« AnteriorContinuar »
LIPS; BUT THEIR HEART 18 FAR FROM ME.
WORSHIP ME, TEACHING FOR DOCTRIXES
N E (0 L 0 G Y .
BY N. N. WHITING.
PEOPLE DRAW ETH NIGH
THE COMMANDMENTS OF M
14 Devonshire Street.
The following pages are designed to present, in a clear and concise manner, the rise and progress, in the church, of Neology and kindred fruits of the German schools of Theology, with their effect on the churches of our own land.
It was not until the blessed hope of the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ was presented, as an immediate event, to the professed followers of Him, who promised to come again, and was rejected by such with scorn, that it was even dreamed that the great body of the church had departed so far from the belief of our fathers, and from “the faith once delivered to the saints." But the strong neological ground which the anti-Adventists have been obliged to assume, to ward off the doctrine of the immediate appearing of Christ, and the manner in which such views have been received, unrebuked by the great body of the church, have served to exhibit the extensive spread and deep root which the philosophy of Germany has attained among the churches of our own land.
These principles have crept in so insidiously—till now almost unnoticed—that their sudden maturity has caused a great call for information respecting their origin and progress, with the causes of so extensive a reception of them by the church. This call has here been most successfully met; and we cheerfully recommend it to all, as a work worthy the serious perusal, not only of those who love the appearing of Christ, but also of those who have drank deeply at the poisoned fountain.
J. V. H. Boston, March 1, 1844.
INFLUENCE OF NEOLOGY.
The term Neology, or Rationalism, has been applied to the actual creed of a large portion of the members of the German church, who profess a nominal adhesion to the Augsburgh Confession of Faith, while they reject its fundamental principles, and maintain tenets which the Saxon reformers would have regarded as "damnable heresies.” Like many other forms of error, Neology did not make its first appearance among
the common people. In all countries, the simple faith of this class in the book of God, and their reverence for its instructions, have made them the well known conservators of truth. It is seldom that their course of life is such as to drive them to the necessity of impugning the authority of the Scriptures. Neology had its birth among those, who held the part of “ watchmen on the walls of Zion;" among professors of theology, whose rank, learning, and talents gave them a controlling influence over the opinions of the religious world. These were the men, who applied their strength to rend down the pillars of the temple of truth, who labored by every insidious art of false interpretation to pervert and ren
der powerless that book, which its Author designed to be “a lamp to our feet and a light to our path, until the day should dawn and the daystar arise in our hearts." All experience proves that heresy is rather the offspring of the heart than of the head. When the moral condition of the soul is such, that man has nothing to fear should all Scripture be, in very deed, the word of Jehovah; no ordinary strength of temptation will lead him to wish it untrue; still less will he wish to persuade others that it is not entitled to full credit. He, who has felt the power of divine truth, as applied to his conscience by the Holy Spirit, convincing him of sin, and leading him to the Lamb of God,—will not lightly esteem the book which embodies that truth, nor wish to shake the confidence of others in “ the law of the Lord,” which is perfect, converting the soul.”
Unhappily, in the case before us, the German church was a national establishment. The public authorities patronized the church, because they supposed its influence would give stability to political institutions. Princes paid an external respect to the Bible because they appreciated the commandment ——“ Render to Cæsar the things which are Cæsar's," rather than that, which with equal clearness says, “and unto God, the things which are God's." Both in the Protestant and Catholic states civil rulers exercised a control in the appointment of preachers, pastors and professors of theology. Thus a door was opened for the admission of unconverted men into religious offices. While the magistracy insisted on high literary qualifications in all candidates for the ministry, and demanded those still more elevated from men who aspired to theological professorships, the most important of all requisites, vital piety, attracted but little attention. The results are obvious. Men, who were accurately acquainted with the sciences, familiar with the varied topics of biblical literature, with the history, languages, customs and antiquities of the East, might be found occupying the station of teachers in theology, though destitute of the first elements of religious experience, and strangers to the power of godliness. Such men as they knew nothing of the influence of the Spirit on the soul, despised and ridiculed the very language by which God describes that influence, as the mystic phraseology of enthusiasm.
It could not be expected that such guides would quietly acquiesce in the popular belief that all scripture was given by inspiration of God. Disliking the moral restraint which the Bible imposes, so long as it is regarded as a revelation from heaven; chafed in the false position into which they had blindly thrown themselves; often obliged, especially if pastors, to perform duties entirely foreign to their tastes, and yet fettered by the force of public opinion, and restrained from an open avowal of their sentiments, they were compelled to wait for a more convenient season, when their principles might be exhibited, without hazard, in the face of the world. Before that season had arrived, the metaphysical skepticism of Hume, and other authors of the English deistical school, had found its way to the continent. The writings of these authors attracted the attention of numerous readers in the ranks of the German ministry. They were often translated