Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

lished last year jointly with Count Gasparin and M. Pressensé, will compare worthily with the similiar studies of Villemain and Count Albert de Broglie. His latest work is a thick manual of evangelical controversy, entitled “ Rome and the Bible,” in which all the texts, from Matthew to the Apocalypse, that have been used in the discussion concerning the Roman Church, are collated and severally explained. It is a very valuable book and very ingenious, and deserves a more fit notice than we here can give it. Bungener's style is clear, strong, and graceful.

Edmond de Pressensé, still a young man, has been for many years the pastor of the Dissenting Evangelical Church in the Rue Taitbout, in Paris, and has been regarded as one of the pulpit celebrities of that city. The cause of the schism, which was analogous to that in the Presbyterian Church in Scotland, was the supposed tendency to rationalism in the established church. The orthodoxy of the leading pastors of the Consistoire, which owns in Paris and the suburbs some seven or eight chapels, was questioned, and the conscience of a few ministers would not allow them to remain any longer in fellowship with a church which tolerated heresy. The ten years which have passed since the schism was completed have exhausted its force. Losing the aid of the state, it has not flourished, and now it seems ready to be absorbed into the church which it left. Pressense, though naturally an ardent spirit, and easily blinded by prejudice, is yet too good a scholar to be a bigot. His early associations were with the liberal party, and he tries in the French Church to occupy the position of Neander in the German Church, whose “ Practical Commentary on the Epistle to the Philippians” he has translated. As editor of the Revue Chrétienne, a monthly journal, Pressensé has great influence with the moderate orthodox party, and is virtually their leader. He has printed numerous pamphlets, and two volumes of sermons, one on the application of Christianity to social questions, and another on the “ Christian Family.” His most recent effort is the History of Christianity in the First Three Centuries, a work of great merits and great faults, which, when completed, we shall hope to submit to an extended criticism.

Frederic Monod, also a seceder from the established Reformed Church, has for some years past relinquished pastoral duties. He is the elder brother of the late Adolph Monod, and for a long time shared with him the fame of winning and persuasive eloquence. The journal which he edited, Les Archives du Christianisme, was prized for its mild and Christian spirit, rather than for its learning or original power. His published sermons are too few and slight to sustain his reputation as a preacher. This family of Monod resembles in one respect the family of Beechers. The sons are all ministers, and the father, John Monod, was for a long series of years at the head of the Calvinistic Church in France.

The liberal party within the Reformed Church, which corresponds to old-school American Unitarianism, is headed by Athanase Coquerel, the only rival to Lacordaire among the Protestants. We have too often had occasion to speak of Coquerel to dwell here upon his splendid powers as a preacher, a writer, and an ecclesiastical organizer. The sixty-four years of incessant toil which he has lived through have not in the least diminished his capacity to labor, or dulled his enthusiasm. In this very year he is occupied with the rearrangement of the constitution of the Reformed Church, preaches almost every Sunday, and prints as fast as he preaches. Probably no living writer, not even the fecund Cumming, has printed so many sermons. His house is the centre and focus of French liberalism, and is besieged by visitors. Crowds wait upon his discourses, and follow him from chapel to chapel. Of all the French preachers that we have heard, he possesses in the highest degree the art to conceal his art; and his elaborately prepared homily is so carefully studied and committed to memory, that it has all the effect of an extemporaneous performance. His use of “occasions” is especially striking. Whatever the topic or the emergency, he is equal to it, and he never disappoints expectation. To have heard Coquerel in the administration of the Lord's Supper is a memorable event in any man's life. His half-English education, and his perfect mastery of the English tongue, have familiarized him with the models of English preaching; and the influence of these models is evident in the structure of his discourses, which,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

unlike most French discourses, suffer little by translation. Yet Coquerel's style is thoroughly French, as idiomatic as the style of Pascal or Voltaire.

In addition to his eight volumes of sermons, Coquerel has published many works of an historical, biographical, polemic, and practical character: an answer to Strauss, which was noticed and translated in Germany for its signal ability ; two volumes of a Christology, which entirely overthrows the sacri

a ficial theory of the person and work of Christ; and, within the present year, a beautiful book of meditations for private and domestic use, on the plan of the Erbauungs-bücher of the German preachers. He is editor-in-chief of the Lien, a weekly newspaper of small size, which advocates liberal principles, without directly attacking the creeds. Like John Monod, Coquerel seems likely to become the founder of an ecclesiastical family. Two of his sons, Athanase and Stephen, are associated with him as preachers of the Consistoire, and are already known as authors. The elder, though but little more than thirty years old, has published two volumes of sermons and several works of historical and artistic criticism, and has gained a high rank as a pulpit orator. His course of sermons on the Beatitudes invests those somewhat worn topics with a new freshness and beauty. The sons share the principles of the father, and have no inclination to the orthodox reaction which has manifested itself within a few years. This Coquerel family, more than any other, give the tone and direction to the National Protestant Church of France.

If Athanase Coquerel may be regarded as the leader of the moderate Liberals — the old-school Unitarians — within the French Protestant Church, Timothy Colani is as certainly the leader of the progressive Liberals, - the new-school Unitarians. With no official position, and suspected by the ecclesiastical authorities, he is able, as the editor of the Nouvelle Revue de Théologie, to sway the opinions of the younger clergy by the force of his free, earnest, and powerful mind. His heresies have twice excluded him from the chair of philosophy in the College of Strasburg, and he holds only the place of teacher in some young ladies' boarding-schools, preaching by favor once a month, in French, in the German Lutheran

[ocr errors]

[ocr errors]

a

Church at Strasburg. Colani's father - the minister of a Reformed church in the village of Lemé (Department of the Aisne), in the north of France, and very active in his vocation - was a native of the Swiss Grisons in the Engadine, where his cousin, John Marchiet Colani, has long been famous as the most daring chamois-hunter of this century. His wife, the mother of Timothy, was the daughter of a Huguenot minister, and, born in a time of persecution, was carried to the cathedral immediately after her birth, to be baptized as a Catholic. In 1830, at the age of six years, the son was sent to Switzerland to be educated, subsequently spent four years in Germany in philological studies, and came to Strasburg in 1840 to study theology. The influence of the celebrated Professor Reuss, at that time teacher in Strasburg, soon weaned the young student from his pietistic associations, and changed his whole system of belief. In 1845 he finished his college course, and in 1847 received the prize of $600 (3,000 francs) for a review of Strauss's Life of Jesus, offered by the Faculty of Theology. In this period of his studies Colani had become intimately acquainted with Edmond Scherer, a young scholar residing, with his English wife, at Strasburg. In 1815 Scherer was called away to teach in an orthodox school at Geneva; but he had been there but a little time before his views of inspiration and Biblical interpretation underwent serious change, and in 1850 he was compelled by conscience to resign his charge, giving his reasons therefor in a pamphlet entitled La Critique et la Foi, which caused a lively sensation in all the French churches. The religious public were unprepared for such views from one so rooted and grounded in the orthodox faith. Taking advantage of this sensation, Colani issued, in July of that year, the first number of the Revue de Théo logie, with the motto, “ Veritati cedendo vincere .opinionem." The editors of the Revue were Colani, Scherer, Reuss, and Réville, a French minister in Rotterdam, the first two caring chiefly for the polemic and critical articles. All sorts and varieties of theological subjects were discussed; there was no plan, and each writer followed his own inspiration. After continuing for more than seven years, the title and the motto were slightly changed, and it now appears monthly as the Nouvelle Revue de Théologie, with the device, “ Fides quærens intellectum.” It has relinquished, in great measure, its polemic character, and now professes to be only an organ for free religious thought and for scientific theology. Its signal ability all acknowledge. On this Review, and on the volume of sermons which he has published, — the most striking, on the whole, of any volume that has come under our notice, — rests Colani's claim to distinction. The volume has already passed through two editions in French, has been translated into German and Dutch, and an English translation is in press. In it the most striking and original thoughts are expressed in a style of singular purity. Not one page is tame or commonplace.

A few words on the Jewish Church in France may be added, since it numbers in the Empire not less than one hundred thousand. The Jewish clergy are salaried by the state, and their religion is on the same footing before the law as that of the Protestants. Their affairs are managed by a “ Consistoire Centrale,” which has its seat in Paris, and is composed of nine persons, three Rabbins and six lay members. The chief of these Rabbins has the title of “ Grand Rabbin de France." The present incumbent of this office is Dr. Ullmann, a gentleman of great learning and influence.

Subordinate to this “ Consistoire Centrale," there are five provincial “ Consistoires," the seats of which are at Bourdeaux, Marseilles, Strasburg, Metz, and Paris. The organization of these bodies is the same as that of the superior body, with the exception that the junior Rabbins in the central body hold no other office, while the Rabbins in the provincial Consistoires are each at the head of a congregation, and take their seats in the assembly according to seniority.

Of the 100,000 Jews in France, 15,000 reside in Paris. The remainder are found principally in the east and south. In Alsatia they are a numerous and influential class. There are very few in the west, — probably not one organized congregation in all the province of Brittany and La Vendée. The congregations of Colmar, Verdun, Lyons, Nancy, and Strasburg are presided over by Rabbins of high reputation. Lambert, Rabbi of Metz, has written a popular history of the

« ZurückWeiter »