culed at that time as the grandiloquent boasting of an unscrupulous and ambitious man, they are known to-day as having been the portentous prophecy of future events.

But the question of German unity entered again the political arena, not as an abstraction, or the theme of eloquent speeches, but as the all-overruling fact of the moment; and, again, it was in the garb of the Schleswig-Holstein question that it made its ominous re-appearance. The enthusiasm of the German people for a new war against Denmark was immense. As in 1848, so now again, the Schleswig-Holstein question rose, as the embodiment of the idea of German unity and national sovereignty. Prussia and Austria were both opposed to this movement. Prussia, especially, was not inclined to allow the minor States to play an important and independent part. But, above all, the fear of seeing the Schleswig-Holstein question lead to a successful rising of the people for the realization of the ideal of unity frightened Prussia. The king and Bismark understood that they had to take hold of that movement, or that the monarchical policy of the Hohenzollern would be swept away. They frightened Austria into an alliance, by showing her a German revolution in the distance. Austria knew, that, by assisting Prussia in conquering Schleswig-Holstein, she would open to her the road to aggrandizement in the north: but she could not refuse; for she knew Prussia would do the deed alone, and then hold secure possession of the coveted provinces. So Austria embarked reluctantly with Prussia in the war. Bismark's policy had taken revenge for Prussia's humiliation at Olmütz, and ob. tained the still greater triumph of having successfully defied England, which did not dare to give Denmark the promised aid.

But the wrath of the people against Bismark increased in Prussia, not less than in the rest of Germany, for having taken this national question out of the nation's hand, and made of it the means of dynastic ambition. Not even victory abated the anger of the Prussians. But now came the question, What to do with the conquered provinces. The majority of the population claimed their legitimate sovereign, the

Duke of Augustenburg. The Prussian Government, not yet decided to push matters to an extreme, was willing to invest this pretendant with the ducal dignity, provided he would consent to accept a kind of Prussian sovereignty, — necessary, indeed, for giving to Prussia the advantage of the Baltic, and the possibility of strengthening her military frontiers on the north. This claim was legitimate, not only in the interest of Prussia, but also Germany. Besides, it would have been more than a fault to give to the new duke a position which would enable him to become in the north an efficient tool of Austria.

And now the quarrel between Prussia on one side, and Austria and the German Diet on the other side, began. The majority of the German people, hostile to Bismark's whole policy, and defending the right of the population of Schleswig-Holstein to decide upon their own destiny, pronounced in favor of Austria and the Diet. An agreement concluded at Gastein in 1864, between Austria and Prussia, postponed the explosion of the armed quarrel. The two powers provisionally divided the booty, Austria taking temporary possession of Holstein, and Prussia of Schleswig. But Austria, profiting by the hatred of the German people against Bismark, especially engendered by his despotism in Prussia, played upon the national feelings and democratic convictions : she proclaimed that the population of the duchies should have the right to choose their own sovereign; that she wanted nothing, only opposed the ambitious designs of Prussia; and left the decision of the whole question with the German Diet.

This time, war had become inevitable. The old feud be. tween the Hohenzollern and Hapsburg had to be fought out. Bismark had long before prepared for this expected crisis. He had succeeded in inspiring the old king with his own resolute daring; but he and his master now saw Austria supported, not only by almost all the German princes, but also by the majority of the people. However fully they both may have trusted in the bravery and devotedness of their army, they knew that a complete victory, a lasting triumph, could VOL. LXXX. — NEW SERIES, VOL. II. NO. 11.


only be attained by the assent of the nation; and they boldly pushed aside the resolutions of the Diet by saying, “We no more recognize the authority of an assembly that never was any thing else but the baneful representation and perpetuation of the disruption of Germany." King William I. and his minister Bismark appealed to the nation, and raised the banner of German unity, seeing emblazoned on it the magical words, In hoc signo vinces.

Our readers have full knowledge of the short and decisive war, and of the complete victory of Prussia. The king now declares, in his triumph, that he has not conquered for Prussia, but for Germany; that he does not intend to impose his will upon the German people, but that he shall call on them to send representatives to a national assembly whose mission it shall be to regenerate Germany.

And what has the Emperor of Austria done? He has spoken of maintaining the glory and power of his empire ; he has called upon his own people to come forward for its defence; he even throws himself into the arms of the often betrayed Hungarians.

To the German nation, the Hapsburg has said nothing; for he can and will not provide her what she needs, what she claims: but to the Emperor of France he has shown his willingness to consent to a more dangerous division, to a still greater weakening of Germany.

Let, therefore, the King of Prussia and Bismark keep their word; let them throw Austria, that incubus of Germany, out of her boundaries; let them honestly convene a national assembly, — and the unity and liberty of Germany will have made an immense step towards their realization, which will, in the course of time, find its true form in a democratic republic. To give to Germany this form will be the task of the nation, strengthened and developed by a larger, a more vigorous public life in a united country.

Germany has to-day to achieve what the Reformation prevented her from doing. The gap of three centuries must be filled: the unity and power of a long-divided and weakened nation must be restored. If that is done, all the rest will follow in due time.



During the last quarter of a century, dogmatic controversy has almost wholly ceased in America. The questions of Unity or Trinity, of the essential depravity or rectitude of human nature, of salvation by vicarious atonement or moral reconciliation, which for the previous five and twenty years had occupied the thoughts and pens of our best divines, and agitated the whole religious public, have subsided under the pressure of more serious and fundamental inquiries, — questions touching the authenticity and genuineness of the Scriptures, the reality of the supernatural claims of Christianity, the possibility of miracles, or of a revelation itself, in any ordinary sense of that term. These are not sectarian questions, and hardly biblical ones. They fall under the heads of historical inquiry, literary criticism, and philosophical speculation; and have found in most churches, and among all scholars and thinkers, an earnest and anxious consideration. In the presence of such radical investigations, all purely dogmatic disputes have lost consequence, and ceased to command discussion, except in very inferior quarters.

Even before faith in the verbal and plenary inspiration of the Scriptures had been seriously shaken, the textual form of controversy which prevailed was a delusive expression of the actual grounds on which theological opinions rested. Men's doubts of the Trinity, of the corruption of human nature, of a vicarious atonement, of the eternity of future punishment, did not arise from a study of the New Testament; nor were they to be removed by any amount of Scriptural evidence in their favor. Faith in these dogmas had not originated in the letter of Scripture. Schemes of divinity, shaped by ingenious and powerful ecclesiastics and doctors of the church in times when faith was deemed a' matter of assent to verbal propositions, and when the Church claimed and was allowed the right to settle and enforce its qwn creed, had established the theology of Christendom before the Scriptures were in the hands of the people, and when the Bible had little influence compared with the authority of the Church, even with the theologians and doctors of the day. It was not false doctrine, but abuse of ecclesiastical power and corruption of morals, that drove the early reformers out of the Catholic Church; and they had no weapon, in their apostasy, with which to combat the infallibility of the Church, but the assumed infallibility of the Scriptures. The new opinions they asserted were not derived from the Scriptures, but from the rising spirit of the age. But they dared not acknowledge the source of their illumination, even if they knew it. They must needs find authority, both for what portion of the old creed they brought over, and the new glosses they put upon it, in the only testimony which their enemies dared not to disparage, — the Sacred Scriptures. And so they founded the Bibliolatry which for ages narrowed Protestantism, and banded down to their descendants a wretched literalism and habit of textual argumentation, which had not even the merit of being the source of the opinions which it was called on to defend and maintain. In the new reformation of the nineteenth century, the same process was repeated. The progressive party caught its spirit and new views from the common light of day, from the increasing intelligence and freedom, the scientific and literary culture of the age. But its champions justified their innovations out of the Scriptures, not because they learned them there, or held them by leave of the Bible, but because their enemies acknowledged this authority, and it was the only ground common to them both.

The effect of the graver and more radical religious discussions of the last quarter of a century has been to leave the disputed topics of the previous generation to the settlement of time, experience, and moral gravitation. All that scriptural argumentation could do for or against the theology of 'the last three centuries, was done by the last generation;

« ElőzőTovább »