« AnteriorContinua »
English to put by faith in Jesus Christ, after might be given.' But what Paul means probably is that the attainment of the promised inheritance (kampovouia being the object of émayyería) depends, not on faith in general (as the Judaizers might in some sort admit), but more specifically faith in Jesus Christ; and hence the apostle, in aiming to exclude that error, must conjoin the επαγγελία and έκ πίOTEws, and then after 809 limit the blessings to the persons who fulfil the condition (Tols Talotevovoi). With this view, our version is correct.
Verse 28. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female. • There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is no male and female.' The connective in the last clause is kaí, but oudé in the other cases. Perhaps the mode of expression merely adjusts itself to the familiar a ne na ini in Gen. i. 27. The same combination is found in Matt. xix. 4 and Mark x. 6. Others seek for a deeper principle. The alterable social distinctions are separated from each other, the natural unalterable one is left undi. vided (Alford, Ellicott). At all events there is no reason why the English should not conform to the Greek. The gender is neuter (ápoev, nav), as the only one which excludes the abolished distinction. The difference between the Greek and the English idiom makes it impossible to transfer this peculiarity.
NOTICES OF NEW PUBLICATIONS.
PROFESSOR WILLIAM PREGER'S MATTIAS Flacius ILLYRICUS AND
We welcome this production, first, because it is the only satisfactory biography of Flacius Illyricus, and secondly, because his character has been misjudged and undervalued. Next to Luther and Melanchthon, he had most influence in settling the theology of the Lutheran church. His reputation has suffered in consequence of his opposition to Melanchthon. It seems to have been forgotten that his opposition consisted in a candid and logical defence of the doctrines of Luther. He was undoubtedly a hot disputant, but he was as undoubtedly conscientious and strong in argument. During the life-time of Luther, Melanchthon's tendencies to yield to the Catholics in poir.t of church order and ceremonies, and to Calvin in matters of doctrine pertaining to the Lord's supper, were held in check by the authority of the great Reformer; but no sooner was this pressure removed than Melanchthon began to give vent to his pent-up feelings, and to give utterance to sentiments which Luther would not have tolerated for
If it was right for a sincere follower of Luther to espouse the cause of his deceased friend and teacher, and to show by the severest logic that the Lutheran church was, under Melanchthon's guidance, drifting away from its moorings, then Flacius is to be exonerated from the charge of uncharitableness, and his plea must be allowed, that the unhappy division was not chargeable to him who defended the old Wittenberg theology, but rather to him who introduced innovations. We say nothing now about the truth of the one or the other view; we only remark that Flavius was the undoubted champion of the genuine theology of Saxony, as taught by Luther. We cannot, then, uphold Luther and condemn Flacius. In theology we cannot say that what Luther, as the first reformer, had a right to teach, Flacius, his inferior in authority, had not a right to maintain against so great a man as Melanchthon ; for the theologian swears allegiance not to men but to principles. Flacius could justly reply to all who thus reproached him, that if Melanchthon was great, truth was greater.
So much Preger makes out and establishes on the most incontestible evidence. On the other hand, the course of Melanchthon admits of a similar relative justification. In yielding to a qualified approval of the Leipsic Interim, a Saxon modification of the Emperor's Augsburg Interim, in
1 Matthias Flacius Illyricus und seine Zeit, von Wilhelm Preger, Professor
2 Bde. Erlangen. 1859 – 61.
u S. W.
both of which the Protestants were required, for the sake of peace, to tolerate, if not to approve of, certain papal forms of government and worship declared to be non-essential, Melanchthon only manifested the same spirit of concession which appeared in him at Augsburg in 1530, and at which Luther, then living at Coburg, showed such impatience. This was entirely in accordance with Melanchthon's mild and timid nature, and with his well-known indifference to forms of worship. Flacius could maintain that Luther would never have given in his adhesion to the Leipsic Interim. We can now see that it was inexpedient for others to do so, and yet defend the moral character of Melanchthon. He undoubtedly made a blunder, but it was an innocent error in judgment, on a question of expediency. On another point, which after Melanchthon's death produced such excitement, his son-in-law, Peucer, suffering imprisonment with others for carrying out Melanchthon's views, the latter, notwithstanding the censure heaped upon him by the Lutheran church, will, in the judgment of most men, receive more than a bare sentence of acquittal on mere moral grounds. Luther's theory of Christ's bodily presence in the eucharist was less and Jess satisfactory to Melanchthon, the more he reflected on it. The clumsy philosophical justification of that theory on the ground of the ubiquity of Christ's body appeared more and more absurd to Melanchthon the more he examined it. That what was true of one nature in Christ might be aflirmed of the other, could be easily admitted in a popular sense; but that such a licence could be taken in a metaphysical use of terms, was what the clear intellect of Melanchthon could not admit. He came gradually to believe that neither the scriptures, properly interpreted, nor reason, taught or ad. mitted such a doctrine. Luther loved mystery, and often admitted it when there was no proof of its existence. Melanchthon required positive evidence of a mystery before he admitted it. Luther was not unfrequently a mystical interpreter, and was deficient in philological accuracy. Melanci:thon saw that Luther's rule in interpreting the words, “ This is my body," would lead to contradictions and absurdities if applied to other passages. The result was, that when Melanchthon's mind was left free to follow its own convictions, he movlified his statements materially respecting the doctrine of the supper. Flacius, of course, could not brook such an insult to Luther's memory. The controversy was fierce and bitter, and Melanchthon and his party were in the end overruled by the Saxon theologians. Now how stands the matter as it affects the intellectual and moral character of the two chief combatants ? Flacius clearly had Luther's great authority on his side, and that was enough for him. Melanchthon saw that the Genevan and Strassburg theologians entertained clearer and more scriptural views of the subject than Luther and the party of Flacius. With him the authority of Luther was not final. According to Flacius, all questions of theology and church usages were to be decided by the authority of the Bible and of Luther. According to Melanchthon, they were to be decided by the authority of the Bible and of reason. Both were sincere and deeply n earnest. Both make out their points by irresistible !ogic. Schmidt, in
the new Life of Melanchthon just published by him, vindicates Melanclıthon's character in this controversy triumphantly. Preger has done the same for Flacius. Flacius shows more firmness and tenacity, Melancbthon more conciliation and forbearance. The former had such a reverence for truth, or what seemed to be truth, that he forgot the respect due to a great and good man. He was mercilessly but conscientiously contentious. The latter was so amiable and fond of peace that he would for the sake of it yield what he might have maintained. He was never a polemic, except by necessity. While it pains one to see such men engaged in controversy at a time that the Protestant interests demanded their combined strength against the common enemy, now insolent in the exercise of superior power, it gives the indifferent spectator no little pleasure to witness the logical skill of two such combatants. If Melanchthon is the more comprehensive, Flacius is the more pungent. Both excite admiration for their abilities. We are indebted to Preger for bringing to light the long-forgotten treatises of Flacius, and furnishing us ample means of judging for ourselves of the learning, acuteness, and logical vigor of the Illyrian theologian.
There is still another point in which these representatives of opposite schools of theology disagreed. Melanchthon was, when he published the first edition of his Loci, a strict predestinarian, adopting fully the doctrines of Augustine and of Luther on this point. When the controversy on the freedom of the will broke out between Luther and Erasmus, Melanchthon, by nature and education more predisposed to sympathize with the latter than with the former, felt himself irresistibly drawn towards the sentiments and views of the opponent of bis own doctrine rather than to those of its bold, strong, and slashing defender. The young Melanchthon had at the outset such unbounded confidence in the great reformer, so much more mature and prominent than himself, that he adopted some of his doctrines, and this among the rest, more on his authority and that of Augustine than on a particular study of the subject. He never had passed through the violent internal conflicts which characterized the religious experience of those marked characters. He was spiritually born, not in the midst of storms and tempests, but in the calm sunshine of a quiet day. Religion with him was a genial spiritual influence, and the conception of the mode of its operation sormed by Erasmus came nearer to his own spiritual consciousness than that formed by Luther. While Luther was so strong in his faith as to stumble at no difficulties, and allowed them unhesitatingly their full force, in order that grace might have the greater triumph, Erasmus fixed his eye on the human side rather than the divine, and portrayed it with such aptness and grace as to win the heart and the intellect of the gentle and classic Melanchthon. How awkward was his position! He was too candid to be a partisan, and therefore could not refuse to yield himself up to his conviction. He admitted, at first silently, the arguments of his opponent, and felt satisfied that his most intimate friend was in the wrong, and gradually showed himself in his modified views; and Luther, though fully aware of all this, silently tolerated the unpalatable change. But the theology of the
Lutheran church was founded on the Loci and the Augsburg Confession and Apology — all written by Melanchthon as well as upon the Schmalcald Articles and the Greater and Lesser Catechism, written by Luther. The Loci and the Confession were revised by their author; and, strange to say, the church abandoned Luther and followed Melanchthon on this ticklish point, but rejected him with scorn and hatred for his more rational view of the eucharist. And ever since, crypto-Calvinist bas been a term of reproach, partly on account of the secrcy implied, but chiefly on account of Calvinism, — the ugly thing concealed, not the doctrine of divine decrees, but the denial of the omnipresence of Christ's body.
How different the position of Flacius and Melanchthon in this controversy! The former having before him the straight course of vindicating the doctrine of the Lutheran church as contained in all the symbolical books, the greater part of them written by his opponent himself; the latter being obliged to make such a curve as to face about in the opposite direction. There is a strange sort of romance in these situations. It would seem that history was unhinged, and events took an abnormal direction. How singularly these changes cut up and modify the veneration now felt by the Germans for both of these great reformers! The one taught the abhorred doctrine of necessity, in opposition to the freedom of the will: the other held the still more shocking doctrine of a spiritual presence in the supper. Strange, that the supposed error of Melanchthon on the latter point should excite tenfold more interest than the supposed error of Luther on the former.
The controversy of Flacius with Osiander on justification is one of deep theological interest. It leaves little that is new to be said by others on the subject. No later writers have shown greater acuteness in the treatment of the subject. The interest of his controversy with Major and Menius is as great, but it is more of a historical and personal nature. The various attempts at union among the German Protestants, first by theologians and then by the princes, as recorded in these volumes, give one a clear insight into the spirit of the times in respect to ecclesiastical matters. Flacius could never be quiet so long as there were any persons in the church whose faith was not as strictly Lutheran as his own; and yet all Wittenberg went, for the time being, with Melanchthon rather than with the deceased reformer. The reader, if he is a Christian, will be devoutly thankful that he was not born in those times. Of the three graces, faith, hope, and charity, the first only remained in full vigor; for, while there was much faith (in creeds), there was little hope, and no charity. The evils of Luther's dangerous principle, that the ultimate authority in deciding what creed should be maintained, and what prohibited, lay with the prince or ruler, soon began to appear. Hence such a man as Melanchthon, even in Luther's lifetime, must promise submission to the creed declared by the Elector to be the true one, or be banished. Flacius experienced all the workings of this principle. He was first supported by the Duke, in Jena, and all the ministers of the Duchy were required to sign a confession drawn Vol. XIX. No. 73.