Page images
PDF
EPUB

fierce persecution have risen to great distinction in other countries, especially in Prussia and the United States. The article “ La Rochelle Beyond the Sea,” treats especially of the fate of the Protestant exiles who are descendants of the citizens of the great stronghold of French Protestantism, La Rochelle, and gives in particular a biographical sketch of John Jay, who played a prominent part in politics in the early period of the United States, and finally was appointed Chief Justice of the United States.

In a brief article of the same number of the “ Christian Review” Pressensé calls attention to the literary productions of the new chief of an ultra-materialistic school, M. Zola. “It is a disgrace of our generation," he says, " that the utterances of the materialistic school attain a fabulous number of editions." I believe that the last but one novel of M. Zola, l'Assommoir, has exceeded its seventieth edition. Evidently it must have the entire world for its market. The materialistic school claims to paint nature, or, more correctly, real life all naked, all crude, without any attenuation. It purports to represent the hideous sides without excluding any thing, and in a brutal language which is, as it were, a photograph of its ugliness, the cast of its monstrous excrescences. The series which has made M. Zola famous is called Rougon-Macquart. He makes a cynical application to humanity of the law of natural selection and heredity. The follows through all their situations the descendants of one family, and shows them carrying along a first hereditary germ which gradually develops and is modified in a terrible struggle for life which gives no room to any pure, generous sentiment, to any remonstrance of conscience. The author paints to us, with an extraordinary relief, contemporaneous life, in the country as well as in the large cities, from the court of the Emperor Napoleon III. to the tavern where the workman becomes brutalized, under the purely materialistic influence of a gross existence. It is impossible for any one who has not read l'Assoinmoir to imagine a more odious abuse of a great talent. The language, purposely vulgar, surpasses all expectations. And such works are devoured by thousands of our contemporaries! M. Zola, however, has received a striking proof of the failure of his system in an artistic point of view. He must have seen that his realism will not bear being presented to a large assembly of men, and that it can only be relished in the solitude when one is alone to blush. When he has tried to bring l'Assommoir upon the stage, he has seen himself forced to come back to a quite ordinary drama, where vice is punished and virtue rewarded."

Art. IX.-FOREIGN RELIGIOUS INTELLIGENCE.

TIE PROTESTANT CHURCHES OF GERMANY. The most important event in the history of the German Churches during the p:ist ye:ir is undouteilly the meeting of the First General Synod of the Prussian State Church, The German Churches have been for several years in a state of transition. From the Reformation until the present time they liave been, on the whole, governed by the sovereigns and heads of the State, and self-government has been almost unknown. For some time there bas been a steadily growing demand in all the States of Germany for the introduction of a synodal constitution, which would secure to the Churches, though not an entirely independent position, at least the right of representation, and of the co-operation of hier chosen representatives with the State authorities in the administration of Church affairs. In nearly all the smaller States the synods have been in operation for several yers. The greatest obstacles had to be overcome in Prussia, An extraordinary General Synod of the Churches of the old provinces (those belonging to the monarchy before the acquisi. tion of Schleswig-Holstein) was held at Berlin in 1873, and was on all sides regarded as an event of marked importance. The plan of establishing a periodical General Synou, as a permanent institution of the Church, was generally concurred in, but the actual meeting of the first regular General Synod has been repeatedly postponed. It finally took place on October 9, 1879. It was composed of one hundred and ninetyfour members, of whom one hundred and forty-nine had been elected by the provincial synods, thirty bad been appointed by the King, nine were Superintendents General, and six representatives of the theological faculties of the universities. Like its predecessor, the prepåratory General Synod of 1873, it represented only the Churches of the old provinces of the monarchy. The Churches in the new provinces, Schleswig-Holstein, Hanover, and Hesse-Nassau, have not yet been fully incorporated with the organism of the State Church. The religious complexion was different from that of its predecessors, and may have been a surprise to many outside of Germany, who have some vague idea of an entire relapse of the German Churches into rationalism and infidelity. In 1873 the majority of the extraordinary synod belonged to the so-called Vermittlungspartei, or party of mediation, which prevailed at the Prussian universities, and, as its name indicates, tried to find a middle ground be. tween the orthodoxy of the Churches of the sixteenth century and the rationalistic schools of the present :ge. At present this p:irty is in a minority, and the two pirties representing the theology of the sixteenth century are in a deci-ive m: jority. These two parties are: 1. that of the Konfessionellen, or the strict Lutherans, who stand up for the undiminished authority of the symbolical books of the Lutheran Churchi, and desire to keep unimpaired the Lutheran character of that portion of the United Evangelical Church which at the time of the establishment of this Church was regarded as Lutheran; 2. that of thic“ Friends of the Positive Union,” who claim an authoritative character only for the

consensus," or the common doctrinal points of the Lutheran and German Reformed Churches, but would allow vo further latitude for liberal or rationalistic tendencies. These two parties disagree on every ihing that is peculiar to strict Lutheranism, but they generally act conjointly in opposition to all propositions proceeding from the other parties. Together the two p:oties numbered about one hundred and twenty votes, and they therefore formed a considerable majority of the General Synod. Tlie midille party, which has assumed the name of Evangelische Vereinigung, (Evangelical Association,) bad about forty-nine regular members and a number of sympathizers. The adherents of the Protestant Union who liolel decidedly rationalistic views constitute the insignificant party of the Left, numbering no more than eight members. The members of the high nobility, which are very numerous, belong mostly to the strict Lutheran party; among them are Herr von Kleist-Retzow and Count Krassow, the political leaders of the party; Herr von Seyilewitz, the President of the German Reichstag; the Superintenden: General Dr. Büchsel; the Consistorial President, Dr. Hegel, a son of the cel. cbrated philosopher. The Friends of the Positive Union constitute the most numerous party in the llouse. bec:use most of the members ippointed by the King belong to it. The royal family before the estab. lislıment of the United Evangelical Church did not belong to the Lutheran, but to the Reformed Church and the personal sympathies of the present King, like those of his filthier :und brother, the late Kings Freiloric William III. and Frederic William IV., are with the party of permanent union rather than with the Lutheran party, tlic tendency of which is towiird weakcoing :und ultimately toward repealing the union. As some preachers of the court lave obtained considerable influence in this party, it has by its opponents been sometimes called the Court Prachers' Party. The inost influential man of this party is the court preacher, Dr. Kögel. Among other well-known members are the Superintendents General Dr. Wiessman, Dr. Erdmann, anıl Dr. Möller; Professor Gess, well kuown by several theological writings; Dr. Wirse, the author of a number of educational works; Count Bismarck-Bohlen, ind a number of high State functionaries. The party of the Evangelical Association counts the largest number of theological writers of note; among them are the Professors Beyschlag and Dr. Köstlin, of Halle; the jurist, Dr. Hölzchner; and Dr. Schrader, a distinguished writer on educational affairs.

.

Thic General Synod elected as its President, by unanimous acclamation, Count Arnim-Boyizenburg, and the election appears to have given general satisfaction. . His experience in parliamentary regulations, his extensive scholarship and familiar acquaintance with all the subjects discusserl, and liis thorough impartiality, are' acknowledged on all sides. The Vice-President, Rübsamen, who is a Superintendent in Pomerania, belongs to tlie Lutheran party. The present Minister of Ecclesiastical Affairs, Herr von Puttkammer, a brother-in-law of Premier Bismarck, strongly sympathizes with the orthodox majority of the General Synod, while his preslecessor, Dr. Falk, was supposed to share the views of the Left, which is now but so feebly represented. The Government and the majority of the General Synod are fully agreed in desiring the restoration of the doctrines of the Reformation; they differ in regard to the position which is to be given to the claims of a strict Lutheranism. The resolutions adopted by the General Synod aim at the restoration of Protestant orthodoxy; the Lutheran question will come up for its solution at some future time.

The labors of the General. Synod have been very extensive. The Supreme Ecclesiastical Council has prepared nineteen bills for discussion and adoption; besides disposing of these, the General Council passed a number of other important resolutions. Of special significance is the position which the Synod has taken with regard to the school question. The orthodox parties of the Prussian Church with great unanimity reject the principle of unsectarian schools, and favor the denominational character of the public schools. The General Synod has declared itself very emphatically in favor of a close connection between the State schools and those Churches which the State recognizes. Minister Puttkammer has publicly declared his concurrence in these views, and designated the question of denominational schools as one of those in which he entirely dissents from his predecessor, Dr. Falk. Government and Church will, therefore, make a united effort to arrest the progress which unsectarian schools have begun to make in Prussia, and re-establish the direct influence of the Church upon the school. A great excitement has been produced among the Inity by the demand of the General Synod that the professors of the theological faculties teach in harmony with the faith of the symbolical books, and that the Church, through its representatives, co-operate with the State in examining the candidates for theoloyical degrees. Of course this would mean for the near future the suppression of all but the orthodox tenilencies at the theological faculties, and, in case the precedent of Prussia is followed by the smaller Prussian States, would give an entirely different complexion to German thcology. Thc prisent theological faculties of the Prussi:in universities greatly dislike this proposition, and the University of Berlin has been induced by its theological faculty to enter a protest against it as inconsistent with thc freedom of academical teaching. Another resolution aims at the introduction of a common Bl188-und Bettag (day of fasting and prayer) for all the Protestant Churches of Germany.

The next General Synod is to be convoked six years from hence. In the meanwhile a Standing Committee will represent the General Synod in all questions in which the Church or the General ynod bas 10 cooperate with the State in questions of administration.

The meeting of this synod may be regarded as a turning-point in the history of the Protestant State Churches of Germany. The period in which these Churches were completely governed by the State is at an end ; the new period of a synodal government has now been fully inaugurated in all the Protestant State Churches of Germany. If it is remembered that the Prussian State Churclı, with which a population of about twelve millions is connected, is, next to the Church of England, the largest Protestant State Church of the world, the importance of the Prussian Synod for the entire Protestant world cannot be doubted.

С

Art. X.-FOREIGN LITERARY INTELLIGENCE.

GERMANY. Among the important theological works that are announced as being in preparation is a collection of the Greek writers who, in the carly period of the history of the Christian Church, attacked Christianity. It will be published by C. J. Neumann, under the title Scriptorum Græcorum qui Christianam Impugnaverunt Religionem quae Supersunt. The importance of these works for a thorough understanding of the early history of the Christian Church cannot be doubted, for they alone can explain to us the reasons which induced educated pagans to reject Christianity. Unfortunately, complete copies of these works are no longer extant. It is not correct that, as is commonly believed, the Emperor Theodosius II., by his decree of Feb. 16, 448, ordered all anti-Christian books to be burned. His decree only referred to the writings of Porplıyry, which accordingly were completely destroyed. But all the others became soon very scarce, as they ceased to be copied, and thus are now likewise lost. Fortunately some of the Christian replies to the pagan attacks are completely extant; as the books of Origen against Celsus, the work of Eusebius against Hierocles, tlie αποκριτικός προς Ελληνας of Macarius of Magnesia, which has been recently discovered ; finally, ten books of Cyril of Alexandria against Julian. These works embrace numerous fragments of the anti-Christian writers ; other fragments are found elsewhere, as extracts from Porphyry in the Præpan. Evangel. of Eusebius, and in the commentary of Jerome to Daniel. All these fragments will be collected in Neumann's work. The first part will contain the true word of Celsus. A reconstruction of this work has recently been attempted by Keim in Germany, and by Aubé in France. But both have only given transla. tions, not the Greek text. The publication of the latter requires a new critical edition of Origen's work against Celsus, which, therefore,

« PreviousContinue »