صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني





wild reverie, calling itself piety, found no such response in her heart or life. She does not appear to have known much of Molinos, who was considered the father of Quietism in that century, and who was imprisoned for it. True, her books, when condemned, were classed with his “ Spiritual Guide,” the doctrines of which were thought so dangerous. The object of that work, we believe, was to set forth the tranquillity of a soul absorbed in God, dead to all other thoughts and feelings, disturbed by no outward events, and resting in no outward observance. So far evidently Madame Guyon was a Quietist, though we do not find that she ever took the

Tranquil she certainly was, amid all reproach and persecution, to a degree that we may all covet. But indolent, or merely meditative, she never was. Early left a widow, with wealth and beauty, and often renewed proposals of marriage, she turned from all to labor in the remoie and least favored portions of France, where she passed several years as a missionary, under the counsel of spiritual directors, but unpaid, suspected of the worst heresy, thwarted in her benevolent plans, persecuted from place to place, yet still working on in uncomplaining faith and disinterested love. Disinterested in a worldly sense, to an unusual degree, her large fortune she seems scarcely to have viewed as her own. At Paris, during the famine of 1680, she dealt out bread to the hungry without stint, and found employment for great numbers of the children of the poor. As soon as the distress ceased, she went upon her mission; and during a part of it, driven by her relentless opponents into an obscure place, she lived in a poor cottage, with but one good room, which she gave up to her daughter and maid, ascending by a ladder to her own unfurnished chamber. Of this place she says, “ Never did I enjoy a greater content than in this hovel. It seemed to me entirely conformable to the littleness and simplicity which characterize the true life in Christ.” Of course there was enthusiasm in this, fanaticism, if you

any thing but selfishness. If she did it for fame, she was satisfied with a kind that satisfies few. The privation may have been easy ; but she took with it contumely, constant annoyance, and literal buffeting. Even in this hovel, where she only asked to live in the peace and pleasure of doing good, she was brutally assailed, her little garden and arbour destroyed, her windows dashed in with stones which fell at her feet, and the house surrounded at night by men threatening personal abuse, so that again she was compelled pure love.

to flee.

Her enemies were plainly determined that she should not enjoy too much quietism! But they had no power to disturb it, for it was not outward. She could change her place, and still work on ; tending the sick, preparing linen and ointments for wounds, teaching poor children the alphabet and the catechism, and diffusing the truth and blessing of

It was in these occupations, at the foot of the Alps, in the very place where Gibbon and Voltaire afterward wrote, and Rousseau and Byron nourished their wild genius amid nature's grandeur, that this singular woman, in the power of a different inspiration, matured in her silent heart the doctrine of perfect faith, and first uttered to her own listening ear that new word in connection with faith, — justification. New in itself it was not ; but strange and startling to a church that sought it not in the Scriptures, and stood upon a different foundation. Early in life had Madame Guyon studied the Bible, and committed large portions to memory. This may have aided her in finding that neglected truth, and with her ardent temperament carrying it to its utmost extent. But little did she know then of the effect it was to have upon the Church, or the condign punishment it was to bring upon her. She never recalled the word or withheld the truth, and the punishment never ceased. She lived nearly forty years after this, but only in obstructed toil, in persecution, prison, and banishment. She died an exile, in 1717, at the age of sixty-nine.

The Church of Rome has enough to answer for; but it is not alone, perhaps not the most inconsistent, in punishing those who place inward goodness before and above every thing outward, and regard as practicable and imperative the injunction, “Be ye perfect.” Of this flagrant inconsistency have all churches been guilty. And what a duty is thrown upon us by this fact itself! How should it search our consciences and quicken our zeal! We welcome every life, and every book, that will thus reprove and kindle us. We read our own shame in such pages as these before us.

By their very disclosure of weakness and error, with so much of excellence and usefulness, they show us what a Christian should be and might do. They impress us less with the dangers of fanaticism, than with the sins of the Church, the wants of the world, the capacity, responsibility, and destiny of every human soul.

E. B. H.


Decline of Interest in Critical Theology.




[An Address, delivered before the “ Association of the Alumni of the

Cambridge Theological School," July 16, 1847. By GEORGE R. Noyes, D. D.)

I do not know that this society has definitely prescribed the nature of the subject to which our attention should be called on an occasion like the present. But as we have other times and places in which the practical duties of the Christian ministry are usually discussed, I suppose that in this place and on this occasion the subject should have some relation to theology as a science.

At our last anniversary, one of our respected brothers proposed as a theme for extemporaneous discussion the causes of the decline of interest in critical theology. As we have usually had little or no time for debate at our anniversary meetings, I have thought it might be well to take possession of the subject thus proposed, especially as a debate upon it may be forwarded, rather than hindered, by the topics which I shall suggest. By critical theology I shall understand, in my remarks, the criticism and interpretation of the Scriptures, and what is connected with this department of theological literature. I exclude the consideration of doctrinal theology and ecclesiastical history for no other reason than that I may contract the limits of my subject.

Before entering into a discussion of the causes of the alleged decline of interest in critical theology, it may be well, however, to inquire in what sense and in what degree the assertion of such a decline is just and true, what are the qualifications with which it should be accompanied, and whether it applies to one only or to all classes of Christians.

Taking this country at large, it appears to me, that, instead of a decline, there has been no inconsiderable progress in the department of Biblical literature within the memory of those of us who have arrived at middle age. Among several denominations of Christians, - for instance, the Baptists, the Universalists, and the Methodists, – the increase of interest in Biblical learning has been great and obvious. Is it not probable that these denominations, in which improvement has been most marked, have only partaken of a spirit which has been common to all denominations ? Our theological seminaries, the oldest of which was founded less than forty years ago, excited an interest in the critical study of the Scriptures, and furnished aids for its pursuit, which were not before known in our country. If the degree of interest in the subject is at all to be measured by the number of elementary works relating to it, such as grammars and lexicons, which have been published within the last ten or fifteen years, we may flatter ourselves that there has been no inconsiderable progress in Biblical studies among us. Of Hebrew Grammars, there have been printed five or six editions of that by Professor Stuart, three or four of the translation of Gesenius by Professor Conant, and one of the full and excellent Grammar by Dr. Nordheimer, not to mention others of less note. Within this time have also appeared several editions of the admirable Hebrew Lexicon of Gesenius, and of the New Testament Lexicon by Dr. Robinson, in which he has transferred to our language the results of the labors of Dr. Wahl, of Germany, with additions of his own. We have also had within the same period several editions of the comprehensive Grammar of the New Testament idioms, by Dr. Winer. Valuable Introductions to the Old Testament by Jahn and De Wette, and to the New Testament by Hug, have been made accessible to those acquainted with only the English language. Most of the works to which allusion has been made are translations, it is true ; and are by no means so flattering indications of American scholarship as they would have been if original works. But numerous editions of them would not have been called for, if they had not been to some extent used. If we admit, what I have some reason to believe true, that, of those who purchase a grammar of the Hebrew or Greek, but few become proficients in those languages, it is still certain that the large demand for the works which have been enumerated proves any thing rather than a decline of interest in Biblical literature in the country at large within the last twenty years.

Within the same period of time have appeared several original Commentaries on portions of the Scriptures, which, though not of first-rate excellence and likely to stand the test of time, are certainly in advance of the popular English commentaries. Should a system of theology be attempted by a well-educated divine of any denomination in our country, we should not expect it to be deformed by the miserable misinterpretation and misapplication of the lan1847.] Qualifications.

327 guage of the Scriptures which mark the writings of Edwards and Dwight.

Within the memory of all of us, two works connected with Biblical literature have appeared in our country, which may challenge the praise of being superior to any thing on the same subjects which has been produced within the same period in England or Europe. I refer to the work on the Genuineness of the Gospels by Mr. Norton, and the Biblical Researches in Palestine by Dr. Robinson. The work of Mr. Furness on “ Jesus and his Biographers,” however we might at a proper time qualify our praise of it, deserves also to be mentioned as a highly creditable contribution to the Biblical literature of our country.

We may safely assert, that never were greater means enjoyed in this country for the pursuit of critical studies, than within these last twenty years. If, then, our course has been retrograde instead of progressive, it is peculiarly disgraceful to those from whom the pursuit and patronage of critical studies is to be expected. This is the more evident, when we consider that there has been undeniable progress in classical criticism, as is proved not only by the number and value of the elementary works for the study of the Greek and Latin languages, but by the excellent editions of portions of the Greek and Latin classics, which have appeared both at New Haven and Cambridge.

On the whole, then, with respect to the country at large, we have no reason to complain of a decline of interest in critical theology. But perhaps the decline which is lamented is supposed to relate to the denomination to which most of us belong, and to a very recent period. In regard to the question thus stated it may be more difficult to form an opinion. That there is an undue neglect of critical studies in many of our young men and in many of our clergy, that we have not contributed all that we ought to the advancement of Biblical literature, will, I suppose, be admitted by all. There is certainly a general impression that there has been a decline of interest in the subject, which is not to be supposed to be wholly destitute of foundation. I find, however, that the same impression is prevalent in some other denominations as regards their own body. Perhaps our denomination is chargeable with neglect in regard to the public provision for its pursuit and encouragement. In the Baptist seminary at Newton, where the number of students

« السابقةمتابعة »