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Lecture 8: The Religious View of Man

2. Redemption and Education

IF it is essential to man to form ideals of a perfect life, and if he see himself continually impeded in their attainment by the resisting reality of things, he inevitably turns his hoping gaze towards the higher divine power, and expects from that power redemption from the evils which oppress him, and help to enable him to attain to his ideals. The hope of a redemptive manifestation of the Deity, and the striving to bring it about, are therefore found in all religions as an essential object of their faith and an essential motive of their worship. Whatever may be the nature of the hope of redemption, and by whatever conduct on the human side it is to be brought about, in every case it depends on the way in which the Ideal is thought; and this again is dependent on the stage of the moral development of men which has at any time been reached.

It is self-evident that, on the stage of nature-religion, redemption does not yet refer to the moral evil in man, but to the external evils in nature, which are regarded as punishments by the enraged Deity for the violation of his commands. To reconcile the wrath of the Deity by compensating performances or by voluntary expiations which discharge the penalty—it is to this that are referred the manifold expiatory practices, sacrifices, ceremonies of purification, fastings, mortifications, and mutilations which we find everywhere in the forms of worship in which the presuppositions of the nature-religions regarding the angry Deity still reign, or have a continued influence. In so far as the wrath of the Gods is to be referred to failures of religious observances—i.e., to the violation of the private rights personally belonging to the Gods—so far do the means of expiating their wrath also move entirely in the sphere of ceremonial performances and penances, and are morally indifferent, or even anti-moral, as in the case of human sacrifices. But in so far as the Gods, in their capacity as representatives and protectors of the commonwealth, are also made angry by crimes against the social order of the community, the need of expiation extends to moral as well as to ceremonial trespasses, and it operates as a powerful motive to the consolidation of the civil order of right. The mixing without distinction of ceremonial and moral precepts is, as is well known, a common mark of all the oldest legislations. The further development then proceeds in the direction that the moral is placed in significance above the ceremonial by the enlightened wise men and seers, and the possibility of an undoing of moral crimes by mere ceremonial performances is denied. The gradual distinction of the moral from the ceremonial, the repression and ultimate substitution of ceremonial expiation by the moral purification of the sense and life, and consequently the transformation of the mystical conception of redemption into the corresponding ethical conception of education, may be designated as the kernel and the teleological principle of the development of the history of religion.

Anticipatory divinations of this higher ethical idea of redemption are, however, already found on the basis of nature-religion under the covering of symbolically significant legends. For example, the legends of the sacrificial deaths of Codrus and Curtius in order to purchase the victory of their armies, rest indeed upon very superstitious representations of the wrath of the Deity, which was only to be reconciled by a voluntary human sacrifice; but they contain, nevertheless, the true thought that a redeeming power bringing salvation lies in the heroic sense of one who is prepared to sacrifice his own life for the good of his fellows. We may also here specially recall the profound myth of Heracles, the “hero and liberator,” sprung from the Gods, who proved his power under conflicts and sufferings in the service of troubled humanity, and who obtained as the reward of his victory elevation among the Olympians. He is the opposite of Prometheus. As the latter is the man at variance with God, who by titanic self-will falls into guilt and calamity, so is Heracles the man allied with God, who remains obedient to his divine mission under all the trials of the earthly life, and who wins thereby the victory, and this not for himself merely, but for the bound Prometheus he also effectuates redemption from his torture and reconciliation with Zeus. It is the idea of the first and second Adam which we find here preindicated in mythical traits. How very natural it was to find in this mythical God-man the symbolical embodiment of the moral idea of redemption, is proved by the fable of Prodicus, in which Heracles becomes the hero of moral self-conquest who prefers the toilsome way of virtue to that of base enjoyment.

The thought illustrated in this fable, that salvation lies in the self-conquest of the will that is guided by reason, forms the theme of the practical philosophy of the Greeks from Socrates onwards. In Plato, however, this thought obtains the ascetic turn that the soul of man springs from the supersensible world, and is not truly at home in the earthly body, but is held in it as in banishment, in a prison, or in a grave. Hence man's task is to strive for redemption from this imprisonment by raising himself with all his thinking and striving out of the limits of the senses into the eternal world of thoughts. The true life of the wise man is a constant flight from the sphere of sense, and is therefore a preparation for death, in which this very return of the soul to its true life, which has already been spiritually striven after, finds its fulfilment, as is illustrated by the example of Socrates. With the Stoics this transcendent goal of the Platonic doctrine of redemption retreats into the background; but the practical ground-thought is still quite similar to that of Plato—namely, that man can only attain to satisfaction by making himself free from all passions, by ridding himself of all interests which bind him to the external world and to society, and by finding his immovable rest and lofty freedom in the pure inwardness of his own void self-consciousness. The Stoical ideal, as well as the Platonic, thus lies in the ascetic liberation of the Ego from what forms the subject-matter of life in the real world. Finally, in the Neo-Pythagorean and Neo-Platonic philosophy, this dualistic asceticism has become entirely transcendental mysticism, whose contempt of the world formed the exact opposite to the culture-ideals of the Greeks of the classical time with its joyous sense of the world. The world of sense, formerly full of the Gods, appeared now to be a thing without essence and worth, an unreal and agonising dream. Redemption from it and union with the world beyond—the world of purely spiritual and divine life—had become the goal of man's longing, which he sought to approach by all the ways available to him,—theoretically, through the abstraction of thinking; practically, through the desensualising of the will; and mystically, through ecstasy of feeling.

A similar process, with a similar result, had, however, already been passed through, several centuries earlier, in India. By the way of continued abstraction the Brahmanic philosophy had come to regard the world of sense as an essenceless appearance, as the “deception of Maya,” from which the wise man had to release himself, partly through practical asceticism, and partly through the deeper knowledge of the All-unity of Brahma. The blessedness of the wise man is described by the Vedanta philosophy in terms quite similar to those used by the Stoics: No care about the things of the world any longer troubles him who recognises the world as an illusion; no pain, even of his own body, any longer affects him who is able to recognise his own body as an illusion. The incorporeal and unchangeable being, as the wise man has come to know himself to be, is no more affected by pleasure and pain; even the fruit of earlier works, of the good as well as the bad, is done away with for the consciousness of the wise man. For him who has recognised the self as the unchangeable, and consequently also the non-active being, the earlier works which he has performed under the delusion of being an actor turn to nothingness when this illusion is taken away. But the same knowledge which makes the earlier sins an illusion annuls also the good works, past and future.

“He who in himself his peace has found,

Is by no duty ever henceforth bound.”

With the knowledge of the unity of the Self with the All-One, all willing and obligation have come to an end. Thus does rest reign in the soul of him who is redeemed by knowledge, but it is the rest of death, of the dead and emptied heart, to which the goods as well as the evils of life, the true ends and ideals of life as well as the false ones, have become null and vain, and life has thus been robbed of all true worth. To one thus inwardly dead the outer life still rolls purposelessly on for a while, although without a definite end, as the potter's wheel continues to revolve after it has once received an impulse. But when at last what remains of the natural impulse of life has been consumed, the spirits of life no longer move forth into new existence, and the redemption of the wise man is completed by his entire dissolution into the All-One. From the same mood of weariness of the world and longing for death also proceeded the doctrine of redemption of Gautama Buddha. It theoretically drew the consequences of the Brahmanic Pantheism, and practically made the way to redemption accessible to all, and it raised the ascetic ideal of life to a common rule for an organised fellowship. The Buddhistic doctrine of redemption is comprised in the four “sacred truths” of suffering, of the origin of suffering, of the removal of suffering, and of the way to the removal of suffering. That all life is only suffering, because all that lives is subjected to constant change, because all things arise only in order to perish again, and perish in order to return again to a new circle of purposeless and painful existence—this is the fundamental theme of the Buddhistic preaching. But the ground of this endless suffering lies in the thirst of the soul for pleasures, for the enjoyment of life, and for power. Suffering lasts as long as the Ego that wills cleaves to the world of the becoming, which is subject to the laws of causality and of transitoriness. But what chains the will to existence is its not-knowing of the nothingness of all existence: when this not-knowing ceases, the man comes to the knowledge of the eternal law which condemns all willing to endless suffering, and then his will ceases to cling to the finite. With the insight into the aimlessness and vainness of all desire after happiness, the desire itself is quenched; and consequently suffering is also at an end, and deep peace takes its place. The final goal is then reached—namely, “Nirvâna,” the extinguishing of the will which strives after life. “The disciple who has got rid of pleasure and desire, he who is rich in wisdom, has here below reached redemption from death, has attained rest, Nirâvana, the eternal place. He who has escaped from the impassable, hard, deceptive path of the Samsara—i.e., of the circling round of the becoming—he who has crossed over and reached the shore, who has sunk into himself without wavering and doubt, who has delivered himself from the earthly and attained to Nirvâna,—him I call a true Brahman.” So runs one of the sayings of Buddha, collected in the Dammapada. The ideal of the Buddhistic redemption is therefore the state of the soul which is released from joy and sorrow, fear and hope, which has divested itself of all wishes and purposes, which has found the rest of full renunciation in the knowledge of the nothingness of the world and its own existence; and this ideal is therefore at bottom essentially the same as the Stoical apathy, and as the Neo-Platonic flight from the world and emptying of the consciousness of all definite contents until complete ecstasy is reached, which is in fact an extinguishing of the conscious Ego, at least a temporary Nirvâna.

This is the negative redemption, which we may regard as an imperfect preliminary stage in the education of humanity to the true positive redemption. That it is not without a relative truth will be admitted by every one who knows the near affinity of many Buddhistic sayings regarding the vanity of earthly things with passages in the Bible. If man was to come to his true divine destination, he must recognise as nothingness and vanity the sensuous selfish purposes of the natural life—both of the narrowest personal and of the widest national egoism, which in their antagonism to one another continually cross and annul each other. This recognition was the result of the ancient development of culture, which had proceeded from the selfish eudæmonism of the individuals and of their natural associations; and the knowledge of the insufficiency of these impure and limited ideals of the natural selfish eudæmonism was the necessary preparation for elevation to the true all-embracing ideal that could make all happy. The defect, however, of this ascetic doctrine of redemption was, that it stopped at negation without being able to find its positive completion. In contrast to the naïve optimism of the natural eudæmonistic affirmation of the world, the pessimistic negation of the world was a necessary step in advance: its error, however, was that it stopped at the negation of the natural selfish purposes, and did not rise to the true universal life-purpose of humanity united in God, to a positive highest good, in which even the finite goods are again embraced as members of the whole and rightly put into order. We also believe that the world with its fashion passes away, but we know at the same time that he who does the will of God abideth for ever, and that our faith is the victory which has overcome the world. This true positive redemption, prepared in the religion of Israel, has come to fulfilment in Christianity.

The religion of Israel, from the time of the prophets, was practical idealism; its fundamental characteristic was the hope of a future time of salvation, in which the ideal of a just and happy people of God was to be realised. That this ideal was not merely a subjective wish, but the highest truth, was immediately contained in the belief of the prophets in Jehovah, the just and almighty God of Israel, and the disposer of the fates of the peoples. But as the reality never corresponded to that ideal, either in respect of the moral state of Israel or in respect of its circumstances of happiness, there thus followed from the belief of the prophets in God the confident hope that God, by future proofs of His righteousness and strength, would redeem His people from all the evils of the present, inner and outer, moral and natural. This prophetic hope assumed many forms, according to the change of the historical position of Israel; but there were always combined in it these two sides: (1) The expectation that God would purify His people inwardly by a fearful day of judgment, and that He would help on the cause of the pious and righteous to victory and permanence; (2) the expectation that the people, thus purified and become pleasing to God, would then also be victorious over their external enemies, and would rejoice in the efflorescence of a period of national power and glory which should surpass the fairest memories of the flourishing time of David. The former ethical side of the prophetic hope of salvation was the germ of a rich future, while its earthly national side was the perishing husk, which was partly stripped off and partly transformed by the advance of the history of the Jewish people. When the national hopes were baffled in the Exile, and under the continuing foreign government of the centuries after the Exile, the popular religion of the prophets became the heart-religion of pious individuals, as it is expressed in the touching songs of the Psalmists. The redemption which the prophets had hoped for from a future revelation of the power and righteousness of Jahve for the whole of the people, the pious individual now hoped to experience in his personal life. The undeceptions produced by the bitter reality did indeed lead individuals, like the author of Ecclesiastes, to grave doubts; but to others they became the occasion of an ever deeper and purer apprehension of the idea of Redemption. To the pious man who consoled himself under external suffering with the fellowship of his God, this inner happiness became such a paramount good that he “asked nothing of heaven and earth” (Ps. lxxiii.) Here the hope of external salvation vanishes in the certainty of the pious man that in his love of God he already inwardly possesses freedom from the world. Yet this mystical forgetting of the world in the soul bound up with God, as it occurs here and there in the Psalms, never became, in the case of the pious Jews, the one-sided world-negation of the Indians, nor apathetic indifference to the moral life of the community. For the God of Israel is the positive will of goodness, who reveals Himself, not merely in pious hearts, but also in the guidance of the course of the world, as He who will overcome wrong and establish right. The pious Jew, in believing in this end of the divine government of the world, feels himself called to co-operation in this divine purpose; hence he can never isolate himself in one-sided quietistic inwardness, but always keeps his look open towards the whole of the people of God; “he waits for the consolation of Israel.” Under this point of view even the sufferings of the pious obtain a new profound meaning; they appear as the means by which God will not merely prove and purify the pious man himself, but also work out the redemption of the sinful people. The patient suffering of the “Servant of God” is (according to Isaiah, chap. lviii.) the ransom by which the salvation of the people is purchased, the propitiatory sacrifice by which the guilt of others is overcome and repaired. This thought, the fruit of the experiences in suffering of the pious in the Exile, obtained new confirmation under the persecutions and conflicts of the time of the Maccabees. The blood of the heroes of faith had not flowed in vain; it saved to the Jewish people their faith, and had even restored to them for a short time their political independence. From that time it became a universal doctrine of the Jewish theology that the innocent suffering, and especially the martyr-death, of the just, has an expiating and redeeming efficacy for the whole people. Contemporaneously with the view that the suffering of the just does not stand in contradiction with the hope of redemption, but is rather a means of its realisation, this hope itself rose above the earthly life to transcendent heights. Isaiah had already said of the Servant of the Lord, “When Thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand” (liii. 10). And these words suggested the expectation that the pious martyrs will have a share, even personally, in the victory of their cause, by means of a resurrection from the dead. Influences of the Persian religion worked in the same direction, and so it came that, from the age of the Maccabees, the belief in the resurrection of the just grew up among the Jewish people; and thereby the idea of the future time of salvation was transported generally from the soil of the natural world, and raised into the supernatural. The more the reality always again fell short of their high-strung expectations, the more difficult it was to think of the fulfilment of the prophetic ideals taking place in the natural way of historical development, so much the more boldly did the gaze of the Apocalyptic seer raise itself to the heavenly heights. According to the revelations of Daniel and Enoch, the kingdom of the saints and the elect was to descend to the earth upon the clouds of heaven and accompanied by heavenly hosts, and as a new world which was to be brought in by catastrophes of divine omnipotence and to take the place of the present world, which is governed by demons. Thus also among the Jews the place of the once optimistic idealism of the prophets was taken by a pessimistic despair of the real world, and of the possibility of a redemption of it by the natural way of history. The Jewish dualism of the present and of the future world corresponded to the Greek dualism of the sensible and ideal world; both were the manifestation of a resigned turning away from a reality that had become spiritless and godless. But in thus viewing them, the essential distinction is not to be left out of consideration that the Greek vainly longed for a bridging over of the abyss which separated the sensible world from the spiritual world, whereas the pious Jew cherished the hope of the coming of the future world through an act of divine omnipotence, and in this trusting hope he in the meantime inwardly anticipated the happiness of the future external redemption. On the one side the Phariseeac-apocalyptic hope of the miraculous coming down of the kingdom of God from heaven to earth, and on the other side the individualistic piety of the Psalmists and of “them that are quiet in the land,” who, being satisfied in their fellowship with God, ask nothing of heaven and earth,—these were the two sides into which the historical-national hope of redemption of the prophets had resolved itself in the last pre-Christian century of Judaism.

These two sides of the Jewish piety—the individualism of the heart-religion of the Psalms, and the socialism of the prophetic-apocalyptic idea of the kingdom—were combined in Jesus of Nazareth into the unity of a unique religious geniality. The intimate union with God of the pious poets of the Psalms was the ground-tone of His religious life; to Him it clothed itself in the image of the most natural and most intimate human bond of fellowship—the image of the relationship of father and child. But this intimate union with God did not make Him indifferent to the world or to the needs of His people, for He saw in God not merely His Father, but the Father of all men; and He believed in the destination of all men to become actual children of God through trust in God and assimilation to Him. Thus heart-felt love to God became for Him the motive of active and patient love to the brethren; it constrained Him to offer the rest and joyfulness which he possessed in the consciousness of His sonship to God, to all who were weary and heavy laden, as a means of consolation and salvation. He turned with preference to those who were physically and spiritually sick, and sought by the exhortation of humble and trusting love to awaken and animate in them the glimmering spark of their better selves. His love awakened love in return; His trust in God awakened the courage of faith, before which the evil spirits of sin and insanity fled away; and thus did the humble and meek Teacher become the Physician of the sick, the Leader of the blind and strayed, the Deliverer of the captives. While He recognised in these results proofs of the victorious power of the divine spirit, the hope of the early coming of the kingdom of God became to Him a certainty that its existence had already begun. Although the apocalyptic expectation of a miraculous new order of all things and the inversion of all social relationships might still retain their hold even for Jesus, yet it was only the popular form in which a new thought of great reach clothed itself—namely, the thought that the coming of the kingdom of God proceeds from within outwards, that it has its first realisation in the hearts of men who feel and conduct themselves as children of the heavenly Father and as brethren towards each other, and that through the constant and quiet development of these inwardly acting powers of life even all that is external is gradually transformed, and the perfect time of salvation, if not directly accomplished, is at least introduced and prepared. When Jesus beheld in man the growing child of God, and in the world the growing kingdom of God, he did away the idle waiting for future redeeming miracles of Omnipotence and inaugurated the devoted working for the present inward redemption,—that is, education of men into true children of God. In selfless devotion to this common task lay now the sole condition and surety of the participation of every one in the common good which God has prepared for His children, the kingdom of God. All the individual commandments of the law retreat into the background as meaningless before the one all-embracing command, “Love God with all thy heart, and thy neighbour as thyself!” “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness!” With the greatness of the ideal goal grows also the demand upon willingness for sacrifice and the capability of performance on the part of man. For the highest good, all subordinate goods, and even one's own self, must be sacrificed; self-will and selfishness in every form must be overcome. But what makes this demand, which appears so hard, again an easy yoke and a light burden, is the certainty that the way of the Cross, that of the mortification of the natural selfish Ego, is only the way to the life of the true Godlike Ego: “Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.” This is the kernel of the redeeming truth which Jesus has revealed, not through His doctrine merely, but also, and most of all, through His life and death. Thereby Jesus has become the Redeemer (κατ' ἐξοχήν) in that He first understood redemption in its true moral sense as the freedom in God which is to be realised by surrender of one's own will, and has presented it to the eyes of mankind typically in His person and in His life and death. All belief in redemption was henceforth to be tested by this ideal model.

As it is the fate of all new ideas that they must attach themselves to traditional notions, and under their garb obtain acceptance among men, but at the same time must lose much of their purity, so has it also fared with the Christian doctrine of redemption from the beginning. Already in the theology of the apostle Paul its dogmatic envelopment began with redemption being exclusively attached to the death of Jesus, and this death was set forth under the point of view of a vicarious expiation. This is easily explained from the personal relations of the apostle Paul. As he had not known Jesus in His lifetime, the teaching and life of Jesus could not make a decisive impression upon him; his whole interest was therefore concentrated from the outset on the death of Jesus. The death of the Cross had been to him at first the offence which prevented him from believing in the Messiahship of Jesus; but after the vision at Damascus this very death became to him the chief thing in Christ, the end of His divine mission, and the means of His work of redemption. The question, in what sense the death on the Cross could be the means of the Messianic redemption, found its answer to him simply from the presuppositions of the Phariseeac theology, which beheld in the innocent suffering, and especially in the martyr-death, of the righteous, an expiatory means compensating for the sins of the whole people. What could be more natural than that Paul, from the moment when he recognised Jesus as the Messiah, should contemplate the death on the Cross from the same point of view as an expiatory means of salvation for the redemption of the sinful world? But it was not merely to the Jewish people that the expiatory effect of the death of Christ would extend, seeing that Jesus, according to the conviction of Paul, was not merely the Jewish Messiah, but the heavenly man, the ideal of men coming down from heaven, the second Adam. Hence the martyr-death of Jesus which had been suffered in obedience to the will of the Father, was accepted by Him as an expiation performed by the representative of humanity for all, by which the world had been reconciled with God; and His resurrection was regarded as the beginning of the new life of a regenerated humanity. In one respect this view may be made to appear as if redemption had again become a supernatural miracle, a mysterious expiatory sacrifice, which God Himself has carried into effect in the bloody death of His Son for the world, in order thereby to surpass and to supersede all previous sacrifices; and it is not to be denied that this more or less magical notion of redemption has played a great part in the Christian world. But let us not overlook the fact that under this dogmatic shell there is still concealed the same ethical kernel which we have recognised as the thought of redemption in the mind of Jesus. For what gives the death of Jesus its expiatory power is also, according to Paul, the mind of the ideal Man and Son of God, who sought not His own, who did not wish to seize His Messianic Lordship by violence, but merited it by means of His self-humiliation and obedience to death, even to the death on the Cross (Phil. ii. 7, 8). And the saving power of the death of Christ only comes into operation in those who enter in faith into the fellowship of His spiritual life,—who spiritually die and rise again with Him. Regarded from this point of view, Christ's death and resurrection have therefore the significance of a dramatic symbolising of the cardinal ethical truth, that it is the self-sacrifice of obedience and love by which man is released from sin and guilt, and becomes participative of the peace and freedom of a child of God. In this, therefore, Paul and Jesus entirely agree; the distinction between them is only this, that Jesus taught the redeeming truth immediately by His words and life, whereas Paul has enveloped it in the dogmatic notion of the sacrificial death of Christ suffered once for all for us, which must be carried on in advancing ethical self-sacrifice in us.

In the Church the dogmatic-supranaturalistic and the ethical doctrine of redemption always held their place in its history side by side with each other, although the former stood more prominently in the foreground, not merely in the popular view, but also among the theologians. Its most widely spread form, which ruled for more than a thousand years, was the mythical representation of a conflict or juridical transaction between Christ and the devil—a fruitful theme for the medieval fantasy, and exhibited in manifold variations in art and legend. Yet this myth could not satisfy the more earnest-thinking; and hence the scholastic Anselm set himself the task, how to understand redemption, without reference to the devil, as the satisfaction of the God-Man required by the violated honour of God. His theory rested throughout on the presupposition of the secular and ecclesiastical morals of his time: the violated honour of God demands punishment or satisfaction. The punishment can be commuted by a performance of value, which, in the case of the debtor who is unable to pay, can be discharged by a kinsman. The death of the God-Man was regarded as an opus supererogativum of infinite meritorious value. This merit demands a corresponding reward, which is credited to the account of the human kinsmen of the God-Man, so as to cover their insufficiency in moral performances. The work of Christ, as Anselm construed it, was in fact nothing else than the prototype of the meritorious performances and satisfactions of the ecclesiastical saints, and was therefore from the standpoint of the medieval Church thought out quite logically. All the more remarkable is it that the Churches of the Reformation could be satisfied with this theory, notwithstanding that it stood in complete contradiction to their deeper moral consciousness. If, according to Protestant principles generally, there are no supererogatory meritorious works, then one would suppose that such cannot be accepted even in the case of Jesus. And if it is only the personal state of mind of the individual that decides regarding his salvation (which is the kernel of the doctrine of justifying faith), then one would suppose that there cannot be any vicarious performances of one for others at all, nor consequently any such even in the relationship of Christ to us.

These objections to the ecclesiastical dogma of redemption were already raised in the time of the Reformation by men like Schwenkfeld, Weigel, and Frank. “Our redemption,” said Weigel, “rests not upon what the earthly Christ has done for us, as if we could help ourselves without repentance with His imputed righteousness. The life of Christ in thee must do it: Christ's death is imputed to no one; let him then have the death of Christ in himself, in the crucifixion of his old man.” According to Frank, the historical Christ is given to us for an example and a sign of grace, that we may lay hold of God in Him. In Christ that becomes revealed which was formerly existing unconsciously in the hearts of the pious. But the history of Christ must consummate itself in all His members; the Word must also become flesh in us, must suffer and die and rise again in us. The intention of these really evangelically thinking men, to put an ethical and internal redemption in place of the dogmatic and external redemption, could not at first be carried through in opposition to the new dogmatism of the Protestant theology, but we may see in them the precursors of the idealistic philosophy of religion, which since Kant has exercised deep influence even upon the theological doctrine of redemption. According to Kant, belief in a mere historical proposition is dead in itself, and is of no avail for salvation: the proper object of the belief in Christ is the ideal Son of God—i.e., the ideal of the humanity that is well-pleasing to God. This idea has the basis of its truth and binding power in the practical reason, and is independent of all historical traditions; but it is brought to efficient perception through the example of Jesus, whom we therefore may regard as if the ideal of the good had appeared bodily in Him, without our having nevertheless on that account to see in Him anything else than a true man: nay more, by presupposing His mystical Deity, the typicalness of His moral example would rather be destroyed. Even the dogmatic theory that the guilt of men is vicariously expiated by Christ's death cannot, according to Kant's conviction, be correct in the proper sense, because guilt, as the most personal of all things, is not transferable. We are thus led to see in this theory the symbolical presentment of the truth that the new man in us suffers as it were vicariously for the old man; for he takes upon himself the daily pain of self-subjugation, and bears guiltlessly in patience the manifold evils which the old man could not but necessarily impute to himself as punishment. Therefore, as Christ is the exemplification of the moral idea of man, so His death is the symbol of that moral process of painful self-subjugation in obedience and patience, in which the true inner redemption of man consists. In like manner Fichte said, the only proper means of salvation is the death of selfhood, death with Jesus, regeneration. This is the way we must go: the history of how it has been discovered and made plain is indeed otherwise good, but it gives no help to going. Christianity is not reached until that way of blessedness is recognised as the sole and whole way, and what is historical is to be given over to the understanding. If one is really united with God, it is quite indifferent by what way he has come to it; and it would be a very useless occupation to be always merely repeating to one's self the remembrance of the way, instead of living in the thing itself.

In this philosophical doctrine of redemption there lies a significant truth, along with a sensible defect. The truth is this, that redemption is not a miraculous process external to us, which was accomplished long ago and once for all by the sacrificial death of a God in our favour, but that it is a moral event happening within the soul which always repeats itself, the self-sacrifice of the will to God in obedience, love, and patience. This is just what we have learned to know as the sense of Jesus' doctrine of redemption; and this is also just what was the kernel of the Reformation doctrine of justifying faith, which indeed is nothing but self-surrender to the holy love of God. But the defect in the Kant-Fichtean doctrine of redemption consisted in this, that it limited this ethical process of transformation to the individual, and endeavoured to explain it from his subjective reason and freedom alone. In this view the decisive question remained unsolved—namely, how the individual was of himself to become able to release himself from his moral imprisonment and powerlessness, and to become a new morally free man. For by appealing to what ought to be, to the law of the good lying in the reason, the possibility of its realisation was not at all explained, seeing that the law by itself alone is able indeed to weigh us down and to condemn us, but not to lift us up and liberate us. Limited to the individual, the victory of the good principle over the bad always remains problematical, a thing of happy accident without real guarantee. Only when the moral individual knows himself to be the member of a community in which the good principle has actually become the ruling common spirit, and shows itself always efficient as the victorious power over the bad in the collective historical life,—only then is the possibility likewise given that the individual may himself also become good through the educating power of the good Spirit which lives in the community. This is just the Christian doctrine of redemption. According to it, the moral liberation and regeneration of the individual is not the effect of his own natural power, but the effect of the divine Spirit, who, from the beginning of human history, put forth His activity as the power educating to the good, and especially has created for Himself in the Christian community a permanent organ for the education of the peoples and of individuals. It was the moral individualism of Kant which prevented him from finding in the historically realised common spirit of the good the real force available for the individual becoming good.

The post-Kantian philosophy overcame this defect by its turning from subjective to objective or historic-social idealism. And from this higher point of view Schleiermacher has pre-eminently understood how to combine the internality of Kant's ethical doctrine of redemption with the historicity of the principle of redemption which proceeded from Jesus Christ and is active in the Christian community. According to Schleiermacher, redemption is not a transcendent miraculous process, but a religious moral process of consciousness, which lies in the sphere of our experience and corresponds to the laws of our nature. That the consciousness of God, which belongs, along with the sensibility, to the generic nature of man as a rational being, must become free from its initial suppression and attain dominion over the lower side of man—this, according to Schleiermacher, is grounded in the unity of the divine decree of creation and redemption, or of the order of the world; and it therefore followed as a consequence with inner necessity from the development of the rational capacity of man—as it is also, according to Kant, a demand grounded in our reason—that the good principle shall become lord over the bad principle. But whereas Kant derived this victory from the freedom of the subject, and consequently made it inexplicable, or at least wholly problematical, Schleiermacher, on the other hand, rightly recognised that the experience of the individual, in respect of the bad as well as in respect of the good, stands in causal connection with the joint experience of the community of which he is a member. The passing from the dominion of sin to the dominion of the consciousness of God, in which redemption just consists, cannot therefore have its sufficient ground in the individual, but can only be a consequence and imitative repetition of the fundamental and typical transition which has been effected in the common consciousness of humanity through the historical life-work of Jesus Christ. The perfection in principle of the consciousness of God in Jesus was the redeeming power which appeared in Him as personal life; and which, proceeding from Him, is present and active as the holy common spirit in Christendom. If it is true that the individual life is always the abbreviated repetition of the generic life, and that the actualisation of the human capacities in the individual is only effected everywhere on the ground of their actuality in society, then it was certainly a happy thought of Schleiermacher to expand the different states of the religious self-consciousness (unfreedom and liberation of the higher self) into phases of the development of all religious humanity. Thereby he broke through the narrow individualistic and non-historical horizon of the Aufklärung, and reconciled the inner self-certainty of the personal spirit with the historical common spirit of Christendom.

Upon the standpoint of this universal-historical doctrine of redemption (as we may call it by way of distinction from Kant's individualism), the good is not a mere ought-to-be, an ideal without reality, the realising of which was expected exclusively from the subjective will, which, however, could never become capable of its task. But the good is the universal-rational will or divine Logos which realises itself in the course of the history of humanity, the revelation of which has indeed attained its highest point in Christ, but is by no means limited to Him, rather going back to the beginning of our race. The rational capacity innate in us, that image of God in man, already rests upon our participating in the divine Logos, which John for that very reason calls quite generally “the light of men,” the light “which lighteth every man.” And thus every step in the development of this divine germ of humanity, every thought which rises to the light of truth, every good deed which furthers and preserves the moral order, is likewise a revelation of the divine spirit which redeems us from crude nature and educates us into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

Undoubtedly the central revelation of this spirit has been the religious life of humanity at all times; and in this sphere Jesus Christ is the central form towering above all else, and His life-work is the decisive turning-point, the regeneration of humanity, the redemption (κατ' ἐξ οχὴυ). But this does not exclude the fact that we may also recognise in all the other benefactors of humanity who have accomplished what is great and fruitful in religion and morality, in art and science, in discoveries and inventions, redeeming heroes and instruments of the divine education of humanity. The collected fruit of all these deeds and sufferings, conflicts and sacrifices, which contributed to further the spiritual development of our race, forms the true “treasure of grace” which is transmitted as a most precious inheritance from generation to generation. Every individual who is born into the world of Christian civilisation and reared in it, enters immediately into the enjoyment of this inestimable inheritance, which is laid into his cradle as an unmerited good, and, we may say, as a gracious gift of the love and wisdom that govern the world. Before the waking consciousness of the spirit of the child is able to grasp the thought of the good as law, duty, task, and ideal, it has already long got to feel the good as the present good of civilised life, and as the educating power of truth and love. There also springs out of this precious gift of “the grace of God that bringeth salvation” (Titus ii. 11) a correspondingly high task for every individual. But the impossible is not demanded, namely, that every one should proceed to create the good out of his own weak powers; he has only to give himself up willingly to the existing spirit of the good, to appropriate it to himself, to live into it, and to let himself be trained by it to true freedom, in order then to work co-operatingly with strengthened power for the furtherance of the common good. “What thou hast inherited from thy fathers, acquire it in order to possess it!” This advancing work of appropriating and communicating spiritual goods, of letting one's self be educated and educating others for the good, in this dedication of the whole self to the furtherance of the universal good, of the kingdom of God,—in this work consists the ethical redemption of all.