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Von Meyer, Schmieder, Rudelbach, &c. Consider too the open quarrels of the former collaborators in the “Journal of the Evangelic Church,” Neander and Steudel, on the occasion of their withdrawing from it. In the midst of this variety and motley mixture of religious sentiments and speculative views, it is vain to hope to find a general system of well defined doctrines, and there remains to the party only an ecclesiastico-political character. The party is formed, as has been already remarked, by the union of all who are dissatisfied with the freedom of the religious spirit of our time; it is the party of religious reaction, which strives by an external union to obtain an ecclesiastico-political influence. Inwardly convulsed by the most jarring elements, religious and dogmatic, and, at the most, loosely connected by the acknowledgment of a supernatural revelation and of the Augustino-Lutheran doctrine of sin and redemption, it is held together only by the common interest of its members in resisting all free intellectual action in matters of religion, and by the purpose of obtaining ecclesiastical power. As the basis of their operations, they take possession of the existing Protestant Church, by assuming to be the true original Church, and expelling all men of liberal opinions as apostates. Thus all the various classes of the new sect unite in the effort to accommodate themselves as much as possible to the forms of Symbolic Orthodoxy, in order to advance, with the warcry of purity and unity of doctrine, in closed ranks against all who dissent from them. The unlimited authority of the Symbolic doctrines of the Church, the suppression of all use of reason, of all endeavour for advancement in religious views, the exercise of a hierarchical power in the Christian Church, these were the ecclesiastico-political principles in which the new sect originated.
With an effrontery hitherto unheard of in the Christian Church, this party has shown, particularly in the “Journal of the Evangelic Church,” a settled system of intolerance, denunciation, and resistance to the progress of religious light, a striving for ecclesiastical power and inquisitorial jurisdiction, obviously aiming at the establishment of a Protestant hierarchy, which, under the iron sway of an immutable, dead, Symbolic letter, must far exceed in rigor the Roman hierarchy, which in the person of the Pope has a principle of life. The germ of this mode of thinking lies in the very nature of Supernaturalism, as soon as it is applied in a consistent manner to life. Theoretical Supernaturalism, belief in a supernaturally revealed, absolute, divine truth, includes the recognition of an infallible doctrine and the necessity of a particular creed to salvation, and therefore in its practical application leads directly to intolerance, coercion, and hierarchical sway. Practical Supernaturalism, with its doctrine of the corruption of man's nature, and of salvation through grace alone, leads directly to the same result; since the natural tendency of men, on these principles, must be to the overthrow of all moral order, and they therefore require to be restrained by external force, by hierarchical compulsion in the name of God. The principles of tolerance, of religious freedom, and of pure moral order, are essentially those of the Rationalists. However, the struggle between Rationalism and Supernaturalism existed a long time before it took this practi. cal direction. It was only a conflict of opposite speculations, which excited little general interest, and was considered in a practical view insignificant, as in some measure it is still. Of late years various circumstances have given a new turn to the contest, and the once mild, quiet, and discreet Supernaturalism has acquired a passionate, intolerant, and fanatical character. The excitement produced by the German war of independence in the years 1813–1815, contributed greatly to produce this change. Then there was united with the hatred against the French and their political liberalism, a religious reaction against Rationalism. As the prevailing political feeling was a wish to restore the feudal aristocratical forms of the old German empire, which had been in a great measure overthrown after the Revolution by French influence, so there was a strong tendency to construct a new religious creed from the fragments of the old. The political restoration was connected with one of an ecclesiastico-religious character. From this period principally proceeded the reaction against freedom of spirit in matters of religion, which showed itself in various ways. At the same time efforts were made in the Catholic Church to restore the old forms and old power of the hierarchy, and in the Protestant Church to revive the authority of the old Symbols. Whether there is any formal but secret connexion between these two parties may be uncertain, although there are grounds for supposing its existence; but there is no doubt that they are closely united in principle. But, while these efforts in the Catholic Church are supported by the still existing power of the Pope and the hierarchy, and therefore may pretend to be made in the cause of the Church, the same spirit among Protestants is not favored by the existing constitution of their Church, nor in fact in any considerable degree by the secular authorities; and it therefore made its first appearance in the conventicles of Separatists, and at first, under the name of Mysticism and Pietism, was but little regarded. Pietism was a practical manifestation of the principles of Supernaturalism, but only in its application to the life of the individual, and under the shape of a narrow-minded Moravian aversion to the world, a morbid religious sensibility and intoxication of feeling, a stiff devotion and spiritual arrogance. Its adherents however maintained in their conventicles the still and quiet character of Separatism, without
disturbing the convictions of others except by their proselytizing zeal. But it was natural that the party of reaction should attach itself to this society of Pietists, in which it found a multitude of minds prepared to enter into its plans. Aided by various other circumstances, particularly the favor of many princes and political functionaries, the adherents of this party have of late years attempted to make an application of their principles to public life, and to raise themselves by attacking the existing state of religion and the Church. They have now left their conventicles, and have begun to be felt in the state and the Church. The principles of Supernaturalism respecting saving faith and the corruption of man's nature have become in practice hierarchical, and inimical to the spread of light. Thus the once harmless party of the Pietists has acquired a political character and has run into fanaticism. The most obvious manifestation of this new epoch has been the establishment of the “Journal of the Evangelic Church.” In other ways also the active zeal of this party of hierarchical obscurants has been clearly exhibited. North Germany, especially Prussia, is the principal seat of their influence, which extends to all parts of Germany and to other countries, especially England. Conventicles or prayer-meetings, Missionary, Bible, and Tract Societies, which are found particularly all over Prussia, form so many points of union, and maintain a close connexion among all the members of the sect. The centre of their activity, the state journal or government paper of the new ecclesiastical power, is the “Journal of the Evangelic Church,” in which are daily published sentences of condemnation against unbelievers, trials of the suspected, and laws for the direction of the faithful. We must therefore say a few words respecting its operations. The first words of its prospectus announce an object hostile to the spirit of religious freedom, namely, that of preserving a strict unity respecting the fundamental doctrines of Christianity, as set forth in the writings containing the creed of the Church; and every number maintains the hypothesis of the existence of indubitable divine truth, and demands the unconditional submission of human reason to the doctrine of the Church. In perfect consistency with these principles, intolerance, religious restraint, and proscription have been unblushingly advocated, and their opposites have been branded as weak lukewarmness, and only fit for those who have merely “subjective opinions.” These principles have been applied according to the measure of the party's strength, in the “Journal of the Evangelic Church,” against the most distinguished theologians among the Rationalists, who are attacked, not with argument, but with contumely and denunciation. Thus Röhr, Krug, Niemeyer, Schultz, Won Cölln, Clausen, and even Schleiermacher, have been proscribed as apostates and heathens. The struggle against Rationalism is represented as the struggle of religion against infidelity, of Christianity against Heathenism, of the divine against the human, the truth against falsehood. Not merely the proper Rationalists, but even Supernaturalists, when they do not bow unconditionally to their system, are subjected to the same condemnation; witness Bretschneider, Goldhorn, Steudel, Neander, Fritzsche, Rust. Dinter, particularly, who deserves so much credit for his “Schoolmaster's Lexicon,” has often been made the object of their attacks. The “Hours of Devotion,” which have afforded religious edification to many thousands, have been decried as a book wholly unchristian, as a “Bible of Naturalism.” The most striking instance of the inquisitorial spirit of the “Journal of the Evangelic Church,” is its attacks on the two professors at Halle, Wegscheider and Gesenius. It could not escape the New Evangelicals, that the struggle in which they were engaged could not be confined within the limits of theology and religious doctrine; they must have seen that the spirit of free inquiry, which they strove to suppress and to subject to the dead letter of their Orthodoxy, extended to all the departments of life and intellectual activity, and they have therefore applied their light-resisting principles with a skill and method not to be mistaken, wherever a spirit of free inquiry was to be found. Thus they have attacked the age and its general spirit. “The religion of cultivated minds,” say they, “is a religion of Heathenism, Mohammedanism, and false philosophy,” the whole tone of modern sentiment and intellectual cultivation is idolatry, the whole of the enthusiasm for art and science in our time is only a substitute for the extinct spirit of religion, and is “an expression of a heathen tone of mind.” Thus the heroes of German literature, Schiller, Göthe, Jean Paul, Herder, Jacobi, Winckelmann must submit to the sentence of this inquisitorial tribunal, and the free play of their genius be condemned as unchristian and heretical, according to the narrow standard of a dead Orthodoxy. All branches of science and art they have attempted to subject to the standard of the Church and the Bible. According to their confined views, philosophy, education, and poetry must take their character from Christianity. Intellectual philosophy has been adapted to the standard of Supernaturalism, as, for instance, Heinroth attempted to establish psychologically the doctrines of sin and redemption (Vol. II. No. 18 et seq.); even Natural Science, in spite of its gigantic progress in our time, must bow to the crude notions of the Israelites as given in the Bible, and particularly the best established results of modern geology must be condemned as irreligious, because inconsistent with the Mosaic account of the creation. In politics also the “Journal of the Evangelic Church” opposes unhesitatingly the liberal spirit, and struggles strenuously against the efforts of the people for free constitutions and civic rights. The whole tendency of the “Journal of the Evangelic Church,” is therefore to destroy the fruits of a spirit of free inquiry, and to introduce darkness and barbarism in science, art, morals, politics, under the influence of a dead Orthodoxy. That the party will fail in its object we cannot doubt, when we consider the omnipotence of the spirit of our times, which, once avowed, will break down all obstructions. Not the Protestant Church only, which in its history and spirit belongs to Rationalism, but our whole intellectual cultivation, science, art, morals, civil order, and legislation depend for existence on intellectual freedom; and if the stiffened form of an obsolete faith is to be thrust into its place, all these must perish. The madness of fanaticism alone could make the attempt.
ART. III.-Female Convents. Secrets of Nunneries Disclosed. Compiled from the Autograph Manuscripts of Scipio de' Ricci, Roman Catholic Bishop of Pistoia and Prato. By M. DE Potten. Edited by Thomas Roscoe. With an Introductory Essay and Appendix. New York. 1834. 12mo. pp. 268.
THE American editor of this compilation had in view the state of the market, and not the contents of the work he was about to publish, in fixing on the title-page here given. The book is made up, with but little skill or judgment, out of the “Memoirs of Scipio de' Ricci,” formerly noticed in this Journal. * The disclosures respecting convents fill some dozen pages, and the rest of the volume contains accounts of the various reforms attempted without success by the Tuscan prelate, and of his subsequent recantation, his reconciliation with the Pope, and his death. Neither this, nor any other of the numerous publications which have appeared in the Catholic controversy, gives any thing like a connected view of the
* March, 1830; the title-page, as there given being, “Memoirs of Scipio de' Ricci, late Bishop of Pistoia and Prato, Reformer of Catholicism in Tuscany under the Reign of Leopold. Compiled from the .Autograph Manuscripts of that Prelate, and the Letters of other distinguished Persons of his Times. Edited from the original of M. DE Potter, by Thomas Roscoe. London. 1829, 2 vols. 8vo.