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theologian, unless he remains in the outworks of his science, has to do with the most sublime objects; and how can a degraded soul, dead to impressions from the Elevated and the Eternal, be happy in the contemplation of divine things? In like manner, we need to be reminded, and, at the present day, every thing points us to the fact, that the establishment of a correct relation between science and life is a paramount want of the times. Theology is studied far too much from books, and far too little from life. Books, certainly, are not to be held in light esteem; and we are not speaking to those who are too fond of their ease to use them; but we must needs look through books into lise, and into the depths of our own soul. Our science essentially consists in going to the bottom of the great religious manifestations of past ages as well as the present, and of the facts of our own consciousness, with a free, open, and penetrating spirit; it is a thoughtful observation of the developement of religious life, a science of experience. Men may quarrel with the word experience as they will; it has a good foundation in theology, and will always retain its pleasant tone. The ablest theologians of all ages, — our Luther, with his oratio, tentatio, meditatio, especially included, - have never lost sight of the need of an inward, vital experience of religious and moral truths. He who has never felt the influence of religion on the heart, how is it possible that he should know or say any thing correctly with regard to it? All the truths pertaining to piety and to life may be laid down in the Bible, and in a thousand other books; they may be exhibited in the most impressive facts; but they will exist in vain for us, unless they have been transformed into living convictions and inward realities. Only what is present in the spiritual life, can become a complete conception, a full and living idea, a true inward possession; all the rest is dead abstraction, external notices, and foreign good. It is true, indeed, that enormous mischief may be occasioned by that which we call experience; and many strange and wild notions have been brought forward under this name; but what wise man will refrain from the true use of any thing, on account of its possible abuse? Have not men made a wrong use even of Reason, and of the appeal to its decisions? But if experience be united with a sound, legitimate, and thorough-going reflection, if it be not embraced merely in isolated and personal relations, but is always combined with the universal developement of the religious life in history, with the experience of the Christian world as a whole; then, surely, it ought not to be rejected; then, it is not merely great and excellent in itself, but the only true and living ground on which all genuine theology rests. History and life from without, but, at the same time, the depths of our own heart and spirit from within, - and the former only when they are reflected with brightness and purity in the latter, - are the exhaustless and enduring fountains of the theologian; and, "Ere thou goest further,” may we call to every one, with the poet, “go back into thyself.”


Criticism is an element which no science can dispense with, and certainly not theology; but two things, however, are requisite for criticism to assume its appropriate place in this department.

It must be exercised in the right sense, and it must not be merely negative in its character. The same freedom, acuteness, and impartiality which are demanded in the critical treatment of other writings, should be applied to the bistorical investigation of the sacred records, and to the judgment of their contents; but the critic should never forget this one fact, which is indeed involved in the very nature of the case, that they are holy writings with which he is here employed. He who is not and cannot be possessed with the feeling that he here enters into a sanctuary, into the halls of a solemn temple, is as little fitted to be a judge of such subjects, as that man is to pronounce an opinion in matters of architecture, who can enter one of the sublime cathedrals of a past age, with no impression on his soul of the Extraordinary, the Vast, the Holy. The understanding, at such a moment, can retain its most transparent clearness, can assert all its valid rights; and it ought to do so. Was Göthe's understanding injured, because he was transported with the Minster of Strassburg ? Or Herder's, because he was excited and enraptured by the Great and Beautiful in every form? But he who confines himself merely to the operations of the understanding, and has no sense for any thing higher, in the investigation and judgment of such memorials, will always lose something essential, of which the ground and kernel are the most elevated thoughts and truths. Connected with this, is the demand that criticism, in every department of theology, should not be merely negative, but, in accordance with its nature, should also tend to recognise, to build up, and to sustain. To discover a chasm, a defect, a spot, is not difficult; a minute, analytic, fault-finding criticism can be carried on with small understanding and very superficial knowledge; we find such critics in every walk of life, who, in the most beautiful exhibitions, the most profound and expressive works of art, seize upon the imperfection of some petty detail, and thus deprive themselves of the enjoyment of the whole; the same judges are to be met with also in the theological sciences, in exegesis, in ecclesiastical history, in the judgment of systems and modes of thought. They pursue a task as pitiable as it is unsatisfactory. The true business of the critic is to pass a judgment, no less profound than comprehensive, upon the subject of his examination; to proceed in this with an art, that has become practical skill, and, as it were, converted into flesh and blood; above all, he is called upon to understand a living, spiritual work, in its whole significance, with respect to its essence and form, and to bring it forth from its central point, to clear and perfect intuition by himself and others; and in order to comprehend any subject in all its compass and depth, there is needed a mind of a kindred nature and one capable of self-abandonment; he may then attempt to pass his own independent judgment, to estimate the object of inquiry from his own point of view ; he may place his own reflection in the true relation, for comparison, with that which he is to judge; and this becomes still more difficult, because it is necessary, relatively at least, to pass beyond the object which is given. But in all respects, it is evident, that a genuine criticism, - a criticism not merely censorious, skeptical, and inclined to minute analysis, but that which is truly observant, creative, and reconciling, is one of the most important tasks in which a theologian can engage.


The idea of revelation is most intimately connected with the essence of religion. Religion wishes to be vot merely an hypothesis concerning God, but a certainty of God; but this it can be only when it is also a certainty from God, when we do not merely form thoughts and opinions for ourselves concerning God, but God gives himself to be known by us. We can only know that Spirit, which comes forth from itself, which communicates, reveals itself; and it lies also in the essence of Spirit, as of a living being, actually to manifest, to impart itself, so that it can be known. But Spirit can be revealed in works, words, and acts, — for we distinguish acts as the immediate, highest, and most complete expression of personality, from works, regarded more as subsisting by themselves and separate from personality. Creation, in the first place, is an expression of the Divine Spirit, the sublime production of Omnipotence; but nature, though endowed with life, is yet a mute revelation, a silent imitation of the Divine, a copy of divine thoughts, but in which they are at the same time veiled. Nature does not speak of God; she awakens only a presentiment of bim, she points bim out only to the heart which already bears a consciousness of the Divine within itself. As we are not satisfied when the human soul is revealed to us merely through the eye, the countenance, and the form, as we always desire that a man should speak to us, in order that we may truly see him; so it does not satisfy us that God should only cast a glance upon us from the stars of heaven, from the flowers of the earth, and from all the magnificence of creation ; we still long for something more, we wish to hear his word, so that the significance of nature may dawn upon us. The word is a more animated and intelligible, a more sublime expression of spirit, than the mute work; and if God would permit himself not only to be sought but found, he must needs manifest himself through the word. Hence the immeasurable importance of the word for the religious life, which is acknowledged by almost every religion. The word is the expression of the divine as well as of the human spirit; and it is only when our secret presentiment of God is met by the word, that it is elevated to the rank of distinct knowledge. The word of God is uttered in every human spirit; but it must also be brought to understanding, to full consciousness; and even when this is done, the consciousness of the Divine is again clouded by sin and the manifold darkness and deception, wbich are combined with it. The revelation of God in the soul is always circumstanced like the soul itself; it passes through an impure, variable element, and hence is itself disturbed, fluctuating, and imperfect. On this account it is needed that men should rise up, who, filled with a higher and purer spirit, first discover the true word for the idea of God that slumbers in the heart, and speak forth that which lies unconsciously in the depths of the spirit; but who then also, when a moral depravation has taken place, renovate the religious life, and so utter the word of God, that it becomes a true and firmer standard of the knowledge of God than the comparatively impure consciousness of sinful


Such speakers, aroused by the Deity, were the holy men of the ancient covenant, above all the prophets. But the word of God, which even they spake, was yet imperfect; it came to them from without, in moments of higher inspiration, in images and visions, from special divine teaching, and for the purpose of individual divine missions.

It was not so with Christ. The word of God came not to him from without, for specific purposes, in individual teachings, and by peculiar impulses. He was himself the word of God. In him it dwelt, as the living fulness of the divine power and wisdom, by which all things have their existence, and from him, it went forth, without his being in an extraordinary condition, as the natural, necessary expression of his essential character. But the manifestation of Christ became the perfect revelation of the Divine only by the fact that action was added to the word. The word ever belongs, for the most part, to one side of the spiritual life, namely, to knowledge and perception; it principally comprehends doctrine in itself; but religion is not merely knowledge, it is essentially life, it belongs to the whole sphere of the spirit. If, then, the religious condition of humanity was to be thoroughly improved and renovated, if the Divine was to be exhibited before man, for his personal appropriation, this could not be effected by doctrine alone, it must, at the same time, be accomplished by that which is a still more perfect expression of the Spirit, by Divine Action, or by a series of Divine acts, in the whole manifestation of a life. This is the essential element in the revelation of God through Christ. It is the original exhibition of a divine life, through the creative power of which, a new life, consecrated to God, is produced in humanity. The works of Christ are an expression of divine truth and love, they bear the seal of divine perfection. His whole life is one great, connected divine act, crowned by his death, as the completion of divine love. If á God, who is love and truth, would perfectly reveal himself, he must needs reveal himself, not only in the boundless grandeur and beauty of the universe, but in the sublimity and loveliness of a perfectly moral and holy existence, not only in a true and profound doctrine, but in a life, in which world-redeeming love was always identical with world-redeeming truth, in which doctrine was everywhere action, and every action a divine doctrine. Thus is the whole manifestation of Christ, and above all his death an act of God, by which God calls us to himself,

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