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It was printed at the recommendation of the divines of that university, and a great blessing attended its circulation. It was the book that was the means of enlightening Dr. Spener, of Tubingen, afterwards the distinguished instrument of promoting Pietism. Spener published his Pia Desideria, explaining the causes of abuses in the Reformed Churches, and the remedies. Amongst the latter, he recommended the republication of old and neglected works of great excellence in regard to spiritual Christianity; and this plan was eminently useful in promoting a revival of true godliness. Spener's principal scenes of labour were Frankfort, Dresden, and Berlin. In 1666 he had collegia pietatis, in his own house at Frankfort, twice a week. In these devotional exercises he first expounded a portion of Scripture, and then permitted any lay friends to offer observations of a spiritual and edifying nature. This religious novelty attracted many persons, from curiosity; and several were from time to time awakened. Persons of distinction in church and state sometimes attended. In 1676 Dr. Spener preached for a whole year on practical piety, and visited the houses of the poor, in order to win souls. He also succeeded in persuading the magistracy to set up a hospital for the poor, instead of allowing them to wander about the streets as beggars. He afterwards published a sermon on the duties of the poor, dedicated to all the poor in Germany.
From Frankfort, Dr. Spener, who was considered the patriarch of the Pietists, removed in 1686 to Dresden, to be the Elector of Saxony's first chaplain. His faithful sermons and private conferences, however, were far from pleasing to that prince. Comparatively neglected by the court, Dr. Spener began to set up the catechising of children at his own house, to which crowds of children resorted. The Professors of the University blamed it, as unbecoming a man of his great abilities and high station to give such instruction to children; but he persevered in the undertaking. A pastoral Letter to the Clergy of Saxony, which he published, contained the marks of discrimination between the workings of nature and grace; and a set of Sunday Sermons comprised marks of difference between the Evangelical graces and duties, and merely external moral virtues. The latter work was dedicated to the Elector of Brandenburgh, who had offered him the situation of Superintendant in his dominions. He accepted this situation; and the new university of Halle, in Saxony, which belonged to Brandenburgh, being in want of professors, Spener introduced some of the distinguished Pietists, who were persecuted in other places, into that university.
Here it will be necessary to go back in point of time, in order to give a clearer view of the history of Pietism, and the revival of religion in the universities of Germany.
Some Masters of Arts in the university of Leipsic established a conference among themselves, which they called Collegium Philobiblicum, and drew up a set of rules, for the sake of method. They met once a week, after the evening service on Sundays. One of them read part of a chapter in Hebrew or Greek, or in both tongues, and each of them afterwards offered his remarks. The remarks were first critical, next practical. A great number of students having attended these interesting exercises, it was at length deemed advisable to appoint an eminent divine as President, and Dr. Alberti was chosen. The conferences were then held at his house. Professors, as well as students, began to attend them. Dr. Spener, on hearing of this Philo-biblical Society, wrote an encouraging letter to the Masters of Arts, and persuaded them to render the exercises still more subservient to the advancement of solid piety. In consequence, the conference was begun and concluded with prayer; the director added
his counsels; and even the students were allowed to offer remarks. Similar conferences soon afterwards increased among the students, and Scripture knowledge was diligently cultivated. The celebrated Professor Franck was one of those who had instituted these conferences. When visiting Lunenburg and Hamburg, he promoted similar meetings and exercises; and, after passing a few months in the house of Dr. Spener at Dresden, in 1689, he returned to Leipsic, established a fresh Biblical College, and expounded the Epistle to the Philippians. His great aim was, not merely to render his academical auditors accomplished divines, but pious Christians; that they might, in due time, be devout and useful pastors. He next expounded the Epistle to the Ephesians; and afterwards the Second to the Corinthians; when so great a concourse of students attended, that neither his own chamber, nor even the Electoral school, was found large enough. When afterwards appointed to read the lectures in the divinity school, not less than 300 students flocked to hear his exposition of the Second Epistle to Timothy. The Masters of Arts, likewise, resolved to connect the study of heart-felt piety with their Scriptural researches; and meeting at Professor Franck's rooms, they united in prayer, as well as reading and meditation. The Epistle to Titus was selected for exposition at this private exercise, for the benefit of the theological candidates. As soon, however, as the students heard of this comparatively private conference, they began to resort to it as much as to the more public academical exercises.
About this time a young man of exalted piety, named John Caspar Schade, expounded the First Epistle of St. John and St. Peter, being attended by crowds of students, at Leipsic, almost as numerous as those to whom Franck read lectures. In 1691 Schade was made Deacon of the Church of St. Nicholas, Berlin, of which Dr. Spener was Rector. ceiving the deplorably low state of religion, he spent much time in catechising youth, a duty in which he excelled; and on his death-bed had the children brought to him, that he might sing and pray with them, and dismiss them with a blessing. He had previously published "a Memorial for Berlin," on the words in St. Luke xix. 42, as an exhortation to repentance in the prospect of judgments. Before his triumphant departure, at the age of thirty-two, he offered fervert prayers for the Elector, the city, his congregation, and successor, and died in 1698.
Another distinguished reader of divinity to the students at Leipsic was the chaplain of Duke Augustus, afterwards the King of Poland, whose name was Paul Anthony; who, after returning from his travels with that prince through France, Spain, Portugal, and Italy, cheerfully undertook to explain the Scriptures to the scholars, whom he found ardently desirous of Biblical knowledge. At the Prince's college, of which he was fellow, he expounded the Gospel of St. John to a large concourse of auditors; and, subsequently, St. Paul's First Epistle to Timothy.
One of the important results attending these Biblical schools and exercises was, that whereas theological students had formerely attended only philosophical and homiletical schools, they now became genuine students of divinity. In the homiletical schools they had chiefly studied the art of preaching; and, paying little attention to Biblical acquirements, had aimed by a vain display of superficial knowledge and tinsel rhetoric to extort the admiration of vulgar hearers, and of others equally undiscerning and destitute of true taste and piety. The lectures of the eminent divines just mentioned, however, induced the students to cultivate more deeply an acquaintance with the Scriptures in the original tongues, and the exact meaning and application of passages of Holy Writ.
At length the appellation of Pietists having been given, in derision, to
these devout lecturers and students, by other members of the university of Leipsic, whose principles and practice bore the stamp of secularity, and of formality in religion, a storm of opposition was raised; apologies and anti-apologies were published; and the more distinguished promoters of Pietism were banished from Leipsic. Upon this, Professor Franck was received by Dr. Breithaupt, superintendant of Erfurt, and appointed pastor of St. Austin's church in that city; where a great reformation took place, under the means adopted-namely, preaching by these two distinguished men, the catechising of multitudes of children by the latter (Franck), and the efforts of the numerous students who flocked from Leipsic, and were received by the Lutheran citizens of Erfurt as tutors to their children. The Elector of Mentz, to whom Erfurt belonged, hearing of this progress of piety, issued a mandate, and interdicted these spiritual exercises; and both Dr. Breithaupt and Professor Franck were compelled to leave the city. In the year 1691, on Dr. Spener's removal to Berlin, Dr. Breithaupt was appointed Professor of Divinity at the new university of Halle; and Professor Franck was selected as Professor of Oriental Languages, as well as pastor of Glaucha, in the immediate neighbourhood of Halle. Notwithstanding the violent opposition excited against the Pietists, this university received ample privileges and protection from the Elector, afterwards King of Prussia, and greatly contributed to the diffusion of religious light and truth in Germany; and, indeed, it may be remarked, that the rancour and hostility to which the Pietists were subjected, arose, in great part, from the testimony they bore against those false teachers and pastors who entered the ministry for the sake of gain; who obtained churches by sinister means, and the unjustifiable interference of corrupt patrons; who, whilst raw, inexperienced, or even unconverted themselves, eagerly aspired to, and were entrusted with, the care of souls ; whose qualifications for teaching were derived merely from unsanctified reason; and with whom scholastic learning was made a substitute for humble piety, Scripture knowledge, and the influence of God's grace.
It will be only necessary, under this head, to subjoin, that the fruits of Pietism were abundantly conspicuous under various aspects; so much so, that careful observers of passing events enumerated sixty-three distinct and important benefits resulting therefrom; and these heads of improvement furnish a very valuable directory to those who at any time, or in any country, endeavour to promote national reformation, and a revival of pure religion.
A plan similar to that of Spener, Franck, and other founders of PhiloBiblical colleges, for conferences, exposition, and prayer, appears to be eminently conducive to the important object of training students for usefulness in the church; and likely to be attended with the best results, if introduced, and extensively adopted, at the English and other universities. It might, therefore, be proposed to the pious Professors and Fellows of Colleges at Oxford, Cambridge, Trinity College (Dublin), and elsewhere, First, to form themselves into several companies, for the investigation of Scripture, mutual conference, and prayer, after the manner of Franck and his associates; Secondly, to permit students to attend and improve by those religious conferences.
Great benefit to the Church of England and her members might be expected to follow such diligent application to sacred studies on the part of her future pastors, while yet resident at the university. To give still fuller effect, however, to such theological studies, it is apparently essential that some reform should be effected in regard to College Fellowships; and upon particular branch of university reform a few remarks shall be now offered. The prospect of a fellowship induces a young man to pursue a prescribed
course of study; but, having succeeded in this object of his wishes, he is too generally induced to yield to those habits of indolence which a college residence is apt to generate, at a time of life when his powers of body and mind should be consecrated to the service of religion. Thus, if he be a pious man, the perpetuity of his fellowship often becomes a snare; if not a pious man, he is yet tempted, in consequence of the fixed condition on which his fellowship may be retained, to enter into holy orders, without any earnest desire to seek the welfare of souls. On this head, reform appears to be on many accounts desirable; and if such reform were attempted with a view to the benefit of the church and the honour of the universities, the following measures might perhaps be adopted with advantage.
First. College fellowships, instead of being perpetual sinecures, should undergo new regulations; so that, after holding a fellowship three, or four, or five years, no person should continue a fellow, unless occupying an office as college tutor, or as professor of some science or language. Such college tutors, being well paid out of college funds, need not exact large, if any, payment from students. Every college may include some professors, for the benefit of the students. The intercourse of Great Britain with foreign nations, the progress of missions, and the task, so properly belonging to universities, of furnishing standard editions of the Scriptures in the principal languages of the world, require that there should be many and active professors of languages not in the contemplation of the founders of our universities in the dark ages. Besides, students going out as missionaries, or in any civil service, to distant nations, would thus have the means of learning, in classes, particular languages; and the very facility of learning thus afforded might induce them, as well as Bachelors of Arts, to turn their thoughts to such foreign service for their church or country.
Secondly. If fellowships be abolished in the character of perpetual sinecures, great numbers of students for the church may be allowed, after taking their degree of B. A. to reside till they take their M. A. degree (viz. three years), not at their own or their parents' expense, but enjoying college stipends, with a view to cultivate their theological studies, and prepare the more carefully for the service of God in the ministry.
The above measures would ensure theological education out of university funds, as originally designed, without the appropriation of Chapter Prebends, as contemplated by some. The increase of churches to meet the increase of population, will more than require the funds of Chapters of a sinecure nature, for the purpose of endowing such churches, as well as augmenting small livings, &c.
The remarks made in the foregoing pages have, almost exclusively, respect to theology; but it becomes a proper question, whether, instead of comparatively useless sinecure fellowships, professorships of medicine, law, and other valuable sciences, should not be more numerous; with a view to render our universities what the present condition of society, and the present state of general science, require that they should be.
REPLY TO G. ON WORKS BEFORE JUSTIFICATION.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer.
Ir is well known that Mr. Wesley's Minutes of 1770, on an extract from which your correspondent G. in your last number animadverts, excited at that time a very strong sensation in the religious world. They were zealously impugned in various controversial writings, by Mr. Shirley, Sir Richard Hill, and others; and their formal defence was taken up by the powerful pen of Fletcher of Madely, in those treatises which he denomi
nated Checks to Antinomianism. Into the merits of that controversy, or its direct discussion, it is by no means my intention here to enter; but it is needful to make a few remarks, with a design to shew that the extract in question, fairly and candidly interpreted, has not the unscriptural character and dangerous tendency which your correspondent imputes to it, and that it does not necessarily militate against "the very foundation of the doctrines of grace."
The very terms of the proposition advanced by Mr. Wesley are calculated to lead the mind to the scriptural sense in which alone it can be legitimately understood. He thought it a fit season to impress upon the church of Christ at large, and especially that portion of it over which his influence more directly extended, the indubitable truth that" whoever desires to find favour with God should cease from evil and learn to do well." Are we to understand that this statement is now to be called in question, and denounced as fundamentally inconsistent with the doctrines of grace? If this be verily the case, then a very considerable part of the Holy Scriptures themselves must, in fact, if not in form, be rejected, as inconsistent with those doctrines. And so indeed they are, if the systematized view of the doctrines of grace which many have adopted is to be taken as an unerring standard, a perfect scheme, to which the very words of plenary Inspiration, turned from their plain and obvious meaning, must needs, by one means or other, be accommodated, as to the bed of another Procrustes. I hope, sir, that your correspondent G. is not to be reckoned among such thick-and-thin fautors of particular systems; and yet he appears at present too much bound by trammels of this description to take a sufficiently large and comprehensive view of the meaning of Holy Writ. He evidently thinks, that to teach the necessity of doing something in order to justification, is irreconcilable with the great Gospel axiom, To him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted to him for righteousness." But such a zeal for the integrity of Evangelical truth as your correspondent manifests, will always ensure the respect of those who love the "glorious Gospel of the blessed God," although it should manifest itself in a causeless alarm, and make men afraid where no fear is.
But, to return more immediately to the subject; it is presumed that Mr. Wesley gives a sufficient clue by which to discover his meaning, and its scriptural consistency with the plan of salvation by faith. The abandoned sinners of Judah and Jerusalem were exhorted to cease from evil and learn to do well, in order to their deliverance from the guilt and power of their sins; for otherwise it would have been impossible for them to receive the blessings of the Gospel salvation, which are figuratively represented in these remarkable terms, "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as wool; though red like crimson, they shall be as snow." Justification is certainly included, and perhaps even primarily intended, here and as ceasing from evil and learning to do well are mentioned in such a manner as shews that in the mind of the Holy Spirit they are indispensable preliminaries to the reception of this blessing, the meaning of Mr. Wesley is exhibited with sufficient clearness, and in precise conformity with the tenor of Holy Writ. (See Isaiah i. 16-18.) The word of God by the same prophet (lv. 6, 7) has precisely the same bearing: Seek ye the Lord while he may be found: call ye upon him while he is near: let the wicked man forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon." It will hardly be contended that they do nothing, who seek and call upon the Lord, who forsake their former evil way, and even their wicked thoughts, and who thus "return unto the Lord." And it is evident that the scope of the