Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

prison discipline, the key of which is, a careful gradation of penalties and privileges, resting on understood conditions, and implying a certain degree of trust to be reposed in the prisoners themselves. We have not space to show how admirably the principles of it have been applied in the “congregate department,” the “family system,” and the apprenticeship to trades, all under control and supervision of the School ; only to say, that in great part it was his own study and skill by which the method was applied and developed, before its details could be learned from other sources. In connection with this topic, however, we add the testimony of those who have best understood this whole matter of public charities and reformatory discipline; who deplore our present fashion of congregating the criminal, the unfortunate, the insane, in vast public institutions, as full of evil and danger; and urge that they should be scattered in households of moderate size, under easier control, in nearer contact with society at large. The family system in operation at Westborough — especially through the influence of the excellent female heads of these households — has been full of unmixed good; and to it, in very great measure, the best results of the institution, economical as well as moral, are to be ascribed.

We do not write these pages in any spirit of hostility to the Board of Trustees, who have uniformly sustained Mr. Allen in his general management of the institution, assuming the full responsibility of the financial results which have incurred the criticism of the Secretary; and who, without doubt, are sincere in thinking that a different religious creed ought to control its moral discipline. Nor do we write to complain of any injustice or hardship as regards Mr. Allen himself, who has worn out a good deal of his strength in this service, and needs the reprieve his resignation gives him, in preparation for other labors. But we consider it a matter of the highest moment, - one which the people of this Commonwealth should seriously consider, - by what principles these munificent and noble charities shall be controlled. Still further : many thoughtful persons among us have been alarmed by what have appeared symptoms of a concerted movement, on a large scale

[ocr errors]

and extending through many years, to gain control over our great public institutions of education, charity, and reform, in the interest of certain “ evangelical ” sects. How earnest, patient, and hopeless that effort has been, in the case of Harvard College, the public is well informed. We entirely respect the motive which prompts that effort. We cannot conceive how any one, who honestly thinks a certain form of faith essential to the soul's salvation and the rescue of the world from ruin, can withhold any amount of zeal or exertion which might possibly save the highest interests of the State from being given in keeping to a “liberal” – that is, an infidel and soul-destroying - faith. But we stand on the plain, broad ground of Protestant and republican liberty, when we say, that the State, in its public action, must not recognize such a motive, or sanction any policy resting on theological ideas or interests of sect. The more conscientious that motive, and the more sincere that policy, the more heartily should it be withstood. And all citizens of the State, who value its true honor and welfare, are bound to watch, with exceeding jealousy, any symptom that may be betrayed of a policy, working in secret and unavowed, to effect, by indirection, what our Bill of Rights condemns as ecclesiastical domination and spiritual tyranny.

ART. IX. — REVIEW OF CURRENT LITERATURE.

Dr. LAENGIN's little book, on the “Moral Development of Jesus," * is one of the best of the many critical treatises in this kind which the new interest about the Man of Nazareth is continually bringing forth. It is a striking sign of the rationalistic spirit of the age, that there is 80 much criticism of Jesus ; that pious preachers, not less than professors in the seminaries, feel at liberty to do more than worship Christ, or prove his Divinity by texts; that they are willing to try his spirit, and consider the human side and sources of his character and his power. Dr. Laengin pretends to be orthodox, and has no

Ueber die sittliche Entwicklung Jesu. Von GEORG LAENGIN, Stadtpfarrer in Karlsruhe. Elberfeld, 1866. 16mo, pp. 120.

word of censure for those who accept the creeds and the orthodox view of the Christ. But he puts this wholly aside in his examination, and shows us in Jesus only the noble, pure, and spiritual teacher, who came to a ministry to which his “religious genius” had called him, and who grew into a larger appreciation of his office. As he was a man, with ties of home, family, kindred, friendship, neighborhood, he could not help being influenced by these ties. Dr. Laengin thinks it absurd to suppose, that relations which entered so largely into the action and the discourse of Jesus could have failed to affect his character. He denies that there is any evidence that Jesus had experience of guilt; but he finds abundant proof that Jesus was moved by various feelings, and had moods of mind. In his childhood, Jesus was taught like other children, and wa a diligent student of the Sacred Scripture. The growth of his intellect assisted in the formation of his character. His miraculous birth had nothing to do with this. There is no evidence that he knew any thing about this birth, or that it had any effect either upon his opinions or his action. He never alludes to it, nor do the evangelists or the apostles ever bring it into his words or their own arguments.

He had a fine temperament, or rather a fine union of all the four temperaments, nervous, bilious, lymphatic, and sanguine. In his disciplined soul, opposite traits were perfectly balanced : he could rebuke without wrath, and denounce without hatred. Dr. Laengin finds in his story the proof of sharp mental conflicts, not so much of the flesh against the spirit as of one part of the spirit against another, the issue leaving him always higher in the spiritual life. As a loving son and brother, it was hard for him to break away from friends of his blood ; but he did it, and was stronger for the sacrifice, though it in no way weakened his love for mother and brethren. As a faithful Jew, it was hard for him to renounce Jewish prejudice, in granting to Gentiles a place in the kingdom; but he did this, and saw the kingdom more glorious, and the Jewish nation more truly God's people in this larger view. His going to John for baptism was a moral act; his temptations were moral experiences; and the virtues which make a large, free, generous, and godlike soul were perfected more and more by his intercourse with men in their blindness, want, and suffering, as well the good as with the wicked. The violent death of John was a warning to him, which he could not neglect ; and, after this, his discourse takes a sadder prophetic tone, though with no shade of fear or sign of relenting.

The ground-elements of the moral character of Jesus, as Laengin discovers them in his ingenious investigation, are, 1. A grand breadth and freedom of thought, shown not only in his direct teaching, but in his refutation of errors, and in his use of the Jewish Scriptures ; 2. A grand humanity and toleration, reaching to Gentiles and Jews alike, bigots and sinners, which showed itself even in his seemingly harsh speech, bearing even with the foolish superstitions of the time, and almost seeming to favor them; 3. A royal consciousness of his own personal dignity and freedom, shown in his self-assertion, and his accommodation to himself of ancient Messianic words ; 4. The incomparable purity and moral perfectness of his spirit, which allowed no passion to get mastery, and which gave him confidence to meet every hardness, and go bravely to his death.

The picture which Dr. Laengin gives of Jesus in his essay is as life-like and real as that by Renan in his fascinating romance; and it is a picture drawn and painted without departing from the authentic and historical sources. It is the picture of a rounded and perfect moral nature, pure in the beginning, and made larger and more divine by action in the world, acquaintance with its relations, and suffering from its trials. Will not the enterprising publisher, who has given to the American public “Ecce Deus” and “Ecce Homo " in so many editions, add to these essays a good translation of the shorter German treatise, which is as bright as the one, as original as the other, and truer than either, more free from fantasies, more accurate in learning, at once a scientific and a religious book ?

C. H. B.

A COMPANION, or rather a counterpart, to the work of Dr. Laengin, is the series of Lectures, by Mr. Bernard, on the “ Progress of Doctrine in the New Testament.”* The argument is close, compact, clear, ingenious, and, to a Calvinist, will seem undoubtedly convincing and unanswerable. It assumes that the New Testament is a single book, composed and arranged according to a Divine plan ; that it is a “revelation" in all its parts, and that all the revelation is in it. All that subsequent teaching and knowledge have done, only

* The Progress of Doctrine in the New Testament, considered in Eight Lectures delivered before the University of Oxford on the Bampton Foundation. By Thomas DEHANY BERNARD, of Exeter College, and Rector of Walcot. From the second London edition, with improvements. Boston: Gould & Lin. coln, 1867. 12mo, pp. 258.

explain what was here finished. The revelation begins with the first chapter of Matthew's Gospel, and ends with the last chapter of the Apocalypse, and is in all that comes between. No part can be spared. Matthew, revealing the Lawgiver, is continued in Mark, revealing Jesus the Power of God; Mark is continued in Luke, revealing the Friend ; and this one again in John, revealing the Word. The Gospels show us only the rudiments. They give the material out of which the Acts first, and then the Epistles, construct the order of saving faith; and it all culminates in the grand vision of the social salvation, — the New Jerusalem, the city of God. The logic is well enough ; but it will not meet the objection of those who deny the premises.

Mr. Bernard recognizes a difference in the method and the view of the Synoptics and of John, of Paul and of the other apostles; but he sees in this no contradiction, or lack of harmony. The Holy Spirit had work for all to do, and assigned to each one his portion. The most troublesome difficulty is in the ethical and practical theory of salvation which James gives in his Epistle. Mr. Bernard slurs this over in a hasty paragraph; suggesting only, in a note, that James had other ends in view, and did not think it necessary to defend the idea of the sacrificial atonement, so well established. The admissions of his book are useful. It is satisfactory to learn from so orthodox a believer, that the doctrine of the atonement requires subsequent development to make it clear as a doctrine of Christ; that the Great Teacher left this fundamental thing in an unformed and unintelligible state; that only the simplest parts of the Gospel scheme are shown to us in the Word of the Saviour and in the record of his life. In one of his notes, too, he intimates that the inspiration of the writers is not an influence from without, so much as a subjective process, coming in “study, reflection, comparison, deduction, a gradual increase in the fulness and proportion of knowledge, and a progress of doctrine in their own minds.” Indeed, there is in the book no assertion of any inspiration other than the Holy Spirit acting on honest souls ; and the grand and steady progress, the evolution, which we follow in this calm discussion, may be, after all, only a way of saying, that the followers of Jesus interpreted and systematized his doctrine, adding to it what the Spirit told them it lacked, and eliminating from it what was not needed for permanent doctrine. Bernard and Coquerel, from different standpoints, say the same thing, - that Christianity, as a dogmatic scheme, was not per

« PreviousContinue »