« ПретходнаНастави »
"clumb," for climbed, which is worse than the vulgarism of pled, for pleaded. We might refer to some German idioms which have found their way into the translation, to perplex the English reader; such as the rendering of the particle schon by the adverb already, in many an instance in which it were far better not to render it at all. But a faithful translation of such a work as Tholuck on John, which shall on the whole convey the meaning of the author, is truly a benefaction to ministers and students of theology, even though it is not quite so spirited and elegant as it would have been, had it come from the same pen that translated Herder's Spirit of Hebrew Poetry. Mr. Kaufman generally sets over the sentences of Tholuck into the vernacular, faithfully if not elegantly, like a man who understands German well enough for the purpose, and English tolerably well; and when the untranscendental reader is compelled to pause, and to wish for a commentary upon the commentary, we suspect, that in many instances, the author rather than the translator, is responsible for the obscurity.
We would not undervalue or lead others to undervalue, Tholuck's commentary on John. We have used it in some recent studies on this gospel, with equal pleasure and advantage; and we do most earnestly recommend it to all pastors and students who desire to enrich their minds with enlarged and spiritual views of the doctrines and the character of Jesus Christ. Yet we are far from acknowledging, that Tholuck with all his learning and genius, and with all his piety, is a guide whom it is safe to follow implicitly. The reader who is to receive his opinions on the inere authority of his commentary, without distinctly understanding what those opinions are, or on what grounds they rest, ought rather to resign himself to the guidance of Doddridge or of Henry. The sound sense and satisfactory learning of the one, and the sober old fashioned piety of the other, will never lead him far astray.
The excellencies of Tholuck as a commentator on the scriptures, are obvious. In respect to philology, he is learned, exact, ingenious; and yet he makes far less parade of critical learning, than most of his brethren. Where a rational doubt can be raised respecting the meaning of a word, he gives his opinion and his reasons, where the reader can be supposed to need information, he gives it; often his minute attention detects in the grammatical form or construction of a word, some shade of meaning which others have overlooked; yet he does not, like many commentators, overload his pages with mountains of information and disquisition which nobody needs, and which too often serve to perplex rather than to enlighten. Let us compare him with Kuinoel in a single passage.
We open to John iv. 1-3. On this passage Tholuck's comments are as follows:
The labors of John the Baptist, which were always restricted within the limits of the old testament service, did not appear to the Pharisaic Jews to offer any hostility to their attachment to the law. Nevertheless, he had laid open their hypocrisy so earnestly, Matt. iii. 7, that they felt by no means favorably inclined towards him. Nothing but the general authority which he enjoyed on account of his strict adherence to the law, had prevented them from giving expression to their hostile disposition, Matt. xxi. 26. He had now been thrown into prison by Herod. But Jesus appeared in his place, a man who reproved hypocrisy much more strongly, Matt. xxiii. 1-31, who also subjected himself much less to the outward human enactments of those learned in the scripture-his hearers increased. (The praes. To and not the imperf. because at that time the thing had not yet ceased, Viger, p. 214.) This disquieted those members of the Sanhedrim who were of a Pharisaic disposition. They persecuted Jesus. But as he knew that he had not then arrived at the end of his labors, he leaves Judea, in order to escape from their persecutions. It seems that but few Pharisees resided in Galilee.' p. 123.
This is all the philology which Tholuck deems it necessary to expend upon so simple a piece of history. On the same passage, Kuinoel expends nearly two large pages of solid Latin. He first shows, that xúpos is often a name of honor, and in the present instance, synonymous with didarxados; and he refers for proof to what he has said on Matt. xxi. 3. In a similar style he shows, that paparato means the members of the council belonging to the sect of Pharisees. Then he asserts that xovdav means had heard with indignation.' He states, that John had been imprisoned by Herod; and is very full in respect to the estimation in which John was held by the Pharisees, and the reasons why they were alarmed at the movements of Jesus. He says, that the use of the noun 'nous instead of the pronoun aros is a Hebraism, and refers to a work of Storr to prove it; at the same time he proves it to be very good Greek, by referring to another learned writer. On the word Barriga, he remarks, that Jesus was said to baptize, because his disciples baptized under his direction; and he tells us how Chrysostom says, that those who carried this report to the Pharisee chiefs, lied, saying that Jesus himself baptized, in order to make the thing more odicus. In explanation of the record that Jesus himself baptized not, he gives several obvious reasons why the Savior chose to commit that function to his disciples. On the third verse, he says, that Jesus, after having thrown out the rudiments of his doctrine in Judea, prudently withdrew from the Pharisees, who were ready to lay violent hands upon him, because he knew that the time for him to die had not yet come; and departed into Galilee, because there the authority of the Pharisees was not so great as at Jerusalem.
Now to us, not a little of this minute criticism seems to have been written for its own sake, rather than for the sake of the text. Tholuck, as quoted above, omits nothing which seems important to the illustration of the passage, and introduces nothing which does not bear upon that purpose.
Another of this commentator's merits is, he seems to know, that the sensibilities of the mind to what is beautiful and to what is grand or tender, are necessary to the right performance of his work. As you read, you soon become conscious of being under the guidance of a man whose quick imagination realizes whatever is described, and who has feelings, that respond to all the sublimity, and all the tenderness in this most wonderful writing. How unlike to all this is Kuinoel, cold, dry, hard, unfeeling.
But the great contrast between Tholuck and other German commentators with whom American students are acquainted, is yet to be mentioned. Kuinoel and all the tribe of which he may be regarded as the prince, seem to proceed continually upon the idea, that there is nothing extraordinary in the books they are attempting to explain. Thus, under their comments, the strong impressions which the language of the new testament makes upon an unsophisticated mind, are continually explained away. Tholuck, on the other hand, proceeds on the idea, that these books contain vast and momentous truths, truths from the bosom of God, truths which, if rightly apprehended, are light and life to the ruined soul. He goes to his work therefore reverently. He sits at the feet of Jesus, or listens to the inspired disciples, with a believing and adoring mind. Such a mind alone can enter fully into the meaning of that which is written, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but in the words which the Holy Spirit teacheth. Thus while most German commentaries tend to scepticism, the tendency of Tholuck's is to devotion and faith.
Why then do we qualify and limit our commendations of this writer? Because we find him wanting in that strong, clear English good sense which characterizes such writers as Doddridge. We find in him a vein of mysticism, exceedingly likely to bewilder young men of an imaginative and dreamy temper;-for example, he says, that in Christ, "that inward light which constitutes the living substratum of every human spirit, appeared impersonated among men." (p. 70.) We find him distinctly affirming, that the doctrine of correspondences as held by Swedenborg and the allegorizing Cabbalists, is right in principle. (pp. 357, 358.) We find him even referring to the charlatanry of animal magnetism, for an illustration of the mode in which "the supernatural energies of Christ" operated in his miracles of healing. The want of sound instinctive good sense, is a want which no wealth of learning, no splendor of genius, no attractiveness of piety, can fully supply.
On the whole, however, we are glad to see Prof. Tholuck introduced to the American public as a commentator; and are truly sorry, that he has not the advantage of a more favorable introduction. If the translator will expunge his preface from such copies as remain unsold, and if he will ask some intelligent friend familiar with English to look over his next edition, his book will be better, and Prof. Tholuck and the public will be obliged to him.
ART. VII.-MENDON ASSOCIATION AND HOPKINSIANISM. Franklin, Mass., April 27, 1836.
To the Conductors of the Christian Spectator.
GENTLEMEN,-You have been pleased, as a matter of courtesy, to give any letter respecting the views of Mendon Association on moral agency, an insertion in the last No. of your Quarterly. For this "courtesy" on your part, you will accept our thanks. Whether your remarks on that letter are courteous or otherwise, I will not here say. The following statements may enable your numerous readers to determine.
The members of Mendon Association were quietly pursuing "the even tenor of their way," preaching the doctrine of repentance towards God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and enforcing the ability of man to perform his whole duty, when, without provocation on their part and altogether unexpectedly, they found themselves classed, in a respectable and popular periodical of the day, with "the fatalists;" and were represented as denying that man has power to be the real author of his own moral actions. Knowing this to be a palpable misrepresentation of their views on this important point, and feeling that it was calculated to circumscribe their influence and impair their usefulness, by holding them up in an odious attitude before the christian public, could they consistently be silent, and thus implicitly assent to this false representation? Had it been right for them, to permit this gratuitous attack upon their theological character-and hence ministerial usefulness-to pass without rebuke or notice? The Scribe of that association thought not; accordingly transmitted to the conductors of said periodical a correction of the misrepresentation which they had been instrumental of sending forth to the christian world. He supposed, that an explicit denial of the accuracy of their representation coupled with an unequivocal statement, that his brethren believe precisely the opposite of the sentiment charged upon them, would be sufficient to show "the Conductors," that they had entirely mistaken the views of Mendon Association on the point of moral agency, and of course misrepresented them. It was no part of his object to provoke controversy; and hence, it was a matter
of no little surprise to him, to find in the last No. of that publication some five or six pages of remarks appended to his short letter. Whether those remarks are more or less accordant with truth and facts, than the misrepresentation which called forth that letter, may appear in the sequel.
You acknowledge, gentlemen, that the language which we use respecting human freedom and responsibility is susceptible of a meaning which would render it certain, that we have no more claim to companionship with fatalists, than yourselves. But you have endeavored to make it appear, that while we "use the words power, action, author, etc." we do not employ them in their usual, appropriate signification, but in a sense by which we ourselves have been misled, and by which others have been not a little perplexed.' To do this, you have appealed to Dr. Stephen West, whom you represent as "the father of the divine efficiency scheme in this country." And after making several extracts from his work on Moral Agency, you have appended to them the following exclamations: "The action of a man denotes only a certain mode of his existence-a mere accident of which man is the subject! The mind is merely fitted to become the subject of certain effects produced by an influence from without itself! This is the whole idea of power which can be predicated of any mere creature! Man has no power to operate or act, but merely a power to be wrought upon; he exerts no influence, but is only the subject of it!" etc.
Now in answer to all this we have only to say, that while we venerate the name of Dr. Stephen West, as that of a distinguished theologian and able minister of Jesus Christ, we do not claim or admit, that he is our theological father. True, we believe many things in common with him; and so we believe many things in common with Pres. Edwards, or Dr. Dwight, or Dr. Hopkins. But we do not believe all, that either of these celebrated divines have taught. We do not believe what the extracts which you have made from Dr. West's writings seem to teachthat passive power is the only power which can be predicated of the human mind. Even Dr. Emmons, of whom you speak as "the ablest defender of the divine-efficiency scheme in this country," would deny this as promptly as yourselves. There is not a member in our association, that has any more sympathy for that sentiment, than have the "Conductors of the Christian Spectator." This assertion is not thrown out at random; but is made advisedly. When we use the term power, we mean power, in its strict and proper acceptation. When we employ the terms "action, author," we mean action, author. We say a man has power to choose. We mean by this, not simply that he has the "passive power," or susceptibility of being wrought upon and having choice produced in him, but that he is really able, or actually has the