Roth, Karl Johann Friedrich Von
Roth, Karl Johann Friedrich Von,
juris utriusque doctor, and during twenty years president of the Protestant high consistory at Munich, fills an important place in connection with the history of the Church in Bavaria from 1828 to 1848. He was born at Vaihingen, in Wurtemberg, Jan. 23, 1780, and trained in the study of the ancient languages from early childhood. In his youth he shared in the enthusiasm of the times for theories set afloat by Voltaire and still more by Rousseau, and consequently chose the law for his profession instead of theology, as both his father and himself had originally intended. Entering the University of Tubingen in 1797, he found a judicious guide in Malblanc, and, through the study of the sources of Roman law, acquired the historical faculty which distinguished him through life. At the age of twenty-one he published a treatise, De Re Romanorum Municipali, which won for him the doctorate of laws and secured the approval of prominent legal minds. He became jurisconsult to the then free city of Nuremberg, in which position he was led to study the subject of finance, which he had not previously examined; and when the city was transferred to Bavaria he entered the service of that kingdom in the finance department. He was elected to membership in the Royal Academy of Sciences in 1813; and the publication in 1817 of the Weisheit Dr. Martin Luther's — extracted apothegms from the reformer's writings — and of Hamann's Werke in 1825 gave evidence that his conversion to orthodox views in religion had progressed side by side with his growing attainments in scientific culture. In 1828 king Louis I appointed Roth to the presidency of the high consistory. When Roth received this appointment, the reaction against rationalism had begun, and a number of clergymen were conducting a brave battle for its overthrow. The attitude of Roth, who made it his business to foster the good wherever it might exist, gave them the encouragement they needed for a successful prosecution of their task. In other respects his work was marked out for him. His department was thoroughly organized into a high consistory, three consistories, and a number of deaneries, with district and general synods having advisory jurisdiction and the right to propose measures. It was requisite that this machinery should be quietly but energetically worked, and Roth succeeded in his task to a degree that made the Bavarian Church a model of systematized powers and effective discipline. In the matter of training theologians for the future, Roth was likewise earnestly employed. He discovered men like Hofling, Thomasius, and Harless, and had them appointed to the faculty of Erlangen, the local university. He also originated the ephorate to supervise the progress of theological students and report directly to the ministry of the interior, and founded the Preachers' Seminary at Munich to receive a number of candidates who had passed the first examination, and afford them two additional years of practical training under the direction of the high consistory. The accession of Von Abel in 1837 to the ministry of the interior began a new sera, in which the Protestants of the kingdom were systematically oppressed and the Roman Catholics favored. An order by which all soldiers, including those of the Landwehr, which consists of citizens, were obliged to kneel whenever the Romish Sanctissimum should be carried about excited great dissatisfaction; and Roth was censured in this business because it was believed that he had been timid or indifferent in contending for the rights of Protestants. Later events have shown that he was acting from prudential motives which would not permit him to risk all while striving to secure a particular end; but the feeling against him rose to such a height as to compel his retirement from the high consistory in March, 1848. The ephorate was likewise rejected by the students in that year of revolts. The result of the persecution was, however, beneficial to the cause of Protestantism in the end, because it united its adherents, increased their spirituality, and settled their determination to insist on a recognition of their rights; and at the proper moment a letter to the king from Roth secured a revocation of the military order which was so greatly resented. Roth was, soon after his retirement, called to a seat in the council of state; but, after completing the fiftieth year of his official life, he sought and obtained a dismissal to private life. He died Jan. 21, 1852. A collection of Roth's writings was published by himself at Frankfort, consisting chiefly of panegyrics and addresses. He also edited the Gelehrten Anzeigen, issued by the Academy of Sciences, from 1835 to 1850, enriching them with articles of his own and with reviews of English, French, and other foreign works.