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benefit might be expected from such pursuits , and that the application of the understanding to the doctrines of religion was subject only to the same restrictions which in every other employment of it are necessary to prevent its use from becoming its abuse . Mr . Rose possesses one advantage over those who had previously warned the English public against the infection of German theology ; he is acquainted with the German language , and his notes contain
a vast mass of references to German authors . With all this appearance of extensive reading , however , we very much doubt if Mr . R . is intimately acquainted with their theological literature . Following the clew given him by two or three popular authors , he appears to have looked into others only to obtain a confirmation of their statements . While the really eminent names
are passed over in silence , no writer is too obscure , or disesteemed , or forgotten among his countrymen , to be brought forward by him , if by so doing he can fix upon German theology the odium of some rash assertion or hasty inference . He has read it , in short , as an attorney-general reads the works of an obnoxious political writer , looking only for passages on which to ground his indictment .
As concerns individual faith , the lesson taught us by the aberrations of the Germans is , according to Mr . Rose , the danger of making our own reason the arbiter of the doctrines of Scripture , instead of submitting our reason to its doctrines ; and accordingly he represents the Rationalists of Germany as led by this principle to reject not only the doctrines of Scripture , but its inspiration and its miracles . Under this name of Rationalists , it must be observed ,
that he confounds all shades and degrees of departure from the orthodox standard ; and thus the imputation , which might not unfairl y rest on those who deny every thing miraculous in the scriptural history , and of whom he ju 3 tly observes that their opinions are only Deism in a new form , is artfully thrown on the whole body of interpreters of Scripture , who , in the exercise of an independent judgment , have abandoned the ancient views of doctrine . No
principle can be more just than that in interpreting the Bible we are not to determine beforehand what is rational or important , and bend its language to this standard ; the one and only object 6 f the biblical interpreter should be to ascertain the meaning of his author , and that , by the same process as he would use in the case of any other writer . But if some men have sate down to the study of the Scripture , with minds pre-occupied by an opinion that
certain doctrines , not bejng rational , are not to be found there , and have misinterpreted it under the influence of this prepossession , they should not reproach them who make the reason of other men their guide instead of their own , and talk of " the leading power of articles which guide their faith . " P . 12 . Let any one look to an orthodox comment on our Saviour ' s declaration , Mark xiii . 32 , that he himself knew not the hour of his second
coming , and say whether ever a German Rationalist did more violence to words , in order to make them furnish a sense consistent with his opinions . No charge is more common , none is urged more bitterly or more in violation of charity and meek ness , by those who call themselves orthodox , against the impqgners of their system than this , that from want of due humility they will not submit to be taught by Scripture . There will be , of course , among the
miscellaneous adherents of either party , some who reject doctrines without examining their scriptural evidence , from the mere opinion of their absurdity , ajul some , on the other hand , who embrace them , equally without examination , from respect to authority ; and they may pair oil together : but we deny that the men who , either in England or in Germany , have led the way in the great change of theological opinion , followed any such principle as the
Review . —Rose ' s Discourses on the State of Religion in Germiny . 49
VOL . I . E
Monthly Repository (1806-1838) and Unitarian Chronicle (1832-1833), Jan. 2, 1827, page 49, in the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (2008; 2018) ncse.ac.uk/periodicals/mruc/issues/vm2-ncseproduct1792/page/49/