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Of the same theological school is the Rev. Dr. Merle d'Aubigné, who, in addition to several smaller works, has published the first two volumes of his invaluable History of the Reformation. The remaining volumes are impatiently expected by the Protestant Christian public of France and Switzerland, and also by that of other countries. The volumes of this most interesting work which have appeared, have already been translated into English and published in London.
We increase the list by adding the name of the Rev. Mr. Bost, who has written a number of excellent works, one of which is a history of the Moravians, and has translated from the German into French the history of the Church written by the late Dr. Blumhardt, the Director or President of the Missionary Institute at Basle. Mr. Bost is a poet, and the author also of some very sweet music, as well as a writer of prose.
Of the same theological opinions, as it relates to all fundamental points, are Messrs. Guers and Empeytaz, who are pastors in a chapel of dissenters in Geneva, and who have published several useful and esteemed works, none of which are of any great extent.
Professor Pilet-Joly, also of the new Theological Seminary, has published some good things; as has also M. Galland, lately a professor in the same institution, but who is now pastor of a church in Switzerland.
Out of Geneva there are several evangelical and excellent writers who ought to be mentioned, such as Vinet, Professor in the University, or Academy as it is called, of Lausanne. Mr. Vinet has written many valuable works,-sermons, essays, &c. He is perhaps the most truly philosophical of all the French divines of the present day. We speak of him as being French in the same sense in which we have used this word in other parts of this article, viz. as denoting all who are of the French people, whether living in France, Switzerland or Belgium. Mr. Vinet now holds the important post of Professor in the Theological Department of the University of the city of Lausanne, and exercises a great and good influence over the students who come under his instruction. He has lately written a capital essay on the question of the union of Church and State. This essay is now in press, and will make a considerable volume. Mr. Vinet is against the union of Church and State, and has lately resigned the pastoral charge which he held in connexion with the state. He still remains professor.
SECOND SERIES, VOL. VI. NO. I.
We may add also the names of Burnier, Vulliemin, Bauty, Henri Olivier, Gauthey, Vermeil, and A. Rochat, who reside, most of them at least, in the Canton de Vaud, and who have all written more or less, and some of them very considerably ; and whose writings, we may add, are held in esteem. M. Fred. de Rougemont, a layman of distinguished talents and learning, of Neuchâtel, we believe, is also the author of several valuable publications. And we must not fail to add that some Swiss ladies have ably employed the pen for the advancement of truth, and especially for the instruction of the youth, among whom are Mademoiselles Herminie Chavannes and Julie Miéville.
Among the evangelical authors in Geneva whom death has removed within the last few years, were Cellerier, Sen., Moulinié, and the young and lamented Professor Steiger.
Of the anti-evangelical school or party in Geneva, the most distinguished writers are Cellerier, Jr., Bouvier, and Chenevière, who have published a number of works which are more or less relished by those who hold their opinions. But the anti-evangelical school of Geneva, like that of France, cannot boast of having produced many distinguished writers. The system which it holds, which is a mongrel theology, compounded of old Socinianism and modern German neology, has not vitality and zeal enough in it to make Frenchmen do much in the way of writing to promote it. To them, doctrines which require either the patience of German criticism to detect, or the profoundness of German metaphysics to elucidate (if we may so abuse the term), can never prove acceptable.
One thing is very striking in French theological writings; it is the simplicity of conception, the clearness of style, and the directness of statement which almost universally prevail in them. The theology of the evangelical French authors, whether of the past or the present days, is eminently biblical. Unlike the Germans, in this and so many other respects, the well-ascertained declaration of God is every thing with them. On this account we value the theological writings of the French far more than we do those which have appeared beyond the Rhine. Less learned, less metaphysical than the Germans, the French theologians, somehow or other, more readily perceive, and more firmly lay hold of the true meaning of the Scriptures than they do. With all their levity, the French, as a people, have a deal of good sense. And as we have before stated, when their minds have been brought under the hallowing influences of the Gospel, and baptized as it were by the Holy Ghost, no men become more able and convincing expounders of the sacred oracles. In proof of this we might cite Calvin, who as a commentator has never been surpassed in his attempts to give the true meaning of the inspired writers. The same remark might be made respecting several others of their older writers, as well as of not a few of their modern ones.
In the notice of French theological writers which we have just taken, we have said nothing of those of the Roman Catholic church during the same period. It fell not within the scope of our plan to do so. At another time we may, however, take up that subject, and indicate who have been the most important theological authors of that church in France during the last three centuries. At present, we must pass to the notice which we propose to give, in the remaining portion of this article, of the work which stands at its head. Of its distinguished author, we have already said a few words. We will only add, at present, that Professor Gaussen is a native of Geneva, of a wealthy and most respectable family, and that, after having preached the Gospel with eloquence and zeal, for several years, at Satigny, he was deprived of his pastoral charge by the Consistory of Geneva, for having dared to preach doctrines, and employ measures, for propagating the truth, which the venerable company of pastors of the city and canton did not relish. This tyrannical act led to a discussion which was eminently promotive of the truth, we believe, and which displayed the piety and talent of M. Gaussen to the greatest advantage. It was this affair, more than any other one thing, which led to the formation of the Evangelical Society of Geneva in 1831, and of the contemporaneous establishment of the new theological school of that city, and which owes its existence to that society. M. Gaussen was chosen Professor of Didactic Theology in that seminary at its very commencement. And as he possesses a sufficient fortune himself, his services are, and have ever been, wholly gratuitous. We will only add that he has borne much of the reproach of Christ,” and has borne it well. We pass now to the consideration of his book.
The subject of this book is the Plenary Inspiration of the Sacred Scriptures—a subject confessedly of the first importance at all times, but especially so at this moment at Geneva, as well as in some other portions of the Christian world, where the multiform errors of German neology are striving to estab
lish themselves, or are strenuously resisting the efforts which are making to dislodge them. The following extract from the Preface of Professor Gaussen's work will at once explain the title which he has chosen, and the importance, in his view, of the subject.
At the first glance at this book and its title, two prejudices, equally erroneous, may arise in some minds, which I desire to dissipate.
The Greek term, Theopneustia, although borrowed from St. Paul, and long employed on the other side of the Rhine, being but little employed in our language, more than one reader, without doubt, will say of the subject herein treated, that it is too scientific to be popular, and too little popular to be important. I fear not, however, to declare that if any thing could have given me both the desire and the courage to undertake it, it is the double persuasion of its vital importance and its simplicity.
I do not think that, next to the divine nature of Christianity, any question can be presented to us more essential to the life of our faith than this : « The Bible, is it from God? Is it wholly from God? Or is it true, (as some have pretended,) that it contains sentences which are purely human, narratives which are not exact, instances of vulgar ignorance, and reasonings which are inconclusive; in a word, some books, or some portions of a book, foreign to the interests of faith, subject to the natural carelessness of the writer, and tainted by error ?" Question decisive, fundamental, vital! It is the first which you have to make when you open the Scriptures; and it is with it that your religion ought to commence.
If it be true, in your opinion, that every thing in the Bible is not important, does not concern the faith, and has no reference to Jesus Christ,—and if it be true, in your opinion, on the other hand, that there is nothing inspired in this book but that which, in your opinion, is important to the interests of faith, and has reference to Jesus Christ, then your Bible is a book wholly different from that of the Fathers, of the Reformers, and of the saints of all ages. It is fallible; theirs was perfect. It has chapters, or portions of chapters, it has sentences or expressions, which are to be retrenched from the number of the chapters, sentences or expressions which are from God. Theirs was "all inspired of God;" “all profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” The same passage, therefore, may, when contemplated by you, be as widely different from what it was, as contemplated then, as the earth is distant from the heavens.
We may have opened, for example, at the 45th Psalm, or at the Song of Songs. Whilst you have seen there nothing but what is in the greatest degree human in its character,—a long nuptial song, or the love-conversations of a daughter of Sharon and a young husband,—they have read there the glories of the church, the bonds of the love of God, the deep things of Jesus Christ; in a word, that which is most divine in the things of heaven; and if they could not read them there, they knew that they were there, and they searched for them there.
We may have taken up an epistle of St. Paul. Whilst one of us will attribute such and such a saying which he has not comprehended, or which has shocked his carnal sense, to the Jewish prejudices of the writer, to sentiments wholly appertaining to the vulgar, to circumstances altogether human, the other will there explore, filled with veneration, the thoughts of the Spirit ; he will believe them to be perfect, even before having comprehended them; and he will attribute to his own want of apprehension, and his own ignorance, their apparent insignificance, or their obscurity.
Thus whilst in the Bible of the one every thing has its end, its place, its beauty, its use, as in a tree there are branches and leaves, vessels and fibres, epidermis and bark; the Bible of the other is a tree which has leaves and branches, fibres and bark which God has not made.
But still further: not only, according to your answer, we shall have two Bibles, but it will not be possible to know what yours is. It is only human and fallible, you say, in a certain measure. But that measure,– who shall define it? If it be true that man, in having placed in it his sad impress, has left there his spots, who will determine ihe depth of that impress, or the number of those spots? It has a part which is human, you say; but that part—what are its limits, and who will fix them for me? No one. Each one must define them for himself, according to his own judgment; that is, the portion of the Scriptures which is fallible will be greater in our estimation, in proportion as we are less under the influence of a divine illumination; that is to say, again, that man will deprive him.self of the words that are divine in proportion as he has need of them, as we see idolaters make to themselves deities so much the more impure as they themselves are further renoved from the living and holy God! So then, each one will reduce the inspired Scriptures to different dimen. sions, and making for himself, from the Bible thus expurgated, an infal. lible ruie or guide, he will say to it “ Guide me henceforth, for thou art my guide !” as the inakers of graven images, of whom Isaiah speaks, " who make to themselves a god, and say to it: Save me henceforth, for thou art my God!" Is. 44, 17.
But this is not all; there is something more grave still. According to your answer, it is not only the Bible that is charged ; it is you yours self! Yes, even in the presence of the passages which you have most admired, you will have neither the attitude nor the heart of a believer! How can that be, after you have inade them appear, as you have the rest of the Scriptures, before the tribunal of your judgment, to be there declared, by you, divine or not divine, or half-divine ? What can be, for your soul, the authority of a word which is not infallible for you but in virtue of you ? Must it not have presented itself at your bar by the side of other words of the same book which you have convicted of being human in whole or in part? Will your mind, then, sincerely take before it the humble and submissive attitude of a disciple, after having held that of a judge? That is impossible. The obedience which you will render it may be that of acquiescence, never that of faith : of approbation, never that of adoration ! You will believe in the divinity of the passage, you will say; but it is not in God that you will believe ; it is in yourself! That word pleases you, but it does not govern you ; its authority over