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The word "Symbolism," or, as the Germans say, "Symbolik," has, it is proper to observe, a two-fold signification. Sometimes it means the science, that has for its object to explain the symbol, or outward signs used in the religions of antiquity; and in this sense it is employed by Creuzer, as the title to his celebrated work on that subject. At other times, the word is used by German divines, Catholic and Protestant, to signify the science of comparative inquiry into the Confessions, or Symbolical writings, of the different Christian Churches; and this is the sense it bears in the title to the book here translated.

There is a small, but learned work, entitled Confessions of Faith, by my lamented friend, the late Mr. Charles Butler, where the reader will find an interesting literary history of the formularies of the different Christian communities.

It was my wish that this translation should have appeared two years ago; but other literary occupations have, contrary to my hope, retarded its publication. The Protestant mind, however, I flatter myself, is now better prepared for the reception of the work, than at the period referred to; and if, in the great moral ferment which now pervades my country, it should be the means of allaying and reconciling, in any degree, the agitated elements of religious strife; if it should extricate but one spirit from the difficulties, the distractions, and the anguish of doubt, wherein so many are now involved, and should help him on to the solution of that great problem, whereon all depends, I shall consider my labour to be more than sufficiently recompensed. May He, from whom every good gift descends, shed his blessing on the present undertaking, and enable all to come to the perusal of the work with the suitable dispositions!

WURZBURG, Bavaria,
August, 1843.

AUTHOR'S PREFACE

TO THE FIRST EDITION.

EVERY book has a two-fold history; a history before, and a history after its publication. The first can be described only by the author himself; and respecting this, the public imposes on him the duty to make no mystery, and, accordingly, to relate to it partly the outward occasions that induced him to undertake the composition of his work; and partly to assign the more intrinsic reasons, by which he was determined to the undertaking. Hereupon I have now to communicate to the indulgent reader the following remarks.

The present work has arisen out of a course of lectures, that for several years I have delivered on the doctrinal differences between Catholics and Protestants. On this subject it has been the custom, for years, in all the Lutheran and Calvinistic universities of Germany, to deliver lectures to the students of theology; and highly approving of this custom, I resolved to transplant it to the Catholic soil, for the following reasons. Certainly those, who are called to take the lead in theological learning, may be justly expected to acquire a solid and comprehensive knowledge of the tenets of the religious communities, that for so long a time have stood opposed to each other in mutual rivalry, and still endeavour to maintain this their position. Justly are they required not to rest satisfied by any means with mere general, uncertain, obscure, vague, and unconnected notions upon the great vital question, which has not only, for three hundred years, continually agitated the religious life of Europe, but has in part so deeply and mightily convulsed it.

If the very notion of scientific culture makes it the duty of the theologian to enter with the utmost possible precision and depth into the nature of the differences that divide religious parties; if it imperiously requires him to set himself in a condition to render account of, and assign the grounds for, the doctrinal peculiarities of the different communions; so, regard for his own personal dignity and satisfaction of

mind, presses the matter on him; nay, on every well-instructed Christian, with a still more imperious claim. For what is less consistent with our own self-respect, than to neglect instituting the most careful and accurate inquiry into the grounds and foundation of our own religious belief; and convincing ourselves whether, and how far, we stand on a firm footing, or whether we have not placed ourselves on some treacherous covering, that conceals beneath it an enormous abyss? How is it possible to enjoy a true and solid peace of the soul, when in the midst of great ecclesiastical communities, that all pretend alike to the possession of the pure and unmutilated truth, we stand almost without reflection, and without possessing any adequate instruction? There is, indeed, in this respect, a quiet, such as they possess, in relation to a future life, who are utterly heedless whether there be such a state. This is a quiet that casts deep, indelible disgrace on any being endowed with reason. Every man, accordingly, owes it to himself, to acquire the clearest conception of the doctrinal peculiarities, the inward power and strength, or the inward weakness and untenableness of the religious community, whereof he acknowledges himself a member; a conception which entirely depends on a very accurate and precise knowledge of the opposite system of belief. There can even be no solid acquisition, nor confident use of the arguments for any communion, unless they be conceived in relation to the antagonist system. Nay, a solid acquaintance with any confession, must necessarily include its apology, if at least that confession make any pretensions to truth. For every educated Christian possesses such general notions of religion and Christianity-he possesses such general acquaintance with Holy Writ-that so soon as any proposition be presented to him in its true light, and in its general bearings, he can form a judgment as to its truth, and immediately discern its conformity or its repugnance to the fundamental doctrines of Christianity.

We are also at a loss to discover, how a practical theologian, especially in countries where conflicting communions prevail, can adequately discharge his functions, when he is unable to characterize the distinctive doctrines of those communions. For public homilies, indeed, on matters of religious controversy, the cycle of Catholic festivals, conformably to the origin and the nature of our Church, happily gives no occasion. All the festivals established by her have reference only to facts in the life of Jesus Christ, and to those truths, whereon all our faith and all our hopes depend; as well as to the commemoration of those highly meritorious servants of God, who hold a distinguished place in the history of the Church, such, in particular, as were instrumental in the general propagation and consolidation of Christianity, and in its special introduction

into certain countries. For the office of preaching, accordingly, the Catholic pastor, with the exception of some very rare and peculiar cases, can make no immediate use of his knowledge of other creeds. On the other hand, we may hope that his discourses on the doctrines of the Catholic faith, will be rendered more solid, more comprehensive, more animated, and more impressive, when those doctrines have been studied by him, in their opposition to the antagonist confessions in the strict sense of that word. That the highest class of catechumens should receive solid instruction, nay, a far more solid one than has hitherto been given, on the dogmas controverted between Christians; nay, that in this instruction, the doctrinal differences should be explicitly, and as fully as possible attended to, is a matter on which I entertain not the slightest doubt. Whence proceeds the deplorable helplessness of many Catholics, when, in their intercourse with Protestants, the concerns of religious faith come under discussion? Whence the indifference of so many among them towards their own religion? From what other cause, but from their almost total ignorance of the doctrinal peculiarities of their Church, in respect to other religious communities? Whence comes it, that whole Catholic parishes are so easily seduced by the false mysticism of their curates, when these hap. pen to be secretly averse to the doctrines of the Church? Whence even the fact, that many curates are so open to the pietistic errors, but because both, priest and congregation, have never received the adequate, nay, any instruction at all, respecting the doctrinal differences between the Churches? How much are Catholics put to shame by the very great activity which Protestants display in this matter! It is of course to be understood, that instruction on these points of controversy must be imparted with the utmost charity, conciliation, and mildness, with a sincere love of truth, and without any exaggeration, and with constantly impressing on the minds of men, that however we be bound to reject errors (for the pure doctrine of Jesus Christ, and the Gospel truth, is the most sacred property of man), yet are we required by our Church to embrace all men with love, for Christ's sake, and to evince in their regard all the abundance of Christian virtues. Lastly, it is clear, that opportune and inopportune questions, consultations, and conferences, on the doctrines controverted between the Churches, will never fail to occur; but, most assuredly, the appropriate reply, the wished-for counsel, and the instructive refutation, will be wanting, in case the pastor be not solidly grounded in a knowledge of the respective formularies of the Christian communities.

But if what I have said justifies the delivery of academic courses, on the doctrinal peculiarities of the different communions, yet it proves not

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