Richard Rothe’s Ministry In Rome -- By: Samuel Osgood

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 031:123 (Jul 1874)
Article: Richard Rothe’s Ministry In Rome
Author: Samuel Osgood

Richard Rothe’s Ministry In Rome

Rev. Samuel Osgood

Modern history has turned very much upon the relation between Rome and Germany. Since the year of our Lord 9, when the army of Varus was routed by the forces of Hermann in the forest of Teutoburg, and Tacitus found the stirring motive for his famous History of Germany, to the battle of Sedan, when King William overthrew Louis Napoleon, and by so doing crippled the French power in Rome, and made Victor Emanuel king of the Eternal City instead of Pius IX.—in that long interval, made so memorable by the alliances and the quarrels between the German emperors and the Roman powers, the eventful drama has been going on, until now the Kaiser openly defies the Pope, and instead of giving allegiance to the Roman bishops and archbishops he insists upon allegiance from them. Throughout all this struggle, perhaps, the same essential principles have been at issue under different names, and the North and the South have presented their great antagonism in the Teutonic and the Latin races. It was at first, probably, not so much any definite opinion or system that was in debate, but the question was one of personal power or prerogative; and the stout Germanic independence resisted to the death the aggressions of Roman centralization. In course of time the Germans became an imperial people, and as such they offered protection and asked sanction from the Roman priesthood. The crown given to Charlemagne in the year 800, by the Pope at St. Peter’s, was held by his successors in the holy Roman empire for a thousand years, until Napoleon took it from the head of Francis II. in 1806, and his nephew, Louis Napoleon, virtually restored it to King William in 18T0.

Undoubtedly our most characteristic modern thought owes its power in great part to its bearing upon this Germanic and Roman question. The Protestant Reformation was a social and political, as well as theological and religious uprising. Stout Martin Luther was that stalwart old Hermann come again; and when he beat a hole in the drum of Tetzel, and stopped the sale of indulgences, Varus was again defeated, and Rome felt the loss and the ignominy in her temples and her palaces. The great Germanic national heart was stirred, and kindred nations — Holland and England not least among them — caught the fire of that electric life. The more recent German literature, art, and religion have followed the same drift, and the masters of the new thought from Emanuel Kant to Richard Rothe have carried the free banner of Hermann and Luther against the dominion of Rome. The motto so common of late “Rome or Reason,” is translated frequently not in libraries and schools only, but in courts and senates, debates and battles, into very positive language, and un...

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