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lectures transcribed for him. Professor Lang also, of that university, drew Bengel's first attention there to Vitringa's “Anacrisis ad Apocalypsin,” or “An Impartial Examination of the Different Opinions of Writers upon the Interpretation of the Apocalypse." With that gentleman, as well as with other followers of Spener, he had several conversations upon those important developments of the kingdom of God, which they considered as approaching. These conversations suggested to his inquiring mind a train of ideas which formed the germ of his important system of Apocalyptical exposition.
BENGEL'S RELIGIOUS EDUCATION.
EXPERIENCE shows that those who attain to true practical piety are chiefly of two classes. The one, which is the least numerous, find their whole life pervaded by a tender conscience and intimate communion with God, the small beginnings of which may be traced to the very first forming of their minds, and which has characterised, though not always in the same degree, every period of their existence. With the other, and far most numerous class, this divine communion has had frequent and long interruptions, during which it seemed to have totally departed; but has suddenly reappeared through the mighty operation of divine grace. Thus it is only the latter who can speak of any particular time of their religious awakening; for the former have always been as it were awake, though they also have had their aberrations, stumblings, conflicts, and temptations; but they have always manifested themselves from their childhood as children of God, and have been accustomed to consider and feel themselves such from their earliest
years. They have grown up all along like healthy plants, having profited by their heavenly Father's discipline, correction, and manifestations of love. The most important seasons of their growth in grace have never been attended with those vivid experiences or striking changes which others can remember, who have at some period of their life quite departed from the right way, and by long spiritual slumber have so lost sight of God's paternal character, as to enjoy nothing of it; or who, by frequent repetition of wilful sins and by confirmed habits of vice, have even trampled upon their birthright, and been found amongst his open enemies.
Bengel was from early life an eminently pious and enlightened Christian. That “the memorial of the just is blessed” may truly be applied to him. Though upwards of eighty years have elapsed since his death, his memorial is to this day greatly blessed among thousands, not only in his own, but also in other and remote countries; and every where is he esteemed as one whom few of his cotemporaries, and still fewer of succeeding times, have surpassed in scriptural acquaintance with the mystery of the gospel, and in faithfulness to light received. But to attempt to point out any period when his spiritual life began, or to fix upon any one particular season as that of his awakening to practical piety, would be nugatory; for the devout consciousness of being a child of God appears to have been possessed by him from the first dawning of his mind, and to have remained with him till the end of his course.
Before he was six years of age, when he lost his father, he enjoyed such communion with God, and such a strength of faith, as to be quite persuaded he “could have detained his parent in this life, had he believed himself directed to pray for that purpose.
In these his earliest years " he had many clear, pure, tender feelings and stirrings in his heart concerning God; and the texts inscribed on the church walls of his native town, from the Epistle to the Romans, concerning death, sin, righteousness, the crucifixion, &c. produced in him as a mere child emotions of great joy and peace, and left upon him very profitable and lasting impressions.”
With this work of the Spirit of God within him coincided the religious instruction he received from others. “He enjoyed from his childhood the advantages of hearing and learning the word of God;" for his parents and instructors took pains early to store his memory with suitable prayers, scripture passages, and hymns. Presents of edifying books were given him from time to time as his mind advanced ; and he would often
purchase such books for himself with his little pocket money. These early favourites,* after he had become better able to value them, drew from him a grateful acknowledgment of “ the kindness of Providence in putting in his way such things
* Such as Arndt's “True Christianity:" Sonthon's “Golden Jewel ;" Gerhard's “ Sacred Meditations,” (in Latin); Franke's and Schade's “ Introduction to the Reading of the Holy Scriptures,” &c. Beside books of this sort, the frequent preaching of the parish curate, the Rev. John George Unkauf, was greatly blessed to him.
at the very time they were wanted, and the very best of their kind.”
Thus with child-like simplicity he followed his heavenly Father's guidance, and submitted to God's inward and outward discipline; and though he did not yet fully understand what a high and rare privilege he enjoyed, the power of the divine word took such possession of his heart, that he had confidence in God, like that of a little child in its parent; took great delight in prayer, longed for the better life to come, loved the Scriptures, enjoyed the church hymns, and the simplest books of devotion; had a tender conscience, dreaded doing wrong, and showed complacency in every thing that was excellent.
Nor could these beautiful blossoms of his early piety long be entirely concealed from observation. Young Bengel possessed a large share of the love of his school companions and of every older person of his acquaintance. It was seen that there was something in him above his years, although the cause was not inquired after : indeed it was well for him in respect of his future development, that “ his piety was not made very much of, so that he went on growing in grace, like “ the grass, that tarrieth not for man.”* “I went on in simplicity,” he said, “under the idea that no one observed me, and was glad that I could proceed thus quietly.” Did he then feel within him no stirrings of our common corruption ?_“I was no stranger," he says, “ to sudden and injurious suggestions and sallies of thoughtless, foolish levity, natural to youth, but the danger of my being led away by outward temptations was not frequent, as, in addition to our public lectures, I had always something to attend to in private, and thus was entirely preserved from idleness.” At one time he had to instruct the junior scholars; at another he was busied in some recreative study or emplɔyment that was set him; at another he had some new book put in his way to read. But he most preferred spending his leisure hours in perusing that book which he had so early learnt to love more than every other-the Bible. Disrelishing all bustle and noisy distraction, he often retired for “serious and salutary meditation ; for he ever deliberately preferred soberness to trifling, and loved above every thing that which had a pious tendency, finding his delight in devout, solid, and seemly words and actions, and feeling an aversion to whatever was loose, idle, and
Micah v. 7.—That is, as the growth of the grass eludes the observation of man, though it is continually advancing under the blessing of heaven.
ungodly.” Whenever he discovered any thing wrong in himself, though it was generally what no one would have noticed in him, his inward monitor instantly reproved him, and thus preserved him from stumbling upon outward temptations.
Fortified by such interior discipline of the Spirit, and kept in devout communion with his heavenly Father by the continual exercise of prayer, though he followed up the study of the heathen classics with great diligence, and almost with enthusiasm, he was not contaminated by what is found in them so pernicious to many. His lively apprehension of their beauties, may be seen in his following remark upon Cicero's Orations:
Cicero, from his earliest days, had studied mankind. This enabled him to depict so admirably their characteristic habits and passions. There is in all his orations, and especially in his philippics, such a flow of eloquence, that when one sits down to them it seems impossible to leave off. I have been afraid of reading too much of them at once, they have so carried me away.
But that he was not entirely free from spiritual temptation, while studying classical literature and the elements of philosophy at the High School of Stuttgart, may be inferred from a remark which he makes upon this period of his life. “My will was compliant; but many a doubt assailed my understanding. To communicate such difficulties to any one, in order to have them removed, was what I was too timid to do; hence I often laboured under secret anxiety, and disquieted myself with it to no purpose, by which I contracted the appearance of habitual reserve, and lost some of that ability for ease and freedom of manner which would have preserved me from seeming, as I must have done occasionally, somewhat singular. However, it often had a different effect in the eyes of others, though perfect strangers to me; for their first sight of me gave them a hope and confidence that I could feel for their mental trials, which they would readily disclose to me. And notwithstanding those constitutional ailments of mine, indeed at the very time when I was suffering under them, the gracious goodness of God afforded me such affecting discoveries and experiences of inward peace, that I felt encouraged, particularly
first attendance at the Lord's supper, to persevere in child-like prayer; and that holy ordinance was a means of inciting me to it, and to a hearty desire of departing to be with Christ.”