Obrázky na stránke

But selfishness is most hateful when it penetrates into the sphere of religion, in appearance making it an end, while hypocritically debasing it into an instrument for its own interests.

Observation.—What has been advanced is opposed to the Stoic doctrine: πάντα αμαρτήματα ίσα, which looks exclusively at the admitted fact that all evil possesses a generic identity. The question is, whether the same one-sidedness is not involved in Luther's and Calvin's doctrine of unbelief as the fundamental sin in all evil, and in the doctrine that the virtues of the heathen are merely splendid faults (vitia).' The Reformers' doctrine is not identical with the Stoic formula ; for the very fact which makes clear the intrinsic unity and uniformity of evil, namely, that all evil implies alienation from God, is not acknowledged by the Stoa. As concerns the other point, it were certainly wrong to say that humanitarian morality is worthless, and has nothing of true virtue in it. No one proceeds on this basis in the judgments he passes. Fidelity, bravery, diligence, piety, are esteemed by every one, and are not found merely in Christians. But the meaning of that doctrine of the Reformers is, that man cannot be perfectly and truly good in particulars, unless he is so in his central relation, i.e. to his living centre-God, the primal good. And in this we may agree with them. Every one sees that to particular good, a good general disposition is necessary, of which it is the fruit. Else, something impure in motive or impulse will always cleave to an act in appearance perfectly good. Could we will a particular good virtuously by itself, without the willing of the good itself and in general being implied, virtue would be possible even in physical beings, as represented in fables of beasts. The Reformers, therefore, are perfectly right in meaning by that doctrine, although paradoxically expressed : Where fellowship with God and faith are not, there sin must have the predominance in the region of motive, and it would be so merely because defect in humility is sin, while there is no humility without the fear of God. And they also hit the right view in this, that every act of man is affected by his general state, which can only be evil, where redemption is wanting, although it is inexact to say: The virtues of the heathen are only faults. For, on the other hand, our Confessions do not put justitia civilis on a par with injustitia, although the former per se is not righteousness before God. 1 Melanchthon, Loci, 1521, Corp. Ref. vol. xxi. p. 100.

2 Although to the consciousness in the first instance God may be merely the universal good.

Nay, according to Holy Scripture, even among those who have no part in grace, a distinction must be acknowledged according to the amount of effort to improve or the inclination to repentance, and therefore according to the approximation to the possibility of being actually redeemed. The Confessions, while not denying this distinction, certainly make it too little prominent, because their pre-eminent concern is to establish the absolute need of redemption in all, which this distinction cannot alter.

§ 78.- Actual and Inherent Evil.

As there is actual sin chargeable with guilt, so also there is

inherent sin. The former, where it exists, passes into an evil, inherent character, which again itself produces evil, so that evil, if it enter the world, cannot do other than originate a series of evil effects, which again themselves become causes. Evil, thus concatenated, through its own nature and through the abuse of the good order of the world forms a vast system, and becomes a common life of sin among those whom it embraces.

1. ACTUAL SIN. - If, as shown, evil as such cannot be regarded as the work of Nature or physical necessity, or as the mere consequence of blindness and ignorance, then the will has an essential part therein. But the will emerges in particular conscious acts. Thus it becomes a causality, to which the action must be assigned by logical necessity. The first, in itself still amphibological, signification of guilt is just this, to affirm that the will has become the cause of an action. If this action was evil, and was therefore contrariety to the law and its just claim upon man, the right of the law is not annihilated by his disregarding it. Based on God's own will, that right stands in its inviolable sanctity, it renounces not its claim on man.

On the contrary, that claim remains binding upon him, and indeed in a twofold way, the idea of guilt thus receiving a more intensive signification. First, the law does not describe his act as culpable, but himself, so far as his personal will combined with the act, depreciates the worth of his life, or charges him with guilt in the sense of pollution until purification takes place. Secondly, since by the evil act both a good is neglected, which man was under obligation to do, and the validity and honour of the law are called in question, the evil carries guilt with it in the sense that something neglected has to be made good, and that the divine law has to be asserted and preserved against the sinner as that supreme, indivisible power over the natural and spiritual world, which alone claims absolute authority. This is done in virtue of God's punitive justice. The law subjects him who in practice denies its validity to the judgment that he deserves punishment (cf. vol. i. $$ 24, 5, 6), and that guilt renders worthy of it. But the evil act has other consequences than the incurring of guilt in these various senses.


The will is a power not merely to determine and use other things than itself, but to determine itself, and through selfdetermination to influence other things. Every act is a determination, which the spirit gives itself, and originates a fixed characteristic in the spirit, which then continues to operate not merely by force of definite intention (as, for example, where the personality, in order to self-improvement, turns its attention to itself), but also spontaneously and unintentionally. The result or facit of the act becomes a factor producing the product. The act, which has become part of the past, while disappearing in the background of the personality, in the basis of the same, continues therein, unless a counteracting power intervene, as a determining element of the disposition and general tendency. The will, after determining itself, is also a result, and bears itself as its work, either as an oppressive burden or as the winged freedom thereof. As it is not indifferent to the body what atmosphere it lives in, what is its nourishment and employment, so the spirit retains traces of what it has been filled and nourished with, in thought, imagination, feeling, and will. These traces are characters, so to speak, in which the past of the spirit may be read; they form its distinctive character; nay, the longer the time the more they form its spiritual atmosphere, so to speak, or its spiritual body, by which it may be nourished, or hemmed in and severed from everything else. Here, therefore, is the place where the transition to a nature acquired by the spirit must be asserted. This inherency, nay, second nature, resulting from act, because originated by the will, is so little opposed to the idea of personality, that, on the contrary, only through it is a moral character, whether good or evil, possible. Without this power of the will to determine itself and its nature, man would either be a mere physical being or remain for ever an indeterminate spiritual mobility. Nay, it may be said : Were man mere free caprice, so constituted that caprice were only able eternally to hover above objects, adhering now to this, now to that, without the capacity of uniting really and fixedly to a substance that became its second nature, and, at the same time, under no necessity of incurring the stain and burden of guilt from misdeeds, in such caprice (unworthy of the name of freedom) something evil would be created by God, and, moreover, in such shape that nothing but mere external punishment could affect it. All personalities would then intrinsically be completely alike and undistinguishable, because without inherent character, and, on the other hand, endowed with absolute freedom of caprice. This caprice could always be nothing but caprice, and therefore treat goodness only capriciously. And thus it were no longer a potentiality of ethical nature, but a mere physical one, strong enough to be able to corrupt everything, while not good enough to be created.

This law of the naturalizing of the will remains unaffected by sin, save that through it the formation of character becomes a perversion tending to false organization or systematization of the powers. By this means freedom becomes more and more limited. Custom becomes like a second nature in vice, and, where evil advances unhindered, it draws all the powers with greater and greater polluting and perverting effect into the sphere of the false centre set up by it. According to James, the entire organism is set on fire by the same sad flame of selfishness, which burns in the centre and is set on fire of hell. As then a part of the body often makes long resistance to a malady which has seized other parts, so the better nature may perhaps still maintain itself in one sphere, but not for ever, if selfishness remains at the centre. Evil waxes worse, and its efforts to render all the powers instrumental to its false unity are not without success. This leads directly to other effects of evil. We have seen how evil, in forming a false centre of the powers, withdraws them from their destination and sets them in contradiction to their nature. But this is an index of the dissolution of the harmony to which the powers are ordained, and the merely natural unity of the powers is not strong enough to resist this. Thus evil obtains an inherent, disorganizing significance. It arms, so to speak, one member of the whole against the others, now sensuousness against the spirit, now the spirit against the body in proud spiritualism, and one of the spiritual powers against the others. Inveterate caprice has no truly binding power, but under the semblance of freedom is dependent on that to which the inclination attaches itself for the moment. Thus the principle of selfemancipation acquires increasing command of the spiritual and bodily powers and impulses. These, too, emancipate themselves, nay, they bind the will and withdraw from its jurisdiction, after the will has deputed its authority to false freedom. One element now lives at the expense of the other, especially sensuousness at the expense of the spirit, and again one tendency of the spirit at the expense of another. Thus the evil principle produces nothing but disorder and disease. Instead of founding a kingdom of harmony, it issues in distraction and dissolution,

1 This is the spece uoprices (Rom. vi. 6), by which the sinner sees himself encircled and hemmed in.

? Jas. ii. 6 : apóxos añs yoviosos.

3. In a new aspect, the transition from actual to inherent evil, the necessity of which has just been verified on anthropological grounds, is also shown by religious considerations. Apart from violation of the religious relation, we saw, no sin would be possible. But after sin has entered, inherent evil of a religious kind arises ; for after the sinner has turned away from God, he cannot again recover by his own power that self - communication of divine love which makes religion possible, and the false love admitted stifles or benumbs the true. The religious disorder remains without divine influence, whereas we can only know and love God through God. But the religious disorder, as inherent alienation from God, becomes the coefficient of all sin, after the powers and

« PredošláPokračovať »