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advantage from the proclaimed division between State and Church. But instead of this, our rigid Lutherans have been most industriously horrifying themselves at all communion with the professors of more free evangelical principles, and are for coming out from the “ Babel" of the local churches. They wage severer contests against those who seek safety and peace in the same Saviour, than against infidelity and political radicalism. This, to me, is the sorest mistake of our evangelical Germany, of which I might say with Melanchthon: “ Could I but shed as many tears as our Elbe pours of waves when in full stream, my grief would not be drawn dry.” It is to be expected, that, as one sad consequence of dissolving the union between the protestant Church and the State, there will be forth with a general splitting up into sects.
In oriler to plant all the barriers possible against this threatening and dangerous tendency, there is to be a great assemblage at Wittemberg, on the twenty-first of this month, to consider the question, Whether, and how, a German evangelical church-league may be effected. It is my intention to be present. The invitation is addressed to “ all who stand on the ground of the evangelical confession."
The representatives of strict Lutheranism have already, for the most part, refused to take part in it. The
Light-friends," of course, will not be there ; or, if they are, will miss their reckoning, and find themselves shut out. become the beginning of an organization for a German, evangelical, national Church, if it can succeed in holding together, for the formation of such a church-league, those portions of the German evangelical Church which lie between those extremes. May God grant his blessing !
J. MÜLLER Halle, Sept. 18, 1818. * By more recent intelligence, we learn that the “Evangelical-United Conference' at Wittemberg, alluded to in the above paragraph, has been held over Luther's grave with very gratifying results. There were present above five hundred clergymen from all parts of Germany, and among them the most celebrated theologians and preachers, such as the learned Dr. Moller, the writer of the above letter, Nitzsch, Hengstenberg, Dorner, Lehnerdt, Krummacher, etc. There were also many distinguished laymen, such as the two presidents of the “ Conference,” Von Bethman-Hollweg, and Professor Stahl, the famous jurist; also Presidents Von Gerlach, and Von Goize. Men, agreeing in the essentials of religion, but who had been widely separated in
THE CHURCH AND THE WORLD.
We propose in this article to speak of the Christian distinction between the Church and the World, and our address is to the men of the world. The distinction has an invidious aspect, just as every other important distinction has; as those of rich and poor, learned and ignorant. Yet these distinctions are none the less real, for being offensive. Nor is there just cause of offence. The purposes of science require the classification of its subjects; and each science necessarily adopts the distinctions which arise from its own peculiar principles. It must, therefore, be conceded to Christianity to employ a classification of mankind, which shall be the logical result of its own fundamental principles. The basis of one scientific division of the human race is, the diversity of physical structure ; of another, the various forms of civil government; of another, the various religions systems that obtain. But Christianity assuines for the ground of its classification, these facts, – that human character is radically and invariably defective in its first development; that this defect involves, as a consequence, a fatal relation to the government of Jehovah, and to the eternal issues of that government; and, that a supernatural influence is needed in every case, to secure a favorable change in the character and relations of men. In the one class, it recognizes those who are the subjects of this radical change; in the other,
those whose development is natural, and not supernatural. It · has been God's purpose in all ages, and for ends most benevolent, to make prominent this distinction.
Yet we are not surprised that this division has ever excited an undisguised hostility, from the early days of Cain, to the most recent modern scoffer, who has sneered at “the saints.” Nor are we surprised that every form of attack has been made upon this distinction; and that the world has labored to efface this line of demarcation from human belief. The divine authority of the book so replete with it, has been assailed. The text must be destroyed, or the legitimate iuterpretation of it distorted. Baptismal regeneration, sacrainental sanctification, priestly absolution, and state-religion, have here a common origin with infidelity. feeling, in these hard times gladly gave the fraternal hand of fellowship, for the purpose of forming a church-league to comprehend, in a new
body of evangelicals," all Gerians who adhere to the evangelical confessions.
We do not indeed admit that the gospel is responsible for all that many have claimed for it. But we stand by all that it claims for itself. We adınit that it annihilates the distinctions which flatter the self-esteem of those who deny their own need of regeneration; that it confounds them with men whose characters they despise ; that it exalts mean men to a position where they can despise all the honors of the world. But we deny that the ground of this distinction is fanciful; that it has a tendency to depress the standard of moral excellence; that it represents the eternal destinies of inen to be suspended on conditions unworthy of the justice and goodness of God. And we must ask the World to leave the Church in undisturbed possession of these technical terms. We must maintain, in spite of all the objections we have heard, that no man can demonstrate the impossibility, or the injustice, of making eternal destiny turn upon points which pass for triles in the estimation of men. It
be that God and men regard things very differently, that “that which is highly esteemed among men, is abomination in the sight of God." ,
” It may be that there are often planted in the roughest soil, seeds of character, “like a grain of mustard seed," unattractive by their size and color; but containing the germs of the trees of of Paradise. We admit, that under the pretence of a sudilen, mental transformation, aided by a skilful imitation of the appropriate outward signs, there may be gross hypocrisy, or self-delusion. But we cannot consent to abandon gold coin, in order to avoid the evils of counterfeiting. We do not, moreover, confound virtuous men with the vicious. Vice is a crime against civil law, or an offence against the proprieties of life. An unregenerate man may be very far from that. Ile may be as intelligent, as moral, and as lovely, as the young man whom the Saviour loved. But, like him, he may turn away from the “terms of salvation,” and remain in and of the world," in our technical sense. Christianity gives no place to what is now called radicalism, because it insists that one mark of regeneration is, to "give honor to whom honor is due,” to regard “whatsoever things are honest, lovely, and of good report,” “ to give no offence in any thing.” It does not depress the standard of character, nor abate the requirements of the moral law. But it does offer pardon, and open a door of hope, to every one that would rise from his spiritual degradation ; while" the proud it sends empty awa;."
We further concede that this subject has often been treated in a manner unnecessarily offi:nsive. And to contribute our share toward establishing a right understanding between the Church and the World, we now give utterance to our sentiments.
The Christian Church, during the cighteen centuries of her existence, has greatly varied her relations to the World. She was, at first, under the world's foot; then, in turn, she set her foot upon its neck; now, she stands by its side. Some, indeed, sigh for the return of the primitive state, in which persecution was the lot of the Church, as securing greater purity and zeal in her members. But we cannot participate in that love of persecution. Equally far are our sympathies from those gentlemen who are preparing opiates for the world, that they may once more rock it to sleep in the tender arms of an ambitions hierarchy. Rather will we sound the alarm-trumpet, and warn the World that every opiate administered by these robed physicians, however agreeable to its aching consciences, prepares the way for robbing them of their dearest rights. We must thank God that we live in peaceful days; not for the indulgence of case, but for the better opportunity to benefit the world. We must be thankful, too, that Star-Chambers and Inquisitions, Papal bulls, canon and feudal laws, exist no longer. We now, by the grace of God, stand side by side with the World. And the more full our understanding of each other's views, the more amicable wil our relations be, and the more comfortable our intercourse. We are fellow-passengers, crossing life's great sea. Our ultimate destinations are very different ; but on the way, we are embarked in the same ship. And it is worth a little pains to come to some understanding, in order to diminish, as far as possible, the inconveniences of a passage, rough enough, at the best. Two princes might be returning in the same ship to the court of their sovereign ; the one, to recover his titles, the other, to inhabit a dungeon. Such things have been in God's providence, and under righteous human administrations, too. And when the Scriptures affirm that analogous events occur in the world yet future and unseen to us, we are docile and confiling enough to believe their testimony, and bold enough to repeat it, and to affirm that the most vital distinction between man and man, is that of those “ who do not obey the Gospel,” and those “who believe, to the saving of their souls.”
“ It is a terrible doctrine!” It is; because sin is terrible, and terrible the destiny to which it leads. And if we might succeed in inducing in any mind a new train of thought on this suliject, we should deem our success the highest reward. Suppose, for instance, instead of starting back from this painful topic, and relieving yourself with an indignant exclamation at the bigotry of other people, you should for a moment begin to question, Whether, for once, they may not be right, and you wrong? And then, suppose you put it on this ground: “I will refer the whole matter to Jesus Christ. If these people are right, my situation is most alarming; I will look into it.” There we will leave you. If Jesus, our Lord, has not founded all his addresses to men on this distinction, if he has not drawn a line running through time to the judgment-day, and thence extending onwards through eternity, leaving one portion of mankind on one side, and another portion on the other, then we shall insist on our views no longer.
But we are solicitous to have the world change some of its notions concerning us, because we believe they are founded on misapprehensions. To many, it seems impossible that those in the church, can be other than uncharitable toward those out of the church. To them we cite the case of our Lord, loving the rich young ruler, who came to him for religious counsel. Here was charity, and even admiration. There were many excellent points in this character. But he lacked "one thing." That one thing in Christ's estimation, was the essential thing. Peter, perhaps, had not as much native loveliness, as this amiable youth. But Peter had the germ of life in him ; a love that would ultimately ripen, after it had been carefully nurtured by a divine guardian, and had experienced many trials, into a perfect character ; renouncing all for Christ, and living to bless the world. But this young man was, at that moment, essentially “ of the world.” His home, his heart, his hope, were in it. Now, could Christ love him, as he loved Peter? This case exhibits the fact we desire here to make prominent; that true charity, like Christ's love, admits of many subordinate degrees of admiration; while its supreme approbation is given to no form of natural character, but solely to the regenerated character. It admits of estimating every good quality at its real worth; genius, taste, integrity, courtesy; it admits that a regenerated person, at times, and in certain respects, may enjoy the society of some unregenerated persons more than