« PrécédentContinuer »
VII. His Apocalyptical Presentiments and Inferences ......
XI. Controversial Writings on Apocalyptical Chronology ....
XVI. Minor Publications . ................
LIFE AND WRITINGS OF BENGEL.
HIS LITERARY EDUCATION.
John ALBERT BENGEL was born at Winnenden, a small town of Würtemberg, about five leagues from Stuttgart, on the 24th of June, 1687. He received the first rudiments of learning from his father Albert Bengel, M.A. assistant parochial minister of that town. He never forgot his father's “easy and pleasant manner of instructing” him, but used to speak of it with truly filial gratitude ; so different was it from the method which then generally prevailed, and so much better adapted to improve the dispositions and abilities of children. But the kind and familiar tuition of such a father it was not long his privilege to enjoy; for this excellent parent* was suddenly taken from
* Of Bengel's parents some account is given in a course of Sermons on the Liturgical Epistles and Gospels, &c. by John Christopher Bilhuber, M.A. chief parochial minister of Winnenden, printed at Stuttgart in 1744; it is as follows:
“ The Rev. Mr. Bauder was succeeded by the Rev. John Albert Bengel, M.A. from 1681 to 1693, who was a man of piety and good learning, and diligent and punctual in all the duties of his office. He is still affectionately remembered by many an aged member of this church, some of whom have told me that in their early days they received benefit by his ministry which they could never forget. If erer the premature death of any faithful teacher was to be lamented here, it was
him by an epidemic fever in the year 1693. Thus he “lost one chief human support of his temporal welfare, but not the providential care of his heavenly Father”; for David Wendel Spindler, a friend of the deceased, immediately undertook to superintend his education. This gentleman's qualifications for such an undertaking could only be equalled by his love to the bereaved child. But in consequence of the French invasion under Louis XIV., whose troops had already made considerable desolations in Suabia, his widowed mother's dwelling-house, which she had recently purchased, was soon afterwards reduced to ashes; and thus her late husband's library, which had been left to our little scholar, was totally lost. This, however, only served to make him thankfully acknowledge in after-life the kindness of Providence, which thus removed from him the temptation of reading too great a variety of books. Mr. Spindler, who previously to the French invasion had been master of a seminary at Winnenthal, was now obliged to remove from town to town, till in 1699 this excellent preceptor obtained a permanent station as tutor in the High School of Stuttgart. Little Bengel had all along accompanied him as a boarding pupil, and to him no removal could have been more favourable than this to Stuttgart; for, having made such progress in early knowledge that Spindler's elementary tuition was now insufficient for him, he was thus brought at once among the best instructors the country afforded, especially for those branches of education which were become almost absolutely necessary to him. His proficiency placed him directly in the senior class of what was called the middle school, conducted by Mr. Sebastian Kneer, an excellent Greek scholar, by whose valuable help he completed his elementary preparation within
that of this excellent man: for in the forty-third year of his age, and the twelfth of his well-discharged ministry at this one place, he was called away by a malignant fever then prevailing, on the 21st of April, 1693, as a good and faithful servant, to enter into the joy of his Lord. His attention to the sick by night as well as day, particularly in the adjoining hamlet of Hartmannsweiler, was indefatigable. He fearlessly entered the most infected cottages, caught the fever, and after a short confinement to his bed, was called home to God. This was indeed a trying season, for only four months afterwards our town was miserably destroyed and burnt to ashes by the French. Thus in the death of this valuable minister were again fulfilled the words of Isaiah, lvii. 1, 2. “The righteous are taken away from the evil to come,'" &c.
His widow died at Denkendorf only a few years since, having fallen asleep in Christ, full of joy and peace in believing. She was daughter of the Rev. J, L. Schmidlin, recior of the cathedral of Stuttgart; and was a great grand-daughter of the famous Würtemberg reformer, John Brentius. Her name is still sacredly remembered and beloved by persons of this town, &c.
the short space of six months ; so that at the age of thirteen he was promoted into the upper school, where, under the professors Meurer, Schuckard, Hochstetter, Erhard, . Canstetter, Essich, and others, he advanced most satisfactorily in the dead languages, and gained very competent acquaintance with history, mathematics, French and Italian.
His mother, who remained ten years a widow, was married in 1703 to John Albert Glöckler, Esq. steward of the theological seminary of Maulbronn. This pious and excellent man was a real second father to him; a circumstance to which the church and learning appear indebted for the further advancement of our very hopeful young pupil, who long afterwards related that it was “by this second father's kindness and encouragement that he was enabled to proceed to the university”; so that in that same year he became a member of the theological College of Tübingen.
We do not know why his studies there in philosophy and in the higher branches of philology, were restricted to a single year, when two years was the usual time; but he “was enabled fully to make up for this at a more distant period.” At Tübingen he attended the lectures of Andrew Adam Hochstetter, afterwards doctor of theology, Matthew Hiller, the professor of Hebrew, John Conrad Klemm, Rösler and Creiling. For more private study he chose Aristotle and Benedict Spinoza, and gave attention to Poiret, Leibnitz, and Bayle's “Dictionnaire Historique and Critique.” The ethical treatises of Aristotle and Spinoza were valued by him as helps in moral philosophy, which he was studying under Hochstetter's public lectures. At the same time he acquired such competent knowledge of Spinoza's Metaphysics that professor Jäger set him to prepare and arrange materials for a treatise "De Spinocismo,” which the professor afterwards wrought up and published. And Bengel expresses himself “thankful to be able to say, that his attention at that season to metaphysics and mathematics gave his mind a clearness for analysing and expounding the language of Scripture." He ended his philosophical pupillage with the degree of Master of Arts, at taking which he defended (as respondent) Professor Hochstetter's final disputation—“De Pretio Redemptionis,” (“ On the Price of Human Redemption”), when the latter was admitted to the faculty of Doctor of Divinity. Bengel, at this taking of his degree, showed such proficiency in academical studies that he was placed first of the men of his year, though most of them were older than himself.
He now entered on the study of divinity with the serious diligence of a christian student, especially as “he had long been disposed to inquire devoutly after spiritual things, and had always felt most delight in the holy Scriptures.” Here he had the help of Dr. John Wolfgang Jäger, afterwards chancellor of the university; Michael Förtsch, soon after professor in the university of Jená; Christopher Reuchlin; John Christopher Pfaff; A. A. Hochstetter; John Christian Klemm; and Gottfried Hoffmann. Several of these, especially Jäger and Hochstetter, took much interest in him. Professor Jäger, for whom, as already mentioned, he had prepared materials for a treatise on Spinoza's Metaphysics, and who was now intending to compose a Church History, employed Bengel in making researches for the purpose. This being done under the professor's own superintendence, “habituated" Bengel “to that clearness of arrangement and expression which is so observable in Jäger's own works.”. With Hochstetter he was even more intimate: that learned man had the valuable faculty of " discerning in young persons any rising disposition to improvement, and knew how to direct it to their best advantage. He valued their youthful efforts, however weak and uninformed, which he always seconded and promoted by the kindest encouragement and advice. He would often give such a turn to any business in hand as to make young persons feel that by going on to complete it they were performing an acceptable piece of service to himself.” Bengel found him a faithful and experienced guide in all his literary pursuits; and was led by him into many a pleasing and profitable exercise of the kind, to which his regular course of study would not have conducted him. Among these Bengel reckoned his doing him the honour of making him his respondent in the disputation above-mentioned, which consisted of subjects purposely selected for the occasion; likewise that he set him afterwards to superintend the correction of a new edition of the German Bible, whose summary, contents, and preface, were drawn up by Hochstetter himself. He approved and encouraged Bengel's undertaking to make the punctuation of that version, (especially from the book of Job to that of Malachi inclusive,) more conformed to the accentuated Hebrew, as far as could be done without altering Luther's own renderings. This was an employment which, while it made him more familiar with the original text of Scripture, may also be regarded as