Графични страници
PDF файл

tations, setting out from the works of an au- exhibited to us Jocelyn active and devoted. He thor as merely a sort of text, but truly ana- was indeed his master - Jocelyn behooved to be lytical digests and reviews of the work before what bis poet wished. But it is not his Christihim, although in the Introductions he often anity that makes Jocelyn what we see him to be. launches into a thorough and expanded dis- / We may be active, and even usefully active, with

out faith, and the faith of Jocelyn, if it is one, cussion of literary principles. This minutely never inspires activity. It is the Pantheism of critical complexion tends to detract from their the East transported to the Alps—the sirocco permanent interest and value in a collected blowing upon the glaciers. Action has only three form, especially as many of the works so sources-Faith, Duty, and Love; and how uttercarefully reviewed — the Divine Epopee of ly weak are all these in a religion which gives Soumet, for example, and the Prometheus, or

only sensibility as a foundation for belief-which Edger Quinet--can never be said to have cessity of reparation—which gives to love only

so little appreciates law as to misconceive the neemerged from the oblivion which was their the same point of departure which scepticism and natural destiny. This feature of the “Stu- despair have always closen, viz., the mere condies” serves at the same time strikingly to dis templation of life and nature. A lively impulse play the acuteness and versatile subtilty of to action cannot be furnished to all by a religion Vinet's genius, and not less his painstaking which can only be that of a small number, since conscientiousness. Everywhere his conscien

it lives on leisure, reverie, and contemplation. If tious thoroughness is in fact remarkable. them into mere numbness and stupor. We our

such a religion could win souls, it would cast Fragmentary as are bis works, they are selves are in no doubt on the subject; and our never superficial and never commonplace. It industrial population, if they read Lamartine, we would be difficult, perhaps, to find the same

me feel assured, do not take his mysticism as serious. variety of literary material marked through. Action-ardent and indefatigable, yet irreligious out by a more scrupulous earnestness.

His -is more than ever the soul and spring of the incessant productiveness was, especially in civilized world. And we have too much faith in this view, a mystery to his friends. M. tention to that other vapor which is without force,

the genuine marvels of steam, to give much atScherer says, “ he read, examined, and often because without bounds, which merely undulates re-read, always returning to the study of Pas- and loses itself in the horizon of theosophy. But cal, Racine, and Bossuet. He never under- action, however increasing, is not a religion. It took to lecture upon a literary epoch without has need of religion, on the contrary, to consestudying anew its principal authors, and crate and sanctify it. The world will never rest sometimes even their least important writ- without God. The proofs of divinity start forth at ings. And all this intellectual exertion, di- present in all minds, and in every aspect of socie

iy. And as this necessity becomes more imperivided among lecturing, teaching, preaching, ous, it will satisfy itself somehow. But never and the composition of innumerable articles, sball the world, which feels that its creation is at was liable to constant interruption from the once lo believe and to act, be contented with, or inroads of a cruel malady.

even essay such a religion as that of Jocelyn. It We cannot, with the space at our com

acknowledges time for thought, but it has no time

for ecstasies. It demands premises, but only to mand, pretend to exbibit any thing like an

reach a conclusion; and the religion of Jocelyn adequate specimen of Vinet's literary pow. has none. The world is too busy to harmonize ers, as displayed in these volumes. We pre with a syllogism perpetually suspended.* sent the reader with only a single extract from the critique on Lamartine's Jocelyn, The rare union--sufficiently shown in the illustrative of that Christian quality in the above extract—of acuteness with candor, of criticism of our author of which we have rigor of judgment with delicacy of sentiment, spoken.

is among the highest literary merits of Vinet.

There is everywhere an exquisite fidelity and Christianity, the work of God, who knows balance in his portraits. Warm in admirawhat is in man, admirably fits man for actual life, tion, he seldom exaggerates. Severe in reand for every part of life. It leaves untilled no corner of the field of human existence. It fur- proof, he is never abusive. An admirable nishes thinkers to science-arms to labor. It ac- control regulates his intellectual impulses. cepts nature and its most diverse gifts, earth and An admirable truth and finish stamp his inits most various abodes, life in all its circumstances tellectual pictures. None even of his coun-man in a word wholly; and everywhere qualifies trymen have have hit more felicitously, in a him for action_disposes and excites him thereto: single stroke or two, the peculiar characterIt is the religion of reality, of action, of life. It istics of certain writers. For example, wben is a wisdom as fit for man as it is worthy of God. It at once stimulates to activity, and sanctifies it.

M. Lamartine, who knows well that religion * Etudes sur la Littérature Française, tome ii. like thought must translate itself into action,


pp. 194-196.

be says of the author of the Pensées, | lar volume. It is from these volumes that " Many of the paragraphs of Pascal are the the selections, translated and published first strophes of a Christian Byron.” Again, of in America, and then in our own country, the religion of Lamartine, “It nourishes rea- under the name of “Vital Christianity,” were son and conscience too little to restore them. taken. These Discourses, when first published It is neither bread nor meat, but a delicate in France, excited a lively and profound imperfumed blanc-manche, which every one is pression. If, in their selected and translated happy to taste, but upon which no one can form, they cannot be said to have attained to live.” Again, of Chateaubriand's : “The au- any thing like popularity, there are some thor calls the situation of René le vagu des sufficiently obvious reasons for this. In the passions ; he might call it so too, but it is ra- first place, Vinet suffers more than most ther la passion du vague.This exquisite finish writers by transfusion into a foreign tongue, of Vinet's pen is warmly commented on by even in the hands of a good translator. The M. Scherer. He draws a comparison in this peculiar niceties and exquisite turns of exrespect between him and two illustrious con- pression which give charm to his style in the temporaries, M. Sainte-Beuve and our own original, necessarily disappear to a large exMacaulay, which may interest the reader. tent in the translation. The Discourses them"M. Sainte-Beuve,” he says, “has a finer selves, moreover, in their range of thought, and more sustained color, but at the same are rather academical than popular. Some time a color too uniform and unrelieved by of those in the second volume were in fact any vigorous and, so to speak, victorious never preached, but were prelections delivertouch. Macaulay shows himself an admira- ed in his class-room at Lausanne. Through. ble portrait - painter, in many of the essays out they resemble more the carefully weighed with which he adorned the Edinburgh Re- address of the Christian philosopher than view, But if these portraits appear some- the simple and direct utterances of the Christimes to leap out of the canvas and walk, tian preacher. Even those which bear more they are yet also at times more lively than plainly the character of sermons, have an like. Shading is sacrificed to effect. The obviously elaborate aspect. And this is easily color is more dazzling than solid. Antithesis explained, when we understand the mode of and paradox are too conspicuous on the pa- their composition. Vinet, it appears, like lette of the artist. The pencil of Vinet, on Robert Hall

, (whose sermons we have althe contrary, is always true; it is true above ways felt to be obnoxious to the very same every thing, and he derives from this very objection,) first preached his sermons, and truth a vigor and a grace all his own. We then committed them to writing. It was only might say, changing the image, that Vinet perhaps after he had preached a sermon sevholds a balance, wherefrom he strikes on the eral times, that, in the quiet of his study, he finest gold a multitude of medals incompa- gave it a permanent shape. The consequence rable for the netteté of the impress and the was, that there appeared to many in his relief of the image."

spoken style, a simplicity, warmth, and vaThe style of Vinet is in these, and in all riety which they missed in his published his works, excellent ;-more severe and clas- writings. The emotion which gave animasical in bis early-more ingenious, impressive, tion and directness to his preaching, yielded and recherche, with less simplicity, in his later in the study to the reflective habits of the writings. There is a tendency perhaps in author. Hence that frequent appearance of some of his critical papers to a brilliancy too overwrought ingenuity, both of argument strained and antithetic. The radical French and expression, which strikes us in the disvice of trying to say every thing with effect courses—that antithetical brilliancy and exand contrast, is apparent here and there. cessive polish which fatigues sometimes withMore plainness and repose would be welcome out instructing—that apologetical air, in at times. There are few, however, who can short, which marks them all, and which sugmore truly be called a master of style, or gests the theological professor, defending at whose writing presents a more lively series of every point his position, more than the preachseparate felicities of expression, if it does not er, aiming to seize by a hearty violence the often rise into sustained grandeur or pathos. souls of his hearers. Hence what M. Sche

As a more especially theological author, rer well calls the "incomplete fusion of the Vinet presents us with a variety of works. oratorical and scientific tone-of the sermon In 1831 he published a volume of “ Discour- and the essay." ses,” which he had preached in the French The subtle severity of Vinet's logic,—a church at Basle; and again, in 1841, a simi- | dialetic which never loses sight of its object,


amid whatever bursts and winding of senti- , he adds, a man who mounted the pulpit, ment,-is apt also to weary, especially as the because he had something to say. You felt mind receives no help in its course from his that what he expressed was his life—himself mode of arrangement. This work is never -no mere acquired dogmatism ; no "distributive," but always " progressive." phrases ; no religious jargon; no passages He never lays down his plan in distinct divi. tacked the one to the end of the other, in sions, but links thought to thought in an ad-order to hide the emptiness of the thought; vancing sequence, highly logical in reality, all was in the highest degree useful. No. but without those forms of reasoning which thing betrayed for a moment the oratorical enable the mind to pause and gather in the complacency which contemplates itself thinkstrength of the argument at given points. ing, or delights to hear itself talking.

The It would be a mistake, however, to suppose tone moved and penetrated, because he who that Vinet is not, in many of his Christian spoke was obviously himself first moved and writings, thoroughly practical and edifying. penetrated.” He is often so in the highest degree. Even We have alluded to the apologetical chain the “ Discourses" the pure impulses of racter of the “Discourses.

We feel we Christian feeling break ever and anon in vivid should overlook one of the most significant and startling flashes through the restraints points in the theological career of our author, of academic treatment. And in the two if we did not advert to it more particularly. posthumous volumes published by his friends, Vinet found himself, by the necessity of his under the title of Etudes évangeliques," and position, in the attitude of a Christian apoloMeditations évangeliques, this practical cha- gist. Amid the infidel opposition which the racter is, upon the whole, the prevailing one. newly-awakened evangelical feeling of his Throughout many of the pieces in these later country encountered, he felt himself called volumes, there rung in fact a deep vein of upon to hold forth, in what seemed to him spiritual experience, rising at times into a the most effective manner, the divine verity rapture of devotion; not more delicate and of the gospel. This may be said to be more beautiful in its expression than intense and or less the pervading aim of the

first volume powerful in its enthusiasm.

of Discourses. The branch of Christian eviIn one respect these religious writings of dence which Vinet has there peculiarly exbiVinet deserve special commendation. The bited, is that drawn from the adaptation of the mere technical verbiage of the pulpit, the gospel to the necessities of human nature. professional nomenclature which so often dis- He does not indeed for a moment disparage figures religious works, and (as deplored by the ordinary historical proofs. On the conJohn Foster) renders them distasteful to the trary, he expressly acknowledges their apliterary student, finds no place in them. The propriate force to many minds.* But these refined taste and the deep sincerity of Vinet were not the proofs which obviously most inequally repudiated such conventionalisms,- terested and impressed himself. The fitness apt to pass current, like old money from hand of divine truth to satisfy the spiritual cravings to band, long after they have lost all beauty of man, and its power to regenerate his life, and meaning. Everywhere he translates the were the facts of Christian evidence which he profoundest meaning of the gospel into the delighted to treat, and to present under & language of life, and the ordinary expressions great variety of aspects. This moral fitness of modern literature,--a feature of his reli- and power of the gospel appeared to bim in gious composition which gives to its most the strictest sense evidence, approving itself devotional utterance an air of powerful and not merely to the minds of those who had impressive reality.

realized them, but also to the minds of others; This character is said to have even more for even those who continued strangers to attractively belonged to his preaching. A the moral experience, could not fail to obsecret charm of reality, of truth, in the most serve and appreciate its influence on others. comprehensive sense, was, according to M. They could not help recognizing facts preScherer, that which especially enchained and sented to them, nor dispute the explanation delighted his hearers. “You had before you,” of these facts. But he argues, it is impossible

that a religion wbich leads to God should not

come from Him; and it were the grossest ab* This volume has also been translated in Collins' surdity to believe that our moral life could cheap series of religious works, (see the head of our

•Suppose, article ;) and we have seen also, we think, a small

be regenerated through a lie. volume of selections in English from the Meditations.

• Discourses, p. 45.—Translation.

after all,” he says, “ you shall be told this | Again, in a beautiful passage:

“You rereligion is false; but, meanwhile, it has re- member the custom of ancient hospitality, stored in you the image of God, reestablished Before parting with a stranger, the father of your primitive connection with that great the family, breaking a piece of clay on which Being, and put you in a condition to enjoy certain characters were impressed, gave one life and the happiness of heaven. By means half to the stranger, and kept the other bimof it you have become such, that, at the last self. Years after, these two fragments, day, it is impossible that God should not re- brought together and rejoined, acknowledged ceive you as his children, and make you par- each other, so to speak, -formed a bond of lakers of his glory. You are made fit for recognition between those presenting them, Paradise, nay, Paradise has commenced for and, in attesting old relations, became at the you even here, because you love. This reli- same time the basis of new. So in the book gion has done for you what all religion pro- of our soul does the Divine Revelation unite poses, and what no other has realized. Never itself to the old traces there. Our soul does theless, by the supposition, it is false ; and not discover, but recognizes the truth. It what more could it do were it true ? Rather infers that a reünion (rencontre) impossible do you not see that this is a splendid proof to chance--impossible to calculation—can of its truth? Do

you not see that it is im- only be the work and secret of God; and it possible that a religion which leads to God is then only that we believe—then when the should not come from God, and that the ab- gospel has for us passed from the rank of surdity is precisely that of supposing that you external to the rank of internal truth, and, if can be regenerated by a falsehood.”

I might say so, of instinctwhen it has beThe influence of Pascal, of whose come in us part and parcel of our conscious“Thoughts," we have already hinted, Vinet ness. was a profound student, is very obvious in Throughout the Christian writings of Vinet these apologetic views. With both, it is the there is a sufficiently marked growth of marvellous adaptation of the gospel to the exi- opinion. We think, however, that M. Schegences of human nature which constitutes the rer, under the force of his own peculiar conpeculiar evidence of its divinity. On the one victions, somewhat exaggerates the character hand, man, cast aside from God, yet cannot of this progress. It does not appear to us rest without Him. The vision of a divine that Vinet in any respect abandoned the clear home, from which he has wandered, pursues and definite orthodoxy of his earlier years. him. The brightness of a vanished light Only in the more thorough transfusion of haunts him. The very depth of his sinful the different elements of Christian truth in misery asserts the reality of his original holi- his own consciousness, he certainly came to ness. On the other hand, the gospel appears dwell less upon their logical prominences. as the satisfaction of these confessed wants He ceased to take any pleasure he may have of humanity—as the remedy of its guilt and ever had in sharply defining the boundaries wretched discord. This was the fruitful idea between the different items of his creed. of Pascal, to whose full development his great Realizing evermore the whole system of work, of which the Pensées are but the dis- | Christian truth as a living synthesis in his jointed fragments, was to be dedicated. This own heart, it appears to have been his great was also, it is well known, a favorite branch aim in his later works to exbibit this syntheof evidence with Chalmers. But neither of sis more entirely. He felt always more these great writers, perhaps, has seized the strongly. the force of what he himself says in view more completely, or dealt with it more his Homiletics, and owned more thoroughly effectively, than Vinet, who pursues it with a the influence of such a conviction. “Every force of comprehensive analysis, and a confi- dissection of moral truth," he observes, "is dence of illustration, deeply impressive. “The provisory and hypothetical; we separate gospel,” he says, "unites itself intimately what is not separate, what cannot be so, what with all that is most profound and ineradica- being separate loses its nature. There is, ble in our nature. It fills in it a void—it therefore, in the best made analysis some. clears from it darkness—it binds into harmony thing false, were it only in the character of the broken elements, and creates unity. It succession which it impresses on simultanemakes itself not only be believed, but felt; ous facts.” He became, in short, always and when the soul has thoroughly appropri- more of a profound Christian philosopher, ated it, it blends indistinguishably with all and less of a mere abstract theologian. This the primitive beliefs, and the natural light appears to us to be the whole explanation of which every man brings into the world.” Ithat development in the theological views

of Vinet on which M. Scherer insists so | later Discourses. This does not arise, howmuch.

ever, from his baving lost sight of the radiFor example: He propounds in his earlier cally distinguishing element in the former, Discourses a certain view as to the relation without the due apprehension of which the between Reason and Faith a view still latter soon loses all its peculiarly evangelical common in more than one of our theological meaning. The whole explanation of his difschools-according to which Reason and ference of view appears to us to be that, in Faith are apprebended as wholly distinct his earlier representations of the gospel, he faculties of the human mind, and it is repre- looks more at its objective side—at the fact sented as the glory of Faith to receive that accomplished for us by divine grace—while which is stumbling to Reason. Already, in his later representations, particularly in bowever, in the second edition of these Dis- his famous discourse on “the work of God," courses, the idea of his error in this respect he looks more at its subjective side-at the bad obviously dawned upon him. For he work accomplished in us through the Divine says in the preface, “It is necessary always Spirit. But while this subjective aspect of that the truth without us correspond to the salvation assumed latterly a special interest truth within us--to that intellectual con- for him— while the realization of the truth science which, no less than the moral con- in the life of the believer, and his continual science, is invested with sovereignty, asserts purification thereby, became with him obviits claims, and may be said even to feel reously the favorite theme of meditation and morse--to those irresistible axioms which we preaching, there is yet no reason to believe carry in us, which are part of our nature, ihat he for a moment forgot the eternal and the necessary support and basis of our reality expressed in the peculiarly Protestant thoughts--in a word, to Reason.A bigher doctrine of justification, on the assurance of conception of Reason had here, it is clear, which the sinner can alone rest amid all his sprung up in the mind of our author, and doubts and shortcomings. This great test this, blending it with a higher and more of a standing or a falling church, we have comprehensive conception of Faith, was car- no right to think was dimmed for a moment ried by him up into a unity of power, which, from the gaze of Vinet. Only its analytic directed to the divine verities of the gospel, exposition did not much attract him in bis may be indifferently denominated Reason or later years, especially in reference to certain Faith; the truth being, that the soul does Antinomian tendencies which he thought he not in any case put forth separate faculties, traced in the Swiss churches. He did not but in every case truly puts forth its entire care to dwell on the distinctive theological activity, only now charged more with a significance of the doctrine, (truly as he moral, and now more with an intellectual prized it) but rather on its synthetic, pracelement. This approaching unity of Reason tical relation to the whole "Christian life. and Faith, conspicuous in his later writings, Hence his beautiful and impressive illustradoes not, however, in the least degree impair tion of the river and its source, whereby be his orthodoxy. It only exalts and purifies shows how in act and life all the technical it. In carrying Reason with him in this no- and scientific distinctions, by wbich the thebler sense, not merely to the threshold of the ologian characterizes the different stages of divine Temple, but within the Sanctuary, he salvation, merge into an indivisible unity, is so far from approaching Rationalism that even as the river in its source and throughbe destroys it in the most effectual manner, out its course is still the same, however by showing the eternal conformity between often it may change its name in its onward the revealed glories of Christianity and the passage. demands of the human soul. Deep is be- Vinet, we have already said, was appointed held answering to deep, and in the perfect Professor of Practical Theology in the Acacongruity of Reason (expressing the highest demy of Lausanne in 1837. The installaattitude of the soul towards the Truth) and tion discourse which he delivered on this Revelation, the door is shut effectually occasion is a fine specimen of the mingled against all those lower questionings whose depth and simplicity of his Christian views. issue is alone Rationalism in any intelligible | It strikes with a firm yet delicate hand the


Again, it is no doubt true, that the distinction between justification and sanctifica

* The reader will find it at the close of the retion is much more sharply apprehended and lation of which we have placed at the head of our

cently published volume on Homiletics, the transexpressed by Vinet in his earlier than in his article.

« ПредишнаНапред »