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Use of German Researches in the United States.
of the first and most indispensable means of removing this crying evil, is without doubt a reformation of theology. This most cast off the sectarian character with which it is at present clothed among us; lay aside its selfishness, and its insignificant party contentions, and become in spirit and truth free, united and catholic in the best sense of the word, and train up in the same spirit the future servants and leaders of the congregations, and through them the congregations themselves.
Of course, this work cannot be accomplished by theology alone, whether it be German, or any other. This theology must be changed into flesh and blood, into life and activity. For this work the American nationality, which possesses an uncommon practical talent, is peculiarly fitted. We do not hesitate therefore to assert, that the better element of the German theology transplanted to the soil of the New World, the world of the future, will yet bear much richer fruit, than even in the land of its birth, or in England. America is besides under particular obligation to transplant the spirit of the evangelical German theology, and to appropriate to herself in a living and organic way all the riches of her learning. For America is, in the first place, a free port to the entire old world. It exists not merely for English, Scotch and Irish; but every one, who believes in freedom and in the future, finds here a hospitable reception, and the most unlimited field to unfold his powers. This large and wise liberality is the most beautiful ornament of our constitution, and one of which it must never be robbed. For this reason we cannot suppose that our nation is to be a mere copy of England, but that, by a full appropriation of everything good and true in all European nations, it is to arise more and more to originality and independence of mind, and turn a new leaf in the history of mankind. A second ground of this obligation is the fact, that there exist among us already two organized German churches, Lutheran and Reformed, with German education and German customs, which form a very important part of our population especially in the Middle and Western States. Through increasing immigration these are daily growing in importance and influence. Their institutions of learning are becoming more and more conscious of their peculiar calling, and although they desire to be truly American with all their heart, yet they are unwilling for this very reason to be purely English or Scotch, but Anglo-German. Although their influence upon the literature of the country has been thus far very limited, we cannot from this draw an unfavorable conclusion for the future. The case will be
substantially changed, when once the masses are spiritually quickened, and thoroughly educated ministers occupy every station. Can we suppose that God has transplanted three millions of Germans to this continent, so pregnant with future events, only to be swallowed up in a foreign nationality without leaving a trace of their former existence behind them? Shall we not rather suppose that they are intended to act as a leaven upon it, to impart to it elements, which shall increase its powers, and lead it on to new paths of development ?
Thus we have given briefly our views concerning the importance of German literature, especially of theology, for America. That we are not indulging in dreams and idle fancies, is proven by the fact, that since the last twenty years a steadily growing interest has come to be taken in it especially in New England, and that an acquaintance with it is looked upon more and more as a necessary element of all higher education, even of ladies. In the leading literary journals we always find notices of translations of German works, or compilations from them, and our best authors show in their own works an immediate or mediate acquaintance with corresponding works of the German. In theology and philology the school of Andover deserves the highest praise. Paying no heed to the doubts and exceptions of ignorance and prejudice, it has opened the way to those rich fountains, and drawn from them with a noble and honorable love for learning. Her present eviable position and her extensive influence give a triumphant proof of the wholesome fruits which have been pro. duced by her efforts. But the movement once commenced, must necessarily be carried forward. To check the progress of German literature in this country is just as impossible as to banish railways, or steamboats, or the magnetic telegraph from the world. The Puritans do not belong to that class of persons who leave a work but half done. “Go ahead” is their watchword in all their undertakings. Whatever is done in New England gives measure and law to the whole United States. It is the cradle of our religious and political freedom, of our social habits and customs. It will also justly retain this tone-giving position, as long as it maintains its superiority in intelligence, in scientific culture and practical ingenuity; and that this is still the case, the writer of this imperfect sketch is free to admit, notwithstanding all his German Pennsylvania patriotism.
The book, whose title we have put at the head of our Article, is also an evidence of the growing interest of New England in Ger
man literature. We welcome it as a valuable contribution to a thorough knowledge of the German language and of the theology of the Reformation. It appears in very excellent style, and is highly creditable to the publishers. The printing is correct with exception of some unimportant errors such as almost unavoidably creep into every work. These“ Select Treatises of Martin Luther” are important in a double point of view. First and chiefly they have a philological value as a help in the learning of the German to those who have already proceeded beyond the elements. In this respect the book is admirably adapted to the higher classes in our colleges. The copious notes of the editor are abundant evidence of his thorough acquaintance not only with the forms but also with the spirit of the language, and are the more valuable since the larger part of such helps do not go beyond the mere surface. It was a happy thought of Dr. Sears to select Luther's writings, above all others, for this purpose; for he was not only a reformer of the faith, but also of the language of his nation. His translation of the Bible, especially, is a classic master-piece, and marked out the path for the later German national literature. The greatest poets, as Göthe, Schiller and Herder, formed their style upon this unsurpassed model. As Luther is the most true, original and vigorous representative of the German national character, both in its lights and shades, so too, he handles his mother tongue with an admirable and truly genial mastery. "Luther's language," says the renowned philologian Grimm, who is here the most competent judge, “on account of its noble and almost wonderful purity, and also of its mighty influence, must be considered as the kernel and basis of the new High German, from which even down to our times there have been only unimportant deviations, and these mostly to its injury in force and expression. The new High German may, in fact, be designated as the Protestant dialect; and its free and liberal spirit has long since obtained the mastery over the poets and writers of the Catholic faith, unconsciously to themselves. Our language, indeed, according to the irresistible course of all things, has sunk down into certain fixed grammatical forms, and relations of sounds; but for that which nourishes and regenerates these forms and sounds, for that which has caused it
E.g p.17, Alluss for Ablass ; p.18, seyr for schr; p.19, löcherichen for locherichter, Opinien for Opinionen; p. 98, Kurper for Körper; p.105, Deutschlann for Deutschland ; p. 213, Note, den Aeltern for die, and die Kinder for der. We often meet with ck instead of ki, e.g. in Gedancken, slitreken (p. 290), and tz instead of simple z, as in Herlz, Schmertz, etc.
to put forth the blossoms of a new poetry, we are indebted to no one more than to Luther.”' Whoever, then, would obtain a thorough mastery of the modern German language, whoever wishes to understand it genetically, must go back to this fountain, which gushes forth so fresh and clear, and he will assuredly be struck with ever increasing wonder at its singular force, flexibility, fulness, depth and manifoldness.
These “ Select Treatises” are also important in an historical and theological point of view. They lead us into the laboratory of that stupendous religious movement, which shook the whole of Europe, and founded a new world in the Western hemisphere, For the United States, through the medium of English Protestantism, are, in their thinking and acting, rooted in the German Reformation. But it is impossible to obtain a complete knowledge of the great Reformer without access to his works in the original. They are so peculiarly German, that even the best translation must be defective. Here, now, is an opportunity offered to become acquainted with several of his most important productions, which once kindled the fire of enthusiasm in thousands and millions of hearts. The selection appears to us to be on the whole a happy one. The most important and interesting piece is manifestly the famous “ Schrift an den christlichen Adel deutscher Nation ; von des christlichen Standes Besserung.” Luther wrote this at the end of June, 1520, and in it, for the first time in a formal way, regard. less of consequences, declared war against the whole Romish system. Before this, he had chiefly attacked only some single crying abuses. This is a genuine national work, written with the fiery zeal of an Elias, and with the noble indignation of a German heart. It worked like a fire-brand in the German nation. Before two months had passed, four thousand copies were sold. It has a certain affinity with the patriotic efforts of the German knights, Ulrich von Hutten, Franz von Sickingen, and Sylvester von Schaumburg. Luther saw in them his helpers, but at the same time he discerned very marked defects in their procedure. In their opposition to the Italians, they proceeded from a one-sided patriotic and political point of view, and made use of carnal weapons; by bitter sarcasm, biting irony, and the warlike sword, they would overthrow a system which could be successfully conquered only by the spiritual might of the positive truth of the pure gospel. Thus Luther, in the year 1521, wrote to Spalatin regarding Hutten: “I would not that they should fight for the gospel with violence and bloodshed, and thus have I answered him. By the word
1847.] The two Works performed by Luther.
519 is the world overcome, by the word is the church preserved, also by the word will it again come to its rights; and Antichrist, as he got what is his without violence, will without violence fall.” The most important thought which Luther declares in his appeal to the German nobility is that of the universal priesthood of Christians, in opposition to an exclusive hierarchical order in the Catholic church. The distinction between clergy and laity is merely a distinction of office, and necessary for the sake of order. But every one, says Luther, who has been baptized, and who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ, is essentially a priest and king. Who does not at once see the extremely important consequences which the realization of this genuine Protestant idea must bring with it into the religious and even the political life of the world ? For we may say that the democratic ideas of modern times are only a transference of the doctrine of the universal priesthood from the domain of the church to that of the State. It might indeed now also be the case, that the laity of the higher ranks, who, with so great trust, encouraged and called upon Luther to shake off the Romish yoke, would assume to themselves too many rights over the church. This was in fact the case in the period of the Reformation, with the kings and princes in Germany and England; and it cannot be denied, that the Reformers were not always circumspect enough in guarding against the evil of a sort of papacy of royalty (Caesareopapismus), which has done so much injury to the Protestant church of the old world.
Our limits forbid us giving an account of the other pieces contained in this volume, which are partly of an exegetical and practical religious character, and partly relate to education. We only wish to be allowed to make one proposal before we take leave of this book. Luther's activity as a Reformer may be divided into two periods, which are very different from each other, but which, instead of excluding are complements of one another. The dividing line between the two was the year 1521. In the first period he contended from the Protestant position against Popish errors. It was a contest of freedom against spiritual tyranny, of living faith against dead works of the law, of the deepest convictions of the soul against an outward ceremonial service, of the feeling of individuality and nationality, which had attained its majority, against the arrogant usurpations of a foreign power beyond the Alps. This contest against Rome began with the ninetyfive theses, and reached its highest point at the Diet of Worms, where Luther bore fearless testimony to his deepest convictions,