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man, who was created in a full-grown state : otherwise he could not have been, unless we argue for an eternity of the species. Now if, as geologists, we were to make the laws of nature, as at present existing, our guide for the annunciation of what took place six thousand years ago; and if, moreover, as physiologists, we could examine, according to present principles, the bones of the first man, we should confidently say that he had lived so many years,—that he had gone through the stages of infancy and childhood, and reached a certain age. But how faliacious would all this be, if, having been created an adult, he of necessity exhibited marks of age, without having gone through those previous stages of existence now necessary to exhibit such appearances. The fact that this must have been the case with man, even according to the discoveries of geologists, will sufficient reason why we should hesitate to receive their arguments with regard to the antiquity of our globe. We accept their facts as to the present laws of nature, and also as to the appearances of strata and so forth, but we reject their inferences as to past events as presumptuous and unauthorised. The question returns, Was the earth created in six days ? and we answer this question by an examination of the truth of the Bible, as an inspired record, just as we should have done before geology as a science was thought of
THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY AND JUSTIFICATION OF
JOHANNES RONGE. TRANSLATED FROM THE FIFTH GERMAN EDITION, BY J. LORD, A.M.* The translator of this little work has, in his Preface, the following pertinent observations :! "I never could make out, in Germany, what Ronge really did believe, except those general rules to which every modern sect would assent. . . . He is a fashion, and will pass away. He does not create circumstances, but circumstances have created him. He may help to rouse his countrymen to a sense of existing evils, and will therefore merit their gratitude; but he is not one of those geniuses who now and then are sent into the world, to propagate new principles and to found new schools of thought. The German Catholic reformers, with Ronge at their head, are attempting nothing new; they are engaged in the work of demolition. But it is the positive and not the negative which is permanent, and which alone saves the nations."
The foregoing observations do not apply more strongly to Ronge and his followers than to the age in which we live. There is in the religious world a morbid appetite for change, a perpetual longing for something different from the ordinary course of things, which does not promise peace to the coming generation. It would seem as though men scarcely know what they do believe, and, therefore, to conceal this ignorance, go about zealously proclaiming what they do not believe. In Spain, a deep-rooted and wide-spread atheism is subvert
* Chapman, Brothers, Newgate-street.
ing the authority of the Pope, and with it all the better portions of the Roman Catholic creed; in France and Italy infidelity clothes itself in various shapes; in Germany a new creed, of which the literary man is the deity, has found both preachers and disciples; in England and America differences of opinion, already countless, increase with such marvellous rapidity, that each individual is likely soon to have a religion of his own, a creed of which he shall be at once the sole expounder and believer. It is no uncommon occurrence to meet with individuals who have tried several creeds, and are not yet satisfied. We do not allude to the notorious Mrs. Martin, who gives her “reli. gious experience” at the “ Finsbury Society for the Promulgation of Truth," and states why, from having been a Rationalist, she became a Socialist; but we have in mind the case of a learned and sincere man, who was bred up as a Roman Catholic priest in Spain, who fled his country and changed his religion for Protestantism, through whose many various phases he passed, until he forsook it altogether, and died a Unitarian. We might name another, who set out as a Socinian, and gradually passed through different forms of Protestantism, until he became a Roman Catholic. As these two men were unquestionably sincere, as they were only actuated by an earnest desire to discover and promote the truth, it is to be wished that they could have met half-way-the one on his road from, the other to, Unitarianism-and have argued calmly with each other upon the scenes through which they had passed. But the first is dead, and the second is too well satisfied with his new creed to give a thought to the man who torsook it. These two cases, however, are but examples of very general rules. While a great number of English, Americans, and Germans, have renounced, and more are preparing to renounce, a belief in the divinity of Christ, some zealous clergymen, by way of counteracting this evil, are inculcating the propriety of saint-worship-a proceeding which increases the objects to be defended, and therefore necessarily weakens the power of the defenders. In vain do our missionaries wage a holy war in the lands of the heathen, whilst their own country is overrun . by enemies of a more skilful kind; in vain do they pursue in one direction the scattered troops of darkness, whilst their own camp is being plundered in another. Amidst all the changes which have split other creeds asunder, Jesuitism and Unitarianism, opposite in character as they are, have made powerful advances in the present century. The first owes it success to the unity of purpose and oneness of action of the members; the latter to its being a mean point between Christianity and atheism, whereat the weary sceptic may pause for breath in his rapid flight from belief to infidelity-a point whereat he may at once congratulate himself upon his good sense in believing so little, and his great condescension in believing so much. The best literature of this country is marked with the prevailing characteristics of this creed; in America it comprises all that is good and great and pure in a degenerate land; in Germany it has linked itself inseparably with literature; in France alone it hides its diminished head, and acknowledges the superior power of unlimited infidelity. But in England it has done still more; it has taken part in a great political movement, and has conducted it to the very borders of success. Will it stop
there! Free trade in religion begins to be something more than a whisper, and the circumstances of the times teach us that it is to be the war-cry of the Unitarian forces. And to what do we owe this? Perhaps these two sentences, written by Ronge himself, will serve for an answer:
* Who does not know that the dignity of man consists in his reason, in his will, ard in the free exercise of both, as essential to his moral freedom ? Christianity calls upon me to break servitude, and seek a free existence. It demands a free, not involuntary, virtue; and its true effect is to produce individuality of character."
These were the grounds upon which Ronge quitted the Roman Catholic church; but they would serve as well for arguments in favour of any creed. As long as man's religious feeling is the result of his understanding, and not of his reason, we shall be able to fix no limit to the changes which that feeling will undergo; for, as Leighton truly remarks, the understanding, “judging according to sense, differeth in all men; but there is but one reason which lighteth every man's indi. vidual understanding, and thus maketh it a reasonable understanding." Ronge, as his translator says, “is now engaged in the work of demoli. tion; but it is the positive, and not the negative, which is permanent, and alone saves the nations.” He may become a Socinian-he may remain as he now is; but we should have had a better security against the former if he had never changed at all. For these reasons for what he has already done, and what he may yet do,-his autobiography could not fail to be interesting to us, even though it were more egotistical than the generality of such publications. It would be a curious specimen of psychological history, if it only related to his individual opinions ; but as he has made numerous converts, it becomes a matter of public interest.
He was born at Bischofswalde, near the Suden mountains, on the 16th November, 1813, and was the third of ten children. His parents owned a small farm, and his employment, from six to twelve years of age, was the tending of sheep-an occupation which afforded him some time for study. From the village school, where he received the rudiments of education, he went to the gymnasium at Neisse, and there remained from 1827 to 1836. He tells us that he took no interest in the dead languages, but was passionately fond of German literature, especially history. From thence he went to the University of Breslau, where he selected the ecclesiastical profession for himself; a choice influenced, as he tells us with sorrow, by mercenary motives.
In 1839 he entered the seminary where he was to pass a period of probation, before taking priest's orders. He gives an account of this Seminary, which reminds us strongly of the Jesuit's school in the * Wandering Jew," and also of the school of the Propaganda in the
Improvisatore." The details of the novelists are scarcely more horrid than those of the historian.
Here," says he," the young man receives indelibly the stamp of bondage. Here is he, who would devote himself to the elevation of the people, trained to consecrated idleness. Here is his spirit, excited by fears and religious ordinances, forced to a blind obedience. Here is his mind trained to hypocrisy, and his heart to a cold selfishness. In short, here is the whole man, body
and soul, degraded to the condition of a slave, and a tool, without the power of will."
In 1840, he left the seminary, and returned home. He thus describes his sensations :
“The hearty welcome of my sisters, and the joy I felt in meeting them, dissipated, for a while, the sense of my servitude. But it soon returned stronger than before. I was awakened from the dream by a humiliating exhibition of the power of superstition. An old man known to me from childhood paid me a visit. When I reached forth my hand for the cordial and friendly shake, the old man would have kissed it! But shall old age thus bend to youth? Shall I, who by my profession am only a servant, become the instrument of humiliation to my fellow-creatures ? Oh, Rome! you mingle poison with your holy oil. You would subvert the dignity of man. People gazed at me strangely and slily, as if I had become a superhuman being."
In 1841, he became curate to the village of Grottkau, and set himself to perform the duties of his office. Of his feelings, whilst thus engaged, he gives the following account :
“ What humiliated me most were the ceremonies of the altar, and especially since I knew that many of my parishioners were naturally inclined to superstition and the show of devotion. In the performance of these ceremonies was I not acting the hypocrite? Oh, how humbled I was in my own eyes, as I knelt before the altar, while behind me were blindly believing worshippers! Unspeakable anguish filled my soul that this humiliation must continue, that I was doomed to hopeless slavery, that my life was useless, and worse than useless, that I was robbed of all the best means of doing good, and robbed for ever."
In 1841, Dr. Knauer was appointed bishop of Breslau, but intrigues at Rome, in favour of Dr. Ritter, a fanatical priest who had long conducted the ecclesiastical affairs of the province, for a time hindered the confirmation of the appointment.
In this emergency Ronge wrote a letter against the intriguers, which called down upon him the anger of Dr. Ritter, who charged him upon oath to say if he wrote the letter, as it had only appeared in a newspaper, with the signature of a “Chaplain.” Ronge did not take an oath to the contrary in a “non-natural sense,” but steadfastly refused to answer any questions at all. He was therefore dismissed, but not until his enemies had endeavoured to prove that his conduct was otherwise heterodox; an attempt in which they were foiled by his own Catholic parishioners, who signed a certificate expressive of their unqualified approval of his whole conduct. He now retired to Laurahütte, a mining village in Upper Silesia, where he acted as schoolmaster, until the year 1844. His hatred to Rome was then fully roused by the exposure of the Holy Coat (said to be the coat of Christ), at Trèves, a sight which five hundred thousand Germans beheld, to the great profit of the bishop and his priests.
On the first of October Ronge wrote a letter to Arnoldi, bishop of Trèves, through the medium of the public press. It contained this remarkable sentence:
“The founder of the Christian religion left to his disciples and followers, not his coat, but his spirit: His coat, Bishop Arnoldi, belongs to his mur“. derers."
For writing this letter he was excommunicated and unfrocked by his
own bishop. But, despite this, he has been none the less a priest of the people. He has preached in town and country, in open defiance to the hierarchy and government. Young and eloquent, with truth to fire his spirit, and tact to give it direction, he has made converts wherever he has travelled. May he end as he has begun! May no doubts shake his belief! May no dependence upon his own reason lessen his faith in the soundness of the cause, for which he has forsaken the paths of established custom, the love of kindred, the society of friends, and the bounds of personal safety!
“MARGUERITE DE VALOIS ;''*
AN HISTORICAL ROMANCE, BY A. DUMAS.
PRURIENT in language and ideas, complex in plot, abounding in mock sentiment and startling contrasts, and totally destitute of moral printiple, French novels seldom fail at once to interest and disgust us to fr our attention by the ingenuity with which they are constructed, and exhaust our sympathy by presenting us with so many objects for its Exercise. French historical novelists attempt skilfully to draw inferences from well-known facts, instead of positively warping those facts to their own purposes. Let us take an example, which the present novel affords us. In the lifetime of Charles the Ninth, it was prophesied that Henry of Navarre would be king of France, although there were two living brothers of the king between him and the throne. Alarmed at a prophecy which boded destruction to the house of Valois, Catherine de Medicis, mother of the three brothers, sought by every means in her power to destroy Henry of Navarre. One plot in the Dovel, for there are many, turns upon these attempts of the Queen : so far, therefore, the book is founded on fact. But Dumas infers, very naturally, that this prophecy must have induced many persons to put faith in Henry and assist him against the Queen, relying upon his gratitude when he should gain the throne. In the novel, therefore, we find Renè, the Queen's perfumer and poisoner, through whose agency Henry's mother had been poisoned, assisting Henry, in the full confidence that the prophecy must be realised, and that Henry will pardon his sins in consideration of his good services. Thus, when the Queen commissions him to sell some poisoned lip-salve to Henry's mistress, so that she and Henry may die in the midst of their affectionate em. braces, he enters the apartment where the prince and his mistress are sitting, and craftily questions Henry as to his course of conduct in case the prophecy should be realised. During the conversation, the mistress, who is at her toilet, is about to rub her lips with the poisoned salve, but the perfumer stays her hand on some pretence. Henry, ever on the watch for treason, sees the action and divines the motive. We copy the conversation
* David Bogue, Fleet-street.