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reformation, and even to the liberty of conscience, as a principle and source of human belief superior even to the logical deductions of their opponents. Such appeals would certainly be perfectly in place were they resisting religious oppression. There the right of conscience is inviolable, and no argument, based upon it, against the oppressor can be repelled; but in the province of philosophy they can by no means be allowed. He who has once ventured to take his stand there gives up all right of arbitrary thinking, or of appeal to human freedom and conscience. The man who here asserts a dogma to be inconceivable on the one hand, or self-evident on the other, must prove, in the first instance, that it contradicts the universal laws of thought, and, in the other, that the conception is a necessary one according to the present constitution of the human mind. The mere appeal to the impotence of thought can only impose upon the veriest novices in philosophy. Such, then, is the position of the first and lowest step of German Rationalism.
The second shade under which the Rationalistic system appears is, the “Old Hegelian Rationalism,” based as it is upon the bold and allabsorbing philosophy of the man whose name it bears. Precisely in the same manner as Kant, by raising himself to the summit of the speculative philosophy of his age, gave rise to the corresponding system of speculative theology which we have just designated; so Hegel, as the representative of the highest philosophic spirit of his age, gave rise to this more advanced species of Rationalism. Speculative philosophy and theology in Germany ever go hand in hand, and consequently, as soon as the philosophic mind has begun to step beyond the Hegelian limits, then may we expect, according to former experience, to see the Hegelian theology become “Rationalismus Vulgaris,” and the more learned abettors of theological philosophy stepping beyond it into another system, the traces of which have already begun to appear indistinctly in the distant horizon. To give any glance at the contents of this system would be here perfectly impossible, inasmuch as it all hangs so compactly together as a system, that to enter into any thing like an adequate explanation of it would oblige us to give an analysis of the whole. Indeed, this is the very point which, of all others, distinguishes the philosophic spirit of Hegel from Kant and his followers ; that while in the latter the critical element was the chief thing, and the only positive results which their philosophy arrived at appeared to be foisted in by the admission undemonstrated of a "practical reason," or a "categorical imperative,” the former aimed as his first object at forming a complete and all-embracing system. This system rests upon the far-famed “Dialectic Method,” which he and his followers regard as a new system of philosophising, and one by which not only all the subjective phenomena of the human mind, but all the facts of the objective world without, and all the workings of the universal and
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infinite Spirit itself, can be reduced to a clear, logical, and unbroken system of unerring truth. Religion, indeed, is thus brought in as one part of this universal superstructure of truth; but according to Hegel it must all be reduced to the pure logical form before it can be regarded as absolutely true. Thus, although Christianity, in all the various features which it has assumed, has ever contained a certain portion or germ of truth ; and although this same germ exists even in those parts of the Christian system which enforce the necessity of the religious feelings, of faith, of hope, and of love ; nevertheless, we are told, truth, while existing in such a state, can only be regarded as being in a crude and undeveloped form. All these lower exhibitions of it must be overcome, and raised gradually higher and higher by the organon which he has furnished in his philosophy, until it is refined into that system of pure and universal logic, in which perfect truth alone can be found. This, then, is the system of Rationalism in its broad feature, which is now absorbing the attention, and commanding the energies, of some of the most powerful and penetrating minds of the present day.
One circumstance, however, must be mentioned here, which has very much injured the reputation of the Hegelian philosophy with the public at large. Amongst the students who attend the philosophical classes at the universities, there is naturally but a small number of really philosophical minds. The greater number are persons who, not being able to reproduce the Hegelian philosophy in their own heads, receive, in a confused manner, whatever the professor may present to them of it, amalgamate this with the prejudices that may already chance to exist in their minds, and on their return home cry up this jumble as the new Hegelian Gospel. Above a hundred such apostles are sent yearly from Berlin into every corner of Germany. Fortunately, hor. ever, they forget, for the most part, after a short time, their apostolic calling, and, instead of inoculating the public with their poison, create rather a disgust, which acts more or less as an antidote against it.
The third form of German Rationalism we must designate in very few words, as it has but recently made its appearance, and hardly been viewed as forming a distinct and independent system. This is the “New Hegelian Theology,” which finds its representatives in Strauss, and, to a certain extent, in Vatke of Berlin. The system of Strauss is popularly known as disallowing the existence of a supreme Being out of and separate from the world, and as reducing the whole of the New Testament history to a kind of Jewish mythology. This, however, exhibits rather the fruits than the stem of the system. Looking into the principles of this school of Rationalism, we find that they allow, with the more immediate followers of Hegel, that absolute truth can only be found in the prosecution of the logical method pointed out by his philosophy. As soon, however, as they come to the theological branch of the Hegelian philosophy, they strike at once into a new road,
inasmuch as they deny that the Hegelian theologians have succeeded in accomplishing what they professed to do, namely, to reduce the whole of revelation to their philosophic rule. They declare that there is still a chasm between faith and philosophy, which has yet to be filled up, and that, indeed, a connecting path from the one to the other seems at present all but impossible to be made. It is easy to see, that, while in the other Rationalistic systems Christianity was at least nominally honoured and professedly supported, in this last form the sword of a false philosophy is half drawn from its scabbard, to aid in fighting openly and unblushingly the battle of infidelity, against those truths to which we owe all that raises us in the scale both of moral feeling and practice above the nations of pagan antiquity.
Having thus briefly mentioned the different forms of Rationalism as the first of the three directions which the theology of Protestant Germany has for some time past been taking, we shall next notice the party which holds the middle or connecting point between the Rationalistic theology, and that which we must sketch last of all, as the opposed system of Positive Theology. This party consists of the widely extended school of the great and admirable Schleiermacher; great and admirable, not only from the exhaustless resources of his learning, but the lovely spirit and even exalted devotion, which breathe throughout so great a portion of his theological labours. Schleiermacher separates himself at once from the whole school of Rationalism, of whatever kind it may be, by absolutely denying the possibility of discovering Christian truth by the mere exercise of the natural reason. His object was to point to a deeper and more sacred principle, because a more divine one, in the human heart, to which we are to look as a source not only of religious feelings, but as a source likewise from which we are to draw our knowledge of religious facts and truth themselves. This idea he has fully developed in his great work on the doctrine of faith (Glaubenslehre) a work which may be regarded as almost forming a new era inthe history of German theology. The relation in which this doctrine stands to revelation is, as nearly as can be stated in few words, the following.
Jesus Christ, he maintains, has himself, when on earth, communicated a germ of truth to mankind; he infused, for example, a divine principle into the minds of his disciples, and those more generally, who first yielded themselves to his instructions, by the communication to them of his Spirit. This germ of truth, thus communicated, was given as a sacred deposit to the church on earth, and was to be held and propagated by that church, by means of its various institutions; but more particularly by the preaching of the Gospel and the extension of those holy Scriptures, in which all the important features of the truth are embodied. Such a germ of truth then, he shows to exist in the actual Consciousness of mankind, as far as the influence of the church of Christ has extended, and maintains that it is for us who possess it, more fully to develope it in our own minds, and thus collectively to unfold it more and more in the church at large, to a complete system of Christian doctrine. This school of theology, therefore, does not take reason, in any sense, as a source of Christian doctrine on the one hand, neither does it regard the Scriptures as the only source of it on the other, but allowing the necessity of the Scriptures and other institutions of the church, as a part of the external plan of divine mercy, it maintains the existence of a divine principle of truth in the mind, or, to use its own language, of a religious consciousness in man, which has been in operation ever since the days of our Saviour's mission on earth, and from which, by religious meditation and prayer, a whole system of Christian truth may be clearly and conscientiously developed. This divine principle, or religious consciousness, is, in fact, the work of the Spirit of God, who is here supposed not to exert his power specifically, in the church, but to be ever exerting it as far as the truth of the Gospel has penetrated, according to the same law by which it was first communicated by the Saviour to the human mind.
The school of Schleiermacher has quietly extended itself to a very considerable extent in almost all, but particularly in the southern parts of Germany, and in Switzerland, and numbers amongst its entire or partial followers many of the most learned and useful men in the churches of those countries.
We must now, lastly, give a sketch of the third and most important branch of the religious world of Germany, that, I mean, which we may embrace under the name of the Positive Theology. This term is used to designate all those who accept without further investigation, and without requiring any philosophical demonstrations, the positive truths of revelation, and make the Scriptures alone, as they are, the data from which they derive all the principles of Christianity.
This school of theology is divided into two different parties; which parties have likewise under each of them some few minor and inconsiderable shades of difference. The former of these are the adherents to the symbolical books, that is, to the articles and confession of the Lutheran church. To these they hold fast, because they believe them to contain a correct exhibition of the true and pure doctrine of the Scriptures themselves. They refuse to give up their adherence to them, because, they argue, were that the case, the door would be opened to every kind of error, and they could no longer interdict a direct appeal to the Scriptures, even should that appeal be made in a perverted manner, and based upon unsound principles of exegesis. This party has, unfortunately, until very recently, stood on very bad terms with the other theological schools. It has been accustomed to apply to every literary labour, from whencesoever it might spring, the rule of their symbolical books, and condemned it to whatever extent it did not coincide with them. In fact, the same results which ever spring from a slavish
adherence to articles and confessions, bave, as might be anticipated, shown themselves here, and produced the same ill-will, and bigoted perverseness, that have ever manifested themselves in the church under similar circumstances. The hostility both of the old and new Rationalists was thus excited by them to a most unhappy extent, and the reproach which was once cast upon them by the “ Prussian Journal,” that they sought the welfare of the church in the contempt of science, expressed but too accurately, and too deservedly, the general voice of public opinion concerning them. Since that time, however, things have been altering for the better. The Old Lutherans, as the party now in question are termed, have in the very exercise of their polemical writings against the other parties, and from the necessity of defending themselves from their attacks, been driven to a more liberal and scientific way of thinking, which has cooled down mutual animosities, and ended in their being recognised, upon friendly terms, as a particular and independent school of theology.
The other party which we mentioned as belonging to the supporters of the Positive Theology, are the Bible Theologians. These regard the symbolical books of the Lutheran and reformed churches, on account of the mutual contradictions they contain, as in some points decidedly unscriptural, and in many points as ill answering to the literary requirements of the age. They seek, further, to form their creed anew by the aid of a more modern and penetrating system of criticism ; but inasmuch as they regard the doctrinal religion of every age to be, as it were, the reflex of the Biblical theology that may then prevail, they resist altogether the formation of new articles, or a new confession. Their desire is rather to see the clergy of the evangelical churches bound to teach the Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible; and to leave the interpretation of it to the conscience of the minister; yet in such a manner, that not only a designed perversion of the Scriptures into the sentiments of Rationalism, but also gross negligence in criticism, should be subject to church censure, even to the extent of a complete removal from office.
The course which the Bible Theologians follow, is to go forward, without entering into a contest of principles with the other theological parties, quietly, but unweariedly, in the investigation of the holy Scriptures, as the great depositories of sacred truth. This plan they have followed out with a diligence and success almost unparalleled in the history of modern literature.
The soundness of their learning, the earnestness of their intention, the patience of their investigations, and, more than all, the quiet, unostentations, and charitable spirit, which for the most part pervades their writings, alike unsophisticated as they are with a false philosophy, and unfettered by church formulas, all have given them a power to undermine the Rationalistic spirit of the age, and turn the current of theolo