Obrázky na stránke

of the world in a spiritual sense by requiring a higher, infinitely rich world of spirits to be taken into consideration, and through the holy character of these spirits secures to Godconsciousness a powerful point of support for the religious apprehension of the universe. The boundary imposed by the doctrine on the human species is a limitation for a mere earthly mind, but for one made free by love an expansion. Not from spirit, not from love, but only from Egoism can the fear spring of the absolute worth of our race suffering from other beings participating therein. In reality it can only be a gain, an enhancement of the dignity of the human race, to suppose that outside our earth there is a spirit-world which exists for us as we exist for it.1 The unity of the universe of course must not be infringed by it. But how can unity be supposed to be infringed by the existence of spirit in other parts of the universe? On the contrary, it were strange if the earth were the sole end of the world. On the contrary, according to the N. T., the angel-world and perfected humanity form one unity. Of the former also, the Son of God is the centre. Its religion is one and the same with that of Christendom. Akin to this over-valuation of the earth and man is the common question, whether angels or men are the higher order of beings. Christ, it is said, took hold not of angels but humanity; He is Lord of angels; therefore in His person humanity is raised to the head even of the angelic order of beings. But this whole question resembles the dispute of the disciples, which among them was greatest, and the answer will be given by our asking, In what does man's essence lie? Manifestly, primarily in the spirit, not in this earthly frame, which angels, it is true, have not. As relates to the spirit or reason, of which but one kind can exist, and whose true reality consists in wisdom, love, and holiness, men and angels are of the same nature. Though men begin at a lower stage, they shall still when perfected be ioáyyeλoi;* as on the other side, at least in virtue of sympathy for men, angels have a course of historical progress, and are only welded into perfect unity through Christ.-While the former limitation of the view to this earth springs from the pride and arrogance of the human heart, the doctrine of angels. 2 Phil. ii. 8 ff.; Col. i. 20.



1 Luke xv. 10.

3 Matt. xviii.; John xiii. 13 ff.

Luke xx. 36.

is a no less important safeguard against the despairing doubt of the infinite significance of spirit in the world-All, springing from over-valuation of material masses; for the doctrine requires other world-regions in manifold gradation to be conceived as filled by rational beings, to the end that everywhere spirit may be seen to be the end of nature. On the other hand, by the doctrine of the sympathy of higher spirits with our history, it is intimated that in the spirit-kingdom nothing is isolated; that, on the contrary, what transpires on this earthly ball-a mere drop in a bucket-has significance for the entire universe of spirits.

2. Moreover, manifold significance in a positive respect cannot be denied to the doctrine of angels. Natural science does not permit our earth, and therefore our race, to be regarded as instituted eternally a parte ante. But just as little, we found (§ 34, 4), is the thought conceivable of God only having begun to create and surround Himself with spiritual beings a number of years ago, which would be the case if this earth with its inhabitants were the first. Prior to it, therefore, we must assume cycles of creation, each one of which is relatively independent, but which, on the other hand, are designed to interlock organically one with another.1 The Biblical doctrine of angels, then, shows how it is possible to conceive this earthly world as non-existent ages ago, and yet God's work of creation as not beginning with it. This consideration suggests to us the doctrine of angels in the light of a necessary postulate. In the same way the beginnings of our race seem to require the doctrine. The nature of man, in order to its development, absolutely needs stimulus from without, and indeed each aspect of his nature needs a cor

1 This has been expressed with great poetic beauty by Baltzer in his poem, Die Weltschöpfung :

In the bright eternal ages,

Ere the dawn of worlds was toned, Ere the spaces, ere the cons,

Lord of Hosts our God was throned.

He first made the angelic army,

And the bases of the earth,
And the waving seas of æther,
When He gave the world its birth.

At the world's first blessed dawning
Lay the silent spirit-land,
Stilly sleeping like a fledgeling,
All unconscious in God's hand.
Then to loudest praise untiring
God awaked the choir sublime,
As the first-fruits of creation,
At the gateway of dark Time.


responding one, the spiritual aspect a spiritual. This stimulus he must find in a created spirit external to him. Now, seeing that in the beginning of the human race this cannot be supplied by man, the commencement of human development suggests that our race is not a self-enclosed, self-sufficing totality, but that there is a point where the circle of our race awaits the interlocking of the circle of another race, a race whose nature indeed we are unable to explain, but to which the Biblical doctrine of angels all the more corresponds, as angels are in many ways adapted to be the channel of divine communications to the world. Withal this is quite in keeping with the character of the pre-Christian period, where the mediatorial ministry of creatures has a far more prominent place than in the New Covenant, which in Christ brings about direct connection with God. Angels, even if not bodiless, are beings free of space, not burdened with matter, not restricted to one sphere, but "the universe is open to them without limit-omnis spiritus ales." .”—Further, this doctrine brings vividly before us the wealth of spirit in the most diversified forms. Even for the doctrine of God and man it is important, as through it the possibility of a sinless development is demonstrated, and thus the identification of finitude and sin prevented. The angels arc represented by Christ as a pattern of joyous fulfilment of God's will. The doctrine also enhances the dignity of Christ, who is the Head of the angels, as well as the glory and majesty of the Church, which embraces them. Finally, amid the conflicts of the present age this doctrine forms a pledge to the Christian consciousness, that the triumphant Church is no empty ideal, no eternal other-world, but a present reality, and that believers have already the rights of citizens in their kingdom.5 They belong to two worlds. We are born into a heavenly kingdom, not first formed by men, but in existence already. The kingdom of heaven comes to men.

1 Gal. iii. 19; Acts vii. 53, cf. John i. 51. 3 Matt. vi. 10.

Heb. xii. 22; Eph. i. 21-23.

2 Rothe after Tertullian. Eph. i. 10; Phil. ii. 10; Col. i. 16-20.







1 [Einheit, oneness, a word, however, which the translator is free to confess that he shrinks from using in this connection.]

« PredošláPokračovať »