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By George M. Adams, Castine, Me.

JOHANN AUGUST WILHELM NEANDER was born on the 16th of January, 1789, at Göttingen in the present kingdom of Hanover. He was the child of Jewish parents of the name of Mendel, and accordingly bore that name during his early years. His father was a wealthy merchant at Göttingen, but while Augustus was yet a child, was reduced by misfortunes in business to comparative poverty and removed with his family to IIamburg. He had five children; of whom one son studied medicine, but died young; another became a merchant in Russia; a richly gifted daughter after many vicissitudes of fortune became insane; and another daughter, Johanna, shared to the last the fortunes of the son of whom we have chiefly to speak.


Augustus was distinguished in the family from his earliest youth by a decided fondness for study. His progress was remarkably rapid. When eight years old he could learn nothing more from his private teacher. It is told that at this time a worthy bookseller in Hamburg, was struck with the frequent visits to his shop of a bashful, ungainly boy, who used to steal in and seize upon some erudite volume that no one else would touch, and utterly lose himself for hours together in study." At the preparatory school and at the Gymnasium, Neander won the lasting favor of his instructors, especially of Johann Gurlitt, then Director of the Gymnasium at Hamburg, and esteemed throughout Germany for his services in the cause of education. This worthy man was a second father to his favorite pupil, and his kindness to him did not end with their connection at the Gymnasium. The mutual attachment formed here continued through the lifetime of the teacher. Gurlitt, though not free from the reigning rationalism of the age, was a man of high moral principle, and we should naturally attribute to him an important part in developing in Neander that extreme conscientiousness which distinguished him as a Jew, and which was always

1 We are indebted for many particulars of the early life of Neander, to the kindness of a friend in Berlin, Candidate Carl Pischon, who had access to sources not open to the public. The account of the illness and death is condensed from "Neanders Heimgang" by Licentiate Rauh in the publication: "Zum Gedächtniss August Neanders." Berlin, 1850.


Studies at Hamburg.

385 among the prominent traits of his character. And doubtless something was here due to the teacher, but more to the mother of Neander, who had a deep, earnest religious character and seems to have exerted over him a commanding influence. His youthful associates speak of the peculiar tenderness with which he always alluded to her. And all the readers of his History will remember the manifest predilection with which he delineates the character and maternal influence of Anthusa, Monica, and other eminent mothers.

We come to the latter part of his life at the Gymnasium, the year 1805-6. A valuable insight into his inward history at this period is furnished in a few letters from him to Chamisso, published some years since in connection with the biography of the poet, and translated in part for the fourth volume of the Bibliotheca Sacra.1 These letters indicate a mind remarkably mature, thoughtful and introverted, closely studying but not yet able fully to understand itself, and accordingly self-distrustful and timid. He had, as he says, hitherto found no one among his associates "of similar tastes with whom he could form an intimacy, and was disinclined to seek for one." The prejudices against his race and religion had doubtless helped to keep him inwardly aloof from his companions. Indeed, there must have been few boys in the Gymnasium mature enough to sympathize with the young philosopher. And his kind teacher, Gurlitt, was too far from him in age to be the confidant of all his heart. So his mind had been developing in solitude, confirming itself in its native introversion.

He now found at length the needed sympathy from some young men several years older than himself, who had come from Berlin to complete at Hamburg their preparation for the university: Varnhagen Von Ense, who has since distinguished himself in German literature, and Wilhelm Neumann. These enthusiastic, students, though it is hardly probable that they fully understood Neander's religious struggles, yet recognized and admired the depth and richness of his mind. and the simple earnestness of his character. He was on his part as delicately responsive to the voice of sympathy, as he had been timid in seeking it, and an intimate friendship grew up between him and them. They made him a member of the Society of the North Star, a literary fraternity which had been formed at Berlin, including besides themselves, Chamisso and others. This served as an introduction between Neander and Chamisso, and without ever having seen each other they corresponded occasionally for several years. It is

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the letters of Neander in this correspondence, to which we have alluded. He seems to have lavished upon his new found friends all the long pent up frankness and affection of his nature, and perhaps drew them nearer to his heart than the degree of affinity in character and aims would have induced under other circumstances. This intimacy was of much advantage to him. Without it his speculations and struggles, shut up too closely within himself, would soon have become morbid. "From that time," he writes to Chamisso, "I can truly say that many things became clear and intelligible to me which before were obscure and seen as it were in the distance. I now understood myself better. No one really comes to feel that which he is blindly in pursuit of, till he is brought in contact with others who are like himself."

We have alluded to his religious struggles. We wish to trace their progress more closely. They had commenced and proceeded far, before he met with Varnhagen and Neumann. We find no intimation of any strong influence exerted upon him from without, by circumstances or by associates, to which the commencement of this inward conflict is to be ascribed. It seems rather to have originated in the movements of his own reflective soul, seeking, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit as we must believe, satisfaction of its spiritual wants. The Judaism in which he had been brought up could not satisfy him. He felt the need of a religious life. That offered him only dead, cold forms which had forgotten the truths and feelings they once expressed. His classical studies made him acquainted with Plato and he became deeply interested in him. He found much in him which harmonized with his own intense nature. There is a reflective earnestness in the strugglings of that noble mind after the truth which stirred all the sympathies of the young Jew. Here was what he had most painfully missed in the formal religion of his fathers, and he embraced the great philosopher as a friend who had read his soul. Neumann, with whom his acquaintance was now commencing, writes of him to Chamisso: "Plato is his idol and his perpetual watchword. He pores over that author night and day, and there are probably few who receive him so completely into the very sanctuary of the soul." But when the glow of his first love had passed away, he found that though Plato had read his wants, he had not satisfied them. The Spirit of God had now awakened within him a deeper want, which philosophy has no means to supply. He demanded a voice more mighty than that of Plato to lay the "demons which infested his soul." In short, he was convicted of sin.


Studies at Halle.



The struggle was long. All the sacred associations of childhood conspired with the suggestions of corrupt nature to blind him to the truth. At this period-as he told his friends in later years, and always with the deepest grateful emotion while his mind was groping in the darkness, he read Schleiermacher's Reden über die Religion, and soon the Sun of Righteousness rose upon him. What he had sought in vain in the teachings of Plato, he found in the teachings of Christ, in Christ himself. For it was eminently a personal relation to the Saviour in which he henceforth stood. native character and the peculiarity of the process through which his soul had passed, had prepared him to seize with delight upon this distinguishing feature of Christianity. He embraced Christ with the ardor of a soul that had sounded the depths of its own wants. So in later years, he contended with a severity quite foreign to his nature, against the Pantheistic philosophy which would rob men of a personal God and Saviour.


Early in the year 1806, at the age of seventeen, he joined the Christian church, assuming at his baptism the significant name Neander (véov üvöger). His mother and his sister Johanna soon followed him in professing the Christian faith.

He completed his course at the Gymnasium with distinguished honor. On leaving he delivered an address on the subject of the Possibility of the Admission of Jews to the Offices of the State, which indicated it is said, "how deeply the youthful writer had thought out the relation of Judaism to Christianity." It produced so much impression that it was immediately printed, a rare honor in those days.

As his father was unable to give him much pecuniary assistance, Gurlitt and the Baron von Stieglitz, a Jewish banker, who was a distant relative of the Mendel family, furnished him means to study at the university, and in accordance with their wishes he proposed to study Law. His friends Varnhagen and Neumann were going to Halle, and he concluded to yield his preferences, which had been for Göttingen, and go with them. They entered the university at the commencement of the summer semester, 1806. The study of the law grew more and more unsatisfying to Neander, and soon after reaching Halle, by earnest entreaty he persuaded his patrons to allow him to give it up and devote himself to Theology. He writes to Chamisso, "I have made up my mind to study Theology. May God give me strength, as I desire and shall endeavor to do to proclaim to erring men the only true God in a spiritual way, which the unassisted intel

lect can never comprehend." This was henceforth the purpose of his life. It would not be easy to express it more fully and truly in a few words. There was need of such efforts. The commencement of the present century was the period of greatest religious declension in Germany. Rationalism had reached its supremacy. It had swept away all faith in things supernatural, all enthusiasm, all that belongs to the heart, and sought to satisfy men with moral precepts drawn from and addressed solely to the understanding. But when Neander commenced his theological career, there were some indications of a reäction against this system, at least an indefinite longing in the hearts of many for something more living than Rationalism could afford. Neander was fired with the thought of being one who should help to meet this want of the age with the proclamation of a spiritual faith. He too had wandered through the dry places of intellectual morality vainly seeking rest, and he longed to lead others to the loving Saviour he had found.

The University of Halle was at this time one of the most distinguished in Germany, and shared largely in the new life that was beginning to be felt in all branches of literature and science. F. A Wolf, the philologian, was there in the bloom of his reputation and influence. Schleiermacher, now at the age of thirty-seven entering upon his more distinctively theological stadium, had recently been called thither. Steffens, the genial, spirited poet and philosopher, had at the same time come from Copenhagen to take the chair of natural philosophy in the rising Prussian University. At the head of the medical faculty, and hardly less eminent in his department than Wolf and Schleiermacher in theirs, was Johann Christian Reil Around these four men, who adopted a more comprehensive and liberal method of instruction than had been before known in the university, gathered a circle of students comprising the flower of the institution. Among them were Karl von Raumer, Bekker, Boeckh, and Friedrich Strauss.1 Professors and students here alike forgot the difference of "Faculties" in the sympathy of spirit which pervaded them all. Indeed the distinction between professor and student was by no means sharply defined. They met every week at the table of one of the four professors, where the utmost freedom reigned. Earnestness and enthusiasm in study characterized the members of the circle. Into this circle Neander at once entered, though probably by some years the youngest of its number. Thus he came into

1 G. F. A. Strauss, now Professor of Theology at Berlin, -not to be confounded with David Friedrich Strauss, author of the Life of Christ.

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