Theremin, Ludwig Friederich Franz

Theremin, Ludwig Friederich Franz a celebrated German preacher and professor, was born at Gramzow, March 19, 1780. He was of Huguenot extraction, his family having emigrated from France after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, and his father was the pastor of the French congregation in the town where Franz was born. After suitable preparation, the latter was ordained at Geneva in 1805, and in 1810 was chosen by the French congregation at Berlin to be its pastor. This post he exchanged, Dec. 29,1814, for that of preacher to the court. In 1824 he was made a member of the high consistory and lecturer in the department of instruction of the ministry of worship; and in the same year the degree of Doctor of Divinity was conferred on him by the University of Greifswalde. In 1839 he added to his former dignities that of extraordinary, and in 1840 that of ordinary, honorary, professor in the University of Berlin. He lectured on homiletics, and established a homiletical seminary in his house, devoting himself to the guidance of the latter with an enthusiasm which increased steadily, in proportion as physical infirmities restricted the range of his activity as a preacher. A cataract formed over one of his eyes, and gave rise to the apprehension that he would become totally blind; but he was relieved from such fear by death, which came to him quietly and gently Sept. 26, 1846. His wife had preceded him into the eternal world by more than twenty years. A son and an unmarried daughter survived him.

Theremit was the representative of a specific homiletical tendency which held that classical antiquity is the true school of eloquence and claimed Demosthenes as its master. Its characteristic was that it devoted exclusive attention to finished perfection of form, and consequently had nothing in common with that rugged German school of eloquence of which Luther is the representative, and whose peculiarity it is that "out of the fullness of the heart the mouth speaketh" and shapes its own forms of expression. Not Luther or Harms, but Massillon, was Theremin's ideal; for Theremin's mind was in its structure not German, but French. This peculiarity may partially explain the fact that Theremin did not found a school of pulpit orators in any actual sense; while Reinhard, to whom he was unquestionably superior, had numerous imitators. Theremin's fundamental principle in homiletics was that eloquence is not an art, but a virtue (see his work Beredsamkeit eine Tugend). The idea is evidently faulty, since eloquence is not, like other virtues, a duty; nor is the use of eloquence confined altogether to the promotion of ethical results. As a preacher he was accustomed to use brief texts, and consequently to employ considerable latitude in the handling of his themes, often dragging in extraneous matter, instead of educing it from the text. His bearing in the pulpit was that of quiet dignity; his gestures were few and simple, his voice good, his modulation perfect. The finish of his productions, however, produced the impression of an aristocratic refinement, which, though evidently altogether natural in his case, prevented the achieving of such popular results as were secured by Luther, Heinrich Miller, Conrad Rieger, L. Hofacker, and others. Ten volumes of his Sermons have been published, most of them in repeated editions (Duncker and Humblot, Berlin). Other works of theological and ascetical character emanated from his pen, and have received deserved recognition, e.g. Lehre orm gott Reiche (Berlin, 1823): —Adalhert's Bekenntnisse (2nd ed. 1835): —Abendstunden (5th ed. 1858). See Herzog, Real-Encyklop. s.v.

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