Page images

continental labour, and every where indeed to lift up their combined testimony against the lying delusions of the Church of Rome. To be valiant for God's truth in the earth, wherever a faithful testimony on its behalf may be required, is one of the indispensable conditions of our Christian standing, and cannot be neglected but at infinite peril.

We have heard much of the orgies and infidelity of German students, but were not prepared for so dark a picture as Dr. M. has drawn of them, not from report, but from personal observation. The detail we should be sorry to transcribe. Let us give the summary.

" Mr. William Howitt," he observes, “ has written, upon Germany, several interesting works: and summed up his views and conclusions of the student's life in German universities. I can most fully corroborate his judgment pronounced in the following quotation, and lament the truth when he says, 'Amongst the whole number of German students whom I have known, it would be difficult to select a dozen who were not confirmed deists. Let those who doubt the extent to which this philosophical pestilence is spread, go and judge for themselves; but let none send out solitary youths to study in German universities, who do not wish to see them return very clever, very learned, and very completely unchristianized.'.... No one will wonder, when you have such a system as I have described. This is the progress of knowledge without piety. The young men are sent to these universities, where they can hear and note the lectures that I referred to, without much cost: where they can associate, smoke and drink together: where they can attend to the class, indeed, during the hours of lecture : but where they can neglect the preparation for the class; and during the twenty-four hours that intervene, abandon themselves to absolute wickedness."'-(pp. 157, 158.) - Dr. M. has bestowed some twenty-five pages or more on the Coat of Treves and Father Ronge. The particulars are interesting, but the subject has become stale--we might say unprofitable-except that, by inference, the lessons are alike monitory and affecting. Dr. M.'s opening and concluding paragraphs may just be quoted to show, that with him, as with many others, hope in this case has told a flattering tale.

“ I have already," he says, “ alluded to the sacred tunic, “the Coat of Treves,'--events which occurred almost simultaneously with my visit, which were indeed then in embryo, and have since attracted the attention of Europe, require that I should not so slightly dismiss the claims and connections of the seamless vesture, which has been the glory of Treves, and may be reckoned its disgrace, but which I hope will be the confusion of Rome, and a star of morning light to reformed Germany....

“I shall hereafter meet again with him (Ronge) and those who have identified themselves with his cause, when I may be better able to estimate bis character, and the consequences of his fearless struggle and generous undertaking. Leipsig and Halberstadt will recal his adherents to the new German Catholic Church. A few weeks may produce a mighty change in the religious aspect of the German nation and the present century."-(pp. 212, 227.)

“ Ronge has done more for Treves then did Helena or Constantine, and the coat of Treves, reversed d'or, may be interwoven with his quarterings 1846.

4 P

by the heraldist of some future age, though a greater honour awaits him than the renown of earthly titles."'-(p. 245.)

The present aspect of the question will probably warrant our appending the note which Dr. M. has given at the end of his volume. It suggests perhaps the true view of the case, and, with the extract underneath i from Dr. Pinkerton's annual statement as

Dr. P. thus writes:-" The movement on the Rhine and in Westphalia seems to have been chiefly produced by the intolerant and oppressive measures of the priests against Roman Catholics married to Protestants, so that nine-tenths of all the members of the new congregations which have left Rome in those parts belong to such families : and though the same proportion does not seem to hold in reference to the congregations in Berlin, Silesia, and Saxony, yet the numbers are very considerable ; more so, I believe, than I have been able to ascertain ; for the leaders of the movement in those parts seemed un willing to disclose the truth on this point, and studiously avoided giving direct answers to my queries, or gave such indefinite replies as to render it impossible for me to get at the truth. Among the proofs which I have already given you of the tyranny of the priesthood, I will merely add one more, taken from the higher ranks of society. The - spake to me feelingly of her own trying circumstances in this respect, to the following effect :-“ My aged father,” said she, " is a strict Roman Catholic, and it would be more than he could bear were I to leave that communion. My husband is a Protestant, and my children are all educated in that faith, and for this reason alone the bishop and clergy have for five years refused me the communion : the Bible I dare not read, for they strictly prohibit it," &c. &c. I pointed out to her that it was her bounden duty to peruse the Holy Scriptures, that her conscience might, through their light, and the teaching of the Holy Spirit, become emancipated from the bonds of Popery and priestcraft, and be brought into the liberty of the children of God, &c.

“ It appears evident, from aïl that I have been able to observe and learn, that the movement is everywhere confined to persons in the lowest ranks of life. I have made every inquiry, but cannot learn that a single individual from the higher circles of society has joined it, and, excepting a very few of the leading men, comparatively few persons from the middle ranks. Everywhere I found the same lamentations from the elders and preachers respecting the great poverty of the people, and also respecting their ignorance of the Scriptures; and therefore my offer to supply the people with them has met with a cordial welcome in many parts, though not everywhere.

“ They have about forty ministers among them; but what are these among so many scattered congregations in different parts of Germany? They are also destitute of churches and schools, and have not the means of erecting them. I have seen but one church being built among them, that of Schneidemühl, the funds for which have been contributed by the German Protestants. In some few places, such as Berlin, Breslau, Brunswick, Magdeburg, Stuttgart, &c., they are allowed the use of Protestant churches, and in many instances, during the suminer, they have kept their meetings in the open air, attended by many thousands. In many places, where they have no ministers, they attend the Protestant service ; and, for the above reasons, it is highly probable that many of these small scattered communities will, at no distant period, take a step further, as one of their elders expressed himself, and join the Protestant church.

“In my intercourse with their leaders, I have constantly borne my testimony to the inspiration of the Scriptures, the divinity of our Lord, and other vital doctrines of Christianity. May He, whose I am, and whom I seek to serve, bless this humble testimony, which I found myself in conscience bound to make! Wir

to make! With Dr. — I spake freely on these and other points. I asked him if he was intending to write a catechism for the children. He replied in the affirmative. Then,' said I, 'I hope you will give the full testimony of Scripture respecting the person of Christ, and not merely bring forward one side of the subject. He assured me that he was determined to abide by Jesus Christ, and that the necessities of the human heart would bring them at length to admit the whole truth. “Well,' said I, I hope the definitions of the Catechism will make up for the deficiences of their creed.

" In the leading circumstances of this movement we have an answer to the boasted unity of the Romish Church, and a salutary check to the ultramontane party, especially in Silesia : but as extremes approach each other, so in this extraordinary commotion we behold many leaders of it casting off, not merely the superstitions of Popery, but also

the agent of the British and Foreign Bible Society, will be read with interest.

“ By some of my readers I may be thought to have taken too favourable a view of the present religious movement and its leaders in Germany. A more mature discussion of the subject would afford a clear index of my thoughts and inquiries; and I cannot hesitate to avail myself of a communication from a friend, recently a witness of the work and the labourers. His opinions may be useful to others. He found it difficult to sympathize with the movement on account of its rationalism. He says, 'With but few exceptions, (amongst whom Czerski deserves honourable mention, the more especially as he has left that body, and is tolerably orthodox, considering all things) these ' Reformers' are Neologists. The speculations of certain journalists, about the real character of this movement, are grievously at fault. The fact is undeniable that Ronge and Kerbler, at least, deny the inspiration of the Bible, the deity of Christ, and the Atonement, as fully as ever Belsham did. There is far more political and theological liberalism in the affair than religion. This is sad indeed, but I have the best evidence of its truth. To compare Ronge's agitation to Luther's is preposterous. It is admitted that both are antagonistic to Popery; but so were likewise the leaders of the French revolution.

But the Confessions ?' Confessions of faith are worth no inore in Germany than at Oxford, nor so much even; for subscription is not obligatory. I have attended an ordination of one of their priests, where the only profession was a series of negations, which any Socinian might have declared.

The state and tendency of the German mind differ much in the nineteenth century from what they were in the sixteenth. Perhaps something may be ascribed to these differences in the religious revolutions and developments of the present times.”-(p. 548.)

We must not pass this extract without observing that the more carefully we mark the aspect of the times, the more inclined we are to set a high value both upon Confessions and subscription to them; we do not mean negative Confessions, but such as our national church, we rejoice to say, still boasts, and which, while maintained as a national Confession, will prove one of our truest bulwarks against every aggression that may be made upon us. We say this not in the spirit of partizan churchmanship, but, we trust, in the spirit of true catholicism, and with the liveliest concern for the perpetuity of our Protestant State. It is true we have dishonest men among us; but how would these wolves have been detected or their ravages stayed, but by means of the test and restraint of scriptural and authoritative symbols—symbols which embody their own confessions, and therefore convict them as traitors ? « Whereunto we have attained, let us walk by the same rule -let us mind the same thing," holding fast what we have received, and never forgetting that truth is a reality, not a negation-something to be believed, and therefore professed.

some of the vital principles of Christianity itself. Another striking feature of Ronge's party is this—that instead of appealing to the Holy Scriptures, like the Reformers, or fighting the battle against Rome with the sword of the Spirit, their appeal is chiefly to human reason, and their sword is the spirit of the age ;'--a spirit of negation, which exalts human reason above Divine revelation, and subjects it to the interpretation of the spirit of the times; so that God is not allowed to say more than man permits, and human reason must sanction what He does say. What horrid blasphemies ! But such is the fact. And yet we hope, that not only the congregations that hold to Czerski, but also in some of those who have adopted the Breslau creed, there are many individuals that are in search of truth and peace to their troubled minds; and it is to such especially that the Word of God will prove most seasonable and precious.

“ Indeed, my present visit to the chief congregations of these new Catholics appears to have been just in time to call their attention to the Holy Scriptures, and to prevail upon many of them to adopt the Lutheran version of them in preference to any other." ( Monthly Extracts from the Correspondence of the British and Foreign Bible Society," July 31, 1846.)

The following will be read, as it is stated, with grief :“I hope that the superstition which prevails will be made to yield to the spread of truth, of pure and undefiled religion. I am sorry to have such a fact to state ; but I would be no propagator of delusion : and I must acknowledge it, that, in all the places which I visited in this district, (Banks of the Moselle) I did not hear of or find an enlightened, or as I should deem him, a qualified minister of the Gospel. I went to hear the service of the Church of England-(two ordained clergymen took part in the duties of the morning, and one of them preached)-I was devoutly solicitous that I might profit from the observances. The sermon was from a text which I thought would surely suggest evangelical doctrine, aad develop the attractions of the cross. I did hope, during the first five or six sentences, the preacher was about to tell his auditory (nearly 150 people) the way of salvation: but it proved nothing better than a mere moral essay. It was not such a sermon as would teach the inquiring sinner the path of life, or give him the knowledge of the only living and true God. The principles on which Christian obligation can be alone effectually and consistently enforced, were not recognized, and, I fear, were not known. All over that country the Protestants are as one to nine Catholics: the people are perishing in ignorance : the formal Protestant, and the nominal Catholic, without a foreign or a native ministry to show unto them the truth as it is in Jesus, or cause them to hear the joyful sound: they have no one caring for their souls."'-(pp. 246, 247.)

And, again :“In this country (the province or principality of Nassau) there are about 190,000 Protestants, there are about 160,000 Roman Catholics, and about 6000 Jews : there are a few, a very few Dissenters, perhaps 190 or 200, who are chiefly called Mennonites. In the whole principality I did not hear of a faithful minister of the Gospel. Throughout the whole region I had reason to apprehend that guests, and strangers, and inhabitants, spend their sabbaths in frivolity, and that thousands go down to the chambers of the grave without any fear or love of God. The Sundays of the fashionable coteries are not merely seasons of recreation, but of the most frivolous amusements in theatres, and of formality in the celebration of a morning service which derives its sanction from association and courtly patronage: the Divine object is not recognized as the author of the mode or spirit of his own worship. I take even Sir George Head's description of the religious services which he attended, and I feel myself constrained to testify to the extent in which I could obtain information, that there is not, so far as it can be manifested by constraining love and active and holy zeal, what we understand to be a gospel minister throughout that principality."'-(p. 342.)

We might extend these painful notices, but must check ourselves. The little space we have left must be devoted to our author's “Recollections" of other countries which he passes in review.

Having conducted his readers through the elder cities of Flanders, and the more modern ones of Belgium, along the banks of the Rhine, and to the baths of Germany, he next invites them to accompany him to Switzerland, describing “a line of country the most celebrated for natural and romantic scenery, and the habitations of a people whose history is the most renowned in the annals of national freedom."

"My time,” he says, " did not permit that I should traverse the cantons of Zurich, Lucerne, and Unterwalden : though I looked wistfully to the land of Tell, and should have deemed a pilgrimage to the scenes of his boyhood, and of his son's boyhood, around Altorf and Fluelen, more grateful than a mere youthful romance, and more exciting in the remembrance than all the poetic fictions which local legends have interwoven, or the dramatic muse has inspired in the strains of her sons of song. It had not been to ascertain the truth or fiction, the fact or allegory, of Gessler's atrocity, or Tell's parental anguish, fortitude, or revenge: or merely to trace the rude inscriptions which mark the spot where stood the younger Tell, sustaining on his head the apple, which his father was doomed to sever or pierce his son :-but I should have stayed here as on the classic ground of libertywandered as around the cradle where mountain ramparts sheltered the infancy of republican freedom-and imagined that I was fostering sympathies, and endearing associations and principles to my own heart, which are destined yet to prevail more widely, and sway a more beneficial influence upon mankind.''

We give this as a personal sketch ; and perhaps, by the way, we may as well add the following:

“I would,” he says, “have visited Zurich as well as Constance, and admired it not less for the memory and labours of Myconius and Zuingle as early reformers, than for its manufacturing, diet-holding, reforming and educating enterprises in modern times: and even more for its association in early controversy with the question of the spirituality of the church as a community of true believers, than for the pellucid beauty of its lake; whose shores are besprinkled with villages and villas, manufactories, mills, and churches, (chiefly white) with scarce a hint of Alpine grandeur. Yet, more than all these, I wished to visit Geneva and Lausanne, and to realise the love of kindred spirits where Calvin and Farel laboured in the work of reformation, and left a reformed church partially emancipated; but destined by its secular alliance and subserviency to civil powers, to become obscured in errors, and deprived of its liberty, prostrated in formalism; and requiring as well as awakening the fervid eloquence, the historical labours, and christian sympathies of a Malan, a Merle D'Aubignè, a Gaussen, a Scherer, a La Harpe and Empaytaz."-(pp. 362, 363.)

Alas, though emancipated from the state, a church may still be obscured in errors' and 'prostrated in formalism.' Let us beg Dr. M. to be a little cautious here, and to remember that the church in this world is something more than a community of true believers. State-churches are by no means all we could wish, but we do not forget that there is a voluntary Romanism in Ireland, and a wide-spreading voluntary Rationalism in this country as well as on the continent. But for certain tests and

« PreviousContinue »