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means, their internal union—to protest against all anti-Evangelic movements, within or without their pale—to give counsel and decision in all cases submitted by them for advice or arbitration -to protect their common rights and liberties—to forward all their joint religious enterprises at home or abroad—and at the same time assist in drawing closer the bonds of union with all foreign Churches of Evangelical principles.
Such is a sketch of that ecclesiastical organization which emerged from the debates of these memorable days, differing, as our readers will see, very greatly from the Evangelical Alliance formed in London in 1846, and, in our opinion, much more suited to the exigencies of the German Church, though some German members of that Alliance in the Wittenberg Conference at first advocated strenuously the superiority of the latter association. It was justly urged, in reply, that no important end of the Evangelical Alliance was sacrificed in such a confederation, while the ultimate union of Churches was superadded as a higher and nobler aim ;—that in a troublous period a body reserving to itself the right of counsel in ecclesiastical questions, was a common oracle which would command respect; and that in the apprehended dissolution of State-Churches, the Confederation would rally round it more of the fragments, and act more powerfully as a check upon the formation of divergent sects, by assuming from the first an ecclesiastical character.
The happy effects of such a convocation must be at once apparent. The feelings of strangeness and alienation between the adherents of the different confessions utterly disappeared, more especially in relation to the United Church of Prussia, which was now for the first time treated as a genuine Church-proving that union is not to be effected by the power of kings or ministers of state, but of Christian love alone. A silencing reply was given to the mocking questions of those who asked in triumph, whether the German Church still existed ; and the assembled depnties were strengthened, not only for the work of evangelization in an evil time, but in the prospect of actual persecution at the hands of that infidel party which was in the ascendant in the counsels of the State, and which, as the experience of the Canton de Vaud had sufficiently taught, was quite capable of interdicting religious worship, and harassing the ministers of the gospel by civil pains and penalties. This sense of mutual strength in union, reached its highest point, when, in response to the warm - hearted appeals of Dr. Krummacher, whose fiery eloquence formed a very characteristic feature of the Wittenberg Conference, the whole assembly, with one voice, pledged themselves to receive each other in case of persecution to house and home.
Dr. Wichern and the Inner-Mission.
The Wittenberg Conference, like other great events in the history of Christianity, reached farther than its projectors had contemplated ; and what came to it directly from God's own hand, was destined to cast into the shade what man had planned and brought laboriously to birth. An instrument, before unknown, was chosen as the advocate or apostle of the greatest and most fertile idea which that Conference produced. This was Candidate Wichern of Hamburg, who came forth amidst world-renowned professors and eloquent preachers, to enforce a truth, which, if all others had not missed, none else had discerned with such clearness, or stated with such emphasis. It was the great truth that the only atmosphere in which Christian union can flourish, is that of selfdenying Christian labour; and that the Christianity of a nation can only be harmonized in all its parts by common efforts to evangelize all classes of the people. This truth gave birth to the “Inner-Mission," as an integral part of the Church Confederation; and of this Candidate Wichern is the acknowledged founder. He had been qualified for his destined work in the humblest school of training. Renouncing in the prime of life, we believe from choice, all prospects as a candidate or licentiate of the Church, he devoted himself to the obscure and thankless task of superintending the Rauhe Haus at Horn, near Hamburg, a species of house of refuge, devoted to the recovery of juvenile criminals. Here for upwards of twelve years he had pursued his quiet way amid the most reckless specimens of youthful depravity, eating, working, and sleeping with them,-at once master-workman, schoolmaster, singing-master, and chaplain,—till the number of children committed to his charge had increased from three to one hundred at one time, most of whom were sent out thoroughly reformed and subjected to the grace of the gospel. All the while he was exploring the moral statistics of his entire country, opening his ear to every recital of profligacy far and wide, and collecting a very Newgate Calendar of the immorality, crime, and blasphemy of the German people at home and in the great capitals of Europe. This training would have made an ordinary man narrow-minded, and by the age of fifty it would have crushed him beneath the loathsome burden, or driven him from the field in despair—but Wichern came forward before the Wittenberg Conference with all the fire of youth glowing under his prematurely grey hairs and weather-beaten visage, to develop a remedy for the spiritual evils of Germany, which struck every one, not more by the fulness of its details, than the breadth and maturity of all its leading principles. It was immediately felt that none more profoundly imbued with the spirit of Luther had spoken on that occasion from his ancient pulpit; and the thrill of a strange and irresistible eloquence, of which the great charm was an intensely glowing earnestness, turning masses of statistics into life, kindling all argument into passion, and throwing out, unconscious of their brightness, dazzsing gleams of poetry in its rapid track, soon mastered the whole assembly. As he laid open the depths of Satan which existed in Germany, in the form of social disorganization, all-pervading immorality, contempt of religious observances, and infidel conspiracies against the very idea of a God, his audience stood aghast at the brink of the gulf on which they stood. As he narrated examples of the power of self-sacrificing Christian love, in the manifold forms of home-mission labour, the opposite feelings of hope and emulation returned ; and when, recapitulating all the varieties of such exertion already scattered over Germany, and with a creative hand, sketching others as yet non-existent, he appealed to the Confederation to take these under its wing, and to find in them its true impulse and rallying point of union, the impression was overwhelming, and the whole multitude started to their feet, and, with uplifted hands, solemnly bound themselves to make the “Inner-Mission” the business of the Confederation, and the work of their life. Arrangements were made without delay for the carrying on of the work of the Inner-mission in connexion with the scheme of Church-union ; and though it was judged advisable that the two associations should be formally distinct, and be managed by different committees, the leading men in the one were nominated to office in the other, and their annual meetings arranged to be held together.
We have dwelt thus long upon the Wittenberg Conference, because the whole subsequent religious life of Germany has run in the channel thus dug out, and is really incapable of being understood without the knowledge of its source. Almost all that is interesting and hopeful has been connected either with the Church Confederation or the Inner-Mission; and hence a few details must be added respecting the progress of these kindred operations. Since 1848, three meetings of the Church Confederation have been held, with evidently growing interest in the mere act of assembly, though the contemplated union is perhaps more remote than ever. The meeting in 1849 at Wittenberg fell short of the first in excitement, but surpassed it in numbers, being attended by about 700 persons. It took up the ecclesiastical questions that had lain over from the former year; such as, the relation of the Church to the School—the separation of Church and State—the rights of the people to Church-representation—and the evils of union without Confessions of Faith. On all these points interesting debates took place; a spirit of conciliation prevailed; and, though the differences of the three Confessions gave birth to very conflicting views--the Lutherans Conferences of Stuttgardt and Elberfeld.
opposing all popular influence, and going farther than the rest in denouncing the separation of the Church from the State the bond of peace was not only unbroken but undisturbed. Only one individual, Pastor Bonnet of Frankfort, contended for the separation of Church and State ; the rest were divided into what would be called in this country, the Erastian and nonErastian theories
The next Conference, in the autumn of 1850, at Stuttgardt, was invested with peculiar interest as having been held in the capital of the kingdom of Würtemberg, that part of the country where religious life had suffered less than elsewhere, either from rationalism or revolution, and which has been justly called the Scotland of Germany. The attendance rose to 2000 members, chiefly from the South ; and the proceedings were of a peculiarly cheerful and exhilarating character. The North and South, lately in violent antagonism respecting leadership in the Empire, here shook hands; and the more cold and critical theology of the former, learned to appreciate the deep and somewhat mystic experience of the latter. The chief topics of public discussion were two; the duty of civil obedience, especially on the part of the clergy, in which Dr. Dorner distinguished himself by a manly assertion of the most liberal principles, with especial reference to the case of the Schleswig-Holstein clergy, against the more slavish views of Dr. Stahl; and the question of Lord'sday observance, which, amidst much theoretical difference as to its grounds, was unanimously recommended as indispensable to personal or national religion, and an address agreed upon by the Conference to the governments and people of Germany, urging them to the long-neglected duty of Sabbath-sanctification, The last Conference, that of September 1851, in Elberfeld, of which the programme stands at the head of this Article, had the great advantage, like the Stuttgardt meeting, of being surrounded by an atmosphere of living piety in that flourishing town, long blessed with the ministrations of two of the most eloquent men in Germany, and two of the leading spirits in the Church Confederation, Dr. Krummacher and Dr. Sander. It afforded perhaps a better mixture of all the elements of the Church-union than any foregoing assemblage, though the Reformed predominated, gathered from Westphalia and the banks of the Rhine. Two long and instructive discussions took place—one on the gymnasial system of education and its urgent need of religious improvement—the other on the relation of lay-agency to the pastoral office, which shewed, on the whole, a spirit of concession by the high Lutherans to the growing necessities of the InnerMission. Two less animated debates arose on the constitution of district synods, and the right of the congregations to the use of the
VOL. XVI. NO. XXXI.
Reformation Catechisms, in both of which sound decisions were given in favour of popular influence and the guarding of reformation principles. A harmonious and brotherly conversation on the state of the candidates or licentiates, who amount to upwards of 6000 in all Germany, and unhappily have no settled rights or opportunities of usefulness, made up the roll of the Assembly's business. Through this whole Conference there breathed a fine devotional spirit-an earnest interest in the topics brought forward-and a manly respect for diversity of view and practice; so that a spectator might well rejoice to see the impress of the first days of Wittenberg still brightly legible.
In summing up the present state of the Church Confederation, it must be acknowledged that it has made exceedingly small way, in any direct sense, towards an incorporating Church-union for all Germany. There are not only three confessions to be united, there are 39 states, all differing more or less in internal Church order, and none acknowledging the clergy of its neighbours. The ecclesiastical authorities that have been applied to, with a view to promote the objects of the Confederation, have mostly ob-. served a cold silence, while some have answered unfavourably; and the universities, to which also the appeal has been sent, have generally followed the same procedure. Moreover, the Confederation has not found such favour with the Lutheran Church as with the Reformed and the United ; and not a few of the former have openly taken the field against it, as a presumptuous and self-constituted claimant of ecclesiastical power. If to all this it be added that the growing reaction in the State indisposes men to organic change in the Church, it is easy to see that little short of a fresh revolution will break down the barriers in the way of a universal Church for Germany. Nevertheless, it is obvious that a great step is every year taken indirectly to this happy result. The Conference, though far from being so bold an assertor of religious liberty as we should desire to see it, yet by the very act of holding its annual meeting, independently of State permission, asserts the right of the Church to spontaneous union when she shall see fit, without State hindrance. The happy concord already effected in the Conference of such extremes as the Hengstenberg party and the disciples of Schleiermacher, shews the softening influence of such convocations. The habit of deciding common topics together, almost necessitates the final transition, sooner or later, of this consultative assembly into a regular synod. And the spectacle so novel and full of interest of a Nitzsch and a Tholuck from the chair sitting side by side with a Krummacher or a Sander from the pulpit-a Treviranus from Bremen supporting a Kápff from Stuttgardt-a Schmieder from Wittenberg encountering a Fliedner from Kaiserswerth-a theorist like Lehnerdt