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genesis does not affect the suffering individuals, to whom we are unable to ascribe immortality. The right answer, therefore, is : Immortal the individual nature-beings cannot be, because they have no absolute value in themselves, but only a limited aim, harmony, and so on. So far, therefore, from a wrong being done them ($ 23) when they perish, when death with all its accompaniments befalls them, or from this being opposed to God's goodness, which reveals itself in them to a limited degree, the idea of justice, which assigns measure and end to everything according to its worth, and must be the inner law of goodness, requires that creatures of the natural order should not be treated as if they were of infinite worth, but that as limited they come to an end, and be given over to corruptibleness. But this, so far from excluding, confirms the hope of a future participation even of Nature in the incorruptibility of the children of God. For such an independent form of existence in relation to reason as Nature had in the first instance (for the very reason that it was before the rational creation), or as it still has in general, and by which corruption exercises its undisputed sway over it, it will then have no longer. Nature will rather be the magnified body of humanity, of rational beings in general, and thus, through this tightly-knit bond, participate in their incorruptibleness. Spirit is destined to be the redeemer even of nature. This final result does not require Nature to have been incorruptible in the beginning as well. If Nature was before man, its initial condition was not that state of close association with spirit which will find place at the end ; but, on the contrary, its first form of existence was its limited, isolated stage, with which termination and death were bound up. But such a separate existence, were it permanent, would be against the notion of spirit, as well as against nature's own receptiveness for spirit, described by Paul as its inner sighing after perfection. So far, then, as sin retards this perfection, it may certainly be said that Nature is detained by sin in a state of corruption against its will, as well as, that it has been placed in a long-enduring state of corruptibleness, which apart from sin was unnecessary, if the assimilation of Nature by spirit could have been accomplished forthwith.
1 Rom. viii. 17.
3. But again, Nature is good by reason of its teleological relation to man, and that even at present.
“The ground is cursed for thy sake,”which does not mean that it suffers through man, that thorns and thistles are abnormal and later created organisms, but expresses its teleological relation to
Nature is good, because it was prepared for man before the Fall, but also prepared for him as he is after the Fall. It restrains or punishes him now, acts as a spur to his indolence, rewards his industry, but need not, in order to do this, ever have been different. Its flexibility and plasticity are helps to this end. From the beginning it was made for man, and for government by him, but he must first, as it were, conquer this supremacy for himself. Provided his development is normal, and he is not wanting in spiritual energy, Nature can never offer him insuperable resistance, or refuse him what he needs. If his state is abnormal, one of spiritual feebleness, even then it is good, because of the very resistance and restraint it offers. Teleologically regarded, therefore, it was good, and is still so, and this is the chief point in reference to it. Now this purposeful relation of nature to spirit forms an inner bond of connection between the two. Nature has first of all the power of influencing spirit, of furnishing it with an abundance of incentives for developing the consciousness of self, of the world, and of God. It serves in a special sense to stimulate and fructify the speculative spirit, to which everything after its manner may be an object. But no less is it susceptible also to the influence of spirit, or so co-ordinate with the practical spirit that in it the latter may embody itself, make it its organ, through it, so to speak, enlarge its own organism, and turn it into a weapon for acquiring the mastery of the world. Spirit is able to make nature a symbol, nay a mirror and expressive image of the spiritual Nature also is capable of intelligibly bodying forth the infinite. It forms no obstacle to the revelation of infinite truth. The corruptible may become a “parable" of the incorruptible. Nay, spiritually infinite truth may become “ event, matter of fact,” through self-embodiment in the finite. Nature especially shows this in man, through whose bodily organization the perfect teleological relation of nature to spirit is partly initiated, partly completed.
I Gen. iii.
Man is the goal and crown of the Nature known to us. All
its stages are presupposed conditions and means in reference to him.
He is its living synthesis and realized unity of aim. Therefore is he lord of the world. On one hand, accordingly, man is also a natural being, and under this aspect only its culmination, the highest natural being, subject to every law of finite nature—limited, dependent, full of need, reproducing himself indeed, but with only a limited measure of vital energy, and therefore, like all beings of the earth, subject to death. But, on the other hand, he is also the culmination of nature in such a sense that he already reaches forward to a specifically higher domain, and through the higher side of his nature is not necessarily subject to death.
1. The narrative of creation makes creation take place in ascending gradation, but makes it cease in man as in its destined goal from the beginning, i.e. in the sense that everything preceding was a preparation for him.? On emerging into existence he finds a house, a home such as he needs, and subjects standing ready, when their master appears. But far more significant still is the manner of his creation. While he is dust taken from dust, he is not, like what preceded, a mere product of the earth impregnated with life by the Spirit of God brooding over it. At the ground of man's creation lies a new distinct divine conception presented in the form of a self-consultation on the part of God, and the carrying out of this supreme work is by inspiration of divine breath.? 2. In Nature the divine work of creation does not perfectly Gen. i., ii. 7, 19.
Gen. i. 26, ii. 7.
come up to its idea. God indeed is revealed in it as the creative principle of life, but as it contains no aims of boundless compass, through Nature alone no revelation would be given of God Himself as spirit and the supreme good. In Nature, it is true, is found sensation, but even in its higher stages it does not behold itself, to say nothing of the divine. In order, therefore, that knowledge of and desire for the divine may be possible in the creature, God's creative love makes the “creature of dignified presence," the crown of creation in the sense, that without this crown the tree of the world would be a fragment without perfection of aim. Theodore of Mopsuestia early acknowledges that “God prepared man to be the bond of the universe, in him reduced diversity to unity, to the end that in him the whole world may be, so to speak, knit together, and he may be the real and effectual pledge to the universe of its harmony and friendship.” Just so, according to the eighth Psalm, everything has its unity as comprehended under man's governance. Modern philosophy, especially the natural philosophy of Schelling's school, has begun to indicate how, even in a corporeal respect, the various systems of life—the nervous, ganglionic, muscular, etc.— which in nature appear apart in different classes of beings, are united in man, and how each one of these systems thus attains its proper perfection, and is an appropriate means for realizing the unity of aim in the entire organism. A similar idea is involved in the ancient doctrine of man being a microcosm. But—and this is far more important—with this concentration of various systems of life corresponds a further concentration of another kind. The consciousness of man is a mirror of the universe, he is the consciousness of Nature, in him Nature contemplates and comprehends itself, seeing that while he is spirit he is also part of Nature. Just so his will has a universal reference to Nature, and may extend itself to everything As the culmination and flower of Nature, he is therefore competent for its governance, understands its forces and laws, and is able to control nature through Nature. He is king of creation.
3. We have thus to consider man first as a natural being, although the highest. He is a natural being by reason of his origin and corporeity, his process of life and death. He is limited as to time, in no respect complete from the first. He is limited as to space by everything exercising an influence upon him and placing him in relative dependence on itself. These physical limits man finds not merely outside himself in other beings; he finds them in himself, in his body, and through his body it comes to pass that other limited forces are able to get the better of him. It might now be supposed that this physical character of his is nothing but an imperfection. But nature outside him, like his body, is no dividing boundary, no isolating wall, but the world in all its rich fulness exists for man, while the body on every side is open to the world and endowed with senses, through which as through manifold doors the whole world stands in relations of intimate intercourse with him, to the end that he may perceive and observe it, in himself give it spiritual existence, and thus idealize it. In the world of language, created by him, he reproduces the impressions of the world and forms an ideal world homogeneous with himself. In the next place, the body is given him as an organ and means for influencing the world and bodying forth his conceptions. Thus, although the body is in the first instance a limit, it is also a bond of connection, a vinculum in a twofold sense. In its limiting capacity it serves by its separateness to distinguish man from everything else, to exclude confusion; but the restrictive element in the limit at first formed by the body may be abolished, what is left of the body being that it is not a mere divisive boundary, but a prerequisite of communion, namely a principle of distinction. Through the body no doubt the spirit is essentially qualified as limited and receptive, nay accessible to suffering ; but through conquest of the body in its limiting capacity, through its permeation by soul, and through the encompassing of the surrounding world by the very means of the bodily organs, the spirit is able to give its eternal essence tangible evidence of an inner illimitableness won by its own effort. In the body the spirit finds, so to speak, its fulcrum, by the aid of which it is able to set itself free for its own life. The process of this self-emancipation is its history. Corporeity is thus a condition of its historical development, and in so far as we are compelled to regard the gradual nature of its develop