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the power of attesting the truth, to an impersonal object or a man, True faith sees in the letter of the revealed record the religious contents expressed in irrevocable objectivity, which have the power of demonstrating their truthfulness through the Spirit of God, who can cause that the letter shall be rendered instinct with warmth and life, with a view to placing the living God-man before the eyes of faith.


HISTORIC RELIGION.-(Cf. $$ 46, 50, 62.)

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In the very fact that faith not merely sees in Jesus Christ

the manifestation of the God-man (§ 3), but also recognizes that it is only in the divine Incarnation that the consummation and goal of religion and revelation can be contained, a twofold scientific duty is imposed on it, namely, while recognizing and verifying the preparation for or growth of the absolute religion in pre-Christian history, in Christ's manifestation to recognize and verify its realization in fact.

1. What has been advanced hitherto respecting the nature of religion and revelation, and the significance of the incarnation for both, has been deduced froin the experience of faith reflecting upon itself, and giving account to itself of its contents. Already, as regards its origin, faith had taken up historical matter, and blended in an immediate, i.e. religious, form with its real, spiritual contents. The historic, however, is and remains an independent power (Grösse) outside the sphere of faith as such. And just as it was a duty for faith, which has to develop its immediate into scientific certainty, to make itself master of its inner possessions by reducing them to inner objectivity (i.e. to the distinct perception that divine rationality or intrinsic truthfulness, anddespite their spiritual inwardness—the tendency to realization in history, inhere essentially and of necessity in its contents), so on the other hand it is faith, which forms the impulse, by the study of history itself, which occupies an independent position over against it, to gain scientific certainty that the

2 SS 3, 11, 12


world of history stands not in contradiction but in harmony with faith. In this way faith comes to feel itself at home in history, because history presents to it in an independent form precisely the same reality, the same union of the ideal and historic, whose necessity as well as possibility faith had deduced from reflection upon itself. For these reasons faith, not from external occasion, but from its own impulse and for its own sake, must needs use historical study as a test of its own validity.

2. This historical line of investigation must be definitely distinguished from the dogmatic one, and does not receive its law from the latter. It is just as independent in regard to faith as its historical sources are. The only harmony of the historic with faith that can possess value for scientific certainty and for faith itself is a free one. On the other hand, the historic method is not that of mathematics and speculation. In that case we should require of it what it has not to give. For this reason, moreover, historical investigation or demonstration cannot suppose either that it is under obligation or has the power to originate faith, so that its inability to do this would be proof that faith has no foundation, no title to certainty, We cannot by way of supplement fall back on the position that would make faith matter of demonstration (88 7, 8). This much only is certain, that if historical proof were forthcoming of the incompatibility of the history of religion with the necessary presuppositions of Christianity, or of the incredibility of the fundamental Christian facts, then faith could no longer stand. But for this very reason it cannot be a postulate of historical investigation, that faith which is not the fruit of such investigation should a priori and altogether cease or be suspended. This would not further but injure inquiry. Faith must at least continue as the power and inclination to advance with full intelligence into the religious world, and into the survey of every historic field. And in this view what has been laid down previously, from the Doctrine of God onwards, may serve to promote the understanding of the course of religious history, while on the other hand it has certainly to await its historic confirmation from the free course of the investigation.

1 $$ 14-63. The same relation of comparative independence and interdependence between two courses appears in the relation of the so-called material and formal aspect of the Evangelical principle. Though faith is not something altogether subjective, it yet desires to certify itself of its subjective.objective character in two ways,—first by bringing the intrinsic truth and necessity of its world of thought in connected form into the clear light of consciousness, and secondly, by testing itself by the independent historic objectivity of primitive Christianity, to see whether it is acknowledged by the latter,

3. The historical investigation falls naturally into two divisions, the first dealing with pre-Christian religions, the second with Christianity. It is a postulate of historical research, not to regard the numerous religions as powers that sprang up merely by accident and caprice, but to search for an intrinsic connection and a law which they follow, however far as yet science may be from having reached this point. But none the less does Christianity demand that all preChristian religions be arranged under a single point of view, and brought in some way into relation with the fundamental Christian fact. If the Incarnation is the supreme revealing act of God—the Logos—who made the world, who abides in it as the principle of conservation, and in it accomplishes His end—the world-ain-and if the consummation of the world could not coincide with its beginning, but presupposes different stages or stadia,' then will every previous phenomenon in the sphere of religion be related somehow to this goal in the character of instrumental means, and the expectation is warranted, nay essential, that what is extra-Christian may be placed in some way under the point of view of a preparation for or prophecy of this goal. If the facts of the case did not permit this, not merely would Christianity figure as an abrupt phenomenon, but the universality of its destination for all men in the multiplicity of their modes of faith would be in danger. If it could not be referred to as the goal and standard by which to determine the value and position of each one of these, a priori it could not be the absolute religion; for the absolute religion must preserve the truth contained in them all, emancipate and satisfy the best longing in each and all of them. It is true that many nations have perished to the last

See above, pp. 201-204. .: A. Ritschl, Die Lehre von der Rechtfertigung und Versöhnung, 1874, III. 263 : “If the final aim of God in the world is to bind the nations together by moral ties, the inference is unavoidable, that the preceding history of the nations stood

vestige; as to many others, we have but fragments of their religion. But the enumeration of every particular is not needed for our purpose.

This we remit to the science that treats of the religious history of mankind from original sources. For us it is enough to glance at the leading, worldrenowned, civilised nations, to come to an understanding with the present condition of the still comparatively youthful science of the history of religion, and to ask whether the history of such nations sanctions the laws which we have seen following from the nature of religion, especially whether in them can be detected traces of that tendency of religion which finds its goal in the unity of God and man,-in a word, whether face to face with the history of religion it can be said that Christianity is the solution of the religious seeking and longing of the extra-Christian world. A good omen for us is supplied by the fundamental importance which the idea of God must needs have for every religion, as well as by the proof formerly given, that the chief categories of the Christian idea of God, such as form the centre of the various leading religions, are preserved in the Christian idea of God, while at the same time combined in a higher unity."




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Even in heathenism a preparation for Christianity has been

worked out, not merely negative, but to some extent positive in character.

in some designed relation to that stage of development, and their appearance in some degree prepared the way for it. The indications," he continues, "of an education of the human race for the kingdom of God need to be exhibited."

- What Lessing in his Education of the Human Race attempted to show with a predominantly intellectual tendency and in a narrow circle, should be carried out on a more comprehensive scale.

* Cf. vol. i. g 20, p. 249, Obs. 2; and g 32.

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