The Mystic Mantle Op Elijah -- By: George Hibbert Driver

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 088:349 (Jan 1931)
Article: The Mystic Mantle Op Elijah
Author: George Hibbert Driver


The Mystic Mantle Op Elijah

Tholuck’s “Hours Of Christian Devotion.”

George Hibbert Driver

An old time classic came to my hand a short time ago when looking through the bookstalls of a favorite antiquarian store in Boston. For ten cents I obtained what was worth much more than that in money; and now it is the subject of this brief notice. Kempe, in his “Companions for the Devout Life,” has quoted Michelet’s words that “a single book, read through and through, ruminated on and pondered over, is often more fruitful than a vast mass of undigested reading.” And his authority recalls that “an odd volume of Racine, purchased by chance at a stall on the quay, created the poet of Toulon.” Now, it may be that Tholuck is not found among Kempe’s remarkable assemblage of the “Companions for the Devout Life;” and he is far from the spirit of those whom Farrar lists as incarnating the “gospel of monasticism” as that “cyclic utterance of the mystic” flowers in Thomas a Kempis’ “Of the Imitation of Christ.” Though here we have an impressive range of men and material—the Rule of St. Benedict, the “rapt asceticsm” of St. Francis of Assisi; the “Commentary on the Sing of Songs” of St. Bernard, the “Stimulus Amoris” of St. Bonaventura, the sermons of St. Thomas of Aquinum; the writings of the Brothers of Windesem; the sermons of John Tauler, and so on.

With Tauler we come nearer to Tholuck, and the earlier mystic no doubt profoundly influenced the mystic and sermonizer of Halle.

Some would doubt, perhaps, that even the name mystic should be assigned to Tholuck. Profound Orientalist that he was, he had an enthusiastic and thorough fund of knowledge of the mystic philosophy of the East. It is not strange that his rationalist opponents complained of his fanatical “mystical” pietism, as a great weakness of his theological and philosophical speculations. But grounded as Tholuck was in the spirit and objective practicality of Luther, it is likely that he would not fall into what Herr-

mann has called the danger to positive Christianity of mysticism. In trying to do for his age what Thomas a Kempis and John Arndt did for theirs, produce “a sterling book of devotion,” Tholuck disclaims even the characterization of “pietism” in a narrower sense. His year as Prussian Gesandschaftsprediger in Rome, he always allowed, had cured him of his narrow pietistic views derived in part from contact with von Diez, at Berlin; and had permitted him to come to a free inner development.

His gratification expressed in the Preface, “to see these Hours of Devotion translated into the English tongue”— ...

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