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legislation that we still retain, is wholly extinct. This fear or pretext, which may become a barrier in the way of our usefulness, is not allayed or removed by the fact that the “general rule," directed in the discipline to be read “once a year in every congregation, and once a quarter in every society,” remains untouched in the latest edition of this little book, notwithstanding we have held two general conferences since our separation from those upon whom we could previously throw the responsibility of all legislation upon the subject. Nor does the explanatory note to the "ninth section” afford us a much better vindication. It simply asserts a fact without stating whether we acquiesce in its existence from choice or necessity. We publish no official statement, either by express declaration, or removing all legislation from our law book, of Southern Methodist theory and practice, namely; non-interference, on the part of the church, with the existence and control of this civil institution. We wish to be understood. We have no doubt that the ministers of our church, as well as our membership, occupy this ground, and all we intend to say is that we are voluntarily placed in a position before an excited public that we may be unable to explain to their satisfaction and our usefulness, and all this, by retaining obsolete legislation upon a question which our church has no desire to control.
Our apology for this article, and especially its length, is the hope that it may contain some thoughts that may do good by exerting a little influence in favor of the desired object, namely, the removal of all obsolete laws from our Discipline.
(From Kitto's Journal of Sacred Literature, January 1853.)
The victories of Jena and Auerstädt, on the 14th of October, 1806, were succeeded on the 17th by the capture of Halle. The suspension of its University and the dispersion of its students almost immediately followed. Amongst the terrified fugitives, whose flight was hastened by the burning of Nordhausen and other towns by the enemy, were two penniless. youths, who had but recently joined the University. Dejected and on foot they sought for safety in the direction of Gottingen, and hurried on, impelled by their fears, until one of them sunk down from utter exhaustion, and could proceed no farther. In this destitute condition they were fortunate enough to excite the sympathies and receive the aid of a youthful stranger, who was himself returning from his native town, then in flames, to his duties in the University of Gottingen. That stranger was Gesenius ; the youths Neander and Neumann.*
How strangely at times does the calm determination of the student contrast with the excitement and turmoil of the world around! The pulpits of London were resounding with the “crowning mercy” of Worcester while Walton was projecting his polyglot. Amid the din and bloodshed of the seven years' war, the modern German school of philology struggled into existence. So, while Napoleon was scattering dismay and ruin around him, and destroying the Prussian power, Gesenius was addressing himself to his self-imposed and life-long task of elevating the study of Hebrew from the disrepute and neglect into which it had been suffered to fall. Who would have thought, at that time of all-absorbing terror, that a great * Chamisso's Leben, i. ap.—Bibliotheca Sacra (American) for May, 1847. and vastly important movement was lying, in recently-formed design, in that youthful Professor's breast ? Yet so it was.
Gesenius, but twenty years of age, had just become Magister legens and Repetent in the University of Gottingen. Hebrew learning was then at a very low ebb in Germany. Michaelis, who had been Oriental Professor in the University of Gottingen from 1745 to 1791, had disgusted very many by his low wit and tedious discussions ;* while Vater, who at the time was Professor at Halle (1800–1809,) was lecturing on Genesis to a class of but seven. Dissatisfied with the little interest taken in his favourite study, and with the manner in which Hebrew grammart and lexicography were then treated, Gesenius formed the determination of giving an impulse. and direction to the pursuit of Hebrew literature, and of trying to bring those principles of philology to bear upon it which Heyne, Wolf, Buttmann, and Hermann had so successfully introduced into classical studies.
After a residence of three years at Gottingen, Gesenius was transferred to the Gymnasium of Heiligenstadt, and in the following year to the University of Halle, of which he continued until his death the brightest ornament.
No sooner had he settled at Halle than he commenced putting into execution the design he had formed by publishing the result of his studies. His labours there, during a period of thirty-two years, are themselves, in some degree, the history of that extraordinary impulse which he communicated to the study of Hebrew, and must be known, in order to ascertain how well he redeemed the pledge of earlier years, and how nobly the students of Germany responded to his call, and caught his enthusiasm.
While indefatigably engaged in the publication of Hebrew works, Gesenius was not unmindful of the claims of cognate
* See Biographical sketch appended to Heeren's Historical Researches, vol. i. p. xi.
† The Grammars of Dauz and Vater were in most repute at the time. Of these authors the former treated the subject very arbitrarily, wbile the latter followed no definite plan, and was often lead astray by false views.
tongues. His treatise on the Maltese dialect, his first production, was published in 1810. In 1815 appeared his “ De Pentateuchi Samaritani Origine, Indole, et Auctoritate.” This was followed, seven years after, by the treatise “ De Samari. tanorum Theologia ex fontibus ineditis ;” and two years after that by the “Carmina Samaritana, &c." In 1834 he printed his work on Bar Ali and Bar Bahlul. But of all his labours in this direction, those connected with the Punic language presented to him the greatest attraction. In 1825 and 1835 he published works on this dialect, which were however superseded by his noble and elaborate production, “Scripturæ Linguæque Phæniciæ Monumenta quotquot supersunt,” which was given to the world in 1837. In addition to these labours, Gesenius was a frequent contributor to the “Literatur-Zeitung'* and other periodicals; and wrote many of the most admirable articles in Ersch and Gruber's Encyclopædia. f.
Nor was this indefatigable scholar content with facilitating, by his publications, the acquisition of Hebrew, he was, by his daily lectures and classes, inspiring thousands of eager and admiring students with his own enthusiasm. His lectureroom was thronged. Five hundred students at a time listened, with almost breathless attention, to the lucid and animated statements of their favorite lecturer, and to that fluency of utterance by which he gave to a dead language the instinct of a living, spoken tongue. Every important remark and felicitous explanation was treasured up by them in their note-books; those indispensable companions of German students; as of great and permanent value, while the necessity for thorough research and impartial investigation was daily urged upon them, no less by the example than the words of the celebrated Hebraist. Students from all parts of the Continent, and even from America, attracted by his fame, sat at
* See his excellent critical examination of the Liber Adami of the Zabians, in the Literatur-Zeitung for 1817, Nos. 48–51.
† For instance, the articles, · Arabische Sprache,'' Ambarische Sprache,' • Ethiopische Sprache und Literatur.'
his feet; and Halle became the acknowledged seat of Hebrew learning.
While he lived, Gesenius continued to be the most popular lecturer in Germany, and the honored instructor of thousands. When he died, his country mourned, and wondered where a fit successor could be found. Would that we could speak as favorably respecting the religious views of this learned man, and the influence which he, as a theological professsor, exerted on the minds of those who were preparing for the solemn duties of the Christian ministry. Alas! in this respect the pure gold becomes dim indeed.
In surveying the whole course of Gesenius, comparing his various works, and estimating the influence he exerted on the study of Hebrew, a few thoughts suggest themselves. He has himself informed us that two things are required of those who attempt to exhibit the grammar of an ancient language. First, a correct observation and systematic arrangement of all the phenomena of the language; seconuly, the explanation of these phenomena, partly by comparing them with one another, and with analogous appearances in the cognate tongue, partly from the general analogy and philosophy of language. The first is the historic, the second the philosophical element in grammar. Now it is evident that the former is, in order of time and succession, prior to the latter. The facts of a language must be sufficiently known, and its study be made sufficiently attractive, before the materials for comparison and general analogy are at hand. For the discharge of this duty, Gesenius was pre-eminently qualified. The bent of his mind was towards the historical in language. His favorite pursuits were palæography and lexicography. His great excellence lay in his unwearied collection of facts, the admirable method by which they were arranged, and the clearness with which they were stated. This was his high vocation, one especially needed at the restoration of Hebrew learning, and nobly did he discharge his self-imposed duties. He was the man for the thing at the time.