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does not advance beyond a more quantitative distinction between God and man, and does not know that the Deity is absolutely assured of His greatness, nay uniqueness, by selfexistence pertaining to Him alone and of necessity.
God's holiness not being known, the consciousness of the destination of man must also be wanting. Heathenism has but a superficial apprehension of the moral evil and impurity defiling man; for, to say nothing of the moral blemishes with which, according to mythology, the gods are afflicted, and in which indifference finds excuse, a physical mode of apprehending evil prevails in the ancient world in diverse forms. In one class of religions it is identified with finitude,—so in Brahmanism and Buddhism ; others discover its reason in matter or the body, the dualistic religions in an evil Deity and his kingdom. On one side even such acts as the conscious will has no share in, are regarded as evil or as penal guilt (even through destiny man may fall into guilt that dooms him with his posterity to irretrievable ruin); on the other side the subject ascribes to himself virtue and merit, if he has omitted certain external actions or performed certain external works. So in the self-righteous speeches of departed souls before the Judge in the other world in the Egyptian Book of the Dead. On the one side, what is not evil is shunned more than evil, c.g. defilement in the region of caste affairs, and mankind is rent into sects by substituting the physically impure for the morally unholy; national pride and hate seek to legitimate themselves on religious grounds, nay, between classes of the same people insuperable walls of partition are set up, so that the idea of humanity experiences the same fate as the idea of the Godhead, breaking up into mutually conflicting fragments. On the other side, what is not good, but inhuman and immoral, is regarded as good, or even as sacred duty. This is especially shown in the heathen cults.
Heathenism does not lack forms of worship, in which the favour of the gods is sought. But it is not so much deliverance from guilt, purification of the heart, that is sought in them, as the goodwill of the gods and the dispensing of temporal gifts, or at best the bestowal of good fortune in relation to the civic commonweal. Under this aspect, an Egoism, although unconscious, lies at the foundation of heathen acts of worship; they are means of bribery and flattery. For the Deity not being conceived as holy, He is represented as accessible to such means; and man's destination to the divine image not being understood, temporal blessings alone remain his highest ends. This motive governs both the system of sacrificial worship and inquiry into the divine will in the oracles ; for the usual cults, often performed with mechanical accuracy, are indeed an expression of dependence on God, but less of gratitude than of desire to obtain the favour of the gods who dispense future benefits. The moral significance of the cultus—the cleansing of the disposition and the purifying of the heart, as well as deliverance from guilt—comes less into view. Expiatory sacrifices occupy a quite insignificant position in the cultus. Certainly, when great national calamity threatens, worldliness in its terror betakes itself to horrid sacrifices. So especially among the Phænicians and Carthaginians even in later days. It would seem also that among Greeks and Romans in older days more than afterwards the consciousness of guilt, the feeling of separation from God through sin, lay heavy on the spirit, and the dearest (not merely foes, as among the Germans) was ready to be offered in atonement. Human sacrifices seem to have been far more widespread in earlier antiquity than afterwards. But in this the disposition is always shown either to transfer the guilt of evil outside self, or at least to seek an expiation outside one's own person.
But where the expiation is taken upon one's own person, the guilt is at least discovered outside the soul itself—in the body, and attempted to be erased by means of negative, lacerating or life-destroying, ascetic practices; or the lusts of the flesh put on the garb of devotion, and require or present the sacrifice of innocence in pretended honour of the gods. So especially in religions where the supreme deities are separated into the two sexes, in Middle Asia, Syria, Egypt. Sacrifice must have assumed another shape if the inquiry into the divine will in oracles had borne a more ethical character. But the oracle-system again, in its wide ramifications, ministered rather to the temporal ends of individuals and communities. An advance towards the development of a coherent moral order of life in relation to marriage, family, education of youth, is only partially found in heathen religions, and is disfigured by striking DORNER-CHRIST. Doct. II,
perversions of the moral consciousness. Such was the case in relation to the right of personality as against the State both in the west and east, save that in the east the State culminates in despots, while in the west the commonweal is regarded as the supreme good, and over against it individuals fail to maintain the independence of ends for their own sake. Among the Romans the father has power of life and death over the children. The slaves, who belonged to the foundations of the ancient state-polity, are almost destitute of rights.
Nevertheless, the heathen nations mentioned all had their flowering time, which continued a longer or shorter period, and gave birth to works in some degree imperishable, especially in art, science, and law. This flowering time was coincident with a religious faith still in its integrity. This faith was the source of enthusiasm for everything great that these nations produced. But the faith-dissolving process described above ran its irresistible course, and destroyed the basis of ancient popular life. The faith that the gods heard those who cried to them vanished. While the public forms of worship continued in their regular order, rationalism and scepticism subverted private religion ; substitutes were sought according to accident and fancy in mysteries, and presently in a jumble of all religions, but with no other result than religious and even moral chaos. The old nations, after squandering the spiritual wealth with which they had been endowed, were without power of recuperation, felt themselves poor, desolate, dying. At the time of the Roman empire the feeling was widespread, that the world had entered on its dotage. The once most buoyant of nations were seized with weariness of life. Their wise men spoke of death as a relief, and declared that the highest good was not to be born.
SECOND HEAD: THE RELIGION OF THE OLD TESTAMENT.
Characteristics of the Hebrew Religion, its Foundation and Stages.
The distinctive peculiarity of the history of the Hebrew
religion is seen in this, that the course of development in revelation, which everywhere else, even if set afoot, is carried on only under one aspect, and sooner or later comes to a standstill, nay begins to retrograde, here makes continuous progress without such falling back, until it reaches the destined goal. And the cause of this among the chosen people is the great definiteness with which the God-consciousness and world-consciousness are here distinguished from each other, their relation to each other being only based upon this distinction. Here God reveals Himself as the Almighty Creator, Preserver, and Ruler of the world, and attests the fact of His government by ever new communications, above all by the revelation of His holiness, which is the basis on which the system of the law is reared. Upon the ground of consciousness of the divine holiness and righteousness
Prophecy grows up. LITERATURE.—Hävernick, Vorlesungen über die Theologie A. T., 1848. Oehler, Theology of the Old Testament, 2 vols. (T. & T. Clark). Schultz, Theologie des A. T., 2 vols. 1879. Ewald, Die Lehre der Bibel von Gott, 3 vols. 1871–74. Hengstenberg, Christology of the 0. T., 4 vols. (T. & T. Clark).
1. In the pure consciousness of unconditional dependence, provided it is held firmly and established in intelligent view of its contents, monotheism is involved, and the possibility of a real consciousness of freedom implanted. There, too, God is able to reveal Himself as regards His ethical nature. When man recognizes God as almighty,' and not merely feels himself
1 Gen. xvii. 1.
dependent in God's presence but desires to be so, he longs to know the will of his almighty Lord, that he may reduce the desired dependence to practice in his life; for it is a fixed principle with the good man that it is the Almighty's to command, man's to obey, whatever the nature of the command, and further that he is responsible to God. Thus, upon the basis of God's recognized omnipotence, and man's desired dependence on it, receptiveness is formed for the revelation of the divine will, whether this will be a requirement to do something or to expect and receive something. But again, when God reveals Himself as to His moral nature, this by a decisive reflex influence adds strength and keenness to monotheism, because it is only then that the idea of God raises itself definitely above a physical character. None of the heathen religions, indeed, is entirely without the idea of communion between God and man; for without this no religion would exist. Nay, anticipations of the idea of that divine-human life, in which the communion of God and man culminates, are wanting in none of the more fully developed religions (p. 242), either in the form of God becoming man or man becoming God. But these are premature flowers of imagination, resting on the ground of a mere quantitative distinction between God and the world. They are consistent with the absence of the profounder distinction between the divine and human as well as of the moral medium by which the distinction is brought about, and without this no true union is possible. The products of imagination, although not without presages of the truth, have therefore no power or stability. The Hebrew religion, on the contrary, attains to rich development and real progress through the fact that here the distinction between God and the world receives clear and definite
1 Gen. xxii. (the offering of Isaac).
2 Gen. xviii. 25. 3 The recognition of God principally as almighty, no doubt, includes the recognition of His majesty, in presence of which man feels himself to be mere dust and ashes, Gen. xviii. 27. But this alone would only include the unapproachableness, the negative side, of holiness, which would not rise above the physical, jealous, destructive character of the Deity. This character is only transcended, provided God assigns to man a vocation of boundless importance, and thus himself confers on him higher worth, Gen. xii., xviii., xxii. But a moral vocation can only be vouchsafed to man on the supposition that God is holy in Himself in the positive, ethical sense. Nothing but man's moral destination makes room for such a communion with God as secures existence to man.