interruption. But how far are we from being united as denominations into one universal christian church. The very idea is considered preposterous, and full of danger to our rights as citizens of the heavenly kingdom. Our political life is much better organized, than our religious life as a whole. It creates a glow of patriotism when the visitor stands in the galleries of

See Schaff's Principle of Protestantism.



the Capitol at Washington, and witnesses the nicely balanced machinery of our government,-working out the destiny of a country extending from Maine to California. He here meets the spirit of the nation standing forth in an objective form, and sees that our political life is a common one. If, however, he be of a religious cast of mind, he looks forward into futurity, and asks whether our religious existence shall ever gain some central point,-a heart which shall send out to the most distant extremities, the warm fluid of a common life. The children of this world are wiser in their generation, than the children of light.

Our historical connections and relations serve to give this country significance, and at the same tine a relative value. If, as we have seen, with the germs of much that is good in the past, we have received much that is evil at the same time, America is not of yesterday, the growth of a night. It is not, as it is often represented the undutiful child, that never learned the first commandment with promise. So far as she has honored and obeyed her parent, she may expect that her days shall be long in the land which God has given her. The perpetuity of our Institutions is not so much dependent upon the abstract principles upon which they are based, or the measures, that are taken to uphold them, as their connection with the God of hislory, who is the only living and true God. The English Commonwealth after existing a brief summer-day fell, because it was the mock.creation of man; the first French Republic had a much briefer day, because it had a much more slender historical basis to stand upon. With all human organizations, as with individuals, obedience is the precursor of prosperity. The law is our school-master to bring us to Christ.

If to our historical advantages, we add the spirit of a chastened progress, our life will assume more and more an absolute value. The progress referred to, however, is not such a one as that in which the tiines have been rapidly carrying us. Free. dom, civil and religious rights, individual progress are objects that inay always engross our warmest affections; but what we most need at the present day is progress in the direction of unity. The precious inheritance lies at our doors, but it needs to be cultivated; it is still in a chaotic state, it needs to be protected, to be adorned, to bear the impress of an owner, before it can be called our property. The gold from the distant mines is ours; to become current it must pass through the mint, and bear a common image and superscription. No country upon earth, perhaps, possesses greater natural advantages than ours. Its location with reference to the old world is peculiar. With Eu

[ocr errors]

rope and Africa on the east, and since the improvements in navi. gation, our next door neighbors; with Asia, the residence of ancient civilization on the west, our country would seem to be destined to occupy the centre-point of civilization, and to a fervid imagination, be the last link of influences in bringing about the glory of the latter-day, when the human race shall have attained its unity and consummation. Yet all the advantages of climate, soil, and geographical position are dependent upon the spirit, which is to rule in our people. Nature is entirely at the mercy of spirit. When the human world degenerates, ihe outward world becomes a wilderness and seems to sympathize with the moral desolation. To make the desert and the solitary place glad, and the desert to blossom as the rose, every thing depends upon the purification of our religious life. Its variegated tints, that now charm us so much by their brilliancy of color, must again be united to give us a pure light, which after all is most wholesome. Then knowledge and revelation will be reconciled, and philosophy become the hand-maiden of religion. Then politics and government will be purified, and the state become the servant of Christ; the Church, the Lamb's Bride, will bave kings for her nursing fathers, and queens for her nursing mothers : and they shall bow down to her with their face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of her feet. Isaiah 49 : 23. Mercersburg, Pa.

T. A.

CUR DEUS HOMO? “It is oftentimes considered the chief purpose of Christ's Incarnation,” says Trench (Huls. Lect. p. 218,) " that it made his death possible, that it provided him a body in which to do that which merely as God he could not do namely to suffer and 10 die; while some of the profoundest teachers of the past, so far from contemplating the Incarnation in this light, have rather affirmed that the Son of God would equally have taken man's nature, though of course under very different conditions, even if he had not fallen—that it lay in the everlasting purposes of God, quite irrespective of the fall, that the stem and ihe stalk of humanity should at length bear ils persect flower in Him, who should thus at once be its root and crown.” This passage we have quoted before, in our notice of the work from which it is taken, as one of significant interest in relation to the great subject to which it refers.

In a later article we have called attention to a more full and formal presentation of the same view by Professor Liebner of Germany, who makes it in fact the foundation thought of his recent work on Christology. The view is adopted also by Dorner, and has called forth as we have seen the direct approbation of Schöberlein, in an able recension of Liebner's work published in Reuter's Repertorium. Liebner himself has appeared again, as we have also seen, in the same Journal, in opposition to Dr. Thomasius, a distinguished Lutheran divine, who it seems has entered the lists with him on the opposite side. This may serve to show the interest which is taken in the question here brought into debate, and how intimately related it is felt to be to the very heart of theology at the present time.

We find w a new writer on the field, Dr. Julius Müller, the author of the widely celebrated treatise on Sin. His mere name is sufficient of course to command attention and respect. He is not a man to take up any subject lightly, and what he writes is sure to carry with it the weight both of extensive learning and profound thought. This credit is well sustained by his dissertation on the subject before us, in two articles contained in Schneider's Deutsche Zeitschrift for October 1850, under the title: “ The Question examined, Whether the Son of God would have become man, if the human race had continued without sin." The occasion of the discussion is in large part at least the work of Professor Liebner. It is not however a review of this in any strict sense, but addresses itself to the inquiry with which it is occupied in a general way. The investigation is exceedingly calm, but at the same time exceedingly searching and deep, and the conclusion reached by it is a full negative answer to the question that forins its theme. The author allows a large merit to Liebner's work, and considers it an important con. tribution to theological science, especially in iis view of the deep and difficult doctrine of the Trinity; but he rejects as unsound and unsafe the thought on which it rests throughout, that the necessity of the Incarnation lies primarily not in the fall of man but in his creation. Liebner of course, as we have before seen, does not call in question the soteriological design of the mystery, its relation to sin as the only possible means of redemption and salvation; he simply maintains, that this is not to be viewed as the exclusive or primary reason of the mystery, that there was a necessity for it on the contrary back of this, and of a far broader and deeper nature, in the original idea of humanity itself, in virtue of which only it was possible for the special need created by the fall to find its remedy and cure here under any such supernatural form. But Müller refuses to acknowledge any neces. sity for the Incarnation, beyond the existence of sin and the idea of redemption. The soteriological interest forms in his view the ultimate and whole reason of the stupendous mystery; so that if the first Adam bad not fallen, there would have been no second Adam to take his place, if sin had not entered into the world the Son of God would never have assumed human flesh.

Some traces of the other view, according to Müller, are to be met with in the Patristic Period, particularly in the writings of Irenaeus; but it is among the Schoolmen of the middle ages that it first comes distinctly and formally into view. Anselm of Canterbury, in his celebrated tract, Cur Deus Homo? excludes it, by referring the Incarnation wholly to the necessity of an atonement for sin ; and Thomas Aquinas rests in the same conclusion, as most in harmony with the authority of the Scripiures, although he seems occasionally to look a different way, and has been quoted in fact by some as the patron of the other opinion. On the other hand a certain abbot Rupert, a theologian of decidedly biblical rather than scholastic turn, appears in the 12th century as the open advocate of the view, setting it in what he conceives to be necessary connection with Augustine's theory of predestination. After his time, a number of the schoolmen are found answering the question, Cur Deus homo? in the same general way; as for instance Alexander Hales, John Duns Scolus, and his school. “With this last his Pelagianizing anthro

« PredošláPokračovať »