Page images

greatest practical question I know, How are we to pour a new and quickening life into the pulpit ?

But, first, what would that quickening life be? I answer, simple earnestness, a profound impression and religious tenderness in the preacher, that would touch all hearts around him. I know what is said of gifts, of genius, of enthusiasm, as not belonging to everybody; and I admit all their value and charm. But I maintain, that there may be a deep feeling of religion without them. And he who should speak to me with that feeling, - he even who should so read a hymn, or a psalm of David, as to touch my heart, - would do more for me, of that for which I come to church, than the most splendid discourse without it. The splendid discourse I can read at home; but what I go to church for is impression, - to feel the power of religion. I recall now an aged man of the humblest ability and culture, - yet, when he stood up and prayed in the meeting, his slender frame and white locks trembling with emotion, like a holocaust of love and thanksgiving, — who made upon me more of that impression, than any other religious ministration that I remember in my youth. Mrs. Kemble, in her "Georgian Journal,” relates of her reading the words of Jesus to the slaves. She said afterwards, speaking of it, “As I read those words, I wondered how anybody ever dared to make a commentary upon them.” I do not doubt, that, for showing what those words meant, her reading was better than any commentary. I remember a simple woman teaching in a Sunday school, who so pronounced the word GOD,- I do not recall any thing else she said, - but who with such a tender awe pronounced that word, that it was a sermon to me, such as few could equal. That was forty years ago; but it has been a blessed impression upon my mind ever since.

But how is this sense of things divine, this religious fervor, to be obtained; which makes the weak strong, and the simplehearted more than eloquent? For answer, I think we must go to our religious nurture, and to the very roots of it. It has been superstitious; it has been based on false ideas; it has lacked a genial and inspiring warmth. All this must be

changed. Religious nurture must be as simple and natural as that which awakens the love of knowledge, of art, of beauty, of all things lovely and beautiful. Then, if the education of our youth in school and college could be what it should be ! Alas, it is not! But this being so, I will venture to say, that the object of our theological schools, should be, more than it has been, the nurture of a religious spirit. The learning obtained in them is well. But if our Theological Instructors - I speak it with all respect for them — could gather their pupils together weekly in earnest religious conference, and pour an enkindling warmth into those meetings, so that all hearts should be touched by it, so that the latent and slumbering sensibility should be nursed into a holy fervor and joy, I believe it would be worth more than all the learning. There has been one teacher the great Teacher

at whose feet we sit; and his words, at which our hearts leap for joy or tremble with awe, were not delivered in the style of what is ordinarily called eloquence. How sober and quiet they were ! but what great words, and of what immense, of what unequalled, power! Gather the wisest men of all ages, and not one of them, nor all of them together, could do for us what he has done. A power lies in the simple record of what he said and did and suffered, which no criticism can shake, - which even Renan's does not propose to disturb. It has not only pervaded, it has presided over, the civilization of nearly eighteen centuries; and if any thing on earth is of heaven, of the very providence of God, it is this.

A word now, in close, upon the Ordinances of the Church, which, to complete the view of Church influences, I ought to speak of.

Baptism has its fitness, - the birth-time rite, the celebration of a most momentous event, the thankful recognition of God's goodness, and the humble recognition, with prayer and consecration, of the most solemn trust that can be committed to mortals, - this is naturally fit and beautiful; though there be no express Christian warrant for it, except when applied to converts from heathenism. And why shall not the great Eucharistic Rite be regarded as naturally fit and beautiful, –

the affectionate commemoration of the ever-revered and beloved Master, - such visible homage to that wonderful being who stands alone in the world, in the thoughts of all who have ever read or known of him? It is natural to do this. Great men have often been so commemorated after death, are now; for a few years the memory of them has been so kept alive. But this memorial has stood through all the Christian centuries. It seems to me a serious thing to lower it from its place, and lay it aside. Much difficulty as I feel about the too commonly mournful, constrained, and superstitious observance of it, I cannot do that. It may be said, that the Quakers have laid it aside, without any ill consequence. I doubt that. Quakerism is going out into intellectual dispersion, for want of fixtures. A solemn memorial altar, standing in the world, may serve to bind men to the great Christian allegiance. I am as sensible as any one can be, of the mistaken ideas and manners with which the Lord's Supper has been surrounded: they have troubled me all my life. The notions of the communion, as a test or a profession of goodness, rather than a help to it; as a mark on the sheep of the fold; or as something to be partaken in with preternatural awe, are as injurious as they are wrong. Cannot something be done to correct them? Cannot we as pastors, by a manner in this service free from all superstition, by a manner simple, natural, cheerful, affectionate, and earnest, do something to invest it with a new character ? If I should hear of a company of disciples that came together in a cheerful heartiness and voluntariness, to spend an hour or an evening in the remembrance of Jesus; to sing hymns to him, perhaps, as of old; to sing anthems, to speak of him, to admire and to glorify the divinest man,

-I should want to be there. But it is not so with our ordinary celebrations: the spirit, I mean, is not such. We are too literal. We fix our thoughts upon the symbols, when it were better that the symbols were lost sight of, in the feeling of what they mean. The letter killeth; the form killeth: but the spirit maketh alive.

But the spirit maketh alive, - this would be my final word, if I had any to offer. The letter killeth: in dogma, in form,

in institution, the letter killeth. But the spirit, - the breath divine in our souls, the deep and living sense of religion in our hearts, underlying and quickening every thing else, this alone can make us men; this alone can make us preachers to men.


A Brief Survey of the Period of Revolutions (1789, 1848), in Public

Lectures at the University of Prague. By Dr. Anton HEINRICH SPRINGER. Prague: Published by Friedrich Ehrlich, 1849.

It is now eighteen years since this book was published in Germany, and it is not yet introduced to the American public; nor has it, to our knowledge, found a translator into the English tongue. Theodore Parker, who first brought it to our notice, urged another friend to undertake the task of translation, and himself corrected the version of the opening chapters; but other engagements prevented the completion of the task. It is in the hope of bringing it to the attention of publishers and the public, that we present a review of its contents.

The history of the last century has generally been studied among us from the French or English point of view; and the strong conservative tendencies of the one nation, the intense nationality of the other, have given color to the views of their most liberal writers. To the more philosophic and broader mind of Germany, we may reasonably look for a better insight into the causes of events and the progress of ideas.

Dr. Springer's book was published in the year 1849, during the brief period before the re-action which followed the popular movements of 1848. He does not pretend to speak as an indifferent spectator. He writes in the interests of a progressive humanity. He believes in the final establishment of the rights and freedom of all human beings. He claims to understand the revolutions of the past century, because he has

acted his part in the affairs of this ; because he has watched the same conflict of passions, has felt the same changes of hope and fear. He says, if his book has no other merit, it will at least have that of representing to posterity the thoughts and feelings of our time; the spirit which animated the youth of France, Italy, Germany, Hungary, in 1848.

But while this position and this sympathy give to his narrative the vividness of an eye-witness's story, and to his arguments the force of a personal appeal, he is no mere partisan or vulgar enthusiast. His scope of vision is wide, his work is truly ideal. He traces the events of history to no blind destiny, no controlling material force or individual caprice; but to the gradual development of ideas working out results in various forms, modified by all the material conditions of climate, locality, and race, and qualified by the individual characters of rulers and ministers. His style is clear, forcible, and idiomatic; and the interest of the narrative is sustained throughout.

In his view, the Period of Revolution dates pot from the eighteenth century, but from the time of Luther, when the great incubus of tyranny was lifted from the minds of men by the Protestant Reformation. Then “the revolutionary element was almost exclusively developed in the religious world. Protestantism wished only to hear of ecclesiastical freedom, and obstinately refused to maintain its consequences also in politics; but the State nevertheless went through a thorough renewal at that time, which did not indeed establish freedom, but which did much to pave the way for her future reign.”

At the period of the Reformation, national unity was not yet established, and confusion reigned throughout society. Absolutism was a necessary step in the progress of mankind; but, towards the seventeenth century, when this history opens, the work of absolutism was done, and corruption had begun and was in full vigor.

France stands in the foreground of nations. Full of ideas, passionate and quick in feeling, she has led the van of the revolutionary army. Her own great destiny among the nations is

« PreviousContinue »