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Their Historical Character.
was such an epoch in his life, and exemplifies our duty in the critical periods which we experience. In another discourse from the same text, he treats of the wisdom with which Christians ought to regulate their secret thoughts. In a sermon preached? on Ascension day from Mark 16: 14—20, instead of dwelling on the departure of Christ to heaven, be announces as his prominent theme, The duty of Christians to be careful that they so live, as to exert a good influence upon the world after their death. This truth is vividly illustrated by Christ's life and ascension. He discourses on the value of quick decisions from Luke 5:1-11,3 which records Peter's sudden resolution to let down his net at Christ's command. The text Luke 7:11-17 suggests to him, The wonderful connection of sorrowful with joyful events in the fortunes of nien.4 From the fact inentioned in the lesson Luke 14:1-11 that the Pharisees watched Jesus, he derives the Proposition that we are frequently observed by others without remarking it ourselves; sometimes a) by the unprejudiced as by children, who wish merely to notice what is done; sometinies b) by friends, who watch us because they love us; sometiines c) by critics, who examine our conduct merely to improve their knowledge of human nature; and sometimes d) by enemies, who lie in wait for us. Hence we should be afraid to sin, should be incited to a reforination of the life, to the strictest care of our outward conduct, and an unwearying diligence in doing good.5 From the same text he discourses, in another sermon,6 on The foresight with which we should prevent others from making a bad use of
The treatment which Paul received at Malta, bis being regarded first as a murderer, then as a God (Acts 28:1-10), is ingeniously employed by our author7 to illustrate the Proposition, that distinguished men appear enigmatical to the inulitude, a) being different from others in mental power, they are suspected of dangerous error ; b) being superior in moral principle, they are condemned as devoid of fellow feeling; c) being elevated above others in their outward conduct, they are wondered at for their want of wisdom or tacı; d) rising against all obstacles to great influence, they are at once admired, feared, and resisted; e) suffering much from the ingratitude of others
Predigten, 1799, Band I. ss. 129—140. • Predigten, 1801 Band I. ss. 440—460.
Predigten, 1802, Band II. ss. 167—186. • Predigten, 1802, Band II. ss. 298–318. • Predigten, 1804, Band II. ss. 124–143.
Predigten. 1797. Band II. ss. 358–374.
Predigten, 1809, Band II. ss. 247-266. This sermon contains some obscure references to Napoleon Buonaparte, who, at the time of its delivery, was usurping the German thrones, and was a particular favorite at the Saxon court.
and from their own inattention to earthly comfort, they are misunderstood with regard to their motives and principles of action. Hence we should a) exercise the greatest caution in judging of the character and conduct of chose, whom we do not understand because they are elevated above our sympathies; b) we should cherish true benevolence toward all inen, for thus, as did the citizens of Malta, may we confer a favor upon some onknown but remarkable personage; c) we should derive all possible benefit to ourselves from great men, for He who in his providence sent Paul to heal diseases in Malta, has sent remarkable personages to us for our intellectual and moral instruction.
The degree in which Reinhard's discourses derive a vivacily and continued freshness of interest from the infusion of their historical element, may be seen in his very agreeable sermon on the domestic life of Jesus, from the lesson John 2: 1-11. We are interested, he says, in knowing the particulars of Christ's first public act, and also of his whole preceding course. The lesson of the day gratifies us in regard to the former, but we have little information with regard to the latter. From his twelfth to his thirtieth year, a thick cloud hangs over bis history. The scene described in the text, however, affords some intimations conceruing the character which he had previously established. This scene occurred on the confines of his private and public career. He had in reality commenced his great work, and on this occasion he performed his first miracle. But he had not become known as a public teacher. He was regarded as yet a plain inhabitant of Nazareth. He had called disciples around him only two days before; and was now invited with his new friends to the wedding of one of his relatives, with no suspicion that he had outgrown his interest in such scenes, or emerged from the family life in which he had heretofore so cheerfully participated. The incidents, then, of this marriage feast, combined with some hints in other passages of the Gospels, slightly raise the curtain which hides his domestic history, and enable us to cast a few glances at his household character. We discover signs that in his domestic life he was a) a remarkable son, full of obedience to his parents; b) an industrious member of the family, (working as a carpenter with his father,) c) engaging in the commonest businesses of life with his inind fixed on the noblest ends; d) exbibiting a still, modest greatness, which would be scarcely observed by the neighborhood, (which was not recognized by his brethren even, and apparently by none but his mother, who watched his movements closely, and laid them up in her heart); d) holding himself back from confidential, inti
· Predigten, 1802, Band I. ss. 47-69.
Their Historical Character.
mate friendships, even although he possessed the most affectionate sensibilities, and never more so than in his earlier years. When he appeared on the stage of public action, he seems, with all his tender. ness and kindliness of feeling, to have formed no hearty intimacies with his townsmen or even his brothers. These glimpses into the domestic life of Jesus, a) increase our reverence for him and confirm our faith in his character and mission. b) They fill us with the greatest respect for the institution of the family. The Son of God lingered thirty of his thirty-three years in the bosom of an humble household, was sedulous in accommodating himself to its wants, and was formed for his great work under its plastic influences. c) They allure us to contentment with our vocation, and an honest zeal in the discharge of our daily duties. The Lord of all things passed by far the greater part of his life at home, working in the honest trade of his father ; then and there he grew in wisdom and in favor with God and man. He thus consecrated our well meant industry; and l.is exaniple should stimulate us to fulfil all righteousness, in quiet resignation to the divine will, and with an eye uplified to our heavenly home.
Living in an age and in a city somewhat notorious for licentious indulgences, it was natural that so conscientious a preacher as Reinhard should seek and even invent an occasion for discoursing on the duties of the family relation. The same text which was at the foundation of the sermon last noticed, affords him an opportunity for administering the needed rebuke in connection with a beautiful narrative. The incidents at the wedding in Cana, John 2:1-11, suggest to him as a theme, the Home feeling, or the Sense of Domestic duty and bliss. He considers the theme logically, but it is entwined by the historical spirit of the text. First, he explains this virtue as involving a) a decided love of the family relation; b) a lively zeal in performing the duties of that relation; c) a tender interest in the joys resulting from it. Secondly, he shows the importance of this home feeling, as a virtue, a) prompted by nature, b) recommended by prudence, c) enjoined by duty, d) hallowed by religion. Thirdly, he applies the subject, a) in a warning to those who, being free from the family relation, do not cherish the sense of domestic duty and bliss; b) in an entreaty to those who are unhappy in their household relations, because they are deficient in this virtuous home feeling; and c) in an encouraging exhortation to those who preside over families, and who therefore ought to awaken in themselves and impart to their households this attachment to domestic scenes.
| Predigten, 1801, Band I. 88. 47–69.
On the Feast of the Epiphany, Reinhard selects for his subject the Weakness of Sin.) He arrives at this theme by the following circuit : the lesson of the day is Matt. 2: 1–12; this passage includes the description of Herod's unsuccessful attempt to destroy the infant Jesus ; and this attempt is an instance of both crime and impotence. In discussing the weakness of sin, Reinhard divides his discourse into four general topics, and subdivides each into two specific heads, and distinguishes each of these into a particular description of Herod's crime, and an application of the principle which it involves to all other sin. Sin is weak, A. because it is without the aid of truth, and this, a) because it involves ignorance of the truth, as Herod was impotent through want of knowledge; and b) because it implies hatred of the truth, as Herod was unwilling to reflect on the folly of his efforts to destroy the Messiah. Sin is weak, B. because it is without courage, and this, a) because it prevents the sinner from relying on his own cause, as Herod was made fickle and childish by want of confidence in the goodness of his designs; and b) because it prevents the sinner from relying on the support of his comrades, as Herod, although impelled by his ignorance to seek the aid of the Magi, was still upable to trust them, and this want of confidence in one's associates generates cowardice in one's self. Sin is weak, C. because it is without the love of others, and this is seen in the fact, a) that sin cannot secure the affection of men, as Herod's selfishness was abhorred in despite of all the splendor in which it was concealed, and in the fact, b) that sin will always excite the opposition of men, as Herod was mocked and thwarted by those whom he had endeavored to propitiate. Sin is weak, D. Because it is without the aid of God, and this is seen in the fact, a) that God makes use of the sin of men in forwarding his own schemes, as Herod's public efforts to destroy the Messiah gave a previously unattained celebrity to the cause which he wished to exterminate, and in the fact, b) that God will thwart those influences of sin which oppose his designs, as he baffled the attempts of Herod to slay the infant Jesus, and although he gave to that king great power, he did not enable him to injure a young child whose life was iinportant for the kingdom of God.
There are but few preachers who employ the historical element with so much skill and success, as Reinhard; and the sprightliness which his style derives from it, contributes much to relieve the
Their Didactic Character.
§ 10. Didactic Character of his Sermons. A didactic preacher is often thought to be a soporific one.
But when the inquisitiveness of hearers is aroused, and they are earnest to pry into an intricate theme, they are gratified and enlivened by nothing more than by explanations which they hear from the pulpit. In an eminent degree are the discourses of our author explanatory. They thus satisfy that craving for information which has been excited by their startling character. He expounds the Bible, not in the desultory, vagrant, dissipating style so common with what are called expository preachers, but with strictness of logical method. He explains his suliject, whatever his subject be. Here is indeed a fault in his theory and practice. Some of his elucidating divisions are needless, and as they conduce to a monotony of arrangement, are hurtful. Discoursing on Matt. 6: 24—34,2 he propounds as his theme, The little incidents of daily life, from which we should derive nourishment for our confidence in God; and then announces the following Division : first, these little incidents of daily life must be definitely described; secondly, it may then be shown how they should be used for cherishing our confidence in God. The first of these Divisions is subdivided into four Heads. A similar excess is not infrequent. A want of transparency is the last defect which can be ascribed to our author. An exuberance of elucidatory remark is one of his most common, but one of his best faults. It must be acknowledged that the pulpit generally leaves unexplained much which is not understood by the auditors.
The didactic character of his sermons, however, is not liv.ited to their explanations of the text or the theme. It pervades his whole discussion. An interesting specimen of it is found in one of his sermons on Luke 16: 149.3 The chief doctrine, he remarks, suggested by this parable is, that man should use the good things of this life, as means of promoting his welfare in the life to come. But with this doc
' He often complains in his Prefaces that he is not permitted to preach upon and thus explain a greater variety of texts, but is confined to the lessons from the Go-pels. In the year 1806, however, he was allowed by the Government to preach upon the lessons from the Epistles. His sermons for this year are remarkably rich expositions of Scripture. In 1807 he was remanded by the civil powers to the lessons from the Gospels, the same
ame on which he had already published more than twenty volumes of sermons, and on which all the clergymen of his country had regularly preached for many years. See the Prefaces to his discourses for 1807 and 1808.
? Predigten, 1800, Band II. ss. 167—186. 3 Predigten, 1796, Band I. ss. 234—253.