網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版
[merged small][ocr errors]

“Because I live," said our Lord, “ye shall live also;" and this is not only true of the Church's inner life, but also of all the theological and religious literature in which that inner life utters itself. It is only when quickened and vitalized by contact and communion with her living personal Lord, that either the exegesis, or the dogmatics, or the homiletics, of the Church can be redeemed from deadness, and aridity, and barrenness. Dr Brown's work is a fine example of commentary baptized in that central fount of life; and this vital element, even more than all the vigorous intellectual life which he has so liberally poured into it, will no doubt secure to it a more than ordinary share of longevity and usefulness.

ART. V.Church Life in DenmarkOf Old, and of Late.

1. Den danske Kirkes Historie efter Reformationen. Af L. N. HELVEG.

(The History of the Danish Church after the Reformation. By L. N.

HELVEG.) Copenhagen. 1857. 2. Apostlenes Inspiration : Tale ved Praestevielse i Fruekirke 29de April

1863. Af Dr H. MARTENSEN, Biskop over Sjaellands Stift. (Apostolic Inspiration: an Ordination Sermon preached in the Frue Church, 29th April 1863, By Dr H. MARTENSEN, Bishop of Zealand.) Copenhagen

1863. 3. Sören Kierkegaards Skrifter. (The Works of SÖREN KIERKEGAARD.

Copenhagen, 1843–51. 4. Forhandlingerne paa det tredie Skandinaviske Kirkemöde i Christiania,

Juli 1861. (Proceedings of the Third Scandinavian Synod, held at
Christiania, July 1861.) Christiania, 1862.

THERE is no theme more cosmopolitan than the history of the Christian Church, and there is none which is so frequently handled in anything but a cosmopolitan spirit. We refer, of course, mainly to the manner of its treatment by the general inquirer, not to the mode in which it has been discussed by the regular ecclesiastical historian. In the great treatises on Church history, especially those of modern times,—although even in some of them there may be discovered a tendency unduly to exalt the importance of certain sections of the Christian Church, and unduly to undervalue that of others,—there is, in the majority of cases, a cosmopolitanism sufficiently marked and prominent to satisfy the desires of most impartial students. It is when we pass from the domain of the scientific church historian to the lower and more limited region of mere popular inquiry that we find the lack of the universal element in the study of church history, and the want of that all-embracing view which gives to each individual section of the church, however small

VOL XIII.-NO. XLVII.

[graphic]

-

-

-

-

-

-

and seemingly uninfluential, its proper place as a member of the one harmonious whole. Perhaps, in the nature of things, we could not well expect it to be otherwise. The vast proportion of ordinary readers have no time, as they have often no inclination, for the study of any church history, save the church history of the land that gave them birth. So, in our own country, except by those whose taste or whose profession has made it for them a systematic pursuit, there is comparatively little known of the state of the church and of religious life among other nations. Some, indeed, more bold and perse-. vering than the rest, venture to visit Germany in thought,and attempt to add to their knowledge of the development of the Christian life among ourselves, a slight acquaintance with the interesting but complex aspects assumed by the Christian church throughout the great Teutonic fatherland. Yet these persons are few and far between, in proportion to the great mass of Scotch and English readers; and the stay-at-home spirit, as regards the facts of church history, and the manifold national varieties of religious life, still continues to wield powerful sway. No doubt, matters in this respect begin to look much better than they did : we have periodicals, both on a large and small scale, that profess, and fulfil the profession, to give a summary of religious life and religious labour in the different branches of the church of Christ; and the once narrow ecclesiastical limits that bounded the vision of the multitude, are widening to the vast horizon of European church history itself. Nevertheless, if much has already been done, much more remains to be accomplished. How little, for example, is known in Britain of the church-life of the three Scandinavian nations! Even that of Denmark,-a country with which we have quite recently become connected by a new and tender tie, in the auspicious marriage of the Prince of Wales,-remains a terra incognita, not simply to the large majority of our countrymen, but even to many of those from whom, as professionally interested in such studies, a somewhat clearer and ampler knowledge might have been reasonably expected. There is much, we do not scruple to affirm, in the present state of the Danish church, and the whole condition of religious life among the Danish people, to attract and interest the British inquirer in no ordinary degree. Apart altogether from the bond of union already indicated,-apart too from the fact that the Danes are allied with the English and the Lowland Scotch by the link of a common ancestry, and by frequent striking resemblances in point of language, as well as mental and moral characteristics,—there are, in the abstract, certain elements in the ecclesiastical life of Denmark, which possess the charm of novelty, and help to fill up a fresh and original page in the

-

-

-

[merged small][ocr errors]

annals of the Christian church. Add to this, that in Denmark we now find resuscitated religious vitality and vigour, a healthy interchange of opinion, and that interchange resulting in beneficial progress; the old Lutheranism in a state of fermentation, and yet evolving therefrom, while the cardinal principles of its creed remain unchanged, new views and tendencies that will have a largely plastic influence on the future of the Scandinavian North ; and, all the time, a work of faith and labour of love advancing, in which we cannot refuse to see the operation of the grace of God: here we have, surely, enough to demand at least a módicum of our attention, and to enlist a portion of our sympathies. We propose, therefore, in a very brief and necessarily imperfect manner, to give our readers some account of the Danish church and of religious life in Denmark, based, partly, on the careful study of such works as those at the head of the present article, and partly on the information derived by its writer from familiar personal intercourse with some of the leading Danish clergy.

One consideration goes far to facilitate the object we have thus in view,—the consideration, namely, that, as regards Denmark, its church and the religious life of its inhabitants, are, to all intents and purposes, synonymous expressions. The Danish church is, what the Danes glory in styling it, a "Folkekirke," a “people's church," in the literal sense of the phrase. Denmark has never been a soil favourable to the growth of dissent, and the development of separatism. Even now, when complete religious freedom has supplanted the intolerance of the past, and forms a fundamental principle of the Danish constitution, the Danes evince no special desire to quit, in any combination of circumstances, the pale of the national establishment, or, even while remaining in connection with it, to cultivate a sectarian spirit. Dissenting congregations do indeed exist,Roman Catholic, Baptist, and others,—but they are altogether sporadie, few in number, and uninfluential in character; while the national church, from the reviving life and earnestness of more especially its younger pastors, may be considered as progressively rooting itself deeper and firmer in the affections of the people. Thus it is by no means in Denmark as in England, where it has been for centuries notorious that the national ecclesiastical establishment and the national religious life are not convertible terms, the former, doubtless, embracing a very large proportion of the latter, yet sharing another very large proportion with the different dissenting communities. A history of the Church of England would present only a peculiarly poor and imperfect picture of the religious life of the English nation. In Denmark, again, what is best and truest, what is at once most genuine and most comprehensive of religious life

[graphic]

among her people, clusters closely round the national church, and derives from its principles and worship all real worth and significance. Such a fact unquestionably renders our task much more easy, as, by pourtraying the character and present position of the Lutheran church in Denmark, we shall at the same time best succeed in tracing the main features of religious life existent among the Danes tliemselves.

Before proceeding further, however, let us quote the eloquent, and, on the whole, true and wise words in which the distinctive characteristics of the entire Scandinavian Church were described at the last Northern “Kirkemöde," or Synod, two years ago, by one of its most distinguished members, Professor Hammerich of Copenhagen.* The whole passage is important, from the light it throws on the more recent phases of Danish ecclesiastical history; and, besides, it must never be forgotten that, wbile the cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith are unalterable and eternal, the outward shape which, as regards that faith, certain minor and subordinate matters, such as ritual and the smaller peculiarities of the religious life, in the providence of God assume, is in no slight degree modified, in the case of different countries, by the individual genius of their inbabitants. National idiosnycrasy has had much to do with the various forms assumed by Christian worship and Christian life, at least externally and in relation to their less vital elements, among the peoples of modern Europe. It is davgerous, we of course freely admit, to lay too great a stress on the significance, and especially the religious significance, of nationality. Pushed to extreme, this principle is just the most dangerous, because the most spiritual form of egoism, the worship of the “me,” the subtlest species of moral idolatry; and we have only to look at our German neighbours, if we wish to see how injurious are the results of the self-deifying process on the part of nations. Nay, we find it too frequently in full blow among ourselves; for where, throughout the world, shall we discover more self-laudation than that which is indulged in by the English people? Yet, kept in its proper place, the fact of national idiosnycrasy is altogether indispensable to the right understanding of the

-

* Frederick Hammerich, born 1809, who occupies a prominent position in the Danish Church, is professor of church history in the University of Copenhagen, and author of various works of high repute, chiefly on historical subjects. His last publication, “ Den hellige Birgitta og Kirken i Norden” (St Birgitta and the Northern Church), is an admirable monograph, full of pictorial life and beauty,-a memoir of that extraordinary personage, the Swedish Birgitta or Bridget, whom he not unjustly styles the “Morning-star of the Scandinavian Reformation.” Professor Hammerich also takes a leading part in public ecclesiastical matters, such as missionary meetings, the Scandinavian Synods, &c. Although Grundtvigian in his sympathies and tendencies, there is little of that element in his writings, which are imbued with a stror gly evangelical spirit.

[merged small][ocr errors]

history of the church ; and we cannot withhold the expression of our conviction, that sufficient prominence has not been assigned to it by the majority of ecclesiastical historians. It has always seemed to us very strange, for example, that an author like Gieseler, whose work forms a text-book so invaluable, should abstain from even mentioning it, when he discusses the relation of church history to other historical studies. He can condescend to speak of numismatics and heraldry as lending aid to the ecclesiastical historian; but ethnology, a science far transcending either in importance, he does not name at all. Remarks like the following, therefore, have a double value; a value in the abstract, and a value in especial connection with the subject to which they primarily refer. After briefly considering the point to which we have adverted in the foregoing sentences, Professor Hammerich thus proceeds :

“Either, therefore, must the Northern Church be national, or we have no true church at all. There are two closely related churches, with which we have peculiarly stood in living relationship, the English and the German; for of any French influences, it is only during our medieval history we find the trace, and then for a comparatively fleeting period. The English Church has acted on us powerfully in ancient as well as modern times; it played the most prominent part in the conversion of the north, and it has taught us to assemble in meetings like the present; it has taught, too, in our own century, both ourselves and the whole continent, what religious freedom means, what the principle of association signifies, when resting upon a Christian basis. If we embrace all the different religious bodies of England and North America in one, Protestant English Christianity now includes more than a half of the entire Protestant world. And yet it is but a semi-acquaintance we possess with Christian life and its movements, on the other side of the North Sea! Eoglish Christianity may in so far be best compared with the ancient Latin, as they are both fundamentally practical, with a clear eye for life and the activities of religion, full of indomitable power, of delight in colossal enterprise. What Gothic people has brought so grandly in the field of misions as the Anglo-Saxon, this true Christoforos ;' and has the same spirit not wakened again in New England among all its Christian denominations? Is it not as if the “sceptre over the heathen were bestowed on the queen of the rich islands of the West, as if her mission were to illumine them with the promised morning-star ? (Rev. ii. 28.) The same clear-sightedness for the practical shews itself in the importance attached to the constitution of the Church, both among the Anglicans, who battle for the mystic Episcopal influence; and among all the different Presbyterian, Independent, and Methodist bodies in England and North America. For history, also, the Englishman has clear, keen Vision, for the connection between generation and generation, between epoch and epoch.

That in consequence of the Reformation we entered into close

[graphic]
[graphic]
« 上一頁繼續 »