Adrien Jean Quentin Beuchot.

Bibliotheca sacra and theological review online

. (page 46 of 98)
Online LibraryAdrien Jean Quentin BeuchotBibliotheca sacra and theological review → online text (page 46 of 98)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


against everything which it holds sacred, its gods and its temples —
eternal war." Against the system, he contended oonstantiy, vigor*
ously, effectively. To him, among the first after Schleiermacher,
does Germany owe her deliverance (which now seems accomplished)
from that chilling form of error. It is against another and more
subtle infidelity, that the evangelical theologians of Germany have
now to contend'— the Pantheism of Hegel, Bruno Bauer, and Strauss.
Here Neander was most earnest and decided. Indeed, if in anything
he was liable to overstep the limits of Christian charity and mildness^
it was in his opposition to this entire tendency. It was evil, and only
evil, in his eyes. Any one who has spent an hour with him, during
the last ten years, has almost certainly heard a vigorous expression



Digitized by VjOOQIC



1851.] OppoiiUan to Ae Ued PkOoioph^. 893

of Yob antipathy against this modem Gnosticism. He regarded it as
the chief source of the great social and politjcal evils under which
his country is now suffering. For, in common with very many pious
men in Germany, Neander considered the revolutions there, during
the past three years, as religious no less than political movements,
levolBtimis against the restraints of Christianity, no less than against
those of motiarchy. And it is a significant fact, that perhaps without
an exception, the leaders of the democratic movement in Germany,
the Hookers, and Blums, and Vogts, have been men of infidel prin-
eifdes. They have assumed, that liberty and atheism belong together ;
that the fear of God and the fear of kings are inseparable. Nean-
der wrote to the editor of the Deutsche Kirchenfreund, under date of
October 28, 1849 : << What by many has been called freedom in our
fiither land, during the mournful year that is past, is something very
different from that which the spirit, sprung from the bloom of Puritan
piety in your America, seeks and intends. It was here a contest
between atheism and Christianity, between Vandalism and true cul«
tore. Already tens of years ago I foretold it, that the philosophy of
a distorted logic, of intellectual £umticism and self idolatry, must
lead in its*consistent development, to these consequences^ which it
has now reached by infusing itself into the popular mind. We stand
on the brink of an abyss, of the destruction of European culture, or
on the boundaries where a new creative era shall make itself a path
through manifold storms,-* a new, grand act in the world-transform-
ing process of Christianity. We will hope the latter from the mercy
of a long-suffering God.''

Strong as were these private expressions of his opposition to the
ideal philosophy, Neander confined himself in his efforts against it,
to strictly scientific means. He believed that it could be overcome
only on the open field of 6*00 discussion. So, when Strauss's Life
of Christ was published, and the Prussian government was disposed
to prohibit its sale in that country, Neander, whose advice was asked,
said emphatically, ^ No I it must be put down by the truth." Neander's
life at Berlin was a very laborious one. He discharged the respon-
sible duties of a member of the Consistory ; he delivered not less
than fifteen lectures a week, on subjects varying in successive semes-
ters, so as to cover almost the entire field of theological study ; he
eondneted in private the exercises of the class in Church History ;
and during his thirty-seven years there, he published more than
twenty-five volumes, and left additional ones nearly ready for the press.^

1 Neander'B principal woriu are, "Julian and his Thnes,** " 8t Bernard and



Digitized by VjOOQ IC



394 lAfe and Character of J>r. Neondtr. [Aisu,

He was never married* The maiden sister Johanna, <tf whom we
have already spoken, kept his house and watched over him with afieo*
tionate solicitude. With much practical wisdom and tact> of which
he had nothing, she directed all his worldly affairs. It is not easy to
see how he could have lived without her. He submitted cheednlly
and gratefully to her direction. In only two pointo did he daim nn-
yieldingly the right of acting for himself: he would study more closely
than she wished in her care for his health, and he would give no ao-
count of the money he spent in charity. Next to his affection for hia
sister was that for his pupils. His attachment to them became pnn
verbial. He never seemed so happy as when in the midst of tfaeaoi*
When his physician advised him to leave for a time the anxieties of
the university, he replied, and no doubt with literal troth, that ho
should pine if denied the opportunity of associatifig with and aiding
and directing youth. He was accustomed to gather a circle of ate*
dents about him every Saturday evening in his study, where he ao»
oommodated himself to their thoughts and feelings^ and became so
entirely one of them in the affectionateness and simididlj of his hesrt^
that it was hard to be always mindful of the deference due to hid
years and genius. We remember some of those social oooaaioaa with
peculiar satisfaction. The number present was from eight to twelvOp
of the young men most closely attached to Neander, including often
one or two French, Scotch or American students. As each one en*
tered, Neander rose and gave him the hand with some word of wel-
come or friendly inquiry which came evidently from the heart The
walls of the study were lined with books ; books were scattered on
window-seats, sofa, tables and chairs, and here and there stacks of
them upon the floor. We made our way among them as best wo
might, and took seats about a table on which stood a shaded study-
lamp. Around the study, above the book-cases, hung portraits of
distinguished scholars. Neander sat in his study-gown, with nothing
in his own manner to distinguish him from the rest. A servant sooa
brought in tea, the books and papers were pushed to one aide of the
table to make room for the tray, one of the students (the sister Jo-
hanna was never present on these occasions), passed the cops and a

his Times,'* '' Deyelopment of the principal Gnoetic Systems," "^ ChiyBostom wbA
the Church in his Age," " Memonbili* from the History of Chilstismty and dis
Christian life/' '* Anti-Gnosticus : Genios of Tertullian;' "Flontiog and Tnin*
ing of the Church," " Life of Christ ; " all these preparatory or incidental to tho
great work of his life, " The General History of the Christian Religion and
Chnrch," which he brought down to the fifteenth century. Of the manuscripts
which he left behind him, some account will be found in a later note.



Digitized by VjOOQ IC



1851.] ^ Jhtercaune with Students. 396

basket of plain cake, and the simple meal was despatched without
interrupting the conTersalaon. This was perfectlj free and informal,
guided altogether bj the inclinations of those present If it was left
to Neander to direct it, he nsuaJlj asked, espedallj from the foreign
students, for anything of interest to the cause of Christ which thej
might be able to communicate. We recollect that on one of these
occasions, a student read aloud at Neander's request the Introduction
to De Wette's last work, the Commentary upon the Apocalypse which
had then just appeared; in which the author expresses more decid-
edly than ever before, his faith in spiritual religion. After alluding
to die dangers which were threatening the church, De Wette says :
** In my labors upon the Apocalypse I have not learned to prophesy,
and the vision of St. John did not reach to our times. I therefore
cannot know what the fate of our dear Protestant church will be.
Only this I know, — that in no other name shall we find salvation,
but in the name of Jesus Christ and him crucified." And we shall
never foi^et the glow of joy which lighted up Neander's countenance,
and the tear which stole down his wrinkled cheek, as these words
were read. It cheered his pious heart to receive this evidence of a
return to the truth, in one whose soul had so long been torn with the
inward struggle between Rationalism and Faith.

It was a chief object with Neander at these times, to draw out and
answer the theological or practical difliculties of those who resorted
to him, and he did this with the utmost regard and tenderness. But
upon this point, as well as with respect to the whole-hearted, admir-
ing love with, which his Grerman students returned his kindness, we
let one of their own number speak :^

^ From this time I attended regularly his Saturday evening assem-
blies — delightful, ever-memorable hours. However different might
be the company, Neander remained the same, always simple, cordial,
mild. He entered into the views of every one ; in the presence of
minds the most rigid and unbending, his affectionate tolerance, his
humility, shone only the more brightly. How he could ask, persuade,
nay, even beg, when he suspected there were yet doubts and difficul-
ties remaining ; how winning was his bending attitude, his tone and
look, when he asked, * Do you not think so? to me at least it i^pears
bo; or, do you think differently?' And yet how entirely free from
everything which looked like urging his own opinions upon another !
If he saw that the inquirer manifested judgment and an earnest will,

1 Hermann Bossel, in Us "Leben nnd hinterlMsene Schriflen.** Berlin, 1847.
84*



Digitized by VjOOQ IC



896 Uft and GharaeUr of Dt. Neander. [AFBIt»

he would kindle into a youthful fervor. I remember that onoe be
was engaged in oonversation with a student who eat at some distanoe
from him, and little bj little he drew bis chair nearer, tall he found
himself close before the speaker. When the point was settled, and
the conversation gradually became less animated, he moved himself
backwards in the same manner to his place again. Of that stately
bearing and outward dignity, and all the substitutes for true, inward
dignity, which little minds, and often alas, even great ones, think they
must assume — of this, Neander had just nothing. He sat am<»g
us as a father, as an old friend. Rank and circumstance were noth-
ing for him ; he spoke with the student as with the professor, and he
would not have spoken differently with a prince. He expressed as-
sent and dissent, without respect of person, according to the naked, un-
disguised truth. For this very reason, the youth almost idolized
him. Under many a plain student-coat, beat a heart that would have
poured out its last drop for Neander.

'^ One evening we were assembled at Neander's, when a pastor
from the neighborhood of Dusseldorf was announced. An early
scholar of Neander's he with others had often sat around him, just as
we were now sitting. He was a slender man, and his head was already
growing gray ; yet he had sat at the feet of Neander, who now with
jet black hair and in the fulness of his strength stood up and gave his
hand to his former pupU. Joyfully he took it and held it pressed in
both his own ; his voice trembled as he expressed to Neander how
very glad he was to be permitted once more in his life to stand thus
before him. With eager eyes he hung upon the countenance of his
teacher, as if he would drink in his whole appearance, the familiar,
loving tone of voice, the indescribably mild look. How glad he i^uld
have been now to find that Neander also remembered him, and how
heartily glad would Neander have been to afford him this pleasure-
But it could not be. He tried hard to remember; by hints and the
mention of accompanying circumstances he could almost reach it,
but then he lost the trace, and h^ was too candid to conceal it. It
made a sorrowful impression <» us to see hope smk on the coim-
tenance of the stranger. In further conversaticm his stnmg attach*
ment showed itself by unmistakable signs. He seemed to be a wdl-
meaning man, bat of nanow views, so that on almost every point he
found himself opposed to Neander.# Against any other man he wo«U
have maintained his opinion stiffly, nay, perhaps with a blind seal ;
but here his heart was too much on the side of his opponent With
timid love he softened down eveiydifierence; and when he ventiired



Digitized by VjOOQ IC



1851.] SiB^ and AfftetumaU MmMr. 897

to express his own views, he did it with evident anxiety, althonj^
Neander was always so kind and ready to assent to everything ; yet
for all thaty he could not find it in his heart to oppose Neander.

^ What Neander so finely exhibited in these evening interviews,
the sacred truthfulness of his entire being and life, and the most
affectionate regard for the feelings of others, — - this was always the soul
<^ his social life. Open-hearted, inoffensive as a child, he stood be-
fore the world, separated only from every, rude contact by the breath
of heavenliness which surrounded him. With noble natures he thus
came easily into dose connection. As if by a magnetic influence one
knew, without hearing him speak, what he thought and felt, was him-
self attracted by him, and drawn into the peaceful motion of his in-
ward life. And what a heavenly composure descended then upon
all his thinking and feeling! Amid the whirling impulses of the
times, in the conflict of strangest conti'adictions, where the noblest
feelings of humanity are staggered, where heart and nature are si-
lenced before the brawl and babble of dialectical subtilty, how safe
did one feel, how sound in mind and heart, how simple and dear did
his soul become in Neander's sacred presence.

^ This simplidty it was, which led Neander into the heart of things ;
nothing with him was mere form. What other men do more or less
frcmi habit and according to the fashion of the tunes, recdved from
him the spirit in which it originated. When he greeted any one,
gave his hand, or inquired after the health of a person, it was always
an expression of truth. At a simple 'How do you do?' from his
mouth, one could not preserve that placid indifference with which
such inquiries are usually received ; that he was truly solidtous ap-
peared plainly in word and mien. If any one who visited Neander
was in trouble, he was sure to perceive it and would ask, ' Is there
anything the matter with you ? You look so cast down, — you are
not unwell, I hope ?' One could not do otherwise than answer, ' Oh
no, I am very well.' While a look and tone so soothing, so healing,
entered the heart, one felt that he really was very well

<< Never shall I forget the impression which his manner towards a
blind young man made upon me. He was a poor youth, who, be-
cause he had not the means to pursue a liberal course of study,
wished to educate himself for the business of teadung. For this
purpose he attended Neander's lectures, although he was but poorly
acquainted with the andent languages. Pale and worn, he sat always
in the same seat, attentively listening, and repeating over to himsetf,
with silent motion of the lips, those parts which pleased him most



Digitized by VjOOQ IC



898 lift and ChcBrader of Dr. Ifecmder. [April,

If he fonnd anj one afterwards, inth whom he ooald go over again,
in his childlike waj, what he had heard, he was perfeedj hi^pj.
He was trolj one of those of whom it is written, that they are poor
in spirit, and of a lowlj mind. To see now this man, sicklj and
silent, stand before Neander, whom he so heartily revered, but whom
he could not see, and to hear the tone with which Neander asked
him, <How do you doP'^I was obliged to turn away, the tears
started into my eyes. Oh, how many of those forsaken by all the
world, would be happy, at least for one hour in their solitary life, if
they could stand before Neander, and hear him ask them, < How do
you do?' To see and hear him, is to believe and know that it will
yet be better, that it will be welL How could one thus blessed by
his kind words, fail to be reminded of the Heavenly Friend, who
says to all that labor and are heavy-laden, ' Come unto me, and I
will give you rest' **

This might be thought the partial view of a devoted friend, but a
theological opponent says of him, in a hostile criticism of one of his
works '} ^ It were not easy to find among the prominent characters
of our time, a person whose life is so true a mirror of the principle
which actuates him, as is that of Neander. What he is, that he is
wholly. There is in him no ostentation, no striving afler efiect, not
a trace of the current hypocrisy. Herein lies the cause of the great
influence which Neander has gained over the life and consciousness
of the age ; here the ground of the satisfaction which men of the
most opposite views find in his works. For the smallest of them is
a revelation of his pious heart, every subject that he touches becomes
the lovely mirror of his soul, and is thus, to those who sympathize
with him, a translation of their own inward life — to those who differ
from him, an object of hearty enjoyment'*

It may not be uninteresting to refer more particularly to the per-
sonal appearance of Neander. He was one of those men who seem,
to be sent into the world, to teach us the superiority of the soul to
the dull clay into which God has breathed it. That mind which
made itself felt wherever Christianity is known, was encased in a
body as frail and untutored as that of a child. He was of medium
height, rather slender and meagre, with a dark complexion, and the
whole cast of features plainly Jewish. Hf^s hair long, and as black
as a raven, hung carelessly over the high forehead. The eyes were
almost hid by jutting, bushy brows, and nearly closed lids ; but now

1 Geoigii, in the " Hallische Jahrbttcfaer f&r deutocho Wissenschaft and Kunst"
April, 1839.



Digitized by VjOOQ IC



1851.] Leobem^IUHtakh. 899

and then one caught a look into them, deep, dark, iq>arkling as a
shaded fountain. His voioe was Ml and deep, swelling and sinking
with his delicate sensibilities. But his whole outward appearance
gave a certain impression of helplessness, fitted at first to exdte oom-
passKMi. He walked when alone, which was seldom, with an uncer-
tain, distrustful step.

A stranger who should have found himself unexpectedly in
Neander's lecture room, would have been ready to believe that the
professor was spending an hour in abstracted reflection, and that the
students had stolen in to hear him think aloud. Leaning upon a high
desk whidi, when excited, he now and then tiked forward, threaten-
ii^ to plunge with it into the midst of his audience, his eyes appa-
rently dosed, his face turned sometimes to the floor, sometimes to the
wall behind him, but never towards his hearers, his fingers mechaoi-
eally twisting and twiriing a pen, -* there was nothing to indicate his
consciousness ^ the presence of others, and one was surprised to
see that he retained connection enough with the outward world, to
heed the bell which marked the dose of the hour. The stories whidi
are told of his appearing at the lecture room in his study dress, of
his oempbiniDg of lameness when he had unconsdously walked home
with but one foot upon the sidewalk, and the like, may be exagge-
rations; but if not true, they are truthful ; none of them would seem
strange to one who had known the professor's extreme abstracted*



But in all this there was not the slightest trace of affectation. His
whole nature was the very opposite of that. And, moreover, all the
first impressions of the ludicrous excited by his appearance passed
away after (me began to give attention to what he said, and to catch
the earnest spirit of his souL Indeed we almost regret having dwelt
so long on these peculiarities. They are not what one remembers
most in Neander.

His health was always poor. A rheumatic disease lurked in his
system from the time of his illness at Gottingen. He hdd it in check
by the most consdentious regard to diet and exercise, but chiefly by
the power of an iron wilL Many men with his constituticm would
have given up active life and died years ago. Three years since,
the disease turned upon his eyes and reduced bun ahnost to blindness.
But he toiled on by the help of readers and amanuenses, ddivering
Im leetmres regularly and carrying forward, though slowly, his great
worky the History of Ciiristianity. He felt more and more, during
these years o{ declining health, the desire to exert a direct influence



Digitized by VjOOQ IC



400 life and Oharaekr iff Dr. Neander. [ Apbil,

upon ihe religious life of the oomiiiumtj, and pabliahed brief practical
commentaries upon the EpisUe to the Philippians and the Epistle of
James. He also, in connection with Nitzsch of Berlin and Julius
Miiller of Halle founded a weekly religious Journal, the Deutsche
Zdtschrifl fiir christliche Wissenscfaafl und christliches Leben, in*
tended, as its name indicates, to bring the results of theological leanir
ing and science to bear upon and promote practical piefy.

But his health was constantly fsiling. When we received his
touching farewell two years ago, his hand was neireless and tremu*
lous, and his whole appearance suggested sad apprehensions. It
seemed impossible that even his firm resolution could sustain him
much longer against the disease which had been perceptibly wasting
his strength for months.

The end of the struggle came in July last Monday, July 8th, ha
was worse than usual, and as the weather was unpleasant, he waa
urged to postpone his lecture. But he could not be persuaded to do
so. In the midst of the lecture his voice fiuled him more than once,
but he forced himself on to the end of the hour. Completely ex*
hausted, he reached home with difficulty by assistance of the stu-
dents. In the evening the disease assumed a more alarming aspect.
His first thought was for his troubled sister. He called her to the
bedside and said tenderly, ^ Don't feel anxious, my dear sister, 'tis
only temporary. I know my nature.** .But that nature was at length
unyielding to the stem will which had so long ruled it After a nig^t
of pain, it was with a touching sadness that he inquired: ^I shall
hardly be able to lecture to-day, shall I?" He expressly desired
that his lectures should be postponed ^ only for to-day,** believing that
on the next day he should surely be able to resume them, and feeling
that life, and labor for the youth who were to be led to Christ, were
to him one and the same.

On the afternoon of Tuesday he suddenly asked for his reader,
and desired that the work on which he had been last employed (Bat-
ter's Palestine), should be still further read to him; he impatiently
censured the care of his friends who had prematurely sent the reader
home, supposing he would not be wanted. Then, according to hia
daily custom, he had the newspaper read to him by another of hia
pupils. With eager attention he observed what was read. Later in
the afternoon, while suffering much pain, he was solicitous lest he
should occasion trouble to those around him, and with earnest en*
treaty be^ed his sister to <<go and get some sleep.** 'During the
night his pains were much alleviated, and this awakened on the fol-



Digitized by VjOOQ IC



1651.] Lati TOnM. 401

lowing day the almost expirisg hopes of his friends. He begged to
be allowed to rise from his bed. The unconquerable will which
had so often been victorious over the infirmities of his physical na-^
tore, he believed would yet exercise its wonted power. The follow-
ing night his disease assumed the appearance of cholera, and those
spasmodic hiccoughs came on which are almost certain premonitions
of dissolution. And although a happy ignorance of the nature of
tliese symptoms prevented any unusual alarm on the part of his
hoping friends, yet the impression of a power which even the will
of a Neander could not overoome,> occasioned anxious forebodings.
Meanwhile the spirit, which through long-continued habit had gained
the power of quieting the storms of bodily disease, remained dear and
bright He distinctly recognized all who surrounded him. With
that touching modesty and self-forgetfulness which had always been
the garment of his kingly spirit, he turned aside the proffered aid of
those whose love to him would call them away from their usual em-
ployment, and with failing voice he expressed his cordial thanks for
the least assistance. The frequent repetition of those dreadful hic-
coughs, interrupted his slumbers as soon as begun. With deeply
moving, thoagh feeble voice, he prayed : ^6roft, ich moehU tcMafen^
(God, would I might sleep ! ) The Lord heard his prayer beyond his
expectation.

On Saturday his sufferings were still more intense, but his desire
to rise from the bed to make a trial of his strength, broke forth with



Online LibraryAdrien Jean Quentin BeuchotBibliotheca sacra and theological review → online text (page 46 of 98)