Images de page
PDF
ePub

and its implication, that whoever is lost is lost by God's determining and arbitrary decree, are set aside as not pertinent. Paul denies the implication that God's sovereignty determines human destiny by His own arbitrary will, and shows that He exercises sovereignty with a full regard to the merit or demerit of man's conduct. Hence He endures with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath; the long-suffering being the forbearance to smite, in view of man's voluntary persistence in transgression. It is inconceivable that Paul should use an illustration drawn from the Old Testament, and utterly reverse its meaning.

On the whole, then, we may conclude that the Epistle to the Romans can be fairly interpreted in harmony with our conceptions of the equal justice of God to all-to the Jew as well as the Gentile.

IV. REMINISCENSES OF NEANDER.

NO. III.

BY PHILIP SCHAFF, D.D., NEW YORK.

HIS LAST DAYS AND DEATH.

In the last years

NEANDER had a frail and delicate constitution. of his life he became, in a peculiar sense, a theologian of the cross, with painful experience that the via lucis is indeed also a via crucis. He was doomed, like the illustrious author of the "Paradise Lost,” to an almost total loss of sight, long before weakened by incessant study. His faith gave him power to bear this calamity, doubly severe to our historian. To him might be applied what St. Anthony once. said to the blind teacher, Didymus of Alexandria: "Let it not trouble thee to be without the eyes with which even flies can see; but rejoice rather that thou hast the eyes that angels see with, for the vision of God and his blessed light."

Not a murmur, not a sound of complaint or discontent, passed over Neander's lips; and in this way the crown was set upon his character by patience and quiet resignation to God's will.

He did not suffer himself to be interrupted in this work by this affliction, and showed in it a rare power of will over opposing nature. Not only did he continue to hold his lectures as before with the most conscientious fidelity, but he went forward unceasingly also in his literary labors with the help of a reader and amanuensis. Nay, even within a few months of his death, he founded, in connection with Dr. Julius Müller, of Halle, and Dr. Nitzsch, of Berlin, a valuable periodical ("Deutsche Zeitschrift fur christliche Wissenschaft und christliches Leben"), and furnished for it a number of excellent artiretrospect of the first half of this century-one on the

cles, such as a

difference between the Hellenic and Christian Ethics, another on the

practical exposition of the Bible-in which he still soared with unabated strength, like an eagle, only a short time before his death.

What his departed friend Schleiermacher had wished for himself in his "Monologues," and afterwards actually received, was granted also to Neander, the privilege namely of dying in the full possession of his mental powers and in the midst of his work. Only eight days before his death, on the occasion of a visit from Gützlaff, who was regarded by many as "the Apostle of the Chinese," he made an address with youthful freshness on the Chinese Mission, and looked hopefully forward to the future triumphs of the kingdom of God, the setting forth of whose growth, under the guidance of the twofold likeness of the mustard-seed and leaven, he considered the great business of his own life.

On the following Monday, the 8th of July, he delivered his last lecture, in the midst of severe pain from an attack of sickness, so that his voice several times failed, and he was scarcely able with the help of students to come down the steps of the rostrum. But, notwithstanding this, immediately after dinner, which he hardly touched, he set himself again to dictating for the last volume of his Church History, which was to describe the close of the Middle Ages and the preparation for the Reformation, until exhausted nature fastened him to his bed.

Then he had his last and severest trial to endure, in ceasing to work for the kingdom of his Divine Master, which had always been his life and joy. Several times he wanted to gather himself up again, and became almost impatient when the physician refused to allow it. But his affectionate sister now reminded him of what he used to say to her in sickness, to engage her submission to medical judgment: "It comes from God-therefore must we suit ourselves to it cheerfully." Calmed at once, and as it were ashamed, he replied: "That is true, dear Hannah, it all comes from God, and we must thank Him for it." So formerly St. Chrysostom, whose life and deeds Neander had delighted to portray, expired in banishment with the exclamation, "God be praised for all!" Still, however, only a few hours before his dissolution, on Saturday afternoon, the "father of modern Church History" once more collected his sinking strength, and taking up the thread of his unfinished work just where he had left off before, dictated an account of the so-called "Friends of God," those remarkable German Mystics of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, who helped to prepare the way for the evangelical Reformation.

After this appropriate conclusion of his literary activity, about half-past nine o'clock, he longed for rest, and in a sort of half-dream, as at the end of a toilsome journey, addressed his sister with the significant words: "I am weary, let us go home!" When the bed had been put in order for his last slumber, he threw the whole tenderness

and affection of his heart once again into a scarcely audible "Goodnight!" He slept for four hours, breathing always more softly and slowly; and with the morning of the Lord's Day, on what is styled in the Church year the Sunday of Refreshing, he awoke in the morning of eternity among the spirits of the just made perfect. There, in the company of the great and good men of past ages, with whom he was so familiar, he rests from his labors, in adoration of Him who was the beginning and end of all history.

His colleague, Dr. Strauss, chaplain of the King of Prussia, and Dr. Krummacher, the celebrated pulpit orator, delivered eloquent and touching addresses at his funeral. The latter chose for his discourse the words of John: "That disciple therefore whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord." And truly, he was himself a genuine disciple of John, and a forerunner of the Johannean age of love and peace which sooner or later will solve the problem of Christianity.

A LETTER OF NEANDER.

I close this sketch with a letter of Neander in reply to the request for permission to dedicate to his name, as a testimony of gratitude, my History of the Apostolic Church. It is no doubt one of his last letters, written when he was nearly blind, with trembling hand, and in almost illegible characters, during the abortive political convulsions which shook Germany in the closing years of his life:

"MY DEAR FRIEND:

"I can only return my hearty thanks for the testimony you publicly offer me of your affectionate remembrance, and for the honor you propose to show me, whilst I desire for you in your work all illumination and strength from on high,

“As regards your Journal, I believe something of it through your kindness has reached me, for which you have my hearty thanks. It is well that you have reminded me of it. I may now easily forget anything, and let it lie unused, as I can read only through other people's eyes, having suffered for two years past from the consequences of a paralysis settled in my own.

"I had intended to send you along with this letter something new of my publications and new editions; but it is now omitted, as it just so happens that all my copies have already been given away. If the good Lord had not visited me with weakness in my eyes, I would have had the pleasure long since of being able to send you a new volume of the Church History as far as the Reformation, and perhaps by this time even the History of the Reformation itself.

"What men called freedom in our poor fatherland, during the mournful year 1848, is something very different from what is sought and meant by the spirit which has been born from the best English piety in your America. It was a conflict here between atheism and Christianity, between vandalism and true civilization. Even many years ago I predicted, that the philosophy of one-sided logic, intellectual fanaticism and self-deification, must lead to this proper consequence of its negations, as by their popularization has now come to pass. Not as though this philosophy alone were in fault; but it was the most strictly consequent scientific expression of the reigning spirit of the age and its tendency. Nor will I deny that there are true wants also at hand in the spirit of the age, and that nothing short of their satisfaction, which the gospel alone has power to secure, can bring any lasting relief. We stand on the brink of an abyss, the downfall of the old

European culture, or else on the confines of a new moral creation, to be ushered in through manifold storms-another grand act in the world-transforming process of Christianity. In the mercy of a long suffering God we will hope for the last. "Praying that God's richest blessing may rest on your family, on your work, and all that pertains to you, I remain

"Berlin, 28th Oct., 1849."

"Affectionately yours,

"A. NEANDER.

V. THE REVISED LUTHER BIBLE.

BY GEORGE H. SCHODDE, PH.D., PROF. IN CAPITAL UNIVERSITY. It is now a little over a year since the Protestant world, with great unanimity and zeal, celebrated the four hundredth anniversary of Luther's birth. Ever since that day, and just now more deeply than ever, the Church in the land of Luther is occupied in examining the proposed revision of the Reformer's translation of the Bible, as offered to the scholars and churches of the Fatherland for study and criticism in the so-called Probe-Bibel, or Specimen-Bible, published by the Canstein Bible Institute, of Halle, as the result of over two decades of work by some of the leading scholars in the land of Biblical learning. Such a work naturally is entitled to the attention of those Christians also who do not use the version of Luther, even if such attention is given only for the purpose of comparing the work, as to character, method, results, reception, etc., with the revision of the King James version that has been and is being made for the English-speaking nations.

Luther's translation of the Scriptures is a remarkable work and has a remarkable history. Early in his reformatory work he recognized the necessity of giving to the people the Word of God in their own tongue, and from 1517, the year of the 95 theses and the beginning of the reformation, when he first published a translation of the penitential psalms, down to 1545, the year of his death, when the tenth edition of the entire Bible translation had appeared, the great reformer was, amid all the theological discussions and reorganization of the German churches, engaged in constantly perfecting the work of translation. He himself recognized in the German Bible the great instrument for effecting a reformation of the Church. The character of the version entitled it to this distinction; Luther was the prince of translators. His is not as literal a version as is the English, nor was it his purpose to make it such. His aim was to make it a book for the people, by reproducing and translating the Hebrew and Greek texts into such language that it "could be understood by the farmer behind his plow, and by the maid in the kitchen." Luther's efforts were successful to a wonderful degree. The philosopher Hegel says: "The translation which Luther made of the Bible is of inestimable value to the German nation. These have thereby become possessors of a 'Book of the peo

ple' such as no Catholic nation has." Without this version the reformation, humanly speaking, would have been an impossibility, and nowhere is the consciousness of this fact more thoroughly understood and appreciated than among the German Christians themselves. It is necessary to remember this in order to understand the character of the revision made, as also its history and reception.

But the religious influence of the Luther translation is fully equaled by its literary importance. It virtually created the modern High German language. In Luther's day and date the spoken and literary dialects of Germany were almost legion, and it was through his masterly German, which came from the very heart of the people, that order and system were introduced into this chaos, and with his translation of the Bible the history of German philology begins its modern phase. The greatest of Germanists, Jacob Grimm, in the introduction to his German grammar, says that on account of its mighty influence Luther's language must be regarded as the foundation of modern German. In a double sense Luther's translation has had a mission that cannot be paralleled by any other modern Bible version. The German people and Church emphatically recognize it as the treasure of the nation, the book of the people, whose language and thought has found an entrance into the innermost recesses of the German heart.

This condition of affairs has had a modifying influence on earlier proposals for revision, as also on the revision that is now before the Church. No one was better aware of the fact that his work was not perfect than was Luther himself. In the work of translation he had the able assistance of Melanchthon, Bugenhagen, Jonas, Cruciger, Aurogallus and others, but felt that constant corrections should be made. In answer to the charge that he had erred at times in translating, he says that he is well aware of this fact, and reminds his critics that Jerome had made many mistakes in the Vulgate. Accordingly, we see that every new edition of the Bible brings a number of changes; especially is this the case in the earlier editions. He made so many corrections in the years 1539-41 that he made a special note of it on the title page of later editions.

The number of variations in the German text increased after the reformer's death. Already in this year of his departure, 1545, his pupil, friend and proof-reader, George Rörer, published an edition in which so many changes were made (claimed by the editor to have been Luther's work), especially in Romans and First Corinthians, that a violent controversy arose, it being claimed that these changes had been made in the interest of the Philippists, the peace or compromising party especially between Lutherans and the Reformed. As copyright was an unknown thing in those days, and every publisher did what seemed right in his own eyes, the number of variations increased to a remarkable degree. Not only did the language yield to the develop

« PrécédentContinuer »