Demosthenes And Massillon -- By: J. B. Lyman

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 006:21 (Feb 1849)
Article: Demosthenes And Massillon
Author: J. B. Lyman


Demosthenes And Massillon

J. B. Lyman

[Ludwig Friedrich Franz Theremin was born in 1783 at Gramzow, in the northern part of Prussia, where his father was preacher in the French church. It may be well to state that, of the 800,000 protestants who fled from France at the time of the revocation of the edict of Nantes, some took refuge in the electorate of Brandenburg, where they enjoyed extensive civil privileges. At Prenzlow, a few miles from the native place of the author, most of the inhabitants are said to be their descendants. Hence we conclude, that of these, the congregation to which the elder Theremin preached, was composed; as also that in Berlin, to which Dr. Theremin himself was afterwards called to preach, might in part have been. He studied with his father and at the French gymnasium in Berlin, afterwards at the university in Halle, under the instructions of Dr. Knapp and the philologian and Homeric critic F. A. Wolf. He afterwards spent a year in Geneva, in preparation for the office of the ministry in the French church, and was ordained there in 1808. In 1810 he was called to the Werder church in Berlin, in place of the French preacher von Ancillon, descendant of one of the French protestants, and who had been appointed to the post of instructor of the present king, and was afterwards minister of State. In 1815 he was appointed preacher in the court

church and cathedral, where he accomplished his wish to preach in the German language. In 1824 he was appointed counsellor of the high consistory, and received a situation in the educational department of the ministry of ecclesiastical and medical affairs. And in 1840 he was appointed ordinary professor of theology in Berlin, in the department of Homiletics. He died in 1846.

“Theremin,” says the Conversations-Lexicon der Gegenwart of 1841, “is one of the most distinguished living preachers, and is so much the greater, the more he possesses this character according to the homiletic principles which he has himself established. For him ‘eloquence’ is ‘a virtue;’ an expression which he has adopted as the main title of his work upon the ‘fundamental principles of systematic rhetoric,’ 2d ed. Berlin, 1837.” In this work the author seeks to establish his principle, that ‘eloquence is a virtue,’ from the consideration of the aim which it pursues; that it has a purpose without itself; that it aims to produce a change in the dispositions or the actions of men, in the various relations of social life. Hence eloquence, as, for example, in an oration of Demosthenes, is interwoven with and cannot be separated from the circumstances of the times.

When an ancient orator arose to address an audience his eloquence was an action, and ...

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