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occasion: " My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" evinces his disappointment and shows that he had had the establishment of an earthly kingdom in view. Such is an outline of this fragment, the principal work which called Reinhard into the field. He made his appearance at first merely in an academical address in Latin, and had no thoughts of extending his investigations, until he was induced to do so by the multiplied calls of his friends; the result of which was the publication of the first edition of the following work in the German language, in 1781, entitled: "An examination of the plan devised by the founder of Christianity for the good of mankind. A contribution to the evidences of this religion."*
To the W. F. however succeeded a great variety of other infidel writers, who adopted the maxims of the French Terrorists and did their utmost to overthrow Christianity, among whom were C. E. Wünsch, K. F. Bahrdt, J. Mauvillon, and L. Paalzow. Of these, Paalzow was far the most fertile and bitter. Bahrdt however, who, after having run hastily through various systems, finally took up with Naturalism, though the less learned, was far the most popular and dangerous. He published several infidel works, especially, “Popular or familiar letters respecting the Bible," and "Letters respecting the execution of Christ's plan, to the inquirer after truth," the object of which, was, 'to annihilate all faith in the divinity of Christianity. Accordingly, he called all the miracles and prophecies of the Bible in question; by a shallow course of reasoning, endeavored to show the futility of supposing that God ever made a revelation to man; and, in order to be able to give a natural explanation of every thing relative to Christ and Christianity, he invented fables respecting the manner in which Jesus obtained his early education and imputed to him the formation of a secret society for the promulgation
* Versuch über den Plan welchen der Stifter der - christlichen Religion zum Besten der Menschen entwarf. Ein Beytrag zu den Beweisen für die Wahrheit dieser Religion.
+ Briefe über die Bibel, im Volkstone, and Ausführung des Planes und Zweckes Jesu. In Briefen an Wahrheit suchende Leser, 12 Bändchen, Berlin, 1784-1793.
of his doctrines, and sought to force his hypotheses upon the world as history, though supported by no data whatever.* As several editions of Reinhard's work were called for, he paid more or less attention to some one of these writers, by which means it was increased from a small, to quite a large volume. To give a historical view of it in this respect as well as to exhibit the spirit of the writer himself, I here present some extracts from the prefaces to each of the four editions. They are all printed in the last German edition, but are too long to be retained here in full. In the first, dated Aug. the 1st, 1781, after stating that he had been induced to engage in this work by the requests of his friends, he concludes with his characteristic modesty, thus: "The author hopes that these printed sheets, among the many thousands yearly published, at least, will not be considered as the only superfluous ones. Should he fairly succeed in exciting here and there in a noble soul, those feelings of reverence, gratitude and love towards the founder of Christianity with which he himself was filled when he penned these thoughts, how happy should he be, how highly rewarded!" In the preface to his second edition, dated Nov. the 1st, 1783, he says: The additions and alterations which the new impression of this work has received, were in part required for completeness and precision, and in part rendered necessary by certain opinions which have lately been advanced respecting the life, character and views of Jesus Christ. They might easily have been increased, but it is unnecessary to conduct the reader through long and tiresome investigations in order to show him, that the views of the founder of Christianity were far exalted above all human schemes, and can be considered in no other light than as constituting a benevolent plan devised by the Deity himself for the good, for the happiness of our race. There is a short course, by which, without going a round-about way, where few are disposed to accompany us, the reader can be directed to that point of observation, from which this divine plan will appear in all its magnificence, spreading out before him in prospects transporting, and in consequences extensive and eternal. My
* Vid. Schröckh, Chr. K. G. seit der Reformation, 6er Theil, S. 108 ff. 273 ff., fortgesetzt von Tzschirner, 9er Th. S. 516 ff.
desires are fulfilled, my object attained, if this short work shall even by its brevity in any measure contribute towards. leading my Christian brethren to this point of observation, and confirming them in that conviction of the truth of Christianity from which I derive the greatest happiness of my life." In the preface to the third, dated April the 27th, 1789, he says: Perhaps it would have been as well, if the present impression of this work had been left as short as the second. It has received considerable additions however in the first part, especially by the inquiries into which I have entered respecting the means of which Jesus intended to avail himself for the execution of his plan. I sincerely hope that it may not have received additions thereby merely to the number of its pages. I was for a long time uncertain whether it would be worth while to say any thing respecting the opinion that Jesus intended to accomplish his purposes by the influence of secret associations, which has been advanced in several works now well known, since the appearance of the last edition. At length, however, I concluded in my own mind, that, at a time when it is so universally believed that truth delights to conceal itself in the obscurities of mystical alliances, it would be useful, and perhaps proper to show, how entirely different He thought upon the subject who came into the world that he might bear witness to the truth. That the surest way of finding genuine, fruitful, and heavenly wisdom, is by listening to Him and learning of Him, I have, after repeatedly meditating upon the divine purposes which He accomplished upon earth, lately become so thoroughly convinced, that I have nothing better to wish for any of my brethren in this world or importune God to grant them, than this experience." In the preface to the last edition edited by the author, dated April the 22d, 1798, he says: "The gradual enlargement of this little work, which now appears for the fourth time, was rendered necessary by the wants of the age. Since the appearance of the first edition in 1781, great and rapid changes have taken place in theological discussions, and one part and another of the present work has been questioned, denied, or misrepresented. Of course the author so long as he hoped for its usefulness could not neglect these changes. He has therefore been compelled to make great additions to it,
especially in this last impression, in which he has devoted more particular attention to the character of Christ's plan, than on any former occasion. The author believes he ought not to be immediately condemned for the prolixity into which he has been led by his efforts to give as much perspicuity and certainty as possible, to every point. None acquainted with what has been written during the last six or eight years, respecting the character and extent of the object of Jesus, can deem it superfluous for one to have endeavored with impartiality and without arbitrarily assuming a single principle, to determine what Jesus had particularly in view from the accounts of the Evangelists in our possession. The author has gone through with another examination of them for this express purpose with all the impartiality and attention of which he was capable, and in his representation of the plan of Jesus, he is not conscious of having taken a single position which could not sustain by indu bitable quotations from the Evangelists. Various other additions have been made, which are scattered throughout the body of the work. To the whole he has added a copious table of contents for the purpose of facilitating a general view." This was the last edition published during the author's life-time. A new edition, having long been called for in Germany, one was printed the last year at Wittemberg under the direction of Dr. H. L. Heubner, an Evangelical man, and Professor of Theology in that place, from whom also it received many valuable notes and a copious appendix, of which mention is made in his preface.*
Such is a short account of the origin, object and progress of the present work. From it, the reader may at first infer, that it is chiefly of a local character, and therefore hardly worth the perusal of any but those who wish to obtain a historical view of the religious controversy in Germany. Let such an one however read the parts already referred to, before he allows himself to come to such a conclusion. The work does indeed contain some things of a local character, especially in the appendix, which might perhaps have
* For more particular information respecting Reinhard, consult his Geständnisse, Tzschirner's. Briefe veranlasst durch Reinhard's Geständnisse, and Böttiger's Zeichnung von Reinhard.
been dispensed with, had I felt authorized to make the omission, or willing to mar a book which now constitutes a beautiful whole. Had I done so, I am confident I should have received no thanks from the scholar. He however who examines it attentively will find far more of a general than a local character, especially in the body of the work. Reinhard seldom mentions an opponent by name, or singles him out so far, as to descend to minute criticism. His object is a general one ;-to ascertain who Jesus Christ is. For this purpose, he fixes his eyes upon the character and conduct of Jesus as exhibited in the Evangelists, and assuming the attitude of an unprejudiced inquirer after the truth, from this historical information endeavors to ascertain the object that Jesus had in view and the means by which he intended to accomplish it, and shows that he far excelled all the other benefactors of our race who had made their appearance before him, and evinced far greater strength of mind in the midst of the most unfavorable circumstances; from which he infers, that Jesus was in an especial sense a teacher sent of God. Such being the object of Reinhard, it was of course, unnecessary for him to descend to minute criticism, or single out opponents. His several positions being established, the whole class of objections at which he aimed fall at once to the ground, and the character of Jesus is presented to the world in divine colors, on an eminence far above every thing that is merely human. How far Reinhard has succeeded must be left for the reader to judge. His train of thought is new, and like a steady stream, flows on increasing to the end, filling the reader with new delight as he advances. The work is certainly a favorite one with Evangelical Christians in Germany, and has been the means there of accomplishing much good. "The newness of the object which the author has in view," says Tzschirner in his continuation of Schröckh," and the learning and acuteness which he displays in his investigations, as well as the clearness, nobleness, and impressiveness of his representations, have all conspired to procure for this work an extensive circulation and a powerful influence upon the age." "It has," says Böttiger, "been the means of confirming thousands in the truth of Christianity, and, not only on account of the internal strength and the conclusiveness