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apostacy is no marvel. France had forcibly suppressed the Reformation, and in concert with Jesuitism had most bloodily persecuted the Huguenots, her noblest subjects; and yet doing this in subservience to worldly and political objects, had played a mischievous game with religion. This overreaching, politic, persecuting, jesuitical Romanism had only to throw off its mask, in order to disclose the dragon's nature in its own bosom. The historic result was inexorable; having sowed Jesuitism, they must reap atheism and materialism. Gobel, archbishop of Paris, with his clergy, declared before the Convention, in 1793, that his former life had been a deception, and that he now acknowledged no religion but the religion of freedom.
Has France ever repented? We doubt it. She has possibly, under the restoration, and under Louis Philippe, reconciled herself with Jesuitism. But new revolutions always follow such coalition between stale deism and Jesuitism. And very little confidence have we in the last revolution. It has, from the very outset, too strong an infusion of Fourierism and mob-law. What can we look for from a people, which to-day greets its "citizen king" with plaudits, and to morrow chases him from the land? which to-day coquets with the most absolute popery, and to-morrow prostrates itself at the feet of the rabble? which appoints the elections for the National Assembly to be held on the sacred feastday of the Redeemer's resurrection, thus beginning its new republican era with redoubling the general profanation of the Lord's Day? which with sentimental pomposity hangs out the deceptive escutcheon of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity; and right upon this takes refuge in military despotism, to save the unripe republic from subversion? We have, to be sure, hope for France; but we expect it from the time when the cherished wish of Calvin, that greatest of Frenchmen, and the watchword of the noble count Agenor de Gasparin and of the Evangelical Society of Paris, shall be brought to pass; "All France must be evangelized!"
The fourth and most refined form of European antichristianity has made its appearance in Germany within the last ten years. As the Germans are the most speculative and learned race in the world, their infidelity shapes itself accordingly. We need not here explain how it was, that toward the end of the last century, under the combination of English deism, French materialism, the reign of the ungermanic Frederick the Great, the Wolfian
philosophy, the Kantian criticism, and the neology of Semler, the vulgar Rationalism gradually assumed form. Nor need we tell how Rationalism diluted the life-giving ideas of the gospel into meagre intellectualities and dry moral maxims; nor how it got possession of the academical chairs and the consistories, and from those literary quarters spread itself among the cultivated and half-educated classes, and from thence has gone down into the lower grades of society. We have here in America its sorrowful results daily before us in a large part of the immigrants who come to us from that heart-chilling school. But this is not so far advanced in its hostility to revelation as is the later and more pantheistical Rationalism, of which we would particularly speak.
The French revolution of 1830 made a new epoch for infidelity in Germany. Rationalism was gradually driven into the back-ground by the weapons of pure science, when it suddenly came to life again in an entirely new garb. Not only at that time did "Young Germany," the dregs of volatile Frenchism and Christ-hating Judaism, a Heine, Gutzkow, Mundt, Weinbarg, Börne, and their company, lift up the head in the most reckless manner, in songs, romances, and criticisms, announcing the overthrow of Christian morality, and "the emancipation of the flesh" with all its wasting passions; but also science took the field, with the heavy battery of philosophic thought and an excessively acute criticism, against the historic and dogmatic foundation of the church. It was in 1835, that Dr. F. Strauss, a disciple of Hegel, and the head of the extreme radical portion of this widespread school, first published his notorious "Life of Jesus," which might be better called "An Attempt at the Annihilation of the Life of Jesus." In the preface he announced the death of the old Rationalism of Dr. Paulus, or the so-called explanation of the miracles on natural principles; and also of the supernaturalism of Dr. Olshausen; thus making way for his own pretended, only scientific view of the evangelical history. According to this view, the person of the Saviour is stripped of all superhuman glory; and his birth, his miracles, his resurrection and ascension, are ranked with the traditions of the heathen gods, and are explained as legendary fantasies of the first Christian communities. In the place of the church's idea of a Redeemer, he puts the idea of humanity; and exalts this, as Robespierre formerly did reason, to the throne of the universe. The vene
ration of the only true God must hereafter yield to the worship of poetical, military, philosophical, and critical genius. He is not ashamed in his "Quiet Leaves," to rank Bettina's Letters to Göthe with the Gospel of John. In this senseless impiety "Young Germany" had got the start of him; as when, for instance, Heine compares the Memoirs of O' Meara, Antomarchi, and Las Casas, with the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke; and Börne calls Jean Paul Richter, the "comforter of mankind," and "our interceding high-priest!" On the whole, the pantheistic hero-worship is a widely-spreading poison in modern literature. It is the most dangerous ingredient in the writings of Thomas Carlyle, although he produces it somewhat refined.
Strauss rends away the very last consolation of natural religion, and denies, what no Rationalist had done, any sort of personal existence after death. At the close of his "Dogmaties," which appeared five years later than his "Life of Jesus," and in which, as he had before reduced the history, so now he reduces the doctrines of Christianity into speculative mist, he expressly says: "A life beyond the grave is the last enemy which speculative criticism has to oppose, and if possible, to vanquish." As we were once conversing with a poetical friend, being at that time students, about this wisdom which ends with the sorry comfort of annihilation, he improvised this neat stanza on the Hegelians:
'I am the Way, the Truth, the LIFE!'
So spake our Guide through mortal strife:
'I am the Way, the Truth, the DEATH!'
And the humorous poet-physician, Justin Kerner, while playing at nine-pins with Strauss, wittily expressed himself as follows:
Less than a nine-pin, then, is man,
According to your Hegel's plan;
The pin is set up as before,
But man, knocked down, shall rise no more!
After Dr. Strauss, in these and other writings which were triumphantly refuted by believing science, had made utter wreck of theology and Christianity, so that he could gather up no more laurels in this field, he married, quite consistently with his principles, the actress Agnes Schebest, (a Jewess, if we mistake
not,) of whom he became infatuated at the theatre; but soon after, with equal consistency, he separated from her. He was then, for a while, buried alive; since a couple of reviews, and a discourse upon the "Romancer upon the Throne of the Cæsars," were scarcely audible whispers for a man who had set the world in a He suddenly came to life again last spring as a political writer in the "Suabian Mercury ;" and as candidate for a deputy's seat in the imperial parliament at Frankfort was defeated by a pietist, though he obtained a seat in the diet of Würtemburg.
Strauss does not stand alone. His spirit prevailed for a time among a majority of the students at Tübingen. His teacher, Dr. F. Baur, a man of great learning, penetration, power of combination, iron diligence, and in many respects of reputable character, but too philosophical to be a trusty historian, and too historical to be a good philosopher, exceedingly capricious in his criticism, with no practical interest in the Christian life, filled moreover with unbounded pride of learning, and extremely sensitive as to the least contradiction, this man zealously urged the same principles, only more obscurely and abstrusely. A number of talented young teachers, as Reiff, Zeller, and Schwegler, trod exactly in his footsteps, slowly poisoning the academical youths, the hope of the Church. We have heard at Würtemburg many sermons of orthodox sound from such Straussian theologues, who at the bottom of their hearts regarded the gospel as a book of fables, and the church as a very useless institution.
Meanwhile this destructive tendency of pantheistical speculation manifested itself in more open and corrupted form in North Germany, where it originated; and this it did chiefly in the universities of Berlin, Königsberg, Halle, and Leipzig, and partly in collegial connection with the main defenders of orthodoxy. It formed for itself an organ in the "Hallish," afterwards the "German Annals" by Ruge and Echtermeier, who may be resembled to the French encyclopædists. They went on farther and farther, from logical school-dust into practical and social life-questions, from abstract metaphysics into political affairs. They jeered at the German trustiness and gentleness as hounds' virtues, and prostrated themselves before the demoniacal heroes of the French Revolution. The Prussian and Saxon governments were at last roused up against this journal. It died; and was buried, from state policy, with considerable pomp.
Upon this, Ruge went over to the Straussian ground. The same, and more also was the case with the tragicomic figure of the deposed theological licentiate and teacher, Bruno Bauer. He is truly "a knight of the rueful countenance," who had only seen the history of theology. His shocking blasphemies may be explained as a kind of delirium tremens, in which his unbounded pride and ambition, whereby he had been characterized in his earlier Hegelian-orthodox period, wallowed in dialectic spasms. If Strauss had explained the evangelical history as the product of unconscious invention, Bruno, in his zeal to outshine his predecessor, deduced it from intentional fabrication on the part of the Evangelists, and branded them as formal, artful, and yet tasteless deceivers. In this he soared beyond the English deists and the writers of the "Wolfenbüttle Fragments." For while these talked in the phrase of stiff scientific arrogance, and assumed an air of stoical apathy toward the ruins of Christianity, they shewed, in the Olympian self-sufficiency of their notions, no inclination to infuse their private studies into the practical life of the community or to disturb its peace. But instead of this, we meet in Bruno a hellish hate and roaring rage against heart-religion, and the apologetics," as he contemptuously calls all theologians who retain so much as a trace of the old Bible-belief. He goes the length of the crazy whim, that "the Christ of the Gospels, considered as a real historical personage, is an apparition at the sight of which humanity must turn gray with fright,—a form which can only awaken horror and dismay!" He calls the church a
vampire, sucking out to the last drop the juice, strength, blood, and life of humanity." This Bauer also plays a part among the heroes of the Prussian revolution; and the last we hear of him, is, that the citizens of Charlottenburg, in an uproar toward the end of August, dragged him and his brother Egbert down stairs by the hair of their heads, and demolished his house!
Strauss and Bauer at first had to do with Christianity only. But it is obvious that this process of critical destruction must make an end of all and every religion. And to this result, Feuerbach proceeds with all possible clearness and frankness, in his book, "The Essence of Christianity." According to him, there is nothing objectively divine. All religion arises from a psychological self-deception, while the man, from an imperfect acquaintance with his own "conceptions," ascribes to a being