Life And Character Of Dr. De Wette. -- By: B. B. Edwards

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 007:28 (Oct 1850)
Article: Life And Character Of Dr. De Wette.
Author: B. B. Edwards

Life And Character Of Dr. De Wette.1

B. B. Edwards

We shall not undertake to furnish in the following article, a complete account of the life and writings of this distinguished theologian and commentator. It will rather be our object to give some notices of his personal and social character, so far as his friends have provided the materials. Entertaining, as we do, on many subjects in biblical criticism, radically different views from those propounded by this eminent writer, it is refreshing to know how estimable and honored he was in all his relations as a man and a citizen, with what singular attraction he drew friends and students around him, how earnest, childlike and simple his manners were, how comprehensive in his views and unflagging in his studies, how happily he blended culture and a pure taste with talent and knowledge, and how, especially towards the close of life, his thoughts and hopes seemed to gather around Him, without whom there is no salvation, the Rock of Ages, the only Life and Light of man. Before proceeding to our task, a few preliminary observations may not be unimportant.

German writers, both in Philosophy and Theology, have been arranged into various classes, the right, the centre, the left, the extreme right, the extreme left, etc. But there are important points where they coincide. In some essential respects they are formed in one mould. Various influences have been at work for many years, which have affected them all alike, the naturalist and the supernaturalist, the young Hegelian and the evangelical scholar. Now in judging of individual character, it is essential to bring into account those influences which all have shared in common. Otherwise, we shall form unjust judgments. Instead of exercising candor and an enlightened discrimination, we shall condemn men en masse, and thus violate some of the plainest principles of Christian morality. Often it

is the system which is in fault, not the man; it is the institution which we should denounce, not the individual. The root of the difficulty may be in the national temperament, in causes which have been in operation for centuries, and of which particular writers are in a great measure the innocent and unconscious exponents. By overlooking such obvious considerations, many persons are accustomed to pronounce harsh and sweeping judgments, which only serve to create and perpetuate melancholy prejudices. We will advert to some of the more obvious of these causes.

First. Among the influences which have given a general likeness to German writers, is that which we may trace to the union of the church with the State. If the government and the leading ecclesiasti...

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