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still a true son of that Church, and while admitting that the form in which he has put his theology is a new one, and different from that of the common orthodoxy, he maintains that he retains all that is essential in the old doctrine, and that he has but given a better and more scriptural form to the substance of what is put in language which he rejects in the symbolical books. He entitles his reply to his accusers, “Defence of a new way of teaching the old truth;" and employs, as a motto, these words of Bengel, “ Adhuc non ea Scripturæ viguit experientia et intelligentia in ecclesia, quæ in ipsa Scriptura offertur.” As Hofmann has been both assailed and defended by the men of the Lutheran school, the controversy has turned more than is common in Germany on the consistency of his doctrines with the standards of the Church ; and has brought out incidentally much interesting materials in the testimony of the German Reformers on the subject of the Atonement. In defending his orthodoxy, Hofmann takes his stand on the principle that no symbolical books can be regarded as authoritative on questions which were not before their authors and intended to be decided by them; and contends that, as the question of the mode of the Atonement had never been discussed in the Church before the Reformation, the Lutheran Confessions can only be held binding in their statements of the fact, and not in their explanations of the manner of the Atonement. The principle itself is a true and most important one; for it is the only one on which symbolical books can be at once honestly and intelligently subscribed ; and, in general, we think Hofmann's views of the position and authority of Church standards much more satisfactory than those of his opponents; who seem often to lay too much stress on an appeal to human standards, as compared with an appeal to the Word of God. Such standards can but at best ground an argumentum ad hominem ; Scripture alone can furnish a proof absolutely conclusive and decisive. Whether or not Hofmann does not press a true principle too far, in defending his own variations by it, is of course another question; and here we think he is decidedly in the wrong. Besides others outside, all Hofmann's colleagues at Erlangen, with the exception of Herzog, who belongs to the Reformed, not to the Lutheran Church, have expressed their opinion in this controversy. Professor Schmid has appeared in his defence; Thomasius has published a pamphlet against him; to which Harnack, another of the professors, has appended a postscript ; and the discussions on this subject have furnished the occasion of Delitzsch’s valuable “ Commentary on the Hebrews,” in an appendix to which he has entered into the question at issue.
Method of his System.
But without entering into further details of the controversy, let us come now to an account of what Hofmann's views on the Atonement really are, premising first a few words on the general character and method of the system developed in the Schriftbeweis
. For his method is somewhat peculiar, and has been made the object of attack, no less than the special contents of his system. In it, too, we may observe that the influence of the Schleiermacher school has been, whether consciously or not, at work. The grand characteristic of Schleiermacher's method is that he develops his system, from the religious consciousness, instead of taking it direct from Scripture. The feeling of absolute dependence is with him the foundation of all religion; and on this foundation he constructs his entire system of theology. Hofmann's method is so far similar, that he regards the proper business of the theologian to be the analysis and development of the Christianity that exists in himself as a Christian; and theology consists in the scientific expression of that which makes a man a Christian : “I, the Christian, am to me, the theologian, the most proper object of my science.” His method differs from Schleiermacher in postulating as the foundation of his system, not a mere feeling, but a fact-viz., the believer's fellowship with God in Jesus Christ. And, besides, his theology is not merely subjective; for when he has completed the analysis and development of this primary fact, and expanded it into a system; he admits the necessity of testing the result by an appeal to Scripture, and if in any particular his system should be found to be contradicted or unsupported by Scripture, he allows that there must have been some error in the process ; and that it must be corrected and remodelled to be brought into accordance with Scripture. He uses Scripture as a test; and he brings the theory he has constructed to that test in the most conscientious and painstaking way. We do not intend to enter into the merits or defects of this method of lIofmann's, as that would lead us too far away from our present purpose. The reader will find a criticism upon it in an article by Professor Dieckhoff, which was translated in a former number of this Review (No. XXXVII., July, 1861). We do not regard this article as altogether fair to Hofmann's system; but still as the criticism of an adversary, it will give a pretty correct notion of its general character.
We refer to this matter just now chiefly to explain the somewhat peculiar plan and title of the book in which Hofmann's system is contained. The title, “ Der Schriftbeweis" (The Scriptural Proof), describes very exactly its contents; for nearly the whole of it is occupied in bringing the theological system of the author to the test of Scripture, and
establishing its consistency with its teaching. After some preliminary observations, he proceeds at once to give a complete statement of his system, which, being a mere statement without explanation or defence, occupies comparatively few pages; and then he addresses himself to his main task of comparing each of its parts in detail with the teaching of Scripture. The nature of his plan does, we think, lead him to occupy a somewhat false position in relation to Scriptureas if his task were merely to show that Scripture contains nothing inconsistent with his system, instead of positively educing it from Scripture; and thus he is more liable than a different method would have made him to the temptation of employing a forced exegesis, to make Scripture speak in accordance with what he has previously arrived at as the result of his thinking. But with this drawback, it must be admitted that his work is an admirable specimen of the mode of employing the Bible as the test and proof of a doctrinal system. It is favourably distinguished from some modern English productions of similar views to his on the Atonement, by the fulness and thoroughness with which he enters into the scriptural evidence on the subject. He does not deal, as is too often the case, in mere vague and misty generalities ; or merely content himself with adducing a few isolated texts or passages; he takes into view the whole teaching of the Bible in all its parts as one grand consistent whole; and he examines with the utmost critical and exegetical minuteness every passage that at all bears on the point that be may be considering. Thus, for instance, in discussing the question of the Atonement, which occupies the greater part of the second volume, he enters into a complete discussion of the sacrificial system of the Old Testament; then takes up the Messianic Psalms and the prophecies in Isaiah liii.; and then, passing to the New Testament, he subjects to a thorough criticism every passage, first in the Gospels, and then in the Epistles, that refers in any way to the death of Christ. His expositions are invariably very instructive and suggestive, though not always quite trustworthy, as he is apt to be led away by bis own extreme acuteness and ingenuity; and sometimes his explanation of a passage that seems to tell against his theory looks very like explaining it away.
But we must attempt now to give a statement, as exact and distinct as possible, of what Hofmann's theory on the subject of the Atonement actually is; after which we shall have some remarks to make on its excellencies and defects. Now in order to understand aright any theory on this subject, especially when it forms part of so consistent a system of theology as that of Hofmann, we are thrown back on the
Man's Original State.
consideration of a previous subject, the views entertained on the natural state of man as fallen, from which he is redeemed by the death of Christ. For the whole scheme of salvation, of which the Atonement forms the centre and heart, is a remedial scheme, and as such it has a proportion and correspondency to the disease for which the remedy is provided. According to the nature of the disease, is the nature of the remedy; and according to what men's ideas are of the nature of the disease, will be, for the most part, their opinions as to the nature of the remedy. This is a well-known principle ; and the truth of it is illustrated not only in the Evangelical scheme of doctrine, but in all the more complete and consistent systems, more or less erroneous, that have been opposed to it. And it is the more important to act on this principle in judging of such a system as Hofmann's; for otherwise we are very apt to be perplexed and misled by his peculiar terminology, which is quite different from the ordinary theological language, so much so that it is sometimes hard to recognize the old familiar doctrines in the new garb in which we meet them in his writings. Let us then first advert to Hofmann's views on the Fall and its consequences. As to the constitution of man in general, in every state, whether unfallen, fallen, or redeemed, he considers bim as a being to be viewed in two distinct aspects, which he distinguishes by the names, “nature” and “person” respectively. In the former aspect, man is viewed simply as an organized creature, forming part of the chain or system of created existence in the world ; being the head and culmination of it, indeed, but still after all himself an integral part of it, an animal among animals, though the highest and noblest of all. Viewed in this aspect man is called a nature, and this side of his existence is called his nature-life (Naturleben). But this is not the only aspect of humanity. Man is also a person, is a free self-conscious Ego, and as such may stand in a personal relation to God, and have personal intercourse with him. In this aspect he is called a person, and we speak of his personlife (Personleben). This distinction is, as Hofmann employs it, not so much a division of human nature into two parts, as a distinction of two relations in which man stands—to the lower creation, on the one hand, and to God, on the other ; and he uses it to bring out what is meant by man's original state, as created in the image of God. It is in the latter aspect, according to him, that man is the image of God; and this Divine image consists not in a moral quality, but in a moral relation in which he stands to God. Man's relation as a person to God is the image (Abbild) of the relation in the God-head between the Father and the Son; and this is what VOL. XIV.-LI.
is meant when it is said that man is the image of God. And in virtue of this relation to God, in which he was originally created, man stood in a relation to the world different from all other creatures, having lordship over it. This dominion over the creatures is not itself the image of God, but it is the consequence of it. The probation of man was made to have reference to this his relation to the creatures, inasmuch as a limit was set to his dominion, by the removal of which it might seem to him that it would be enlarged. His duty would have consisted in such an attitude and conduct as would correspond to his relation to God, and to the relation in which God had willed him to stand to the world. In imposing a condition upon him God, dealt with man, not merely as a nature, but as a person ; speaking to him as one person to another. And his continued enjoyment of the relation in in which he stood to God depended on his own personal conduct. He could and ought to have made the relation (Verhältniss) to God in which he had been created his own personal attitude (Verhalten), and had he done so he would have continued in his original state.
This, however, he did not do, for he was tempted by Satan, who acted on his nature-life, and, through that, influenced his personal conduct in a way that ran counter to the relation in which, and for which, God had created him. The Fall thus consisted in man allowing himself to be determined to a will and an act contradicting the Divine appointment of his relation to the world. From this there followed two consequences, extending to all the descendants of Adam. On the one hand, man exchanged (as far as in him lay) the relation to God in which he had been placed by creation, for one of dependence on the Evil Spirit by whom he had been led into sin. And as in the first temptation it was by the nature side of his being that Satan acted on man ; so still the power he has over fallen man is exerted primarily on this nature-life, but extends through it also to his person. And on the other hand, by the Fall man became, instead of an object of God's love, an object of His wrath. The wrath of God is very distinctly and emphatically recognized in Hofmann's system ; it is defined to be “the hostile aspect of the Creator asserting himself against the creature denying Him ;” and it is held to be the cause of all the suffering that exists in the world. Such then is the natural state of mankind in consequence of the Fall. It has in it these two elements: bondage to Satan, on the one hand, and exposure to the wrath of God, on the other. Of these two consequences of the Fall, the former is viewed by Hofmann as the consequence of the latter ; or rather, as he expresses it more exactly, the two are but de