Siehe auch hier und hier.
In der ersten Hälfte des 19. Jahrhunderts erschien diese Würdigung Jung-Stillings in London. Sie wurde im selben Jahr ins Deutsche übersetzt und vom Übersetzer kritisch kommentiert. Hier folgt nur der englische Text ohne die Auszeichnungen des Textes und ohne die griechischen Buchstaben (ersetzt durch #).
By the favor of more than twenty years’ peace, and with the as-
sistance of an understanding which by its general soundness and
vigor more than compensates for what it may want in profundity
and comprehensiveness, we English have now arrived at a pretty
satisfactory solution of the common problems of German litera-
ture. Many things are known now – and form indeed part of the
common atmosphere in which cultivated minds breathe – that
twenty years ago were either altogether unknown, or known only
to those few „extravagant and loving spirits“ that will at all times
make a conscience of going for weal or woe into every region
where no other person ever went before them. We know now
almost universally that Immanuel Kant is not a mystic, and that
Göthe is not a whimpering sentimentalist, as little as he is a
god. But there remains behind these vulgar prolegomena a
      VOL. XXI. NO. XLII.     S
248   Jung Stilling –
wide unbounded region of German thought, descending deep into
the abyss of metaphysical questioning, and rising high into those
loftiest regions of religion where we are invited to drink of the
waters of the river of life that flow from beneath the throne of
the Everlasting. This region is as yet untrodden by the most of
us; and so far as we can judge from the echoes of strange Baby-
lonic voices, and the dark shadows of gigantic distortions that
have thence wandered over to our coasts, there seems to be no
sufficient reason why we should disturb the peace of our souls by
launching forth into this new voyage of perilous discovery. So
far as we, from our point of view, can perceive, German theo-
logy, or German metaphysics, (for they are at bottom the same,)
is a waste howling wilderness of hopeless scepticism – an # 
 # more wild and wintry than that in which Prometheus was
rock-bound by the anger of Jove – a province of Cimmerian dark-
ness, where there is only light enough to see long dismal rows of
cold intellectual faces prying curiously into the dissected body of
the dead Beautiful. Nor do we allow ourselves to be deceived
by the number of wandering lights that ever and anon perform
strange evolutions through that atmosphere of darkness. We see
that these luminaries have no healthy permanency like the sun;
and we know that the fields do not grow green beneath them.
And if at any time some calm dignified shape (a Novalis perhaps),
with the carriage of an angel, sails solemnly through the inextri-
cable tumult of vain opinions, we are more confounded than con-
soled by such apparition; we have not been accustomed to deal
with religious phantasmagoria; at all events a little floating poetry
in the air will not compensate for the cold barren reality of the
earth; the Englishman as yet sees nothing that can invite him to
the serious study of German theology.
There can be no doubt that the Englishman in thus conclude-
ing, is acting in perfect conformity with that sound sense for
which above all the races of men he is so remarkable. A genuine
Englishman (we speak not of the few who delight in playing
mountebank tricks) will not embark on a journey, merely for the
pleasures of sailing in a balloon; he must know where he is going,
and he must also know that the vehicle in which he travels will
convey him thither in the most direct and expeditious manner.
Now, what does German theology offer to us by way of useful
helps and aids in the perplexed journey that we all travel to the
grave, and to the undiscovered country beyond it? Has Imma-
nuel Kant with his searching analysis and his comprehensive
grasp – has Herder with his restless spirit of investigation, and
his fiery heart that literally raged with humanity – has Schleier-
macher with all his pure Platonism of sentiment – has Gesenius
Religions Literature of Germany.   949
with all his Hebrew – or Wegscheider with all his reason, – been
able more clearly than we do to see through that rent in the coffin
of mortality beyond which the star of the Christian’s hope shines
benignly? Not they. On the contrary, the tendency of all their
doings seems to have been to undermine the foundations of Chris-
tianity, and to leave us (with the exception of some smooth pious
phraseology) exactly where we were when Tacitus denounced the
„exitiabilis superstitio“ and the „odium humani generis“ that
distinguished the vulgar sect of the Nazarenes. The fact is un-
deniable. The Germans are not an irreligious nation – far from
it; but they certainly have succeeded most effectually, so far as
their own national belief is concerned, in evaporating all that is
solid and substantial in Christianity, in taking away from beneath
our feet all that is real and historical in the faith of centuries.
If to the English theologian the life of Christ is sometimes little
better than a mechanical series of miracles, here at least we have
a frame-work into which a soul may be breathed; but to the
German theologian there is no life of Christ at all; the whole is
mythus, allegory, epos; the miracles, if they are not old wives’
tales, are mere magnified and glorified pictures of nature’s most
common common-places; and to be a Christian is merely to live
in the God-begotten idea of moral perfectionation, of which the
name of the Messiah doubtless is the enduring type, – but the
name of Plato as much so. The Titanic architecture of the Old
Testament evaporates by a like process into smoke. As Wolf
taught a new catechism to the scholars of his country, so that we
now hear no longer of Homer’s Iliad and Homer’s Odyssey, but
only of the Homeric ballads; so he also seems to have lent a
watchword to the theologians, and we hear no more of the books
of Moses, but merely of the Mosaic legend, the Mosaic mythus,
the Mosaic epos; and that which was late a mystical volume, out
of whose pages flowed fountains of living water, has now become
an ancient scroll for the curious to read, a Hebrew parchment for
the learned to comment on. The finger of God moves no longer
visibly, writing bright hopes upon the walls of our prison-house;
like Homer’s ghosts ( #   # ) we wander melancholy, dark
amid darkness; and we hear nothing but confounding voices of
foolish opinions, and infantine babblings, of which, whether
coming from ourselves or others, we had long since been sick
even unto the death. The anchor of certainty has again been
torn from the intellect of man; our brightest hopes, which Chris-
tianity made to shine like the stars in the firmament, are now a
second time sent to float as loose bubbles on the ocean of bot-
tomless speculation; we cannot even look devoutly for the second
advent of Christ to convince us that there ever was a first; for
      s 2
250   Jung Stilling –
Immanuel Kant has made every man his own legislator, and the
Categorical Imperative will not submit to be taught even by the
Epiphany of a God. *
In confirmation, or rather attestation, of these general views which we have ven-
tured to express on the subject of the present state of Christianity in Germany, we
beg to submit two interesting and very characteristic specimens of religious criticism
from one of the first literary papers of the day – Menzel’s Literatur-Blatt. We make
the extract purposely from a literary paper, because the state of religion is always to
be sought for more among the laity than the clergy, who have an official character to
preserve, and represent more the opinions of a caste than the sentiments of a people.
The first extract is in the shape of a criticism on Bohlen’s exegetical work on Genesis,
Konigsberg, 1835. The second expresses some general views on the state of Pro-
testantism in Germany, that fully justify any expressions, however strong, that we
have been led to use on the subject: –
„We think the author has treated the historical contents of the book of Genesis
somewhat too cavalierly. We are far, indeed, from wishing to conceal our ignorance
behind what is called an orthodox exegesis. We give up the whole form of this book
to the sharpest grammatical and historical criticism. It is to us a matter of the utmost
indifference whether one author or two have composed it, or who that author was.
But the Mosaic legend of the creation has an internal significancy which raises it far
above all other mythological representations of the ancient world. It is at once more
simple, mid more profound than all the rest. The manner in which the mysterious
separation of the sexes, and the origin of evil are explained, sufficiently attest this.
We ought accordingly to place the superior excellence of the book of Genesis, not
in the merely external circumstances of its age, of Moses’ authorship, but in the
weight of its contents, and the depth of its ideas. To estimate this properly, to
penetrate, so to speak, the mystic kernel of the narration, is far more edifying for the
purposes of philosophy and religious consolation, than occupying ourselves with the
mere shell. Il is the thing, not the author that concerns us. The eternally true and
beautiful requires no documents to prove it; as little can it be quibbled away by
sophisms and subtleties. It attests itself, and asks for no outward witness. A
sublime idea remains the same, from whatever brain, and in whatever region, it had
its birth.“– Literatur-Blatt, redigirt von Dr. Wolfgang Menzel, 28 Novbr. 1836.
„Christianity with us seems to stand pretty much in the same position that Hen-
thenism did in the days of Hadrian. As in those days foreign gods were greedily
adopted from all parts of the world, and the immeasurable population of Rome ran
in rivalry after the worship of Egyptian and Syrian idols, more for curiosity’s sake
than from real pious motive, amusing themselves also learnedly in the accommodation
of these several systems to any philosophy that might happen to be fashionable for
the day – so the German Christians are now hovering in uncertainty between every
different Confession of Religion, without seriously adhering to any. The Catholics
march in the van of modern enlightenment, and become as sober and rational as any
Protestant; the Protestants begin to think they have gone too far, draw back from
their original stout reliance on private judgment, and have commenced a public coquetry
with Catholic ideas, and Catholic forms. (The Oxford tracts among ourselves!) The
difference between Lutheran and Reformed is no more heard of. A whole herd of
North-German poets and philosophers, born Protestants, have made a pilgrimage to
the Catholic world, and thence, metamorphosed into the most violent ultramontanes,
they have s nt forth a new Crusade against the ancient brethren. Among the Catho-
lics again, we have a whole party, the Anti-Celibatists, between whom and the Pro-
testants there exists really no essential difference. Then we have the fashionable
philosophies succeeding one another, or co-existing, and these philosophies possess a
wonderful flexibility by which they can be adopted to any of the existing religious
creeds, as easily as they can be made the instrument of creating a peculiar religion,
each for itself. In the midst of all this confusion, the majority of the people find it
most comfortable to remain in indifference, and, where one thing seems as good as
another, generally remain in the religion of their fathers.“– Literatur-Blatt, 7 Novbr.
Religious Literature of Germany.   251
Why therefore, it will be asked, do we tempt God, by opening
up this shoreless sea of doubt, and throwing the helmless barks
of human souls abroad upon its waves? Are we envious of the
fate of Pliny and desirous to throw away the precious gift of
existence, for the idle curiosity of contemplating with nearer gaze
this smoke and fire of a burning mountain? If this analogy were
perfectly appropriate in all points, the course of every wise man
would be clear – to keep out of harm’s way. But if God has
thrown the dark valley of the shadow of death in the direct road
between us and Heaven, it is not for us to turn aside from that
perilous passage, because the light on the road which we have
hitherto travelled has been uniformly pleasant and comfortable to
the eye; and most certain it is that doubt and perplexity are the
portals of Faith, as sorrow and anguish of soul and honest self-
reproach are the beginnings of Sanctification. True it is that hu-
man nature in its present frail estate can scarcely afford to lose the
glorious hope of immortality for any thing that Kant, or Hegel, or
Göthe, [Goethe] have to offer in its stead; but still less can human nature
afford to lose truth, and the love of truth, and the search of truth,
and the constraining power of reality. What avails it to me that
I hold the sceptre of the world in my hand, if all the while I am
haunted with the suspicion that it is the mere bauble of a child?
And thus in religious matters especially it is of the utmost importance
that what a man believes he believe with his whole soul;
for certainly not so much upon the quantity as upon the quality
of his faith does his salvation depend. If a man, therefore, has
any doubts upon religious subjects, and German theology comes
in his way, it is in vain for him to say to his difficulties: – Get ye
gone for this time; when I have a more convenient season I will
call for you. If the faith in which the religious man seeks to
live is to be any thing better than a floating cloud, he must exa-
mine and question; and no one ever examined and questioned to
any purpose who had not first learned to doubt. If our religion
is to be anything better than a mere garment, a mere piece of
heraldic blazonry – it is of essential importance that we should
know exactly where we are. If there be any suspicion about the
matter, let us make minute inquiry whether it be mid-day or mid-
night, or merely the „morning-rednesse“ of a day that shall be.
And if the Devil be abroad any where, let us by all means see
him; for the prince of the power of the air works ever most
dangerously in the dark.
But the fact of the matter is, that there is, after all, not near
so much of the devil in German theology as people are apt to
imagine; – a proposition which might sound strange after what
252   Jung Stilling –
we have said above, did we not know very well that in this world,
so full of multitudinous and inextricable folds, the best things are
often strangely mingled up with the worst. The French Revo-
lution was at once the most energetic assertion of the moral liberty
of man, and the most humiliating manifestation of the use he
makes of that liberty. The history of Christianity in Germany
presents a spiritual revolution of similar character, and similar
aspects; and as we have shown the one side of the picture suffi-
ciently black, it is but fair that we should look for a moment
upon the other. Let us, therefore, inquire a little more par-
ticularly what this phenomenon called German Neology, or
rather more at large German Protestantism, really is – whence,
and how it arose – what the manner of its working – what have been,
so far as yet discernible, its effects – and what are likely to be its
future results. And, in the first place, they appear to us to err
egregiously, who look upon German Rationalism as something
peculiarly German, something of which the origin and causes are
to be sought for within the narrow limits of the Augsburg Con-
fession, or the Heidelburg Catechism. It is not a German, but
a European, fever, that here disturbs the calm flow of the vital
humours; nay more, that which we denounce and anathematize
as the most insidious foe of our common Protestantism, is neither
more nor less (as has been often remarked) than that same Pro-
testantism run to seed. We do not mean by this to defend the
maxim, that religion, like chemistry, or any of the experimental
sciences, is a thing that must grow and expand with the times,
and with the development of the human mind, (though certainly
religion will always be one thing to an enlightened, and another
thing to a darkened intellect): we do not mean to say that the
Reformation, in the mind of Martin Luther, was merely the com-
mencement of a series of changes destined to progress onwards to
that happy period when the Bible shall be stripped of everything
that now distinguishes it from the Enchiridion of Epictetus, or
Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments. But we do say that
the principle of individual judgment, apart altogether from the
tradition of the Church, arrested by the early reformers, though
not applied to that effect by them, has nevertheless, if rigorously
carried out, the necessary tendency to produce, when external
circumstances are favourable, exactly such a state of things in
the Christian Church as was exhibited in Germany in the latter
half of the last century. The Bible, the whole Bible, and no-
thing but the Bible, is the Shibboleth of all Protestants; yet
what Protestant teacher ever puts the Bible into the one hand
of his scholar, without at the same time putting the Church Gate-
Religious Literature of Germany.   253
chism into the other? A book of statutes only serves to confound
the ignorant, unless he receives certain rules and principles of in-
terpretation along with them; how much more are such rules
and principles necessary in the Bible, which is not an orderly
fabric of systematic theology, nor a formal decalogue of human
belief, but a miscellaneous collection of histories, explicable only as
they form a part of the great ethico-religious institution, the Church
of Christ? But the rule of private judgment is evidently no such
principle; being indeed only another name for every man’s indi-
vidual whim, and fancy, and presumption. Instead of one Uni-
versal Church, the Reformation, misunderstood, made every man
a Church to himself; and in what a Babylonish hubbub and con-
fusion, and annihilation of all religious reality, this has ended in
Germany, we all know. In the primitive ages of Christianity,
when some wise respect was paid to tradition, it was a compara-
tively easy matter to settle theological controversies. „Tà # ?
 #   #   # # ,” * We know no such tradition, was the plain
concurrent testimony of every father in God to his inquiring
flock; and this answer was considered sufficient, or at least al-
lowed to weigh nine-tenths in the balance, and justly so. For
the Catholic Christian tradition was then an atmosphere which
all breathed; and heresies were smoke, and cloud, and meteors
that every one could perceive and distinguish. But now the
silver chain is broken: every man stands on his own legs as well
as he can stand, and no man knows a spiritual atmosphere to live
in, wider than the atmosphere of his own brain. There is no
bosom of a Universal Church in which all Christians delight to re-
pose. We believe in no tradition: we study theology and systems
of theology, and set these battling against each other, like a
Roman mob, estimating the quality of our intellectual enjoyment
by the number of gladiators that we see bleeding. This is one
of the consequences of the Reformation; and it requires not
that a man should be a Papist, but merely that he should keep
his eyes open, and love truth, and speak it out plainly, in order to
see that it is so. The Anglican Church, indeed, has always con-
sistently maintained the sanctity of ecclesiastical tradition, and
the absurdity of every man’s building up, or attempting to build
up, a creed for himself, begotten between his own brain and the
naked Bible, apart altogether from the atmosphere of a common
tradition, in which primitive Christianity lies embosomed. With
these views we shall certainly see much ground for the exercise
* Letter of Serapion to the Church at Antioch. – Eusebius.
254   Jung Stilling –
of Christian charity in judging of German Rationalism. In that
phenomenon, however much noise it may have made, there is in
reality nothing that can surprise a reflecting mind. The prince-
ple of freedom of investigation, and independent inquiry common
to all Protestantism, found in Germany more profoundness of
philosophical investigation, more rich abundance of academic
erudition to work upon; and the natural and necessary cones-
quence of the fermentation thereby occasioned was German
Rationalism. Mr. Rose has taken a very narrow view of the
case indeed, when he ascribes that great revolution of religious
opinion principally, or in a great measure, to the vagueness and
looseness of the symbolical books of the Lutheran Church. The
Westminster Confession is tight enough certainly; but that did
not hinder many „new lights” from wandering into Scotland,
about the middle of the last century; nor did the great „Mystery
of Moderation” * less triumphantly lift up its head out of the very
deepest bosom of Calvinistic orthodoxy. Human reason, when
the fit of free inquiry is on it, is in truth like a wild beast; the
smaller the cage in which you confine it the more fiercely will it
rage. To allow a certain latitude of speculation within the
bosom of a Church is the sure way to prevent the public pro-
minence and noxious working of any secret heresy that ever and
anon may, and from the constitution of human nature must, arise
out of the depths of human thought. No one willingly brings
upon himself the daily disagreeable „monstrari digito” of heresy;
and it is of the very nature of a true Catholic Church to allow
every possible scope to the free activity of the individual that is
consistent with the existence of the community as an organic
whole. This is a truth deeply founded in the very nature of all
human associations; and yet it is impossible to say how much
harm may have been done by its notorious neglect in public
councils and assemblies. Not how much they might embrace,
* „Ecclesiastical Characteristics, or the Arcana of Church Policy, being an humble
attempt to open the Mystery of Moderation, wherein is shewn a plain and easy way of
attaining to the character of a Moderate Man, as at present in practice in the Church
of Scotland.” Mottershoon’s Works, vol. vi. edit. 1805. One of the finest pieces of
Christian satire that ever was written. It were an interesting problem to inquire how
far the Moderation of the Church of Scotland, whose palmy days are now gone, was
not a sort of concealed Rationalism, only prevented from breaking out into full manifest-
tation by the natural conservatism of the British character, and the salutary terror of
the French Revolution. Certain it is, that the peculiar doctrines of Christianity were
then as slanderously kept in the back ground, as they are now most irreverently brought
forward on every vulgar occasion, and converted into a squeaking pig for every fool
to ride on. But this subject were well deserving of a separate and a sifting inquiry.
Religious Literature of Germany.   255
but how much they must exclude, seems to have been the ques-
tion with those who drew up the creeds of our zealots; and
while with a most marvellous inconsistency each proclaimed
itself aloud as the only true Church of Christ, (assuming thus to
itself the Popish quality of infallibility,) they were all sufficiently
consistent in this, that they excluded from salvation those
not within the pale of their self-constituted infallibility, and de-
nounced all others, without ceremony, as „enemies to the Chri-
stain religion.” * And thus it may have happened too that councils
assembled together ostensibly for the purpose of suppressing
heresy, have, for want of a proper spirit of moderation and hu-
mility, been its strongest unintentional support, and the means
of establishing and perpetuating it. The first ecclesiastical
council that with rash dogmatism presumed to fix down the ge-
nerality of the Catholic Christian tradition to a system of dogmas
left by Sacred Writ in wise indefiniteness, was, if not the author
of the first heresy, at least the first to put heresy into stereotype.
Babbling voices of fools have oftentimes spoken foolish opinions
to the wind, and with the wind they have also been carried away:
but an oecumenic council has power to give an abiding habita-
tion to a floating cloud, and confer immortality upon a whim.
That the Lutheran Church, in particular, has suffered more
from this ancient itch of theologians to put their creeds into im-
moveable stereotype, than from any looseness of faith, such as
that of which Mr. Rose complains, has been already so fully
elucidated by Mr. Pusey in his excellent work on German theo-
logy, that it would be idle for us to do any thing else than allude
to it here. The assertion of intellectual independence by the
first Reformers was, in all the Protestant countries of Europe,
followed by an age of polemics and formal dogmatism, and a
cleaving to the letter of the Church creed; – an age of true Pro-
testant Popery, that in no country attained to such perfect de-
velopment as in Germany. What shall we think of the Chris-
tianity of a time (the latter part of the 16th and the whole of the
* „Papists, Anabaptists, Arians, and other such enemies to the Christian religion.“
– First Book of Discipline of the Church of Scotland, c. iv. § 3. „Against the holy
communion war two raging armies of the incarnate devil; on the one side the ungodly
Papists, on the other, the over curious and conceited Calvinists. The wretched
heathen Ovid is a better theologian than our Calvinists.“ (Exordium of a Lutheran
sermon, quoted by Dr. Pusey on German Rationalism. Part i. p. 45.) Compare
with these modern styles of pious denunciation the ancient phrases of the orthodox
Byzantine emperors: „Kai
[…].“– Basilicon, lib. i. mas. vi.
256   Jung Stilling –
17th century), when one theologian was imprisoned for maintain-
ing that man is not entirely passive in the work of redemption,
another banished for maintaining that Christ died for all men,
and a third deprived of the just rites of Christian burial for ad-
dressing the Almighty in prayer Unser Vater, &c. instead of Vater
unser? That these things, however, took place in Germany
during the high and palmy days of Lutheran orthodoxy, is matter
of undeniable historical fact; and truly it is extremely difficult to
say whether the tyranny of this formal dogmatism, or the anarchy
of the subsequent formless resolution of all dogmas and of all
facts, be more inconsistent with the spirit of true Christian
If, to the action of these two great causes, the principle of disso-
lution inherent in Protestantism consistently carried out, and the
reaction on the barren formalism that encrusted itself on the
Lutheran Church very soon after the death of its great founder,
we add also the influence of the godless French literature, and
the deep movement of European intellect that every where pre-
ceded the breaking out of the French revolution, we shall be at
no loss to see what the real causes and organizing principles of
German rationalism were: and what its real character and worth
in the intellectual development of Europe are, or may prove to
be, is a matter concerning which it is by no means so easy to ar-
rive at a satisfactory conclusion. To perceive that the troubled
fermentation of German religious thought, is a very different thing
from the square crystal of English orthodoxy requires no very pe-
culiar gift of insight; to bawl aloud and anathematize a whole
people, because we find it somewhat difficult to lay hold of their
magnificent volumes of thought, and mould them into a British
brick, is also no trick of a great prophet; but to cast a sym-
pathetic glance into the secret organism of a new world in the
process of creation, and to taste, as it were, in spirit the clear and
sweet wine that is gradually working itself out of the yeasty trou-
bles of the past, is a very different affair, and not certainly every
man’s business who, in this paper age, can write a book that
shall be read. But there are some truths with regard to this
matter that are more evident, and will be recognized at once by
the liberal mind as belonging to that favourable aspect in which
the true philosopher desires habitually to look upon all things.
In the first place, if we have any faith in truth at all, we may
easily see that in the long run it can only be the gainer by deep
and searching investigation into its first principles. We may here
be allowed to use the words of a man who fought an unwearied
champion for Church orthodoxy in the very heat of the great
###Von hier an zu Jung-Stilling.
Religious Literature of Germany.   257
battle of neologic scepticism – Henry Stilling. „Whether such a
state of things,“ says he, „can consist with the kingdom of Truth,
is a question which the great Apostle of Truth answers in the
affirmative, when he says, – ‘There must needs be division among
you, that the truth may be made manifest.’ When every one is at
liberty to think as he pleases, millions of doctrines appear which
every one may test; hence a general ferment arises which gives
the spirit more light and purity.” * This is spoken like a calm
rational man, and not in that mad spirit of sweeping condemna-
tion, in which Stilling himself too often, and our British theolo-
gians generally, delight to discourse of German neology. We
fix our eyes upon the stable statutory rule of orthodoxy, and
plume ourselves before God upon our Sabbath Bills, and our
decent and respectable Church-goings, and our abstaining from
theatres and operas, as also from cricket-playing and dancing
(though not from gin-drinking and riotous living), on Sabbath
afternoons; and we look down with pious complacency upon that
poor German publican, who is groaning in spirit through much
tribulation of metaphysics, and biblical criticism, saying, Surely
in the sight of God I am holier than thou. But did it never oc-
cur to us that a regular observance of the outward forms of re-
ligion is one thing, and a deep yearning of the soul after its high
and ennobling truths is another? Did it never occur to us to
ask, whether, though there is less of the former, there may not
perhaps be more of the latter in Germany than among ourselves?
Do we imagine that the vital energy of the chafing soul within
is always in direct ratio to the distinctness of the contour, and the
solidity of the material that is observable in the outward body?
Or does not the soul rather oftentimes withdraw itself into inert-
ness, in proportion as the body shapes itself into a stony archi-
tecture that stands against the storms of time unmoved? These
are questions which are well deserving that every British Christian
should ask themselves, and answer them seriously. Our excellent
establishments keep the outward form and architecture of Chris-
tianity steady; but in themselves and in their own proper character
as establishments, they have no necessary or direct tendency to
preserve the vital spirit of devotion, or diffuse the Catholic at-
mosphere of Christian love. All church-establishments are not
equally favourable to the free development of natural and healthy
views on points of doctrine, and matters of theological disputation.
* From Jackson’s translation of the Life of John Christian Stahlschmidt, a German
Missionary. London, 1837.
258   Jung Stilling –
Over these things the mitre and the crosier have no control, any
more than a provost’s wig, or a magistrate’s mace; out of the
depths of the human soul the question comes, and out of these
depths God sends forth the answer. A Church may ordain, and
Churches have always been in the laudable practice of ordaining,
a form of sound words; but so far as an act of parliament or-
dains this, it is a form only. A church-establishment has power
to make a mummy of a dead body, filling it with sweet spices,
having some resemblance to the odour of life, swathing it round
with fine linen, and marking it with curious cabalistic phrase in
Latin, Greek, and Hebrew; but to put the regenerated soul of
true piety into that which hath a name to live while it is dead,
this is beyond the power of any church: a vital emotion can pro-
ceed only from a principle of vitality; the free glance of a heaven-
ward looking intellect can alone create that which is worthy the
name of theology; the free uprising of a God-moved heart can
alone create that which is worthy the name of religion.
We desire that these remarks may be taken in no respect as
hostile to the general principle of religious establishments, but
merely as an answer to those blind and bigotted people, living in
the letter only (if it be a life) and not in spirit, who imagine that
because the churches are not so fully attended in Germany as in
Britain, and because the Augsburg Confession is not of such om-
nilpotent authority there, as the Thirty-nine Articles are here, that
therefore the spirit of true piety and the life of religion in the
soul is dead and defunct in that part of Christendom. Never was
a more false and one-sided proposition expressed; never did the
most vulgar and narrow-minded Englishman even, smooth himself
over with a more deceitful oil of self-complacency. We state it
as a notorious fact of which no student of German literature can
be ignorant, that there is infinitely more of a deep, earnest, search-
ing spirit of true piety in that literature than in our own; that
though it may sometimes be difficult to state in so many words
wherein the exact creed of each pious German man consists, still
his piety is there, feeling and felt, colouring, interpenetrating, in-
forming all things; you cannot touch it, but you feel sensibly
that there is a soul present, that you are not far from the influ-
ence of God and good things: whereas our literary men and our
great writers do too generally keep studiously aloof from all men-
tion of religion. We desire also t mention another thing as an
undisputed fact, of which no person even superficially acquainted
with German philosophy and theology can be ignorant, viz.: –
that in the same proportion that the outward and historical evi-
dence of Christianity has been discredited in Germany, its inward
Religious Literature of Germany.   259
divinity and sanctifying influences has been recognized. This
is a great achievement; and it is fit that it should be publicly
mentioned, and that the Germans should be publicly thanked
for what they have done in this most fruitful vineyard of spiritual
activity. Kant’s celebrated book, „Religion within the Bounds
of Pure Religion,“ was at once the most subtle and curious
undermining of the Christian religion as an historical faith; and,
at the same time, the most sublime and glorious apotheosis
of the same religion as a means of moral purification, that the
world ever saw, or – as we may say with confidence – ever will
see again. Here there was no mincing of the matter as in our
elegant, smooth, kid-gloved moralities of the old French school.
„Verily, I say unto you, except ye be born again, ye shall not
enter into the kingdom of heaven!“ This great truth, which only
the shallow and superficial understand not, the philosopher of
Königsberg preached with sacred solemnity to the German
people as it was preached to Nicodemus. And since his time
Lord Shaftsbury has never been able to obtain a decent hearing
in Germany; for all rational people in that quarter of the world
are now convinced, that whatever may be the state of the case
as to the historical basis on which the Christian religion rests,
that religion, so far as it goes to regenerate human nature, and
sanctify the human soul, is indeed a faithful saying and worthy
of all acceptation; and as for the miracles, they have at least not
been performed, or alleged to have been performed, in support
of an unworthy cause; for even if the miracles be denied altogether
as historical facts, there is no necessity for denying a secret extra-
ordinary working of God in favour of the author of Christianity,
and the exertions of his messengers; in which view the growth
and spread of the Christian religion may almost appear more
miraculous without the miracles than with them.
Besides this most universal appreciation of the internal worth
and dignity of Christianity, the Neologic ferments have also led
to another result, if not in itself a positive gain in the matter of
religious truth, at least a necessary preliminary to the admission
and profitable reception of all truth, – we mean a spirit of love,
and mutual forbearance, and an enlarged tolerance; founded, not
(as religious tolerance too often is) upon absolute indifference to
all creeds, or positive hatred to all genuine piety, but the faithful
exercise and training of an inward sense to love truth wherever it
is found, because it is divine, and to sympathise with error
because it is human. No one can hold converse with such men
as Tholuck and Neander, without being made pleasingly sensible
that these men are not Lutherans merely, but Christians, not
260   Jung Stilling –
Christians merely, but also men; whereas among ourselves it is
but too common that Christian theologians, instead of having
their sympathies expanded by riper knowledge, systematically
contract them; they allow their humanity to be swallowed up by
their Christianity (as if these two things were inconsistent); their
Christianity dwindles down to sectarianism; and then the ossify-
cation of the inner man takes place, so that you cannot with
the utmost diligence discover a single trait in the character that
distinguishes this Christian from the Pharisee. No greater mon-
ster walks the earth than that which is begotten between the
selfishness of religious bigotry and the selfishness of political
partisanship; and the Germans, with all the anarchy and the
confusion of their neologic speculations, are happily freed from
the presence of this curse. The prayer of Melanchthon has
at length been granted – „ex contentario theologo libera nos,
Domine!“ The Germans contend, indeed, and labour earnestly,
but they contend with honest doubt, not with presumptuous
dogmatism; the Church orthodoxy of the old Calors and
Quenstaedts (whom Mr. Rose lauds so much) was a thing of
a very different complexion from the Catholic Christianity of
Tholuck and Neander; the odium theologicum, that old serpent
in his most deceitful avatar, has been partially if not wholly sub-
dued in one province of Christendom. We let Hengstenberg
pass, for he is but one; but with us the name of bigotry is
Legion. We certainly had some right to expect that here too in
enlightened Britain, the nineteenth century should have seen the
sacred hatred of theologians laid low in the dust. It might now
be the season, we imagine, for thoughtful men to look into the
creeds of their neighbours, not for the sake of cursing that which
is bad in them, but of blessing that which is good. We remain
far however, it is to be feared very far, from this devout consum-
mation. The political devil has in this country associated him-
self with the ecclesiastical one; and when purse and piety draw
together, the latter is always invincible. Can we conceal from
ourselves the lamentable fact? How many of us are employed
daily in the ignoble occupation of literally throwing dirt, one
Christian man upon his brother, because he differs in opinion from
us, or because he cannot be brought to believe that it is contrary
to Holy Scripture that the Bishops should have a seat in
the House of Lords? It is a matter of daily occurrence with us
for respectable people to have their names bandied about in the
public prints as blasphemers and infidels for matters of less im-
portance than even these. If so, are we to wonder that intel-
ligent foreigners should often be at a loss to rind in what vital
Religious Literature of Germany.   261
function that much-vaunted British religiosity is manifested? If
so, may there not be reason to fear that in respect of the true
living spirit of Christianity, we, with all our Church-orthodoxy,
still remain in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity?
and is it becoming in us, among whom such things wax rank,
and show themselves unblushing to the broad eye of day, to in-
statute a crusade of hard names and anathematizings against the
honest, inquiring, truth-loving Germans, who, if they do quarrel
among themselves, at least quarrel like men, and not like dogs?
But, in truth, we sit here in a corner of Europe, from which we
have, by the blessing of Providence, long been permitted to com-
mand the material world, and vainly imagine that from the same
position we can command the spiritual world also; but the light
that illumines that world comes from another quarter, and many
of its latest and most refreshing rays have not yet reached the
Ultima Thule, where we are dwelling in dark caves, and wor-
shipping dumb idols. This is a hard thing to say, and a yet
more hard thing to believe; but it can do no harm to make it a
matter of self-examination to see if it is so. In regard to German
theology, at least, we must give up our habit of railing, and
take to a sober, serious, and profitable study of it, not fighting
with barren strokes in the cold region of negation, but stretching
forth our arms every where to receive, to embrace, and to hold
fast that which is positively good. No one indeed is called upon
to enter at all upon this region of many strange voices. Without
a cool clear head, and an open sympathizing heart, it is indeed
much better for the British Christian to read his Bible quietly at
home, and do as many good deeds as he can, before the roll of
his short earthly existence be closed. But if, a man will go as a
spy into the land of the Canaanites, Canaanites though they be,
he must bring back a true report both of the land and of them
that dwell therein. He must not only tell us that there are
mighty men there, sons of Anak, but he must also tell us that it
is a land flowing with milk and honey. If a man will speak upon
the subject of German theology, he must speak in such a fashion
that men may clearly perceive that he is in honest, reverent
earnest bound by a solemn oath to do justice to his theme; not
conceiving the theme to exist for the sake of exalting his folly,
but himself, for the sake of exalting the wisdom of the theme.
Now with one solitary, and that nascent rather than full-grown
exception (we mean Mr. Pusey), there has as yet been no attempt
made amongst us rationally, quietly, philosophically, and with
a deep, reverent, all-embracing spirit of love, to develope the
Fate of Christian faith and feeling and life in Germany. It
262   Jung Stilling –
will not do to marshal forth a long array of neologic heresies,
piercing with a thousand wounds (Falstaff-like) the body of a
warrior who is already dead, or only half alive. This style of
criticism, which raises up the mummies of dead Titans, that the
learned gentleman may display his wonderful prowess in cutting
off all their heads at one blow, is a poor affair – very, very negative,
as Göthe would have phrased it. All criticism that does not go
forth from a creative re-conception and re-organization of the
thing criticized (to which a principle of sympathetic vitality in the
critic belongs), is worse than nothing and vainly. It is an ill-
natured or at least an idle bird, picking at berries which it cannot
eat. But where is the man to be found within the wooden walls
of these three kingdoms who shall gird his loins worthily to the
task of writing such a critical history of the Christian religion in
Germany? A work like this would exhaust every possible cycle,
and exhibit every possible phasis of religious insight of which the
human intellect may reasonably be supposed capable. The diver-
sity of religious opinions in that country is greater than any thing
that has ever been exhibited in the history of mankind; the dif-
ferent shades and variances of religious character are altogether
numberless. What a fine exercise here to dispose all this into
harmony for a soul vast enough to embrace its whole extent, and
wise enough to separate with careful hand the accessary every
where from the essential, the ephemeral from the eternal! But
where is the man, we ask again, equal to the task? Shall a
Churchman do the work? His eye is not in the centre, and it is
to be feared he will look at the whole matter through Epis-
copalian or Presbyterian spectacles, and these will not only lend
a false colouring, but marvellously distort the shapes of things.
Shall a philosopher do the work? There are very few men who
deserve the name in this island; and the chance is that he wants
warm religious sympathy, and that his philosophy is too mecha-
nical for the theme. Shall a man of science do it? He is too
dry, too square, too material. Shall, in fine, the literary man do
it? Here there might be some hope; but he is for the most
part too sparkling, and too superficial, to be a fit questioner of
the oracle of Trophonius; besides, his publisher tells him that
nothing but an amusing novel in three volumes will sell. And yet
we think that there is one literary man in this country who could
do this, and might do it well, if he would discard some extrava-
gances. – We mean Carlyle, for Coleridge is dead.
Religious Literature of Germany.   263
whose title we have prefixed. The career of this singular indivi-
dual offers to the European reader something of a psychological,
Zu Jung-Stilling.
much of a religious, very little of a literary interest. What Stilling
wrote did indeed, amid the barrenness of the last century, succeed
in vindicating for itself no disreputable position in the elegant
literature of the day. But much that the Germans admired in
those days of their first awakening from a long lethargy, they have
now discovered to be very childish and very weak, the mere froth
and drivel of a fermenting imagination, indicative of motion and
incipient life, but without stable organization, without the ripe-
ness of health; – to a sound English taste altogether unpalatable.
Stilling, however, at no time, even when his literary reputation
stood highest in Germany, aspired to walk forth before the public
in the harlequin glitter of a great wit and a clever writer. His
wine was Muttergottesmilch and Lachrymae Christi, not cham-
pagne. To speak the truth, God never gave this pious tailor
any of those talents that are necessary to produce the intellectual
coruscations that delight us in the epiphany of eminent literary
characters. But He gave him something equally good, perhaps
better; a deep under-current of pure Christian emotion, flowing
perennially through the holy caves of most reverent thought.
Perhaps, indeed, the French have perverted our notions with
regard to the true nature of genius; for with them a „bel esprit”
has always been a man of quick wit and lively fancy. With this
national notion in his head, the Abbé doubtless asked the cele-
brated question, „Est agréé un Allemagne peut avoir d’esprit“
and notwithstanding all that has been advanced to the contrary,
we think he was entitled to receive the answer he expected. The
Germans have no claim to esprit, as the French understand it;
(neither had the Greeks, for what we call a man of genius, they,
by a much more sensible phrase, called #   # , a man of a
sound healthy nature); but the Germans have a national claim
to a talent, not perhaps so entertaining, but more loveable than
esprit, – we mean Gemüth, the poetry of quiet pure emotion.
When this capacity is developed in a state of high and energetic
potency, we see no reason why it should not be entitled, as much
as the fervid brilliancy of wit, to the designation of genius; and if
so, then Stilling is certainly a moral and a religious genius of a
high order; for in no man, perhaps, was Christian emotion ever
developed in a state more pure, more delicate, and more sensitive.
In the simple and natural outpouring of this emotion consists his
great and original merit as a writer. Pious edification, not lite-
rary amusement, was his aim. He had no time, no inclination,
to wander into the land of romance, seeking combats with imagi-
264   Jung Stilling –
nary monsters. The one, living, many-headed hydra of neology
seemed too strong for the continued exertions of a man whom
nature had never moulded for a Hercules.
The position of Stilling, in reference to neology, was very sim-
ple. He believed with his heart what Baludt and Lemler denied,
or attempted to deny, with their head. Hamann and Herder
and Richter, Jacobi the Faith-philosopher, and many other pro-
found thinkers and noble-minded men, took up the same position:
yea, even the Professor of the Categories, after pulling down the
ancient Egyptian architecture of ontology, and cosmology, and
theology, reserved to himself the right to charm up a shape of
divinity from the deep ethic substratum of the soul. But these
men worked consciously and systematically. Stilling, while he
seemed to be busy with an architecture of the understanding, was,
from the beginning to the end of his long religious career, moved
only by a deep inward emotional necessity; happy, indeed, on all
occasions, to find a reconciliation with the argumentative intellect,
but living and growing by the law only of its own organization.
To him religion, pure Christian emotion, was the atmosphere of
his spiritual existence. To him Christian piety was an inward
experienced fact, more certain than any matter of outward occur-
rence that was ever settled by the evidence of the most unexcep-
tionable witnesses. To him the Christian revelation was a sun,
to which, by an instinct like that of the sun-flower, his spirit un-
failingly turned. He fulfilled the celebrated condition of Hume,
being conscious in his own person of an eternal miracle. To
such a man the most magniloquent wisdom of the neologists was
but the noisy prate of ignorant and presumptuous boys.
What Stilling opposed to the doctrines of the theologists, we
shall see anon more particularly. In the first place, however, it
may be interesting to hear from his own mouth a description of
his adversaries, overcharged of course in some points, as these
things will always be, but true in the general character, and
drawn from the life. The following passage is a description of
his early theological studies by the principal interlocutor in one of
Stilling’s Christian Dialogues of the Dead. *
“I am the son of a preacher in Germany. My father was a good
orthodox man, who believed all that was in the Bible and in the sym-
bolical books, and wished me to believe the same. I followed his wish
faithfully, did everything that he asked me to do, and believed every-
thing without any rational ground of conviction. This unanimity of
* Scencn aus dem Geister-Reiche. Werke, ii. p. 55.
Religious Literature of Germany.   265
sentiment, however, lasted only till I came to the University; for I also
was destined for the church, and my mother was looking anxiously for
the day when she should see me, a learned theologian and a pious
Christian, preach my first sermon from my father’s pulpit. To the Uni-
versity therefore I went; and with the full expectation of learning a
science, and returning armed with such a panoply of unanswerable evi-
dences of Christianity as would stop the mouth of every gainsayer. I
hoped no longer to be a child, but a strong man in the faith. Vain
hope! The doctors who publicly expounded the divine law, seemed
secretly to be giving themselves every possible trouble to excite in my
mind suspicions against the Bible. The Old Testament consisted of
mere popular legends of the Jews, silly fables, and uncertain traditions:
Moses was a wise man certainly, and a great lawgiver, but also a great
cheat, – at least, to a simple man it seemed almost impossible to recon-
cile his doings with common honesty. And as to the Supreme Being,
directly, at all events, God had nothing to do with the matter. All this
they taught, not indeed totidem verbis, but by such clear implication,
that a man must have been stultissimo stultior not to perceive how the
wind was blowing. The prophetic books were called Hebrew poems,
in which some past events were prophesied, in an elevated style, as
future; and not a few things, at first but dimly imagined in the mind
of the bard, afterwards either actually happened by accident, or admitted
of a convenient application to what did happen. Christ was always
mentioned with the greatest reverence; but when one put himself to
extract the true sense of all their big hyperboles and vague eulogies, it
appeared plainly that the Saviour of mankind was in their eyes nothing
better than a virtuous, pious and wise man, who sealed his life and his
doctrine by the death of a martyr. * That they called many things in
the Bible not fable, but allegory, was a piece of well-considered policy,
and nothing more. After all this evaporation nothing solid remained
of Christianity but the morality, and this indeed seemed to be the aim
and essence of all theological learning, everything else being a matter of
absolute indifference. ‘Do what the moral law commands, and then
believe any thing you please, – or, if you please, nothing at all!‘ This
is the sum of the theology that the learned professors taught me; and
indeed it is quite plain, that as soon as the Bible becomes a common old
chronicle, one believes either nothing at all, or only so much as reason
can comprehend. We have, it is true, a clear anticipation of a God,
but he remains a stranger to us: we are utterly ignorant of his relation
to man. We anticipate immortality, but what that immortality shall be,
we have not the most remote conception. We feel ourselves free; but
when we examine this freedom minutely, we appear to be bound to an
iron necessity, and yet are bound to do what we cannot do. Such was
my curriculum of the logical study! I had conscience enough not to
* “And yet Christ represents himself without equivocation as the only begotten
Son of God, who was with the father before all worlds. Could a virtuous, pious and
wise man have said this, knowing that it was false?“ – Note by Stilling.
      T 2
266   Jung Stilling –
enter the church. I devoted myself to literature and philosophy; read
Helvetius, Hume, and Shakspeare [sic; Shakespeare] twenty times through; the Greeks
and the Romans were a world in which I lived. I expounded morality,
but how I practised it, disease and rottenness soon proclaimed. I spoke
from the professional chair of the true, the good, and the beautiful; but
took no cognizance of the existence of such a thing as religion. I lived
to see the great triumph of humanity in the universal diffusion of liberty
and equality. And now I find myself suddenly in this other world, con-
vinced by the uncontradictory evidence of reality, that whatsoever I had
deemed false is true, and all that I deemed true is a lie!“ ....
In another passage the new opinions are described more par-
ticularly in reference to their historical genesis from France.
We say historical, for we have already seen, that the inward germ
of neology lay much deeper. France was merely the outward
“King Louis XIV. of France, after him the Duke of Orleans, and
then Louis XV. had, during the course of a hundred years, led the
French nation into a state of unexampled luxury; a people sunk in li-
centiousness, and weakened by all the arts of over-refinement, receives
the unholy wit of a Voltaire as philosophy, and the sophisticated dreams
of a Rousseau as religion; by this means a national character arises,
possessed of every charm by which the sensual outward man is attracted,
garnished too with all the formal equipments of a system, and glittering
in an intellectual polish that commands the attention even of thinking
men, and wins the approbation of all cultivated minds.
“Hence came it that our German nobility, high and low, considered
France as the exclusive school of refinement, cultivation, and good manners.
The strong language of the Germans was laid aside, and French became
the language of the higher classes. French adventurers, French friseurs,
and French nondescripts of all kinds became the chosen instructors of
our royal and princely youth, and not seldom French milliners officiated
as the gouvernantes of our princesses, countesses, and fashionable young
ladies. The national character of the Germans, and with it religion,
were thrown into the lumber-room.
“Our literati and learned men now joined the great march of im-
provement, and the theologians especially felt themselves called upon to
come forward. They had a difficult part to play; they chose the system
of accommodation; they exerted all their abilities to establish a recon-
ciliation between Christ and Belial; each party was to concede some-
thing, and meet the other halfway. Christ was to give up the peculiar
doctrines of Christianity, Belial the most offensive vices, and both united
should acknowledge no fundamental law of religion but morality: for
in this all were agreed, that good morals must be publicly taught; as for
the practice of morals, that was a matter betwixt every man and his own
conscience, and the philosopher was not called upon to examine too cu-
riously into the quality of individual actions. This Christo-Belial system
Religious Literature of Germany.   267
was par honneur de lettre still to be designated ‘The Christian Doctrine
of Religion’ (Religionslehre); for it was not wished openly to affront
the professors of revealed religion. In this arose the so-much bepraised
enlightenment of these later times, and the Neology of the Christian re-
“But let me not be misunderstood! I do not say that all these new-
fangled teachers, or the majority of them, had any clear purpose of form-
ing a league between Christ and Belial, – for most of them denied the
existence of the latter altogether, – but the spirit of the age had with
such a poisonous infection worked itself into the bone and marrow of
these men, that they no longer saw biblical truths through a healthy
medium: their French-educated moral principle found the most sublime
doctrines of revelation, superstitious, ludicrous, and absurd, – new rea-
son took a jump over the circumvallation of old prejudices, – and the
leading theologians of the Lutheran Church applied themselves publicly
to that greatest work of all – A REVISION OF THE BIBLE. Here was the
beginning of that great defection which Christ and his apostles, and
above all St. Paul, had so clearly foretold; what awaits now but the
man of sin, the incarnated Satan, to walk abroad, that by the sudden
coming of the Lord be may be plunged into perdition?” *
Let us now inquire shortly what ground Stilling took up
against the Neologists, and by what circumvallation he fenced
himself. We have already said, that his opposition to the intel-
lectual scepticism of the age sprung from a deep emotional ne-
cessity of the inner man. He was a Christian by feeling and
practical experience of the power of the Christian religion to
purify and to sustain the soul. This consideration supplies us
with the surest key to his creed. Not the curious speculation of
Church orthodoxy, but the experienced efficacy of certain doc-
trines to satisfy certain cravings deeply rooted in the religious
and moral nature of man, dictated to Stilling the following four
essential articles of the Christian creed:
“There are certain great Bible truths which form the foundation of
the Christian religion, and are, in the proper sense of the word, the
symbols ( # ?) [1 grch. Wort] of the true Christian. He who by a learned exegesis
cozens these truths out of the Bible, may make of it what he pleases;
but he has no vocation to put himself forward as a teacher of the religion
of Christ. These symbols are, that
“(I). The natural tendency of human reason, when left to itself, is
to depart ever further and further from true holiness, and from the know-
ledge of the truth, and to lead mankind into temporal and eternal per-
(2). Every individual is bound continually to strive after a constantly
increasing sanctification; and this by means of a firm and unremitted
* Das Heimweh, vol. i. Werke, vol. iv.
268   Jung Stilling –
faith in Jesus Christ and his plan of redemption, an unceasing watch-
fullness and unwearied struggle against every sinful inclination, and con-
stant prayer and submission to divine influences.
„(3). He must believe in his heart, and without wrath or doubting,
that Jesus Christ from his resurrection to all eternity continues to exist
in glory and blessedness, sole governor of the kingdom of God, at least
among men, and worthy to be worshipped of all.
“(4). That a truly repentant sinner, who to the constant purpose of
progressive amelioration of character adds the honest endeavour to in-
demnify all and each, so far as in him lies, for the evil that his sins,
whether of purpose or carelessness, may have brought upon them; such
an one has good ground of hope, that in the sufferings and death of
Christ all his transgressions shall find such perfect remission as if they
never had been committed.“ *
Whatever the pious reader may think of these symbols of the
Christian faith, he cannot fail to admire the liberal and catholic
spirit in which they are drawn up. Not a harsh determination to
exclude, but an anxious endeavour to include as many sincere
inquirers as possible within the bonds of Christian fellowship,
is here a regulative principle. If the doctrine of the absolute
corruption of human nature, the necessity of regeneration ab
extra, and the expiatory virtue of Christ’s death, are laid down in
terms that cannot fail to come in collision with the honest convic-
tions of many Arminian and Socinian Christians of the present
day, we must bear in mind that Stilling had to do with men who
had converted Christianity into a pious-mouthed Deism within the
Church, and he was by this situation necessarily compelled either
to give up Christianity altogether, or boldly and without mincing
to arrest its peculiar character as distinguished from the philo-
sophy of Socrates or Epictetus. But how wisely on the other
hand has the pious German kept free from those vain subtleties
and unprofitable distinctions, disputations of science falsely so
called, with which the conceit and rashness of phantasy has in
all ages perverted the simplicity of the faith delivered to the
fathers! What an advance, for instance, from the bigotry of By-
zantine faith, when an „eternally august“ Theodosius or Justinian
could define a Christian to be synonymous with an Athanasian, +
`Das Heimweh, 1ter band, p. 663. Werke, vol. iv.
+[… grch. Text, 7 Zeilen] These are the first
words of the Basilicon. And in the Nemocanum of Tholius, tit. xii. c. 2, we have the
same doctrine expressed in much stronger phrase: […]
[…] In plain English, whosoever is not tm Athanasian, is not a Christian. –
“Judge not, that ye be not judged!“
Religious Literature of Germany.   269
and stamp the minute differences between # # [grch. Wort] and # # [grch. Wort]
as the passport to heaven or hell! Not that Stilling was in-
different, or would have any Christian man to be indifferent, to
whatsoever is taught, or merely indicated in Scripture, of things
however remote from human comprehension, and however barren
of any practical results; but that partly his true Christian humility
prevented him from being hasty to dogmatise on these subjects at
all, and partly his true Christian charity forbade him to cast a
rash anathema against a dissentient brother, who, with a few
points of difference in matters properly theological, was yet in
the main an honest practical Christian „fervent in spirit, serving
the Lord.“ How often do we observe, and in this country es-
pecially, that those who are most eminent for the profession of
doctrines peculiarly evangelical, are at the same time the most
eminent in exhibitions of wrath peculiarly bitter and malignant!
How often is superior piety only another name for superior pride!
The celebrated mystic prophetess Antoinette Bourignon (once
well known in Holland and Scotland), used to say „I am unable
to find one true Christian in the world; God made me the first,
and sends me out to create others.“ Henry Stilling (though
both a mystic and a prophet in his way) would have been the last
man in the world to give utterance to such a sentiment; he was
the most humble and therefore the most tolerant of Christians, as
Antoinette was perhaps the most arrogant and over-bearing. He
warned against no sin so much as censoriousness. Putting Chris-
tianity altogether aside, he was too deeply read in the strange les-
sons of the human heart not to know, that that pride is anything
but the most dangerous which parades in a coach and four, and a
host of livery servants. He knew that the heart of man is „de-
ceitful above all things, and desperately wicked;“ and in the
practical knowledge of this truth, he was disposed to place, if
not a great part of Christianity itself, at least the only soil in
which Christian seed could be sown.
With regard to the evidences of revealed religion Stilling is not
likely to give satisfaction to any sound-headed British inquirer.
In common with most German theologians, he is far more apt to
dwell on the internal than on the external evidences of Christi-
anity. So far indeed as our observation has gone there is such a
radical difference between the German and the British mind in
all matters of reflection, that it would be almost impossible to find
two thinking individuals of the two nations who had arrived at
a conviction of religious truth in the same way. The Englishman
here, as in every other difficulty, arresting the practicality of his
nature, builds a bridge to heaven; the German sails up in a
balloon. Had Jung Stilling been left to his own feelings he
270   Jung Stilling –
would never have dreamt for a single moment of asking any other
proof of Christianity than the instinctive ascent of his own
feelings heavenward; but he had been early forced out of his
native circle of pious friends; he had studied at a German [Strasbourg/Straßburg!]
university, he had met with Göthes and Herders, and been
moved by the mighty influences of thought that emanated from
their neighbourhood; cold, cutting knives of Voltairean wit had
early wounded his sensitive soul: being a German also he could
not escape from metaphysics, and the Leibnitzian philosophy
which moulded the minds of his contemporaries, seemed to
establish the harmony of the universe only at the expense of the
freedom, and therewith of the religious existence, of man. Poor
Stilling! for twenty long years had his pure Christian heart
battled with the doubts of a head, not strong enough to elicit
truth out of its own workings, but open always to see it when
evolved by the workings of another. For twenty long years did
the demon of determinism lie, like a night-mare, upon his soul,
till at last the redemption came. And whence did it come?
When the reader bethinks himself that Stilling was born in the
year 1740, and was thus a contemporary of Göthe and Im-
manuel Kant, he will have little difficulty in perceiving whence
the redemption came. From Göthe it could not come, for this
man had little or no connection with the religious world. Kant
was the other great prophet of the age, and metaphysics, as every
body knows, supplies the only #   # [2 grch. Worte] of theology. This it does
in two ways. It either reconciles faith and reason by showing,
in a Theodice, their harmony and identity, which was the fashion
of Leibnitz; or it removes the necessity of reconciling them, by
nicely separating the domain of the sensible from that of the super-
sensible, confining the activity of reason to the one and giving up
the other exclusively to the dominion of faith; which was the
effect of the Kantian philosophy. Strange phenomenon indeed!
that that philosophy which was set forward by its author as an
infallible safeguard against all Platonic dreamings and theo-
logic speculations, should have supplied the most religious
Germans of the age with the long-sought solid ground-work of a
mystic faith. But so it was: and when we consider it well the
phenomenon is simple enough. It is merely another edition of the
„Traite de la Foiblesse de l’Esprit Humain, par Daniel Huet.“
Pierre Daniel Huet (1630-1721): Traité philosophique de la foiblesse de l’esprit humain. A Londres: Chez Jean Nourse, 1741, XL, 296 S. - Nachdr. d. Ausg. Amsterdam 1723 Hildesheim, New York : Olms, 1974, LX, 296 S., ISBN 3-487-04889-2. - Von der Schwachheit und Unvollkommenheit des menschlichen Verstandes in Erkänntnüß der Wahrheit. A. d. Franz. in das Teutsche übersetzt, und mit nöthigen Anmerkungen erläutert. (Gewidmet: Zacharias Konrad von Uffenbach [1683-1734].) Frankfurt a. M. Friedrich Wilhelm Förster 1724. [24] Bl., 448 S. : Frontispiz (Portr., Kupferst.). ; 8°
Once prove to a man that his legs are not able to bear him, and
he will thank you for any crutch however crooked. We scarcely
think that the great Immanuel himself intended his philosophy
to be used in this way, in the support of the authority of revealed
religion. The religion which he himself has given us in the
celebrated work formerly referred to, is a system of pure Chris-
Religious Literature of Germany.   271
tianizing Deism, recognizing indeed the possibility, but not
admitting the actuality of a supernatural revolution. The piety
which he preaches is no religious feeling in the common sense of
that word, but merely a reverence for the moral law. The only
peculiarity of his ethical religion seems to be this, – that he
admits the corruption of human nature and the necessity of
regeneration in the same degree and to the same effect that
Christianity does. But the corruption of human nature, as
Coleridge says, is a fact, of which regeneration is the necessary
consequence. Both these things may be admitted without ac-
knowledging a supernatural revolution. But whatever Kant’s
private opinions may have been (and notwithstanding the pious
imaginations of some people, our strong conviction is that he was
a Deist *) it is certain that his system was by no means necessarily
exclusive of, much less opposed to, a belief in Christianity as a
revealed religion. This we see practically in the case of J.
Stilling, whom we shall now hear upon the subject. The
following passage is interesting, not only as exemplifying the
experimental influence of the Kantian philosophy on Christian
faith, but also as containing an excerpt of a letter from Im-
manuel, showing how far his philosophy was from wishing to
deprive others of a spiritual consolation that perhaps he often felt
the want of himself.
“In studying the critical philosophy the ‘Critique of Pure Reason’ was
of course the first work that Stilling read; he found no difficulty in
making out the drift of it, and found himself at once freed from the
incubus of determinism that had weighed him down so long. In this
work Kant proves, by the most irrefragable arguments, that human
reason can boast no knowledge beyond the limits of the sensible world;
that in supersensible things it no sooner begins to argue from its own
principles than it stumbles on contradictions, i. e. contradicts itself.
* This is distinctly admitted by the most able and energetic, and at the same lime
the most honest translator that the Königsherg philosopher has yet found in this country,
Mr. Semple. In the appendix to the Metaphysic of Ethics, translated by that gentle-
The metaphysics of ethics by Immanuel Kant. Transl. out of the original German, with an introduction and appendix by J. W. Semple. Edinburgh: Clark 1836. CXVIII, 378 S.; 3. ed. eb. 1871. (=Grundlegung zur Metaphysik der Sitten).,
man (Edinburgh, 1836), we find the following passage. „Kant was a rationalist; he
invariably admitted the possibility of a revelation, but maintained that such historical
belief could be nothing more than a mere vehicle towards the ethical. As a rationalist
indeed he was, by his very assuming of such a name, compelled to abide within the
bounds of all rational insight. Hence he never did, as the naturalists do, deny and
dispute the possibility of revelation, nor yet the necessity of such a thing as a divine
means towards the introduction of a true religious faith. He left, on the contrary,
ample room for super-naturalism, and even said, the ethical faith leaves a man always
open for the historical, in so far as he may find this last conducive to the enlivening of his
pure moral and religious sentiments, which belief can only in this way have any inward
moral worth, as it is then free, and unextorted by any threat.“ The meaning of which
in common English is this: that if Christianity be nothing more than a republication
of the religion of nature, or rather a public authoritative proclamation of the moral
1aw, Immanuel Kant has no objection to believe in it, if he finds it convenient,
272   Jung Stilling –
Kant’s Critique is in short a commentary on the words of St. Paul.
‘The natural man understandeth not the things which are of the Spirit
of God, for they are foolishness unto him,’ &c.
“This discovery lifted Stilling’s soul as on wings. Hitherto he had
laboured in a thousand ineffectual ways to reconcile reason, this divinest
gift of God, with religion; now the difficulty was removed, reason was
confined within its proper province, and revelation appeared to be the
only natural and true source of all supersensible knowledge. Stilling
took an early opportunity of communicating with Kant himself on this
subject; and in a letter received from the philosopher, there were the
following remarkable words: –
“Herein also you act wisely to seek your only solace in the Gospel,
for it is the inexhaustible fountain of all truths, which, after human
reason has measured out its whole domain, are to be found there and
there only.’
“Afterwards Stilling read Kant’s ‘Critique of Practical Reason,’ and
then his ‘Religion within the bounds of pure Reason;’ and in these
works he at first imagined he had found something like the truth; but
on more minute inspection he perceived that Kant placed the source of
all supersensible truth, not in the Gospel, but in the moral principle.
The deficiency of this principle might seem to appear sufficiently from
the uncertainty of its application, and the great variety and even con-
trariety of its development among different individuals and races of men;
and if it be said that the pure, not the corrupt, moral principle is to be
taken as the source of moral and religious truth, then I answer that the
pure moral principle is the mere form, the bare capacity of knowing
good and evil; but where can you point out to me any mortal man whose
concrete existence I may take as the living type of this pure moral
principle? We are all equally the children of error; we all equally mistake,
as lust or whim may seduce, evil for good and good for evil. If
the moral principle is to be in any wise practically useful as a guide of
human actions, then the true, the good, and the beautiful must be pre-
sented to our minds ab extra from a pure infallible source, otherwise it
remains for ever what it is, a mere undefined capacity to be; and it is
sufficiently manifest that the history of man exhibits nothing that can
come up to the demands of this postulate, unless it be the BIBLE,“ &c. –
Stilling’s Leben, 5ter Thiel. [sic; Theil]
Upon the same foundation of Kantian philosophy the following
short appeal proceeds.
“Awake! open your eyes, and see the abyss that lies before your
feet. Consider seriously that to cure that unnatural disease which eats
up the vitals of humanity, a supernatural remedy – revealed religion – is
necessary!! Cease at length to put questions to your reason that your
reason can never answer, for the answer to these questions is to be found
not in speculation, but in history; – rests not upon thoughts, but upon
facts, which only a madman can doubt, for their immediate cones-
quences lie before every man’s eyes!“– Das Heimweh, 2ter Band.
Werke, v. 243.
Religious Literature of Germany.   273
This appeal to fact and history recals to our mind a doctrine
many years ago propounded by Dr. Chalmers, that in preaching
Christianity the external evidence alone is to be built upon, the
appeal to the internal having no other effect than to make a
judge of him whose only duty is to listen. It is much easier,
argued the reverend doctor, to convert an Atheist than a Deist,
because the mind of an Atheist is blank, and you may write what
you please upon it. This is somewhat in the spirit of Cardinal
Bellarmine, who would not allow Plato to be read in the schools
in case some dream-rapt student should mistake the Phaedrus for
the Gospel of St. John. But the doctrine of a supernatural re-
velation is a theory which then only comes into existence, when a
combined view of the inward spiritual necessities, and the out-
ward spiritual history of man, renders it necessary to assume it.
We have allowed ourselves to take for granted, in the preceding
observations, that such of our readers as may honour these
pages with a passing glance have already formed the personal ac-
quaintance of Jung Stilling, from Mr. Jackson’s English translation
of his auto-biography. It does not fall within our province
to expatiate upon a theme that has already become the common
property of the English reading public. To those, however,
who have not seen Mr. Jackson’s work, the main line of the pious
tailor’s terrestrial Fates may be easily indicated. Stilling was a
shoot of that pious race called in foreign phrase, Pietists; who
from the days of Jacob Bohme up to the most recent fanaticism
of the Prussian Muchers have been peculiarly abundant in the
North of Germany. The student of Church history will at once
bethink himself here of Arndt, and Spener, Francke, and the
Halle school of theologians. The names of Dippal, [sic; Dippel] Hochmann
von Hohenau, Tierstegen, [sic, Tersteegen] &c., are of a more narrow reputation.
Count Zinzendorf, however, is known over the whole world.
One of the principal seats of the Pietists has long been Elber-
feld, in Westphalia; not far from this Stilling was born, and
here he spent ten painful years of an existence, curiously swin-
ging (as the existence of sensitive people is apt to do) between the
ecstasies of heaven and the torments of hell. Stilling’s father was
half-tailor, half-schoolmaster m a small country village of Westphalia;
and he himself was now a tailor, and now a schoolmaster,
as the necessity of bread and the disposition of circumstance
compelled. To set forth how the poor, weak, unfriended, pietis-
tical tailor-boy, led by strange jumps, and curious cross-ways of
providences, rose from one degree of dignity to another, till at
last he became Aulic councillor to the Grand Duke of Baden,
operator of cataract to all the blind of Germany, and worshipful
Father in God and writer of apostolic epistles to all the pious
274   Jung Stilling –
Herrnhuters and Moravians in Christendom; and how he achieved
all this through the course of a long life (from 1740 to 1817)
without losing one pleasant line of that primitive simplicity of
character, the great virtue of the pious race from which he sprung;
such is the simple purport of one of the most curious and singu-
lar auto-biographies that the history of literature can boast. No
mere Englishman can have any idea of the transcendent simplicity
of this book. A German Methodist, living exclusively among
Methodists, reading Methodistical books, dreaming Methodistical
dreams, seeing and hearing nothing but Methodism during the
first twenty years of his life, is a phenomenon of a very peculiar
kind, worthy to be taken notice of by all thinking men. An in-
habitant of Venus, or any other blessed planet, suddenly trans-
ported into the British House of Commons in the midst of a
debate upon the Irish Tithe-question, could not be more com-
pletely confounded by the jabber of parties, than the commonest
voices proceeding from a world that lieth in wickedness startled
the pious hearing of the boy Stilling. Where, for instance,
shall we find a sancta simplicitas equal to the following?
“Henry was about eight years old. He sat on n chair and read a
book, looking, as was his fashion, very serious; and I believe in honesty
that up to that time of life he had never yet indulged in any thing
worthy the name of a laugh. Stähler looked him in the face and said.
‘Henry, what are you doing there so seriously?
“’Have you learned to read so young?’
„‘I am reading.’
„Henry looked him in the face, expressed surprise, and said: ‘That
is surely a foolish question; am I not a man?’ And straightway he
began to read aloud, with great fluency, giving at the same time the
proper emphasis and expression to every word. Stähler was astonished.
‘May the devil take me,’ said he, ‘if I ever saw the like of that!’
When Henry heard this oath he sprung suddenly up, trembled, and
looked fearfully around. When, however, he saw that the devil did not
make his appearance, he said, ‘God! how gracious art Thou!’ Turning
then round to Stähler he said, ‘Man! hast thou seen Satan?’ ‘No!’
replied Stahler. ‘Then never call on him again,’ said Henry, and went
into another room.“– Stilling’s Jugend.
Truly the hero of this tale is a very German of the Germans;
and shall we wonder that when such a guileless simple soul as
this, remaining guileless and simple to the end, overcame the
world and the wickedness of the world by the sheer might of
this honest simplicity, he was irresistibly compelled to attribute
his own advancement to the special guardianship of a benevolent
providence? Our profane modern speech, indeed, would prefer
to ascribe all dispositions of the inward as of the outward world
Religions Literature of Germany.   275
to a strange concatenation of circumstances; but the #   # [2 grch. Worte].
of old Herodotus sounds as well, and we have no objection to the
term special providence if wisely used. * Let a man beware,
however, how he comes to look upon himself as the pet-lamb of
the Almighty. This can only make himself vain, and religion
ridiculous. We do not conceal our opinion that there is a con-
siderable leaven of this silliness in Stilling’s autobiography, espe-
cially in the latter part of it, which we wish sincerely had never
been published; but then Stilling is a German, and we have ex-
perience enough in the character of that truly honest and most
loveable people, to know that a German may both say and do
many things that have the air of foolishness and yet not be a fool.
We do not pretend to explain all the strange things that are set
forth in Stilling’s life; the wonderful interpositions of which he
makes so much parade seem, for the most part, to prove more of
his own folly than the wisdom of God; but we are willing to be
taught one important lesson from the spirit that pervades this, as
indeed it does all the works of this pious German. To wait upon
Providence, to receive humbly and improve wisely those good
gifts of God which the heaven-storming Titan demands as a right
and uses merely as the nutriment of an insatiate selfishness, is, and
must remain, the only true wisdom of man. +
* “When I make an axe, I make it to cut, and I cut with it; and when God
makes a man for any purpose, for that purpose he uses him.“– Stilling’s Grandmother.
+ Though somewhat lengthy, we think ourselves bound here to insert, for the take
of completeness, Göthe’s characteristic of Stilling, as it is found in the 9th book of
the Dichtung und Wahrheit. Göthe became acquainted with Stilling at Strasburg,
when the hitherto tailor, at the age of thirty, was preparing himself, by a regular
course of medical study, for the celebrity he afterwards acquired as an oculist.
“Among the new arrivals,“ says Göthe, „was a man who particularly interested me.
His name was Jung, the same who afterwards became known under the name of
Stilling. His figure, notwithstanding a certain antiquated appearance, and a blunt-
ness of manner, was delicate. A bag-wig was not able to disfigure his significant
and pleasing countenance. His voice was soft without being weak, and when he was
moved by enthusiasm (which often happened), full and strong. On nearer acquaint-
ance I perceived in him a man of sound, clear understanding, based upon emotion,
(ein gesunder Menschen-Verstand der auf dem Gemüth ruhte), and liable to be in-
fluenced by inclination and passion; but this same preponderance of the emotional in
his character, was the origin of an enthusiasm for the good, the true, and the right in
all possible purity. His life bad been singular, simple, yet crowded with events and
manifold activity. The element of his energy was an indestructible faith in God, and
a divine assistance flowing immediately from him, and manifesting itself in an unin-
terrupted guardianship of the individual, and open deliverance from impending evil.
Jung had had experiences of this kind not a few, both previous to his arrival in
Strasburg, and recently, since commencing his medical studies; and to such a degree
did this living faith operate, that, though at no one time has he had security of sub-
sistence from one quarter to another, he nevertheless continued to devote himself to
his studies with the utmost earnestness, and lived in a manner as cheerful as it was
moderate. In his youth he had well nigh been a charcoal-burner, but he followed the
276   Jung Stilling –
Except a few edifying tales, Stilling’s biography is, we believe,
the only work of this author that is known to the English reader.
There is however another very singular volume, into which no
German scholar will forget to look, who wishes to obtain any in-
sight into the nature and character of German Pietism. “Theobald,
or the Enthusiast,“ though put into the shape of a novel,
is in reality a true history of the character and doings of the West-
vocation of tailor, till the knowledge which he acquired for himself in leisure hours
enabled him to try the more dignified employment of a schoolmaster. This attempt
miscarried, and he returned to the trade, from which, however, he was once and again
called away by different persons, to whom his engaging character had recommended
him as a fit person to perform the duties of a family tutor. But for his essential
education, and the formation of his character he was indebted to that race of men who
seek salvation at their own hands (auf eigne Hand ihr Heil suchen), and by the reading
of the Scripture and devout books, as well as by mutual exhortations and pious exer-
cises, attain to a grade of spiritual culture truly wonderful. For inasmuch as the reli-
gious interest by which they are led, rests upon a foundation of the purest morality,
kindliness, and benevolence, and the varieties of character among men of such limited
circumstances are but few, whereby their conscience is for the most part kept pure,
and their spirit cheerful – in this way there arose a culture, not artificial as some might
imagine, but truly natural; and in this respect preferable to all other sorts of culture,
that it embraced all ranks and all ages, and was in its nature essentially social; whence
it came to pass that these people in the circle that understood them, were gifted with a
natural eloquence, that uttered itself on all matters of the heart with the utmost pro-
priety and grace. Such was the case with Jung. In the company of those few who
could sympathize with him, this man was not only full of an amiable communicative-
ness, but truly eloquent. In particular he told the history of his own life in the most
pleasing manner; and there was a peculiar vividness and truth in his descriptions. I
asked him to write his biography; and he seemed pleased to follow my advice. But
in mixed society Stilling never felt quite at home; he was like a somnambulist walking
upon the top of a house, whom you must interrupt, or he will straightway be pre-
cipitated to the ground; like a smooth stream, to which if you interpose any impede-
ment it will straightway roar. His faith could tolerate no doubt, his conviction no
raillery. Inexhaustible to communicate, contradiction froze the virgin stream of his
eloquence. On such occasions I was wont to interfere in his behalf; for which kind-
ness I received his most sincere thanks. I was, indeed, no stranger to the sentiments
that were the soul of his existence: I had had ample experience of them in some of
my own best friends: their naturality and naïvité rather pleased me; and in this way I
of all his fellow-students at Strasburg most easily tolerated his peculiarities. The
religious bias of his mind I delighted to contemplate: and his belief in extraordinary
providential interpositions I did not contradict. My friend Saltzmann also treated
him with great tenderness; and this was the more remarkable in Saltzmann, as he
himself belonged to that class of rational and sensible Christians, whose religion pro-
perly consists in a rectitude of character and in a manly independence, and who have,
therefore, a natural aversion to lose themselves in emotion which is apt to become
cloudy, and in enthusiasm which ends in obscurity.“
This is a morceau truly Göthian in all respects; calm, clear, benevolent, with a
slight amiable tinge of indifference and self-complacency. We may observe with re-
gard to Göthe’s share in the autobiography affair, that when Stilling afterwards penned
the first part of it, he entrusted it to Göthe, thinking it wise to leave the publication of
so singular a performance to the discretion of the world-wise young poet. Göthe, who
was very fond of Stilling, took the whole responsibility upon himself. The book was
published, the success was wonderful; and Stilling received from Göthe an honorarium
of some hundred gulden, an Elijah-morsel amid much need (he was for a long time
closely pinched), and just after the pious man had been praying to God the whole morn-
ing for relief.
Religious Literature of Germany.   277
phalian Pietists of the last century, with regard to which Stilling
could conscientiously say – „et quorum pars magna fui;“ and as
such it is one of the most curious, and at the same time one of
the most authentic documents that the strange history of religious
aberrations can boast. Perhaps no man ever possessed such
qualifications for writing a book of this sort as Jung Stilling, for
he was himself a Pietist by nature as well as by education; and
when he exposed the folly and madness of their ways, he did so
in the spirit of friendly warning and wise precaution, that every
occasion of evil speaking might be removed, and the mouth of
the gainsayer silenced. Herein he prefigured the policy of
O’Connell, who first taught the multitudes systematically to evade
the laws, without daring the bold front of resistance. Thus
Stilling taught the Pietists to separate themselves from the world,
without running a muck against it; remarking wisely, that it was
enough for an humble-minded Christian that the light of God
should shine within his soul, while the visible glory without might
minister to the vanity of a saint. It was the duty of a Christian
man, he said, to respect even the prejudices of those whom he
significantly called the „orthodox heterodox;“ much more to
avoid injuring the cause of true evangelical piety, by mixing up the
practice of it with childish and superstitious observances. Nay,
the pious man went so far as to declare against all sects and
separatism of whatever kind; here, in showing himself to have
arrived at true practical catholicity of soul, and differing from the
vulgar declaimers against sectarianism only in this, that he con-
ceived the self-styled Church to be oftentimes only a great estab-
lished sect, ten times more pernicious than any other sect, just be-
cause it was great and because it was established. When we add
to this truly catholic spirit of mind a quiet observant eye, and a
conscientious truthfulness of character, we shall see how admir-
ably fitted Stilling was for the task which he undertook in „Theo-
bald.“ This singular work – superior in interest, we think, even
to the autobiography – can be designated no otherwise more fitly
than as a rank fermenting bed of religious emotion, wherein many
noxious weeds grow rampant, but also a few flowers of most de-
licate and surpassing beauty. This variety indeed, and contrast,
form the true charm of the work; it gives it a peculiar character
which it could only have derived from such a man as Stilling.
For while the principal motive of the writer was to expose the
monstrous extravagances into which a religion of mere emotion
necessarily leads its votaries, he is at the same time continually
on his guard, lest that which was intended to warn his friends
from folly, should seem merely calculated to give food to the
malice of his enemies. Hence the beautiful traits of pure Chris-
278   Jung Stilling –
tian character with which this web of pietistic follies is inter-
woven. Take, for instance, the following short sketch:
“Hasenfeld was a long meagre man, with a piercing eye; he was the
son of a corn-dealer, not a corn-Jew, however, hut an honest man;
and by early inclination he devoted himself to the study of theology.
After finishing his studies at the university, he preached with great
power, not like the doctors of the law, and filled the whole country with
his reputation. On one occasion the following remarkable circumstance
occurred. The chief magistrate of the town where he was preaching kept
a mistress, and lived in such a licentious fashion as to be a cause of an-
noyance to the whole community. Hasenfeld knew this, and in the
middle of his sermon was so carried away by a pious enthusiasm, as that,
turning suddenly to the magistrate, he said, with a voice of thunder,
‘And you, too, sir magistrate! it is not right that you keep a mistress!’
This did not cure the evil certainly; but it was a noble exhibition of
moral dignity, for which the worthy licentiate could afford to pay. He
was arrested and confined in gaol twelve weeks, and fed on bread and
water; but his pious friends sweetened his bread of tears with many
kindnesses. After his release from prison he was interdicted from
preaching, at least in the pulpit; but the people dragged him out of his
retirement forcibly, and would have him to preach. He consented, and
went to the church, but the magistrate ordered a policeman to stand on
the pulpit stairs, and not allow him to enter. What did the licentiate
do? He cried, with a loud voice, ‘ Let us go forth without the gate
bearing his shame!’ The whole congregation followed him, and a
more effective sermon was preached in the church-yard than ever was
preached in the church. Hasenfeld was a very learned man, and as his
honest enthusiasm had marred his prospects in the church, God provided
a place for him, and he was made rector of a celebrated gymnasium.
His love of truth, however, was the cause of much suffering to him
even in this situation; he had no idea of paying any regard to symbols
and confessions in his study of the Bible; it never entered his imagina-
tion that men calling themselves Protestant Christians should have virtu-
ally imprisoned the Holy Scriptures within the arbitrary limits of human
creeds; he was accordingly discovered to be a heretic, and castigated
and scourged till the blood came from him. * But all this availed no-
thing; Hasenfeld had a friend in high quarters, and was allowed to
preach when and where he pleased. At length his zeal and unwearied
application consumed him; but his death was more glorious than his
life. He had waited several days with the utmost composure, expecting
his dismissal from the body; to those who asked for his health, he al-
ways gave the same answer, – ’ My things are packed, and I am ready
* We doubt whether to take this literally. But the stiff old orthodoxy of the Lu-
theran Church was capable of any thing, and the civil despotism was always at hand
to second the ecclesiastical. In other parts of Selling’s works there are but too many
traces of the prostration of every shape and semblance of liberty in the German states,
during the early port of the last century. The wise despotism of Prussia was un-
known before the French Revolution: the rottenness that preceded it is almost incre-
Religions Literature of Germany.   279
for the journey.’ At length, as his pulse began to sink, he fixed his
eyes steadily upon the window, and with a hollow but strong voice,
cried out ‘ Hallelujah!’ – that was his latest breath.“ *
What does the reader say to this? Is there not a living poetry
in this methodism, for which you shall search in vain even in the
pages of Wordsworth and Southey? Some people have cele-
brated Göthe’s death, because he died as he lived, crying out
„More light!“ and others have admired the composure of David
Hume, who stept into Charon’s boat with a copy of Lucian in
his hand; but here we have a poor despised German Methodist
looking quietly at the grandeur of the sun, and breathing out his
pure soul in the triumphs of a loud Hallelujah. Truly there are
many beautiful scenes in the history of man’s mind, that are not
to be found in the orthodox chronicles of the Church, or in the
pages of a fashionable novel.
We can afford merely to name another of Stilling’s works,
which we think may be able to command the attention of the
English reader. We mean his Dialogues of the Dead, or
“Scenen aus dem Geister-Reiche,“ as he calls them. Besides the
usual element of pure Christian feeling which ennobles all Stil-
ling’s works, there is a good deal of fancy displayed in this; and
the student of Church history also will find there much illustra-
tive of the opinions and practices of the Neologists and other
learned men in Germany, with reference to religion. Stilling’s
system of punishments in a future world is extremely ingenious;
and his description of the different regions of Hades, from lowest
Tartarus to highest heaven, is not less poetically beautiful than
consistent with reason and the received opinions of a great part of
the Christian Church. We must mention, however, that in all
matters regarding a future state, Stilling takes the liberty of dis-
senting from his Protestant brethren, and holds with the Roman
Catholics and the Universalists; he is heretical in two regards,
not only believing in purgatory, but also denying strenuously the
eternity of hell punishments. Into the service of this double
heresy he brings both Greek and Hebrew, with much anxious
learning, for he was a good scholar; but his principal argument
he drew from his own heart.
The reader will have perceived from the prefixed list, that Stil-
ling was a very voluminous writer. To put his works into English
measure, the thirteen German volumes must be multiplied by
three, which gives us thirty-nine; and the subject of all these
volumes is one and the same; the eternal truth and beauty of
* Theobald der Schwärmer. Werke, vi. p. 119.
VOL. XXI. NO. XUI.      U
280   Jung Stilling –
Christianity, and the superiority of the supersensible over the
sensible world. A silly employment this last (though by the way,
radically identical with the other), will no doubt appear to us
“practical Sadducees;“ but it remains yet to be proved that study-
ing animal magnetism, and concocting matter into mind, is a less
ennobling employment than commenting on Jeremy Bentham, and
converting right and wrong into mere pleasure and pain; and it
may also be doubted whether collecting ghost stories be a less edi-
fying employment than fabricating lies for newspapers, and political
orations. Once and for all, every honest truth-loving man must
make a decided unconditional protest against the one-sidedness of
English Materialism; at the same time we are willing to confess,
that the Spiritualism of the Germans is often a thing vague and un-
substantial, like the souls of the New South Wales savages, (as
they say), coming from clouds, and going back into clouds again;
also that the dew of watery tears is too plenteous; and that the
soul of man is made to comport itself like a mimosa pudica – all
nerve and no muscle – so that a German man seems less manly
than a British child; there is also too much of old wives’ gossip,
of a morbid anxiety about small things, of a provincial import-
ance given to trifles, and of a national, sometimes also a uni-
versal dignity, to petty domesticities, – and specially we are willing
to confess, and we forewarn the economical reader, that a great
part of Jung Stilling’s works can come under no better category
than that of pious drivel. We have much that does not rank far
above the vulgar style of street preaching; a great puff and a
loud bark, but not a single tooth to bite. The „Home-sickness,“
for instance, is a very strange, but also a very wearisome freak of
pious fancy; and no wonder; from a Germanization of John
Bunyan, and a sanctitication of Tristram Shandy (so the author
himself explains it), something singularly fantastic, but at the
same time singularly diluted and pithless, was to have been ex-
pected. It is a most singular imagination, an expansion and
universalizing of Stilling’s own singular existence; a jumble of
real and ideal, of plain and allegorical; heaven and earth thrown
into one lumber-room, and shaken so together that you know not
whether the one has been solidified into stone, or the other evapo-
rated into clouds. Then we have the book of the Revelations,
and the number of the beast; and the Old and New Testament
changed into the „The Tales of a Grandfather;“ and pious
hymns and prayers, and a „golden treasury“ of meditations for
every day in the year, and for every text in the Bible; and „a
grey man“ gliding quietly through the throng and glitter of this
wicked world, and prophesying that in the year 1836 (now past)
Religious Literature of Germany.   281
the millennium is to commence, or the devil to be let loose – we
forget which. The reader will excuse our going at large into the
criticism of these works; they might have possessed – we believe
they did possess – considerable religious influence in their day;
but they are altogether destitute of literary value, – and even in
a religious point of view they are mere syllabub and whisked
foam. The fact is, Stilling (like many greater men) spoiled him-
self by writing too much; and he was spoiled also by writing
exclusively for a certain set of very amiable people, who looked up
to him as a sort of god. Even in sensible Britain, these
things take place daily; how much more in Germany!
But there is yet one work of this singular individual, not of a
strictly religious character, that deserves special mention. We
mean the „Theorie der Geister-Kunde;“ a complete system of
the supersensible world, wherein the rights of ghosts and spirits,
the authenticity of visions, and extraordinary visitations of all
sorts, are most nobly and manfully vindicated against the incredu-
lity of all gross, full-blooded men, who eat beef-steaks, drink
porter, laugh loudly, and have their portion only in the material.
It would be premature to enter into any serious examination of
this matter, so long as the pretended facts (?) of animal magnetism
remain uninvestigated. These facts, when ascertained and calmly
and impartially looked into, may possibly throw great light on
the whole philosophy of dreams, visions, and apparitions. The
misfortune is that impartial juries, and keen, quick-witted bar-
risters on each side, are seldom at hand to try the evidence on
which such extraordinary occurrences rest. In the meanwhile
Jung Stilling sets out from a transcendental principle, which we
are afraid will not go far to conciliate his English readers. He
borrows again a leaf from Immanuel Kant; he proves, from the
first chapter of the ‘Critique of Pure Reason,’ that space and time
have no existence except in the mind; they are mere ways of
looking at things, not things themselves; they have no permanent
reality; consequently the whole of the modern philosophy, which
is founded on the relations of space and time – the mechanical
systems, as Stilling styles them, of Copernicus and Newton – are
equally phantastical, equally unreal. There is no permanent
reality except in God, and in the world of angels and spirits,
which the word of God reveals. But this supersensible world is
independent of all vulgar relations of space and time, and cannot
be legitimately judged of by the laws that regulate the co-exist-
ence and succession of material facts. The scoffs and sneers
of the Sadducean merely prove his own ignorance. The em-
pirical man is himself the shadow into which he would convert the
      U 2
282   Jung Stilling –
intelligible universe. Such is the wide and all-embracing basis
on which Stilling proposes to rebuild the sacred temple in which
ghosts and spirits, dreams, omens, and presentiments, were wont
to be worshipped; and perhaps if the English nation were not so
much accustomed to think by the same laws that regulate steam-
coaches and spinning-jennies, the scheme might not appear alto-
gether unreasonable. There is at least this advantage (as Kant
says) in going beyond the limits of experience, that no experience
can be brought to contradict us.
To conclude. Henry Jung used to say, that he had received
more real Christian kindness from that one heathen, Göthe, than
from all his brother Pietists at Elberfeld put together. Possibly,
if we were to try the experiment, we might find that there is more
of the spirit of true Christianity to be borrowed from one of these
heterodox neologians, or anti-neologic German pietists, than from
a host of our own most orthodox doctors. There is nothing
strange in this. The mere novelty and contrast of the foreign
mode of thought acts as a beneficial stimulus to the reflective
faculties. But, independent of this, where shall we find such a
sincere reverential love of truth, such a scrupulous conscientious-
ness of investigation, such a vital breathing in the atmosphere of
all that is most holy, as amongst these Germans? It is high time
that we should do them justice in the domain of religion, as we
have already done in the more familiar walks of literature. Hi-
therto, in respect of matters theological, we have comforted our-
selves too much like Penelope’s suitors; we feed upon another
man’s substance, and call the master of the house a bravo. We
furnish the shelves of our libraries with the fruit of their Indus-
trious research in classical literature and biblical criticism, and
then we turn round upon them and denounce them as infidels
and atheists, because those very habits of inquiry by which we
profit have led some of them to doubt on some points, with
regard to which we have never taken the trouble even to inquire.
Is this Christian? Is this gentlemanly? Verily, if we can learn
nothing else from German theology, we may learn toleration, and
that, though a mere negative thing, is a great deal, for it is nega-
tive of folly, and puts a gag upon the greedy maw of the all-
swallowing EGO of dogmatism. The virtue of religious tole-
rance, as we are accustomed to exercise it, is a mere material and
outward thing. A man may preach as much nonsense as he
pleases, and we will not incarcerate him. Very good. This is
tolerating another man’s nonsense; it is but one step above
savage barbarity to do so; but how shall we learn to tolerate
another man’s sense? This is indeed a hard thing for flesh and
Religious Literature of Germany.   283
blood; for it implies the counterpart idea, that some nonsense
may also be on our side. Practically, to tolerate the notion that
another man may be right in some things while we are in the
wrong, is a very difficult thing; a thing very different from the
parade which it is now the fashion to make of religious toleration;
a thing which many very orthodox people never learn at all; a
thing which only the habitual spiritual application of that golden
rule, „Do unto others,“ &c. can enable a man to attain to. If
we are to pay any regard to the opinions of impartial foreigners,
oftentimes repeated, we must confess ourselves, notwithstanding
our gold and our machinery, to be bigots in some things. Let us
go to Germany, and study toleration. Let us remember what
Guixot says; ‘‘ It is necessary, if religion is to accomplish its end,
that it should become accepted by liberty, – that man should sub-
mit himself voluntarily and freely to it, – that he should be free,
notwithstanding his submission. This is the twofold problem
that religion is required to solve.“ Therefore let neology quietly
work its own purification. „Erasmus has laid the egg;“ God
will send some „Luther to hatch it“ when the fulness of time shall
come. And if the Germans have not laid any real egg in meta-
physico-theological matters, they have at least started some new
ideas, which we, with our broad practical understanding, may
condescend to lay hold of and apply. Even this man, Jung
Stilling –half woman as he unquestionably is –may teach us
much. He may teach us to unite the most zealous and jealous
evangelism with a certain free latitudinarianism, that has not the
least kindred with indifference. We may learn from him that
religion is not theology, and piety is not church-going. We may
learn to forego the letter which killeth, and seek after the spirit
which maketh alive. We may learn even of ourselves – even by
reading the depths of our own hearts – to know that which is
right. We may arrive at the great and important conclusion, that
the practical regeneration of the moral nature of man, which is
the beginning and the end of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, is a very
different thing from any local ordinance, whereby a man is tattooed
and tabooed into the traditions of the elders.
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